About the Author(s)

Jacobus (Kobus) Kok Email
Evangelical Theological Faculty, Belgium

Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Bastiaan A. de Winter
Evangelical Theological Faculty, Belgium


Kok, J. & De Winter, B.A., 2017, ‘What’s in the name? The conundrum of ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τούτῳ versus ἐν τῷ μέρει τούτῳ? A text-critical investigation of 1 Peter 4:16 and its implication for the Afrikaans-Greek interlinear translation’ In die Skriflig 51(3), a2103. https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v51i3.2103

Original Research

What’s in the name? The conundrum of ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τούτῳ versus ἐν τῷ μέρει τούτῳ? A text-critical investigation of 1 Peter 4:16 and its implication for the Afrikaans-Greek interlinear translation

Jacobus (Kobus) Kok, Bastiaan A. de Winter

Received: 16 Feb. 2016; Accepted: 09 June 2016; Published: 27 Feb. 2017

Copyright: © 2017. The Author(s). Licensee: AOSIS.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In this article the authors investigate the Ausgangstext of 1 Peter 4:16b with regard to the latest text-critical insights based on the Editio Critica Maior’s coherence based genealogical method reflected in the latest Nestle Aland 28 edition. The change in the ECM of ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τούτῳ into ἐν τῷ μέρει τούτῳ in 1 Peter 4:16b is critically evaluated based on internal and external text-critical criteria. Lastly, a new Afrikaans translation based on the dative construction ἐν τῷ μέρει τούτῳ as Ausgangstext is proposed with relevance to the Greek-Afrikaans Bible text and translation and future revisions thereof.


This article is dedicated to Professor Jan G. van der Watt (Festschrift), my (JK) academic father. Like Abraham Malherbe of Yale Divinity, who was an important mentor for Van der Watt, he also lived(s) by the credo Fides Quaerens Intellectum – faith that seeks understanding. Van der Watt always motivated his students to conduct rigorous scholarship, but to do so from a perspective of loyalty and love for the faith community or church of Christ whom we are called to serve.

One of the many projects in which Van der Watt took a leading role was the first ever Interlinear Greek-Afrikaans Bible with a new translation in Afrikaans published in 2012. This is a true Magnum Opus when it comes to making the Greek New Testament accessible to non-theologians and for that reason it was also one of the finalists for the Andrew Murray book prize in South Africa in 2015. For that reason this book is also worthy of academic critique and judgement, because Opus virtutis, aut dignum Academia censura iudicii (Latin – JK).

An important matter which we want to discuss in this article revolves around the translation of 1 Peter 4:16 in the aforementioned Afrikaans-Greek Interlinear Bible (2012), where the commission has chosen for the following Greek Ausgangstext and subsequent literal translation (English provided also for clarity (see box 1).

BOX 1: The translation of 1 Peter 4:16 in the Afrikaans-Greek interlinear Bible (2012).

The critical question is whether this (ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τούτῳ) represents the best possible Greek Ausgangstext, and whether the latter and the corresponding Afrikaans translation based upon this text, has taken the latest developments in textual criticism and insights of the Editio Critica Maior into consideration. The argument will be that it unfortunately has not done so and an alternative Greek Ausgangstext and possible translation will be suggested for subsequent revised editions of this Bible and its translation.

The Edito Critica Maior and latest developments in textual criticism

In 2012 the 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland: Novum Testamentum Graece (NA28) was published (Nestle-Aland et al. 2012). This new edition carried the results of a fundamentally new1 text-critical methodology applied to the Catholic Epistles, because for this part it is based on the Editio Critica Maior (ECM) project (cf. Strutwolf 2012: Foreword). The ECM uses a new computer aided methodology to establish the value of a textual tradition based on genealogical coherence (or coherence based genealogical method [CBGM]). The results of this fundamental change are sometimes remarkable, viewed from the perspective of the old majority methodology, which consisted of moderate or reasoned eclecticism (Metzger & Ehrman 2005:223). One locus where there is a remarkable adaptation is in the second half of 1 Peter 4:16, where the ECM changed the reading back to that found in the Textus Receptus. This article is an investigation into this particular text-critical issue. The central research question is: What is most likely the original reading or Ausgangstext in the second half of 1 Peter 4:16?

It will be thoroughly examined using moderate eclecticism what the most likely reading of 1 Peter 4:16 might have been. Therefore the internal and external evidence will be evaluated in detail. Secondly there will be an explanation of the method behind the ECM, the Coherence Based Genealogical Method (CBGM), and we will aim to critically discuss the reason the CBGM came to their current decision on the Ausgangstext by considering external (textual traditions) and internal criteria (Greek or style within the letter, corpus or NT).

