Monday, May 30, 2011

Text and Translation Note on Jude 1:3

The issue:

An issue here is whether or not to include the personal pronoun “our” (hemon). The traditional text omits it, while the modern critical text includes it. So, the KJV (based on the traditional text) reads, “of the common salvation,” while the NASB (based on the modern text) reads “about our common salvation” and the NIV (also based on the modern text but with a dynamic equivalent twist) reads, “about the salvation we share.”

External evidence:

Here are the two main options:

Traditional text (codex P and the vast majority of Greek manuscripts): peri tes koinones soterias: “concerning the common salvation”

Modern critical text (p72 and codices Alexandrinus and Vaticanus, et al.): peri tes koinones hemon soterias: “concerning our common salvation”

There are, however, a number of significant variations in the texts:

Two codices (1881 and 2298) along with a few Vulgate and Bohairic manuscripts read humon soterias, making the pronoun a second person plural, so “your common salvation.”

Two other codices (1505 and 2495) read humon zoes, also making it a second person plural pronoun and changing the noun, so “your common life.”

Then, most interestingly, Codex Sinaiticus (along with codex Psi) provides the harmonizing reading, hemon soterias kai zoes, so “our common salvation and life.”

N. B.: This variation is noteworthy on several levels. First, it demonstrates again that codicies Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, though often presented as putting forward a unified alternative to the traditional text, are very often, in fact, at odds with one another. Second, this example shows that Sinaiticus can bear a tendency to harmonize and conflate variant readings. This undermines its reliability as a clear witness to the “original text.”

Internal evidence:

Here, the traditional text represents the shorter reading. It is easier to understand the scribal addition of the pronoun rather than to explain its omission. The shorter reading is typically the one preferred, according to the canons of modern criticism, except, apparently, when it supports the ecclesiological text.

Final thought on English translations:

The translation of this phrase provides an example of a place where the NKJV follows the modern critical text rather than the TR (which it usually follows). So:

Geneva Bible: “of the common salvation”;

KJV: “of the common salvation”;

NKJV: “concerning our common salvation”


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