Are members of the Church the flesh and bones of Jesus? Eph.5;30
In Ephesians 5:21-32 Paul addresses the roles of husband and wife in the marriage relationship. He likens the love and care the husband must have for his wife, and the respect the wife should have for her husband to the relationship between Jesus and his Church.
In the older translations of the Bible like the King James Version, verse 30 reads: “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones… “
In modern translations like the New International Version, the words in dark are omitted: “…for we are members of his body.”
What could have been the words Paul had written in the original Autograph? If the words in dark had been added to the original, what could possibly be their origin?
Let us first examine the manuscript evidence:
|Witness:||Greek:||Translations:||Church Fathers:||Greek:||Translations:||Church Fathers:|
|301-400||Sinaiticus, Vaticanus||Bohairic||Vulgate||Ambrosiaster, Victorinus-Rome|
|401-500||Alexandrinus, Codex 048||Ethiopic||Euthalius, Pseudo-Jerome||1 Old Latin, 1 Syriac, Armenian||Chrysostom*, Jerome, Theodore, Theodoret|
|701-800||Athous-Laurae||1 Old Latin||John-Damascus|
|801-900||Minuscule 33||Boernerianus, Porphyrianus, Mosquensis, Byzantine Lectionary||5 Old Latin|
|901-1000||1 Minuscule||1 Old Latin|
|1001-1600||1 Minuscule||18 Minuscules||2 Old Latin|
Greek manuscripts: These words are lacking in all five pre 500 A.D. Greek uncial manuscripts, the oldest dating before 200 A.D. The first Greek manuscript to contain these words is the codex Claromontanus (±550). Most minuscule manuscripts, all later than 1000 A.D. do contain this elaboration.
Translations: This elaboration is also lacking in the oldest translations. The Vulgate compiled by St. Jerome (±382) at the request of Pope Damasus is the first translation to contain it but thence it is very common in Latin translations. It is also found in two later Syriac translations as well as the Armenian.
Writings of Church Fathers: Origin, (†254 A.D.) who left us a commentary on the whole New Testament, like Methodius (†312 A.D.) does not know this elaboration. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, (†202 A.D.), could however be the source of this elaboration in his polemic (both in Greek and Latin), against the Gnosis of Valentinus. “In his recapitulation theory Irenaeus emphasized that Jesus, the second Adam, had been obedient in every failure of the first Adam. Genesis 2:23-24 could have played a part in his thinking.” (Prof. Francois Malan). From then onwards this elaboration is common in the writings of Latin Church fathers.
The facts in all three groups of manuscripts point to this elaboration being a later addition to the original autograph.
One of the common practices of scribes was to rather include than leave out words that were in doubt in fear of leaving out something that could have been part of the original. That explains why later manuscripts tend to be longer than older.
The third criterion is the delicate evaluation of what Paul typically would have written himself. Paul referred to the body of Christ in quite a few places.
In 1Corinthians 10:16-17 as well as 1Cor.11:12-19 Paul explains Holy Communion emphasizing that the bread and wine represent the body and blood of Christ. These two aspects are necessarily linked.
In 1Cor.12:12-27 Paul utilizes the Body model as a description of the Church as body of Christ. The body parts of Christ play no role.
In 1Cor.15:35-44 Paul explains the resurrection body as a spiritual body. Surely this is how Paul would have seen Christ’s body at this time. Again the body parts like flesh and bones play no role at all. Why would it be important in Ephesians 5?
In the epistle to the Ephesians Paul refers another 7 times to the body of Christ, again the body parts not mentioned once.
It is the same in Philippians 3:21 and Colossians 1 18-23.
Nowhere does Paul use the expression of “flesh and bones”
The intrinsic evaluation indicates that this clause is alien both to Paul’s use and his vocabulary.
The context of Eph.5:21-32 is the marriage relationship. The relationship between Christ and his Church is presented as an example and norm for the relationship between husband and wife. In this instance the present elaborations plays no role at all to enlighten the example.
According to all three criteria as well as the context, it seems most likely that this elaboration represents a later addition to the original autograph, possibly taken from Genesis 2:23-24. Irenaeus could be the origin, but this cannot be confirmed without doubt.
This elaboration has no function nor does it add any insight to Scripture.
Remarks at the bottom of this page welcome.