Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Trouble Commenting on the Blog


If you’ve been having trouble commenting on the blog using your Google account, as I have, it may be because of your cookie settings. From Blogger’s help files:

Blogger uses third-party cookies so you can comment from your Google Account. If third-party cookies are disabled on your browser, you may not be able to comment on blog posts while you’re signed in. You can still comment anonymously, or with a name and URL.

In Chrome, which stats say most of you are using to read this, you can enable third-party cookies by going to Settings > Privacy and security and then select either Allow all cookies or Block third-party cookies in Incognito. 

If you don’t want to allow any third-party cookies, you should still be able to comment by choosing Comment as Name/URL in the commenting dropdown. 

If this works for you, could you leave a comment and let me know?

As a final word, please keep your comments on topic

Friday, August 26, 2022

Richard Brash on Preservation (again)


Over at the TCI website, Richard Brash has a short argument about providence and textual preservation. Along with his careful distinctions between two methods and two modes of providence, I appreciated this part:

In the New Testament era, the picture is more complicated. The church is called to be “a pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15) and part of this calling is surely to take care of the text of the Bible. God’s providential preservation of his people is still tied closely to the providential preservation of his written word. It is therefore reasonable to identify the process of canonization as an instance of special providence. But just as it can be spiritually dangerous to attempt to define the precise contours of special providence in our own lives, or even with respect to the preservation of the church, it is unwise to tether our doctrine of providential preservation to a particular “approved” manuscript or manuscript tradition. The Bible does not give the church today the authority to do this.

Read the entire article here.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

50% Off Scribes & Scripture Book


My new book with John Meade comes out in October and should interest ETC readers. The subject—how we got the Bible—is intentionally broad and so is the audience. The goal is to introduce the subject to new readers. I’m not 100% sure, but it may be one of the only books in this category written by those with training in each testament.

Another feature I hope serves readers well is that we wrote the book following several years of field testing the material in churches through our conference of the same name. That taught us what works and what doesn’t in terms of examples, anecdotes, key figures, etc. While we tried to make the material accessible, I don’t think you’ll find it dumbed down. We also included lots of charts, sidebars, and pictures to make it more engaging to the youngins (and our parents). Until it releases, you can get it for 50% off + free US shipping via TCI. 

Publisher info

Scribes and Scripture: The Amazing Story of How We Got the Bible

By John D. Meade, Peter J. Gurry

Answers to Common Questions about the Writing, Copying, Canonizing, and Translating of the Bible

There are many common questions and misconceptions surrounding the formation and history of the Bible: Why is the Bible composed of the current 66 books instead of others? Why are there so many translations? How are we to understand both the human and divine elements of the Bible? In Scribes and Scripture, scholars John D. Meade and Peter J. Gurry answer these questions and give readers tools to interpret the evidence about God’s word. 

Beginning with the history of the Bible—from the invention of the alphabet to the most recent English translations—the book focuses on three main areas: the writing and copying of the Bible, the canonization of the Bible, and the translation of the Bible. Using Old and New Testament scholarship, Meade and Gurry help God’s people better appreciate the story of the Bible as a way to better appreciate the stories in the Bible.

Table of Contents


Part 1: Text
Chapter 1: Writing the Bible
Chapter 2: Copying the Old Testament
Chapter 3: Copying the New Testament

Part 2: Canon
Chapter 4: Canonizing the Old Testament to the Reformation
Chapter 5: The Old Testament in the Reformation Period
Chapter 6: Canonizing the New Testament

Part 3: Translation
Chapter 7: Early and Medieval Bible Translation
Chapter 8: English Bible Translation to the King James
Chapter 9: The English Bible after the King James

Appendix 1: Modern Canons
Appendix 2: Early Christian Canon Lists


“One of the striking features of the book is its fairness and its reasonableness. No book, of course, is written without a perspective, but Meade and Gurry aren’t trying to win a debate or to demonize opponents. They carefully present and analyze the evidence so that readers can make their own judgments. I can’t think of another book that introduces in such a brief and illuminating way matters of text, canon, and translation.”
—Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“I don’t have time to read this.”
—Elijah Hixson, Research Fellow, Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, Forger of Sinaiticus (probably)

