Grave Worship: More of Muhammad’s Duplicity Exposed

Muhammad is reported to have cursed the Jews and Christians for turning the graves of the prophets and righteous persons as places of worship, and warned his followers from doing the same with his grave:

Narrated ‘Aisha and ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas: When the last moment of the life of Allah’s Apostle came he started putting his ‘Khamisa’ on his face and when he felt hot and short of breath he took it off his face and said, “May Allah curse the Jews and Christians for they built the places of worship at the graves of their Prophets.” The Prophet was warning (Muslims) of what those had done. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 8, Number 427 https://www.searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=8&translator=1&start=0&number=426)

‘A’isha reported: The Messenger of Allah said during his illness from which he never recovered: Allah cursed the Jews and the Christians that they took the graves of their prophets as mosques. She (‘A’isha) reported: Had it not been so, his (Prophet’s) grave would have been in an open place, but it could not be due to the fear that it may not be taken as a mosque. (Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 1079 https://www.searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=004&translator=2&start=0&number=1038)

21 The Book of Funerals

(106) Chapter: Taking Graves as Masjids

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah said: “May Allah curse the Jews and Christians who took the graves of their prophets as Masjids.” (Sahih)

Chapter 107. It Is Disliked to Walk Between Grave Wearing Sibtiyah Sandals

Reference: Sunan an-Nasa’i 2047

In-book reference: Book 21, Hadith 231

English translation: Vol. 3, Book 21, Hadith 2049 (sunnah.com https://sunnah.com/nasai:2047)

4 Prayer

(8a) Chapter: Mosques and places of Prayer – Section 1

A’isha told of God’s Messenger as saying in his illness from which he did not recover, “God curse the Jews and Christians! They have taken the graves of their prophets as mosques.” (Bukhari and Muslim.)

Reference: Mishkat al-Masabih 712

In-book reference: Book 4, Hadith 142 (sunnah.com https://sunnah.com/mishkat:712)

4 Prayer

(8c) Chapter: Mosques and places of Prayer – Section 3

‘Ata’ b. Yasar reported God’s Messenger as saying, “O God, do not let my grave become an idol which is worshipped. God’s anger is severe against people who take the graves of their prophets as mosques.”

Malik transmitted it in mursal form.

Reference: Mishkat al-Masabih 750

In-book reference: Book 4, Hadith 178 (sunnah.com https://sunnah.com/mishkat:750)

4 Prayer

(17b) Chapter: Blessing on the Prophet, and its Excellence – Section 2

He reported that he had heard God’s Messenger say, “Do not turn your houses into graves,* and do not make my grave a place to gather as for visitation, but invoke blessings on me, for your blessing will reach me wherever you are.”

*This is most probably a figurative expressive indicating that a house in which prayer is not offered is like a grave, as God is not worshipped there.

Nasa’i transmitted it.

Reference: Mishkat al-Masabih 926

In-book reference: Book 4, Hadith 349 (sunnah.com https://sunnah.com/mishkat:926)

Herein lies Muhammad’s duplicity and hypocrisy.

According to the Quran, the supposed resting place of the fictional sleepers of the cave was allegedly turned into a masjid or a place of worship, seemingly with Allah’s express approval:

Or, do you think that the Fellows of the Cave and the Inscription were of Our wonderful signs? When the youths sought refuge in the cave, they said: Our Lord! grant us mercy from Thee, and provide for us a right course in our affair. So We prevented them from hearing in the cave for a number of years. Then We raised them up that We might know which of the two parties was best able to compute the time for which they remained. We relate to you their story with the truth; surely they were youths who believed in their Lord and We increased them in guidance. And We strengthened their hearts with patience, when they stood up and said: Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth; we will by no means call upon any god besides Him, for then indeed we should have said an extravagant thing. These our people have taken gods besides Him; why do they not produce any clear authority in their support? Who is then more unjust than he who forges a lie against Allah? And when you forsake them and what they worship save Allah, betake yourselves for refuge to the cave; your Lord will extend to you largely of His mercy and provide for you a profitable course in your affair. And you might see the sun when it rose, decline from their cave towards the right hand, and when it set, leave them behind on the left while they were in a wide space thereof. This is of the signs of Allah; whomsoever Allah guides, he is the rightly guided one, and whomsoever He causes to err, you shall not find for him any friend to lead (him) aright. And you might think them awake while they were asleep and We turned them about to the right and to the left, while their dog (lay) outstretching its paws at the entrance; if you looked at them you would certainly turn back from them in flight, and you would certainly be filled with awe because of them. And thus did We rouse them that they might question each other. A speaker among them said: How long have you tarried? They said: We have tarried for a day or a part of a day. (Others) said: Your Lord knows best how long you have tarried. Now send one of you with this silver (coin) of yours to the city, then let him see which of them has purest food, so let him bring you provision from it, and let him behave with gentleness, and by no means make your case known to any one: For surely if they prevail against you they would stone you to death or force you back to their religion, and then you will never succeed. And thus did We make (men) to get knowledge of them that they might know that Allah’s promise is true and that as for the hour there is no doubt about it. When they disputed among themselves about their affair and said: Erect an edifice over them — their Lord best knows them. Those who prevailed in their affair said: We will certainly raise a masjid over them. (Some) say: (They are) three, the fourth of them being their dog; and (others) say: Five, the sixth of them being their dog, making conjectures at what is unknown; and (others yet) say: Seven, and the eighth of them is their dog. Say: My Lord best knows their number, none knows them but a few; therefore contend not in the matter of them but with an outward contention, and do not question concerning them any of them. S. 18:9-22 Shakir

Note how the following version translates the relevant part:

Thus did We make their case known to the people, that they might know that the promise of God is true, and that there can be no doubt about the Hour of Judgment. Behold, they dispute among themselves as to their affair. (Some) said, “Construct a building over them”: Their Lord knows best about them: those who prevailed over their affair said, “Let us surely build a place of worship over them (alayhim masjidan).” S. 18:21 Y. Ali

And here’s the explanation given by some of Islam’s greatest expositors:  

And so just as We aroused them it was that We disclosed them to their people and the believers that they that is their people might know that God’s promise of resurrection is true by virtue of the fact that One Who has the power to make them sleep for such a long period of time or sustain them in that state without nourishment also has the power to resurrect the dead; and that as for the Hour there is no doubt no uncertainty concerning it. Behold idh adverbially qualifies a‘tharnā ‘We disclosed’ they were disputing that is the believers and the disbelievers among themselves their affair the affair of the youths with regard to building something around them as a monument; so they the disbelievers said ‘Build over them that is around them a building to cover them up; their Lord knows them best.’ Those who prevailed regarding their affair the affair of the youths namely the believers ‘We will verily set up over them around them a place of worship’ for prayers to be performed therein. And this indeed took place at the entrance of the cave. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn https://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=74&tSoraNo=18&tAyahNo=21&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2; bold emphasis mine)

(those who won their point said: “We verily, shall build a place of worship over them.”) Those who said this were the people of power and influence, but were they good people or not there is some debate on this point, because the Prophet said

(Allah has cursed the Jews and the Christians who took the graves of their Prophets and righteous people as places of worship) Warning against what they did. We have reported about the Commander of the faithful `Umar bin Al-Khattab that when he found the grave of Danyal (Daniel) in Iraq during his period of rule, he gave orders that news of this grave should be withheld from the people, and that the inscription containing mention of battles etc., that they found there should be buried. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir https://www.alim.org/quran/tafsir/ibn-kathir/surah/18/21; bold emphasis mine)

Ibn Kathir’s admission that there was some debate in respect to whether the people in this Islamic Rip Van Winkle story did something good by turning the resting place of these so-called sleepers into a masjid since this contradicts Muhammad’s condemnation of such a practice illustrates the Muhammadan conundrum. It perfectly demonstrates Muhammad’s blatant inconsistency by providing further substantiation of how he would often do or say things in direct conflict with the Quran. After all, there is nothing in this fable suggesting that the Muslim deity disapproved of what the people did. It is merely the scholars’ realizing how their prophet’s sunna directly conflicts with the statements of his own book that led them to assume such in order to harmonize this blatant contradiction.     

It gets much worse.

Muhammad made it obligatory for his followers to pray for him and even greet him in their prayers after his death:

Abu Hurayra said that the Messenger of Allah said, “Whenever anyone greets me with peace, Allah will return my soul to me so that I can return the greeting.”

Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shayba mentions that Abu Hurayra said that the Messenger of Allah said, “I WILL HEAR whoever blesses me at my grave. If someone is far away and blesses me, that is also conveyed to me.”…

Ibn ‘Umar said, “Do a lot of prayer on your Prophet every Jumu’a. It is brought to him from you every Jumu’a.” One version has, “None of you blesses me but THAT HIS PRAYER IS SHOWN TO ME when he finishes it.”

Al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali said that the Prophet said, “Bless me wherever you are. YOUR PRAYER will reach me.”

One of them mentioned that the name of someone who blesses the Prophet IS SHOWN to the Prophet when he does it.

Al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali said, “When you enter the mosque, greet the Prophet. The Messenger of Allah said, ‘Do not make my house a place of ‘Id and do not make your houses graves. Bless me wherever you are. YOUR PRAYER will reach me wherever you are.’”…

Sulayman ibn Suhyam said that he saw the Prophet in a dream and asked him, “Messenger of

Allah, do you recognise the greeting of those who come to you?” He replied, “YES, AND I ANSWER THEM.” (Qadi ‘Iyad Ibn Musa al-Yahsubi, Kitab Ash-shifa bi ta’rif huquq al-Mustafa (Healing by the recognition of the Rights of the Chosen One), translated by Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley English [Madinah Press, Inverness, Scotland, U.K., third reprint 1991, paperback], pp. 262-263; capital and underline emphasis mine)

Notice how Muhammad himself classified the invocations and greetings that his followers were to offer to him as supplications and prayers. Muhammad is, therefore, personally responsible for the blatant idolatry that Muslims commit all over the world due to their invoking and speaking to a dead false prophet.

And this notion of Muhammad being able to see the prayers of his followers even after his death is substantiated within the Quran itself:

They will excuse themselves to you when you go back to them. Say: Urge no excuse, by no means will we believe you; indeed Allah has informed us of matters relating to you; and now Allah and His Apostle WILL SEE your doings (wa’sayara Allahu amalakum wa’rasooluhu), then you shall be brought back to the Knower of the unseen and the seen, then He will inform you of what you did. S. 9:94 Shakir

The word for “will see” (sayara) is a 3rd person masculine singular imperfect verb, and is in the subjunctive mood. The verse literally reads, “” Allah and his apostle, HE will see.”

Muhammad, therefore, made Allah’s seeing identical with his own sight, which in turn makes him omniscient and omnipresent like his god!

To make matters much worse and more blasphemous than they already are, the Quran depicts Muhammad as being able to cleanse and purify his followers from their sins!

Take alms out of their property, you would cleanse them and purify them thereby, and pray for them; surely your prayer is a relief to them; and Allah is Hearing, Knowing. S. 9:103 Shakir

That’s not all.

