Thursday, April 30, 2020

What is the correct translation in Hebrews 1:8 - "Your throne, O God" or "God is your throne"?

Trinitarians and anti-Trinitarians have debated on this issue for a long time. 

The translation, “God is your throne” is often used by those who don’t believe that Christ is God because for them this is the correct translation. Otherwise, it will appear there are two Gods. 

We will discuss the Greek text of Hebrews 1:8 and Syriac since there is a bible translated from Syriac which supports “Your throne, O God” as translation. 




Here are versions of the Bible that support “Your throne, O God”:
  • New International Version
  • New Living Translation
  • English Standard Version
  • Berean Study Bible
  • New American Standard Bible
  • Christian Standard Bible
  • Contemporary English Version
  • Good News Translation
  • Holman Christian Standard Bible
  • New English Translation Bible
  • New Heart English Bible
  • English Revised Version
  • Aramaic Bible in Plain English
  • New American Bible: Revised Edition
  • King James Translation
  • Douay-Rheims Bible
  • Darby Bible Translation

Here are versions of the Bible that support “God is your throne”:
  • New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures
  • James Moffatt New Testament
  • Goodspeed New Testament
  • New Testament by William Barclay

Let us look at the original text of Hebrews 1:8 and analyze the context until the succeeding verses. 

πρὸς δὲ τὸν υἱόν, Ὁ θρόνος σου, ὁ θεός, εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ αἰῶνος, καὶ ἡ ῥάβδος τῆς εὐθύτητος ῥάβδος τῆς βασιλείας σου. ἠγάπησας δικαιοσύνην καὶ ἐμίσησας ἀνομίαν: διὰ τοῦτο ἔχρισέν σε ὁ θεός, ὁ θεός σου, ἔλαιον ἀγαλλιάσεως παρὰ τοὺς μετόχους σου: καί, Σὺ κατ' ἀρχάς, κύριε, τὴν γῆν ἐθεμελίωσας, καὶ ἔργα τῶν χειρῶν σού εἰσιν οἱ οὐρανοί:
In v. 8 the author states that this is what God says to the Son in contrast to what he states to the angels. In v. 8 the author first identifies who is the recipient of the statement with πρὸς δὲ τὸν υἱόν (pros de ton huion). So we can assert that the son is the person spoken to in the citation which follows. The citation begins with Ὁ θρόνος σου (ho thronos sou),” so because of proximity we can say that the Son is the referent of the pronoun “sou”. The question is how we should understand ὁ θεός (ho theos) in this citation.

We can rely on the scholarship and authority of Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament, 28th Edition which did not shift σου to αὐτοῦ as the better reading. NA28 is the best, most up-to-date Greek New Testament.

LXX suggests this reading by adding a comma (,) = ὁ θρόνος σου, ὁ θεός in Psalm 44,7 quoted in Hebrews 1:8.

It is taken from Hebrew Bible, wherein all the versions of ancient manuscripts vocalization take אֱ֭לֹהִים (elohim) in the vocative.

Their reason (anti-Trinitarians) is the shift of σου to αὐτοῦ. If σου is read, there is no difficulty in taking "ho theos" as vocative.

What can New Testament scholars say about this? 

According to New Testament Text and Commentary by Philip Wesley Comfort, Page 695:
"The context makes it clear that God is speaking to his Son, Thus God the Father addresses his Son as “God.” This is the TR NU reading, where O THEOS must be understood as a vocative. The variant reading allows for two different renderings, the most unusual of which is noted above as a second option for the variant (“God is your throne etc.). But such reading violates the natural sense of the Greek and obscures Christ’s deity. God calls his Son “God” and then declares that his throne is everlasting because of his righteousness."


According  A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible) by Harold W. Attridge:

“The author introduces two citations (vss. 8–12*), indicating that they are both addressed to the Son. The first is from Ps 45(44):7–8*, which was originally composed as a wedding song (epithalamium) for an Israelite king,  wherein the monarch’s majesty is praised in hyperbolic language. The original import of the first clause of this psalm is disputed. Although it may have involved an address to the king as god,  it is more likely to be construed as a predication, in parallelism with the following verse, to be rendered “your throne is (a throne) of God, eternal.” The LXX rendering is ambiguous, since the form used for “God” is nominative. It is, however, possible, even in classical Greek, to use the nominative for the vocative,  and in the LXX and the New Testament this usage is common. That Jewish exegetes regularly understood the text as an address is clear, both from the Targum and from the revision of the LXX by Aquila.  The author of Hebrews stands in this exegetical tradition and takes the psalm as an address to the Son as God. Although such explicit recognitions of the divinity of Christ are rare, they do appear in other early Christian writings. The author’s understanding of the psalm may have been influenced by his high Christology with its sapiential roots, since Philo can refer to the Logos, one of the divine “powers,” as a “God.” For our author, then, Christ, as divine, is seen to have an eternal reign, unlike the transitory angels.” 


