Luke 2:22 “her” purification or “their” purification
One King James Bible critic wrote me about why he thinks the King James Bible reading of “her” purification is wrong and versions like the NIV, NASB, ESV supposedly have it right when they say “their” purification.
The Catholic Connection
The Catholic versions are all over the board, as usual. The Douay-Rheims of 1610 and the 1950 Douay both say "HER purification", but the 1970 St. Joseph New American Bible and the 1985 New Jerusalem bible both say: "the day came for THEM to be purified". But then the 2009 Catholic Public Domain version has now gone back to "the days of HER purification".
Here is what he wrote:
“Now, some of the discrepancies you noted are worth attention. Some are not. Like Luke 2:22. Even Matthew Henry notes that "Many copies, and authentic ones, read autoµn (αὐτῶν) for autees (αυτής), the days of their purification, the purification both of the mother and of the child, for so it was intended to be by the law;" In other words, it was not a sacrifice to be cleansed from sin, it was a fulfillment of the Old Testament law that required purification for mother AND CHILD forty days after birth, cleansing from the birth process. If the sacrifice had not been made for Jesus' purification, then He could not later say the He came to fulfill the law. Just as later He fulfilled the Passover feasts--not for sin, but for fulfillment of the law.”
My response to him was this: Hi, brother. I would suggest you stick to the Bible itself here.
You said: "In other words, it was not a sacrifice to be cleansed from sin, it was a fulfillment of the Old Testament law that required purification for mother AND CHILD forty days after birth, cleansing from the birth process."
You did not find any of this in the O.T. law. It is not there.
Luke 2:22 "And when the days of HER purification ACCORDING TO THE LAW OF MOSES were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord."
This is clearly a reference to Leviticus 12:6-8
Leviticus 12:6 - "And when the days of HER purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, SHE shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, FOR A SIN OFFERING, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest:
12:7 - Who shall offer it before the LORD, and make AN ATONEMENT FOR HER; and SHE SHALL BE CLEANSED from the issue of her blood. This is the law for HER that hath born a male or a female.
12:8 - And if SHE be not able to bring a lamb, then SHE shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall MAKE AN ATONEMENTFOR HER AND SHE shall be clean."
Only the mother was to bring a sacrifice and only the woman was to have an atonement made for her and thus be cleansed - not the child too.
The reading of HER is admittedly a minority reading, but it is the correct one, and there is actually quite a bit of historic evidence for this reading. For every single "minority reading" found in the KJB, there are at least twenty found in the NASB, NIV, RSV, ESV. In fact, manuscript D, which is sometimes exclusively followed by the NASB, actually reads "HIS purification".
"HER purification" is found in several Greek texts. It is the reading of Beza's 1598 Greek text, and Scrivener's Trinitarian Bible Society's Textus Receptus 1894, and Elzevir's Greek text 1624 - "οτε επλησθησαν αι ημεραι του καθαρισμου αυτης κατα τον νομον μωσεως." It is also the reading of the Modern Greek Bible.
According to Jack Moorman's book, Early Manuscripts and the Authorized Version - A Closer Look, on page 86 Mr. Moorman states that the reading of "her" purification is also found in the Old Latin (a, aur, b, beta, c, d, e, ff2 ,1, r1 and the Latin Vulgate (4th century). He says this is also the reading found in the manuscripts of R (6th century) , Y (9th century), 047 (8th century), 055 (11th century) and 0211 (7th century). The Complutensian Polyglot of 1522 also reads “her purification.”
Dr. Holland, who also defends the reading of "her" purification in a debate with James White, mentions that "her purification" is the reading of manuscript 2174 which comes from the 14th century.
Dr. Holland further notes: "In fact, almost all of the Old Latin Codices support the reading, with the exception of Codex Monacensis (seventh century). It is found in the Old Latin Codex Vercellensis of the fourth century, and Latin texts of the fifth century such as Codex Curiensis, Codex Veronensis, and Codex Corbeiensis II. Plus, it is found in later Latin manuscripts such as Codex Usserianus I (seventh century) and Codex Rhedigeranus (eighth century). Therefore, we see that this reading stands throughout time in the Old Latin manuscripts. Additionally, we find the reading, of her purification, in the Old Syriac version (Sinaitic, 4th century) and the Sahidic Coptic version (third century)... Beza was not making a conjectural emendation in his Greek text. He was making a textual decision for he had Latin, Greek, and other translations which read "of her." (End of comments by Dr. Holland)
Some of the versions have an ambiguous singular, him or her. This may happen in Latin, Syriac and other language. Since the early Latin church uniformly understood the purification to be that of Mary as described in the law of Moses, it is clear that they interpreted the singular in their text as referring to Mary, which is consistent with the rest of the Bible.
