It’s That Time of Year Again: Luke 2:14

Luk 2:14 NKJV “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Luk 2:14 HCSB Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors!

The second translation is how it was presented in church Sunday, but I and I suspect a vast part of the assembled believers heard the first from long repetition.

The NET Bible kindly explains:”

Most witnesses (א2  B2 L Θ Ξ Ψ Ë1,13  Ï sy bo) have ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκία (en anthrōpois eudokia, “good will among people”) instead of ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας (en anthrōpois eudokias, “among people with whom he is pleased”), a reading attested by א* A B* D W pc (sa). Most of the Itala witnesses and some other versional witnesses reflect a Greek text which has the genitive εὐδοκίας but drops the preposition ἐν. Not only is the genitive reading better attested, but it is more difficult than the nominative. “The meaning seems to be, not that divine peace can be bestowed only where human good will is already present, but that at the birth of the Saviour God’s peace rests on those whom he has chosen in accord with his good pleasure” (TCGNT 111).”

R. B. Terry summarizes it so:

“Luke 2:14

TEXT: “on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!”
EVIDENCE: S* A B* D W lat vg cop(south)

NOTES: “on earth peace, good will among men!”

EVIDENCE: Sc B3 K L P Delta Theta Xi Psi f1 f13 28 565 700 892 1010 1241 Byz Lect syr(s,h,pal) syr(p) (“good hope to men”) cop(north)


COMMENTS: The text reading can also be translated “on earth peace among men of good will,” but the sense seems to be “men of [God’s] good pleasure.” This is a Semitic expression found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The difference between the two readings is only one of one letter, the Greek letter “sigma” or “s” at the end of the word. Where the word occurs at the end of a line, the letter “sigma” is written as a little raised “c” which it would be possible for a copyist to overlook. Therefore, the change from “among men of good pleasure” to “good pleasure among men” may have happened either accidently (when the “sigma” was overlooked) or deliberately (by copyists who did not understand that in the Semitic expression “men of good pleasure” the good pleasure was God’s).”

What’s not explained in either one is that sigla with raised numbers after them usualy refer to correctors of a text, which are later than sigla with a star after it, which is the original reading. Thus B2 is later than B*, and a less convincing reading usually.

The sigla found in NA27/UBS4 Greek New Testament is one of the hardest things for the general public to wrap their head around. It’s very similar to talking to your doctor. Still, Textual Criticism: There’s just no escaping it.


6 thoughts on “It’s That Time of Year Again: Luke 2:14

  1. I have a post buried on the blog on John Hobbins’ claim that “people whom He favors” is Calvinistic, which I think a large part of the HCSB translation team would vehemently deny.

    There’s no translation safe from colored glasses.

    1. Agreed! But, like you (as it appears) I always check in with Rome (Roman Catholicism). I am always a child in some sense of Rome, being raised baptized and confirmed R. Catholic. 😉 But I’m also critical of Rome! But I am hopefully never anti-Catholic, who knows.. I may go back to Rome before I die? Remember the late English RC convert, Malcolm Muggeridge? In his 70’s or 80’s? when he went to Rome.

      1. I have already “inhaled”, and years back deeply! Did I ever tell you I was a English Benedictine for a few years in my 20’s? Now that was quite a little “formation”. Funny I wrote letters to a monk-priest friend there still for years, before he went to be with the Lord. Perhaps one of the most “holy” men I have ever known! He had been a Royal Navy Chaplain in WW2. Boy do I miss that generation! (My father, uncles, great uncles, and even a few aunts!

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