The argument often used by those who disagree with “Your throne, O God” is not acceptable since it will mean that there are two Gods based on Hebrews 1:9. Yet, this argument is based on their own interpretation since they cannot accept God has three divine persons. This is not how scholars in Greek grammar interpret it.

These are the comments of Greek and New Testament scholars:
1:8-9. Psalm 45 may have been composed for a royal wedding celebration, but part of it speaks of God's blessing on the king and probably (certainly in the Greek version cited here) addresses God directly. Jewish interpreters read as
much literal significance into a passage as they could, hence the writer of Hebrews forces his fellow Jewish-Christian readers to recognize the plain language of this psalm. Because God is addressed in Psalm 45:6 (cited in Heb 1:8), it is natural to assume that he continues to be addressed in Psalm 45:7 (cited in Heb 1:9). (Later *rabbis applied this text to Abraham, and a later *targum applied an earlier verse to the *Messiah; but probably neither tradition was known to the writer of Hebrews, and the former one may have represented anti-Christian polemic.) But Psalm 45:7 distinguishes this God from a God he worships, so that one may distinguish God the Father from God the Son. The writer of Hebrews explicitly affirms *Christ's deity in this passage. (The IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament, pages 1087-1088 by Craig S. Keener)

"The First “O God” is a vocative in the Greek – the Son is being addressed as “God”, the second statement “your God’ refers to God the Father "(A Commentary on the Manuscripts and text of the New Testament, Page 373).



So, in verse 9, the Son is identified as distinct from God. The passage says πρὸς δὲ τὸν υἱόν (echrisen se ho theos, ho theos sou), “God, your God, has anointed you…” The only way the Son can be identified as God in verse 8 and then distinct from God in verse 9 is through a unity of essence but a difference in person as the classic Trinitarian doctrine states.

The καί in v. 10 links that citation to the previous one in vv. 8-9, which is directed towards the son, πρὸς δὲ τὸν υἱόν (pros de ton huion).

Here are the Bibles translated from Syriac Peshitta:

Dr. John W. Etheridge's English Peshitta translation
But concerning the Son he hath said, Thy throne, Aloha, (is) for ever and ever, a right sceptre [Or, perfect, true] (is) the sceptre of thy kingdom.
Dr. James Murdock's English Peshitta translation
But of the Son he said: Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a righteous sceptre is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

Dr. George Lamsa's English Peshitta translation
But of the Son he said, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the scepter of thy kingdom is a right scepter.
Some said the translation from Syriac Peshitta is wrong. 

A person can only say the translation of a certain version mentioned above is incorrect if he or she can understand the grammar of Syriac Peshitta. 

Why do we believe that the above-mentioned translations from Syriac Peshitta are correct?



ܕ݁ܟ݂ܽܘܪܣܝܳܟ݂ ܕ݁ܺܝܠܳܟ݂ ܐܰܠܳܗܳܐ



It reads like this:



"d’ḵūrsāḵ dilak alaha"

First, we would be disrupting the parallelism of the quote if God were the throne. “Your throne is forever…and a righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom.” It makes sense to speak of the throne and the scepter in parallel.

Second, If there was no particle ܕ݁ܺܝܠܳܟ݂  (dilak) in there, it would read with the connecting verb "God is your throne." but the addition of the particle makes it "Your throne God..." 












Sunday, April 26, 2020

The Importance of Oral Tradition in the Old Testament and New Testament

The early Christians used the Septuagint and some other Hebrew Bible manuscripts), and they used it mostly orally, not in written form.




