Darkness to Light Home Page

Books and eBooks by the Director

Textual Criticism Questions:


Below are e-mails I received in 2001 asking questions about textual criticism. The e-mailers’ questions and comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.

>Dear Sir:

Could you answer or direct me to information explaining the the translation of Rev. 8:13 which in the KJV is "angel" and in all other translation I can find is "eagle."

Thank you,

It is a textual variant. The Majority Text and Critical Text have "eagle" while the Textus Receptus has "angel."

>Gary, two MT readings are problematical for me:

1. Luke 3:33. NKJV Greek-English interlinear and WEB include the name of mysterious "Joram". It is not in the genealogies of Matthew or OT. Why does ALT omit it? The CT reading is plainly erroneous, but I was disappointed when I found that the MT reading is not without problems, either.<

This is a difference between Hodges and Farstad's MT that the NKJV Interlinear uses and the Byzantine MT of Robison and Peirpont that I used. Why the WEB has the former I'm not sure as it is supposed to be based on the Byzantine MT.

I list this variant in the list of variants between these two MTs at the end of the chapter "Meaning of Majority Text" in my Bible versions book.

> 2. Acts 12:25. The reading of the TR "from" seems to be more reasonable, but the MT/CT reading "to" is somewhat problematical. Is the textual evidence in these cases overwhelming, or only nearly-divided?<

In both cases the evidence is nearly divided.

>Thank you, Gary. I will pray for your health.


Thank you for the prayers.

>Hi Gary. My NKJV does not mention any textual variances in 1Cor 7:34, but translations in NASB and NIV are quite different. Do you have any info about this?


There is a textual variant here, even if the NKJV doesn't mention it.

>Hi Gary!

Hope you are doing well with your life and your ministry!

I would like to ask you a question that has been bothering me for a long time. You know there are quotations of OT in the NT. However, these quotes comes from the LXX [Septuagint] version of the GT. What I think is a little strange is that some verses that the NT quotes contain not the same words that the Masoretic OT, which is used in the modern Bibles. They are instead following the LXX-version.

Why is there a difference between LXX and Masoretic text? And, in the light of the above, do you think the LXX is a good OT-version for us today, or should we stick to the Masoretic text anyway?

I hope you have time to answer my mail.

God Bless Highly,

The NT used the LXX simply because that is the version that most people at the time were familiar with. By NT times most Jews let alone Greeks did not know Hebrew. So to quote from the Hebrew text would have been like someone quoting from a Spanish Bible to me. Since I don't know Spanish, it would be meaningless. So they used the best translation of the Hebrew text that they had available.

It's no different from me today quoting from the NKJV. That doesn't mean I think the NKJV is more reliable than the Hebrew or Greek text, it's just that since most people don't know these languages, I need to use a version in a language they know.

>I am halfway through your book of Bible versions. I am enjoying all your research. I have the Bible Library CD ROM, and wondered if you have any info on the Morris Literal Translation that is on this program. All I want to know is what text it is based on. I couldn't find any info online, or at the Christian bookstore today. My pastor has no info on it either. You'd think the CD cover would tell something. Let me know if you know where I could find out IF you have time! Please don't worry about it if you don't.


I'm not familiar with this version. But to check what text it's based on, check verses with obvious variants like John 3:13 (the TR/ MT includes the phrase "who is in heaven" while the CT does not) or 1Tim 3:16 (TR/ MT: "God" - CT - "who").

Additional variants to check are included in the chapters on variants in my Bible versions book and many more are listed in the appendix to my translation.

>Dear Gary,

James Trimm, and possibly others, believe the N.T. was written in Aramaic. Greek documents would then be translations. In light of Irenaeus' statement that Matthew wrote a Gospel for the Hebrews in their own dialect ( Irenaeus, Against Heresies Book 3, chapter 1:1), does Trimm make an unreasonable assertion?

Thank you for your time, Steve.


The only evidence for this idea is the one you cite. And note, that is only for Matthew; Irenaeus does not mention any other NT books. And no other Church Father mentions even this idea. But most of all, there are NO Aramaic manuscripts of the NT that are not later translations of the Greek text. ALL of the evidence is that the NT books were originally written in Greek. Since most of them were written to Gentiles not Jews, it would not have made sense for them to be in any language other than Greek, the universal language of the time. Paul definitely would not have been writing in Aramaic to the Gentile Corinthians, for instance.

>Hello Mr. Zeolla,

I have been studying some of the points on dtl.org for a few weeks now. It is stated it can be reasonably concluded the Alexandrian manuscripts weren't used by scribes because they were corrupt. If they were corrupt, why wouldn't the scribes destroy them? I would think if there were corrupted copies of God's word going around, moves would be made to eliminate them.

Or is it possible most of them were eliminated, these two survived? Thanks for any replies you may send. I've been studying this issue for a year now, and I'm still undecided. It seems to me the history of the Textus Receptus is jaded at best.


With the amount of time, effort, and money it takes to make a copy of the NT, the scribes were probably hesitant to destroy any, even corrupted ones. But it seems like they did try to "correct" Aleph and Beta, hence where there's so many correcting hands on them.

Thanks. I personally also think the New King James is the best translation, and it' s the one I primarily use. It bothers me a great deal though that the KJV crowd will not accept it.

I hope you had a great Good Friday and Resurrection Day! In Christ. ....


I discuss the reason the KJV onlyists don't accept the NKJV in my upcoming Bible versions book , along with refuting their arguments.

>Hello Gary,

Could you throw some light on the textual situation of Acts 20:28. In TR this is a proof-text of Christ's deity. In Finnish CT Bibles it is not, however:"...shepherd the church which Lord has purchased with his own blood". You see, "God" is not mentioned here. ALT variant list doesn't show this difference. MT also varies from TR here (...of the Lord and God, NKJV footnote). What is the manuscript evidence for each reading? And your opinion about this passage?...<

There are four variants seen in the mss on this passage: "of God," "of the Lord," "of the Lord and God," and "of the Lord the God." The Alexandrian mss are split between the first two and the Byzantine mss between the latter two.  

So which "pair" would contain the correct reading depends on which family of mss one considers most reliable. But determining which one of the pair is the correct reading is very difficult. With the mss evidence divided, the only thing a textual critic can do is appeal to "internal evidence." but his is meant, guessing as to in which the direction a scribe would most likely change the reading. Needless to say, this can get rather conjectural, hence the variety of readings. 

The most recent CT scholars figured that a scribe would most likely change "God" to "Lord" given the difficulty of saying God has blood (with the scribe not thinking of the incarnation; from Metzger's "Textual Commentary on the Greek NT.") But why the Byzantine based MT chose the first of the last two options I'm not sure. It is probably a toss-up.  

But it should be noted that three of the four options do have "God" in them, so the reading with just "the Lord" is most likely incorrect. And note, there is one article before "Lord and God" in the first Byzantine reading. This indicates that one Person is being referred to by both terms (Granville Sharp Rule). And the second, the way it is worded, it also refers to one Person. So three of the four options make this a proof text for Christ's deity. Only the one the Finnish Bibles uses does not. But it's the one that seems less likely. 

> I also want to tell that I have enjoyed your site a lot! ...< 

Thank you. 

>May God bless you! Thank you in advance!

I hope the above helps.

Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light

Bible Versions Controversy: Greek Text Types
Bible Versions Controversy

Text Search      Alphabetical List of Pages      Subject Index
General Information on Articles      Contact Information

Darkness to Light Home Page

Click Here for Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla