Tampering with the Text: Footnotes

Andreas J. Kostenberger and Michael J. Kruger

Tampering with the Text: Footnotes

Footnotes from The Heresy of Orthodoxy by Andreas J. Kostenberger and Michael J. Kruger (Crossway), "Tampering with the Text."

To read the full chapter, "Tampering with the Text: Was the New Testament Text Changed Along the Way?", click here.

1 For discussion of the posture/position of ancient scribes and whether they ever made copies without an exemplar in front of them (e.g., by dictation), see D. C. Parker, New Testament Manuscripts and Their Texts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 154-57; T. C. Skeat, "The Use of Dictation in Ancient Book-Production," Proceedings of the British Academy 42 (1956): 179-208; and Bruce M. Metzger, "When Did Scribes Begin to Use Writing Desks?" in Historical and Literary Studies, Pagan, Jewish, and Christian (Leiden: Brill, 1968), 123-37. 

2 This does not mean that ancient writers were always content with the amount of scribal mistakes. On occasion they would complain of how a scribe (or someone else) made so many blunders that the original document was tainted. For example, Martial complains about his copyist, "If any poems in these sheets, reader, seems to you either too obscure or not quite good Latin, not mine is the mistake: the copyist spoiled them in his haste" (Epig. 2.8). 

3 Bart D. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (San Francisc Harper Collins, 2005), 7 (emphasis in original). 

4 One need only compare Misquoting Jesus to B. H. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort, The New Testament in the Original Greek (Cambridge: Macmillan, 1881); Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism, 2d ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989); and Bruce M. Metzger and Bart D. Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992). The concept of an "original" text (and our ability to recover it) has been challenged in recent studies. Although there is not space here to attempt a resolution of this question, see the following for more discussion: Parker, New Testament Manuscripts and Their Texts, 337-38; idem, The Living Text of the Gospels (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 203-13; Eldon Jay Epp, "The Multivalence of the Term ‘Original Text' in New Testament Textual Criticism," HTR 92 (1999): 245-81; Metzger and Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament, 272-74; William L. Petersen, "What Text Can New Testament Textual Criticism Ultimately Reach?" in New Testament Textual Criticism, Exegesis, and Early Church History: A Discussion of Methods, ed. Barbara Aland and Joel Delobel (Kampen, Netherlands: Kok Pharos, 1994), 136-52; and J. Delobel, "The Achilles' Heel of New Testament Textual Criticism," Bijdr 63 (2002): 3-21. 

5 Of course, this is a general statement. There are two ways we could notice scribal variations even if we possessed only a single manuscript: (1) nonsense readings that suggest the scribe made a blunder; in such cases conjectural emendations would be necessary; and (2) corrections within the text itself from a second scribal hand could give indications of what the readings of other manuscripts may have been. For example, 􀂛66 (second-century codex of John) has a number of scribal corrections in the text; see Gordon D. Fee, Papyrus Bodmer II (􀂛66): Its Textual Relationships and Scribal Characteristics (Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press, 1968), 57-75. 

6 Alan Millard, Reading and Writing in the Time of Jesus (New York: New York University Press, 2000), 33-41. 

7 L. D. Reynolds, ed., Texts and Transmissions: A Survey of the Latin Classics (Oxford:  Clarendon, 1983), 406-11. There are numerous later Italian manuscripts of Books 11-16, all of which are based on the single earlier medieval manuscript Laurentianus 68.2 (known as the "second" Medicean). For more, see Clarence W. Mendell, Tacitus: The Man and His Work (London: Oxford University Press, 1957), 294-324. 

8 Reynolds, Texts and Transmissions, 174. The primary manuscript (Verona, Chapter Library XV) is actually a "palimpsest," which means the parchment was reused at a later date to copy another text, and the original text of The Institutes is only visible underneath it. The two more fragmentary manuscripts provide little new information (P.Oxy. 2103; Florence, Laur. P.S.I. 1182). 

9 Reynolds, Texts and Transmissions, 431-33. 

10 Josephus, The Jewish War, trans. H. St. J. Thackeray, LCL (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004), xxvii-xxxi; Heinz Schreckenberg, Die Flavius-Josephus-Tradition in  Antike und Mittelalter (Leiden: Brill, 1972).

