A Text-Critical Evaluation of Acts 2:42 -- By: Theron Stancil

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 23:3 (Summer 2006)
Article: A Text-Critical Evaluation of Acts 2:42
Author: Theron Stancil

A Text-Critical Evaluation of Acts 2:42

Theron Stancil

M.Div. Student
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina 27587


The text of the Book of Acts has been the subject of much debate. The debate centers around which of the three major text types (Alexandrian, Western, and Byzantine) best represents the original text of Acts. This tension between the text types displays itself in the instance of variation that is the subject of this paper. Acts 2:42 is a significant verse in the Book of Acts. It is the first glimpse that Luke gives into the life of the post-Pentecost Christian community. The verse in the Nestle-Aland critical text reads: ̓͂Ησαν δὲ προσκαρτερου̑ντες τῃ̑ διδαχῃ̑ τω̑ν ἀποστόλων καὶ τῃ̑ κοινωνίᾳ, τῃ̑ κλάσει του̑̑ ἀρτου̑ καὶ ται̑ς προσευχαι̑ς. The variant that this paper will examine is the omission or inclusion of the καί between κοινωνί́ᾳ and τᾗ κλάσει του̑ ἄρτου.1 The present author will argue for the inclusion of the καί as the original reading based on the external and internal evidence for the variant.

Before delving into the external evidence for this variant, some initial remarks are in order. Textual criticism is both an art and a science.2 It is a science in that it deals with hard data. Manuscripts are physical documents that can be dated and analyzed on an empirical basis. They have an author with a distinctive handwriting and the propensity toward human error. Based on these types of data, MSS are evaluated on the basis of science. However, the scientific aspect is not always conclusive when dealing with areas of textual variation. This is where the artistic aspect of textual criticism becomes significant. When the hard data does not overwhelmingly support one reading over another, the text critic must weigh the evidence to make a judgment as to which reading is more than likely original. In doing this, the text critic is evaluating the hard evidence to see which reading has the greatest probability of being original. Sometimes the text critic cannot achieve perfect certainty when trying to determine which reading is the original. Nevertheless, the goal of the text critic is not only to declare what is possible but also what is most probable. Therefore, this paper will seek to determine, with the highest probability, the origi...

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