See how LaParola says the Vulgate and most of the Old Latin mss are ambiguous singular. This is the key. They are singular, de facto understood as feminine. Cyril, Jerome, the feast days, etc. show this as referencing the feminine and not the masculine and much less the plural "their". If the Greek had been plural, the Latin would have been plural.
There are also some copies of Tatian's Diatessaron (160-175 A.D.) that read: "that the child's mother should do her purification". The Diatessaron (Literally "through the Four") was a very early combining of the Four Gospels into a single narrative. There are two Syriac translations that show the singular "her", the translation of Cyril of Alexandria into Syriac, clearly referring to Mary, and the Sinaitic manuscript of the Diatessaron (not to be confused with the Greek Sinaiticus).
There is scholarly uncertainty about what language Tatian used for its original composition, whether Syriac or Greek. Modern scholarship tends to favour a Syriac origin; but even so, the exercise must have been repeated in Greek very shortly afterwards—probably by Tatian himself. An Old Latin version of Tatian's Syriac text appears to have circulated in the West from the late 2nd century.
Dr. W. H. P. Hatch of the Harvard Theological Review writes in his article about Luke 2:22 - "The adoption of autees (αυτής = "her) into the text of several early printed editions of the New Testament is due in part to the Vulgate eius, which was understood as a feminine pronoun."
Way back around 383 A.D. none other than Jerome himself wrote a tract called Against Helvidius in which he states: “At all events Scripture thus speaks of the Saviour, "And when the days of HER purification according to the law of Moses were fulfilled, they brought him up to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord) and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons."
The complete tract can be found here:
We also have Cyril of Alexandria in his early commentary on Luke
In which he states: “After His circumcision, she next waits for the time of HER purification: and when the days were fulfilled, and the fortieth was the full time, God the Word, Who sitteth by the Father's side, is carried up to Jerusalem, and brought into the Father's presence in human nature like unto us, and by the shadow of the law is numbered among the firstborn.
"HER purification" is also the reading of both remaining copies we have of the Anglo-Saxon Gospels. One is manuscript 140 and is in the Corpus Christi College. It is dated at 1000 A.D. and as written by Aelfric. The other Anglo Saxon Gospel manuscript is Number 38 and is in the Bodleian Library and is dated at around 1200 A.D. and the author is unknown. You can see them here.
Though the language is quite different, yet you can make our that it says "HER cleansing". - "æfter þam þe HYRE CLAENSUNGE dagas gefyllede wæron. æfter moyses æ."
The King James Bible translators were well aware of the reading of "THEIR purification". This is how Tyndale 1534, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540 and Matthew's Bible 1549 all read. But they deliberately chose instead to follow the texts that correctly say "HER purification"
Luke 2:22 "HER purification"
Agreeing with the KJB reading of "HER purification" are the following Bible translations - the Bishop's bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587 - "And when the daies of HER purification after the Lawe of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Hierusalem", the Douay-Rheims 1582 - "And after the days of HER purification", the Beza New Testament 1599, the King James Bible 1611, The Bill Bible 1671, Worsley Version 1770, Haweis N.T. 1795, The Thompson Bible 1808, The Revised Translation 1815, The Thomson N.T. 1816, Webster's translation 1833, The Hammond N.T. 1845, The Hussey N.T. 1845, The Hewett N.T. 1850, The Commonly Received Version 1851, The Boothroyd Bible 1853, the Julia Smith Translation 1855, The Revised New Testament 1862 = "HER purification", The Smith Bible 1876, The Dillard N.T. 1885, The Clarke N.T. 1913, the Catholic Douay Version of 1950, the New Life Version 1969, the NKJV 1982, KJV 21st Century 1994, God's Word Translation 1995 - "After the days required by Moses' Teachings to make a mother clean had passed, Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem."