11 The official numbers are kept at the Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung (Institute for New Testament Textual Research) in Münster, Germany. In personal correspondence, Daniel B. Wallace writes that, "Although the o"cial tally by Münster is now 5,773, and although the CSNTM has discovered dozens of MSS not yet catalogued by Münster, there are several MSS that have gone missing, have been doubly catalogued, or are parts of other MSS. Ulrich Schmid told me a few months ago that the actual number weighed in at 5,555. But I think it would be safe to say that there are over 5,600 now." 

12 For a fuller discussion of the manuscripts, see Aland and Aland, Text of the New Testament, 185-221. 

13 For more on texts in the fathers, see Gordon D. Fee, "The Text of John in Origen and Cyril of Alexandria: A Contribution to Methodology in the Recovery and Analysis of Patristic Citations," Bib 52 (1971): 357-73; idem, "The Use of the Greek Fathers for New Testament Textual Criticism," in The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Quaestionis, ed. Bart D. Ehrman and Michael W. Holmes (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2001), 191-207; and M. J. Suggs, "The Use of Patristic Evidence in the Search for a Primitive New Testament Text," NTS 4 (1957-1958): 139-47. For examples of attempts to extract texts from the fathers, see the Society of Biblical Literature series edited by Michael W. Holmes, The New Testament in the Greek Fathers, Texts and Analyses (1998-present). 

14 Metzger, Text of the New Testament, 86. 

15 Eldon Jay Epp, "Textual Criticism," in The New Testament and Its Modern Interpreters, ed.  Eldon Jay Epp and George W. MacRae (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989), 91. 

16 Epp, "Textual Criticism," 91 (emphasis added). For a similar point, see also Eldon Jay Epp,  "Textual Criticism in the Exegesis of the New Testament, with an Excursus on Canon," in Handbook to the Exegesis of the New Testament, ed. Stanley Porter (Leiden: Brill, 1997), 52-53. 

17 Gordon D. Fee, "Textual Criticism of the New Testament," in Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism, ed. Eldon Jay Epp and Gordon D. Fee (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 6. 

18 MS. plut. 68.1, Codex Mediceus. 

19 Pap. Graec. Vindob. 29810. 

20 This manuscript (Basle AN II 38) is actually a copy of an earlier manuscript dating from the eighth-ninth century, which is now lost; see discussion in Metzger, Text of the New Testament, 34. 

21 The other two fragments date from the third (P.Oxy. 2103) and sixth centuries (Florence, Laur. P.S.I. 1182) but offer very little of the text. 

22 Epp, "Textual Criticism," 91. 

23 C. H. Roberts, "An Unpublished Fragment of the Fourth Gospel in the John Rylands Library," BJRL 20 (1936): 45-55; for an even earlier date of c. #$ 100, see K. Aland, "Neue neutestamentliche Papyri II," NTS 9 (1962-63): 303-16. 

24 A date for 􀂛66 in the first half of the second century has been suggested by Herbert Hunger, "Zur Datierung des Papyrus Bodmer II (􀂛66)," Anzeiger der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 4 (1960): 12-33. 

25 Skeat has argued that 􀂛4-􀂛64-􀂛67 forms the earliest four-gospel codex and dates from the late second century; see T. C. Skeat, "The Oldest Manuscripts of the Four Gospels?" NTS 43 (1997): 1-34. Skeat has been challenged on this point by Peter M. Head, "Is 􀂛4, 􀂛64, and 􀂛67 the Oldest Manuscript of the Four Gospels? A Response to T. C. Skeat," NTS 51 (2005): 450-57. 

26 The original editors of 􀂛75 proposed a date between #$ 175 and 200, making this a possible second-century text, but that is debated. See V. Martin and R. Kasser, Papyrus Bodmer XIV-XV (Geneva: Bibliotheca Bodmeriana, 1961), 1:13. 

27 Helmut Koester, "The Text of the Synoptic Gospels in the Second Century," in Gospel Traditions in the Second Century: Origins, Recensions, Text, and Transmission, ed. William L. Petersen (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1989), 19-37, has argued that the New Testament text could have been radically changed by the time of (and during) the second century. For the opposing view see Larry W. Hurtado, "The New Testament in the Second Century: Texts, Collections, and Canon," in Transmission and Reception: New Testament Text-Critical and Exegetical Studies, ed. J. W. Childers and D. C. Parker (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias, 2006), 3-17; and Frederick Wisse, "The Nature and Purpose of Redactional Changes in Early Christian Texts: The Canonical Gospels," in Gospel Traditions of the Second Century, ed. Petersen, 39-53. 

