Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Text Note: Galatians 3:1

The issue:

I ran across this textual issue when preaching week before last on Galatians 3:1-5.  The traditional text includes two phrases that are omitted in the modern critical text. The variations can be seen in comparison of English translations (emphasis added):

Traditional text:

KJV Galatians 3:1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?


Modern critical text:


NASB Galatians 3:1 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?


External Evidence:


The first phrase “that ye should obey the truth” is supported by codices C, D (second corrector), Psi, and the vast majority of manuscripts.  It is also found in the Vulgate (Clementine ed.), the Syriac Harclean, and some manuscripts of Jerome.  The omission is supported by the heavyweights Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, as well as Alexandrinus.  It is also supported by some Latin manuscripts, the Syriac Peshitta, the Coptic version, and other manuscripts of Jerome.


The second phrase “among you” is supported by D, F, G, and the majority.  It is supported as well by the Old Latin, the Vulgate (Clementine ed.), and the Syriac Harclean.  Its omission is supported, as with the previous phrase, by Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and Alexandrinus.  It is also supported by the “Stuttgart Vulgate” and the Coptic.


Internal Evidence:


Metzger’s Textual Commentary completely ignores discussion of the first phrase in Galatians 3:1 (pp. 593-594).  Of the latter, he simply notes that this is the Textus Receptus reading while stating that the modern critical text is “decisively supported” by the likes of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus.


Nestle-Aland makes reference in the apparatus for the first variation to Galatians 5:7 where the identical phrase appears.  The assumption must be that some text wrongly inserted the phrase into 3:1 from 5:7.  There are some logical questions, however, that we might pose.  First, could the appearance of the exact phrase in Galatians 5:7 simply demonstrate that this is, in fact, an authentic Pauline usage?  Second, is it not just as possible to imagine that a scribe might have omitted the phrase given its appearance in 5:7 as to imagine that he inserted it based on this same knowledge?  Third, would a scribe have been likely to take such liberties in inserting a phrase not in near proximity in the text to the verse in question?


As for the second variation, the phrase “among you [en humin]” appears numerous times in the Pauline corpus (e.g., in at least six verses in Romans; seventeen verses in 1 Corinthians; etc.).  It appears in three other verses in Galatians (3:5; 4:19, 20).  The assumption of the modern critical text must be that it was inserted by some scribe, perhaps knowing its typically Pauline usage.  Given that the phrase is a proven Paulinism might it not be just as well be assumed that it appeared in the original (a mark of Pauline authenticity) and was later omitted by scribal error?


No doubt, underlying the decisions of modern critical text editors is the assumption that the shorter text is to be preferred to the fuller.  Again, however, this is an assumption and not a proven fact.




As with so many textual matters in the NT, the evaluation of external evidence boils down either to accepting the traditional witness of the majority or accepting the minority witness of the tradition represented by Sinaticus and Vaticanus.  There is no compelling internal argument as to why the phrases might have been inserted and no reason to deny the possibility that they simply might have been omitted by scribal error or intention.  The fuller reading of the traditional text should stand until more convincing reasons are given for its abandonment.

1 comment:

Phil Brown said...

Excellent observation. I agree with your presupposition.