Thursday, September 17, 2009

What Greek text was used for the NWT? How were the textual variations reconciled?

What Greek text was used for the NWT? How were the textual variations reconciled?

"Among the more than 13,000 manuscripts of the Christian Greek Scriptures, there are many textual variations. The 5,000 manuscripts in the Greek language alone show many such differences. We can well understand that each copy made from early manuscripts would contain its own distinctive scribal errors. As any one of these early manuscripts was sent to an area for use, these errors would be repeated in the copies in that area and would become characteristic of other manuscripts there. It was in this way that families of similar manuscripts grew up. So are not the thousands of scribal errors to be viewed with alarm? Do they not indicate lack of faithfulness in the transmission of the text? Not at all!

" F. J. A. Hort, who was coproducer of the Westcott and Hort text, writes: "The great bulk of the words of the New Testament stand out above all discriminative processes of criticism, because they are free from variation, and need only to be transcribed. . . . If comparative trivialities . . . are set aside, the words in our opinion still subject to doubt can hardly amount to more than a thousandth part of the whole New Testament."


"What, then, is the net evaluation as to textual integrity and authenticity, after these many centuries of transmission? Not only are there thousands of manuscripts to compare but discoveries of older Bible manuscripts during the past few decades take the Greek text back as far as about the year 125 C.E., just a couple of decades short of the death of the apostle John about 100 C.E. These manuscript evidences provide strong assurance that we now have a dependable Greek text in refined form. Note the evaluation that the former director and librarian of the British Museum, Sir Frederic Kenyon, put on this matter:

'"The interval then between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established. General integrity, however, is one thing, and certainty as to details is another."

"As to the last observation on "certainty as to details," the quotation in paragraph 27 by Dr. Hort covers this. It is the work of the textual refiners to rectify details, and this they have done to a large degree. For this reason, the Westcott and Hort refined Greek text is generally accepted as one of high excellence. The Christian Greek Scripture portion of the New World Translation, being based on this excellent Greek text, is thus able to give its readers the faithful "saying of Jehovah," as this has been so wonderfully preserved for us in the Greek reservoir of manuscripts.—1 Pet. 1:24, 25.

"Of further interest are the comments of Sir Frederic Kenyon in his book Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, 1962, on page 249: "We must be content to know that the general authenticity of the New Testament text has been remarkably supported by the modern discoveries which have so greatly reduced the interval between the original autographs and our earliest extant manuscripts, and that the differences of reading, interesting as they are, do not affect the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith." As shown on page 309 in the chart, "Sources for the Text of the New World Translation—Christian Greek Scriptures," all related documents have been drawn on to provide an accurately translated English text. Valuable footnotes back up all these faithful renderings. The New World Bible Translation Committee used the best results of Bible scholarship developed through the centuries in producing its fine translation." -ALL SCRIPTURE, study number 6 pp. 26-31 

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