Firstly, we will provide an overview of the external textual witnesses for the occurrence of the alternative readings ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τούτῳ and ἐν τῷ μέρει τούτῳ respectively (see Table 1):

TABLE 1: Overviewa of external witnesses.b

External evidence

Reading 1: ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τούτῳ

Reading 2: ἐν τῷ μέρει τούτῳ

Table 1 provides an overview of the external witnesses. It aids in the estimation of the external evidence. Where available it shows the categories by Kurt and Barbara Aland as Roman numerals in superscript:2 (…) indicates that the text type is uncertain; and <…> indicates that the dating is uncertain.

The earliest manuscripts and translations that witness to Reading 2 (ἐν τῷ μέρει τούτῳ) are actually only from the 9th century, which frankly is rather late in history. Furthermore there are only four minuscules, four uncials, one translation of minor importance and a number of lectionaries, compared to many different (and early) witnesses to Reading 1 (ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τούτῳ). Note that Reading 2 does have the NA28 symbol Byz (see footnote 4), but it does not have the symbol of the majority text however (𝔪). Reading 2 has furthermore only three Alexandrian witnesses, which are also very late ones, and the rest of the Byzantine text-type. Reading 1 on the other hand, knows a broad spreading of witnesses over text-types as well as source types (papyri, uncials, minuscules, translations, Latin and Greek Church Fathers and lectionaria). Many of the witnesses of Reading 1 are early, with some very early such as copsa, P72 and Tertullian. The spreading over different text types also occurs early, with the Coptic translation in the Sahidic dialect and church father Tertullian, already in the 3rd century. This points to the fact that there was or were source(s) carrying this reading prior to these witnesses. Reading 1 is found in sources of excellent individual quality such as א, B and copsa,bo, while Reading 2 does not have this kind of weighty support. Furthermore, also the Aland system of classification of uncials and minuscules according to categories favours Reading 1 (based on their categorisation of what they deem to be very good category 1 witnesses). The combination of the above-mentioned data shows that Reading 1 was proliferated broadly across the early Christian world, which indicates that it was a widely used and recognised reading. It is also interesting to note that the Syriac text also follows this reading (see Peshitta: ܐܡܫ ܐܢܗܒ ܗܒ [be bəhānā šəmā].3 Reading 2 appears as far as known for the first time in the 9th century only. This could easily be explained therefore as a late (although possibly earlier than the 9th century) adaptation of the text. In other words, if this text was original, it is hard to see why it was not found at least in one or two earlier sources, while there are so many sources for the other reading. This data makes the validity of Reading 2 highly unlikely, at least at first glance.

Internal evidence

For this section of the article we will look at the internal evidence and engage critically with leading scholars (and commentaries) in this regard.

In our investigation we studied the arguments by scholars for either variant based on internal considerations, in order to establish which reading is most probable. The range of possible internal arguments is rather broad. Examples are the likelihood of a scribal mistake; structural and grammatical considerations; or the evocation of deliberate theological adaptations.

It should be noted that although the textual change to μέρει in 1 Peter 4:16 was only published in the latest critical editions of the Greek New Testament (NA28 and UBS5), it was already (technically) available in print in 2000 (cf. Aland et al. 2014). However, it was difficult to find commentaries that have engaged with these new perspectives.

Jobes (2005), Metzger (1994), Osborne (2011), Schelkle (2002) and the French commentary by Jacques Schlosser (2011:260–261) do not even mention the variant μέρει. Of the ὀνόματι supporters Bigg (1961), Davids (1990), Donelson (2010), Hart (n.d.; [1897–1910]), Holmes (2010), Marshall (1991) and McKnight (1996), do not give any argument for their decision. Achtemeier (1996), Comfort (2008),4 Dubis (2010), Elliott (2000), Kelly (1981), Schreiner (2003) and Selwyn (1987) argue positively in favour of ὀνόματι. They all lean heavily on the fact that external witnesses are in favour of ὀνόματι, although some of them provide internal evidence as well.

A select but interesting group of commentators favour μέρει, viz. Greijdanus (1972), Michaels (1998), Richard (2000), and Van Houwelingen (1991). All of them were not able to know the results of the ECM at the time of writing, and for that reason their arguments must have been based upon internal evidence, or most probably the result of their appreciation of the Byzantine text (at least this is the case with Van Houwelingen (2016).5

In the Anglo-Saxon world only Dubis (2010:153) to our knowledge makes mention of the ECM explicitly. Unfortunately, however, Dubis mistakenly states that the ECM prefers μέρει based on internal evidence which in fact was not the primary argument for the ECM (Aland 2000). Considering its date of publication and the fact that some of the information was already available, especially those of Mink, it is clear that many commentators would have been able to make use of the insights of the ECM project, but refrained from doing so, or were not aware of it (Dubis 2010:153).

Looking at the internal evidence itself makes immediately clear that a scribal error arising from faulty hearing or eyesight is not likely. Possibly, it could be an error of the scribal mind, an assimilation to a well-known or similar passage or to ἐν ὀνόματι Χριστοῦ in verse 14, just two verses before. However, most commentators are thinking along the line of an intentional change, either to harmonise with another passage, or to make a difficult reading more easily understandable (making it less obscure, harsh, unusual, paradoxical, offensive to pious ears, erroneous, in opposition to parallel passages, et cetera; Metzger & Ehrman 2005:166). The difficult reading is always to be considered from the perspective of the scribe (as far as this is possible). There is discussion, however, on which reading would have been the hardest reading (so called lectio difficilior) for the scribe.

Before looking at the different views, it should be established what the referent of the demonstrative pronoun τούτῳ (in the dative) is. When ὀνόματι is original, it could be Χριστός from verse 14, but it is more probably Χριστιανός from verse 16 which is in view, since it is the closest referent.6 Also the name in verse 14 is not strictly the name Christ (Kelly 1981:190). If μέρει is original, then the referent of τούτῳ is not likely one word, but the concept of suffering as a Christian (cf. Greijdanus 1972:77). Dubis (2010) thinks:

the variant μέρει could have arisen out of scribal discomfort over the shift in the referent of ὀνόματι in verse 14 (where it refers to Χριστός) to its referent in verse 16 (Χριστιανός). (p. 153)

This is not a very strong argument however; it is not likely they (the scribes) would give up the more common ὀνόματι for the strange word, μέρει, over such a small issue. Furthermore Dubis (2010) himself is of the opinion that Χριστιανός and Χριστός are so closely linked that they cannot be separated.

A stronger argument is provided by Kelly who is of the opinion that ἐν τῷ μέρει τούτῳ could be an emendation by scribes because the prepositional phrase, ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τούτῳ, is open to multiple, subtly different interpretations. In our opinion it is exactly the opposite – ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τούτῳ is much more specific and limited in meaning than the more ‘open ended’ ἐν τῷ μέρει τούτῳ. The following list of possible interpretations is based on Achtemeier (1996:315) and Elliott (2000:796) with regard to the way in which the nature or function of the dative (ἐν+dative) could be understood:

  • Just bearing the name Χριστιανός glorifies God (dative of instrument).
  • God is to be glorified within the ‘sphere’ of the Christian faith or under the name Χριστιανός (dative of sphere).
  • To glorify God ‘because of the name’ (dative of cause).

Based on how ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τούτῳ is often used elsewhere (e.g. in many papyri), Kelly (1981:190–191) thinks this whole phrase should be taken as an idiom. He translates it with ‘in this capacity’ (i.e. as a Christian) or ‘on this account’ (i.e. because the person suffers as a Christian).

According to Achtemeier (1996:315) the idiomatic meaning proposed by Kelly is similar in meaning to ἐν τῷ μέρει τούτῳ [in this respect]. This phrase is used with this meaning in 2 Corinthians 3:10; 9:3.

It should be noted that Kelly uses the occurrence of μέρει in the later manuscripts to argue for his idiomatic understanding of the phrase and not the other way around. He (Kelly 1981:191) says this emendation shows ‘both that Greek-speaking copyists did not find the meaning [as] obvious as many modern scholars do …’. The basis of this argument is that μέρει is ‘an undoubted gloss’ (based on its late manuscript evidence; 191). However, if μέρει is original, then there is no proof that the scribes saw a problem in the use of ὀνόματι. Circular reasoning lurks here. It could still be possible that the scribes did find ὀνόματι difficult, but one cannot know this for sure.

Elliott (2000:796) finds that the different Greek phrases that Kelly uses to argue for an idiomatic understanding actually better explain the expression ἐν ὀνόματι Χριστοῦ in verse 14. They argue that ἐν τῷ μέρει τούτῳ seems to have a more limited and therefore clearer meaning than ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τούτῳ. In other words, one could say that ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τούτῳ is seen as lectio difficilior by the scribe, who therefore substituted μέρει. But as stated above already, the exact opposite could be argued, i.e. that ἐν τῷ μέρει τούτῳ has a more ‘open’ possibility for meaning and ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τούτῳ has a more limited meaning. Therefore this argument is not convincing.

Thus the interpretation of Michaels is of more interest. Contrary to the previous argument, Michaels argues for ἐν τῷ μέρει τούτῳ as the lectio difficilior [potior]. Michaels (1998) finds it:

hard to believe that they would sacrifice the theological richness of the ‘name’ in favor of such a colorless word as μέρος, ‘matter’ or ‘capacity’, merely to clarify the meaning for their readers. (p. 270)

There is no ground to think that these ‘mere scribes or copyists’ would undertake such a daring action, which only translators are known to have done in some instances. He has a point. There are a couple of considerations that make it more feasible that ὀνόματι was substituted for the original μέρει.