This is what an Old Testament scholar, Dr. David M. Carr said in his book, An Introduction to the Old Testament: Sacred Texts and Imperial Contexts of the Hebrew Bible on page 39:
“Though traditions can be written as well as oral, many scholars use the term “tradition history” to refer to the history of oral traditions that existed before and alongside the written texts now in the Bible. Different versions of an oral tradition can be recognized by the combination of thematic or plot parallels on the one hand and variation in characters, setting, and especially wording on the other. Take the example of the parallel stories of Abraham and Sarah at Philistine Gerar with King Abimelech (Gen 20:1 – 18, 21:22 – 34) and Isaac and Rebekah at the same place and with the same king (Gen 26:6 – 33). Look at the similarities and differences! Though the two sets of stories are remarkably parallel, they diverge enough from each other that many believe them to be oral variants of the same tales. Scholars can use the term “transmission history” to refer more broadly to the history of the transmission of oral and written biblical traditions.”


Oral tradition is of supreme importance in a non-literate culture. Only a few scribes could read and write. As the people's oral stories, legal sayings, songs, prayers, etc. grew, eventually they would be grouped into lengthy composites, eventually would get written down in books.

Most scholars of the Pentateuch would understand that the books of Genesis-Deuteronomy grew out of different traditions and sources, some of which grew out of oral traditions among different groups and then came to be written down in various sources (Priestly, non-Priestly—some say Yahwist and Elohist-- and Deuteronomic) and then editors and redactors merged and edited the materials in multiple stages of editing.

There were no "sacred scriptures" until after David. There were some oral traditions about Abraham and Moses, but they would have been more "family/tribal history" than "scripture." 

Most of the Hebrew started in small oral traditions that grew and were combined with similar traditions to form ever-larger complexes, such as the historical narrative from Creation to Moses by the Yahwist and the Priestly source; then the legal materials of P and the Holiness Code were inserted into that narrative as speeches of Moses.

John Collins is one of the well-known scholars.  Professor Collins clarified the documentary hypothesis on pages 53-56 in Introduction to the Hebrew Bible:

These books are traditionally known as the Torah and as the book of Moses. Both of these designations are problematic. The Torah is commonly, but not quite accurately, translated as “Law.” Much of the Pentateuch is a presentation of laws, but Genesis and the first half of Exodus consist of narratives. The Hebrew word torah has a broader sense than “law” and includes a sense of traditional teaching. The attribution to Moses, however, arises from the prominence of laws in these books. The book of Deuteronomy is introduced as “the words that Moses spoke to all Israel beyond the Jordan” (Deut 1:1), and Moses is again said to be the  source of various other parts of Deuteronomy (4:44; 31:24; 32:45). In the books of Joshua and Kings, “the torah of Moses” refers to the laws of Deuteronomy (Josh 8:31-32; 23:6; 1 Kgs 2:3; 14:6; 23:5). Later books of the Hebrew Bible, such as Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles, refer to the Torah of Moses, with reference to the laws in Deuteronomy and Leviticus (e.g., Neh 8:1, 13-18). The Torah is commonly regarded as the book of Moses in the Hellenistic period. Ben Sira, who wrote in the early second century b.c.e., refers to “the book of the covenant of the Most High God, the law that Moses commanded us” (Sir 24:23). The Torah is regarded as the book of Moses in the Dead Sea Scrolls, in the New Testament, and in the first-century c.e. Jewish authors Philo and Josephus. The Babylonian Talmud (Baba Bathra 14b) says explicitly that Moses wrote the five books named after him. It seems that this tradition had its origin in the book of Deuteronomy and was gradually extended until Moses was regarded not only as the mediator of the laws but as the author of the whole Pentateuch, although there is no basis for this claim in Genesis or in the narrative portions of Exodus. The problematic nature of the supposed Mosaic authorship was noticed at least as early as the Middle Ages. The medieval Jewish scholar Ibn Ezra (twelfth century) noted that Gen 12:6, which says that “the Canaanites were then in the land,” must have been written at a later time, when this was no longer the case. Similarly, Gen 36:31, which refers to “the kings who reigned in the land of Edom, before any king reigned over the Israelites,” must have been written after the establishment of the monarchy. Other scholars noted that Moses cannot have written the account of his own death at the end of Deuteronomy. Attention was gradually drawn to various repetitions and contradictions that suggested that the Torah was not the work of any one author, but was rather a compilation of tradition long after the time of Moses. Such observations proliferated in the wake of the Reformation, when the Bible was subjected to a new level of scrutiny. One of the earliest notable critics of the Pentateuch was a Catholic priest, Richard Simon, in the seventeenth century. Simon argued that the Pentateuch could not have been composed by Moses, but was written centuries later by scribes without vowels, YHWH, so as not to profane the name by pronouncing it. Jewish tradition substitutes the word Adonai, “the Lord.” The mongrel form “Jehovah” is a combination of the consonants of YHWH, or JHVH, with the vowels of Adonai.) Astruc supposed that different source documents had been woven together in the composition of Genesis. Astruc’s observation was gradually developed by later scholars into a full-fledged documentary hypothesis, which addressed the composition of the entire Pentateuch. The book of Deuteronomy was recognized as substantially a distinct source. A distinction was made between passages that refer to God as Elohim in Genesis. Some of these passages (e.g., Gen 1:1—2:4a, and various passages dealing with genealogies) were recognized aspart of a Priestly source (P) that is represented extensively in Leviticus. The remaining narrative material was seen as a combination of Yahwistic source (J, following the German spelling Jahweh) and an Elohistic one (E). For much of the nineteenth century, scholars assumed that the Priestly document was the oldest stratum of the Pentateuch. (In German literature from that time it is called G, for Grundschrift, or basic document.) In the 1860s, however, this theory was revised, so that P was viewed as the latest (or next to latest) document, and the order of the sources was established as J, E, D, P (or J, E, P, D). The new order was argued by a number of scholars, notably the German Karl Heinrich Graf and the Dutch scholar Abraham Kuenen. It received its classic formulation, however, from the German Julius Wellhausen in the 1870s and 1880s. The Documentary Hypothesis, or the view that the Pentateuch is a combination of (at least) four different documents, enjoyed the status of scholarly orthodoxy for about a century. There were always variations of the theory. Some scholars identified additional sources, or subscribed to a Fragment Hypothesis that allowed for greater diversity of authorship. For a long time Scandinavian scholars defended the view that the tradition was transmitted orally down to the late seventh century b.c.e. Some scholars extended the division of sources into the book of Joshua and spoke of a Hexateuch (six books) rather than a Pentateuch. But the four-source theory was by far the dominant view. Only in the last quarter of the twentieth century has it come to be widely questioned. Before we can evaluate these objections, however, we need to appreciate the kind of observations on which the hypothesis was based. who drew on archival records. His work was suppressed in France, and he was expelled from his order. Important contributions were made by two great philosophers. Thomas Hobbes, in his master work Leviathan (1651), demanded that people be guided by the statements of the biblical books themselves (as opposed to traditional beliefs about them) and held that these books gave considerable evidence about the time in which they were written. In 1670 the Jewish philosopher Benedict Spinoza argued in his Tractatus Theologico-Politicus that the Pentateuch and the following books, down to Kings, were compiled by Ezra after the Babylonian exile. Spinoza allowed, however, that Ezra made use of older sources. (Introduction to the Hebrew Bible, John Collins, Publisher: Fortress Press; 3 edition (April 15, 2018), pp. 53-56)


