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Father Pijimi St.

Moses
St. Mary and St. Moses Abbey
101 S Vista Dr,
Sandia, TX 78383
pijimi@outlook.com

Saint Athanasius Boarding Seminary


Saint Mary and Saint Moses Abbey, Texas

New Testament Course


Research Paper
Subject

Textual Criticism
and the Book of Acts

November 5th, 2015 25 Babah 1732


The departure of St. Abib, the friend of St. Apollo
1

Introduction
In this paper we will explain what is textual criticism, and why does it affect the text of our Bible.
We will study the book of Acts as an example. The purpose of this study is acquiring certain
knowledge of textual criticism that will help us to realize how the Holy Spirit at various times
and in various ways,1 preserved the Scripture throughout the ages so that we can live by it
today and immerse our lives in its teaching.2

Modern English readers to the Bible often become puzzled when they encounter the notes on
the margins which indicate a different reading for the same verse in another translation. They
may wonder why the same verse may have a different rendering in a different Bible translation.

While Modern Bible editors find it necessary to indicate major Critical and Majority Text
variant readings in the footnotes.3 Variant readings are currently present in the many of bibles.
It is remarkable that each of the modern English versions usually has at least 500 such notes for
the New Testament; some (such as the New King James Version and the New Jerusalem Bible)
have as many as 1,0004 (see the following illustrating diagram).

Sometimes these different readings need explanation and to be studied in light of our Orthodox
understanding of the Scriptures, this will be our task in this paper.

Heb. 1:1
Biblical citations in this paper are from NKJV translation. I am also using the Greek text of UBS4 and its apparatus2,
along with Metzgers and Comforts textual commentary for explicatory notes on the same apparatus.
3 NKJV Notes (1st, Accordance electronic ed. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), n.p.
4 Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary (Accordance electronic ed. Wheaton:
Tyndale House Publishers, 2008), vii.
1

Diagram 1- displays the number of verses in NKJV notes that have NU-Text variant reading in the books of NT5

What is Textual criticism?


Textual criticism is the art of rendering ancient texts as close as possible to their original form as
written intended by their authors. Merriam-Webster defines it as, the study of a literary work
that aims to establish the original text.6 The Oxford Classical Dictionary defines textual
criticism as the technique and art of restoring a text to its original state, as far as possible, in
the editing of Greek and Latin authors (1970, 1048). Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, editors
of the Jewish Study Bible, wrote It cannot be emphasized sufficiently that textual criticism is as
much an art as a science.7

Textual criticism for the Greek New Testament.


Textual criticism is necessary to reconstruct a missing original text out of multiple manuscripts.
The discipline of textual criticism is necessary for all ancient works, such as Homers Iliad,

5
6

Diagram courtesy of NKJV Notes (1st, Accordance electronic ed. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), n.p
Merriam-Webster 11th Collegiate Thesaurus, 2008

Adele Berlin, Marc Zvi Brettler, and Michael A. Fishbane, eds., The Jewish Study Bible (Accordance electronic ed. Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2004), n.p.

Virgils Aeneid, and the Greek New Testament. In order to accomplish this task, textual critics
need manuscriptsthe more the better and (usually) the earlier the better.
Why is there a need to edit the text Greek New testament? Why not just reprint the existing
manuscripts?
There is no complete agreement between these manuscripts. Thats why textual-critics8 must
sort through their variant9 readings to reconstruct the original wording of the Greek New
Testament.
What are the main text-critical materials for the New Testament?
New Testament textual critics have many early and reliable manuscripts. The time gap between
the autographs and the earliest extant copies is quite closeno more than 100 years for most of
the books of the New Testament. Thus, we are in a good position to recover most of the original
wording of the Greek New Testament. The following are the main categories of sources for the
New Testaments textual criticism.
a) Greek manuscripts: From the second to the fifteenth century, some 5000 manuscripts exist
now that contain the entire text of the New Testament or parts of it.
b) Syriac, Coptic10, Latin, Armenian, Georgian, Ethiopic, and other languages
c) Citations in early Christian writers. A comparative study of this material enables scholars
to get behind the Byzantine type of text
d) the more recent discovery of manuscripts (mainly on papyrus) of the 3rd and even 2nd
centuries, which cannot be neatly assigned to one or another of the previous types, makes
the earlier history of the text more problematic. Some English translations such as the
the persons who study manuscripts and their transmission and makes decisions about which reading among the
variants is most likely original.
9 A textual variant is one of several different ancient readings for the same text in Scripture.
8

