Why is Matthew 17:21 Omitted from the Updated American Standard Version of the Holy Scriptures?

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Header Image: It is borrowed from James Snapp Jr.’s Blog.
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 180+ books. In addition, Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

Major Critical Texts of the New Testament

Byz RP: 2005 Byzantine Greek New Testament, Robinson & Pierpont
TR1550: 1550 Stephanus New Testament
Maj: The Majority Text (thousands of minuscules which display a similar text)
Gries: 1774-1775 Johann Jakob Griesbach Greek New Testament
Treg: 1857-1879 Samuel Prideaux Tregelles Greek New Testament
Tisch: 1872 Tischendorf’s Greek New Testament
WH: 1881 Westcott-Hort Greek New Testament
NA28: 2012 Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament
UBS5: 2014 Greek New Testament
NU: Both Nestle-Aland and the United Bible Society
SBLGNT: 2010 Greek New Testament 
THGNT: 2017 The Greek New Testament by Tyndale House
GENTI: 2020 Greek-English New Testament Interlinear

The P52 PROJECT THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS 4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS

Matthew 17:21 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
21 ——[225] 

[225] Many later Greek manuscripts add vs 21, scribes making it agree with Mark 9:29, [But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.] However, אB Θ 0281 33 892* ite Syc,s copsa WHNU lack vs 21.

Matthew 17:21 New American Standard Bible 1995
21 [But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”]

Matthew 17:21 King James Version (KJV)
21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

WH NU omit verse
א* B Θ 0281 33 892* it syrc,s copsa

Variant/TR add verse
τουτο δε το γενος ουκ εκπορευεται ει μη εν προσευχη και νηστεια.
“But this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.”
א2 C D L W f1,13, Maj (syrh,p) Origen

9781949586121 THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS

The earliest manuscripts (א* B) and Θ 0281 33 892* it syrc,s copsa do not have Matthew 17:21: [But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.] This verse that was clearly added in the 7th century א2 and to C D L W f1,13, Maj (syrh,p) Origen. There is significant evidence for not including this verse in the Bible. This would include two of the weightiest codices, Sinaiticus (א*) and Vaticanus (B) and 0281, as well as the diversified early witnesses of the Old Latin, Coptic, and Syriac. If the interpolation of Matthew 17:21 was in the original Matthew, there is no reasonable way of explaining why it would be missing from so many early, weighty, diverse witnesses. The more reasonable explanation is that it was added. In fact, many later Greek manuscripts add vs. 21, scribes making it agree with Mark 9:29. It should be noted that these same manuscripts (א2 C D L W f1,13 Maj (syrh,p) Origen) that have the interpolation here have the long reading in Mark 9:29: “This kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.” Therefore, we have a scribe that took the long reading of Mark 9:29 and placed it here in Matthew.

Copyists made some additions to their Greek text at times. They were more inclined to do this than to omit material. One must always carry out careful research of the external and internal evidence to uncover such scribal interpolations. Hence, the most dependable witnesses are from the Alexandrian family of manuscripts, which are found to be the most condensed. On the other hand, the Byzantine family is the most drawn out and extended from scribes taking liberties with the text.

What Are Textual Variants [Errors] and How Many Are There?

The Complete Guide to Bible Translation-2

Philip Comfort writes,

The external evidence against including this verse is substantial, including א* B (the two earliest manuscripts), 0281 (a seventh-century manuscript discovered at St. Catherine’s Monastery in the late twentieth century), and early witnesses of Old Latin, Coptic, and Syriac. If the verse was originally part of Matthew’s gospel, there is no good reason to explain why it was dropped from so many early and diverse witnesses. Thus, it is far more likely that this added verse was assimilated from Mark 9:29 in its long form, which has the additional words “and fasting.” In fact, the same manuscripts (א2 C D L W f1, Maj) that have the long form in Mark 9:29 have the additional verse here. Thus, a scribe took the full verse of Mark 9:29 as presented in his manuscript and inserted it here; most other manuscripts maintained this insertion in the transmission of the text. (The short form in Mark 9:29 appears in א* B.) The verse is included in KJV and NKJV and excluded in all other modern versions except NASB and HCSB which include the verse in brackets.

APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot

Bruce Metzger writes,

17:21 omit verse {A}

{A} The letter {A} signifies that the text is certain.

Since there is no satisfactory reason why the passage, if originally present in Matthew, should have been omitted in a wide variety of witnesses, and since copyists frequently inserted material derived from another Gospel, it appears that most manuscripts have been assimilated to the parallel in Mk 9:29.

Roger L. Omanson and Bruce Manning Metzger’s easier version,

17:21 omit verse {A}

There is no satisfactory reason why this verse should have been omitted in such a wide variety of manuscripts if it were originally present in Matthew. Copyists frequently inserted material from one Gospel into another; and here it appears that most manuscripts have added “But this kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting” from the parallel in Mark 9:29, on which see the comment. TOB includes v. 21 in the text.

Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS Young Christians

James Snapp Jr. Argues for Matthew 17:21 Inclusion: He writes, “Matthew 17:21 is not only in over 99% of the Greek manuscripts of Matthew; it was in the manuscripts used by the early church writer Origen (early 200s-254).  One can consult Origen’s Commentary on Matthew, Book 13, chapter 7, to see this.  It is also in the Vulgate, which was translated by Jerome in 383.  (Jerome stated in his Preface to the Vulgate Gospels that he had consulted ancient Greek manuscripts in the preparation of the Gospels’ text.)  Codex W, found in Egypt, also includes the verse.  The Latin manuscripts used by Ambrose of Milan in the 300s also included this verse, and so do several Old Latin manuscripts.  Thus the support for this verse does not only come from the vast majority of Greek manuscripts; it comes from a patristic quotation earlier than the earliest manuscript of this part of the Gospel of Matthew, and it comes from witnesses in at least four different parts of the Roman Empire.”

