I have recently begun a study through the Epistle of Jude, and I thought it would be interesting to compare the readings of the Textus Receptus (TBS printing), the Nestle-Aland 27th Edition (the edition I have), and the Majority Text (also known as the Byzantine Text). Unsurprisingly, there is a difference between the NA27, which represents the modern critical text, and the TR, which is the confessional text. The Majority Text matches what is found in the TR. Below are the various readings, transliterated due to the lack of Greek font on a free WordPress plan. You can download a PDF copy of this article with the Greek font below.
Transliteration of TR: Ioudas Iesou Christou doulos, adelphos de Iakobou, tois en theo patri hegiasmenois, kai Iesou Christo teteremenois, kletois;
Transliteration of NA27: Ioudas Iesou Christou doulos, adelphos de Iakobou, tois en theo patri egapemenois, kai Iesou Christo teteremenois, kletois;
The difference between the two readings are in bold for ease of reference. The issue is whether the text should read hegiasmenois (the sanctified ones) or egapemenois (the beloved ones). In the Authorized (King James) Version, the verse is translated: “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called.” We can contrast that with the reading of the ESV, which follows the modern critical text: “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, to those who are called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ.” Which is it?
Let us turn first to the extant external evidence (meaning the Greek manuscripts that are available to us). The reading of the modern critical text is supported by P72 (dated to the 3rd/4th century), Codices Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, and Vaticanus, and a variety of late manuscripts, translations (notably the Vulgate), and Origen. The reading of the TR is supported by the uncials K, L, and P, which are late, but also by the vast majority of all Greek manuscripts.
A certain apologist often touts the weight and importance of the papyri evidence, so at first the support of P72 seems to settle the dispute. But a careful analysis of this papyrus reveals that is certainly not the case, and it certainly is not the definitive factor in the reading of the modern critical text. P72 first entered the textual scene in 1969, when it was purchased by Martin Bodmer, a Swiss collector. Westcott and Hort, whose critical text of the New Testament was published in the late 19th century, reads the same as the NA27, but they did not have access to P72. So why did they decide to alter the text from the traditional and majority reading? Because of the witness of Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, and Vaticanus. Here is their explanation from their Introduction to the Greek New Testament: “The combination en theo patri egapemenois is without analogy, and admits no natural interpretation. Apparently the en was intended to stand before Iesou Christo.”That last sentence is staggering: the reading adopted by Westcott and Hort was simply a matter of pure speculation. Bruce Metzger, the darling of modern evangelical textual criticism, wrote the following in defense of rejecting the traditional reading in his Textual Commentary of the New Testament: “The latter reading [that adopted by the TR], which is modeled upon 1 Cor. 1:2, was introduced by copyists in order to avoid the difficult and unusual combination en theo patri egapemenois” (emphasis added). There is no evidence, nor can there be any evidence, to support Metzger’s claim. It is merely speculation.
So why does P72 contain an errant reading? You can view the manuscript yourself by visiting www.csntm.org/Manuscript/View/GA_P72#. You will notice two points of importance. First, the words look very similar. They begin with the same two letters, have the same number of letters, and end exactly the same: menois. In other words, the only difference between the two words three letters. Second, the word stretches between two different lines. When finishing the word, the copyist would have to take his eyes off of the text and move his hand, which could easily result in a slip of the hand, eye, or mind.
To conclude, consider the words of John Calvin, from his commentary on Jude: “Another reading, which the Vulgate has followed, is somewhat harsh, ‘to the beloved (egapemenois) in God the Father.’ I therefore regard it as corrupt; and it is, indeed, found but in a few copies” (emphasis added). The modern text critics reveal their bias against the traditional, confessional text of Scripture which has been providentially preserved by God. The true reason they prefer the reading egapemenois is their adherence to their doctrines, specifically the most difficult reading is the preferred reading. Calvin regarded the reading as corrupt for two reasons: it “is somewhat harsh” (meaning grammatically) and because it is “found but in a few copies.” There is no reason to doubt that the true reading of the text should be that which was providentially preserved by God in the TR.