James Snapp paper on Acts 8:37 - (2014)

Steven Avery

James Snapp paper on Acts 8:37

James Snapp paper (which is on a forum where I am blocked) placed here for quicker searching

Also ECW will be placed in a better formatting.

Acts 8:37 – Sorting out the Evidence
Presented by James Snapp, Jr.
(with assistance from members of the NT Textual Criticism group on Facebook)
April 2014

SA: ECW taken to separate post:


I believe that Acts 8:37 should be retained in the text. If it is accompanied by a footnote, the footnote should be balanced: the footnote should inform the reader that although the verse is not in the majority of manuscripts, nor in the oldest manuscripts, it has very early and widespread patristic support.

Last edited:

Steven Avery

ECW - Early Church Writers and Acts 8:37

Pontius the Deacon
Hillary of Poiters
Gregory of Nyssa
Jerome (very important because of Vulgate, omitted by Snapp)


Basil ?
Chrysologus (mild)
Chrysostom (maybe implied?)
Gregory Nazianzen - not specific
Cyril of Jerusalem (neutral)
Jerome - check Luciferians and more
Augustine (comment?)
Cassiodorus (extra phrase)
Theophylact (2nd ref neg?)
also check Justin Martyr, Origen, Ps-Ambrose, Marcus Celedensis



Acts 8:36-38 (KJB)

And as they went on their way,
they came unto a certain water:
and the eunuch said, See, here is water;
what doth hinder me to be baptized?

And Philip said,
If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.
and he answered and said,
I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

And he commanded the chariot to stand still:
and they went down both into the water,
both Philip and the eunuch;
and he baptized him.


ECW from the 100’s


● Irenaeus – against heresies, book three, 12:8 (written in greek, extant in latin). The third book of Irenaeus’ composition against heresies was written, according to Irenaeus’ own statement near the beginning of the book (book three, 3:3), when Eleutherius was bishop of Rome from about 174 to 193 (or, according to the introduction to irenaeus’ works in ante-nicene fathers, vol. 1, page 312, Eleutherius’ bishopric began around 177, and ended in 188). So the production-date for irenaeus’ third book of against heresies may fairly be given as “c. 184” or “180’s.”) in this composition, preserved in a latin translation, irenaeus writes:

Philippus autem rursus spadoni reginae aethiopium revertenti a hierosolymis, et legenti esaiam prophetam, solus soli, quem annuntiavit? Nonne eum de quo dixit propheta: “tanquam ovis ad occisionem ductus est, quemadmodum agnus ante tondentem se sine voce, sic non aperuit os? Nativitatem autem ejus quis enarrabit? Quoniam tolletur a terra vita ejus.” hunc esse jesum, et impletam esse in eo scripturam; quemadmodum ipse eunuchus credens, et statim postulans baptisari dicebat: “credo filium dei esse jesus.” qui et missus est in regions aethiopiae, praedicaturus hoc quod ipse crediderat . . . .”7

“whom did philip preach to the eunuch of the queen of the ethiopians, returning from jerusalem, and reading isaiah the prophet, when he and this man were alone together? Was it not he of whom the prophet spoke: “he was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb dumb before the shearer, so he opened not the mouth? But who shall declare his nativity? For his life shall be taken away from the earth.” he declared that this was jesus, and that the scripture was fulfilled in him; as did also the believing eunuch himself, and immediately requesting to be baptized, he said, ‘i believe jesus to be the son of god.’ this man was also sent into the regions of ethiopia, to preach what he had himself believed . . . .”8

7 – the latin text is in w. Wigan harvey’s sancti irenaei episcopi lugdunensis libros quinque adversus haereses, vol. 2 (cambridge, 1862), page 62. The relevant paragraph is numbered 10, not 8.
8 – based on ante-nicene fathers, vol. 1, 1913, roberts & donaldson, page 433.

A greek scholium attributed to irenaeus9 is also extant:

The scholium conveys the sense of a comment that irenaeus made in against heresies, book 4 (23:2):

“Philip, when he had discovered the eunuch of the ethiopians’ queen reading these words which had been written: “he was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and as a lamb is silent before the shearer, so he opened not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken
away;” and all the rest which the prophet proceeded to relate in regard to his passion and his coming in the flesh, and how he was dishonored by those who did not believe him; easily persuaded him to believe on him, that he was Christ Jesus, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and suffered whatsoever the prophet had predicted, and that he was the son of god, who gives eternal life to men. And immediately when he had baptized him, he departed from him. For nothing else was lacking to him who had been already instructed by the prophets: He was not ignorant of god the father, nor of the rules regarding how to live, but was merely ignorant of the coming of the son of god, and shortly after becoming acquainted with this, he went on his way rejoicing, to be the herald in Ethiopia of Christ’s advent.” 10

Tertullian (very early 200’s, Latin.)
In the apparatus in UBS-2, Tertullian is listed as a witness for the inclusion of Acts 8:37, with no indication that this citation is dubious. However, in UBS-4, Tertullian’s name does not appear among the witnesses for inclusion. This inconsistency may emanate from the use of Tertullian’s comments in On Baptism, chapter 18, a chapter in which Tertullian attempts to answer an objection against his position that baptism should not be administered with haste:

“Those whose duty it is to baptize know that baptism should not be conferred lightly. “Give to everyone who asks of you” has its own application; it pertains to almsgiving. Rather, close attention must be given to that other passage: “Give not what is holy unto the dogs, and cast not your pearl before swine,” and, “Do not lay hands on anyone too readily, lest you share in another’s sins.”

9 – from page 144, Catenae Graecorum Patrum, Volume 3, edited by John Anthony Cramer. This collection of Greek comments on the text of the New Testament, some of which are attributed to specific patristic authors, can be downloaded from https://archive.org/details/catengrcorumpat03cramgoog . Harvey reproduces the same material from Cramer’s book.
10 - Based on Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, 1913, Roberts & Donaldson, pages 494-495.

“If Philip baptized the eunuch so promptly, let us reflect that the grace of the Lord had plainly intervened to show that this was proper. The Spirit had commanded Philip to go toward that road. The eunuch himself was not found distracted; nor was he the sort of man who might desire to be baptized on a sudden whim: he was one who had set out for the temple to pray, and had his attention riveted on the divine Scripture. God, finding him in such an attitude, sent an apostle to him without being asked; the Spirit’s second command [to Philip] was to join himself to the eunuch’s chariot. The faith-inspiring passage of Scripture is just what was called for. He is invited and is welcomed into the chariot. The Lord is revealed. Faith makes no delay. Water is at hand. And with his task completed, the apostle is caught away.”11
Perhaps what has happened is that the creators of the UBS apparatus relied upon an index-entry for Acts 8:26-40 for Tertullian’s composition, and it was simply assumed that this included verse 37. But I do not presently think that Tertullian’s statements can be securely regarded as a utilization of the verse. It is possible that when Tertullian wrote that the passage of Scripture inspired faith, and that “Faith makes no delay,” he had the Ethiopian’s confession of faith in mind. But this is not required by the evidence.

