Friday, May 4, 2018

Does Mark 1:2 Contain An Inaccurate Quotation?

tc Grk “in Isaiah the prophet.” Instead of “in Isaiah the prophet” the majority of mss read “in the prophets” (A W Γ ƒ 28 579 1424 M Ir). Except for Irenaeus (2nd century), the earliest evidence for this is from the 5th (or possibly late 4th) century (Washingtonianus and Alexandrinus). The difficulty of Irenaeus is that he wrote in Greek but has been preserved largely in Latin. His Greek remains have “in Isaiah the prophet.” Only the later Latin translation has “in the prophets” (yet in one of the three citations of Mark 1:2 Irenaeus’s Latin has “in Isaiah the prophet”). The KJV reading is thus in harmony with the majority of late mss. On the other hand, the witnesses for “in Isaiah the prophet” (either with the article before Isaiah or not) are early and geographically widespread: א B D L Δ Θ ƒ 33 565 700 892 1241 al sy co Ir Or Epiph. This evidence runs deep into the 2nd century, is widespread, and is found in the most significant Alexandrian, Western, and so-called Caesarean witnesses. The “Isaiah” reading has a better external pedigree in almost every way. It has the support of the earliest and best witnesses from most of the text-forms. Moreover it is most likely the harder reading, since the quotation in the first part of the verse appears to be from Exod 23:20 and Mal 3:1, with the quotation from Isa 40:3 coming in the next verse. Although the reading of the later mss seems motivated by a desire to resolve this difficulty, Robinson has made a good case for “in the prophets” as the original wording (Maurice Robinson, “Two Passages in Mark: A Critical Test for the Byzantine-Priority Hypothesis,” Faith & Mission 13.2 [1996]: 68-80). Part of his argument is that א Θ ƒ 33 erroneously have “Isaiah” in Matt 13:35, and these same mss read “Isaiah the prophet” in Mark 1:2. Consequently, he suggests that their testimony in the Marcan text should be discounted. This may be true but it ignores the rest of the witnesses for the “Isaiah” reading here. All things considered, “Isaiah the prophet” has better credentials for authenticity in Mark 1:2.

Excerpt taken from the New English Translation

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