Apr 4, 2020
Welcome to this FOURTH episode of the Every Word Podcast. This is a podcast series for those who enjoy studying details found in God’s Word. In every episode I will read from Dr. Wilbur Pickering’s fresh-sounding translation of the New Testament, which he named, “The Sovereign Creator Has Spoken.” In today’s episode, I will read and comment on Pickering’s translation of Mark chapter 3.
The episode notes for this podcast provide the text of everything I’m saying and links to supporting documentation.
Dr. Pickering’s translation is based on the Majority Text of the Greek New Testament, which is also called the Byzantine Text. This podcast series shows why the Majority Greek Text is superior to the Eclectic Greek Text, which was used as the basis of most of the NT translations of the last century.
The shift in the Greek text used for English Bible translations began in 1881, with the publication of Wescott and Hort’s Greek New Testament, which was based on an extremely small sampling of manuscripts of the Alexandrian Text Type— that is from Egypt.
[The main two manuscripts they relied on are Codex Sinaiticus (abbreviation א [Aleph] or 01) and Codex Vaticanus (abbreviation B or 03). Those are dated at 3_3_0—3_6_0 AD and 3_0_0—3_2_5 respectively.]
At the time Wescott and Hort were working, it was anticipated that research into the most ancient manuscripts newly discovered in Egypt would reveal a coherent textual stream that would point to the authentic initial form of the Greek text. Now, over a century later, those ancient Egyptian manuscripts have been analyzed, but they do not reveal a coherent textual stream that can be followed. Instead they reveal that Egyptian scribes very freely edited the texts they copied.
In contrast, the Majority Text of the New Testament was made by copyists who lived in the same places as the original recipients of the apostles’ writings. Individual scribal errors have been weeded out, since this text type is based on the majority reading of thousands of Greek manuscripts. The Majority Text has been stable over the centuries and is the best academically defendable text of the Greek New Testament that we have today. It is my hope that these podcasts will build awareness of the faulty Greek text that underlies almost all of the English Bible translations of the last century, starting with the ASV (1901), and including RSV, NASB, NIV, GNT, NLT, NET, and ESV.
A Sabbath healing—the rejection
Another time He went into the synagogue, and there was a man there with a withered hand.
² So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him.
³ Well He says to the man with the withered hand, “Come out in the middle”.
⁴ Then He said to them: “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
⁵ After looking around at them with anger, being grieved at the hardness of their hearts,
*They had no compassion, no agape; their only concern was to preserve their system, their position and authority.
He says to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” So he stretched [it out], and his hand was restored as healthy as the other!
*Perhaps 5% of the Greek manuscripts omit ‘as healthy as the other’, as in NIV, NASB, LB, TEV, etc.
⁶ Then the Pharisees went straight out, and with the Herodians
*Pharisees and Herodians were political opponents, so this was a strange alliance; evidently they perceived Jesus as a common enemy; such a serious enemy that He needed destroying.
started hatching a plot against Him, how they might destroy Him.
PCF: The variant that Pickering shows us here is just returning three short words to the Greek text. While we already would know that the man’s hand was restored, it is nice to know that Jesus didn’t just give partial healing to this man. The hand wasn’t just better and useful again, but was just as strong as his other hand.
Healings by the sea
Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the sea; and a large crowd from Galilee followed Him—also from Judea,
⁸ from Jerusalem, from Idumea and beyond Jordan; even those around Tyre and Sidon. A huge crowd came to Him, having heard the sorts of things He kept doing.
⁹ So He told His disciples that a small boat should be kept ready for Him because of the crowd, lest they should press in on Him.
¹⁰ Because He had healed many, so that as many as had afflictions were pushing toward Him so as to touch Him.
¹¹ And the unclean spirits—whenever one saw Him, he would fall down before Him and cry out, saying, “You are the son of God!”
¹² And He kept giving them strict orders that they should not make Him known.
*I wonder why the demons felt compelled to proclaim who Jesus was, evidently. I would say that He generally has the opposite problem with us!
PCF: I like how Pickering translated two imperfect Greek verbs in this section using ‘kept’. (v. 8 and 12) The imperfect shows a prolonged situation or in this case a repeated action.
The Twelve chosen
He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He wanted, and they came to Him.