Firstly, name (ὀνόματι) in the sense of suffering in the name of Christ, or for being identified as a Christian fits more the language of the Christian symbolic world, it is biblical phraseology, it resonates with a diverse range of New Testament passages.7 As Comfort (2008:751) puts it, it is more poignant language than μέρει. Therefore a scribe could have felt the need to substitute ὀνόματι. If Kelly (1981:1990–1991) is right that there is an idiomatic meaning that equals μέρει, the scribe could substitute ὀνόματι without significantly changing the meaning in the process.

Secondly, in verse 14 it reads ἐν ὀνόματι Χριστοῦ. This leads some scholars to think it should read ὀνόματι in verse 16 as well. This should not be taken as strong evidence however. For one thing, the subtle difference between ‘in the name of Christ’ and ‘as a Christian’ could lead to using different terminology. At any rate is it very difficult to predict the phraseology of an author. Rather this tendency of people to harmonise should be noticed; therefore the presence of ὀνόματι in verse 14 should rather be taken as evidence for substitution by ὀνόματι in verse 16.

The third consideration has to do with the term Χριστιανός [Christian]. This term is not common in the New Testament. It only appears elsewhere in Acts 11:26 and 26:28. In all three instances it appears to be a name given by outsiders to believers in Jesus Christ (Michaels 1998:268).8 In the New Testament Christians are referred to more commonly as saints or disciples.9 The fact that Χριστιανός originated from outsiders is evidenced by the occurrence of a variant reading. This variant, Χρηστιανός [Good fellow or ones belonging to the Kind One], occurs first in א (later corrected), each time this designation is used in the New Testament (cf. Comfort 2008:751; Michaels 1998:268). It also occurs in pagan literature, cf. Tacitus, Annals 15.44; Suetonius, Nero 16; Pliny, Epistle 10.96.10

The correct version of the designation, Χριστιανός, which refers to the ‘name’ of their leader, had by the 2nd century been adopted by ‘Christians’ as a self-designation (textual references and translation by Holmes 1999: cf. the Apostolic Fathers: Ign. Eph. 11.2; Ign. Magn. 4; Ign. Rom. 3.2; Ign. Pol. 7.3; Mart. Pol. 3, 10.1, 12.1–2; Did. 12.4).11 It leads too far to discuss how this might affect the dating of 1 Peter.12 The point is, as Elliott (2000:795) states, it could be that the term, Χριστιανός, was intended as a shame name (Christ-lackey), an attempt to ‘discredit the addressees and put them to public shame’. This could be used to argue for ὀνόματι, but it actually makes μέρει more difficult for the scribe to understand.

Also there is some historical evidence which suggests that Christians suffered just for being identified as being a ‘Christian’ (Comfort 2008:751).13 It is not difficult to imagine that scribes wanted to make this connection of suffering, not only for living as a Christian, but specifically in connection to being identified as a ‘Christian’ more poignant in the text. However, contra Comfort at this point in the process it is not yet established that this connection was originally in the text, therefore his argument that ‘μέρει obfuscates this’ is somewhat circular.14 Moreover, if the scribe thought like Comfort, he would substitute ὀνόματι.

With both these arguments the dating of events is a complication: when exactly was 1 Peter written (cf. DeSilva 2004:847); when where Christians persecuted because of being identified as Christian (more than just sporadic and locally); and when did they start to identify themselves with this name (Kok & Roth 2014)? Despite these difficulties, it appears that ὀνόματι would be more poignant for the scribes later than earlier in the development of the movement towards institutionalisation. Most errors and changes to the text arose roughly in the first two centuries AD, when manuscripts were copied often hastily by amateurs (Metzger & Ehrman 2005:274–276). Together this gives reasonable probability to a later emendation than to an original ὀνόματι.

As a fourth consideration, it is noted by Michaels (1998:270) that ἐν τῷ μέρει τούτῳ ‘forms a kind of sequel to 2:12 and 3:16, where a similarly colorless ἐν ᾧ served as the author’s way of introducing a “case” approach to the prospect of slander and interrogation’. ‘In effect a demonstrative pronoun is concealed within the relative: “in that in which” (BGD 583; BDF § 294.4). The closest English equivalent is “in case” or “in a case [or situation] where”’ (1998:117).15 In 2:12 and 3:16 Michaels (1998) argues:

the pronoun ᾧ had no antecedent, no actual word for ‘case’ or ‘situation’ in the context, but if it had, μέρος would have been an appropriate word. The vague expression ἐν τῷ μέρει τούτῳ, therefore, functions here in much the same way as the ἐν ᾧ of 2:12 and 3:16 (p. 270).

