Major Critical Texts of the New Testament
Byz RP: 2005 Byzantine Greek New Testament, Robinson & Pierpont
TR1550: 1550 Stephanus New Testament
Maj: The Majority Text (thousands of minuscules which display a similar text)
Gries: 1774-1775 Johann Jakob Griesbach Greek New Testament
Treg: 1857-1879 Samuel Prideaux Tregelles Greek New Testament
Tisch: 1872 Tischendorf’s Greek New Testament
WH: 1881 Westcott-Hort Greek New Testament
NA28: 2012 Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament
UBS5: 2014 Greek New Testament
NU: Both Nestle-Aland and the United Bible Society
SBLGNT: 2010 Greek New Testament
THGNT: 2017 The Greek New Testament by Tyndale House
GENTI: 2020 Greek-English New Testament Interlinear
[BRD] ΚΑΤΑ ΜΑΤΘΑΙΟΝ 2:15 Westcott-Hort New Testament (WHNU)
2:15 καὶ ἦν ἐκεῖ ἕως τῆς τελευτῆς Ἡρῴδου· ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ Κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος ᾿Εξ Αἰγύπτου ἐκάλεσα τὸν υἱόν μου.
Matthew 2:15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
15 and was there until the death of Herod. This was to complete what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Hosea 11:1 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
11 When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.
As we can see from the above Matthew is quoting Hosea 11:1. Hosea at 11:1 was not speaking prophetically, but rather, his words were a historical reference to the time of Moses when God called the Israelite nation (the son) out of Egypt. On this verse, Philip Comfort writes, “Matthew saw a second meaning and shows that the prophecy was also fulfilled when the infant Jesus fled with his parents to Egypt. The word for “son” in 𝔓70 (the earliest MS) א C is written as a nomen sacrum (sacred name), indicating these scribes saw this prophecy as fulfillment in the Son of God. Most modern English versions are reluctant to capitalize “son” in this quote (see, for example, RSV NIV NRSV [ESV LEB UASV CSB]) A few versions do capitalize it so as to demonstrate that the prophecy was fulfilled in God’s Son (See TEV, NLT NASB]).” – Philip W. Comfort, A COMMENTARY ON THE MANUSCRIPTS AND TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2015), 130.
Philip Comfort Above is Mistaken in His Interpretation; See the Correct Understanding Below.
The Old Testament author has one meaning for the text. The New Testament author is not a secondary meaning but rather an entirely different meaning. The New Testament author passage is a single meaning in that by way of the Holy Spirit he has the license to give an entirely different meaning to the OT passage. On the other hand, Christians must use the historical-critical method of interpretation to get at what the OT author meant by his words (single meaning) and what the NT author meant by his words (single meaning), two separate meanings for two separate authors in two separate passages.
New Testament use of the Old Testament
Let us take a moment to consider how we are to understand a prophecy written by an Old Testament writer that is then used by a New Testament writer. Both the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament had a meaning that the original audience would have understood. It served as a means of guidance for the initial people, as well as for succeeding generations, down to our day. This is not to say that the prophetic message itself always had immediate application, but that its meaning is beneficial to all. Let us say that Isaiah the prophet, for example, uttered a prophecy about a child that was going to be born. This child would set matters straight in some future prophetic sense, no immediate application.
They do not know when to expect this child any more than the Christians knew when the day and hour of Jesus’ second coming would take place. (Matt. 24:36) However, the prophecies about Jesus’ return still offered the initial hearer(s) hope and every succeeding generation until now. Just as Christianity has held on to the hope of Christ’s return, even though it has now been 2,000 years, the Old Testament prophetic message of a coming child, for a distant future, unknown to the people, would still serve an immediate purpose to the people, who initially heard it. Second, with grammatical-historical interpretation, there is only one meaning of a text, which is ascertained by:
- understanding the words that the author used,
- the arrangement and construction of those words in sentences,
- as well as the historical setting.
