46 Angelic Proclamation
A single letter makes a difference! (Luke 2:14)
Is the form of the Greek word for goodwill or favor eudokia or eudokias ?
Did the angels sing a song proclaiming peace with three strophes? (eudokia)
Did they sing:
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace,
good will toward men. (MKJV)
Or did the song have two strophes? (eudokias)
Or did they sing:
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests. (NIV)
(or: …with whom He is well pleased – ASV)
Without the “s”, eudokia is a noun, used adverbial, describing what men receive.
With the “s”, eudokias, genitive form of the noun, used adjectively, defines the relationship of men towards God, who is the subject of the phrase.
Let us look at the textual evidence:
|Possibilities||eudokia, 3 phrases:||eudokias, 2 phrases:|
|Witnesses||Greek:||Translations||Church Fathers||Greek||Translations||Church Fathers|
|301-400||Bohairic,Syriac||Eusebius Basil Cyrel-Jerusalem Gregory-NyssaEpiphanius Apostolic Constitutions||א , B,W||Gothic Old Latin||Cyrel-JerusalemAthanasius|
|401-500||EthiopicGeorgianSyriac||A, D||4 Old Latin||Augustine|
|601-700||Ξ||Syriac,||5 Old Latin|
|801-900||K, Δ, Θ, 1 Uncial manuscript|
|1001-1600||20 Minusculesf1 f13||2 Vulgate, 1 Old Latin|
According to manuscript evidence, the five oldest Greek manuscripts as well as four of the seven ancient translations up to 500 A.D. all support the double blessing. The oldest witness for a triple blessing, is the Diatessaron of Tatian who created one narrative by combining extracts from all four Gospels. It could be that he omitted the “s” by mistake, exerting influence on many later manuscripts, especially in Syria.
Note that four variations are represented in the manuscripts with a triple blessing.
Apart from evaluating the manuscripts, one should also consider what is typical of the author of the document, the intrinsic criteria. The first chapters of Luke portray a strong Aramaic background. Luke recorded in Greek, what the angels proclaimed in either Hebrew or Aramaic to the shepherds. There are numerous examples of blessings in the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes and other parts in the Old Testament. Most are contained in a double blessing, often the first referring to God, and the second to man. Triple blessings are very rare.
One could ask: Does it influence the message?
In the triple blessing God is first honored.
Then peace is promised on earth
Then a state of good will or tranquility between men is promised.
In the double blessing, God is also honored first.
Then goodwill and tranquility is promised to those on “whom his favor rests.”
Though God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, only those that believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
At once a significant difference is obvious!
Now that we can read the whole history of Jesus in the gospels, we can also see which blessing became reality through the life of Jesus.
Look at the following:
In Luke 12:51-53 Jesus declares: “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
Why this division? Because everyone confronted with Jesus has to make a decision. ”Peace” is not for all on earth, only for those on “whom his favor rests.” Only those who have accepted the redemption God offered to all.
Compare other parts in Luke.
Mary proclaims prophetically in her song (Luke 1:46-55) that God scatters the proud and lifts up the humble.
Simeon proclaimed: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Lk.2:34-35)
Compare this with the prodigal son who took part in the feast, yet the “good” son stayed outside! (Lk.15:11-31)
Luke stresses the re-instatement of Peter after his fall, while it is ignored by the other Gospels. (Lk.22:31-32)
Peace is not the absence of struggle! Peace is harmony and relationship with God Triune!
Therefore everyone who hears the words of the angelic choir, know that the peace of God is for those in whom God is well pleased. And God delights in us when we accept the redemption that He offers us through the cross and resurrection of His son, Jesus Christ the Lord.