I know some do not believe this but why do many scholars believe the JEDP?

JEDP is the proper place to start. It was an amazingly intelligent theory, largely provable (maybe not 100%, but perhaps 90%). But it doesn't cover a number of the smaller problems that don't quite fit the diction or theology of J,E,D, or P. It is not just "one of the possible" theories. It is the theory to start with, and then push forward to address the remaining non-fits. Two of the auxiliary explanations that account for some verses beyond JEDP are scribal creativity and oral performance. That is, extra non-JEDP verses were added by creative scribes and/or by religious leaders who inserted their thoughts into the JEDP (mostly) finished Pentateuch. In other words, JEDP is the place to start, and for elements of the Pentateuch that do not seem to stem from JEDP, analyze them and try to determine the rationale for each.

Other Books of the Old Testament and the Oral Tradition

The book of Deuteronomy may have a longer tradition back to the northern kingdom in the 9th or 8th century, many scholars argue that an early version of Deuteronomy was not written down as a book until the 7th century BCE under King Josiah (622 BCE), some time after Hezekiah.  King Hezekiah, however, may have supported the group that carried the tradition orally from the north.
Most scholars would argue that the book of Joshua itself (as part of the so-called Deuteronomistic History—Joshua-2 Kings) comes from a time later in the monarchy.  It may include some older traditions which were carried orally.  So the reference to the “book of the torah” suggests a written document (“book”). 


Most scholars would argue that writing does not appear in inscriptions uncovered in archaeological digs in the land of ancient Israel until the later 9th or 8th century BCE.  Clearly, even with the rise of writing, ancient Israel remained a largely oral culture with traditions primarily handed down by word of mouth alongside textual writings.

