Luke 4:44 "Galilee" or "Judea"? A Geographical Blunder in the Vatican Versions
KJB - “And he preached in the synagogues of GALILEE.”
ESV - “And he was preaching in the synagogues of JUDEA.”
Luke 4:44 compared to Matthew 4:23 and Mark 1:39.
In all three Synoptic gospels we clearly see that Jesus was ministering in Galilee, not Judea. Israel was divided into three main sections - Galilee in the north, along with the sea of Galilee (also known as the sea of Gennesaret -cp. Mat. 4:23; Mk. 1:16 & Luke 5:1), Samaria in the middle, and some 50 to 60 miles to the south was Judea.
“And Jesus returned in the power of the spirit into Galiliee…” Luke 4:14
“And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days.” Luke 4:31
“And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.” Mark 1:39
“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues…” Matthew 4:23
“And he preached in the synagogues of GALILEE. And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake Gennesaret.” Luke 4:44-5:1.
Once again there is a TEXTUAL issue involved here; not just a difference in translation. Nobody disputes the fact that Jesus was literally in the region known as Galilee during the events recorded in these Scriptures. Not even those who try to defend the UBS critical text that wrongly tells us He was in JUDEA. JUDEA is the reading found in the Vatican manuscript as well as Sinaiticus. It is also found in a handful of others, but the vast Majority of all remaining Greek manuscripts as well as A, D, the Syriac Peshitta, the Gothic, the Latin and virtually every Bible in every language until the last 50 to 60 years.
In English the first major bible version I am aware of that went from the reading GALILEE to that of JUDEA was the liberal RSV. Not even the Revised Version of 1881 or the ASV of 1901 read this way, but went with “the synagogues of GALILEE.”
Even though Westcott-Hort voted for “Judea” from the Vatican mss. the Revised Version and the ASV 1901 committees had enough common sense to realize the it was a geological blunder and the RV and ASV stayed with the Traditional reading of “in the synagogues of GALILEE."
Not even all the UBS/Nestle-Aland/Vatican versions go along with this errant reading of “Judea”. Among those critical text versions that have stayed with the correct geographical reading of “Galilee” are the RV, ASV, Holman Standard 2009, Weymouth 1912, the Amplified Bible 1987, World English Bible 2000, the Message of 2002 and the International Standard Version 2014 - They all correctly read “in the synagogues of GALILEE.”
The Good News Translation 1992 (put out by the American Bible Society) tries to cover up this blunder by simply not translating it. It reads: “ So he preached in the synagogues throughout THE COUNTRY."
And the Evangelical Heritage Version 2017 has: "And he continued to preach in the synagogues of the LAND OF THE JEWS."
And The Passion Translation 2017 says: "Jesus continued to travel and preach in the synagogues THROUGHOUT THE LAND."
The NIV Spanish version 1999 tries to cover up this blunder by reading: - “Y siguió predicando en las sinagogas de los judíos.” = “And he continued preaching in the synagogues of THE JEWS.”
But many other UBS/Nestle-Aland/Vatican versions have gone along with this errant reading, and even try to justify it. UBS based versions that now read that Jesus was in JUDEA at this time and not GALILEE are the NASB, NIV, ESV, Complete Jewish Bible 1998, the Jehovah Witness New World Translation 1961 and 2013 Revision, and Dan Wallace’s NET critical text versions.
The Catholic Connection
You can see this change too in the history of the Catholic versions. The older Douay-Rheims of 1582 as well as the 1950 Douay both correctly read “synagogues of GALILEE”. But the more modern Catholic versions, which are based on THE SAME UBS/ Nestle-Aland critical Greek texts, now read “the synagogues of JUDEA.” These are the Jerusalem bible 1968, the St. Joseph New American Bible 1970 and the New Jerusalem bible 1985. Oh, but wait. They are not done yet. Now in 2009 the latest Catholic Public Domain Version has come out and it goes back to the reading of “the synagogues of GALILEE.”
Also reading GALILEE are the Anglo Saxon Gospels from 1000 A.D. - “he wæs bodigende on galilea”, Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew’s Bible 1549, Bishops’ Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, Mace N.T. 1729, Whiston’s N.T. 1745, Wesley 1755, Lamsa's translation of the Syriac Peshitta, Murdock and Etheridge’s translations of the Syriac Peshitta, Noyes 1869, Darby 1890, Youngs 1898, the Revised Version 1885 and American Standard Version of 1901 (as mentioned), New Life Version 1969, the NKJV 1982, the Aramaic Bible in Plain English, the Third Millennium Bible, Green's literal 2005, the Orthodox Jewish Bible 2011, Conservative Bible 2011, Far Above All Translation 2011, the Jubilee Bible 2010 and the New Matthew Bible 2016.
Other English Bibles that correctly read: "And he preached in the synagogues of GALILEE." are The Word of Yah 1993, the Interlinear Greek N.T. 1997 (Larry Pierce), the Worldwide English N.T. 1998, Lawrie Translation 1998, The Last Days Bible 1999, God's First Truth 1999, Sacred Scriptures Family of Yah 2001, The Tomson N.T. 2002, The Evidence Bible 2003, The Resurrection Life N.T. 2005 (Vince Garcia), Bond Slave Version 2009, Online Interlinear 2010 (Andre de Mol), Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010, Holy Scriptures VW Edition 2010, The Work of God's Illustrated Bible 2011, Biblos Interlinear Bible 2011, World English Bible 2012 and the Modern English Version 2014.