Some of Islam’s most notable scholars have used Q. 4:64 to argue that Muslims can actually visit their dead prophet’s grave in order to personally ask him for his intercession. And this is exactly what Muhammadans have been doing since the demise of Muhammad:

Although, this verse (64) was revealed in the background of a particular incident relating to hypocrites, yet its words yield a general ruling which stipulates that anyone who presents himself before the Holy Prophet and he prays for his forgiveness, he will be definitely forgiven. And ‘the presence before the Prophet,’ as it would have been during his blessed life in this mortal world, HOLDS THE SAME EFFECT EVEN TODAY as the visit to the sacred precincts of the Mosque of the Prophet and the act of ‘presenting’ oneself BEFORE THE BLESSED RESIDENT OF THE SANCTIFIED MAUSOLEUM FALLS WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF THIS RULE.

Sayyidna ‘Ali has said: “Three days after we all had finished with the burial of the Messenger of Allah a villager came and fell down close to the blessed grave. Weeping bitterly, he referred to this particular verse of the Qur’an AND ADDRESSING HIMSELF TO THE BLESSED GRAVE, he said: ‘Allah Almighty has promised in this verse that a sinner, if he presented himself before the Rasul of Allah, and the Rasul elects to pray for his forgiveness, then he will forgive him. Therefore, here I am, presenting myself BEFORE YOU so that I may be blessed with YOUR prayer for my forgiveness.’ People personally present there at that time say that, in response to the pleading of the villager, a voice coming out from the sanctified mausoleum rang around with the words… You have been forgiven.” (al-Bahr al-Muhit) (Mufti Shafi Usmani, Maariful Quran, Volume 2, p. 486 https://www.kalamullah.com/Books/Maariful%20Quran/English-MaarifulQuran-MuftiShafiUsmaniRA-Vol-2-Page-451-505.pdf; capital emphasis mine)

And:

“Allah is instructing the sinners when they commit a sin to come to the messenger of Allah and ask forgiveness in his presence and then they ask him to request forgiveness. And certainly if they did that, Allah would relent towards them and have mercy on them, and for that reason He said “they would have found Allah Oft-Returning, Merciful.”

And Shaykh Mansur as-Sabbagh recollected in his book “The Perfections” (ash-Shama’il) the well-known (famous) transmission from ‘Utbi:

“I was sitting by the grave of the Prophet and a Bedouin came and said: ‘Peace be upon you O Prophet of Allah. I heard Allah say: “And if they had come to thee when they had wronged their souls, and asked forgiveness of Allah, and if the Messenger had also asked forgiveness for them, they would have surely found Allah Oft-Returning with compassion and Merciful.” And I came to you asking forgiveness for my sin, taking you as intercessor to my Lord.’

“Then he started reciting verses: ‘O You best of those whose bones are buried in al-Qa’a from the sweet scents of those bones the whole area of al-Qa’a and Akamu became perfumed. My self I sacrifice to the grave that you live in it is purity and in it is incredible generosity.’

“Then the Bedouin departed and sleep overcame me. And I saw the Prophet in my sleep and he said: ‘Ya ‘Utbi, follow the Bedouin and give him the glad tidings that Allah has forgiven him.’” (Ibn Kathir, Tafsir of Qur’an al-Adheem [Dar al-Fikr, Beirut, 1992/1412], Volume 1, p. 643)

It is apparent why Muslim scholars permitted such an idolatrous and blasphemous practice,

According to the verse in question, Muhammad’s intercession is essential and necessary to obtain forgiveness:

And We did not send any apostle but that he should be obeyed by Allah’s permission; and had they, when they were unjust to themselves, come to you and asked forgiveness of Allah and the Apostle had (also) asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah Oft-returning (to mercy), Merciful. S. 4:64 Shakir

Since the Quran is supposed to be a source of guidance for all peoples at all times, not just at the time of Muhammad, this mean that passages such as the foregoing must still be applicable for all generations of Muslims. However, Muhammad is dead and the applicability of these injunctions are dependent on his followers being able to access his presence in order to benefit from his intercession.  

This leaves Muslims with one of two choices.

Either these texts which require making contact with Muhammad are obsolete now that he is dead, which in turn makes the Quran an incoherent and impractical “revelation” seeing that much of its contents have become useless and unnecessary after Muhammad’s death. Or Muslims are still required to act upon these verses by going to the grave of Muhammad in order to contact a dead man whom they think is somehow still alive in his tomb.

As the readers can see, some Islamic scholars chose the second view, which resulted in their doing the very thing that Muhammad cursed the Jews and Christians for doing. I.e., as a direct result of the teachings of the Quran and sunnah, Muslims have turned their prophet’s grave into a place of worship where they come and pray to a dead man to help save them from their sins!     

As if this weren’t shocking enough, certain Muslims would even face Muhammad’s grave rather than the Kabah whenever they would supplicate!

It is just as necessary to have esteem and respect for the Prophet AFTER HIS DEATH AS IT WERE WHEN HE WAS ALIVE. This means to show it whenever the Prophet, his hadith or sunna are mentioned, when anyone hears his name or anything about his life or how his family and relatives behaved. It includes respect for the People of his House (ah al-bayt) and his Companions…

Abu Humayd said, “Abu Ja’far, the Amir al-Mu’minin, had a dispute with Malik in the Prophet’s mosque. Malik said to him, ‘Amir al-Mu’minin, do not raise your voice in this mosque. Allah taught the people how to behave by saying, ‘Do not raise your voices above the Prophet’ (49:2) He praises people with the words, “Those who lower their voices in the presence of the Messenger of Allah.” (49:3) He censures people, saying, “Those who call you…” Respect for him WHEN HE IS DEAD is the same as respect for him when he was alive.”

“Abu Ja’far was humbled by this. He asked Malik, ‘Abu Abdullah, do you face qibla when you supplicate or do you face the Messenger of Allah?’ He replied, ‘Why would you turn your face from him when he is YOUR MEANS and the means of your father, Adam, to Allah on the Day of Rising? I face him and ASK HIM to intercede and Allah will grant his intercession. Allah says, “If, when you wronged yourselves, they had come to you.”’” (4:64) (Qadi ‘Iyad, pp. 237-238; capital and underline emphasis mine)

With the foregoing in view, could it be any more obvious that Muhammad was an inconsistent hypocrite and idol-maker that did the very thing he condemned others for doing, and who turned himself into a god by causing his followers to look to him as an object of their worship?

FURTHER READING

INVOCATION AND WORSHIP: THE ISLAMIC DILEMMA PT. 1

INVOCATION AND WORSHIP: THE ISLAMIC DILEMMA PT. 2

Session on the Deification of Muhammad Pt. 1

Session on the Deification of Muhammad Pt. 2

JOHN 1:18 REVISITED… AGAIN!

In this post I am going to share how English versions render John 1:18 depending on which reading they adopt.

MONOGENES HYIOS

By far this happens to be the majority reading. It has both very early and widespread geographical attestation, as well as support from ancient translations in various languages. 

No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. AKJV    

No one has ever seen God; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he declared him. ABU

No man has ever seen God. The only begotten Son, being in the bosom of the Father, that man reported him. ACV

No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has revealed him. Anderson

No man has seen God at any time; the only Son, who is on the breast of the Father, he has made clear what God is. BBE 

No man hath seen God at any time: The only begotten son which is in the bosom of the father, he hath declared him. Bishops

No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. BRG

No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, He who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. CAB

No man hath seen God at any time. The only begotten son which is in the bosom of the father, he hath declared the same unto us. Coverdale

No one has seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, *he* hath declared [him]. DARBY

God no one has seen ever; the only-begotten son, that being in the bosom of the Father, he has made known. Diaglott

No man hath seen God at any time: the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. DRA          

No one has seen Elohim – not ever, the only birthed Son being in the bosom of the Father, he declares. ECB 

No one has ever seen God. The only-begotten Son, who is close to the Father’s side, has made him known. EHV

No one has ever seen God. The only Son is the one who has shown us what God is like. He is himself God and is very close to the Father. ERV           

No one has ever seen God; the only begotten Son, the one being in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared him. Godbey

No man hath seen God at any time: that only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. GNV     

No one has ever seen God. God’s only Son, the one who is closest to the Father’s heart, has made him known. GW       

No man hath seen God at any time. The only begotten son, which is in the bosom of the father, he hath declared him. Great

No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath thoroughly described him. Haweis

No one has ever seen God. The One and Only Son— the One who is at the Father’s side— He has revealed Him. HCSB

No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. JPS_ASV_Byz

No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him. JUB

None has seen God at any time; the only born Son, he being in the bosom of the Father, he has declared. Julia Smith

No man has ever seen God; but the firstborn of God, who is in the bosom of his Father, he has declared him. Lamsa 

No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, that One reveals Him. LITV 

No one has ever actually seen God, but, of course, his only Son has, for he is the companion of the Father and has told us all about him. TLB  

No one ever saw God; it is the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, who has made him known. Living_Oracles

no man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten son, who is intimate with the father, hath made him known. Mace

No one has seen God at any time. The only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known. MEV

No one has ever seen God. God’s only Son, the one who is closest to the Father’s heart, has made him known. NOG     

No one has seen God at any time. The only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known. NHEB

No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. NKJV

The much-loved Son is beside the Father. No man has ever seen God. But Christ has made God known to us. NLV        

No man has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him. NMB           

No one has ever gazed upon the fullness of God’s splendor except the uniquely beloved Son, who is cherished by the Father and held close to his heart. Now he has unfolded to us the full explanation of who God truly is! TPT    

No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known. RSV           

No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he declared [him]. Sawyer

No one hath ever seen God. This only begotten son, who is in the bosom of the father, even he hath made him known. Thomson

No man hath seen God at any time. The only begotten son which is in the bosom of the father he hath declared him. Tyndale

God, unseen until now, is revealed in the Voice, God’s only Son, straight from the Father’s heart. VOICE          

No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. Webster

No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. Wesley

No human eye has ever seen God: the only Son, who is in the Father’s bosom–He has made Him known. WNT

No one has ever seen God. The Only-begotten Son, who exists in the bosom of the Father, He has interpreted Him. WPNT

No one has seen God at any time. The one and only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, has declared him. WEB      

No one has ever seen God. But his only Son is very near to his Father’s heart. He has told us plainly about God. WE      

No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father, He declared Him. Worrell 

No one hath Seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared [him]. Whiston

and though no one hath ever seen God, or can see Him: yet the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, hath made Him known. Worsley

No man saw ever God [No man ever saw God], but the one begotten Son, that is in the bosom of the Father, he hath told out. WYC     

God no one hath ever seen; the only begotten Son, who is on the bosom of the Father — he did declare. YLT      

With the exception of Lamsa, all of these versions consistently render monogenes as an adjective describing what kind of Son Jesus happens to be. I.e., Christ is the one and only, uniquely beloved, only birthed or begotten Son.

