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Colossians 2:18

Discussion in 'Bible Versions & Translations' started by Rippon, Apr 20, 2010.

  1. Rippon

    Rippon Well-Known Member
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    Dec 12, 2005
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    This is for the benefit of Winman and some others of his persuasion. I have greatly enjoyed Philip W.Comfort's work:New Testament Text And Translation Commentary. It has been very helpful. James White first wrote of this book on his blog a while ago and I'm hooked.

    The term NU means the NA/UBS texts and WH (well you all know what that refers to). He gives his own translations of both.

    He supplies a lot of additional data. I'm merely giving the gist of his treatment.

    WH NU : Delving into things which he has seen.
    Variant/TR : Delving into things which he has not seen.

    The WH NU reading has exceedingly superior documentary support and suits the context exactly, for Paul was arguing against the proto-gnostics who based their religion on visions they had seen. These visions of the supernatural -- even of angels -- puffed up their spiritual pride.Most likely, it was changed to "things which they had not seen" to make these spiritualists look ridiculous. "They delved into things they couldn't even see!" Though the sarcasm is effective for the reader, it misses Paul's point, which is sarcastic but more subtle: "They who claim to be spiritual, base their claims on what they say they have seen -- not on what cannot be seen, the true spiritual realities!"
  2. jonathan.borland

    jonathan.borland Active Member

    Nov 15, 2008
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    This is a very difficult passage. Internally, it could go either way. Externally, the absence of the negative was very early at least in Egypt, but the breadth of the negative's presence in most of the Greek copies and most versions and many fathers is also remarkable. I found the following comment by Whitney helpful:

    The negative, which the Revisers have relegated to the margin, is supported by the seventh-century corrector of ℵ, C, D second and third hands, F, G, K, L, P, most of the cursives, the Vulgate, the Peshito and Philoxenian Syriac, the Gothic, the Armenian, Origen in one edition of his works, Chrysostom, Euthalius, Theodoret, John Damascene, Ambrosiaster according to one edition, Augustine, and Jerome. The μή is wanting in ℵ first hand, A, B, D first hand, 17, 28, 67 second hand, Mai's Extracts, the Memphitic and Ethiopic Versions, Origen in other editions, Lucifer, Questiones [sic] ex utroque Testamento, and Ambrosiaster according to another edition. There is nothing in the immediate connection to indicate that either the presence or the absence of μή is really due to transcriptional error. It is due rather to a misapprehension of the import of a part of the context. If the word is genuine, its absence in some manuscripts is owing originally to intentional omission, from being considered incompatible with the apostle's meaning. If spurious, its presence is due to the opposite consideration that it is essential to the expression of the apostle's thought, and that it was really inserted by him, but in some way, in transcribing, had been omitted. From a mere transcriptional point of view, the latter is less credible than the former; that is, on this ground, the probability is rather in favor of the genuineness of the negative than otherwise. And when we look at the words themselves, this probability increases. Ἐμβατεύων, nowhere else used in the New Testament, primarily means stepping in or on, as on an island or into any territory; hence, entering on or coming into possession of; and, by an easy transition, laying claim to, -- a meaning necessarily implied in the act of taking possession of. This claim may be just or unjust. That is not determined by the word itself, but by the context. If the apostle's meaning here were, as some suppose, simply entering upon or into, there is no probability that he would have gone so far out of his usual and natural course as to say ἐμβατεύων instead of εἰσελθών; or if it were, as the Revisers have it, "dwelling in," that he would have used this word instead of ἐνοικῶν. Besides this, the employment by the apostle of the simple ἑώρακεν to denote the seeing of things in vision or by means of visions is altogether incredible. And yet it must be so taken if the negative is discarded. Grimm, in his Lexicon, under the word ἐμβατεύω, says, "If we expunge μή, we must render [the clause], 'going into curious and subtile speculation about things which he has seen in visions granted him,'" -- which the Revisers have condensed into "dwelling in the things which he hath seen," though the import of their words is by no means clear apart from Grimm's or some similar paraphrase, like Humphry's, "asserting a knowledge of things supernatural which he has seen." This obscurity, coupled with the unnatural use to which some of the words need to be put in case the negative is omitted, forms a strong presumption that the omission is unwarranted. With the negative, the text is natural, easy, and commends itself as genuine: "Let no one" divert you from your steadfastness and constancy in following Christ by placing any obstacle in your way, and so "beguile you of your reward" -- the crown of life -- "seeking to do it under the guise of humility and angel-worship, laying claim to what he has not seen, vainly puffed up," etc.

    Source: S. W. Whitney, The Reviser’s Greek Text (2 vols.; Boston: Silver, Burdett, & Company, 1892), 2:225-7.
  3. HankD

    HankD Well-Known Member
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    May 14, 2001
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    Consider the underlying motivational context of Colossians 2

    4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.
    5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.
    6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: (by faith)

    12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.​

    Then in the spirit of the KJV translators perhaps the following translation (using italicised words) carries over Paul's original intent inspired by the Spirit of God which may have been evident to the Koine reader:​

    KJV Colossians 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen by faith, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,​