Sunday, March 18, 2012

Text Note: Doxology at the end of Romans 14:23?

The issue:

There is a major text critical issue with the ending of Romans that begins to rear its head at the close of Romans 14.  The question revolves around the proper place for the doxology (appearing at Romans 16:25-27 but inserted in some manuscripts, and most notably in the Majority Text tradition, after Romans 14:23).  The discussion also involves the integrity of Romans 16:24 (which I hope to discuss later when we reach chapter 16).

External Evidence:
In his Textual Commentary, Metzger notes six major text variations [Greek mss witnesses in brackets] (p. 534):

1.      1:1—16:23 plus doxology [p61 (vid), Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, C, D, 81, 1739]

2.     1:1—14:23 plus doxology plus 15:1—16:23 plus doxology [A, P, 5, 33, 104]

3.     1:1—14:23 plus doxology plus 15:1-16:24 [L, Psi, 0209 (vid), 181, 326, 330, 614, 1175, and the Byzantine (Majority) tradition]

4.     1:1—16:24 [F, G, 629]

5.     1:1—15:33 plus doxology plus 16:1-23 [p46]

6.     1:1—14:23 plus 16:24 plus doxology [a few Vulgate mss]
Here is a place where the Textus Receptus is closer to Sinaiticus and Vaticanus (though the TR includes 16:24) rather than the Majority reading.  Both modern editions of the Greek Majority Text (Hodges/Farstad and Robinson/Pierpont include the doxology after 14:23 and end Romans at 16:24).

Internal Evidence:

According to Origen’s Commentary on Romans, the early heretic Marcion eliminated chapters 15-16 from his edition of Romans (see Metzger, p. 533).  This early meddling with the text likely led to the confusing textual tradition.  The question in the widest tradition became not whether to include the doxology (16:25-27) but where to include it.  Some included it at the end of chapter 16, others at the end of chapter 14, some both at the end of chapter 14 and at the end of chapter 16, and one at the end of chapter 15.

This textual variation has also led to speculation among modern commentators as to the possibility that two version of Romans circulated in early Christianity, one that ended at chapter 15 (supposedly sent to Rome) and another that ended at chapter 16 (supposedly sent to Ephesus).


This issue demonstrates how the text of Scripture was affected by theological conflict early in the Christian movement.  While affirming the modern critical text’s decision to include the doxology at Romans 16:25-27, Metzger explains, “Some of the other sequences may have arisen from the influence of the Marcionite text upon the dominant form(s) of the text of the epistle in orthodox circles” (p. 536).  In the ecclesiastical text tradition there is no question of whether Romans 16:24 and Romans 16:25-27 should be included in the legitimate text of Scripture.  The only question is where they should appear. The Textus Receptus demonstrates the text critical consensus of Reformation era interpreters both that Romans 16:24 should be included as part of the Word of God (more on this later, DV) and that the proper place for Romans 16:25-27 to appear is not at the end of Romans 14 but at the end of Romans 16. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The doxology fits best at the end of chapter 15.

In Chapter 15, Paul states, "Now we who are *strong* ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves;" in the doxology, Paul exclaims, "Now to the one who is able to *strengthen* you . . ." In Chapter 15, Paul states that he desires to preach where the very name of Christ has not been heard because he does not want to build upon another man's foundation; in the doxology, Paul says that the mystery was kept in silence for long ages but is now made manifest. In Chapter 15, Paul quotes scripture innumerable times and says that all scripture was written aforetime for our instruction; in the doxology, Paul says that the mystery is made manifest through the prophetic scriptures. In Chapter 15, Paul states that the Gentiles should glorify God for his mercy, that he will praise God among the Gentiles and sing praises to his name, that the root of Jesse will arise to govern the Gentiles, that the grace of God has made him a minister to the Gentiles, and that he must make the Gentiles an offering worthy of acceptance, sanctified by the Holy Spirit; in the doxology, Paul exclaims that the commandment of the eternal God is to be made known to all Gentiles to make them obedient to the Faith. In Chapter 15, Paul urges his audience to "glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," "glorify God for his mercy," and "praise the Lord;" in the doxology, Paul exclaims, "to God who alone is wise be glory forever and ever."

The internal evidence is clear: the doxology belongs at the end of chapter 15. If the doxology is placed at the end of chapter 14 or the end of chapter 16, the doxology has nothing to do with the immediately preceding context. The placement of the doxology at the end of chapter 14 is especially absurd; Paul would not leap from the word "sin" to the most beautiful doxology found in all scripture.