Revelation 5:10 NIV
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth. (NIV adds a footnote: some manuscripts 'they reign')
Revelation 5:10 ASV
... and madest them to be unto our God a kingdom and priests; and they reign upon the earth.
The footnote in NIV points to variations between manuscripts. If so, what are they for this verse, and which is the earliest or better proven? Is it reign, or will reign, and why?
NET translator perhaps suggests that translation preference between bible versions was based on context:
NET translator :
The textual problem here between the present tense βασιλεύουσιν (basileuousin, “they are reigning”; so A 1006 1611 ÏK pc) and the future βασιλεύσουσιν (basileusousin, “they will reign”; so א 1854 2053 ÏA pc lat co) is a difficult one. Both readings have excellent support. On the one hand, the present tense seems to be the harder reading in this context. On the other hand, codex A elsewhere mistakes the future for the present (20:6). Further, the lunar sigma in uncial script could have been overlooked by some scribes, resulting in the present tense. All things considered, there is a slight preference for the future.
I posit that this translation preference might affect interpretation. If future tense then, at some time, the people of the kingdom will possess an element of dominion and co-rule, perhaps implying a necessary freedom of will separate from God. If present tense, the context depends on the state of affairs when the song is/was sung. This is, of course, a song within visionary text, so caveats of interpretation apply and might not be unique.
This question though, is not about interpretation. It is about proof of the better manuscript and why, specifically in the context of βασιλευσουσιν (future tense) or βασιλευουσιν (present tense).
Which translation for Revelation 5:10 is correct? Der Übermensch helpfully sets out some of the manuscript variations potentially relevant to Revelation 5:10, and discusses a similar question for 'us or them'. It lists some of the manuscripts pertinent to 'reign or will reign':
βασιλεύσουσιν (“they shall reign”) is included in the Codex Sinaiticus (א); Codex Porphyrianus (P), a plethora of miniscules; Codex Amiatinus (am); Codex Fuldensis (fu); Codex Toletanus (T); Codex Harleianus (harl); Codex Lipsiensis (lipss); all of Lachmann’s critical editions (omnlachm); Coptic (cop); several manuscripts of the commentary on Revelation of Andreas (Andp c bav), Bishop of Caesarea; the commentary on Revelation of Arethas (Arecom), Bishop of Caesarea; Cyprian (cyp); and, Fulgentius (Fulg), Bishop of Ruspe.
βασιλεύουσιν (“they reign/ they are reigning”) is included in Lachmann (Ln), Tischendorf (Ti), Codex Alexandrinus (A), Codex Vaticanus (B), a plethora of miniscules; Syriac (syr); and, in the Codex Augustanus, the commentary on Revelation of Andreas (Anda), Bishop of Caesarea.
βασιλεύσομεν (“we shall reign”) is included in the Textus Receptus (ς), but the Textus Receptus has βασιλεύσουσιν in the margin, which is attested by the Computensian Polyglot (α) and manuscript ιε from King Henry II’s library. βασιλεύσομεν is also included by the critical editions of Griesbach (Gb) and Scholz (Sz); Clementine Vulgate (vgcle); Codex Demidovianus (demid); Codex Lipsiensis (lipss); Armenian (arm); Arethas (Are); Primasius (Prim); and, Maternus (Matern).
Contextually, which English translation/ Greek text seems more probable in Rev. 5:10? concerns a separate translation issue in Revelation 5:10, and not the manuscript, concerning whether or not the four living creatures/beasts and the elders are referred to as a kingdom or as priests.