23. The origin of Text Types.
The word Bible is derived from the Greek word biblia meaning books. It is common knowledge that the Bible is a bundle or library of books. To most of us this is a well known and secluded set of books forming one unit referred to as the Word of God, or the Scriptures. Yet we forget that there had been a certain development in the compilation of these books. In the beginning each document had a “life” of its own. Later some documents were grouped together forming the volume of the Pauline letters, or those of James through Jude known as the Catholic letters. Initially single copies of the original documents were made. The separate gospels, Acts (a), the volume of Pauline letters (p), usually including the letter to the Hebrews, the volume of the Catholic letters (c) and Revelation (r) each had a considerable period of individual copy history.
The Printed Greek Text.
After the invention of printing by Johannes Gutenberg (1398 – 1468)
Gutenberg Press. Image from Wikipedia
around 1439, one of his first projects was the printing of a magnificent edition of the Latin Vulgate during 1450 to 1456. At least 100 prints of these editions were undertaken by different printing houses during the following 50 years. Bibles were also printed in most of the local languages ofWestern Europelike Bohemian (Czech), French, German and Italian. Most of these translations were made from the Latin Vulgate since it was the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church. Continue reading
In a previous post I paid attention to some intentional alterations made in some Manuscripts of the Bible. Though many may be deemed trivial and don’t influence our faith or any doctrinal belief, I personally do not want to build on anything that God had not given Himself. Even today I am sometimes influenced by, or my eyes opened by some important aspect, yet if it is not part of God’s own given Word, I would not build my faith upon it.
I prefer that learned scholars of the Bible and its documents, as well as modern translators adhere to what might most probably portray the original autographs. Even so I would like to know the facts and judge for myself!
Let’s look at some other intentional alterations found in New Testament manuscripts. Continue reading
Lucian of Antioch. Image from Wikipedia.
In a previous post we looked at the harmonizing done by Tatian. But he was not the only person to deliberately alter the text of the New Testament. Around the year 310 A.D. Lucian of Antioch also set out to “improve” the gospels.
He tried to harmonize the gospels by using all the texts available to him. He kept the four gospels separate, but “filled in” what he considered the writer had “left out” or reported incompletely. Should one have only one of the gospels, he would at least have a full report. With this compilation of texts, he created a new text type, called the Byzantine text type. We look at a few examples of harmonizing. Continue reading
In some cases it is obvious that certain words were deliberately changed by a well-meaning scribe. This he did to rectify an error that he believed a previous scribe had made. It also happened when a scribe had been of the opinion that the present text could be understood wrongly, or even could injure the honor of God or Jesus Christ.
1. Changes involving spelling and grammar.
Variation in spelling of words is common in all languages. Intentional changes concerning spelling and grammar is common in the New Testament manuscripts. It is especially prevalent in the Book of Revelation with its frequent Semitisms and unusual terminology taken directly from the Hebrew. This type of alteration is mentioned to explain the reality of intentional alterations. It does not influence differences between the KJV and the NIV. Continue reading
3. Errors due to faulty hearing.
A modern Hebrew scroll, of the kind being used every Sabbath to read from.
As the demand for more copies of the Bible documents grew, centers for copying of Bibles were founded. In such a scriptorium one person would read out aloud what had been written. Now many scribes would be writing down what had been read, making several copies at the same time. When a scribe had to write what had been dictated, words that sound the same, but with different spelling, having different meanings, could be confused, as in English ‘there’ and ‘their’ or ‘great’ and ‘grate’.
There are many examples of this kind of error found in the manuscripts of the Bible. Consider the following example, causing a difference between the KJV and the NIV. Continue reading
2. Errors caused by faulty memory or the mind.
We first had a look at errors caused by faulty sight of the scribe. Now we look at errors that happened during the second part of his work. After the scribe had read a sentence, he had to store it in his mind while he went over to the copy he was busy writing. Then he had to dictate it to himself while writing it down. If ever you had done some copying, you would relate to the errors that could happen unintentionally. We look at a few.
(a) In the process of recalling what the scribe had read in his source manuscript, he could easily substitute a word with a synonym. Continue reading
The “jumping” of the eye.
In this copy of part of the Codex Sinaiticus, I circled in red three lines containing exactly the same letters. In this post we discuss the possibility of a mistake caused by the “jumping” of the eye from the one to the other. This can cause either omitting the part in between (Haplography), or duplicating it. (Dittography)
Though not many differences between the KJV and the NIV are caused by haplography or dittography, it does explain some of the differences.
This is what happened in 1John 2:23 in the Greek text printed by Erasmus. Continue reading
The causes for variations.
With great care and hard work every copy was made. The scribe strived to produce am copy without any faults or deviations from the original. Because scribes realized that variations do exist in the copies of the New Testament, they tried to utilized more than one manuscript to compare their work. Usually their copy was also checked by an overseer and corrections made before the copy was released from the scriptorium. In this way every thing possible was done to ensure that the copy was without deviation from the original. (Picture taken from Codex Rossanensis, (VI), Christ and Barrabas before Pilate, with the Court Writer standing at the table) Continue reading
The reliability of the New Testament documents.
When one wants to consider the reliability of any ancient document, three aspects need to be looked at. 1.) How short the time span is between the actual event and the date it was reported. How shorter this period, the more accurate the report would be since contemporaries could evaluate and correct inaccurate particulars. 2.) How short the time span is between the initial autograph, and the oldest copy available. Variations, errors or deliberate alterations are unavoidable. Therefore the shorter this time span the greater the possibility that the copy could be a true copy of the original. 3.) The third aspect is the number of copies we have of the specific document. The more copies we have to work with, the greater is the possibility to reconstruct the original correctly. Here we have to take into account an important discrepancy. All hand written manuscripts and copies are corrupted by mistakes and deviations, whether deliberately or unintentional. As a result, with only a few copies, few deviations will be found. With only one copy, there will of course be no deviation but equally there is no certainty that it would be a true copy of the original. With many copies the deviations will increase, but also the possibility to compile a correct and true rendering of the original. Continue reading