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Textual Criticism Questions:


Below are e-mails I received in 2003 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: WEB Version


I love your books and website! I read your review on the World English Version and I have some questions. The WEB is based on the American Standard Version. I have read that The English Revised Version (RV), directed by Westcott and Hort, was released in 1881 (NT) and 1885 (whole Bible). Their American counterparts released an American version of that work in 1901, which was the American Standard Version (ASV). In 1960, the Lockman Foundation released the New American Standard Version (NASV). Now, the World English Bible (WEB) has been released.

Now, according to the translator's own page, the ASV "has earned the reputation of being the rock of biblical honesty" (according to whom?). True, the ASV is widely regarded as one of the most literal versions ever. However, it is based on Alexandrian manuscripts for the NT. The WEB translator said he changed words for clarity, i.e. updating old English. And, he says he used the Majority Text for the updates and "major textual variants." That's fine, but what about the remaining main body of the NT that is still based on the Alexandrian text? It appears that the WEB is overwhelming based on the Alexandrian (Critical Texts) texts.

1. Is it true that the WEB only has updates based on the Majority Text but most of the text is from the Critical Texts?

2. Why would you recommend the WEB if this is true?

3. From doing a search on the translator for the WEB, I found that the translator is part of "True Grace Ministries" which is a CHRISTIAN UNIVERSALIST group. I know almost nothing about these people, but I suspect from their statement of faith that they believe ALL PEOPLE are covered by the Cross and will ultimately be saved. Do you know if this is true and could it have influenced the WEB translation?

Thanks for your response!

Thanks for the kind comments. My initial impression was that the WEB was supposed to have been updated to the MT throughout. However, once I had a chance to go over the text, it is clear that it has not been completely updated. As you say, "important variants" have been updated. These would be the ones listed in the first appendix of the second edition of my Analytical-Literal Translation (e.g. John 1:18; 3:13). And even most of the "significant textual variants" have been updated (e.g. John 9:8). But some less significant variants have not been updated (e.g. John 6:51; "I will give" appears twice in the MT but only once in the CT).

With all the important and most of the significant variants being updated, I would say the textual base for the WEB would be adequate for most readers. But if one wants to do a detailed study on the MT versus the CT, then a version like my own that is base strictly on the MT would be needed.

I don't have any details on the beliefs of the translator of the WEB. But I would hope that any personal biases he might have would not have infiltrated the text. I know I made a concerted effort not to let my own beliefs infiltrate my translation. Also, as it was being produced, the WEB was posted on the Web, with impute on the translation coming from many contributors, including me for a short while. So if any such biases had infiltrated the text, someone should have caught it.

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

Bible Versions Controversy: Greek Text Types
Bible Versions Controversy

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