Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Eastern Orthodoxy, the Enlightenment, and the Text of Scripture


Image: Depiction of St. Matthew, in the great lavra (monastic cell), Mt. Athos, Greece


I finally finished reading Robert Letham’s Through Western Eyes, his study of Eastern Orthodoxy from a Reformed perspective. One of the points Letham makes in his analysis concerns the different cultural and historical context in which Orthodoxy developed, as compared to the Western church. He notes, “the East had no Middle Ages, no Reformation, no Enlightenment” (p. 137).

Among other things, this has had a significant impact on the intellectual approach to the Bible and to “critical theological study” in Orthodoxy. So Letham observes:

Firstly, much Western theology and Biblical study in the past three hundred years has come out of the worldview and methodology of the Enlightenment, with its inbuilt aversion to authority, including the authority of God. The Eastern church, in contrast, has not had to contend with the Enlightenment. Flowing from this, secondly, Western critical Biblical study has been pursued mainly in an academic environment detached from the church, with the Bible considered as simply another book. The Eastern church, however, places theology (correctly, in my judgment) in the context of the church, the believing community, since the Bible was given to the church in the first place (p. 179).

He later adds, “in the West, since the Enlightenment the theological enterprise has generally been hived off to academic institutions with no connection to the church” (p. 276).

Though Letham does not address the divide between East and West on the text of the Bible, this contextual distinction likely explains why in Eastern Orthodoxy the modern-critical text  of the NT has made little headway. Rather than the academic, “Enlightenment” text, the Eastern churches have preferred the TR (NB: and not even the Majority Text!) [BTW, the OT is another story altogether, as the East follows the LXX rather the traditional Hebrew text, though this too reflects immunity to Enlightenment influences].

Can Reformed evangelicals get outside our circumstances to perceive the Enlightenment influence on the text of Scripture?


JTR

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Vision (7.21.17): And his disciples remembered


Image: Butterfly bush, Charlottesville, Virginia. July 2017

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on John 2:11-17.

And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up (John 2:17).

John notes here that upon reflection on Christ’s cleansing of the temple, his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house has eaten me up [consumed me].

You will find similar statements about remembering throughout John’s Gospel (see ahead 2:22). Compare John 14:26 when Jesus promises that he will send his disciples the Comforter who will “bring all things to remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26).

When did these remembrances occur? We are not told. I think it was most likely after the cross and resurrection. They remembered that it was written, “The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.” This is a citation of Psalm 69:9. Psalm 69 is one of the messianic passion psalms (like Psalm 22 and others).

It is a Psalm of David but also of Christ himself. In the midst is v. 9. John cites just part of it. The full verse reads:

Psalm 69:9 For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproaches thee are fallen upon me.

I think John is saying that in looking back at this early incident in the public ministry of Jesus during the Passover in Jerusalem they saw his zeal for the glory and honor of God the Father. But that incident would be eclipsed by an even greater expression of his zeal at a future Passover when he would lay down his life a ransom for many, when the reproaches of them that reproached God the Father fell upon him.

John’s statement in v. 17 is a reminder that most of our deepest spiritual learning comes not in the present moment of our experiences but upon later reflection. Most of our deepest spiritual learning comes through hindsight, through the rearview mirror, as it were.

Calvin observed:

And, indeed, it does not always happen that the reason of God’s works is immediately perceived by us, but afterwards, in the process of time, He makes known to us his purpose. And this is a bridle exceedingly well adapted to restrain our presumption [to murmur against God or stand in judgment of what he has allowed].

Notice also that what the disciples reflected upon was Scripture. Calvin again is helpful:

Now observe that they followed the guidance of Scripture… and indeed no man will ever learn what Christ is, or the object of what he did and suffered, unless he has been taught and guided by Scripture.

He adds: “it will be necessary that Scripture shall be the subject of our diligent and constant meditation.”


Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Church Planting Testimony


Image: Scene from the Lynchburg RB Mission, meeting on 6/18/17

Back on Sunday evening June 18, 2017, Bob Lunetta, a member of Trinity RBC in Roanoke, VA, provided a testimony of his experiences as a founding member of Emmanuel BC in Coconut Creek, Florida at a meeting of the Lynchburg Reformed Baptist Mission. I have uploaded the message to sermonaudio.com and you can listen to it here.

Bob noted five founding principles adopted by the EBC at its founding:

1. A commitment to the priority of worship, according to the Regulative Principle.

2. A commitment to Biblical church order and government.

3. A commitment to a Reformed system of doctrine, as expressed in the 1689 confession.

4. A commitment to each other.

5. A commitment to the spread of the gospel (evangelism).

I trust those who hear this testimony will be encouraged by it.

JTR

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Roman Religion


I’ve been reading classicist popularizer Mary Beard’s SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome (Liveright, 2015). In her discussion of Roman religion she confirms the point that Roman religion was less about personal belief and conviction and more about civic duty. Her comments:

In Rome there was no doctrine as such, no holy book and hardly even what we would call a belief system. Romans knew the gods existed; they did not believe in them in the internalized sense familiar from most modern world religions. Nor was ancient Roman religion particularly concerned with personal salvation or morality. Instead it focused more on the performance of rituals that were intended to keep the relationship between Rome and the gods in good order, and to insure Roman success and prosperity. The sacrifice of animals was a central element in most of these rituals, which otherwise were extraordinarily varied…. In general, it was a religion of doing, not believing (pp. 102-103).

Two interesting points to consider: (1) We do not even have the modern Western concept of religion as personal faith until the rise of Judaism and Christianity; and (2) Given this spiritual environment, we can see how the early Christian movement was so appealing to many when, in the providence of God, it broke onto the scene in the first century.


JTR

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Vision (7.14.17): And his disciples believed on him



Image: Butterfly bush, Charlottesville, Virginia, July 2017

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on John 2:1-11.

This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him (John 2:11).

This is the capstone to the account of Jesus turning water into wine. John the apostle says, “This beginning of miracles [semeion] did Jesus in Cana of Galilee…” This is the first miracle of Jesus that John records in his Gospel. We do not know whether this means this was his first public miracle or his first in this particular place. Jesus, of course, did many miraculous things in the course of his ministry that are not recorded in the Gospels (cf. John 20:30; 21:25).

Matthew’s Gospel describes Jesus healing many early in his ministry (cf. Matt 4:23-24). The first miracle Matthew specifically describes is his healing of a leper (Matt 8:1-4). The first miracle Mark’s Gospel describes is the casting out of an unclean spirit (Mark 1:23-26). In Luke’s Gospel, the first direct miracle described is also an exorcism (Luke 4:33-35).

None of the other Gospels describe the miracle of turning water into wine. We are indebted to John’s record alone for this precious memory of our Lord’s particular work on this occasion.

John says that through this miracle Christ “manifested forth his glory.” This remind us of the purpose of miracles: to manifest Christ’s glory. The purpose of any authentic miracle is to point men toward Christ and his glory.

Finally, John adds: “and his disciples believed on him.” Andrew, Simon Peter, Philip, and Nathaniel were already following Jesus. Why does John tell us that they believed on him? This reminds us that discipleship is a slow but sure process.

Thus, Calvin comments on this verse:

The forbearance of Christ is great in reckoning as disciples those whose faith is so small. And indeed this doctrine extends generally to us all; for the faith which is now full grown had at first its infancy, nor is it so perfect in any as not to make it necessary that all to a man should progress in believing.

He adds:

Let those who have obtained the first-fruits of faith labor always to make progress.


Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Book Review: A Brief History of Old Testament Criticism


I have posted a spoken word version of my book review of Mark S. Gignilliat's A Brief History of Old Testament Criticism: From Benedict Spinoza to Brevard Childs (Zondervan, 2012): 84-85 (listen here). The written review appeared in American Theological Inquiry Vol. 7, No. 1 (2014): 84-85. You can read a pdf of the review here.

