History of the Bible

Early Writing

  • 3500 BC          Early Sumerian limestone tablets
  • 3000 BC          Egyptian hieroglyphics had begun to develop
  • 1400 BC          We have letters written by governors

Bible critics at one time claimed writing was not developed until after Moses in 1400 BC 

Writing Material

  1. Stone
    1. Moabite Stone erected by Mesha, king of Moab about 850 BC tells of Moab’s revolt against Israel’s King Jehoram and is in agreement with the OT account.
    2. Siloam Inscription records the construction of a tunnel in Jerusalem from King Hezekiah’s time and work recorded in the Bible from 700 BC.
    3. Ex. 31:18; 34:1,28; Dt. 27:2-3; Josh. 8:30-32
  2. Clay
    1. Library of Assyrian King Ashurbanipal (650 BC) has been recovered containing thousands of tablets.
    2. At Ebla in Syria more than 16,m000 tablets from back to 2500 BC recovered
    3. Ezekiel 4:1
  1. Wood
    1. In Athens, Greece wood was white washed in order to show ink better
    2. Isaiah 30:8; Habakuk 2:2
  1. Leather
    1. Used by the Hebrews
    2. Jeremiah 36:23 mentions a scribes’ knife used for erasing leather writing
    3. The Jewish Talmud (a code of traditional laws) required that Scripture be copied on animal skins.
    4. Apostle Paul asks that “the parchments” be sent to him in 2 Timothy 4:13. Parchments were leather portions of the OT.
  1. Papyrus (from the pith of the swamp grown papyrus plant. Pressed, dried and polished.)
    1. Used in Egypt as far back as 3000 BC
    2. By 400 BC ancient historians record “every one” was writing on papyrus


Papyrus Rolls (scrolls)

  1. Average length was 30 feet and they were 9-10 inches high.
  2. Wrote in columns that were 3-4 inches wide
  3. Inner edge (or, both edges) were attached to a wooden roller



During the years 50-200 AD the codes developed. Papyrus sheets were stacked and bound like a book. Codex had an advantage over rolls because:

  1. They could easily be carried around
  2. Ready reference use
  3. Contained more written information

Christians copying the New Testament Letters helped popularize the use of codex.


Beginning of Writing the Bible

  1. Moses wrote around 1400 BC
    1. Exodus 17:14 – memorial concerning Amalek
    2. Exodus 24:4 – words of the covenant at Sinai
    3. Exodus 34:27 – Ten Commandments
    4. Numbers 33:2 – Journey’s of Israel
    5. Deuteronomy 31:9,24 – Book of the Law
  2. Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible
    1. Joshua 8:31
    2. Judges 3:4
    3. Malachi 4:4
    4. Luke 24:44
    5. John 7:19
  1. Moses used portions of history previously recorded by men of God who where eye witnesses of past events. He compiled these documents and edited the book of Genesis by using writings of men like Adam, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, etc.
    1. Genesis 2:4 – document of creation
    2. Genesis 5: 1 – document of Adam’s line
    3. Genesis 7-8 – appear to be journal entries of Noah
    4. Genesis 10:1 – document of Noah’s line
    5. Genesis 12-24 – documents by an eyewitness of events surrounding the life of Abraham
    6. Genesis 36 – document of Esau’s line
    7. Genesis 37 – document of Jacob’s life
  1. Joshua wrote in Joshua 24:26
  2. Samuel wrote in 1 Samuel 10:25
  3. Jeremiah wrote in Jeremiah 36:2


Josephus (wrote Jewish history around 70-90 AD) records (in Against Apion I.8) that the Old Testament canon developed between Moses and Artaxerxes or until the time of Ezra, Nehemiah and Malachi. This would be the years 1400 BC until about 450 BC.


