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An Overview of Biblical Textual Issues

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James Pearson

on 12 November 2014

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Transcript of An Overview of Biblical Textual Issues

An Overview of Biblical Textual Issues
“...you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.”
Acts 1v8
“...there arose on that day (the day of Stephen’s execution) a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles...Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ.”
Acts 8v1,5

"...[after baptising the Ethiopian] Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.”
Acts 8v40
Causes of Corruption
Pure Accident
"My Father, who hath given them to me is greater than all..."
"That thing which my Father hath given me is greater..."
Homoeoteleuton ('likeness of endings')
“Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted” John 6v11

An example of homoeoteleuton?
“Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and
gave them to the disciples
, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.” Matthew 14v19

“And taking the five loaves and two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and
gave them to the disciples
to set before the people...” Mark 6v41

“And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and
gave them to the disciples
to set before the crowd.” Luke 9v16
Did a scribe skip a few words as he was copying?
John 10v29
Particularly in the Gospels, the tendency to change manuscripts to harmonise with other parts of scripture
1. Stones into bread
2. Jumping off the temple
3. All the kingdoms of the world

1. Stones into bread
2. All the kingdoms of the world
3. Jumping off the temple
"In St. Luke's gospel 4v1-13, no less than six copies of the Old Latin versions besides Ambrose are observed to transpose the second and third temptations; introducing verses 9-12 between verses 4 and 5; in order to make the history of the temptation as given by St. Luke correspond with the account given by St. Matthew.

The scribe of the Vercelli Codex was about to do the same thing; but he checked himself when he had got as far as 'the pinnacle of the temple,' - which he seems to have thought as good a scene for the third temptation as a 'high mountain' and so left it."
Our survey said...
"And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks,
he distributed to the disciples
, and the disciples to them that were set down..." John 6v11 (KJV)
Glosses / Interpolations
"...where this is among you envying, and strife, and divisions..." 1 Corinthians 3v3


"...while there is jealousy and strife among you..." 1 Corinthians 3v3 (ESV)

"...emulations, wrath, strife,
, heresies..." Galatians 5v20 (KJV)
"For there are three that bear record [in heaven, the Father the Word and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth], the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one." 1 John 5v7-8 (KJV)
"The earliest instance of the passage being quoted as a part of the actual text of the epistle is in a fourth century Latin treatise entitled Liber Apologeticus...apparently the gloss arose when the original passage was understood to symbolise the Trinity (through the mention of the three witnesses: the Spirit, the water and the blood), an interpretation which may have been written first as a marginal note that afterwards found its way into the text."
Reconstructing the New Testament
There are far and away more New Testament manuscript than for any other ancient writing. Over 20,000!

The oldest date back to the 2nd century AD.
Alexandrian text type (Minority text):
Mostly originate from around Alexandria, Egypt.
Old, but account for a small proportion of surviving manuscripts.

Byzantine text type (Majority text):
Was used throughout the Byzantine church.
Account for around 80% of surviving texts, but written later - more exposed to church tradition, harmonisation and interpolation.
Eclectic texts:
"Greek New Testament" by United Bible Societies
"Novum Testamentum Graece" by Nestle-Aland
The Spread of the Gospel
Preserving the Word
Garden of Eden
"The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it." Genesis 2v15
"When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had sprung up - for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground." Genesis 2v5
"Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets." Hebrews 1v1
"Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue." Moses
"Ah LORD God! Behold I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth." Jeremiah
"O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish." Jonah
"On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews..." John 20v19
"These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also...saying that there is another king, Jesus" Acts 17v6-7
Majority texts the basis for Reformation era translations: Tyndale, Coverdale, Bishops, Geneva, KJV

Minority texts the basis for most modern versions: NIV, ASV, ESV, RSV, GNB
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