“The history of the Bible is complex: it involves multiple languages (ancient and modern), and it divides into two very much distinct (but also overlapping) branches we call the Old and New Testaments. Christians need trusted guides to lead us through that history. This is why I am so grateful for the work of Old Testament specialist John Meade, New Testament specialist Peter Gurry, and their Text & Canon Institute. They represent the newest generation of evangelical historians of the Bible, and they are both able and eager to keep a foot in the academy and a foot in the church. There are many threats to the orthodox viewpoint on text, canon, and translation. Scribes and Scripture is their attempt to serve the church by guiding Christians toward an accurate and faith-filled grasp of the Bible’s history.”
—Mark Ward, Editor, Bible Study Magazine; author, Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible

“Is your book finally done??”
—My Kids, Kindergarten through 6th grade

“Misconceptions and myths about the Bible’s origins lead many to reject it and continue to confuse sincere believers. Now, at last, we have a book that shatters these misconceptions. This impressively informative book is based on solid scholarship, yet it is accessible, easy to read, and profitable for any reader at any level. Not for a generation have we seen such a helpful book on this topic! I heartily recommend it to everyone.”
—Peter J. Gentry, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Old Testament and Senior Research Fellow of the Text & Canon Institute at Phoenix Seminary

“Please tell me this book gets royalties.”
—John’s Wife

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Pierpont: Dean Burgon and the Received Text


Pierpont sent the first page of this short essay to Maurice Robinson on June 8th, 1990. The first page appears to have been written originally on April 14th, 1990. Later, on July 13th, Pierpont sent Robinson the second page. He writes: "The part page goes with and follows what I sent previously on "Dean Burgon and the TR". It is part of a further section, but Wilbur [Pickering] rightly suggested it be added here." I have added in links to the transcription to make checking the quotes easier.


[By William G. Pierpont, 14 April–13 July 1990]

Dean Burgon has all too often been (deliberately?) misinterpreted by both friend and foe. This is still true today a century later. For example, "The Dean Burgon Society" consistently denies that Burgon would allow changes to the Textus Receptus until all MSS, Versions and Patristic evidence is in hand. Let us allow Burgon to speak for himself. (TT = "The Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels", CC = "The Causes of Corruption of the Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels", RR = "The Revision Revised")

First of all we must observe that he carefully distinguished between the Traditional Text and the Textus Receptus. He defended the former, not the latter, although he said that they do not greatly differ.

"Once for all, we request it may be clearly understood that we do not, by any means, claim perfection for the Received Text. We entertain no extravagant notions on this subject. Again and again we shall have occasion to point out (e.g. at page 107) that the Textus Receptus needs correction." RR-21 note 2.

"Yielding to no one in my desire to see the Greek of the New Testament judi­ciously revised...” (whereupon he goes on to say that it would be far better to let the TR stand than to go to the kind of text advocated and published by Westcott and Hort in 1881 -- though without naming them). CC-10,11.

His co-worker and editor reaffirms this: (Edward Miller)
"First, be it understood, that we do not advocate perfection in the Textus Receptus. We allow that here and there it requires revision. In the Text left behind by Dean Burgon, about 150 corrections have been suggested by him in St. Matthew’s Gospel alone. What we maintain is the TRADITIONAL TEXT." "I have kept before me a copy of Dr. Scrivener’s Cambridge Greek Testament, A.D. 1887, in which the disputed passages are printed in black type, although the Text there presented is the Textus Receptus from which the Traditional Text as revised by Dean Burgon and hereafter to be published differs in many passages." TT-5 and TT-95. (Only Burgon’s notes for changes recommended for Mt. Chapters 1-14 were published: in "A Textual Commentary upon the Holy Gospels, Part I. St. Matthew; Division I: i.-xiv." Edward Miller. 1899.)

"The Traditional Text must be found, not in a mere transcript, but in a laborious revision of the Received Text... which has been generally received during the last two and a half centuries." CC-1

There are many places in these volumes of Burgon which spell out the needed changes in certain passages, as well as further remarks similar to the above.

