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

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Presentation on theme: "A Copy of a Copy of a Copy… A brief introduction to “textual criticism” for Bible Translators Chris Pluger."— Presentation transcript:

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 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. Where did the Greek New Testament come from?

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

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 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 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

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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. P 52 is the oldest; P 45 P 46 and P 47 contain a large portion of the NT; P 72 and P 75 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

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

37 Sinaiticus

38 Alexandrinus

39 Vaticanus

40 Ephraemi

41 Bezae

42 Manuscripts: Uncials Uncials appear in the critical apparatus designated by numbers starting with 0: Many of these are designated by a single capital letter (or a single capital Greek letter)

43

44 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.

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46 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.

47 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: A 1, A 2, A 3 etc. The original hand is marked A *.

48

49 Questions? Comments?

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

51 Consider the Evidence There are two types of evidence we need to consider when trying to decide which variant reading is more likely the original: Internal Evidence External Evidence

52 Internal Evidence Internal Evidence is evidence from within the text itself. Lectio brevior: Scribes tended to add words out of respect or habit (or to “cover their bases”), rather than subtract them Example: “church of the Lord and God” (incorporating both readings) from Ac 20:28 – obviously secondary.

53 Internal Evidence Internal Evidence is evidence from within the text itself. Lectio dificilior: Scribes tended to simplify difficult readings, or attempt to “fix” the “errors” of previous scribes. Example: “God’s blood” is a tougher concept, more likely to be changed to “Jesus’ blood” than vice-versa.

54 Internal Evidence Internal Evidence is evidence from within the text itself. A useful question to ask: “Which one of these readings likely caused the others to arise?”

55 External Evidence External Evidence is evidence from the history of the manuscripts. “Eclecticism” = picking and choosing on an informed basis. We ask when and where did this reading arise?

56 External Evidence External Evidence is evidence from the history of the manuscripts. We look for the reading which is: Ancient – Readings witnessed by older manuscripts are generally preferred Widespread – Readings witnessed by manuscripts coming from different geographical areas* are generally preferred.

57 So, what do we do? Nothing. Strictly follow the UBS4, or another model text Go crazy. Try to determine the original reading in every case totally on your own Develop a way to deal with the most important variants. Always keep an eye on what other major translations have done in that verse!

58 Very Important Resources UBS4 NA27 Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Metzger) New Testament Text and Translation Commentary (Comfort) UBS Translators’ Handbooks NET Bible footnotes

59 Questions? Comments?

60 Let’s practice! Some typical TC problems

61 Romans 5:1 Look up the verse in ParaTExt Determine what the variants are, and how they would affect translation Look at the resources

62 Romans 5:1

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69 External evidence – Taking the criteria of Ancient and Widespread manuscript attestation, the subjunctive reading is preferred. Internal evidence, however, causes most published translations to chose the indicative reading. Many include a footnote indicating the other possibility.

70 1 Peter 3:18 Look up the verse in ParaTExt Determine what the variants are, and how they would affect translation Look at the resources

71 1 Peter 3:18

72

73 Wrestling with issues like these helps us understand, appreciate, and defend notes like “Some Greek manuscripts say…”

74 Variant Readings When confronting a variant reading, ask yourself: What are the variants? How would they affect translation? What is the evidence for the different readings? What weight do we give the different pieces of evidence? Should we include a footnote here?

75 Famous TC problems Mark 16:9-20

76 Famous TC problems John 7:53-8:11

77 Questions? Comments?

78 Take away What should we remember from this presentation? What should we do when we run into a TC problem?

79 The Manuscript Witness No NT manuscript is perfect. God did not preserve his NT in a single, perfectly-copied, flawless document. But rather like he does all his work on earth, he entrusted it to the care of sinful people, and by his grace he has preserved his NT for us in a multitude of copies – thousands of manuscripts– which are a better witness than only one “perfect” copy.

80 The process of “Textual Criticism” We are not “criticizing” the Bible when we perform TC. We are instead attempting to determine, as closely as we can, the original wording of the passage in question.

81 Variant Readings When confronting a variant reading, ask yourself: What are the variants? How would they affect translation? What is the evidence for the different readings? What weight do we give the different pieces of evidence? Should we include a footnote here?

82 Looking at the evidence External evidence: Which reading has the most ancient and widespread attestation? Internal evidence: Which reading was most likely to cause the other variants to arise? The shorter reading is (generally) to be preferred. The more difficult reading is (generally) to be preferred.

83 Final Questions? Comments?


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