Manuscript support for various Bible translations

Discussion in 'Sacraments and Liturgy' started by Jeff F, Feb 5, 2013.

  1. Jeff F

    Jeff F Well-Known Member

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    I wasn't quite sure where to place this thread, my apologies to the administrators if I have erred.

    In preparation for our discussion on Bart Ehrman's book "Misquoting Jesus", I was reminded of a debate years ago about manuscript support for the various Bible translations. Obviously the KJV is the official and accepted translation among us old time Anglicans, but as far as manuscript support for it, the Textus Receptus is the life blood of the translation. The mere fact that we have a "received text" would imply that there were texts or manuscripts that weren't received by the church. Was this a decision by one of the Ecumenical Councils, or perhaps later?

    Jeff
     
  2. kestrel

    kestrel Member

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    I don't really think you should get bogged in that question. The differences between manuscripts are not so huge as to imply the creeds are not valid.
     
  3. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I think Erasmus was the first to call it the TR.
     
  4. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    The Textus Receptus is a not the 'text of tradition' so don't get hung up on the title of it. There were no principial editions of the Bible prior to the invention of printing, as they were all hand-written and copied by the monks. That's why textual criticism was so important in the 16th century, as it helped establish the proper principial printed edition.

    Erasmus' 'textus receptus' was one source from which he took the basis for his printed bible, and it stems from the Septuagint. The KJV compilers I believe went to the more accurate jewish textual tradition.
     
  5. Jeff F

    Jeff F Well-Known Member

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    Let me refine my question a bit. Ehrman makes the claim in his book that the scriptures we now hold are so riddled with scribal errors, that it can't be trusted (theological garbage). He cites numerous errors in the different manuscripts, but some of these are ones that were excluded from the cannon. The early church obviously had a process to root out these rogue and/or repetitive texts, I'm just curious who and how. I don't wish to revive a fruitless debate, but rather to rebuke this Princeton educated heretic! ;)

    Jeff
     
  6. Jeff F

    Jeff F Well-Known Member

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    I am a bit confused by that comment. Not the "text of tradition" from antiquity, or from the 16th century? It is also commonly called the Majority Text, and compared to the Wescot & Hort text, it contains more than 95% of existing manuscripts. I'm trying to find the filtering process of the early church, there was a reason the Codex Siniaticus was found in a monastery trash can!:rolleyes:

    Jeff
     
  7. Scottish Knight

    Scottish Knight Well-Known Member

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    I thought the Textus receptus and the majority text were different?

    Found this article on it:

    That the Textus Receptus (TR) resembles the majority text is no accident, since in compiling the TR Erasmus simply used about a half dozen late manuscripts that were available to him. As Hodges points out:
    The reason for this resemblance, despite the uncritical way in which the TR was compiled, is easy to explain. It is this: the textual tradition found in Greek manuscripts is for the most part so uniform that to select out of the mass of witnesses almost any manuscript at random is to select a manuscript likely to be very much like most other manuscripts. Thus, when our printed editions were made, the odds favored their early editors coming across manuscripts exhibiting this majority text. 2
    But the TR is hardly identical with the majority text, for the TR has numerous places where it is supported by few or no Greek manuscripts.
    http://bible.org/article/majority-text-and-original-text-are-they-identical
     
  8. Jeff F

    Jeff F Well-Known Member

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    Maybe the more accurate comment from me should have been that the TR and the Majority Text agree, when compared to the Wescot and Hort manuscripts, which comprise less than 5% of the existing documents. Textual criticism is like any other field I suppose, there are some who totally reject the TR, others who hold it as a pure stream of scripture, and others who ride the fence. One important thing I have noticed with Agnostic critics such as Ehrman, when they claim that there are omissions,additions, and contradictions in the scripture, they are most often comparing the Wescot & Hort manuscripts to the TR or Majority Text, not an exclusive comparison within the MT or TR.:think:

    Jeff
     
  9. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    While Scottish Knight filled in the details of the issue, I thought I'd still say something in general terms -- we have to understand the nature of printing, and the revolution it caused in the nature of transmission of literature. Via printing, it becomes possible to have what's called an 'editio princeps', a foundational edition that can from then on be faultlessly replicated for a million years into the future by a mechanical replication. Prior to printing, no such one central edition could have existed. Monks copied things by hand; they created errors, others after them tried to fix those errors but created others, and especially considering the vast amount of illiteracy in the middle ages (not a problem during the Patristic Era), no authoritative edition could have been possible.

    Furthermore, the monks caused much more harm than they did good. This goes counter to the Roman glorification of tradition, and concomitantly, of a 'traditional edition', a rarefied more-than-commonly sanctified edition, which has been more or less flawlessly passed down the ages? That is the myth we're talking about. Monks inserted errors in many places in Scripture (often times in favor of Papal claims), and one of the major efforts Erasmus and other 16th century scholars did was strip away the errors of the medieval copyists by going back to an edition that was closest in proximity to antiquity (i.e. went through the least amount of copying). It is not an accident that Erasmus is cited as one of the most important causes of the Reformation.
     
  10. Jeff F

    Jeff F Well-Known Member

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    I've been trying to research that very aspect of the canon, and information (not opinion) is scarce, but there seemed to be an authorized collection of manuscripts that was generally accepted. Several of the councils dealt with this issue, so there had to be something. This is where our Eastern Orthodox brothers could shed valuable light on the subject.;)

    Jeff
     
  11. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    The problem is, how could such an authorized collection of manuscripts have existed? What would its accuracy be checked against? There was no scholarship in the 12th century. Let's say you found a Carolingian manuscript that was highly revered in a nearby monastery or something -- how could you possibly know or check whether it corresponded to the ancient texts or not?
     