The Coptic translation of the New Testament based on the Greek text, antedate the earliest known manuscripts
from the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th centuries CE (Encyclopdia Britannica, 2012.)
10

Revised Standard Version and the New English Bible are based on an eclectic text (in
which, where the witnesses show variant readings, the reading preferred is that which
best suits the context and the author's known style).
The four types of sources listed above are used together to restore the text as close as possible to
the original document. In the case of variants in the verse, the reading that conveys the authors
known style and is most suited to the context is chosen.
The main families (groups) of Manuscripts
Because there are so many individual manuscripts, textual critics are hard-pressed to know the
individual characteristics of each manuscript. Consequently, many textual critics categorize the
manuscripts into text-types, which they then use in their evaluation of textual variants. One of
the foremost textual critics of our era, Bruce Metzger, exhibits this kind of evaluation. He placed
the extant manuscripts into one of four text-types, usually called Alexandrian, Western,
Caesarean, and Byzantine. For the scope of this paper we will consider the first two families of
manuscripts.
First The Alexandrian Manuscripts:
The Alexandrian text is found in manuscripts produced by scribes trained in the Alexandrian
scriptoral tradition, the best of its kind in Greco-Roman times. Such scribes were schooled in
producing well-crafted, accurate copies. Among the New Testament manuscripts, it can be seen
that there are several early Alexandrian manuscripts (sometimes called proto-Alexandrian) and
later Alexandrian manuscripts.

The earlier manuscripts are usually purer than the later ones in that the earlier are less polished
and closer to the ruggedness of the original writings. In short, these manuscripts display the
work of scribes who had the least creative interaction with the text; they were produced by
5

scribes who stayed with their task of making faithful copies. Quite significantly, the text of
several of the earlier or proto-Alexandrian manuscripts was transmitted quite faithfully.

The Alexandrian text is exemplified in the high percentage of textual agreement between P75
and B, thereby affirming Horts theory that Codex Vaticanus traces back to an early, pure text.

The following are known examples as an illustration for Proto-Alexandrian Type Manuscripts:
P45 (in Acts) P46 P66 P75 B Sahidic (in part), Clement of Alexandria, Origen (in part),
and most of the papyrus fragments with Pauline text.

Second The Western Manuscripts


This family of Manuscripts in this category were produced in mid-to late second century mainly
in the west, hence the name western manuscripts. They are represented, wrote Comfort, in
the Old Latin manuscripts, Syriac manuscripts, and in the D-text.11 They are also used in the
writings of Marcion, Tatian, Irenaeus, and Tertullian.
They display a common trend of textual expansions in comparison to the Alexandrian texts. This
will be important when studying the textual variants in the book of Acts.

11

Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary (Accordance electronic ed. Wheaton:
Tyndale House Publishers, 2008), 878.

Textual criticism and the Book of Acts


In this section we will deal in particular with the book of Acts from a point of view of Textual
criticism. These are the two main families of Manuscripts witnesses for the Book of Acts,
Alexandrian and Western. Their Alexandrian text is one tenth shorter in length than the text
found in the Western Manuscripts.12 The Western text, wrote Comfort in his commentary, is
more colorful and filled with added circumstantial details. 13 It should be noted here that nine
tenth of the text is common between the two families of manuscripts. As for the additions that
exist only in the Western manuscripts they are also found in early Western witness and in Codex
Bezae (D) as well as other witnesses such as Marcion, Tatian, and Irenaeus, who are not
considered Western. Scholars debate different theories about which form of text existed first,
the shorter Alexandrian or the longer text in the Western witnesses and whether Luke or one of
his disciples made the additions. For details see Metzgers textual commentary.
The Alexandrian texts for the book of Acts are represented by the following Manuscripts
according to Comforts classification:
Primary Manuscripts (with substantial extant14 text): P45 B
Primary Manuscripts Dated After 400: P74 A C (in part) Y 33 81 104 326 1739
Secondary Manuscripts (with smaller portions of text): P8 P41 P50 P53 P91 0189

While Western Manuscripts are represented by the following Manuscripts according to his
classification as well:
Primary Manuscripts: D itd

12

15

Ibid.