This means that μέρει fits the author’s style of writing. In this respect μέρει is not the lectio difficilior. However, this is an argument for the use of μέρει by the original author. It is not about the perspective of the scribes. This argument does not make it hard to imagine that a later scribe, in a changed situation where the name Χριστιανός is more poignant, could still find μέρει too weak and replaced it.

Lastly, one could consider that μέρει does not take emphasis away from the suffering itself as ὀνόματι does. With μέρει the passage exhorts to glorify God for the situation (for that matter), namely the suffering that is endured for living as a Christian. With ὀνόματι, however, the focus is taken off the suffering, and the emphasis is on the name Christian instead. This makes the passage rhetorically less strong. Also the repetition of ὀνόματι seems rather redundant when read together with verse 14 and since Χριστιανός already refers to ἐν ὀνόματι Χριστοῦ.

However, one could equally well argue that suffering in the name of Christ equals suffering under the name Christian. What follows then is that this suffering in the name of Christ is the central issue in verses 14–16, and that ὀνόματι at the beginning of 14 and ὀνόματι at the end of 16 function as an inclusion to emphasise that. These arguments based on an interpretation or central meaning should not be given too much weight however. They are frail at best and have the danger to become circular (the text has this primary meaning therefore it reads this primary meaning).

In the final judgement of the internal evidence it is best to focus on the simplest and strongest arguments instead of elaborate constructions that contain uncertainties and the risk of circularity. It boils down to the question, which scenario is the most feasible in trying to avoid arguing from a point of specific preference. The discussion above illustrates why it is less likely that an original ὀνόματι was replaced by μέρει than the other way around. According to a basic rule of textual criticism, μέρει is the variant that best explains the origination of the other, therefore it has to be original (cf. also Lectio difficilior potior).

Conclusion of applied moderate eclecticism

Before considering the ECM, the intermediate conclusion of applied moderate eclecticism must be drawn. It has been shown that μέρει deserves preference on the basis of internal evidence. However, the external evidence is so strongly in favour of ὀνόματι that it stretches too far to reject that, based on stronger but not overwhelming internal evidence for μέρει.

Likewise, the commentators Achtemeier (1996:303 n. 6) and Schreiner (2003:225 n. 38) do agree with Michaels that μέρει is the lectio difficilior, and only favour ὀνόματι because of the ‘quality and extend of textual witnesses for ὀνόματι’. This shows how moderate eclecticism works: the internal and external evidence are weighed on equal basis against each other. For these commentators the internal evidence is not strong enough against the external evidence. It is reasonable to assume that they would presently favour μέρει based on the ECM. Their conclusion would be a firm one, if it turns out that ECM holds up to scrutiny. This will be examined in the next section.

Short overview of the coherence based genealogical method

It is not possible here to provide a thorough academic assessment and exposition of the Coherence Based Genealogical Method (CBGM),16 and a detailed explanation of the methodology behind the ECM.17 The reader is referred in this regard to some of the most important and helpful work on this topic (cf. Alexanderson 2014:57ff.; Krans, Wasserman & Pakkala 2015; Head 2010; Mink 2016 ad loc; Wasserman 2015; cf. also Head & Wasserman 2015).18

Below we will provide a short overview of the method, a survey of the problems of the previous methods (especially the local text types used) that it tried to address, and a tentative theoretical assessment thereof with regard to 1 Peter 4:16.

The classical divisions in text types were first identified in the early 18th century, when no papyri where discovered yet. When these new sources were discovered they were fit into the already established system. The value of a manuscript is thus determined by comparing it to other manuscripts.

Already in 1982 Gerd Mink of the University of Münster published insights related to these developed in the CBGM (cf. Mon 1982:100–114, quoted in Mink 1982:100–114). He noticed circular reasoning in the text-critical process: ‘Witnesses are rated highly because of their variants, yet variants are preferred because they occur in highly rated witnesses.’ (cf. Mink 2016). CBGM tries to control this circularity based on an over-all view of variant and witnesses. This is done by an ‘iterative process of approximation’.

While the process is running, the insight into the interrelationships between witnesses increases. This in turn is used to control the ‘witnesses-variants-circle’. Mink (2016:ad loc) states: ‘The whole process is iterative, the textual decisions [local stemmata of variants] are revised based on the over-all results and then again the over-all results change, etc.’

In essence, as Parker (2008:169) remarks, the CBGM is ‘the application of traditional philological skills, monitored by a computerized record of the scholar’s textual decisions’. The general objective of the CBGM is ‘to improve understanding of textual history in light of all available information’ and ‘to reconstruct its starting point, i.e. the initial text [A] (Ausgangstext)’. More specifically, according to Mink (2016:9 ad loc) it wants ‘to establish a comprehensive hypothesis for the genealogical structure of the textual tradition’ and ‘to examine the validity of textual decisions’.

