I am sometimes surprised at where there is little or no variation in the New Testament Greek manuscript tradition. In preparing the CNTTS exegetical-textual commentary, I came across two such examples in 1 Pet 3.
I preface the first one by asking you to think about the sayings dealing with Jesus ascending to heaven and sitting at the right hand. At the right hand of whom? I suspect that most people would answer, “…at the right hand of the Father.”
In actuality, of the 14 New Testament passages which make such an assertion, none say the Father. Usually, we read “right hand of God” or “right hand of power.” Our memory is probably influenced by the Apostle’s Creed which reads, “He ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father.”
I expected interference from the Apostle’s Creed to be evident in the manuscript tradition for 1 Pet 3:22. Surprisingly, one can search very deeply in the Greek manuscript tradition and not find such evidence. In the 14 New Testament passages, I found only one manuscript which reflects the wording of the Apostle’s Creed (right hand of the Father). It is the largely unknown 15th century ms 1751.
My search included the very detailed apparatuses of Editio Critica Maior (ECM) and of the Center for New Testament Textual Studies for all 14 passages. I don’t know how many total manuscripts this involved—surely hundreds, but only the one cited above showed influence from the Apostle’s Creed.
The second reading which surprisingly lacks variation is the end of 1 Pet 3:21 which refers to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I expected numerous reverential expansions such as “Jesus Christ our Lord” or “our Lord and Saviour” or even “our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (etc.). As it turns out, of all the many manuscripts scoured by ECM, there is only a 14th century manuscript which expands the text at all, and only minimally so: “Jesus Christ our Lord” (629, which is idiosyncratic elsewhere).
These two examples make me more cautious in assuming scribal accretions.