28 Wisse, "Nature and Purpose of Redactional Changes in Early Christian Texts," 52-53. 

29 Aland and Aland, Text of the New Testament, 70 (emphasis added).

30 Ibid., 291-92 (emphasis original). 

31 It is important to note that we do have a number of manuscripts in the early centuries of Christianity whose text is rightly characterized as "free" or "loose," leading to more variants and more original readings. The classic example of this is the fifth-century Codex Bezae (D). For more on this fascinating manuscript, see D. C. Parker, Codex Bezae: An Early Christian Manuscript and Its Text (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992). 

32 Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus, 60. It is interesting to note that the very impressive study of Günther Zuntz on 􀂛46 had a much more positive conclusion: "The excellent quality of the text represented by our oldest manuscript, 􀂛46, stands out again. . . . Once the [scribal errors] have been discarded, there remains a text of outstanding (though not absolute) purity" (Günther Zuntz, The Text of the Epistles: A Disquisition upon the Corpus Paulinum, Schweich Lectures [London: British Academy, 1953], 212-13). For more on the text of Galatians in 􀂛46 and other early manuscripts see Moisés Silva, "The Text of Galatians: Evidence from the Earliest Greek Manuscripts," in Scribes and Scripture: Essays in Honor of J. Harold Greenlee, ed. D. A. Black (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1992), 17-25. 

33 Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus, 59. Even if Ehrman's hypothesis about how Galatians was copied in its earliest stages were true, we can still work back to a text that is so very near the original of Galatians that it would be more than su"cient for knowing what Galatians said. In fact, Ehrman acknowledges as much: "This oldest form of the text [of Galatians] is no doubt closely (very closely) related to what the author originally wrote, and so it is the basis for our interpretation of his teaching" (p. 62, emphasis original).

34 Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus, 89. 

35 Ibid., 90. 

36 Eldon Jay Epp, "Toward the Clarification of the Term ‘Textual Variant,'" in Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism, 57. As a point of clarification, Epp prefers to use the term "readings" to refer to insignificant changes, and reserves the term "variant" for changes that are significant or meaningful. Although such a distinction is helpful, we are using the term "variant" here in both senses: to speak of insignificant and significant changes.  

37 Epp, "Toward the Clarification of the Term ‘Textual Variant,'"57. 

38 No one knows the exact numbers. Wallace estimates that insignificant variants (as I have defined them here) would constitute approximately 80-90 percent of known textual changes (though this number is inexact because we use different categories). See J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, and Daniel B. Wallace, Reinventing Jesus, How Contemporary Skeptics Miss the Real Jesus and Mislead Popular Culture (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2006), 63. 

39 Categories 1 to 3 below are included by Epp in his definition of "insignificant" readings (Epp, "Toward the Clarification of the Term ‘Textual Variant,'"57), and I have added categories 4 and 5. 

40 E.g., John 1:4 in 􀂛66 drops the nu at the end of anthropon. 

41 Francis T. Gignac, A Grammar of the Greek Papyri of the Roman and Byzantine Periods, vol. 1: Phonology (Milan: Istituto Editoriale Cisalpino-La Goliardica, 1976), 189-91. Examples of such a practice abound in Codex Sinaiticus; e.g., tapinos for tapeinois, kreinai for krinai, and dynami for dynamei. Skeat and others have suggested such phonetical spelling can be evidence a manuscript has been produced by dictation. See Skeat, "Use of Dictation in Ancient Book-Production," 179-208. 

42 It is important to note that the type of changes in view here are the ones that are merely orthographic. On occasion, a spelling error may produce a new word and affect the meaning of a passage. For example, the well-known variant in Romans 5:1 could read, "We have (echomen) peace with God," or "Let us have (echomen) peace with God." 

43 It is possible that articles before proper nouns may occasionally be anaphoric (referring to a previous referent) and thus may be translated in a slightly different manner. E.g., Acts 19:15, ton Paulon epistamai, can be translated, "This Paul I recognize." Either way, it is hardly a substantive difference. 

44 Of course, there is not space in this short chapter to review the basic methodological principles of New Testament textual criticism. For more on that subject, see Metzger and Ehrman,  text of the New Testament, 300-343; Aland and Aland, Text of the New Testament, 280-316; Eldon Jay Epp and Gordon D. Fee, Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism; Ehrman and Holmes, The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research, 237-379; David Alan Black, ed., Rethinking New Testament Textual Criticism (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002). 