JTR

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Word Magazine # 78: Review: Christian Standard Bible (CSB) (2017)


I just posted WM 78: Review: Christian Standard Bible (CSB) (2017) (listen here). Below are my notes:

The Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) was completed in 2003. The translation was produced by a division of LifeWay of the SBC. This year (2017) an updated edition of this translation has been released, now under the title of the Christian Standard Bible (CSB).

You can read about the CSB on its website. One page is titled: “Why the CSB?” It notes a Barna study which suggests that Bible ownership is up but Bible reading is down. The problem? They do not have a Bible “optimally translated for today’s English reader?” So, here comes the CSB to meet this gaping need!

The CSB was revised through the work of more than a hundred scholars under the supervision of a ten member translation oversight committee, with two SBC scholars (Thomas Schreiner of SBTS and David Allen of SWBTS) serving as co-chairs. Note: One might think the co-chairs would be scholars of both testaments. Schreiner is a NT scholar and Allen a professor of preaching. Is their co-chairmanship a nod to “political balance” in the SBC between Calvinists (Schreiner) and Non-Calvinists or “traditionalists” (David Allen).

Advance copies of the CSB with the full notes were distributed in the fall 2016 ETS meeting and “reading copies” were also available for those who requested them. I have a reading copy.

Among other things, the front matter indicates:

The text for the translation: For the NT, NA-28 and UBS-5. For the OT, BHS-5.

The translation philosophy: “optimal equivalency,” a supposed via media between “formal” and “dynamic” equivalency.

And, what has proved most controversial, there is a statement on the CSB’s use of “gender language.”

Controversy over “gender accurate” language:

Controversy surfaced around the time of the SBC annual meeting. See the Atlantic article by Jonathan Merritt and Garet Robinson from June 11, 2017.

Here is a table comparing some readings in the KJV, HCSB, and the CSB (emphasis added):

Passage
KJV
HCSB (2003)
CSB (2017)
Psalm 1:1
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path of sinners, or join a group of mockers!
How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers!
Psalm 8:4
What is man that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man that thou visitest him?
what is man that You remember him, the son of Man that you look after him?
what is a human being that you remember him, a son of man that you look after him?
Michah 6:8
He hath shewed thee, O man what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
He has told you men what is good and what it is the LORD requires of you:
Only to act justly, to love faithfulness,
and to walk humbly with your God.
Mankind, he has told each of you what is good and what it is the LORD requires of you:
to act justly,
to love faithfulness,
and to walk humbly with your God.
John 1:12
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name,
But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name,
Philippians 2:7
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men
Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity
Hebrews 2:10
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
For it was fitting, in bringing many sons to glory, that He, for whom and through whom all things exist, should make the source of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
For in bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was entirely appropriate that God—for whom and through whom all things exist—should make the source of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

Hearing some of the phrasings in the CSB (despite having Michael Card as “stylist”) reminds me of T. S. Eliot’s 1962 review of the NEB, in which he described it as “an active agent of decadence.”

Questions about the text:

As substantial as questions about the “gender accuracy” of the CSB, there have also been questions raised about the textual approach of the CSB, as pointed out in an article by Peter J. Gurry which appeared on January 25, 2017 on the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog. Gurry raises questions about the CSB notes on 2 Peter 3:10 and references Maurice Robinson’s questions about John 1:18 (see WM 56 on this controversial verse). Some good points are also made in the comments section. Here are a few comparison passages (emphasis added):

KJV
ESV
CSB
Jeremiah 1:9 Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold I have put my words in thy mouth.
Jeremiah 1:9 Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me,
Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.
Jeremiah 1:9 Then the LORD reached out his hand, touched my mouth, and told me:
I have now filled your mouth with my words.
John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
John 1:18 No one has ever seen God; the only God who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
John 1:18 No one has ever seen God. The one and only Son who is himself God and is at the Father’s side—he has revealed him.
2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed.

