In short, there is no provable answer to your question.
But there are the two issues you bring up:
- Textual Critical
Philip Comfort brings up both the issues in his commentary:
NU Πίστει καὶ αὐτὴ Σάρρα στεῖρα δύναμιν εἰς
καταβολὴν σπέρματος ἔλαβεν καὶ παρὰ καιρὸν ἡλικίας “by faith he
(Abraham), even though past age—and Sarah herself was barren—received
power to beget” [see also translation in commentary below] 𝔓 D Ψ it
NRSV NIV TNIVmg NAB NLT HCSBmg NET
variant 1/TR WH Πιστει και αυτη
Σαρρα δυναμιν εις καταβολην σπερματος ελαβεν και παρα καιρον ηλικιας
“by faith even Sarah herself, though past age, received power to
conceive [from] a seed” 𝔓 ℵ A D 33 Maj KJV NKJV RSV NRSVmg ESV NASB
TNIV NEB REB NJB HCSB NETmg
variant 2 Πιστει και αυτη Σαρρα η στειρα
δυναμιν εις καταβολην σπερματος ελαβεν και παρα καιρον ηλικιας “by
faith even Sarah herself, the barren one, received power to conceive
[from] a seed, though past age” D 81 1739 1881 none
This verse is fraught with grammatical and textual difficulties. The
first problem pertains to who is the subject of ελαβεν
(“received”)—Abraham or Sarah? When we consider that the wording
καταβολην σπερματος is a Hellenistic idiom for the male act of
procreation (literally “putting down sperm”), it does not fit that
Sarah would be the subject. However, it hardly makes sense to exclude
Sarah from being the subject, because the verse mentions her by name
and speaks of her sterility. Thus, there are two ways to include both
Sarah and Abraham as subjects of this verse: (1) “by faith he
[Abraham], even though past age—and Sarah herself was barren—received
power to beget,” and (2) “by faith he [Abraham] also, together with
barren Sarah, received power to beget, even though past age.” The
first rendering considers the words και αυτη Σαρρα στειρα to be a
Hebraic circumstantial clause, allowing for Abraham to be the subject.
The second rendering considers this phrase to be a dative of
accompaniment (TCGNT). The first variant is probably the result of
scribal error—due to homoeoteleuton: σαρρα στειρα. But if στειρα was
purposely omitted, it may have been done in the interest of avoiding
redundancy, inasmuch as “barrenness” is tantamount to “being past
age.” This variant appears in the majority of manuscripts and in TR;
hence, it is followed by KJV and NKJV. It appears that many other
modern versions have also followed this reading. However, translators
could have followed one reading or the other and still have needed to
make a decision about who is the subject of the sentence—Abraham or
Sarah or both.
<Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary,
Accordance electronic ed. (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008),
The first two readings are the most reliable. But either of them doesn't change the meaning of the text. So that leads us to talk about the exegesis.
If one takes "Ⲡⲓⲥⲧⲉⲓⲕⲁⲓⲁⲩⲧⲏⲥⲁⲣⲣⲁ" as a nominative, then there could be room (exegetically) for Sarah to be the subject.
But, unlike the versions we have now, the words weren't pointed (with accents) in the primary manuscripts. Much later punctuation was added. So,"ⲁⲩⲧⲏⲥⲁⲣⲣⲁ" could be either...or...
- αὐτὴ σάρρα (nominative)
- αὐτῇ Σάρρᾳ (dative)
BDF highlights this:
- Associative dative with adjectives and adverbs.
(1) Adjectives of identity etc.: ὅμοιος often (with genitive?
§182(4)), ὁ αὐτός only 1 C 11:5 ἓν καὶ τὸ αὐτό. Ἴσος Mt 20:12 etc. In
addition circumlocutions: ἴσος ὡς καί A 11:17, cf. in a quotation R
9:29 ὡς Γόμορρα ἄν ώμοιώθημεν; ὁ αὐτὸς καθὼς καί 1 Th 2:14. H 11:11
αὐτῇ Σάρρᾳ ‘(Abraham) together with Sarah’ in classical style, as
Westcott-Hort well conjecture in their margin and Riggenbach in his
commentary in loc., for αὐτὴ Σάρρα which is hardly explicable.
<F. Blass, A. Debrunner, and Robert W. Funk, A Greek Grammar of the
New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Accordance
electronic ed. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1961),
In short: with either variant the text is solid. How you punctuate the words changes the direction you go in your exegesis. But neither of these paths is proven since the original manuscripts did not contain accents (other than dieresis).