Ibid, xix.
extant : is a manuscript or reading that exists and is known today.
15 Old Latin (Itala) version. Superscript letters identify individual manuscripts.
13
14

Secondary Manuscripts: P29 P38 P48 P112; also ith syrhmg syrh Cyprian
Augustine16
In deciding which text to choose, the United Bible Societies Committee chose the eclectic
method: comparing point by point and in each case select the reading that commends itself in
the light of transcriptional and intrinsic probabilities. 17 Nevertheless, more often than not the
shorter, Alexandrian text was preferred.18 Even though the committee acknowledged that the
expansions in the Western texts may well be factually accurate, they judged that they are not
deriving from the original author of Acts.
Differences in the texts of the Book of Acts.
Metzger in his explanation, lists three different types or levels or variants in the text between the
Alexandrian and Western texts as identified by Ernst Haenchen in his commentary on the Acts
of the Apostles19: first a great number of minor variants that seek to clarify and explain the text
and make it smooth.20 This level of variants, he observed, should not be regarded as recension
since they were widely used in the early church and by early Christian writers e.g. Marcion,
Tatian, Irenaeus. The second type of variants are particularly found in the Western text of Acts.
They consist of many additions, long and short, of a substantive nature that reveal the hand of
a reviser.21 These revisions he suggests were done at an early date, before the text of Acts had
come to be generally regarded as a sacred text that must be preserved inviolate. 22 Thirdly, the
variants that particularly belong to codex Bezae (a.d. 500) This codex, according to Haenchen,

16

Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary (Accordance electronic ed. Wheaton: Tyndale House
Publishers, 2008), xviii.
17

Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (2d, Accordance electronic ed. New York: United Bible
Societies, 1994), 235.

Ibid.
Ernst Haenchen, The Acts of the Apostles; A Commentary (Philadelphia, 1971), pp. 5060. As quoted from ibid.
20 Ibid.
21 Ibid.
22 Ibid.
18
19

exhibits a variety of scribal idiosyncrasies, some of which, though suggesting Aramaisms, are
nothing more than errors of a scribe, or possibly two successive scribes. 23 Haenchen concluded
that in none of the three cases does the Western text of Acts preserve for us the original text
of that book; this is the lesson that we are gradually beginning to learn.24

The following is a diagram that illustrates the quotations from NU in NKJV which shows the
difference in reading between the two texts.

NU citations in the Book of Acts25

Out of the 1006 verses in the Book of Acts, NKJVs notes indicate 84 variants from NU-Text and
M-Text in the margins classified as follows; 42 different wording (marked by the words reads),
39 omissions (marked by the word omits), and only 3 are additions that were not included in the
NKJV text but were listed in the margins as variant reading.26

Ibid, 233-234.
Ibid.
25 Courtesy of Accordance Bible software
26 Numbers courtesy of Accordance Bible search tools.
23
24

Number of verses

Textual variations in
NKJV text from NU-Text and M-Text
1000
900
800
700
600
500
400
300
200
100
0

922

same text

42

39

NU-Text reads

NU-Text omits

3
NU-Text adds

Few illustrations of textual variances from the book of acts


The cases illustrated in this section are displayed in the marginal notes the NKJV. They are
presented to shed some light on them and be able to respond to questions for these and similar
cases which may arise in bible studies or Sunday school classes.
The following list represents some of the variants in the Book of Acts as written in NKJV
margins, it is not an inclusive list nevertheless it is listed here as a reference and to demonstrate
that none of them are doctrinal and that they have no effect on the context and message of the
book of Acts.

Acts 7:14 Or seventy (compare Exodus 1:5)


Acts 7:37 Deuteronomy 18:15 NU-Text and M-Text omit Him you shall hear.
Acts 8:37 NU-Text and M-Text omit this verse. It is found in Western texts, including the Latin
tradition.

