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 that 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
TGNT: 2017 The Greek New Testament by Tyndale House
JOHN 1:18 2019 Greek-English New Testament Interlinear (GENTI) [CE]
18 θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε· μονογενὴς θεὸς
WH NU: μονογενὴς θεὸς
“only begotten God”
𝔓66 א* B C* L syp.hmg; Orpt Did
variant 1: ὁ μονογενης θεος
“the only begotten God”
𝔓75 א1 33; copbo Clpt ClexThd pt Orpt
Variant 2 TR: ὁ μονογενὴς υἱὸς
“the only begotten Son”
A C3 (Ws) K Γ Δ Θ Ψ ƒ1.13 565. 579. 700. 892. 1241. 1424 𝔪 lat syc.h; Clpt ClexThd pt
ΚΑΤΑ ΙΩΑΝΝΗΝ 1:18 1550 Stephanus New Testament (TR TGNT)
18 θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε· ὁ μονογενὴς υἱὸς
John 1:18 King James Version (KJV)
18 No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
There is convincing evidence for the preferred reading of John 1:18, as “only begotten God” (μονογενὴς θεὸς), as it is supported by the earliest and best manuscripts (P75 P66 א B C*), as well as L and 33. [CE] above stands for Convincing Evidence, which indicates that the evidence is an even higher-level proof that the reading “only begotten God” (μονογενὴς θεὸς) surely was the original in that the evidence is enough to accept it as substantially certain unless proven otherwise. The two earliest papyri (P75 P66) and the earliest uncials (א B C*), some early versions (Syriac and Coptic), as well as many early church fathers (Irenaeus, Clement, Origen, Eusebius, Serapion, Basil, Didymus, Gregory-Nyssa, Epiphanius, Valentinians), read “only begotten God” (μονογενὴς θεὸς).
Later manuscripts A C3 [9th cent.] (Ws) [7th cent.] K Γ Δ Θ Ψ ƒ1.13 and Maj read “only begotten Son” (μονογενὴς υἱὸς). Variant 2 reading “only begotten Son” (μονογενὴς υἱὸς) was known by some early church fathers (Irenaeus, Clement, Hippolytus, Alexander, Eusebius,, Eustathius, Serapion, Julian, Basil, Gregory-Nazianus), as well as being translated by some early versions (Old Latin and Syriac).
It was the discovery of the second-century papyri P75 [175-225 C.E.] and P66 [150-200 C.E.] in the 1950s and 1960s that tipped the scales, strengthening the preferred reading of “only begotten God” (μονογενὴς θεὸς). The (μονογενὴς θεὸς) reading gave rise to variant 2 (υἱὸς), making (μονογενὴς θεὸς) likely the original. The more difficult reading is often preferable. The reading μονογενὴς θεὸς seems to be more difficult to understand, but after further investigation, we realize that a scribe deliberately changed the text from (θεὸς) to the easier reading (υἱὸς), which was an effort at scribal assimilation to John 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9. The definite article of variant 1 before θεος (ὁ μονογενης θεος) “the only begotten God” is likely a scribal change to the μονογενὴς θεὸς “only begotten God” because θεός without the article is the harder reading.
The reading that the other reading(s) most likely came from is likely the original. This is the fundamental principle of textual criticism. What reading then explains the rise of the others? It seems that the original reading of “only begotten God” (μονογενὴς θεὸς) being the more difficult reading caused a misunderstanding. Thus, the definite article was added and we got a limited case of (ὁ μονογενης θεος) “the only begotten God” (𝔓75 א1 33; copbo Clpt ClexThd pt Orpt). However, this did not mitigate anything and was in conflict with John’s writing and the rest of the New Testament. Therefore, some scribes changed from (θεὸς) to the easier reading (υἱὸς), giving us (ὁ μονογενὴς υἱὸς) “the only begotten Son” in the vast majority of later manuscripts, never reverting back in the later manuscripts. When all of the internal and external evidence is considered, “only begotten God” (μονογενὴς θεὸς) is the preferred reading.
Andreas J. Köstenberger,
There is a question as to whether the original reading here is μονογενὴς υἱός (monogenēs huios, one-of-a-kind Son) or μονογενὴς θεός (monogenēs theos, one-of-a-kind [Son, himself] God). With the acquisition of P66 and P75, both of which read μονογενὴς θεός, the preponderance of the evidence now leans in the direction of the latter reading. M. Harris (1992: 78–80) expresses a “strong preference” for μονογενὴς θεός, for at least four reasons: (1) it has superior MS support; (2) it represents the more difficult reading; (3) it serves as a more proper climax to the entire prologue, attributing deity to the Son by way of inclusio with 1:1 and 1:14; (4) it seems to account best for the other variants. Most likely, then, μονογενῆς υἱός represents a scribal assimilation to 3:16 and 3:18.
 Andreas J. Köstenberger, John, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 50.
If we have the original words, we, in essence, have the original and; therefore, do not need the original documents.
Textual Criticism: the art and science (some would say only art) of determining the original text from variant readings exhibited by extant manuscripts.
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.
- Eberhard Nestle and Erwin Nestle, Nestle-Aland: NTG Apparatus Criticus, ed. Barbara Aland et al., 28. revidierte Auflage. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012), 293.
- Dirk Jongkind, ed., The Greek New Testament: Apparatus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), 1.
- Dirk Jongkind, ed., The Greek New Testament (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), Matt. 5:47.
- 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), 169.
- 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), 255.
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