New Testament

1.     All written between 50-100 AD

  1. From the beginning these letters were considered authoritative.
    1. “I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.” 1 Thes.5:27
  2. These letters were exchanged between churches.
    1. “After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.” Colossians 4:16
  1. Then authoritative written narratives of the life of Christ had to be established.
    1. Luke 1:1-4
    2. John 20:30-31
  1. The climax had to be revealed for this new dispensation and Revelation was given.
    1. “Write, therefore, what you have see, what is now, and what will take place later.” Revelation 1:19

Form of the Bible Today

“Testament” is an archaic word. “Contract” or “Covenant” communicates better today.


The Old Covenant or the Old Contract is found in the English Bible as:

  1. five books of law (Pentateuch)
  2. twelve books of history (Joshua – Esther)
  3. five books of poetry (Job - Song of Solomon)
  4. seventeen books of prophecy (Isaiah – Malachi)
    1. five of these are the major prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel)
    2. twelve of these are the minor prophets


This form of organization came from the Latin Vulgate translation in 405 AD by Jerome. This Latin translation was made from the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures known as the Septuagint (LXX). The Latin Vulgate Old Testament then was a translation from a translation.

(Hebrew to Greek to Latin).

The Hebrew organization has three divisions in this order:

  1. Law (Gen., Ex., Lev., Num. Deut.)
  2. Prophets
    1. Former Prophets (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings)
    2. Later Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the twelve)
  3. Writings – Psalms, Proverbs, Job, S of S, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiates, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles


  1. Notice some books are classified in different groups
  2. The twelve minor prophets are one book
  3. The writers of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings were considered prophets for they wrote with a prophetic outlook.

The New Covenant is:

  1. Five books of history (Mt., Mk., Lk., Jn., Acts)
  2. Twenty-one books of doctrine (Epistles)
  3. One book of Prophecy

Bible Languages

Hebrew           Aramaic         Greek 


Almost all of the 39 OT books are Hb.

The Hb. letters can be found as headings in Psalm 119

There are no vowels

Although scribes and scholars have added vowel points



Similar to Hb. And uses the same letters

After exile to Babylon (500 BC) Aramaic became common language of Palestine.

Nebemiah 8:8 seems to indicate that the people of Nehemiah’s day needed the Hb scriptures translated into Aramaic to understand.

Aramaic appears in the OT in :

  1. Genesis 31:47 – in a place name
  2. Jeremiah 10:11
  3. Six chapters in Daniel (2:4b-7:28)
  4. Ezra 4:8-6:18 and 7:12-26


Note: The Dead Sea Scrolls reveal the exact same break from Hebrew to Aramaic in Daniel 2:4 in two different manuscripts. These MSS switch back to Hb. at the same place at the end of

chapter 7. The Dead Sea Scrolls match our modern MSS exactly after more than 2000 years of being coping.


The Aramaic spoken by Jesus and disciples is found still recorded in these verses:

  1. Mark 5:41 – “talitha cumi” (“little girl, get up”)
  2. Mark 7:34 – “ephphatha” (“be open”)
  3. Matthew 27:46 – “Eli, eli, lama sabachthani” (“My God, my God, why have you             forsaken me?”)
  4. Mark 15:34 – “Abba” (“Father”)
  5. Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6 – “Abba”
  6. 1 Corinthians 16:22 – “maranatha” (“Our Lord, come”)



Jesus spoke Aramaic. This explains why sometimes when the gospels quote Jesus the quotes may slightly vary in wording. Jesus said it in Aramaic but the writes translated it into to Greek to record it for all to read.

NT was recorded in Greek

Gr. Was the universal language of the day

New Testament Manuscripts (NT MSS)

Original letters written on papyrus which has perished.

Early Christians made many copies of these letters known as manuscripts.

A manuscript is anything written by hand.