10

Acts 9:5 NU-Text and M-Text omit the last sentence of verse 5 and begin verse 6 with But arise
and go.
Acts 15:18 NU-Text (combining with verse Acts 15:17) reads Says the Lord, who makes these
things known from eternity (of old).
Acts 15:24 NU-Text omits saying, You must be circumcised and keep the law.
Acts 15:34 NU-Text and M-Text omit this verse.
Acts 17:26 NU-Text omits blood.
Acts 20:8 NU-Text and M-Text read we.
Acts 20:24 NU-Text reads But I do not count my life of any value or dear to myself.
Acts 21:22 NU-Text reads What then is to be done? They will certainly.
Acts 21:25 NU-Text omits that they should observe no such thing, except.
Acts 22:9 NU-Text omits and were afraid.
Acts 22:20 NU-Text omits to his death.
Acts 23:9 NU-Text omits last clause and reads what if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?
Acts 23:15 NU-Text omits tomorrow.
Acts 23:30 NU-Text reads there would be a plot against the man.
Acts 24:6 NU-Text ends the sentence here and omits the rest of verse 6, all of verse 7, and the
first clause of verse 8.
Acts 24:26 NU-Text omits that he might release him.
Acts 25:2 NU-Text reads chief priests.
Acts 27:14 NU-Text reads Euraquilon.
Acts 27:16 NU-Text reads Cauda.
Acts 28:25 WH NU to your fathers
Acts 28:29 NU-Text omits this verse.

First example Acts 15:24


11

Acts 15:24 NKJV: Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you
with words, unsettling your souls, saying, You must be circumcised and keep the lawto
whom we gave no such commandment, NKJVs editors mark the difference in reading in the
margins; NU-Text omits saying, You must be circumcised and keep the law.27 Arabic SVD28 reads:



, compared
.








to ESVs shorter verse, Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and
troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions. (Acts
15:24 ESV)

WH and NU used the words: unsettling your souls which


are found in the following MSS: P33 P45vid P74 A B D 33 cop. This shorter text was adopted by
the following translations: NKJVmg29 RSV NRSV ESV NASB NIV TNIV NEB REB NJB NAB
NLT HCSB NET and used also in both Coptic versions: Sahidic and Bohairic.
While the other variant used in TR is
, unsettling your souls by saying [it is necessary] to be
circumcised and to keep the law is found in the MSS: C E 1739 Maj syr and was adopted in
the following English translations: KJV NKJV HCSBmg30

Comfort comments on this verse,


The expanded reading, assimilating 15:5, provides an explanation for the readers of Acts
(in later generations) as to why the Gentiles were unsettled. But the Gentile readers of the

27

NKJV Notes (1st, Accordance electronic ed. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), n.p.

28

The Smith & Van Dyke Arabic Bible (1865) uses TR as its NT text as NKJV.

29

NKJV marginal notes

30

Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary (Accordance electronic ed. Wheato: Tyndale House
Publishers, 2008), 392.

12

letter would have already known why they were unsettled. Thus, this is but another
example of unnecessary gap-filling, which found its way into TR and KJV.31

The Coptic version of this verse is in agreement with the shorter Alexandrian text adopted by
NU/UBS, the Bohairiric reads: Acts 15:24 epid/ ancwtem je hanouon ebol nq/tou etaui ebol
ausyerter y/nou euvwnh nneten'u,/ qen hancaji nai ete mpenjotou

Screen picture of UBS4 apparatus for Acts 15:2432

Conclusion: KJV text which follows the TR and includes the addition to the verse is described
clearly diverges from the Alexandrian and Coptic text. Even though the Western text is
supported by other Manuscripts the argument for using the shorter text seemed stronger to
NU/UBS editors. In my view the shorter reading does not affect or change in any significant way
the text since the longer reading is recounting the first verse in the same chapter; Unless you
are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved. (Acts 15:1 NKJV).

Ibid.
Barbara Aland et al., eds., The Greek New Testament (4th Rev.; Accordance electronic ed. Stuttgart: Deutsche
Bibelgesellschaft, 2001), n.p.
31
32

13

A case for textual agreement from the book of Acts


The two accounts of the story of the apparition which St. Paul saw on the road to Damascus,
pose the question regarding the participation of those who were accompanying the apostle
during his journey, whether they heard the voice talking to St. Paul according to Acts 9:7 or they
did not according to Acts 22:9.

The texts are as follows: hearing a voice but seeing no one (Acts 9:7) versus, (Acts 22:9) they did
not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me. These two verses in Greek are:
.

(Acts 9:7 UBS4-T) vs.

. (Acts 22:9 UBS4-T)

Explanation:
Despite the apparent disagreement between the two texts describing accounts of the story of the
apparition to St. Paul in the Road to Damascus, from the point of view of textual criticism, there
is an agreement on the Greek text between the different manuscripts. This can be considered
one of the proofs that the text of the Bible was not altered, since even in such a point of a
seemingly conflict, there has never been made an attempt to match both texts and coincide them
together.

