GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS, NO NEWS
Benjamin Fiore, S.J.
Editors and translators of the text of the New Testament have been inconsistent as to where the household rules section in Eph 5 actually begins, as the following sampling demonstrates.
The Vulgate translation places 5:21 (subjecti invicem in timore Christi) at the end of the section on “walking as children of the light” (5:8–21). The translation of the participleas subjecti is repeated at 5:24. The translator at 5:22 uses the Latin subditae sint to render the same verb, thus creating a break between 5:21 and 22; therefore, a new section on “the order of the Christian household” begins at v. 22. The 1886 Latin edition of Theodore Bcza, however, gives subjicite vos in v. 22. Like the Vulgate, Beza separated 5:21 from v. 22 with a period and a paragraph break.
Following the Vulgate’s lead, the Douay-Rheims version links 5:21 “being subject to one another” to 5:20 with a colon between the two verses. In verse 5:22, similar to Bcza, the translator uses the same word, but reverts to the 3rd person form, thus “let women be subject,” like the Vulgate.
Contemporaneous with the Douay-Rheims version, the King James Version largely does the same thing, joining 5:21 to v. 20 with a semicolon and joining 5:22 to v. 23 with a comma. This punctuation basically followed that of the 1550 Greek edition of Stephens, which was then deemed the standard English edition of the textus receplus.1 The KJV translator chooses “submitting yourselves” in 5:21 and “submit yourselves” in 5:22, while using “subject” in 5:24, but the Greek word is the same. The imperative form (2nd person) in 5:22 comes from the presence ofin the textus receptus.
1 The Greek text here has a medial stop between 5:20 and 21, a full stop alter v. 21, and a medial stop between between 5:22 and 23; also a medial stop between 5:23 and 24.