Archive | Text Criticism

Giveaway: Codex Sinaiticus + Credo Course

To celebrate the brand new Textual Criticism Credo Course in 7 days one person will win a facsimile of one of the most valuable Bibles in the world (just the copy retails for $799). It will probably become the biggest and heaviest book you own.

Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most valuable, beautiful and important Bibles in existence. It is believed to have been commissioned by the Roman Emperor Constantine in the 4th century. Handwritten well over 1600 years ago, the manuscript contains the Christian Bible in Greek, including the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. Its heavily corrected text is of outstanding importance for the history of the Bible and the manuscript – the oldest substantial book to survive Antiquity – is of supreme importance for the history of the book.

In addition to winning Codex Sinaiticus one entrant will also win a course from one of the leading scholars in the world on Textual Criticism. This course will give you incredible appreciation for the Bible you are winning. Dr. Wallace will devote more than 30 sessions taking you through the rock-solid reliability of the New Testament. The New Testament is heavily attacked in our culture today. Without the New Testament we don’t have a reliable message about Jesus. This topic is so crucial for every Christian.

There are many ways to enter in the box above. The giveaway ends in just seven days so please tell your friends.


The Chester Beatty Papyri at CSNTM!

The Chester Beatty papyri, published in the 1930s and 1950s, are some of the oldest and most important biblical manuscripts known to exist. Housed at the Chester Beatty Library (CBL) in Dublin, they have attracted countless visitors every year. It is safe to say that the only Greek biblical manuscripts that might receive more visitors are Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Alexandrinus, both on display at the British Library.

The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) is pleased to announce that a six-person team, in a four-week expedition during July–August 2013, digitized all the Greek biblical papyri at the Chester Beatty Library. The CBL has granted permission to CSNTM to post the images on their website (, which will happen before the end of the year.

The New Testament papyri at the CBL include the oldest manuscript of Paul’s letters (dated c. AD 200), the oldest manuscript of Mark’s Gospel and portions of the other Gospels and Acts (third century), and the oldest manuscript of Revelation (third century). One or two of the Old Testament papyri are as old as the second century AD.

Using state-of-the-art digital equipment, CSNTM photographed each manuscript against white and black backgrounds. The result was stunning. Each image is over 120 megabytes. The photographs reveal some text that has not been seen before.

Besides the papyri, CSNTM also digitized all of the Greek New Testament manuscripts at the CBL as well as several others, including some early apocryphal texts. The total number of images came to more than 5100.

CSNTM is grateful to the CBL for the privilege of digitizing these priceless treasures. The staff were extremely competent and a joy to work with. Kudos to Dr. Fionnuala Croke, Director of CBL, for such a superb staff! This kind of collaboration is needed both for the preservation of biblical manuscripts and their accessibility by scholars.


Daniel B. Wallace, PhD

Executive Director

Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts

Some Intentional Errors in Scripture

Types of intentional changes made to the Greek manuscripts:

  • Spelling/Grammar Changes
  • Harmonizations
  • Correcting apparent discrepancies
  • Conflations
  • Explanatory glosses
  • Doctrinally motivated changes
  • Addition of enriching material

Spelling and Grammar

There is often a tendency to change original grammar to conform to better Greek. For example, if the original author said something like, “he ain’t,” a later scribe might change it to the “correct” form, “he isn’t.” Mark, in his Gospel, is very vulgar in his language. Scribes would adjust his language accordingly. While the Bible is inspired by God, this does not mean that eloquence is equally present with each author of the originals.


Some scribes felt compelled to harmonize Old Testament quotations, Gospel parallels, and common expressions. Scribes would simply change the wording to one with which they were more familiar. Some scribes were bothered by the fact that Jesus did not quote the woman at the well (John 4:17) so they change not Jesus’ words, but the woman’s (they were more comfortable with that!). In reality, who ever said that Christ had to quote her exactly?

Luke 5:30

Jews said to Jesus, “Why do you eat and drink with tax gathers and sinners?”

Mark 2:16

Jews said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax gathers an sinners?”

Scribes would change this in two places. They would choose who the scribes were talking to and add “and drink” to harmonize. This is normally found in the later manuscripts found behind the King James. Continue Reading →

Live Blog: Dan Wallace, Credo Course on Textual Criticism – Day Two

During this week, I will be live blogging Dan Wallace’s Credo Course on Textual Criticism. This is the first of what will over the years be dozens of extensive courses intent on educating people in Christian faith in a deep way that is not normally available to Christians outside of seminaries. These courses will be available in DVD, video download, CD, and audio download. You can preorder this course (30-40 sessions—we don’t know yet as I am live-blogging!).

