Course Notes for NT671


                New Testament Introduction



























                                                                     Prepared by

                                                               Robert C. Newman

                                                       Professor of New Testament


                                                                     Assisted by

                                                            John & Claudia Bloom

                                                   Bloomsbury Research Corporation

                                                              and Biola University


                                                        Copyright 1983, 1990, 1994



                                    Biblical Theological Seminary

                                                               200 N. Main Street

                                                              Hatfield, PA  19440

Biblical Theological Seminary

NT671 New Testament Introduction

Dr. Newman


                                                        TABLE OF CONTENTS



I. THE LANGUAGE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT                                                            1-12


            A. Linguistic Context of the Greek Language                                                                       1

                        1. Major language families (2)

                        2. Indo-European sub-families (2)

            B. Sketch History of Greek Language                                                                                  2

                        1. Early period (3)

                        2. Classical period (4)

                        3. Hellenistic period (4)

                        4. Byzantine period (5)

                        5. Modern period (5)

            C. Changes in Greek over its history                                                                                    5

                        1. Changes from Classical to Koine (5)

                        2. Changes from Hellenistic to Modern (6)

            D. Influences on NT Greek                                                                                                   7

            E. Application of this to NT exegesis                                                                                    8

                        1. Lexical Matters (8)

                        2. Grammatical Matters (11)


II. THE TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT                                                                    12-86


            A. Sources of the Text                                                                                                        12

                        1. Modern printed editions (12)

                        2. Ancient Greek manuscripts (15)

                                    a. Papyri (15)

                                    b. Uncials (17)

                                    c. Miniscules (19)

                                    d. Summary (20)

                        3. Other Ancient Sources (21)

                                    a. Lectionaries (21)

                                    b. Versions (21)

                                    c. Church Fathers (25)

            B. History of the Text                                                                                                         29

                        1. Before Printing (29)

                                    a. Palaeography (30)

                                    b. Types of Errors (36)

                                    c. Transmission of Text by Hand (44)

                        2. Since Printing (51)

                                    a. Rise of Textual Criticism (51)

                                    b. The Text Argument Today (60)

            C. Practice of Textual Criticism                                                                                           71

                        1. The Rules of Text Crit used by UBS Comm (71)

                        2. Examples of Text Crit (xx)

                                    a. Luke 24:53

                                    b. John 1:18

                                    c. Mark 16:9-20


III. THE CANON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT                                                             87-110


            A. The Canon Controversy

                        1. The Term "Canon"

                        2. Divergent Views on Extent of Canon

                        3. Divergent Views on Basis of Canonicity

            B. The Recognition of Canonicity

                        1. The Importance of Time-Perspective

                        2. Recognizing a Work Recently Written

                        3. Recognizing a Work Written Long Ago

C. Historical Information on Recognizing the New Testament

                        1. Stimuli to Recognition

                        2. NT Evidence of Preparation and Recognition

                        3. Recognition in the Apostolic Fathers

                        4. Recognition in Early Heretical Writers

                        5. Recognition in the Late 2nd Century

                        6. Towards Formal Recognition


New Testament Introduction is to be distinguished from (1) NT Survey, which gives an overview of the content of the NT; and from (2) Special Introduction to the NT, which looks at such matters as the authorship, date, style, critical problems and so forth for each of the individual NT books.  We cover the first of these in our course NT Survey, and the material of (2) is dis­tributed through our courses Synoptic Gospels, Acts and Pauline Epistles, and Johannine Literature and General Epistles. 


This course will cover three broad areas relating to the New Testament as a whole, namely (1) the language of the NT; (2) the text of the NT; and (3) the canon of the NT.  We will cover the first and third of these rather briefly, but the second (because of its complexity) in more detail.


I.  The Language of the New Testament


The NT was originally written in Koine Greek (with the possible exception of the Gospel of Matthew, which matter is discussed in Synoptic Gospels).  Koine Greek is the name given to the form of the Greek language which was popular at the time of Jesus' ministry throughout the eastern part of the Roman Empire.


Before we examine this form of the Greek language in more detail, consider its context among the other languages of the world and among other forms of Greek at different times in its history.


A. Linguistic context of the Greek Language


Greek is one language in the Indo-European Family. The assignment of language families is based on similarities of vocabulary and syntax, and is thought to indicate that the languages of a family are descended from a common ancestor.  Consider the following examples of vocabulary similarity:


Indo-European Languages:  look at very basic words






























Afro-Asiatic Languages:  by contrast, look at the same words in these:
























Linguists have identified a number of major language families, plus many others with far fewer speakers. 


1. Major language families:


   Indo‑European.      Greek and W. European languages

   Afro‑Asiatic.       W. Asia and N. African (incl Semitic)

   Niger‑Congo.        Central African

   Dravidian.          S. Indian sub‑continent

   Malayo‑Polynesian.  South sea islands & S. Pacific

   Sino‑Tibetan.       Chinese, related languages


There are others, but they have no clear relationship to these main families.  Language diversity fits pretty well the Babel model ‑ linguists are not able to explain diversity as common descendents of one language.


Each of these families can be subdivided into specific languages or, for some of the larger groups, into sub-families:


2. Indo‑European sub‑families:


   Germanic => English, Dutch, Scandinavian, German

   Celtic   => Wales, Scotland, Ireland, some of France (Gaelic, Breton, Scot)

   Romance  => (having to do with Rome) Latin, Italian, Spanish, French, Rumanian      

   Greek    => Not closely linked to other sub‑families

   Slavic   => Russian, Polish, Czech, Slovene

   Iranian  => Old Persian, Modern Iran (some Arabic influence, but Arabic is not I‑E)

   Indic    => Sanskrit, some of India and others


These subdivisions show us something of how early languages diverged, partly within historical periods where we have written evidence, partly in times and places where the culture was illiterate or writing has not survived.


Sanskrit and Greek are the oldest Indo‑European languages with known extant writing back into the 2nd millenium BC (before 1000 BC).


B. Sketch History of Greek Language:


Though language is defined by linguists as the spoken form of the language, this is not accessible for ancient languages, for which all of our evidence is written.


Writing Systems:  human languages have used 3 types


1) Ideographic.  Symbol represents a whole word.  Symbol gives no hint of pronounciation; e.g., Chinese, with typically 1000's of symbols.


2) Syllabic.  One symbol for each syllable.  Directly linked to pronounciation; e.g., Babylonian cuneiform, with typically 100's of symbols.


3) Alphabetic.  Symbol per component sound; e.g., English, with typically only 10's of symbols.


                                                          HISTORY OF GREEK


                                                                        | ‑ 1500 BC

                                     Mycenean‑Minoan     |

                                                     EARLY     |

                                                     Homeric     | ‑ 1000 BC


                                         c600 BC ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑   |

                                            CLASSICAL   | ‑  500 BC

                                         c300 BC ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑   |


                                                                        | ‑ 0 BC

                                       HELLENISTIC                 |


                                                                        | ‑  500 AD

                                      c600 AD ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑ |


                                           BYZANTINE                 | ‑ 1000 AD



                                      c1500 AD ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑  | ‑ 1500 AD


                                                MODERN     |

                                                                        | ‑ 2000 AD



1. EARLY PERIOD ‑ from earliest known examples of Greek through Greek dark ages (before 600 BC).  2 sub‑periods:


a. Mycenean (about time of Moses).  Had writing: Used a syllabary (deciphered in 1950's)


‑ Volcano explosion weakened Minoan civ. on Crete

‑ Culture dies around 1100 BC with Dorian invasions

‑ Knowledge of writing lost [Dark age]


b. Homeric period (1100 ‑ 600 BC)


‑picked up alphabet, apparently from Phoenicians

‑writing redeveloped after Dark Ages


2. CLASSICAL PERIOD ‑ 600 to 300 BC


So named because it was the golden age of Greek language and literature.


Started in W. end of Asia Minor (Ionia), peaked in Athens: oratory, drama, philosophy, history writing.


Several dialects now show up; probably around before but no written evidence known:


            a. Ionic - spoken in W Asia Minor and Greece proper; most important subdialect is Attic, that of Athens


            b. Aeolic - spoken in some areas of Asia Minor where first lyric poets were.  Became traditional dia­lect for lyric poetry.


            c. Doric - from Dorians (more barbaric Greeks) who invaded about 1100 BC; in Athens, this viewed as "lower class" dialect, used in plays for chorus of bystanders.




So named from verb "hellenizein," to live like a Greek.


Starts with Alexander the Great spreading Greek into the Middle East when he conquers all that area.


Greek dialects first mixed among army members from different regions and cities. These men then settled in various Middle Eastern cities.


Greek becomes the second language for many locals, so dia­lects mixed and simplified from the styles used by playwrights.  Second-language people tend to use simp­ler syntax and familiar parallels from their native language.


The Romans left Greek intact when they conquered the east.  Greek was finally pushed back by Muslim and Barbarian invasions of Persia, Africa and Asia Minor, and Arabic became the dominant language in much of this area. 


The term "Koine" (Gk for "common") is used for this dominant Greek dialect used in the Hellenistic period.


Writers of the period often imitated the classical Greek style (somewhat as we pray in KJV English).  Neither we nor they did very well from a linguistic perspective!


N.T. Greek is one variety of the Koine Hellenistic Greek.  It was influenced by Hebrew via the Septuagint transla­tion of the OT and by the second language problem.


4. BYZANTINE PERIOD ‑ 600 to 1500 AD


Named for the Byzantine Empire and its capital Byzantium (Constantinople).


Greek is pushed back with Byzantine Empire except for iso­lated pockets (monasteries, etc.).


Constantinople falls in 1453 AD.


5. MODERN PERIOD ‑ 1500 to present


 In 1830's, Greeks were freed from the Turks.



C. Changes in Greek over its history.


1. Changes from Classical to Koine Greek.


The language tends to simplify as we go from Classical to Hellenistic dialects:


            a. Dual number disappears.


            Originally had singular, dual, and plural endings for both nouns and verbs. 

                        e.g., τω φθαλμω

            Dual was used for "pairs" (eyes, arms, etc.)

            Was not common in Classical, is never seen in Koine.


            b. Optative mood much decreased use.


            Used in NT mainly in stereotyped phrase:

                        μ γέvoιτo - "May it never be!"

            Also I & II Peter, Jude: "Be multiplied" used in greet­ings: ληθυvθείη

            Occurs only 67 times in NT, mostly Paul's "May it never be!"


            c. Fewer μι verbs.


            μι verbs have a different set of endings from ω verbs, so more forms to learn.

            When learning a second language, tend to choose the familiar, more common ω verbs.



            d. More compound verbs.


            Adding prepositions to verbs multiplies vocabulary easily, e.g., ¦ξ-, εσ-, κατέρχoμαι for go out, in, down.

            [contrast Hebrew verbs hlk, ytsa, boa, yrd; go, -out, -in, -down]


            Compound verbs not so common in earlier Greek, but when it became a popular 2nd language this simpler route was taken.


            e. Simpler Syntax.


            This may be an artifact of the surviving literary works: 

                        drama and history for Classical vs.

                        pri­vate letters and receipts for Koine.


            Spoken classical Greek might not have had the diffi­cult syntax (less info on what spoken Classical was like), but the classical literature did.


2. Changes from Hellenistic (NT) to Modern Greek.


            a. Disappearance of Dative.


            Replaced by preposition plus accusative (like English "to" w/ accusative).


            b. Disappearance of Infinitive.


            Replaced with participle (a verbal adjective used sub­stantively as a noun).


            c. Increasing use of Helping Verbs and Verbal Particles.


            Ancient Greek added augments and endings to verbs.

            Modern English uses helping verbs: "He has walked."


            Modern Greek for continuous action uses εμαι "to be".

                  "      "   for perfect tense uses χω "to have".

                  "     "   for future tense uses particle θα plus the present tense.

                  "     "   for subjunctive mood uses particle vα plus the present tense.


            d. Some inflectional changes.


            Some verb endings have changed. e.g., Present Active Indicative:  -ω, -εις, -ει, -oμε(v), -ετε, -oυv


            e. Simpler Syntax.


            All moved in the direction of simpler style.

            Not sure why, as in modern times there are fewer speakers of Greek.

            Perhaps Turkish control meant that there were few who were well educated, so language is simplified by "rural" non‑literary use (same thing happened to English between William the Conquerer and Chau­cer).

            In modern Greek there are two written "dialects":

                        1) Puristic (more Classical, formal use),

                        2) Spoken (more colloquial, used on the street).


D. Influences on N.T. Greek.


How does NT Greek differ from the Koine Greek of the time?

            They are very similar, but some slightly different influenc­es.


1. The Greek of the NT was that being spoken at the time.


NT written to communicate to the man on the street.

Few examples of "classicizing" in NT: sections like the intro. of Luke are probably in the literary Greek of the time.


2. Classical background.


Although no one was speaking Classical Greek, it was  still being read and heard in play performances, etc.

Like Old English influence into 20th century through Shakespeare and KJV.


3. Semitic background.


            a. Most of the NT writers are Jewish in background (Luke is surely a Gentile).


                        Either Hebrew or Aramaic is their native language, or the Greek they spoke was a Jewish Greek.


                        Luke is traditionally Syrian => some Semitic in­fluence.


            b. Even Luke would read the OT Scriptures in the Hebra­istic Greek of the Septuagint.


            Structure differences: Somewhat Hebraistic syntax


            Vocabulary differences: Words used in LXX slowly picked up a spiritual rather than a pagan meaning (from Septuagint usage for about 3 centu­ries).


            Grammar and meanings of Greek words in NT were often influenced by the Septuagint.


E. Application of this language history to N.T. exegesis.


N.T. Greek differs grammatically and lexically from both Classic and Modern dialects:


            Many words have different meanings,

            A few similiar problems with grammatical forms


So we need to study Koine Greek plus Hebrew.


To understand N.T. Greek, we need as a helpful background:


          Classical Greek

          Papyri (Hellenistic)


          Modern Greek (some)



Thankfully, most of this work is done for us by the avail­able lexicons and grammars, if we will consult them.


1. Lexical Matters.


Having to do with word meanings, compare "lexicon," meaning dictionary, more remotely "lecture."


a. Reference Lexicons.


1) Classical Greek. 


Liddell and Scott: 3 different sized eds., big, middle and little.

If translating from Septuagint need largest ed.


2) Papyri.  Not much studied before about 1900.


Moulton & Milligan, Vocab. of Gk. Testament

M & M updated Thayer, but not easy to use.

            Thankfully, it information was incorporated into BAGD, below.


3) Septuagint.  No separate Lexicon (use Liddell)


            Theological lexicons (below) helpful.


4) Theological Lexicons [Dictionaries of NT Theology]


Look at words that have theological significance

Kittel/Bromiley, Theol Dict NT 10 vol. (liberal­ish).

Colin Brown, New Intl Dict NT Theol 3 vol. (bet­ter).

            Both sets suffer from problem of tending to trans­fer whole range of word's meaning into each particular context (called illegitime totality transfer).


5) Best All Around Lexicon for NT.


Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker, Gk-Engl Lex of NT and Other Early Xn Lit

BAGD includes words for early church fathers also.

Extensive bibliography for discussions of word meanings and occurrences of words outside NT.


6) New Dictionary putting synonyms, etc., together.


Louw and Nida, Gk-Engl Lex Based on Semantic Do­mains

Very helpful discussion of ranges of meaning and of uncertainties regarding nuances.


b. Example of etymology and change of meaning through usage:


Consider noun ¦κκλησία, usually translated "church."


            Etymologically, from ¦κ + καλέω = call out (from).


But usage, not etymology, determines meaning.


E.g., in English, word "church" means (1) building,  (2) denomination, (3) local congregation, (4) universal church.


In NT Greek, ¦κκλησία does not mean (1) or (2) above.


1) In Classical Greek, ¦κκλησία meant "a meeting," usually a particular type, "a called meeting."


Was used for governmental assemblies or informal gatherings to decide something (cf. Homer, Herodotus, Josephus).


NT has an example of this secular usage:

            Acts 19:39 and 41 ‑ the riot in Ephesus

                        v.39 "it should be settled in a lawful assem­bly."

                        v.41 refering to this irregular assembly.


2) In Septuagint (made around 250 BC), ¦κκλησία occurs over 75 times, and is often a translation of qhl meaning "all the people gathered at one time."


Used for the gathering of all Israel for festivals and/or to hear God's word (not a governmental assembly).

Applied to the assembly of Israel in the wilder­ness.


NT has example of this too; Stephen in Acts 7:38).


Some eschatological meaning also, when all gather before God at the end.


So the word has picked up a religious meaning by NT times.


3) In NT usage, we see a blending:


Word retains "assembly" and "local" idea from Classical Greek.


Word retains "religious assembly" and "universal" idea from Septuagint.


Adds a new specific idea: a collective term for those who accept Christ as Savior.


Paul often adds a phrase to the word (e.g., "Church of Jesus Christ") to indicate this non‑pagan and non‑Septuagint usage.


So the word has some changes and some continuity.

Therefore, must determine word meanings from usage and context.


cp. English word "manufacture":

            etymologically (from Latin) means "make by hand"

            but current usage is exactly the opposite!


2. Grammatical Matters (having to do with syntax).


a. Grammars


All grammars today have tried to assimilate the results for NT from Classical Greek, LXX, Papyri, etc.


            Machen, NT Gk for Beginners, is a beginning Grammar; so is Mounce, Basics of Biblical Greek, which we plan to begin using.


            Brooks and Winberry, Syntax of NT Greek, is intermedi­ate level (as is Zerwick).


Advanced grammars:

            A. T. Robertson (prob best for seminary students, pastors).

            Blass, DeBrunner, and Funk (more recent and tech­nical, but smaller, harder to use).

            Moulton, Howard, and Turner (multi-volume; expen­sive but good).



b. An Example of Hebraism in NT Greek.


Consider the use of "ε" in Heb 3:11, a quotation from Ps 95:11:


                              Ps. 95:11      Heb. 3:11


                             .! im                    ε

                          0&!"*       yavon                        εσελεύσovται

                            --! el                     ες

                         *<(&1/     manuhoti         τv κατάαυσιv μoυ


Two possiblities:

            Literal Gk: "If they will enter into my rest"

            Hebraism: "They will not enter into my rest"


Turns on word translated "if"  

            .! ‑ also used to mark a strong negative in an oath.

            ε ‑ only 'if,' never a negative in "gentile" Greek.


Some think that this is a mis‑translation.  I think this is a Hebraism carried over into Greek via a Hebraistic dialect. 

Another example of same construction (with no LXX back­ground) is found in Mark 8:12:


            ε δoθήσεται τ γεvε ταύτ σημεov.

            "This generation will not be given a sign."


            ε is clearly used as a negative here in context.




II.  The Text of the New Testament.


A real concern throughout church history has been the text of the NT.  Heretics have regularly tried to add additional books to canon (we will discuss canon under III).  Occasionally they have tampered with its text (Marcion and some modern liberals).  Atheists and Muslims (and sometimes Mormons) have argued the text is unreliable.  Some Fundamental Christians have pushed strongly for KJV only.


