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Major Critical Texts of the New Testament
Byz RP: 2005 Byzantine Greek New Testament, Robinson & Pierpont
TR1550: 1550 Stephanus New Testament
Maj: The Majority Text (thousands of minuscules which display a similar text)
Gries: 1774-1775 Johann Jakob Griesbach Greek New Testament
Treg: 1857-1879 Samuel Prideaux Tregelles Greek New Testament
Tisch: 1872 Tischendorf’s Greek New Testament
WH: 1881 Westcott-Hort Greek New Testament
NA28: 2012 Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament
UBS5: 2014 Greek New Testament
NU: Both Nestle-Aland and the United Bible Society
TGNT: 2017 The Greek New Testament by Tyndale House
GENTI: 2020 Greek-English New Testament Interlinear
[BRD] ΚΑΤΑ ΜΑΤΘΑΙΟΝ 3:11 Greek-English New Testament Interlinear (GENTI)
3:11 ὑμᾶς βαπτίζω ἐν ὕδατι εἰς μετάνοιαν· ὁ δὲ ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμενος ἰσχυρότερός μου ἐστίν,
ο δε οπισω μου ερχομενος ισχυροτερος μου εστιν
“the one coming after me is greater than I”
א C D L W 0233
Matthew 3:11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
11 “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to remove; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
3:11 ὑμᾶς βαπτίζω ἐν ὕδατι εἰς μετάνοιαν· ὁ δὲ ἐρχόμενος ἰσχυρότερός μου ἐστίν,
δε ερχομενος ισχυροτερος μου εστιν
“the coming one is greater than I”
In the above, you can see that the earliest Greek manuscript 𝔓101 and two old Latin manuscripts (ita,d), as well as some Coptic manuscripts, read, “the coming one is greater than I.” However, the reading “the one coming after me is greater than I” (ο δε οπισω μου ερχομενος ισχυροτερος μου εστιν), which is found in the weightiest manuscripts א C D L W 0233. On this, Philip Comfort writes, “The words “after me” may have been added from parallel accounts (Mark 1:7; John 1:15). While that certainly is possible, it is not likely because of the disparity in the evidence. In this case, the internal evidence of harmonization is not enough to overrule the disparity between the external Witnesses.
Nevertheless, we will look at NTTC’s internal evidence rule of harmonization below.
Harmonization is a group of variants where we have scribal changes in an effort to make a passage of Scripture agree more closely with a similar or parallel passage in another book. Most of these changes occur in what we call the Synoptic Gospels:* Matthew, Mark, and Luke. However, a few of them occur elsewhere.
* The Synoptic Gospels describe the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke that tell the story of Jesus Christ’s life and ministry from a similar point of view and are similar in structure.
An example of one we dealt with earlier at Matthew 1:25, where the TR has “And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.” the WHNU has “and he was not knowing her until she gave birth to a son; and he called his name Jesus.” So, we have “until she gave birth to a son” and “until she gave birth to her firstborn son.” Logically, there is no good reason for a scribe to have removed “her firstborn” if it was in his exemplar (manuscript that a scribe was tasked to copy), but we can see why a scribe might have decided to add it if it was not in his exemplar. It is far more likely that the phrase “her firstborn” was an interpolation, the addition of spurious material to the text by a scribe, for harmonization with the parallel passage in Luke 2:7, which reads, “she gave birth to her firstborn son.” A scribe could easily have taken this phrase either intentionally or unintentionally from Luke 2:7.
The external witnesses support “a son” with the weightiest most ancient and reliable witnesses of the Alexandrian text-type as well as the Caesarean texts (א B Zvid 071 f,13 33). On the other hand, “firstborn son” has some support from all of the text-types. Therefore, the external evidence is somewhat balanced because the NTTC rules and principles are split. The rule that is applicable for “a son” is that the Alexandrian text-type is generally preferred (especially P66 P75 01 03) unless it appears to be a “learned” correction. The rule that is applicable for “firstborn son” is that a represented reading from more than one geographical area may be preferred to even an Alexandrian text-type reading. The reason is that the odds are increased greatly against a reading being changed from the original in such a wide geographical and family spectrum. If left here, maybe the preferred choice would be “firstborn son.” However, the strong internal evidence rule tips the scale in favor of “a son.” Within the synoptic gospels especially, a less identical reading is preferred as scribes had a tendency to harmonize readings.
Variant Reading(s): differing versions of a word or phrase found in two or more manuscripts within a variation unit (see below). Variant readings are also called alternate readings.
