PART ONE - INTRODUCTION
I. Definition What is Textual Criticism?
A. The effort to determine the original text of any written work
when only the copies of the original work are extant
B. Applied to the Scriptures, it is the effort to determine exactly
the text of the Autographs
II. Why is it important? The Greek text of the New Testament is the
basis for interpretation and theological systemization. Without this
foundation of knowing what and where the Biblical text is, it is
impossible to build further study in the Scriptures
III. How is textual criticism achieved?
A. By examining the various extant Mss. and determining by various
methods the value of the Mss.
B. By having a basic understanding of the materials of textual
criticism, of the men of textual criticism, and of the
methodology of textual criticism.
PART TWO -- THE MATERIALS 0F TEXTUAL CRITICISM
I. Writing Materials of the Text
A. Ancient Materials
- bark and leaves of trees, clay tablets,
metals, bones, potsherds, wooden tablets, papyrus, parchment,
1. The source of Papyrus
a. It is found in swamps of Nile Delta.
b. Thin strips from center pith of Papyrus stalk cut and
laid side by side with another series of strips laid
perpendicular to lower strips.
c. Usually the sheets from 6" x 9" to 12" x 15.
d. Sheets pasted together and made into rolls of 20
e. Roll-biblos; several rolls-tome.
f. Used until about the 3rd century.
C. Parchment (Vellum)
1 The source of Parchment
a. Tanned animal skins received writing and were very
b. Later, they were soaked in limewater and the hair was
c. Vellum is usually calfskin; Parchment is from other
d. City of Pergamum produced Parchment of fine quality.
2. Effects of Parchment
a. It overcame Papyrus by the end of the 3rd century.
b. Most extant 4-14th century Mss are Parchment.
c. Constantine had 50 official Bibles of this high quality
material made (perhaps Aleph and B)
D. Paper - It was used very early by Chinese and easily surpassed
E. Palimpsest - It is rescraped Parchment to be written on top of
again. The earliest example is Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus; it was
written in 5th century and rescraped in 12th century.
II. Writing Instruments
A. Stilus - Made
from bones, metal, or similar materials with a
sharp end for writing and a blunt end for erasing words when
used on wax tablets.
B. Reed Pen - Made from reed stalk with brush end attached to be
used on Papyrus
C. Quill Pen - Made from quill feather with slit on end to be used
primarily on Parchment.
D. Ink Pen - A quill pen used with both black and colored ink was
the source of many Mss. The various colors of ink were used for
III. Forms in which writing received
A. Roll (scroll) form
1. The material was either Papyrus or Parchment.
2. It was wound around a stick, thus producing a volume.
3. The roll form was used horizontally left to right (Greek or
Latin), and right to left for Hebrew,
4. The longest books in the New Testament (Luke and Acts) were
5. Several disadvantages obviously were that the scroll form was
not handy for quick references and comparisons were awkward.
Thus, a proverb developed, "a great book, a great evil."
6. Christianity was the greatest force to alter the use of the
scroll form to book form.
B. Codex (book) form
1. An early expression of the codex form was the wax tablet
fastened to other tablets by hinges.
2. The Christian use of this form used Papyrus.
3. The codex form was made as quires or folded sheets (usually
IV. Writing Styles
A. Majuscule of Uncials
- Capital letters of "bookhand" writing.
Uncial comes from uncia meaning 12th part; letters which took
up 12th part of a line.
1. These letters were not connected to each other.
2. They were scriptio continua or no space between words
3. It was a very clumsy way of writing and likewise very slow.
4. It was used for New Testament Mss. until after 10th century.
B. Minuscule - means "rather small"
1. A form of cursive writing for non-literary materials (running
2. Used for personal writing (NT autographs were probably
3. Minuscules had several advantages: small, less parchment
usage, economical, and the rapidity of production.
4. Minuscules outnumber majuscules 10 to 1.
5. They began in the 9th century for New Testament Mss.
C. Nomina Sacra (Sacred Names)
1. Abbreviations of proper names.
2. A form of contraction, which was limited to 15 sacred words:
God Spirit Man
Lord Cross Heaven
Son Mother David
Jesus Father Israel
Christ Savior Jerusalem
V. Writing Helps
A. Colophons - Notes at
end of book ("the end of the book, thanks be
B. Chapter Divisions - Codex Vaticanus oldest Mss. to use chapter
C. Chapter Titles - titloi
D. Chapter Table of Contents - Summary outline of chapters.
E. Harmony of the Gospels by Eusebus - 10 canons listing all
possible combinations of 4 Gospels and their peculiarities.