¹⁴ He appointed twelve,
*Less than 2% of the Greek manuscripts, of objectively inferior quality, add ‘whom He also named apostles’, presumably imported from Luke 6:13, to be followed by NIV, LB, TEV, etc.
that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach
¹⁵ —also to have authority to heal sicknesses and
*Perhaps 1% of the Greek manuscripts, of objectively inferior quality, omit ‘to heal diseases and’, to be followed by NIV, NASB, LB, TEV, etc.
to cast out demons:
¹⁶ namely Peter (a name He gave to Simon);
¹⁷ James son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James (and a name He gave to them was Boanerges, that is, ‘Sons of thunder’);
¹⁸ Andrew, Phillip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Cananite;
¹⁹ and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.
²⁰ Then they went into a house;
*This may well have been His own house in Capernaum. If He were in someone else’s house, the hosts could have protected Him so He could at least eat.
and again a multitude gathered, so that they were not even able to eat bread.
²¹ Well upon hearing this His family came to apprehend Him, because they were saying, “He is out of his mind!”
PCF: When we find an addition to the Greek NT text, it is often where a copyist added something found in one Gospel and put that into the Gospel he was copying. The words ‘whom he named apostles’ was added to Mark by a copyist who liked those words in Luke’s Gospel. It is quite interesting to me that so many translations of the last century followed that addition, including those Pickering listed plus others like NLT, NET and ESV. The KJV does not contain those words. As a Bible translator, we often are tempted to do the same thing, shoring up the differences between Gospels. But it is better to allow each Gospel to stand on its own.
Then in verse 15, we have another thing left out of most translations. The phrase ‘to heal diseases’ is in the ones Pickering mentioned, plus left out of the ESV, NLT, and NET. The KJV contains the words. This omission has the support of only 1% of Greek manuscripts, and the Bible translations of the last century don’t even bother to footnote this variant.
There is a tiny textual variant that Pickering does not footnote. That is in v.18, the spelling of Simon’s designation as ‘the zealot’. The Greek word most often translated as ‘zealot’ is Kananaios (Καναναῖος) in the Eclectic Text, whereas the Majority Text has Kananités (Κανανίτης). 99% of Greek manuscripts have the spelling as in the Majority Text.
So, both texts have the same word, but in the ET it is in the nominative form, and it is accusative in the MT. In either form, it can be translated as zealot (meaning a man wanting Israel to rebel against Roman rule) or as Pickering translates, a Cananite, (someone descended from the Cananite people). Either meaning would have been an epithet.
Scribes blaspheme the Holy Spirit
Then some scribes who had come down from Jerusalem
*They had come all the way to Galilee, just to combat Jesus.
started saying, “He has Beelzebub”, and “It is by the ruler of the demons that he casts out demons”.
²³ So summoning them He started saying to them in parables: “How can Satan cast out Satan?
²⁴ If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
²⁵ And if a household is divided against itself, that household cannot stand.
²⁶ And if Satan has risen up against himself and become divided, [his kingdom//he] cannot stand, but is finished.
²⁷ No one can plunder the strong man’s goods,
*Since the definite article occurs with ‘strong man’ the first time the phrase occurs, the entity has already been introduced, so the reference is to Satan. Here is a biblical basis for binding Satan, which is now possible because of Christ’s victory. Hebrews 2:14 informs us that Jehovah the Son took on human form to destroy the devil, while 1 John 3:8 affirms that He was manifested to undo the works of the devil. But in John 20:21 the resurrected Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, so send I you”, and not long after that He returned to the Father. He defeated Satan alright, but it is up to us to ‘undo the works’.
invading his house, unless he first binds the strong man—then he may plunder the house.
²⁸ “Assuredly I say to you: all the sins of the sons of men can be forgiven, including whatever blasphemies they may utter;
²⁹ but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation”
*Perhaps 1% of the Greek manuscripts, of objectively inferior quality, read ‘sin’ instead of ‘condemnation’, to be followed by NIV, NASB, LB, TEV, etc.
³⁰ —because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit”.
*Those scribes committed the unpardonable sin.
PCF: There are some footnotes from Pickering that I will not read. And there are two places in today’s reading where I have tweaked Pickering’s translation. Those are marked by square brackets in the program notes. If you want to see a nicely formatted PDF of the episode notes, please download that file from dailybiblereading.info.
I am somewhat uncomfortable with Pickering’s footnote about binding Satan. Due to his brevity, his note might be interpreted to say that we have been given the right to bind Satan in every circumstance. So let’s be clear: The One with authority to bind Satan is Christ, not us. I agree, however, that Jesus left us with the task of undoing as much as we can of Satan’s works.
