Re: Luke 23:43 - Where does the comma go?

John Albu (
Fri, 2 Aug 1996 00:13:58 -0400 (EDT)

For the punctuation marks in Luke 23:43, three possibilities have been
offered: to put a comma before the word "today," to put it after "today,"
or to put a comma both before and after "today."--See "Understanding and
Translating 'Today' in Luke 23.43," by J. Hong, published in "The Bible
Translator," Vol. 46, 1995, pp. 408-417.

Early Greek manuscripts had no punctuation, but occasionally it is found
in some MSS, and this is the case here, where B (the Vatican 1209) has a
lower point ((hypostigme) after semeron. Regarding the punctuation used by
this MS, it was noted that in general "B has the higher point as a period,
the lower point for a shorter pause." (A. T. Robertson, "A Grammar of the
Greek New Testament," Nashville, 1934, p. 242) The ink of the uncial
letters in codex B was at one time a faded brown color, and in a later
century a scribe traced over many of the letters and punctuation marks.
However, in Luke 23:43 the ink of the lower point is the same as the
letters of the text, and thus it can be traced back to the fourth century

The Vatican 1209 uses punctuation marks also in other places. Thus, at
Romans 8:5, ABCL and 26 cursives have a point after sarka. Does anybody
know any MS that displays some kind of punctuation in Luke 23:43, beside
the Vatican 1209?

The Curetonian Syriac (fifth century C.E.) renders Luke 23:43: "Amen,
I say to thee to-day that with me thou shalt be in the Garden of
Eden.'"--F. C. Burkitt, "The Curetonian Version of the Four Gospels," Vol.
I, Cambridge, 1904.

Below I am quoting from several Greek sources, in transliteration and
providing an English translation. I would appreciate if improvements would
be offered for the English renderings.

Tines men houtos anaginoskousin* _Amen lego soi semeron*_ kai
hypostizousin* eita epipherousin, hotiet' emou ese e to paradeiso._
("Some indeed read this way: 'Truly I tell you today,' and put a comma;
then they add: 'You will be with me in Paradise.'"--Hesychius of
Jerusalem, an ecclessiastical writer who died about 434 C.E. Greek text
found in Patrologia Graeca, Vol. 93, columns 432, 1433.

Alloi de ekbiazontai to rhema, stizontes eis to <<Semeron,>> hin' e to
legomenon toiouton* <<Amen ego soi semeron*>> eita to, <<met' emou ese
en to paradeiso,>> epipherontes. ("But others press upon the saying,
putting a punctuation mark after 'today,' so that it would be said
this way: 'Truly I tell you today'; and then they add the expression:
'You will be with me in Paradise.'")--Theophylact, an ecclessistical
writer who died about 1112 C.E. Edition: Patrologia Graeca, Vol. 123,
column 1104.

alloi -- to rheton ekbiazontai* legousin gar dein hypostizontas (254:
hypostizantas) anaginoskein* amen lego soi semeron*>> eith' houtos
epipherein to* met' emou ese etc. ("Others press upon what is spoken;
for they say it must read by putting a comma thus: 'Truly I tell you
today,' and then adding the expression this way: 'You will be with me'
etc.")--Scholia 237, 239, 254. Text found in Novum Testamentum Graece,
editio octava critica maior, by C. Tischendorf, Vol. I, Leipzig, 1869,
under Luke 23:43.

kai eutys eipen moi hoti amen amen semeron lego soi, met' emou ese en
to parad[eiso]. ("And immediately he said to me: 'Most truly today
I tell you, You will be with me in Paradise.'")--Descent into Hades,
an apocryphal writing of the fourth century C.E. Text found in Novum
Testamentum Graece, editio octava critica maior, by C. Tischendorf, Vol.
I, Leipzig,869, under Luke 23:43.

ho de eipen auto* semeron lego soi aletheian hina se ekho eis ton
parad[eison] met' emou. ("And he said to him: 'Today I tell you the
truth, that I should have you in Paradise with me.'")--Gospel of
Nicodemus (=Acts of Pilate)b287, an apocryphal writing of the fourth
or fifth century C.E. Text found in Novum Testamentum Graece, editio
octava critica maior, by C. Tischendorf, Vol. I, Leipzig, 1869, under
Luke 23:43.

Therefore, at least from the fourth century C.E. until well into the
twelfth century C.E. there were readers who understood the text at Luke
23:43 as "Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise." On
that very day, when Jesus died, he was in Sheol or Hades, and not in
Paradise. (Psalms 16:8-11; Acts 2:22-32) He was dead and in the tomb
until the third day and was then resurrected as "the firstfruits" of the
resurrection. (Acts 10:40; 1 Corinthians 15:20; Colossians 1:18) Thus, the
word "today" at Luke 23:43 does not give the time of the evildoer's being
with Jesus in Paradise.

The death of Jesus Christ on that day was a most important event in human
history. It opened to mankind the prospect of gaining everlasting life in
Paradise conditions. A few hours before on that very day, during a simple
ceremony, Jesus used wine and unleavened bread as symbols of his loving
human sacrifice; then he told his disciples: "Keep doing this in
remembrance of me." (Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26) It was only as a
result of Jesus' impending sacrificial death on that day that such promise
to the evildoer was possible.

John Albu