Does the Greek Text Matter?

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by John of Japan, Jul 11, 2015.

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  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    On my festschrift thread, Yeshua wrote the following:

    It's Saturday, and I'm only in my office for a short while, but I thought this would be a good opening to lead into a serious (I hope) discussion of why textual criticism matters. On Monday I'll have some time to write more and maybe share some statistics, but here are some preliminary thoughts.

    First of all, the greater majority of readings have no bearing on how you translate: orthography, spelling differences, untranslatable words (the article, particles such as men, differences in spelling, the perfect tense as opposed to the aorist in many cases, etc. In such cases which Greek text you use does not matter.

    Secondly, the vast majority of the mss agree completely on almost all of the Greek NT. There are not a whole lot of passages which are disputed (but those are key).

    Thirdly, your doctrine will not change depending on which Greek text you use. As evidence, I say that the Baptist churches in other countries where they used a critical text end up having the same doctrine as churches in the States. This includes such passages as the TR version of 1 John 5:7; you will believe in the trinity whether your Bible has this verse or not. Now, one may not believe in the perfect preservation of the KJV if one has a critical text Greek NT--but then they didn't get that doctrine out of the TR or KJV anyway! :rolleyes:

    On the other hand, we have the following facts:

    Firstly, your exegesis of some passages will be affected by which Greek test you use.

    Secondly, there are some key passages where important truths are taught, and where both the critical and Byz/Maj texts cannot both be right. In such cases textual criticism becomes vital, and it is not simply a matter of preference which text you use, but vital. Serious thought about textual criticism becomes important in these cases.

    Thirdly, the critical texts either delete or put in brackets some key passages, such as the pericope adulterae and the longer ending of Mark. If such passages are part of the Word of God (and I believe they are), then deleting them or putting them in doubt (brackets) keeps part of the whole counsel of God from us.

    Monday I'll be able to write more and interact with any discussion. This post, though, says why I believe textual criticism is important, and one reason (besides friendship) I participated in the festschrift for Dr. Robinson, and am heartily grateful for his work and that of other textual critics.
     
    #1 John of Japan, Jul 11, 2015
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  2. McCree79

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    I agree with your first two points. The third I disagree with. I think it would be a mistake to remove the brackets from Mark 16. I know only 3 manuscripts have it missing(Aleph, B, 304), but several have marks indicating the scribes knew it was not original. Others combine the "shorter" ending with the "longer" ending. I think the brackets are just. I'm not saying that the scripture is not original. I do think there is sufficient evidence to bring some doubt and to place the brackets. Anyway I don't mean to highjack the thread, if you are not wanting to discuss actual passages such as this one or the Comma Johanneum.

    I do believe textual criticism is very important, as do you.

    While I do use the Nestle-Aland, I do not believe the TR would change any doctrine. While I believe the Comma Johanneum does not belong(not original), it is very much a truth.

    *just realized you had 2 set 3 points. I was referring to the last set.
     
    #2 McCree79, Jul 11, 2015
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  3. Rippon

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    Codex Bobiensis is a Latin manuscript of the 4th century. It's a Western text type and Mark ends with 16:8.

    Syriac Sinaiticus, from the late 4th century and does not have anything after Mk. 16:8.

    Byzantine Minuscule 138 is from the 11th century and has Mark 16:9-20 marked with an obelus.

    There are some Armenian manuscripts also without any longer ending of Mark 16.
     
  4. Rippon

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    According to K. Martin Heide :"The stability of the New Testament text under consideration, from the early papyri to the Byzantine text, achieves an average of 92.6 percent."
    On what basis do you think the disputed passages are key?

    And when you use the word "disputed" are you referencing what from your perspectives are "missing" passages? Or are you using the term in more of an umbrella designation meaning 37% of the New Testament which has textual variants?
    Well, as it concerns English Bible translations (not Greek New Testaments), all of them include the two disputed passages with brackets or some such marker.
    Even textual critics that don't share your Byz. priority view?
     
