The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Why was this text altered?

Here is the way John 14:17, as it appears in Papyrus 66 (in modern Greek characters). This manuscript was produced about 150 A.D.

το πνα της αληθειας ο ο κοσμος ου δυναται λαβειν οτι ου θεωρει αυτον ουδε γεινωσκεται υμεις γεινωσκεται αυτον οτι παρ υμειν και ενυμιν εσται

The “πνα” was overlined instead of underlined. It was an abbreviation for “πνευμα” (spirit). The verse tells us that the world system (ο κοσμος) is not able to receive or perceive him (“αυτον” is a masculine pronoun) or understand. You understand him (“αυτον” again) because he remains beside you and will be in you.

However, somebody, made some changes in the text, probably somebody in the 4th or 5th century.

το πνα της αληθειας ο ο κοσμος ου δυναται λαβειν οτι ου θεωρει αυτον(1) ουδε γεινωσκεται (2) υμεις γεινωσκεται αυτον(3) οτι παρ υμειν και ενυμιν εσται

(1),(3) “αυτον” was changed to “αυτο” by deleting “ν” with a dot above and a slash through the letter.
(2) “αυτο” was added super linearly.

By changing “αυτον”(masculine) to “αυτο” (neuter), the tamperer may have thought he was simply correcting the grammar, by making the pronoun agree in gender with the neuter noun “πνευμα”, Or he may have had a theological reason for doing so — namely, to avoid giving personality to the Holy Spirit.

The copyist who originally wrote Papyrus 66 may have simply been sloppy in copying. He may have written the masculine “αυτον” by mistake, or John the apostle himself may have actually written “αυτον” in order to indicate that the Holy Spirit was personal, and not a mere force.

Any thoughts?

Paidion, This is an interesting point. I have to admit that I know nothing of Greek, so my input here may be lacking. But I thought I’d go ahead and add my two cents worth anyway. I often find it hard to express things in written form because I don’t want people to get confused in what I’m trying to say. Maybe this is the problem that the author and or editor runs into in these particular verses. According to the Jerusalem Bible, John 14:16-17 says this: “I shall ask the Father, and He will send you another Advocate to be with you for ever, that Spirit of truth, whom the world can never receive since it neither sees nor knows him; but you know him, because he is with you, he is in you.”

Now the Advocate in John 14:26 is the Holy Spirit, and John 14 :10 says “The words I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.”

As you know, I am not of the Trinitarian belief, so my view may affect my interpretations here. Maybe the author/editor is trying to say that the Spirit of truth is not a separate Spirit, but that the Spirit of truth comes from the Holy Spirit of the Father that dwells in us. In other words, the Spirit of truth is not a being, but the ability to know and understand the truth is something that God gave us. When we come to live by the truth then it dwells in us. I think it is all in the matter of trying to explain how God’s Holy Spirit works in us.

What does John 16:13 say in Greek?

John 16:13 will not help to decide the issue. For the word “he” or “it” does not appear in Greek. It must be supplied in the third person singular. For example, the Greek verb “οδηγησει” in the verse is the third person singular, future active indicative, and may be translated either as “he will guide” or “it will guide.”

I am not a Trinitarian either, and although I do not believe God’s spirit to be a third divine Individual, I DO believe that the spirit is personal and not a mere force. I believe the spirit to be the extended Persons of the Father and the Son.

How do the Father and the Son do that? The Father dwells in heaven with the Son seated at His right hand. As I see it, They dwell with and in Christ’s disciples by means or their spirit, which I see as simply an extension of themselves.

Paidion, I think you are right in saying that God’s Spirit is more than just a mere force. Although I have not studied too deeply into the belief of cosmic humanity(e.g. Shirley MacLaine), I think that this may be how they view things. One thing I do know is that I am not God. He is a separate being. I am never going to become God Himself but I can be like Him. In this our spirits are one (united).

Thank you, LLC.

I find it totally thrilling that we, in our day, have the opportunity of examining a reproduction of a text from around 150 anno domini!

Here is a copy of the page from Papyrus 66 in which the text was altered. You may be interested in seeing this for yourself (John 14:17 begins in line 11 and goes to the end). All letters are in capitals, and there are no spaces between words, and no punctuation other than overlining for abbreviations, and sometimes dots to indicate quotations, although the use of such dots is not consistent.

That would be my suspicion. Do we have other manuscripts that support this reading of Papyrus 66?

Paidion, I agree. That is amazing. Thanks for sharing. :slight_smile: What I find equally amazing is that people such as yourself can figure out what it says! This is very valuable knowledge that I wish I had. However, I do have a collection of different versions of the bible, all in English, that I use to make comparisons in the translations. This can be mind boggling. As you pointed out, changing a simple word can leave us with a different impression. When it comes to he, she or it, then it gets even more confusing. For example, a table would be an “it”, indicating that it is an inanimate object, yet we name our vehicles and refer to them as he or a she, indicating that they are special to us. We name hurricanes as if they are persons (some are masculine, some are feminine), any other storm is simply an “it”.This also occurs in the writings of the bible.How do we keep it all straight? :astonished: