Jonathan Bailey jonathan.bailey at
Sat Nov 6 16:55:17 EST 1999

You seem to be pretty much on track except that the NIV is a Critical Text bible.

Remember, CT is based on a small number of older manuscripts, the MT is based on 
a large number of late manuscripts, and the TR is based on a small number of late 
manuscripts, which are a decent representative of the MT except for Revelation (in 
which it more resembles the TR) and a few pearl verses (like 1 John 5:7) which are 
completely unique to a very few (or sometimes none at all!) witnesses.

The TR and MT people are very similar in the philosophical foundations for their 
choices. The CT people are playing a different ball game. The CT people tend to look 
at the scribal process as the ultimate regulator of scripture, and according to these 
processes (errors occur over time and texts get tampered with over time) they tend 
to think that the older the manuscript, the better, and even if there are 5000 later ones 
that are different, the fact that tampering occurs over time means the older ones 
should be preferred.

The TR and MT people take a primarily theological argument (though the Darwinist 
view of the CT people is something of a theology of its own). They believe that God 
would preserve his word, and therefore, the text traditions that are few in number are 
more likely to be the corruptions. The TR people go even further than the MT people 
by saying that the inherent truth of a verse (which anyone with the Holy Spirit can 
see) is what should determine its originality. So when one reads a verse like 1 John 
5:7, one should pray about it, and if the Holy Spirit tells you it is true, then it belongs in 
the bible. The TR people tell us that only God really knows the whole history of the text 
transmission, and even though logic tells us that it is more likely that 1 John 5:7 was 
not in the original bible because it is not in the oldest manuscripts we have, nor in the 
majority of witnesses we have, since we don't know EVERYTHING about the history 
of the text, who is to say that for some cockeyed reason, the verse didn't get wiped 
out very early, only to be preserved in the Latin, and then reintroduced later by 
Erasmus to its righful place in the Greek. They would say that since we know that the 
trinity is true, and it glorifies God/Christ, then the verse must belong in the bible. So 
their philosophy is similar to the MT philosophy, only that they take it to the extreme of 
leaving all scholarship behind when the Holy Spirit tells them to. We don't know 
everything about the text, so we just have to trust what God gave us.

Now is it clear how your (accurate) observations are working out? Yes, the CT is 
favored by the scholars. Incidentally, the NA text is German, and German scholars 
have even a harder time than the Americans with believing in God or the inspiration of 
the bible. The most popular MT that I know of (Hodges and Farstad) was put together 
by moderate to conservative evangelicals. They do share the view of the CT guys, 
however, that only the original documents are inspired, and our current text is the 
best porrible approximation. The TR guys believe that our Erasmus text, and the KJV 
that is based on it (sort of....the KJV has all sorts of influences, to include Latin and 
Syriac text families) is the text that God gave us, and where the originals disagree 
with them, well, the originals are wrong.

That last sentence from me was a bit overboard, but I am just trying to give you a 
sense of the flavor of it all.

---------- Original Message ----------


>Can someone tell me in broad-brush terms why there are 3 eclectic (I think
>I know what that means...) texts in current use, and who uses which?  I've
>gotten impressions from the discussions here and elsewhere, but decided to
>finally just ask the question that it seems everyone else already knows the
>answer to.

>This is a matter of practical importance, in that my main work is
>facilitating Bible study groups, and we often use interlinear Bibles.  The
>ones I have handy are

>1) Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, KJV, Baker Book House 1985
>reprint of copyright 1897 edition.  It's based on the Textus Receptus. 

>2) NKJV Greek English Interlinear New Testament, Thomas Nelson Publishers,
>1994.  It's based on the Majority Text.   The introduction says:
>"Today, scholars agree that the science of New Testament textual criticism
>is in a state of flux.  Very few scholars still favor the Textus Receptus
>as such, and then often only for its historical prestige as the text of
>Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Tyndale, and the King James Version.  For about a
>century most have followed a Critical Text (so called because it is edited
>according to specific principles of textual criticism) which depends
>heavily upon the Alexandrian type of text.  More recently many have
>abandoned this Critical Text ... for one that is more eclectic (selecting
>readings from various sources).  Finally, a small but growing number of
>scholars prefer the Majority Text, which is close to the traditional text
>except in the Revelation."

>        QUESTION:   Would the UBS/NA text be what this author is calling
>the Critical Text, or the "more eclectic" text?  What's the other one?

>3) Also we often use Strong's Concordance numbers, which I suppose are
>based on the TR.

>4) Then I have my handy UBS Bible from seminary Greek class, and my
>BibleWindows program, which both use the same text as the Nestle-Aland.

>I've come to believe that this is mainly a political matter.  It seems like
>"regular old people" who patronize Bible bookstores in small towns mainly
>use the KJV and NIV as their English translations, and these bookstores,
>when they carry anything in Greek at all, have interlinear Bibles based on
>either the TR or the MT.  And Strong's Concordance, of course.

>Then in academic bookstores and university/(liberal) seminary classes, they
>seem to use the NRSV or other recent non-NIV critical editions for the
>English, and UBS/NA for the Greek, with nary an interlinear or Strong's in
>sight.  Learn it all, learn it right, or forget it.

>Based on this limited data the basic division between the masses and the
>elite seems pretty clear.  I guess the masses (or their publishers and
>teachers) think the elite is going off into la-la land, leaving the Truth
>of Scripture far behind.  And I guess the elite think the masses are, well,

>Does the above seem accurate?  Also, can anyone help me distinguish between
>groups (denominations, seminaries, scholars ... ?) who favor the MT vs the
>TR and vice versa?  

>I'm sorry for being flippant, but hardly anybody ever talks about these
>differences openly, and most people seem only to know their own group's
>point of view.  I feel frankly bewildered by the diversity of texts, and
>want to be a bridge among people from the different groups.  This subject
>comes up almost every week, when the Living Bible guy has a clause that's
>not in the RSV guy's Bible, and the Greek texts we've brought along for
>reference don't agree either.  We understand that "ancient manuscripts
>differ,"  but we're trying to understand the pattern of the differences and
>why the different scholarly groups behind our various Bible editions chose
>as they did, in social and political terms.  We understand why there's an
>NIV as opposed to an RSV, we're trying to go beyond that.


>Susan Jeffers

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