"As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight."
Modern scholarship declares that the passage should read, "in the Isaiah the Prophet" (Gk: "en to Isaia to profete"). This reading is supported by uncials Vaticanus (fourth century), Sinaiticus (fourth century), along with L and DELTA. The same reading is found in the minuscules 33, 565, 892, and 1241. There is a slight variant to this reading in uncials D and THETA, and minuscules 700, 1071, 2174. In those texts it reads, "en Isaia to profete." ("in Isaiah the Prophet").
In support of the Traditional Text, "as it is written in the prophets" (Gk: "Os gegraptai en tois profetais") we have uncials A, K, P, W, PI and minuscules 28, 1009, 1010, 1079, 1195, 1216, 1230, 1242, 1252, 1344, 1365, 1546, 1646, 2148. Thus the Greek support dates from the fourth century onward. Additionally we also find the same reading in the Syriac Harclean version (616 AD), the Armenian version (fourth to fifth century) and the Ethiopic versions of the sixth century.
It also receives Patristic citations from Church Fathers such as Irenaeus (202 AD), Photius (895 AD), and Theophylact (1077 AD). Irenaeus writes:
"Wherefore also Mark, the interpreter and follower of Peter, does thus commence his Gospel narrative: "The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; as it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way". . . Plainly does the commencement of the Gospel quote the words of the holy prophets, and point out Him at once, whom they confessed as God and Lord;" (Against Heresies, 3:10:5)
All the early English versions agree with the King James as do the authoritative/standard foreign versions. Luther's German version reads, "Als geschrieben stehet in den Propheten:" (as it is written in the Prophets). However, this has been revised in modern German editions to match the views of modern textual criticism. Thus we have the new German reading, "Wie geschrieben steht im Propheten Jesaja:". The same thing is true of the Spanish Reina-Valera Version. The 1960 revision reads, "Como esta escrito en Isaias el profeta:". Yet, the original 1602 edition read, "Como esta escripto en los prophetas. "
Contextually there arises a problem with the reading as found in the Alexandrian Text and modern versions. The passage cites both the Prophet Malachi (3:1), and the Prophet Isaiah (40:3). The reading, "As it is written in Isaiah the Prophet" seems inconsistent. Yet, it is justified by modern scholarship in claiming that even though both prophets are quoted, Isaiah was the major prophet and therefore he takes prominence.
To illustrate their point, modern scholars will reference the student to Matthew 27:9,
"Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value."
The passage, they claim, is not really a citation of Jeremiah, but comes from Zachariah 11:12. Thus, Jeremiah being the major prophet receives prominence as well.
However, this point can be argued. First, the text in Matthew 27 does not read, "As it is written in Jeremy the Prophet" but merely states, "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy." God, being the Author of Scripture, is quite aware of who writes what and who speaks what. Simply because Zachariah writes the passage does not mean Jeremiah did not speak it.
Secondly, this fact was not overlooked by Zachariah who warned Israel to pay attention to what the former prophets had spoken. "Should ye not hear the words which the LORD hath cried by the former prophets, . . .?" (Zachariah 7:7). Matthew Henry points out that the Jews had a saying, "The spirit of Jeremiah was in Zechariah." Therefore, much of what Zechariah received, he did so from both the Lord and the former prophet, Jeremiah.
Thirdly, while the passage in Zachariah does speak of thirty pieces of silver and the potter (verse 13), it is somewhat different from the Matthew passage. "And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if no, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD." (Zachariah 11:12-13). Lastly, the passage in Matthew 27 connects of the children of Isarel with the potter's field (verses 9-10). In Jeremiah 18:1-8, the house of Israel is connected with the potter's house.
However, none of this addresses the real issue here in Mark 1:2. The passage does not claim, "what was spoken by . . ." as we have it in Matthew 27. Instead, it is much more emphatic in stating, "As it is written in . . ." It is more truthful to say, "As it is written in the prophets" when citing two prophets, then to say, "As it is written in Isaiah the Prophet," when citing two prophets. Further, the weight of the textual support favors the reading as it stands in the Authorized Version as does the weight of the endurance of the reading throughout the centuries. Therefore the reading as we have it in the Traditional Text not only is textually but also contextually correct.
Although the translators of the King James Version did not have access to many of the Greek texts which seek to usurp the authority of the Traditional Text, they were very much aware of the reading. The phrase, "Isaiah the Prophet" is found in the Latin Vulgate and thus was translated into English in 1582 by the Catholic Rheims Version. "The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the sonne of God. As it is written in Esay the Prophet, " However, early Protestant versions all upheld the reading of the Traditional Text as reflected in the 1539 translation of the Great Bible, "The begynnynge of the Gospell of Jesu Chryst the sonne of God, as it is written in the Prophetes. " Such variants between the Catholic and Protestant versions caused the KJV translators to declare, ". . . and all is sound for substance in one or other of our editions, and the worst of ours far better than their authentic vulgar." (Original Preface to the KJV entitled; The Translators To The Readers). The KJV translators saw such renderings as "Isaiah the Prophet" as corruptions.
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te would have done better to have stayed with the NIV instead of switching to the NKJV.