Monday, May 16, 2011

Text and Translation Note: Jude 1:1

I began a series of Lord’s Day afternoon expositions yesterday at CRBC on the book of Jude and was struck by a word order difference in various translations of the first verse. The book follows the ancient epistolary order of identifying first the sender and then the recipients. The issue here is the text and translation of the section of the verse that identifies the recipients of the letter by three qualities (sanctified [or “beloved” in modern critical text] , preserved, called). Most translations alter the order (called, sanctified [beloved], preserved) on grammatical grounds.


The issue here is whether Jude identifies the recipients as sanctified (hegiasmenois) or beloved (epagemenois).

The traditional text (emphasis added):

tois en theo patri hegiasmenois, kai Iesou Christo teteremenois, kletois

The modern critical text (emphasis added):

tois en theo patri egapemenois kai Iesou Christo teteremenois kletois


The traditional text is supported by P and the Majority tradition. The modern critical text is supported by the heavyweights favored by modern text critics; p72, Sinaiticus, and Vaticanus. The similarity of the two words offers obvious possibilties as to how it might have been altered in scribal transmission.


The prime question here, again, is the word order. Should the order follow that of the original text (whether traditional or modern critical) or should “called” be moved to the front of the list? Does its appearance in the final place in the original text indicate special emphasis or accent that would justify making it the first item in the three part list?

Comparison of English translations:

Geneva: to them which are called and sanctified of God the Father, and reserved to Jesus Christ

AV: to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called

RSV/ESV: To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ

NIV: To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ:

NASB: to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:

NKJV: To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ:


The AV stands alone among English translations in providing a window into the original word order (cf. even the Geneva and NKJV that normally support the AV). There is no doubt that grammatically the emphasis is on the fact that the recipients are called. Should a translation reflect the original word order (AV) or the grammatical emphasis (the other English translations cited)?


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