1 Peter 3:21

I recently noticed that in both Papyrus 72 and Codex Sinaiticus a semicolon appears before baptism. Wouldn’t this move baptism out of the first part of the verse and change the verse significantly? Has this ever been studied?

  • 1
    Is it not the case that manuscripts without punctuation are more reliable than those with punctuation ? Is it not the case that punctuation is commonly introduced by copyists attempting to 'interpret' (and therefore introducing error) ?
    – Nigel J
    Jun 11 '20 at 21:36
  • @NigelJ Not to mention that this wouldn't make a difference to how Christians, Greek or Latin, always viewed baptism. Suddenly happening upon a grammatical mark which is unoriginal to the autographs is utterly meaningless. This exclusive understanding by all the both Greek and Latin writers alike blows any theory which demotes the salvific nature of baptism out of the water entirely. The whole point of the passage is God saving souls (3:20) via use of water in some way - markedly, in fact fact, where the water is not the principle, but secondary matter of the salvation anyway.H20 saves no one. Jun 13 '20 at 21:07

The actual picture of the text in question (from my personal copy) looks like this: enter image description here

The actual text of Codex Sinaiticus at 1 Peter 3:21 is:

δι ϋδατοϲ ┬ και ϋμαϲ νυν αντιτυπον ϲωζει βαπτιϲμα ου ϲαρκοϲ αποθε ϲιϲ ρυπου αλλα ϲυ νειδηϲεωϲ αγα θηϲ επερωτημα ειϲ θν δι αναϲταϲε

(Note that because the famous codex is a uncial text, no spaces exist in the original version so that the above text has had the spaces included.)

There is no punctuation at all, so no semicolons or comas or anything. The Codexsinaiticus.org site renders the above text into English as:

Which (water) in its antitype, baptism, now saves you also (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the inquiry of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

Compare this to the BLB version:

which also prefigures the baptism now saving you, not a putting away of the filth of flesh, but the demand of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

I agree that one of the several random dots occurs before the word "baptism" and P72 appears to have the same feature. If this is intentional, then it is rare and has not been incorporated into any modern edited editions. If this "dot" is intended as a comma, then the grammar would be stretched as the word "saving" needs something to modify (perhaps implied water??); but the overall sense would remain largely untouched.

  • You can see the dot very prominently in the pic you posted. P72 has spaces between many words there is a space between saves and baptism and the dot is unmistakable in it as well.
    – user36321
    Jun 11 '20 at 21:52
  • The website talks about the punctuation in the manuscript in the “about the project” section.
    – user36321
    Jun 11 '20 at 22:03
  • You can see the P72 papyrus on csntm.org
    – user36321
    Jun 12 '20 at 0:18
  • The New American Standard Bible translates it as “saves”. So, could it be “and you now an antitype saves; immersion not of flesh ....”
    – user36321
    Jun 12 '20 at 1:44
  • There is another dot similarly situated in 1Peter 2:20 that they picked up in the transcription on codexsinaiticus.org.
    – user36321
    Jun 12 '20 at 1:58

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