MONOGENES THEOS

No one has ever seen God [i.e., His full splendor], but God, the only conceived [and eventually born Son], who is at the Father’s side, has shown us who He is. AUV

No one has ever seen God. The one and only Son, who is himself God and is at the Father’s side—he has revealed him. CSB    

No one has ever seen God. God the only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made God known. CEB     

No one has ever seen God; but the only and unique Son, who is identical with God and is at the Father’s side — he has made him known. CJB

God no one has ever seen. The only-begotten God, Who is in the bosom of the Father, He unfolds Him. CLV

No one has ever seen God. The only Son, who is truly God and is closest to the Father, has shown us what God is like. CEV     

No one has ever seen God; the only-born God, the One being in the bosom of the Father— that One expounded Him. DLNT

No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. ESV        

ALOHA no man hath ever seen: the one-begotten God, he who is in the bosom of his Father, he hath declared him. Etheridge

No one has ever seen God [C God the Father, who is pure spirit; 4:24]. But ·God the only Son [God the one and only; the only Son who is himself God; T God the only begotten] is ·very close to [by the side of; close to the heart of; T in the bosom of] the Father, and he has ·shown us what God is like [made him known]. EXB        

No one has ever seen God. The only Son, who is the same as God and is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. GNT      

No one has ever seen God; it is the divine Only Son, who leans upon his Father’s breast, that has made him known. Goodspeed

No one has ever seen God. The uniquely existing God, who is close to the Father’s side, has revealed him. ISV  

No one at any time has seen God. The only-begotten (uniquely-born) God [other MSS: Son], the One continuously existing, [moving, directed and leading] into the Father’s place of safety and intimacy (bosom; breast; chest; folds of a garment; inlet or bay), that One interprets and explains by unfolding and bringing [Him] out. JMNT

Yet the divine and only Son, who lives in the closest intimacy with the Father, has made him known. PHILLIPS

Nobody has ever seen God, but God has been unfolded by the divine One, the only Son, who lies upon the Father’s breast. Moffatt

No man has ever seen God; God, only begotten, who is in the bosom of the Father—he has interpreted him. MNT

No one has ever seen God. The only Son, himself God, the one who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known. MOUNCE

No man hath ever seen God; the only begotten God, he who is in the bosom of his Father, he hath declared him. Murdock

No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him. NABRE     

No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. NASB       

No one has ever seen God. But God the only Son is very close to the Father, and he has shown us what God is like. NCV          

No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known. NET           

No one has ever seen God. But the One and Only is God and is at the Father’s side. The one at the Father’s side has shown us what God is like. NIRV 

No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. NIV           

No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us. NLT       

No man has ever seen God. The only begotten God-like one who is closest to the Father (in the bosom of the Father) tells us about him. (Psalm 8:5). NSB

Nobody has ever seen God. The only-begotten God, who is intimately close to the father – he has brought him to light. NTE    

No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known. NRSV 

No one has seen God at any time; the one and only, God, the one who is in the bosom of the Father—that one has made him known. LEB       

No one has ever seen Hashem [Ex 33:20]. It is Elohim the Ben Yachid [who shares the nature of Hashem, the Chochman Ben Elohim at his side, see very importantly Mishle 8:30; 30:4)], it is he, the one being in the kheyk (bosom) of HaAv, this one is Hashem’s definitive midrash (exegesis). OJB

No one has ever seen God; God the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has interpreted him. Riverside

No one, hath seen, God, at any time: An Only Begotten God, The One existing within the bosom of the Father, He, hath interpreted [him]. Rotherham 

No man has ever yet seen God; God the Only Son, who is ever with the Father–He has revealed him. Twentieth_Century 

No one has ever seen God; the only son, Deity Himself, who lies upon His Father’s breast, has made him known. Williams 

The foregoing versions can be found in the following links:

https://classic.biblegateway.com/verse/en/John%201:18

https://studybible.info/compare/John%201:18

Unlike what we saw in the case of monogenes hyios, translators are all over the place when it comes to the proper rendering of monogenes theos.

Some of the translations view monogenes as an adjective that modifies theos, telling us the kind of God Jesus happens to be, namely, Christ is the only, only begotten, uniquely existing or born God.

A couple of translations treat theos as the adjective, telling us the type of Son Jesus happens to be, namely, Christ is the divine (and) only Son.

Other versions take monogenes theos as two substantival or descriptive nouns, providing two descriptions of Christ. I.e., Jesus is both monogenes and theos, with monogenes being rendered as only, only begotten, one and only, only Son, only begotten Son, unique One etc.   

James E. Snapp’s highlights some of the problems with the reading monogenes theos:

● John 1:18 – Although “only-begotten God” (misrendered “the only God” in the ESV) has achieved wide acceptance, especially after it was found in Papyrus 66, there may be something to the suspicion that the adoption of this reading was a sort of theological trade-off in the shift from the Textus Receptus to the text of Westcott & Hort, and then to the Nestle-Aland compilation(s):  theologians who were reluctant to say good-bye to proof-texts such as the Comma Johanneum and First Timothy 3:16 could say hello to new affirmations of Christ’s deity via the acceptance of the Granville Sharp rule in Second Peter 1:1 (as long as the text of Codex Sinaiticus was avoided) and Titus 2:13 – and via the acceptance of the reading Θεός in John 1:18. 

However, not only is μονογενὴς Θεός an entirely non-Johannine term (unless one accepts it as genuine, of course), but some translators of major English versions that are based on the Nestle-Aland compilation seem reluctant to translate it accurately. The CSB, for example, renders John 1:18 as follows: “No one has ever seen God. The one and only Son, who is himself God and is at the Father’s side – he has revealed him.” Just what is the CSB’s textual justification for including both the word “Son” and the phrase “who is himself God” in this verse??? 

The NIV is equally bad: “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” The reading ὁ μονογενὴς Θεός, which is supported by Papyrus 75,  demands a rendering like what is in the NASB: “the only begotten God.” But what if the article (ὁ) disappears, as it does in P66, Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and the Nestle-Aland compilation? The annotator of the NET has argued for the article-free reading, on the grounds that “θεός without the article is a much harder reading.” The NET also states that “Although υἱός fits the immediate context more readily, θεός is much more difficult.” That is true, no doubt, but is it likely that John would produce such a difficult term, and never mention it again? The NET resorts to an inventive rendering to circumvent what would otherwise seem to be a reference to a god: “The only one, himself God.”

A purely theological case against the reading μονογενὴς Θεός might be proposed in light of the various ways in which several of the translations have mangled its meaning and thus confused their readers, on the grounds that God is not the author of confusion. A more scientific case against μονογενὴς Θεός might be put together via (a) careful consideration of the immense span of the patristic support for ὁ μονογενὴς υἱός, and (b) the observation that the case for Θεός, with or without ὁ, involves the admission that Byzantine scribes declined to adopt a reading which, according to some apologists for the Alexandrian Text, would have been theologically enormously helpful.

It is not impossible that a third reading, ὁ μονογενὴς, despite being poorly attested – it is supported by Ephrem Syrus (citing the Diatessaron), by the Palestinian Syriac version, by two Vulgate manuscripts, and by Pseudo-Vigilius – might be considered by some future editors to be the variant which best explains its rivals. Charles Burney also offered a conjecture: μονογενὴς θεοῦ (“only-begotten of God”).

In any event, it would not be surprising if future editors and translators alter their treatment of this passage, perhaps by returning to the very widespread reading ὁ μονογενὴς υἱός (the only-begotten Son) in John 1:18 on the basis of the theory that the introduction of Θεός – rather than being the effect of Valentinian tampering, as some have suspected – was due to the early accidental confusion of one sacred-name contraction for another, and that the loss of the article was just one of many such losses typical of the Alexandrian Text. (Nestle-Aland, Edition 28: Cracks in the Text)

The fact that the versions which adopt the reading theos are all over the map when it comes to its proper rendering is a clear indication of the struggles that the translators had in understanding what exactly does it mean for Christ to be monogenes theos.

This is in stark contrast with the translations that went with monogenes hyios.   

Even More Problems

The two oldest witnesses to the reading monogenees Theos are papyri 66 and 75, which are dated around 2nd to 3rd centuries. And yet even these two witnesses are not entirely uniform since they differ from each other. 

Papyrus 66 (p66)

Theon oudeis heoraken popote m[o]nogenes Theos ho on eis ton kolpon t[ou] patros ekeinos exegesato

Papyrus 75 (p75)

Theon oudeis popote heoraken ho monogenes Theos ho on eis ton kolpon tou patros ekeinos exegesato

P75 has the definite article ho before monogenes, which makes it more likely that monogenes is an adjective modifying theos, much like we find in the following cases where monogenes is used to modify the noun hyios:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son (ton Hyion ton monogene), that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life… Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son (tou monogenous Hyiou tou Theou).” John 3:16, 18 NIV

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son (ton Hyion autou ton monogene) into the world that we might live through him.” 1 John 4:9 NIV

As such, this particular variant is describing the kind of God Jesus is, e.g., Jesus is the monogenes God. Therefore, the definition one gives to monogenes will directly impact the meaning and translation of ho monogenes Theos. I.e., is Christ the only-begotten God, the only-born God or the only God?

I will be posting an excerpt from Christian scholar and theologian Wayne Grudem’s massive tome on systematic theology where he sums up the evidence that caused him to change his mind and accept the fact that monogenes does mean only-begotten, and not just unique or one and only.

FURTHER READING

John 1:18 – What Does Μονογενὴς Mean?

John 1:18 – Some Patristic Evidence

The Only Begotten Son: A Defense of the King James’ Rendering of John 1:18

Monogenes Theos: A Gnostic Corruption?

The Gnostic & Arian Corruption of John 1:18

James White and the NA/UBS Compilation

John 1:18 – Sinaiticus: The Devil in the Details

John 1:18 the only begotten Son

Acts 8:37 – Sorting out the Evidence

Presented by James Snapp, Jr. (with assistance from members of the NT Textual Criticism group on Facebook), April 2014.

And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”

And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

– Acts 8:37

Acts 8:37 has received different treatments in recent translations of the New Testament.  Some samples will illustrate this:

            New American Standard Bible (2002):  Acts 8:37 is in the text, within single brackets, and is accompanied by a footnote stating, “Early mss do not contain this v.”1 

            New International Version (2002):  verse 37 is not in the text; a footnote accompanying the end of verse 36 says, “Some late manuscripts baptized?”  37Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”  The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”2

            Holman Christian Standard Bible (2000):  Acts 8:37 is in the text, within single brackets, and is accompanied by a footnote stating, “8:37 Other mss omit bracketed text.”3 

            English Standard Version (2002):  verse 37 is not in the text; a footnote accompanying the end of verse 36 says, “Some manuscripts add all or most of verse 37:  And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.  And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”4

            New King James Version (1990):  verse 37 is in the text, without brackets; a footnote accompanying the end of verse 38 says, “NU-text and M-text omit this verse.  It is found in Western texts, including the Latin tradition.”5

            New Living Translation (1996):  verse 37 is not in the text; a footnote accompanying the end of verse 36 says, “Some manuscripts add verse 37, “You can,” Philip answered, “if you believe with all your heart.”  And the eunuch replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”6

_______________            

1 – pages 286-287, New American Standard ’95 Coatpocket New Testament, © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.

2 – page 1699, The Holy Bible New International Version (Fully Revised), © 1984 by International Bible Society; Zondervan NIV Study Bible Copyright © 2002 by The Zondervan Corporation.

3 – page 980, Holman Christian Standard BibleÒ Copyright Ó 2004 by Holman Bible Publishers.

4 – page 917, The Holy Bible, English Standard VersionÒ and ESVÒ Bible, Kindle Edition Ó2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  All Rights Reserved.  Version esv.2013.05.a.mobi .

5 – page 761, The Holy Bible New King James Version, Copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

6 – page 180, Holy Bible, New Living Translation. New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs, © 1996 by Tyndale Charitable Trust.

            These differences in our English translations echo differences in the manuscripts, in versional evidence, and in patristic evidence.  In this essay we shall present some evidence for, and against, the inclusion of these verses.  The following list mentions witnesses both for and against the verse.  Patristic witnesses are listed according to the production-dates (exact when possible; approximate otherwise) of the compositions in which Acts 8:37 is utilized, or in which the surrounding verses are utilized without it.  Details about the compositions and the statements themselves are included where feasible.

