Matt 17:21 - Is it original?

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by jonathan.borland, Jan 26, 2010.

  1. jonathan.borland

    jonathan.borland
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    This thread is an outgrowth of particular discussions on the "CT or MT" thread, where John of Japan proposed to Rippon to present a particular passage as a test case, to see whether or not it is a later interpolation (or addition) to the original text. Rippon indicated any of the places in the "The Pre-95 NASB Used TR" thread would do. Since I am interested in the inquiry, I wonder if Matthew 17:21 would be a suitable passage to discuss in detail whether or not it should be considered original. If so, maybe Rippon could post the first argument for the verse's inauthenticity?

    Here is the basic textual evidence:

    For omitting the verse:
    ℵ* B Θ 0281 33 579 788 892* 1604 2680 Lect (l-253); Old Latin (e ff1); Syriac (s c pal); Coptic (sa bo-pt); Ethiopic (1 ms); Georgian (1 A); Eusebius.

    For including the verse:
    ℵ2 C D E F G H K L O W X Y Δ Π Σ f1 f13 22 28 118 157 180 205 209 565 597 700 892c 1006 1009 1010 1071 1079 1195 1216 1230 1241 1242 1243 1253 1292 1342 1344 1365 1424 1505 1546 1646 2148 2174; Byz (ca. 1650 mss); Lect (l-184 l-514 l-1074); Old Latin (a aur b c d f ff2 g1 l n q r1); Vulgate; Syriac (p h); Coptic (mae bo-pt); Armenian; Ethiopic; Georgian (B); Slavonic; Diatessaron; Origen; Asterius; Hilary; Basil; Ambrose; Chrysostom; Jerome; Augustine.
     
  2. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    According to Bruce Metzger, "Since there is no good reason why the passage, if originally present in Matthew, should have been omitted, and since copyists frequently inserted material derived from another Gospel, it appears that most manuscripts have been assimilated to the parallel in Mk.9.29" (A Textual Commentary of the New Testament, 2nd ed., p. 43).

    I have a great reason the original Alexandrian copyist could have omitted it: accident! And one, maybe two correctors of Aleph agree, having corrected the mss here. Unfortunately, textual critics on the MT side don’t seem to think an entire verse can be accidentally omitted. According to J. Harold Greenlee, “An unintentional change may…omit, by failing to repeat letters which occur twice (haplography), or by accidentally passing from a word or syllable to the same or similar-appearing letters farther on (homoioteleuton)” (Introduction to Textual Criticism, p. 115). So why doesn’t Greenlee also say that an entire sentence can be omitted this way? I don’t know, but I’m sure it can.

    What is missing in modern textual criticism is the utilization of the scientific method. What could be done is to have several different groups copy manuscripts and then examine the results. But instead, textual criticism is basically limited to the study—not the lab. So Westcott and Hort’s rule from 19th century secular textual criticism that the shorter reading is preferable still rules, unfortunately.
     
  3. Forever settled in heaven

    Forever settled in heaven
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    um, u forgot two more:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    :D
     
  4. Rippon

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    BM said in TCGNT35 :

    "Since there is no satisfactory reason why the passage,if originally present in Matthew, should have been omitted in a wide variety of witnesses, and since copyists frequently inserted material derived from another Gospel, it appears that most manuscripts have been assimilated to the parallel in mark 9:29."

    Accoring to NET Notes many important manuscripts do not include it. It's almost certainly not original.
     
  5. jonathan.borland

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    Is this your complete argument for the verse's inauthenticity?
     
  6. jonathan.borland

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    It is beneficial first to note the modern history of Matt 17:21 in critical editions. The first in modern times to reject it was John Mill (1707). Yet none of the editors who immediately followed were persuaded, such as Bengel (1734), Wettstein (1751), Matthäi (1788), Griesbach (1796), Lachmann (1831), Scholz (1830), and Tregelles (1857), though he bracketed it. Only after the discovery of Codex Sinaiticus in 1844 did the scholarly consensus begin to change, although Lachmann's edition of 1842 anticipated the change and appears to be the first edition since Mill to have rejected it. Tischendorf's later editions rejected the verse, and with few exceptions since, most major editions have omitted it, including Westcott-Hort (1881), Nestle (189:cool:, and von Soden (1911-1913), although it was bracketed by Merk (1938) and included by Bover (1943) and Vogels (1955).