Dating a manuscript

1.     It is important to know how old a ms is

  1. Some have dates written on them.
  2. Undated manuscripts are given a date by examining the handwriting:
    1. Large or small letters?
    2. Words together or spaced?
    3. Number of columns?
    4. Appearance of columns?
    5. Appearance of columns?
    6. Punctuation?
    7. Paragraphs?
    8. Plain/simple or Elaborate/complex lettering
    9. Spelling
    10. Word usage and grammar
    11. Style of letter


Two types of manuscripts:

  1. Uncials
    1. Earliest mss
    2. Most important
    3. Written in capital letters
  2. Cursives
    1. Smaller letters
    2. Written in running hand style
    3. Began to appear in the 800’s



  1. We have 5,000 Gr. NT mss
    1. 375 are the ancient uncial
    2. 250 of these ancient uncials are on vellum from 300-900 AD
    3. 90 of these ancient uncials are on papyri
    4. 50 of these ancient uncials on papyri are from 100-300 AD
  2. It was too bulky to copy the whole Gr. NT in one set so it was copied in four volumes
    1. Volume One: The four gospels
    2. Volume Two: Acts and General Epistles (James, 1,2,3 John, 1,2 Peter)
    3. Volume Three: Pauline Epistles
    4. Volume Four: Revelation
  1. The letters were originally dictated
    1. Romans 16:22
    2. 1 Peter 5:12
    3. Galatians 6:11
  1. They were written:
    1. In large letters
    2. With no punctuation
    3. Slightly cursive handwritten style
    4. Fimilar words abbreviated.
    5. Columns were kept strai

ght by simply contin

uing the word on the ne

xt line

  1. Three Great Uncials
    1. Codex Vaticanus – (Codex B) (from the 300’s AD)

                                                     i.     Each page a 10 inch square with 3 columns each

                                                      ii.     759 leaves of the finest vellum

                                                        iii.     A scribe traced the original fading letters but they are still visible

                                                       iv.     The front is lost up to Genesis 46:28 and the back is lost starting at Hebrews 9:14 (In the codex form the general epistles come after Acts but 1,2 Timothy, Titus and Revelation come after Hebrews.)

                                                      v.     Today’s Greek text rely heavily upon Codex Vaticanus

                                                       vi.     There is no Mark 16:9-20, but yet the scribe appears to know it e3xists since he left space for it in this mss.

    1. Sinaitic Manuscript (Codex Aleph) (350 AD)

                                                     i.     15 inch square sheets with 4 columns

    1. Alexandrian Manuscript (Codex A) (400’s AD)
    2. Ephraem Rescriptus (Codex C) (400’s AD)
    3. Codex Bezae (Codex D)

                                                     i.     Greek on left; Latin on right.

                                                      ii.     10 x 8 inch leaves with one column per page.


Cursives (minuscules)

About 2,800 exist but they date from 800-1500’s AD

Codex 33 is the most important since its text is similar to Codex Vaticanus

These are awesome to see with their elaborate, artistic decorations

The covers are richly stamped

Initial letters luxuriously ornamented

Some include multi-colored illustrations



Portions of scripture were copied out to be read in a church services.

Most often these are the pastor’s notes for the sermon.

The scripture was written into the notes to be read during the sermon.

2,200 exist

Translations (versions)

Translations from the Greek to other languages were made almost immediately

  1. Syriac Versions – these would be translation copied from a manuscript from 100’s AD
    1. Curetonian Syriac translation into Syriac (language of nations of Mesopotamis) from 400 AD with 80 leaves. Discovered in 1800’s.
    2. Sinaitic Syriac – from late 300’s AD a rescript found ath St. Catherine’s Monastery on Mt. Sinai.

2.     Latin Versions

a.     About 35 Old Latin manuscripts plus fragments go back to 150 AD

b.     Latin Vulgate History – The Old Latin mss were becoming corrupt so in 382 Damascus, the bishop of Rome, gained the services of Jerome to translate a new Latin version. It became known as the Latin Vulgate.

                                                     i.     In making his Latin translation from the Greek, Jerome combined:

1.     Education

2.     Consecration

3.     Common Sense

                                                      ii.     He made corrections in the Latin text by going back to the Greek.