F. Prologue (Hypotheses) - Brief introduction to book with
authorship and content.
G. Bios longer statement of each of the Evangelists.
H. Titles of books - Superscriptions and subscriptions briefly
written at beginning or end of book and which grew in length
over period of time,
I. Catenae - "Chains" of comments from older commentators.
J. Commentaries - Systematized interpretive remarks.
K. Scholia - Remarks by teacher to interpret text.
L. Glosses - Short explanations of certain words or phrases which
M. Onomastica - Helps for etymological use.
N. Cola - Marking indicating proper inflection or pause (a clause)
O. Commata - Indicating a phrase (comma).
P. Neumes - Musical notation to facilitate in chanting scriptures.
Q. Lectionary helps - Words such as arch (beginning) and telos
(end) on Mss. to indicate to reader in public worship where to
start and stop as he reads portion of Scripture.
VI. Testifying Materials to the Text
1. According to Aland there are 5255 Mss.
2. A breakdown reveals:
a. 81 Papyri
b. 267 Uncials
c. 2764 Cursives (Minuscules)
d. 2143 Lectionaries
3. Enumeration follows these designations
a. Papyrus - "P"
b. Uncial Mss. followed by Roman letters (also Greek and
c. Minuscule Mss. - Arabic numbers
d. Lectionaries - Arabic and Evl. or Apost.
B. Papyri Mss.
1. P45 - Part of Chester Beatty Library, 30 leaves of codex.
Originally about 220 leaves, 4 Gospels and Acts, dated first
half of 3rd century approx. Caesarean family.
2. P46 - Chester Beatty Library, 86 leaves of codex, 10 Pauline
epistles, A. D. 200, Alexandrian Text.
3. P47 - Chester Beatty Library, 10 leaves of codex, Book of
Revelation, Middle 3rd century, Alexandrian text,
4. P52 - Oldest Ms., contains John 18:31-33, 37-38, written
about 135, Uncial, 3.5" x 2.3", 7 lines on recto and verso.
5. P66 - Bodmer Library, A. D. 200, 6" x 5.5", John 1:1-6:11
and 6:35b-l4:l5, mixed text.
6. P72 - Earliest of Mss. containing 2 Peter and Jude, 3rd
century, Alexandrian text.
1. Codex sinaiticus, aleph, 01-written in 4th century, contains
part of OT and all of NT plus Epistle of Barnabas and
Shepherd of Hermas, 4 columns/page and 48 lines/column,
discovered by Tischendorf in 1844 in Monastery of St.
Catherine on Mt. Sinai, he suggested that it was one of 50
copies prepared by Constantine in 331 and sent by Justinian
to convent of Mt Sinai, mixed text (Alexandrian and
western), sold to Russians and then to British Museum in
London in 1933.
2. Codex Vaticanus, B, 03 - written in 4th century, contains
most of OT, and NT except part of Hebrews, Pastoral Epistles
and Revelation, located in Vatican Library since 1481, 3
narrow columns, mixed text, but most Alexandrian.
3. Codex Alexandrinus, A, 02, written in 5th century, contains
NT except for most of Matthew and part of John and
2 Corinthians and OT, Byzantine text in Gospels and
Alexandrian elsewhere, originated in Alexandria and hence
its name (probably).
4. Codex Eptiraemi Rescriptus, C, or, a palimpsest 5th century
writing, parts of all NT, except 2 Thessalonians and 2 John,
mixed text, pro-Byzantine.
5. Codex Bezae, D, 05, Greek and Latin texts, 1 column/page, 4
Gospels, Acts and Latin 3 John 11-15, Western text, 5th
6. Codex Washingtonianus, W, (032), 4 Gospels in this order -
Matthew, John, Luke, Mark, 5th century, 1 column/page.
7. Codex Koridethianus, Theta, contains Gospels, 9th century,
Byzantine text in all but Mark, found near Monastery at
D. Minuscule Mss. (Cursive and late)
1. Family 1 - minuscules 1, 118, 131, 209, 1582, dating from
10th-13th century, Byzantine text, Ms.1 was used by Erasmus.
2. Family 13 - Minuscules 13, 69, 124, 346, 12-14 century,
known also as Ferrar Group (230, 543, 788, 826, 828, .983,
1689, ,1709), Byzantine text.
3. Minuscule 33 - contains Gospels, Acts, and Epistles, 9th
century, "Queen of the Cursives" (Nestle).