    Below follow the important opinions of two of the early masters of NT textual criticism, J. A. Bengel and J. J. Griesbach:

    Bengel: "For this portion [i.e., Matt 17:21] actually especially answers the question. Mill adds Eusebius' canon, in which Mark proceeds alone at this place: but this method also removes verses 19 and 20. This canon not very accurately puts Mark alone, since it had already united Matthew with another place in Luke. In the end, some of the words are Mark's, others are Matthew's: therefore the words have not been brought over to this place from there [i.e., Mark 9:29]" (Johann Albrecht Bengel, Apparatus criticus ad Novum Testamentum [ed. Philipp David Burk; 2d ed.; Tubingae: sumtibus Io. Georgii Cottae, 1763], 125).

    Greisbach: "Omitted by some and rejected by Mill, it more firmly rests on the consensus of the oldest Alexandrians with the most ancient Westerns, with which even the remaining families of manuscripts agree. It does not appear very probable that it has been brought in to this place from Mark; for instead of ουκ εκπορευεται he has εν ουδενι δυναται εξελθειν, neither has there been any reason apparent why an interpolator would have changed it into the former. Eusebius indeed assigned the parallel passage of Mark for us (Mark 9:28-29) to his tenth canon [i.e., "X"], in which the pericopes singular to only one Evangelist are specified, which more preferably ought to have been assigned to the sixth canon [i.e., "VI"], which has been set up for the places common to Matthew and Mark. And so from here Mill thought it could be deduced that our verse 21 had not been read by Eusebius. But far nearer are other reasons why our passage is missing from the sixth Eusebian canon. Without doubt the Ammonian section of Matthew (ροε) encompasses whatever lies between the end of our verse 18 and the beginning of verse 22. Therefore, Eusebius wrongly assigned this section to his fifth canon which exhibits the parallel places of Matthew and Luke, and this he connected, not very suitably, with the σ section of Luke, that is, with Luke 17:5-6. Having proceeded from here to the sixth canon, it was this one which he repeatedly was unable or unwilling to produce in common. The rest I do not pursue, such as what in the past could have presented the occasion for omitting this verse. There are those who suspect that at some time it was omitted in some manuscripts of the Latin version, which others followed in turn. But truly in my mind I cannot comprehend why is it that the Latins should be judged more probably and earlier than the Greeks, either to have caused this verse to leap over or to have slashed it away. Not to mention that not only the Vulgate but also the oldest manuscripts of Italy [i.e., the Old Latins] (with the sole exception of Corbeiensis I [i.e., ff2]) have preserved this verse, with Hilary of Poitiers and Juvencus joining in support" (Johann Jacob Griesbach, Commentarius criticus in textum graecum Novi Testamenti [2 vol.; J. C. G. Goepferdt, 1798, 1811], 1:146-7).

    I now present my own argument, which will focus first on external and then on internal considerations.

    I. EXTERNAL CONSIDERATIONS:

    1. Only 10 Greek manuscripts of the 1700 or so omit the verse.

    2. We know of only three (ℵ* B 0281) Greek manuscripts that omitted the verse in the first 700 years of Matthew's transmission, while eight manuscripts from the same period (ℵ2 C D E L O W Σ) include it.

    3. Only two Old Latin manuscripts (e ff1) omit the verse, one from the fifth and one from the sixth century. On the other hand, the majority of the OL manuscripts (a aur b c d f ff2 g1 l n q r1) include the verse, including the oldest of them all, Vercellensis (a), written about the same time as Vaticanus and Sinaiticus in the fourth century. In addition are the important Veronensis (b), Corbeiensis (ff2), and the St. Gallen manuscript (n), all from the fifth century, as well as the important Colbertinus (c), the combination of all of which indicates a second or third century origin and thus a weighty early witness for the inclusion of the verse.

    4. The two important Old Syriac manuscripts (s c), generally thought to be produced in or near Egypt, omit the verse, but all the manuscripts of the mainstream Syriac version (p) include the verse.

