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 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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How do New Testament Text Types Compare?

Last week's article, What are New Testament Text Types?, gave a brief overview of what text types are in New Testament Textual Criticism. Below is a list of the differences in text types, and some of the most important manuscripts for each type.

Category I – Alexandrian text type

  • High quality manuscripts that should always be consulted
  • Generally found in Northern Egypt, particularly from the city of Alexandria,...

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Were the Church Fathers Aware of Variations in the New Testament Manuscripts?

Awareness of textual variants in literature goes back at least a few hundred years before Jesus was born, and scholars have constantly been trying to find the original readings. In the series I've been writing, I've been focused on textual variants in the New Testament, but they also exist in the Old Testament and in secular literature.

Secular Literature

The city of Alexandria, Egypt, was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C., and...

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What is a Singular Reading?

There are over 5,000 Greek New Testament manuscripts, but only about 1% of those manuscripts contain the entire New Testament. There are so many manuscripts, however, that almost every passage in the New Testament is represented in hundreds of Greek New Testament manuscripts, and there is a high percentage of agreement among the manuscripts for any given passage.

Handwriting any lengthy document is prone to errors, so it's not surprising New...

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What are Intentional Textual Variants?

Last week I wrote about What are Unintentional Textual Variants?, and this week I want to focus on intentional changes scribes made to the New Testament text.

Intentional changes are often harder to detect than unintentional changes. A spelling mistake should be easy to detect, unless the new word it produces is a legitimate word, and one that make sense in context. The author of an intentional change will try to make the change fit into...

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What are Unintentional Textual Variants?

Textual Criticism studies the differences found in manuscripts, called textual variants, of which there are two types: unintentional changes and intentional changes. This article focuses on the unintentional types of textual variants; a later article will be about intentional textual variants.

In an ideal situation, a professional scribe will have a pristine copy of a book, and smooth blank sheets of parchment...

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Do Textual Variants Show Christianity is False?

Some people are extremely critical of textual variants in New Testament manuscripts, claiming God would have prevented variants from occurring in the manuscripts (if He could have), so the existence of variants prove God doesn't exist and the Bible isn't true. My article Why did God Allow Variants in the New Testament Manuscripts? argues God was not only justified in allowing variants in the manuscripts (not that any of God's actions need a...

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Why did God Allow Variants in the New Testament Manuscripts?

Atheist Arguments

Some atheists argue the New Testament can't be trusted because it's been changed and corrupted over the past two thousand years. (Parts of the Old Testament are about 3,500 years old. Imagine the alleged changes over that amount of time!) The argument then goes on to state that if God really did inspire the Bible, He would have prevented any changes from occurring in the text. Since New Testament manuscripts clearly show...

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How Are Textual Variants and Variation Units Related?

Textual variants are words or phrases in a manuscript that are different from the standard text. There may be several textual variants for a verse in the Bible, such as the last verse of the Lord's Prayer. Variation units are places in the standard text where the original wording is uncertain, and scholars try to determine which textual variant most likely reflects the original wording.

Textual Variants in Colossians 2:2

A single...

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