Translation talk:1 Corinthians

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The Text of 1 Corinthians[edit]

The following summary of textual information related to 1 Corinthians probably belongs somewhere other than the talk page. It's main value lies in the table that translates standard sources on textual variation in 1 Corinthians into English, hence giving the reader of the Free Bible access to a reliable source in non-technical English, explaining the text critical decisions that have been made. It is expected that this summary will be moved to a more appropriate location, once the Free Bible Project decides on how to accomodate such material.


On the basis of comparing events in the Book of Acts, and internal evidence from 1 Corinthians itself, with extra biblical literature and archaeological findings, it is believed Saul of Tarsus wrote his first letter to the Christians in Corinth in the mid 50s of the 1st century. In Acts 18:11, Paul is described as staying in Corinth for 18 months. In the next verses we read of him being on trial before the proconsul, Junius Annaeus Gallio, known from other sources to have been in Achaia only in 51–52 AD.

Other evidence points to our oldest copy of the letter (in Papyrus 46P46—pictured below and right) being from the middle of the second century [Comfort and Barret, 2001:203], so approximately 100 years older than the original. At first, Kenyon (1935:xiv–xv) proposed a date about 70 years later—early 3rd century; however, Young Kyu Kim (1988) proposed a date about 70 years earlier—late 1st century. Novum Testamentum Graece offers a conservative date for P46 at c. 200 AD.

Papyrus 46[edit]

Papyrus 46 is thought to have contained nearly all of Paul's epistles, in a codex (book) of 104 leaves (208 pages), 18 leaves having since been lost from the front and the back of the volume. With the exception of the two pages (single leaf) shown here, which are held by the University of Michigan (Special Collections Library), the rest of 1 Corinthians is in the Chester Beatty Collection, Dublin.

The text of the letter to the Corinthians is complete, with only three lacunae (gaps) at 9:3; 14:15 and 15:16. Page numbers at the top centre of pages were provided by a professional scribe [Comfort and Barrett 2001:204]. The Michigan pages shown are numbered OH (verso) and OΘ (recto). The last surviving page of P46 is numbered 199.

Papyrus 46 agrees closely with Codex Vaticanus generally, and very closely in 1 Corinthians [Comfort and Barrett 2001:208]. Gunther Zunst (1953:254) considered P46 to be "a text of the superior, early-Alexandrian type" (see Alexandrian text-type).

Other manuscript evidence[edit]

Novum Testamentum Graece (NA27) lists 6 other papyri, 23 uncials and 3 minuscules as "witness of the first order", citing their readings at every significant variation. The earliest of these witnesses are: P15 from the third century; codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, also Uncial 0185 from the fourth century; and codices Alexandrinus, Ephraemi and Freerianus, also Uncial 048 from the fifth century. Minuscules 33, 1739 and 1881 are first order witnesses due to the quality of their text, though composed in the 9th, 10th and 14th centuries respectively.

Additional notable evidence for the original text of 1 Corinthians comes from Greek lectionaries, scattered readings of the Old Latin translations, two sixth century and other Vulgate manuscripts, other versions, and quotations in the Church Fathers.


The Greek New Testament (UBS4) and NA27 are the standard critical editions of the New Testament. Both editions present the same text, the difference is in the critical apparatus, with NA27—designed for academics—providing witnesses for even minor and unlikely variants, but UBS4—designed for translators—providing only important or likely variants, together with an indication of "the relative degree of certainty ... for the reading adopted as the text."

UBS4 Ratings
{ A } virtually certain
{ B } some degree of doubt
{ C } considerable degree of doubt
{ D } very high degree of doubt

The introduction to UBS4 also deflects a potential misunderstanding of the evidence, noting that,

The apparently large number of C decisions is due to the circumstance that many readings in the A and B classes have had no variants included in the apparatus, because they were not important for the purposes of this edition [viz. translation]. By far the greatest proportion of the text represents what may be called an A degree of certainty.


Translation of UBS4 variants for early chapters[edit]

In the following table, the variant adopted by UBS4 (and NA27) as their text is given first and in bold type. The variant that is supported by the majority of evidence has only this fact noted in the evidence column, even its best representatives are not specified. Where all evidence has been transcribed from UBS4, a dagger () precedes this evidence (often it is only a single manuscript). Evidence from the 5th century or earlier is always presented, unless subsumed by the indication "Majority", which reflects many hundreds of manuscripts.

