Who saved Israel from Egypt? Ιησους or Κυριος in Jude 5.

In a comment on my last post, Mike Bird asked a really good question regarding the variant reading of Jude 5. There are a number of differences one encounters when dealing with the Greek text of Jude 5. I would like to list the variant reading and the manuscripts that support them before I tell why I chose the reading Ιησους over Κυριος.

a. Κυριος

The reading Κυριος is found in manuscripts: א; C*; Ψ; 436; 945; 1505; 1611; 2138; 1067; 1175; 1292; 1409; 1735 (with Ιησους); 1844. With exception the א and C*, the majority of the manuscripts are minuscules dating from the 9th century and onward.

b. Ιησους

The reading Ιησους is found manuscripts: A; B; 33; 81; 1241; 1739; 1881; 2344.

(There are also readings that include θεος and θεος Χριστος).

The reason that I chose Ιησους over Κυριος was because I felt it to be the reading with the strongest manuscript support as well as the difficult reading. The fact the name Ιησους is connected with the Exodus makes this reading harder than if it was Κυριος or even θεος. Scribes had the tendency to not make a reading more difficult, but rather to try to smooth it out. Because Jesus is not mentioned in the Exodus, the presence of Ιησους seems to be out of place, therefore a scribe may want to change it to fit the Exodus account where it is God that leads the people out of Egypt.

I would therefore agree with the editor of the NET Bible:

The reading Ιησους (Iēsous, “Jesus”) is deemed too hard by several scholars, since it involves the notion of Jesus acting in the early history of the nation Israel. However, not only does this reading enjoy the strongest support from a variety of early witnesses (e.g., A B 33 81 1241 1739 1881 2344 pc vg co Or1739mg), but the plethora of variants demonstrate that scribes were uncomfortable with it, for they seemed to exchange Κυριος (kurios, “Lord”) or θεος (theos, “God”) for ᾿Ιησοῦς (though P72 has the intriguing reading θεος Χριστος [theos Christos, “God Christ“] for Ιησους). In addition to the evidence supplied in NA27 for this reading, note also {88 322 323 424c 665 915 2298 eth Cyr Hier Bede}. As difficult as the reading Ιησους is, in light of v. 4 and in light of the progress of revelation (Jude being one of the last books in the NT to be composed), it is wholly appropriate.
– Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.-

For further Study see Metzger’s Textual Commentary (Κυριος) as well as Richard Bauckham’s commentary on 2 Peter and Jude in the Word Biblical Commentary series (Κυριος).

PS – Maybe if we are lucky, Mike might want to post here giving us a more fuller reason for the variant readings in Jude 5. We shall cross our fingers.

Soli Deo Gloria

EDIT: See also the work by Charles Landon, A Text-Critical Study of the Epistle of Jude, pg. 70-75. He argues that the reading should be Κυριος.


EDIT: In his essay "Catholic Christologies in the Catholic Epistles,” J. Michael Ramsey has the following to say regarding Ιησους and Κυριος:

Certainly Jesus is the more difficult reading. The Editors of the UBS Greek New Testament called it “difficult to the point of impossibility,” and so adopted “the Lord” (though with a “D” rating). Bruce Metzger and Allen Wikgren, however, issued a dissent in favor of “Jesus” as the original reading, calling it “the best attested reading among Greek and versional witnesses” (Metzger, Textual Commentary, 726: emphasis mine). It is uncommon for New Testament writers to find Jesus so explicitly in the Old Testament. And when they do (as in John 12.41 and I Cor. 10.4, 9), the human name “Jesus” is not used…Rather, “Jesus” – or possibly “the Lord,” understood as Jesus – is the implied subject of all three incidents of divine judgment to which Jude refers. “Jesus” is most likely the original reading (emphasis mine).

-J. Michael Ramsey. “Catholic Christologies in the Catholic Epistles.” In Contours of Christology in the New Testament. Ed. Richard N. Longeneker. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005: 284.-


13 thoughts on “Who saved Israel from Egypt? Ιησους or Κυριος in Jude 5.

  1. Cliff, excellent post. Truth be told, I don’t have much to say on the topic that you didn’t bring up yourself. This is probably one of the more significant decision back-flips in TC stuff on Jude in the last twenty-years.

    You should get acquainted with the website Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung (sidebar of euangelion) where you can actually view all of the variants in a nice neat list. You can look up Jude 5 and it is all before your eyes plus links to the reading from any one ms.

    On the rationale for changing Jesus to Lord, it could also work in the reverse. Some scribes embarrassed by the lack of christology of Jude may have changed kurios to Iesous and so bring Jude 5 into harmony with 1 Corinthians 10 where Jesus was the rock that the Israelites drank from etc.

    • See also 1 Cor 8:6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

      Using “Jesus” in Jude 5 adds clarity to the history of our Creator and Lord.

  2. Mike,   

         Thanks for the recommendation on the site; I will definitely check it out. I have a budding interest in Textual Criticism so I know that it will be of great service and interest.
         As to the lack of Christology in Jude, that could be motivation for scribes to insert Ιησους. Also, could it be added because of its appearance in the previous verse?

             I would not agree with Bauckham when he writes:
             Probably Κυριος should be preferred since it could have
             given rise to the other readings as attempts to resolve the
             ambiguity in Κυριος (cf. the similar readings at 1 Cor
             10:9). -Bauckham, R. J. (2002).