About the apparent contradiction between the two accounts of the same story, Adam Clarks
commented on Acts 9:7 in agreement with Girgis Boshras explanation33 that they heard the voice
but were unable to distinguish the words which St. Paul was hearing. This is shown in the Greek
text by the use of the word sound in the Genitive case in Acts 9:7 while the same word was used
in the Accusative case in v. 22:9.

33

5 ,)2005 , ( , .
14

Conclusion
In many ways we are considered blessed since the word of God came to us in the present time,
in many ways that were not available before. With the recent discoveries of old manuscripts, we
were able to confirm the authenticity of the text we have in hand and in some cases able to see
different variants in the same text. And how these variants even though they diverge in many
cases from the original text, in another way they confirm its authenticity in that they never
contradict in Theology or church tradition.

An important conclusion from this study is that we should profit from the contemporary study
of Textual criticism use it to enrich and deepen our Bible study in order to be able to give a
defense to everyone

(1 Pet 3:15)

This paper does not advocate for or against certain text or

translation, but rather advocates for deeper understanding of the Spirit of the Scripture, not of
its letters, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Cor 3:6)

The current debates among bible scholars should be seen in a constructive way. In their sincere
effort and well documented work, shown in their notes and commentaries, they attempt in
different ways to reconstruct the original text of the New Testament. As we have seen from the
illustrations above.

During this study I was impressed by the amount of dedication and effort the bible scholars are
giving to each word and accent in the Scripture, documenting every variant in text and carefully
weighing different options based on different criteria they adopted and finally leaving us
comments on the decision they took and why they think its the best rendition of the text. Indeed,
this shows the divine providence kept the Holy Scripture intact in various ways and in various
times until it came to us so that we learn it and be nourished by the word of God.

15

In my view the art of Textual criticism seems very close to gold refining; the gold is the text, and
the refiners are the bible scholars, who diligently seek to provide us with the most original and
accurate text according to the best of the knowledge available to them. By their careful
examination to different manuscripts, the modern bible scholars are paying close attention to
every different variant in word, letter, punctuation, side notes, etc. and they provide all this
information in a way that enrich our bible reading in an unprecedented way. The fact is that
despite the existence of textual variants among the Greek manuscripts, eightyfive percent of
the New Testament text is the same in the Textus-Receptus, the Alexandrian Text, and the
Majority Text,34 and most often these differences do not significantly impact the meaning of
the text.35

The richness, depth, and beauty of the Holy Scripture is because its powerful words by which
we live. They are not mere characters but the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and
life. (John 6:63 ESV).

34

NKJV Notes (1st, Accordance electronic ed. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), n.p.
Barbara Aland, et al., ed., The Greek New Testament, a Readers Edition, Fifth Revised Edition (Deutsche
Bibelgesellschaft, 2014), 11*.
35

16

Appendix A - List of Manuscripts that appear in this paper


The following tables display the list of manuscripts that appear in this paper, their content, location, and
date. This list is not inclusive. A more complete list is found in the introduction and appendixes of UBS4
and NA27. These tables36 use the following abbreviation code:

indicates that a manuscript contains all or part of the Gospels.

indicates that a text manuscript contains the Acts of the Apostles; or that a lectionary

manuscript contains lessons from Acts and the Epistles.


c

indicates that a manuscript contains all or part of the Catholic or General Epistles.

indicates that a manuscript contains all or part of the Epistles of Paul.

indicates that a manuscript contains all or part of the text of Revelation.

Papyri
Manuscript

Content

Location

Date

P8

Berlin

IV

P29

Oxford

III

P33

Vienna

VI

P38

Ann Arbor, Mich.

About 300

P41

Vienna

VIII

P45

ea

Dublin; Vienna

III

P46

Dublin; Ann

About 200

Arbor, Mich.

36

Barbara Aland et al., eds., The Greek New Testament (4th Rev.; Accordance electronic ed. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft,
2001), 7*.

17

P48

Florence

Late III

P50

New Haven,

IV/V

Conn.
P53

ea

Ann Arbor, Mich.

