What Text Types are the Variants in Colossians 2:2?

This entry is part 18 of 36 in the series What is Textual Criticism?

In the article How Are Textual Variants and Variation Units Related? I had a chart showing the reading that textual critics think is most likely to be original for the last variation unit in Colossians 2:2, along with 14 textual variants. The standard text reads:

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ…. (Colossians 2:2 NIV)

ἵνα παρακληθῶσιν αἱ καρδίαι αὐτῶν συμβιβασθέντες ἐν ἀγάπῃ καὶ εἰς πᾶν πλοῦτος τῆς πληροφορίας τῆς συνέσεως, εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν τοῦ μυστηρίου τοῦ θεοῦ, Χριστοῦ…. (Colossians 2:2 NA28)

Colossians 2:2 - 14 Textual Variants

VariantsGreek PhraseEnglish TranslationEnglish VersionsCritical Apparatus (Partial)
τοῦ θεοῦ, Χριστοῦof the God of ChristASV, BBE, CEB, CSB, GW,
P46 B vgms Hilary Pelagius Ps-Jerome WH NR CEI Riv TILC Nv NM
1τοῦ θεοῦof the GodDBYD1 HP PP 6 69 424** 436* 462 1881 1912 2464 copsa(ms)
2τοῦ Χριστοῦof the Christ81 1241 1462 pc itb Euthalius
3τοῦ θεοῦ ὃ ἐστιν Χριστόςof the God which is ChristCJB, ESV, GNT, NLTD* itar itd ite ito itx vgmss Ephraem Augustine1/2 Varimadum Vigilius
4τοῦ θεοῦ ὃ ἐστιν περὶ Χριστοῦof the God which is concerning ChristEthiopic
5τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἐν Χριστῷof the God in the Christ33 Ambrosiaster
6τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ of the God in the Christ Jesusarm
7τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Χριστοῦ of the God and ChristCyril
8τοῦ θεοῦ πατρὸς Χριστοῦ of God the father Christ‭א* A C 048vid 216 440 1175 copbo
9τοῦ θεοῦ πατρὸς τοῦ Χριστοῦ of God the father of ChristA C 0150 1175 pc l596 copbo Ps-Jerome
10τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς τοῦ Χριστοῦ of God and Father of Christ‭א2 L Ψ 075 0278 256 263 365 945 1319 1505 1573 1962 1984 1985 2127 l422 l593 l603 l809c l1153 vgms syrh geo2 slav
11τοῦ θεοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ Χριστοῦ of God father and of ChristTYN075 0208 459 1908
12τοῦ θεοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦof God father and of Christ JesusRHEvg copbo Pelagius
13τοῦ θεοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦof God father and of Lord of us Christ Jesus1 Vulgate ms
14τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ Χριστοῦ of God and father and of ChristHNV, JUB, KJV, NKJV,
D2 K L 104 181 326 330 424* 436c 451 614 630 1852 1877 2492 2495 Byz Lect syrh* Theodoret John-Damascus ς ND Dio
© BibleQuestions.info 2020
Disclaimer: I do not know Greek, so I compiled this information from several different sources. Please feel free to copy this chart, but double-check the information before presenting it!
Bibliography: Compare Translations for Colossians 2:2 (Bible Study Tools; webpage) Accessed 12-May-2020.
Metzger, Bruce M. The Text of the Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration, Third Enlarged Edition (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1992) Pages 236-237. (Amazon - 4th edition)
STEP Bible, Colossians 2:2 (Tyndale House, 2020; webpage) Accessed 12-May-2020
A Student's Guide to New Testament Textual Variants, Colossians 2:2 (Ohio Valley University, 1998; webpage) Accessed 12-May-2020.

I became curious if the standard text and the 14 variants were consistent in the text type the witnesses used. The shortest reading, translated into English as “of the God of Christ” (Greek: τοῦ θεοῦ, Χριστοῦ), is generally considered an Alexandrian text type, known for having short readings. The longest reading, translated into English as “of God and father and of Christ” (Greek: τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ Χριστοῦ), is considered a Byzantine text type, known for harmonizing readings.

I had expected that the manuscripts with short readings would be considered Alexandrian text types, and the longer readings would be in manuscripts that were categorized as Byzantine text types.

Using a list of manuscripts that textual scholars consider especially important1, I tried to identify which text type was used in Colossians 2:2 by different manuscripts. Since I don’t know Greek, I wasn’t able to personally verify these, but I did find the text type assigned to the manuscripts for this verse.2

Greek Phrase English Translation Manuscript Text Types
τοῦ θεοῦ, Χριστοῦ of the God of Christ Alexandrian (P46, B/03)
τοῦ θεοῦ of the God Alexandrian (6, 436)
Egyptian (1881, 2464)
Eclectic (424, 436, 1912)
Western (D1)
Byzantine (69)
τοῦ Χριστοῦ of the Christ Alexandrian (81, 1241, 1739)
τοῦ θεοῦ ὃ ἐστιν Χριστός of the God which is Christ Western (D*)
τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ of the God in the Christ Alexandrian (33)
τοῦ θεοῦ πατρὸς Χριστοῦ of God the father Christ Alexandrian (‭א*/01)
τοῦ θεοῦ πατρὸς τοῦ Χριστοῦ of God the father of Christ Alexandrian (A/02, 1175)
Egyptian (C/04)
Eclectic (0150)
τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς τοῦ Χριστοῦ of God and Father of Christ Alexandrian (‭א2/01, 256)
Eclectic (Ψ/044, 075, 263, 365)
Byzantine (L/020)
τοῦ θεοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ Χριστοῦ of God father and of Christ Eclectic (075, 0208, 459, 1908)
τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ Χριστοῦ of God and father and of Christ Alexandrian (104, 326, 424)
Eclectic (330, 436c, 451, 614)
Western (D2/06, 181)
Byzantine (K/018, L/020);

I was a bit surprised to find eight of the ten readings found in Greek manuscripts were found in manuscripts that are traditionally considered Alexandrian, while only three of the ten readings were found in Byzantine texts.

I don’t know if these results are typical, but I suspect so. In my research, I’ve found that manuscripts assigned to one text type may have readings from other text types in some places. Also, sometimes a corrector will use a different text type than the original scribe. These issues blur the lines between text types, making them less useful as scholars are able to study manuscripts in-depth.



Series Navigation<< How do New Testament Text Types Compare?What are the Most Important New Testament Manuscripts? >>


  1. Wikipedia. Categories of New Testament manuscripts Accessed 03-Aug-2020.
  2. Not all of the variants are found in Greek manuscripts (based on what I was able to find). Some are found in versions in other languages, so I’m not presenting all of the variants.

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