    5. The Egyptian Coptic version is split, with the mainstream early dialect (s) and part of the later dialect (b-pt) omitting the verse, while the early and important Middle Egyptian dialect (mae) includes the verse along with part of the later dialect (b-pt).

    6. The Diatessaron from the second century is said to contain the verse.

    7. While apparently only Eusebius from the fourth century attests to the verse's omission (cf. Griesbach's note above, as such is not certain), most early fathers from nearly every important geographic center from which we have evidence attest to the verse's inclusion: Origen, Asterius, Hilary, Basil, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Jerome, Juvencus, and Augustine.

    8. The Vulgate contains the verse, and it is said that Jerome in the fourth century used the oldest and best manuscripts of his own day (both Greek and Old Latin) to form the basis of his text. Thus it is fairly safe to say that the Vulgate in Matthew, when confirmed by the consensus of the Old Latin manuscripts, witnesses to a text current in the second and third centuries at the latest.

    9. To sum up the external evidence: we have early, impressive, and manifold witnesses from the second century on, from every major geographic location of the early church, from nearly all of the early Fathers (not to mention later ones) to which we have access, and major representatives from every major early version (Old Latin, Coptic, Syriac), all strongly attesting the inclusion of the Matt 17:21. On top of all these is the fact that some 99.4 percent of all Greek witnesses contain the verse.

    II. INTERNAL CONSIDERATIONS:

    10. Some thought to omit the verse due to the similarity of Matt 17:20 with Luke 17:6 in order to bring Matthew's account in line with Luke's, where the verse in question is not recorded.

    11. Some thought Matt 17:21 contradicted 17:20, in that if some demons do not come out except through prayer and fasting, then sometimes even faith like a mustard seed is not enough. The statement was thought by some to be difficult and thus removed.

    12. Perhaps the strongest reason is that there was an attempt by some to remove certain texts that might pharisaically be used to promote certain ascetic practices (cf. also the omission of "and fasting" from Mark 9:29, and the omission of "to fasting and" in 1 Cor 7:5).

    13. The wording of Matt 17:21 in Greek is completely different from that of Mark 9:29, indicating that Matt 17:21 did not come by means of scribes from Mark 9:29 (cf. also the notes of Bengel and Griesbach above):
    Matt 17:21: τουτο δε το γενος ουκ εκπορευεται . . .
    Mark 9:29: τουτο το γενος εν ουδενι δυναται εξελθειν . . .

    14. Given the differences between Matt 17:21 and Mark 9:29, how is it that none of the 1700 or so manuscripts witnesses precise verbal harmonization to the Markan passage, if harmonization was so prevalent among scribes?

    15. How did such a verbally different version of Mark 9:29 get into all the witnesses discussed above with such little meaningful variation unless this distinct form was present in the archetype of all those witnesses to begin with? In other words, what one must say is that a single scribe or editor alone managed to put a different version of Mark 9:29 into Matthew and that this verse managed to be copied precisely by all later scribes, covering all geographic areas, versions, fathers, etc. Who was this scribe, and how did he manage to do this? What is the basis of faith in the safety of our NT text in other places if a single force was able to pull off an alteration of this magnitude here?

    16. It is practical to suggest that changes to the original text that occur some time later than the original text will not be able to overcome the multiplying copies of the original in all of the following categories simultaneously: Greek manuscripts; early versions, early fathers. We see, in fact, that the consensus of all of these strongly attests to the inclusion of Matt 17:21.

    17. It is practical to suggest that various reasons, such as those mentioned in #10, #11, and especially #12, might have caused the omission of Matt 17:21 (the evidence indicates Egypt in the third century after Origen, since even he attests to the verse's inclusion). But whenever and wherever such occurred, it was unable to overcome the already multiplying copies of Greek, Latin, Old Latin, Syriac, Middle Egyptian, and other manuscripts, in addition to those older and more accurate copies in use by the vast majority of the early fathers.

    Jonathan C. Borland
     
    #6 jonathan.borland, Jan 27, 2010
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  7. Deacon

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    Good job researching this verse.

    Some observations:

    1. There are no papyri that attest to this portion of the chapter in Matthew. All manuscripts support for this part of Matthew comes 300 years or more after the its original writing.

    2. Disagreement among the earliest attestations of this variant support the idea that a corruption occurred very early in the history of the manuscripts.

