From the Beginning

A STORY OF "TIME" by Trevor Topsfield

Textual Criticism

Textual Criticism is the science of comparing all the various old manuscripts of The Bible and determining how genuine each one is.

There are hundreds of copies and parts of copies found in different places with some differences between them.

One of the reasons this occurs is that they were all hand written and in the copying mistakes were made.

Over the years expert have spent an enormous amount of time studying each of these manuscripts. Where there are differences they to try and sort out what were the original writer’s exact words and what has been changed by someone else.

In The Third Edition of The Greek New Testament, in the upper section of each page is a portion of The New Testament in the Greek language, while in the lower section there is some information concerning the different manuscripts where these differences are found. It is up to the experts in this discipline to evaluate the likelihood of what the original writer wrote.

It is a science which I personally have made no attempt to better their work or even to understand how they came to their conclusions.

There is an evaluation of the text in question and the experts have given it a mark to indicate their final judgment of the particular text or word.

“A” indicates the text is certain

“B” indicates there is some doubt

“C” indicates considerable doubt

“D” Indicates a high degree of doubt

It is my experience that it is best to ignore any words given a “C” or “D” rating, but use all those with an “A” and “B” rating. The complex nature of the work that goes into the decision is so time consuming and therefore the practical solution to simply accept the judgment of those involved with this science.

I will give a few examples:-

The first is the most obvious.

Mark appears to end abruptly at Chapter 16 Verse 8. Why this occurred no-one seems to know, but to overcome this apparent short fall it appears that someone added an extra 11 Verses.

The textual criticism experts have given these an “A” to omit. Therefore they are certain that they are not legitimate.

Anything written in Mark from Chapter 16, Verse 8 cannot be taken as being true.

Speaking in new languages, driving out demons, picking up snakes, drinking deadly poisons and placing hands on sick people (Mark 16;18) could all be fictitious functions if they are not verified somewhere else in The Bible.

There is also the need of Baptism to be added to faith in Jesus Christ for salvation which is found in verse 16 and again if this is not confirmed elsewhere then it too could be false.

Most versions of The Bible recognise this “A” to omit rating in some way, even if it is a footnote on the page of Mark Chapter 8..

However, in most other cases there is no indication that there is a Textual Criticism issue and almost every word regardless of its judgment is included in some English translations.

Another is found in Matthew Chapter 5 Verse 32.

“But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery) (NIV).

The last six words of this verse have a “C” rating

To aid my research I have documented every Greek word as they appear in The New Testament with a short technical description of each one.

An example looks like this:-

0532 kai C conjunction c kai 2532 it connects single words or terms. translated and. also. for. now. ect.
0532 hos C rel pron. who. which r hos 3739 demon. pronoun. this that. rel pron. who which. what. hos de this….that.
0532 ean C a conditional particle x ean 1437 with reference to a future event, it does not determine whether it will,
0532 apolelum C acc sing fem part perf pass t apoluw 0630 to loose from, undo, to set free, to let go, dismiss, bid depart,
0532 gamysy C 3pers sing aor1 subj act v gamew 1060 to lead in marriage. to take a wife. to get married. to marry
0532 moixatai C 3pers sing pres ind v moixaomai 3429 see moixaw, to have unlawful intercouse, commit adultary,

The first column on the left is the Chapter and verse. Therefore 0532 is Chapter 5 Verse 32

The next column is the Greek word as found in The Greek New Testament using an English letter code where:-

a = α alpha       b = β beta      c = θ theta        d =  δ  delta       e  = ε epsilon          f =  φ phi      g = γ  gamma        h = rough breathing        i =  ι iota         j = ψ psi        k = κ kappa          l = λ lambda          m = μ mu         n = ν nu         o = o omicron       p =  π pi          r =  ρ rho    s =  σ sigma           t =  τ tau    u = υ upsilon          v = ξ  xi       w = ω omega         x = χ chi           y = η eta            z = ζ zeta

Also in this column is the Textual Criticism rating when it is needed.  (Note the six “C”s by the last 6 words in this passage) Therefore there is considerable doubt they are authentic.

The third column is the grammatical information of each word (The analytical Greek Lexicon revised 1978 Edition)

The fourth column is the stem of the word found in The Bible.(Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of The New Testament)

The fifth is the number a man called Strong gave to all the stems for easy reference. (There is no number for the definite article so instead of Strong’s number I put in the name of the book)

Last of all is a short English translation of the stem. (Thayer’s/Theological Dictionary of The New Testament)

The passage in Matthew discusses the subject of men who divorced theirs wives, usually for a younger model.

Apparently someone thought this might be grossly unfair to the first wife and so he added these words.

 0532 kai C conjunction c kai 2532 it connects single words or terms. translated and. also. for. now. ect.
0532 hos C rel pron. who. which r hos 3739 demon. pronoun. this that. rel pron. who which. what. hos de this….that.
0532 ean C a conditional particle x ean 1437 with reference to a future event, it does not determine whether it will,
0532 apolelumenyn C acc sing fem part perf pass t apoluw 0630 to loose from, undo, to set free, to let go, dismiss, bid depart,
0532 gamysy C 3pers sing aor1 subj act v gamew 1060 to lead in marriage. to take a wife. to get married. to marry
0532 moixatai C 3pers sing pres ind v moixaomai 3429 see moixaw, to have unlawful intercouse, commit adultary,

kai   conjunction  and

hos relative pronoun who

ean conditional particle maybe yes, maybe no if

apolelumenyn accusative-direct object singular feminine participle-verbal adjective  perfect tense the action continues  passive voice-subject receives action being loosed from

gamysy 3 person singular aorist tense-an action active voice-subject does the action. His marriage

moixatai 3person singular present tense indicative mood-a statement they commits adultery

And if being loosed or released from his marriage they commit adultery.

