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Providential Preservation of the Textus Receptus

But the question remains: was the Textus Receptus the specific answer to God’s providential preservation of His revelation?

It is the responsibility of all believers today to vigilantly and reasonably study God’s Word in order to show themselves as approved workers before God.

Many people answer to the affirmative based 1) on the logical theological assertion that God is able to and consistently does preserve His revelation to His people, and 2) on the rigorous scholarship of those involved in the compilation of ancient manuscripts as they prepared OT and NT texts and translations for people in the early modern era. For example, confessional scholars from William Tyndale in the early 16th century to Westcott and Hort in the late 19th century all strived to provide the earliest and best-attested readings for the Greek NT. Although history bears out that the copying, editing, and publishing of the Bible was done by monks, priests, theologians, and scholars of all theological stripes, the men who preserved and transmitted the Scriptures must come under the providential preservation of the Bible just as much as the Bible itself.[2] Of course, divine providence is not limited to only Holy Writ but to all and every aspect of human and natural endeavor and existence.

The Byzantine text-type manuscripts behind the TR (and also part of the greater Majority Text tradition of Greek NT manuscripts) have been preserved and found in great abundance from all over the former Greek empire. The Alexandrian text-type manuscripts behind the critical NT texts (such as the Nestle-Aland 28th edition and United Bible Society 5th edition)  have been preserved and found in smaller numbers in comparison, but their age is earlier to and geographic provenance similarly comparable to the Byzantine manuscripts. For example, the penchant for some Church Fathers to quote from Byzantine or Alexandrian type traditions depends on the access, geography, and time period that these Church Fathers had in relation to these manuscript types.  The question regarding the sheer numbers of Alexandrian versus Byzantine manuscripts depends on a variety of factors such as means to copy, rise of scriptoria, need for distribution, change in orthography and material, rise of scholasticism, Bible translation efforts, etc. These and other factors were occurring in late Medieval Europe and much less in the Near East. Of course, there are other ancient Greek manuscript traditions that are distinct from these two traditions (i.e., Egyptian, Eclectic, and Western). These other textual traditions have their own place and importance in the question of the providential preservation of Scripture.

There are many issues involved with God’s providence, Bible translation, the earliest ancient witnesses, and those scholars who collated and published these texts. In this day of ease of information access, anyone can consider these topics more thoroughly  It is the responsibility of all believers today to vigilantly and reasonably study God’s Word in order to show themselves as approved workers before God. Today’s leading Bible translations based on the TR or Byzantine tradition are the Authorized Version (KJV), Modern English Version, and the New King James Version. Some of the leading Bible translations based on the Alexandrian tradition are the English Standard Version, New American Standard Bible, New International Version, Holman Christian Bible, New Living Translation, The Voice Bible, and the New Revised Standard Version.

 

PR

Link to James F. Linzey’s author page.

Notes

[1] Daniel Wallace, “Some Second Thoughts on the Majority Text,” Bibliotheca Sacra (July-Sept, 1989), 276.

[2] https://danielbwallace.com/2012/12/28/five-more-myths-about-bible-translations-and-the-transmission-of-the-text/

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Category: Biblical Studies, Winter 2019

About the Author: Verna M. Linzey (1919 –2016), MA (Southwestern Assemblies of God University), DMin (Fuller Theological Seminary), was the chief editor of the New Tyndale Version Bible and a translator for the Modern English Version Bible. She wrote The Baptism with the Holy Spirit, The Gifts of the Spirit, and Spirit Baptism. She also hosted the television programs “The Word with Verna Linzey” and “The Holy Spirit Today with Dr. Verna Linzey.”

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