RESPONSE: Snapp Jr. tends to commit the Information Overload Fallacy.  This Information overload is a symptom of his desire to not focus on the weighty evidence.” Said another way, information overload is an inability to focus on the truly important or relevant textual evidence and overstate the non-weighty evidence. Of course, Matthew 17:21 is in 99% of the Greek manuscripts when we consider that there are 4,000 Byzantine texts. The thousands of Byzantine copyists simply reproduced this error. Snapp knows that we do not count manuscripts; we weigh them. The majority of something does not in and of itself make it correct.

Variant Reading(s): differing versions of a word or phrase found in two or more manuscripts within a variation unit (see below). Variant readings are also called alternate readings.

Variation Unit: any portion of text that exhibits variations in its reading between two or more different manuscripts. It is important to distinguish variation units from variant readings. Variation units are the places in the text where manuscripts disagree, and each variation unit has at least two variant readings. Setting the limits and range of a variation unit is sometimes difficult or even controversial because some variant readings affect others nearby. Such variations may be considered individually or as elements of a single reading. One should also note that the terms “manuscript” and “witness” may appear to be used interchangeably in this context. Strictly speaking “witness” (see below) will only refer to the content of a given manuscript or fragment, which it predates to a greater or lesser extent. However, the only way to reference the “witness” is by referring to the manuscript or fragment that contains it. In this book, we have sometimes used the terminology “witness of x or y manuscript” to distinguish the content in this way.

APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot APOSTOLIC FATHERS

TERMS AS TO HOW WE SHOULD OBJECTIVELY VIEW THE DEGREE OF CERTAINTY FOR THE READING ACCEPTED AS THE ORIGINAL

The modal verbs are might have been (30%), may have been (40%), could have been (55%), would have been (80%), must have been (95%), which are used to show that we believe the originality of a reading is certain, probable or possible.

The letter [WP] stands for Weak Possibility (30%), which indicates that this is a low-level proof that the reading might have been original in that it is enough evidence to accept that the variant might have been possible, but it is improbable. We can say the reading might have been original, as there is some evidence that is derived from manuscripts that carry very little weight, early versions, or patristic quotations.

The letter [P] stands for Plausible (40%), which indicates that this is a low-level proof that the reading may have been original in that it is enough to accept a variant to be original and we have enough evidence for our belief. The reading may have been original but it is not probably so.

The letter [PE] stands for Preponderance of Evidence (55%), which indicates that this is a higher-level proof that the reading could have been original in that it is enough to accept as such unless another reading emerges as more probable.

The letter [CE] stands for Convincing Evidence (80%), which indicates that the evidence is an even higher-level proof that the reading surely was the original in that the evidence is enough to accept it as substantially certain unless proven otherwise.

The letter [BRD] stands for Beyond Reasonable Doubt (95%), which indicates that this is the highest level of proof: the reading must have been original in that there is no reason to doubt itIt must be understood that feeling as though we have no reason to doubt is not the same as one hundred percent absolute certainty.

NOTE: This system is borrowed from the criminal just legal terms of the United States of America, the level of certainty involved in the use of modal verbs, and Bruce Metzger in his A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (London; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), who borrowed his system from Johann Albrecht Bengel in his edition of the Greek New Testament (Tübingen, 1734). In addition, the percentages are in no way attempting to be explicit but rather they are nothing more than a tool to give the non-textual scholar a sense of the degree of certainty. However, this does not mean the percentages are not reflective of certainty.

SOURCES

  • Edward D. Andrews, FROM SPOKEN WORDS TO SACRED TEXTS: Introduction-Intermediate New Testament Textual Studies (Cambridge, Ohio), 2021.
  • B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort, Introduction to the New Testament in the Original Greek: Appendix (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1882)
  • Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006)
  • Bruce Manning Metzger, United Bible Societies, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition a Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th Rev. Ed.) (London; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994),
  • Eberhard Nestle and Erwin Nestle, Nestle-Aland: NTG Apparatus Criticus, ed. Barbara Aland et al., 28. revidierte Auflage. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012).
  • Dirk Jongkind, ed., The Greek New Testament: Apparatus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017).
  • Dirk Jongkind, ed., The Greek New Testament (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017),
  • Eberhard Nestle and Erwin Nestle, Nestle-Aland: Novum Testamentum Graece, ed. Barbara Aland et al., 28. revidierte Auflage. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012)
  • Philip Wesley Comfort, A COMMENTARY ON THE MANUSCRIPTS AND TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2015).
  • Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary: Commentary on the Variant Readings of the Ancient New Testament Manuscripts and How They Relate to the Major English Translations (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2008).
  • Philip Wesley Comfort and David P. Barrett, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts: Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts, 2 Volume Set The (English and Greek Edition) (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2019)
  • Rick Brannan and Israel Loken, The Lexham Textual Notes on the Bible, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).
  • Roger L. Omanson and Bruce Manning Metzger, A Textual Guide to the Greek New Testament: An Adaptation of Bruce M. Metzger’s Textual Commentary for the Needs of Translators (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2006).
  • Wallace B., Daniel (n.d.). Retrieved from The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts: http://csntm.org/
  • Wilker, Wieland (n.d.). Retrieved from An Online Textual Commentary on the Greek Gospels: http://www.willker.de/wie/TCG/index.html

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