The subject of Matthew 5:31+32 was a problem at that time when older men were writing out a certificate of divorce. While this was perfectly legal and proper if the wife had been unfaithful. (Deuteronomy 24:1)

In Jeremiah 3:8, Jeremiah explains to the Southern Kingdom (Judah) that God gave the Northern Kingdom (Israel) a Bill of Divorce and they saw it. This Bill of Divorce came in the form Assyrians who destroyed it in 721 B C.

It would appear men were writing certificates of divorce for other reasons then what divorce was intended. Someone had seen so many cases of the abuse that he decided to add the adultery clause at the end.

While he may have had good intentions, any sex within marriage is legal even if it is a second marriage and the “C” rating given to these 6 words indicate there a considerable doubt to this clause in this passage.

Just to add a little confusion to this story Luke (16:18) and in Mark (10: 11) agree with the adultery clause and have no textual criticism comment in either case. So from these passages we can assume that sex is only legitimate in the first marriage.

This story is an exercise in Textual Criticism and not about adultery; however it is worth noting that Jewish law enables a man to divorce his wife according to Deuteronomy. The Talmud enables a man to divorce his wife for any reason or no reason at all, however the procedure is complex and expensive which is a serious deterrent.

Jesus said if a man looks at a woman lustfully he has committed adultery already which tends to indicates he agrees with the adultery clause without actually saying it. (Matthew 5:28) However if this were true there would be no escape from an unhappy marriage, which would leave many couples in a hopeless situation.

It would appear to me that while most people enter wedlock with the right intentions, it can deteriorate beyond their imagination.

It seems simply another way our personal sinfulness demonstrates its inability to achieve the righteousness we desire and divorce is a practical solution.

Another example is found in Matthew Chapter1, Verse 18.

0118 tou416.2 gen mascneut sing l tou Matt Definite article, The.
0118 de423.4 a conjunctive particle c de 1161 on the other hand, moreover. but. general contrast, interupted sentence.
0118 iysou434.1 C gen. dat. voc. n iysous 2424 Jesus. (Joshua). whose help is Jehovah.
0118 xristou C gen n xristos 5547 annointed, Jesus as Christ, of the Messiah, of the coming of the King.
0118 hy nom fem sing l hy Matt Definite article. “the”.
0118 genesis B a noun n genesis 1078 of birth. nativity. existence. life. source. origin.
0118 houtws adv. thus, in this way d houtws 3779 in this manner. thus so. in the manner spoken of. under these circumstance
0118 yn 3pers sing imperf v eimi 1510 to exist. by way of distinction from things nonexistent. to be present.

tou genitive-indicates possession definite article the

de conjunctive particle indicates contrast but

iysou “C”genitive dative-indirect object  of Jesus

xristou “C”genitive  Christ

hy nominative- subject feminine singular  definite article the

genesis a noun birth

houtws adverb in this manner

yn 3persons singular imperfect tense-repeated action in time past it happened

(The) but of (Jesus Christ) the birth in this manner it happened.

 To make it sound better in the English, it could be translated:-“but the birth happened in this manner.”

In this passage “Jesus Christ” has been given a “C” rating  which means there is considerable doubt Matthew wrote them, but at the same time it true that this passage is about the birth of Jesus Christ. Often a “C” rating makes no difference to the meaning and I imagine it a logical addition. However there could be a very technical point made by leaving the words “Jesus Christ” out of this passage.

In this Matthew passage there is no indication in the NIV and the KJV that there is a “C” rating and it appears that in most cases throughout The New Testament all words with any rating at all have been included in the text in most Bibles.

There are only a small percentage of words that have any textual criticism rating, but sometimes they do make a difference.

For serious research of The Bible there is a need to realise that changes have been made to the original text either by accident or on purpose and some words have been added at various times.

A Simple Explanation of Greek Grammar

Nom      –  nominative       –     subject

Acc       –   accusative        –    direct object

Gen       –   genitive           –     indicates possession

Voc       –   vocative           –     calling to something

Dat        –   dative              –     indirect object

Voice

Act         –   active             –     the subject does the action of the verb

Pas         –   passive           –     the subject receives the action of the verb

Mid        –   middle           –     the subject does it to himself

Tense

Pres        –   present tense

Perf        –   prefect tense  –     an action with results that continue

Aor        –   Aorist tense    –     an action considered as a point in time

Imperf   –    imperfect       –     repeated action in past times

Plup       –   pluperfect       –     a completed action in the past with continuing results

Part        –   participle       –      verbal adjective

Mood

Ind         –    indicative     –       makes a statement or asks a question

Imper     –   imperative    –       is a command

Subj       –   subjunctive   –       expresses a wish

Infin      –   infinitive       –       a general action

Person                Gender

1pers                   masc

2pers                   fem

3pers                   neut

Pronouns

Demonstrative pronoun:    Showing ones feelings/explaining  or proving

Most of this information comes from “Wenham’s Elements of N.T. Greek

Trevor Topsfield

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®

Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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