Three Books of Testimonies Against the Jews (Ad Quirinium), Book 3, Treatise 12, chapter 43 (written in the 250’s, in Latin). In this very short chapter, Cyprian seeks to affirm from Scripture that a person who has faith can immediately obtain something – presumably, pardon for sins. His evidence for this is as follows:
“In the Acts of the Apostles: “Lo, here is water; what is there that hinders me from being baptized?” Then Philip said, “If you believe
with all your heart,” you may.””14
14 – Based on page 545, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 5, 1886, Roberts & Donaldson.

Pontius the Deacon
– The Life and Passion of Cyprian (written shortly after Cyprian’s death, which occurred in 258. No later than the 260’s). Pontius, who had been a close acquaintance of Cyprian, utilizes Acts 8:37 in the course of a parenthetical remark in the third paragraph:

“For although in the Acts of the Apostles the eunuch is described as at once baptized by Philip,
because he believed with his whole heart, this is not a fair parallel.”15

15 – page 268, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 5, 1886, Roberts & Donaldson.

De Rebaptismate,
an anonymous Latin composition written in the 250’s, in response to Cyprian, does not feature a specific quotation of Acts 8:37 in its fourth chapter, but it does mention the Ethiopian eunuch’s faith:

“Sicuti Aethiops eunuchus cum rediret ab Hierusalem et legeret prophetam Esaiam et haesitaret suggerente Spiritu audita veritate a Philippo diacono credidit et baptizatus est, et cum ascendisset de aqua, Spiritus Domini rapuit Philippum, et non vidit eum iam nunc amplius eunuchus; abibat enim viam suam gaudens, quamquam, ut animadvertis, imposita ei manus non est ab episcopo, ut Spiritum Sanctum acciperet.”16

Just as the Ethiopian eunuch, when he was returning from Jerusalem and was reading the prophet Isaiah, and was perplexed, received assistance from the Spirit, and heard the truth from Philip the deacon, believed, and was baptized. And when he had gone up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord took away Philip, and the eunuch saw him no more. For he went on his way rejoicing – even though, as you observe, hands were not laid on him by the bishop, that he might receive the Holy Spirit.”17

This could be a vague reference to Acts 8:37

16 – From Florilegium Patristicum, Fasciculus XI, Gerardus Rauschen, Tertulliani De Baptismo et Ps-Cypriani De Rebaptismate Recensio Nova, 1916.
17 – Based on the English translation at http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0515.htm .

Hilary of Poiters (c. 360)
Homilies on the Psalms

Now, Ethiopia precedes (praevenit) in its confession of faith through the eunuch of Candace; for while he demanded for himself the grace of baptism, saying 'See, there is water, who will prevent my being baptized?' he so anticipated (praeveniens) with his hand that very sacrament of baptism in the desire of his impatient longing, that, desirous of his own salvation, he exacted from a deacon the ministering of an apostolic duty.
(Hillary, Tract in Ps. 67.33)
Ambrose of Milan (bishop from 374 to 397. Wrote in Latin.)
Ambrose’s name was in the UBS-2 apparatus as a witness for the inclusion of Acts 8:37. I searched through quite a bit of the works of Ambrose, but I was not able to find a clear reference to Acts 8:37 anywhere. I found, in the index to Volume 4 of Karl Schenkl’s edition of the works of Ambrose (this volume features Ambrose’s commentary on the Gospel of Luke), an index-listing for “Acts 8, 26 sqq.” An investigation of the reference, on page 440, shows that it does not include a utilization of 8:37. (It is possible that a reference to Acts 8:37 exists somewhere in materials I have not been able to search.) In the UBS-4 apparatus, Ambrose’s name appears in the list of witnesses for non-inclusion.22

22 – page 438, The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition, © 2001 Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, D-Stuttgart.

Pacian of Barcelona (active 365-391),
in Discourse on Baptism, part 7, wrote the following:

The seed of Christ, that is, the Spirit of God, produces, by the hands of the priests, the new man conceived in the womb of our Mother, and received at the birth of the font, faith presiding over the marriage rite. For neither will he seem to be engrafted into the Church, who has not believed, nor will be seem to be born again of Christ, who has not
himself received the Spirit. We must believe, therefore, so that we can be born. For so says Philip, “If you believe . . . you may.” Christ therefore must be received, that He may beget, for thus says the Apostle John, “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God.”23

23 – Based on the English translation of Pacian’s Discourse on Baptism at http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/pacian_5_baptism.htm .


Ambrosiaster (sometime in 366-384, when Damasus was bishop of Rome, written in Latin). (The name “Ambrosiaster” is a nickname for an unknown author whose work was, until the 1500’s, thought to have been written by Ambrose.)

According to Alexander Souter, Ambrosiaster’s text of Acts is European, resembling the text of the Old Latin Codex Gigas and the text used by Lucifer of Cagliari (c 350-370), who ministered in Sardinia.24 In the course of his commentary on the Pauline Epistles, when commenting on Ephesians 4:12, Ambrosiaster mentions Philip:
“Philip did not fix a day or a time for the eunuch’s baptism, nor did he assign a period of fasting beforehand.”25

That is not support for the existence of Acts 8:37 in Ambrosiaster’s text of Acts. However, in Ambrosiaster’s composition Quaestiones Veteris et Novi Testamenti, 91:6, as he addresses the heresy of Photinus and discusses the uniqueness of Jesus as the Son of God, he writes:

“Aut dicat Fotinus, quare vere filius dei creditor, si non est verus. Aut quod opus erat hunc credere filium dei, si unus esset de ceteris sanctis, qui filii dei digni sunt appellari? Aut numquid aliqua indignitas in hoc est, per quam filius dei, sicut ceteri sunt, credi non posset, et idcirco dicetur, ut hic, de quo incredulum videtur, credatur esse filius dei? Si enim potior est ceteris, quod opus est ut dicatur: Crede Christum Filium esse dei, nisi quia, ut aliter de hoc credatur, praecipitur quam de ceteris, ut, quia multi sunt qui filii dei sanctitatis causa appellantur, hic solusverus dei filius credatur, unde et unicus dicitur?26

Which means something like this:

“But say, Photinus, why belief is put in the true Son of God, if he is not true. What need is there for a person to believe in the Son of God, if this one is [merely] like the rest of the saints who are worthy to be called the children of God? Inasmuch as it is said, “I believe that Christ is the Son of God,” He is necessarily greater than the others; otherwise, would it not thus imply that something is believed about him that is also descriptive of the rest? For there are many who are designated the children of God, because of their sanctity, but when a person believes upon the only
true Son of God, isn’t he saying that He is unique?”