New Translation, Same Old Problems:


It seems unlikely that the CSB will gain a large market-share of the English Bible market (perhaps that is not really its goal so much as providing an in-house translation for LifeWay publications) or insure that more Bible owners will become Bible readers. That is the Spirit’s work.

JTR

Friday, July 07, 2017

The Vision (7.7.17): Christ: Our Ladder


Image: Blue hydrangea, Charlottesville, Virginia, July 2017

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on John 1:47-51.
And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man (John 1:51).
This is an allusion to an account from the OT from the life of Jacob when he fled from the wrath of his brother Esau and had a dream at a place he later called Bethel. Compare:
Genesis 28:12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
Jesus tells Nathaniel: The “greater things” (v. 50) that you will see is a ladder that extends between men on earth and God in heaven, and there will be messages that are going back and forth by means of that great ladder.
Jesus refers to himself here as the Son of man. This is a title that was especially preferred by Jesus when he talked of his suffering. Compare:
Mark 8:31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
We should be careful of seeking out types from the OT, but here is a type that comes with the authority of Christ himself. What does it represent? Some moment in Christ’s ministry of deep communion with God (his transfiguration? his prayerful agony in the garden?).
I think that ladder is most likely a reference to the cross work of Christ. More than that, it is the man who extended his body on the cross, who stretched out his arms upon the cross, who laid down his life upon the cross. The ladder is the Word become flesh.
Jesus tells Nathaniel that he will see something greater, and this will be the rightful basis for faith in me. It will be understanding his death on the cross for sinners and his resurrection from the dead granting life to those who believe. Discipleship is not discipleship until it unfolds the significance of the cross and the empty tomb.
Calvin comments on this verse:
In short, this passage teaches us, that though he whole human race was banished from the kingdom of God, the gate of heaven is now opened to us, so that we are fellow-citizens of the saints, and companions of angels (Eph 2:19) and that they, having been appointed to be guardians of our salvation, descend from the blessed rest of the heavenly glory to relieve our distress.
We have a ladder: He is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Vision (6.30.17): What seek ye?


Image: Lilies, North Garden, Virginia, June 2017

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on John 1:35-46.

Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? (John 1:38a).

Jesus turned to the two disciples of John the Baptist who began to follow him and asked them a question. Jesus is the great asker of questions. Men think they have questions for Jesus; let’s not forget that it is he who has questions for us. What matters is not your investigation of Jesus but his investigation of you.

These are the very first recorded words of Jesus in John’s Gospel. These are the first “red letter” words in John. Of course, every word in the Bible is a “red letter” word in that it is God-breathed by the triune God. But the first recorded words of the incarnate Jesus recorded in a Gospel are significant.

In Matthew, it comes in 3:15 when Jesus says to reluctant John at his baptism: “Suffer it to be so for now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.”

In Mark, it comes in 1:15 when Jesus preaches, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”

In Luke, it comes in 2:49 when the 12 year-old Jesus says to Mary and Joseph in the temple where they had left him, “How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not [or, Did you not know] that I must be about my Father’s business?”

The first recorded words of the Lord in John come in a question posed to two men who begin to follow him: “What seek ye?” What are you seeking? What are you looking for?

That is a great and fundamental spiritual question. Why would any men seek to follow Christ? Are you seeking knowledge? Happiness? Prosperity? Rest? Relief? Wisdom? There are many men who begin seeking after Christ for all the wrong reason or for no purposeful reason at all. But then he is so often so very gracious in that he gives them more than they ever could have asked or imagined. He finds out seekers, even those who might be more than little misguided in their seeking.

When we lived in post-communist Hungary in the early 1990s I recall seeing a ubiquitous billboard advertising a newly opened Ikea store.  The billboard had an Ikea catalogue on one side and a red-covered book with the title Marx, Das Kapital on the other. In between the two books was the saying, in Hungarian, “Which makes your life better?” At that time, the choice was clear for most Hungarians. They had given up on communism and wanted to pursue fulfillment through Western materialism, as represented by that catalogue.

