Questions, Insights, & Responses

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#64 - Tools to compare the Textus Receptus with modern Greek New Testament

by Robert Nguyen Cramer

This BibleTexts website administrator has very much enjoyed questions and insights that have been emailed to him ever since this site was launched in September of 1996. On this page I share with BibleTexts browsers a few of the questions, insights, and responses, so that we all can further learn from and with each other.


Question/insight #64:

I am looking for "jot and tittle" or should I say "iota subscript" comparison of the more popular GK MSs [Greek manuscripts] such as TR [Textus Receptus] vs. UBS 4th [United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament, 4th Revised Edition]. If you have an idea if something like this exists in print I would certainly love to find it out.

Response #64:

Unfortunately I know of no single reference work that provides exhaustive textual critical comparisons between the TR (Stephen's 1550?, Beza's 1598?, Elzevir's 1624, Scrivener's 1881?), from which the KJV New Testament was translated, and the currently most accurate UBS4. As you most likely know, the UBS4 has critical apparati that show variant readings, but many of the TR's (and KJV's) readings are so unsupportable that they are not even mentioned in such a detailed set of footnotes. Bruce Metzger's A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd Edition (New York: United Bible Societies, 1994) is also a tremendously valuable resource, but once again many of the TR's (and KJV's) errors are so far removed from any semblance of authenticity that they are not even mentioned in Metzger's work.

Though quite dated, one useful work is George Ricker Berry's The Interlinear Literal Translation of The Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976). Its footnotes point out a majority of discrepancies between the TR and later, more accurate Greek New Testaments (Griesbach's 1805, Lachmann's 1850, Tischendorf's 1872, Tregelles' 1872, Alford's 1870, and Wordworth's 1870. I have marked up my copy of Berry's work to reflect many of the additional discrepancies with the UBS4, but my markings are far from complete.

I generally use Logos4 or BibleWorks4 to do word by word comparisons between TR and UBS versions, with each Greek text in separate columns, but that is very tedious. That methodology has been the basis of most of the textual commentary in the BibleTexts Online Bible Commentary at I used to include Greek text comparisons in that Commentary, but that was too distractive and confusing for most of the online users of the website. So I now primarily use Strong's numbers to document the differences, though that is of limited scholarly value.

In recent years when I consulted scholars at several seminaries and at the American Bible Society, I was repeatedly told that are no such resources that provide the critical textual comparisons that we would like. Until one of us can take the time to finish such a work, we will continue to have only the more tedious comparison methods available to us.


Copyright 1996-2002 Robert Nguyen Cramer