Writing and literacy became prevalent only in the late ninth and eighth centuries BCE and later.  So earlier prophets (like Hosea and earlier parts of Isaiah) probably  began as oral prophecies and oracles that were committed to memory by disciples of the prophet and then later written down on scrolls.  Later books like Ezekiel and Daniel seem to have more cohesive sections and so likely originated for the most part as written texts.

We only know that there was oral tradition for most of this material before it was ever written down. So no oral tradition, no written tradition.

What is the connection of the Oral Tradition to the New Testament? 

The New Testament wasn't there as "Scripture" until the early 2nd century. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament are the written products of traditional oral tradition.

For the New Testament, they eventually told individual stories, sayings, miracles of Jesus; these too would be grouped into long, oral narratives and discourses during the "apostolic" period. Eventually, in the third generation (ca. 70 CE and later) scribes would write down the teachings ["according to"] "Matthew," "Mark," "John," et al.

There was a belief that long before the four canonical Gospels came to be, there was a tradition in the early church about Jesus – What he said, did and who and what he was. This is considered a "gospel" tradition which was not immediately clear. It was not evident why the literary narrative accounts about him were later known as the "Gospels."

One Bible scholar, Joseph Fitmyzer underscored the importance of oral tradition on page 25 in his book, To Advance the Gospel: New Testament Studies on page 25:
"Oral tradition has been at work both at the beginning of the gospel tradition and at its end, just before the definitive form of the three Gospels, between the literary contacts and the final redaction. Literary contacts occurred, not between the Gospels as such, but "within a presynoptic documentation already more or less systematized." He would thus postulate five stages of formation: (1) The stage of crystallized oral tradition. (2) The first systematization in Aramaic Matthew. (3) Successive written documents, at least three in number, which enjoyed literary contacts. (4) Oral modifications in the various communities of these documents. (5) The definitive Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Thus there is no dependence of Luke on Mark or on Matthew (as we know them), but only an undefined literary contact between them in an early stage, and modifications from subsequent oral tradition." (To Advance the Gospel: New Testament Studies , Joseph Fitzmyer, Wm. B. Eerdmans-Lightning Source; 2 edition (April 8, 1998), p. 25)








Friday, April 24, 2020

Educating Bro. Eli Soriano and His Followers for their false claim that Codex Sinaiticus is much better than Codex Vaticanus

The purpose of this article is to answer the claims of Soriano’s group that Codex Sinaiticus is ‘much better’ than Codex Vaticanus.



As I see it, Bro. Eli needs to study the Original Text so he can teach his members before they interfere with things that they do not know. If a person really knows what he’s doing, he will not dare say Codex Sinaiticus is better than Codex Vaticanus because even textual criticism scholars do not say this. Did the group of Soriano claim this because they conduct textual Criticism? But wait, I heard several times in his program that Bro. Eli mentioned the Codex Sinaiticus as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls, but he never read them even once! 

Perhaps, the group of Bro. Eli say that the Sinaiticus is much better than the Vaticanus because they read that the Codex Sinaiticus was also called the “Sinai Bible.” Is this enough for you to declare that one manuscript is better than the other manuscript?  One can only conclude that a manuscript is much better than another manuscript if he actually read the manuscript and performed the work of individuals who studied textual criticism.

Is Codex Sinaiticus really much better than Codex Vaticanus?

The Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus are both 4th century manuscripts . Vaticanus likely slightly  older than Sinaiticus. They are both very well respected. These manuscripts were written by trained scribes. Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most important displays at the department of manuscripts in the British Library. The Codex Vaticanus is preserved at the Vatican Library along with Papyrus 75 written in the 3rd century. Vaticanus belongs to the 75,000 manuscripts preserved at Vatican library.  There are all kinds of manuscripts there - theological works from the early Church and the Middle Ages, secular documents, sermons, and of course lots of Biblical manuscripts: Hebrew, Syriac Greek, Latin - some complete, some partial. A lot of our early manuscripts are there. 

Vaticanus, Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus are late (4th & 5th century CE) codices that give forms of the Septuagint current in their day. 


In the article written by Emanuel Tov (expert in old testament textual criticism), The Septuagint in Codex Sinaiticus Compared with Other Sources he said, "In all books except Judges and Isaiah, Codex Vaticanus is usually considered the best pre-Hexaplaric text." In our analysis, we learned that the pre-hexaplaric text is often quoted by Church fathers in their commentaries. 