Here we will consider the text of the New Testament under three topics:

            (1) sources of the text,

            (2) history of the text, and

            (3) the practice of text criticism.


A. Sources of the Text.


1. Modern printed editions of the Greek NT.


We start here, rather than with the ancient manuscripts, as this is what we personally have access to.


a. Greek Texts currently (or recently) in print.


1) Most recent editions:


a) Modern Critical Editions:  (Made from scratch using manuscripts of Alexandrian family as most reliable).


            Nestle‑Aland, Novum Testamentum Graece, 27th ed., (1994).  Significant changes be­tween eds. 1-25 and 26-27.


            United Bible Society, Greek NT, 4rd ed., (1993).  Big changes in variants dis­played since 3rd ed.


Both have identical texts (as planned) but format and method of noting textual varia­tions differs.


b) Majority Text Edition:


            Hodges/Farstad, Gk NT acc to Majority Text (1982). Prints text having largest num­ber of manuscripts in support (Byzantine family), lists alternatives in foot­notes.


2) Older editions, based mostly on 19th century work (Alexandrian emphasis).


            Earlier Nestle‑Aland editions (1‑25).

                        Text was chosen by very mechanical method: 

                        Used majority vote of texts by:

                                    Westcott and Hort,

                                    Tischendorf 8th ed,

                                    Bernard Weiss.

                        If 2 or more of these texts agreed, then that is what was printed.


            British and Foreign Bible Society.

                        Took 5th Nestle ed, used more readable Greek type and English (rather than Latin) notes.


            Souter's Greek NT (1905).

                        Somewhat closer to Byzantine than N-A edi­tions.


            Several Roman Catholic eds:  Vogels, Bover, Merk.


3) Pre‑19th century editions (Byzantine emphasis).


            Several forms of the Textus Receptus are still being printed today; e.g.:


                        Trinitarian Bible Society (1976).

                                    Follows Theodore Beza (1598 ed); modified to match KJV where KJV followed other Greek manuscripts instead of Beza.


b. Textual Apparatus of UBS and Nestle.


 1) UBS Apparatus applies to 4th ed. only.


Type: pretty clear (UBS started a new trend in clarity, but 4th ed. not as nice as 1-3).

Quotations from OT: bold type.

Section‑headings: English.

Brackets: Probably not original reading, but

                   important enough to note.


            Bottom (small print):  Cross references to OT and NT texts which are quoted or simi­lar.

            Middle (small):  Discourse segmentation vari­ations in printed texts and major modern language translations.

            Top (large print): Textual variants.


Textual Variants:


            UBS does not include as many places of varia­tion as Nestle, but UBS gives more ex­tensive info on each.  Only provides variants which committee felt might make a difference in translation.  Committee for 4th ed. made numerous changes on which passages to cite variants for.


            Order of variants listed is typically best to worst.


            Order of support cited: papyri, uncials (code: numbers which start with zero), miniscules, ancient translations, quotes from church fathers (names spelled out).


            Variant usually given in original Greek; sometimes in English where variant not preserved in Greek (e.g., Latin, Cop­tic).


            Certainty of the text (according to the com­mittee) is shown in brackets { }: 

                        A = text is certain;

                        B = almost certain;

                        C = Committee had trouble deciding;

                        D = Comm had great difficulty.


ASSIGNMENT: Read introductory material of UBS Gk NT.  For mid-term test; will give a sample of a variation and ask if papyri, uncials, etc. support each alterna­tive, etc., and what various other abbreviations mean.


2) Nestle's 26th edition.


Type: much improved over eds. 1-25, but not quite as nice as UBS (smaller size type).

OT quotations: italics instead of bold.

No section‑headings.

Brackets: same as UBS.

Variants in text:  Superscript symbols indicate kind of variant



        This code also used in all earlier editions:

              = variant at this word.

            = variant at these words.

              = something inserted in other manuscript(s).

              " = some texts omit this word.

            Q \ = some texts omit these words.

              s = change of word order.

            s s = change of word order between symbols.

              : = different punctuation.


Outer margins: Cross‑reference to OT and NT paral­lels.  Much more extensive than UBS. "!" marks very important parallels.

Inner margins: Ancient divisions of text, interme­diate in size between modern chapters and verses; Symbols of Eusebius: made it easy to find parallel passages in Gospels.

Footnotes: Textual variants. 


Textual Variants:

            Very compressed cp to UBS.

            Notes many more variants than UBS (perhaps 5x as many), all known variants except for trivial spellings.

            Very abbreviated, harder to figure out which texts support which variants.  26th ed. improved over earlier editions. 

            Not much on church fathers.


2. Ancient Greek Manuscripts.


These are copies (complete or damaged) made by hand (before the invention of printing or shortly thereafter) of part or all of the NT in the Greek language.  They are traditionally subdivided by the type of material on which they are written and the type of handwriting used into three groups:

            (1) papyri,

            (2) uncials, and

            (3) miniscules.


a. Papyri (plural; singular is papyrus).


Name given to manuscripts written on a type of "paper" made from a suitable type of reed.  (More on this under "book production" later).


Particular papyrus mss of the NT are abbreviated by a p followed by a superscript number.


As of 1981, we have 86 different manuscripts of papyri. 88 catalog numbers were used, but some of these were later discovered to be parts of another ms.


Papyri once listed in order of age p1, p2 ..., but many more found after first catalogued; renumbering would produce incredible confusion.


Most up-to-date information on manuscripts is in Aland and Aland, The Text of the NT (Eerdmans, 1987).


1) p52 is the oldest.  Called "John Rylands Papyrus."


            Small fragment of Gospel of John, chapter 18, about the size of a silver dollar.

            Written on both sides, implying bound in book style rather than as scroll.

            Dated early 2nd century (100‑135 AD).  Dating of mss is somewhat fuzzy as based on handwriting style.  Not till medieval period do manu­scripts have dates put on by scribes.

            Located at John Rylands Library, Univ of Manches­ter, England.


2) A group of papyri from about 200 AD:


p32 ‑ Fragment of Titus.

            Just a few verses

            Also at John Rylands Library


p46 - Chester Beatty papyrus of Pauline Epistles.

            Large and therefore important.

            Contains Pauline epistles, incl Hebrews

            In Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, Ireland.


p64,67 ‑ Now recognized as from the same manuscript.

            Fragments of Gospel of Matthew.

            At Barcelona and at Magdalen College, Oxford


p66 ‑ Most of Gospel of John.

            In Bodmer papyri collection in Switzerland,

            plus fragments at Chester Beatty Lib, Dublin


p77 ‑ Fragments of Matthew (perhaps as early as 175 AD). One of the Oxyrhynchus papyri, at Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.


3) Early 3rd century:


p23 ‑ Fragments of James, chapter 1.

            At University of Illinois


p45 - Chester Beatty Gospels & Acts.

            Originally contained all 4 Gospels and Acts, now very fragmented.


p75 ‑ Bodmer Luke and John.

            Two Gospels in one volume.



4) Distribution of Known Papyri (85 as of August 1980):


      Century     |      Number

      ________  |___________________________


        1              |             0 (Possibly Mark at Qumran)

        2              |*                                                                       1

        3              |*******************************       31

        4              |********************                  20

      Later          |*********************************     33



No papyri have survived virtually complete; all are fragmented.  Their value is rather in their early date than in their complete text. 


No papyri of whole NT; weakness of papyrus did not allow binding all in one volume.  Typically bound as 1 or 2 Gospels; Paul's letters; Acts and/or Catholic Epistles; Revelation (when in multivolume sets).


b. Uncials.


This is not a very good name ("uncial" is term for hand‑written capital letters), since papyri are written in uncial handwriting also.  Name was chosen before papyri were discovered.


Uncial manuscripts were written on parchment, a type of "paper" made from animal skins.  Very expensive but also very durable.


Uncials are abbreviated by capital Latin (English) letters.  After these ran out, the different-looking Greek letters were used.  Then used numbers that always start with '0' (zero; to differentiate from miniscules, which are marked by numbers without leading zero).


1) 3rd century.


0212 - Dura Diatessaron  ‑ Harmony of the 4 Gos­pels.  Must date before 256 AD as found under the wall foundation of city (Dura) destroyed in 256.  At Yale University.


O220 ‑ Romans (fragment).


0171 - Gospel (frags of Matt, Luke), about 300 AD.


O162 ‑ John (fragment), 3rd or 4th cen.


0189 - Acts (fragment), 3rd or 4th.


2) 4th century.


! (01) ‑ Codex Sinaiticus. 

            Discovered in St. Catherine's Monastery, Sinai (built c600 AD).

            Poss one of the mss drawn up at Constantine's  request (4th century), later brought to monastery.

            Contains the complete NT & OT (but parts of OT lost in damage to ms)

            Now in British Museum, London.

            In 1850's Tischendorf got the Monastery to donate manuscript to the Czar of Russia.

            Communists sold to British Museum in 1933.

            Some more frags found recently at St. Cath. Monastery.


B (03) ‑ Codex Vaticanius.  In Vatican library.

            Early history unknown, first Vatican catalog in 1475 listed it.

            Contains OT, Apocrypha, and NT (end missing).

            Books are in different order than our Bible.

            Missing Heb 9:15‑, 1‑2 Tim., Titus, Phm. and Rev.


Several fragments also from this century.



3) Later (5th century).


A (02) ‑ Codex Alexandrinus.

            Whole NT, missing some of Matt. & 2 Cor.

            Known earliest in Alexandria.

            Patriarch of Constantinople had it, was friendly to west, so in 1627 he donated it to Charles I of England.

                                                Now in British Museum.


C (04) ‑ Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus.

            About 5/8 of NT. 

            Sermons of Ephraim are written over NT text.

            Now in Paris National library.


D (05) ‑ Codex Bezae.

            Contains the Gospels and Acts.

            Has Greek and Latin on facing pages.

            Now in Cambridge U. Lib., gift of Theodore Beza.

            Location and history prior to Beza unknown.


W (032) ‑ Codex Washingtonensis. 

            Complete manuscript of the Gospels.

            Found after 1900 in Egypt. Purchased by Freer in 1905.

            Donated to Smithsonian (now in Freer Gallery of Art).


5) Distribution of Known Uncials (245 in Aug 1980).


   Century        |    Number

  _________    |______________________________________________


        1              |                                               0

        2              |                                               0

        3              |***                                            3

        4              |****************                              16

        5              |********************************************  44

     Later           |********************************/    /***    182


Uncial type of handwriting continues until 11th cen., but begins to be replaced by miniscules in 9th.


c. Miniscules.


Name "miniscule" refers to the smaller cursive hand­writing style in which these manuscripts written. For approximate comparison, uncials look like our printed Gk capitals, miniscules like our printed Gk small letters.


Miniscules span 9th to 16th century until printing starts.  Most are written on parchment, except for a few on paper towards the end of this period.


As of 1980, 2650 miniscules known.


Miniscules are abbreviated/labelled by normal numbers: 1, 85, etc.


Miniscules are generally considered of lesser value for determining the NT texts, as they are much further removed in time from the originals: 


            Papyri removed 40-700 years,

            Uncials removed 200-900 years,

            Miniscules 800-1800 years.


However, some miniscules are probably just one or two copies removed from important uncials which no longer exist.


1) Important Miniscules:


Group 1: contains miniscule number 1

            Called the "Lake group" after the man who studied them.

            Probably all have common ancestor.

            Includes mss 1, 118, 131, etc.

            Have Caesarian type text.


Group 13: contains ms 13

            Called the "Ferrar group."

            Includes mss 13, 69, 124, etc.

            Also Caesarian family.


Miniscule 33

            9th cen., one of earliest miniscules.

            Apparently a copy of an early uncial.

            Once called "Queen of the cursives"

            Good Alexandrian family text.


2) Distribution of Known Miniscules (2650 as of Aug 1980)


   Century        |    Number (+ represents 10 mss)

  _________    |______________________________________________


        9              |+                                             13

       10             |++++++++++++                                 125

       11             |+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++    436

       12             |++++++++++++++++/   /+++                     586

       13             |++++++++++++++++/   /+                       569

     Later           |++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++/    /+++    921



d. Summary:  Papyri, Uncials, Miniscules.


Best sources of NT text.

Fragmentary before 4th century.

Give no direct information on their date, copier, where copied, from what manuscript(s), except for a few medieval mss. This information can sometimes be deduced.


3. Other Ancient Sources.


a. Lectionaries (Greek).


Could have put these under previous heading "Ancient Greek Manuscripts," as they are old, Greek and hand­written, but lectionaries have reorganized the text for reading in church on particular Sundays.  Some lection­aries are based on the calendar year, some on the movable church year (3rd Sun of Lent, etc.).


Early church practice was just to have a list to look up text in Bible.  Later, readings were compiled into separate books called lectionaries.


We have lectionaries from the 4th century on.


As of 1980, 1995 lectionaries known:

            271 uncial lects (4th-13th cen),

            1724 miniscule lects (9th-16th cen).


UBS will sometimes list them in footnotes, either as a whole ('Lect' = Reading of the majority of lectionar­ies) or individually l76,150


Nestle does not usually note lectionary readings, giving only five lect mss in their mss list.


Lectionaries have not been studied as thoroughly as papyri, miniscules and uncials, but they appear to have little value for the original text or its early histo­ry.


b. Versions (i.e., Ancient Translations)


The NT has now been translated into many hundreds of languages.  Several of these translations were made before the fall of the Roman Empire (475) or at least before the rise of Islam (650).  We list these ancient trans­lations below:


   Century:  1      2      3      4      5      6      7


   Latin:            Old                Vulgate


   Syriac:              Old              Peshitta



   Coptic:                       Sahidic



Century:  1      2      3      4      5      6      7



   Other:                            Gothic







When Christians first spread the Gospel, it was in two languages:  Greek and Aramaic (for Jews).  Most agree that the NT was written in Greek, except possibly for Matthew.


Need for Aramaic disappeared after Jews largely reject­ed Christianity (70‑150 AD), and Messianic Jews died off.  Some argument on connection of Syriac with Arama­ic.


As the Gospel spread, it encountered people who did not  know Greek.


1) Latin Versions of NT.


a) Old Latin (probably 2nd century).


            Was in existence by the time of Tertullian.

            First made in Europe or Africa (not Rome, too many people there knew Greek).

            Don't know who did it; There is much varia­tion, possibly several ver­sions, or people cor­rect­ing one trans­la­tion.

            Called Itala, abbrev. in UBS and Nestle as 'it.'

            By 4th century there were so many varia­tions that bishop of Rome called for a new translation.


b) Vulgate (late 4th and early 5th century).


            That new translation was Jerome's vul­gate, not strictly a new translation but a revi­sion of the Old Latin (Western fami­ly) in light of the best manuscripts available at the time (Alexandrian).

            Many old readings crept in as it was later copied, since people were still familiar with the Itala.

            Was blasted at first (as was KJV!), but grad­ually accepted as the standard.

            By the Reformation, people were correct­ing the Gk and Heb texts by the Vulgate (supposedly inspired!).

            UBS and Nestle abbreviate as 'vg'.


2) Syriac Versions.


Syriac was a dialect of Ara­maic spoken by Gentiles in Syria.   The main difference between Jew­ish Aram. and Syr. is hand­writ­ing style (same alphabet but very differ­ent script).


Syriac versions have apparently picked up some in­fluence from the Diatessaron, which was early in Syriac, perhaps before the four Gospels.


a) Old Syriac version (by 2nd or 3rd century).


            Only two manuscripts survive, contain the Gospels.

            Text of two mss are significantly dif­ferent.

                        Sinaitic (syrs in UBS, Nestle sys) 4th ‑ 5th cen.

                        Curetonian (syrc in UBS, Nestle syc)  5th cen.


b) Peshitta (syrp in UBS, Nestle syp).


            Name means 'simple', sometimes called the "Syriac Vul­gate," is the common Syriac version.

            Was made around or before 400 AD (late 4th, early 5th), be­cause in 431 AD the Syriac church split into two factions, and both use the Peshitta.  Tradition connects it with Rabbula, bp of Edessa (411-435).

            Still used in the Syriac church today.

            Most think that Syr was translated from the Greek, tho Lamsa thinks Syr is original.


Other Syriac versions:


c) Palestinian (syrpal in UBS, Nestle does­n't cite).


            A 6th century revision of the Peshitta.


d) Harclean (syrh in UBS, Nestle syh)


            A 7th century revision of the Peshitta.


3) Coptic Versions.


Coptic is the name of the Egyptian language at NT times. 

Writing style had changed with coming of Greeks to Egypt.  Got rid of ideograms and syllabary of Hieroglyphic & Demotic, replacing with Greek alphabet (plus a couple of new let­ters).

The major No. Egyptian cities spoke Greek, but as Xian­ity spread up the Nile, Coptic ver­sions were needed.

Have NT in several dialects but two important ones were:


a) Sahidic (copsa in UBS, Nestle sa).


            Thebes and south (Upper Egypt).

            Made in 3rd or 4th century.

            Still used by Coptic church today.


b) Bohairic (copbo in UBS, Nestle bo).


            Delta and north (Lower Egypt).

            Made in 4th century.


4) Other Ancient Versions.


Other language groups with which Xianity came in con­tact after it had become legal and estab­lished.


a) Gothic (goth in UBS, Nestle got).


Indo‑European language spoken by Goths (sort of Germanic).  No groups speak this today.

Made in the 4th century.


b) Armenian (arm in UBS, Nestle doesn't use).


Eastern part of Turkey, Soviet Union, N. part of Iran and Iraq.

Made in 4th or 5th century, still used in Armenian churches today (scattered around world).


c) Georgian (geo in UBS and Nestle).


Area north of the Black Sea (home of Stalin).

Made in the 5th century.


d) Ethiopic (eth in UBS, Nestle aeth).


Not the same area as today.  Was a bit fur­ther north (just south of Egypt).

Made in 6th century.


e) Nubian (nub in UBS, Nestle doesn't use).


Area around Nile in southern part of Egypt.

Made in 6th century.


These are all of the versions up to time of Muslim conquest (early 7th century).  Once Rome fell (400's) there were few more Western versions until the Reforma­tion.


We have more manuscripts of Latin versions (>8000) than of the Greek.  Also several thousand Armenian manu­scripts.


What is the value of these versions?


Some versions were made about as early as the earliest surviving manuscripts which we have of the NT.

This means they may help us get closer to the origi­nals.


The most valuble early versions are:

            Old Latin       Old Syriac

            Sahidic         Bohairic

since they predate the 4th century (when we start to get reasonably complete Greek manuscripts).


Not as good as the Gk. manuscripts for determining the best text for two reasons:


1. Translation tends to obscure some details.


            Even best translations do not show everything (e.g., Latin does not have a definite arti­cle, but can give good help on verb tenses or on the exis­tence of a phrase).

