Thursday, July 05, 2012

Godet text note on Luke 1:78

In his discussion of Luke 1:78 Godet makes an interesting observation on the tense of the verb episkeptomai, “to visit,” in this verse.  In the traditional text, the reading is in the aorist as epeskepsato (thus, “hath visited” in the AV), but in the modern critical text the reading is in the future as episkepsetai (thus, “shall visit” in the NASB).

The modern critical reading (which Godet refers to as the “Alexandrian”) is supported by the twin heavyweights of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, the traditional by the vast majority of other witnesses.

Godet observes:

The future episkepsetai, will visit, in some Alex., is evidently a correction suggested by the consideration that Christ was not born at the time Zacharias was speaking.  Yet even such instances as these do not disturb the faith of critics in the authority of the Alexandrine MSS.! (p. 72).

His point is that it is the reading represented by Sinaiticus and Vaticanus would here give evidence of a harmonizing tendency.  A scribe would have wanted to make the verb a future tense in anticipation of the coming birth and life of Jesus.  The traditional text, in the past tense, would, therefore, be the more difficult reading, since it speaks of a visitation that is already an assured fact.  Under the standard canons of modern critical study, this would make the traditional reading the preferred one.  Godet’s final comment pokes at “the faith of critics” in Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, exposing the bias of modern text critics to favor these manuscripts  despite the critical canons formulated by them which supposedly lead to the overthrow of the traditional text.

Why don’t modern NT exegetes make observations like this one?


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