Evangelical Textual Criticism

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Ecumenical project 2

Before we all rush off and set up a cyber institute for ecumenical textual criticism (see discussion here), we would do well to reflect on what can be best achieved by working alongside scholars from non-evangelical churches on a broad platform of some common understanding of Christian history and the biblical text. We need to ask who would be good collaborators and what it would be good to collaborate about.

If we're looking for scholarly contribution, I'd say that the groups most likely to have the calibre of scholar we would need would be the RC and the Greek Orthodox churches. Armenian Orthodox, being a group with scholarly tradition based within an independent country, might also be well resourced. However, on OT matters Orthodox groupings tend to be committed to a text quite deviant from the Hebrew, but which is not the 'Old Greek' of the 'LXX' either. So for the sake of argument we might confine co-operation to the NT. Obviously co-operation with the Greek Orthodox would be a natural thing for evangelicals committed to 'Byzantine-Priority' or Majority Text theories. We've already seen a common interest between certain groups of evangelicals and the Greek Orthodox with the production of The Orthodox Study Bible using the NKJV (let's not talk about the textual basis for that!).

What jobs could best be done with such wide co-operation? I suppose that one might be able to launch a major academic project taking apart some of the more cynical reconstructions of early Christians and their treatment of the text. One might also be able to co-ordinate response to books (or other media) that seek to discredit the integrity of Christian scripture (e.g. the likes of that code book by Dan someone or other). Anything else?


  1. I thought the Orthodox were committed to the TR, not to just a generally Byzantine text.

  2. An edition of the Greek Orthodox NT can be seen at:


    It does have the Comma Johanneum in 1 John. On the other hand, Revelation 22:16-21 is not based on Erasmus' back-translation from Latin into Greek and therefore differs from the TR.

    Romans ends at 16:24 and '16:25-27' appear at the end of ch. 14. On the whole the Greek Orthodox NT should be seen as something distinct from the TR and closer to the Byzantine/Majority text.

  3. maurice a robinson6:38 pm, January 30, 2006

    Two cautions:

    (1) The Thomas Nelson "Orthodox Study Bible" is simply the NKJV, deriving from what amounts to a TR type of text (= Scrivener's reconstruction in the TBS edition); it does not reflect the so-called Orthodox Patriarchal edition.

    (2) The NT of the Orthodox Patriarchal edition is the text of Antoniades 1904, which was based not on continuous-text Byzantine MSS but on a selection of lectionary MSS, supplementing these from continuous-text MSS only in sections not read liturgically. This text thus reflects what should be termed the "lectionary text" and not the "Byzantine text" proper. Also, this Antoniades 1904 text as originally printed displays certain sections in small type, clearly indicating that they were not present in the MSS consulted. Among these small-type portions is the Comma Johannaeum.

    I would add also that the accompanying text file on the website given has a good deal of error and inaccuracy.

    Anyone using the so-called Orthodox Patriarchal text should first read Antoniades' Introduction to his edition, which long ago appeared in English translation in Colwell/Riddle, Prolegomena to the Study of the Lectionary Text of the Gospels (1933), 57-62.

  4. Thanks to Prof. Robinson for the cautions.

  5. "I thought the Orthodox were committed to the TR, not to just a generally Byzantine text."

    Not so. The TR was created by a Catholic and propogated by Protestants who had been educated as Catholics. It is now chiefly defended by Baptists. It has strongly influenced the Orthodox text (witness the inclusion of the Comma), but is not their sole basis of authority as it is for many Baptists and a few Protestants.