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The Received Text on Acts 13:19-20 differs from such MSS as the Codex Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), and the Codex Vaticanus (B).

Questions:

  1. Is it possible that the Received Text is accurate?
  2. In the verses discussing periods of time (v. 19-21), does the variance in Greek case make any difference?
  3. In the Codex Sinaiticus, etc., to what does "the four-hundred and fifty" refer?
  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange, thanks for contributing - this is an excellent first question! Be sure to take our site tour to learn more about us. We're a little different from other sites. – Steve Taylor May 30 '16 at 10:07
  • Regarding your first question, how would you define "accurate"? – user15733 Aug 25 '16 at 15:03
  • You mean Acts 13, not Acts 3 – user15733 Aug 25 '16 at 16:38
1

The differences between the Textus Receptus and the other witnesses are really trivial (see below). The major difference is a simple reversal in word order. In verse 20, the Textus Receptus reads:

(a) και μετα ταυτα (b) ως ετεσιν τετρακοσιοις και πεντηκοντα

Lit. (a) "and after these things" (b) "about years four hundred and fifty ..."

Whereas the Codices read:

(b) ως ετεσιν τετρακοσιοις και πεντηκοντα (a) και μετα ταυτα

Lit. (b) "about years four hundred and fifty" (a) "and after these things"

The issue of the four-hundred fifty years relates not to the manuscripts - they are all consistent - but rather to punctuation, which was not in any ancient manuscript (as neither were verse numbers).

In the second edition of A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Bruce Metzger writes (p.358-59):

The problems of verses 19 and 20 are both textual and exegetical. The Textus Receptus (following Db E P Ψ and most minuscules) speaks of the period of the judges following the division of Canaan: “and after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet” (AV). On the other hand the Alexandrian text transfers the temporal clause to the end of ver. 19, and thus makes the four hundred fifty years cover a period prior to the institution of the judges: “… when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance, for about four hundred and fifty years. (20) And after that he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet” (RSV).

The chronological reckoning involved in the reading of the Textus Receptus agrees almost exactly with that of Josephus (443 years, according to Antiquities, viii.iii.1), and both differ widely from 1 Kgs 6:1, where it is said that Solomon (who lived long after the judges) began his temple in the four hundred and eightieth (so the Hebrew text; but the Septuagint text reads four hundred and fortieth) year after the Exodus. The reckoning that lies behind the Alexandrian text evidently covers the four hundred years of the stay in Egypt (ver. 17) plus the forty years in the wilderness (ver. 18), plus about ten years for the distribution of the land (Jos 14).

On the surface, however, the Alexandrian text appears to limit the four hundred fifty years to the time that passed between the division of the land by Joshua and the institution of the judges. It was probably in order to prevent the reader from drawing such an erroneous conclusion that scribes transposed the temporal clause to the following sentence, producing the reading of the Textus Receptus.

It may be added that when modern translators of the Alexandrian text break up the one Greek sentence of verses 17, 18, and 19 into several different sentences, it is almost inevitable that the reader will take the temporal clause of ver. 19 as referring only to the final sentence.


1550 Stephen's Textus Receptus

και καθελων εθνη επτα εν γη χανααν κατεκληροδοτησεν αυτοις την γην αυτων

και μετα ταυτα ως ετεσιν τετρακοσιοις και πεντηκοντα εδωκεν κριτας εως σαμουηλ του προφητου

κακειθεν ητησαντο βασιλεα και εδωκεν αυτοις ο θεος τον σαουλ υιον κις ανδρα εκ φυλης βενιαμιν ετη τεσσαρακοντα

I have boldfaced words that vary between manuscripts


Codex Siniaticus

και καθελων εθνη επτα εν γη χανααν κατεκληροδοτησεν την γην αυτων

ως ετεσιν τετρακοσιοις και πεντηκοντα και μετα τουτα εδωκεν κριτας εως σαμουηλ του προφητου

κακειθεν ητησαντο βασιλεα και εδωκεν αυτοις ο θεος τον σαουλ υιον κις ανδρα εκ φυλης βενιαμιν ετη τεσσαρακοντα


Codex Alexandrinus

και καθελων εθνη επτα εν γη χανααν κατεκληροδοτησεν αυτοις την γην αυτων

ως ετεσιν τετρακοσιοις και πεντηκοντα και μετα τουτα εδωκεν κριτας εως σαμουηλ του προφητου

κακειθεν ητησαντο βασιλεα και εδωκεν αυτοις ο θεος τον σαουλ υιον κις ανδρα εκ φυλης βενιαμιν ετη τεσσαρακοντα


Codex Vaticanus

και καθελων εθνη επτα εν γη χανααν κατεκληροδοτησεν αυτοις την γην αυτων

ως ετεσιν τετρακοσιοις και πεντηκοντα και μετα τουτα εδωκεν κριτας εως σαμουηλ του προφητου

κακειθεν ητησαντο βασιλεα και εδωκεν αυτοις ο θεος τον σαουλ υιον κις ανδρα εκ φυλης βενιαμιν ετη τεσσαρακοντα

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