Thursday, November 19, 2015

Notes on the Pauline Subscriptions

Image:  The ending of 2 Corinthians in Erasmus' NT (1516) with subscription in Greek and Latin.

I’ve been looking recently at the subscriptions to the Pauline epistles which are appended at the close of each letter (including Hebrews).  These subscriptions provide various bits of information like where the letters were written, the recipients, and the messengers who carried them.  Here is a listing of the subscriptions as they appear in the KJV, with some references to internal evidence in the text:

Pauline letter
Traditional subscriptions (as in KJV)
Internal evidence
Written to the Romans from Corinthus, and sent by Phebe servant of the church at Cenchrea.
Romans 16:1-2
1 Corinthians
The first epistle to the Corinthians was written from Philippi by Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus and Timotheus.
1 Corinthians 1:16; 16:8 (from Ephesus?), 15, 17
2 Corinthians
The second epistle to the Corinthians was written from Philippi. a city of Macedonia, by Titus and Lucas.
2 Corinthians 1:16; 2:13; 7:5-7, 13-14; 8:1, 6, 16, 18, 23; 9:2, 4; 11:9; 12:18
Unto the Galatians written from Rome.

To the Ephesians written from Rome, by Tychicus.
Ephesians 6:21
To the Philippians written from Rome, by Epaphroditus
Philippians 1:7, 13-14, 16; 2:25; 4:18, 22
Written from Rome to the Colossians by Tychicus and Onesimus.
Colossians 4:3, 7, 18; cf. Philemon
1 Thessalonians
The first epistle to the Thessalonians was written from Athens.
Cf. Acts 17
2 Thessalonians
The second epistle to the Thessalonians was written from Athens
Cf. Acts 17
1 Timothy
The first to Timothy was written from Laodicea, which is the chiefest city of Phrygia Pacatiana.
Colossians 2:1; 4:13, 15, 16; Revelation 1:11
2 Timothy
The second epistle unto Timotheus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Ephesians, was written from Rome, when Paul was brought before Nero the second time
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 9-18
It was written to Titus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Cretians, from Nicopolis of Macedonia.
Titus 1:5, 12; 3:12
Written from Rome to Philemon, by Onesimus a servant.
Philemon 1:10-12, 23
Written to the Hebrews from Italy, by Timothy.
Hebrews 10:34; 13:23-24

Here are some notes from my study:

1.  These subscriptions are included for each of the Pauline epistles (Hebrews included), but no such appendices accompany the General Epistles (James, 1-2 Peter, 1-2-3 John, Jude).  According to the textual apparatus of the modern critical text, the General Epistles were often preceded with brief inscriptions.  The inclusion of a subscription for Hebrews (and its lack of an inscription) in the traditional text indicates that it was considered part of the Pauline corpus.

2.  These subscriptions were included in Erasmus’ Textus Receptus (1516) and then appeared in various Reformation translations, including the Geneva Bible (1560, 1599) and the King James Version (1611).

3.  Subscriptions appeared in ancient Greek manuscripts in various and often abbreviated forms.  Example:  The subscription “To the Galatians [pros Galatas]” appears after Galatians 6:18 in the codices Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, and the original hand of Vaticanus, among others.  The subscription as in the traditional text “To the Galatians, written from Rome [pros Galatas egraphe apo Romes]” appears in the first corrector of Vaticanus, 0278, 1739, 1881, and the Majority of extant manuscripts.  The subscriptions appearing in Erasmus’ TR reflect the Majority Text tradition.

4.  The subscriptions to the Pauline epistles have generally come to be omitted from modern editions of the Greek New Testament.  The textual evidence for the subscriptions is omitted from the apparatus in the 28th edition of the N-A Greek NT (though it appears in the 27th edition).  The subscriptions are, however, discussed in Metzger’s A Textual Commentary on The Greek New Testament (1971, 1994).  The subscriptions are not included in the Hodges/Farstad The Greek NT According to the Majority Text, Second Ed. (1985) nor in the Robinson/Pierpont The New Testament in the Original Greek:  Byzantine Textform (2005).  They are also not included in the Trinitarian Bible Society’s print edition of the TR (based on Scrivener’s Greek NT, 1894, 1902).
5.  The subscriptions to the Pauline epistles are omitted in many modern reprintings of the King James Version, including the texts of the The King James Study Bible (Thomas Nelson, 1988), the Holman KJV Study Bible (2012), and The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible (2014). See Malcolm Watt’s article “Subscriptions to the Epistles,”  Quarterly Record, No. 587 (April-June 2009):  pp. 13-14.  Watts concludes that the subscriptions are not part of the inspired text and the information they contain is not reliable.

6.  Questions:  Can an argument be made for the propriety of the inclusion of the subscriptions as part of the traditional text of the NT?  Can the historical information in the subscriptions be defended?  What impact do the subscriptions [whether one accepts them as an inspired part of the traditional text or merely as an ancient testimony to church tradition] have on our understanding of the various interpretive issues relating to the NT (e.g., regarding the authorship of Hebrews)?


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