Jovial (7 Sep 2014)
"The Various Text Types"

At , several rather wild claims where made about the Textus Receptus.  Despite the fact that the Textus Receptus did not exist until the 16th century, it was claimed

  • 1) As of 1967, the Textus Receptus manuscripts which have survived, as far back as 150 AD, number 5,255 complete copies.
  • 2) There are 5,210 ancient versions or copies of the Textus Receptus that date back to 150 AD of the early Church.
  • From 100-300 AD there are approximately 100 church fathers who wrote and referred extensively to the New Testament Textus Receptus.

This is simply not true.  Scholars divide the Greek Witnesses to the New Testament in the following flavors:

  • Western Text Type
    • Fragments of manuscripts can be traced back to 2nd-3rd century AD and in many quotations from early Church writers. Mostly found in Western parts of Europe, etc.
    • Most Church quotations from the 100-300 time period match the Greek Western Text Type, not the Byzantine Text Type the Textus Receptus was based on.  A minority match the Alexandrian Type, with little to no support in early Church writings for exclusively Byzantine readings.
  • Cesarean Text Type
    • Much the same as the Western Text Type, with some Byzantine influence. Mostly found in the mid-east. Some argue that the Western and Cesarean should be considered the same Text Type.
  • Alexandrian Text Type
    • Fragments of mss can be traced back to 2nd-3rd century AD, and in quotations from Origen. Mostly found in North Africa and so called because they fit the pattern found in Alexandria Egypt.
  • Byzantine Text Type
    • Earliest manuscripts of this Text Type are from about the 5th century AD, but quotations from early Church writers trace this back to about the 4th century AD.

Despite the claims made at , there are few to no occurences of exclusively Byzantine readings prior to the 5th century AD.

In America, most of the debate centers around Alexandrian vs Byzantine as the preferred text.  Most KJV Only folks try to pretend like the Western and Cesarean Text Types don't exist.

There's more Text Types, but let's keep it simple for now - if that can be done. The Alexandrian and Byzantine Text Types read closely in terms of content, style, dialect, etc., but differ in what texts are or are not included. In general, the Alexandrian manuscripts (mss) omit many verses contained in the Byzantine. But age doesn't prove that the Byzantine verses were "added", because the Western Text Type tends to support the presence of those verses. However, those verses often read differently in the Western Text type. The following example from Luke 4:4 typifies these differences...

Alexandrian Westcott-Hort Byzantine Textus Receptus Western Codex Bezae
kai apekriqh proV auton o ihsouV gegraptai oti ouk ep artw monw zhsetai o anqrwpoV kai apekriqh ihsouV proV auton legwn gegraptai oti ouk ep artw monw zhsetai o anqrwpoV all epi panti rhmati qeou kai apokriqeiV * o IhV eipen :gegraptai *ouk ep artw monw zhsetai o anqrwpoV all en panti rhmati Qu
And Jesus answered him, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word of God. And Je-s answered him, speaking, It is written, That man shall not live on bread alone, but by every word of G-d.

Note how the Alexandrian text omits part of what's in the TR (not unusual) and the Western Codex Bezai replaces "legwn" with "eipen", which is essentially a synonym as far as thought/content are concerned - but it radically alters the Gematria! Why does the Byzantine text use "legwn" and the Western Text use "eipen"? Several explanations exist such as:

  • Some Aramaic primacists have suggested maybe they came from 2 different efforts to translate the Aramaic Gospel of Luke into Greek, translating the same Aramaic word two different ways. A similar story is probably behind the translator's choice of using "epi" (in the TR) versus "en" (in Codex Bezae).
  • Others have suggested that perhaps Bezae represents the more original reading, but this was smoothed out by later scribes to make it sound more naturally Greek.
  • Some suggest that scribes sometimes didn't pay attention to wording as much as content.

Whatever the reason, the present of synonyms characterizes the differences between the Western and Byzantine/Alexandrian Text types.

The "Old School" was that the Western Text Type was probably the oldest. Why? No Byzantine manuscripts pre-date the 5th century, though it is quoted as early as the 4th century by Church writers.

The Western Text is quoted by most of the earliest Church writers, though Origen quotes from both the Western Text as well as the Alexandrian. Quotations from early writers tend to favor the Western Text over the Alexandrian , and the Alexandrian over the Byzantnie.

Since no hint of the Byzantine Text Type exists before the 4th century, most scholars have ruled it out as the original version and debate mostly between the Alexandrian and Western Text Types. Most liberal theologians support the Alexandrian as the original, which is a position that makes it easy to claim that the Bible has been corrupted by people who chose to add of things to it. Problem is , the Western Text can be traced at least as far back as the Alexandrian, and even farther in quotations from Church writers. This would suggest that it is more likely that the Western Text is the original, and the Alexandrian Text represents scribes having omitted verses by mistake, possibly by losing track of where they were while they were copying. An Alexandrian origin to the Scriptures creates the greatest question to the authenticity of our New Testament, as is the position held almost unanimously by liberal theologians. Fundamentalist Christians tend to be more split, some believing in a Western Text Type Origin, some in an Alexandrian.

The "Old Latin" (pre-4th century Latin version of scriptures), "Old Syriac" (2nd century Aramaic version) and Western Text Type read in strong agreement with each other, which is why the Western Text Type is probably the "Old Greek". And these readings are what is seen in the earliest of Church writings when the Scriptures are quoted. But 4th century or post 4th century mss in other languages such as the Gothic, Latin Vuglate, Peshitta Aramaic, etc., tend to support the Byzantine Text Type over the Alexandrian, except the Vulgate which is split about 50-50, but supportive enough of the content that the Byzantine and Western Text Types have in common to suggest the Alexandrian Texts dropped verses, rather than the Byzantine adding verses.