This looks like a utilization of Acts 8:37, although with none of its narrative framework.

24 – See Alexander Souter’s analysis in Texts & Studies (1905), A Study of Ambrosiaster, especially pages 207-208.
25 - See page 49 of Gerald Bray’s 2009 translation of Ambrosiaster’s Commentary on Galatians-Philemon in the Ancient Christian Texts series, © 2009 by Gerald L. Bray.
26 – from CSEL 50, pages 155-156, edited by Alexander Souter (1908). This reference was provided on page 199 of William A. Strange’s The Problem of the Text of Acts, © Cambridge University Press 1992. #71 in the Monograph Series of the Society for New Testament Studies, G.N. Stanton, general editor.

Gregory of Nyssa (active 370’s-395 – the brother of Basil of Caesarea),
is a particularly interesting patristic writer, partly because he is, as James Brooks concluded, “one of the earliest writers whose quotations support the Byzantine text more often than any other.”27 Gregory of Nyssa’s writings do not contain many direct quotations from the book of Acts. However, in the composition De Baptismo, he made a statement which might refer to the faith of the Ethiopian eunuch. I have rendered it as follows:

“Imitate the Ethiopian eunuch, with his fervent desire. For this individual, after Philip, unobserved by him, had been induced by the Holy Spirit to take that road, and had been seated with him in the chariot, undertook not only to read Isaiah’s wisdom, but also to understand. For his appetite was whetted when he received the interpretation; he was like a cub which is given a taste [smell?] of the blood of wounded prey; he was very urgent and eager for Philip to hunt down and altogether slaughter the game, that is, the prophecy, that he had in his hands. And it was not at all laborious to ask to receive baptism from him – no waiting for the guest room, no choosing a village, or finding the place of sanctification. For he prudently supposed that every place is alike to the Lord, and that all water is suitable to be used for baptism, if only he has been found to have faith, and has received the sanctifying blessing of the priest.”

The Greek text of the final, relevant phrase:

και παν υδωρ επιτηδειον εις την του βαπτισματος χρειαν,
μονον εαν ευρη πιστιν του λαμβανοντος, και ευλογιαν του αγιαζοντος ιερεως.28

Gregory of Nyssa’s statement that the eunuch was discovered to have faith is probably an allusion to Acts 8:37, although a coincidental similarity cannot be ruled out altogether.

27 – page 226 of James A. Brooks’ The New Testament Text of Gregory of Nyssa, © 1991 The Society of Biblical Literature. Volume 2 of the series The New Testament in the Greek Fathers, Gordon Fee, editor
28 – See Migne’s P.G. Volume 46, columns 421 (Greek) and 422 (Latin).

Chromatius of Aquilea (active 388-407), in Sermo 2.7,
likens the baptisms of Simon the sorcerer, and of the Ethiopian eunuch, to Noah’s flood, and carrying the comparison further, he likens Simon the sorcerer to the raven, and the Ethiopian eunuch to the dove:

“This eunuch, since he is a dove, is chosen, but Simon the magician, since he is a raven, is rejected; for the former believed with his whole heart and whole faith, but the latter drew near, doubting in hismind and all full of faithlessness.”29

This is clearly an allusion to Acts 8:37.

29 – Cited on page 98 of Arator on the Acts of the Apostles – A Baptismal Commentary, by Richard Hillier, © Richard Hillier 1994, Oxford University Press. William A. Strange, in The Problem of the Text of Acts, located Chromatius’ use of Acts 8:37 in CChr.SL 9A, page 11, lines 124-127.


Jerome (not from James Snapp)

King James Bible Debate

And.. time to add Jerome as a direct reference, not just through the Vulgate mss.

Letter 53 - To Paulinus - Bishop of Nola
translated by William Henry Fremantle (1831-1916)

In the Acts of the Apostles the holy eunuch (or rather "man" for so the scripture calls him Acts 8:27) when reading Isaiah he is asked by Philip "Do you understand what you read?", makes answer:— "How can I except some man should guide me?" Acts 8:30-31 To digress for a moment to myself, I am neither holier nor more diligent than this eunuch, who came from Ethiopia, that is from the ends of the world, to the Temple leaving behind him a queen's palace, and was so great a lover of the Law and of divine knowledge that he read the holy scriptures even in his chariot. Yet although he had the book in his hand and took into his mind the words of the Lord, nay even had them on his tongue and uttered them with his lips, he still knew not Him, whom— not knowing— he worshipped in the book. Then Philip came and showed him Jesus, who was concealed beneath the letter. Wondrous excellence of the teacher! In the same hour the eunuch believed and was baptized; he became one of the faithful and a saint. He was no longer a pupil but a master; and he found more in the church's font there in the wilderness than he had ever done in the gilded temple of the synagogue.

"In the same hour the eunuch believed and was baptized"

Acts 8:37
And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.
And he answered and said,
I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

John Chrysostom (active 381-407 at Antioch and then at Constantinople, wrote in Greek),
in Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles, Homily 19, quoted extensively from Acts chapter 8. He does not utilize verse 37, and in light of his specific quotations of verse 36 and verse 38, the clear implication is that verse 37 was not in his text.

Augustine of Hippo (active 391-430, North Africa,
wrote in Latin but occasionally referred to Greek manuscripts), in Sermon 49, Section 11, in his Sermons on Selected Lessons of the Gospels, wrote:

“The eunuch believed on Christ, and said, when they came unto a certain water, “See, water, who does hinder me to be baptized?” Philip said to him, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ?” He answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Immediately he went down with him into the water. When the mystery and sacrament of baptism had been accomplished, that the gift of the Holy Ghost might not be thought to be of men, there was no waiting, as in the other case, for the apostles to come, but the Holy Ghost came immediately.”31

31 – See Augustine’s Sermon 49 in English at http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/160349.htm .

– also known as Liber Qui Appelatur Speculum et Liber de Divinis Scripturis Sive Speculum (Part 2: On the Distinction of the Persons of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) and sometimes called “Pseudo-Augustine” (though not the only composition with such a name) – was written in Latin, probably around 425. Its quotations from Acts indicate that its author utilized a form of the African Old Latin text. The author clearly quotes Acts 8:37: “Item illic: Et respondens spado ait: credo filium Dei esse Christum Iesum”33 – “There [that is, in Acts] again, “and the eunuch said in reply, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’”

33 – The quotation in Speculum is on pages 307-308 of Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum, Vol. 12, edited by Franciscus Weihrich (1887).