Please hit update throughout the day on this blog past as I will do this for one blog per day with multiple sessions per blog.

Session 10: There Emergence of Local Text-Forms

Three Text-Types

1. Alexandrian

Most text critics believe that this is the earliest text-type (2nd century) and most faithful to the autograph (when they are all in agreement).

2. Western

Very early as well (2nd century). But too erratic to be considered original. But too early to dismiss.

3. Byzantine

Later (4th century) but very liturgical. For example, when it says “he” it will change it to “Jesus.” It adds and clarifies when the text is obscure for pastoral reasons, but loses its credibility to be representing the autograph.

4. Caesarean: Not even sure if it exists, but is a precursor to Byz.

Best way to illustrate “text-forms” is to use NIV, NAS, KJV. All of these came from different places. People associated with these versions will be more apt to quote according to these versions. This is the same thing with what we find in the Bible manuscripts. Different Greek scribes would be more closely associated with different text types and would be commissioned to copying these texts.

The number of manuscripts in each text type does not necessarily mean it gets more votes. For example, the NIV is the best selling Bible in the world, but it’s number of copies does not give it more credibility.

Dominance of the Byzantine

1. Diocletian Persecution (303-311)

2. Constantine and Constantinople: Christianized, much financing, and more copies.

3. Latin as the lingua franca of the West:

4. John Chrysostom popularized the text: Most popular Church Father endorsed it.

5. African Christianity and the rise of Islam: Christianity in Egypt became overrun and the Alexandrian text became rare.

6. The invasion of Constantinople (1453) and the Roots of the Reformation: Once the turks took Constantinople Christians fled to Europe.

Session 11: Types of Changes in the Manuscripts

Errors of Sight

Confusion of letters

Confusion comes more through capital letters (majuscule). Majority of variant readings come in the majuscules, post eight century.

Homoioteleuon (simular endings)

Dittography: repeating the same lines on accident

Metathesis: switching the order of letters, words, or phrases

Metathesis (transposition)

More often than not, scribes who did not know Greek well were more trustworthy than the ones that did.


“Inerrancy does say that the text is true, but it does not say that it is not messy.”


Live Blog: Dan Wallace, Credo Course on Textual Criticism – Day One

During this week, I will be live blogging Dan Wallace’s Credo Course on Textual Criticism. This is the first of what will over the years be dozens of extensive courses intent on educating people in Christian faith in a deep way that is not normally available to Christians outside of seminaries. These courses will be available in DVD, video download, CD, and audio download. You can preorder this course (30-40 sessions—we don’t know yet as I am live-blogging!).

Please hit update throughout the day on this blog past as I will do this for one blog per day with multiple sessions per blog.

Session 1: Introduction to the Course

Basic overview of things to come. But Dan just said that Constantin von Tischendorf was probably some of the inspiration behind Indiana Jones. Funny thing is that I often call Dan Wallace the Indiana Jones of Textual Criticism today.

Dan is going to cover the most significant passages that effect the wording of the New Testament.

Is what we have now, what they wrote then.

Goal of textual criticism: The study of the handwritten copies of any written document who’s original (called the autograph) is unknown or no longer existent for the primary purpose of determining the exact wording of the original.

For example, we don’t have Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. We have five early copies and what people wrote about it very early (e.g. newspapers).

Need of Textual Criticism

  1. Original New Testament manuscripts would have worn out withing a year due to being read and copies so often.
  2. There are a significant about of differences between the existing manuscripts.

Muslims claim that they have a perfect text (but this is not true). Caliph Uthman (d. 656) burned all the variant manuscripts in the Koran. This makes it harder to get back to the original. Dan showed a slide with a picture of a Koran manuscript that I cannot talk about! But it will be on the video.

“What Bart Erhman does not like about Christianity is that it is not Islam.”

“When is comes to the corruption of the New Testament it does not go through the same problems that other ancient manuscripts go through.”

What is the Original Text?