4. Ms. 61- entire NT, 15-16th century,contains Johannine Comma.
5. Ms. 81 - written 1044, contains Alexandrian text of Acts.
6. Ms. 565 - 9th Century, deluxe edition and one of the most
beautiful of all extant Mss., gold letters on purple vellum,
7. Ms. 700 -an 11-12th century writing, diverges from TR close
to 3000 times and has many peculiar readings.
8. Ms. 1424 entire NT, 9-10th century, commentary for every
book except Revelation, Byzantine text, renamed Family 1424
E. Lectionaries - Compiled readings from Scripture for public
1. For every day usage and also Saturday and Sunday usage.
2. Uncials and Minuscules
3. Designated with "L" or "Lect." prefixed to Arabic number.
4. Lectionaries from Gospels are Evagelistarion; those from
Acts are Apostolicon.
F. Versions - Translations into different languages.
1. Syriac Versions - Originated at Antioch (Acts 11:19).
a. Peshitta Syriac - contains NT except for 2 Peter,
2&3 John, Jude, Revelation, originated in 2nd century,
contains Byzantine text, probably translated from
original NT Mss.
b. Old Syriac Version - older than Peshitta (2nd century),
either Byzantine or Alexandrian text.
c. Tatian's Diatessaron - A harmony of the 4 Gospels as one
whole and continuous story, written about A.D 170.
d. Harkleian Syriac - The Peshitta revised by Polycarp and
revised again by Thomas of Harkel (616), contains
2. Coptic (Egyptian) Versions - Egyptian and Alexandrian origin.
a. Sahidic Version - written about 200, text similar to
Aleph and B.
b. Bohairic Version -. literary dialect of Egypt,
c. Middle Egyptian Versions - Fayumic and Bashmuric.
3. Latin Versions - Originated in late 2nd century, probably in
a. Old Latin Versions - no complete Old Latin Bible is
1) Western text, from 4th century
2) Acts, Epistles, and several fragments of Revelation
a) Codex Palatinus, e, 6th century, portions of 4
Gospels, purple parchment with silver writing.
b) Fluery Palimpsest, h, 6th century, part of Acts,
and Catholic Epistles, and Revelation.
c) Codex Bobbiensis, k, 5th century, part of Matthew
d) Codex Vercellensis, a, tradition says that
Eusebius wrote it before A.D. 370.
e) Codex Gigas - largest extant Ms. - 20" x 36"
written in 13th century, contains entire Bible in
Latin and other works, also called Devil's Bible
because it has a picture of the Devil on it and
tradition states that the monk that produced it
did so in one night with the help of the Devil.
b. latin Vulgate Pope Damasus, about 382, chose Jerome to
revise latin Bible. He revised Gospels using several
principles: he compared Latin with Greek Mss. and made
"conservative changes." The Greek Mss. were probably
Alexandrian text-types. Over 8000 Vulgate Mss. are
1) Codex Amiatinus - Contains whole Bible, written as
gift to Pope Gregory (716). Probably best Ms, of
a) Codex Sangallensis - Oldest extant Ms. of Vulgate
Gospels - 5th century.
4. Armenian Version - 5th century translation under order of
Patriarch Sahak. Translated from either Syriac or Greek. A
revision of Armenian Version came by the 8th century, often
called "the Queen of the Versions" - over 1200 Mss. extant,
5. Gothic Versions - Ulfilas created Gothic alphabet and
translated then the Bible from Greek to Gothic in 4th
century missionary work, Byzantine text.
6. Georgian Version - Translation of Bible into language of
a. Adysh Ms.- oldest extant (897)
b. Opiza Ms. A.D. 913
7. Ethiopic Version - 4th to 6th century Mss., Byzantine text,
8. Arabic - translated fran Syriac, 7th century.
9. Persian - translated from Syriac, 14th century.
10. Slavonic - translated by missionaries to the Slava in 9th
century (Cyril and Methodius), most are lectionaries.
11. Frankish - 8th century, west central Europe, part of
G. Fathers' Quotations
1. Western Fathers The Western Fathers used the longer
a. Irenaens text which probably originated in
b. Tertullian Rome and spread throughout the
c. Cyprian Roman Empire.
d. Justian Martyr
2. Alexandrian Fathers Alexandria was known for its
a. Origen gnosticism and allegory, a
b. Clement of Alexandria shorter text.
3. Syriac Fathers
b. Ephraem Byrus
VII. Variants in the Text
A. Unintentional Variants
1. Variants due to mistakes in sight.
a. improper divisions of words,
b. Homojotelenton (similar endings).
c. mistaking one letter for another.
d. Haplography -"single writing" once when should be twice.
e. Dittography - "double writing" - twice when should be
f. Metathesis "change of place."
