How do English Versions of the Bible Identify the Variant Reading in Matthew 1:7-8?


I’ve been studying how to read the sigla in critical editions of the Greek New Testament1, which show how the editions identify which manuscripts support which variant reading at the end of Matthew 1:7 and the beginning of 1:8. Should the name be Asa (a King) or Asaph (a musician)? Now I want to look at the English versions of the Bible and see if readers are even informed there is a variant. The two possible readings found in the Greek text are Ἀσάφ (Asaph) and Ἀσά (Asa). How do English versions translate the name in Matthew 1:78?

ASV

and Solomon begat Rehoboam; and Rehoboam begat Abijah; and Abijah begat Asa; and Asa begat Jehoshaphat; and Jehoshaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Uzziah;

CEB

Solomon was the father of Rehoboam. Rehoboam was the father of Abijah. Abijah was the father of Asaph. Asaph was the father of Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat was the father of Joram. Joram was the father of Uzziah.

CSB

Solomon fathered Rehoboam, Rehoboam fathered Abijah, Abijah fathered Asa, Asa fathered Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat fathered Joram, Joram fathered Uzziah,

ESV

and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah,

KJV

And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;

LEB

and Solomon became the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam became the father of Abijah, and Abijah became the father of Asa, and Asa became the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat became the father of Joram, and Joram became the father of Uzziah,

MSG

Solomon had Rehoboam, Rehoboam had Abijah, Abijah had Asa, Asa had Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat had Joram, Joram had Uzziah,

NASB

Solomon was the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asa. Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah.

NIV

Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah,

NLT

Solomon was the father of Rehoboam. Rehoboam was the father of Abijah. Abijah was the father of Asa. Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat was the father of Jehoram. Jehoram was the father of Uzziah.

NRSV

and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah,

RSV

and Solomon the father of Rehobo’am, and Rehobo’am the father of Abi’jah, and Abi’jah the father of Asa, and Asa the father of Jehosh’aphat, and Jehosh’aphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzzi’ah,

WEB

Solomon became the father of Rehoboam. Rehoboam became the father of Abijah. Abijah became the father of Asa. Asa became the father of Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat became the father of Joram. Joram became the father of Uzziah.

I used the website BibleStudyTools.com to compare Matthew 1:78 in 30 English versions. Only three of those versions used the name Asaph, the other 27 used Asa. The overwhelming decision to translate the name as Asa isn’t surprising. The genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1 mirrors the genealogy in 1 Chronicles 3:10, which names Asa rather than Asaph:

Matthew 1:7-8 (KJV)

1 Chronicles 3:10 (KJV)

And Solomon begat

Roboam; and Roboam begat

Abia; and Abia begat

Asa; And Asa begat

Josaphat; and Josaphat begat

Joram; and Joram begat….

And Solomon’s son was

Rehoboam,

Abia his son,

Asa his son,

Jehoshaphat his son,

Joram his son….

There are several websites that have multiple English versions of the Bible, but I wasn’t able to find a web site that shows the footnotes for the text. I have 17 Bibles available in Logos Bible Software, but only ten of those versions publish footnotes with the text, and only seven have a footnotes for this verse. Four of the seven versions with footnotes indicate Asaph is probably an alternate spelling of Asa.

Version

Reading

Footnote

CSB

Asa

Other mss read Asaph

ESV

Asaph

Asaph is probably an alternate spelling of Asa; some manuscripts Asa; also verse 8

LEB

Asa

Greek “Asaph,” alternately spelled “Asa” in many English version here and in the following verse (cf. 1 Chr 3:10)

NASB95

Asa

Gr Asaph

NLT

Asa

Greek Asaph, a variant spelling of Asa; also in 1:8. See 1 Chr 3:10.

NRSV

Asaph

Other ancient authorities read Asa

The reading Ἀσάφ (Asaph), a variant spelling on Ἀσά (Asa), is found in the earliest and most widespread witnesses (\mathfrak {P}^{1vid} א B C [Dluc] f1, 13 700 pc it co). Although Asaph was a psalmist and Asa was a king, as it is doubtful that the author mistook one for the other since other ancient documents have variant spellings on the king’s name (such  “Asab,” “Asanos,” and “Asaph”). Thus the spelling Ἀσάφ that is almost surely found in the original of Matt 1:7–8 has been translated as “Asa” in keeping with the more common spelling of the king’s name.2

The person referred to in Matthew 1:7-8 is certainly Asa the King, not Asaph the musician. It appears these verses are the only ones in the Bible where king Asa is referred to as Asaph. It is puzzling to me why the earliest Greek New Testaments use the spelling Ἀσάφ (Asaph) rather than the common Ἀσά (Asa). Modern editions of the Greek New Testament often try to follow the earliest readings, so I’m not surprised they use Ἀσάφ (Asaph). It’s also not surprising that English versions use the name Asa, since he’s clearly the  person being referred to.

Resources

Footnotes

  1. What do the Sigla in a New Testament Apparatus Mean? UBS Edition, What do the Sigla in a New Testament Apparatus Mean? NA Edition, What do the Sigla in a New Testament  Mean? Swanson Edition, What do the Sigla in a New Testament  Mean? CNTR Edition
  2. NET Bible footnote for Matthew 1:7.

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