  1. Predecessor text-form: one form of the text before it was published
  2. Autographic text-form (most popular for years): the form of the text when dispatched from the author.
  3. Canonical text-form: form of the text when NT became “canonical”
  4. Interpretive text-form: the form of the text in a given locale with interpretive alterations to the text.

Pre-Order the Course at a significantly discounted rate

Session 2: How to Count Textual Variants Continue Reading →

Just 24 Hours Left! – Credo Course – #1 Reason to Love Textual Criticism: The Enemies of the Gospel know Textual Criticism

Yesterday I was on an atheist forum. It was amazing to me what I saw. It was a discussion about textual criticism. These atheists were discussing how the text of the Bible had changed so much that there was no way anyone in their right mind would believe it. They were even going so far as to question the very existence of Jesus as a historical figure. Why? Well, from their point of view the testimony of the Scriptures is unreliable since the manuscripts that the stories come from were corrupted and, therefore, beyond rational belief. They brought up many points of textual criticism made by Agnostic scholar Bart Ehrman.

You see, Bart Ehrman knows about textual criticism. In fact, he is the only person in the history of the world to write a bestselling book about this subject. But his conclusions are irresponsible, imbalanced, and outright wrong. But, as I saw on the forum, most Christians have never studied the subject so it becomes a prime target for atheists to attack. After all, if there are so many errors, changes, and lies about the story of Jesus presented in the text, where do we turn to to get the Gospel?

The fact is that textual criticism is not a subject that the enemies of the Gospel should be able to use against Christianity. But if Christians are not informed about this subject, they will quickly get steamrolled as this is one of the primary ways that people use to attack the Bible. You should love textual criticism because you love the defense of the Gospel.

And this is the reason why we want you involved in this project. This project is about defending the Gospel against the very concerted attack of the enemy. Join with us at whatever level you can. Yes, we are funded for the minimal amount. But the more support we get, the more we will be able to produce this course at a high level and the best price you will be able to get the course.

With just 24 hours left, please help us kick-start Textual Criticism in a Big Way!

Keep the Faith. It is a cross to bear, but it is true.

Michael Patton
President, Credo House Ministries

Seven Reasons to Love Textual Criticism #2: Because of all the people who have died for the Bible

Here are all 7 reasons to love textual criticism:

  1. Because the Enemies of the Gospel Know Textual Criticism
  2. Because of All the People Who Have Died for the Bible YOU’RE HERE
  3. Correcting Misconceptions About the History of the Bible

During the early forth-century Christianity suffered its worst time of persecution yet. Emperor Diocletian set out to destroy Christianity completely. The focus of this persecution was on the clergy, church buildings, and the Christian Scriptures. The Roman persecutors believed that if they destroyed all Scriptures, then Christianity would eventually fall.

Textual Criticism Bundle by Dr. Daniel Wallace

Thousands of Christians across the empire were rounded up and placed in prisons. Eusebius writes that prisons were so filled with Christian leaders that ordinary criminals were crowded out, and had to be released. Many were killed, being burned alive. Others lost limbs, eyes, and ears. But what is certain is that these Christians suffered such pains so that we could have the Scriptures. They believed that the very words of the Bible are worth giving up their lives for.

Textual criticism is the science and art of reconstructing the very words that saints of the past have died for. We should love textual criticism because, like those who have died for the Bible, we love the text of the Bible and every word is important.

Seven Reasons to Love Textual Criticism: #3 – Correcting Misconceptions About the History of the Bible

Have you ever heard someone say that the scribes who copied the Bible never made any mistakes? That they counted the words of each line, wrote in a certain color ink, and burned the manuscript if there was ever a single mistake? Well, this is not really true.

There are so many things that I have believed and even taught that were not true. Please forgive me, but this is true. Often, I have wanted Christianity to be true so badly that I believed anything that confirmed my prejudice. This was not responsible at all. Dan Wallace taught me very early that we are seekers of the truth, not prejudice. And we have to be honest with the evidence, even if it does not support our faith.

The great thing about studying textual criticism is that, when all is said and done, our faith is strengthened a great deal. While the story about the scribes above may not be true, we don’t need it to be confident in the Bible. There are so many ways we can test the manuscripts and discover which best represents the original.

Dan Wallace, in this course on textual criticism, corrects misconceptions and teaches through the details of how we can know what the Bible really said. But you are going to have to join our project to find out.

Keep the Faith. It is a cross to bear, but it is true.

Michael Patton
President, Credo House Ministries