The CBGM is not concerned with individual manuscripts, but with the textual traditions carried by them. Genealogical coherence is based on fields of coherence, clusters of closely related manuscripts that do share a particular variation. Thus the CBGM works with the concept of ‘potential ancestors’, where one of two textual witnesses is identified as the potential ancestor of the other textual witnesses – this becomes especially clear when such variant in many cases supports a variant ‘from which the variant of the other witness can be derived’ (NA 28 2012). The NA 28 team explains it further as follows:

Some witnesses have many (potential ancestors), others have a few or only one potential ancestor. The percentages of agreement between witnesses compared are used to arrange the potential ancestors of a witness in a ranking order, according to their degree of relationship. (p. 7)

Put differently in the words of Wasserman (2015), the CBGM:

tries to determine which reading, in a place where there are several textual variants, best explains the rise of the other readings. In this way, a local genealogy, or stemma of readings is drawn up for an individual passage. (p. 208)

These fields of coherence appear when a stemma is drawn up. A stemma is a graphical tool to outline the genealogical relations between closely related manuscripts in order to establish the archetype (Parker 2008:171). CBGM’s genius in relation to other stemmatological models lies in the fact that it draws up a stemma at each unit of variation (known as a substemma) (169). The use of computers makes this possible. In the case of the Catholic Epistles, no less than 164 witnesses were used and they found circa 3 046 instances of textual variation (Head 2010:143).

The resulting advantage of CBGM is that it deals effectively with contamination (e.g. a manuscript carries a text that is a combination from two [or more] different sources); coincidental emergence of identical variants; and the possibility that a new variant reading actually ‘switches back’ to the form from which it was derived (virtually impossible to detect) (Head 2010:167–169).

When applied to 1 Peter 4:16b, it appears that ὀνόματι has originated as a variation about 10 times independently, without genealogical coherence (Alexanderson 2014:99–100). The textual tradition of μέρει on the other hand, has a strong genealogical coherence, therefore it is likely original (Mink 2016:566–571).

A schematic representation of the genealogical coherence of 1 Peter 4:16 (Lesart a, or Reading a) is indicated by Mink (2003:60) as follows (see Figure 1).

FIGURE 1: Coherence Based Genealogical Schema.

From this scheme it is clear from the Ausgangslage that the ECM chose not for the easier reading a (… ὀνόματι …) but for the more difficult reading b (… μέρει …) although the former is found in most witnesses. Mink (2003) argues as follows:

Hier besagt die vorläufige Kohärenzprüfung, dass es möglich ist, 025, 307, 1 448, 1 737 und 2 298 unmittelbahr aus dem Ausgangstext A abzuleiten. Wieder führt der Weg über 307 und 424 (dazwischen allerdings noch 468) zu den byzantinischen Zeugen. (p. 61)

The reading c (τω μερει τουτου), as well as reading d (τουτω τω μερει) and reading e (τω μερει τουτω η τω ονοματι τουτω) clearly have coherence with reading a (breathing marks and accents were deliberately left out because of source texts used). One also sees that with reading d, the witnesses of 629 cohered with 424 with regard to reading a. On the other hand it is easy to see that with reading c, there were two witnesses, specifically 431 and 1 875, where the words cohere (‘wohl nur zufällig gemeinsam die Wortumstellung?’). It is also rather clear that 431 coheres with 617, 1 875 and 181. Looking at reading e, it could be argued that it seems to be a linkage (Verknüpfung) between reading a and b with a ‘kohärente Bezeugung’ that links it to 175 and 1 832. This is a witness of reading b, although on its part again it coheres strongly with Byzantine witnesses which occurs in reading a (Mink 2003:61).

With regard to Reading b (Lesart b), Mink (2003:62) provides the following graph (see Figure 2).

FIGURE 2: Coherence Based Genealogical Schema.

Mink (2003) makes the following important observation which needs to be taken into consideration as one comes to a conclusion:

Überhaupt zeigt die Kohärenzprüfung (vgl. Abb. 11)19, dass Lesart b viele Male entstanden sein muss, und zwar aus Lesart a. Wenn man Lesart b als die ursprüngliche ansieht, wie es bisher geschah, so müsste man auf jeden Fall gleichzeitich annehmen, dass nur etwa die Hälfte der Zeugen von b den ursprünglichen Text bezeugt, die übrigen würden unabhängig von ihnen einen gleichlautenden Text bieten, der aber eine durch den Kontext (vgl. 4, 14) nahegelegte tertiäre Entwicklung aus der dann sekundären Lesart a wäre. (p. 62)


The positive assessment of the CBGM shows that the claims of the ECM can be substantiated. This means that although it looks like the external witnesses support ὀνόματι, in fact μέρει is original. Internal evidence can vouch for the proliferation of the non-original ὀνόματι, luckily the true reading has been kept secure in a textual tradition that appears first in extant manuscripts of the 9th century AD. This means that there must have been many manuscripts with the same text that are now lost. It should be noted, however, that since ECM also has possibilities for error, textual-criticism can never be a hard or final claim. This article has shown that the ECM brings some surprisingly refreshing results to textual-criticism. One of the preliminary conclusions in the Catholic Epistles is the revaluation of the Byzantine text type in this part of the New Testament.