What is the problem? -- It is the radically revised-- almost rewritten "new" text which "the revisers" have thrust upon the world of Christianity in 1881. So unacceptable is it in every respect that to show it up for what it is takes preference over the much lesser task of revising the commonly Received Text.

As for the Received Text by comparison, "We do but insist, (1) That it is an incomparably better text than that which either Lachmann, or Tischendorf, or Tregelles has produced; infinitely preferable to the 'New Greek Text' of the Revisionists. And (2) That to be improved, the Textus Receptus will have to be revised on entirely different 'principles' from those which are just now in fashion. Men must begin by unlearning the German prejudices of the last fifty years; and address themselves, instead, to the stern logic of facts." RR-21 note 2. "...for, in not a few particulars, the 'Textus Receptus' does call for Revision certainly..." RR-107.

Specifically Dean Burgon called for correction, a revision of the Received Text, and he himself had done so for the Gospels, though most of it has been lost. He does not want to be misunderstood by friend or opponent: the Received Text must be revised. That is precisely what the Majority Text attempts to do.

[p. 2]

The question some have asked is whether the materials at hand to Burgon were adequate to make this necessary revision of the Received Text. Burgon answers this in 1864: "...the accumulated evidence of the last two centuries has enabled us to correct it with confidence in hundreds of places..." and "it is not to be supposed, (I humbly think, ) that we shall ever know much more about the sacred text than we know at present. But it is unquestionably to be believed that as the years roll on, and calm, judicious, conscientious criticism, (represented by such men as Mr. Scrivener,) extends its investigati[on] over the mighty field which lies before it, we shall attain to a greater and ye[t] greater amount of certainty as to the true readings of Scripture; approach nearer and yet nearer to the inspired autographs of the Evangelists and Apostle[s] of CHRIST." ("A Treatise on the Pastoral Office" pp. 69, 72, italics his.)

From what Burgon has said and done it is clear that he intended that correction. should be made now (in his lifetime) to the Received Text, based upon the plen[ty] of solid evidence, and further, that as more and more evidence is gathered and studiously and honestly examined some further changes must be made. It is ob­vious that he envisioned what every true textual critic aims for: a current edi[tion] of the Traditional Textform which is as accurate as the evidence in hand permi[ts]. Burgon had himself provided that first stage of correction in the notes he had developed himself and firmly intended should be published at that time.

He envisioned a progressively improved published text which conformed to the consensus of the multitude of MSS, and had provided the first step in that direction. But unfortunately it was never published in its entirity [sic], and the portion which was published (as noted above) seems almost unknown today.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Pierpont: Requisites and Basics for Textual Criticism of the Greek New Testament


Here is another installment in the series of unpublished papers by Williams G. Pierpont, scanned from the Maurice Robinson Collection. This two-page essay is undated. I don't know when we'll be able to put it on CSNTM, so I am making it available here.


[By William G. Pierpont, undated]

1. NECESSITY. Scarcely any two of the many hundreds of manuscripts of the Greek New Testament agree exactly with each other-- even after ignoring the obvious and easily corrected simple scribal errors. Nor is there any divinely established or humanly agreed-upon standard against which all others may be corrected. Therefore textual criticism is necessary to establish, where there are sig­nificant differences, which readings are to be considered those of the autographs.

2. REVERENCE. The New Testament is no ordinary book: it is part of the Holy Word of God, and dare not be approached without a spirit of reverence and the utmost of respect. It is the Word of the Omnipotent Creator and Sovereign Lord of all. He Himself does not view it lightly: "for Thou hast magnified Thy Word above all Thy Name." (Ps. 138:2) It partakes of His Divine Nature, of His holi­ness and perfection. We recognize that it was Divinely inspired-- that holy men of God were led along and guided in their writing by its Holy Author. We must tremble to tamper with it in any way. How we "handle" it is vital. We may well recognize that God is Himself most intimately concerned with what we do with it. We ought to approach it, as it were, on our knees. Anything less dishonors its Author.