In addition, we need to understand some other essential elements. We can only get at the meaning of any given text by grammatical-historical interpretation, which is an objective approach. We are not under inspiration while we are interpreting Scripture; otherwise, we would never err. We have to understand how the New Testament writers interpreted the Old Testament and see how we differ because we are not inspired. We will take a brief look at three different areas.
Interpreting New Testament Writer’s Use of the Old Testament
Some argue that we need to see Matthew’s meaning in Hosea. In other words, Hosea meant to convey the meaning that Matthew expressed. This just is not the case. Did Hosea mean his words to be prophetic, or were they a reference to a historical event, to make a point to his current readers? His audience would have understood what Hosea meant, by their use of historical-grammatical interpretation. “When Israel was but a boy” is a reference to the nation’s early beginnings, when they were young, while they were in Egypt. “I” is Jehovah God speaking through the prophet Hosea, their loving father, who ‘out of Egypt called his son.’
Often, a New Testament writer would quote or cite an Old Testament Scripture. Many times, the New Testament writer would be using the Old Testament text contextually, according to the setting and intent of the Old Testament writer (observing the grammatical-historical sense). However, at times the New Testament writer would add to or apply the text differently than what was meant by the Old Testament writer (not observing the grammatical-historical sense). This is either a new or a progressive revelation of God, where he has inspired the New Testament writer to go beyond the intended meaning of the Old Testament writer and carry out what is known as Inspired Sensus Plenior Application (ISPA). In this latter case, the New Testament writer is using the Old Testament text to convey another meaning to another circumstance. This does not violate the principle that all texts have just one single meaning. The Old Testament text has one meaning, and the New Testament writer’s adaptation of that text is not a second meaning, but rather another meaning.
Now, (1) was Matthew intending to interpret the message of Hosea, because it was supposedly prophetic, or (2) was he using Hosea’s meaning of a historical reference, and giving it a sensus plenior meaning, by way of inspiration of Holy Spirit? It was the latter, number (2). Hosea’s meaning was a historical reference to the Israelite nation when they were in Egypt. Matthew’s meaning is to take Hosea’s words, and add new additional meaning to them, not suggesting at all that Hosea meant his new meaning.
Dr. John H. Walton’s approach to dealing with this sort of circumstance is that we need to grasp the difference between (1) message and (2) fulfillment. The message of Hosea was not prophetic and was understood by his audience. “Fulfillment is not the message but is the working out of God’s plan in history. There are no hermeneutical principles within the grammatical-historical model that enable one to identify a fulfillment by reading and analyzing the prophecy.” In other words, we need not concern ourselves with trying to shove a square peg into a round hole. We do not have to fit Matthew’s meaning into Hosea, as though Hosea’s meaning was prophetic, and this justifies Matthew’s conclusions. We are not causing any ripple in Scripture because these two have different meanings from each other. Walton is in harmony with Dr. Robert L. Thomas, with the exception of his seeing Matthew’s use of Hosea’s words as a fulfillment, while Thomas sees them as a completion, “some sense the transport of Jesus by His parents from Egypt completed the deliverance of Israel from Egypt that had begun during the time of Moses.” Bold is mine.
It is difficult to see Matthew’s use of Hosea’s words as a fulfillment because Hosea’s words were not prophetic. Without an intended prophecy, how can there be fulfillment? We should see Matthew’s use of Hosea’s words as completing whatever historical reference Hosea was referring to. What we do know is that if Matthew assigns a different meaning to Hosea’s words, it is his meaning, and it is subjective. If you recall, we are perfectly fine with it because he has the authority to offer subjective meaning; he was an inspired Bible writer who had been moved along by the Holy Spirit. Matthew was not interpreting the message Hosea penned; he was giving us a sensus plenior, a completion of Hosea’s words.
