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Hebrews 2:9 – Separated by Grace (Part 8)

by Stephen Hebert on Monday - 19 April 2010

in Biblical Studies, New Testament

Part eight of the series “Hebrews 2:9 – Separated by Grace.”

Thus, we have demonstrated the importance of patristic evidence for the textual criticism of Heb 2:9. Because Origen’s citations pass the appropriate tests (the grammar of the citation is not significantly affected; the author may be quoting directly from a text; our critical edtion is reliable; and the readings are preserved in the original Greek), it should be reckoned as a powerful witness to the text of Hebrews during that time period. Moreover, since in context it makes little difference which variant he chooses, Origen’s witness seems rather strong, at least for Alexandria.

Further, we have illustrated the importance of internal evidence for assessing this particular variant. χωρὶς is not only the lectio difficilior, but also a more common word in Hebrews than χάρις, and, while its alteration can be explained by scribal lapse, it is more likely the work of a theologically motivated scribe.

When this internal evidence and the evidence of Origen and other patristic authors is combined with the manuscript evidence that heavily favors χάριτι, we are confronted with the realities of an early christological debate that has manifested itself as a text-critical quandary.

The earliest version of the text probably read χωρὶς θεοῦ, but proto-orthodox scribes, sensitive to the “heretical” practice of splitting Christ into multiple persons, have elected to alter the text in an effort to reclaim Paul as a witness to their view.

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