At SBL this year, I finally picked up my copy of the new 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece. There are some interesting changes from the previous edition, one of which is important for Jesus Studies (albeit not really historical Jesus studies). At Jude 5, NA28 finally succumbed to the manuscript witnesses’ strength and preferred “Jesus” to “Lord” as the one who “saved a people out of Egypt.” Despite the fact that the “Jesus” reading has the support of B (Vaticanus, fourth century CE), A (Alexandrinus, fifth century CE), 33 (ninth century CE) et al., the previous editors had gone with “Lord,” which is supported by a (Sinaiticus, fourth century CE).
The manuscript evidence is confusing but clearly in favor of “Jesus.” Under normal text-critical principles one would go with the more difficult or unusual reading, assuming that scribes were more likely to alter a difficult reading to an easier one than vice versa. Thus, since Jesus played no role in the Exodus in biblical tradition, one would assume that “Jesus” was the original reading and later scribes changed this to “Lord,” which would be more in line with the Exodus narrative. The editors of the previous edition actually acknowledged that “Jesus” was the best reading based on this reasoning and the manuscript evidence, but printed “Lord” instead for the following reasons (from Metzger, Textual Commentary, 657–8). First, “Jesus” may be due to a scribe reading the nomen sacrum Kˆ (“Lord”) for Iˆ (“Jesus”). Second, nowhere else does the author of Jude refer to “Jesus” with only the personal name, preferring instead “Jesus Christ.” Third, this would be an “unparalleled” mention of Jesus in reference to the Exodus (but they cf. 1 Cor 10.4). In short, they reasoned that the author of Jude just simply could not have possibly meant “Jesus.” The committee knew these were not very strong arguments, which is why they gave the “Lord” reading a D rating. The editors of the 28th revised edition, under the leadership of Holger Strutwolf (perhaps the coolest name in Biblical Studies), overturned their decision and went with “Jesus.” I’d like to have heard the debate.
Interestingly, î72 (third/fourth century CE) has the reading “God Christ,” which the committee of NA27 determined to be a “scribal blunder.”
Regardless, does this mean that we can now speak of a “first exodus” theme associated with Jesus in the New Testament?!