45 Not only does "gospel of God" have solid external support (􀁤 B L 􀀵 f 1 f 13), but the existence of the shorter reading better explains the rise of the longer one (due to harmonization), whereas the opposite scenario is quite difficult to explain. 

46 For more on this variant see Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Stuttgart: German Bible Society, 1994), 647-48; Metzger and Ehrman, Text of the New Testament, 146-47. 

47 61 88v.r. 221v.r. 429v.r. 636v.r. 918 2318. 

48 The recent volume by Bart Ehrman, Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (New York: HarperOne, 2009), offers a rebuttal to many of the criticisms of Misquoting Jesus and continues to insist that the variant in 1 John 5:7 is important and meaningful (p. 186). But Ehrman is missing the point entirely about this text. The reason this variant does not affect the integrity of the New Testament text is not because it is insignificant (Ehrman is correct that it changes the meaning of the passage), but because the textual evidence is so clearly against it that we know it is not the original reading. If we can tell it is not the original reading, then it does not matter how meaningful the change is. Ehrman seems so unduly fixated on the impact of the change that he misses the fact that the evidence against the variant speaks compellingly against its originality. 

49 The studies on the long ending of Mark are too many to mention here; some helpful reviews of scholarship can be found in Joseph Hug, La finale de l'evangile de Marc: Mc 16, 9-20 (Paris: Gabalda, 1978), 11-32; Paul Mirecki, "Mark 16:9-20: Composition, Tradition, and Redaction" (PhD diss., Harvard University, 1986), 1-23; Virtus E. Gideon, "The Longer Ending of Mark in Recent Study," in New Testament Studies: Essays in Honor of Ray Summers in his Sixty-Fifth Year, ed. H. L. Drumwright and C. Vaughan (Waco, TX: Markham Press Fund, 1975), 3-12; and James A. Kelhoffer, Miracle and Mission: The Authentication of Missionaries and Their Message in the Longer Ending of Mark (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000), 5-47. 

50 For more discussion on why Mark would end his Gospel at verse 8 see Beverly Roberts Gaventa and Patrick D. Miller, eds., The Ending of Mark and the Ends of God: Essays in Memory of Donald Harrisville Juel (Louisville, KY: Westminster, 2005); P. W. van der Horst, "Can a Book End with a gar? A Note on Mark XVI.8," JTS 23 (1972): 121-24; K. R. Iverson, "A Further Word on Final gar (Mark 16:8)," CBQ 68 (2006): 79-94; J. Lee Magness, Sense and Absence: Structure and Suspension in the End of Mark's Gospel (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1986); and David Alan Black, ed., Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: 4 Views (Nashville: Broadman, 2008). 

51 Westcott and Hort, New Testament in the Original Greek, 2:282. 

52 Kirsopp Lake, The Influence of Textual Criticism on the Exegesis of the New Testament (Oxford: Parker, 1904); J. Rendel Harris, "New Points of View in Textual Criticism," Expositor 7 (1914): 316-34; Eldon J. Epp, The Theological Tendency of Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis in Acts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966). 

53 Bart D. Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993). These same arguments appear in more popularized form in Misquoting Jesus, 151-75. 

55 Ibid., 77-78. 

56 Ibid., 83. 54 Ehrman, Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, 55. 

57 In Ehrman's recent rebuttals in Jesus, Interrupted, this point still goes entirely unaddressed. He continues to repeat how meaningful these changes were, but the examples he picks are often changes that virtually all textual scholars acknowledge to be unoriginal; e.g., the pericope of the adulterous woman in John 7:53-8:11 (p. 188). 

58 Moisés Silva, review of D. C. Parker, The Living Text of the Gospels, WTJ 62 (2000): 301-2. 

59 Bart D. Ehrman, "The Text as Window: New Testament Manuscripts and the Social History of Early Christianity," in The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research, 361 n.1. For a similar sentiment see Donald Wayne Riddle, "Textual Criticism as a Historical Discipline," ATR 18 (1936): 220-33. 