2. Variants due to mistakes in writing - writing down from
exemplar incorrect word.
3. Variants due to mistakes in hearing.
4. Variants due to mistakes in memory - influenced by parallel
5. Harmonization - parallel passages.
6. Doctrinal Variants - Changes for theology? Hort thought all
the scribes were angels. However, Clowell stated that
Majority of all variants were for theological purposes.
Moreover, Metzger stated that the early Church Fathers
accused heretics of corrupting Scriptures to support their
special heresy. Were all the scribes demons?
PART THREE -- THE MEN OF TEXTUAL CRITICISM
I. The Period of the Majority Text
A. The Ancient Period
of the Majority Text.
1. The Majority text found in the Peshitta Syriac Version - 2nd
2. The Majority text found in the Gothic Version - 4th century.
3. The Majority text found in the P45 in 3rd century
4. The Majority text found in the Codex W - 5th century.
5. The Majority text found in the Codex A - 5th Century.
6. The Majority text found in the 90% of extant texts - 9th &
B. The TR (Textus Receptus) Period of Majority Text.
1. With Gutenburg's moveable-type print press, the first
version of the Bible was the Latin Vulgate of Jerome.
2. The first printed Greek text was Polyglot Bible known as the
Complutensian Polyglot, printed in 1514, but not published
3. The first Greek text to be published was the Greek NT by the
humanist Desiderius Erasmus in 1516.
a. Erasmus used the following Mss.:
1) 2nd century Ms. of Gospels, Acts, and Epistles.
2) 5th century Ms. of Gospels.
3) 12-14th century Ms. of Acts and Epistles.
4) 15th century Ms. of Acts and Epistles.
5) 12th century Ms. of Revelation.
b. Erasmus had translated Greek into Latin Version in
1505-6 and presumably had other Mss. than these 5.
c. Erasmus had a thorough knowledge of variants and Textual
Criticism matters. He published his notes on these
matters after his texts
1) Matthew 6:13 Conclusion of Lord's Prayer
2) Matthew 19:17-22 Rich young ruler
3) Mark 16:9-20 Last 12 verses of Mark
4) Luke 2:14 Angel's song
5) Luke 22.43-44 Bloody sweat of Christ
6) John 7:53-8:11 Woman taken in adultery
7) 1 Timothy 3:16 Mystery of Godliness-Incarnation
d. Erasmus was careful not to insert his humanistic thought
into margins of the text. He did follow the Vulgate
rather than Greek at some points.
1) In Rev. 22:16-21, the only major difference is "Book
of Life" rather than "Tree of life," and this might
have been based on Ms. 141 (Hoskier).
2) Critics of Erasmus suggest that he should have used
Vulgate reading of Revelation 22.14 instead of
Majority Greek text reading ("Do His commandments"-TR
Vs "wash their robes"-Vulgate!)
e. Erasmus edited 3 Greek NT texts:
1) 1516 - Dedicated to Pope Leo x with his methodology.
2) 1519 - Revision of Greek and Latin.
3) 1522 - Includes 1 John 5:7.
4) 1527 - 3 columns (Greek, Vulgate, Erasmus' Latin).
5) 1535 - omitted Vulgate.
4. Robert Estienne (Stephanus) edited 4 Greek NT texts:
a. 1546 Pocket size - Complutensian and Erasmian texts.
b. 1549 Pocket size - Complutensian and Erasmian texts.
c. 1530 Variant readings and Codex D with 13 other Codices.
d. 1551 Complutensian and Erasmian texts - Texts divided
into verses for first time. Allegedly, Stephanus made
these divisions while on horseback, the inappropriate
divisions occurring when the horse jogged.
5. Theodore de Beze (Beza) - 1519-1605. He edited 10 editions
of Greek NT between 1565-1611, the last one appearing
posthumously. Four editions had critical notes printed under
the text (1565, 1582, 1588-9, & 1598). In his 3rd edition
he indicated his textual materials (D & D2) but follows
Stephanus 4th edition. He was aware of textual problem
passages, such as Luke 2:14, John 7:53-8:11 and I Timothy
3:16. His name helped popularize the future received text.
6. Bonaventure & Abraham Elzevir - Published 7 editions between
1624-1678. They followed Beza but also included Erasmus,
Computensian, and Latin Vulgate. Their 2nd Edition (1633)
helped standardize the received text ("textum...nunc ab
omnibus receptus"-text...now received by all).
II. The Period of the Minority of Critical text.
A. Early work with variant
1. Brian Walton (1625-1661), text of Stephanus' 1550 Edition
with variants from Codex Alexandrinus.