Therefore, we need to look at the Greek word behind fulfillment (pleroo). Pleroohas a range of meanings, and the context will give us which sense was meant. It can mean, “to fulfill, to complete, carry out to the full, accomplish, and perfect.” What is the sense that we find at Matthew 2:15 and other places that New Testament writers use it when they are referring to an Old Testament Passage? Bible scholar Dr. Robert L Thomas has this to say: “Most (if not all) English translations frequently render the Greek verb pleroo by the English word fulfill. In some instances, this is unfortunate because the two words do not cover the same semantic domain. In English, when used in connection with Old Testament citations, “fulfill” carries the connotation of a historical occurrence of something promised or predicted. The Greek pleroo, however, covers more linguistic territory than that.” New Testament Scholar Douglas J. Moo adds,
Pleroo cannot be confined to so narrow a focus [as referring to fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy]…. What needs to be emphasized, then, is that the use of pleroo in an introductory formula need not mean that the author regards the Old Testament text he quotes as a direct prophecy; and accusations that a New Testament author misuses the Old Testament by using pleroo to introduce nonprophetic texts are unfounded.’
We can see that the context of Matthew 2:15 leads us to the rendering “This was to complete what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’” In other words, “In the Matthew 2:15 citation of Hosea 11:1 Matthew uses [pleroo] to indicate the completion of a sensus plenior meaning he finds in Hosea 11:1.” As we have already said, the single meaning of Hosea 11:1 is not prophetic, but rather a historical reference to the time of Moses, when God called the Israelite nation out of Egypt. For this reason, to use the English rendering fulfill is “misleading.” “Matthew’s meaning is that in some sense the transport of Jesus by His parents from Egypt completed the deliverance of Israel from Egypt that had begun during the time of Moses.”
Now, it is time for a little warning. We should be very cautious of writers who give us interpretations of an allegory, typology, and fulfillment that are not expressly given by a Bible writer. No human writer at present, or that lived after the Apostle John died in 100 C.E. has the authority to give us fulfillment unless it was stated by a Bible author. Humans are very curious about what the future holds, especially Christians with the fulfillment of Scripture. This is why books by authors telling us they have unlocked Scripture or that they can explain the fulfillment of things that no Bible writer expressed as a fulfillment, are very dangerous. We cannot reproduce the interpretive skills of the New Testament writers because they did not always follow the historical-grammatical interpretation (objective), they at times gave a subjective message. We do not have the authority to imitate them by our skipping over historical-grammatical interpretation to give revelations about allegory, typology, and fulfillment of Scripture. Therefore, let us stay far from the shores of subjective interpretation by either penning it or reading it.
Recap of New Testament Use of Old Testament
Again, the New Testament writers used Old Testament writers in one of two ways. (1) The New Testament writer took the one grammatical-historical interpretation of the Old Testament passage. In this case, we are talking about a fulfillment of the Old Testament passage, and we are perfectly fine to word it that way. In other words, the Old Testament passage was written as a prophecy for that future event, not some immediate fulfillment. (2) The New Testament writer goes beyond what the Old Testament writer penned, assigning it additional meaning that is applicable to the New Testament context. In other words, the Old Testament writer’s grammatical-historical interpretation would have been a fulfillment for him and his audience, not just a hope. The New Testament writer then made the information applicable to his situation by adding to it, which fit his context. With number (1), we have the New Testament writer staying with the literal sense of the Old Testament writer. With number (2), we have the New Testament writer adding a whole other meaning.
Dr. Robert L. Thomas calls number (2) “inspired sensus plenior application” (ISPA), which we will adopt as well. It is inspired because this is an inspired Bible writer adding the additional sense or fuller sense than what had been penned in the Old Testament.
When interpreting the Old Testament and New Testament each in light of the single grammatical-historical meaning of each passage, two kinds of New Testament uses of the Old Testament surface, one in which the New Testament writer observes the grammatical-historical sense of the Old Testament passage and the other in which the New Testament writer goes beyond the grammatical-historical sense in using a passage. Inspired sensus plenior application (ISPA) designates the latter usage. Numerous passages illustrate each type of New Testament use of the Old Testament. The ISPA type of use does not grant contemporary interpreters a license to copy the method of New Testament writers, nor does it violate the principle of single meaning. The ISPA meaning of the Old Testament passage did not exist for humans until the time of the New Testament citation, being occasioned by Israel’s rejection of her Messiah at His first advent. The ISPA approach approximates that advocated by John H. Walton more closely than other explanations of the New Testament use of the Old Testament. “Fulfillment” terminology in the New Testament is appropriate only for events that literally fulfill events predicted in the Old Testament. – Robert L. Thomas. Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old (p. 241-2). Kindle Edition.