Who are those who would dare to go hunting for "discrepancies" in a gleeful mood? Who are those who would presume to tell God what He has caused to have written? How do men dare to choose among alternate readings on the basis of what they "prefer"? Where is their sense of reverence for the Holy? Do such men indeed hold to the God-given apostolic faith, or are they merely toying with what is inherently holy?

For some, whatever is "interesting" or novel attracts them-- and unless it is strange they have no concern or interest. For others the "various readings" merely serve as opportunities to exercise their ingenuity, to see if they can puzzle out an answer to their own satisfaction. Often this merely serves as fodder for the grist mill of their desire to lecture or write.

Such a spirit of levity, "game playing", ill befits God’s Holy Word. The man of God is grieved and distressed when he finds seriously competing alternate readings, knowing that only one of them can be from the autograph. He earnestly and reverently seeks an answer.

Snapp on the Distigmai in Vaticanus


Over on his blog, James Snapp has a new post on the double dots in Vaticanus. These dots have been of significant interest ever since Phil Payne first noticed them. 

Following Niccum and Head, Snapp makes a good case, with some new suggestions, that the dots are from the 16th century. In particular, he suggests that Sepulveda’s letter to Erasmus, where he says he noted 365 variations in Vaticanus, should be reread as 765, changing just one roman numeral (CCCLXV → DCCLXV). In that case, the number matches exactly Payne’s estimate. I wonder if we have the original letter anywhere.

There’s more to the argument, but I won’t spoil it. Go read it and see what you think. I was already pretty convinced the dots were from Sepulveda, but this convinced me further. But I’d love to hear from others who have written or presented on this (Peter Head 👀).

Examples of dots in Vaticanus

Friday, August 19, 2022

Nongbri Article on the Date of Sinaiticus


Brent Nongbri is back with another article redating a New Testament manuscript. This time, it’s Codex Sinaiticus and he suggests pushing the date range into the early fifth century. The article is in JTS and the pre-print version is open access here.

Abstract: Codex Sinaiticus is generally described as one of ‘the great fourth century majuscule Bibles’, and its construction is often assigned to a more precise date in the middle of the fourth century. This essay surveys the evidence for the date of production of the codex and concludes that it could have been produced at any point from the early fourth century to the early fifth century. This time span may seem uncomfortably wide, but this particular range of dates makes Codex Sinaiticus an ideal candidate for AMS radiocarbon analysis. The shape of the radiocarbon calibration curve during this period means that a well-executed radiocarbon analysis of the codex should have the potential to shed further light on the date the codex was produced.

Gainsford on “Can We Trust Medieaval Copies of Ancient Books?”


Stephen Carlson drew my attention to this interesting blogpost, “Can We Trust Medieaval Copies of Ancient Books?” by the classicist Peter Gainsford “Kiwi Hellenist.” First he makes five statements which I just list here:

1. Copying, by definition, is a faithful process.

2. Copying includes error-correction.

3. Modern editors have the explicit goals of gauging manuscripts’ reliability and amending errors, and they have a powerful arsenal of techniques for doing so.

4. Where there are doubts over a text, modern editions give full documentation of those doubts.

5. Where it is possible to check the accuracy of the manuscript tradition, its accuracy is high.

Then, in order to prove this last point, he works through three ancient texts from the satirist Lucian, the poet Meleager, and the geographer Strabo, respectively, where new evidence have come to light in the form of ancient papyri, so that he can compare an old edition (based on medieval manuscript) with the new evidence. After working through is examples, he concludes:

    1. Modern editors really know what they’re doing, and their expertise in sorting out the correct text deserves a huge amount of respect.
    2. Mediaeval copies are very accurate, with only minor discrepancies from their ancient counterparts.

Now, having said that, there are situations — or rather, literary genres — where we do expect much more discrepancies. Some ancient texts weren’t copied as such, but instead went through recensions and reworkings.

Note that Gainsford also added a postscript a day later with in which he expressed caution that his three examples were not representative of all ancient texts.

I do think his statements are applicable for the New Testament textual tradition and the first statement also made me associate to the basic assumption of the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method that “a scribe wants to copy a manuscript with fidelity; primarily the scribe does not want to create new readings.”

