This chart does not tell the whole story. The extant Greek manuscripts—the primary witnesses to the text of the New Testament—do not include the Byzantine text in the first four centuries.
But what about the early versions and the church fathers? Do they attest to the Byzantine texttype in the early period? Many of the versions were translated from Greek at an early date. Most scholars believe that the New Testament was translated into Latin in the second century A.
Almost one hundred extant Latin manuscripts represent this Old Latin translation—and they all attest to the Western texttype. In other words the Greek manuscripts they translated were not Byzantine.
The Coptic version also goes back to an early date, probably the second century 34 —and it was a translation of Alexandrian manuscripts, not Byzantine ones. The earliest forms of the Syriac are also either Western or Alexandrian. At the end of the fourth century. The significance of these early versions is twofold: This is not the case; the Coptic, Ethiopic, Latin, and Syriac versions came from all over the Mediterranean region.
In none of these locales was the Byzantine text apparently used. This is strong evidence that the Byzantine text simply did not exist in the first three centuries—anywhere. But it would not prove that it was in the majority before the fourth century. Early patristic writers are especially valuable in textual criticism because it can be determined when and where they lived. Many of them lived much earlier than the date of any Greek manuscripts now extant for a particular book.
Compared to Alexandrian text-type manuscripts, the distinct Byzantine readings tend to show a greater tendency toward smooth and well-formed Greek, they display fewer instances of textual variation between parallel Synoptic Gospel passages, and they are less likely to present contradictory or " difficult " issues of exegesis. The Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, from its first edition to the present day, has provided an outstanding working text suitable for study and research, as well as for church and school use, in a compact, affordable edition. Copyright is not claimed nor asserted for the new and revised form of the Greek NT text of this edition, nor for the original form of such as initially released into the public domain by the editors, first as printed textual notes in and in continuous-text electronic form in The variety in English translations in the above verses is the English, not the Greek. The other reviewers are absolutley correct; The font on this text is by far the best available, large and clear and dark, printed on nice white paper.
Some lived in the first or early second century. If it could be determined what kind of text they used when they quoted from the New Testament, such information would naturally be highly valuable. But textual critics do not usually give much weight to the church fathers. There are several reasons for this, some of which are as follows.
First, when a church father quotes from the New Testament, it is not always possible to tell if he is quoting from memory or if he has a manuscript in front of him. Second, he rarely tells which book he is quoting from. Almost all the copies of these early patristic writers come from the Middle Ages. In other words textual criticism must be done on the church fathers in order to see how they attest to the New Testament text. This last problem is significant because the Byzantine text was the majority text after the ninth century.
And virtually all the copies of the fathers come from the ninth century or later. When a scribe was copying the New Testament text quoted by a church father, he would naturally conform that text to the one with which he was familiar. In , Frederic G. This introduction to patristic use of Scripture is necessary to underscore the following two points. And it is precisely these older studies that the majority text advocates appeal to.
Fee, who is recognized as one of the leading patristic authorities today, wrote:. In all of this material I have found one invariable: The early fathers had a text that keeps looking more like modern critical editions and less like the majority text. In summing up the evidence from the early church fathers, in none of the critical studies made in the last 80 years was the majority text found to be the text used by the church fathers in the first three centuries.
All the external evidence suggests that there is no proof that the Byzantine text was in existence in the first three centuries. It is not found in the extant Greek manuscripts, nor in the early versions, nor in the early church fathers. And this is a threefold cord not easily broken. To be sure, isolated Byzantine readings have been found, but not the Byzantine texttype.
Though some Byzantine readings existed early, the texttype apparently did not. Another comment is in order regarding external evidence. On several occasions church fathers do more than quote the text. They also discuss textual variants. Holmes points out the value of this for the present discussion. Final proof that the manuscripts known today do not accurately represent the state of affairs in earlier centuries comes from patristic references to variants once widely known but found today in only a few or even no witnesses.
Metzger discusses several references in Jerome, Origen, and other early writers where a variant found in the majority of manuscripts in their day is now found in a minority of manuscripts, as well as the other way around. This fact alone rules out any attempt to settle textual questions by statistical means. Most textual critics are persuaded that the external evidence of the first three centuries is conclusive against the majority text.