Fulgentius of Ruspe
(active 507-533, mainly in what is now Tunisia, in North Africa, wrote in Latin, knowledgeable in Greek) used Acts 8:37 in his composition De Veritate Praedestinationis et Gratiae Dei ad Joannem et Venerium sometime after 523:

“Ipse in spadone opus gratiae salutaris perfecit, quo illuminante idem spado Christum esse Filium Dei credidit, et ad stagnum veniens sacrae tinctionis effectum poposcit, nec baptizatus tantum, sed et Spiritu sancto repletus abscessit.”34

That goes something like this: “The act of saving grace was thus accomplished, as this enlightened eunuch, having believed that Christ is the Son of God, coming to the sacred pool, received not only the effective washing he had asked for, but he also departed filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Another utilization of Acts 8:37 by Fulgentius is in Epistle XII, Ad Ferrandum 14 (CChr. SL 91, page 390, lines 282ff. 35

34 – Fulgentius’ use of Acts 8:37 in this composition is in Migne’s P.L. Vol. 65; Book One, chapter 9 (columns 612-614).
35 – According to William A. Strange, on page 200 of The Problem of the Text of Acts, © Cambridge University Press 1992. Online preview at http://books.google.com/books?id=3LCmYzrdz_IC .


This is moved from the Latin section of Dr. William A. Strange.

● The Venerable Bede (active 690-735, wrote in Latin)
died before most of those manuscripts were made. In his Commentary on Acts, Bede used a Latin text that did not include verse 37, but as he began his exposition on verse 36-38, he wrote:

Hic alia translatio juxta Graecum exemplar aliquot versus plus habet, ubi scriptum est,
Ecce aqua, quis prohibit me baptizari?
Dixit autem ei Philippus, Si credis ex toto corde tuo, salvus eris.
Respondens autem dixit, Credo in Christum Filium Dei.
Et jussit stare currum, et caetera.45

That is: “At this point, there is another rendering, and the Greek exemplar has some more verses, where it is written, “Behold, water, who will forbid me to be baptized?”: Philip said to him, “If you believe with all your heart, you shall be saved.” He answered and said, “I believe in Christ, the Son of God.” And he commanded the chariot to stop,” and so forth.”

The probability is extremely high that Bede used Codex Laudianus.

45 – See page 42 of Vol. 6 of J. A. Giles’ Venerabilis Bedae – Commentaria in Scripturas Sacras (1844).

Theophylact (1055-1107, wrote in Greek),
in his commentary on Acts, made so many extensive quotations that his commentary is virtually a manuscript of the text of Acts with prolonged interruptions. Acts 8:34-40, including verse 37, can be found in Migne’s P.G. Volume 125, in columns 636-637. Theophylact does not offer any comment about verse 37. Further along in the same volume, in column 928, the same passage is presented, and in column 929, Theophylact mentions the eunuch’s faith.

Steven Avery


For additional study:

■ Josep Ruis-Camps & Jenny Read-Heimerdinger, The Variant Readings of the Western Text of the Acts of the Apostles (XIV) (Acts 81b-40), Filologia Neotestamentaria, Vol. XV (2002), pages 111-132. Facultad de Filosofia y Letras – Universidad de Córdoba (España). Excerpt online at
http://rius-camps.cat/Notes filologiques Fets/14.- Act 8, 1b-40.pdf

■ William A. Strange, The Problem of the Text of Acts, © Cambridge University Press, 1992. (Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 71.) Dr. Strange is currently the Archdeacon of Cardigan, in Wales. His monograph can be purchased at Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Problem-Society-Testament-Studies-Monograph/dp/0521413842 .

■ Kurt Aland, Der Neutestamentliche Text in der Vorkonstantinischen Epoche, PLÉROMA. Salus carnis. Homenaje a Antonio Orbe (E. Romero-Pose, ed., Santiago de Compostela 1990), pages 66-70.
(I did not use this material, which is written in German, but it was commended by Dr. Strange.)

■ Eldon Jay Epp, The Theological Tendency of Codex Bezae Cantebrigiensis in Acts, © Cambridge University Press, 1966. (Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 71.)

■ James Hardy Ropes, The Beginnings of Christianity, Volume 3 (1926), Macmillan & Co.

■ Joël Delobel, The Nature of “Western” Readings in Acts, in Recent Developments in New Testament Textual Criticism, pages 69-94, edited by Wim Weren and Dietrich-Alex Koch, © 2003 Koninklijke Van Gorcum.

■ Curt Niccum, The Ethiopic Version and the “Western” Text of Acts in Le Texte Occidental des Acts des Apôtres, in Transmission and Reception: New Testament Text-critical and Exegetical Studies, edited by David Parker, © 2006 by Gorgias Press LLC.

■ Thomas C. Geer, Jr., Family 1739 in Acts (Society of Biblical Literature Monograph Series #48),
© 1994 Scholars Press.

Steven Avery

The English Bibles and versions

English Bibles and versions

And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”
And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
- Acts 8:37

Acts 8:37 has received different treatments in recent translations of the New Testament. Some samples will illustrate this:
New American Standard Bible (2002): Acts 8:37 is in the text, within single brackets, and is accompanied by a footnote stating, “Early mss do not contain this v.”1
New International Version (2002): verse 37 is not in the text; a footnote accompanying the end of verse 36 says, “Some late manuscripts baptized?” 37Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.””2
Holman Christian Standard Bible (2000): Acts 8:37 is in the text, within single brackets, and is accompanied by a footnote stating, “8:37 Other mss omit bracketed text.”3
English Standard Version (2002): verse 37 is not in the text; a footnote accompanying the end of verse 36 says, “Some manuscripts add all or most of verse 37: And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may. And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.””4
New King James Version (1990): verse 37 is in the text, without brackets; a footnote accompanying the end of verse 38 says, “NU-text and M-text omit this verse. It is found in Western texts, including the Latin tradition.”5
New Living Translation (1996): verse 37 is not in the text; a footnote accompanying the end of verse 36 says, “Some manuscripts add verse 37, “You can,” Philip answered, “if you believe with all your heart.” And the eunuch replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.””6


1 – pages 286-287, New American Standard ’95 Coatpocket New Testament, © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.
2 – page 1699, The Holy Bible New International Version (Fully Revised), © 1984 by International Bible Society; Zondervan NIV Study Bible Copyright © 2002 by The Zondervan Corporation.
3 – page 980, Holman Christian Standard Bible Copyright  2004 by Holman Bible Publishers.
4 – page 917, The Holy Bible, English Standard Version and ESV Bible, Kindle Edition 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All Rights Reserved. Version esv.2013.05.a.mobi .
5 – page 761, The Holy Bible New King James Version, Copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
6 – page 180, Holy Bible, New Living Translation. New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs, © 1996 by Tyndale Charitable Trust.