Now, go read the full blogpost!

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

The Comma Johanneum in the Earliest English Bibles


Last week I published a list of historic English Bibles to complement Pete Head’s list. Today, I want to illustrate one way to use it. In this case, I am interested in how the earliest printed English Bibles handle the famous variant in 1 John 5:7–8. (My interest was originally sparked by Hixson’s post.)

One thing you learn from studying these Bibles is that their translators often used whatever other major editions or translations they could to produce their Bibles. As one example, Coverdale used five “sundry translations” for his 1535 Bible and these probably included Luther, the Zurich Bible, Pagninus’s Latin, the Vulgate, and Erasmus (per David Norton). It’s worth looking at how these early English Bibles navigated the lack of uniformity on the Comma among their sources. So, here is a whistle-stop tour of the main English Bibles up to the King James.

1. Tyndale (1526)

2. Tyndale (1534)

I can’t find the so-called “GH” edition of Tyndale (1534/35) online but I assume it also had the Comma in brackets since it was the basis for the Matthew Bible (see below).

3. Coverdale (1535)

4. Matthew Bible (1537)

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

New Society and Conference on Bible Craftsmanship


Here’s a new development that looks really great. It’s a new organization called the Society of Bible Craftsmanship (SOBC) for the promotion of quality Bible production. From what I can tell, it’s being started by the Museum of the Bible (MOTB) and is maybe funded by it (it’s not clear). The announcement explains:

The Society of Bible Craftsmanship celebrates beauty, creativity, and innovation in the field of Bible publishing. The society’s mission is to nurture and highlight excellence in the industry and to help the general reader discover and appreciate all that goes into the finest examples of Bible craftsmanship—in all languages, in all media.

A central task of the society will be to periodically gather and exhibit new Bible publications from around the world. The society’s awards program will recognize the finest work in a broad range of categories, with winners exhibited at Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC.

The Bible is one of the most important books ever to be published and also one of the most challenging in terms of design and production. Today, the innovation displayed in meeting these challenges is at an all-time high. In partnership with publishers and industry professionals, the society will host events and virtual seminars though Museum of the Bible to explore every aspect of craftsmanship, illuminating the work of translators and editors, designers and typographers, printers and bookbinders, and many other contributors to the production process. The society’s e-newsletter will also showcase the best writing on Bible craftsmanship. 

Museum of the Bible hopes, through the Society of Bible Craftsmanship, to promote the flourishing of contemporary Bible publishing and reading.

One of the people behind this is J. Mark Bertrand who we’ve had occasion to blog about in the past. For a long time he reviewed Bible design at the Bible Design blog (which now redirects to his new site lectio.org). He’s on the steering committee along with Jeff Kloha, chief curatorial officer at MOTB and Klaus Krogh, the CEO of the creative firm 2K/DENMARK that does a lot of Bible design.

J. Mark Bertrand

The Society is hosting a conference on August 27 in D.C. and online to kick off the new society. There is also a new book out from 2K/DENMARK about seven new typefaces they’ve designed just for Bibles.

One of the pleasures of studying the earliest printed English Bibles the last year or so has been appreciating just how many design decisions these early printers had to make. Yes, they had some precedents they could follow from manuscripts as well as Bibles in other languages. But, in other ways, they were inventing the wheel, so to speak, making decisions that would set the course of Bible production for the next 500 years. Everything from the names of books to chapter titles, marginal notes, maps, introductions to the reader, indices, cross-references—you get the idea. And beyond this there are the myriad questions of format: typefaces, layout, columns, spacing, book size, and more. 

I like what the new president of the society says about good design having a “gentle authority.” Whether we know it or not, the design of anything written is always communicating something additional to the words on the page. That design will either serve or hinder the meaning; it’s never neutral. Nowhere is that more important than the Bible.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Montoro: Preferring the Longer Reading at Matthew 5:21–22


The following is a guest post from Peter Montoro who is working on a PhD at the University of Birmingham on the NT text of Chrysostom.