Foreign Language Bibles
Foreign language Bibles that agree with the Traditional text of “And he preached in the synagogues of GALILEE” are the Spanish Evangelio según San Lucas, Edición del Rey Alfonso X in 1260 A.D. - “E preygaua en las synoas de Galilea.”, the Spanish Sagradas Escrituras of 1549 and Cipriano de Valera 1602, as well as the Reina Valera 1909-1995 - “Y predicaba en las sinagogas de Galilea.”, the French Martin 1744, French Ostervald 1996 and Louis Segond of 2007 - “Et il prêchait dans les synagogues de la Galilée.”, the Italian Diodati 1649 and Nuova Diodati 1991, and Italian Riveduta 2006 - “predicando nelle sinagoghe della Galilea.”, Luther’s German Bible 1545 and German Schlachter bible of 2000 - “ Und er predigte in den Schulen Galiläas.”, the Czech BKR - "I kázal v školách Galilejských.", the Afrikaans Bible 1953 - "En Hy het verder in die sinagoges van Galiléa gepreek." the Portuguese A Biblia Sagrada and the Almeida Corregida E Fiel 2009 - “E pregava nas sinagogas da Galilia.”, the Tagalog Ang Salita ng Diyos 1998 - "Siya ay nangaral sa mga sinagoga sa Galilea." and the Polish Updated Gdansk Bible 2013 - "I głosił w synagogach w Galilei."
and the Modern Greek Bible - Και εκηρυττεν εν ταις συναγωγαις της Γαλιλαιας.
as well as the Modern Hebrew Bible - “ויהי קורא בבתי הכנסיות אשר בגליל׃
So how do some modern versionist try to defend this textual error? Well, first of all, they don’t call it an error, a mistake or a contradiction, but they have a fancy Latin phrase for it - lectio difficilior - which means “difficult reading” and one of the main principles of the so called “science” of textual criticism is that if they find reading that is contradictory to the rest of Scripture or flat out doesn’t make any sense at all, they label it a “difficult reading” and think that therefore it must be the right one! No kidding. This is how these Bible correctors reason.
So, in an effort to try to prop up their bogus reading found in the Vatican and Sinaiticus manuscripts (that not even many who follow them agree with here) some will say things like:
Dan Wallace - Most mss (A D Θ Ψ Ë13 33 Ï latt) have “of Galilee”; others, “of the Jews” (W). “Judea” (read by Ì75 א B Q 579 892 pc sa, and [with minor variation] C L Ë1 1241) is probably the original reading since it is both the harder reading and supported by the best witnesses. “Galilee” is an assimilation to Mark 1:39 and Matt 4:23.
Joseph A. Fitzmyer writes in his commentary on Luke: “But ‘Judea’ is to be retained as the lectio difficilior. However, it should most probably not be understood as the specific area of Palestine (in contrast to Galilee), but rather in the comprehensive sense of all the country of the Jews, a sense that it sometimes has elsewhere (1:5; 6:17; 7:17, 23:5, Acts 10:37).
(End of lame defenses of this errant reading)
The problems for these guys who try to defend this corrupt reading in the face of all the evidence are fourfold. First, among the few verses they line up to try to defend the idea that Luke uses JUDEA to refer to the whole land of Israel, not one of them actually teaches this. Just look them up for yourself.
And there are those who completely differ from their opinions on the matter. For example:
Frederic Louis Godet (who was not a KJB onlyist) writes in his commentary on Luke as translated into English (1887):
“The absurd reading tee's Ioudaias (of JUDEA) which is found in the six principal Alex., should be a caution to blind partisans of this text.” (End of comments)
By the way, the Herod mentioned in Luke 1:5 as “in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea” was the father of the Herod mentioned in Luke 3:1 where we have recorded “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of JUDAEA, and Herod being tetrarch of GALILEE….” This Herod who was tetrarch of Galilee was the son of Herod “the Great” who had been “king of Judaea”, and who died shortly after the birth of Jesus. They are not the same individuals, nor are Judea and Galilee the same areas of land.
Matthew Poole comments - “in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, that is, he who was the son of Antipater: not Herod the tetrarch of Galilee, of whom you read Luke 3:1, who put John Baptist to death, that was thirty-one or thirty-two years after this.” See also the commentaries of John Gill, David Guzlik and Adam Clarke.
Secondly, God inspired Luke to write this gospel and He did not equally inspire both the readings of “Galilee” and “Judea” at the same time in the same place. One is right and the other is wrong.
Thirdly, Luke, as a good historian, is very careful and precise in his choice of words to distinguish between Galilee and Judea throughout his gospel account.
See for examples Luke 2:4 “And Joseph went up from GALILEE, out of the city of Nazareth, into JUDEA, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem.” See also Luke 2:39; 3:1; 4:31; 5:17 “there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of GALILEE, and JUDEA, and Jerusalem”; 23:5, 6, 49, 55 and 24:6.
And Fourthly, both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus are actually among the most corrupt manuscripts in existence. In fact, it is probably due to their internal corruptions and disagreements not only with the majority of all remaining Greek copies but with each other as well, that nobody used them and thus they did not wear out long ago. That is why the stuck around for so long.
Just a couple examples found in Luke itself is the fact that instead of reading “…the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of GALILEE, named Nazareth.” Sinaiticus original read “the angel Gabriel was sent unto a city of JUDEA, named Nazareth.” This is the same mistake that happened in Luke 4:44.
And in Luke 10:1 and 17 where “the Lord appointed other SEVENTY also and sent them two and two before his face”, SEVENTY is the reading found in the Majority of all texts including Sinaiticus, A and C, but Vaticanus reads “SEVENTY TWO”.
If you want to know what these two so called “Oldest and best” manuscripts are really like, take a look at this comparative study here -
God is a God of absolute truth. If you find blunders, errors and geographical mistakes in a bible version, then it is not the pure words of God. It is just that simple. And nobody seriously believes that any modern version like the ESV, NIV, NASB, NET are the infallible words of God.
The King James Bible is correct, as always.
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