            Manuscripts of Acts are listed according to their production-dates.  Versions of Acts are listed according to the production-dates of their earliest manuscript-representatives, some of which are given individual listings.  Readers should keep in mind that the production-dates of some versions are considerably earlier than the production-dates of the earliest manuscripts of those versions. (For example, the earliest manuscript of the Gospels in Gothic, translated by Wulfilas in the mid-300’s, is the Codex Argenteus, which has a production-date in the 500’s.  Similarly, some medieval manuscripts represent Old Latin translations made prior to the Vulgate). 

WITNESSES FROM THE 100’S

● Irenaeus – Against Heresies, Book Three, 12:8 (written in Greek, extant in Latin).  The third book of Irenaeus’ composition Against Heresies was written, according to Irenaeus’ own statement near the beginning of the book (Book Three, 3:3), when Eleutherius was bishop of Rome from about 174 to 193 (or, according to the introduction to Irenaeus’ works in Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, page 312, Eleutherius’ bishopric began around 177, and ended in 188).  So the production-date for Irenaeus’ third book of Against Heresies may fairly be given as “c. 184” or “180’s.”)  In this composition, preserved in a Latin translation, Irenaeus writes:

            Philippus autem rursus spadoni reginae Aethiopium revertenti a Hierosolymis, et legenti Esaiam prophetam, solus soli, quem annuntiavit?  Nonne eum de quo dixit propheta:  “Tanquam ovis ad occisionem ductus est, quemadmodum agnus ante tondentem se sine voce, sic non aperuit os?  Nativitatem autem ejus quis enarrabit?  Quoniam tolletur a terra vita ejus.”  Hunc esse Jesum, et impletam esse in eo Scripturam; quemadmodum ipse eunuchus credens, et statim postulans baptisari dicebat:  “Credo Filium Dei esse Jesus.”  Qui et missus est in regions Aethiopiae, praedicaturus hoc quod ipse crediderat . . . .”7   

            “Whom did Philip preach to the eunuch of the queen of the Ethiopians, returning from

            Jerusalem, and reading Isaiah the prophet, when he and this man were alone together?  

            Was it not He of whom the prophet spoke:  “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter,

            and as a lamb dumb before the shearer, so He opened not the mouth?  But who shall declare

            His nativity?  For His life shall be taken away from the earth.” He declared that this was Jesus,

            and that the Scripture was fulfilled in Him; as did also the believing eunuch himself,

            and immediately requesting to be baptized, he said, ‘I believe Jesus to be the Son of God.’  

            This man was also sent into the regions of Ethiopia, to preach what he had himself believed . . . .”8   

_______________

7 – The Latin text is in W. Wigan Harvey’s Sancti Irenaei Episcopi Lugdunensis Libros Quinque Adversus Haereses, Vol. 2 (Cambridge, 1862), page 62.  The relevant paragraph is numbered 10, not 8.

8 – Based on Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, 1913, Roberts & Donaldson, page 433.

A Greek scholium attributed to Irenaeus9 is also extant. 

The scholium conveys the sense of a comment that Irenaeus made In Against Heresies, Book 4 (23:2):

            “Philip, when he had discovered the eunuch of the Ethiopians’ queen reading these words

            which had been written:  “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and as a lamb is silent

            before the shearer, so He opened not His mouth:  in His humiliation His judgment was taken

            away;” and all the rest which the prophet proceeded to relate in regard to His passion and His

            coming in the flesh, and how He was dishonored by those who did not believe Him; easily

            persuaded him to believe on Him, that He was Christ Jesus, who was crucified under

            Pontius Pilate, and suffered whatsoever the prophet had predicted, and that He was the Son

            of God, who gives eternal life to men. And immediately when he had baptized him, he departed

            from him. For nothing else was lacking to him who had been already instructed by the prophets:

            he was not ignorant of God the Father, nor of the rules regarding how to live, but was merely

            ignorant of the coming of the Son of God, and shortly after becoming acquainted with this, he      went on his way rejoicing, to be the herald in Ethiopia of Christ’s advent.”10

WITNESSES FROM THE 200’S

● Tertullian (very early 200’s, Latin.)  In the apparatus in UBS-2, Tertullian is listed as a witness for the inclusion of Acts 8:37, with no indication that this citation is dubious.  However, in UBS-4, Tertullian’s name does not appear among the witnesses for inclusion.  This inconsistency may emanate from the use of Tertullian’s comments in On Baptism, chapter 18, a chapter in which Tertullian attempts to answer an objection against his position that baptism should not be administered with haste: 

            “Those whose duty it is to baptize know that baptism should not be conferred lightly.  “Give to everyone who asks of you” has its own application; it pertains to almsgiving.  Rather, close attention must be given to that other passage:  “Give not what is holy unto the dogs, and cast not your pearl before swine,” and, “Do not lay hands on anyone too readily, lest you share in another’s sins.”

_______________

9 – from page 144, Catenae Graecorum Patrum, Volume 3, edited by John Anthony Cramer.  This collection of Greek comments on the text of the New Testament, some of which are attributed to specific patristic authors, can be downloaded from https://archive.org/details/catengrcorumpat03cramgoog .  Harvey reproduces the same material from Cramer’s book.  

10 – Based on Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, 1913, Roberts & Donaldson, pages 494-495.

            “If Philip baptized the eunuch so promptly, let us reflect that the grace of the Lord had plainly intervened to show that this was proper.  The Spirit had commanded Philip to go toward that road.  The eunuch himself was not found distracted; nor was he the sort of man who might desire to be baptized on a sudden whim:  he was one who had set out for the temple to pray, and had his attention riveted on the divine Scripture.  God, finding him in such an attitude, sent an apostle to him without being asked; the Spirit’s second command [to Philip] was to join himself to the eunuch’s chariot.  The faith-inspiring passage of Scripture is just what was called for.  He is invited and is welcomed into the chariot.  The Lord is revealed.  Faith makes no delay.  Water is at hand.  And with his task completed, the apostle is caught away.”11

            Perhaps what has happened is that the creators of the UBS apparatus relied upon an index-entry for Acts 8:26-40 for Tertullian’s composition, and it was simply assumed that this included verse 37.  But I do not presently think that Tertullian’s statements can be securely regarded as a utilization of the verse.  It is possible that when Tertullian wrote that the passage of Scripture inspired faith, and that “Faith makes no delay,” he had the Ethiopian’s confession of faith in mind.  But this is not required by the evidence.

● Papyrus 45 (assigned to the early 200’s).  Images of P45 are at the CSNTM website.12   Look for the page with a profile that has this silhouette (a) and then you can zoom in on the relevant text (b).

The text shown is:

            – ισατο αυτω τον Ι¯¯ν¯ ως δ-

            – τι ϋδωρ και φησιν ο ευν –

            – ελευσεν στηναι το αρμα και –

            – τε Φιλιππος και ο ευνουχος –

            – σαν εκ του ϋδατος Π¯¯ν¯α¯ ¯-

            – τον ουκετι ὁ ευνουχος –

            – πος δε ευρεθη εις Αζω – 13

_______________

11 – Based on the English translations by Evans and Souter, at http://www.tertullian.org/articles/evans_bapt/evans_bapt_text_trans.htm and  http://www.tertullian.org/articles/souter_orat_bapt/souter_orat_bapt_04baptism.htm .  Evans also provides the Latin text.

12 – At http://www.csntm.org/manuscript/zoomify/GA_P45?page=10#viewer .

13 – See the following page.

            There is not sufficient space for verse 37.  Also absent, earlier in verse 36, are the words Ιδου υδωρ (“Look; water!”).

● Cyprian, Three Books of Testimonies Against the Jews (Ad Quirinium), Book 3, Treatise 12, chapter 43 (written in the 250’s, in Latin).  In this very short chapter, Cyprian seeks to affirm from Scripture that a person who has faith can immediately obtain something – presumably, pardon for sins.  His evidence for this is as follows:

            “In the Acts of the Apostles:  “Lo, here is water; what is there that hinders me from being baptized?”  Then Philip said, “If you believe

            with all your heart,” you may.””14

● Pontius the Deacon – The Life and Passion of Cyprian (written shortly after Cyprian’s death, which occurred in 258.  No later than the 260’s).  Pontius, who had been a close acquaintance of Cyprian, utilizes Acts 8:37 in the course of a parenthetical remark in the third paragraph:  

            “For although in the Acts of the Apostles the eunuch is described as at once baptized by Philip,

            because he believed with his whole heart, this is not a fair parallel.”15   

De Rebaptismate, an anonymous Latin composition written in the 250’s, in response to Cyprian, does not feature a specific quotation of Acts 8:37 in its fourth chapter, but it does mention the Ethiopian eunuch’s faith:

            “Sicuti Aethiops eunuchus cum rediret ab Hierusalem et legeret prophetam Esaiam et haesitaret

            suggerente Spiritu audita veritate a Philippo diacono credidit et baptizatus est, et cum ascendisset

            de aqua, Spiritus Domini rapuit Philippum, et non vidit eum iam nunc amplius eunuchus;

            abibat enim viam suam gaudens, quamquam, ut animadvertis, imposita ei manus non est ab

            episcopo, ut Spiritum Sanctum acciperet.”16

            Just as the Ethiopian eunuch, when he was returning from Jerusalem and was reading the prophet

            Isaiah, and was perplexed, received assistance from the Spirit, and heard the truth from Philip the

            deacon, believed, and was baptized.  And when he had gone up out of the water, the Spirit of the

            Lord took away Philip, and the eunuch saw him no more.  For he went on his way rejoicing – even

            though, as you observe, hands were not laid on him by the bishop, that he might receive the Holy            Spirit.”17

            This could be a vague reference to Acts 8:37.

_______________

13 – This is just for reference.  Quite a bit more text can be seen in the images at CSNTM.  See also the full transcript of this page of P45 on pages 181-182 of The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts by Philip W. Comfort and David P. Barrett (1999, Baker Books).

14 – Based on page 545, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 5, 1886, Roberts & Donaldson.

15 – page 268, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 5, 1886, Roberts & Donaldson.

16 – From Florilegium Patristicum, Fasciculus XI, Gerardus Rauschen, Tertulliani De Baptismo et Ps-Cypriani De Rebaptismate Recensio Nova, 1916.

17 – Based on the English translation at http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0515.htm .

WITNESSES FROM THE 300’S

● Codex Vaticanus (c. 325) does not include the verse.  However, an umlaut, or distigma ( ¨ ) appears directly alongside the line on which verse 36 ends and verse 37 begins.  The passage is also marked with a sigma-eta sign; according to Wieland Willker, this is an abbreviation for σημειωσαι, which means “of significance.”18

            Not all researchers are convinced that the umlauts (or “distigmai”) in Codex Vaticanus are contemporary with the production of the manuscript.  In 2009, Peter Head proposed that these marks were added in the 1500’s.  Others believe that only some of the distigmai are ancient.19  If the distigma alongside the end of Acts 8:36 is contemporary with the production of the manuscript, then our second-oldest manuscript of Acts 8:36 testifies both to the existence of an exemplar without verse 37, and to the existence of at least one manuscript that contained verse 37 – both of which were older than Codex Vaticanus itself.