  12. Jeff F

    Jeff F Well-Known Member

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    Maybe we could start by determining what the councils were looking at in the early conventions. Also, as the liturgies started emerging (St. basil and Chrysostom) they were quoting scripture.

    Jeff
     
  13. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Right, the history of manuscripts in the Patristic era is markedly different from that of the Middle Ages. Not only were they exponentially closer to the Source, but also had much higher rates of literacy, and critical scholarship. One of Augustine's arguments against the heretics who claimed that the Bible had inconsistencies was this:

    "If we are perplexed by an apparent contradiction in Scripture, it is not allowable
    to say, 'The author of this book is mistaken;' but either the manuscript is faulty, or the
    translation is wrong, or you have not understood."

    Here you can see the reference to manuscripts and a critical discernment which should astound moderns today.
     
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  14. Jeff F

    Jeff F Well-Known Member

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    Gents, I really could use some help here, I have paroused numerous outlines and synopsis's of the Ecumenical Councils, and I cannot find a single reference to them voting or determining the cannon of scripture. Can anyone shed some light on this question?

    Jeff
     
  15. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I'm sorry, my friend. I wish I were more of an expert in this subject, in order to help you.

    One thing is sure; Eusebius of Caesarea (A.D. 320s) quotes Melito of Sardis attesting to the Old Canon.

    Ecclesiastical History – Book 4, chapter 26

    Letter to his brother Onesimus (written around A.D. 160s-170s)

    When I went East [...] I learned accurately the books of the Old Testament, and send them to thee as written below. Their names are as follows: Of Moses, five books: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy; Jesus Nave, Judges, Ruth; of Kings, four books; of Chronicles, two; the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon also called Wisdom, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job; of Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah; of the twelve prophets, one book; Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras.

    Speaking of the New Testament, the Four Gospels were the only ones quoted by any Father, along with the thirteen Epistles of Paul, 1 Peter, and 1 John. This core of writings is constantly referenced across the spectrum. There was never any doubt.

    Athanasius says, in the 39th Festal letter (A.D. 360s):

    It is not tedious to speak of the New Testament. These are, the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Afterwards, the Acts of the Apostles and Epistles (called Catholic), seven, viz. of James, one; of Peter, two; of John, three; after these, one of Jude. In addition, there are fourteen Epistles of Paul, written in this order. The first, to the Romans; then two to the Corinthians; after these, to the Galatians; next, to the Ephesians; then to the Philippians; then to the Colossians; after these, two to the Thessalonians, and that to the Hebrews; and again, two to Timothy; one to Titus; and lastly, that to Philemon. And besides, the Revelation of John.

    That's the entire New Testament set out before Hippo, and before Carthage. Now, we just gotta find out where Athanasius got his convictions. :p
     
  16. Jeff F

    Jeff F Well-Known Member

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    Interesting and very helpful Consular! I see from numerous sources that the Vulgate was in place in the 4th century, but I can find no information on it's assembly or acceptance.:think:

    Jeff
     
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  17. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Isn't St Jerome credited with its translation & compilation? He died in 420, so his greatest work was from 400-415.

    This is something I've done a little bit of work on. Here's a compilation of what I've found so far:

    http://anglicanum.wordpress.com/the-canon/

    Most of the Fathers seem focused on the Old Testament, when compiling their lists. Origen describes the O.T. canon in the 240s, but no list of the New. It seems to have been assumed by everyone already. Note that in Ignatius of Antioch's letters, he never quotes anything but that which became canon later.
     
  18. Jeff F

    Jeff F Well-Known Member

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    Yes, and from what I see he was commissioned by the Pope in the 380's to make the translation. Manuscript support appeared to be from the Vaticanus text.

    Jeff
     
  19. Jeff F

    Jeff F Well-Known Member

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    "My dear friend, surely you jest. All of the NT books were written before the end of the first century."


    First let me clarify my response. Written and gathered as canon are two totally different statements. If you are claiming that the canon was assembled by the end of the 1st century, you alone would hold that belief. Even conservative, fundamental scholars and textual critics such as those at Dallas Theological Seminary agree that only individual letters existed that early, but they were separated by geographic boundaries, and limited to hand copied versions in later years. I've included a text from Dr. Metzger's book on New Testament History.


    Many Christians today may think that the canon of the New Testament simply appeared on the scene one day, soon after the death of Jesus, but nothing could be farther from the truth. As it turns out, we are able to pinpoint the first time that any Christian of record listed the 27 books of our New Testament as the books of the New Testament. Surprising as it may seem, this Christian was writing in the second half of the fourth century, nearly three hundred years after the books had been written. The author was the powerful Bishop of Alexandria named Athanasius. In the year 367 CE Athanasius wrote his annual pastoral letter to the Egyptian churches under his jurisdiction, and in it he included advice concerning which books should be read as scripture in the churches. He lists our current twenty-seven books, excluding all others."
     
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  20. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    There were 3 umpires who were talking about how good they were, how they respect ‘truth’ and the way things ‘really’ are. One said, "I calls 'em like I sees 'em". The other says, "I calls 'em the way they are.’ The third one, who had been in the business for decades, said, ‘They ain’t nothing till I calls 'em."

    I wonder which umpire we're most like...
     

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