A new post, by popular demand! Ok, so actually it was just my neighbor Melody ( check here)...
Anyway, I got my Greek New Testament in the mail the other day. I wouldn't say I can exactly read it. "Decipher" would be a better word. Roughly fifteen minutes per verse, with a dictionary. Still pretty impressive for half way through my first semester of classical Greek, I think. The insane Greek curriculum here has students reading Plato in the third semester, Homer in the fourth.
Ok, back to the New Testament. I actually wasn't planning on buying it. I just was curious and wanted to waste some time so I went to look and see how much the text I wanted would cost me. Now, I happen to favor the Majority (Byzantine) Text (check over here), and virtually all modern scholars favor the Alexandrian Text (aka the Nestle-Aland/United Bible Society text, from which essentially every modern translation is derived), and the Greek Orthodox Church uses the Textus Receptus (from which the King James Version was translated). Because of this situation, it turned out that the Majority Text had been out of print since the year I was born! Fortunately, its publisher, Thomas Nelson, still had it in stock. Since I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to find it again, I went ahead and ordered it.
So why go to all the trouble of finding this particular text, rather than just using the Alexandrian Text like everyone else? Well, first of all, it must be understood that in reading the Bible in English translation principles are FAR more important than choice of text (which is why I study with the New American Standard Bible, even though it's New Testament is based on Nestle's Novum Testamentum Graece, an Alexandrian Text, and it's Old Testament is based on Kittel's Biblia Hebraica and the Dead Sea Scrolls when there is no real rational reason to use anything other than the Masoretic Text). According to the preface to the New King James Version of the Bible (which is an excellent basic introduction to textual criticism) "fully eighty-five percent of the New Testament text is the same in the Textus Receptus, the Alexandrian Text, and the Majority Text" and most of the disagreements do not actually effect translation, being differences in spelling or word order (the latter is much less significant in Greek than in English).
That said, there are a few significant differences, such as 1 Timothy 3:16, where the ommission of a theta-omicron and the addition of a rough breathing mark in the Alexandrian Text changes the phrase "God was manifested in the flesh" to "Who was manifested in the flesh". With regard to differences even this small, I think it ridiculous that translators rely on a small number of manuscripts (hundreds) found only in a small geographical area (Egypt) rather than an enormous number of manuscripts (thousands) found all over the Roman world.
So, that's my random babbling for today. I hope it meets with your approval, Melody.Posted by Kenny at November 7, 2003 12:55 PM
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