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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: 2022 Greek-English New Testament Interlinear
We certainly have a case of theological bias in our midst from all translations, except two. I have placed the Updated American Standard Version in full context, so you can see the choice we made. Read the notes that I put at the end of each one of these translations.
Luke 22:43-44 English Standard Version
43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
NO BRACKETS: Footnote: Some manuscripts omit verses 43 and 44
QUESTION: How does that footnote help readers?
Luke 22:43-44 Lexham English Bible
[[43 And an angel from heaven appeared to him, strengthening him. 44 And being in anguish, he began praying more fervently and his sweat became like drops of blood falling down to the ground.]]
DOUBLE SQUARE BRACKETS: This indicated that they know it is not in the original, yet they keep it in the Bible instead of a footnote.
Footnote: A number of early and important Greek manuscripts lack verses 43 and 44
Luke 22:43-44 Christian Standard Bible
43 Then an angel from heaven appeared to him, strengthening him. 44 Being in anguish, he prayed more fervently, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.
NO BRACKETS: Footnote: Other MSS omit vv. 43–44
QUESTION: How does that footnote help readers?
Luke 22:43-44 New American Standard Bible 2020
43 [Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony, He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground].
SINGLE BRACKET: This means they have some doubt about it being original. The 1995 NASB had no brackets even though they had the same textual evidence.
Footnote: Most early mss do not contain vv 43 and 44
QUESTION: How does that footnote help readers?
Luke 22:43-44 New World Translation (Jehovah’s Witness Bible)
43 Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 But he was in such agony that he kept praying more earnestly; and his sweat became as drops of blood falling to the ground.
NO BRACKETS: and no footnote in the new 2013 edition. There is a footnote in the 1984 edition, but no brackets or removal.
‘Luke 22:43-44’ not found for the version: Revised Standard Version.
The RSV should be applauded for following the evidence.
Note of the Differences in Footnotes
- ESV “Some manuscripts omit verses 43 and 44″
- LEB “A number of early and important Greek manuscripts lack verses 43 and 44″
- CSB “Other MSS omit vv. 43–44″
- NASB “Most early MSS do not contain vv 43 and 44,” and the
- NWT “Vss 43, 44 are contained in א*DVgSyc,h,hi,pArm; P75אcABWSys omit.”
Wow, what a contrast. The NWT has the best footnote, but only people who have basic knowledge of NTTC will understand it. The Witnesses do study numerous articles on different manuscripts, so they do have a basic understanding. And they have resources in their software. They know (א*) is the Codex Sinaiticus but the asterisk I am not absolutely certain of because asterisks, numbers, and letters are used differently by different scholars. I am thinking it refers to either the original scribe pre-corrected and it is evidence for retaining. But then we have (אc) This can refer to the corrector before leaving the Scriptorium, but likely not, it is likely a reference to a corrector centuries later. This is used to support omission. Now that we have somewhat unraveled that, the weightiness of (P75אcABWSys) is so great that supports the omission of both verses. On any other reading with no doctrinal significance, the JW’s translation committee would have followed the evidence. They follow WH very closely, and WH has double brackets on verses 22:43-44. They also follow the combination of P66P75Bא. To ignore this for them is absolutely theological bias.
The second-closest footnote that has some insights is both the LEB and the NASB. A number of early and important and most early MSS. But it really does nothing for the reader. In comparison to what? At least the NWT had in comparison to other manuscripts. These other translations are theologically biased as well. Now, notice the extensive footnote for the Updated American Standard Version (UASV) and that we followed the evidence. We also followed our textual and translation policy: follow the evidence, obey the grammar and lexicon, and if it supports your reading, fine, if not, fine.
Luke 22:41-46 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw and knelt down and began to pray, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 —— 44 —— 45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
 The original words were no verses (P69 P75 א A B N T W itf syrs copsa some Greek MSSaccording to Anastasius MSSaccording to Jerome some Greek and Old Latin MSSaccording to Hilary Marcion Clement Origen). A variant reading is added [[43 Then an angel from heaven appeared to him, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed very fervently; and his sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.]] (א*, D L Θ Ψ 0171 0233 f Maj (with asterisks or obeli: Δc Πc 892c 1079 1195 1216 copmss) most Greek MSSaccording to Anastasius MSSaccording to Jerome MSSaccording to Epiphanius, Hilary Justin Irenaeus Hippolytus Eusebius). The manuscript evidence for this textual variant is strongly in favor of it being excluded. So, did Luke pen this section and it was deleted later because some felt Jesus being overwhelmed was not in harmony with his deity, or did some copyists add this section later. It is highly unlikely that Luke penned them based on the evidence. Westcott and Hort also believed Luke 22:43–44 to be an early (second century) interpolation, which they felt was added from an oral tradition regarding Jesus’s life. (Westcott and Hort 1882, 64–67) Bruce M. Metzger is certain that these words were absent in the original Luke. “The absence of these verses in such ancient and widely diversified witnesses as P(69vid), א A B T W syrs copsa, armmss geo Marcion Clement Origen al, as well as their being marked with asterisks or obeli (signifying spuriousness) in other witnesses (Δ Π 892c 1079 1195 1216 copbo) and their transferal to Matthew’s Gospel (after 26:39) by family 13 and several lectionaries (the latter also transfer ver. 45a), strongly suggests that they are no part of the original text of Luke. Their presence in many manuscripts, some ancient, as well as their citation by Justin, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Eusebius, and many other Fathers, is proof of the antiquity of the account. On grounds of transcriptional probability it is less likely that the verses were deleted in several different areas of the church by those who felt that the account of Jesus being overwhelmed with human weakness was incompatible with his sharing the divine omnipotence of the Father, than that they were added from an early source, oral or written, of extra-canonical traditions concerning the life and passion of Jesus. – (Metzger B. M., A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 1994, p. 151) Philip W. Comfort observes, “The RSV  translators were the only ones to exclude both passages (Luke 22:43–44 and John 7:53–8:11). Outside pressures forced them to place John 7:53–8:11 back into the text after its first printing (see comments on John 7:53–8:11), but they did not do so with Luke 22:43–44.” – (Comfort P. W., 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, 2008, p. 234).
NOTE: The Nestle-Aland 26th to 28th editions do not consider these words as original.
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).
- Dirk Jongkind, ed., The Greek New Testament: Apparatus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017).
- Dirk Jongkind, ed., The Greek New Testament (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017).
- 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).
- 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).