            επι τι ϋδωρ και φησιν

            ο ευνουχος ϊδου υδωρ

            τι κωλυει με βαπτισθη

        ¨   ναι· και εκελευσε στη

            ναι το αρμα· και κατεβη

            σαν αμφοτεροι εις το

● Sahidic Codex Oriental MS 7594 (c. 325), a papyrus manuscript discovered in Egypt in the early 1900’s, does not include Acts 8:37.20  The text of Acts in this manuscript is curiously mixed. It contains the “Western” reading in 15:34, “But it seemed good to Silas to remain there.”   Overall, however, it is a close ally of the text of Codex Vaticanus; it even has the anomalous reading of Codex Vaticanus in 27:37, “seventy-six souls.”

_______________

18 – At http://www-user.uni-bremen.de/~wie/Vaticanus/general.html .

19 – Peter Head’s proposals were expressed in an online exchange at the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog, at Philip B. Payne has responded to Peter Head’s arguments at http://www.pbpayne.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Critique_of_Vaticanus_Marginalia_31Mar2010.pdf and at https://app.box.com/shared/uz2jds515x .  Other essays by Payne about the umlauts are also online.     

20 – See page 167 of Coptic Biblical Texts in the Dialect of Upper Egypt, edited by E. A. Wallis Budge, 1912.  

● Codex Sinaiticus (c. 350) does not include Acts 8:37.21 

φησιν ο ευνουχος

            ιδου υιδωρ τι κωλυ

            ει με βαπτισθηναι

            και εκελευσεν στη

            ναι το αρμα και κα

            τεβησαν αμφοτε

● Ambrose of Milan (bishop from 374 to 397.  Wrote in Latin.)  Ambrose’s name was in the UBS-2 apparatus as a witness for the inclusion of Acts 8:37.  I searched through quite a bit of the works of Ambrose, but I was not able to find a clear reference to Acts 8:37 anywhere.  I found, in the index to Volume 4 of Karl Schenkl’s edition of the works of Ambrose (this volume features Ambrose’s commentary on the Gospel of Luke), an index-listing for “Acts 8, 26 sqq.”  An investigation of the reference, on page 440, shows that it does not include a utilization of 8:37.  (It is possible that a reference to Acts 8:37 exists somewhere in materials I have not been able to search.)  In the UBS-4 apparatus, Ambrose’s name appears in the list of witnesses for non-inclusion.22

● Pacian of Barcelona (active 365-391), in Discourse on Baptism, part 7,

wrote the following:

            The seed of Christ, that is, the Spirit of God, produces, by the hands

            of the priests, the new man conceived in the womb of our Mother, and

            received at the birth of the font, faith presiding over the marriage rite.  

            For neither will he seem to be engrafted into the Church, who has not

            believed, nor will be seem to be born again of Christ, who has not

            himself received the Spirit.  We must believe, therefore, so that we can

            be born.  For so says Philip, “If you believe . . .      you may.”Christ

            therefore must be received, that He may beget, for thus says the Apostle

            John, “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the

            sons of God.”23 

_______________

21 – The entire page may be viewed at http://codexsinaiticus.org .

22 – page 438, The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition, © 2001 Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, D-Stuttgart.

23 – Based on the English translation of Pacian’s Discourse on Baptism at http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/pacian_5_baptism.htm .   

● Ambrosiaster (sometime in 366-384, when Damasus was bishop of Rome, written in Latin).  (The name “Ambrosiaster” is a nickname for an unknown author whose work was, until the 1500’s, thought to have been written by Ambrose.)  According to Alexander Souter, Ambrosiaster’s text of Acts is European, resembling the text of the Old Latin Codex Gigas and the text used by Lucifer of Cagliari (c 350-370), who ministered in Sardinia.24  In the course of his commentary on the Pauline Epistles, when commenting on Ephesians 4:12, Ambrosiaster mentions Philip: 

            “Philip did not fix a day or a time for the eunuch’s baptism, nor did he assign a period

            of fasting beforehand.”25 

            That is not support for the existence of Acts 8:37 in Ambrosiaster’s text of Acts.  However, in Ambrosiaster’s composition Quaestiones Veteris et Novi Testamenti, 91:6, as he addresses the heresy of Photinus and discusses the uniqueness of Jesus as the Son of God, he writes:  

            “Aut dicat Fotinus, quare vere filius dei creditor, si non est verus.  Aut quod opus erat hunc

            credere filium dei, si unus esset de ceteris sanctis, qui filii dei digni sunt appellari?  Aut numquid

            aliqua indignitas in hoc est, per quam filius dei, sicut ceteri sunt, credi non posset, et idcirco

            dicetur, ut hic, de quo incredulum videtur, credatur esse filius dei?  Si enim potior est ceteris,

            quod opus est ut dicatur:  Crede Christum Filium esse dei, nisi quia, ut aliter de hoc credatur,       praecipitur quam de ceteris, ut, quia multi sunt qui filii dei sanctitatis causa appellantur, hic solus

            verus dei filius credatur, unde et unicus dicitur?26

Which means something like this:

            “But say, Photinus, why belief is put in the true Son of God, if he is not true.  What need is

            there for a person to believe in the Son of God, if this one is [merely] like the rest of the saints

            who are worthy to be called the children of God?  Inasmuch as it is said, “I believe that Christ is the Son of God,” He is necessarily greater than the others; otherwise, would it not thus imply that

            something is believed about him that is also descriptive of the rest?  For there are many who are

            designated the children of God, because of their sanctity, but when a person believes upon the only

            true Son of God, isn’t he saying that He is unique?”

            This looks like a utilization of Acts 8:37, although with none of its narrative framework.

_______________

24 – See Alexander Souter’s analysis in Texts & Studies (1905), A Study of Ambrosiaster, especially pages 207-208.

25 – See page 49 of Gerald Bray’s 2009 translation of Ambrosiaster’s Commentary on Galatians-Philemon in the Ancient Christian Texts series, © 2009 by Gerald L. Bray.

26 – from CSEL 50, pages 155-156, edited by Alexander Souter (1908).  This reference was provided on page 199 of William A. Strange’s The Problem of the Text of Acts, © Cambridge University Press 1992.  #71 in the Monograph Series of the Society for New Testament Studies, G.N. Stanton, general editor.

● Gregory of Nyssa (active 370’s-395 – the brother of Basil of Caesarea), is a particularly interesting patristic writer, partly because he is, as James Brooks concluded, “one of the earliest writers whose quotations support the Byzantine text more often than any other.”27   Gregory of Nyssa’s writings do not contain many direct quotations from the book of Acts.  However, in the composition De Baptismo, he made a statement which might refer to the faith of the Ethiopian eunuch.  I have rendered it as follows: 

            “Imitate the Ethiopian eunuch, with his fervent desire.  For this individual, after Philip,

            unobserved by him, had been induced by the Holy Spirit to take that road, and had been seated

            with him in the chariot, undertook not only to read Isaiah’s wisdom, but also to understand.  

            For his appetite was whetted when he received the interpretation; he was like a cub

            which is given a taste [smell?] of the blood of wounded prey; he was very urgent and eager for    Philip to hunt down and altogether slaughter the game, that is, the prophecy, that he had in his hands.  And it was not at all laborious to ask to receive baptism from him – no waiting for the guest room, no choosing a village, or finding the place of sanctification.  For he prudently supposed that every place is alike to the Lord, and that all water is suitable to be used for baptism,    if only he has been found to have faith, and has received the sanctifying blessing of the priest.”

The Greek text of the final, relevant phrase:

            και παν υδωρ επιτηδειον εις την του βαπτισματος χρειαν,

            μονον εαν ευρη πιστιν του λαμβανοντος, και ευλογιαν του αγιαζοντος ιερεως.28

Gregory of Nyssa’s statement that the eunuch was discovered to have faith is probably an allusion to Acts 8:37, although a coincidental similarity cannot be ruled out altogether.

● Chromatius of Aquilea (active 388-407), in Sermo 2.7, likens the baptisms of Simon the sorcerer, and of the Ethiopian eunuch, to Noah’s flood, and carrying the comparison further, he likens Simon the sorcerer to the raven, and the Ethiopian eunuch to the dove:

            “This eunuch, since he is a dove, is chosen, but Simon the magician,

            since he is a raven, is rejected; for the former believed with his

            whole heart and whole faith, but the latter drew near, doubting in his

            mind and all full of faithlessness.”29

This is clearly an allusion to Acts 8:37.

_______________

27 – page 226 of James A. Brooks’ The New Testament Text of Gregory of Nyssa, © 1991 The Society of Biblical Literature.  Volume 2 of the series The New Testament in the Greek Fathers, Gordon Fee, editor.

28 – See Migne’s P.G. Volume 46, columns 421 (Greek) and 422 (Latin).

29 – Cited on page 98 of Arator on the Acts of the Apostles – A Baptismal Commentary, by Richard Hillier, © Richard Hillier 1994, Oxford University Press.  William A. Strange, in The Problem of the Text of Acts, located Chromatius’ use of Acts 8:37 in CChr.SL 9A, page 11, lines 124-127.

● Codex Glazier (copG67, also labeled “mae,” produced in the late 300’s or early 400’s, in Middle Egyptian, a Coptic dialect.) is a Coptic manuscript of Acts 1:1-15:3.  Its text includes Acts 8:37.  CopG67 is one of the most important witnesses to the “Western” text of Acts, and frequently agrees with Codex D.

            The transcription shown here is drawn from the work of Hans-Martin Schenke.30

● The Vulgate text of Acts, translated by Jerome (or by contemporary assistants) sometime after 383 (when he finished standardizing the Latin text, on the basis of ancient Greek manuscripts), will be considered further along in this essay.

WITNESSES FROM THE 400’S

● John Chrysostom (active 381-407 at Antioch and then at Constantinople, wrote in Greek), in Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles, Homily 19, quoted extensively from Acts chapter 8.  He does not utilize verse 37, and in light of his specific quotations of verse 36 and verse 38, the clear implication is that verse 37 was not in his text. 

● Augustine of Hippo (active 391-430, North Africa, wrote in Latin but occasionally referred to Greek manuscripts), in Sermon 49, Section 11, in his Sermons on Selected Lessons of the Gospels, wrote:

            “The eunuch believed on Christ, and said, when they came unto

            a certain water, “See, water, who does hinder me to be baptized?” 

            Philip said to him, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ?”  He          

            answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

            Immediately he went down with him into the water.  When the

            mystery and sacrament of baptism had been accomplished, that

            the gift of the Holy Ghost might not be thought to be of men,

            there was no waiting, as in the other case, for the apostles to come,

            but the             Holy Ghost came immediately.”31

_______________

30 – See page 152 of Hans-Martin Schenke’s Apostelgeschichte 1,1 – 15,3 im Mittelägyptischen Dialekt des Koptischen (Codex Glazier) – Acts of the Apostles 1:1-15:3 in the Middle Egyptian Dialect of Coptic – Texte & Untersuchungen 137.  Berlin: Akademie (1991).

31 – See Augustine’s Sermon 49 in English at http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/160349.htm .

● Codex Alexandrinus (c. 400-450) does not include the verse.32

τι ϋδωρ και φησιν ο ευνουχος·

ϊδου ϋδωρ τι κωλυει με βαπτισθη

ναι· και εκελευσεν στηναι το αρμα·

και κατεβησαν αμφοτεροι εις το

ϋδωρ. . . .

