It's now March, and I have yet to deliver on my promised third installment of the Accordance Christmas Challenge Results. For those who have forgotten or who have just begun following this blog, I challenged readers to use Accordance to find out why most modern translations of Luke 2:14 read so differently from the KJV's familiar "peace, good will toward men." Twenty-one people responded to this "challenge" by e-mailing me a description of how they found the answer.
In my first post summarizing the different approaches taken, I pointed out that most users turned to the NET Bible Notes for an easy-to-understand summary of the text-critical issues involved. Others turned to Metzger's Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament for a more in depth answer, while still others compared the actual Greek texts themselves.
In my second post, I summarized some other approaches, such as one user who did a search all for every reference to Luke 2:14, other users who found a helpful discussion in the notes to the Expositor's Bible Commentary, and one user who started out with Accordance and then turned to a favorite print commentary.
In this post, there are a few more approaches to the problem which I need to mention.
One user actually has a workspace with a preset tab for looking up text-critical kinds of issues. In this tab, he has the Nestle-Aland (GNT-T) and Textus Receptus (GNT-TR) Greek texts in parallel, along with the NA27 apparatus. By turning to Luke 2:14, he was able to see the difference between the NA27 and the TR, as well as the manuscript support for each reading.
By the way, this user also mentioned having a tab set up for the purpose of comparing multiple English translations. By setting up these various tabs for different purposes ahead of time, he can turn to them for ready answers to various kinds of questions. This is the kind of forethought which I've been trying to encourage in my recent "Shortcuts and Timesavers" series of posts.
Another user with a preset window arrangement had panes showing three translations, the NET Notes, and Calvin's commentary. Again, all he had to do was look up Luke 2:14 to see the discussion in the NET Notes and Calvin. Interestingly, Calvin does address the textual issue even though he only had access to Greek texts with the "peace, good will toward men" reading. This is because the Latin Vulgate reads "peace to men of good will."
One user, after comparing the Greek texts, was intrigued by this expression "men of good will." He rightly wondered whether these were "men who are characterized by good will, or men who are pleasing to someone else, i.e., to God.; or is it that it is God's pleasure to give peace on earth among men?" He decided to investigate further by control-clicking the Greek word for "good will" and choosing Search for Lemma from the contextual menu. This turned up eight other uses of eudokia in the Greek New Testament, which this user analyzed as follows:
It seems to me to be a quality of the desire or pleasure of one who is doing something, rather than something that is given to others (good will to men) (egs., Ro. 10:1, Eph. 1:5). I found one other use of the word in the genitive case, Php 2:13. In both examples, God is the subject, he is doing something among men, and the sense of the genitive eudokias seems to be that it is according to his (not the men's) good pleasure or will.
The last resource which was used to answer the Christmas Challenge was Mounce's Greek grammar. Two users discovered the following excerpt in Mounce, one by searching for Luke 2:14, and one because he specifically remembered reading the excerpt before:
The Greek manuscripts used to translate the KJV contain εὐδοκία (nominative), whereas the older manuscripts used to translate the modern versions contain εὐδοκίας (genitive)—literally translated, "of good will" or "characterized by [God's] good pleasure." In other words, the peace that the angels sang that belonged to the earth as a result of the birth of Christ is not a generic, worldwide peace for all humankind, but a peace limited to those who obtain favor with God by believing in his Son Jesus (see Romans 5:1). What a difference a single letter can make in the meaning of the text!
If there's anything we've learned from the Christmas Challenge, it is that one letter can indeed make all the difference in the meaning of a passage. Hopefully, you've also learned a few tricks and techniques which will help you use Accordance to solve other "challenges" in the future.