Meeting on the way, Matthew 28:9
When one becomes aware of how many differences there are between older and modern versions of the Bible, one can become alarmed. But when someone attributes these differences and omissions to one or the other Gnostic conspiracy against the Christendom, the modern versions as well as the translators can easily come under suspicion. It is therefore of utmost importance that the real facts are faced to enable one to make an informed decision. Sometimes a difference might be deemed trivial. Sometimes there is a logic explanation. Yet an honest study reveals something of the causes for variations. That enables one to understand other similar variations. One such a case is Mat.28:8-9 where no less than eight words (printed darker) are left out of the NIV.
KJV: “And they departed quickly from the sepulcher with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshiped him.”
NIV: “So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.”
The first line of investigation is the manuscript evidence.
|Witness:||Greek:||Translations:||Church Fathers:||Greek:||Translations:||Church Fathers:|
|1 Old Latin, Vulgate, Bohairic||Eusebius, Cyrel-Jerusalem|
|401-500||Bezae||7 Old Latin, 2 Syriac, Armenian, Georgian||Cyril||Alexandrinus,
|501-600||1 Old Latin|
|601-700||2 Old Latin||1 Old Latin, 1 Syriac|
|701-800||Regius, 1 other Uncial manuscript|
|801-900||Koridethi, Minuscule 33||1 Old Latin||Cyprius, Sangallensis, Petropolitanus|
|901-1000||1 Old Latin|
8 Byzantine Lectionary
|1 Old Latin, Ethiopic|| f1
Minuscule 28 14 Minuscules, 1 Byzantine Lectionary
There are two variations of this verse. We should take into account that the same factors of destruction like normal erosion and loss, as well as deliberate destruction of manuscripts by the Roman Empire would have had equal effect on all manuscripts. If we compare the few manuscripts from the first centuries that survived, merely by numbers with the masses of the late medieval period it would cause a skew picture. Therefore it is imperative to compare manuscripts within the same period of their origin.
Up to the year 500 A.D. we see that the words of our investigation are absent from four Greek manuscripts, while they are present in two.
Translations give us the assurance that a Greek manuscript containing the version found in the translation, had been known in that place and time when the translation was made. Up to the year 500 A.D. we have a Sahidic and Bohairic translation from Egypt, eight Old Latin translations that originated in North Africa, Europe and Italy, as well as the Vulgate that was prepared ±392 A.D. in Rome. We also have two Syriac translations, East of Palestine, The Armenian of Russia, and the Georgian translation between the Caspian and Black Seas. In none of these translations these words are found. The first translation to contain these words, an Old Latin, dates 100 years later.
The third source of knowledge through manuscript evidence is the quotations made by the Church Fathers. Apart from the Diatessaron, a continuous narrative compiled by Tatian the Syrian (±177 A.D.) by combining the four gospels, not a single Church Father quoted this verse with these words in.
On the other hand Origen, who left us a sentence for sentence commentary on the New Testament, didn’t know this elaboration. Likewise Eusebius, who devised an ingenious system to locate parallel passages in the gospels, called the Eusebian Canons, didn’t know this elaboration. We also have quotes by Cyrel-Jerusalem (†386 A.D.) and Cyril (†444 A.D.) without these words.
Merely on grounds of the manuscript evidence, these words seem not to have been part of the original autograph.
Now we look at a possible explanation from within the pericope itself of how the variation could have originated, whether deliberately or by chance.
There are two possibilities. The first is that a scribe could have duplicated these words from the previous sentence, called dittography. This does not seem likely to be the case, for then he would also had to alter the sentence itself to the present form of the King James Version. The other possibility is that a scribe could have remembered what he had just written down in the previous sentence and by chance added these words to the present sentence. What ever the cause for the variation, it is obvious that nothing in the pericope gives any indication for a deliberate alteration.
Even if these words in both sentences could have been the original autograph, there is no indication of why anybody would see a need to omit these words from the second sentence.
Looking at these indicators, one has to accept that this variation originated by chance, with a greater possibility that these words had originally not been part of verse nine.
Under this heading we look at any specific words or habits of writing in Matthew that could give us an indication whether he indeed would have added or omitted these words from verse 9. This pericope gives no indication to this regard at all.
Taking all the indicators into account, we mainly have the external evidence indicating the possible addition of these words at a later date. This is supported by the internal evidence, indicating most likely an accidental but explicable addition.
The effect of the addition of these words in verse nine.
The repetition or not, of these words in verse nine, does not add or diminish any understanding of the pericope. On the contrary the duplication seems unnecessary and do rather hamper the rhythm and impact of the description of Jesus’ meeting with the women running from the empty tomb to inform the other disciples.
Do we have some kind of Gnostic attack on the Word of God? Or some kind of secularization of the Bible? Could this represent some alteration in service of one or the other dogma? In the study of about 100 differences between older and modern versions of the Bible I have not yet found a single difference that gives any ground to this rousing of suspicion. I have also not yet found any difference that touches on any aspect of Christian doctrine, except for Revelation 22:14! In that verse the modern versions restore the original words and removes therewith the false ground for salvation found in older versions of the Bible like the KJV!
God Himself guards over His Word and His church! We thank God for honest, well equipped, learned and God fearing translators who give us the Word of God in an intelligible, present-day language!
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