2. John Fell (1625-1686), text of Elzevir (1633) and variants
of 100 Mss.
3. John Mill (1645-1707), followed Stephanus' 1550 text but
included in his prolegomena variants from Fathers, editions
and Mss., contained over 30,000 variants.
4. Edward Wells (1667-1727), edited first complete NT which did
not follow TR.
5. Richard Bentley (1662-1742), desired to restore 4th century
text by sidestepping the "errors" of the Vulgate and TR.
6. Johann Bengel (1687-1752), as a student at Tubingen he
studied transmission of text and affirmed variants did not
alter any doctrine. He also used several other principles:
witnesses are to be weighed not counted, grouped either as
Asiatic or African Mss., and the difficult reading preferred
to the easy reading. Moreover, he rated variations in margin
of Greek texts. Also, he standardized punctuation and
paragraph divisions in his Greek NT.
7. Jakob Wettstein (1693-1754), printed Eizevir's text with a
critical apparatus, held that all early Greek Mss.
contaminated by Latin Versions, and therefore later Greek
Mss. more reliable.
8. Johann Semler (1725-1791), "Father of German Rationalism,"
classified Mss. into 3 groups: Alexandrian, Western, and
9. William Bowyer (1699-1777), was first to print TR with
brackets around suspected verses.
B. The Minority Text of the Critics.
1. Johann Griesbach (1745-1812), published 3 editions between
1774-1806, proposed several families of witnesses:
Alexandrian, Western, and Byzantine. He listed 15 canons for
Textual Criticism and produced a text on these principles,
departing from the TR.
2. Johann Scholz (1794-1852), produced a list of Mss. which
were available to scholars.
3. Karl Lachmann (1793-1851), basically a classicist rather
than a theologian, he desired to produce text of 4th century
based on principles he set forth in an article previously
written. He thought it impossible to produce the original
text, and rebuked his critics for following a late, impure
text. His critics in turn called him "Bentley's Ape." His
text usually based on 2-4 Mss. and it is considered the
first critical text.
4. Samuel Tregelles (1813-1875), published critical text based
on his own independent study with a convenient apparatus.
5. L. F. Constantin Tischendorf (1815-1874), critical scholar
par excellence, produced 8 editions of Greek NT between
1841-1872, discovered and propagated its importance for
remainder of his life.
6. Brooke Foss Westcott (1825-1901), and Fenton J. A. Hort
(1828-1892), Anglican scholars at Cambridge University who
worked together on critical text (25 years), publishing text
and principles in 1881-82, built on German scholars such as
Lachmann, Griesbach, and Tischendorf to produce text behind
English Revision of NT in 1881.
C. The Majority-Minority Text Clash.
1. F.H.A. Scrivener (1813-1891), scholar of Trinity College who
supported TR and Codex Bezae. He published texts of 20 Mss.
and listed all known Mss.
2. John Burgon (1813-1888), an Anglican and Dean of Chichester,
he repudiated Westcott and Hort and their text and
principles with scholarly accord. He supported the
Traditional text since he believed that God preserved it
through the Church Fathers. The TR, not being preserved by a
Church Father, but by Erasmus, was not enthusiastically
supported by Burgon, even though it was a printed
manifestation of the Traditional Text. The theory of
transmission, according to Burgon, was not naturalistic but
3. God raised up other men to propagate the TR, Majority,
Byzantine, Traditional Text and the resultant
translation--AV: Miller, Wilkerson, Ray, Hills, Fuller,
Hodges, Waite, Pickering, and Van Bruggen.
PART FOUR -- THE METHODS OF TEXTUAL CRITICISM
I. The Methodology of the Minority Text.
A. Its Characteristics
1. It is naturalistic in approach, excluding the working of the
Holy Spirit in preserving Word of God.
a. Lachmann approached Greek NT as he did classical Greek
b. Hort declared that NT texts should be handled as other
c. J. H. Greenlee rules out Divine Preservation when he
states that the Majority text in printed form was the
"result of mere chance" (Introduction to NT Textual
criticism, pp. 72, 74).
d. B. M. Metzger does not mention Divine Preservation as he
discusses the transmission of the text (The -Text of the
NT, pp. l86-206).
2. It has a low view of inspiration - Jack Finigan, a
representative of the Alexandrian text camp, states:
"Presumably if we could ever recover the original manuscript
of a NT book it would be very close to what its author
intended. Even here, however, the text might not be
completely correct. If the author wrote it himself, he could
have made mistakes; if he dictated it to a scribe,
the latter could have made mistakes (Encountering NT
Manuscripts, p, 514).
