Friday, December 17, 2010

Hebrews 1:8-9 (h.a.)

Hebrews 1:8-9 (Traditional Text)


προς δε τον υιον
ο θρονος σου ο θεος
τον αιωνα του αιωνος
ραβδος ευθυτητος
η ραβδος της βασιλειας σου

and unto the Son:
`Thy throne, O God,
[is] to the age
of the age;
a scepter of righteousness [is]
the scepter of thy reign;'...

INCLUDE LINE: Koine text, 33 etc. (miniscules), Byz Maj (Majority text)

OMIT LINE: B 33 t vg(some mss)

Perhaps B.J. Wright gave the most concise description of this obvious Haplography error, recently (2007):

"For centuries, the book of Hebrews has been the combat zone of many impasses and cacophonous speculations: its juncture is unstated, its author is unknown, and its destination ambiguous. Fortunately, these matters, while fascinating, are not at the viscera of the book's significance. What interests us here then, is one verse in the first chapter that possibly denotes the deity of Christ: namely, 1:8. Since the hermeneutical and exegetical issues here are beyond the scope of this paper, I will proceed by simply addressing the textual issues.


The first textual variant is pretty straightforward: the presence or absence of του αιωνος ("and ever") after εις τον αιωνα ("forever").

Externally, the absence of is significantly inferior with only a small handful of concentrated MSS omitting it (B 33 t vg-mss). Although it is true that scribes often expanded readings (with the apocapated reading generally being preferred), it is not the situation here for several reasons.

First, του αιωνος is a direct quotation from the OT with both the LXX [44:7] and MT [45:7] supporting it.

Second, this reading is supported by the best and earliest MSS (only a few omit it: B 33 t vg-mss).

Third, every time [ Heb: 'oulam od' ] occurs in the OT the LXX translates it with του αιωνος (Ps 10:16; 21:5; 45:7; 48:15; 52:10; 104:5). Putting it another way, if one accepts the shorter Greek rendering of the OT quote in Heb. 1:8 (simply by εις τον αιωνα ), and does not include του αιωνος, it goes against all the ancient versions.

Fourth, faulty eyesight could easily explain the omission."

- Brian James Wright, "Jesus as Theos: Scriptural Fact or Scribal Fantasy?" (Dallas Seminary, 2007)

Wright adds a footnote: 'For this and other possibilities see E.C. Colwell, Studies in the Methodology in Textual Criticism of the NT (Eerdmans, 1969), 106-124. , Cf. J. R. Royse, "Scribal Tendencies in the Transmission of the Text of the NT"; J.R. Royse, "The Treatment of Scribal Leaps in Metzger's Textual Commentary", NTS 29 (1983) 539-51.'

It only needs to be added that Codex Sinaiticus also carries its own unique set of absurd variants in the book of Hebrews, and consequently its omissions also have all the appearance of scribal boners due to negligence and fatigue. (see B.B. Warfield's enlightening list of Aleph's boners in Hebrews).

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