False Citations in NA/UBS
1 Timothy 3:16 Examined  

by Scott Jones


he critical apparatuses of NA/UBS are saturated with false citations. For example, there are no less than six false citations by NA/UBS in 1 Timothy 3:16 alone. Five uncials are falsely cited in support of OS instead of THEOS in 1 Timothy 3:16. These uncials are Aleph A C F G.

Four of these uncials read THEOS in the original hand, whereas ultraviolet technology demonstrated that most of the corrections of Aleph, ESPECIALLY those with doctrinal significance, were made before Aleph ever left the scriptorium. Tischendorf stated arbitrarily and without foundation that Aleph’s corrector operated on this passage in the 12th century. The technological evidence produced by Milne & Skeat in the mid-twentieth century refuted Tischendorf. In fact, the first scribe of Aleph simply copied from his exemplars without deviation. Then, before Aleph ever left the scriptorium, the same scribe or a fellow scribe came back and went over the manuscript, correcting as many obvious errors as he determined to exist. In other words, it is most probable that Aleph’s reading of THEOS is a correction contemporary with the original hand of the manuscript itself, and a correction contemporary with the original hand of the manuscript is more accurate than the original hand. Either way, the assertion that the corrector was a 12th century hand is dubious, at best.

A very brief explanation of how the Greek is displayed in the manuscripts is as follows:

Sacred names, known generally by their Latin terminology as nomina sacra, were abbreviated in manuscripts to conserve space. When a sacred name was abbreviated, a light horizontal stroke was placed above the letters to signify the abbreviation. Thus, the term for God - QEOS - was shortened by omitting the two inner letters and by affixing a horizontal line above the two remaining letters. The abbreviation would thus appear in the manuscripts as QS  (technically, the final sigma looked very much like our capital C, but I will forego that nomenclature here to avoid confusion).

Well, it just so happens that by removing the horizontal line above the abbreviation and by removing the small horizontal line within the Theta (the first letter of the word) another legitimate Greek word that looks like this - OS - is produced.

This word by itself - OS (without the horizontal lines above and within), is the masculine relative pronoun for "who" in the Greek language. In other words, if the horizontal lines are present, every reader would recognize that the word was a nomina sacra signifying the word "Theos," which means "God." If the two horizontal lines are absent, every reader would understand that the word simply meant "who."

This, then, is the whole crux of the matter concerning 1 Timothy 3:16, for a scant handful of manuscripts are missing the horizontal lines, thus appearing to form the word "who" instead of "Theos." This, however, creates a severe grammatical problem, for the Greek word OS (without the horizontal lines, which means "who") is a masculine relative pronoun that ends up modifying a neuter noun - in this case the noun "mystery." Significantly, this is not only horrible Greek grammar, but the resulting clause ends up containing a predicate without a subject, which is of course absurd. And yet, most modern bibles have followed this preposterous error in 1 Timothy 3:16 by rendering the word as "who" instead of "God." The resulting grammatical absurdity forced these modern bibles to either fabricate the word "he" out of thin air or change the syntax around entirely in order to compensate for the absurdity. In other words, modern bibles have gone out of their way to obliterate the strongest statement in the Scriptures testifying to the Deity of Jesus Christ, in spite of conclusive testimony against them, as the following discourse reveals.

The original custodians of Codex A all testified that the lines in and above the Theta were visible from the year 1626 (when Codex A was given to the British by Cyril of Lucar) even up until the time of Scrivener, as Scrivener stated that he examined the manuscript 20 times in as many years and that he always maintained the original hand was THEOS, but that the lines had all but disappeared. Of course, the lines in and above the Theta in Codex A are habitually written so faintly that they are barely discernible to begin with, as testified by those who have actually examined Codex A, which is further proof of THEOS in 1 Timothy 3:16. As it stands now, 1 Tim 3:16 in Codex A has been thumbed so many times that it is completely worn and thus any type of examination today would be worthless.

