80 Was Grace translated out of Luke 9:55-56?
In Luke 9:53-56 we find an incident where it might seem as though the modern versions of the Bible have removed grace for the Samaritans. But when a version is so commonly found in modern translations of the Bible, the reason therefore should be examined
The words printed dark are absent in modern translations.
Luke 9:53-56: And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elijah did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
NIV: but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went to another village.
Let us consider the manuscript evidence available to us:
Luke 9: 55-56
|Witness:||Greek:||Translations:||Church Fathers:||Greek:||Translations:||Church Fathers:|
|301-400||Sinnaiticus, Vaticanus, Washington||Syriac, Bohairic||Basil, Cyrel-Jerusalem||1 Old Latin, Vulgate, Syriac, Gothic||Ambrose|
|401-500||Alexandrinus, Ephraemi||Ethiopic||Jerome||2 Old Latin, Syriac, Armenian||Epiphanius|
|601-700||Zacynthius||2 Old Latin, Syriac||2 Old Latin||Antiochus|
|701-800||Regius, At.- Laurae|
|801-900||Monacensis, Sangallensis, Minuscule 33||Cyprius, Petropolitanus, Koridethi||1 Old Latin|
|901-1000||7 Byzantine Lectionary|
|1001-1600||Minuscule 28, 6 Minuscules||13 Minuscules f1 f13||1 Old Latin|
Luke 9: 55-56
Codex Bezae (±450) has the elaboration on verse 55, but not that on 56.
Where all three elaborations appear, there are many variations.
The manuscript evidence for the elaboration on verse 54 (…even as Elijah did?) corresponds very near to that for verses 55-56. I will therefore not look at that separately.
Apart from Codex Bezae (±450 A.D.) that has only part of the elaboration, the Greek manuscripts are overwhelmingly (10:1) without the elaboration.
It is noteworthy that both Marcion (†160 A.D.) and Tatian (±170 A.D.) quote these verses with the elaborations.
Marcion developed a dualistic theology (±144 A.D.) where he opposes the loving Jesus as Son of God of the New Testament, diametrically against the condemning and wrath-seeking God of the Old Testament. For the churches he founded, Marcion compiled his own canon consisting of his personally altered form of Luke as well as 10 of Paul’s epistles.
According to Walter Grundmann, (Das Evangelium nach Lukas, Berlin 1974, p.201) the elaborations on verses 54-56 portray an interpreting character and could have had its origin with Marcion’s editing of Luke.
To me this looks like the kind of elaboration that Marcion could have put in the mouth of the “loving” Jesus, to confirm the total breach with the Old Testament where “condemnation and punishment” played an important role.
Tatian compiled a continuous chronicle of the four Gospels, the Diatessaron, in which he added and omitted as he saw fit. It is possible that he received these words from Marcion. However it might be, his Diatessaron had a great influence on later manuscripts. This might be the explanation of why almost as many ancient translations are with or without these elaborations.
The manuscript evidence points to these elaborations not being authentic to the original Luke.
Here we look at the typical work of the scribes to try and establish how this variation could have originated or why it had been carried forward. What is important to keep in mind is the fact that a scribe would rather add something in question than remove it for fear of letting word of God fall on the floor! One has to accept that those manuscripts lacking these elaborations were copied from sources also lacking these words.
This rather leans to accepting that these elaborations were not authentic to the original autograph.
Now we look to discern which variation has the greater possibility to represent the direct words of the narrator in this pericope, Jesus in this instance.
I am not aware of any place where Jesus questioned the spirit per se, working in his disciples, to be compared with the first statement (Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.)
The second statement (For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them) is reminiscent of Luke 19:10: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
Though this second statement could be authentic, it is conspicuous that Jesus did nothing to bring salvation to those Samaritans, but just moved to another town.
Without this elaboration the conduct of Jesus rather corresponds with his commission in Luke 9:5: “If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.”
Intrinsic it seems more possible that this pericope originally had been without these elaborations.
All three criteria available to us rather point to these elaborations as being later additions to the gospel. Jesus put great emphasis on the fact that He was sent to the lost of Israel. After His resurrection He commissioned His disciples to go out into the whole world and make disciples of all nations.
That was His way of conduct and His orders.
Comments at the bottom of this page are welcome.
- Duplicating of Manuscripts, Uncials
- Doctrinal Considerations
- Was grace translated out of Psalm 7?
- Did Jesus demand fasting?
- Paul’s unique style of greeting, Col.1:2.