60 Metzger, Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 70. 

61 Ehrman argues that they are not original, and we would tend to agree (Misquoting Jesus, 138-44), though we would disagree with his assessment of the impact of this variant. See further the discussion in Metzger, Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 151; Ehrman, Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, 187-94; Bart D. Ehrman and Mark A. Plunkett, "The Angel and the Agony: The Textual Problem of Luke 22:43-44," CBQ 45 (1983): 401-16; Jerome Neyrey, The Passion According to Luke: A Redaction Study of Luke's Soteriology (New York: Paulist, 1985), 55-57; and Raymond Brown, The Death of the Messiah: From Gethsemane to the Grave (New York: Doubleday, 1994), 179-84. 

62 For fuller discussion see Bart Ehrman, "A Sinner in the Hands of an Angry Jesus," in New Testament Greek and Exegesis: Essays in Honor of Gerald F. Hawthorne, ed. Amy M. Donaldson and Timothy B. Sailors (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 77-98; William L. Lane, The Gospel according to St. Mark (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 84-87. 

63 Lane, Gospel according to St. Mark, 86. 

64 D. A. Carson, The Gospel according to John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 415. 

65 In Jesus Interrupted, Ehrman argues that whether or not a variant affects a cardinal Christian doctrine should not be relevant in determining why it matters. He declares, "It seems to me to be a very strange criterion of significance to say that textual variants ultimately don't matter because they don't affect any cardinal Christian doctrine" (p. 186). But, again, Ehrman seems to be missing the point that his evangelical critics are raising when they say these changes "don't matter." No one is suggesting that whether Jesus sweated blood in Luke 22:43-44 is completely irrelevant—of course it is important to know what the original text said and of course it is important not to say something happened when it did not in fact take place. In this sense, then, all would agree that variants such as these "matter." But if one asks whether such a variant changes the overall Christian message about Jesus, his mission, his humanity or divinity, or any other central doctrine, then the answer is clearly "no." In this sense, the variant "doesn't matter." Surely Ehrman would agree that the central doctrines of the faith "matter" more than peripheral ones. For example, an unresolved variant dealing with justification surely matters more than one pertaining to the question of whether Jesus sweated blood in one particular instance. If one were wrong about whether Jesus sweated blood, the consequences are very minimal and affect only a minor historical detail. If one were wrong about justification, on the other hand, the message of the gospel itself is at stake. Therefore, when evangelicals say these variants "don't matter," they simply mean that they do not affect the ability of the New Testament to accurately deliver the divine message of the Christian faith. The reason evangelicals insist on emphasizing this fact is because this is precisely the thing Ehrman denies in his books—he insists that these textual variants do affect the overall Christian message. For this reason it is largely due to Ehrman claiming too much for these textual variants that has led evangelicals to rebut him the way they do. But this is not to suggest that evangelicals consider comparatively insignificant variants completely unimportant or irrelevant. 

66 Remember here the fundamental argument of Ehrman: "We don't have the originals! We have only error-ridden copies" (Misquoting Jesus, 7). It seems Ehrman is fixated on the issue of he autographs almost as if inspiration has to do with the physical artifacts themselves rather than the text they contain. However, historically speaking, inspiration has not been about the autographs as a material object but about the text they bear. Since you can have the text of Paul without having the autographs of Paul, then it is clear one does not need the autographs to have an inspired book. It would be helpful if Ehrman would distinguish between having the original text (by which he means having the autographs), and knowing the original text (which can be achieved through the study of the overall textual tradition). 

67 Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus, 211. 

68 Gordon D. Fee, "The Majority Text and the Original Text of the New Testament," in Studies in the Theory and Method, 183-208. Fee notes that some advocates of the Majority text (e.g., Wilbur Pickering) are motivated by the fact that "contemporary NT textual criticism cannot offer us total certainty as to the original NT text" (p. 189). It seems that Ehrman and Pickering, ironically, share the same goal/requirement: total certainty. It is just that they go about solving the quest for total certainty differently. It drives Pickering to embrace the Majority text and it drives Ehrman to reject that anything can be known about the original text. See also Daniel B. Wallace, "The Majority Text Theory: History, Methods, and Critique," in The Text of theNew Testament in Contemporary Research, 297-320. 

To read the full chapter, "Tampering with the Text: Was the New Testament Text Changed Along the Way?", click here.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Excerpt taken from The Heresy of Orthodoxy by Andreas J. Kostenberger and Michael J. Kruger (Crossway).

The Heresy of Orthodoxy
Copyright ©2010 Andreas J. Kostenberger and Michael J. Kruger
Published by Crossway Books 
publishing ministry of Good News Publishers
1300 Crescent Street
Wheaton, Illinois 60187 


Originally published July 26, 2010.

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