What Text Did The Early Church Fathers Quote?

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by banana, May 30, 2014.

  1. banana

    banana
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    Pretty much every website on Google says the MT however, there's one that says the CT. It attempts to prove it by saying Dean Burgeon, who provided the other websites' church father evidence, used faulty texts. Is that true?
    P.S. here's the website https://bible.org/question/claim-co...ings-church-fathers-show-they-are-support-byz
    P.P.S. I'm talking the really early fathers so pre 200 AD?
    P.P.P.S. The OT was the Septuagint right?
     
  2. Deacon

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    For a first thread you tread in some deep waters.

    Welcome to the forum.

    We will try and keep things friendly for the new guy; sometimes things get rough here.

    Most of the earliest manuscripts we have were found in Egypt, preserved in the dry desert-like environment.

    Many modern bibles are derived from these early Greek texts. The modern Greek bible drawn from these texts is called the Critical text.

    They date primarily from the early second century to the fourth century.

    The Majority text [MT} on the other hand was primarily found on the European content and eastward where the environment was not as well suited toward long term preservation of the delicate papyrus manuscripts.

    The earliest of these texts generally date from the sixth to eighth centuries and later.

    The argument becomes: Do the known Alexandrian manuscripts (which display a somewhat wild tendency) more closely follow the original Greek text OR do the centuries later (and more PC ,or should I say RC [religiously orthodox]) manuscripts follow the original more closely?

    Quotations from the early church fathers are mixed bag – many say that over many centuries of constant transcription, corrections and alterations occurred which bring them closer to the text of the locality in which they were copied.

    Curiously the New Testament authors when quoting the Old Testament often quote from something other than the Hebrew Masoretic text that we are familiar with [the Masoretic text is also commonly abbreviated as MT].

    Perhaps the New Testament authors used a form of the Greek Septuagint, some other translation or perhaps simply a translation original penned from hand of the author.

    You will have to read a wide variety of books (web sites tend to be less reliable) and make up your own mind - and be flexible with those that think differently.

    Rob
     
  3. Rippon

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    So far, so good.
    From what source do you base your contention that the Alexandrian manuscripts display a somewhat wild tendency?
     
  4. Deacon

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    It's my own assessment based upon the manuscripts I've personally reviewed.

    To say it more clearly and precisely, I've observed that there is more variance when comparing individual Alexandrian texts to each other than when Byzantine texts are compared with themselves.

    Rob
     
    #4 Deacon, May 30, 2014
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  5. robycop3

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    Now, JESUS HIMSELF read aloud from a text of Isaiah different from the Masoretic Texts in Luke 4:16-21. He put the lid on it by calling it "this Scripture".
     
  6. preachinjesus

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    I'm not a textual scholar, but I would suspect it can't be proven either way. Since the early church Fathers existed in a time when physical texts were as rare as hens' teeth, and memory was the primary tool for recalling citations, there is often significant alteration of both OT and NT texts in their use in patristic documentation.

    If you're going pre-AD 200 than you won't find either text easily supported.

    When one considers that even the NT writers never quote from the Septuagint in their OT citations, it is rare to find a comprehensive quotation from the NT in the patristic sources of this era. Maybe in Irenaeus you find substantive enough engagement with the NT to demonstrate one text or another, but not in the others. For starters their quotations are usually short and are often translations of translations (or something like that.)

    I doubt that it is easily concluded that either MT or CT would have been used. :)
     
  7. Greektim

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    Reviewed or collated?
     
  8. Greektim

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    Issues:

    Who is quoting the church fathers (e.g. Eusebius)? Are they considered accurate historians? Are they quoting the church fathers or paraphrasing? Are the church fathers themselves quoting or paraphrasing the text? If they are quoting, are they doing it from memory or are they looking at a NT/OT ms before them? Are the mss of the church fathers in agreement or are there variances?

    This is not a cut and dry issue. It is extremely complex.
     
  9. John of Japan

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    I found the article linked to here to be unscholarly, offensive and inaccurate, not to mention the fact that the name of the author is not even given. For example, it says, "You will notice that Byzantine/KJV folks argue along two lines almost all the time: God has preserved his text and since the Byzantine is the most amply preserved, it must go back to the original; and the scholars who are behind modern translations are either deceived or are themselves heretical. Thus, their arguments are anything but rational; they are usually emotional and ad hominem. Frequently, Westcott and Hort are maligned as liberal and heretical, even as occult leaders (a charge that is blatantly false)."

    First of all, the Byzantine Priority method does not argue along either of these lines. In fact, it actually uses the geneological method of W-H. It also does not argue from a position of divine preservation of the text, but strictly along its canons of textual criticism. (There is a book of essays coming out by 13 Byz. Pri. scholars without a single author writing on either of these lines.)

    Concerning the OP and Burgon's defense of the Majority text based on the quotes of the church fathers, the author of the article does not give us any method of checking his claims since he gives us no sources whatsoever. For example, he says,"There are a few folks who would claim that the Byzantine text existed early in the versions and fathers, but their methods are flawed and they represent no more than about 1-2% of all textual scholars." Where does he get this from? He doesn't source it. I suggest that he made up the "1-2%" figure out of whole cloth.

    Be that as it may, to my knowledge Byzantine Priority scholars have not much addressed in detail the subject of the texts used by church fathers, though some work has been done on orthodox corruptions, a related area. So this area is not that relevant yet in my own defense of the Byzantine, though I can see doing some research in that area. The problem is (not mentioned by the article's author) that so little has been done by anyone in this area post-Burgon. So I can't just go out and buy a version of the fathers with a textual apparatus.
     
