Updated: May 11, 2020
Mark 1:1 in Codex Sinaiticus
Paul Williams, a British convert to Islam, has critiqued Nabeel Qureshi’s video lecture defending the Deity of Christ. “Is Jesus God? 02 The Synoptic Picture”
Paul Williams critique of Nabeel’s video. (No longer available. Paul Williams, an English/British convert to Islam, has deleted 2 blogs and is now on a third one.)
The photo above of Codex Sinaiticus of Mark 1:1, is from an article by Trevor J. Major, who has also written a good article defending Mark 1:1 against Bart Ehrman’s attacks. You can see the smaller υυθυ that was added in by the first corrector of the ancient manuscript. υυ = υιου (Son) and θυ = θεου (God), “Son of God”.
I am only focusing on the issue of the textual variant at Mark 1:1 here in this article. There is much more to respond to about Paul William’s critique. Lord willing, I will write more later on other points he has tried to make.
I responded to his first point about Mark 1:1 in Codex Sinaiticus and that the copyist accidentally left out “the Son of God”. According to the photo image above of the Codex Sinaiticus of Mark 1:1, it shows that the first corrector of the manuscript corrected the mistake and added “Son of God” back in. see more below.
I have added a few more comments/details in my article here to my original comment at Paul’s blog.
Christians admit that Codex Sinaiticus, at first, did not contain “the Son of God” ( υιου θεου ). But it appears that another copyist corrected this mistake. Christians are honest and open about our textual variants. Are most Muslims even aware of the textual variants in the history of the text of the Qur’an?
It appears that the first corrector of the manuscript inserted it back in, because he realized the earlier copyist made a mistake. Do you know why he made that mistake? Because of the similar endings of ou of several words in a row and the issue of writing the nomina sacra (the sacred name) the way they did in abbreviated form with a line over the top of it. They abbreviated the sacred names with first and last letters with a line over it. Since Evangeliou – ευαγγελιου (Gospel) also ended in ou, the copyist made an eye mistake of thinking he wrote it all down. Someone later came back and corrected it, according to Philip Comfort, “before it left the Scriptorium.” ( p. 92, The New Testament Text and Translation Commentary.) The copyist wrote in capital Greek letters (Uncials) and they were all crammed together with no spaces between them. I have been greatly blessed and encouraged by purchasing Philip Comfort’s book and the NET Greek Novum Testamentum (Greek-English Diglot; NA 27) at www.aomin.org.
Ιυ = Ιησου = Jesus
Xu = χριστου = Christou / Christ
(originally, I had typed Xρυ, but I see that now that the abbreviation for Christ is just Xυ with a line over it)
UU = υιου = Son
Θυ = θεου = God
However, the teaching that Jesus is the Son of God is all through the Gospel according to Mark:
Mark 1:11 – the voice that came out of heaven is obviously meant to be the Father, and the Father says, “You are My Beloved Son, in You I am well pleased.”
Mark 1:24 – the demons know that Jesus is the Son of God – “the Holy One of God” – ‘ο ‘αγιος του θεου – similar teaching in Luke 1:34-35 – “therefore, the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God.”
Mark 3:11 – the demons declare that Jesus is the Son of God.
Mark 5:7 – demons again declare that Jesus is the Son of the Most High God.
Mark 9:7 – the Father’s voice again comes from heaven, from the cloud that descended from heaven that formed around Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration – “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him.”
Mark 14:61-64 – this one is especially strong, for it shows that the Jews believed that the Messiah would be “the Son of the Blessed One”, i.e., the Son of God, and they crucified Jesus because they thought He committed blasphemy, which agrees with John 19:1-7.
Mark 15:39 – The Roman Centurion confesses that Jesus is the Son of God.
Paul, so, it is more likely that originally it had the “Son of God” in verse 1, based on this evidence. So, your point one is very weak. Mark, the author of this gospel, who wrote for Peter, the apostolic eye-witness, shows he intended his entire gospel to be a proclamation that Jesus is the Son of God, agreeing with the other canonical gospels. Muslims try to attack the gospel of Mark, but it stands up to the attacks. Liberals and skeptics like Bart Ehrman try to attack it, but it stands up to the attacks. So, there was no evolutionary development of the doctrine of who Jesus was, supposedly started out as only a prophet and evolving into the eternal Son of God, as Shabir Ally claimed in his debates with Dr. White. No; Mark presents Jesus as the eternal Son of God, agreeing with John and Matthew and Luke. Jesus is the Word of God, the Kalimat’allah. کلمه الله – the way John 1:1 and 1:14 is translated into Arabic and Farsi کلمه خدا (Kalame ye Khoda). The Qur’an calls Jesus “the Word of God” in Surah 4:171, but denies that it means Deity. It is sad that Muhammad seems to have heard about the truth that Jesus is the Word of God, but couldn’t read it for himself, and Muslims have changed the original meaning of it to mean “only a prophet”; that Jesus was the result of God’s spoken word “be” in the womb of Mary.
The Word of the Lord abides forever (Isaiah 40:8) and is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword and is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the human heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
Dr. White also has a good article on Mark 1:1 and Islamic Apologetics here.
Also, Trevor Major points about that Irenaeus has Mark 1:1 with “the Son of God” and Irenaeus wrote around 180-200 AD, long before the Council of Nicea and the dating of Codex Sinaiticus, around 325 AD. Against Heresies, Book 3, chapter 16, paragraph 3.
Furthermore, Codex Vaticanus, dated from around the same time as Codex Sinaiticus, does have “the Son of God” at Mark 1:1.
His material and his book, The KJV Only Controversy and Dan Wallace’s (Professor at Dallas Seminary and one of the top NT scholars today) material and the books I ordered from aomin have been all together very helpful and enabled me to even attempt to write this article.