I’m directing this year’s New Testament study at my church, and one of the things I’m doing in my personal study is learning some of the greek to read the text directly (I doubt I’ll bring the greek up in the classes, but I would like to pursue it for myself). (Side note: I use the KJV for study, and it’s the official translation used in our church–LDS.)
Anyway, I’ve got a program which is taking me through the basics. Also, I have a copy of both the Textus Receptus (TR) and the Wescott-Hort (WH) text. Finally, my MIL picked up a copy of a NT which has the KJV, NIV and greek text together (the greek text is a majority vote between TR, WH, and Tischendorf’s Codex Sinaiticus, if I understand all of this).
A friend at work made some discouraging comments about WH, and I did some searching on the web to see what the fuss was. Wow was I not prepared for all that. It looks like WH is a target for Fundamentalists as basically an agenda driven manuscript. Of course, what I don’t understand is how a manuscript can be agenda-driven. I realize there must have been variations with every written copy (errors, etc.) but I’m not familiar with this stuff to figure out which references are academic and which are polemic. (Though Jack Chick seems to have a major problem with WH–which in my book is a vote in favor of the work.)
Which are the best texts? Is the “majority vote” text I have useful, or are there too many variations to form a coherent document this way? Are the criticisms about WH accurate, or just polemic?
The textual apparatus in the Nestle-Aland Greek NT is pretty clear and easy-to-use. I understand that they started out with the Westcott & Hort, if that means anything. I’m not aware of any huge problems… what would be the “agenda” driving it?
Textual variants, IMHO, are a part of the landscape that keep things interesting. Otherwise, the whole study thing would get bland pretty quickly.
My take on it is to go with the consensus text until you get to a really interesting variant, then dig in there and explore.
Now that I’m home and can look at the book directly, I realize that the volume I have is in fact a Nestle New Testament–using WH, Tischendorf and Weiss. The Textus Receptus isn’t referred to at all, though I have a computer program that has the TR and WH as well as several translations.
Nestle-Aland is considered standard, although there’s really nothing wrong with Westcott-Hort. W-H is the basis for most modern translations, including the NIV. The fundie objections to W-H seem to be that it is compiled from Alexandrian manuscripts rather than “God’s Antiochan” (KJV source). Alexandrian tends to be a little shorter and less ornate than Western texts. Most of the varients in W-H are minor differences in word order. W-H is still considered quite accurate, although it has a few scattered errors.
Notice that the Chick site’s “critique” of W-H seemed to consist primarily of ad hominem attacks on the character of Westcott and Hort than on any meaningful scholarship. They are described right off the bat as “non-Christian Anglican ministers,” (if Angicans aren’t Christians, what are they?) and dig this line at the end: “Sadly, both men died having never known the joy and peace of claiming Jesus Christ as their Saviour.”
So this probably tells you how seriously you should take the fundie criticism. If Chick thinks that Anglicans aren’t Christian, imagine what he thinks of LDS.
Actually, you don’t have to imagine it. Here’s one of his slimy tracts about it. :rolleyes:
I’m sure he must have a tract
My copy of the Nestle-Aland lists all the chief variants of any passage at the bottom of each page, so that if you have a preferred codex or manuscript, you can always substitute the one you prefer. I would have thought that WH does something similar.
(Nestle-Aland also comes under fire from some quarters for “preferring” the Sinaiticus or Vaticanus in the body of the text. However, since the alternatives are all printed on the same page (with attribution)–and since the actual differences are negligible–I find most such complaints silly.)
I think the answer is pretty well covered – and with more scholarly clarity than I could have essayed without research.
Key point is that the TR is majoritarian – the preferred rendering used in the text is that from a majority of manuscripts. Unfortunately, scholarship since it was compiled has demonstrated that the majority of the manuscripts derive from one or a few sources, and perpetuate scribal errors in transcription. So the more modern renderings (such as WH and NA) go for the readings of the oldest Uncial manuscripts where there is variation in the possible readings – and generally adopt a rule of “prefer the more difficult reading” since it is far more likely a scribe misread an unclearly worded passage as something that makes more sense than the other way around.