    3. Origen’s use of the variant again demonstrates early evidence for its presence.

    4. The Diatessaron, being a gospel harmony, provides sparce support for this verse in Matthew.

    5. The quotes from the early fathers may have been from Mark [9:29] or from the Diatessaron or from the early corruption and don’t necessarily provide support for its inclusion in Matthew. Their use needs to be critically examined.


    It would be curious to see how the text of the Diatessaron compares with the Greek text used in Matthew.

    Origen's Commentary on Matthew
    7. The Power of Faith.

    Rob
     
    #7 Deacon, Jan 27, 2010
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  8. jonathan.borland

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    Rob,

    It saddens me that the popular argument against the verse's authenticity, and not just this passage but others as well, is largely inadequate and repetitive, almost like intellectual inbreeding without deep original thought or extensive examination of the actual external and internal evidence. Even my brief treatment cannot be considered extensive, but rather largely superficial, whittling down the evidence to the simplest possible terms for hopefully a little more honest appraisal.

    Thank you for your comments. I agree with most of them. It is interesting to note, though, that it appears p45 (ca. 200) supports "and fasting" in Mark 9:29.

    Although I did not pursue Diatessaronic research during my Th.M. work under Dr. Robinson, I am not willing to concede that the Diatessaron is to be neglected out of hand in this place, for if Tatian did not have the verse where it is in Matthew, why, in section XXIV.45, would he have moved the sentence from after "Why could we not cast it out" (Matt 17:19; Mark 9:28), if that was truly its only location in any of the gospels, to the location after the saying about the faith as a grain of mustard seed? Again, I'm not a Diatessaronic scholar, but just pointing out the critical question here.

    I agree that the Fathers need to be critically examined. I am not a patristics scholar nor do I aspire to be, and I do not have access to their critical quotations, but honest criticism should be able to gain a positive idea based on: (1) whether they are commenting on the text of Matthew specifically; (2) whether they comment on the grain of mustard seed and then on the passage in question; (3) whether they use the distinct verbal wording of Matthew as opposed to that of Mark. It seems that Mark was generally neglected in the early church, and so this might also play a minor role in the criticism.

    Jonathan C. Borland
     
  9. jonathan.borland

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    I made a mistake. I just checked Lachmann's 1842 edition, conveniently located on Google Books (!), and confirmed that he actually includes the verse. I now think that Tischendorf in his later editions was the first editor to reject Matt 17:21 since Mill in 1707, although Tischendorf was basically certain of its authenticity until he discovered the famous Sinaiticus. Amazing what a single ancient manuscript did for the face of the NT, although it is possible that others would have proceeded to cancel the verse anyway. Yet one never knows! Tischendorf was by far the greatest textual scholar of the 19th century!

    Jonathan C. Borland
     
  10. Deacon

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    I don't see it there. C4K could check out the original though :smilewinkgrin:

    [leaf 7 verso]

    Rob
     
  11. Deacon

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    Here's another commentary that extensively examines this "difficult varant".

    A Textual Commentary on the Greek Gospels
    Vol. 1 Matthew
    BY WIELAND WILLKER

    Rob
     
  12. jonathan.borland

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    p45 is very fragmentary in Mark, and thus it "apparently" supports "and fasting" in Mark 9:29. Due to size of letters, line length, spacing, etc., and since the omission/addition consists of 10 letters in Greek, scholars can make a fairly good assumption that the words were present in the manuscript. These scholars would include the ones responsible for the textual notes of GNT 4th rev. ed. and NA 27th ed.

    I have viewed Willker's notes on the passage and must say that I don't find them any more convincing than Metzger's or Comfort's treatments and conclusions, although to his credit he mentions some of the issues and problems that are usually neglected in modern notes on the textual problem.

    I think I would like some deeper interaction, especially with Rippon, on the points I raise in regard to Matt 17:21.