With regard to the current translation of the Afrikaans text in the Interlinear Grieks-Afrikaanse Bybel, the revised edition should take the recommendation of the ECM and the CBGM seriously. Based on the latest research, the translators should rather opt for ἐν τῷ μέρει τούτῳ than ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τούτῳ as Ausgangstext with the resultant change in the Afrikaans translation which will be proposed below. Important to note before doing so, is the fact that one of the visions of the Grieks-Afrikaanse Bible is to provide a translation that stays as close as possible to the form in, or of the original Greek:

As jy dus die vertaling lees, is die doelstelling dat jy soveel as moontlik van die taalstruktuur, uitdrukkings en idiome van die oorspronklike Grieks in Afrikaans sien. Die uitgangspunt is dus om so ‘naby as moontlik aan die Grieks te bly’. Aanpassings word slegs gemaak in gevalle waar ’n suiwer letterlike vertaling onverstaanbaar is, of deur lesers of hoorders verkeerd verstaan kan word. (Grieks Afrikaanse Bybel 2012:x)

For that reason we need to stay as close as possible to the form and meaning of the original Greek and translate it with Afrikaans words that take these dimensions into consideration.

For the literal Greek-Afrikaans translation, see Box 2.

BOX 2: Suggested ausgangstext and possible new translation.

There are several ways to interpret the prepositional phrase introduced by ἐν which in this case is adverbially used since it relates to the verb δοξαζέτω [glorify]. The preposition, ἐν, in other words specifies the manner in which believers should glorify God and thus forms an adverbial phrase. Based on whether a dative of sphere or a dative of cause is chosen with specific reference to ἐν τῷ μέρει τούτῳ, the translation will change. For that reason the dynamic translation below opts for ‘midde hierdie ding(e)/omstandigheid(hede)/konteks/situasie [amidst these things/circumstances/situation]’ which in the Afrikaans language includes the meanings of both functions of the dative mentioned above.

Suggested Literal Afrikaans translation:

As hy egter ly omdat hy ’n Christen is, moet hy hom nie skaam nie, maar hy moet God verheerlik in hierdie situasie [As hy egter as Christen ly moet hy hom nie skaam nie, maar hy moet God verheerlik selfs midde hierdie situasie/konteks/omstandighede]. (Suggested Dynamic Afrikaans translation)

Note on the literal translation(s)

Due to the fact that μέρει occurs in the dative singular one cannot provide a direct translation reflecting a plural form, and for that reason ‘hierdie dinge’ or ‘hierdie omstandighede’ would be inaccurate. However, the word konteks is a more inclusive word which may also invoke the meaning of a dative of sphere (and causal dative) which might include many different situations in a particular context. Thus, we have opted for the word konteks in the suggested dynamic translation above. The word situasie [situation]20 might also be stylistically interesting based on the alliteration with the verb skaam [shame]. The same is true for skaam [shame] and its relation to konteks [context] and verheerlik [glorify or praise] which is strengthened by the occurrence of alliteration of the plosive consonant k which dominates the phrase and contributes to memory (encoding, storage and retrieval).21


Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no financial or personal relationships which may have inappropriately influenced them in writing this article.


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1. This project has been in progress for many years already, but published in the NA28 only in 2012. For more information on the method, see Gerd Mink (2011:141–216).

2. Kurt and Barbara Aland categorised the Greek manuscripts for their value for establishing the original text based on collations of witnesses in a number of Teststellen [test passages], cf. Alland and Alland (1995).

3. For a helpful access to the Syriac text visit http://www.dukhrana.com/peshitta/index.php (Peshitta New Testament n.d.)

4. Cf. also Comford and Barrett (2001).

5. In the personal e-mail correspondence with Rob van Houwelingen he remarked: ‘dat komt omdat ik van Van Bruggen heb geleerd de meerderheidstekst/Byzantijnse traditie altijd serieus te nemen’. See also Van Houwelingen (2015:35).