Of course, I wanted to add a third book to that billboard. The Bible. The only thing that will really make your life better is knowing the God of the Bible. John wrote this Gospel so that those who read it might come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing they might have life in his name (cf. John 20:31).

What are you seeking to make your life better? You will only find real satisfaction if you seek Christ and follow him.


Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Is "sola Scriptura" a Reformation slogan?


I’m still working my way through Robert Letham’s Through Western Eyes: Eastern Orthodoxy: A Reformed Perspective (Mentor, 2007). It includes an intriguing chapter comparing Orthodox and Reformed views on Scripture and tradition (pp. 173-198), in which Letham notes confusion, on both sides, about the term sola Scriptura.

Letham’s point is that the popular modern concept of sola Scriptura as a “right of private interpretation” was not a Reformation principle (see pp. 194-195). He adds: “To categorize Reformed theology as individualistic, with no doctrine of the church, is an error of monumental proportions” (p. 195). See similar reflections in Keith Mathison’s The Shape of Sola Scriptura on the difference between the Reformers’ view of sola Scriptura and modern individualistic evangelical view of what he calls “solo” Scriptura.

In this year of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, many discussions on various points of Reformed theology and practice are surfacing. I noticed that the May 26, 2017 issue of Christianity Today has an interview with church historian Mark Noll titled, “The Freedom and Chaos of Sola Scriptura” (BTW, I do not, in fact, subscribe to “Christianity Yesterday,” as some derisively call it, but take a look at it, as well as the mainline The Christian Century, from time to time when I visit the central library, and I just happened to thumb through this issue last week). That article begins its discussion of the slogan by noting, “It has been a hallmark of Protestantism for 500 years….” That may be true of the concept but Letham suggests that the actual slogan does not go back that far.

Letham comments:

In fact, this slogan cannot be traced back to the sixteenth century; it was a much later concoction. Its intention was not to suggest that only the text of the Bible was acceptable. Indeed, the Reformers produced a wide range of new catechisms and confessions….  What they taught was that the Bible is the supreme authority, and sits in judgement on the teaching of the church, not vice versa (p. 175).

He later adds, regarding the term:

This is often taken to mean that the Bible is to be the only source for theology. It is almost universally claimed that it is one of the central pillars of the Reformation. However, there is not evidence of such a slogan in the entire sixteenth century. It is probable that it did not put in an appearance until the eighteenth century at the earliest. Contrary to so much hot air, it is not a Reformation slogan. When it was coined it was held to affirm that the Bible is the highest court of appeal in all matters of religious controversy, which is what the Reformers and their successors actually held.

So, Letham makes two interesting points:

First, historically, the exact term or slogan sola Scriptura was not, in fact, coined in the sixteenth century but in the eighteenth century (though Letham does not suggest who first coined the term—that would be interesting to know).

Second, theologically, the Reformed concept of sola Scriptura does not champion “private interpretation.” It also does not suggest that the Bible is the only source for theology but that it is the standard by which theology is rightly understood and evaluated.


JTR

Saturday, June 24, 2017

WM # 77: Jude 5


I recorded and uploaded this afternoon, Word Magazine # 77: Jude 5.

Here are my notes:

The NA28 incorporated for the first time use of the CBGM from the ECM, but only in the catholic epistles. The NA28 lists 33 changes from the NA27 (pp. 50-51). Most of these are minor, but there at least two major changes: 2 Peter 3:10 and Jude 5.

Note: The CBGM/ECM method will continue to be incorporated in future edition of the modern critical text. Recent posts on the ETC blog indicate two recent key developments coming out of Germany: (1) In June 2017 the Text und Textwert edition of Revelation was published (determining the witnesses cited in the ECM and eventually bound in reduced form for the NA) (see here); and (2) In August 2017 the two-volume ECM edition of Acts will be released (see here).

I.                The issue: Jude 5:

The major change is the use of “Jesus” rather than “Lord.”

Compare (emphasis added):

Jude 5 KJV: I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.

