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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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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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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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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How Careful were Scribes when Copying the Bible?

Some people claim the early Christians believed they were copying letters, history, biographies, and apocalypses, not scripture, so they may not have been as careful while the copying the New Testament as the Jews had been when copying their Bible, and introduced errors into the New Testament. The belief that the Bible has been corrupted over the past 2,000 years contradicts what is actually known about the early church.

The city of Alexandria,...

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