B. Its Results (Unfruitful)
1. Metzger states: "It is understandable that in some cases
different scholars will come to different evaluations of the
significance of the evidence" (Text of the NT, p.210).
2. Johann Greisbach stated: "The NT abounds in more glosses,
additions, and interpolations purposely introduced than any
other book (Opuscula Academica, p. 317).
3. Kirsopp Lake stated: "...we do not know the original form of
the Gospels, and it is quite likely that we never shall"
(Family 13, p. vii).
4. Kenneth Clark states: "...the gospel text was little more
stable than the oral tradition, and that we may be pursuing
the retreating mirage of the 'original text'" (The
Theological Relevance of Textual Variants in Current
Criticism of the Greek NT, p. 15) And also be doubted
that there is evidence of one original text to be recovered"
5. F. C. Conybeare stated: "...Prior to the collection of the
Gospels in a canon, about the year 180, and while they were
still circulating singly in isolated churches, their text
was less fixed and more liable to changes, doctrinal and
transcriptional, than they ever were afterwards; and that
the ultimate text, if there ever was one that deserves to be
so called, is forever irrecoverable (History of NT
Criticism, p. 129). Interesting to note, Conybeare affirms
this supposition as he attempts to repudiate Burgon's
position on the Traditional Text!
6. R. M. Grant stated "The recovery of what the NT writers
wrote...is well nigh impossible" (A Historical Introduction
to the NT, p. 5l).
7. The conclusion of the matter becomes obvious, if one's
approach to ascertaining the true NT text is a posteriori,
that is, let the facts lead to the true, text then the true
text is irrecoverable because of the variants in the facts.
However, an a priori approach assumes God has preserved
His text; how do the facts point to this preserved text?
C. Its Techniques
1. The Classical Approach
a. Recension - Through a selective process, attempting to
utilize the most trustworthy evidence for a basic text
is the recension process.
b. Emendation - Removing "errors" from the Mss.
C. Conjectural Emendation - Using an "educated guess" to
d. By using these processes, a reconstructed text is
established with help of the following principles:
1) Shorter reading is often preferable.
2) Harder reading is often preferable.
3) Reading from which other readings in variant could
most easily have developed should be preferable.
4) Reading in harmony with author's characteristics is
2. The Westcott and Hort Approach
a. Genealogy - The family tree approach used by the
classicists by analyzing the ancestors of certain
families of Mss. through their respective descendants,
and thereby recovering earlier ancestors, summarized as
4 basic text-types: Syrian, Western, Alexandrian,
1) Syrian - According to Hort, a smooth text free from
difficulty was attained after 4th century.
2) Western - An early text which was extensively
different from true text and usually longer.
3) Alexandrian - Text used in North Africa and
approached as literary classic and with
few real changes.
4) Neutral - Pure text represented in B and usually
with little other support.
b. Mixture - Various text-types found in any one Ms
Conflation is the composite of mixture found in a Ms.,
and hence, Hort thought conflate readings pointed to
later dates of Mss. Hort produced 8 "examples" in the
Syrian Text, thus "proving" its late date.
c. Intrinsic Probability - Internal evidence based on what
author probably would say, relative to his style,
purpose, and context. Transcriptional probability - what
the scribe probably did through intentional or
d. Lucianic Recension - Hort held the Syrian Text was the
result of recension by editors, probably headed up by
Lucian. However, this assumption is based on no
3. Other Approaches
a. The rejection of the genealogical method and replacing
it with the best Ms., on basis of grammar, orthography,
and eclectic Mss. (E. C. Colwell).
b. Rejection of the Axiom brevior lectio potior (briefer
reading is better - A.C. Clark)
c. The statistical methods applied to TC by using
statistics, comparing 2 texts against a third to
determine right reading (Dom Henri Quentin).
d. The local texts approach - text types based on ancient
locality: Alexandria, Caesarea, Antioch Italy, Gaul, and
Carthage (B. H. Streeter).
e. Eclecticism - The choosing of a text that suits the
context and explains origin of others to the end that
one text and then another is chosen with a resultant
D. Its Transmission of the Text - The Minority Text of the ancient
world was the "purest" text because more errors would creep in
with more Mss. because:
1. Untrained scribes for pragmatic purposes produced earliest
Ms. until middle of 4th century.
2. These scribes were not copying Scripture since the canon was
not yet crystalized.
3. The earliest copies were probably carried away from their
Thus, the Byzantine Text became an official text of the
Catholic Church as a result of editing of scholars. Hence, it
is late and inferior to earlier, purer texts so they allege.