Variation Unit: any portion of text that exhibits variations in its reading between two or more different manuscripts. It is important to distinguish variation units from variant readings. Variation units are the places in the text where manuscripts disagree, and each variation unit has at least two variant readings. Setting the limits and range of a variation unit is sometimes difficult or even controversial because some variant readings affect others nearby. Such variations may be considered individually or as elements of a single reading. One should also note that the terms “manuscript” and “witness” may appear to be used interchangeably in this context. Strictly speaking, “witness” (see below) will only refer to the content of a given manuscript or fragment, which it predates to a greater or lesser extent. However, the only way to reference the “witness” is by referring to the manuscript or fragment that contains it. In this book, we have sometimes used the terminology “witness of x or y manuscript” to distinguish the content in this way.
What Are Textual Variants [Errors] and How Many Are There?
TERMS AS TO HOW WE SHOULD OBJECTIVELY VIEW THE DEGREE OF CERTAINTY FOR THE READING ACCEPTED AS THE ORIGINAL
The modal verbs are might have been (30%), may have been (40%), could have been (55%), would have been (80%), must have been (95%), which are used to show that we believe the originality of a reading is certain, probable or possible.
The letter [WP] stands for Weak Possibility (30%), which indicates that this is a low-level proof that the reading might have been original in that it is enough evidence to accept that the variant might have been possible, but it is improbable. We can say the reading might have been original, as there is some evidence that is derived from manuscripts that carry very little weight, early versions, or patristic quotations.
The letter [P] stands for Plausible (40%), which indicates that this is a low-level proof that the reading may have been original in that it is enough to accept a variant to be original and we have enough evidence for our belief. The reading may have been original but it is not probably so.
The letter [PE] stands for Preponderance of Evidence (55%), which indicates that this is a higher-level proof that the reading could have been original in that it is enough to accept as such unless another reading emerges as more probable.
The letter [CE] stands for Convincing Evidence (80%), which indicates that the evidence is an even higher-level proof that the reading surely was the original in that the evidence is enough to accept it as substantially certain unless proven otherwise.
The letter [BRD] stands for Beyond Reasonable Doubt (95%), which indicates that this is the highest level of proof: the reading must have been original in that there is no reason to doubt it. It must be understood that feeling as though we have no reason to doubt is not the same as one hundred percent absolute certainty.
NOTE: This system is borrowed from the criminal just legal terms of the United States of America, the level of certainty involved in the use of modal verbs, and Bruce Metzger in his A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (London; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), who borrowed his system from Johann Albrecht Bengel in his edition of the Greek New Testament (Tübingen, 1734). In addition, the percentages are in no way attempting to be explicit, but rather, they are nothing more than a tool to give the non-textual scholar a sense of the degree of certainty. However, this does not mean the percentages are not reflective of certainty.
- Edward D. Andrews, FROM SPOKEN WORDS TO SACRED TEXTS: Introduction-Intermediate New Testament Textual Studies (Cambridge, Ohio), 2021.
- B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort, Introduction to the New Testament in the Original Greek: Appendix (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1882)
- Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006)
- Bruce Manning Metzger, United Bible Societies, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition a Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th Rev. Ed.) (London; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994),
- Eberhard Nestle and Erwin Nestle, Nestle-Aland: NTG Apparatus Criticus, ed. Barbara Aland et al., 28. revidierte Auflage. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012).
- Dirk Jongkind, ed., The Greek New Testament: Apparatus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017).
- Dirk Jongkind, ed., The Greek New Testament (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), Matt. 6:8.
- Eberhard Nestle and Erwin Nestle, Nestle-Aland: Novum Testamentum Graece, ed. Barbara Aland et al., 28. revidierte Auflage. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012)
- Philip Wesley Comfort, A COMMENTARY ON THE MANUSCRIPTS AND TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2015).
- Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary: Commentary on the Variant Readings of the Ancient New Testament Manuscripts and How They Relate to the Major English Translations (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2008).
- Philip Wesley Comfort and David P. Barrett, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts: Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts, 2 Volume Set The (English and Greek Edition) (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2019)
- Rick Brannan and Israel Loken, The Lexham Textual Notes on the Bible, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).
- Roger L. Omanson and Bruce Manning Metzger, A Textual Guide to the Greek New Testament: An Adaptation of Bruce M. Metzger’s Textual Commentary for the Needs of Translators (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2006).
- Wallace B., Daniel (n.d.). Retrieved from The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts: http://csntm.org/
- Wilker, Wieland (n.d.). Retrieved from An Online Textual Commentary on the Greek Gospels: http://www.willker.de/wie/TCG/index.html
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