The Shifting Sands of Scholarship - Romans 8

For those who think the modern bible versions are based on "The Science of Textual Criticism", this short study of a few verses in Romans 8 should disabuse them of such superstition. We constantly hear that the new versions are based on "the oldest and best manuscripts", yet most people are not informed that not only do these "oldest and best" constantly disagree with among themselves, but also the scholars continually change their minds from one version to the next.

Romans 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, WHO WALK NOT AFTER THE FLESH, BUT AFTER THE SPIRIT."

These last 10 words are found in the Majority of all remaining Greek manuscripts, several uncials (capital letter Greek mss.), Sinaiticus correction and the Old Latin, which predates anything we have in Greek.

Codex Alexandrinus includes "who walk not after the flesh", but it omits "but after the Spirit", and so reads the Catholic Douay version.

However Vaticanus, C, and the uncorrected Sinaiticus omit all of these words and so do the NASB, NIV, RSV and Jehovah Witness versions.

Romans 8:2 "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made ME free from the law of sin and death."

"made ME free" is the reading of the Majority, A, C, D and is found in the Revised Version, ASV, NIV, RSV and Douay. However Vaticanus and Sinaiticus read: "made YOU free" and so do the NASB and the NRSV, ESV. Notice that the NASB is a revision of the American Standard Version, yet they do not agree with each other nor with the NIV. The NRSV, ESV are revisions of the RSV, and they don't agree with each other. No new evidence was uncovered during this time; the scholars just changed their minds. Alter a few words and out comes a new ver$ion with the late$t in $cholar$hip.

Romans 8:26 "but the Spirit itself maketh intercession FOR US with groanings which cannot be uttered."

Again, FOR US is the reading of the Majority, C and Sinaiticus correction. Vaticanus, A and Westcott - Hort omit these words. The NIV includes them but the NASB has them in italics, as though they were added to the text.

Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

This is the reading of the Majority of Greek texts, C, D and Sinaiticus. It is also the reading of the RV, ASV, NRSV, and the 2001 ESV.

However the "scholars" who "scientifically" put together the Nestles 26th edition of the Greek Critical text, follow the reading of Vaticanus and A by adding the word "God" a second time in this verse. Accordingly the NASB and the Jehovah Witness versions read: "And we know that GOD causes all things to work together for good to those who love GOD", while the NIV and RSV have: "And we know that in all things GOD works for the good of those who love HIM." There is no text that reads as does the NIV.

But what is of interest here is that the newest Nestles 27th edition and the UBS 4th edition have gone back to the reading of the Majority and the one the King James Bible had all along. In other words, if you have a NASB or the NIV, they are no longer "up to date". Again, no new evidence has been uncovered in some cave somewhere, but the "scholars" have again changed their minds. Nothing is settled; everything is constantly evolving. They have revised their Greek texts in scores if not hundreds of places on the average of once every three and one half years for the past 120 years and will continue to do so.

Romans 8:34 "Who is he that condemneth? It is CHRIST that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."

"It is CHRIST that died" is the reading of the Majority, D and Vaticanus. However Sinaiticus, A and C add the word JESUS, so that the NASB, NIV, ESV, RSV read: "it is CHRIST JESUS that died." Notice that in this verse Sinaiticus differs from Vaticanus, yet the new versions seem to side with A and C and this pushes them over to that reading. However in this same verse both A and C and Sinaiticus correction all add the words "FROM THE DEAD" (ek nekroon) after "it is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again (from the dead). Yet the NASB, NIV and ESV do not follow the very manuscripts they adopted in the first part of this verse for the reading which adds JESUS. The J.W. version and the RSV both do follow Sinaiticus correction, A and C and read: "Christ JESUS that is raised again FROM THE DEAD." If all this seems confusing, that's because it is.

Romans 8:35 "Who shall separate us from the love of CHRIST?"

CHRIST again is the reading of the Majority of all Greek manuscripts and C and D. The NASB, NIV and ESV this time follow the KJB reading, but it should be noted that of the "oldest and best" that are used to omit literally thousands of words from the New Testament of the King James Bible, Sinaiticus reads "love of GOD" instead of "love of Christ", and Vaticanus has "love of GOD which is in CHRIST JESUS", and the NASB footnote informs us that "some ancient manuscripts read GOD".

This short study shows us the reality of the confusing and constantly changing "science" of modern textual criticism. The "oldest and best" are neither the oldest and certainly not the best and the NASB, NIV are now out of date according to the latest scholarly assumptions; but you can bet your bottom dollar there will be new ones out soon so you won't have to be in doubt as to what God really said ;-)

"For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven." Psalms 119:89

Will Kinney