                                                        iii.     Jerome was relectuant to do so because he knew it would not be well received.

                                                       iv.     He completed the Gospels in 384 AD and his work was not well received by people.

                                                      v.     Jerome identified these people as those who identified “ignorance with holiness.”

                                                       vi.     The result of Jerome’s work was a 1,000 year reign of this translation in the West.

                                                         vii.     There are 10,000 plus mss of the Latin Vulgate.

                                                          viii.     The first English translations were translations of the Latin Vulgate

                                                        ix.     The KJ version heavily reflects Jerome’s Latin Vulgate

                                                      x.     Roman Catholics made it the official Bible and it is still so today.

                                                        xi.     The English Roman Catholic Bible is an English translation of the Latin Vulgate.

3.     Other Early translations – Egyptian, Armenian, Gothic, Ethiopic, Georgian


Early Christian Writers

1. These writers wrote from 70-100 AD and from 100-200 AD

2.     Their writings have been preserved and are filled with quotations from the NT

3.     Justin Martyr, Tatian, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria

4.     If all the other manuscripts were lost we could still rebuild the exact same NT text in Greek just from the quotes from the early church fathers.


The New Testament Greek Text

The original autographs of the NT do not exist.


But, copies were made of these original from the very beginning.

All copies were by hand until the printing press was invented in 1456.


Errors are bound to have occurred during 1,400 years of being copied.

Even with the invention of the printing press copies have been produced with errors many times.

(The 1611 edition of the King James Bible had 400 errors in this first edition. They were corrected in the 1613 edition.)

Textual Criticism:

Once an error was made it could be copied and would eventually be mixed into the text.

These errors produce the need for the science of Textual Criticism.

Textual Criticism has two branches:

  1. Lower Criticism – which seeks by comparision and study of all available mss evidence to recover the exact words of the author. This is a necessary science.
  2. Higher Criticism – devotes itself to study of authorship, date of composition and historical value. This is a science developed by the liberals to undermine authenticity.

Identifying the need for Textual Criticism:

    1. It is necessary because no two existing MSS are exactly alike. Most manuscripts disagree 6-10 times per chapter.
    2. We have 5,656 Gr. MSS, 10,000+ Latin MSS and 1,000+ translation mss
    3. Only 59 have the complete NT.


The Text-types:

Although no two MSS are exactly alike they do fall into a particular style of text.

Meaning the variations tend to fall into three basic text-types that seem to show they were copied

from similar mss.

These three seem to come from the same geographical location:

  Byzantine Text-type    Western Text-type    Alexandrian Text-type          

Byzantine Text-type (Majority)

1.     Called Byzantine text-type.

2.     Contains the majority of all the found Gr mss (80%)

3. They come from the Byzantine Empire where Gr. was native

  1. Considered most inferior because all mss are from 300+ AD
  2. Most of them are from 1000+AD

6. This text tends to combined variant readings to make a new one

that is different from both of its sources.

  1. Harmonization of the text by making parallel passages agree.
  2. The built in smoothness
  3. Variations that are obviously liturgically-motivated.
  4. The greatest argument is the scarcity of this text-type in the early mss and its absence:
    1. In any papyri before 300 AD
    2. In the Early church Fathers


Western Text-type

1.     Mss of this text-type found from 200 AD

2.     Used by early Christian writers in Palestine and Asia Minor

3.     Comes from the Western Mediterranean area

4.     Important when it agrees with the other text-types


Alexandrian Text-type

  1. Found in the earliest mss, including the papyri
  2. Some of the Alexandrian papyri come from 110-200 AD
  3. Generally regarded as superior due to internal evidence:
    1. Its readings tend to be more difficult (which explains why variations developed)
    2. Its readings tend to be shorter and not have additional wording
  4. This is the text-type found in Codex Vaticanus and Codex Siniaiticus, and the papyri.
  5. It is the best text-type existing


The Major Greek Texts

Eclectic Text (United Bible Societies text and Nestle/Aland text)