Speculum – also known as Liber Qui Appelatur Speculum et Liber de Divinis Scripturis Sive Speculum (Part 2:  On the Distinction of the Persons of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) and sometimes called “Pseudo-Augustine” (though not the only composition with such a name)  – was written in Latin, probably around 425.  Its quotations from Acts indicate that its author utilized a form of the African Old Latin text.  The author clearly quotes Acts 8:37:  “Item illic:  Et respondens spado ait:  credo filium Dei esse Christum Iesum”33 – “There [that is, in Acts] again, “and the eunuch said in reply, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’”

● Codex Ephraemi Syri Rescriptus (Codex C, 04, produced in the 400’s) does not include Acts 8:37.

● Codex Bezae (Codex D and d, 05, produced in the 400’s or 500’s – some researchers assign it to the very late 300’s or early 400’s – in Greek and Latin), the flagship manuscript of the Western Text of Acts, is not extant for Acts 8:37 and the surrounding verses.

_______________

32 – Acts 8:10-39 can be viewed on folio 61r in color at the British Library’s presentation of Codex Alexandrinus at http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=royal_ms_1_d_viii_fs001r

I recommend using the Chrome browser.

33 – The quotation in Speculum is on pages 307-308 of Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum, Vol. 12, edited by Franciscus Weihrich (1887).

WITNESSES FROM THE 500’S

Fulgentius of Ruspe (active 507-533, mainly in what is now Tunisia, in North Africa, wrote in Latin, knowledgeable in Greek) used Acts 8:37 in his composition De Veritate Praedestinationis et Gratiae Dei ad Joannem et Venerium sometime after 523: 

            “Ipse in spadone opus gratiae salutaris perfecit, quo illuminante idem

            spado Christum esse Filium Dei credidit, et ad stagnum veniens

            sacrae tinctionis effectum poposcit, nec baptizatus tantum, sed et

            Spiritu sancto repletus abscessit.”34

That goes something like this:  “The act of saving grace was thus accomplished, as this enlightened eunuch, having believed that Christ is the Son of God, coming to the sacred pool, received not only the effective washing he had asked for, but he also departed filled with the Holy Spirit.”            

            Another utilization of Acts 8:37 by Fulgentius is in Epistle XII, Ad Ferrandum 14 (CChr. SL 91, page 390, lines 282ff.35

● The Coptic manuscript Chester Beatty Coptic B, in which the Book of Acts is followed by the Gospel of John, both in Sahidic, was found with some coins; by identifying the production-dates of the coins, the production-date of the codex – or, at least, the date when it was placed where it was found – has been deduced to be 570-600.  In this manuscript, Acts 8:38 follows Acts 8:36, without Acts 8:37.36  

_______________

34 – Fulgentius’ use of Acts 8:37 in this composition is in Migne’s P.L. Vol. 65; Book One, chapter 9 (columns 612-614). 

35 – According to William A. Strange, on page 200 of The Problem of the Text of Acts, © Cambridge University Press 1992.  Online preview at http://books.google.com/books?id=3LCmYzrdz_IC .

36 – See digital-page #388 of The Coptic Text of Acts, by the St. Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society, at http://ixoyc.net/data/Fathers/617.pdf .]

● Codex E (08), Codex Laudianus, produced in the 500’s, is the sixth-oldest extant Greek uncial of the book of Acts.  Acts 8:37 is in its Greek text and its Latin text on fol. 70v (Image 148).37 

Codex E has an unusual reading; instead of εξεστιν, it reads σωθησει.  A secondary corrector has adjusted the Latin text so as to correspond to the meaning of this variant.

_______________

37 – From http://bav.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/icv/page.php?book=ms._laud_gr._35&page=147 .

Online images of Codex Laudianus are courtesy of the Polonsky Foundation Digitization Project.

OTHER EVIDENCE

We now turn to a more generalized survey of evidence.  Text und Textwert supplies the following data: 

78 Greek manuscripts of Acts are not extant for this part of the text.

417 Greek manuscripts do not include Acts 8:37. 

Sixty-four Greek manuscripts include Acts 8:37.38 

Those 64 Greek manuscripts are listed here, with notes about some of them:            

E – Codex Laudianus, 08, described above.

88c – 1100’s.  Notable because it has I Cor. 14:34-35 after 14:40, and has the CJ added in the margin.

94 – c. 1200.  (8:39 – as in 1739.)                                                      103 – 1100’s.  (8:39 – as in 1739.)

180 – 1273.                 221mg – 900’s (for main text).                       296 – 1500’s.  Entire NT.

307 – 900’s.  (8:39 as in 1739.)  Closely related to 453.  Related to 1739.  

322 – 1400’s.  (8:39 as in 1739.)  A member of family 1739.       

323 – 1100’s.  (8:39 as in 1739.)  A member of family 1739.

385 – 1407.  (8:39 as in 1739.) 

429 – c. 1300.  Has the CJ added secondarily.  A member of family 1739.

452c – 1100’s?                                                453 – 1300’s?  (8:39 as in 1739.) 

455 – 1300’s.                                                  464 – 1000’s.  (attached to Gospels-MS 252 when pristine.)

467 – 1400’s.  (8:39 as in 1739.)                    522 – 1515.  Related to 1739.

606 – 1000’s.                                                  607 – 1000’s.                          610 – 1100’s.  Related to 453.

628c – 1300’s.  Greek and Latin in parallel columns.

629 – 1300’s.  Codex Ottobonianus.  Includes the CJ.  Described by Waltz as “apparently the only “Western” minuscule.”39  (#298 in the Ottobianus collection in the Vatican Library)

630 – c. 1300.  Unusual mixture.                   636 – 1400’s.  Has the CJ in the margin.

641 – 1000’s.  Text accompanied by the commentary of Oecumenius.

876 – 1100’s.  At CSNTM.40                                      913 – 1300’s.             

945 – 1000’s.  A member of family 1739.     1104                1501                1509               

1609                1610                1642                1678 – Closely related to 453.  Related to 1739.      

1704 – Related to 1739.          1735               

1739 – 900’s.  Athos Laura MS 184.  (8:39:  – The Holy Spirit fell on the eunuch and the angel of the Lord snatched away Philip.)  Written by Ephraim the Scribe, who replicated his exemplars, which were probably from the library at Caesarea, and probably made no later than the late 400’s. 

1751                1765 (1300’s) 1780                1830                1832                1851               

1853                1869                1877c              1883                1884               

1891 – (900’s) A member of family 1739.     1892c              1903

2200 – Related to 1739.          2298 – (1000’s) Related to 1739.                   2473               

2488                2494                2544c              2619                2737                2805               

2816c – used by Erasmus, formerly called MS #4.                2818 – Closely related to 453, formerly #36.

_______________

38 – Text und Textwert was not consulted directly; this was reported to me at the NT Textual Criticism Facebook group by Peter Streitenberger and Jonathan Clark Borland.

39 – See http://www.skypoint.com/members/waltzmn/Manuscripts501-1000.html#m629 .

40 – MS 876 can be viewed at http://www.csntm.org/Manuscript/View/GA_876 .  It is housed at the University of Michigan.  Henry A. Sanders analyzed and collated its text in Manuscript No. 16 of the Michigan Collection, noting over 600 non-orthographic disagreements with the Textus Receptus.

It seems safe to say that Acts 8:37 is read in about 15% of the extant Greek manuscripts of Acts 8.  It also seems safe to say that the inclusion of Acts 8:37 is a distinctive feature of the text of family 1739. 

In The Problem of the Text of Acts, Dr. William Strange presents a detailed list of Latin witnesses for Acts 8:37.41  These witnesses echo Latin ancestors which contained translations that were made before the production of the Vulgate (that is, before the late 300’s).  Old Latin manuscripts that support the inclusion of Acts 8:37 are:

6 = Codex Colbertinus (OL c) – 1200’s

50 = the Latin column of Codex Laudianus (OL e) – 550

51 = Codex Gigas, a.k.a. Codex Holmiensis (OL gig)42 – c. 1250

54 = Codex Perpinianus (OL p) – 1150

56 = Liber Comicus (OL t) – c. 85043

57 = Codex Schlettstadtensis, a lectionary (OL r) – 700’s or 800’s

58 = Codex Wernigerodensis (OL w) – 1400’s44

59 = Codex Demidovianus (OL dem) – 1250

61 = Book of Armagh (OL D*) – 800’s (contains the Alexandrian reading of Mt. 27:49)

62 = Bible de Rosas, a.k.a. Biblia Sancta Petri Rodensis (OL r R*) – 1000’s, a four-volume Bible

63 = Codex Philadelphiensis (OL ph) – 1150

67 = Codex Legionensis, a.k.a. the Léon Palimpsest (OL l) – 600’s

Dr. Strange has also listed the following Vulgate-copies as support for the inclusion of Acts 8:37:

Vgam = Codex Amiatinus (Vg A*) – 600’s

VgMM = Missale Mixtum – 1000 (?)

Vgtol = Codex Toletanus (Vg T*) – 900’s

Vgvalic = Codex Valicellanus (Vg V*) – 800’s

Vg231a = Codex Sarisburiensis, a.k.a. Salisburgensis, (231a, W*) – 1200’s   

Vg243 = Brit. Lib. Add. MS 11852 (Vg U*) – c.  900 

Vg493 = Bodleian 3418 (Vg O*) – 700’s 

Vg1266 = Codex Theodulfianus (Vg Θ) – 800’s 

Vg1396 = Bamberg Bibl. Mun. A.I.5 (Vg B*) – late 700’s or early 800’s (by students of Alcuin)

Vggk629 = MS 629, the Latin column in Codex Ottobonianus           

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41 – page 199, The Problem of the Text of Acts, by W. A. Strange, © Cambridge University Press, 1992, Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 71.   

42 – The detail from Codex Gigas shown here is from http://www.kb.se/codex-gigas/eng/ .

43 – Not to be confused with the similarly-named lectionary produced in 1067.

44 – Once located in Germany, in the city of Wernigerode which is famous for its castle, this manuscript is now manuscript #799 in the Van Kampen collection.

● The Venerable Bede (active 690-735, wrote in Latin) died before most of those manuscripts were made.  In his Commentary on Acts, Bede used a Latin text that did not include verse 37, but as he began his exposition on verse 36-38, he wrote:

            Hic alia translatio juxta Graecum exemplar aliquot versus plus habet,

            ubi scriptum est, Ecce aqua, quis prohibit me baptizari? 

            Dixit autem ei Philippus, Si credis ex toto corde tuo, salvus eris.

            Respondens autem dixit, Credo in Christum Filium Dei. 

            Et jussit stare currum, et caetera.45

That is:  “At this point, there is another rendering, and the Greek exemplar has some more verses, where it is written, “Behold, water, who will forbid me to be baptized?”:  Philip said to him, “If you believe with all your heart, you shall be saved.”  He answered and said, “I believe in Christ, the Son of God.” And he commanded the chariot to stop,” and so forth.”

            The probability is extremely high that Bede used Codex Laudianus.

            Dr. Strange also states that several other versions of Acts support the inclusion of Acts 8:37.46  They include the following: 

the Armenian version (produced in the 400’s, initially from a Syriac base-text in 411, but then thoroughly conformed, after 430, to a Greek base-text from Constantinople),

the Georgian version (translated (mainly) from the Armenian version(s), later in the 400’s),

One Ethiopic manuscript (the exact history of the origin and development of the Ethiopic version is debated, but the Garima Gospels, the earliest Ethiopic manuscript of any New Testament text, has been carbon-dated to no later than the mid-600’s),

The Dutch version (1200’s),

The High German version (Codex Teplensis) (1300’s), and

The Provençal/Catalan version (1100’s) (represented by Paris MS #8086; which has a mixture of Old Latin and Vulgate readings like Codex Wernigerodensis).

