How Many Languages Exist?

In 1999, a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) resolution recommended February 21 be celebrated as International Mother Language Day. International Mother Language Day was first observed in 2000, but not formally approved by the United Nations General Assembly until 2002. This resolution is not unique, as there has been a significant effort to preserve all languages.

  • 1999: UNESCO proclaims 21 February...

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What is the Shema Yisrael?

Shema Yisrael

The phrase Shema Yisrael comes from the first two Hebrew words of the verse Deuteronomy 6:4 (Hebrew שְׁמַ֖ע יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל),  transliterated as šemǎʿʹ yiś·rā·ʾēlʹ. The words mean "Hear Israel", and this passage is frequently referred to as the ShemaStrong’s Concordance assigns the number 8085 to the Hebrew word šemǎʿʹ and translates it as "hear". "Hear" is...

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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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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 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 Most Important New Testament Manuscripts?

The New Testament was written in the first century, but the  date each book was written is highly debated. Conservative Christians usually date most of the books of the New Testament before A.D. 70, since there is no mention of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman army, which occurred that year. Other people claim much of the New Testament was written after A.D. 70, and that any apparent prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem was written after...

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What Text Types are the Variants in Colossians 2:2?

In the article How Are Textual Variants and Variation Units Related? I had a chart showing the reading that textual critics think is most likely to be original for the last variation unit in Colossians 2:2, along with 14 textual variants. The standard text reads:

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the...

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Is a Textual Variant Both Meaningful and Viable?

I've stated repeatedly in previous articles that most textual variants are simple mistakes made by scribes when copying the New Testament, but some changes are intentional. When trying to decide if a variant could be original, textual scholars start by asking two questions:

Is the Variant Meaningful?

Often, mistakes do not create a meaningful text. Spelling errors may produce a series of letters that aren't really a word. Jesus instructed...

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