            These were not the best translations.  Not done by linguists, etc.


2. The versions themselves have errors from copying.


            Each version has its own unique collection of copyists' errors to decipher.

            Can sometimes tell if the copy error was in the Gk or the Latin by the translation.

                        e.g., Rev 22:19 libro/ligno

                                    vs βιβλίoυ/ξύλoυ


The versions do tell us what kind of readings existed at the place where the translation was made, given the above qualifications.


Can get some locality and date information from ver­sions, knowing where the particular language was spo­ken, when version made.  This helps with date and localities for Greek manuscripts, which otherwise have no such info.



c. Church Fathers.


Another important source for study of the text of the NT is its quotation in early writings.  We call these writers the "church fathers" since most of them were leaders or teachers in the church.  Some, however, were not orthodox, e.g., Marcion.


These writings include letters, sermons, polemics: anything in which a NT quotation appears.


This material helpful because we usually know their locality and time of writing more accurately than for versions or Greek manuscripts.


Below we give a list and three maps showing the time and place of the major church fathers.



Church Fathers Significant for Text Studies:


Name               Language                     Location          Comment


‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑ SECOND CENTURY ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑


Justin               Greek   [140 AD]        Ephesus


Marcion           Greek   [150 AD]        Rome               Gnostic


Irenaeus           Greek   [180 AD]        Lyon,               His teacher studied under Apostle John



Tatian              Syriac  [180 AD]        Syria                Diatessaron


Clement           Greek   [200- AD]      Alexandria,



‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑ THIRD CENTURY ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑


Tertullian         Latin   [200+ AD]       Carthage, N. Africa


Hippolytus      Greek   [225 AD]        Rome               First 'anti‑pope'


Origen             Greek   [225 AD]        Alexandria, Egypt


Cyprian           Latin   [250 AD]         Carthage, N. Africa



‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑ FOURTH CENTURY ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑


Xianity now legal:  Biggest century in Scriptural study since apostles and until Reformation.


Ephraem          Syriac                          Syria 


Hilary              Latin                            Poitiers, France


Ambrose         Latin                            Milan, N. Italy


Augustine        Latin                            Hippo (near Carthage)


Jerome             Latin                            Bethlehem, Palestine


Chrysostom     Greek                          Constantinople


Gregory           Greek                          Cappadocia, Asia Minor

  of Nyssa

Basil                Greek                          Cappadocia, Asia Minor


Gregory           Greek                          Cappadocia, Asia Minor


Eusebius          Greek                          Caesarea, Palestine   Ch History


Athanasius      Greek                          Alexandria, Egypt



                                    SOURCES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT TEXT

                             LOCATION OF CHURCH FATHERS BY CENTURIES




Diagrams are sketch maps of Mediterranean

Typestyle for name indicates language father used:

            Greek, LATIN, Syriac






                ___________    __          /           __________

               /                      \   \   \       /             |Justin

         __/          Marcion  \   \   \    /               |_________

                                       /_/\\   \__\                                 | Tatian

          ______________                                                 |

                                      |                            __________|

                                      |______________|       Clement







                  ___________     __           /       __________

                /                        \   \   \        /         |

          __/         Hippolytus \   \   \    /           |_________

                                           /_/\\  \_ \                               |

          ______________                                                 |

                    CYPRIAN |                           __________|

             TERTULLIAN |______________|       Origen








                       AMBROSE              Chrysostom

                 ___________   __           /         __________

                /                      \   \   \        /          |    Basil, Gregories

          __/                          \   \   \    /           | _________  Ephraem

                                        /_/\ \   \_ \                                |

          ______________                                                 | Eusebius

              AUGUSTINE |                            __________| JEROME

                                      |______________|     Athanasius



What is the advantage for NT text for knowing the church fathers?


Have better information for their locations and dates than we do for versions or manuscripts.  (We generally know their dates of death and where they were ac­tive.)


Their citations of Scripture or comments on variant readings tell us the date and location of these read­ings.


BUT church fathers are not the best source for deter­mining the Greek text of the NT.


Why?  Several problems using church fathers:


1. We must do textual criticism on the text of writings of church fathers to get original Scripture read­ing.


This can be difficult as scribes have often cor­rected the father's Scripture quotations to agree with the Scripture texts which the scribe was used to.


2. We do not always know what the father was do­ing:


            Was he quoting from memory, or did he look it up?

            Was he making an exact citation or only an allu­sion?


If it is from memory, slight rewordings or combi­nations of parallel accounts may have oc­curred.

Even long passages still do not prove that he copied, as memorizing more common before in­vention of printing.


3. Ephraem, Hilary and others were not writing in Greek and we do not know what kind of NT manu­script they may have been using (Greek, Latin, Syriac?).



B. History of the Text.


1. Before Printing.


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a. Palaeography 


            Study of ancient writing styles and techniques


1) Materials for receiving writing.

        Three main types:  papyrus, parchment, paper


a) Papyrus.


Dominant writing material in the Roman Empire.

Used from before 2500 BC in Egypt up to c300 AD.

Popular works continued on in papyrus but refer­ence works like the Bible (which were used daily) were thereafter made on parchment, as more dura­ble.



Production of papyrus:


Papyrus reed is sliced vertically into thin strips, laid cross­wise (#), then pressed together.  Its sap (thinned with Nile water) was the glue.

Reed grew naturally in Egypt and a few other marshy places.

Papyrus "paper" kept fairly well, better than most grades of   modern paper, particularly modern acid paper (100's of years possible if condi­tions right).

By today, however, most have disintegrated.

In some very dry areas (Egyptian deserts) frag­ments of papyri are found.


b) Parchment.


Used for the Bible from 300 to around 1300 AD.

Specially treated animal skins

            Production: made suitable for writ­ing by being scraped thin, treated with lime, etc.

Named for city Pergamum which was an early major pro­ducer.  Story has it that king of Pergamum and Egyptian King Ptolemy were in competition for the  biggest library.  Ptolemy embargoed Perga­mum's papyrus so they developed this instead.

Much superior to Papyrus in durability but harder to write on as it was not as porous (letters could be rubbed off rather easily).

Was more expensive and difficult to prepare, but the supply was not geographically limited.


c) Paper.


Similar to papyrus in that it is a sheet of vege­table fibers, but fibers were taken apart and reassem­bled for paper.


Production: took cloth or wood fibers and cooked them down, then glued together with glue or starch.

Invented by Chinese who used it by 2nd cen AD.

Muslim conquests of the East brought paper to Middle East about 750.  Sold in Europe by 1100s

Crusaders may have brought back production se­crets.

Finally began to be used in Europe in 14th ‑ 15th c.

Its development was aided by printing, as both were cheaper than competing processes.


2) Writing equipment used in antiquity.


a) Pens.


Reed pen: for papyrus; used something like our felt‑tip pens: Took a piece of reed, mushed up the end to form a tiny brush and dipped this in the ink (ev­ery letter or two).


Quill pen: for parchment; used points like our fountain pens have.  These hard points would dig holes in the soft­er papy­rus. The sharp pen points for parchment were feather quills (from chicken, duck, goose, etc.) sharp­ened at the tip.  These were slit to hold a small amount of ink (dip every few letters).


b) Inks.


Black: was made from lamp black (carbon soot) mixed with gum arabic and water.  This was the most common ink in NT times.


Brown: was obtained from the galls from certain nut trees.  Codex B (Vaticanus) and D (Bezae) were written with this ink.


Other Colors: for deluxe editions, various ink colors like red, purple, gold, and silver could be made.


c) Pen knife.


Used to sharpen or to make new quill pens.


d) Pumice.


A volcanic stone with texture like sandpaper. Used to smooth out writing surface and to fine-tune the pen sharpening.


e) Sponge.


Used for erasing paper and for cleaning pen point.


3) Book forms.


            How were books constructed?  Two ways: scroll, codex


a) Scroll.


One continuous horizontal roll, of sheets glued or sewn together edge to edge. This was the standard book technique until c100 AD.  Use continued long after for pagan literature, but not for NT.


Problems with the scroll format:


The scroll cannot be very long as it becomes hard to handle; 20 feet is about the longest, c40 pages.  Usual lengths were on the order of 10 to 20 feet.  Thus most books were short and longer writings were made on many scrolls, sometimes 100 for one work!


Random access problem: cannot find the passage you want without a lot of work (like cassette tapes, video tapes).


Wasted writing material: cannot conveniently write on the back side as it is handled on that side (so too much wear on a written side).


b) Codex [plural, codices].


Sheets are linked together along only one edge (like 3-ring binders) instead of both edges (like scroll).


Idea probably came from wax‑coated wooden sheets bound with rings in this manner, then adapted for papyrus.


Our oldest NT manuscript fragments are codices (only 4 of our 85 cataloged papyri are scrolls).


Most scholars guess that the earliest NT manuscripts were written on scrolls, but the scrolls that survive are not the earliest mss.


c) Palimpsest.


Not a different book form, but a manuscript which has been erased and written over.


Erasing usually done in medieval period when good writing material was scarce.


Parchment was only real choice for erasure as it was durable to start with and could be erased easily.


Codex C (Ephraemi Rescriptus) is an example of this.  About 5/8 of NT was erased (probably the binding had fallen apart first so this was 'scrap') and used for sermons of Ephraem the Syrian.


Sometimes (as with codex C) possible to read the under­lying text in the parch­ment with infra‑red photography.



4) Handwriting Styles.


a) Uncial.


From Latin Uncialus = "inch high" (some exaggera­tion).

Looks like a simplified form of the capital letters used for engraving on stone monu­ments.

Unlike engraving, no serifs or variations in line thickness.

Similar to modern Greek printed capital letters.


                        The Uncial Alphabet: see cover page of these notes









Differences from modern printed capitals:


            Note epsilon, xi, sigma


Note development of omega:  two o's merged


This was the common script from before the time of Christ to the 10th century AD.


But it takes up a lot of space.

Words were run together, perhaps to save space.

Did put a space between clauses and sentences like we would use commas or periods.

Being run together was not too bad since ancients typi­cally read the text aloud instead of silently when reading to self. (Augustine was surprised that Ambrose did not read out loud when he studied.)

A cursive handwriting style was used for personal or infor­mal notes, but not for making books.


b) Miniscules.


In the 9th century, the informal cursive script was modified to be more readable and was used in 10-15th cens. in making books.



Faster to write => cheaper.

More words per page => cheaper.


Miniscules brought the price of books down consid­erably so they became much more common.

As a result, 90% of the extant Greek manuscripts are in the miniscule style.


The miniscule alphabet: (note more variety)


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Differences from modern printed small letters:


            Note beta (sometimes closer to modern beta), zeta, mu, nu, xi, pi especially.



5) Abbreviations.  Several types occur in NT manuscripts.


a) Contraction.


Contraction in English:  cannot => can't; I am => I'm.

Commonly marked with the apostrophe.


Contraction common in Greek NT, especially with sacred names.

Called 'Nomina Sacra' = sacred names ‑ Letters were dropped out of the middle and the contraction marked with a bar above the letters.

Did not save that much space; apparently used to mark sacredness, somewhat like Hebrew tetragrammaton.


Two Letter Contractions:    NOTE the case dependence:


Nom. Sing.                              Acc.Dat.Gen.

          ­  __                                                        __        __        __

            ΘC = θεoς                                           ΘN      Θω      ΘY

            __                                                                      |

            KC = κυριoς                                                      \ Note uncial does not

            __                                                                                use iota subscript

            YC = υ


            IC = zIησoυς


            XC = Χριστoς


Three Letter:

            ___                                                      ___

            ΠNA = vευμα                                   CHP = σωτηρ

            ___                                                      ___

            CTC = σταυρoς                                   ΔAΔ = Δαυιδ

            ___                                                      ___

            MHP = μητηρ                                     IHΛ = zIσραηλ


            ΠHP = ατηρ


Longer Forms:


            ANOC = vθρωoς


            OYNOC = oραvoς


            IΛHM = {Iερυσαλημ



b) Suspension.


In English, we will sometimes only write out the first  few letters of a word for an abbreviation.

Greek suspension is somewhat similar, yet not exactly the same.

If there was not enough room at the end of a line and the writer did not want to carry over a letter or two, he put a line out past the right margin which meant, "You supply the ending which the context requires here."






c) Ligature.


Ligature is two letters drawn together to form one letter.

Ligature used to be rather common in English print­ing when type was hand set.


         ae =>    oe =>   fi =>


In Greek, rare in Uncial, more common in miniscules.


Examples from miniscules:


File written with CompuPic(R) - Photodex Corporation (


The oυ form is also found in some uncial script.


Was apparently done for convenience and faster writing.


d) Symbol.


            Symbols are arbitrary figures/designs used to represent a word.


In English:


   $ => dollar ;  , => pound ;  4 => cent ;


             % => percent, math signs.


Some English symbols appear to be former ligatures:


& => et [and] in Latin. 4 prob ct ligature

File written with CompuPic(R) - Photodex Corporation (

            In miniscules:    




b. Types of Errors found in NT Manuscripts.


1) Accidental variants (unintentional).


The vast majority of errors found in a particular manuscript appear to be totally unintentional, rather like typos in term papers, etc.  We attempt to classify these on the basis of how they appear to have arisen: (1) errors of sight or writing; (2) errors of hearing; (3) errors of memory; (4) errors of judgment.


a) Errors of sight or writing.


Several possibilities here: Scribe saw right, but wrote wrong.  Scribe wrote what he thought he saw.  Pre­vious scribe's work was sloppy or smudged.


(1) Wrong word division.


Uncials did not divide their words, but miniscules  do.  Thus every scribe who makes a miniscule copy from an uncial must make thousands of decisions on where to divide the letters to form the words.  Some examples:



Mark 10:40  (noted in UBS and Nestle)


            AΛΛOICHTOMIMACTAI in uncial


            Do we divide as


           λλoις     or      λλz oς

        "for others"        "but for those"


1 Timothy 3:16       (Not in UBS, in Nestle)


            OMOΛOΓOYMENΩCMEΓA in uncial


          μoλoγoυμεv ς μεγα         μoλoγoυμεvως μεγα

        "we confess how great"   or:  "confessedly great"

                                                            (adverbial participle)


(2) Confusion of letters.


Some letters were very similar, though not the same ones in uncial or miniscule.




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                                                Papyrus grain is horizontal

                                                (=) on preferred side.  Ink

                                                can run/smear along grain.


                                                If writing fast, can get an

                                                intermediate slant line.


                                                 Combinations are ambiguous,

                                                whether one letter or two.



File written with CompuPic(R) - Photodex Corporation (




(3) Homoioteleuton and Homoioarchton. (similar endings and similar begin­nings)


Errors occur because similarity of ending or beginning of two words in a passage results in the copyist looking back at the wrong place; hence a section (either a word, sentence, or letters) is omit­ted in the copy.  On rare occasions, a section is repeated!  Some examples:


1 John 2:23   A number of manuscripts skip the section between the two occurrences of "he who has the father".


Matthew 5:19‑20   τωv oυραvωv occurs 3 times and the sections in between are occasionally missed.



(4) Haplography or Dittography.


H = writing something once when it really occurred twice. 

D = writing something twice when it really occurred once.


1 Thess. 2:7




            εγεvηθημεv ηιoι or vηιoι


Was the v added or dropped?  Does it mean: "we became gentle" or "we became infants"?


This could be an error of hearing also; it is not always possible to specify the exact mechanism of error.


(5) Metathesis.


Accidental interchange of letters or words.


Word order shifts can happen extremely easily since it often makes little difference in Greek.


Letter order changes are more serious.  Commonly see:


Mark 14:65  ελαβov or εβαλov  "take" or "put"


Acts 13:23 is perhaps partially metathesis and partially a word-division problem:


            'salvation'         σωτηριαv


            'Savior Jesus'  σωτηρα Iησoυv


Probably a mixup in the abbreviations:




(6) Illegibility.


Sometimes the text (due to damage) was just plain hard to read.  Any type of error can happen.



b) Errors of Hearing.


There is good evidence that sometimes one scribe would read the text aloud from the exemplar (master copy) while other scribes would make multiple copies.  Per­haps this was done when a number of copies were needed quickly.  This will produce a different type of error than those when the scribe has both his exemplar and the copy he is making in front of him where he can read both.


(1) Itacism


When the text was read aloud the copyist might not spell it right because he could not always tell from the pronunciation how to spell the word.


Particular problems in Greek are vowels, dip­thongs (plus iota-subscripted vowels, not shown) which are pronounced the same:


"eh" =>           αι         ε

"oh" =>           o          ω        

"ee" =>            ι           υ          η          ει         oι         υι


UBS and Nestle do not normally indicate this sort; it is usually a trivial error.  Some more serious examples:


Distinctions between indicative and sub­junctive can be tricky, cf. Romans 5:1


            εχoμεv or εχωμεv


            μεις and μεις sounded the same.


See 1 John 1:4


Often both possibilities make sense. Usually they do not make much difference.


Many spelling variations do not imply a difference  in understanding, as spellings were not stan­dard­ized in Hellenistic Greek (no Dictionaries).


(2) Inaudibility.


The reader mispronounces, someone coughs, etc. Hard to categorize.



c) Errors of Memory.


Probably no copyist ever copied entirely from memory, but they would constantly look back and forth from the original to the copy; not every letter, but every few words (contrast good typists, who can continually look at the original).  Errors occurred in these 'few word' batches of memorization.


(1) Synonym.


Not an intentional change in the meaning, but a  synonym of the original word might accidentally be substitut­ed.


Matthew 20:34  oμματωv  ‑A rare word for 'eyes'.


           oφθαλμωv ‑ The common word, so this

                              is probably the substitute.


(2) Word order.


Easy to change the order and it does not make much difference in Greek.  Same result as for metathe­sis of words, but different cause.


Matthew 7:17  'do good things'


oιει καλoυς  or  καλoυς oιει



(3) Influence of a Parallel Passage.


This is normally attributed to intentional har­monization, but it could also be an error of     memory.  Sometimes the wording from one gospel might slip into the other when it is copied.


d) Errors of Judgment.


Occurs more often if you do not have a good original to work with, so you have to decide what was meant.  Similar to problem of illegibility, but may involve other problems as well.



(1) Overlooking an Abbreviation.


The copyist misses the line over the word, or the previous copyist left it off.


Example: 1 Timothy 3:16 is probably a confusion of letters, plus overlooking an abbrevia­tion.


            θεoς or ς -‑> "God/He who was mani­fest­ed..."


(2) Including a Marginal Note.


Corrector at a scriptorum would sometimes go through a copy marking places where errors had been made.  This is true today when preparing a book for a new edition:  See copy of Berkeley version of Bible in BTS library wih editor Frank Gaebelein's notes for revision.


Before printing, was hard to tell why marginal notes put in.  Was it the proofreader at the scriptorium correcting a real mistake?  Or was it a com­ment by a reader?


