How we got the bible
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How We Got the Bible. Lesson 6: The Text of the New Testament & Significance of Textual Variations. 2. a study of Neil R. Lightfoot How We Got the Bible , 3rd ed. The text of the New Testament. The fact of errors in printing What is textual criticism? Mistakes of copyists

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How We Got the Bible

Lesson 6:

The Text of the New Testament & Significance of Textual Variations


2

a study of Neil R. Lightfoot

How We Got the Bible, 3rd ed.


The text of the New Testament

  • The fact of errors in printing

  • What is textual criticism?

  • Mistakes of copyists

  • Basic rules of textual criticism


The fact of errors in printing

  • No autographs available, only copies and copies of copies

  • Mistakes in copying not an ancient problem only

  • For example, 400 typographical errors corrected in the first two years of the KJV


Textual criticism

  • “Criticism” is “the scientific investigation of literary documents (as the Bible) in regard to such matters as origin, text, composition, character, or history” (Webster’s 7th ed.)

  • Higher Criticism – authorship, date

  • Textual or Lower Criticism is a study of the form of words, i.e., the text itself


The function of textual criticism

To recover the exact wording of the original New Testament


Copyists’ unintentional mistakes

  • Mistaking one word for another

  • Confusing similar sounding words

  • Improper word division

  • Overlooking or underlooking words

  • Phrases and lines

  • Copying marginal notes into the text


Improper Word Division

Romans 5:1

  • Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have [echomen] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

    • NRSV

  • Or, let us have [echōmen] peace...


Improper Word Division

Revelation 1:5

  • To him who loves us and freed [lusanti] us from our sins by his blood

    • NRSV

  • Or, washed [lousanti] us...


Word division

  • What does this say?

    GODISNOWHERE


Copyists’ intentional mistakes

  • Spelling

  • Grammar

  • Harmonizing

  • Historical difficulties

  • Combining readings


Grammatical correction

John 7:39

  • Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

    • NRSV

  • Or, for as yet the Spirit had not been given...


Correction for clarity

Acts 2:47

  • And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. NRSV

  • “church”


Harmonization

Matthew 11:19

  • the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

    • NRSV

  • Or, wisdom is vindicated by her children. (cf. Luke 7:35)


Basic rules of textual criticism

  • The more difficult reading is to be preferred

  • The quality of witnesses is more important than the quantity

  • In parallel passages, the different reading is to be preferred


Works or Children (Matt. 11:19)

  • “works” = The more difficult reading is to be preferred

  • “works” = The quality of witnesses is more important than the quantity

  • “works” = In parallel passages, the different reading is to be preferred


Significance of textual variations

  • The Bible has been described as “the book of 200,000 errors”

  • The counting method: one copyist’s error repeated 3,999 times = 4,000 errors

  • An attempt to undermine faith in God's word

  • Instead, the 5,300 manuscripts validating the Bible should be emphasized


Consequences of variations

  • Trivial variations of no consequence

  • Substantial variations of no consequence

  • Substantial variations affecting the text


Types of Error or Variations

  • Dittography - letter twice, only once

  • Haplography - letter once, needed two

  • Homoeoteleution - omission of line, ending

  • Homoeoauches - omission of page, beginning

  • Fusion - combing two words

  • Fission - dividing a single word

  • Metathesis - reversing position of letters

  • Homophony - substitution of another word

  • Misreading - of similar letters


Consequences of variations

  • Trivial variations of no consequence


Spelling of proper names

  • “Apelles” or “Apollonios” (Acts 18:24)

  • “Bethabara beyond the Jordan” or “Bethany beyond the Jordan” (John 1:28)

  • “Bethzatha” or “Bethesda” or “Bethsaida” (John 5:2)


Unimportant trivial variations

  • The addition or omission of words

  • Whether Jesus spoke of “the one who has ears [to hear]”

  • from page for Matthew 11:10-23 in Nestle-Aland’s Novum Testamentum Graece, 25th ed.


Unimportant trivial variations

  • The addition or omission of words

  • Whether Jesus spoke of “the one who has ears [to hear]”


Order of words

What is the difference?

