92. “The Spirit was not yet” John 7,39

“The Spirit was not yet” John 7,39
What should one do when the source manuscript you are copying has a sentence that is open for misinterpretation? Should you just copy what is written, or should you add that which you might suspect had been left out by the previous scribe?
Young’s Literal Translation of 1898 gives the exact words as is found in the oldest Greek manuscripts John 7,38-39: “`If any one doth thirst, let him come unto me and drink; he who is believing in me, according as the Writing said, Rivers out of his belly shall flow of living water;’ and this he said of the Spirit, which those believing in him were about to receive; for not yet was the Holy Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
These words are open to misunderstanding. Could John be thinking that the Holy Spirit did not exist until Jesus had been glorified? Yet already in Genesis 1:2 the Spirit is mentioned as “hovering over the waters. ” He could also not mean that the Holy Spirit had not yet been with Jesus, for he himself reported that John the Baptist had testified that he had seen the Spirit “come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.” (John 1:32)
Of course John was referring to the out-pour of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, though he himself didn’t report on that event. But here in John 7 there is no clear or direct reference to that event. And to prevent any misinterpretation, some scribes added their own words. That is why we find in manuscripts no less than seven variations.
Ignoring the adding of “Holy” to “Spirit” as separate variations, we look at the addition of “given” as the main deviation from the oldest manuscripts namely: “for not yet was the Spirit” and “for not yet was the Spirit given”

John 7:39

Possibilities: for not yet was the Spirit: for not yet was the Spirit given:
Witness: Greek: Translations: Church Fathers: Greek: Translations: Church Fathers:
101-200 p66 p75
201-300 Rebaptism, Origen*, Dionysius Sahidic
301-400 Sinaiticus Washington Bohairic Athanasius Didymus Vaticanus Vulgate 2 Syriac, Achmimic, Bohairic Ambrosiaster, Eusebius, Victorinus-Rome Ambrose
401-500 Borgianus Armenian Georgian Cyril, Hesychius, Chrysostom*, Theodoret 2 Old Latin, Syriac Augustine
501-600 2 Old Latin, Syriac
601-700 4 Old Latin, Syriac
701-800 At.- Laurae, Regius
801-900 Cyprius, Petropolitanus, Monacensis, Sangallensis
901-1000 1 Uncial manuscript 20 Minuscules Byzantine Lectionary Georgian
1001-1600 f1 f13 Minuscules Old Latin

Apart from the four variations (two with the addition of “Holy”) we find in codex Besae (±550 A.D.) together with one Gothic and two Old Latin manuscripts the variation: “…for the Holy Spirit was not yet upon them.” The sixth variation is found in the Egyptian dialects Sahidic and Achmimic reading: “…for they have not yet received the Spirit”. The seventh variation found in an Ethiopic translation reads: “…for the Spirit had not yet come.”

Looking at the above information, it is clear that the first variation in the table, be it with or without the addition of “Holy” to “Spirit” represent the original version of the Gospel of John. (…for not yet was the Holy Spirit…”) All the other variations represent attempts by scribes to avoid that a reader of his manuscript might come under the impression that John denied the existence of the Spirit before Pentecost.
The original version of John is found only in Young’s Literal Translation of 1898 with the NLT mentioning that “some manuscripts read: But as yet there was no (holy) Spirit.” in a footnote.
It is the love for the Word that prompted scribes through the ages to rather create a little deviation than running the risk that their copy might be misunderstood, causing someone to doubt the Word, of Jesus, or the Holy Spirit.
This involuntary lets one ponder how much concern I myself have and how much effort I put into understanding even the smallest detail when I study the Bible!

God bless,


Comments are welcome at the bottom of this page.

About Herman of bibledifferences.net

The reasons for the differences between older Bibles like the King James Version and newer Bibles like the New International Version have fascinated me ever since my studies in Theology at the University of Pretoria in the seventies. I have great respect for scribes through the ages as well as Bible translators, so there must be good reasons for the differences. With more than 5600 Greek manuscripts and more than 19000 manuscripts of ancient translations to our disposal, the original autographs of the New Testament can be established without doubt. I investigate the reasons behind the differences and publish the facts in a post on my blogs www.bibledifferences.net (Afrikaans: www.bybelverskille.wordpress.com) to enable my readers to judge for themselves. Personally I love to make an informed decision based of facts. That is why I endeavor to provide that same privilege to the readers of my blogs. Since 1973 I am married to my dear wife and greatest friend, Leah Page, founder director of Act-Up Support (www.actup.co.za) a prayer ministry for families struggling with drug-, occult- and other dependencies. We are blessed with two daughters and two sons, four grand sons and two grand daughters. God is alive and omnipotent! Glory to His Name! Herman Grobler.
This entry was posted in Ancient Translations, Context, Internal Criteria. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to 92. “The Spirit was not yet” John 7,39

  1. Reblogged this on beliefspeak2 and commented:
    Herman Grobler demonstrates how scribes seeking to inform sometimes cause questions about what the original author said. A recognized concept is “proficiency enables clear and simple explanation.” Herman has done this with John 7.39.

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