Majority Text

Textus Receptus (Foundation for King James Bible)


Eclectic Text

  1. It uses all the mss and all three text types.
  2. All the variants are displayed in the apparatus.
  3. Based on theory that the date and quality of mss is more important than number of mss
  4. Tend to favor the earlier mss
  5. Tend to favor the Alexandrian text-type
  6. Follow Westcott and Hort’s methods
  7. Basis of several translations including NASB and NIV


Majority Text

  1. Represents all the mss of the Byzantine Text –type (also, called Majority Text-type)
  2. The KJ Textus Receptus is based on the same text-type but only uses 6 mss where the majority text uses 4,000+ mss of the same text –type
  3. Method is based on two principles:
    1. Any reading overwhelmingly attested by the mss tradition is more likely to be original.
    2. Final decisions about readings ought to be made on the basis of a reconstruction of their history in the manuscript tradition. In other words they consider the Byzantine Text-type to be original. There are five strands of the Byzantine that conflict. They build a genealogy of development for the variations
  4. No translation is based on the Majority Text.
  5. Some NKJV give Majority Text readings in the margins.


Textus Receptus

  1. The title for Greek text edition from 1633 of the Greek text first published in 1516 by Erasmus
  2. Erasmus originally intended to publish his annotations on the NT with a text of the Latin Vulgate. His publisher pressured him to include the GNT.
  3. Erasmus responded by using 7 Gr. mss available in his city to edit a Gr. text in 7 months
  4. Erasmus called it “thrown together rather than edited.”
  5. Erasmus used two main msss and wrote his corrections and changes on them.
  6. The printer used these mss to set the type.
  7. A comparison shows that the printer:
    1. Did not always follow Erasmus’ changes
    2. Made revisions not made by Erasmus.
  8. Erasmus had no Gr mss containing the last six verses of Revelation, he translated these verse from Latin back into Greek. These verses contain at least 20 errors.
  9. The copyist made several errors in copying the text of Revelation which are still found in the TR today.

Types of Mistakes Found in GNT MSS

  1. Unintentional Errors
    1. Scribe mistook one word for another.
    2. Scribe confused similar sounds (affect and effect)
    3. Unskilled scribes improperly divided words from the uncial mss
    4. Errors of omission/addition (skipping a word, skipping a line or writing the same word or line twice. Ex: Skipping down 4 lines because both lines ended with the same word.)

a-d are easy to identify when comparing manuscripts.

    1. More difficult: Explanatory notes where written in the margin. When the mss was copied the scribe copied the notes into the Gr. text. This is rare in NT and can be identified in comparison.
  1. Intentional Errors
    1. They were not made by corrupt scribes trying to tamper with the text. Most often the scribe feels he has come across an error and wants to “correct” the text.
    2. Example: Matthew 11:19 compared with Luke 7:35


“Wisdom is proved right by her actions.” Mt. 11:19

“Wisdom is proved right by her children.” Lk. 7:35


During coping a scribe apparently tried to change them to agree as they do in the KJ. (Both say “children” in the KJ.) But, earlier mss show that before the mss used for KJ it used to say “works” in Matthew and “children” in Luke. Some scribe tried to make Matthew and Luke agree on this quote.


Basic Rules of Textual Criticism

  1. The more difficult reading is preferred.
    1. Scribes would tend to “smooth” out the passages they felt were in error or were hard to understand.
  2. The quality of the textual witness is more important than the quantity of textual support.
    1. Textual authorities must be weighted and not counted.
    2. Example: The American Standard Version places a footnote on Mt.11:19

that says:


“Many ancient authorities read ‘children’ as in Luke 7:35.”


But, this footnote does not say which ancient authorities read ‘children’ instead of ‘actions’. To find this information to weigh the value of these ancient authorities you need to go directly to a GNT text and refer to the footnotes there. The footnotes at the bottom of a GNT text page are called an “apparatus.”