Copyist may mistakenly assume that the manuscript note is a valid correction of the manuscript, so he now puts it into text.


John 5:3‑4 Angel troubling the water of the pool. Western and Alexandrian texts omit this.  Was it a note made by a person who traveled to Pales­tine and asked for public opinion of the natives of Jerusalem as to why people were waiting for trou­bling of water at this pool?


(3) Excluding a Marginal Correction.


A valid marginal correction of the text is left out by the later copyist who thinks that it is only a person­al note or who disagrees with judg­ment of corrector.


(4) More Familiar Word Substituted for a Similar-Look­ing One.


The copyist thinks the word was mis‑spelled but it was not; it was just a rare unfamiliar word.


Luke 6:42 καρoς (fruit) for καρφoς (speck).


This example could be due to a error of hearing instead.


2) Intentional Variants.


Rare compared with unintentional as best we can tell (i.e., from study of types of errors in a particular ms).  But harder to repair because both variants will make sense.


From antiquity we know that there were men who tried to make changes in the texts in order to teach their own doctrines.


Gnostics:  Marcion threw out many NT books which he did not like (were too Jewish) and he made some changes in the ones he kept.  We have no manuscripts which are known to show  this influence.  The orthodox would not knowingly copy gnostic stuff.  When the gnos­tics died out, no one was interested in copying their modified texts.


Heretics in general have not found it profitable to change the Bible, as the really important doctrines can  not be modified easily (due to diffuse, repetitive mode of teaching).  Heretics typically find it easier to make their own Scriptures.  Contrast JWs with Mormons.


The variants that we have today show little that could be reasonably construed as evidence of heretical cor­rup­tion.


Most intentional changes seem to be attempts to "re­pair" the text on the theory that it had been miscop­ied.


a) Grammatical and linguistic changes.


As Christianity spread into wealthier circles, there arose concern over the Bible's non-classical style. (However, God wrote to commu­ni­cate to the people of the Koine period).  Thus a tendency to classicize the text.  Examples:


Changes in grammar:  In Classical Gk, 3rd pl aor­ist end­ing was always λθov (same as imper­fect).  As this was ambiguous (same as 1st sing), Koine writers often used the 1st Aor­ist ending to have λθαv for the 3rd pl.  The classicists changed this α back to an o. The α is typically older, hence the original.


Changes in syntax:  The copyist sometimes misun­derstood the syntax so he modified it.  In Ro­mans 3:29 we find the variants:


            μovov  /  μovoς  /  μovωv 


The copyists apparently thought they were cor­rect­ing previous copying errors, i.e., "Some guy cop­ied this wrong!"  In reality they did not under­stand the original syntax.


b) Liturgical.


The text was modified for use in the liturgy.  As in lectionaries, the modifications make the con­text clearer.  e.g., "And he said"  ‑‑>  "And Jesus said".


This may also explain why the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:13 has added a doxology (from OT mate­rial) to an otherwise abrupt ending.  People even­tually put into their copies what they knew from the liturgy.


c) Elimination of Apparent Discrepancies.


Seen especially in later manuscripts.  Example:


Mark 1:2  Is it "The prophets" or "Isaiah the prophet"?  Since both Isaiah and Malachi are quot­ed here, some person probably thought this should say "the prophets."


But the original style apparently was to cite the major prophet in a multi‑passage quotation (all the minor prophets were on one scroll).


d) Harmonization of Parallel Passages.


Luke 11:2‑4  Lord's Prayer in Luke filled out from Mat­thew.  In general, Matthew was more popular (as seen from relative number of mss, etc.).  Its wording later begins showing up in Luke and Mark.


e) Conflation (combination of variants).


This problem arises when the scribe has two or more variants, usually one in the text and another in a marginal or interlinear note.  He has sever­al choices:


(1) Throw away the marginal note.  Danger:  If it is a valid correction from the proof­reader, you lose true text from ms.


(2) Throw out the text and substitute the margin.  Danger:  Marginal note was invalid correction or only someone's com­ment; also lose the original text.


(3) Leave it in the margin.  Not satisfacto­ry.  Want ms to look good when finished, and not con­fuse the next copyist.


(4) Put both into the text (conflation).  Do not lose anything, so the safest, most common prac­tice.  Danger: it does introduce a new, combina­tion reading.


f) Attempted Corrections.


A change has occurred which appears to be more than just a grammatical or linguistic correc­tion.  Examples:


Romans 8:2    σε  (you)  ‑‑>  με   (me)


Rev 1:5   λυσαvτι (loosed) ‑‑> λoυσαvτι (washed)


Latter example might well be itacism instead.


g) Doctrinal Changes.


No need to be toward 'orthodoxy', but in actuality these do tend toward 'orthodoxy' (if we define 'orthodoxy' as whatever was commonly accepted in church at that time).


Reason for this:  Christians have gotten their Scrip­tures from orthodox Christians, not from heretics.  Examples:


1 John 5:7-8  The Trinitarian verse:


"There are three that bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.  And there are three that bear witness on earth..."


Occurs in only 3‑4 out of 100's of Greek manu­scripts.  This passage was not used in the Trinitarian controversies of the fourth century, implying it was not in the Greek text.  Possibly in Latin text at time.


Mark 9:29  "... prayer 'and fasting'."


Fasting became a major part of monastic pi­ety, which became popular in the church only after about 300 AD.


Text criticism C whether done on biblical texts or other Christian authors or any other texts from before the age of printing C seeks to detect these sorts of copying errors and, if possible, restore the text to the form it originally had when it came from the au­thor.


c. Transmission of the Text by Hand.


We turn now to consider what we know about the specific history of the NT text, beginning with the autographs and coming down to the time when the NT began to be copied by mechanical printing processes shortly after 1500 AD.


This period subdivides into two: (1) a period during which the Xn church is illegal, and is subject to sporadic perse­cu­tion (during which time the text of the mss is character­ized by growing divergence), and (2) the following period in which Xy is legal and (at least nominally) widely accepted (during which time the mss tend to converge in text).


1) Period of Persecution (divergence of manuscripts).


The church was considered illegal from c65 to c325 AD in the Roman Empire.  In God's providence, this perse­cution ended before the collapse of the empire in the West.  Otherwise (humanly speaking), the NT text might have been far more divergent than it is.


There were two main influences in this period, a) tradi­tion & b) perse­cution.


a) Influence of Oral Tradition.


Some apostles were still alive until c100 AD, and others who had seen and heard Jesus for some years more.  People who had heard the apostles speak were prob around beyond 150 AD (e.g., Polycarp, etc.).


Thus there was a source independent of the written Gospels for what Jesus and the apostles did and taught; e.g., see Papias' remarks in his Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord.


Such extra information might occasionally be writ­ten in the margin of a ms as a note, and later get into the text.


These oral traditions were circulating until c150 AD, and whatever got written down for long after­ward.  After this, oral traditions were not trust­ed.


The Western family of mss seems most influenced by this.


b) Influence of Persecution.


Roman persecution was not continuous, but could break out at any time so long as Xy was ille­gal in Empire.


(1) In a persecution, the best copies were those most likely to be de­stroyed, i.e., those belonging to a large, notable congregation or a major leader.  Church leaders and meeting places were most sought; these would also tend to have the most official copies of Scripture.


Since Christianity was illegal, it was hard to travel openly, hard to have open meetings (during perse­cu­tion).  There were no large councils of church leaders (as far as we know) between Jerusalem Council (AD 50) and Nicea (AD 325).




(2) It was hard to compare manuscripts from across the Empire.


(3) Manuscripts were often copied by amateurs without proper checking, since it was dangerous to take them to professionals.



c) Results for this period:


(1) Most of the variants we have appear in this period, especially in the first half (before c200 AD).  Some of these variants are hard to re­solve since they occur in the earliest manuscripts which we have.


(2) Manuscripts continue to diverge, so that "Lo­cal texts" arise:        


Local Text       [Versions based on texts]        Region Involved


Alexandrian     [Coptic, Nubian, Ethi­opic]      Alexandria and southward into Egypt


Caesarean        [Georgian, Armenian]             Caesarea; versions northward into S. Russia


Byzantine        [Gothic, Peshitta]                    Antioch, then Constantinople, spreads from there


Western           [Old Latin, Old Syriac]           Now thought to have origin in East



Western shows up first in N. Africa, then Europe.  However, we now have evidence it started in the East,  and was spread to the West by missionaries.


Locations (above) are derived from where the church fathers who quoted these read­ings were located, and regions where languages of versions spoken.  Locations cannot be derived directly from mss since early mss don't give such information.



2) Period of Acceptance (convergence of manuscripts).


After c325 AD, Christianity is no longer illegal in Roman Empire.  This period continues in Europe until c1500 AD (when printing takes over), although the rise of Islam in the East complicates things.


a) Influence of the End of Persecution.


Around 310‑325 (depending on the area) the church could once again operate openly as before 65 (al­though Xy doesn't become the state religion until about 400).


(1) Now Xns can use professional scribes.  The amount of new error drops off substantially (cp. difference between amateur and professional secre­tary).  It thus becomes worthwhile to study vari­ants and try to correct texts, since errors will no longer be cropping up as fast as corrected.


(2) Can now openly travel and compare texts.  Xn leaders quickly see the need for standardization of the text and begin to do so.  However, most people (and leaders) prefer their own local versions.  (Sound familiar?)


b) Influence of Changes in the Greek-Speaking World.


100 to 200 AD had been the great golden age of the Roman Empire, with good rulers, peace, econom­ic prosperity.  After 200 AD, the Roman Empire weak­ens, with economic decline, bad agricultural prac­tices, growing welfare state, education weak­ening.


In areas where Greek not native language, it be­gins to recede (esp. in rural areas) in favor of local languages:  Coptic, Syriac, Armenian.


Latin also loses as Barbarians come into West after 250 AD.


The rise of Islam in the 600's causes a major change in language and much more.  Arabic becomes the language of cul­ture and commerce in Palestine, Egypt, N. Africa, Spain.


Thus Greek usage shrinks back with Byzantine Em­pire to Asia Minor and Greece, plus a few isolated patches elsewhere.  This is the area where the Byzantine text was local version.


Thus Byzantine text becomes dominant, since Byzan­tine Empire survives Arab conquests and Greek is still spoken there.  Alexandria, Caesarea, etc. fall to Islam and Greek usage ends there.


c) Results from this later period:


(1) Few further variants occur other than ones which result­ from standardization (confla­tion, smoothing, etc.).


(2) Various mss families tend to grow more like each other as marginal notes from comparison are incorporated into the text.


(3) Constantinople becomes the center of the Greek-speaking church (Rome of Latin-speaking), so its text becomes domi­nant as other areas are taken over. During the 4th‑8th centuries the per­cent­age of mss which are Byzantine greatly in­crease, from virtually none in 4th cen to dominance in 8th cen.


Hence 95% of our extant miniscules are Byzantine, as Byzantine family was dominant when they were first made.  Find mainly Byzantine corrections in the other text families.



2. History of the Text since Printing.


With the importation of printing into the West and its technolog­ical develop­ment into a massive industry, 1000s of copies of a text can be printed which are textually identi­cal.  It is still possible to make copying errors (and some are whoppers!), but since every copy will no longer be unique it is far more feasible economically to check a text carefully before it goes to the printer.


a. The Rise of Textual Criticism (16th‑20th centuries).


The enormous reduction of textual copying error printing makes possible leads to systematic attempts to find and restore the best possible text of ancient documents, of which the most widely printed will be the Bible.  We will divide this period of the history of the text since printing into three periods: (1) the Textus Receptus becomes dominant (16-17th cen); (2) textual study progresses (18th); (3) the abandon­ment of the TR (19th-20th).


1) The Textus Receptus Becomes Dominant (16th‑17th cens.).


a) The Printed Greek New Testament.


Printing existed in China & Japan by 800 AD, but only reaches the west in the late 1300's.  Movable metal type and the printing press were devel­oped to make it practical about 1450.  The first books were printed in Latin, the international language of scholars in the West.


When Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453, many Greeks fled west as refugees.  This brought a great spurt in interest in Greek, which had not been very accessible previously as RC and GO chur­ches were enemies.


(1) First Printed Greek NT.


Cardinal Ximenes in Spain made the first plans for a Greek printed Bible, as part of a multilingual OT-NT.  It was designed as a schol­arly rather than popular edition.  It had the OT in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, and the NT in Greek and Latin.


Came to be called the "Complutensian Poly­glot" after the Latin name of the city in Spain where published (Alcala = Complutum).


This was the first Greek NT ever printed (1514), but it was not published (distribut­ed) until 1522 because papal beauracracy held it up (had to have permission to publish Bibles).


(2) First Published Greek NT.


While Ximenes was working on this, a printer in Basle named Fro­ben found out and decided to publish a much cheaper Greek edition of the NT before Ximenes.


Froben got help from Erasmus, the best Greek scholar in Europe at the time.  But Froben forced him to work fast, so Eras­mus could only use locally available manu­scripts.


Erasmus' Gk ms of Revelation lacked the last page, so Erasmus translated the Latin Vulgate back into Greek for this part.


Edition was printed and published in 1516 (dedicated to the Pope, so permission to publish came quickly).


Since it was smaller and cheaper than Complutensian Polyglot it had a much larger circulation.


The Froben text is basically Byzantine.


Later Greek NT's for several centuries follow Erasmus's text (rath­er than Polyglot or Greek manuscripts) even though it has wordings which are not used in any Greek manu­script.


            e.g., the last 6 verses of Revelation contin­ue to follow Erasmus rather than Greek.  "Book of life" in Latin and TR (and KJV) should be "tree of life" acc to Gk. manu­scripts.


Yet both the Polyglot and Erasmus' text were based on relatively few manuscripts (those which were easily accessible).



(3) Later Printed Editions of 1500s.


These also depended on a few late manuscripts as there was no textual criticism yet.


The tendency was to use Erasmus' version (occa­sionally corrected against a manu­script) rather than to print a text of the Comp Poly­glot or some manuscript.


No copyright laws yet, so easy to do. Over the next century, only Froben's typographical errors are changed in the various printed Gk texts.



b) The "Textus Receptus."


The term "Textus Receptus" is used in three dis­tinct (but somewhat overlapping) sens­es:


            (1) Narrowest sense:  Elzevir brothers' 2nd edi­tion of Greek NT (1633).  Comment in the preface, "this is the text received by all."  From this was coined the phrase, "Textus Receptus."  So refers to this edition.


            (2) Broader sense:  All early printed editions of Gk NT, i.e., the printing up of the sort of text which we find in the miniscules, especially those copied in the last centuries before the time of printing, which is basically a late form of the Byzantine family as it had developed by the 15th century.


            (3) Broadest sense:  The form of the text of any work writ­ten before printing as it was trans­mitted to the time printing begins.  Applies to all an­cient literature (the "TR" of Homer, etc.)


The KJV does not follow the "TR" in the narrowest sense, but does in the other two senses.



c) Beginning of Textual Studies.


With a fairly fixed printed ed. of the Greek NT, much more elaborate textual study can be done than anyone in antiquity (Origen, Jerome, etc.) ever attempted.  We discuss some of this under the headings (1) the publication of critical appara­tuses, (2) the use of uncial mss, and (3) the collection of variant readings.


(1) Publication of Critical Apparatuses.


With the coming of printed editions, it was much easier to compare mss (and so begin textual studies) because there are many iden­tical copies of one "standard" text (even tho itself somewhat variant) to compare mss with.  Comparing actual mss with­out a stan­dard is much harder as one worker can't tell what another is doing. But now deviations can be compared with a common printed edition.


Stephanus (Latin name of Robert Estienne) edition of 1550 includes textual apparatus (had enough mss to do this) listing variant readings.  KJV is translated from this (and a Beza edition).


From this time on, some editions will give criti­cal apparatus and some will not.


Stephanus ed. of 1551 was first to have verse divi­sions.


(2) The Use of Uncial Manuscripts.


(a) Theodore Beza, successor to Calvin at Geneva.  All early edi­tions were based on mini­scules, but Beza had two uncial mss which are still important today:  codex D (Be­zae) and codex D2 or Dp (Claromontanus), the two major Greek representatives of the Western family.  Though Beza made 10 eds. of Gk NT in his life, didn't use these uncials much. Their text diverges greatly from the minis­cules and he did not know how to handle this.


(b) Brian Walton.  Published a Polyglot in 1657, still used today because it con­tains Ethiopic, Syriac, Persian versions which have not been much worked on. Walton used uncial Codex Alexandrinus as one source for his Greek NT in the Polyglot. Alex. is our ear­liest Bzyantine text in the gospels (the rest of it is Alex.), so it did not look so di­vergent from TR.


(3) The Collection of Variants.


Began trying to find as many variant readings as possi­ble.  This work is not completely done yet. It is hard to find all variants in hand‑written manuscripts (and there are 1000's of manuscripts!).  Has been done care­fully for all uncials, many miniscules, a few lectionaries.


(a) Brian Walton was the first to do system­atic work.  Compared manuscripts in dif­ferent libraries.


(b) John Fell's Greek NT (1675 ed). Lists variants from over 100 mss and some versions. The first printed ed. to cite Codex Vati­canus (B).  Does not always tell reader which manu­script supports which reading.  Does tell you what he looked at and what the vari­ants are.


            RCC was not happy about Protestants using Vatica­nus, so not available to scholars until the mid‑19th cen.  Somehow Fell got to use it.


2) Textual Study Progresses (18th century)


a) Continued Dominance of TR.  This was the normal printed text, with some minor exceptions.


b) Collection of variants continues, as does location and survey of new manuscripts.


            John Mill's Greek NT (1707) contains 30,000 vari­ant readings (cp UBS c5,000). But the text he prints only varies from the TR in 210 places.


c) Development of Critical Principles.


With the collection of all these variants, the question naturally arises: How do you decide which variant is more likely than its competitors to be original?  Some attempts in this century to devel­op "rules" for making decisions.


(1) John Albert Bengel [conservative; commentary Gnomon NT]. In Prologue to 1734 ed. of Greek NT, states two principles:



(a) "Manuscripts are to be weighed, not coun­ted."  Obviously metaphorical, not suggesting physi­cal weighing!  The number of mss which support a reading may just be an indication of which manuscript was copied the most, and not insure a better reading.


            Example: Story of Geo. Washington's vision at Valley Forge.  Vision gave history of the U.S., foretold 3 great wars.  Tracts today say the 3rd war (invasion) will be the most danger­ous, but cite as their source of vision story a news­pa­per version which says the 2nd war (Civil war) was to be the worst!  Most exciting reading was most copied rather than the oldest.


(b) "Within limits, the more difficult read­ing is to be preferred to the easi­er."  Lim­its: unless it makes no sense or is "too hard."  This principle corrects the tendency of a scribe to use an easier wording to sim­plify or "correct" a passage.  Like para­phrased Bibles removing ambiguities to­day.


