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Thread: New Testament Manuscripts

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    tWebber
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    New Testament Manuscripts

    I read an article from a Muslim. It says:

    "All present day Bibles are compiled from "ancient manuscripts," the oldest dating back to the fourth century C.E. No two ancient manuscripts are identical. All Bibles today are produced by combining manuscripts with no single definitive reference. The Bible translators attempt to "choose" the correct version. In other words, since they do not know which "ancient manuscript" is the correct one, they decide for us which "version" for a given verse to accept."

    Is this true?

    Thank you.

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    tWebber tabibito's Avatar
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    Somewhat slanted, but technically true.

    The various manuscripts are grouped into a few main sets and they do show discrepancies. NU (formerly: the Nestle Eyland, and the United Bible Society) texts, and the Byzantine Majority are two such divisions. Almost all of the diversions are so minor as to be insignificant. Some arise from texts being written for differing regional dialects - much as in English an American sidewalk is a British pavement is an Australian footpath.

    A very few texts are different in some passages. For example: the Byzantine Majority has a longer version of Romans 8:1 than does the NU, as under:

    8:1 ουδεν αρα νυν κατακριμα τοις εν χριστω ιησου [μη κατα σαρκα περιπατουσιν αλλα κατα πνευμα]
    There is therefore now no condemnation for them in Christ Jesus [- who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.]
    NU only has the part before [ ]
    Last edited by tabibito; 04-06-2017 at 11:54 AM.
    και εκζητησατε με και ευρησετε με οτι ζητησετε με εν ολη καρδία υμων

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    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Basically the variations are minor in the different manuscripts. And by comparing them (we have thousands of new testament manuscripts) it actually makes us more sure that we do have the correct text. Any parts that we cannot be sure of are usually noted in the footnotes of modern bibles.


    Think of it like this. If you had 100 copies of a letter and 20 of them said, "Tom picked up the ball and threw it to Jim" and 20 said, "Tom ___ the ball and threw it to Jim" and 20 others said, "Tom took the ball and tossed it to Jim" and 1 said, "Jim caught the ball that Tom threw" and 1 said, "A ball was thrown to Jim by Tom" and so on, you could be pretty sure that the original was, "Tom picked up the ball and threw it to Jim"

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    tWebber 37818's Avatar
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    Byzantine Majority is only one of the manuscript family text types. And it is by itself the largest. Family 35 (f35) is the majority text across all the family text types. The epilogue of Mark's gospel 16:9-20 is of the f35. Where only 3 Greek mss of about 1700 omit it.
    . . . the Gospel of Christ, for it is [the] power of God to salvation to every [one] believing, . . . -- Romans 1:16.

    . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: . . . -- 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4.

    Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: . . . -- 1 John 5:1.

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    tWebber
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    Thanks to all who responded.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian3 View Post
    Thanks to all who responded.
    PS - please go to your profile and set your faith designation (click here: http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/pr...do=editprofile )

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    The earliest complete NT is from the 4th century, but we also have manuscripts from the 2nd and 3rd centuries.
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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by 37818 View Post
    Byzantine Majority is only one of the manuscript family text types. And it is by itself the largest. Family 35 (f35) is the majority text across all the family text types. The epilogue of Mark's gospel 16:9-20 is of the f35. Where only 3 Greek mss of about 1700 omit it.
    Okay, but the Alexandrinian text is by far more accurate, and Mark 16:9-20 is very different from the rest of the gospel. I see no reason why Mark can't terminate at 16:8; the Resurrection appearances are clearly referred to.

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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian3 View Post
    I read an article from a Muslim. It says:

    "All present day Bibles are compiled from "ancient manuscripts," the oldest dating back to the fourth century C.E. No two ancient manuscripts are identical. All Bibles today are produced by combining manuscripts with no single definitive reference. The Bible translators attempt to "choose" the correct version. In other words, since they do not know which "ancient manuscript" is the correct one, they decide for us which "version" for a given verse to accept."

    Is this true?

    Thank you.
    Yes, it's true, but not in the way that the Muslim is arguing.

    The way that the Biblical text is today determined comes from a process known as textual criticism. Textual critics evaluate the earliest manuscripts of the NT and try to create what's known as a "critical text," which is then published (usually by United Bible Society) and then translated into English (NRSV/NAB/etc.).

    Now, in terms of textual variants, most of them are completely inconsequential- spelling errors, repetition/omission of words, etc. We don't "know" to an exact degree what the original text looked like, but we have a pretty good idea. My knowledge of Quranic studies isn't nearly as good as my NT knowledge, but the reality is that the Quran has a manuscript tradition as well.

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    tWebber 37818's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by psstein View Post
    Okay, but the Alexandrinian text is by far more accurate, and Mark 16:9-20 is very different from the rest of the gospel. I see no reason why Mark can't terminate at 16:8; the Resurrection appearances are clearly referred to.
    It is an epilogue. So why can it not be different in the ways that it is? It for some 1500 years undisputed as the word of God. Even the makers of the Codex Vaticanus left a sufficient blank column between Mark's gospel account and Luke.
    VaticanusMk15m.jpg
    . . . the Gospel of Christ, for it is [the] power of God to salvation to every [one] believing, . . . -- Romans 1:16.

    . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: . . . -- 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4.

    Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: . . . -- 1 John 5:1.

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