Thursday, January 11, 2007

TC 12 (2007)

As announced by Jan Krans TC 12 (2007) has its first article:

Holger Szesnat, ‘“Some Witnesses Have ...”: The Representation of the NewTestament Text in English Bible Versions’.

Szesnat reviews the treatment of variations in NIV and REB concluding that they and other versions share a number of patterns of misrepresentation of textual evidence.

And two reviews:
Dirk Jongkind on Christian-B. Amphoux and J. Keith Elliott, eds., The New Testament Text in Early Christianity/Le texte du nouveau Testament au début du christianisme: Proceedings of the Lille Colloquium, July 2000 (

Tobias Nicklas on Luke Timothy Johnson, The Acts of the Apostles. 2d ed. (


  1. "The only English translation that takes a radically different approach is the New English Translation..."

    Szesnat complete overlooks the New King James Version (possibly out of disdain for its textual base?), which takes a unique approach to presenting textual variants. It gives some information in the introduction about the TR, the Majority Text, and the UBS, and then proceeds to follow the TR throughout, while documenting variants in terms of which text or texts (not which witnesses) follow that reading.

    The translators' evaluations of those three texts in the introduction can be questioned, but at least their approach has the advantage of not misleading readers with subjective and inaccurate footnotes.

    I like their approach of following one text throughout. (I'm in the Byzantine priority camp myself, so I'd prefer Pierpont and Robinson's text over the TR however). As far as I'm aware, no other modern, major English translation does this.

    Even though most translations generally follow the UBS text, they depart from it on scores of occasions, typically for readability concerns (or so it seems to me). But isn't it the translator's responsibility to present what they believe to be the original text? Do the translators of the ESV and NASB really believe that the original text of the last verse of Revelation is "h xaris tou kuriou ihsou meta pantwn amhn", a reading only found in Beautus? Or do they add the amhn to provide a more "fitting" close to the book?

    This is not an isolated case. For instance, the ESV follows the Byz text 6 times in John 1, and the NASB does so 4 times. Each time, the variant is a minor, stylistic variant, where the Byz text presents a reading that makes for a smoother English translation. Did the translators choose these readings on account of their evaluation of the manuscript evidence, or because they wanted their translation to be more readable? The fact that they follow the UBS for all significant variants seems to provide a clue.

    Casey Perkins

  2. Count me in as another fan of the NKJV textual notes. They are simple, objective, and don't overwhelm the layman.

  3. I found the two reviews well written and pertinent. The essay by Szesnat -though good- has opened a can of worms whose issues and performance will never please everyone nor could their format within English translations ever hope to do so.


  4. A thought occurred to me when I read, in Dirk Jonkind's review, his summary of C.B. Amphoux’s proposal "That the long ending of Mark is based on a Western text of the Gospels is evidenced by Mark 16:13, where the eleven apostles do not believe. This is in agreement with the Western text of Luke 24:34 (reading LEGONTES instead of LEGONTAS)." -- Does Amphoux offer any reason why that scenario is more likely than the reverse scenario, in which the reading of Luke 24:24 was changed in the Western Text to harmonize with Mark 16:13?

  5. It would have been helpful had Szesnat also addressed the somewhat popular Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) as part of his investigation.

    Supposedly (from certain advertising comments) the HCSB presents in its footnotes a greater number of text-critical variant readings than appears in any other English translation. The downside, however, is the same: no uninformed reader can discern what category of text or level of support the ubiquitous "Some MSS" or "Other MSS" actually might represent.

    As noted above, the NKJV has done better than other translations in this regard.