(c) Bengel began to see that manuscripts fell into large groups (he saw 2 and called them 'nations').


            Asiatic:  What we call the Byzan­tine.  Since it centered around Constan­tinople he called it Asiat­ic.


            African:  He put Alexandrinus and the Old Latin (Western) togeth­er in this, not differentiating between the Western and Alexandrian.


(2) J. J. Griesbach [not conservative].  Wor­ked on several editions from 1775‑1807. Had an elaborate scheme of 15 rules for textual criti­cism.  Saw that Bengel's families needed to be further divid­ed:  Byzantine, Alexandrian, and West­ern.


About early (and modern) principles of textual criti­cism:  No one felt that these principles could be applied mechanically, i.e. by computer rather than human.  They recognized that certain aspects of textual criticism are a science, but that the last step, decid­ing which variant is most likely original, is an art. Required both probabilitiy and value judgments.



d) Development of Notation (1751‑1752).


J.J. Wettstein was responsible for developing modern notation, which is also used in non‑Bibl­ical texts today.  Used letters and numbers to indicate manuscripts, with the lowest value => most important.


Capital letters stood for uncials.

Numbers stood for miniscules.

Papyri had not been discovered yet.


This sort of ordering becomes a problem when addi­tional mss are later discovered which are more important; e.g., Washingtonensis (W) and Sinait­icus (!) were not known at this time.


3) The Abandonment of the TR  (19th‑20th centuries).


a) Some Earlier Preparations.


Bengel (1732) had printed the TR and added criti­cal foot­notes.  But had also indicated how cer­tain he felt the text was, and in the footnotes indi­cated a number of variants as more certain than the TR text.


Others before Bengel sometimes felt the TR was not correct, but the TR was traditional...


Richard Bentley (1720) proposed reconstructing the text as it stood in the 4th century AD.  His ap­proach:  Forget TR; take old mss, ver­si­ons, and church fathers from the 4th century, and use text they favor, making decisions only among their variants.  But died in 1742 before more than a sample was done.


b) Period of Further Manuscript Discoveries.


These discoveries were an important factor in the aban­don­ment of the TR.


(1) Constantin von Tischendorf (1815‑1874). Inde­pendently wealthy nobleman, with 'hobby' to locate NT mss.  Published and found more manuscripts than anyone else so far.  His most important find was Codex Sinaiticus (!) from the St. Catherine monas­tery on Mt. Sinai.  Was also first to decipher the NT text of Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus (C; palimp­sest).  Had the patience, dedication and eyesight to do this.  Published 8 editions of the Greek NT, of which last has not been surpassed in some re­spects.


(2) Discovery of the Papyri.  Westerners found out about papyri just before 1800 when Napoleon invad­ed Egypt, bringing scholars who stud­ied monu­ments, inscriptions, and found papy­ri. Was a while be­fore any NT manuscripts were found in the papy­ri though.  And then a while more before they figured out how old and valuable these were.  Thus nearly 1900 before significance of the papyri was reali­zed.  By c1900, many non‑Biblical papyrus mss known and people realized that they were writ­ten in the common language of NT times and were valu­able for understanding Greek.  Many of the most valuable NT papyri were discovered in the 20th century.


c) Emergence of the Critical Text.


(1) Karl Lachmann (1831) finally does what Bentley wanted to do.  He tries to reconstruct the text of NT as it stood in 380 AD.  Used church fathers, Sinaiticus, Old Latin, Peshitta.  His text is good and contains only variant readings which ex­isted at 380 AD.  Unfortuniately, as we saw above, by that time there was not just one NT text, but all four major text families were in existence.  As there was not just one text, Lachmann's attempt to boil each variant down to one reading was unsuc­cessful.


(2) S.P. Tregelles, English (1813‑1875), Plym­outh Brethren.  Worked independently of others, devel­oping principles for textual criticism.  Recon­structed what he thought was the best text, which was not TR.  Printed several editions of his own. Encouraged the move away from TR to earlier mate­rials.


(3) C. von Tischendorf made 8 editions of the NT, last completed in 1872. The 8th ed. still contains the most complete apparatus, for whole NT, of any edition so far.  Even with all the discoveries since, money and people have not been available to do this detail work for whole NT (only Matthew and Luke so far).


(4) Westcott and Hort (1881). The "real emer­gence of the critical text" is in 1881, a NT Greek text based totally on the old manuscripts.  Their NT was accompanied with a volume explaining their prin­ciples, the texts, and the readings which they chose.  They identified 4 text families:


            1. Syrian (our Byzantine)  ‑ the latest.

            2. Alexandrian

            3. Western

            4. Neutral ‑ the best (incl Vati­canus, Sinai­ticus)

                        Neutral is the best because it is not influenced as much by the things that the other families were. Neutral is today called "Proto‑Alexand­ri­an."


W&H are not followed by everyone, but in general  their views are thought to be a real improvement over following the traditional late Byzantine text that dominated the miniscules.  General feeling that their choice of early materials is good; their preference for Proto‑Alexandrian over the others is also good.  Some feel that they are too carried away in their respect for this family, however.  More later.


While W&H were working on this, they were also on the committee for revision of the KJV. In 1881 the comm came out with the English Revised Ver­sion.  W&H's suggestions on the text were generally fol­lowed as they (and one other) were the text spe­cialists on the comm.  The English Revised Ver­sion is the first modern language translation to use a critical text rather than the TR.  Was widely used in England; the American Standard Version of 1901 was a revision of this in American idiom.  The NASB is sort of a revision of the ASV.


(5) Bernard Weiss.  German NT exegete.  Attemp­ted to construct the Greek NT by looking at all avail­able variant readings independent of the ms sup­port (source, age, family, etc.).  Based his choice on internal considerations only (con­text, style of author, mistakes scribes typically make).


            Weiss published a series of texts from 1894‑1905. These in close agreement with Westcott and Hort's results.  Had some overlap in the selection prin­ciples used, though he did work independently.  Suggests both internal and external evidence are favorable to a high estimate of Proto-Alex family.


The Critical text, however, did not arise without opposi­tion.  Main opponent was:


(6) John W. Burgon. British, High Church Anglican, specialist in patristics (the church fathers).  Found a majority of these early church fathers used the Byzantine text.  To him this proved that the Byzantine text was earlier than Westcott and Hort claimed.


            Burgon's results were based on the available manu­scripts of the church fathers (medieval minis­cules).  Died in 1888. Wrote several books:   The Revision Revised. Last 12 Verses of Mark.  An assistant named Miller finished his work.


More recently, evidence has turned up from mss of the church fathers earlier than those Bur­gon had. These mss show that earlier mss are less Byzan­tine than later ones, implying that biblical quotations in patristic mss were assimilated to the NT text which later copyists were familiar with.


By the end of the 19th cen, Westcott and Hort's views were being rapidly accepted.



b. The Text Argument Today, Especially in Fundamental Circles.


Currently, there are four basic approaches to evaluating variants among NT textual scholars.  David Alan Black, in his NT Textual Criticism: A Concise Guide (Baker, 1994) characterizes these as:


            1) Radical Eclecticism (G.D. Kilpatrick, J.K. Elliot)

                        a) text chosen on internal evidence only

                        b) no ms or mss to be preferred

                        c) result: purely "eclectic" text


            2) Reasoned Eclecticism (B.M. Metzger, K. Aland)

                        a) text chosen on both internal & external evid

                        b) reading of "best" mss is to be preferred

                        c) result: "critical" text


            3) Reasoned Conservatism (H.A. Sturz, D.A. Black)

                        a) text chosen on both internal & external evid

                        b) reading of majority of text types preferred

                        c) result: "widespread" text


            4) Radical Conservatism (Z. Hodges, A. Farstad)

                        a) text chosen on external evid alone

                        b) reading of majority of mss preferred

                        c) result: "majority" text


Position 2) tends to dominate.  Both UBS and Nestle text con­structed on its principles.  4) or even more radical ver­sions (KJV better than Greek!) have considerable grass­roots influence in Fundamental circles today.  It appears that 2) or 3) have the better evidence for their position.


Position 4) is a revival of Burgon's position, started in America in 1956 with the publishing of:  E.F. Hills, The King James Version Defended!  TR/KJV position continued all along in England (& Canada) via Trinitarian Bible Society.


1) The Issues as Raised by Textus Receptus People (view 4):


a) Which text is the original:  The 'TR' or W&H?


Within 'TR' position, varieties of view 4) we find 3 alternative sub-views presented:


            -- Byzantine family superior

            -- TR Greek is superior

            -- KJV translation is superior


All in 4) oppose the W&H model and views 1)-3) and say the Alexandrian family is not the best.


No one in views 1)-3) de­fends W‑H on every point, but most believe that the Alexandrian family is more reliable than Byzantine.


b) Would God allow the church to be wrong until recent­ly?


Wording of issue comes from TR camp.  A major concern of TR people, but also (rightly) of any real Christian.


c) Would God allow the best text to be lost for so long?


TR people generally see modern critical text as a liberal attempt to undermine the Bible, and feel that they should not let the liberals get away with it.


Different Gospel argument:  Alexandrian (or criti­cal) text teaches different Gospel.  Only found in ex­treme stuff (like Chick comic Sabotage?).


2) The Proponents of Textus Receptus (KJV or Byzantine).


a) John W. Burgon.  Was a High Church Angli­can in Eng­land, the last major defender of TR in 19th centu­ry.  Argued for the TR because it is the tradi­tional text, so should be fol­lowed (HC Angli­cans emphasize tradition like RCs do). His materi­al has been recently re­printed.


b) Edward F. Hills.  Revived the controversy in 1950s.  A graduate from Westminster TS, has doctorate from Har­vard in textual stud­ies.   Uses presupposi­tional ap­proach (book dedi­cated to Van Til; doubt VT appreciated this!).  Example:  Although 1 John 5:7‑8 is not in most Greek manuscripts, it was provi­dentially preserved in the Latin and brought back into the TR.  The TR is providen­tially better even than the Byzantine family, far better than Alexandrian/critical text.


c) Zane Hodges.  Formerly professor at Dal­las TS. Has the best arguments and the most mod­erate posi­tion of major TR writers.  Avoids the problem of church being in error for so long by arguing that we should take the read­ing supported by the majority of texts, which is generally Byzantine.  He in­tended the New KJV to be done this way, but was not fol­lowed (prob overruled by publisher).  GNT acc to Maj Text was done this way.


d) Wilbur H. Pickering.  Studied under Hod­ges. Wrote Identity of the N.T. Text (1978).  Won­ders if the family groupings are not mislead­ing, i.e., if you go back far enough, they merge.  Argues basically for a majority text.


Besides more scholarly proponents, numerous popu­lariz­ers:


e) Trinitarian Bible Society. Started in the early 1800's because dissatisfied with the British and Foreign Bible Society.  Picked up this issue in time.  Not much influence in America (some via Canada) as this is a Brit­ish group.  Recently two additional groups have formed, the Dean Burgon Society and the Majority Text Society.


f) David O. Fuller.  Retired GARB pastor who became a full‑time advocate of TR.  Had not specialized in textual studies.  Has edited 3 books:  Which Bi­ble?  True or False?  Counterfeit or Genuine?


g) Thomas Baker.  Head of the Bible Truth Insti­tute in Sunbury PA. Distinctives include KJV only with TR emphasis.


h) Peter Ruckman.  Head of Pensacola Bible Institute in Flori­da.  Argues that the KJV is better than the Greek TR!  God has so used the KJV in reviv­als over the last centuries, it must be the best.  God providential­ly optimized the KJV wording.


NOTE:  Septuagint and Vulgate each had this same type of support in their own era.  Any version used for a long period of time produces this sort of argument.


3) Proponents of the Critical Text (basically view 2).


a) Tregelles.  Plymouth Brethren.


b) Westcott and Hort.  As orthodox as Erasmus.


            Both Tregelles and W‑H were influential in getting the Alexandrian-type text accepted.


c) B.B. Warfield.  Was in NT textual studies be­fore going into syste­matic theology.


d) A.T. Robertson.  Southern Baptist. NT man, but not specialized in textual studies.


e) B.M. Metzger.  Most conservative man at Prince­ton Sem.  One of major world figures in textual stud­ies.  Does not hold inerrancy, but is pretty or­thodox other­wise.


f) J. Harold Greenlee.  At Asbury TS in textual stud­ies.


g) Gordon Fee. Formerly at Gordon-Conwell in tex­tual stud­ies.  Several articles in ETS Journal.


Nearly all evangelical seminaries are dominated by men who favor the Alexandrian position (views 2 or 3).  Dallas (despite Hodges) is not TR.  Bob Jones is not TR although they prefer the KJV.



4) Arguments for the TR/Byz/KJV, against the Alex/Crit Text.


a) God would have providentially kept the text pure.


            An a priori argument, based on the nature of God: He is always true.  His intention is to com­municate with man, so he would have kept the ma­jority of manuscripts pure.  This majority is claimed to be Byzantine.



b) Other text families were tampered with by heretics.


            Usually refer to Marcion, whom we know (from the church fathers) did tamper with the manu­scripts.  Allege that he and other Gnostics were source of Alexandrian family, since Gnosticism was a partic­ular problem in Alexandria.  Later, Constan­tine was behind Vaticanus & Sinaiticus, not real­ly a Christian.  (Arguments about Constantine were more important in Burgon's time; now we have NT manu­scripts which pre‑date him.)


c) The critical text came to dominance in the 19th cen when unbelief was attacking the Bible.


d) The Syriac Peshitta (with Byzantine text) was trans­lated in the 2nd century, so the Byzantine is as old as any other family.


e) Many important ancient readings are not in the Alex­andri­an Family and are obviously very early.


f) There is no evidence that the Byzantine text is a result of editing, as proponents of critical text claim.  (Some argue that the Byzantine text is an edition made by Lucian in Antioch about 300 AD.)


g) A majority of manuscripts are normally assumed to give us the best text.



5) Arguments for the Alexandrian or critical text, against TR/KJV/­Byz. [items a)- i) are responses to above]


a) There is little difference doctrinally between the Alexandrian family and the TR (Byzantine family, KJV).  Response to pro-TR a). Long before this debate started, scholars noted that if you took even the worst readings from all the extant mss you would still have an orthodox Bi­ble.  It is rare for a variant reading to teach some­thing unique which cannot be supported from other pas­sages (e.g., snake handling is based on Mark 16:9-20, but snake-handlers could still use the exam­ple of Paul in Acts).  So God has provi­den­tially pro­tected the manuscripts to the extent that they are alike doctrinally, however TR dispute comes out.


b) God's providential oversight did not keep doc­trine pure in the majority of professing churches. Also response to pro-TR a).  This limits the ex­tent of providential arguments, as God does tolerate evil in this world for a limited time and for his pur­poses.  God has not providentially chosen to in­sure that what He wants to reveal can get perfect­ly into all men's minds.  The question is where one puts the "inerrancy" cut‑off:


                        Pre‑inspiration             Liberals 

                        Post‑inspiration           Conservatives

                        Trans­mission               TR proponents

                        King James Version    KJV proponents


God has limited the changes which have occurred in the mss.  We find that nothing significant has crept into text, no matter how TR dispute solved.  e.g., find no manuscripts like the Jefferson Bi­ble, with all miracles excluded, etc.


c) No doubt heretics messed with the Scriptures, but we have no evidence that they were Involved with any copies which we now have.  Response to pro-TR b). No doctrinal differences between Alex. and Byz. families.  Few cults have done well with a weakly modified Bible; most have to make their own Scrip­tures (JWs an exception).  Early Gnostics found it necessary to write their own Gospels (allegedly kept "secret" since apostolic period).  No mss show any doctrinal modification at any level we could certainly call heresy.


RC and GO churches are principally responsible for the manuscripts which we have today (RC for Latin; Gk Orth for Gk).  While neither one holds to sal­vation by faith alone, the doctrine still comes through clearly in their Bibles => providen­tially protected.  Today have old enough manuscripts to know that the text was not changed by RCC or GO.


d) The TR (or KJV) readings do not always repre­sent the  majority of the NT manuscripts anyway.  Res­ponse to pro-TR a) and g).  This separates the majority text argument from TR/KJV arguments.  Both TR and KJV are Byzantine in general, but not in all de­tails.  Note textual footnotes in Gk NT Maj Text. Accord­ing to Wallace (1993) there are 1838 differ­ences in text between MT and TR.  Thus many who claim 'majority text' do not want to use it when it disagrees with KJV (e.g., 1 John 5:7‑8 not in majority of the Greek manuscripts).  This seems to have been an issue in deciding what to put in the New King James version.  If we include Latin mss in majority count (to get in 1 John 5:7‑8), get a much more Alexandrian text. [Recall that Vul­gate is combination of Old Latin version (Western) and Gk mss at time of Jerome (Alexandrian).  In fact, with 8000 Vulgate mss, that text becomes the new majority.  Are TR people being consistent by using majority arguments only when they support KJV?


e) The Byzantine family apparently was not in the ma­jority until about the 9th cen AD.  See p. 69.


f) Many opinions arose in the last century (some wrong, some right); many important men in textual criti­cism were (and are) conservatives. Response to pro-TR c) about liberals.  Should look at the evidence.  Seeing who supports an idea (liber­al, conservative, etc.) is not a bad test for ini­tial reaction, but eventually must look at evi­dence.  Can't just react against others, or you'll always go to the other extreme, which will serve Satan just as well.  [MacRae's tug-of-war analogy.]  Many of the men who developed textual criticism were orthodox Christians.  So ad hominem argu­ment (some liberals hold view, so bad), does­n't always work.


g) There is no evidence that the Syriac Peshitta ver­sion existed before about 400 AD, thus its (Byzan­tine) text is no guarantee that Byz family as old as Alex or West.  Response to pro-TR d).  No one doubts the Byzantine nature of the Peshitta.  Ques­tion is the date of translation. Earliest Syrian manuscripts we have are not Peshitta, nor are earliest commentaries.  Old Syriac manu­scripts are not Peshitta, Ephraim the Syrian (impor­tant commentator) does not refer to the Peshitta (dies in 373 AD).  So no evidence for Peshitta before 400, tho probably in common use by 431 AD (when Syriac church split).  By 431, as Alexandrian advo­cates would agree, the Byzantine family cer­tainly existed (prob formed around 300 AD).


h) Many of the major readings not in the Alexan­drian family are Western and admittedly quite early; Alexandrian proponents also do not claim that all readings surviving only in Byz. are late.  Res­ponse to pro-TR e).  Early non‑Alexandrian vari­ants are usually Western.  Both Alexandrian and Western families are in existence by 150 AD. No one is claiming that the Byz. may not rarely have some unique reading from autographs.  The ques­tion is one of general reliability.


i) There is evidence that Lucian of Antioch (died 312 AD) may have produced the Byzantine text.  Re­sponse to pro-TR f).  Not conclusive or explicit evidence.  See Metzger's book Chapters in the History of NT Textual Criticism.