In support of “children”                                            In support of “works”

Rescriptus Ephraem MS (400’s)                                Codex Vaticanus MS (300)

Codex Bezae (400’s)                                                  Codex Sinaiticus (350)

Almost all later MS

Syriac Translation

Latin Translations

  1. In parallel texts (Mt. Mk. Lk. Jn.) minute different readings are preferred rather than one that had been harmonized to match over the years.

Textual Variations

It might be said that there are 200,000 errors in the NT texts.

What this means is there are 200,000 scribal errors in all the manuscripts, but this is misleading.

This number is arrived at by counting all the variations in the 5,000+ Gr. mss


  1. If one word (the same word) is misspelled in 4,000 MSS that is counted as 4,000 errors. What happened is one scribe misspelled one word and it was copied at least 4,000 times.
  2. We have 5,000 Gr. mss. If we had only 10 Gr. MSS there would not be 200,000 errors
    1. There would be errors but we would not be able to identify them nor judge them
    2. The more mss you have the more:

                                                     i.     Variations

                                                      ii.     Means of checking


Types of Variations

            Trivial Variations    Substantial Variations        Substantial Variations w/ Bearing


Trivial Variations

  1. These exist but have no consequence to the text.
  2. This is the majority of the textual variations


Example: In a copy of the printed Greek Text you could turn to the page with Mt.11:19 on it. It might have 13 verses on that page (Mt.11:10-23). The bottom of the page would show that there are 9 variations in those 13 verses.

    1. 1 variation is the question of “works” or “children”
    2. 5 variations concern the omission/addition of words like “for”, “and”, “the”
    3. 3 variations concern different forms of the same Gr. word.


  1. Often variations are changes in Greek spelling over the years. The same thing happens in English. This can be seen when a comparison of the 1611 KJ Bible is made with a modern copy of the same KJ Bible.
  2. Variations include grammar and occurred when grammar rules changed
  3. Some variations occurred when vocabulary and word meanings changed
  4. A change in word order, but saying the same thing occurs. (ex: “the Lord Jesus Christ” or “Christ Jesus the Lord.”)


In all these cases it is simple to identify when, where and why the change in the text occurred.

The best Gr. text is then easy to develop in these cases.


POINT: But, even if all these issues could not be resolved the overall meaning of the scriptures would not be lost or changed.


Substantial Variations

Some variations include whole verses or several verses.

  1. Codex Bezae of the 400’s reads at Luke 6:5:

“On the same day, seeing one working on the Sabbath day, he said to him, ‘Man, if you know what you are doing, you are blessed but, if you do not know, you are accursed and a transgressor of the law.’”

    1. This is found in no other MSS.
  1. Codex Bezae is the first ms to have the story of the adulterous woman at

John 7:53-8:11.

    1. No early ms except the Codex Bezae (which is known for peculiar readings) has the story .
    2. It is not found in mss again until the 700’s.
    3. Even some mss:

                                                     i.     Have notes of doubt in the margin

                                                      ii.     Have put it at the end of the Gospel of John

                                                        iii.     Have put it in Luke after Luke 21:38

    1. This does not bring doubt on the text but it does bring doubt on if this story was in the original.
    2. The story may be true, but it was not originally in the scriptures
    3. American Standard Version brackets the story
    4. Revised Standard and NIV – separate it from the text
    5. New English Bible (NEB) – puts it at the close of John
  1. Acts 8:37, “And Philip said, ‘If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.’ And he

answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’”

    1. No Gr. MSS earlier than 600AD has this quote.
    2. American Standard and Revised Standard Version omit them.
  1. 1 John 5:7
    1. The KJ reads, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”
    2. Erasmus made the first printed Gr. text in 1516

                                                     i.     His 1st and 2nd editions did not include 1 Jn.5:7 because there were no Gr. ms with this verse in it.

                                                      ii.     A controversy arose because the verse had been in the Latin translations up to this point in history.