Most conservative evangelical scholars believe that some biblical prophecies possess more than the initial fulfillment, an extended fulfillment. This writer and many others would also point out that the prophecies in both the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament had meaning to those who the prophecy was written to; it served as means of guidance for the initial audience, as well as for succeeding generation, down to our day. This is not to say that the prophetic message itself was applicable from then until now, but that its meaning is beneficial to all. In many cases, the fulfillment took place within that first generation.
At times, there are New Testament writers that give another fulfillment during the New Testament era, 02 B.C.E. up unto 100 C.E. In addition, there are some cases where a prophecy has a final fulfillment in what the Bible calls the “last days” or “end times,” or even during the millennial reign of Christ. Revelation 21:1; Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13
Here I should qualify what I mean by having meaning to the initial audience and being fulfilled during the lifetime of the first audience. Isaiah 65:17 informs the initial audience, the contemporaries of Isaiah “I am about to create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered, and they shall not come to mind.” What do “new heavens and a new earth” mean, and when was this to take place?
65:17-19. The new condition of salvation for only a portion of God’s people could occur because God had created something entirely new. The new creation would differ greatly from the old one, being dominated by joy instead of mourning and weeping. The joy would be shared by the people and by God. This new creation would share some features with the old. It would still have both heavens and earth. And it would center in the holy city of Jerusalem. – Anders, Max; Butler, Trent (2002-04-01). Holman Old Testament Commentary: Isaiah (p. 374). B&H Publishing.
I certainly would agree with Dr. Trent C. Butler’s assessment, but is this applicable to the time period of Isaiah’s prophesying, 778-732 B.C.E.? The words can merely refer to the future, in general, as opposed to what we think of as the last days or end times. In other words, the Israelites could place their hope in a bright future, but not knowing the day and the hour. There is nothing in Scripture where another inspired writer took Isaiah words and gave them meaning of fulfillment. They could have taken place already, but we cannot speak of that in absolute terms, because as was stated earlier, we are not inspired, to be able to speak of fulfillment. However, let us offer a possible time when they could have been fulfilled in the past, but after Isaiah was written.
It could have been fulfilled almost 200 years after Isaiah when the Israelites returned from the seventy years they were going to spend in Babylonian captivity. Butler said, “The new condition of salvation [was] for only a portion of God’s people.” Only a small remnant of Israelites returned home from Babylonian captivity in 537 B.C.E. This would mean that there was no immediate fulfillment for the people of Isaiah’s day or even the next generation. However, there was meaning for the Israelites, because they knew destruction and desolation of Jerusalem were coming, but they also knew that a remnant was going to come through this, and purified worship would be restored to Jerusalem, which offered them hope.
Variant Reading(s): differing versions of a word or phrase found in two or more manuscripts within a variation unit (see below). Variant readings are also called alternate readings.
Variation Unit: any portion of text that exhibits variations in its reading between two or more different manuscripts. It is important to distinguish variation units from variant readings. Variation units are the places in the text where manuscripts disagree, and each variation unit has at least two variant readings. Setting the limits and range of a variation unit is sometimes difficult or even controversial because some variant readings affect others nearby. Such variations may be considered individually or as elements of a single reading. One should also note that the terms “manuscript” and “witness” may appear to be used interchangeably in this context. Strictly speaking, “witness” (see below) will only refer to the content of a given manuscript or fragment, which it predates to a greater or lesser extent. However, the only way to reference the “witness” is by referring to the manuscript or fragment that contains it. In this book, we have sometimes used the terminology “witness of x or y manuscript” to distinguish the content in this way.
TERMS AS TO HOW WE SHOULD OBJECTIVELY VIEW THE DEGREE OF CERTAINTY FOR THE READING ACCEPTED AS THE ORIGINAL
The modal verbs are might have been (30%), may have been (40%), could have been (55%), would have been (80%), must have been (95%), which are used to show that we believe the originality of a reading is certain, probable or possible.