            Evidence looks like this: Know that Lucian of Antioch was involved in editorial work on the Bible text.  Most references to this concern the Septuagint OT.  Have two references with re­spect to NT:  Jerome hints that he may have worked with the NT.  Martyr list in the Greek church (6th cen) is ex­plicit that Lucian revised the Greek NT text.


            Lucian's work on the OT has been definitely iden­tified thru several OT manuscripts which have indicators in margins where a reading is Luci­an's.  By studying the character of these readings we find the same characteristics that distinguish the Byz. from Alex. and West. families: e.g., conf­la­tion, and tendency to smooth, clarify syntax, and to classicize the grammar.


            It is a reasonable guess that Lucian of Antioch was in­volved in editing the NT Byz. text around 300 AD.


j) Where we can test it, the majority of mss to a work usually do not give as good a text as certain early mss.  (Recall comment on page 52 re/ Wash­ington's Vision at Valley Forge.)


Now we move to the hard data arguments: What kind of text do we find in early materials?



k) No Papyri before 600 AD have a Byz. text, although  each of the 3 other families are represented (Wes­tern, Caesarean, Alex.).  TR proponents, how­ever, argue that it just did not get into Egypt, from which papyri came. (Actually, Egypt is where these papyri were found, not necessarily where they were written.)


l) No Church Father before Chrysostom (died 407 AD) uses a distinctively Byzantine text.  This argu­ment is not dependent on an alleged theological situ­ation in Egypt, as church fathers are from all over Mediterranean.  As we have discovered earlier manuscripts of the early church fathers, we find these mss are less Byzantine than later mss of same fathers.  A tendency developed to conform the NT text quotations in the father to the text cur­rent at the time of the copyist.  Even Chrysos­tom's Byz. text not the medieval Byz. text of the MT, TR and KJV.  Before Chrysostom, only find a few scattered Byz. readings; otherwise texts are Alex. or West.


m) Early versions, like Old Syriac, Coptic, Old Latin, are not Byz. texts.  Are either West. or Alex. Only when you get to the Gothic (made in the 400's from Constantinople) do you see a clearly Byz. version.  Jerome's Vulgate version is not Byz. but a mix­ture of Western and Alexandrian due to his correcting Old Latin (West) with Gk mss of his time (Alex).


n) Later Manuscript finds have supported the gen­eral position of Westcott & Hort.  Shows that 'pre­dic­tability' is with W‑H theory.  Westcott and Hort knew of virually no papyri.  Their results were based on Sinaiticus and Vaticanus.


            Their arguments for Sinai. and Vatic. as preferred text:  These were earliest extant texts.  Their readings appear better, based on internal evi­den­ce.  They have not been modified from distinc­tive style of each author towards a more gener­ic style.  Their readings tend to be shorter.   


            Since W&H, have found no earlier Byzantine manu­scripts than Alexandrinus, but have found many earlier West. and Alex. manuscripts than Sinaiti­cus and Vaticanus.


            We now use the term "Proto‑Alexandrian" instead of "Neutral," but still wide agreement that Prot­o‑Al­ex. is the most reliable text.


            Still occasionally see the pro-TR argument that Origen or the Arians were responsible for the Alexandrian version.  No good in view of discovery of p66 and p75, with texts like Sin. and Vat., and copied a century before Arius and probably before Or­igen began his work.


o) The Byzantine family shows clear signs of con­flat­ion; other families do not.  Conflation:  Two vari­ant readings which are combinable have app been added together to form a third variant.  This is evi­dence that the manuscript is further down the line of transmission than others with single reading.  Commonly find that Byz. looks like a combination of the Alex. and West., but not other way around.  Seems that Byz. was con­structed by someone who had both Alex. and West. before him and tried to make a nice compromise between them.  Occasionally did this by combining them.


p) The Byzantine family shows other signs of secondary nature of a text: smoothing of style and classicism.


q) Studies in the text of the Iliad and Mahabha­rata suggest that sacred texts tend to grow longer rather than shorter.  See Metzger, Chap­ters in the History of NT Textual Criticism.  Copyists who view a text as sacred do not wish to add or sub­tract anything, but if there is a choice, they tend to add (for fear of leaving something out).


6)  Conclusions re/ Textus Receptus Controversy:


a) At present the burden of proof rests on Byz. propo­nents.  To come up with some good evidence.  Argu­ments appear to be heavily based on presupposi­tion rather than manuscript data.  Until early manu­scripts appear which have Byz. texts, the pro­to-Alex. opinion will likely stand.  Can concoct strange theories, like: 'the Bibles that get used get worn out' and since these bad ones were not used, they survived.  No evidence for this.  Our evidence is that the Byz. was not the majori­ty text until the medieval period.  Origen and Jerome commenting on the variant readings around in their  time in general do not mention anything Byzan­tine.  The same picture is given by counts of extant Gk NT mss:


                                                        Distribution of Greek Mss


            Century           Alex = a; West = w; Byz = b


            9  aaaa                                                                         bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb

            8  aaaaaaa                                                                                                                        bbbb

            7  aaaaaaaaaaaaaa                                                                                                             bbbb

            6  aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa                                                                        bbbbbbbbbbbbbb

            5  aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa                                                       ww                                             bbb

            4  aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa                                           ww

            3  aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa                         www

            2  aaaaaaa


            (after Wallace (1993), arbitrary units)


b) Relative order of family reliability looks something like this:  Alex, West, (Caes), Byz., according to proponents of standard view 2)


Earliest evidence for each family:

            Byz.  text  ‑> in the late 300's

            Caes. text  ‑> in the mid‑200's.

            Alex. text  ‑> in the mid‑100's.

            West. text  ‑> in the mid‑100's.


Thus the choice is between Alex. and West. fami­lies.  Decisions between the Alex. and West. fami­lies are based on internal evidence.


Western is the longest, Byz. and Caes. are inter­mediate and Alex. is the shortest text.


Thus few claim that the West. is the original family, is viewed as one which took up some oral tradition in the early period.


By studying the variants internal to the texts, the reliability of the various families appears to be:


            Alexandrian, generally most reliable.

            Western, next most reliable except where app interpo­la­tion from oral tradition

            Caesarean, next.

            Byzantine, last.


Proponents of approach 1) ("radical eclecticism," p. 55) ignore where variants come from, just use (more subjective) internal evidence.


Proponents of approach 3) use similar approach to 2), but feel if other families gang up on Alex., this can shift balance.


All families have some bad readings.  All appear to preserve some original readings that the others do not.


c) The real problem with some modern Bible ver­sions is the influence of liberal presuppositions and the­ology in translation, not a bad text. e.g., RSV and NEB show liberal theological influence in OT Messianic prophecies, some NT deity passages.




C. The Practice of Textual Criticism.


We come now to consider how to make an attempt at determin­ing what was the original text of the NT at any particular point where there are variations.  As mentioned on pages 56-57, there are four basic approaches in use today:


            (1) Radical Eclectic: text chosen by using only inter­nal evidence.

            (2) Reasoned Eclectic: text chosen by using both inter­nal and external evidence, with the reading of the "best" mss preferred.

            (3) Reasoned Conservatism: text chosen by using both internal and external evidence, with reading of majority of text-types preferred.

            (4) Radical Conservatism: text chosen by using external evidence alone, with reading of majority of mss preferred.


None of us were back there to see what the text originally looked like.  We have the evidence of surviving mss, ver­sions and quotations, plus the evidence of comments by church fathers on the state of mss at their time.  My own understanding of this evidence is that it favors an approach somewhere in the vicinity of (2) or (3).


Below we discuss the criteria used by the UBS Greek NT Committee in making their decisions on which readings they list as preferred.  We will call their rules M-x and my comments on them N-x with the x replaced by Roman numerals and capital letters as appropriate.


1. The Rules (Canons) of Textual Criticism used by the UBS Greek NT Committee (from Metzger,  A Textual Commentary on the Greek NT, pp. xxvi‑xxviii)


M‑I. External Evidence, involving the following consider­ations:


An evaluation of a particular variant reading based on the nature of the manuscript in which the variant occurs, rather than looking at context.


M‑A. Date and Character of the Witnesses.


In general, earlier mss are more likely to be free from those errors that arise from repeated copying.  Also an earlier date implies that fewer copies between it and the autograph. 'Character' is the degree of care taken by the copyist.



M‑B.  Geographical Distribution of the Witnesses that Sup­port a Variant.


The more widespread a reading is, the more likely it is to be a good reading.  This assumes rela­tively independent sources (but people from Asia Minor evange­lized France, so not totally independent).  Some agree­ments between the Old Latin mss and Old Syriac are due to common influence by Tatian's Diatessaron.


M‑C.  Genealogical Relationship of Texts and Families of Witnesses.


The mss naturally group into families and sub‑families, based on having the same peculiar variants.  The number of manu­scripts surviving in a group from a particular point in histo­ry does not tell us how accu­rate the group is, but just how common it was then.


M‑D.  Witnesses are to be Weighed rather than Counted.


If a manuscript is generally more reliable, give it the benefit of doubt even if it is in the minority.



Newman's Criteria and Comments:


More Objective Features (of external evidence):  Criti­que of Metzger's M‑A and M‑B above.


N‑A. Date and Age of reading.


M-A is correct, but realize that there are different 'ages' to consider.


Three 'ages' in Greek manuscripts:


            [1] Age of the autograph (NT books).

            [2] Age of the family which the manuscript repre­sents (can at least set upper lim­its).

            [3] Actual age of the manuscript (dated di­rectly or by handwriting style).


Three 'ages' in ancient versions:


            [1] Age of the Greek manuscripts used by the translators.

            [2] Age of the translation (from Greek).

            [3] Actual age of the version manuscript (dated directly or by handwriting style).


Three 'ages' with respect to the church fathers:


            [1] Age of the NT manuscript used by the father.

            [2] Date at which he wrote.

            [3] Date of the surviving manuscript of fa­ther's work.


Actual manuscripts (of Greek NT, of version, or of fa­ther) are the only 'hard' evidence.


N‑B.  Geographical Distribution of the Witnesses.


Manuscripts are not too helpful because we know where they were found but not where they were written.  We know the papyri were abandoned in Egypt but that does not say where they were made.  Similarly, we don't know where the copies found in monasteries were made.


Learn locations of variants mostly from fathers and versions.  If a father cites or comments on a certain reading, then we know which family he is working with.


Conclusions on M-A and M-B:


A reading is at least as early as its earliest known occurrence.

A reading is at least as widespread as its known geo­graphical occurrence.



Less objective features:  Metzger's M‑C and M‑D above.


N‑C.  Genealogical criteria.


Assigning a manuscript to a family is often easy, but some­times have the problem of mixture, where ms has ances­tors from more than one family. 


Some mss were mixed as a patchwork, as if someone were copying from a damaged manuscript of one family and was  'patching' it with readings from another family.  Exam­ple:  Codex W in the gospels.


Others mixed locally, the worst problem.  Someone goes through a ms correcting it with a ms from another family.  This is easy to spot in the actual ms correct­ed, but once it has been copied, its descendants are mixed.  This generates a real blend.  Example: Vulgate as mixture of Alex. and Western.



It appears that the earliest texts predated the forma­tion of families.  Aland, Text of the NT has begun working in this direction.  Pickering in Identity of the N.T. Text supports this idea.


Summary:  General feelings concerning manuscripts and families.  We give conclusions of Metz­ger, et al, i.e., view (2), Reasoned Eclecticism.  View (3) supports this with reservations; views (1) and (4) reject.


The relative merit of a particular manuscript or family is finally evaluated internally.  This has been done for each major manuscript and fami­ly (a big job):


The Alexandrian family is the best.  It is charac­terized as old, brief, with relatively lit­tle evidence of editing (no conflation, retains dis­tinctive style of the writers, rough tran­sitions in text).


The Western family is comparably old.  Obvi­ously one or neither is original, but evidence for each equally old.  Both Alex. and West. go back to at least 150 AD.  Western has more freedom in the text due to the influence of oral tradition.  Contains long additional details which are not found in others.


The Caesarean family can be traced back to Origen. c225 AD.  It is intermediate in length and smooth.  It can only be identified in the Gos­pels, and some deny its existence altogeth­er.  Since in early centu­ries they did not bind the whole NT in one volume, we need not have an equal number of local texts in each part of the NT.


The Byzantine family is known to exist by 400 AD, could have been earlier.  Thought to be edited around 300 AD (Lucian question).  Chrysostom and Peshitta are the earliest certain users.  It has smoothing and conflation, intermediate length.


Why might Alexandrian family have been so good?  Alexandria had a good reputation for care­ful copy­ing & for concern for best text with Classical lit­erature; perhaps the people making the NT cop­ies were so trained.  Origen, however, was not trained in this.


N‑D.  Weighing Witnesses.


Using internal criteria to evaluate large numbers of readings, and then summarizing, the best manuscripts appear to be these below, given by part of the NT.


The papyri are too fragmentary to qualify for this category; none covers the whole NT. Papyri p66 and p75 have a text very close to B and are c150 yrs older.  p45 is the largest in re­spect to original volume; when complete, it contained all four Gospels and the Acts.  Comfort (1992) tries to categorize the papyri re/ closeness to the autographs in each NT book.


N‑1. In the Gospels and Acts:


The best single manuscript is Vaticanus (B).


            Not right everywhere, but the odds are good.  Done in the 300's for someone who had money to spend.  May have been one of Con­stantine's 50 Bibles.


The best pair is Vaticanus (B) and Sinaiticus (!).


            When these agree, it is significantly stron­ger evidence.


The best group is Vaticanus, Sinaiticus and Bezae (D).


            This is much stronger than the best pair, since Bezae is the earliest (long) Greek ms of the Western family, so we are picking up cross-family testimony between the two earli­est families.


N‑2. In the Pauline Epistles.


Vaticanus (B) is weaker, but still the best single manuscript.


N‑3. In Revelation.


Vaticanus (B) does not have Revelation (last part of manuscript has been lost).  Sinaiticus (!) in Revelation is not very good.


The best pair in Rev is Alexandrinus (A) and Ephraemi Rescriptus (C).


Back to Metzger:


M‑II. Internal Evidence, involving two kinds of proba­bilities:


Internal evidence (as opposed to external) involves study­ing the variants without reference to what ms they are found in, but considering only scribes' habits and authors' styles.


M‑A. Transcriptional Probabilities.


What the scribes tended to do when making a trascript (copy), rather than what the author tended to do.  Involves analysis of the types of errors discussed earlier in class.  Must try to imagine problems due to uncial and miniscule transmission.


M‑1. The More Difficult Reading is to be Preferred.


If the more difficult reading makes sense when given some thought.  The scribe was copying it on the fly and may have hastily 'corrected' the prob­lem.  Sometimes reading is so difficult that it is impossible or highly unlikely.  Don't be too clev­er at rationalizing to make sense! As with all internal criteria, there is a subjec­tive judgment at this level.


M‑2. Generally the Shorter Reading is to be Preferred.


Scribes are more likely to lengthen than shorten, unless:


            a. Parablepsis arising from homoe­archton or homo­eotel­euton may have occurred.  ['Looking back at the wrong spot' aris­ing from 'similar beginn­ings' or 'similar endings' has occurred.] This can re­sult in the omission or addition of a word, sec­tion, or phrase.


            b. The scribe may have omitted material which he considered to be superfluous, harsh, con­trary to pious belief, liturgical usage, or ascetical prac­tice.


M‑3. The Reading which Involves Verbal Dissidence is usually preferred to one which is verbally concor­dant (parallel passages tend to be brought into harmony).


Scribes did not tend to introduce divergence, but did tend to harmonize passages.


Parallel passages occur especially in the Synop­tic Gospels, but also in Acts (Paul's conversion told 3x, Cornelius and Peter told twice) and in some of Paul's Epistles (elder qualifications in 1 Timothy & Titus; Colossians and Ephesians, etc.).


M‑4. Scribes would also sometimes:


            a. Replace an unfamiliar word with a more familiar  synonym;


            b. Alter the grammar in an attempt to 'classicize' it (i.e., put it into the Attic style); or


            c. Add pronouns, nouns, conjunctions, and exple­tives to make the text smoother (cf. 'he' => 'Jesus').


M‑B. Intrinsic Probabilities, depend upon consideration of what the author was more likely to have written.


These involve analysis of the author's style.


M‑1. In general [anywhere in NT]


a. The style and vocabulary of the author.


These usually involve statistical studies with a concordance to determine which is more characteristic of the writer.


b. The immediate context.


Which variant seems to fit better into what is going on in the passage?


c. Harmony with author's usage in other works.


Note that c. is affected by a person's view of who the author was (e.g., liberals feel that the Pastoral Epistles were not written by Paul, etc.).


M‑2. In the Gospels one should take into account:


a. The Aramaic background of the teaching of Je­sus.


Should not press this too far.  Jesus proba­bly spoke Greek and Hebrew also, since Gali­lee region had a lot of Greek people in it, and He­brew was used in the Synagogue.  Have no indications that Jesus used an interpreter  in speaking with Pilate (either Greek or Latin) or the Syrophoenican woman (called a Greek).  Jesus could have argued with Phari­sees in Hebrew and spoken to people in Greek or Aramaic depending on the audience.


Letters from the Bar Kochba Caves show usage of Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew in Pal­estine (early 2nd cen).  Synagogue in Caper­naum has inscriptions in Greek and Aramaic (date un­certain, tho probably 4th cen or later).  Trypho the Jew (cf. Justin Martyr, Dia­logue) does not know Hebrew (uses Septuagint) al­though he is from Palestine (early 2nd cen).



b. The Priority of the Gospel of Mark.


This is basied on an unproved theory that Matthew and Luke copied from Mark in compos­ing their Gospels.  I think is wrong (cf. my article in Westminster Theological Journal, Fall, 1980).



c. The Influence of the Christian Community upon the Formulation and Transmission of the Pas­sage in Question.


By "formulation" UBS means "invention".  Here they are claiming that later Xn views were incorporated in the original Gospel text.


Yet in the N.T. there is a great concern to  distinguish Jesus' words from others:  cf. Paul "from the Lord" or not (1 Cor.­7:10,12)


The writers made selections from a vast quan­tity of material, and this was modu­lated by its applicability to the Christian community.  Yet the community is not the 'source' of the  passage.


In general these UBS rules are good principles.  There are, unfortunately, problems with M‑II, B 2, a, b, c.



2. Examples of how to do Textual Criticism:


a. Luke 24:53 - apparently a conflation (footnote 17 in UBS4).


Will follow format of assignment sheet "Solving Textual Problems."


I. Read over the context carefully, and check what the variant does to the text.  We will label readings A-D in the order they occur in UBS 3rd ed (4th ed has only A-C).

            A: ελoγovτες

            B: αvovτες

            C: αvovτες κα ελoγovτες

            D: ελoγovτες κα αvovτες


No real problems. Text question is whether to read "bless­ing" or "praising" or both together in either order.


