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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How are the Best Textual Readings Determined?

Last week I wrote about New Testament Textual Criticism, the practice of studying ancient Greek manuscripts and the textual variants in them, then trying to determine which variant is most likely to be the original text. A starting assumption is that the original text has been preserved somewhere in the existing Greek manuscripts, and early  translations or quotes by the church fathers will be able to confirm those readings. New Testament scholars have...

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What are New Testament Text Types?

I've spent quite a bit of time describing what Textual Variants are, and now I want to write about how they can be used to identify manuscripts. The Gospel (Good News) spread rapidly across the Roman Empire after Jesus' resurrection, but for years it was only spread verbally. Once the books of the New Testament were written, some textual variants became common in certain regions. By looking for common textual variants in manuscripts, textual scholars may...

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What are Textual Variants?

Last week I started a new series with the article Why are there Variations in Different Translations of the New Testament?. Textual Variants are places where ancient manuscripts attest to more than one reading of a passage. There are about 138,000 words in the Greek New Testament, and it's unreasonable to think anyone could copy it without making a single mistake. Most of the variants are simple spelling errors or other accidental...

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What is the Gregory-Aland Numbering System?

Prior to the K-Liste (What is the Kurzgefasste Liste der griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments?), there were several different systems for cataloging New Testament manuscripts, which created confusion and inconsistencies for scholars. For a while, Latin letters were used (i.e. Codex Vaticanus is 'B'), but when there were more manuscripts than letters in the Latin alphabet, some people started using Greek letters (i.e. Codex Sangallensis is 'Δ') and one person used a...

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