These differences in our English translations echo differences in the manuscripts, in versional evidence, and in patristic evidence. In this essay we shall present some evidence for, and against, the inclusion of these verses. The following list mentions witnesses both for and against the verse. Patristic witnesses are listed according to the production-dates (exact when possible; approximate otherwise) of the compositions in which Acts 8:37 is utilized, or in which the surrounding verses are utilized without it. Details about the compositions and the statements themselves are included where feasible.
Manuscripts of Acts are listed according to their production-dates. Versions of Acts are listed according to the production-dates of their earliest manuscript-representatives, some of which are given individual listings. Readers should keep in mind that the production-dates of some versions are considerably earlier than the production-dates of the earliest manuscripts of those versions. (For example, the earliest manuscript of the Gospels in Gothic, translated by Wulfilas in the mid-300’s, is the Codex Argenteus, which has a production-date in the 500’s. Similarly, some medieval manuscripts represent Old Latin translations made prior to the Vulgate).

Steven Avery

Early Manuscripts - Greek, Coptic, Sahadic (Latin omitted)- pics at Snapp paper


● papyrus 45 (assigned to the early 200’s). Images of p45 are at the csntm website.12 look for the page with a profile that has this silhouette (a) and then you can zoom in on the relevant text (b).

(a) (b)
the text shown is:
- ισατο αυτω τον ι¯¯ν¯ ως δ-
- τι ϋδωρ και φησιν ο ευν -
- ελευσεν στηναι το αρμα και -
- τε φιλιππος και ο ευνουχος -
- σαν εκ του ϋδατος π¯¯ν¯α¯ ¯-
- τον ουκετι ὁ ευνουχος -
- πος δε ευρεθη εις αζω - 13

11 – based on the english translations by evans and souter, at http://www.tertullian.org/articles/evans_bapt/evans_bapt_text_trans.htm and http://www.tertullian.org/articles/souter_orat_bapt/souter_orat_bapt_04baptism.htm . Evans also provides the latin text.
12 – at http://www.csntm.org/manuscript/zoomify/ga_p45?page=10#viewer .
13 – see the following page.

13 - This is just for reference. Quite a bit more text can be seen in the images at CSNTM. See also the full transcript of this page of P45 on pages 181-182 of The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts by Philip W. Comfort and David P. Barrett (1999, Baker Books).

There is not sufficient space for verse 37. Also absent, earlier in verse 36, are the words ιδου υδωρ (“look; water!”).


Codex Vaticanus (c. 325) does not include the verse. However, an umlaut, or distigma ( ¨ ) appears directly alongside the line on which verse 36 ends and verse 37 begins. The passage is also marked with a sigma-eta sign; according to Wieland Willker, this is an abbreviation for σημειωσαι, which means “of significance.”18
Not all researchers are convinced that the umlauts (or “distigmai”) in Codex Vaticanus are contemporary with the production of the manuscript. In 2009, Peter Head proposed that these marks were added in the 1500’s. Others believe that only some of the distigmai are ancient.19 If the distigma alongside the end of Acts 8:36 is contemporary with the production of the manuscript, then our second-oldest manuscript of Acts 8:36 testifies both to the existence of an exemplar without verse 37, and to the existence of at least one manuscript that contained verse 37 – both of which were older than Codex Vaticanus itself.

επι τι ϋδωρ και φησιν
ο ευνουχος ϊδου υδωρ
τι κωλυει με βαπτισθη
¨ ναι· και εκελευσε στη
ναι το αρμα· και κατεβη
σαν αμφοτεροι εις το

18 – At http://www-user.uni-bremen.de/~wie/Vaticanus/general.html .
19 – Peter Head’s proposals were expressed in an online exchange at the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog, at Philip B. Payne has responded to Peter Head’s arguments at http://www.pbpayne.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Critique_of_Vaticanus_Marginalia_31Mar2010.pdf and at https://app.box.com/shared/uz2jds515x . Other essays by Payne about the umlauts are also online.

Sahidic Codex Oriental MS 7594 (c. 325),
a papyrus manuscript discovered in Egypt in the early 1900’s, does not include Acts 8:37.20 The text of Acts in this manuscript is curiously mixed. It contains the “Western” reading in 15:34, “But it seemed good to Silas to remain there.” Overall, however, it is a close ally of the text of Codex Vaticanus; it even has the anomalous reading of Codex Vaticanus in 27:37, “seventy-six souls.”

20 – See page 167 of Coptic Biblical Texts in the Dialect of Upper Egypt, edited by E. A. Wallis Budge, 1912.


Codex Sinaiticus (c. 350) (sic) does not include Acts 8:37 .21

φησιν ο ευνουχος
ιδου υιδωρ τι κωλυ
ει με βαπτισθηναι
και εκελευσεν στη
ναι το αρμα και κα
τεβησαν αμφοτε

21 – The entire page may be viewed at http://codexsinaiticus.org .
● Codex Glazier (copG67, also labeled “mae,” produced in the late 300’s or early 400’s, in Middle Egyptian, a Coptic dialect.) is a Coptic manuscript of Acts 1:1-15:3. Its text includes Acts 8:37. CopG67 is one of the most important witnesses to the “Western” text of Acts, and frequently agrees with Codex D.
The transcription shown here is drawn from the work of Hans-Martin Schenke.30

30 – See page 152 of Hans-Martin Schenke’s Apostelgeschichte 1,1 - 15,3 im Mittelägyptischen Dialekt des Koptischen (Codex Glazier) – Acts of the Apostles 1:1-15:3 in the Middle Egyptian Dialect of Coptic – Texte & Untersuchungen 137. Berlin: Akademie (1991).

● Codex Alexandrinus (c. 400-450) does not include the verse.32

τι ϋδωρ και φησιν ο ευνουχος·
ϊδου ϋδωρ τι κωλυει με βαπτισθη
ναι· και εκελευσεν στηναι το αρμα·
και κατεβησαν αμφοτεροι εις το
ϋδωρ. . . .

The image shown here has been digitally enhanced for non-color printing:

32 – Acts 8:10-39 can be viewed on folio 61r in color at the British Library’s presentation of Codex Alexandrinus at http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=royal_ms_1_d_viii_fs001r .
I recommend using the Chrome browser.

Codex Ephraemi Syri Rescriptus (Codex C, 04, produced in the 400’s) does not include Acts 8:37.