According to Daniel Wallace (expert in new testament textual criticism) on page 34 of Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament: Manuscript, Patristic, and Apocryphal Evidence, Codex Vaticanus has most of the more primitive readings. According to Bruce Metzger (known as authority in the field of textual criticism) on page 67 of his book, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (4th Edition), “One of the most valuable of all the manuscripts of the Greek Bible is Codex Vaticanus.” 

These two codices have become the foundation of modern-critical studies of the New Testament.


In textual criticism, we will learn that there are text-types which are the Byzantine text-type, Western text-type, Caesarean text-type, and Alexandrian text-type. Vaticanus and Sinaiticus both belong to the Alexandrian text-type. 

The Textual Criticism scholar, Dr. Bruce Metzger in his book, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (4th Edition)  said the Alexandrian text is more superior when it comes to establishing the original text than the Byzantine text-type (p. 280) and Alexandrian text is prepared by skillful editors trained in scholarly traditions (p.312).



Through this article, we will learn that nobody can say that he does not need Codex Vaticanus since he prefers Codex Sinaiticus. We can see the importance of both manuscripts.

However, let us give  Bro. Eli and his followers a few lessons so they will learn not to repeat what they claim which they really are not aware of. 

There are parts of the two manuscripts where the text of Vaticanus represents the correct reading and Sinaiticus is wrong. However, there are times that Sinaiticus is correct compared to Vaticanus. In many cases, the two uncial manuscripts complement each other compared to other manuscripts. The good part is the two manuscripts can be used to determine which of the parts of the Masoretic Text and the Dead Sea Scrolls with textual variants are correct. 

THE TWO UNCIAL MANUSCRIPTS COMPLEMENT EACH OTHER 

We can show many proofs but we will just point out a few examples. 

First, we will notice in some Bible versions that Matthew 17:21 cannot be found. Matthew 17:21 cannot be read in Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. Both manuscripts start with the Greek word, Συστρεφομένων which is the first Greek text of Matthew 17:22 after ὑμῖν, the last Greek word in Matthew 17:20. 

Here is the actual  manuscript of Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus.


I marked, and you can see the part where ancient texts of Matthew 17:20 and the subsequent Matthew 17:22. 

Second, like Matthew 17:21, there is no John 5:4 in Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. If you will notice below, after John 5:3 the next is John 5:5. 


Both verses mentioned earlier are part of what Philip Comfort said in his book as extra verses, phrases, and words. 
"..the King James Version, based on the Textus Receptus, have all these extra verses, phrases, and words.  Those who read the King James Version (also the New King James Version) are reading a "leavened" version---that is, it is a text with thousand of extra words...In short, the additions were the result of scribal gap-filling wherein scribes added words as they read and copied a text. The sources for the additions came from their own minds, other gospels, other scriptures, and oral traditions" (A Commentary on Textual Additions to the New Testament, Philip W. Comfort, Kregel Academic (December 27, 2017), pp. 7-8)
Third, both Vaticanus and Sinaiticus do not have Mark 16:9-20 or the longer ending. We can see in actual manuscripts of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus that both end in Greek words εφοβουντο γαρ, the two last Greek words in Mark 16:8. 

Codex Sinaiticus

Codex Vaticanus


However, the longer ending is found in Codex Alexandrinus 


As we can see, we can read the  Greek word Ἀναστὰς, which is the first Greek word in Mark 16:9.  

Fourth, if there are textual variants in copies of ancient manuscripts, the copyists or scribes committed errors. There are unintentional changes committed by scribes while they copied for many reasons. 

The New Testament manuscripts  had errors due to the scribes’ incorrect hearing. For example, in English, we can understand the error as in this sentence, “I can see for miles” and “I can see four miles.” If we take a look, there is a difference in accent or intonation, but we can see how the scribe was mistaken in copying and hearing.
"In this way, as many copies could be produced simultaneously as scribes were working in the scriptorium. It is easy to understand how in such a method of reproduction errors of transcription would almost inevitably occur. Sometimes the scribe would be momentarily inattentive or, because of a cough or other noise,would not clearly hear the lector. Furthermore, when the lector read aloud a word that could be spelled in different ways (e.g., in English,the words great and grate or there and their), the scribe would have to determine which word belonged in that particular context, and sometimes he wrote down the wrong word.  (The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (4th Edition), Bruce Metzger, p. 25)
There are intentional changes and one of the reasons is “doctrinal changes.” 

The book written by Joseph M. Holden and Norman Geisler, The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible: Discoveries That Confirm the Reliability of Scripture on page 109 mentions this.

