Greek New Testament : The Majority Text Project

The Gospels and Epistles were read continually, throughout the Eastern Churches in Byzantine Empire, from the Greek originals themselves. The scribes who copied them must generally have had their ears accustomed to the sound of them, as thus read publicly in the church of their abode, and the place where the copy was made. Nevertheless most modern textual critics, chiefly due to the labor of Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort, exalt Codices Vaticanus Gr. 1209 and Sinaiticus to almost absolute supremacy, which reduces all other manuscripts (found mostly in the Byzantine Empire) to complete insignificance. The final result of their discussion on the formation and mixture of texts is that a vast numerical majority of witnesses must be treated as having no primary authority. The chief ground for preferring the reading of Codices Vaticanus and Sinaiticus against thousands of authorities is a hypothesis of the proneness of scribes to add glosses, rather than make omissions; but especially the fact that the shorter reading, if original, could hardly escape the application of supplementary glosses. Modern critics have turned upside down the laws of evidence by their excessive trust in the Vatican and Sinaitic manuscripts. Dare we overmatch the multitude of years by the multitude of copies, — our two codices of the fourth century by the mixed hordes that throng on us from the sixth centuries onwards? Text critics who convince themselves that they know which manuscripts are more reliable than others are obviously prejudiced in favour of readings found in their favourite manuscripts. Even if we held the Vatican and Sinaitic manuscripts to be each of double or triple the weight of one of the later uncials, there would remain a great excess of ancient manuscript authority. A reading attested by only one or two witnesses, or found only in a small number of other manuscripts, is not likely to be the original reading, because the later a reading originates, the less likely it is to be widely copied and distributed. Unless an error is made very early, the chances for the error to survive in extant manuscripts in large numbers is significantly reduced. We should not take for granted that a copy of the New Testament written in the fourth or fifth century will exhibit a more trustworthy text than one written in the tenth or eleventh.

Greek New Testament .Org aims to produce a form of text as close as possible to the form of text found in the majority of the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament in existence. This text was named by Johann Jakob Griesbach the “Byzantine text” – a name preferable to that of “Syrian” given it by Hort, since, whatever its origin, it was indubitably the standard text of the Byzantine Empire all through the Middle Ages.

Goals of Greek New Testament . Org

  1. Produce a Majority Text of the Greek New Testament from an actual collation of the New Testament manuscripts.
  2. Produce a new English translation of the Majority Text.
  3. Produce a PDF file of the Greek New Testament with English translation that can be downloaded and can be used by anyone.

The nature of the Greek New Testament as a Divinely inspired text, every word of which is precious, bids us be extremely careful here, careful not to obtrude our crude guesses into the text, and careful not to leave any of the guesses or slips of the scribes in it.

What Is The Majority Text / Byzantine Text?

The Majority Text (?) is a term used to describe the readings supported by the majority of all surviving manuscripts of the New Testament in Greek, many of them written in minuscule script. In scholarly circles, this term is used to differentiate the text-type found in the largest number of surviving manuscripts from other forms of text which are in the minority (Alexandrian text-type, Western text-type, and Caesarean text-type). Some scholars prefer the term Byzantine text-type, because according to them this is the form of text which is known to have predominated among the Greek-speaking world (Byzantine empire) from at least the fourth century until the invention of printing press in the fifteenth century. Others called it Asiatic Text (Johann Albrecht Bengel), Oriental Text (Johann Salomo Semler and Wilhelm Friedrich Rinck), Byzantine Imperial Text, Antiocheian Text, Antiochian-Constantinopolitan type of text, Constantinopolitan Text (Johann Jakob Griesbach), Lucianic Text, Lucianic recension, Syrian Text (Westcott and Hort), Ecclesiastical Text, Traditional Text (John William Burgon), K, or Koine Text (Hermann von Soden and Augustinus Merk). In textual criticism, this form of text is often marked with the abbreviation ? (Majority Text) or Byz (for those who prefer to call it Byzantine textform). At this website, Majority Text will be used because we seek to collate and evaluate all extant manuscripts of the Greek New Testament.

The preparation of the fifty magnificent copies of sacred Scriptures ordered by Constantine for the churches of Constantinople was entrusted to Eusebius of Caesarea, whose affiliations were with Antioch; and everywhere the New Testament text used in Syria Palaestina began to make its way.

The separation of the Eastern and Western Empires was followed by the separation of the Eastern and Western Churches, with the effect of confining the use of Greek to narrower limits, and giving increased power to the Constantinople tradition wherever the Greek Scriptures were used. Thus, the Byzantine / Constantinopolitan text that became the text of the Greek world, and with the revival of Greek letters in the West, under the teaching of Byzantine refugees, of the whole world.

In the critical editions of Westcott and Hort, Tischendorf and Nestle-Aland, the Byzantine tradition is entirely abandoned and the text is based almost entirely on the two oldest manuscripts, Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209 and Codex Sinaiticus. Where these two manuscripts differ, Westcott and Hort usually follow Vaticanus; Tischendorf more often prefers Sinaiticus, the manuscript he discovered at St. Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai.

The Majority Text : A Work In Progress

As we are still collating the manuscripts of the Greek New Testament, the Majority Text of the Greek New Testament at this website is a work in progress.