● Codex Bezae (Codex D and d, 05, produced in the 400’s or 500’s – some researchers assign it to the very late 300’s or early 400’s – in Greek and Latin), the flagship manuscript of the Western Text of Acts, is not extant for Acts 8:37 and the surrounding verses

● The Coptic manuscript Chester Beatty Coptic B, in which the Book of Acts is followed by the Gospel of John, both in Sahidic, was found with some coins; by identifying the production-dates of the coins, the production-date of the codex – or, at least, the date when it was placed where it was found – has been deduced to be 570-600. In this manuscript, Acts 8:38 follows Acts 8:36, without Acts 8:37.36

36 – See digital-page #388 of The Coptic Text of Acts, by the St. Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society, at http://ixoyc.net/data/Fathers/617.pdf .]

● Codex E (08), Codex Laudianus, produced in the 500’s, is the sixth-oldest extant Greek uncial of the book of Acts. Acts 8:37 is in its Greek text and its Latin text, on fol. 70v (Image 148), shown here.37

Codex E has an unusual reading; instead of εξεστιν, it reads σωθησει. A secondary corrector has adjusted the Latin text so as to correspond to the meaning of this variant.

37 – From http://bav.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/icv/page.php?book=ms._laud_gr._35&page=147 .
Online images of Codex Laudianus are courtesy of the Polonsky Foundation Digitization Project.

Steven Avery

Greek manuscripts - 15%

Survey of Greek Manuscripts

We now turn to a more generalized survey of evidence. Text und Textwert supplies the following data:
78 Greek manuscripts of Acts are not extant for this part of the text.
417 Greek manuscripts do not include Acts 8:37.
Sixty-four Greek manuscripts include Acts 8:37.38

Those 64 Greek manuscripts are listed here, with notes about some of them:

E – Codex Laudianus, 08, described above.
88c – 1100’s. Notable because it has I Cor. 14:34-35 after 14:40, and has the CJ added in the margin.
94 – c. 1200. (8:39 – as in 1739.) 103 – 1100’s. (8:39 – as in 1739.)
180 – 1273. 221mg – 900’s (for main text). 296 – 1500’s. Entire NT.
307 – 900’s. (8:39 as in 1739.) Closely related to 453. Related to 1739.
322 – 1400’s. (8:39 as in 1739.) A member of family 1739.
323 – 1100’s. (8:39 as in 1739.) A member of family 1739.
385 – 1407. (8:39 as in 1739.)
429 – c. 1300. Has the CJ added secondarily. A member of family 1739.
452c – 1100’s? 453 – 1300’s? (8:39 as in 1739.)
455 – 1300’s. 464 – 1000’s. (attached to Gospels-MS 252 when pristine.)
467 – 1400’s. (8:39 as in 1739.) 522 – 1515. Related to 1739.
606 – 1000’s. 607 – 1000’s. 610 – 1100’s. Related to 453.
628c – 1300’s. Greek and Latin in parallel columns.
629 – 1300’s. Codex Ottobonianus. Includes the CJ. Described by Waltz as “apparently the only “Western” minuscule.”39 (#298 in the Ottobianus collection in the Vatican Library)
630 – c. 1300. Unusual mixture. 636 – 1400’s. Has the CJ in the margin.
641 – 1000’s. Text accompanied by the commentary of Oecumenius.
876 – 1100’s. At CSNTM.40 913 – 1300’s.
945 – 1000’s. A member of family 1739. 1104 1501 1509
1609 1610 1642 1678 – Closely related to 453. Related to 1739.
1704 – Related to 1739. 1735
1739 – 900’s. Athos Laura MS 184. (8:39: – The Holy Spirit fell on the eunuch and the angel of the Lord snatched away Philip.) Written by Ephraim the Scribe, who replicated his exemplars, which were probably from the library at Caesarea, and probably made no later than the late 400’s.
1751 1765 (1300’s) 1780 1830 1832 1851
1853 1869 1877c 1883 1884
1891 – (900’s) A member of family 1739. 1892c 1903
2200 – Related to 1739. 2298 – (1000’s) Related to 1739. 2473
2488 2494 2544c 2619 2737 2805
2816c – used by Erasmus, formerly called MS #4. 2818 – Closely related to 453, formerly #36.

38 - Text und Textwert was not consulted directly; this was reported to me at the NT Textual Criticism Facebook group by Peter Streitenberger and Jonathan Clark Borland.
39 – See http://www.skypoint.com/members/waltzmn/Manuscripts501-1000.html#m629 .
40 – MS 876 can be viewed at http://www.csntm.org/Manuscript/View/GA_876 . It is housed at the University of Michigan. Henry A. Sanders analyzed and collated its text in Manuscript No. 16 of the Michigan Collection, noting over 600 non-orthographic disagreements with the Textus Receptus.

It seems safe to say that Acts 8:37 is read in about 15% of the extant Greek manuscripts of Acts 8. It also seems safe to say that the inclusion of Acts 8:37 is a distinctive feature of the text of family 1739.


Besides the witnesses already mentioned (including the hundreds of minuscules which contain the Byzantine Text of Acts), the following Greek witnesses support the non-inclusion of Acts 8:37 :48

48 – See the textual apparatus of the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (the 1965 edition has more information for this variant-unit than the 1993/2001 edition), and page 14 of The Variant Readings of the Western Text of the Acts of the Apostles (XIV) (Acts 81b-40) by Josep Ruis-Camps & Jenny Read-Heimerdinger, initially published in Spanish as a series of articles in Filologia Neotestamentaria, © Facultad de Filosofia y Letras – Universidad de Córdoba (España). Excerpt from Vol. XV (2002) online at http://rius-camps.cat/Notes filologiques Fets/14.- Act 8, 1b-40.pdf .

P74 – 600’s, a strong representative of the Alexandrian Text.
H (014) – 900’s, Byzantine text
L (020) – 800’s, Byzantine text
P (025) – 800’s, Byzantine text
Ψ (044) – 800’s, mainly Byzantine in Acts
049 – 800’s, Byzantine text
056 – 900’s, Byzantine text
0142 – 900’s, Byzantine text. Very closely related to 056. Technically a minuscule.
33vid – mainly Alexandrian in Acts
81 – 1044, strongly Alexandrian, text resembles 066 (066 is from the 500’s, but is not extant in Acts 8)
88* - 1100’s, features a note stating that it was checked against a manuscript prepared by Pamphilus (d. 309) at Caesarea (which may suggest that the insertion of Acts 8:37 was a result of this consultation)
104 – 1087, Alexandrian in Acts
181 – 1000’s, somewhat Alexandrian
326 – 900’s, mainly Alexandrian
330 – 1100’s, Byzantine in Acts
436 – 900’s, mixed/Alexandrian in Acts

451 – 1000’s, Byzantine in Acts 614 – 1100’s, related to MS 453 and 2412
1175 – 1000’s, mainly Alexandrian 1241 – 1100’s, Byzantine in Acts
1409 – 1300’s, mixed text 1505 – 1100’s, family-2138 text
2127 – 1100’s, mainly Byzantine
2344 – mainly Alexandrian in Acts, text is similar to 33
2412 – 1100’s, family-2138 text49 (MS 922 at the Goodspeed Collection. Images online.)
2492 – 1200’s, Byzantine in Acts 2495 – c. 1400, family-2138 text

MS 2412. Goodspeed Manuscript Collection, MS 922-25, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

MS 2401. Goodspeed Manuscript Collection,

MS 142-24, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

48 – Images of 2412 are online at the website of the University of Chicago’s Goodspeed Collection, at http://goodspeed.lib.uchicago.edu/ms/index.php?doc=0922 . Acts 8:36 (without 8:37) is on Image 25.