However, we have overwhelming historical evidence to prove that Codex A read THEOS in the original hand. Patrick Young, the first custodian of Codex A after the British were given possession, maintained that the reading was clearly THEOS in the original hand. Huish, who collated Codex A, asserted that THEOS was CLEARLY the reading in 1 Tim 3:16 in the original hand, and he communicated this to Brian Walton prior to Walton’s fifth edition of his Polyglot in 1657. Bishop Pearson examined Codex A in the same time period and testified that THEOS was unmistakable. Bishop Fell in 1675 also maintained that THEOS in the original hand was the unmistakable reading as well.

Mill, who was at work on the Text of the NT from 1677 to 1707, expressly declares that he saw the remains of THEOS in 1 Tim 3:16 in Codex A. Bentley, who had himself in 1716 collated the MS with the utmost accuracy, knew nothing of any other reading. In 1718 Wotton stated, “There can be no doubt that this manuscript always exhibited THEOS.” In the early to mid 18th century both Wetstein and Berriman expressly maintained that Codex A read THEOS in 1 Tim 3:16 in the original hand. Berriman went so far as to note that the lines were light and fading, and that if at any time in the future they should be worn away completely, that everyone should know that they were nevertheless original. Berriman also noted that someone had recently attempted to darken the lines by tracing over them, but that the retrace did not fully extend to the full length of the original line, so that the original line could still be seen.

Bengel testified in 1734 that the reading of 1 Tim 3:16 in Codex A in the original hand was THEOS. Woide declared in 1765 that he examined A and the reading was undoubtedly THEOS in the original hand, and furthermore, that the very same lines 20 years later had almost disappeared.

To quote Burgon:

“The fact remains for all that, that the original reading of A is attested so amply, that no sincere lover of Truth can ever hereafter pretend to doubt it... it is too late by 150 years to contend on the negative side of the question... The plain fact concerning Cod. A is this - That at 1 Tim. iii. 16, two delicate horizontal strokes in THEOS which were thoroughly patent in 1628, which could be seen plainly down to 1737, and which were discernible by an expert (Dr. Woide) so late as A.D. 1765, have for the last hundred years entirely disappeared, which is precisely what Berriman in 1741 predicted would be the case.” Revision Revised, 432-436.

Only recently has Codex A been claimed as blanket support for OS. The early testimony from men who actually EXAMINED Codex A personally with their own hands, and who viewed Codex A many times up close with their OWN EYES - not just one or two men, but a whole HORDE of men over a period of two hundred years - cited Codex A as DEFINITELY reading THEOS in the original hand. Modern scholars who attempt to overturn such conclusive testimony, especially since there is no possible way to determine the true reading of Codex A today, are being disingenuous, at best.

This is ONE example of a LEGION of examples of false citations in NA/UBS.

A similarly conclusive case can be made for C F G. See Burgon, Revision Revised, same section as above, where the evidence for each of these manuscripts is likewise discussed in detail.

When the actual EVIDENCE is adhered to, the external testimony comes down to ONLY 4 cursives that can accurately be cited for OS in 1 Tim 3:16, and I’m not confident about the testimony of the 4 cursives, for I have not personally collated these four cursives, and it is the epitome of foolhardiness to take the word of NA27 or UBS4, as they are literally INUNDATED with INACCURATE citations.

Of course, the grammatical absurdity that occurs when OS is deployed in 1 Tim 3:16 in the critical text is also fatal in and of itself, which we’ll get to in a moment. Not to mention the Patristic testimony which resoundingly testifies to THEOS in this passage.

NA/UBS also falsely cites Epiphanius as support for OS, when in fact Epiphanius quotes THEOS.

Dionysius (265 AD) quotes this passage in Greek WORD FOR WORD, inserting only the copula “gar.” (Concilia i. 858a). So much for the naked assertions that the testimony for this passage is late.

