In Romans 14 verse 6 some manuscripts have additional text concerning the Sabbath and other holy days, not found in most modern versions of the Bible. The New King James Version has the additional text. The words printed in bold are the words in question.
NKJV: “He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.
Note that most modern versions are without this second statement, like the New International Version:
NIV: “ Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.”
Was the negative part of this statement, part of the original autograph or was it added to the text at a later time?
We evaluate the possibilities by using three objective criteria.
First we look at the evidence available in the manuscripts containing this verse.
1. External Criteria.
The version containing this clause, is represented by the following manuscripts:
Codices Angilicus, Porphyrianus, Psi and uncial 049, (all 850 A.D.) as well as minuscules 33, 1243 and 1874. Further most minuscules and the majority of Byzantine manuscripts, all dating after 850. It is also found in the Syriac and Armenian Ancient Translations. The church fathers Basil (379), Chrysostom (450) and Thoedoret (466) also quote it in this version.
The version without this clause, is represented by the following manuscripts:
Papyrus 46 (200 A.D.), Codices Sinaiticus, Vaticanus (both 350) Claromontanus, (550) Augiensis and Boernerianus (850). Also in Uncial 048, and minuscules 630, 1739, and 1881, as well as some other minuscules and the main corpus of Old Latin Translations.
Looking at this data, the shorter version has older manuscripts, although from one locale, viz. Egypt, they are widely accepted by textual experts as more reliable representatives of the original autograph.
On the other hand, both versions are found in different text types. Manuscripts like minuscules No 33 and 1874 usually have the same versions that are present in codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus but in this case correspond with the Byzantine manuscripts.
According to the available manuscripts, the shorter version that corresponds with the NIV has a greater possibility to render the original autograph, though the spread of both versions through most text types causes some doubt.
2. Internal Criteria.
The second criterion we can utilize, is to try and figure out how this variation could have originated, i.e., what reading would explain the other variants. If there is an obvious possibility that could explain the variation, it might as well give some indication as to which variation might be in agreement with the original.
When we compare the shorter reading with the longer one in the Greek, we immediately notice that there are three words that precede the longer text which are also repeated at the end of the longer text. The three are: phronei kai o, “regards it and he”
“He who observes the day, to the Lord he observe[s] it and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it and he who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.”
It is obvious that this variation must have originated by the jumping of the eye. If the original had been the longer version, some scribe left out the second part of the sentence when his eye jumped to the second “regards it and he”. This is called haplography. This could very easily have happened and also not been noticed.
If however the original had been the shorter version, the scribe’s eye must have jumped back to the first “regards it and he”, causing him to repeat the clause, called dittography. But then he would have had to go back and deliberately alter his duplication into the negative (not regarding the day). This second step would surely reveal his mistake. He would then rather correct his mistake by erasing the repeated clause, than deliberately alter it to make sense!
Changing from the shorter version to the longer is illogical and cannot be defended.
Somewhere Metzger points out that the shorter reading results in an unbalanced verse and, from the lectio brevoir (the shorter reading is preferable) viewpoint, suggests that the longer text was added to balance it.
But leaving out the second clause of the longer version due to haplography seems to me to be the obvious explanation for the origin of this variation.
The internal criteria strongly appeal for the longer version to be in agreement with the original autograph.
3. Intrinsic criteria
But let us examine and see which version is in agreement with the context where it is found.
In this paragraph Paul gives direction concerning two areas of dispute, and that one should not judge the other. First he handles the eating of meat or not, and emphasizes that God accepted both. Then he considers those who keep certain days in a special way, and emphasizes that everyone should be convinced in his own mind. And then our sentence of investigation is found. In this sentence Paul stresses that our conduct should honour God. If the shorter version is accepted, then Paul is making an obvious but conflicting conclusion concerning regarding or not regarding the day. The shorter version says that regarding the day is to the honour of God. But then it does not say anything about not regarding the day. Obviously not regarding the day would then not be to the honour of God!
Yet both eating or not eating, are to the honour of God! This difference between the two area’s of dispute is illogical and cannot be defended. Therefore the longer version where Paul treats both aspects of dispute equally must be accepted as what Paul had written in the first place.
Someone else might reason that Paul wanted to write “word economical” and make the one applicable to the other. But then why wouldn’t he rather make the first statement the complete one and the second dependant on the first. This would then force one to back – interpret the first statement from the second. Again this is illogical.
Both these intrinsic criteria strongly appeal for the longer version to be the logic choice to render the original autograph.
That the shorter version is found in the older manuscripts cannot be the only decisive criterion, since any mistake could have happened at any time, even with a copy made from the original autograph. Also applying the tool of text criticism, lectio brevoir (the shorter reading is preferable), could not be decisive.
The work done by Nestle and Aland, and also by the committee of the United Bible Societies does present the Bible translator with an excellent well researched Greek text. But their focus is mainly on the manuscripts where the Egyptian documents and the Alexandrian text type take preference. Yet the other text critical tools like internal and intrinsic criteria with prayer should be equally valued. Nestle-Aland or the UBS-text is not supposed to be a rule book, but a guide or help to be considered among other works
In our verse of investigation both the internal and intrinsic criteria make a very strong appeal towards the longer version found in the Byzantine manuscripts to be in agreement with the original and not the version found in the Alexandrian manuscripts.
Bruce Metzger, an expert in textual critique pointed out that one should be aware that the original might sometimes be preserved in the Byzantine manuscripts.
I believe that this is one of the more prominent cases.
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