Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Commentary on the Manuscripts and Text of the New Testament, by Phillip Wesley Comfort

A Commentary on the Manuscripts and Text of the New Testament, by Philip Wesley Comfort is an interesting and a potentially helpful resource in studying the NT.  I appreciate that summaries are given about the various manuscripts that are referred to in the commentary, including their symbols, which are what Comfort uses to refer to the different manuscripts as he comments on the different readings of any particular verse. 

Most of the variants appear to be rather small and do not appear to change the meaning of a verse much, for instance some manuscripts saying 'Jesus Christ' in a certain variant and others reading simply "Christ",  whichever reading a Bible translator chooses to use doesn't make a major difference as either way we know to Whom it refers.   Comfort mentions a variant of Romans 8:28 which I found interesting, he translates the variant as, "God turns everything to good" which of course is different from "all things work together for good."  He says that "this is the original wording according to three early MSS….It is God who turns everything to good; it is not just that everything works out for the good."*  But I don't think that that concept is lost by using "all things work together for good" because God's being the One working all things together for good is evidenced by the verses that follow (and by realizing the sovereignty of God that is taught throughout the Bible).  It is an interesting variant though. 

Comfort's eschatological views are evidenced in his commentary on the number of the beast in Revelation, "A variant reading is 'his number is 616…Either reading could be original…whichever one John wrote, they both symbolize Caesar Nero…"  I take it that Mr. Comfort is not premillennial.  Also, I disagree with some of his commentary on the variants of 1 Cor. 14:33, " 'For God is not the  author of discord but of harmony, as in all the gatherings of the saints.'  This reflects the reading of the three earliest MSS…contra NA…which join this phrase with the beginning of 14:34.  The difference in meaning is significant:  harmony is the rule of God for all the gatherings of the believers…"…Paul was not saying that women should be silent in all the Christian gatherings, only in Corinth, which must have been experiencing problems with women speaking out of turn during the prophesying."  But even if the statement, "as in all the gatherings of the saints" doesn't connect with vs. 34 that doesn't imply that the command about women not speaking in the assembly only applied to the Corinthians church.  I don't see that implication at all.  Paul says, "It is shameful for a woman to speak in the Church."  That sounds like a very general statement that encompasses all church gatherings.  Besides, what about Paul's telling Timothy that women shouldn't teach or hold authority over men but should remain quiet while learning (1 Tim 2:11-15)?  Was he referring only to the women of the Corinthian church?  I think not.  

But,  I do like the book overall, and really appreciate Mr. Comfort's work in putting this book together enabling one to learn about the different variants of the NT even if one doesn't agree with all of Mr. Comfort's comments on them.

Many thanks to Kregel Academic for sending me a free copy of this book to review!

One of the places where this book may be purchased is at Amazon.com


*I omit certain parts of quotations as they are mostly symbols of various manuscripts referred to that I don't know how to replicate in type.

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