II. Examine the Internal Evidence for each reading:


(1) Which is the shortest reading?  The next shortest, etc.?  [check here for possible homoioteleuton, etc.].


Have 2 short (A & B) and 2 long (C & D) readings.


'A' or 'B' could arise by parablepsis/homoioteleuton because both participles have a similar ending.  'C' or 'D' are each possible sources, but one of them could not explain both 'A' and 'B' as homoioteleuton.   


(2) Which readings are divergent from parallel passages?


Have no parallels.  The beginning of Acts overlaps but not closely enough to help.


(3) Which reading is the hardest to make sense of?  Next hardest?  Are any too hard?


No problems with meaning or style.  Double or single con­structions are both common in NT.


(4) Which reading best explains the origin of the others?  Which one allows the others to be explained with the smallest number of independent or unlikely errors?  Assume each original in turn, see how hard to get others by various errors:


If 'A' ελoγovτες assumed original:

            --[error of memory gives syn­onym­]‑‑> αvovτες 'B.'

     From this point on, conflation from margins can easily produce both 'C' and 'D'.


 If 'B' αvovτες original:

            ‑‑[error of memory gives syn­onym­]‑‑> ελoγovτες 'A.'

     From this point, conflation from margins can easily produce both 'C' and 'D'. 'B' is a rarer word than 'A,' and this might slightly favor it over 'A.'


 If 'C' αvovτες κα ελoγovτες original:

            ‑‑[homoiotel­euton]­‑‑> αvovτες gotten easily, but hard to get others without independent additional errors as though starting with 'B' above.


If 'D' ελoγovτες κα αvovτες original:

            ‑‑[homoioteleuton]‑‑> ελoγovτες gotten easily, but hard to get others without independent additional errors as though starting from 'A.'


Thus 'C' and 'D' being original require several indepen­dent errors to get rest of readings; 'A' or 'B' can gener­ate whole set quite easily.


(5) Style of the author?


Verb αvέω occurs 8 times in NT,  6x in Luke's writings.


Verb ελoγέω occurs 43 times in NT, 14x by Luke.


We check this sort of thing in Englishman's Greek Concor­dance, or Young's.


Have a conflict in tendencies here: αvέω is more char­acter­istic of Luke relative to the rest of the NT, but ελoγέω is still more common.  No substantial difference in usage.


(6) Summary of internal evidence.


'A' or 'B' look better as original than 'C' or 'D.'  Little evidence one way or other for 'A' versus 'B.' Possible slight favoring for 'B' as rarer.

III. Examine the External Evidence.


Luke 24:53








p75 ! B C*

L copsa,bo












αv κα ελ

X 33 892


f1 f13

arm Θ




Byz Lect


ελ κα αv






Note: Θ is the major Greek Caesarean Uncial.  The Diatessa­ron is typically based on late translations (see UBS 3rd ed., p. xl; 4th ed., p. 38*).


(1,2) Note the families:


'A' ‑‑> Alexandrian, 'B' ‑‑> Western, 'C' ‑‑> Caesarean and Byzantine, 'D' ‑‑> just Ethiopian.


(3) Broadest geographical attestation?


Need to also check the church fathers, but 'C' looks the best here, tho support rather late.  Then 'A', 'B', 'D'.


Earliest attestation?


'A' has p75, Coptic (2nd‑3rd century); also syrs, but manu­script (5th century) is later than version.


'B' looks to be as old as the Western family.


'C' the Caesarean family is not too early, so Uncial A is earliest direct document, from 5th century.  We cannot press the Diatess. back to the 2nd century because we don't have early manuscripts.  This has good evidence, but not as good as 'A'.


'D' is 6th century.


(4) Summary of external evidence:


'A' and 'C' are the broadest; 'A' and 'B' earliest.

'A' looks best in the external evidence.


IV. Compare Internal and External and Conclude:


Probably 'A' was the original.  'B' was an error of memory which arose in the West, which was conflated in the Caesare­an and Byzantine manuscripts as 'C'.



b. John 1:18 - example of harder reading


I. Read over the context carefully, and check what each variant does to the text.  We will label readings A-D in the order they occur in UBS 4th ed


            A: μovoγεvς θεός (including variant with def article)

            B: μovoγεvς υός

            C: μovoγεvς υός θεo

            D: μovoγεvής


Who reveals the Father?  A: (the) only begotten God, B: the only begotten son, C: the only begotten son of God, or D: the only begotten (son)?


II. Examine the Internal Evidence for each reading:


(1) Which is the shortest reading?  The next shortest, etc?  [check here for possible homoioteleuton, etc.].


'D' is shortest, 'A' and 'B' next, 'C' longest. Differ­ence of definite article doesn't amount to much, so really look­ing at 1-, 2- or 3-word variants.  No evidence of homoio­teleuton.


(2) Which readings are divergent from parallel passages?


No real parallel passages, but interesting to look at paral­lel constructions with μovoγεvής elsewhere in Johannine literature: [could discuss here as parallels or at (5) as Johannine style]


            Jn 1:14: μovoγεvής alone, something like 'D'

            3:16: τv υv τv μov., something like 'B'

                        (Nestle has variant here, like 1 Jn 4:9, below)

            3:18: μov. υv τo θεo, something like 'C'

            1 Jn 4:9: τv υv ατo τv μov., like 'B' or 'C'?


No strict parallel constructions with any, but 'A'is most divergent.  Does this argue in favor or against?


(3) Which reading is the hardest to make sense of?  Next hardest?  Are any too hard?


If μovoγεvής is understood as "only begotten," then 'A' is very difficult, perhaps too hard (heretical?) or perhaps    apposition (with one word ref to humanity, other to deity?); but (see BAGD) μovoγεvής may mean "unique" or "one and only."  Other variants not difficult, as no variants occur when they are used elsewhere in NT.


(4) Which reading best explains the origin of the others?


'A' best explains others as independent attempts to smooth by using parallel constructions found elsewhere in Johan­nine literature.  If any of others assumed original, have to have several unrelated explanations to get rest.


(5) Style of the author?


Too few examples for statistics.


(6) Summary of internal evidence.


'A' strongly favored if author intended μovoγεvής as "unique" or was putting two words in apposition (the only begotten one, namely God); otherwise, too hard.


III. Examine the External Evidence.


John 1:18







A: []

μov. θεός

p66 a* B C* L [p75 33 copbo]





many fathers & gnos­tics


μov. υός



Θ f1 f13

arm geo



A K Byz





many fathers

C: μov. υός θεo















(1,2) Families?


'A' obviously Alex; 'B' is Caes, West, Byz; 'C' and 'D' are weak, scattered.


(3) Broadest geographical attestation?


'B' is broadest, 'A' next, rest far behind


Earliest attestation?                 


'A' slightly ahead of 'B' (prob 150 vs. 180); rest in exis­tence by about 250.


(4) Relative external strength?


'A' has best family, best singlet, best pair (triplet not available here), but "ganged up on" by families supporting 'B.'  Here, the solution favored by those holding views (2) and (3) will likely diverge.


IV. Compare Internal and External and Conclude:


A tricky passage; several possibilities


            (1) 'B' original and 'A' a gnostic change; but how ex­plain 'D'?

            (2) 'B' original and 'A' an accidental variant seized upon by gnostics.  Still problem with 'D.'

            (3) 'A' original, seized upon by gnostics; 'B, C­, D' various orthodox reactions, perhaps seizing upon existing variants.




c. Mark 16:9-20 - authenticity of long passage


I. Read over the context carefully, and check what the variant does to the text.  We will label readings A-E in the order they occur in UBS 4th ed.

            A: omit 9-20

            B: add shorter ending only

            C: add shorter ending and 9-20

            D: add 9-20 with critical note or sign

            E: add 9-20


Question of ending Mark at verse 8: "they said nothing to anyone for they were afraid," or including the (now) tradi­tional ending and/or the "short ending": "But they re­ported briefly to Peter and those with him all they had been told.  And after this Jesus himself sent out by means of them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salva­tion." (Metzger, Text of NT, 226).


II. Examine the Internal Evidence for each reading:


(1) Which is the shortest reading?  The next shortest, etc?  [check here for possible homoioteleuton, etc.].


Obviously 'A' is shortest, but will need to account for extra text of 9-20 if 'A' is original.


(2) Parallel passages?


None, though some parallels to other post-resurrection narratives in Matt, Luke, John.


(3) Hardest reading?


'C' hardest, surely too hard.  'A' next hardest, abrupt ending to Mark.  Some think it is too hard, as sentence rarely ends with γάρ, much less book (though note Jn 13:13).  Was it so hard that someone felt it had to be completed by adding a longer ending?  Yes, since we have two longer endings! ('B' and 'E')


(4) Best explains others?


Either the abrupt ending 'A' or the loss of 'E' (or some other original ending) could explain all variants.  If 'E' original, its loss in mss supporting 'A' was at a very convenient spot!


(5) Most characteristic?


See Metzger (either TNT or Text Comm) on style: he claims  neither 'B' nor 'E' is Mark's style.  Also context is a problem for 'E,' both re/ sudden change in subject and unnecessary recapitulation.


(6) Summary on Internal Evidence:


If 'A' original, have to explain origin of 'B' and 'E.'  The short ending 'B' looks very much like it was specially composed to give Mark a smooth ending, but 'E' certainly doesn't.  Perhaps borrowed from existing account?  If 'E' original, must explain origin of 'B' as from someone who knew nothing of 'E' but only of 'A.'


III. Examine the External Evidence for each reading:


(1,2) Families?

            'A' characteristically Alexandrian.

            'E' is char Western & Byz, stronger than 'A' in Caes.


(3) Broadest attestation?

            Both 'A' and 'E' apparently have support from all families.

            'E' stronger in Caes, West, Byz.

            'A' stronger in Alex.



Mk 16:9-20







A: omit


! B








almost all mss*

B: short end­ing






C: short +









083 099

D: 9-20 w/








E: 9-20 w/o note

C Δ 33

copbo, fay

Θ f13

565 700



D it








*according to Eusebius and Jerome


Earliest attestation?

Both readings 'A' and 'E' seem to predate 200.


(4) Summary of External Evidence:


'A' has support of best pair; best triplet split.  'E' has strongest support in other families. Close call.


IV. Overall summary:


Very difficult, three possibilities:

            (1) 'E' original, but loss of 'E' very widespread.  Trou­bles here with internal evidence.

            (2) 'A' original, adoption of 'E' very widespread.

                                    Favored by wide circulation of Byz later.

            (3) Original reading completely lost, leaving frag­men­tary text 'A' which was repaired twice indepen­dently.  A rather speculative sug­ges­tion, would not go with this myself.

Suggest (2) more likely than others.

III. The Canon of the New Testament.


A. The Canon Controversy.


1. The Term "Canon."


a. Etymology.


The term "canon" in English is derived from the Greek καvώv, the early meaning of which was "mea­suring rod," something like a ruler with marks on it used for measuring length and drawing straight lines.  The term came to be used metaphorically for "standard", a norm for comparison.  Also used metaphorically for a "list", probably from the series of marks on the rod.


b. Technical/theological use of "canon".


1) Scriptures functioning as our norm or standard, i.e., as our ultimate rule of faith.

2) The list of books belonging to the Scrip­ture.

3) A list of rules or decisions made by a church council (combines "list" and "standard").


Our interest here is use b. 2):  What books properly belong in the Bible?


2. Divergent views on the EXTENT of the canon.


An important reason for studying this subject is the dis­agreement which exists in the world and even the professing church of the extent of the canon.


a. Traditional Protestant View.


The 66 books (the number is not strict, but their     content is):


OT = 39, matching the traditional Jewish view.

NT = 27, matching the traditional Christian view.


b. Larger canons.


1) Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox add the Apoc­rypha as a part of the OT.  (They agree with Protestants on the extent of the NT canon.)


The Apocrypha is some 8 additional books (plus additions to some other books): 1-2 Macca­bees, Judith, Tobit, Prayer of Manasseh, 3[-4] Ezra, Ecclesiast­icus, Wisdom of Solomon; plus additions to Daniel (Song of the 3 Holy Chil­dren, Susa­nna, Bel & Dragon), Esther (don't have sepa­rate ti­tles), Jeremiah (Letter of Jeremiah, Ba­ruch).


2) Mormons accept the Protestant Bible, and add:


Book of Mormon.   \ 

Doctrine and Covenants.   "Triple Combina­tion"

Pearl of Great Price.   /   when bound in 1 vol


c. Smaller canons.


1) Marcion  (c150 AD)


Felt that the God of the OT really existed, but was different (inferior) being than the God of the NT.  Accepted one gospel (Luke) in an altered form, plus 10 epistles of Paul, also altered.  We do not have any copies of Marcion's text.


2) Swedenborgians (Church of the New Jerusa­lem).


Follow Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772).

NT: accept only the 4 Gospels and Revelation (sort of mirror image of Marcion's canon).  No epis­tles accepted.

Only 29 books accepted in the OT: not Ruth, 1-2 Chron, Ezr, Neh, Est, Job, Prov, Eccl, SS


3) Theological liberalism.


There is a range of views among liberals.  Some say nothing is God's revelation, as there is no real revelation (so no canon).  Others find a "canon" within the canon: would say that some parts of the Bible are from God.  Both groups would recognize an "ecclesiastical" canon (books traditionally recognized by the church).  Often do not mind including the Apocyrpha as they do not think the true canon is inerrant or more inspired.


3. Divergent Views on the BASIS of Canonicity.


Not only is there disagreement on what books (if any) belong in the canon, there is disagreement on what constitutes canonicity.


a. Recognition by a church council (very common view).


Liberals argue that the church decided which books should be in the Bible (and tend to deny or minimize inspi­ration).


RC and GO also say that the church chose the Bible.  Argue that the church existed first, thus the church    has the greater authority.  Say that God worked through the church to make the canon.  They tend to support inspiration (but the church also inspired).


There are serious problems with this view (see below).  But it should be admitted that the action of a council is typically the means by which a particular institu­tional church formalizes its submission to the Bible.


b. Other views attempt to define how the canon came about without dependence on councils.


History shows that councils came at the end rather than at the beginning of canonization discussions (cf. Nicea, Jamnia), therefore one must ask, how did some­thing of a consensus arise before the councils met?


Liberals and rationalists deny inspiration, so they must find another mechanism for this origin of the canon which is independent of God and revelation.


1) The "old books" were accepted as canonical.


People had reverence for, and ascribed authority to, ancient writings.


Problem: The Bible mentions other old books which  are not in Scripture.  E.g., Jasher, Book of the Wars of the LORD already existed when the canoni­cal book which refers to it was being written. Liberals will typically claim these had been lost before canonical decisions made.


Problem: Age was not a necessary criterion.  New books were recognized as authoritative immediate­ly.  E.g., the book of the Covenant which was placed beside the ark.  Liberals who hold this theory must deny the historicity of such passag­es.




2) Books of Great Religious Value were recognized as Canonical.


Obviously they must have been thought to have had religious value, but this is not a sufficient con­dition.  Christians (and Jews) have always felt that many non-canonical books were of great reli­gious value, yet these were not included.


Biblical view:  Authority is what counts, not "value".


3) New Books which agreed with Previous Revelation were  taken in.


This is a necessary condition and a good test, but not a sufficient reason.  Does not explain origin of the initial books either.


c. The Necessary and Sufficient Condition (Basis) for Canon­icity is Inspiration.


The Bible claims this.  "Canonical" is (or ought to be) parallel to "inspiration."  That is, non‑canonical books are not inspired and canonical books are.


Exception: God may have inspired some writings which are not preserved (e.g., Paul's other letters to Cor­inth).


Basic Idea: God is the origin of the Bible.


But: when we move from the objective (what makes some­thing canonical?) to the subjective (how do we deter­mine what is canonical?) we have to look to testable criteria.


Metaphysical question: What makes a book canonical?  Answer: God's inspira­tion.


Epistemological question: How do we recognize an in­spired book when we see one?


B. The Recognition of Canonicity [Inspiration].


1. The Importance of the Time‑Perspective.


     a. Loss of information with the passage of time.


The further removed we are from an incident, the less    information (typically) we have about it.  We say "typically" because: lost information may be recov­ered; the level of information we have may stagnate as some mini­mum level.


Example: Activities of Alexander the Great.  Eyewit­ness­es write and tell incidents about him.  The next generation remembers some stories.  Several generations later: no reliable stories have survived.  Only the written material is of value.  If some written material was lost, perhaps it can be recovered, perhaps not.  Also, some tight‑knit group may preserve oral tradi­tions.


Thus we quickly lose information about an event un­less it was written down.  Historical information levels off rather quickly (2 or 3 generations) to a very low percentage of what was initially known.


Therefore, determining the canonicity of a book which was written 100's or 1000's of years ago is a big problem.  Important information available to the gener­a­tion in which the book was written has been lost.


b. An Important Distinction exists between recognition soon after writing and long after writing.


The tests are rather different.  Initially, could ask the author or direct recipients of the writing who wrote it, how they got it, etc.


Since the OT and NT are not "just written," we must see if the contemporary people applied reasonable prin­ciples in their time to check for canonicity.  How were the "just written" principles applied back when the OT and NT were themselves "just written"?


However, we can test modern claims directly ourselves.


Example:  The Book of Mormon (c1830).  We are getting near the time-limit, since no people are now alive from then.  However, in upstate NY there is still a court­house where old papers were recently found in the basement with record of court costs for the trial of Joseph Smith as a "glass-looker."  Information agrees with that from other documents now lost which re­ported that J.S. was a "glass‑looker" [cf. copy of earlier transcript in Schaff-Herzog Ency­clopedia of Religious Knowledge].


For Jeanne Dixon, Wilkerson's Vision, Moon's Divine Princi­ple we can apply such tests as below.


2. Recognition of a Work Recently Written.


How do we recognize an inspired book recently written?  We could use arbitrary principles by inventing our own, but this is dangerous if they were not God's principles!  E.g, the Pharisees wanted a sign "from heaven".  Jesus pointed out to them that in judging the weather, they looked care­fully at what signs were available.  We too should look at what signs are available, the signs which God gave, and not set up our own, which He might or might not meet.


God gave tests to His people because false prophets were around.  The people were responsible to apply the tests.


The tests:


1) Connection with supernatural phenomena, including revela­tion.


2) Connection with earlier inspired books or revela­tion. Important: the connection should be made both ways, i.e., the successor should have been predicted.  There should be specific indications of what he will be like.


3) Agreement with earlier inspired books or revelation.  That is, the new stuff (1) cannot contradict; but (2) can explain and clarify.


These tests were all used by the people of God in OT and NT times.  We  will trace this below in 4 periods of biblical revelation:


Mosaic         Prophetic       Christ          Apostles

Law            Prophets        Gospels         Epistles

Old Covenant ---------         New Covenant ---------

Establishment  Development     Establishment   Development


a. Connected with supernatural phenomena, including reve­lation.


