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Augustin delighted in viewing the church's bishops sitting on thrones, therefore announcing the Millennium as having begun already. After history this view seems hard to maintain. The thousand years now appear - even if future - as squeezed in where no demand is. Many assign it to the Israel as a kind of parallel kingdom to the one supposed to remain where it is said to come from.

This half verse is badly supported by manuscript evidence. Against his own apparatus (indicating omission from Sinaiticus to Syriac, from koine's majority to several early commentaries) the Nestle-Aland critical edition keeps it in its main text. Why?

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  • How is Augustine relevant here?
    – user33515
    Mar 20 '20 at 3:18
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In order to answer such a question, we must first put away our theological preferences, whether pre-, post-, or amillennial. Only then can we objectively consider the textual evidence:

According to the NA-28 apparatus, the first half of the verse is missing in codex Sinaiticus, the byzantine manuscripts, and to a few much less significant manuscripts. Therefore the first half of the verse is present in all early papyri except one. Though codex Sinaiticus weighs heavily when it agrees with codex Vaticanus, that is not the case here. Besides, though Sinaiticus is considered an reliable text in the gospels and Acts, it is of notoriously poor quality in Revelation: several papyri and even some miniscules are considered better witnesses to Revelation. Thus, unless one considers the majority text a better witness than the early manuscripts (since even the Textus Receptus includes v5a), one is forced to conclude that the passage is most likely original. No internal evidence disagrees, as far as I know

But I don't think Rev 20:5a does any serious damage to any eschatology: what v5a says is already clear from the context, so I don't think anyone of any theology would benefit from removing it.

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"But I don't think Rev 20:5a does any serious damage to any eschatology: what v5a says is already clear from the context, so I don't think anyone of any theology would benefit from removing it."

It is harmful to Amillennialism because that doctrine teaches all the dead are raised at the same time rather than some before the thousand years and the rest after.

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The phrase in question is:

οἱ λοιποὶ τῶν νεκρῶν οὐκ ἔζησαν ἄχρι τελεσθῇ τὰ χίλια ἔτη

The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.

Metzger's Textual Commentary on the New Testament does not have an entry on this verse, which implies that the committee come to easy consensus on assigning the reading to the "A" category - "certain" (The other categories are B - "almost certain"; C - "the Committee had difficulty in deciding which variant to place in the text"; D - "the Committee had great difficulty in arriving at a decision").


New Testament Manuscript Witnesses

Revelation suffers from a paucity of available manuscripts. Altogether only 15 "witnesses of the first order" are available for the book, 14 "witnesses of the second order", and no "frequently cited witnesses" or "occasionally cited witnesses". By comparison, there are close to 100 witnesses of the first and second order for the Gospel of Matthew.

Further not all witnesses contain Revelation 20:5. Of the witnesses of first order, only four manuscripts contain the verse:

  • Codex Sinaiticus - c. 330-360; origin St. Catherine's Monastery, Sinai
  • Codex Alexandrinus - c. 400-440; origin uncertain, probably Egypt
  • Codex Ephraimi - 6th c.; probably Egyptian origin, brought to Florence after the fall of Constantinople in 1453
  • Codex Athous Pantokratoros - aka "Uncial 051" - 10th c.; currently at Mt. Athos Greece, where it likely was first transcribed

The committee also considers the majority reading in all available manuscripts (witnesses of first and second order, in the case of Revelation) as itself comprising a witness of first order.

Andrew of Caesarea

The manuscript corpus for Revelation is also unique in that a significant witness for the book is the large collection of manuscripts - over 80 - of the commentary of Andrew of Caesarea, an eastern hierarch who lived in the 7th and 8th century.*. The Nestle-Aland committee assigned the majority reading of the encapsulated Revelation text in Andrew's commentaries to the group of witnesses of first order.

Weight for Inclusion

Of the six witnesses of first order that contain Revelation 20:5, three are with the phrase and three without. With the phrase are:

  • Codex Alexandrinus (early 5th c.)
  • Codex Athous Pantokratoros (10th c.)
  • The majority of manuscripts containing the commentary of Andrew of Caesarea

Without the phrase are:

  • Codex Sinaiticus (early to mid 4th c.)
  • Codex Ephraimi (6th c.)
  • Majority of witnesses of second order

In addition, the phrase appears in the majority of early Latin manuscripts, but not in Syriac or Coptic.


* See E. Constantinou, Andrew of Caesarea and the Apocalypse in the Ancient Church of the East

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