                                                        iii.     Erasmus insisted he was right according to the Gr. MSS and promised he would add it into his text if one single Gr. ms could be found to support it.

                                                       iv.     Eventually a Gr. ms appeared with 1 Jn.5:7 and Erasmus kept his word and added it into his 3rd edition.

                                                      v.     William Tyndale made the first copy of the English NT and used Erasmus’ 3rd edition. From Tyndale in 1525 to KJ in 1611 1 Jn.5:7 was in the English Bible.

    1. 1 John 5:7 has no evidence of originality. Only three Gr. mss have it and these all show that they were translated back into Gr. from Latin.

                                                     i.     One ms from 1300’s, one ms from 1400’s, one ms from 1500’s



These are all substantial variations but make no bearing on the meaning of the text nor the understanding of the divine revelation.

Substantial Variations that have bearing on the text


These are textual issues we may want to ignore but ignorance solves no problems and gives the critics the advantage.


Variations such as 1 Jn. 5:7 or Jn.7:53-8:11 are surrounded by consistent evidence that leads us to a clear decision concerning originality


Mark 16:9-20 is more difficult and even indecisive


Evidence against Mark 16:9-20 is that it is missing in:

  1. Codex Vaticanus
  2. Codex Sinaticus
  3. Old Syriac translation mss
  4. Old Latin translation mss

In favor of its originality:

  1. Codex Alexandrian
  2. Ephraem Rescriptus
  3. Codex Bezae
  4. Early uncials
  5. All Latin uncials and cursives
  6. Old Latin
  7. Latin Vulgate
  8. One Old Syriac



  1. Irenaes (100’s AD) makes a statement concerning Mark 16:9-20. He also said that Mark was the author of the book we call Mark.
  2. Codex Sinaiticus leaves room between Mark and Luke for the verses but they were never added in .

POINT: If these verses were taken out the concepts are still solid from other verses and Bible records.

















Restoring the Greek Text

Two options:


5.     Select one of the Gr. mss and translate it and ignore all the others

a.     Problem: No one mss is free from obvious scribal errors.


6.     Consult a number of Gr. mss and by comparison reconstruct what

is believed to be the original text

a. This is what translators have done since the beginning of

translating the Gr. mss


Three sources to build Gr. Text from:

  1. Manuscripts – all of which can be traced back t6o the text they copied.
    1. Alexandrian Text Copies – come from Alexandria Egypt
    2. Syrian (Byzantine) Text copies – come from Antioch, Syria
    3. Western Text copies – come from Western Europe 

2.     Early Translations

  1. Early Christian writers and their NT quotes


The Textus Receptus

One of the first most popular Gr text was reconstructed by a Roman Catholic scholar in 1516

Desiderius Erasmus used five GNT mss

  1. ms of Gospels, Acts and Epistles from 1000’s AD
  2. ms of Gospels from 400’s
  3. ms of Acts and Epistles from 1100-1300
  4. ms of Acts and Epistles from 1400’s
  5. ms of Revelation from 1100’s
  6. ms of Latin copies to fill in missing or questionable parts


1516 Textus Receptus becomes the accepted text


1519 Second Edition of T.R. has the Greek Text revised in places.

            Example: John 1:1 goes from “speech” from the Latin translation (“sermo”) to

                                    “word” from the Latin “verbum


1522 Third Edition of T.R. produced

            1 John 5:7 was not in the first two editions because it was not in any Greek ms

            People wanted 1 Jn. 5:7 added back into the GNT text because it had been in the Latin.

            Erasmus said he had never seen it in any Gr. mss but promised if he ever saw it in the Gr MSS he would put it in his text.

            Finally, a Gr ms with 1 Jn.5:7 was discovered and Erasmus put it in the3rd Ed. of T.R.

            A 100 other changes made.


1522 Martin Luther makes a German translation from the 1516 T.R. (Edition #1)


1525 William Tyndale makes first English translation of NT from 1516 T.R. Germany smuggles

15,000 copies into England but England’s government and churches burn them as fast as

they arrive.

