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SEMINAR ON THE “TRUE TEXT”

LESSON 8 – THE STEPHENS PRINCIPLE

 

 

Copyright June 16, 2005 1:05 PM CST

By Dr. Michael J. Bisconti

 

 

 

The Stephens Principle states:

 

Paragraph 1 – The Principle

 

In the few places where the Stephens Text disagrees with the Scrivener Text, the Stephen’s Text is incorrect.

 

Paragraph 2 – Elaboration

 

The Scrivener Text has been confirmed as the “actual Textus Receptus” by a multitude of past researchers/scholars and, now, by comparison with the virtual supercomputer-generated RCGNT (Reconstructed Corroborated Greek New Testament) Text.  Furthermore, Elzevir’s Text is only called “the actual Textus Receptus” (see below) in the academic/historical sense of the term “Textus Receptus,” not in the modern/primary sense of the term “Textus Receptus.”  The academic/historical sense derives (comes) from the fact that Elzevir’s Text called itself “the Textus Receptus” and was the first to be called “the Textus Receptus.”  The modern/primary meaning of the term “Textus Receptus” is “the ancient Greek text of the New Testament translated by the King James Bible translators.”

 

We will have more to say on The Stephens Principle in the future.

 

 

Conventions

 

Following are the conventions used in the Greek text we are using in our seminar.  See Lesson Six for a sample of the use of the variant tags.

 

We are using a compilation of the Greek New Testament that has variants identified and tagged for reference to source of transmission and schools of emphasis.

 

Verse Numbers

 

For ease of reference, the verse numbering scheme has been made to conform closely to that found in most standard English versions of the New Testament, following the Authorized (King James) Version of 1611.  Where considerate verse numbering differences occur, they are added to the text in brackets.

 

Breathings, Accents, And Diacritical Markings

 

All breathings, accents, capitalization, punctuation, and diacritical markings have been omitted.  These are primarily a product of modern editorship and are lacking in ancient manuscripts.

 

Book Titles And Colophons

 

Book titles do not appear.  The Greek closing colophons to the epistles that appear in the English of the Authorized Version have been placed in brackets [] wherever they occur in the Stephens 1550 edition (only).

 

Variant Tagging Method

 

The following tags have been applied to those words peculiar to one stream of transmission or scholarly group that emphasizes a particular variant word.  Those words with no tag do not differ in the various printings of the Greek.

 

T = Stephens 1550 Textus Receptus.

 

The text used is George Ricker Berry's edition of "The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament."  This text is virtually identical to Erasmus 1516, Beza 1598, and the actual Textus Receptus: Elzevir 1633.  Berry states, "In the main they are one and the same; and [any] of them may be referred to as the Textus Receptus." (Berry, p. ii)

 

These early printed Greek New Testaments closely parallel the text of the English King James Authorized Version of 1611, since that version was based closely upon Beza 1598, which differed little from its "Textus Receptus" predecessors.  These Textus Receptus editions follow the Byzantine Majority manuscripts, which was predominant during the period of manual copying of Greek New Testament manuscripts.

 

S = Scrivener 1894 Textus Receptus

 

The text used is "h Kainh Diaqhkh: The New Testament.  The Greek Text underlying the English Authorized Version of 1611" (London: Trinitarian Bible Society, 1977).  This is an unchanged reprint of Scrivener's "The New Testament in the Original Greek according to the Text followed in the Authorized Version" (Cambridge: University Press, 1894, 1902).

 

Scrivener attempted to reconstruct the Greek text underlying the English 1611 KJV for comparison to the 1881 English Revised Version.  In those places where the KJV followed the Latin Vulgate (John 10:16), Scrivener inserted the Greek reading, as opposed to back-translating the Latin to Greek--which would have produced a Greek word with no Greek manuscript evidence.  Scrivener's work follows the Byzantine Majority texts, and in many places matches the modern Alexandrian-based editions.

 

B = Byzantine Majority

 

The text is that identified by Freiherr Von Soden, "Die Schriften des Neuen Testaments in ihrer altesten erreichbaren Textgestalt" (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1911) and Herman C. Hoskier, "Concerning the Text of the Apocalypse" (London: Bernard Quaritch, 1929).  This technique of Byzantine identification and weighting was utilized by Hodges and Farsted in "The Greek New Testament according to the Majority Text" (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982; 1985).  It was subsequently utilized by Robinson and Pierpont, resulting in 99.75 percent agreement between the two texts.

 

The Byzantine Majority text is closely identified with the Textus Receptus editions, and well it should with greater than 98% agreement.  As Maurice Robinson pointed out in his edition of the Byzantine Majority: "George Ricker Berry correctly noted that 'in the main they are one and the same; and [any] of them may be referred to as the Textus Receptus' (George Ricker Berry, ed., The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament [New York: Hinds & Noble, 1897], p. ii).

 

A = Alexandrian

 

(Some of the comments that follow will be confusing to anyone learned in the “Alexandrian dispute.”  We will clear up this confusion at a later stage in the “text building” process.)  The differences are those identified by the United Bible Society, 3rd edition, and utilized by modern translations such as the NIV and the NASB.  While these variants come from manuscripts with less textual evidence than the Byzantine Majority, many of the differences are exactly the same as those identified by the Byzantine Majority and Scrivener.  The percentage of variants is quite small and occurs mainly in word placement and spelling.  Many of the variations identified are omitted or bracketed words, which is not surprising due to a significantly smaller base of text from this stream of transmission.