Hippolytus (170 - 236 AD) paraphrases this passage at least three times. For example, “For our God sojourned with us in the flesh.” And again, “Thus, too, they preached the advent of God in the flesh to the world.” And again, “He now, coming forth into the world, WAS MANIFESTED AS GOD IN A BODY.”

Chrysostom (350 AD) quotes the passage WORD FOR WORD in the Greek several times.

Ignatius (100 AD) makes clear allusion to this passage several times.

In all, there are upwards of TWENTY church fathers who quote or strongly allude to this passage as found in the TR/AV. These citations are EARLY and geographically diverse.

Further still, THEOS matches the grammar perfectly whereas with the reading of OS as found in NA/UBS, you not only have a gross grammatical solecism whereby a MASCULINE relative pronoun ends up modifying a NEUTER noun, but you also wind up with a sentence that has a predicate but NO SUBJECT. That’s why modern bibles had to fabricate the word “HE” out of thin air.

In short, it is both ludicrous and blasphemous to suppose that Paul made even a single grammatical error, particularly since he was writing under the unction of the Holy Ghost - especially a BALD grammatical error in the very verse in which he was describing the loftiest truth in the history of the world! An error that is so juvenile, we might add, that not even a fledgling Greek schoolboy would commit it.

In order to try to explain away this grammatical ABSURDITY, the anglo-Sanhedrin of our day attempts to pawn this passage off as an “early Christian hymn.” There is not a SHRED of evidence that 1 Tim 3:16 was a hymn. As far as I can discover it was Griesbach who first invented this THEORY - and THEORY is ALL it is - no doubt in an effort to try to justify the grammatical absurdity since Griesbach was one of those miserable men who contrived to falsify God’s word whenever the text inconveniently witnessed to the Godhead of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, mainstream anglo-scholarship continues to maintain the “hymn” THEORY without a SHRED of evidence. They do this by asserting that the passage appears to be made up of “strophes.” I guess they haven’t read the Sermon on the Mount, for the Sermon on the Mount has more “strophes” than any passage in the NT. Was the Sermon on the Mount a “hymn?”

Accordingly, the hymn THEORY proponents attempt to compare this passage to Colossians 1 and Philippians 2 in a very deceitful attempt to justify the bald grammatical error in 1 Timothy 3:16. Only thing is, they always seem to FORGET to mention the fact that neither Colossians 1 nor Philippians 2 contain a SINGLE grammatical error - NOT A SINGLE GRAMMATICAL ERROR - and that OS in BOTH passages MODIFIES ITS ANTECEDENT PERFECTLY, unlike the grammatical ABORTION in 1 Timothy 3:16 in the Critical Text. In other words, they tell you that OS occurs in Colossians 1 and Philippians 2, but they DON’T tell you that OS matches the grammar PERFECTLY in these two passages, UNLIKE 1 Tim 3:16. This type of deceit and concealment of evidence is the rule rather than the exception with the anglo-Sanhedrin of our day.

But let’s mollify the critics for a moment. Let’s say Colossians 1 and Philippians 2 and 1 Timothy 3 WERE hymns, just for the sake of argument. Fine. Accordingly, Paul managed to plug this “hymn” into Colossians 1 without making a single grammatical error. Paul also managed to plug this “hymn” into Philippians 2 without making a single grammatical error.

How then, we ask, did Paul fail so MISERABLY in 1 Timothy 3:16? Why could Paul plug these “hymns” into Colossians and Philippians without even the whisper of a grammatical blunder, but then suddenly in 1 Timothy 3:16 he falls completely apart and commits one of the most egregious grammatical blunders in the history of Greek literature?

Let the “hymn” THEORISTS explain that one.

Conclusion: That GOD WAS MANIFEST IN THE FLESH is beyond any doubt what Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 3:16, as the Holy Ghost Himself testifies to the truly born again believer, and it was no hymn. Rather, it was the word of the Eternal God sent down from Heaven, sanctified by the Holy Ghost, and sealed by the blood of the Living Word to proclaim the loftiest truth in the history of the world.