III

P66

Cologny; Dublin;

About 200

Cologne
P74

ac

Cologny

VII

P75

Cologny

Early III

P91

Sydney, Australia

III

P112

Oxford

Manuscript

Content

Location

Date

eacpr

London:

IV

Uncials

Sinaiticus
A

eacpr

London:

Alexandrinus
B

eacp

Citt del

IV

Vaticano:
Vaticanus
C

eacpr

Paris: Ephraemi

Rescriptus
D 05

ea

Cambridge: Bezae

Cantabrigiensis

18

Minuscules
Manuscript

Content

Date

33

eacp

IX

81

acp

1044

104

1087

Appendix B The different Eclectical Greek NT texts.


In this appendix we will introduce the different Critical Editions of the Greek New Testament.
1. Textus Receptus.
2. Westcott and Horts The New Testament in the Original Greek.
3. United Bible Societies Greek New Testament, 4th edition
4. Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, 28th edition

1. Textus Receptus37 and how it evolved:


Erasmus, the Dutch Humanist, prepared the Greek text for the first printed edition (1516) of the
New Testament, he depended on a few manuscripts of the type that had dominated the church's
manuscripts for centuries and that had had its origin in Constantinople.

37

Textus Receptus: the received standard text

19

The Greek New Testament was volume 5 of this work, and the text tradition behind it cannot be
determined with any accuracy. During the next decades new editions of Erasmus' text profited
from more and better manuscript evidence and the printer Robert Estienne of Paris produced in
1550 the first text with a critical apparatus (variant readings in various manuscripts). This
edition became influential as a chief witness for the Textus-Receptus (the received standard text)
that came to dominate New Testament studies for more than 300 years. This Textus Receptus
is the basis for all the translations in the churches of the Reformation, including the King
James Version.

The Textus Receptus has its roots in the early fourth century, when Lucian of Antioch produced
a major recension of the New Testament. This text is sometimes called Syrian, because of its
association with Antioch in Syria. Lucians work was a definite recension (i.e., a purposely
created edition), in contrast to the Alexandrian text-type. The Alexandrian scribes did some
minimal editing, such as we would call copy editing. By contrast, the Syrian text is the result of
a much larger endeavor; it is characterized by smoothness of language, which is achieved by the
removal of obscurities and awkward grammatical constructions, and by the conflation of variant
readings.38
2. The Majority Text:
The Majority Text is nearly the same as the Textus Receptus, yet they are not completely
identical. The Majority Text attempted to reproduce the reading found in statistical majority of
witnesses.

38

Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary (Accordance electronic ed. Wheaton: Tyndale House
Publishers, 2008), xxiii.

20

TR & Majority Text include the following passages that are not present in earlier manuscripts.
This fact caused bible scholars to suggest they contain additions to the original text. Matthew
5:44b; 6:13b; 16:2b-3; 17:21; 18:11; 20:16b, 22-23; 23:14; 27:35b; Mark 7:16; 9:44, 46; 11:26; 15:28;
16:8-20; Luke 4:4b; 9:54c-56; 11:2; 17:36; 22:43-44; 23:17, 34; John 5:3b-4; 7:538:11; Acts 8:37; 15:34;
24:6b-8a; 28:16b, 29; Romans 16:24; 1 John 5:6b-8a.
3. Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in the Original Greek (WH)
This text was produced in 1881-1882 by two British scholars and was entitled The New
Testament in the Original Greek (2 volumes). They reproduced the text of the New Testament
based on Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus along with other early manuscripts.
4. The Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (presently at the 28th edition) and The
United Bible Societies Greek New Testament (at the 4th edition) (NU)
The abbreviation NU is used for both of the editions. Both NA and UBS use the same text but
different punctuation and different critical apparatus. Nestle-Aland editor claim their text comes
nearest to the original Greek.
This text is now recognized as the standard text by most of the academic community. NU editors
took into consideration the newly discovered documents in their attempt to produce a more
accurate text, thus reaching a more accurate text than Westcott and Hort.
Significant English Versions of the New Testament.
In this time of rich and unprecedented scholarly bible research, we are fortunate to be able to
access multiple English translations of the bible. Our task in this section will be to present briefly
the following significant English Versions and to show why do they have textual difference, not
just different translations, and which translations share common origin.
KJV

King James Version, 1611


21

NKJV New King James Version, 1982


RSV

Revised Standard Version, 1901

NRSV New Revised Standard Version, 1990


ESV

English Standard Version, 2001

NASB New American Standard Bible, 1964, 1995


NIV

New International Version, 1978

TNIV Todays New International Version, 2005


NEB New English Bible, 1961
REB

Revised English Bible, 1989

NJB

New Jerusalem Bible, 1986

NAB New American Bible, 1984 (revised NT)