But it would be a gross misrepresentation of the facts to say that all these witnesses of the early period agree with each other all the time. It is well recognized that the Byzantine manuscripts—from the ninth or tenth century on at least—are far more uniform than the early Alexandrian or Western manuscripts. Several factors account for this, but it is ancillary to the present discussion.
The question at the moment is this: When the earliest manuscripts disagree with one another, how should the text critic decide which ones are right? This is where internal evidence enters the picture. The aim is to choose the reading that best explains the rise of the others. At first this process may sound subjective. Yet people do it every day—every time they read a newspaper.
For example if someone were to look at the Win-Loss column for the Los Angeles Lakers and see 38 losses and only 12 wins, he would know that the typesetter switched the numbers. If he saw an article by Harold Hoehner in which A. Not all internal evidence is subjective, then—or else proofreaders would have no jobs.
The central element in the procedures used by Westcott and Hort …was the internal evidence of documents. In other words Westcott and Hort—without the knowledge of the early papyri discovered since their time—felt that the majority text was inferior because of internal evidence. The papyri have simply confirmed their views. These canons, they argue, are only very broad generalizations about scribal tendencies which are sometimes wrong and in any case frequently cancel each other out. There is some truth to this point; in fact even Fee, an ardent opponent of the majority text, has argued likewise.
But the fact that internal evidence can be subjective does not mean that it is all equally subjective. And where they are, the majority text as well as the Western text almost always has an inferior reading, while the Alexandrian manuscripts almost always have a superior reading. Some of the internal criteria are quite subjective—but not all are. One other comment is needed here.
It seems that the majority text advocates appeal so much to external evidence because they want certainty about the original wording in every place. If internal evidence is totally subjective, then in those places the majority text view has no solution, and no certainty. To sum up, though internal evidence is subjective, it is not all equally subjective. Furthermore in the quest for certainty the majority text theory is in many respects worse off than reasoned eclecticism. Once again the reader should be reminded of a point made earlier. Though textual criticism cannot yet produce certainty about the exact wording of the original, this uncertainty affects only about two percent of the text.
And in that two percent support always exists for what the original said—never is one left with mere conjecture. In other words it is not that only 90 percent of the original text exists in the extant Greek manuscripts—rather, percent exists. Textual criticism is not involved in reinventing the original; it is involved in discarding the spurious, in burning the dross to get to the gold. Is the majority text identical with the original text? The present writer does not think so. There are no doctrinal reasons that compel him to believe that it is, and when all the evidence is weighed—both external and internal—it is quite compelling against such a view.
Does this mean that the majority text is worthless? For one thing, it agrees with the critical text 98 percent of the time.
For another, several isolated Byzantine readings are early, and where they have good internal credentials, reasoned eclectics adopt them as original. But this is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a wholesale adoption of the majority text. And that is precisely the issue taken up in this article. Pickering, president of the Majority Text Society, gave a lecture at Dallas Theological Seminary on the majority text and the original text. He took the position that the two were virtually identical. On February 23 the present writer responded. This article is an adaptation of that response.
Dallas Seminary Book Room, n. Hodges and Arthur L. Thomas Nelson, , p. Indeed, modern textual critics have recognized that Hort depended entirely too much on Aleph and B—so much so that the UBS edition has adopted scores of readings that are attested by the Byzantine texttype and other witnesses against these two codices. Precisely because modern textual critics do not share the same rigid presupposition that Hort embraced, they are able to see the value of readings not found in these two uncial texts.
In fact majority text advocates often see the issue as so black and white that if even one majority text reading were proved false, their whole theory would collapse. Hort held the opposite no distinctive Byzantine reading is original , and majority text advocates continue to write in a triumphant manner when they can prove Hort wrong on this point, usually assuming that reasoned eclecticism is thereby falsified.
This euphemistic alteration masks what the real issue is: In this sweeping statement, he has condemned B. Carson, the vast bulk of scholars in the Evangelical Theological Society whose doctrinal statement strongly affirms inerrancy , and almost all the faculty of Dallas Seminary—not to mention the first reader of his own thesis, S. But his thesis, which unashamedly declared this doctrinal position, preceded the book by 12 years.
