What Is “Needed”?
THIS W Codex of the Gospels has played a part in the translation of a comment by Jesus to Martha, sister of his close friend Lazarus. When Jesus visited the family, Martha thought it most important to get Jesus a fine meal, but he kindly suggested she follow the example of her sister Mary, who sat down at his feet to listen to him. He said: “A few things, though, are needed, or just one. For her part, Mary chose the good portion, and it will not be taken away from her.”—Luke 10:42.
These words translate the Greek text of 1881 prepared by Westcott and Hort, the basis for the New World Translation. A footnote to the 1984 Reference Edition of this Bible shows that this reading was from the Sinaitic (א) and Vatican (B) manuscripts, both representative of the same text type. But the Alexandrine (A) manuscript reads: “One thing, though, is necessary. For her part . . .” As the footnote points out, Codex W, as well as the Chester Beatty papyrus (P45) and the Bodmer papyrus (P75), both of the third century C.E., agrees with this latter rendering. But all these manuscripts came to light long after Westcott and Hort published their text in the year 1881, so that they had no opportunity to consider this alternative rendering. Whichever version of the text we choose to recognize today, however, Jesus clearly tells us to put spiritual things first in our lives—advice we do well to follow.