NLT New Living Translation (second edition), 2004
HCSB Holman Christian Standard Bible, 2004
NET The NET Bible (New English Translation), 1996

KJV and NKJV have the closest textual affinity of any two translations and appear together; they
are followed by RSV, NRSV, ESV, and NASB, each revisions of the Authorized Version. After
the standard versions, various independent translations are listed: NIV and its revision, TNIV;
NEB and its revision, REB. NJB and NAB are independent of one another but appear together
because they are both Catholic versions. Finally, the three most recent independent translations
are listed, NLT, HCSB, and NET. The differences in the text among English translations is not
only due to different words choice but is also due to the Greek NT texts they translate from. This
can be seen from the following table.

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Different Greek New Testament Text

Textus-Receptus

The Greek

Majority of MSS

Manuscripts

Westcot-Hort

Codex Vaticanus
Codex Sinaiticus

Nestle-

Different Greek

Aland/UBS

texts.

Eclectic text

N/A

based on a
criteria they

And other early


MSS

developed to
reach the original
text.

English
translations

KJV/NKJV
NASB

NLT

RSV/NRSV

NEB/REB

ESV (Didnt

NJB

completely

NET

followed NU)
NIV (diverges
from NU in 350
significant places
in agreement
with TR)
NAB

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References
Holy Bible Multiple English translations
Novum Testamentum Graece Nestle-Aland 27
The Greek New testament, Fourth revised Edition UBS4
Barbara Aland, et al., ed., The Greek New Testament, a Readers Edition, Fifth Revised Edition
(Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2014).
Encyclopdia Britannica.
Philip Comfort, Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography &
Textual Criticism, First (B&H Academic, 2005).
Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical
Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism, 2 Revised edition (Wm. B.
Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995).
Philip W. Comfort and David P. Barret, eds., The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek
Manuscripts (Tyndale House Publishers, 2001).
For Old Testament Textual Criticism read article Textual Criticism of the Bible from Adele Berlin,
Marc Zvi Brettler, and Michael A. Fishbane, eds., The Jewish Study Bible (Accordance electronic
ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), n.p.

Comfort Text Commentary New Testament Text and Translation Commentary. Commentary
on the variant readings of the ancient New Testament Manuscripts and how they relate to the
major English Translations by Philip W. Comfort 2008. Used by permission of Tyndale House
Publisher, Inc. All rights reserved. Electronic text hypertexted and prepared by OakTree
Software, Inc. Version 1.2
24

Metzger Text Commentary. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Second
Edition) Bruce M. Metzger M., A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament Second
Edition, 1994 Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart. Used by permission. Electronic text
hypertexted and prepared by OakTree Software, Inc. Version 2.1

, , vol. 5, 1997 , .

, , vol. 4,

1997 ,.

For further reading on the Textual criticism for the book of Acts.39
Appendix A, Scribal Gap-Filling, Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation
Commentary (Accordance electronic ed. Wheato: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008), 873f.

D. C. Parker, Codex Bezae; An Early Christian Manuscript and Its Text (Cambridge University
Press, 1992).
Ernst Haenchen, The Acts of the Apostles; A Commentary (Philadelphia, 1971), pp. 5060.
Les Deux Actes des Aptres (Paris, 1986).
The Text of the Greek Bible [London, 1937], pp. 235 f.)
The Origin of the Western Text, in Documents of the Primitive Church (New York, 1941), pp.
112148.

These references were taken from the notes found in Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New
Testament (2d, Accordance electronic ed. New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), 233.
39

25

The Acts of the Apostles, a Critical Edition with Introduction and Notes on Selected Passages (Oxford,
1933; reprinted, 1970), pp. xlvff.
The Problem of the Text of Acts (Cambridge University Press, 1992).
The New Testament in the Original Greek, [vol. ii,] Introduction [and] Appendix (London, 1881; 2nd
ed. 1896), pp. 120126.
The Western Text of the Gospels (Evanston, 1937).
For further reading on Textual criticism
Holmes, The Case for Reasoned Eclecticism (2002, 77-100)
Websites:
www.csntm.org for information on Bible manuscripts.
www.codexsinaiticus.org where the Manuscript Codex Sinaiticus can be viewed online
accompanied with transcription and English translation.

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