One of the passages of the New Testament with intentional changes is John 1:18 where there are manuscripts with “Monogenes Theos” translated by NRSV as “God the only Son” while some manuscripts state “Ho Monogenes Huios” translated by KJV as “the only begotten Son.” Aside from P75 (3rd Century) and P66 (about 200 AD) that support “Monogenes Theos,” Codex Vaticanus (4th Century) and Codex Sinaiticus (4th Century) agree since both state “Monogenes Theos.” 


Codex Vaticanus


Codex Sinaiticus



In Codex Alexandrinus (5th Century), Codex Cyprius (9th Century), Codex Boreelianus (10th Century), and  Codex Regius (8th Century) the words “Ho Monogenes Huios” are written.


Codex Boreelianus (10th Century Manuscript)

According to Textual Criticism scholars, the early manuscripts are reliable.

“For these aims, in general, the earlier the manuscript, the better” (The Earliest Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins, Larry W. Hurtado, p. 15).

“It is now clear that monogenes theos is the earlier reading – and the preferred reading. This was changed, as early as the beginning of the 3rd century—if not earlier, to the more ordinary reading, monogenes huos”(Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism, Philip Comfort, p. 336).

“The alternate argument is that monogenes theos was original and that a scribe changed it into ho monogenes huios because it fits well with Johannine style”(Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament: Manuscript, Patristic, and Apocryphal Evidence,  Daniel B. Wallace, p. 74).



THERE ARE PARTS OF THE TWO MANUSCRIPTS WHERE THE TEXT OF VATICANUS REPRESENTS THE CORRECT READING, AND THERE ARE TIMES THAT SINAITICUS IS CORRECT COMPARED TO VATICANUS

First, in Hebrews 1:3 of Codex Vaticanus, we can read the Greek word, Phaneron meaning “making visible, making known.” However, Codex Sinaiticus represents the correct reading which is Pheron (bearing, carrying [NRSV: "sustains" in the text; "Or bears along" as a footnote]). 


Other Greek manuscripts like Papyrus 46, Codex Claromontanus, and GA 757 agree with Sinaiticus since “Pheron” is written here.



Second, in Luke 8:3, we will notice in Codex Vaticanus the Greek words, διηκονουν αυτοις meaning “provided for them.” However, the greek words we can read in Codex Sinaiticus are διηκονουν αυτω or “provided for Him.” 


Codex Bezae (5th Century) and Codex Alexandrinus (5th Century) both agree with Codex Vaticanus.




Third, in Luke 2:37 of Codex Vaticanus, we can read the Greek word, ὀγδοήκοντα, meaning “eighty” which is written in majority of manuscripts like Codex Alexandrius where we can read ὀγδοήκοντα. 

Codex Vaticanus and Codex Alexandrinus

In Codex Sinaiticus, we can read εβδομηκοντα meaning “seventy.”

Fourth, Matthew 24:35 was omitted in Codex Sinaticus. Yet, in Codex Vaticanus and Codex Bezae, we can read the Greek words, ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ παρελεύσεται οἱ δὲ λόγοι μου οὐ not παρέλθωσιν


CODEX VATICANUS IS VERY USEFUL SINCE IT IS ONE OF THE CODICES OF LXX AND ITS TEXTS CAN BE USED TO RESOLVE THE PROBLEMATIC MASORETIC TEXT 

We will give 4 examples to support the importance of Codex Vaticanus as one of the codices of LXX.  

First, the issue regarding Genesis 1:9 in Masoretic Text.

Many scholars argue that what is written in LXX, συναγωγὴν means “gathering, collection” corresponding to 4QGen, מקוה (mikveh) instead of Hebrew word, מקום (makom). 

Here is the Hebrew text from Masoretic text (Codex Leningradensis )where  the word, makom is highlighted as part of Genesis 1:9.


Here is the Greek text of Genesis 1-9 based on Codex Vaticanus and seen in the Greek word συναγωγὴν which I highlighted. It is written in The Old Testament in Greek: 

The Old Testament in Greek: According to the Text of Codex Vaticanus, Supplemented from Other Uncial Manuscripts


Here is the small clear fragment which is part  of 4QGen where we can see the word, Mikveh

Infrared Image, Shai Halevi, courtesy of the Israel Antiquates Authority (4QGen) deadseascrolls.org.il

The basic difference between 4QGen and Masoretic Text is the end of the Hebrew word.