    Jonathan C. Borland
     
    #12 jonathan.borland, Jan 27, 2010
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  13. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    If they would let me in that part of the library...:)
     
  14. John of Japan

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    You've done a great job Jonathan. I also am waiting for Rippon's further participation here. :thumbsup:
     
  15. jonathan.borland

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    I would like to add two more reasons (in addition to those mentioned in my post #6) why Matt 17:21 may have come to its unfortunate fate in a very small number of manuscripts:

    1. It was omitted by accident. This possibility was suggested John of Japan. It was also suggested by the renowned German commentator Meyer (Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer, Critical and Exegetical Hand-book to the Gospel of Matthew [trans. from the 6th German ed. Peter Christie; rev. and ed. Frederick Crombie and William Stewart; New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1890], 307).

    2. It was omitted on purpose due to the possibly offensive interpretation stemming from an inadequate understanding or overly-intensive scrutiny of the verb's voice and semantics, in that one may have thought that prayer and fasting were required not only by the healer but also by the sick or demon-possessed. This possibility was offered by the Baptist S. W. Whitney in America in the late 1800s. I reproduce his full note below:

    "This verse is omitted on the testimony of ℵ first hand, B, 33, two copies (e, ff1) of the Old Latin Version, the Curetonian and Jerusalem Syriac, the Thebaic, one copy of the Memphitic Version, and the Roman Ethiopic. It is found in ℵ as amended by the sixth-century corrector, C, D, E, F, G, H, K, L, M, S, U, V, X, Γ, Δ, Π, the whole body of the cursives with but one exception, all but two copies of the Old Latin, the Vulgate, the Peshito and Philoxenian Syriac, the Armenian, and most copies of the Memphitic and Ethiopic Versions, as well as vouched for by more than a dozen of the Fathers from Clement of Rome down, including Tertullian and Origen. Some of this testimony shows the verse to have been considered genuine in several quarters as early as the second century. The words were undoubtedly spoken by Christ on this occasion, as Mark ix. 29 clearly proves; and certainly the preponderance of testimony goes to show that Matthew also reported him as having spoken them. The only variation in the manuscripts that give the verse, is in the Sinaitic Codex as corrected, which has ἐκβάλλεται, 'is cast out,' and several cursives that have ἐξέρχεται, 'goes out,' in place of ἐκπορεύεται, 'goes out.' These, however, afford no argument against the genuineness of the passage, for such variations are everywhere to be found in connection with readings of unquestionable genuineness. If, as some suppose, the verse was introduced from Mark, there would hardly be so much difference in the phraseology as there is between the two. Each passage, while expressing the thought of the other, is stated in terms that indicate an independence and want of collusion on the part of the reporters. How then did the verse come to be omitted, if genuine? There is, in the statement itself, room for question and perplexity to readers of a certain class; and this might easily have led to its rejection, just as other readings have been rejected on account of their obscurity or offensiveness. A person holding that, in order to a cure, faith was necessary only on the part of the healer, would be likely to reason thus: 'The verb goeth outseems to imply that prayer and fasting are required of the sick; but it is incredible that Jesus should have taught such a doctrine respecting persons in this condition.' Consequently, as the simplest mode of overcoming the difficulty, the passage is dropped; while others, like the sixth-century corrector of the Sinaitic Codex, substitute 'is cast out' for 'goes out,' as if called for by verse 19, while seeming to clear up the passage and determine its meaning. The omission, however, having once been made and at a very early day, retained its hold for a while, but only within a comparatively limited territory" (S. W. Whitney, The Reviser’s Greek Text [2 vols.; Boston: Silver, Burdett, & Company, 1892] 1:121-2).
     
    #15 jonathan.borland, Jan 29, 2010
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  16. jonathan.borland

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    The additional patristic evidence mentioned by Whitney, particularly in regard to Clement of Rome, if accurate, places the verse in manuscripts in Rome perhaps even while the apostle John lived, and in North Africa (via Tertullian) in the early third century. We already know it was in Egypt in the early to mid third century (via Origen), and likely in the very important region of Syria and many other places in the mid second century (via Tatian's Diatessaron). Although needing further critical verification, it appears Matt 17:21 was everywhere as far back as the evidence can possibly go. While in my view the consensus of Greek witnesses is primary, it is not insignificant that the subservient role of the early versions and early fathers merely corroborates what we have already deduced from the overwhelming and primary Greek evidence itself.
     
