What is the Correct Wording In 1 John 5:7-8?

I've spent the past seven months writing about New Testament textual criticism, showing how ancient Greek New Testament manuscripts have errors in them. In spite of the errors (most of them spelling mistakes), the Bible still presents a consistent message.

For the past few weeks, I've been focusing on the last name in Matthew 1:7-8. The person referred to was, Asa, a King of Judah. The oldest existing Greek New Testament manuscripts record the...

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How do English Versions of the Bible Identify the Variant Reading in Matthew 1:7-8?

I've been studying how to read the sigla in critical editions of the Greek New Testament, which show how the editions identify which manuscripts support which variant reading at the end of Matthew 1:7 and the beginning of 1:8. Should the name be Asa (a King) or Asaph (a musician)? Now I want to look at the English versions of the Bible and see if readers are even informed there is a variant. The two possible readings found in the Greek text are...

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What do the Sigla in a New Testament Mean? CNTR Edition

Matthew 1:7-8, CNTR - Asaph or Asa

If you've been following along in my blog, you're probably hoping I'll move onto a different subject. I'll present one more type of critical apparatus, this one comparing some ancient Greek manuscripts with modern critical editions. The apparatuses I've shown in previous articles are from United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament, Third Edition (USB3), Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, 27th Edition (NA27) and Reuben Swanson's New...

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What do the Sigla in a New Testament Mean? Swanson Edition

Matthew 1:7-8, Swanson - Asaph or Asa

My last two articles were about decoding the critical apparatus in the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament and the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. Both of those use some cryptic symbols, called sigla, to indicate where witnesses (manuscripts) have different readings. I was also able to find an editor who arranged the texts in horizontal lines, making it much easier (for me)  to see how the witnesses are different (and similar). Reuben Swanson...

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What do the Sigla in a New Testament Apparatus Mean? NA Edition

Matthew 1:7-8, NA27 - Asaph or Asa

Last week I wrote about the sigla used in the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament, Third Edition (UBS3) (The latest is UBS5). Today I want to do a similar exercise for the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, 27th Edition (NA27) (The latest is NA28). The apparatus presented by UBS is much shorter than NA, and is a bit easier to understand. One big benefit of UBS is the rating system, which helps the reader determine how...

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What do the Sigla in a New Testament Apparatus Mean? UBS Edition

Matthew 1:7-8, UBS 3

Last week I wrote about critical editions of the Greek New Testament, and showed some pictures of Matthew 1 from several editions. Some of those pictures also had the critical apparatuses in them, which seem very cryptic. Actually, they are codes, and anyone who knows the non-secret code can decode an apparatus (with some practice). The symbols are technically called sigla (plural) or siglum (singular).

In addition to having...

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What is a Critical Edition of the New Testament?

Spelling of "David" in Greek Matthew 1:1

As I've written before, different scholars have different opinions about which Greek manuscripts most closely resemble the original texts written by the New Testament authors, and they use different sets of rules to determine the most appropriate readings. When scholars put their beliefs into practice, a new critical text of the New Testament is created. The text may be published many times in different editions, just as the text of the King James...

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What are the Approaches to New Testament Textual Criticism?

I've mentioned in my last few articles that textual critics use different sets of rules when trying to select the best readings. Often the rules are compatible with each other, but sometimes the rules by different scholars conflict. This is one of the reasons there are so many versions of the English Bible available.

There are several approaches critics use to evaluate the evidence. On one extreme, critics look only at the internal evidence and...

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Is Textual Criticism an Art or a Science?

My article two weeks ago, How are the Best Textual Readings Determined?, was about the rules textual critics use to decide which reading was most likely original, but performing textual criticism is as much an art as a science.

The word "rules" implies a list of what should and should not be done, with an expected outcome that other people can duplicate. The rules can't take into account every condition that might have occurred when copying...

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What Evidence do Textual Critics Evaluate?

Last week I wrote about the rules that textual scholars Kurt and Barbara Aland used to decide which variant reading was most likely original. Rule two states: Only the readings which best satisfies the requirements of both external and internal criteria can be original. Actually, most of the rules can be categorized as external or internal evidence.

External evidence

The external evidence comes from the group of manuscripts that...

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