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A Copy of a Copy of a Copy…

A Copy of a Copy of a Copy…

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A Copy of a Copy of a Copy…

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  1. A Copy of a Copy of a Copy… A brief introduction to “textual criticism” for Bible Translators Chris Pluger

  2. Where did the Bible come from?

  3. Where did the Greek New Testament come from?

  4. Where did the Greek New Testament come from? • The Greek New Testament as we have it today comes from the careful collection and study of ancient manuscript copies of the original text. • Manu-script = Hand-written document • Our Greek New Testament is a collection of copies of copies of copies… of copies of the original.

  5. The Process of Textual Transmission C6 Copy 2 Paul Colosse C16 Copy 5 C7 C10 Laodicea C15 C14 C9 Copy 4 Copy 3 C12 C8 C11 C13

  6. What happened to all those copies? • Many were simply lost

  7. What happened to all those copies? ???

  8. What happened to all those copies? • Many were simply lost • Many received editing from scribes who were fixing mistakes (which weren’t always really mistakes)

  9. What happened to all those copies?

  10. What happened to all those copies? • Many were simply lost • Many received editing from scribes who were fixing mistakes (which weren’t always really mistakes) • Many are gathered and re-copied, and re-gathered and re-distributed

  11. What happened to all those copies?

  12. What happened to all those copies? • Many were simply lost • Many received editing from scribes who were fixing mistakes (which weren’t always really mistakes) • Many are gathered and re-copied, and re-gathered and re-distributed • They are also translated into other languages

  13. What happened to all those copies?

  14. Questions? Comments?

  15. Transmission and Contamination

  16. Transmission

  17. “Contamination”

  18. Missing Links

  19. Missing Links

  20. Questions? Comments?

  21. The Word of God With all of the variants and manuscripts, how do we know that the Bible we have is the Word of God?

  22. The Word of God Some facts we need to consider: • All the autographs have been lost. • All the existing manuscripts are different from each other. • There are thousands and thousands of differences between the manuscripts.

  23. The Word of God • Still, the Lord has preserved enough manuscripts that we can know with near certainty the exact wording of 99.99% of the NT. • Of the variations found in the text, none of them undermine any doctrine or teaching of the Bible. • It is safe to say that we have the “original text” of Scripture – just that it is mixed with “unoriginal” variants!

  24. The Word of God • The truth about manuscripts should never undermine anyone’s confidence in the Word of God. • Instead, it should cause us to thank God for his abundant concern for his Word.

  25. Questions? Comments?

  26. Copying a book by hand How do variants enter the text?

  27. Types of Variants Most variants are accidental: • Spelling differences • Differences in word order • Confusion of similar-sounding words • Accidental repetition or deletion caused by homeoteleuton, etc.

  28. Accidental Variants • Examples of these inconsequential variants is spelling John’s name with one “n” or two, or writing “Christ Jesus” instead of “Jesus Christ.” • Many other variants substitute a name for a pronoun (“Jesus” instead of “he”) – just like translators often do for clarity.

  29. Types of Variants Some variants are, however, intentional: • A scribe tries to “fix” a bad reading • “Correct” some “bad” grammar • Harmonize with a similar text • Explain a difficult text • “Improve” a reading theologically

  30. Some Theologically-motivated Variants • Luke 1:3 “it seemed good to me [and the Holy Spirit]” • Acts 20:28 “which he bought with his own blood” [or: “with the blood of his Own.”] • Philippians 3:13 “not [yet] become perfect.”

  31. Questions? Comments?

  32. Types of Manuscripts

  33. Some Vocabulary • Manuscript • Scribe • Amanuensis • Redactor • Exemplar • Types of Manuscripts:

  34. Manuscripts: Papyri (P) • 127 papyrus fragments, from small bits to whole books, some dating from the earliest years of Christianity. • P52 is the oldest; P45 P46 and P47 contain a large portion of the NT; P72 and P75 are very old and significant; and other old papyri are important witnesses to the texts they contain. • Unfortunately, many are not in very good condition

  35. Manuscripts: The Great Uncials • Sinaiticus (א) • Alexandrinus (A) • Vaticanus (B) • Ephraemi (C) • Bezae (D)

  36. Sinaiticus

  37. Alexandrinus

  38. Vaticanus

  39. Ephraemi

  40. Bezae

  41. Manuscripts: Uncials • Uncials appear in the critical apparatus designated by numbers starting with 0: 01-0322. • Many of these are designated by a single capital letter (or a single capital Greek letter)

  42. Manuscripts: Minuscules • Other manuscripts are important in certain books. • For example, 1739 is an important witness to Acts, Paul, and the Catholic Epistles. • Manuscripts in the “13 family” put the story of the adulterous woman into Luke’s Gospel, instead of John’s.

  43. Manuscripts: Versions and Patristic Citations • We have about 5400 NT manuscripts in Greek. • Another 15,000 manuscripts are early translations of the NT into languages like Latin, Syriac, Coptic, and others. • We have over one million NT citations preserved in the writings of the early Church Fathers.

  44. Manuscripts: Corrections • Many manuscripts were corrected by scribes called “redactors.” • Some redactors were better than others. A good resource will tell you how trustworthy a certain corrector is for a given manuscript. • Because of corrections, the same manuscript might be listed on two (or more) sides of a textual note. • Correctors are marked with numbers: A1, A2, A3 etc. The original hand is marked A*.

  45. Questions? Comments?

  46. What do we do about it? Dealing with textual issues as a Bible Translator