January 18, 2006

Changes in 2 Thessalonians 2:13

There are many, many copies of the New Testament writings which are commonly referred to as ‘manuscripts.’ These manuscripts often have minor differences and there is a whole field of study that compares these differences or variants (mostly as simple as a misspelling --- sometimes as major as a different verse order or wording.) Given the vast number of copies we have, we can construct a very accurate ‘originals’ which out actually having the originals.

I was pursing 2nd Thessalonians in my ESV Bible, and noticed they translated (or more accurately, selected the variant) of 2 Thessalonians 2:13 as follows:

But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits [1] to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.

[1] Some manuscripts chose you from the beginning

The NIV and NASB do the opposite:

But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you [1] to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. (NIV)

[1] Some manuscripts because God chose you as his firstfruits

But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you [1] from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. (NASB)

[1] One early ms reads first fruits

While the TNIV opts for the ESV’s choice of the apparently (earlier?) manuscript:

But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. (TNIV)

Apparently an early manuscript has the ESV/TNIV wording of the passage while other later manuscripts preserved the NASB/NIV wording. Why would a scribe make this change? Was this a deliberate change to fit the theology of the scribe or a less subtle attempt at clarifying the verse?

3 Comments:

At January 18, 2006 3:04 PM, Blogger Pseudo-intellectual lunatic said...

interesting blog

 
At January 18, 2006 9:14 PM, Blogger Isaac said...

You don't offer an opinion about it, just an observation. Does it bother you? Do you feel it is the proper choice?

 
At January 18, 2006 11:37 PM, Blogger Justin Jenkins said...

Isaac,

It’s hard to say without knowing a bit more about the manuscripts --- but Ephesians 1:4 says:

"... even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him ..."

So clearly there is already that type of wording used by Paul, however that alone would not prove predestination, but merely that God chose to do it ‘all along’ so to speak. However you can still look at it a number of ways.

1) If you take ‘from the beginning’ as correct that could mean from the beginning of the Gospel being preached in Thessalonica or it could mean from the beginning of the world.

2) If you take ‘first-fruits’ to be correct this still doesn’t fully settle the debate as it’s left vague as to when they were chosen to be first-fruits, it could have been contemporaneously or it could have been ‘from the beginning.’

Therefore while the change was not really, in the end, a major one I can only assume there is pretty descent and more recent evidence to choose the ‘first-fruits’ variant over the other given both the ESV and TNIV team’s acceptance.

 

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