Recently, as I was preaching through the Gospel of Matthew in our church, I came to Matthew 5:21–22, which reads as follows in the THGNT:  

Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρήθη τοῖς ἀρχαίοις· οὐ φονεύσεις· ὃς δ’ ἂν φονεύσῃ, ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει· ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ὀργιζόμενος τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει· ὃς δ’ ἂν εἴπῃ τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ· ῥακά, ἔνοχος ἔσται τῷ συνεδρίῳ· ὃς δ’ ἂν εἴπῃ· μωρέ, ἔνοχος ἔσται εἰς τὴν γέενναν τοῦ πυρός.

This is not Peter Montoro
As is well known, a large number of Greek manuscripts read εἰκῆ, “without a cause” or “without true right,” before the second instance of ἔνοχος ἔσται. Based on the agreement of 01/03 (and most likely P64), most modern editors (including the THGNT and the NA28) have omitted εἰκῆ in 5:22. The presumed reasoning, explicit in many commentaries, is that the addition of εἰκῆ is a softening and theologically motivated addition to the text, an “orthodox corruption” as it were. Metzger, for example, has this to say in his textual commentary:  

Although the reading with εἰκῇ is widespread from the second century onwards, it is much more likely that the word was added by copyists in order to soften the rigor of the precept, than omitted as unnecessary.

However, based on patristic discussion of the variant in Origen and Jerome (as found in Amy Donaldson’s excellent dissertation), a motivated reading seems to have been far more likely in the other direction—it was the suggestion that some anger might be permissible that Origen and Jerome found to be problematic, not the reverse. See for example, this discussion by Origen: 

Since some think that anger sometimes occurs with good reason because they improperly add to the Gospel the word ‘without cause’ in the saying, ‘Whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement’ (Matt. 5:22)—for some have read, ‘Whoever is angry with his brother without cause’—let us convince them of their error from the statement under discussion which says, ‘Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and blasphemy be removed from you.’ For the term ‘all’ here clearly applies to all the nouns in common, so that no bitterness is allowed, no wrath is permitted, and no anger occurs with good reason. It is said in the thirty-sixth Psalm, since all anger is sin (and likewise also wrath), ‘Cease from anger, and leave wrath’ (Ps. 36:8). It is never possible, therefore, to be angry with someone with good reason. [Donaldson, 352, citing from Heine’s edition 205–206] 

As can easily be seen in this discussion (and even more clearly in Jerome’s repeated discussions of this passage), while we moderns may assume that the early church would have wanted to soften Jesus’s teaching, the evidence points instead, in this and many other areas as well, rather toward a tendency to strengthen it, to remove exceptions, rather than to add them (this can be seen very clearly in the overall attitude toward remarriage, even after the death of a spouse). 

I therefore decided to take a fresh look at the available textual evidence. A consideration of the Text und Textwert (TuT) data suggests another explanation for this textual variation altogether. No less than 21 of the manuscripts classed as Koinehandschriften, including some that agree at the 97 and 98% (e.g., 045)  levels have exactly the same omission that is found in the early witnesses 01 and 03. Since there are 64 Teststellen in Matthew, a 98% agreement means that this is the only Teststelle where this manuscript differs from the majority. 

As Holger Strutwolf explained in his recent paper at the CSNTM conference (though of course he was dealing with examples from Mark, not Matthew), this sort of pattern rather strongly suggests that a particular variant emerged multiple times, and is therefore best explained, not as a theologically motivated reading, but rather as a simple scribal mistake. 

As it turns out, there is a rather simple explanation for the omission of εἰκῆ, one that fits perfectly with the sort of mistakes that scribes, early as well as late, are known to make. The sequence ἔνοχος ἔσται occurs no less than four times in Matt 5:21–22, both before and after the variation unit in question. Because this second instance (if εἰκῆ is indeed original) is the only one that breaks the pattern, it would have been a relatively simple mistake to unintentionally harmonize it to the repetitions of this same pattern found in the immediate context, the same sort of change we see over and over again in manuscripts from every period. 