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  5. McCree79

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    As far as "Pericope de Adultera". It is missing from numerous manuscripts. Such as Aleph, B, L, N, T, W, 33, 157, etc.... Other Mark it off with asterisks or obeli. This passage is probably not original.
     
  6. Deacon

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    So how do scholars of the Hebrew scriptures manage the texts they study?

    The writings tell a story that covers a period well over 1000 years, with texts that are (1) unsigned (many times unclaimed) and (2) undated, (3) written not to a specific city but to a culture, and (4) with far fewer extant texts to examine variations that arise.

    It's observed that some of the writings appear to have been fixed in written form at a far earlier date than others, and those earlier stories with a late fixed text sometimes have introduced a second meaning (or subplot) within the story.

    The conclusion of many modern scholars is that the stories were originally passed along in an oral form, only later being collated in written form.

    The NT presents a difficulty in that many of its writings were (1) written to address a particular people and (2) with a specific purpose, (3) even addressing them by name, (4) sometimes even with the signature of an author.

    But dealing specifically with the gospels, some suggest that there may have an oral tradition prior it their writing.

    Some have even suggested multiple "original" copies being made…sort of a revision of the earlier work by the authors (specifically concerning the book of Acts).

    The idea would change how we deal with some of these variants.

    Rob
     
  7. McCree79

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    I think a large chunk of variants in the NT Greek is innocent. You have non-professionals working in poor conditions(lighting, heat, cold), while under persecution making these copies. Once one mistake was made, it carried through other copies.

    If all of us on this board(exclude English teachers and professional writers) copied the book of John(lets say NIV), nobody's copies would be exactly the same. Some of us would leave out a word, forget a punctuation, a comma, misspell a word, accidental insert a verse out of memory from another translation (such as ESV, NASB, or KJV). The non professionals on this board couldn't copy the book of John, exactly like it is written in the NIV. We would make mistakes just like the early believers did.

    I am very comfortable with the weight the Nestle-Aland gives to older manuscripts(such as Aleph and B) in attempt to recreate the original. In respect to what we have to work with, I think their process is the best we have.
     
    #7 McCree79, Jul 12, 2015
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  8. Van

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    I look forward to the specific list of verses where doctrinally significant differences appear.

    How many believe such a list will actually appear?
     
  9. McCree79

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    Between the TR and Nestle-Aland? We won't see that list.
     
  10. John of Japan

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    Actually, some eclectics such as David Alan Black are coming around to the view that the longer ending was original. (See Perspectives on the Ending of Mark, ed. by Black.)

    I'll not go into detail on this issue, but grammatically there has to be an ending other than v. 8, which ends with the conjunction gar (never done in koine Greek), and a very negative ending (never done in the NT). The other possible endings are all very weak, leaving us by default with the longer ending--and the overwhelming mss evidence for it.

    B leaves room for the longer ending, and one of J. K. Elliot's (eclectic) students has demonstrated that the longer ending would fit there (op cit, 84). So the external evidence against the longer ending is week. That leaves us with Aleph, notorious for its errors and correctors. (Mss 304 is 12th century, and goes ag. the entire Byz. tradition otherwise, so can't be trusted in this.)

    As for internal evidence, there is nothing whatsoever conclusive. The argument from style falls in the dust, as demonstrated by Maurice Robinson (ibib, 59-66). A discourse analysis of Mark (op cit) put the longer ending squarely in Mark's corner.
     
  11. John of Japan

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    Source?
    They contain important narrative.


    I'm not sure I understand your point here. The passages are not exactly missing since they've been in mss and translations all along. And what do you mean by "umbrella designation"? (Not a typical textual criticism term. :saint:)
    Common knowledge.
    Yes, if they are born again, don't bring an agenda to the text, and seek truth. Apostate Ehrman with his agenda? Absolutely not.
     