  • “The birth of Jesus Christ,”

    or

  • “The birth of Christ Jesus”

    from Matthew 1:18


Consequences of variations

  • Trivial variations of no consequence

  • Substantial variations of no consequence


Codex Bezae (D)

Bezae’s unique reading for Luke 6:5

Bruce M. Metzger, Manuscripts of the Greek Bible: An Introduction to Greek Palaeography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981), plate 19A


Bezae’s unique verse

  • Luke 6:5 moved to follow v. 10

  • Luke 6:5 then reads, “On the same day, seeing one working on the sabbath day, he said to him, ‘Man, if you know what you are doing, you are blessed; but if you do not know, you are accursed and a transgressor of the law.’ ”


The story of the adulterous woman

Opening of “The Adulterous Woman” in the NASU


Evidence about John 7:53-8:11

  • Earliest Greek manuscript is Codex Bezae (6th cent.)

  • Where found in other manuscripts from the 8th cent. onward, it sometimes follows John’s Gospel or after Luke 21:38, or is marked with asterisks


Evaluation about John 7:53-8:11

  • Seems to be a tradition handed down from the early church

  • Vouches for its own truthfulness


Confession of the Ethiopian Eunuch

Acts 8:36-38 from Codex Laudianus (Ea); Greek on right, Latin on left

Bruce M. Metzger, Manuscripts of the Greek Bible: An Introduction to Greek Palaeography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981), plate 22


Confession of the Eunuch

Bruce M. Metzger, Manuscripts of the Greek Bible: An Introduction to Greek Palaeography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981), plate 22

“I believe in the Son of God”


Evidence for Acts 8:37

  • Earliest Greek manuscript is Codex Laudianus (6th cent.)

  • Quoted consistently by the early church fathers


Irenaeus quoting Acts 8:37

  • 2nd century church father

  • “…that the eunuch himself, after he believed and immediately became worthy to be immersed, was saying, ‘I believe that the Son of God is Jesus’ ”

    • Irenaeus, Adversus haeresus 3.12.8


The Three Heavenly Witnesses

  • 1 John 5:7-8

  • Became a part of the KJV because of a rash promise made by textual critic, Erasmus

  • The third edition of Erasmus’ Greek N.T. (1522) became the basis of the Greek text used in translating the N.T. of the KJV 1611

  • Originally quoted in a 4th cent. Latin sermon


Consequences of variations

  • Trivial variations of no consequence

  • Substantial variations of no consequence

  • Substantial variations affecting the text


The ending of Mark’s Gospel

The evidence that Mark ends at 16:8

  • Not found in Vaticanus and Sinaiticus (the two oldest Greek uncials)

  • Not found in the earliest copies of the Old Syriac, the Latin Vulgate and others

  • The style and vocabulary of 16:9-20 is different than the rest of Mark’s Gospel


The ending of Mark’s Gospel

The evidence that Mark ends at 16:20

  • Vaticanus has a gap large enough for vv. 9-20; clearly the scribe knew of the passage

  • Many other early manuscripts and versions include the last twelve verses

  • What book ends with the words, “for they were afraid”?

  • Irenaeus (2nd cent.) clearly quotes from it


Irenaeus’ quote from Mark

  • “Also, towards the conclusion of his Gospel, Mark says: ‘So then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God;’ ”

    • Irenaeus, Adversus haeresus 3.10


J.W. McGarvey on Mark 16:9-20

  • Argued that the last twelve verses of Luke’s Gospel have the same number of differences in style and vocabulary that Mark 16:9-20 has, yet nobody questions the end of Luke

    • J.W. McGarvey, Matthew and Mark, (1875; reprint ed., Delight, AR: Gospel Light), pp. 377-382


J.W. McGarvey on Mark 16:9-20

  • He concluded that Mark 16:9-20 is— “authentic” = historically accurate— “not genuine” = not written originallyby Mark

    • J.W. McGarvey, Matthew and Mark, (1875; reprint ed., Delight, AR: Gospel Light), pp. 377-382


Some observations

  • Every teaching in Mark 16:9-20 is found elsewhere in the N.T.

  • It seems that early in the history of Mark’s Gospel the last page was accidentally torn away

  • Mark or some other early Christian supplied the ending we have now


Questions for review (1)

  • What is textual criticism?

  • What are some ways that variations entered into copies of the ancient text?

  • What are some of the rules of textual criticism?


Questions for review (2)

  • How do you explain some 200,000 variations in the manuscripts of the N.T.?

  • What are the questions concerning the ending of Mark’s Gospel?


Next week

Lesson 7:

Restoring the New Testament Text & Manuscripts from the Sand


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