God chose to have revelation be attested by great supernatural power to limit the number of candidates.  Fakes would at least have to give some "miracu­lous" signs.


1) Moses gives signs to Pharoah and Israel.


Rod/snake, leprous hand, various plagues.  Eventu­ally escalates beyond the magicians' powers.  After cross­ing the Red Sea and coming to Sinai, then we get the revelation which forms the basis for the whole covenant.  Thus the covenant is well‑attes­ted by miracles of Egypt and desert.


2) The Prophets.


Their messages are attested by miracles and short-term prophecy.


Deut. 18 contrasts pagan forms of divination with God's means.  Note the different purpose: pagan divination arises from men seeking to get specific information, God's prophets reveal God's choice of information.  Human agenda vs. God's.


Israelits were to put to death the prophet "if the prediction does not come to pass."  No mis­takes allowed!


If test propely applied, it tends to discourage at­tempts to set up a lucrative business.  Note that Deut. 13 ("gives a sign or wonder") implies that the burden of proof is on the prophet.


Some examples of both short and long range predic­tions:


1 Kings 13:


Jeroboam becomes king of Israel (Ephraim) and does not want the people to go to Jerusalem to worship (weakens his kingdom), so he sets up al­tars and calves at Bethel and Dan.


Prophet comes w/ message:  "Josiah will dese­crate the altar" (long-range) and "the altar will split in two" (short-range).  Also with­ers Jeroboam's arm.


1 Kings 22:


Ahab and Jehoshaphat going up to Ramoth‑Gil­ead to fight Syrians.  Micaiah contradicts Ahab's prophets by predicting Isra­el will be scattered and Ahab will die.


Zedekiah (false prophet) gets mad at him; state­ment probably means "I know I am a pro­phet, what about you?"  Michiah's answer: "You will find out when you hide yourself...    "If you return safely, the LORD has not spoken through me"


Thus supernatural events back up and often are related to prophetic messages.  By this means, Israel was to test her prophets and not follow false ones.


Implies God's prophets will give good evidence.


3) Jesus.


Worked many miracles, gave many short‑term prophe­cies about His death, resurrection, fall of Jeru­salem, etc.


4) Apostles.


See many references to supernatural powers in Acts. Paul in 2 Cor. 12:12 "the signs of a true apostle were performed among you."  Hebrews 2:3‑4  "God bearing witness [to His apostles] by signs and wonders."


Summary:  Evidence from these 4 periods show that inspired books are connected with supernatural signs.


This is not a sufficient condition because God is not the only one who can do miracles (Deut. 13), or at least something we cannot distinguish from miracles.


But if there is no attestation given, then we have no reason to believe alleged spokesman has the divine word. 


Not able to test this for every Biblical book as we were not there (loss of information with time).


But we can apply this criterion to alleged prophets today and to some long range OT prophecies.  We give some examples of latter in our apologetics course.


b. Connection with earlier inspired books or revelation.


This tie should be in both directions (esp forward), other­wise anyone can claim to be a new prophet in your religion.


Consider the forward and backward connections in each peri­od:


Start-up: General revelation has been continuous from all generations and there appear to have been believ­ers in all generations.  Probably also special revelation, at least in form of tradition from patriarchs.  So Abraham has to decide if he is getting direct revela­tion.  Note that he is an individual, not a group.


1) Moses.


Is sent by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.


His way was prepared by revelation in Gen. 15:13f where God tells Abraham about 400 years of oppres­sion to come in foreign land, after which his de­scen­dants will be delivered by God with many pos­ses­sions.  This makes the connection forward.


Moses says the God of Abr, Is and Jac has sent him to deliver them from slav­ery, so he makes the connection backward.


Perhaps this prediction faked later?  This is not a test we can apply to Moses, due to the time-perspective we have been talking about.  We are here only trying to show the biblical stan­dards.


The Israelite slaves in Egypt knew if their family tradition contained such a prediction.


Moses then makes provision for the prophets who will come.  People know what to expect and how to test them when they begin to show up, since the tests in Deut 18 and 13 had been provided.



2) The Prophets.


Using Moses' criteria, Israel within the genera­tion of the prophet could tell if he was a true prophet: i.e., Jeremiah vs. Hananiah (Jer 28; w/in 2 yrs H. died).  This provides the basis for the books which we have.


Within a generation it was clear who was a false and who true prophet.  True prophet's works were pre­served.


The true prophets also made a major connection back to Moses'law in their teaching, vs. some false proph­ets who led them into Baal worship or encouraged setting up golden calves again.


The key thing here is the advance prediction about the prophets.


The prophets tell about a deliverer to come, the Messi­ah.  This is the next forward connection. The Jews did not know how to fit all these prophe­cies   together, but they did know he was com­ing.


3) Jesus.


Jesus makes many back references. Note Matthew and Hebrews for forward connections via fulfilled prophecy (including typology).  This was a major apologetic of the early church, that Jesus ful­filled the messianic prophecies.



4) Apostles.


The apostles have an immediate connection with Jesus, which was public knowledge.  The people recognized them as having been with Him (see Acts 4 before the Sanhedrin).


Jesus predicts their functions:  John 14:26 ‑> com­mis­sion for teac­hing and orga­niz­ing the church. John 15:27 ‑> power to make and cancel regulations with respect to church practice (cf. 'binding and loosing' in rabbinical usage).


The Apostles look forward to: primarily the second com­ing of Christ; secondarily, the 2 witnesses who are specifically described in Rev 11.


5) Situation Today:  It is very difficult to es­tab­lish a claim to be one of the 2 witnesses.  Need to do what they are described as doing: work­ing mira­cles, includ­ing fire from heaven on oppo­nents.


Thus Moon, Swedenborg and other false prophets more often claim to be the second coming of Christ.  Swedenborg says his teaching is the sec­ond coming.  Moon says that Christ failed the first time and he is now doing Christ's job (hav­ing divine children).


But the Bible says that you will not need to be told when Christ returns, it will be obvious (lightning and vulture analogies in Matt 24).


Bible indicates that the eschaton is next.  Any new guy on the scene must be one of the follow­ing:


a) A false prophet or false messiah.

b) The Antichrist or his False Prophet.

c) One of the two witnesses.

d) Christ (in His second coming).


The Mormons have tried to get around this limita­tion on future by interpreting Ezekiel's prophecy of the two sticks as referring to their revela­tion, where the Bible and the Book of Mormon are the two sticks. This view ignores the interpre­tation which follows immediately, that the sticks are the two kingdoms.  Does shows that J.Smith was aware of the need for forward attestation.


Only Reorganized Mormons accept J.Smith's ampli­fied Bible with its prophecy at end of Genesis about "another Joseph".


Unfortuniate some Charismatics really muddy the water here by saying that (charismatic) error in prediction shows that "your gifts are not per­fect­ed yet".  This departs from the Bibli­cal stan­dard.


c. Agreement with earlier inspired books or revelation.


1) Cannot contradict.


This is derived from Deut. 13:1‑3.  Not every time that a false prophet prophesies will he be wrong.  Even normal people can guess the future occa­sion­ally, and this one may have demonic help.  Thus we must also test the message.


He should not teach something which contradicts those things which were previously proven to be canonical.


Note that this test shoots down Mormonism, as they say there are many other gods.  Also liberalism and other heresies which have a different god than the one pictured in the Bible.


Also note that this is also a test of our faith (Deut.13:3).  God is sneding a test to see if we love Him or if we only follow the most glamor­ous, exciting religion.


Acts 17:11 shows the responsibility of the people to test teaching against Scripture.  Should always be doing this with our teachers, but especial­ly with those who claim "My connection with God over­comes my failures, so I am infallabile and you have no right to test me."


This test implies that we have the 'right' to demand evidence (signs) from a new prophet.


What about Jesus refusing signs to Pharisees?  Jesus had already been giving sufficient evi­dence.


Paul says (Gal 1:8‑9) that even if another gospel  comes from an angel, do not accept it.


Isolation mentality among Christians today is not good (i.e., shield your people from heresy, rath­er than teach them so that they will be strong enough to handle it).


2) Can explain and clarify.


We should not press the above principle to the point where a prophet can never add new reve­la­tion.  We may (correctly) think God has com­pleted Bible, but how would this have worked for the Phar­isees?  And how help persons not convinced by our "day of revelation over" exegesis?


Otherwise why would God send more prophets after Moses?


Revelation probably stopped with the apostles because they explained all that was necessary.


Jesus clarifies who the Father is (John 1:17‑18), and how can we go beyond that?  The theme of the gospel is to reveal the Father.  Also see this in 1 Peter 1:10‑12, where Peter comments that the OT prophets did not always understand what they were writing.  The NT clarifies their writings.


We must also leave room for the two witnesses.


Note: All three of the above criteria [a), b), c)] are needed to have an air‑tight test.  Remember that these  tests can often only be effectively applied to works recently  written.



3. Recognition for a Work Written Long Ago.


The biblical prophets and apostles presented themselves to the people of God of their times as having really come from God with important messages that we ignore only at our peril.  We cannot properly do or redo what was done at that time.  We do find in the Christian materials evidence of supernatu­ral activi­ty in Scripture: fulfilled prophecy, miracles, changed lives.


Instead we suggest the following as a check that the Bible really is what it claims to be:


a. Christian evidences point to Christ and salvation through Him.


This is the first step.  Acceptance of Scripture's historical trustworthiness via supernatural evidence leads to accepting Christ.  We do not base our beliefs re/ inerrancy or limits of canon on this level of under­stand­ing.


b. Christ as Lord explicitly endorses the OT and implic­itly the NT.


Christ explicitly endorses the block of material called "Scripture" by the Jews (see J. Wenham, Christ and the Scriptures).


He implicitly endorses the NT by:


1) Selecting apostles and looking forward to their ministry.

2) Approving the providential process that led to the canonization of the OT, and which would also lead to canonization of the NT.


c. Canonicity then reduces to historical questions:


We must depend on the people then living to apply the tests for an inspired book recently written for us.


We can then ask:


1) What writings had Palestinian Jews come to recognize by the time of Christ as Scripture? 


Answer: Orthodox Jewish [= Protestant] Old Testa­ment (this covered in OT Intro course).


2) What Christian writings did Christians come to rec­ognize in the few centuries after Christ, when   substantial information was still available?


Answer: Orthodox Christian NT (same for Prot, RCs, GO).


We cover question 2) here below.




C. Historical Information Recognizing the N.T.


1. Stimuli to Recognition.


There were several driving forces which required the early church to think through the canon question.  Some of these were active even in the days of the apostles.  All were at work long before councils' canon decisions (after 325 AD).


a. The Need for Revelation.


The church has enough problems today, but would be in much worse shape without revelation as a standard and authority.  Already see this need in AD 60's, late in the Apostles' life.


1 Timothy 3:14‑15  ‑> You need to know some things so I am writing you now in case I never get to talk   to you again.


Interesting for charismatics that Timothy needs to be told these things rather then receiving them by direct revelation.  And he did have spiritual gifts!


The details in context reslate to church func­tion.  Also  applies to knowledge about Christ's min­istry and the content of the gospel.


See a parallel idea in 2 Peter 1 where he writes in order to "bring to remembrance".


In 1 John we find the phrase "I am writing these things for ... [some good reason]" over 20 times.


1 Timothy 4:13 ‑> "Give attention to reading" (see also Revelation 1:3).


2 Timothy 3:16‑17 ‑> Good passage on the value of Scripture.  Note the areas of value: teaching ‑ theoretical; training ‑ practical; correc­tion and restoration ‑ church function.



b. The Problem of Persecution.


This starts with Jewish persecution in Jerusalem soon after Pentecost.  Local Gentile persecution occurs off and on during the apostolic period.  Official persecu­tion by the Roman Empire begins in 64 AD  with Nero and the fire in Rome.


Persecution raises the question: "What books should I protect with my life because they are God's word, and which ones are merely human productions and so not worth it?"


c. The Priorities of Translation.


Soon after Christianity begins to spread the need for    translation arises (there may have been some initial     need to translate into or out of Aramaic).


By the 2nd century there is a need for Latin versions in the West.


Raises the question: "What should have the highest priority among the Christian literature?"


The answer has always been Scripture.  Not even good books like "Pilgrim's Progess" are translated before the Bible.


Obviously there are priorities within the biblical books on which to translate first.


d. The Threat of Heresy.


This was a problem from early times.  Note the problems with Judiazers in Acts and Pauline epistles, with antino­mians in Paul and James.


See reference to an apparent attempt to forge a Pauline letter to the Thessalonians in the 50's AD.  The hint in 2 Thess 2:2 is the earliest known.


The "Gospel of Thomas" (gnostic) is the earliest extant  fake gospel.  Of interest that it claims to be by Thomas but that it had been kept secret, implying some sort of canon existed at that time.


2. NT Evidence of Preparation and Recognition of Inspired Writ­ings.


The NT provides our earliest evidence that the concept of "Scripture" was understood to apply to Xn writings, and that the preparation and recognition of such was already underway in the apostolic period.


a. Selection of materials for inclusion.


The NT shows an awareness that writing was going on.  We see that the Apostles themselves are involved in the  selection process.


The Apostles made the decisions about what elements of the ministry of Christ were important to preserve.


John 20:30  "Many other signs which are not writ­ten", but enough is given so that we can recognize who   Jesus is and trust in Him.


John 21:25  "Many other things which Jesus did..."   Can't write down everything which he did.


Luke 1:1‑4  See evidence of careful investigation, selection, and concern for accuracy.


b. Protection from Error.


Luke did a careful investigation as there were appar­ently amateurs who had not.


John claims to be an eyewitness, and corrects a popular interpretive error in what Jesus said (John 21) about John "not dying."


2 Timothy 1:13‑14  Paul is concerned that people guard the treasure entrusted to them.


2 Timothy 2:2  "The things which you heard from me in the presence of many witnesses..."  Paul did not just make up this stuff, these witnesses backed up Paul's message.  Implies there were still many witnesses alive.


2 Timothy 2:14  "Remind them of these things and do not wrangle about words."  Concerned to protect the message from word games.


2 Timothy 3:16‑17  Says that Scripture is from God, and implies that we should study it.


2 Thess. 2:2 apparently refers to an early attempt to forge a letter from Paul.  "Spirit" is someone standing up and speaking, and claiming to be a prophet.  "Message" is someone who had traveled and claimed to have talked to Paul.  "Letter as if from us" is obvious.  This verse is very general about the actual situation: one (or more) of the three?


2 Thess. 2:15 seems to narrow it down to either a mes­sage or letter.


2 Thess. 3:17 strongly implies that it was a forg­ed letter, as Paul makes clear here that he signs each of his letters.


All this at least shows an awareness of and safeguard­ing against the problem.  People who knew his hand­writing and who had the autograph could use this test.  We cannot.


There are private letters on papyrus from Egypt which are "autographs," as only one copy was made.  Many of these have a nice professional penmanship for the body of the letter (the paid scribe), but the greetings at the end are in amateurish script (the real sender).


This is similar to our use of signatures on typed business let­ters today.


c. Public reading in the churches.


See public reading commanded in several places: 1 Thess 5:27, Col 4:16, Rev 1:3.  This in an important criteri­on as a test, because when the churches got together across the Empire after the persecution ended, this was one of their questions:  do we know that it was read in the "old" churches?


d. Circulation Among the Churches.


Copies of NT writings were also circulated from church to church, rather than the recipient church keeping their letters, etc. a secret.  Rev 1:3 shows the apoca­lypse was sent to 7 churches.  In Col.4:16 Paul com­mands Colossians to be read in Laodicea & vice versa (Laodicean letter probably = Eph or Phm).


Even before this, we see this done in Acts with the    decision letter from the Jerusalem Council (c50 AD).  In Acts 16:4, see that Paul circulates it in the re­gions of Galatia, to churches beyond those to which it was oringinally addressed.


Thus the theory that Paul's letters were local and forgotten after his death to be revived 30 years later and then popularized (view of E.J. Goodspeed) is not true.  They were circulated widely from the begin­ning.


e. Collection.


The NT was not bound into one volume initial­ly, as papyrus was not strong enough to work well with thick books.  The biggest papyrus codex that survives (p45) con­tains the Gospels and Acts, and it apparently has no close competitors for size.  Usually one volume would con­tain Paul's Epistles; 1 or 2 Gospels; Acts (or Acts & General Eps); Revelation, so that the whole NT would take up several volumes.  With use of parchment we start getting whole Bible in one volume, but doubtless rare even then, due to expense.


Some early evidence of collection:


2 Peter 3:15‑16  "The things which Paul wrote to you".  Peter is apparently addressing scattered churches in Gala­tia and elsewhere in Asia Minor.  Peter refers to a group of Paul's letters which he him­self knew about and audience knew of.  This indi­cates that Paul's letters were already collected, circulating, and generally known.  Lib­erals do not like this passage; claim the whole book of 2 Peter is a late forgery (c130 AD), as this evidence of collection is "too ear­ly".


f. Quotation as Authoritative.


Even in the NT, some other parts of the NT are cited as Scripture:


2 Peter 3:15‑16  "Distort Paul's letters as they do the rest of Scripture..."  implies Paul's letters are Scripture.


Have 2 quotations in NT which show authority:


1 Timothy 5:18 refers to OT and NT (Luke 10:7) under the heading, "Scripture says...," i.e., Paul is citing Luke 10:7 as Scripture.  So Gospel of Luke was in existence by this time.


Jude's parallels to 2 Peter 2 and 3.  The bulk of Jude is like 2 Peter chapters 2 and 3.  Liberals say that 2 Peter must be late as it quotes Jude (which is known to be late).  But situation is actually the other way around: 2 Peter is so early that Jude quotes it!


Note: Jude says "The false teachers have arrived!"  2 Peter says "The false teachers are going to come!"  Note which way the tense changes.  Also Jude 17‑18 cites "mockers" by noting that "the apostles said this".  He is quoting from 2 Peter 3:3.  Thus Jude quotes Peter to warn that the false teachers the apostles pre­dicted are now here.  Liberals claim that 2 Peter is a fraud, and one which is cleverly dis­guised to make it look like Jude is quoting it!


Summary:  Already in the NT there is the recognition that more than the OT is Scripture.



3. Indications of recognition as Scripture in Apostolic Fathers (95 to 130 AD).


Four of these works come from known church leaders:


1 Clement - c95 AD - Bishop of Rome;

Ignatius - c105‑115 - Bishop of Antioch;

Polycarp - c105‑115 - Bishop of Smyrna;

Papias - c130 -  Bishop of Hierapolis.


Other literature in this group:


Shepherd of Hermas (c110‑130 AD) ‑‑ Written by a Roman Christian whose brother Pius was bishop of Rome.

Pseudo‑Barnabas (c130) -- author unknown, not like­ly to have been Barnabas.

Didache (c110)  ‑‑ Church manual written and revised over a long period of time.    


In this literature we find many allusions to the NT, and 3 explicit references to the NT as Scripture: