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What are autographs?

the original documents


What are manuscripts?

hand-written copy of the originals


What is the need for textual criticism?

Sometimes, the copies do not agree with each other.


What is textual criticism?

The practice of comparing the various copies of a work in order to determine, as best as possible, the exact wording of an original text that is either undiscovered or no longer exists.


What are the types of Ancient Documents we have?

  1. Greek Manuscripts
    • Papyri
    • Majuscules (uncials)
    • Minuscules
  2. Ancient Translations
    • Latin (esp. Vulgate)
    • Syriac
    • Coptic
    • Armenian
    • others
  3. Patristic Citations
    • Irenaeus
    • Clement of Alexandria
    • Origen
    • Athanasius
    • others


What is a papyrus?

An ancient form of paper-like material.

Comprise some of the oldest manuscripts available for scrutiny.


What are majuscules (uncials)?

The earliest codices (pages bound into books).

Were written in capital letters, with no spacing, division or punctuation.


What are minuscules?

Manuscripts written in lowercase, cursive style developed in the eighth or ninth century.

Collected in families.


What are the most important uncials?


  • Sinaiticus (א/o1)
  • Alexandrinus (A/02)
  • Vaticanus (B/03)
  • Ephraemi Rescriptus (C/04)
  • Bezae (D/05)
  • Washingtonianus (W/032)


All these are from the fourth or fifth century.


What are the most important families of minuscules?

Families 1-13


Why is the Syriac translation important?

Syriac vocabulary and syntax are close to Aramaic. Its rendering may give us a nuance of Jesus's words that the Greek might not.


Why are the citations of the church fathers limited?

Because we do not always know how literally they were "quoting" the Bible, and they were not based in what we would consider "reliable" manuscripts of their day.


What are textual variants or variant readings?

A change in a letter, word, phrase, or even additions or omissions of whole sentences and paragraphs (although these are rare).


What are the two places where textual variants affect whole paragraphs?

  1. The longer ending of the Gospel of Mark (Mark 16:9-20)
  2. The account of the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53-8:11)


What are the different dimensions of originality?

  1. Precanonical original
  2. Author's original
  3. Canonical original
  4. Interpretive original


What is the precanonical original?

The earliest stages in the composition of what later would become the canonical text.


What is the author's original?

The text as it was was when it left the hands of the author and was delivered to the recipients.


What is the canonical original?

The text when it was recognized as authoritative or its canonicity was established.


What is the interpretive original?

Scripture as it came to be known and used in the life, instruction and worship of the church throughout its history.


Which original are we trying to find in the textual criticism?

The second one, the author's original.


In what three ways is biblical textual criticism distinguished from other textual criticism?

  1. The wealth of copies available for scrutiny is far greater for the NT.
    • Although a blessing, this creates complexity
  2. Even when there are multiple manuscripts, there is a considerable time gap between the autographs and the manuscript.
  3. The conviction that the Bible is the very word of God.


What are the three types of textual variants?

  1. Insignificant variants that do little to change the meaning of the text.
    • Scribal errors of omission, additions of letters, misspellings, etc.
  2. Variants that affect the meaning of the text but are unattested or poorly attested in the best manuscripts.
    • scribal decisions to add or omit words in order to make certain texts harmonize more easily.
  3. Variants that significantly affect the meaning of the text and are well attested.


What are the three major Text Types?

  1. Alexandrian
  2. Western 
  3. Bizantine


What are the characteristics of the Alexandrian?

  1. Copied with meticulous care and accuracy
  2. Earliest exemplars are dated to the second century.
  3. Preferred over Western and Bizantine for reason #1


What are some examples of the Alexandrian?

  1. 𝔓 45, 46, 47, 66, 72, 75
  2. Codex
    • Sinaiticus
    • Vaticanus
    • Alexandrinus
    • Ephraemi Rescriptus
    • Washingtonianus
  3. Various Coptic Translations
  4. Minuscules
    • 33
    • 81
    • 892


What are some characteristics of the Western?

  1. Early dating (some as early as second century)
  2. Use of loose paraphrase, harmonization with other NT texts
  3. Inclusion of extra or explanatory material


What are some examples of the Western?

  1. 𝔓 37, 38, 48, 69
  2. Codex Bezae (D)
  3. Old Latin or italic manuscripts


What are some characteristics of the Byzantine (Majority Text)?

  1. Continual development from the third century through the Middle Ages
  2. Clarity and completeness
  3. Conflated preexistent divergent readings by expanding the text and smoothing out word difficulties
  4. Became the dominant Greek text type from the seventh century onward
  5. Represent 80% of existing manuscripts today


What are some examples of the Byzantine type?

  1. Over 80 % of minuscules 
  2. Textus Receptus


What is the Textus Receptus?

A collection of very similar Byzantine manuscripts on which Reformation-era translations were largely based.

  • King James
  • Reina Valera
  • Lutherbibel