1527 Fourth edition of the Textus Receptus is published with 90 places in Revelation altered

(based on the Complutensian Polyglot.)


1535 Fifth editioni of T.R.


1546 Stephanus (or, Ropbert Estienne, 1503-1559) revises the T.R.


1549 Stephanus’ second Edition or T.R. with 60 changes


1550 Stephanus third Edition of T.R.

            He uses 12 different MSS and the Complutensian Polyglot

            He includes variant readings in the margins


1551 Stephanus fourth edition

            First time the text is divided into numbered verses.


1564-1604 Beza (a friend of John Calvin)makes 11 editions

At times Beza edits based on his own conjecture as in Rev. 16:5 “which art and who was, O, Holy One.” He changed it to “which art and wast and shalt be” which is not found in any Gr. mss.


1611 King James is published using texts of the Textus Receptus by Erasmus, Stephanus and

Beza, but Beza’s 1598 edition was main source.


1633 Elziver Brother’s (Bonauenture and Abraham)second Edition and is first referred to

as Textus Receptus


1650 Elziver’s third edition differs from his second edition in 287 places.


All together there have been 25 editions and countless changes in the Textus Receptus.


Chech out these for pro KJ information:




Westcott-Hort Text

1881 B.B. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort (two Cambridge scholars) published a completely

revised edition of the GNT

They spent 30 years on the project.

It was a revolutionary achievement in scholarship (not because it was new) but because of the:

  1. Deliberate thoroughness of their work
  2. The unquestionable soundness of the principles and methods
  3. No piece of evidence was passed over
  4. Every authority was considered and placed in perspective


Westcott-Hort text rejected mass authority and built on the:

Codex Sinaticus and Codex Vaticanus.


Also, in 1881 a revision committee which included Westcott and Hort published the English

Revised Version of the NT

The new translation (English Revised Version) and the new text (Westcott-Hort) put the Textus

Receptus in the history books accept for tradition.


Since 1881:


1892 – discovery of the Sinaitic Syriac ms by two twin sisters who where looking for MSS at

St. Cathrine’s on Mt. Sinai (same place as Tischendorf discovered Codex Sinaticus) This

find was a palimpsest copied over a ms of the gospels from 300-400 AD. It did not

have Mark 16:9-20.


1906 – Washington MSS. Charles L Freer purchased a collection that included the Gospels

            from 300-400 AD. Mark 16:9-20 is there plus an additional verse after Mark 16:14.


1931 – Chester Beatty Papyri. Sir Frederic Kenyon, Director of the British Museum acquired a

group of papyri from jars taken out of an Egyptian grave yard. Included are:

P45 (papyri #45) – 30 leaves of Gospels and Acts from 200 AD

P46 – 86 leaves of Paul’s epistles in this order: Rm, Hb, 1+ 2 Cor.,Eph,, Gal, Philippians,

Col, 1+ 2 Thes. From 200 AD. Comparable to Vatican and Sinaitic

            P47 – 10 leaves from middle of Revelation from 200 AD


1920 – John Ryland’s Fragment (P52) is a 3 1/2” x 2 1/2” fragment only but it is the oldest

known ms. It is John 18:31-33,37,38 from 110-130 AD. It is precisely like our text



1956 – Bodmer Papyrus (P66) of John from 200 AD and contains 1:1-14:26 with two missing

            leaves that showed up in 1958. Details of this discovery are still unknown.


1961 – Bodmer Papyrus (P75) from 175-225 AD. Contains Luke and some of John. This is the

oldest copy of Luke. This P75 and P66 are very much like Codex Sinaticus and Codex

Vaticanus. No peculiar readings like Codex Bezae.


These finding give more weight to Westcott-Hort.

These do not have John 7:53-8:11 nor do they have John 5:4.


The Textus Receptus and the Westcott-Hort text are basically completely compatible.