The difference in the meaning is slight, “gathering” versus “place.” The Greek word, συναγωγὴν of LXX in verse 9 is the accurate translation of the Hebrew word, mikveh meaning "gathering, collection." Septuagint connects to a Hebrew reading which is preserved in 4QGen. 

Codex Sinaiticus has Genesis Chapter 21 to Chapter 24 but it has no Genesis Chapter 1 and Chapter 2. 

Second, one of the famous variants of the Old Testament is written in Genesis 2:2.

One of the famous variants of the Old Testament in the creation is about the days completed by God in His work. According to Old Testament scholars like Ronald S. Hendel, the reading in Masoretic text, השביעי, meaning "the seventh" day is manifestly incorrect based on the narrative context.

In the book of Emanuel Tov, The Text-Critical Use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research in Chapter 3, it discussed and the difference can be seen between the Masoretic Text and Samaritan Pentateuch where it is written "seventh" in MT while it is written in SP as "sixth." 

According to page 88 of The Text-Critical Use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research:
The LXX agrees with the Sam. Pent. ( הששי ) and S in reading “sixth” for “seventh” of MT. This reading probably derived from contextual theological harmonization because it was found difficult to explain how God could finish his work “on the seventh day” without having worked on that day. It is impossible to determine whether the easier reading of the LXX was based on an actual variant הששי or whether the exegetical tendency developedindependently in all three sources.


In the discussions of Tov regarding issues in the Old Testament, he cited the importance of the Septuagint using critical editions, the göttingen, which is based mainly on Codex Vaticanus.

According to page 70 of Text-Critical and Hermeneutical Studies in the Septuagint (Vetus Testamentum, Supplements) Edited by Johann Cook and Hermann-Josef Stipp:
"Basically all Septuagint editions from the 17th through to the 19th centuries, and even into the first half of the 20th century, have been based on the Codex Vaticanus...Even the critical edition by Rahlfs and, to a large extent, the Göttingen edition rely heavily on Codex "B." 

Third, the problematic text of Deuteronomy 32:43 in Masoretic Text.

The commentary used by Jeffrey H. Tigay entitled The JPS Torah Commentary  for the book of Deuteronomy shows his translation on page 516 and the comparison of MT, 4QDeut-q, and LXX.



We can see the scribal error in the Masoretic Text.  


The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research, R. Timothy McLay, p.108

In my personal observation, due to the parablepsis, the scribe of the Masoretic text passed from the Hebrew word הַרְנִינוּ rendered by LXX, εὐφράνθητε which we can see in line 1 going to the second in line 4 and he omitted the whole clause preserved in LXX. 

Here is the actual Manuscript of the text 4QDeut-q from the website of the Dead Sea Scrolls. 


Infrared Image, Najib Anton Albina, courtesy of the Israel Antiquates Authority (4Q Deuteronomy) deadseascrolls.org.il

The best preserved text is 4QDeut-q. It has a perfect poetic structure. It has in v. 43 three bicola (or pairs of parallel lines: 6+7,  8+9, and 10+11). It also has "Heavens."

The LXX was clearly copied from a good text like 4Q, though it translates lines 6 and 7 twice. 


Fourth, the difficult text in Hosea 1:4 of the Masoretic Text


Here is the Peshitta text of Hosea 1:2. 






Here is the Hebrew text of Hosea 1:2. 

(Aleppo Codex)

According to Dr. Eric J. Tully in his book The Translation and Translator of the Peshitta of Hosea on pages 54-55.

"p, along with g and t, reads the second word of this verse in his unpointed source text as a noun in construct rather than the qatal verb of mt."

The LXX text is a big help since we can see the agreement of LXX and Syriac. 

LXX and Syriac translate דבר as "word" rather than "he spoke." It may also be that the Syriac and LXX tried to simplify a difficult text. If they were reading unvocalized Hebrew, it would be natural to read the way that they did.

The text of Codex Vaticanus is a big help to the text of Hosea that is why there is a book, Hosea: A Commentary based on Hosea in Codex Vaticanus written by scholar W. Edward Glenny. Codex Sinaiticus has no book of Hosea unlike Codex Vaticanus. 






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Note: Images in the manuscripts of this post are owned by Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts except for Qumran Manuscripts and Masoretic text. Whoever uses the images above must ask for permission. The Qumran manuscripts’ images are found in https://www.deadseascrolls.org.il/. The manuscript of Aleppo Codex can be found in http://www.aleppocodex.org/. 




















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