Byzantine Vs. Alexandrian: What is the correct text-type?

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Byzantine Vs. Alexandrian: What is the correct text-type?

Post by Pensees »

Of the early versions of the New Testament, there are three main text-types, namely the Alexandrian, Byzantine and Western. Like the available text-types of Homer's Oddessey, one appeares to be an abridged version, the Alexandrian, one contains expansions upon the original, the Western, and the other, the Byzantine, appears to be the middleground between the two, and therefore the most likely to represent the original autograph.

Under modern textual criticism, however, the Alexandrian, due to its possessing the oldest available manuscripts, is considered the most reliable text-type. If I am not mistaken, however, the Byzantine textform is the canonical New Testament of Eastern Orthodoxy, which has been preserved since the beginning of the faith. If that is incorrect, please correct me.

We'd have nothing to lose in our faith if the Alexandrian were the original, and it agrees with the Byzantine 85% of the time. I prefer the Byzantine because it appears to be more doctrinally pure and higher in quality of transmission, but I could be wrong.

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Post by Climacus »

If I am not mistaken, however, the Byzantine textform is the canonical New Testament of Eastern Orthodoxy, which has been preserved since the beginning of the faith.
I don't think the Byzantine text could have been preserved since the 'beginning of the faith' (ie: from the time of the apostles) for the simple reason that there is no proof that it existed prior to the 5th century, with most of it only appearing in the 9th century.

Of course, I suppose that some Orthodox people could just accept a priori that it is the correct manuscript tradition. Some Baptist groups approach the issue in much the same way.

I think it would be unwise, however, to ignore the evidence at hand and proceed along with blind faith, especially since the major rival textual tradition came from the venerable patriarchate of Alexandria.


Post by Christophoros »

The Ecumenical Patriarchate published the definitive Greek text of the New Testament for Orthodox Christians in 1904. The Patriarchal Text is clearly of a Byzantine text type. Here is what the introduction to the Eastern / Greek Orthodox Bible has to say:

"The translation of the New Testament included in the EOB is based on the official Greek text published by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1904 (Patriarchal Text or PT). During the Turkish occupation of the Greek lands, various editions of the NT had been published with significant variants. In 1902, in order to ensure ecclesiastical harmony, the Ecumenical Patriarchate appointed a committee whose task was to publish a common and official text. This committee retired to Mount Athos and studied about 20 major Byzantine manuscripts from which they adopted one, yet taking into consideration significant variants from other manuscripts. This text, which is very close to the so-called Majority Text (MT), was published for the first time in 1904. It has been since then adopted by all Greek-speaking Orthodox Churches (Constantinople, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Greece, Cyprus, and Crete). Its purpose is not to offer an always speculative reconstruction of the original autographs but to provide a uniform ecclesiastical text which is a reliable and accurate witness to the truth of the Christian faith... The majority of all (Greek) manuscripts available today belong to the
Byzantine type. They are all very close to the Textus Receptus which underlies the KJV/NKJV, to the Majority Text which is reconstructed based on the majority of manuscripts, and to the Patriarchal Text. The Patriarchal Text of 1904 is indeed extremely close to modern editions of the Majority Text, such as the Hodges & Farstad of 1982 and Pierpont & Robinson of 1991."

Those who criticize the usage of the NKJV translation in the Orthodox Study Bible should take particular note of the last sentence. The underlying Greek text of the NKJV is precisely the Hodges and Farstad edition cited as being "extremely close" to the Patriarchal Text. Peter Papoutsis also says this regarding the Textus Receptus, which the Hodges and Farstad edition recreates, when introducing his own upcoming New Testament translation: "Although the Patriarchal text is the base text in the present translation, any and all variations between the Patriarchal text and the Textus Receptus Greek New Testament will be noted in footnotes, although the variation between the two are extremely minimal except for the book of Revelations that shows appreciable variations throughout all Greek New Testament manuscripts."

Another testimony to the near identical nature of the "Majority Text" of the KJV and NKJV is found in Richard Andersen's Critical Review of the Orthodox New Testament, where he asks: "How Close is the COG Text [The Church of Greece text, a.k.a., Patriarchal Text] to the TEXTUS RECEPTUS? 'Pretty close'... about as unscientific an answer as one can give, but it gets the point across. In general, the two recently-published 'Majority Texts' and
the COG Text are almost identical to the Textus Receptus underlying the King James Version. Most differences are minor, involving the spelling of words, word order, and substitution of synonyms here and there."

Post by Euthymios »

"The King James Version Debate," by D.A. Carson

"The King James Only Controvery," by James White.

Both these books will explain all this stuff.
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