Ref. Rating Variants Evidence
1:4 { B } I thank my God Majority
I thank our God Minuscule 491 (11th century)
I thank God Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus; Ethiopic translations; Ephraem (died 373)
I give thanks Minuscule 1984
1:8 { C } Jesus Christ Majority
Jesus †P46; Codex Vaticanus
1:13 { B } divided Majority
not divided apparently P46
1:14 { D } I thank God Majority
I thank my God Codex Alexandrinus; Minuscule 33; some Old Latin translations; Latin versions of Origen
I give thanks Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus; Minuscule 1739; Clement (died 215), Origen (died 254)
1:28 { C } what is not P46; Codices Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus and Ephraemi; Miniscules 33 and 1739;
some Old Latin translations; Marcion (2nd century) and Tertullian (died 220)
even what is not Majority
omit Minuscule 2492 (14th century)
2:1 { C } mystery P46; Codices Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus and Ephraemi
testimony Majority
gospel Theodoret (died 466)
salvation Minuscule 489 (scribal date 1315–16)
2:4 { D } with persuasive words of wisdom Codex Vaticanus (Codex Sinaiticus "with persuasions of wisdom and word")
with persuasions of human wisdom and with words Minuscule 131 (14th century)
with persuasive words of human wisdom Majority
persuasions of human wisdom with words Minuscules 1962 (14–15th century) and 2495 (15th century)
persuasions of wisdom from the word of man possibly more than one Bohairic dialect manuscript and one Ethiopic manuscript
human persuasions of wisdom with words Minuscules 1, 18, 42, 205, 209, 216, 234, 440, 1518, and a correction to Minuscule 605
persuasions of the wisdom of words approximated by two Old Latin manuscripts,
the Peshitta, the Sahidic dialect; possibly Origen
with persuasions of wisdom †P46; the Greek of Codex Boernerianus
persuasions of wisdom Minuscule 35 (11th century); two Old Latin manuscripts
persuasions of word one Ethiopic manuscript
persuasions with words of wisdom the Armenian translation
2:10 { C } but Majority
for P46; Codex Vaticanus; Miniscule 1739; Clement and Origen
omit the majority of lectionaries; one Bohairic dialect manuscript
2:14 { C } Spirit of God Majority
Holy Spirit Ethiopic translations
Spirit eight minuscules; the Syriac Peshitta translation; nine church fathers
and Valentinians (2nd century) according to Irenaeus, also Irenaeus himself
2:15 { D } all the things P46; Codices Alexandrinus and Ephraemi; one Greek manuscript of Irenaeus (died 202)
all things Codex Boernerianus; Clement and Theodoret, Greek of Irenaeus and Origen
all things or all the things Old Latin and Vulgate translations; Latin of Irenaeus and Origen
even all things Majority
even all the things Miniscules 33 and 1739
3:3 { C } argument Codices Sinaiticus, Vaticanus and Ephraemi; Minuscules 1739 and 1881;
five Old Latin manuscripts; Clement and Origen
divisive argument Minuscule 623 (scribal date 1037); Chrysostom
argument and divisions Majority

Images of variants in Papyrus 46[edit]

The last five sets of variants in the table above fall within the text of the University of Michagan page of 1 Corinthians. The gallery below shows the relevant readings according to P46. The third image shows two examples of nomina sacra or "sacred names" as enscribed in manuscripts. Only two or three letters of names like Spirit (pneumatos, compare pneumonia) and God (theos, compare theology) were written, with a superscript bar indicating the abbreviation. Changes in scribal practices associated with such conventions are helpful in dating manuscripts (see Palaeography).

1 Corinthians 2:4 (P46): ἐν πειθοῖς σοφίας ἀλλά—en peithois sophias alla—with persuasions of wisdom but ...
1 Corinthians 2:10 (P46): ἡμεῖν γὰρ ἀπ—hemein gar ap—for to us is [revealed]
1 Corinthians 2:14 (P46): πνεύματος τοῦ θεοῦ, μωρία—pneumatos tou theo, moria—Spirit of God, foolishness ...
1 Corinthians 2:15 (P46): ἀνακρίνει τὰ πάν—anakrinei ta pan—judges the lot [of them]
1 Corinthians 3:3 (P46): ἔρις καὶ διχοστασίαι—eris kai dichostasiai—argument and divisions

For more information regarding the text of 1 Corinthians see


This is the talk page for discussing improvements to the Translation:1 Corinthians page.

Sources for translation[edit]

I am following the text of NA27 and UBS4 without making independent judgements regarding text-critical issues. My primary source for NT Greek usage is A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (BDAG). For English usage, my source is A New English Dictionary (OED1); however, I consult the worldwide web in various ways if seeking to establish current idiomatic English usage, where this may have changed over the 20th century.

For traditional renderings of the Greek into English I consult the King James Version (KJV), also known as the Authorised Version (AV). The KJV is typically the "authority" for labelling as "traditional" certain renderings I have avoided in my own text, but anticipate readers familiar with other English versions would consider less surprising. I have made little or no attempt to survey the best-known modern translations (NASB, NIV, NJB etc.), lest they influence my own decisions.

I understand myself to be rendering Greek into educated English that presumes no familiarity with the Bible, Judaism or Christianity. As such, it may resemble more the Old Latin translations, as against Jerome's later Vulgate, written for the "Christian" Roman Empire post Constantine.

Several stylistic decisions follow The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), although others (like spelling) follow my own Australian variety of UK English. (I request that alterations to UK spelling be made to the whole letter or not at all.) Undoubtedly, I shall have misunderstood some of my sources, which themselves may be in error. Indication of errors, discussion of grey areas, and even fresh approaches are all welcome, either by editing the text directly, or via discussion on this talk page. Alastair Haines 07:17, 1 July 2008 (UTC)