Jude 5 ESV: Now I want to remind you , although you once fully knew it, that Jesus who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.

II.              The external evidence: Jude 5:

There are some minor variations. A few mss. include the conjunction oun (C, Psi, etc.) and one ms. inserts “brethren [adelphoi]” (p78).

The major variation is at the phrase “though ye once knew this, how that the Lord” (KJV):

TR: eidotes humas hapax touto hoti ho kurios
NA27: eidotes [humas] panta hoti [ho] kurios hapax
NA 28: eidotes humas hapax panta hoti Iesous

The apparatus of the NA 28 lists no less than 13 variations:

1.    humas panta hoti kurios hapax (Sinaiticus)
2.    humas hapax touto hoti ho kurios (1175, 1448, Byz)
3.    hapax panta (touto: 5) hoti ho theos (C2, 5, vg mss)
4.    hapax touto hoti ho kurios (307, 436, 642)
5.    panta hoti ho theos hapax (442, 1243, 2492, vg mss, Syriac ph)
6.    panta hoti ho (-Psi) kurios hapax (Psi, 1611, Syriac h)
7.    hapax panta (pantas p72*) hoti theos christos (p72)
8.    hapax panta hoti (plus ho 33*) Iesous (A, 33, 81, 2344, vg)
9.    panta hoti ho Iesous hapax (88, sa mss?, bo?)
10. panta hoti Iesous hapax (1739 txt, sa ms? bo? Origen 1739 mg)
11. hapax touto hoti kurios Iesous (1735)
12. panta hapax gar Iesous (1739 varia lectio)
13. humas hapax panta hoti Iesous (B)

Note:

(1)  The NA28 reading is found is exactly found in only one ms: B [and there is no evidence that this reading was ever copied];

(2)  The main issue is the one acting (the Lord or Jesus), but there are other variants. See this table:

[ho] kurios
Sinaiticus, 1175, 1448, Byz; 307, 436, 642; Psi, 1611, Syriac h
Iesous
A, B, 33, 81, 88, 1739 txt, 2344; vg, sa ms?, bo?, Origen 1739 mg, 1739 varia lectio
Kurios Iesous
1735
theos
C 2, 5, vg ms.; 442, 1243, 2492, vg mss., Syriac ph
theos christos
p72

Observations: There are only 8 papyri mss. of the catholic epistles. Of those only 2 are of Jude; p72 (all of Jude); p78 (Jude 4-5, 7-8). Of the uncials, the evidence is divided. Sinaiticus has kurios, while A and B have Iesous.

III.            The Internal Evidence: Jude 5

See Bruce Meztger’s Textual Commentary, Second Edition, prepared for the UBS 4 (pp. 657-658). It gives [ho] kurios a “D” reading but retains it nonetheless.

He notes that the committee believed the reading of Iesous “was difficult to the point of impossibility,and explained its origin in terms of transcriptional oversight” (mistaking the nomina sacra for kurios [kappa sigma] as that for Jesus [iota sigma]).

He adds that nowhere else in Jude does the name Jesus appear alone but as Jesus Christ.

He also notes that though the Iesous reading is well attested it would be “strange and unparalleled” to ascribe to Jesus this OT action.

Here is a place where text criticism of the twentieth century (Metzger) is set against that of the twenty-first century (NA28)!

IV.            Conclusion:

Though the variation here is slight, it introduces the peculiar challenge of an unstable text for those who embrace the ever-changing modern critical text. One might argue that the modern text offers a high Christology by attributing to Jesus divine action in the exodus. But this would actually argue against it, since “the Lord’ is a reading of equal antiquity that apparently resists this pious tendency. Metzger’s explanation of confusion over the nomina sacra seems more than plausible.

The “new reading” was adapted by the ESV and the NET Bible even before NA28 was published. It has now been adopted by the NLT (2015) and the Christian Standard Bible (2017).

These are the first vernacular translations to offer this reading since the Protestant Reformation. But is this change warranted? I do not think it is. We should stick with the traditional reading.


JTR