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Textual Criticism Questions:


Below are e-mails I received in 2002 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.

>Subject: Majority Text Society has an address on the Web

Dear Gary,

Just thought you'd like to know the Majority Text Society has just gone public with a new website. And yes we do have a link back to you, under our "Resources" page. The official URL is http://www.MajorityText.org . Take a look.... thanks for thinking of us.


Thanks for letting me know. I will check it out and add a link to the site as soon as I am able.

>Subject: Bible preference among Christian scholars?

Hi Gary

-If you are right that the Majority texts are the most reliable Greek texts, why have so few Christian scholars seen this?<

I really can't say. A lot of it has to do with what they have been taught. When I was in seminary I was taught that the CT was to be preferred without any credence given to the MT position. It is somewhat similar to most scientists believing in evolution while most have probably have never even heard the arguments for a creationist position.

>-Is what the KJO's claim about Origen true, that is that he was not a Christian, and that he changed or in some way tampered with what we call the CT?<

Whether Origin was a Christian or not I cannot say. I leave such judgments in the hands of the only One capable of making them. But I have never seen any evidence that Origin purposely corrupted the Scriptures.

> As I understand it that is the main argument against the CT.<

Given that I had never even heard of this claim before, I don't think so. There are many and varied evidences for the MT. I discuss these in detail in my Bible versions book.

>There is a lot of really helpful information on your web-site, especially about Bible versions, which is what I have been looking at, but it sure looks like there is much more than that. <

There are over 900 pages on my site, plus eight books and eBooks available. So yes, there is a lot more on it than just the info about Bible versions.

>I like what you write and I am inclined to trust it because you really appear to really know what you are writing about and you have the fruit of the Spirit.

Yours in Christ,
David from Denmark

Thank you for the kind comments.

>Subject: Number of Alexandrian mss

I would really appreciate if you could help me determine what the exact (or appr.) number of Alexandrian manuscripts is. I know people use the phrase "a handful", but that isn't helpful. Do you know?


A chart accompanying my UBS Greek text indicates there are 14 such mss. But this includes three that are only fragments and three that include only one or two of the Gospels. Hodges and Farstad's MT lists 9 such mss. But five of these only include 2 or 3 books and others part but not all of the NT.

They use different abbreviations, so its hard to tell for which mss they overlap. So the best I can say is it's somewhere between 9-14, but for any given book, it would be even less given that only a few contain most or all of the NT.

And note, these numbers are only for Greek NT mss. They do not include lectionaires, early translations, or the writings of Church Fathers.


I read on your web site about the Majority Text Society in Dallas. Does it still exist? What are its purpose and activities? Can everybody become member? Who is already member? <

Yes, it still exists. It was inactive for a while after the death of Farstad, but I recently received a newsletter from them. You can contact them at:

Majority Text Society
PO Box 141289
Dallas, TX 75238-1289

They will be able to answer your questions better than I.

>What about the Logos 21 translation? I read, it is continued by Holman, but on the basis of CT (NA27/UBS4). Is that true????<

Unfortunately, yes it is. And it was renamed something like "The Holman Study Bible."

>Thanks, and God's rich blessing

>Hello Gary:

Two important variants not seen in the CT but found in the Majority Greek Text and evidenced in the King James Version and the New King James (with footnotes in the latter). I checked the Jerusalem Bible, the NASB, the NLT, the NRSV and the NIV (classical modern CT translations) and both of these passages are not found:

Luke 24:42 - and some honeycomb<

I will add this one to my list of Important Textual Variants.

>Revelation 4:8 - The Greek MT has nine (9) holies:

Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God, the Almighty,
He was, He is, and He will come (or: He is to come/become).

Note on Jerusalem Bible: Liturgical Trisagion or Sanctus. (Personally, I follow the MT on the nine sanctus). Both of these verses are footnoted on the NKJV. Please note.

La Mirada, California

This variant is actually one of the few places where Robinson and Pierpont's MT (which the ALT is based on) and Hodges and Farstad's MT (which the NKJV footnotes are taken from) differ. R&P's MT only has three "holy's" while H&F's MT has the nine "holy's." Since my textual variant list is based on R&P's MT it would not be accurate to add this variant.

I discuss the differences between these two MTs in the chapter on "Meaning of Majority Text in my Bible versions book. But, unfortunately, I missed this variant in my list of variants between these two texts at the end of the chapter.

>Shlama Bro. Gary,

I took some tips from Paul Younan concerning 2nd Thes. 2:15. The KJV renders "traditions" from the Greek word paradoseis. The Aramaic Peshitta is totally different. 0ndqwp (puq-da-ne) is the word used in Peshitta and means "commandments." Mark 7:8 is a powerful verse to consider in reference to this verse.


Early translations of the NT have very limited value in textual criticism. What the Greek text has is vastly more important. And in this case, the Greek manuscript evidence is unanimous for "traditions." So I would not alter the interpretation on the very shaky textual evidence of an Aramaic translation.

As for Mark 7:8, it is referring to traditions that are in conflict with the commandments of God, while Paul is referring to the God-given teachings that he had given the Thessalonians while in Thessalonica or in his first epistle to them.

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