II. The Methodology of the Majority Text
A. The characteristics
of the Majority Text.
1. It is the text of Christendom for 1800 years.
2. It is the text of 80-95% of all extant texts of NT.
3. It is theologically fuller than any other texts.
4. It is a complete text, as against incomplete texts of others.
B. The Results of the Majority Text - Since God inspired the very
words of His revelation, He is concerned that we have these very
words, and hence He has preserved His inspired words.
C. The Techniques of the Majority Text
1. Burgon listed 7 tests in weighing Mss.
b. Consent of Witnesses
d. Respectability of Witnesses
g. Internal Considerations
2. Several Arguments Answered
a. Wherever and whatever the true NT text is, it is not
found in the Majority text." This is a negative approach
that really offers no positive alternative, but leads to
b. "The oldest Mss. are the best." These Mss. are extant
and ancient merely because of the climate of Egypt, and
because they were unused and valueless because believers
were using the popular and accurate Majority Text. The
good Mss. were worn out but the inferior Mss. were
untouched and thus preserved.
c. "Witnesses must be weighed, not counted". Actually, they
should be both weighed and counted Moreover, when texts
are weighed, they are in effect being counted because
even a few texts are more than zero.
d. "there are no doctrinal changes of any consequence in
the different texts."
1) Often heretics only had a portion or passage of
Scripture, and. as far as they knew their deletion or
addition improved their heretical doctrine
2) Every word. of God is important, and if God wanted a
word or phrase in the Bible "X" number of times then
we should not be satisfied with Mss. containing "X"
minus one number of occurrences.
3) Cf. the 162 theological passages James J. Ray lists
that are perverted by various translations.
III. Different Theories of Bible Transmission
A. The Naturalistic
Approach to the Transmission of the Text.
1. Advocates of this theory say that the text was transmitted
just as any non Biblical text. Hort said no new principle in
T.C. was needed for the Biblical text.
2. Many earlier advocates of this theory tended toward German
rationalism, e.g., Lachmann was a classicist, not a
theologian, and he had no regard for Divine preservation as
he attempted to reconstruct the 4th century text. Also,
Semler, Tischendorf, etc.
3. Advocates imply that the word of God has been lost for 1800
4. Advocates believe that God can only use textual critics to
preserve His text through their naturalistic and often
5. Advocates assume that Biblical text should be left to the 5
textual critics of the 20th century: Aland, Metzger, Black,
Wikgren, and Elliott of the U.B.S. Greek NT.
B. The Supernatural Preservation of Biblical Doctrine Approach.
1. All texts and translations are "good" and there are not any
bad texts, Hence, no need for a battle at this point.
2. Biblical teaching is found in all the various witnesses.
3. Therefore, the words aren't important as long as the
teaching of the Bible is evident. (This undermines
memorization of any standard text. The familiar texts
memorized in one standard will have to be re-memorized in
another version, or else memorization becomes paraphrase).
C. The Supernatural Preservation of the True Reading in at least
one extant Ms.
1. Theodore Zahn avers that the true text is found in one of
the extant Mss.
2. However, the problem is which is the true Ms. with the true
text and have all of the true Mss. been discovered yet?
D. The Supernatural Preservation of the Text to the Inspiration of
1. Peter Ruckmann holds that the 1611 KJV is inspired and is
more important than the originals.
2. In essence, "If the KJV was good enough for Paul, it is good
enough for me" type approach. This leads to real problems in
inspiration and preservation.
3. Evidently then, future translations into foreign languages
for missionaries will rely solely upon the 1611 KJV,
indicating that the translators thought they had the best
translation, but that it was not a final product, that is,
the inspired word.
E. The Supernatural Preservation of the Majority Text through the
1. Dean John Burgon held that the Majority Text was preserved
by church Bishops through the centuries.
2. According to Hills, Burgon did not accept favorably the TR
because of Erasmus' association with it, as a non-Church
F. Supernatural Preservation of the Majority Text through the
Priesthood of Believers, including the Traditional Text and its
printed form -- the TR.
1. The General Principles of Preservation of the Text.
a. God's Word is eternal (Isaiah 40:8). Thus God wrote it
from eternity for all time and eternity. It is necessary
and relevant for all of the ages (Psalm 119:89).
b. God's Word is infallibly inspired (2 Timothy 3:16).