    Vol. 50: Word Biblical Commentary: 2 Peter, Jude. Word Biblical Commentary (43). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.-

         I do not necessarily think that Κυριος is ambiguous. I think that the Granville sharp rule in v.4 (δεσπότην καὶ κύριον ἡμῶν [Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν being in apposition]), and the anaphoric article with Κυριος in v. 5 [that is if it is original reading] make it clear that the Κυριος in v.5 is the same Κυριος in v.4, namely Jesus Christ.

  3. Pingback: Anonymous

  4. See the excellent essay on this subject online by Philipp Bartoloma,
    ‘Did Jesus Save the People out of Egypt? A Re-examination of a Textual Critical Problem in Jude 5,’ (March 2006). This paper was read at two scholarly conferences, and it favors the reading ‘Jesus’.
    –Clifford Durousseau

  5. The reading ‘Jesus’ was the reading of the Vulgate, the Bible of Roman Catholicism for 1000 years, and later
    it was the reading of the Douay-Rheims-Challoner version, the translation of the Vulgate into English. This translation was used until l970 when the New American Bible appeared and rejected the reading ‘Jesus’ for ‘the Lord’.

  6. Pingback: Gospel Prism » Blog Archive » Jesus, Who Saved a People Out of Egpyt

  7. Ιησους, Κυριος, θεος, & θεος Χριστος in Jude is one in the same. However, it is not jesus. If you take the number 666 and write it in the Hebrew numbering system using letters you come up with vstr, or vav samech tav resh. Vav is a prefix while the root str means secret or hidden. If you then look up the symbols of the letters they are nail, prop, cross, and head, and mean nail, prop, mark or sign, and head or leader. If you put these together it is the crucifix, the image of the beast. If you then take the name of the image, jesus, and add it up it comes to 616. The True Messiah warned that if another came in his own name he would be accepted, and he said many will come saying they are him. He gave us the tools to figure out who this deceiver would be and said that this deceiver would sit in the temple of God making himself out to be God and the whole world would be deceived.

  8. I’ve just done a bit of counting on this website:

    I might be totally misreading it, but this is what I got for the number of mss with each variants:

    * “Jesus”: 11
    * “Lord”: 12
    * “God”: 2
    * “God Christ”: 1

    This might not be the most up to date list of textual variants.

    The dates (in centuries) of the mss are as follows:
    * “Jesus”:
    1241 = XII; 1739 = X; 1881 = XIV; one lat cop = ? // A = V; B = IV; 33 = IX; 81 = XI; three lat vg = none given (or I can’t work it out)
    * “Lord”:
    S = IV; Psi = VII/IX; C* = V; 630 = XIV; 2495 = XIV/XV; syr(h) = VII // K = IX; L = VIII/IX; 104 = XI; 945 = XI; Byz Lect = none given (or I can’t work it out)
    * “God”:
    one lat syr(ph) = none given (or I can’t work it out) // C2 = VI
    * “God Christ”:
    p72 = III/IV

    Concerning those dates above (and again, I might be misreading them): I seems to me that the statement that the “Jesus” reading has the ‘strongest’ reading is a little strong. The earliest “Jesus” and “Lord” mss are both in the IV century; the second earliest ms for both reading is in the V century; the third earliest witnesses for both readings are in the IX century – the difference being that the “Lord” reading has four IX century mss (well, some of these could actually be earlier than IX century! I’m just trying to be conservative) to the “Jesus” reading’s one ms. The “Jesus” reading then has one ms in the X century, followed by one in the XI: the one in the XI century is matched and bettered by two XI century “Lord” mss. The “Jesus” reading then has a ms in the XII century, followed by one in the XIV: the XIV century ms is matched by a “Lord” mss. Then, finally, the “Lord” reading has a ms in the XV century.

    Again, I might be misreading the info, but that’s what it looks like to me: the mss evidence isn’t particularly strong in favour of the “Jesus” reading; in fact, it seems to me to be in favour of the “Lord” reading (six mss before the IX century to match – date to date – the “Jesus” reading’s three; with the “Lord” reading also having more ms witnesses than the “Jesus’ reading).

    Have I got this all wrong?


  9. BS¨D
    You are misusing and misapplying the textual criticism principles.
    The theological context historical context and textual evidence strongly support Κυριος .
    Ya’akov Turgueman

  10. This is very easy. Original wording must be Jesus. Bible proves it.

    In the beginning of John he explains who Jesus was – Word by which everything was created. So he existed long before humans were created.

    Then John1 verse 18 states that – “No one has seen God at any time”. No one from mankind that is.

    Since all scriptures are inspired and Gods word is truth… we arrive to a contradiction – Moses saw Gods back on Mount Sinai.

    Hmm… i wonder what would God inspire Jude to write in order to solve this seemingly “Difficult” contradiction and put all scriptures at a harmony?

    Simply – Jesus

    ALAS, heres your answer!

  11. Pingback: So, Jesus Did Save Israel from Egypt After All: The NA28 and Jude 5 | Theological Musings

  12. I was startled and delighted to see the rendering of “Jesus” in Jude 5 in the ESV. I don’t remember seeing it there before! My impression is that it is a beautiful rebuke to those who seem determined to distinguish between the God of the OT and the God of the New as if they were different. I am not referring to the different covenants but to the God who created them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s