Vern Poythress is a translator for the English Standard Version and the blog posting can be found at the ESC blog at www.esv.org/blog/ ------------------------------------ June 24th, 2005 How did you determine the Greek text used for translation—did the Textus Receptus play any role? Watch Vern Poythress respond (Windows Media format). Sometimes people worry about what’s called the Textus Receptus. That’s a technical term for the first printed edition of the Greek Bible that was done by Erasmus. It was revolutionary because most people until that time either had no access to a Bible, or they had access to the Vulgate, which was the Latin translation from the Greek. To go back to the Greek revealed nuances and revealed meanings that were exciting to people. For instance, in the Greek it said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” In the Vulgate, it says, “Do penance.” Well, that just didn’t communicate. So people were able to see that the Greek had a more profound message than was there in the Latin. It was revolutionary, but when Erasmus printed his Greek New Testament, it was only from a very few manuscripts that he happened to have access to, not necessarily the best. So the Textus Receptus designates that Erasmus text. And actually, that Erasmus’ Greek New Testament went through four different editions, and there are slight differences between them. So the Textus Receptus, even, is not really one completely uniform thing. At any rate, some people expect that [text] because Erasmus’ Greek New Testament is the basis on which the King James Version, our familiar old English version—it was the basis for that version. Now, however, we are in a position where we can access thousands of Greek manuscripts and compare them to one another. There are very slight differences. We can thank the Lord that all of the manuscripts are very close to the original. But when there are slight differences, we want to weigh that and say, “What can we infer about what was the original writing from which all these manuscripts descend?” We want the very best when we do the ESV—the best representation of that original writing from God—and not simply the copies. That’s why we don’t follow the Textus Receptus—the Textus Receptus is good, but it’s not the best.