There are several fallacies in this thinking, both on a historical level and on a logical one. Consequently, assuming that it is an exact reproduction of the autographs, for almost 2, years the doctrine of inspiration was inapplicable. Logically three observations may be made: But this is not a valid charge. Reasoned eclectics simply do not resort to conjectural emendation—there is textual basis for the readings they select.
Consequently, it is certain that the original wording is found either in the text or in the apparatus. Actually this kind of argument is more befitting defenders of the Textus Receptus. Since it backfires for majority text advocates, it has no place in the discussion. In addition any view of preservation must be the same for both testaments, else one is subject to the charge of Marcionism. But virtually all Old Testament textual critics—even those who embrace inerrancy—recognize the need, albeit rare, for conjectural emendation and significantly some of the conjectures of an earlier generation have now found support in the earliest witnesses to the Hebrew text found in Qumran.
Hoehner suggested this argument and analogy personal interview. Farstad, and others which while not definitive will prove to be very close to the final product, I believe. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament , 2d ed. Oxford University Press, , p. Scholars Press, , p. What confirms this further is that in several places Origen, the great Christian textual scholar, speaks of textual variants that were in a majority of manuscripts in his day, yet today are in a minority, and vice versa.
A Plea for Realism Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, , p. The present writer thinks that Carson has perhaps mildly overstated the case. He would rather state it more cautiously: One other point should be mentioned here: Here is a good instance in which the evidence dictates the shape of the proposition, not vice versa.
Essays and Reviews in the Continuing Debate , ed. Letis [Fort Wayne, IN: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, ], pp. That is not true. Although a portion of the Western text does omit the ascension in Luke These Western witnesses are not followed by the editors of the UBS text. Further, this doctrine is implicit throughout Hebrews and explicit in 1 Peter 3: It must be stressed that though occasionally a particular doctrinal proof text is altered or deleted among the manuscripts, never is such a doctrine omitted altogether.
Further, the charge cuts both ways. Nevertheless the orthodox affirmation of the Trinity in no way depends on the Comma Johanneum.
Nevertheless the point is not disturbed. If the percentages for the critical text are lowered, those for the Textus Receptus must also be correspondingly lowered. Possibly they are having difficulty in getting free from the presuppositions instilled in them during their student days.
They seem to be reacting to the evidence consistently at different isolated points but seem to be unable to break away from the Hort framework. Hodges and Farstad give a second principle: Pickering does not accept this second principle as valid and consequently parts company with Hodges at this point. For a critique of the stemmatic reconstruction principle, see Daniel B.
It seems that he has confused method with rationale for the method. The rationale may be somewhat complex, but the method is quite simple: Their Origin, Transmission and Limitations Oxford: Clarendon Press, , pp. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
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Please try again later. It is useful to have a compact and very portable Greek NT on Kindle. For anyone who has read the NT in Greek over many years, the lack of breathings, accents and punctuation does not present a difficulty. But unfortunately a transcription error seems to have crept into the text - at least the version I downloaded Sept I presume it arises from the text-reading software.
When a word in the original Byzantine text is not read clearly, my Kindle text omits the word and prefixes the letters alpha beta or sometimes just beta to the following word. For example in Mt A few other examples follow: But I have not checked the Kindle text against a full Byzantine text for any other more subtle errors of transcription which may be present.
So, yes it is convenient and easy to use, but use with considerable caution. Always check a regular Greek edition to be sure, if you are relying on the text. Are there any moves to produce the text of UBS4 in Kindle format? Even without breathings, accents, punctuation and apparatus, this would be very welcome alongside the Byzantine text.
The print and navigation are suitable for most reading. The all upper-case characters are not a major concern though I would have preferred all lower-case. Seems to be more Greek for the same relative price. In addition, the other volume uses mixed case and includes the breathing marks. Neither of which would be selling points in themselves but overall getting more text with clearer reading for a penny less seems a logical choice. When you first access the book, it starts with the text of Matt 1.
But since that isn't where you want to be, it's no problem. When you use the menu to Go to When you get to a particular book, you can select the chapter you want. I used my Kindle viewer on my Mac and Blackberry both are free from Amazon , and it works fine. One person found this helpful.