Textual Criticism

Theology Thursday - Byzantine Priority & the "Phantom" Eclectic Text (Part 1)

In an appendix to his The New Testament in the Original Greek: Byzantine Platform, Maurice Robinson explained the Textus Receptus and the Byzantine platform are, in fact, quite different. For him, the crux of the issue is the dominance of the Byzantine text:1

From the beginning of the modern critical era in the nineteenth century the Byzantine Textform has had a questionable reputation. Associated as it was with the faulty Textus Receptus editions which stemmed from Erasmus’ or Ximenes’ uncritical selection of a small number of late manuscripts (hereafter MSS), scholars in general have tended to label the Byzantine form of text “late and secondary,” due both to the relative age of the extant witnesses which provide the majority of its known support and to the internal quality of its readings as subjectively perceived.

Yet even though the numerical base of the Byzantine Textform rests primarily among the late minuscules and uncials of the ninth century and later, the antiquity of that text reaches at least as far back as its predecessor exemplars of the late fourth and early fifth century, as reflected in MSS A/02 and W/032.

Read more about Theology Thursday - Byzantine Priority & the "Phantom" Eclectic Text (Part 1)

Westcott & Hort Versus the Textus Receptus: Which is Superior? (Part 3)

Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Returning to the specific texts, Westcott-Hort vs. the textus receptus: in truth, both texts necessarily fall short of presenting the true original. Obviously, those readings in the textus receptus which are without any Greek manuscript support cannot possibly be original. Additionally, in a number of places, the textus receptus reading is found in a limited number of late manuscripts, with little or no support from ancient translations.

One of these readings is the famous I John 5:7. Such readings as these are also presumptively not original. And if one holds to the “majority rules” theory of textual criticism, i.e., whatever the reading found in a numerical majority of surviving Greek manuscripts is to be accepted as original, then the textus receptus falls short in the 1,838 readings where it does not follow the majority text. Read more about Westcott & Hort Versus the Textus Receptus: Which is Superior? (Part 3)

Westcott & Hort Versus the Textus Receptus: Which is Superior? (Part 2)

Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com. Read Part 1.

The question remains to be resolved: how shall we define textus receptus? It has been customary in England to employ the 1550 text of Stephanus as the exemplar of the textus receptus (just as an Elzevir text was so adopted on the continent of Europe), and so we will follow this custom. For our purposes here, the term textus receptus means the 1550 edition of the Greek New Testament published by Robertus Stephanus.

The Westcott and Hort text is much simpler to define. This is the Greek New Testament edited by B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort and first published in 1881, with numerous reprints in the century since. It is probably the single most famous of the so-called critical texts, perhaps because of the scholarly eminence of its editors, perhaps because it was issued the same year as the English Revised Version which followed a text rather like the Westcott-Hort text. Read more about Westcott & Hort Versus the Textus Receptus: Which is Superior? (Part 2)

Westcott & Hort Versus the Textus Receptus: Which is Superior? (Part 1)

Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com.

Note: This study was first composed in 1996 and published that year by Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute as research report no. 45, a thirteen-page booklet (ISBN 0-944788-45-9). It was an attempt to clarify issues in the “Bible texts and translations controversy” by carefully defining and explaining terms which are often bandied about by those who seem to have limited understanding as to their actual meaning. It has not previously appeared in As I See It and is presented here with minor alterations. It is supplied with extensive notes, which should be read.

The New Testament was inspired by God, and came from the pens of its writers or their amanuenses in infallible form, free from any defect of any sort, including scribal mistakes. However, it is evident from the facts of history that God in His providence did not choose to protect that infallible original text from alterations and corruptions in the copying and printing process. Scribes, and later printers, made both accidental (usually) and deliberate (occasionally) changes in the Greek text as they copied and propagated it. As a result, the surviving manuscript copies (as well as printed editions) of the New Testament differ among themselves in numerous though usually trivial details. Read more about Westcott & Hort Versus the Textus Receptus: Which is Superior? (Part 1)