The Third Millennium Bible 1998, The Koster Scriptures 1998, the 2009 The Sacred Bible - "And after the days of HER purification were fulfilled, according to the law of Moses, they brought him to Jerusalem, in order to present him to the Lord", the English Jubilee Bible of 2010 and the 2012 Natural Israelite Bible - "Now when the days of HER purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to Yahweh”
Other English Bibles that read HER purification are The Word of Yah 1993, the Lawrie Translation 1998, the Last Days Bible 1999 - "Mary's purification", Tomson N.T. 2002, The Apostolic Polyglott Bible 2003, the Evidence Bible 2003, Green's Literal 2005, The Revised Geneva Bible 2005, the Bond Slave Version 2009, Online Interlinear 2010 (André de Mol), Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010 - "after the days of HER purification", Holy Scriptures VW Edition 2010, The Modern English Version 2014 and the Modern Literal New Testament 2014 - "HER cleansing".
Conservative Bible 2011 and The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011 both read: “And once MARY HAD BEEN PURIFIED according to the laws set forth by Moses”
The Worldwide English New Testament 1998 says: “The time came when MARY was no longer unclean by the law of Moses.”
The Last Days New Testament 1999 - "And when the days for MARY'S purification had been completed"
Mace's New Testament 1729 has: "At length the time appointed by the law of Moses for the purification OF WOMEN being accomplished"
Among Foreign language Bibles that also read "her purification" are Luther's German Bible 1545 - "Und da die Tage ihrer Reinigung nach dem Gesetz. Moses kamen" = "days of HER purification", The Spanish Sagradas Escrituras 1569 - "cuando se cumplieron los días de la purificación de MARIA" = "days of THE PURIFICATION OF MARY", Cipriano de Valera Bible of 1602 and the Spanish Reina Valera 1858 and 1909, 1977 edition and the 2010 Reina Valera Gómez Bibles also read "her purification" - “Y cuando fueron cumplidos los días de la purificación de ella conforme a la ley de Moisés, le trajeron a Jerusalem para presentarle al Señor", the Portugués Bible Traduzida por JOÃO FERREIRA DE ALMEIDA em 1681- "E, cumprindo-se os dias da purificaçäo DELA, segundo a lei de Moisés" and the 2000 Portuguese O Livro - "a oferta da cerimónia de purificação de MARIA" = "Mary's purification", the 2006 Italian La Bibbia della Gioia does the same thing with - "per la purificazione di MARIA" = "the purification of Mary", the French Martin Bible 1744 - " Et quand les jours de la purification de MARIE furent accomplis selon la Loi de Moïse" = "the days OF THE PURIFICATION OF MARY were perfumed", the 2014 Romanian Fidela Bible - "Si dupa ce s-au implinit zilele purificarii ei, conform legii lui Moise", the Hungarian Karoli Bible - "Mikor pedig betöltek Mária tisztulásának napjai a Mózes", the Afrikaans bible 1953 - “En nadat die dae van haar reiniging volgens die wet van Moses vervul was” = “the days of HER purification”, the Finnish Bible 1776 - “Ja kuin heidän puhdistuspäivänsä olivat täytetyt Moseksen lain jälkeen” = “the days of HER purification”, and the Czech BKR version - “A když se naplnili dnové očišťování Marie podle Zákona Mojžíšova” = “the days of MARY'S purification” and the Polish Updated Gdansk Bible 2013.
"HER purification" is also the reading in the Modern Greek Bible, which you can see for yourself at the Biola University site called Unbound Scriptures. http://unbound.biola.edu/
The Modern Greek Bible reads: "Και οτε επληρωθησαν αι ημεραι του καθαρισμου αυτης κατα τον νομον του Μωυσεως" = "the days of HER purification"
Many modern critical text versions have recognized the theological error that is introduced by reading "THEIR purification" and as a result have resorted to paraphrasing the verse to avoid this error. The Modern Hebrew Bible does this.
The Modern Hebrew Bible - וימלאו ימי טהרה לפי תורת משה ויעלהו לירושלים להעמידו לפני יהוה׃ = “And after the days of purification by the law of Moses and took him up to Jerusalem before the Lord”
The NIV is another good example of this. The new NIV 2011 has altered the text in such a way as to avoid the blunder found in the previous NIVs and make it agree with the correct teaching found in the King James Bible reading. The NIV 2011 now reads: “When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.”
The Message of 2002 did a similar thing. It reads: "Then when the days stipulated by Moses for purification were complete, they took him up to Jerusalem to offer him to God as commanded in God’s Law"
The 2012 Thomas Nelson version called The Voice paraphrases Luke 2:22 as: "After Mary had observed the ceremonial days of postpartum purification required by Mosaic law, she and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord."