  12. John of Japan

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    There was just a symposium at SEBTS on this issue. I look forward eagerly to the book being prepared.

    Just for a moment consider that it may not have been written by John (something I don't agree with) but, say, by Papias. Scholars generally agree that the passage is genuinely historical. The point here is that it is canonical, having been accepted by the church. Therefore, IMO the brackets should be taken off for that reason alone.
     
  13. John of Japan

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    No offense, but the point of the thread is the NT, so I'm passing up on your OT comments.
    In textual criticism, these points are not considered to be a problem. They are more concerns of higher criticism than lower criticism (textual criticism).

    And there is no historical evidence for such an oral tradition. But once again, this is a thought from higher criticism rather than lower criticism.


    The idea alone changes nothing in textual criticism, since there are no mss whatsoever that indicate any such revision. I think you're mired in higher criticism, Deacon. :type:
     
  14. John of Japan

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    The thing that mitigates the most against the old Alexandrian mss is the eclectic canon that the shorter reading is best. If you're suggestion were carried out, and BB denizens actually copied Mark, we would learn that words and phrases were omitted much more often than they were added. The Alexandrian mss omit much more than they add, making the Byz. tradition more likely to fit the mold of original if we consider this one criteria.

    In my translation work, I found that over and over I accidentally omitted words and even phrases without realizing it. The other day, correcting some verses in Acts, I found a whole phrase I had omitted. However, very rarely have our translators added words, and then it was for clarity rather than adding actual semantic units to the text.

    Even Eldon Epp, an eclectic, has said, “It is the shorter reading argument that has received the most vigorous reassessment in the past three decades or so.” (Rethinking New Testament Textual Criticism, ed. by David Alan Black, 2002, p. 27)
     
  15. McCree79

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    It maybe historical, and there is a chance John did not right it. The story seems to interrupt the follow of the text. Of course I addressed it missing from certain manuscripts and asterisks noted by scribes. You are correct that it was accepted during canonization. I am OK with the passage being there and don't question its historical truth. Just its originality by John. Therefore I support the brackets. I prefer translations to be open about what doubt there is and let the reader decide. No doctrine stands alone or falls on this verse.
     
  16. McCree79

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    Perhaps on the first run omission would be predominant. But on the second, third, fourth and so on...(assuming we no longer have any access to the original translation). We could assume that the previous scribe forgot something. We "add" what we believe they missed. Oral tradition and our own perceptions will start creeping into the text. If we did this for several hundred years, no doubt we would have significant additions.
     
  17. John of Japan

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    How about between the Byzantine textform and Nestle-Aland? Just from Romans?

    Rom. 1:16--NA omits "of Christ."

    8:1--NA omits "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." (KJV)

    10:15, omitted--"those who preach the gospel of peace" (my trans.)

    11:6, omitted--"But if it is from works, it is not grace: for then a work would not be a work" (my translation).

    14:21, omitted--"or is offended, or is made weak." (KJV)

    15:29, omitted--"of the Gospel of Christ."

    These are all differences that, while not changing doctrine overall, still do affect the particular doctrine of the passages in question.
     
  18. Van

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    Is it too soon to ask again for the list?

    Otherwise, we are just quibbling over arcane distinctions without a significant difference.
     
  19. John of Japan

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    While no doctrine stands or falls on this verse, yet it does portray the character of Christ in a special and important way.

    As for the story interrupting the flow of the text, that is an entirely subjective criterion, and I personally don't believe it does. I also don't agree with the style argument (that it doesn't fit John's style), and think a discourse analysis would prove that.

    But the Byzantine-priority method places such internal evidence secondary, and there is plenty of external evidence for the inclusion of the passage.
     
  20. McCree79

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    I'm on my cell phone, do I will take these one at a time. Sorry for excessive posts. "Gospel of Christ" occurs 8 times in the NIV. So I don't see a doctrinal change when Byzantine based English translation s vs Nestle-Aland based translations. NIV teaches this as well in other locations.
     
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