                In addition, the Harklean Syriac contains Acts 8:37, accompanied by an asterisk.47  This implies that the verse was in a manuscript consulted by Thomas of Harkel in 616, when he produced this meticulously rendered Syriac translation at the Enaton monastery, about nine miles west of Alexandria, Egypt.  As the basis for his revision of the Philoxenian Syriac version (which was itself a revision of the Peshitta, which, by the 600’s, was the standard Syriac New Testament text), Thomas utilized a few Greek manuscripts at Enaton which he considered sufficiently ancient.  The oldest copy of the Harklean Syriac is Vat. Syr. 268, which probably was made in the 600’s. 

_______________

45 – See page 42 of Vol. 6 of J. A. Giles’ Venerabilis Bedae – Commentaria in Scripturas Sacras (1844).

46 – See page 196 of The Problem of the Text of Acts, by W. A. Strange, © Cambridge University Press, 1992.  I have supplemented his list with information from a variety of sources.   

47 – Copies of the Harklean Syriac are exceptionally similar to one another; the inclusion of Acts 8:37 accompanied by asterisks is affirmed for MS Oxford 333 according to Eldon Jay Epp on page xii of The Theological Tendency of Codex Bezae Cantebrigiensis in Acts, © Cambridge University Press, 1966. 

                One of the manuscripts used by Thomas of Harkel for his revision of the text of Acts has a distinct affinity with the text of Papyrus 38, a fragment from the late 200’s which contains text from Acts 18:27-19:6 and 19:12-16.  Papyrus 48, which contains text from Acts 23:11-16 and 23:24-29, is another fragment from the 200’s with a “Western” text of Acts.

            (I do not know if the Arabic MS 151 at Sinai, produced in 867 at Damascus, contains Acts 8:37 or not.  The probability is that it does not, inasmuch as its base-text was Syriac.  Nevertheless it wouldn’t hurt to check.)

            Besides the witnesses already mentioned (including the hundreds of minuscules which contain the Byzantine Text of Acts), the following Greek witnesses support the non-inclusion of Acts 8:37:48 

P74 – 600’s, a strong representative of the Alexandrian Text. 

H (014) – 900’s, Byzantine text

L (020) – 800’s, Byzantine text

P (025) – 800’s, Byzantine text

Ψ (044) – 800’s, mainly Byzantine in Acts

049 – 800’s, Byzantine text

056 – 900’s, Byzantine text

0142 – 900’s, Byzantine text.  Very closely related to 056.  Technically a minuscule.

33vid – mainly Alexandrian in Acts

81 – 1044, strongly Alexandrian, text resembles 066 (066 is from the 500’s, but is not extant in Acts 8)

88* – 1100’s, features a note stating that it was checked against a manuscript prepared by Pamphilus (d. 309) at Caesarea (which may suggest that the insertion of Acts 8:37 was a result of this consultation)

104 – 1087, Alexandrian in Acts

181 – 1000’s, somewhat Alexandrian

326 – 900’s, mainly Alexandrian

330 – 1100’s, Byzantine in Acts       

436 – 900’s, mixed/Alexandrian in Acts

_______________

48 – See the textual apparatus of the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (the 1965 edition has more information for this variant-unit than the 1993/2001 edition), and page 14 of The Variant Readings of the Western Text of the Acts of the Apostles (XIV) (Acts 81b-40) by Josep Ruis-Camps & Jenny Read-Heimerdinger, initially published in Spanish as a series of articles in Filologia Neotestamentaria, © Facultad de Filosofia y Letras – Universidad de Córdoba (España).  Excerpt from Vol. XV (2002) online at http://rius-camps.cat/Notes%20filologiques%20Fets/14.-%20Act%208,%201b-40.pdf .

48 – Images of 2412 are online at the website of the University of Chicago’s Goodspeed Collection, at http://goodspeed.lib.uchicago.edu/ms/index.php?doc=0922 .  Acts 8:36 (without 8:37) is on Image 25.

451 – 1000’s, Byzantine in Acts                                614 – 1100’s, related to MS 453 and 2412

1175 – 1000’s, mainly Alexandrian                           1241 – 1100’s, Byzantine in Acts

1409 – 1300’s, mixed text                                          1505 – 1100’s, family-2138 text

2127 – 1100’s, mainly Byzantine

2344 – mainly Alexandrian in Acts, text is similar to 33

2412 – 1100’s, family-2138 text49 (MS 922 at the Goodspeed Collection.  Images online.)

2492 – 1200’s, Byzantine in Acts                              2495 – c. 1400, family-2138 text

Besides the witnesses already mentioned, the following evidence should also be considered:

● The Vulgate’s testimony is not consistent.  As mentioned earlier, Codex Amiatinus – “one of the purest and best copies of Jerome’s Vulgate,” according to Christopher de Hamel – includes Acts 8:37.50  It dates from the early 700’s (although the primary consideration when estimating its textual value is not so much its age as its line of descent 51).  Codex Fuldensis, produced in 546, does not include Acts 8:37.52 

_______________

49 – Images of 2401 are online at the website of the University of Chicago’s Goodspeed Collection, at http://goodspeed.lib.uchicago.edu/ms/index.php?doc=0142 .  Acts 8:36 (without 8:37) is on Image 24.

50 – page 33 of The Book.  A History of the Bible, by Christopher de Hamel, © 2001 Phaidon Press Limited.

51 – See Dom Chapman’s Notes on the Early History of the Vulgate Gospels for some information about the background and textual lineage of Codex Amiatinus’ text.

52 – page 453 of Codex Fuldensis – Novum Testamentum Latine Interprete Hieronymo, by Ernestus Ranke, 1888.

The Wordsworth & White edition of the Vulgate does not include Acts 8:37; however, that may be primarily an effect of the Greek Byzantine text upon the witnesses favored by Wordsworth and White.  I have a hard time persuading myself that the producers of Codex Amiatinus, Gutenberg,53 the Rheims New Testament, and the Complutensian Polyglot all managed to use the wrong text of Acts when they chose exemplars which included Acts 8:37.   

● The Peshitta was probably produced in the late 300’s and standardized over the course of the century after that (in a way somewhat analogous to the way in which Tyndale’s English version of the New Testament was produced, and then standardized, in 1525-1611).  The Khabouris Codex, which is perhaps the most famous copy of the Peshitta in the United States, does not include Acts 8:37.54   The Peshitta – which was produced no later than the 300’s – does not contain Acts 8:37, according to Syriac specialist Sebastian Brock.55 

● The Bohairic version of Acts was probably made in the 300’s.  The earliest extant Bohairic manuscript of Acts – Papyrus Codex Oriental 424, in the Chester Beatty Library – was produced in A.D. 1308.  The Bohairic version has Acts 8:38 following Acts 8:36, without Acts 8:37.56

● The Ethiopic version of Acts was probably initially made in the 400’s, but no extant Ethiopic copies of Acts, it seems, pre-date the 1200’s.57  With the exception of one Ethiopic witness, the Ethiopic evidence does not support the inclusion of Acts 8:37.

_______________

53 – At http://www.gutenbergdigital.de/gudi/eframes/index.htm digital images of the Göttingen Gutenberg Bible are online.  However, reproduction of the images is restricted.  Acts 8:36, 37, and 38 are viewable in Volume 2 at the end of the text on fol. 289v and the beginning of the text on fol. 290r.  The image shown on the previous page is only a replication I made.  

54 – A transcription of text of Acts in the Khabouris Codex, by S. P. Silver, accompanied by page-views of the manuscript, is accessible at http://www.dukhrana.com/khabouris/files/Khabouris%20Acts.pdf .

55 – See page 29 of The Bible in the Syriac Tradition, by Sebastian Brock (page 35 in 2006 edition).   Although Murdock’s 1915 edition of the Peshitta presented Acts 8:37, bracketed, it was accompanied by a note which stated, “This 37th verse is not in any of the earlier editions, and is excluded from the text of the London editions of 1816 and 1816.” (See The Syriac New Testament Translated into English from the Peshitto Version, by James Murdock, 1915 H. L. Hastings & Sons.)  Also, J. W. Etheridge’s The Apostolic Acts and Epistles Translated from the Peschito (1849) did not include Acts 8:37; a footnote on page 159 plainly states, “Verse 37 is wanting in the Peschito.”

56 – See digital-pages #211-212 of The Coptic Text of Acts, by the St. Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society, at http://ixoyc.net/data/Fathers/617.pdf .

57 – See Curt Niccum’s comments in The Ethiopic Version and the “Western” Text of Acts in Le Texte Occidental des Acts des Apôtres, on pages 72 and 76 of Transmission and Reception:  New Testament Text-critical and Exegetical Studies, edited by David Parker, © 2006 by Gorgias Press LLC.

● Theophylact (1055-1107, wrote in Greek), in his commentary on Acts, made so many extensive quotations that his commentary is virtually a manuscript of the text of Acts with prolonged interruptions.  Acts 8:34-40, including verse 37, can be found in Migne’s P.G. Volume 125, in columns 636-637.  Theophylact does not offer any comment about verse 37.  Further along in the same volume, in column 928, the same passage is presented, and in column 929, Theophylact mentions the eunuch’s faith.     

Some general observations:

● The inclusion of Acts 8:37 is supported by early (Roman-Empire-era) patristic writers in a wide variety of locales.

● The inclusion of Acts 8:37 is supported by three patristic writers (Irenaeus and Cyprian and Pontius) whose manuscripts of Acts 8 were older than any manuscript of Acts 8 currently extant in any language.

● Acts 8:37 is well-supported not only by “Western” witnesses but also by family-1739.  Besides being included in 1739, Acts 8:37 has support from group-members 322, 323, 429, 453, 522, 630, 945, 1704, 1891 and 2200.    

● Acts 8:37 was the dominant reading in Old Latin versions of Acts, both African and European.

● The support of copG67 makes it difficult to sustain the theory that Acts 8:37 originated as a Latin interpolation which infiltrated non-Latin texts. 

● The combination of À B A 81 Byz Sah Pesh against the inclusion of Acts 8:37 is very strong. 

● If B¨  is contemporary with B, this would increase the already impressive range of early support for the inclusion of Acts 8:37.  

Something Else to Consider:  John 9:38-39a

            John 9:38-39a is as follows:  “38Then he said, ‘Lord, I believe!”  And he worshiped Him.  39And Jesus said to him –”.  This passage is in the text of all major modern translations.  However, it is absent from seven early witnesses:  Papyrus 75, À*, W, an early Coptic (Lycopolitan dialect) manuscript of John produced in the 300’s, a Fayyumic manuscript (P. Mich. Inv. 3521), a Sahidic manuscript (P. Palau Ribes Inv. 183), and Old Latin b (Codex Veronensis).  

            Although some textual critics, such as Philip Wesley Comfort, have proposed that the non-inclusion of John 9:38-39a is original, this solution implies that John left the scene in chapter 9 somewhat unfinished:  although the blind man has been asked if he believes in the Son of Man (or, Son of God, in

the Byzantine Text), without 9:38-39a, we never hear his answer; instead, Jesus’ words go seamlessly from His affirmation that He is the Son of Man, in verse 37, to the declaration of judgment in v. 39.  The notion that John would write such an incomplete story is simply implausible.