At one time, most theologians considered the Western to be the oldest, but liberal influence in this line of thinking has swayed scholarly thought towards the Alexandrian Text, mostly as a result of ignoring or distorting the quotations of early Church writers and by using a "early majority" logic. that because the Western and Alexandrian are the earliest, and because the Alexandrian is greater in number among pre-4th century mss, that the Alexandrian is likely the original. Of course, the NIV outsells the King James in English speaking countries and few people would argue that the NIV is more accurate than the King James. Another critical factor is a lack of a complete text for early Western Readings, though a complete text of Cesarean readings is available and the Cesarean Text Type is , in all likelyhood, an evolution of the Western Text Type, after it had been corrected against Byzantine or Alexandrian texts in a few places.

Now the various Text Types are represented by numerous manuscripts including:

  • Western Text Type
    • Codexes Bezae, Washingtonensis, Claromontanus, Laudianus, and over 9 fragmentary versions (P25, P5, P22, P53, P38, P48, P29, P41, others). Most are 5th century AD or earlier. Western Text Types got its name because the earliest ones found were mostly in Western Europe, but examples have been found in North Africa , and Cesarean areas as well. thus, it's been found in many regions and probably should not have aregional name, but most "Text Types" do hvae regional names since most trace to a region.
  • Cesarean Text Type
    • Large number of manuscripts between the 8th and 11th century AD. Tends to mostly agree with the Western Text Type, with some Byzantine influence noted. Most are found in the Mid-east , or places near Greek speaking Eastern Europe or Byzantine areas.
  • Alexandrian Text Type
    • Codexes Sinaiticus (4th cent), Vaticanus (4th c), Alexandrinus (5th c), Ephraemi (5th c), Borgianus (5th c) , Dublinensis (6th c) and over 43 fragmentary papyri. Most are 5th century AD or earlier, with some exceptions. Most were found in North Africa/Alexandria Egypt area, and not very many other places.
  • Byzantine Text Type
    • Numerous manuscripts, mostly 5th century AD or later. Most are found in areas of the Byzantine Empire, such as Eastern Europe, Turkey, etc., but later imported into Western Europe where it became preferred over the Western Text Type by Erasmus' compilation of the Textus Receptus.

Because none of these manuscripts agree 100%, those who study these texts have put together a variety of "Critical Texts" that "represent" what the manuscripts, as a whole, record. They are represented by...

  • Alexandrian Text Type
    • Westcott-Hort Critical Reading (WH) - mostly compiled via taking what the majority of Alexandrian texts say.
    • Nestle-Aland (NA) - An attempt to "improve" on Westcott-Hort by factoring in how the scriptures were quoted by early Church writers. It's not purely Alexandrian, and mixes some Western readings or otherwise non-Alexandrian readings into it. It's not radically different from the WH, and was based on WH, but the WH provides a better representation of how the earliest Alexandrian manuscripts read. The NA is an attempt by pro-Alexandrian supporters who recognize that the Alexandrian text has problems, to restore and fix those problems with quotations from non-Alexandrian sources.
    • UBS.
    • Others that have gone out of use are:
      • Lachman
      • Tregelles
      • Tischendorf's Majority Reading of Alexandrian types
  • Byzantine Text Type
    • Textus Receptus (TR) - Compiled by Erasmus in the 16th century AD, based on how a handful of manuscripts he had available at the time read. Revelation was partly translated from Latin to Greek as was Acts 9:6.
    • Byzantine Majority Text (BM)- How the majority of all Byzantine manuscripts read from the earliest times to the 16th century
    • The Patriarchical Text - Greek Orthodox Version (GOC)- Often overlooked by the Western Protestant World, but still important. Different branches of the Greek Orthodox Church may not use EXACTLY the same version of the Greek New Testament, but two branches that were speaking Greek in the first century AD have agreed on a standard version. The GOC tends to use proper grammar far better than the other Byzantine versions, using correct grammar in places where the other Greek versions often are worded grammatically incorrect, according to the rules of Greek grammar.
  • Western Text Type
    • Because there are so few manuscripts, the tendency in representing the Western Text Type is to simply quote from the earlier Western manuscripts directly (e.g. Codex Bezae, Codex Washingtonensis, etc.)
    • The Western Text type is also often overlooked by the Western Protestant world. Often, it is simply categorized as "Byzantine" because of it's tendency to support the verses/phrases omitted by the Alexandrian Texts. But as shown in the example above, it often reads different.

This is a basic summary of the various Greek Text Types.  Many KJV Only propogandists have tried to redefine these and label everything non-Alexandrian as "Textus Receptus", particularly since the Textus Receptus did not exist before the 16th century.  It is the name given to a critical reading of the Byzantine Text manuscripts, none of which date back older than about the 5th century AD.

It was also stated at that "Dr. Waite notes in his book that heretics Wescott & Hort made 5,604 changes in the Received Greek text."  This is simply not true.  Wescott and Hort put together a critical reading of the Alexandrian manuscripts.  They did not "change" anything.  They simply selected between the readings that were in the various Alexandrian manuscripts.  the fact that perhaps 5,604 readings were different from the Textus Receptus does not mean THEY changed anything.