49 – Images of 2401 are online at the website of the University of Chicago’s Goodspeed Collection, at http://goodspeed.lib.uchicago.edu/ms/index.php?doc=0142 . Acts 8:36 (without 8:37) is on Image 24.

Steven Avery

Old Latin and Vulgate manuscripts - Dr. Stranve

In The Problem of the Text of Acts, Dr. William Strange

presents a detailed list of Latin witnesses for Acts 8:37.41 These witnesses echo Latin ancestors which contained translations that were made before the production of the Vulgate (that is, before the late 300’s). Old Latin manuscripts that support the inclusion of Acts 8:37 are:

6 = Codex Colbertinus (OL c) – 1200’s
50 = the Latin column of Codex Laudianus (OL e) – 550
51 = Codex Gigas, a.k.a. Codex Holmiensis (OL gig)42 – c. 1250
54 = Codex Perpinianus (OL p) – 1150
56 = Liber Comicus (OL t) – c. 85043
57 = Codex Schlettstadtensis, a lectionary (OL r) – 700’s or 800’s
58 = Codex Wernigerodensis (OL w) – 1400’s44
59 = Codex Demidovianus (OL dem) – 1250
61 = Book of Armagh (OL D*) – 800’s (contains the Alexandrian reading of Mt. 27:49)
62 = Bible de Rosas, a.k.a. Biblia Sancta Petri Rodensis (OL r R*) – 1000’s, a four-volume Bible
63 = Codex Philadelphiensis (OL ph) – 1150
67 = Codex Legionensis, a.k.a. the Léon Palimpsest (OL l) – 600’s

Dr. Strange has also listed the following Vulgate-copies as support for the inclusion of Acts 8:37:

Vgam = Codex Amiatinus (Vg A*) – 600’s
VgMM = Missale Mixtum – 1000 (?)
Vgtol = Codex Toletanus (Vg T*) – 900’s
Vgvalic = Codex Valicellanus (Vg V*) – 800’s
Vg231a = Codex Sarisburiensis, a.k.a. Salisburgensis, (231a, W*) – 1200’s
Vg243 = Brit. Lib. Add. MS 11852 (Vg U*) – c. 900
Vg493 = Bodleian 3418 (Vg O*) – 700’s
Vg1266 = Codex Theodulfianus (Vg Θ) – 800’s
Vg1396 = Bamberg Bibl. Mun. A.I.5 (Vg B*) – late 700’s or early 800’s (by students of Alcuin)
Vggk629 = MS 629, the Latin column in Codex Ottobonianus

41 – page 199, The Problem of the Text of Acts, by W. A. Strange, © Cambridge University Press, 1992, Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 71.
42 – The detail from Codex Gigas shown here is from http://www.kb.se/codex-gigas/eng/ .
43 – Not to be confused with the similarly-named lectionary produced in 1067.
44 – Once located in Germany, in the city of Wernigerode which is famous for its castle, this manuscript is now manuscript #799 in the Van Kampen collection.


● The Vulgate’s testimony is not consistent. As mentioned earlier, Codex Amiatinus – “one of the purest and best copies of Jerome’s Vulgate,” according to Christopher de Hamel – includes Acts 8:37. 50 It dates from the early 700’s (although the primary consideration when estimating its textual value is not so much its age as its line of descent 51). Codex Fuldensis, produced in 546, does not include Acts 8:37.52

50 - page 33 of The Book. A History of the Bible, by Christopher de Hamel, © 2001 Phaidon Press Limited.

51 – See Dom Chapman’s Notes on the Early History of the Vulgate Gospels for some information about the background and textual lineage of Codex Amiatinus’ text.

52 – page 453 of Codex Fuldensis – Novum Testamentum Latine Interprete Hieronymo, by Ernestus Ranke, 1888.

● The Vulgate text of Acts, translated by Jerome (or by contemporary assistants) sometime after 383 (when he finished standardizing the Latin text, on the basis of ancient Greek manuscripts), will be considered further along in this essay.

The Wordsworth & White edition of the Vulgate does not include Acts 8:37; however, that may be primarily an effect of the Greek Byzantine text upon the witnesses favored by Wordsworth and White. I have a hard time persuading myself that the producers of Codex Amiatinus, Gutenberg,53 the Rheims New Testament, and the Complutensian Polyglot all managed to use the wrong text of Acts when they chose exemplars which included Acts 8:37.

53 – At http://www.gutenbergdigital.de/gudi/eframes/index.htm digital images of the Göttingen Gutenberg Bible are online. However, reproduction of the images is restricted. Acts 8:36, 37, and 38 are viewable in Volume 2 at the end of the text on fol. 289v and the beginning of the text on fol. 290r. The image shown on the previous page is only a replication I made

Steven Avery


Dr. Strange also states that several other versions of Acts support the inclusion of Acts 8:37. 46

46 – See page 196 of The Problem of the Text of Acts, by W. A. Strange, © Cambridge University Press, 1992. I have supplemented his list with information from a variety of source

They include the following:

the Armenian version (produced in the 400’s, initially from a Syriac base-text in 411, but then thoroughly conformed, after 430, to a Greek base-text from Constantinople),

the Georgian version (translated (mainly) from the Armenian version(s), later in the 400’s),

One Ethiopic manuscript (the exact history of the origin and development of the Ethiopic version is debated, but the Garima Gospels, the earliest Ethiopic manuscript of any New Testament text, has been carbon-dated to no later than the mid-600’s),

The Dutch version (1200’s),

The High German version (Codex Teplensis) (1300’s), and

The Provençal/Catalan version (1100’s) (represented by Paris MS #8086; which has a mixture of Old Latin and Vulgate readings like Codex Wernigerodensis).