The letter [WP] stands for Weak Possibility (30%), which indicates that this is a low-level proof that the reading might have been original in that it is enough evidence to accept that the variant might have been possible, but it is improbable. We can say the reading might have been original, as there is some evidence that is derived from manuscripts that carry very little weight, early versions, or patristic quotations.
The letter [P] stands for Plausible (40%), which indicates that this is a low-level proof that the reading may have been original in that it is enough to accept a variant to be original and we have enough evidence for our belief. The reading may have been original but it is not probably so.
The letter [PE] stands for Preponderance of Evidence (55%), which indicates that this is a higher-level proof that the reading could have been original in that it is enough to accept as such unless another reading emerges as more probable.
The letter [CE] stands for Convincing Evidence (80%), which indicates that the evidence is an even higher-level proof that the reading surely was the original in that the evidence is enough to accept it as substantially certain unless proven otherwise.
The letter [BRD] stands for Beyond Reasonable Doubt (95%), which indicates that this is the highest level of proof: the reading must have been original in that there is no reason to doubt it. It must be understood that feeling as though we have no reason to doubt is not the same as one hundred percent absolute certainty.
NOTE: This system is borrowed from the criminal just legal terms of the United States of America, the level of certainty involved in the use of modal verbs, and Bruce Metzger in his A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (London; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), who borrowed his system from Johann Albrecht Bengel in his edition of the Greek New Testament (Tübingen, 1734). In addition, the percentages are in no way attempting to be explicit, but rather, they are nothing more than a tool to give the non-textual scholar a sense of the degree of certainty. However, this does not mean the percentages are not reflective of certainty.
- Edward D. Andrews, FROM SPOKEN WORDS TO SACRED TEXTS: Introduction-Intermediate New Testament Textual Studies (Cambridge, Ohio), 2021.
- B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort, Introduction to the New Testament in the Original Greek: Appendix (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1882)
- Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006)
- Bruce Manning Metzger, United Bible Societies, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition a Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th Rev. Ed.) (London; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994),
- Eberhard Nestle and Erwin Nestle, Nestle-Aland: NTG Apparatus Criticus, ed. Barbara Aland et al., 28. revidierte Auflage. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012).
- Dirk Jongkind, ed., The Greek New Testament: Apparatus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017).
- Dirk Jongkind, ed., The Greek New Testament (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), Matt. 6:8.
- Eberhard Nestle and Erwin Nestle, Nestle-Aland: Novum Testamentum Graece, ed. Barbara Aland et al., 28. revidierte Auflage. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012)
- Philip Wesley Comfort, A COMMENTARY ON THE MANUSCRIPTS AND TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2015).
- Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary: Commentary on the Variant Readings of the Ancient New Testament Manuscripts and How They Relate to the Major English Translations (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2008).
- Philip Wesley Comfort and David P. Barrett, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts: Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts, 2 Volume Set The (English and Greek Edition) (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2019)
- Rick Brannan and Israel Loken, The Lexham Textual Notes on the Bible, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).
- Roger L. Omanson and Bruce Manning Metzger, A Textual Guide to the Greek New Testament: An Adaptation of Bruce M. Metzger’s Textual Commentary for the Needs of Translators (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2006).
- Wallace B., Daniel (n.d.). Retrieved from The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts: http://csntm.org/
- Wilker, Wieland (n.d.). Retrieved from An Online Textual Commentary on the Greek Gospels: http://www.willker.de/wie/TCG/index.html
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 Page(s): 11, Inspired Subjectivity and Hermeneutical Objectivity by John H. Walton Master’s Seminary Journal March 01, 2002.pdf
 Robert L. Thomas. Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old (p. 263). Kindle Edition.
 W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Jr., vol. 2, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 8 (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996).
 Robert L. Thomas. Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old (p. 262). Kindle Edition.
 Moo, Doulas J., “Problems of Sensus Plenior,” 191
 Thomas. Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old (p. 263)
 IBID., p. 263