Luke’s unique writing style Acts 28:29
In older versions of the Bible that were translated from the Textus Receptus as source text for the New Testament, like the King James Version, we find a verse 29:
KJV: “And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.”
Modern versions using the United Bible Societies Text (UBS) or the Nestle Aland Text (NA) do not include this verse. How could we know which version gives a true rendering of the original autograph?
In 1516 Desiderius Erasmus published the first printed Greek edition of the New Testament. His text was based on only six manuscripts, all of late mediaeval date containing most of the alterations and additions that occurred during the ages of transmission of the text of the Bible. This text later became known as the Textus Receptus or received text. Because this printed text had been readily and economically available, it was extensively used for translations.
Though scholars of the Greek texts of the New Testament pointed out many mistakes and shortcomings in the text of Erasmus, a thorough scientific based comparison and gathering of variations in the Greek manuscripts had only been undertaken 350 years later. During 1898 Eberhard Nestle and Kurt Aland published a Greek text, not only taking all available manuscripts into account, but also printing the variations in a text critical apparatus at the bottom of each page. For the first time the translator of the New Testament was not dependent on the choice of a previous publisher or of a specific manuscript. Now he had the privilege to compare the available manuscripts from all over the world and choose the version which had the best possibility to present the original autograph.
When the United Bible Societies compiled their text in 1966 they extended their critical apparatus to include not only more than 6500 Greek manuscripts and 18000 manuscripts of ancient translations of the New Testament, but also the quotations of more than 220 Church Fathers. Once again the variations are printed at the bottom of each page. They also give an evaluation of how scientifically strong their own choice is.
Let us then look at what is available in manuscripts all over the world concerning the verse in question. Then we could discern whether Luke had in fact written this verse under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, or whether it had been added at a later date.
|Witness:||Greek:||Translations:||Church Fathers:||Greek:||Translations:||Church Fathers:|
|401-500||A, 048||Armenian, Ethiopic, Georgian||Chrysostom*, Euthalius|
|501-600||Ea||2 Old Latin||1 Syriac, 1 Old Latin|
|701-800||At.- Laurae||1 Syriac||1 Syriac*|
|801-900||Minuscule 33||Papr, 1 other Uncial manuscript||1 Old Latin|
|901-1000||1 Minuscule||2 other Uncial manuscripts|
|1001-1600||2 Minuscules, 2 Byzantine Lectionary||1 Old Latin, Present Vulgate||18 Minuscules, 2 Byzantine Lectionary||3 Old Latin, Vulgate||Theohpylact|
Let us consider the facts evident from the available manuscripts.
Greek manuscripts: This verse is lacking in all seven uncial manuscripts available to the year 800 A.D. The first two Greek manuscripts that do contain this verse date ±850 A.D. yet this verse is found in most later minuscule manuscripts. Scribes commonly would rather add than omit a phrase in question. That explains why later manuscripts tend to be longer than older manuscripts.
Antique translations: During the period 200-500 A.D. we have five different antique translations geographically spread from Egypt, Ethiopia and Georgia into Russia. Translations spread so widely could not have been translated from the same source manuscript. Not one of these translations contain this verse. That confirms that the version lacking this verse had been widely spread at the beginning, pointing to a greater possibility to represent the original. During the period 500-800 A.D. this verse is lacking in a further two Old Latin and a Syriac manuscript, but for the first time it is present in another Old Latin and two Syriac manuscripts. In one of these (marked * ) the scribe himself indicated that he doubts the authenticity of this phrase. Further on this phrase is only found in Latin manuscripts. Even the present Vulgate prepared during 1889 omits this phrase.
Church Fathers: Chrysostom and Eutalius (±450 A.D.) both refer to the departure of the Jews from the meeting with Paul at this point. The question is whether they had in fact quoted some manuscript, or had referred to the departure mentioned in verse 25.
Effect of this addition:
In verses 24-25 we find this remark: “And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word…”
Paul then quotes Isaiah 6:9-10. What Isaiah said to their forefathers through the Holy Spirit was going into fulfillment. They, the Jews who did not accept salvation through Jesus Christ, will be lost while the Gospel will be carried to the heathens. This led to disagreement between some Jews who accepted Paul’s words, and others who disagreed.
Luke mentions in verse 25 that the Jews departed after hearing this last word of Paul. By adding this verse Luke’s unique writing style is hampered. Luke ended powerfully with Paul’s quotation of Isaiah and his application thereof.
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