In addition, the Harklean Syriac contains Acts 8:37, accompanied by an asterisk.47 This implies that the verse was in a manuscript consulted by Thomas of Harkel in 616, when he produced this meticulously rendered Syriac translation at the Enaton monastery, about nine miles west of Alexandria, Egypt. As the basis for his revision of the Philoxenian Syriac version (which was itself a revision of the Peshitta, which, by the 600’s, was the standard Syriac New Testament text), Thomas utilized a few Greek manuscripts at Enaton which he considered sufficiently ancient. The oldest copy of the Harklean Syriac is Vat. Syr. 268, which probably was made in the 600’s.

47 – Copies of the Harklean Syriac are exceptionally similar to one another; the inclusion of Acts 8:37 accompanied by asterisks is affirmed for MS Oxford 333 according to Eldon Jay Epp on page xii of The Theological Tendency of Codex Bezae Cantebrigiensis in Acts, © Cambridge University Press, 1966.

One of the manuscripts used by Thomas of Harkel for his revision of the text of Acts has a distinct affinity with the text of Papyrus 38, a fragment from the late 200’s which contains text from Acts 18:27-19:6 and 19:12-16. Papyrus 48, which contains text from Acts 23:11-16 and 23:24-29, is another fragment from the 200’s with a “Western” text of Acts.

(I do not know if the Arabic MS 151 at Sinai, produced in 867 at Damascus, contains Acts 8:37 or not. The probability is that it does not, inasmuch as its base-text was Syriac. Nevertheless it wouldn’t hurt to check.)

On the omission versional side:

● The Peshitta was probably produced in the late 300’s and standardized over the course of the century after that (in a way somewhat analogous to the way in which Tyndale’s English version of the New Testament was produced, and then standardized, in 1525-1611). The Khabouris Codex, which is perhaps the most famous copy of the Peshitta in the United States, does not include Acts 8:37.54 The Peshitta – which was produced no later than the 300’s – does not contain Acts 8:37, according to Syriac specialist Sebastian Brock.55

54 – A transcription of text of Acts in the Khabouris Codex, by S. P. Silver, accompanied by page-views of the manuscript, is accessible at http://www.dukhrana.com/khabouris/files/Khabouris Acts.pdf .

55 – See page 29 of The Bible in the Syriac Tradition, by Sebastian Brock (page 35 in 2006 edition). Although Murdock’s 1915 edition of the Peshitta presented Acts 8:37, bracketed, it was accompanied by a note which stated, “This 37th verse is not in any of the earlier editions, and is excluded from the text of the London editions of 1816 and 1816.” (See The Syriac New Testament Translated into English from the Peshitto Version, by James Murdock, 1915 H. L. Hastings & Sons.) Also, J. W. Etheridge’s The Apostolic Acts and Epistles Translated from the Peschito (1849) did not include Acts 8:37; a footnote on page 159 plainly states, “Verse 37 is wanting in the Peschito.”

● The Bohairic version of Acts was probably made in the 300’s. The earliest extant Bohairic manuscript of Acts – Papyrus Codex Oriental 424, in the Chester Beatty Library – was produced in A.D. 1308. The Bohairic version has Acts 8:38 following Acts 8:36, without Acts 8:37.56

56 – See digital-pages #211-212 of The Coptic Text of Acts, by the St. Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society, at http://ixoyc.net/data/Fathers/617.pdf

● The Ethiopic version of Acts was probably initially made in the 400’s, but no extant Ethiopic copies of Acts, it seems, pre-date the 1200’s.57 With the exception of one Ethiopic witness, the Ethiopic evidence does not support the inclusion of Acts 8:37.

57 – See Curt Niccum’s comments in The Ethiopic Version and the “Western” Text of Acts in Le Texte Occidental des Acts des Apôtres, on pages 72 and 76 of Transmission and Reception: New Testament Text-critical and Exegetical Studies, edited by David Parker, © 2006 by Gorgias Press LLC.


Steven Avery

James Snapp general observations and John 9:38-39a

Some general observations:

● The inclusion of Acts 8:37 is supported by early (Roman-Empire-era) patristic writers in a wide variety of locales.

● The inclusion of Acts 8:37 is supported by three patristic writers (Irenaeus and Cyprian and Pontius) whose manuscripts of Acts 8 were older than any manuscript of Acts 8 currently extant in any language.

● Acts 8:37 is well-supported not only by “Western” witnesses but also by family-1739. Besides being included in 1739, Acts 8:37 has support from group-members 322, 323, 429, 453, 522, 630, 945, 1704, 1891 and 2200.

● Acts 8:37 was the dominant reading in Old Latin versions of Acts, both African and European.

● The support of copG67 makes it difficult to sustain the theory that Acts 8:37 originated as a Latin interpolation which infiltrated non-Latin texts.

● The combination of Aleph B A 81 Byz Sah Pesh against the inclusion of Acts 8:37 is very strong.

● If B¨ is contemporary with B, this would increase the already impressive range of early support for the inclusion of Acts 8:37.

Something Else to Consider: John 9:38-39a

John 9:38-39a is as follows: “38Then he said, ‘Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him. 39And Jesus said to him –”. This passage is in the text of all major modern translations. However, it is absent from seven early witnesses: Papyrus 75, *, W, an early Coptic (Lycopolitan dialect) manuscript of John produced in the 300’s, a Fayyumic manuscript (P. Mich. Inv. 3521), a Sahidic manuscript (P. Palau Ribes Inv. 183), and Old Latin b (Codex Veronensis).

Although some textual critics, such as Philip Wesley Comfort, have proposed that the non-inclusion of John 9:38-39a is original, this solution implies that John left the scene in chapter 9 somewhat unfinished: although the blind man has been asked if he believes in the Son of Man (or, Son of God, in
the Byzantine Text), without 9:38-39a, we never hear his answer; instead, Jesus’ words go seamlessly from His affirmation that He is the Son of Man, in verse 37, to the declaration of judgment in v. 39. The notion that John would write such an incomplete story is simply implausible.

But how, then, does one account for the removal of John 9:38-39? I suspect that a very early Greek manuscript of the Gospel of John – early enough that its descendants influenced several Egyptian versions – was the property of a lector, and as such, this copy contained some marks alongside certain passages of liturgical significance. This passage in John 9:38-39 was one such passage. The lector’s marks, which had been intended to draw attention to the passage, were misinterpreted by a copyist as if to mean that the marked passages were to be excised, and so he excised the passage.
The same phenomenon which caused the loss of John 9:38-39 in a significant branch of the early Alexandrian transmission-stream may have recurred – in a text-line with even greater influence – in Acts 8, where we encounter another passage which lent itself readily for liturgical use in the early church’s baptismal services.

(I note in passing that this factor – the influence of a copyist’s misinterpretation of marks in a lector’s copy – marks alongside certain passages that received special treatment in church-services and in the administration of sacred ordinances such as baptism – is capable of accounting for several shorter readings in the Alexandrian Text of the Gospels and Acts.)