The Life Foundations Nexus
SEMINAR ON THE “TRUE TEXT”
LESSON 6 – THE IDENTITY PRINCIPLE
By Dr. Michael J. Bisconti
Warning: This page was updated numerous times over a short period of time; therefore, if you read this page at an earlier time, you may have read some incorrect content.
This principle could also have been named “The Frankenstein Identity Principle.” This is because we are addressing our “claim” that ALL verses are IDENTICAL in all streams of transmission ONCE THE CONCEPT OF “STREAMS OF TRANSMISSION” HAS BEEN REMOVED, which is made on The Frankenstein Principle page.
The word “identity” is used in the sense of “identicalness.” Looking at Jude 1:12, it appears that there is no identity (identicalness) between the different streams of transmission. Specifically:
1. There is one “A” variant. This is obviously NOT in all streams of transmission, or is it?
2. There is one “S” variant. This is obviously NOT in all streams of transmission, or is it?
3. There is one “BA” variant. This is obviously NOT in all streams of transmission, or is it?
4. There is one “TS” variant. This is obviously NOT in all streams of transmission, or is it?
Before we proceed, we will address some historical and conventional thinking. Regarding the “A” variant, some would argue that the “A” variant is automatically false because it is from the Alexandrian stream and contradicts the true streams of transmission, the “T” stream and the “S” stream. They would be correct BUT THEY WOULD EFFECTIVELY BE INCORRECT (you will understand why we say this when you read further). Regarding the “S” variant, some would argue that the “S” variant is automatically true because it comes from the truer stream of transmission, the Scrivener stream, contradicting the less true stream of transmission, the “T” stream (note that the “T” stream is not the authoritative stream of the Textus Receptus). They would be correct BUT THEY WOULD EFFECTIVELY BE INCORRECT (you will understand why we say this when you read further). Some might argue that the “BA” variant and the “TS” variant are synonyms and, therefore, should be considered the same and, therefore, not treated as variants. However, even if the “BA” variant and the “TS” variant were synonyms, the principle of “verbal inspiration” would be contradicted. Verbal inspiration says that the word of God ENDURES IN LANGUAGE, not just in meaning. Therefore, you cannot have two different words EVEN IF THEY EXPRESS THE SAME MEANING.
Now, we will explain why there are NO VARIANTS in this verse. In order to do so, we will now talk about two “subprinciples” of the Principle of Identity – “irrelevance” and “edition.” The subprinciples elaborate on the Identity Principle.
NONE of the variants in this verse AFFECT THE MEANING OF THE VERSE. The edition subprinciple below proves this. However, how in the world can there be identity (identicalness) WHEN THE LANGUAGE IS DIFFERENT? This leads us to the edition subprinciple.
The “A” variant and the “BA” variant DO NOT occur in the Alexandrian stream. At this point, we can hear the uproar in the Alexandrian camp. What they do not know is that we now have proof that the Alexandrian manuscripts WERE EDITED from their original form. The original Alexandrian manuscripts did not contain these variants. Not to get ahead of ourselves but we will be talking about “The Alexandrian Edit Principle” in a future lesson. The Alexandrian Edit Principle alone removes more than 90% of the Alexandrian variants FROM THE ALEXANDRIAN MANUSCRIPTS.
Okay, that takes care of “1½” variants. Now, what about the “B” part of the “BA” variant? Very simply, the “B” variant DOES NOT occur in the Byzantine Majority text. While we wait for a second uproar to subside, we will tell you that the Byzantine Majority text WAS EDITED from its original form. In a future lesson we will explain “The Byzantine Edit Principle.”
Now, we are left with the “S” variant. This variant is explained by the Alexandrian Edit Principle (the “S” variant is included in the unedited Alexandrian manuscripts), the Byzantine Edit Principle (the “S” variant is included in the unedited Byzantine manuscript) and the “Stephens Edit Principle,” which we are just now mentioning. The Stephens Edit Principle proves that the “S” variant was (incorrectly) edited out of the Stephens text.
Immediately following the passage from the book of Jude is an explanation of the conventions used in our Greek text. The following graphic may take a second or two to load.
This passage from the Book of Jude is taken from a compilation of the Greek New Testament that has variants identified and tagged for reference to source of transmission and schools of emphasis.
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.