Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Text Note: Luke 9:35

The issue:

When the divine voice speaks from the cloud at the transfiguration, what does it say?

According to the traditional text, the voice says, “This is my beloved Son:  hear him” (KJV; cf. NKJV)).

According to the modern critical text, the voice says, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” (ESV; cf. RSV).

The difference here is whether or not the text reads agapetos (the adjective “beloved” modifying the noun “son”) or  ho eklelegmenos (a participle acting substantively as “the chosen one” in apposition to the noun “son”).

External evidence:

 The traditional reading is supported by codices A, C (original hand), R, W, family 13, and the vast majority of Greek manuscripts.  Among early writers of the post-apostolic Christian era, the reading is found in Marcion and Clement. 

The modern critical text is supported by p45, p75, Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and a few others.

Internal evidence:

Metzger argues that the traditional text is a “scribal assimilation” to the other Synoptic transfiguration accounts (cf. Matthew17:5:  “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”; Mark 9:7:  “This is my beloved Son.”) and to the Lukan baptism account (Luke 3:22: “Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.”) (see Metzger, Textual Commentary, p. 148).  Metzger also notes that eklelegmenos “occurs in a quasi-technical sense only here in the New Testament” (Ibid).

Is it possible, however, that the modern critical reading reflects a lack of comfort with the view of Jesus as the “beloved” Son of God?  That is, might it reflect an attempted Christological correction?  One might also argue that the fact that this term does not appear in this manner in Luke (or the rest of the NT) is a sign of its lack of authenticity.  Furthermore, if the traditional text is an assimilation to Luke 3:22, why does it not follow the second person singular (“Thou art my beloved Son.”) but instead shifts to the third person (“This is my beloved Son.”)?


The traditional reading has early and wide attestation.  One can see how Christological controversies might have affected the reading.  It is also clear that the modern critics usually assume that such agreements among the Synoptic Gospels are due to harmonization, rather than it being an accurate reflection of what actually took place (e.g., the traditional text of Matthew, Mark, and Luke all read, “This is my beloved Son,” because this is precisely what the voice said).  Thus, there remain valid reasons for maintaining the traditional reading.


Phil Brown said...

I know this is a little off topic, but I would like to know your thoughts on the Septuagint. I am currently reading the Greek Orthodox Church's newest version of it, and have found it interesting. I have also been reading pro and con literature on it, and can't seem to sift through what is fact and what is fiction. If you ever get the time, I would like to know your thoughts.

Pastor Jeff said...

Hi Phil,

I can't promise I'll do anything soon, but I'll keep it in mind. I'm curious as to what issues with the LXX hold your interest: its use by the NT authors; its influence in the modern critical reconstruction of the Hebrew Bible (and, thus, on modern translations that follow the modern text); or something else?


Phil Brown said...

I have been reading a lot of info on how the Septuagint was the Old Testament of the early Church. How Augustine defended the Septuagint to the point that he criticized Jerome for using Hebrew when translating the Vulgate. The differences between the Vulgate, Septuagint, and Masoretic readings. I have to admit that all of this can be a bit confusing. I also see that the Septuagint was with the Vatacanus and Sinaiticus manuscripts, and since they were, why don't modern scholars use them instead? These are just a few reasons. Thanks for your time though.