Likewise the New Life Version of 1969 puts it like this: "When the days were over for her to be made pure as it was written in the Law of Moses, they took Jesus to Jerusalem to give Him to the Lord."
God’s Word Translation - “After the days required by Moses' Teachings TO MAKE A MOTHER CLEAN had passed, Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem. They took Jesus to present him to the Lord. “
The Living Bible 1971 - “ When the time came for MARY’S PURIFICATION offering at the Temple, as required by the laws of Moses”
New Century Version 2005 - “ When the time came for Mary and Joseph to do what the law of Moses taught about being made pure, they took Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.”
And the 2011 Names of God Bible says: "After the days required by Moses’ Teachings to make a mother clean had passed, Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem. They took Yeshua to present him to the Lord."
The Apostolic Bible Polyglot Greek also reads like the King James Bible - "του καθαρισμού αυτής" = "HER purification"
Wycliffe's English version 1395 says: "the purification of Mary" - "And aftir that the daies of the purgacioun of Marie weren fulfillid, aftir Moyses lawe", as well as the French Martin version of 1744 - “Et quand les jours de la purification de [Marie] furent accomplis...”
Daniel Mace in 1729 completely paraphrased the verse but he had the right teaching. His translation says: "At length the time appointed by the law of Moses for the purification of women being accomplish'd, they carried the infant to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, according as his law directs"
The reading found the NASB, NIV, RSV, ESV, two modern Catholic versions and the Jehovah Witness New World Translation of "after the days of THEIR purification" teaches that the baby Jesus needed to have an atonement and a sin offering made for his cleansing, which is contrary to anything found in the law of Moses, to which this passage directly refers. It is not the correct reading.
The Twentieth Century N.T. 1904 (a Critical text version) and the Positive Infinity N.T. 2005 have: “When the period of purification OF MOTHER AND CHILD, enjoined by the Law of Moses, came to an end”
If you check out the Bible Version sites all over the internet you will see many modern versions in both English and in foreign languages that apparently recognize the theological problem of the reading "THEIR purification" and the fact that the Old Testament clearly teaches that ONLY the woman was to be purified in this manner after giving birth. Many of them have now completely eliminated the reading "her" or "their" and simply say something like "After the days of purification according to the law of Moses..."
The King James Bible is right as always and the reading of "HER purification" has abundant ancient historic witnesses both among the versions and early church writers and most importantly, it is THE Bible that God has most clearly set His mark of divine approval upon and the only Bible believed by thousands of blood bought saints of God to be the complete, inspired and infallible words of God.
Bible critics and unbelievers in the infallibility of ANY in-hand, in-print and in-stock Bible like James White have nothing to give you but their own personal opinions and preferences - but NO infallible Bible. Don't believe me? Then ask people like James White where you can get your own copy of God's infallible words in ANY language. He and those like him will NEVER tell you. Why? Because they really do not believe that such a thing exists. It is really just that simple.
All of sovereign grace, believing The Book - the Authorized King James Holy Bible
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Notes from the Internet
Brother Steven Avery provided this information in support of the reading “HER purification”
There are Greek early church writers that support "her purification", the first two were even given by Daniel Wallace, who in charlatan fashion tried to handwave them as "patristic citations of dubious worth".
Catenae in Evangelia S. Lucae et S. Joannis
Cyril of Alexandria (through a Syriac translation)
"After His circumcision, she next waits for the time of her purification: and when the days were fulfilled, and the fortieth was the full time, God the Word, Who sitteth by the Father's side, is carried up to Jerusalem, and brought into the Father's presence in human nature like unto us, and by the shadow of the law is numbered among the firstborn. For even before the Incarnation the firstborn were holy, and consecrated to God, being sacrificed to Him according to the law"
See also Cyril given through Aquinas:
"Next after the circumcision they wait for the time of purification, as ii is said, And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were come."
Protoevangelion of James
And when the days of her purification Were accomplished, she gave suck to the child, and called her name Mary.
Now, after the days of the purification of Mary were fulfilled according to
the law of Moses,
Aquinas also has a Greek expositor reference (this could possibly be one of the earlier references):
Or again, Luke is here describing the time before the descent to Egypt, for before her purification Joseph had not taken Mary there But before they went down into Egypt, they were not told by God to go to Nazareth
Vel aliter. Enumerat hic Lucas tempus ante descensum in Aegyptum; neque enim ante purgationem eam Ioseph deduxisset. Ante vero quam in Aegyptum descenderent, non receperant per oracula ut Nazareth pergerent;