6. Cf. Davids (1990:170); Dubis (2010:153); Elliott (2000:796) and Kelly (1981:190–191).

7. E.g. ἐν ὀνόματι ὅτι Χριστοῦ ἐστε [because you belong to Christ] in Mark 9:41; and related to suffering διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου [on account of my name] in John 15:21; διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου [for my name’s sake] in Matthew 10:22; and ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος (μου)[for the, or my name] in Acts 9:16 and 5:41. It should be noted, however, that none of these constructions is the grammatical equivalent of ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τούτῳ and all of them are directly related to the name of Christ, not the name ’Christian’.

8. See in this regard also Trebilco (2012:3–5, 272–297) for a view of the way the early Christians referred to themselves and to outsiders and how the term, Christian, was used (self-designations). What would be important for Trebilco and for us is to be sensitive for the way the term Christian is often used anachronistically by people today, not taking into consideration how the first Christians referred to themselves in the period before Christianity became a state religion. In the earliest years of the movement, many believers were Jews who believed that Jesus was the Messiah. For that reason it is important to study the self-designations the Christ-followers used to refer to themselves.

9. Ἅγιος [saint], e.g. in Matthew 27:52; Acts 8:32, 41; 26:10; Romans 1:2; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:2; Revelation 8:3. μαθητής [disciple], e.g. in Acts 9:1, 10, 36, 38; and most notably Acts 11:26.

10. Tacitus, Annals 15:44: ‘quos per flagitia invisos vulgus Chrestianos appellabat’ [called Christians by the populace]; Suetonius, Nero 16: ‘afflicti suppliciis Christiani’ [He inflicted punishments on the Christians]; Pliny, Epistle 10.96: ‘Cognitionibus de Christianis interfui numquam’ [I have never taken part in an investigation of the Christians]. According to Michaels (1998): 1 Peter 49:268.

11. According to Holmes (1999): Ign. Eph. 11.2: ‘Ἐφεσίων … τῶν Χριστιανῶν’ [the Christians of Ephesus]; Ign. Magn. 4: ‘Πρέπον οὖν ἐστιν μὴ μόνον καλεῖσθαι Χριστιανούς, ἀλλὰ καὶ εἶναι’ [It is right, therefore, that we not just be called Christians, but that we actually be Christians]; Ign. Rom. 3.2: ‘ἵνα μὴ μόνον λέγωμαι Χριστιανός, ἀλλὰ καὶ εὑρεθῶ’ [that I might not merely be called a Christian, but actually prove to be one]; Ign. Pol. 7.3: ‘χριστιανὸς ἑαυτοῦ ἐξουσίαν οὐκ ἔχει’ [A Christian has no authority over himself]; Mart. Pol. 3: ‘γένους τῶν Χριστιανῶν’ [race of Christians], 10.1: ‘Χριστιανός εἰμι’ [I am a Christian], 12.1–2: ’Πολύκαρπος ὡμολόγησεν ἑαυτὸν Χριστιανὸν εἶναι … ὁ πατὴρ τῶν Χριστιανῶν’ [‘Polycarp has confessed that he is a Christian … the father of the Christians’]; Did. 12.4: ‘ζήσεται χριστιανός ’ [he shall live … as a Christian]. See also Kok and Roth (2014).

12. For the dating of 1 Peter, see DeSilva (2004:841–864). He also discusses the challenge of ‘resident aliens’ awaiting their God-given inheritance, the reality of suffering and an ethic and identity to deal with the latter; as well as the dimension of hospitality-ethics in the Early Church (857).

13. Also note the opposite arguments by people like Moss (2013).

14. Comfort (2008) argues from his interpretation of the text, namely that: a believer brings glory to God by his or her identification with the name of Christ – especially when suffering for being identified as a ‘Christian’ – one belonging to Christ. Indeed, history tells us that believers have suffered for simply being known as ‘Christians’ (p. 751).

If the original text was μέρει, however, the interpretation should not be so focused on the name ‘Christians’.

15. See also Danker et al. (2000:583) as well as Blass Debrunner and Rehkopf (1976:par. 294.4).

16. For a recent overview of the CBGM as tool for explaining the latest textual changes in the ECM, see the article by Wasserman (2015:206–218).

17. Some of the data can now be accessed online, cf. University of Münster Institute for New Testament Textual Research (2013).

18. It should be noted that the textual critic is also not able to fully assess the dating, paleography and text type of an individual manuscript, nor its relative value for the establishment of the Ausgangstext (initial text). Here too he or she is dependent on the judgement of others.

19. Abb.11 is provided here from Mink (2003:62) to make the interpretation easier.

20. In an interview and discussion at the Evangelical Theological Faculty in Leuven on 18 February, Prof. Dr. Gie Vleugels was so kind as to suggest the word situasie as possible dynamic equivalent translation to give justice to the singular form of μέρει in the Ausgangstext.

21. For some of the latest research in this regard, see Munger (2008:ad loc.) referring inter alia to Brooke et al. (2008); cf. also Keller (2014: ad loc.).

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