Through His Blood

By: Martin A. Shue

For our current discussion I wish to discuss Col. 1:14 and the phrase "through his blood". While our Authorized Version (AV) is based almost entirely on the vast majority of witnesses there are a few instances where our AV stands against the majority in its reading. In the handful of places where this is the case it is especially interesting to read many of the criticism aimed at our AV. Most of the comments include such catch phrases as "not found in the majority of mss." or as James White puts it "Since the reading 'through his blood' is in the minority of manuscripts, it is much easier simply to cite Mss. that do contain the phrase (KJO Controversy, p. 266)."

Such comments (especially that of Mr. White) are really comical when taken in the full light of the modern versions these people seek to defend. As I've said many times before these people are not at all interested in the "majority of mss.". This is a smoke screen and is meant only to try to destroy our faith in our AV.

Since my focus is Col. 1:14 I want to only give one brief example to demonstrate what I am talking about (though this may be expounded upon countless times). To show how hypocritical these people are I want us to look at Col. 3:6. In this verse the final phrase "on the children of disobedience" has been omitted in many modern versions, viz. NIV, RSV, The Message, New Century Version, English Standard Version, World English Translation, the New World Translation, et al. This phrase is [bracketed] in the UBS Greek text and labeled "an omission" in the N-A Greek text. Their basis for this ridiculous conclusion is merely TWO mss.-------Vaticanus and p46. That's it!! Two mss. out of the many hundreds omit the phrase and it is erased right out of God's words like it never existed. We pass on!

In his book, "King James Only Controversy", Mr. James White indicates that he is going to list for his readers the sum of the evidence in favor of the reading "through his blood". He writes, "Following the UBS 4th: 424, 1912, 2200, 2464, L147, L590, L592, L593, L1159 along with some versions and a few patristic sources. There is no uncial support for the reading. This variant arose later in the transmission process, as the evidence demonstrates, and was surely the result of harmonization with Ephesians 1:7 (p. 266)." This is so far from the truth that Mr. White ought to be ashamed of himself. Either 1) he didn't research this verse very much OR 2) he is purposely trying to deceive the unsuspecting saints. Whatever the case may be he should write a retraction and publish it with as much fanfare as he did his book. I shall now seek to present the evidence Mr. White failed to share with his readers.

First, Mr. White is correct in that the phrase is not found in any of the uncial codices. Again this is a smoke screen by White who cares little for "uncial support" for a reading (cf. Col. 1:9). The fact that it is missing in the uncial mss. is not to be lightly dismissed; however, this fact alone does not determine whether a verse or phrase is authentic. Many other factors must be considered when dealing with such verses as Col. 1:14.

White lists 4 cursive mss. and 5 lectionaries as containing the phrase in question. The N-A apparatus gives even less evidence as they list only 4 cursive mss. (i.e. 614, 630, 1505, 2464) along with the Clementine Vulgate and the Syriac version of Thomas Harkel. Much like James White these two (i.e. UBS & N-A) put together fall way short in presenting even half of the available evidence. The tragic thing about this is that most who put up websites attacking our AV rely almost exclusively on these two apparatii for their information.

While the mss. listed by the UBS and N-A do contain "through his blood" there are hundreds of other mss. that they conveniently forgot to mention for their readers. The truth is the reading can be found in over 200 cursive mss. dating from the early 9th century upwards. A few of these mss. are 206 223 330 383 424 614 630 876 1505 1518 1912 1960 2005 2200 2344 2412 2464 and many others. It can also be found in many of the Old Latin mss. including g (9th century), f (9th century), c (11th century) and dem (12th century).

Now I wish to address the comment by Mr. White that "This variant arose later in the transmission process, as the evidence demonstrates". While the above evidence seems later than some of the early uncial support what I am about to show you is exactly why it is vital to consider much more than a few old uncial mss. (and James White's book ;-) Despite the claims of UBS, N-A, White, Metzger, Hudson and many others the phrase "through his blood" enjoys very ancient support. Those "some versions" White mentioned but failed to identify include the Harcleian and the Philoxenian Syriac (dating from the 5th to 7th century), the Armenian (4th and 5th century), and the Latin Vulgate of Jerome (382 A.D.). It may be noted that the Slavonic (9th century) also contains the phrase. Now we are back to a time equal to that of the oldest uncial mss.! In case White and/or others still considers this "later in the transmission process" we shall travel even further back in time. To proceed!

Mr. White mentions "a few patristic sources" but once again fails to identify these individuals. So, in hopes of helping Mr. White and others I shall put a few names and dates with these heretofore unnamed men. Constantine Tischendorf identified two of these men as Theodoret (420 A.D.) and Oecumenius (sixth century). To this can also be added Cassiodorus (580 A.D.). The next two are the ones I wish to pay particular attention to. When contending with Nestorius John Cassian (360 AD) writes:

"Giving thanks to the Father, who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light, who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the remission of sins; who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature: for in Him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominations, or powers: all things were created by Him and in Him. (Cassian, Against Nestorius, 5:7)"
Again this puts us back to a time before the oldest uncial mss. were copied.

Writing in the 2nd century Irenaeus (120-202 AD) states:

"For blood can only come from veins and flesh, and whatsoever else makes up the substance of man, such as the Word of God was actually made. By His own blood he redeemed us, as also His apostle declares, "In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the remission of sins. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 5:2)"
Here we find Irenaeus quoting "through His blood" more than 200 years before Aleph and B were corrupted-----I mean written. This quote also testifies to the words approximately 80 years before the oldest papyri relevant to Col. 1:14. It must also be remembered that Irenaeus was certainly using an exemplar much earlier than the 2nd century.

In closing, we see "through his blood" present from ancient times in ancient versions, manuscripts and patristic quotes. Thus demonstrating that this phrase is authentic and didn't 'arise later in the transmission process' as Mr. White asserted. But rather was expunged from some of our Greek witnesses only to be preserved in the majority of the cursive copies. Selah!