  10. Deacon

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    No need to buy one, it's online!

    Patrologia Graeca

    Patrologia Latina

    Information beyond your hearts desire... if only we had the time or the interest.

    Rob
     
  11. franklinmonroe

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    Welcome, banana. Stick around a while and you can learn stuff from these guys. Deacon, John of Japan, as well as some others are very knowledgeable and quite trustworthy.
     
  12. franklinmonroe

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    John, I don't think the author of the article was using the term "Byzantine" in as narrow a sense as you are accustomed. The first line from the webpage lumps together three technical terms in a somewhat generic description --
    Many Byzantine priority/majority text/textus receptus advocates rely on Dean John W. Burgon’s massive collation of patristic evidence a century ago.
     
    #12 franklinmonroe, Jun 3, 2014
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  13. jonathan.borland

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    To limit the early writers only to those who wrote before A.D. 200 is a little strange, to say the least. That is because, if we include Clement of Alexandria, who is right on the line, there are only 3 early writers with any substantial amount of quotations similar to the wording of what we have in the NT manuscript tradition (rather than mere allusions): Justin, Irenaeus, and Clement.

    Clement wrote from Alexandria and used texts from there. Justin was Syrian but wrote from Rome and used some kind of harmony (like Tatian his pupil who also was Syrian). Irenaeus, although from Asia Minor, lived in Gaul and so used whatever texts were available there. What we find is that only Clement is more Alexandrian than anything else, but he also has many Western (and Byzantine) readings, while Justin and Irenaeus are decidedly more Western (and Byzantine) than Alexandrian. None of the three quotes a purely Byzantine, Alexandrian, or Western text, but they are, as an earlier poster said, "a mixed bag."

    Byzantine text priorists argue that the situation of the three writers above is not unexpected due to their respective locations, i.e. Western text in Rome and Gaul, Alexandrian text in Alexandria. They also say that there is not enough evidence of any kind from the most important region of the early church, i.e. Asia Minor, since leaders there did not need or use any early versions (they used the NT's original language, Greek), and the many works of the theologians of that region (such as, e.g., those of Papias and Melito) have not survived the ravages of time. Thus Byzantine priorists put more emphasis on those Greek manuscripts themselves that are neither Alexandrian nor Western, i.e., Byzantine, arguing that they, which represent up to 90% of the Greek NT manuscript tradition, reflect a text earlier than the others and deriving from the only location (of the three) from which other early evidence is (accidentally) absent.
     
  14. franklinmonroe

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    No name is given because it is an "answer" in the Questions section (under the topic of Textual Criticism at Bible.org). Thus, it is not necessarily subject to having sources listed. Dan Wallace has written the majority of the articles in that section; of course, that doesn't mean he wrote this answer. The writer is clearly knowledgeable. But, I guessing that Wallace is at least aware of this answer and if he thought there were "unscholarly, offensive and inaccurate" statements he would have them corrected. As for websites, Bible.org is one of the better sources out there.
     
    #14 franklinmonroe, Jun 3, 2014
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  15. franklinmonroe

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    That is not what the article states. The writer states that another author in another publication article indicates that it was Burgeon's approach (not his texts) that was at fault --
    As well, there is a recent article in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society that deals just with Burgon’s approach. The author found that it was terribly faulty.
    Later, the website repeats that it is the approach that is faulty --
    There are a few folks who would claim that the Byzantine text existed early in the versions and fathers, but their methods are flawed ...
    No, not true according to this particular article.
     
  16. franklinmonroe

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    Well, yes "Septuagint" is the designation often given to describe early Greek translations of the Hebrew scriptures. But this has almost nothing to do with the rest of you inquiry. Most of the hub-bub is around the Greek Christian writings (aka New Testament).

    Perhaps, any confusion is related the abbreviation "MT". MT can stand for Majority Text (technically, the NT Greek) or Masoretic Text (a specific kind of late Hebrew text). Sometimes people somewhat indiscriminately use MT (Majority Text) to include both an OT & NT with thoughts toward some sort of "Received Text" (which can be abbreviated RT). But there is no broadly accepted definition of what Received Text means.
     
  17. John of Japan

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    Thanks for the links. We're incredibly busy now. Hopefully I can brush up my Latin and do some research later in the year.

    1886 is pretty old, though. It'd be nice if someone came up with something more modern.
     
  18. John of Japan

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    I really don't care where it is on the website, the writer should have his or her name on there to take responsibility and allow people to interact. That's simply good writing ethics, IMO. Your name is clear here on the BB. My BB moniker is easily googled to find out who I am. So why is this essay anonymous? It's not even on a discussion board per se.

    Yes, the website is normally a good resource. But frankly Dr. Wallace (who has produced some excellent work) is unfairly dismissive of the Byzantine Priority method, and would not necessarily edit this particular essay towards fairness. And yes, the essay is offensive towards the Byz. Pri. method, which is growing in support among scholars.
     
    #18 John of Japan, Jun 3, 2014
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  19. John of Japan

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    Hopefully as time goes on and Byz. Pri. scholars produce more research, the method will gain more scholarly recognition instead of being lumped together with the average Maj. or TR position. Dr. David Alan Black, an eclectic, has been helpful in this area by acknowledging the work of his Byz. Pri. colleague, Dr. Maurice Robinson, through symposiums and books.

    So IMO the writers on that website should be more careful to distinguish between a Byzantine position and the Byzantine Priority method of textual criticism.
     
  20. John of Japan

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    You nailed it! :thumbs:
     

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