I believe that binding Satan works for us in areas where we have clear legal authority in God’s sight. When we were working in Indonesia, a fellow missionary family was having difficulty with their two-year-old daughter screaming at night and uncharacteristically not wanting her mom to hold her. They thought, as I do, that this was some kind of demonic harassment. In a case like this, I believe that the head of the family can speak out and directly forbid the evil spirit from bothering their daughter or even approaching their house. This is done by making it clear that you (as the head of the family) are claiming authority based on your union with Christ. Doing this solved the problem. Note that I as an outsider would have had no authority to bind Satan for my friend’s family. Similarly, for a child that is grown up enough to be out of the authority of your home, and one who has ‘gone off the deep end’, we cannot any longer bind Satan in the same way. In a case like that we ask Jesus to do that and ask for spiritual protection for the grown child. Therefore also, an area where each of us can legally bind Satan and forbid harassing spirits is in our own lives, bodies, or minds. We can consider 2Corinthians 12:7-9 as an example of why this may not work in every case.
The variant that Pickering points out in v. 29 is small but significant. ESV follows the Eclectic Text Mark 3:28-29 saying: “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.”
It is a little difficult to understand how a single sin can be eternal? The Majority Text reading makes better sense: “… but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation.”
Being subject to eternal condemnation is scary-er to imagine than guilty of an eternal sin. And since 99% of the manuscripts say that, it is most likely to be the original form of the text.
Jesus goes on the offensive New relationships
Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him.
³² A crowd was sitting around Him; so they said to Him, “Look, your mother and your brothers and your sisters
*The reference to ‘sisters’ makes clear that the ‘brothers’ were indeed Mary’s sons. Some 30% of the Greek manuscripts omit ‘and your sisters’ (as in TR, AV and NKJV).
are outside asking for you”.
³³ He answered them saying, “Who is my mother or my brothers?”
³⁴ And looking around at those seated in a circle around Him He said: “Behold [you who are sitting here are] my mother and my brothers!
³⁵ Because whoever does the will of God, the same is my brother, my sister, my mother.”
*The claims of Christ’s Kingdom are more important than the claims of one’s family.
PCF: The textual variant at v.32 has the support of only 70.9% of the Greek manuscripts. Note that this is one where the Textus Receptus and therefore the KJV do not have the words ‘and your sisters’. As Pickering points out in his Greek NT, this is “not a very difficult case of homoioteleuton.” That Greek term means a variant caused by words in the text starting the same way. The words ‘and your brothers’ and the ‘and your sisters’ are almost identical. Brothers in Greek is adelphoi and sisters is adelphai, so the two four-word phrases (in Greek) are just one letter different. A copyist would be very likely to skip over ‘and your adelphai’, thinking he had already copied that.
Pickering says that “The reference to ‘sisters’ makes clear that the ‘brothers’ were indeed Mary’s sons.” Well actually, in the context of his mother being paired with ‘brothers’, I don’t think very many readers would think that the word ‘brothers’ means ‘Jewish brothers from Nazareth’.
Dr. Pickering named his NT, “The Sovereign Creator Has Spoken.” That title contains three concepts that were not believed by Wescott, Hort, and the succeeding managers of the Eclectic Text. They did not believe that our Creator created humans as described in Genesis. They did not believe in the sovereignty of God. Nor did they believe that God actively inspired and has preserved every word of Scripture for us.
Moses and Jesus said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but by every word of God.” (Deut. 8:3; Mat. 4:4; Luk. 4:4)
May the Lord bless you ‘real good’!
Playing Follow the Leader in Bible Translation, 2019, by Phil Fields. See the Resources list in that article for many more helpful articles on the superiority of the Majority Greek Text.
Although the title of this four-page paper refers to translating for Muslims, the principles and summary is widely applicable.
I suggest reading this paper before reading Friberg’s other articles listed below.
Layman’s Guide — A modest explanation for the layman of ideas related to determining the text of the Greek New Testament, 2019.
What is what? — Differences between the Traditional Text and the Bible Society Text of the Greek New Testament. Some data for the reader to weigh, 2019.
New Translation of the New Testament: The Sovereign Creator has Spoken
Greek Text of the New Testament based on Family 35
All of Pickering’s articles and books are freely available for download at PRUNCH.net. All are released under the Creative Commons license. Additionally, his second edition (2016) NT translation is available for a free download via the Kindle app. It is also freely available as a module in the MyBible program for Android and Apple devices.
Robinson, Maurice: The New Testament in the Original Greek: Byzantine Textform, 1991, 2005, 2018.
This is available in free digital form in the MyBible Bible app, and in other ways.