  17. jonathan.borland

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    There is yet another possible reason, perhaps the best one I have seen yet, as to why the passage came to be omitted in a few manuscripts:

    Some thought the passage, especially as regards fasting, was not very consistent with the pleas that Christ professed elsewhere (cf. Matt 9:14; 11:19; 15:11, 17).

    I owe this instructive insight to Wilhelm Friedrich Rinck (Lucubratio critica in Acta Apostolorum, Epistolas Catholicas et Paulinas, [Basileae: Sumtu Fel. Schneideri, 1830], 264), who actually uses the argument to suggest that the passage (and also specifically the words "and fasting" in Mark 9:29) may not authentic since it seems inconsistent with what Jesus says elsewhere. But this is exactly the point! If in Rinck's mind the words seem inconsistent with what Jesus professes elsewhere, certainly the same difficulty must have been suggested to the minds of some ancient critics, who then determined that the easiest solution was simply to remove the clause.

    Jonathan C. Borland
     
  18. Deacon

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    Another source for textual information is David Robert Palmer's site

    His text and commentary on the gospel of Matthew provides some interesting original footnotes and commentary.

    See ENDNOTE #5

    Here's a snippet:

    Rob
     
  19. jonathan.borland

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    Thanks for pointing me to Palmer's notes. In brief reply, however:

    1. How do we know Jesus was not in a state of fasting at the time?

    2. This apparent contradiction is actually but one of the reasons why an ancient critic might have cancelled the clause. For the same reasons why Palmer sees the clause as exceedingly difficult, an ancient critic (but not many) may have as well and so removed it. Such is why it is axiomatic in New Testament textual criticism that what would have been perceived by scribes or critics to have been the more difficult reading, all other things being equal, is generally to be preferred, since ancient scribes or critics would have occasionally wanted to alleviate the text of said difficulties. But the text is consistent, and has been interpreted as such throughout church history. Fritzsche: "As prayers and fastings of this kind are the practices by which the soul of man is raised to the best things whatsoever (Luke 2:37; Acts 14:23; 1 Cor 7:5), it is not surprising that they are put in this place as a means of assistance to faith. For in this verse abundant faith along with pious meditations and fastings is stationed opposite to that small thing which in verse 20 had been illustrated with the grain of mustard in this way: the reason you could not heal the diseased person was because you had no faith. For a small particle of it is so powerful that you can move mountains; but even greater faith is required to cast out depraved beings, a thing which is more difficult. For failure to see this connection Mill has pronounced this verse spurious as naturally having been brought over to this place from Mark 9:29. But Bengel, Matthäi, and Griesbach have well refuted all of his arguments" (Karl Friedrich August Fritzsche, Evangelium Matthaei [Lipsiae: Sumtibus Frederici Fleischeri, 1826], 560).

    3. This kind of question-begging is not really helpful. It's like asking in regard to the shorter version of Mark 9:29, "You mean all demons everywhere except just this kind can be cast out without as much as a simple prayer?"

    4. See again #1. But this was a particular kind of demon. Bengel: "Our Lord does not in this passage speak of the whole race of devils, but of this particular kind or class of them; from whence it appears that there are more than one kind of devils. The disciples had before this cast out devils even without prayer and fasting; but this kind of devils has a disposition especially opposed to, and reducible by, prayer and fasting. The disciples were not accustomed to fasting (see ch. ix. 14); and they appear to have been somewhat self-indulgent (sobrietatem . . . minus servare) during their Lord's absence" (Johann Albrecht Bengel, Gnomon of the New Testament [5 vols.; notes on Matthew trans. James Bandinel; rev. and ed. Andrew R. Fausset; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1857-8], 1:340).

    Jonathan C. Borland
     
    #19 jonathan.borland, Jan 29, 2010
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  20. Deacon

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    From a practical point of view, personally the verse offers little.
    We see in other portions of scripture that fasting was not a way to gain power over demonic forces but a way to express our humility and submission to God.
    Fasting expresses a commitment to earnestly seek God's face.

    I personally lean towards Matthew 17:21’s exclusion, perhaps showing my bias towards modern textual scholarship...
    ...yet due to relative uncertainty, even in the scholastic community, I consider the placement of a footnote in modern versions most wise.

    From the few versions I’ve checked this practice has been carried out.

    Rob
     

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