4

i.e.

NASB: I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. 14I have written to you, fathers,

HCSB: 14I have written to you, children, because you have come to know the Father. I have written to you, fathers,

I've checked Tyndale, Westcott, and a few others I have, and none of them comment on this.

2


There is a difference in how these verses are divided in different editions of the Greek text. The explanation for why this is so, however, is a little convoluted. Probably 1 John 2:13-14 isn't the only case of this kind of discrepancy.


"Original" verse divisions

Verse divisions of the New Testament were first defined by Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton (c. 1150-1228). But these divisions were defined for the Latin Vulgate, not any Greek text. 1 John 2:13-14 as we know it was divided:

13Scribo vobis, patres, quoniam cognovistis eum, qui ab initio est. Scribo vobis, adolescentes, quoniam vicistis malignum.

I write unto you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one. (D-R)

14Scribo vobis, infantes, quoniam cognovistis patrem. Scribo vobis juvenes, quoniam fortes estis, et verbum Dei manet in vobis, et vicistis malignum.

I write unto you, babes, because you have known the Father. I write unto you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.

Difficulties in applying verse divisions to Greek text

Subsequent translations of the Greek text attempted to apply Langton's verse scheme, but difficulties arose when text present in the Greek was missing form the Latin or vice versa and/or the Latin disagreed with the Greek. This made applying Langton's scheme ambiguous:

1 John 2:13-14 (1550 Stephen's Textus Receptus)

(a) γραφω υμιν πατερες οτι εγνωκατε τον απ αρχης

English translation (KJV): I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning

Latin text: Scribo vobis, patres, quoniam cognovistis eum, qui ab initio est.

(b) γραφω υμιν νεανισκοι οτι νενικηκατε τον πονηρον

I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one

Scribo vobis, adolescentes, quoniam vicistis malignum.

(c) γραφω υμιν παιδια οτι εγνωκατε τον πατερα

I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father

Scribo vobis, infantes, quoniam cognovistis patrem

(d) εγραψα υμιν πατερες οτι εγνωκατε τον απ αρχης

I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning

Missing from Latin

(e) εγραψα υμιν νεανισκοι οτι ισχυροι εστε και ο λογος του θεου εν υμιν μενει και νενικηκατε τον πονηρον

I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one

Scribo vobis juvenes, quoniam fortes estis, et verbum Dei manet in vobis, et vicistis malignum

In addition to (d) missing from the Latin text that Langton consulted, the tenses of the Latin and the Greek do not agree. (a)-(c) are all in the present tense (I write) and (d)-(e) are in the perfect tense (I have written) in the Greek, but (a)-(e) are all in the present tense in Latin.

Verse divisions in early English Bibles

The first English Bible that divided the text into verses was the Calvinist Geneva Bible, which issued a translation of the New Testament from Greek in 1557. Although translating from the Greek not Latin, the Geneva Bible seems to have followed the divisions defined by Langton in this case, placing the missing Greek section in verse 14:

13I write unto you, fathers, because ye have knowen him that is frõ the beginning. I write unto you, yong men, because ye have overcome the wicked.

14I write unto you, babes, because ye have knowẽ the Father. I have writẽ unto you, fathers, because ye have knowen him, that is from the beginning. I have writen unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the worde of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked.

The Textus Receptus, perhaps noting the discontinuity in tenses, seems to have opted for a slightly more logical verse division by grouping the tenses together. In the 1550 Stephen's Textus Receptus, the verses are divided:

13γραφω υμιν πατερες οτι εγνωκατε τον απ αρχης γραφω υμιν νεανισκοι οτι νενικηκατε τον πονηρον γραφω υμιν παιδια οτι εγνωκατε τον πατερα

I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. (KJV)

14εγραψα υμιν πατερες οτι εγνωκατε τον απ αρχης εγραψα υμιν νεανισκοι οτι ισχυροι εστε και ο λογος του θεου εν υμιν μενει και νενικηκατε τον πονηρον

I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.

This versification is identical to that found in the later 1624 Elsevir version of the Textus Receptus as well as in the 1881 Scrivener edition, which purports to be based on the 1598 Beza text, with certain modification "presumed to underlie the Authorised Version".1

Variants in the Greek text

Compounding the issue is a variant in the Greek text itself in (c) above. The majority of Greek manuscripts - as well as the Textus Receptus - read:

γράφω ὑμῖν, παιδία, ὅτι ἐγνώκατε τὸν πατέρα

I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father

but the so-called "principal witnesses" (Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Vaticanus, etc.)2 read:

ἔγραψα ὑμῖν, παιδία, ὅτι ἐγνώκατε τὸν πατέρα.

I have written unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father

Metzger's Textual Commentary on the New Testament notes here:

Scribes of many of the later manuscripts (followed by the Textus Receptus) absent-mindedly wrote γράφω in accord with the three previous instances of the present tense.

As a result, the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (27th ed.) and the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th ed.) - which the HCSB claims to be the sources for its Greek text3 - read:

13γράφω ὑμῖν, πατέρες, ὅτι ἐγνώκατε τὸν ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς. γράφω ὑμῖν, νεανίσκοι, ὅτι νενικήκατε τὸν πονηρόν.

I am writing to you, fathers, because you have come to know the One who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have had victory over the evil one. (HCSB)

14ἔγραψα ὑμῖν, παιδία, ὅτι ἐγνώκατε τὸν πατέρα. ἔγραψα ὑμῖν, πατέρες, ὅτι ἐγνώκατε τὸν ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς. ἔγραψα ὑμῖν, νεανίσκοι, ὅτι ἰσχυροί ἐστε καὶ ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν ὑμῖν μένει καὶ νενικήκατε τὸν πονηρόν.

I have written to you, children, because you have come to know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you have come to know the One who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, God’s word remains in you, and you have had victory over the evil one.

Verse divisions in HCSB vs. other versions

The HCSB seems to have been faithful to Langton's verse scheme, but other versions applied the KJV scheme, even if, like the NASB, they opted to "correct" the tense of γράφω. Hence:

NASB - KJV verse scheme, γράφω in perfect tense

13I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.

14I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

ESV - KJV verse scheme, γράφω in present tense (everywhere)

13I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father.

14I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

NIV - Langton's verse scheme, γράφω in present tense (everywhere)

13I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.

14I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

HCSB - Langton's verse scheme, γράφω in perfect tense

13I am writing to you, fathers, because you have come to know the One who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have had victory over the evil one.

14I have written to you, children, because you have come to know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you have come to know the One who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, God’s word remains in you, and you have had victory over the evil one.


1. The New Testament in Greek (Scrivener 1881), Introduction
2. As well as the Patriarchal Greek Text of the Orthodox Church, which rarely disagrees with the Textus Receptus.
3. "The textual base for the New Testament [NT] is the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, 27th edition, and the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament, 4th corrected edition." - Introduction to the HCSB

| improve this answer | |
  • Would you say that the short answer is that the NASB translators followed the KJV versification instead of the Nestle-Aland versification? – adam.baker Dec 22 '17 at 1:24
  • Yes, I would have to say that. But not just the NASB. It seems that several other versions used the same versification. – user33515 Dec 22 '17 at 6:53
-3

It seems likely that this is just a mistake. The versification of the Greek is the same as you cited for the HCSB. I suppose it's mildly embarrassing for the NASB translators, but since no group that I've heard of assigns authority (not to say importance!) to the verification of the text, it's easy to imagine a mistake of that sort going undetected.

Edit:

The 1995 revision of the NASB was translated from the 26th edition of the Nestle-Aland. I only have the 20th (page 586 of the PDF) and 28th edition handy. It is reasonable to assume that the versification of 1 John 2:14 in the NA did not change from the 20th to the 26th edition, and then change back for the 28th edition.

Here is the versification of the Greek, according to the Nestle-Aland 28th edition:

13 — γράφω ὑμῖν, πατέρες, ὅτι ἐγνώκατε τὸν ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς. γράφω ὑμῖν, νεανίσκοι, ὅτι νενικήκατε τὸν πονηρόν.

14 — ἔγραψα ὑμῖν, παιδία, ὅτι ἐγνώκατε τὸν πατέρα. ἔγραψα ὑμῖν, πατέρες, ὅτι ἐγνώκατε τὸν ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς. ἔγραψα ὑμῖν, νεανίσκοι, ὅτι ἰσχυροί ἐστε καὶ ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν ὑμῖν μένει καὶ νενικήκατε τὸν πονηρόν.

Here are the same verses broken up by sentence:

γράφω ὑμῖν, πατέρες, ὅτι ἐγνώκατε τὸν ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς.

γράφω ὑμῖν, νεανίσκοι, ὅτι νενικήκατε τὸν πονηρόν.

ἔγραψα ὑμῖν, παιδία, ὅτι ἐγνώκατε τὸν πατέρα.

ἔγραψα ὑμῖν, πατέρες, ὅτι ἐγνώκατε τὸν ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς.

ἔγραψα ὑμῖν, νεανίσκοι, ὅτι ἰσχυροί ἐστε καὶ ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν ὑμῖν μένει καὶ νενικήκατε τὸν πονηρόν.

The sentences are joined with asyndeton, i.e., with no explicit connectors at all. There are no pesky propositional phrases, or anything like that, that have to be moved around to accommodate English grammar and style. There are not even any participles to make the translation task difficult.

In short, there is no motivation I can imagine to place “ἔγραψα ὑμῖν, παιδία, ὅτι ἐγνώκατε τὸν πατέρα” in verse 13 instead of verse 14. Unless some other explanation is forthcoming, I would conclude that this was an unintentional mistake on the part of the NASB translators.

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  • This is straight up speculation. Different translation methodologies can in fact end up with different phrases in different verses, these translations and/or verses in particular would need a more careful look. Also the two translations in the question are translated from different manuscript sets. – Caleb Dec 20 '17 at 15:08
  • Have a look at the facts and see what you think. It'd be especially valuable if you could propose a counter-explanation. – adam.baker Dec 21 '17 at 4:22
  • I think the issue arises due to (a) applying a verse numbering scheme designed for the Vulgate to the Greek text; and (b) a variant in the Greek text that led the KJV translators to number the verses differently. The NASB translators seemed to have decided to conform to the KJV numbering scheme - perhaps for historical reasons - while at the same time consulting a "corrected" Greek text. The ESV and RSV seemed to have done the same thing, but without correcting the text. I took a stab at expanding on this. – user33515 Dec 21 '17 at 17:41

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