History of NT Textual Criticism Since the TR

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This lecture describes highlights of the history of NT TC since the TR. Describing the formation of the textus receptus, Wallace also characterizes major players in the process of arriving at the modern text.



A. Erasmus’s Five Editions (1516-1535) based on 7 mss

1. First edition: 1516

2. Second edition: 1519 (Luther’s Greek Text)

3. Third edition: 1522 (includes Trinitarian formula)

4. Fourth Edition: (definitive version)

B. Complutensian Polyglot (1514)

1. First printed Greek Text but not published for 8 years

2. Contains entire Bible

3. Does contain the Trinitarian Formula (based on Vulgate)

C. Stephanus’s four editions

1. First edition: 1546 (mostly Erasmus’s text)

2. Third Edition: 1550

a) Is generally the most common TR reference

b) Virtually identical with the 1825 and 1873 Oxford TR

c) Later edited by F.H.A. Scrivener

d) First edition to list textual variants (from 15 mss)

3. Fourth Edition: 1551

a) Triglot

b) First to use verse numbers (chapters added in 13th century by Steven Langton)

c) MS used for fourth edition still exists

D. Beza’s eleven editions (1564-1604)

Beza’s 10th edition (1589) is basis for KJV

E. The Elzevirs’s two editions (1624, 1633)

1. First to use term “text received” (Textus Receptus)

F. TR is the basis of all Protestant translations until 1881


A. Brian Walton, London Polyglot (1657)

B. John Mill, Novum Testamentum (1707)

1. Gathered lists of variants

2. Defended by Richard Bentley (1713)

C. Bengel (1687–1752)

1. Saw that Alexandrian and Byzantine were text-types

2. Canon of “harder” reading typically more authentic

3. Rating system (α, β, γ, δ, ε)

4. Orthodoxy of the variants (no variant affects cardinal doctrine)

D. J.J. Griesbach (1745-1812)

1. Non-Christian who defended the Byzantine text-type

2. Canon of “shorter” reading typically more authentic

3. Interplay between external and internal evidence

4. Recognized three text-types: Alexandrian; Western; Byzantine

E. Karl Lachmann (1793-1851)

1. First to print text not based on TR

2. Used only majuscules, versions, and the early Fathers

3. His text took readings back to 4th century

F. Constantine von Tischendorf (1815-1874)

1. Motivated by threat of F.C. Baur

2. Discovered and published numerous MSS

3. Ephraemi Rescriptus

4. Sinaiticus

5. Published eight editions of GNT

G. Samuel Prideaux Tregelles (1813-1875)

1. Best Englishman at amassing data for a critical text

2. Produced a two-volume NT with extensive apparatus

H. B.F. Westcott and F.J.A. Hort’s

1. Clearest articulation of textual critical method

2. Overthrew the Textus Receptus

3. Produced The New Testament in the Original Greek (1881)

III. 20th Century Scholars

1. Casper Rene Gregory (1846-1917)

2. Gunther Zuntz, Text of the Epistles (1953), started “Reason Eclecticism”

3. E.C. Colwell (1901-1974)

4. Kurt (1915-1994) and Barbara Aland (INTF)

5. Bruce M. Metzger (1914–2007)

6. Harry Sturz

7. Gordon D. Fee

8. Eldon Epp

9. J.K. Elliott

10. David Parker

11. Peter Head

12. Bart Ehrman

13. Michael W. Holmes

14. Tommy Wasserman

J. In the 20th Century Scholars list

1. 6 evangelicals

2. 3 moderates

3. 1 unknown

4. 5 liberals

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