Christ regarded the OT as the Scriptures which cannot be
broken (John 10:35). Moreover, He considered them the
final authority (Matthew 4:4-10). Likewise, He
promised that the Holy Spirit would infallibly
inspire the NT; the things Christ had to say (His words)
would be inspired (John 16:12-13).
c. God's Word is Providentially inspired. "Heaven and earth
shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Luke
21:33). God has guarded His word so that every age has
had His Word. It is preserved primarily in the Majority
Hebrew and Greek Texts (Massoretic and TR Texts) and
secondarily in Latin Mss.
2. The Specific Details of the Preservation of the Text.
a. Just as God used the universal priesthood of believers
to formulate God's canon, He used them to preserve His
Word. He used believers in whom His Spirit was to guard
His Word; not unbelieving liberals or the visible
church. God preserved His text through Asia Minor
Christians as they collected both the Gospels and
Pauline Epistles in that locale. Most NT Books were
either written or sent in Asia Minor!
b. From the 4th century on, this Asia Minor Text was the
text of the churches (Byzantine Text).
c. Priesthood of believers during the Reformation.
1) Erasmus was influenced by the priesthood of believers
as he passed on the Traditional Text to Christendom.
2) Other Reformation leaders sought to produce
translations acceptable to believers.
d. The King James Version
1) It began in 1604 as a result of the Millenary
Petition and it was based on Tyndale's translation,
the Great Bible, the Geneva Bible, and the Bishop's
2) It was composed at 54 scholars and divided into 6
companies who checked each other.
3) Their desire according to their preface was to make
"a good one (translation) better...out of many good
ones one principal good one."
4) The KJV had many marginal notes indicating it was not
the final inspired translation.
5) The several revisions of the KJV (1629, 1638) have
improved the obsolete words. A unique misprint of the
first 1611 KJV was "Judas" for "Jesus" in Matthew
G. Basically, there are two approaches resulting in two different
1. The natural Approach - A reconstruction based on various
principles used on the evidence. It is built on Westcott and
Hort's theories and is very subjective. Its final result is
uncertainty concerning the true text.
2. The Supernatural Approach - It is based on God's promise
through the Holy Spirit (through the Priesthood of
Believers) to not only inspire the Originals but to preserve
His Word. He preserved His Word and the evidence affirms
that God did so through the Traditional Text.
Bruggen, Jacob Van. "The Ancient Text of the New Testament".
Premier, 1976 The author argues for the certainty of the Byzantine
Text and the uncertainty of contemporary approach based on an
Burgon, John W. "The last 12 Verses of Mark".
Grand Rapids: Associated
Publishers and Authors Inc., n.d. Irrefutable defense of the
integrity and authenticity of Mark 16:9-20. Other passages of the
Traditional Text defended in masterful style by Burgon as he handles
Burgon, John W. "The Revision Revised". Reprint by Paradise, Pa.:
Conservative Classics, 1978. A classic work of 3 articles in the
"Quarterly Review" refuting Westcott and Hort's Revision of 1881. He
strongly favored and defended the essential importance of the
Majority, Byzantine, or Traditional Text.
Greenlee, J. Harold. "Introduction to New Testament
Grand Rapids: Mm. D. Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1964. This Oral Roberts
University Greek professor presents Textual Criticism in an
elementary yet scholarly manner. He favors the minority text position
and many of his argumentations against the TR are "hand-me-down"
generalities. He has some instructive graphs and reproductions of
certain Mss. His naturalistic approach to text transmission is
evidenced by his uses of "chance."
Hills, Edward F. "Believing Bible Study". Des Moines:
Research Press, 1967. He approaches Textual Criticism from a
believer's point of view, emphasizing how God used the concept of the
priesthood of believers to preserve His Word. He takes up where
Burgon, Miller, and Wilkerson leave off and offers substantial
evidence for the TR and AV position.
Metzger, B. M. "The Text of the New Testament". N. Y.:
Press, l968.~This is a classic work on Textual Criticism. However,
the author favors the minority text and plays down the work and
importance of Burgon, stating "Burgon's argument was basically
theological and speculative" (p. 135). He lists valuable appendices
on NT papyri and a multitude of important plates of Mss.
Pickering, Wilbur N. "The Identity of the New Testament
Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1977. The author carefully demonstrates the
inherent weaknesses of the Westcott and Hort Theory and similar
contemporary theories built upon it.
Ruckman, Peter S. "The Christian's Handbook of Manuscript
Pensacola: Pensacola Bible Institute, 1970. A pro-KJV and TR work,
refuting many opposing positions. However, the author has the
tendency to imply that inspiration as well as preservation has
been transmitted to the KJV. It is written in popular English but
somewhat acrimonious in spirit.