On the other hand, there does not seem to be a straightforward way to explain the addition of this word as a scribal mistake. Since the TuT evidence makes it very clear that the omission did in fact occur in late Byzantine manuscripts that are extremely unlikely to have experienced theologically motivated change, it makes much more sense to see the omission of this word in early manuscripts as resulting from the same sort of scribal mistake that we know to have taken place later. 

Furthermore, as David Alan Black pointed out a number of years ago, this very same chapter of Matthew’s Gospel contains two other examples (ψευδόμενοι in 5:11 and παρεκτὸς λόγου πορνείας in 5:32) of very similar clarifying qualifiers. 

While this is only a brief preliminary investigation, it seems to be at this point to be likely that the omission of εἰκῆ should be seen as an early scribal mistake rather than as an example of an “obvious” orthodox corruption.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Historic Editions of the English Bible Online

Some years ago, Peter Head put together a lovely list of historic editions of the Greek NT that are available free online. I have used that list more times than I can count. It’s wonderful to have them all in one place like that. 

Many times over the last year, I have found myself wanting a similar list but for early English Bibles. So that’s what I have given you here. It should be self-explanatory. The Bibles are listed chronologically and I have usually only included the most important edition(s) of each. If you know of better sources for some of these or see a correction needed, let me know in the comments.

Wycliffite Bible (14th c.)

First complete Bible in (middle) English.

  • Christ Church MS. 145 (14th c.): images and details; OT, NT, Apocryrpha
  • Egerton MS 617 (c. 1390-1397): images and details; Proverbs-Maccabbees; “the earliest datable copy of the complete Bible in English”
  • Egerton MS 618 (c. 1390-1397): images and details; Matthew-Revelation
  • Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments with the Apocryphal books, in the earliest English version etc., ed. J. Forshall and F. Madden (1850), vol. 1, vol. 2, vol. 3, vol. 4
  • Searchable version.

Luther (1522, 1534)

Not an English Bible, but included because it was used by many of the early English translators like Tyndale.

Tyndale (1525–1536)

  • 1525 NT: select images – not finished and only 8 sheets survive
  • 1526 NT: Full PDFselect images; only three copies exist, one at St. Paul’s in London which is missing 70 leaves, the one at the British Library, and one rediscovered only in 1996 at the Württemberg State Library (the only copy with an extant title page).
  • 1534 NT: PDF (b/w)text
  • 1534/1535 NT: his last revision, sometimes known as the “GH” edition; the basis for the “Matthew Bible”
  • Pentateuch (1530), Jonah (1536): text; b/w images
  • Searchable version

Coverdale (1535)

The first complete printed Bible in English; basis for the Matthew Bible where Tyndale wasn’t extant.

Matthew Bible (1537)

First complete English Bible licensed by the crown for sale in England; basis for the Great Bible and Taverner.

Great Bible (1539)

It was a BIG; basis for the Bishops’ Bible.
  • 1539: haven’t found one online
  • 1540: b/w PDF

Taverner’s Bible (1539)

Often neglected thanks, in part, to Westcott giving it short shrift.

Geneva (1557, 1560, etc.)

First English Bible with verse numbers, first to use italics to mark words not in the original, etc.
  • 1557 NT: 1 photo (only one I can find); Reprint
  • 1560 OT+NT: PDF (missing the note to the reader) color version on Google Books
  • 1570: A few color images
  • 1599: this has updated marginal notes which took a sharper Calvinist and anti-Catholic turn

Bishops’ (1568, 1602)

1602 was the basis for the KJV.

Douai-Rheims (1582, 1609/1610)

The first Roman Catholic translation in English, intended as a response to Protestant translations.

KJV (1611)

To quote Hixson (probably), “If it ain’t the King James, it ain’t the Bible.”

  • For the 1602 Bishops' used by the translators, see here
  • 1611: color images; “He Bible” (thought to be the earlier of the 1611 printings); slightly larger pictures from UPenn
  • 1611: “She Bible” (thought to be the later of the 1611 printings)
  • 1767 Blayney: PDF – Thorough update behind most modern printings
Two other sources you may want to check, if you have access, are the English Short Title Catalogue (or STC) and Early English Books Online.