Thursday, April 28, 2011

Textual Note: Romans 8:1

The tendency of modern critical text supporters is to minimize the degree to which this text differs from the traditional text. The variations are not limited to the pericope adulterae (John 7:53—8:11) and the ending of Mark (Mark 16:9-20) but are found throughout the NT text.

The issue:

The variation at Romans 8:1 is an example. The issue here is the final clause: “who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit [me kata sarka peripatousin, alla kata pneuma].” Translations based on the traditional text (Geneva, KJV, NKJV) include the phrase. Those based on the modern critical text (NIV, RSV/ESV, NASB) do not. Example (emphasis added):

KJV Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

NIV Romans 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

External Evidence:

Why do modern texts omit the final phrase? It is omitted, in whole or in part, in several ancient manuscripts, including those most favored by modern textual critics.

Full omission: the original hand of Sinaiticus, B (Vaticanus), the original hand of Codex D (Claromontanus)

Partial omission: Includes the phrase “who walk not after the flesh [me kata sarka peripatousin]” but omits “but after the Spirit [alla kata pneuma]”: Alexandrinus, the first corrector of D, Psi (Athous Laurae).

Full inclusion: the second corrector of Sinaiticus, the second corrector of D, the vast Majority of all other texts.

Internal Evidence:

As reflected in Metzger’s Textual Commentary, modern critics see the disputed phrase as introducing “an interpolation from v. 4 in two stages.” Indeed, the phrase appears verbatim in Romans 8:4: “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

According to its canons the modern text prefers the shorter reading. The more unanswered question is why such an interpolation would have been introduced. These are not side by side verses, so technical errors, like parablepsis, are harder to explain. It also seems possible that a scribe might have tried to “correct” the repetition of the phrase in vv. 1 and 4 to smooth out the reading. One should also take under consideration that later scribes were keen to correct texts that omitted the phrase (i. e., Sinaiticus, D). NB: This correction occurs in both the so-called Alexandrian and Western text types, indicating widespread geographical presence of the traditional text as the norming norm.


There is no overwhelmingly compelling reason to depart from the reading of the traditional text of Romans 8:1.

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