            But how, then, does one account for the removal of John 9:38-39?  I suspect that a very early Greek manuscript of the Gospel of John – early enough that its descendants influenced several Egyptian versions – was the property of a lector, and as such, this copy contained some marks alongside certain passages of liturgical significance.  This passage in John 9:38-39 was one such passage.  The lector’s

marks, which had been intended to draw attention to the passage, were misinterpreted by a copyist as if to mean that the marked passages were to be excised, and so he excised the passage.

            The same phenomenon which caused the loss of John 9:38-39 in a significant branch of the early Alexandrian transmission-stream may have recurred – in a text-line with even greater influence – in Acts 8, where we encounter another passage which lent itself readily for liturgical use in the early church’s baptismal services.

            (I note in passing that this factor – the influence of a copyist’s misinterpretation of marks in a lector’s copy – marks alongside certain passages that received special treatment in church-services and in the administration of sacred ordinances such as baptism – is capable of accounting for several shorter readings in the Alexandrian Text of the Gospels and Acts.)

Conclusion

            I believe that Acts 8:37 should be retained in the text.  If it is accompanied by a footnote, the footnote should be balanced:  the footnote should inform the reader that although the verse is not in the majority of manuscripts, nor in the oldest manuscripts, it has very early and widespread patristic support.

●●●●●●●

For additional study:

■ Josep Ruis-Camps & Jenny Read-Heimerdinger,  The Variant Readings of the Western Text of the Acts of the Apostles (XIV) (Acts 81b-40), Filologia Neotestamentaria, Vol. XV (2002), pages 111-132.  Facultad de Filosofia y Letras – Universidad de Córdoba (España).  Excerpt online at

http://rius-camps.cat/Notes%20filologiques%20Fets/14.-%20Act%208,%201b-40.pdf

■ William A. Strange, The Problem of the Text of Acts, © Cambridge University Press, 1992.  (Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 71.)  Dr. Strange is currently the Archdeacon of Cardigan, in Wales.  His monograph can be purchased at Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Problem-Society-Testament-Studies-Monograph/dp/0521413842 .

■ Kurt Aland, Der Neutestamentliche Text in der Vorkonstantinischen Epoche, PLÉROMA.  Salus carnis.  Homenaje a Antonio Orbe (E. Romero-Pose, ed., Santiago de Compostela 1990), pages 66-70. 

(I did not use this material, which is written in German, but it was commended by Dr. Strange.)

■ Eldon Jay Epp, The Theological Tendency of Codex Bezae Cantebrigiensis in Acts, © Cambridge University Press, 1966.  (Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 71.)

■ James Hardy Ropes, The Beginnings of Christianity, Volume 3 (1926), Macmillan & Co. 

■ Joël Delobel, The Nature of “Western” Readings in Acts, in Recent Developments in New Testament Textual Criticism, pages 69-94, edited by Wim Weren and Dietrich-Alex Koch, © 2003 Koninklijke Van Gorcum. 

■ Curt Niccum, The Ethiopic Version and the “Western” Text of Acts in Le Texte Occidental des Acts des Apôtres, in Transmission and Reception:  New Testament Text-critical and Exegetical Studies, edited by David Parker, © 2006 by Gorgias Press LLC.

■ Thomas C. Geer, Jr., Family 1739 in Acts (Society of Biblical Literature Monograph Series #48),

© 1994 Scholars Press.

FURTHER READING

ACTS 8:37 AND BAPTISMAL CONFESSION

ACTS 8:37 AND BAPTISMAL CONFESSION

The Authorized King James Version (AV) of the Holy Bible contains a verse which modern versions either omit entirely or question its genuineness:

“And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Acts 8:37

In this short post I will present the earliest surviving proofs for the authenticity of this verse. I will also cite later versions and expositors that accept the veracity of this passage.

IRENAEUS (180 AD)

8. But again: Whom did Philip preach to the eunuch of the queen of the Ethiopians, returning from Jerusalem, and reading Esaias the prophet, when he and this man were alone together? Was it not He of whom the prophet spoke: He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb dumb before the shearer, so He opened not the mouth? But who shall declare His nativity? For His life shall be taken away from the earth. Acts 8:32Isaiah 53:7-8 [Philip declared] that this was Jesus, and that the Scripture was fulfilled in Him; as did also the believing eunuch himself: and, immediately requesting to be baptized, he said, “I believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God.” Acts 8:37 This man was also sent into the regions of Ethiopia, to preach what he had himself believed, that there was one God preached by the prophets, but that the Son of this [God] had already made [His] appearance in human nature (secundum hominem), and had been led as a sheep to the slaughter; and all the other statements which the prophets made regarding Him. (Against Heresies, 3.12.8)

CYPRIAN (250 AD)

43. That he who believes can immediately obtain (i.e., pardon and peace)

In the Acts of the Apostles: “Lo, here is water; what is there which hinders me from being baptized? Then said Philip, If you believe with all your heart, you may.” (The Treatises of Cyprian, Treatise 12, Book 3.43)

MINUSCULE 1739

“… However, Ehrman points out that 1) one of those manuscripts is 1739, from Mount Athos, an important minuscule that is an excellent copy of a 4th century exemplar that itself is a copy of a (probably) 2nd century manuscript (1739 and 1881 are important later minuscules). 1739 is pictured to the right…” (White, “Many Thanks”, January 7, 2009; bold emphasis mine) 

This minuscule contains the verse in question.

CODEX GLAZIER

Codex Glazier, designated by siglum copG67, is a Coptic uncial manuscript of the New Testament on parchment. It is dated palaeographically to the 4th or 5th century. Textually it is very close to Greek Codex Bezae

Different readings supported by Old Latin

Acts 6:1 men] angel

Acts 7:46 Bezae reads οικω, G67 supports reading θεω;

Acts 8:37 and 9:5b-6a are included.

Acts 12:25 Bezae reads Σαυλος] G67 supports reading ος επεκληθη Παυλος (who was called Paul))

Acts 14:20 Only h and G67, in the report that the disciples gathered around Paul after he was stoned and cast out of the city…

The manuscript is dated to the late 4th or early 5th century.[1]

1. Bruce M. MetzgerThe Early Versions of the New Testament, Oxford University Press, 1977, p. 119. (Codex Glazier – Wikipedia; emphasis mine)

LATIN VULGATE–DOUAY-RHEIMS

[37] And Philip said: If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. And he answering, said: I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Dixit autem Philippus: Si credis ex toto corde, licet. Et respondens ait: Credo Filium Dei esse Jesum Christum.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

IN BRIEF

452 The name Jesus means “God saves”. the child born of the Virgin Mary is called Jesus, “for he will save his people from their sins” ( Mt 1:21): “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” ( Acts 4:12).

453 The title “Christ” means “Anointed One” (Messiah). Jesus is the Christ, for “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power” ( Acts 10:38). He was the one “who is to come” ( Lk 7:19), the object of “the hope of Israel” ( Acts 28:20).

454 The title “Son of God” signifies the unique and eternal relationship of Jesus Christ to God his Father: he is the only Son of the Father (cf  Jn 1:14,  18;  3:16,  18); he is God himself (cf  Jn 1:1). To be a Christian, one must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (cf  Acts 8:37 1 Jn 2:23).

455 The title “Lord” indicates divine sovereignty. To confess or invoke Jesus as Lord is to believe in his divinity. “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit'” ( I Cor 12:3). (The Catechism, Paragraph 454; emphasis mine)

THE 1904 PATRIARCHAL TEXT OF THE GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH

εἶπε δὲ ὁ Φίλιππος· εἰ πιστεύεις ἐξ ὅλης τῆς καρδίας, ἔξεστιν. ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ εἶπε· πιστεύω τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ εἶναι τὸν ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν. (1904 Patriarchal Text, Acts 8)

PRE-KJV ENGLISH VERSIONS

Tyndale(i) 37 Philip said unto him: If thou believe with all thine heart thou mayst. He answered and said: I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God.

Wycliffe(i) 37 And Philip said, If thou believest of al the heart, it is lawful. And he answered, and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God.

Geneva(i) 37 And Philip said unto him, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. Then he answered, and said, I believe that that Jesus Christ is that Son of God.

Coverdale(i) 37 Philip said: If thou believe from thy whole heart, thou mayest. He answered, and said: I believe, that Jesus Christ is the son of God.

Great(i) 37 Philip said unto him: If thou believe with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered, and said: I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God.

Bishops(i) 37 Philip said [unto him] If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered, and said: I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God

Matthew(i) 37 Philip said unto him: If thou believe with all thine heart, thou mayest. He answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God.

JOHN GILL

Acts 8:37

And Philip said, if thou believest with all thine heart,
thou mayest

Intimating, that if he did not believe, he had no right to that ordinance; though he was a proselyte to the Jewish religion, a serious and devout man, and was employed in a religious way, when Philip came up to him, and was very desirous of being instructed in the knowledge of divine things; and yet notwithstanding all this, he had no right to the ordinance of baptism, unless he had faith in Christ, and made a profession of it; nor would Philip administer it to him without it; from whence it appears, that faith in Christ, and a profession of it, are necessary prerequisites to baptism: and this faith should not be a mere historical and temporary faith, nor a feigned one, but a believing in Christ with the heart unto righteousness; or such a faith by which a soul relinquishes its own righteousness, and looks and goes unto Christ for righteousness, life, and salvation, and rests and relies upon him for them; and it should be a believing in him with the whole heart, which does not design a strong faith, or a full assurance of faith, but an hearty, sincere, and unfeigned one, though it may be but weak, and very imperfect. And that this is necessary to baptism is manifest, because without this it is impossible to please God; nor can submission and obedience to it be acceptable to him: nor indeed can the ordinance be grateful and pleasing to unbelievers; for though it is a command that is not grievous, and a yoke that is easy, yet it is only so to them that believe; nor can any other see to the end of this ordinance, or behold the burial, and resurrection of Christ represented by it, or be baptized into his death, and partake of the benefits of it; and besides, whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of
God:

which though a short, is a very comprehensive summary of the articles of faith respecting the person, offices, and grace of Christ; as that he is a divine person, truly and properly God, the only begotten of the Father, of the same nature with him, and equal to him; that he existed from all eternity, as a divine person with him, and distinct from him; and that he is the Christ, the anointed of God, to be prophet, priest, and King; and is Jesus, the only Saviour of lost sinners, in whom he trusted and depended alone for righteousness, life, and salvation. This whole verse is wanting in the Alexandrian copy, and in five of Beza’s copies, and in the Syriac and Ethiopic versions; but stands in the Vulgate Latin and Arabic versions, and in the Complutensian edition; and, as Beza observes, ought by no means to be expunged, since it contains so clear a confession of faith required of persons to be baptized, which was used in the truly apostolic times. (John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, Acts 8:37; emphasis mine)

FURTHER READING

Acts 8:37 – Sorting out the Evidence

Should the Bible include Acts 8:37

Acts 8:37 – “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God”

Acts 8:37 | Catholic Bible Student – A Blog About the Bible

 Video: Does it really matter which Bible version you prefer? – AV1611 Blog

Video: Modern Textual Criticism and Acts 8:37 with James White – AV1611 Blog