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Essay Concerning the New Testament
[You May Copy and Use Any Portion of this Essay]

Otto G. Raabe ? June 2013

The Greek scholar, Bruce Metzger, is a proponent of the Critical Minority Greek Text of the New Testament assembled from Greek manuscripts of the Alexandrian type [Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary of the Greek New Testament, Second Edition, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, D-Stuttgart, 2002]. This faulty Greek text is based primarily on a 4th Century Roman Catholic version and a 5th Century Roman Catholic version. These Greek manuscripts were lost for over a thousand years and largely unknown until the 19th Century. Codex Vaticanus was found in the Vatican and Codex Sinaiticus was found in a waste bin in the monastery near Mt. Sinai. These and the relatively few (about 50) related so-called Alexandrian Greek New Testament documents are the basis of the faulty Minority Greek Text of the New Testament that Metzger favors. Catholic Greek Scholars ?discovered? them in the 19th Century and I believe that they promoted them because they were old and supported the Catholic Latin Bible.

The problematic Minority Greek Text, Codex Vaticanus, originated in Rome in the 4th Century, probably under the leadership of Jerome who was working on a Latin Version of the Bible called the Vulgate. Apparently Jerome had somewhat damaged papyrus pages of the Greek New Testament, since several verses, a whole section, and numerous words and phrases were missing in the Vaticanus Grrek New Testament rendition that was copied onto vellum animal skins. Earlier the Bible text on vegetable-based papyrus became fragile and easily damaged. Copies on vellum produced most of the very old New Testament copies that are now found in various museums. Apparently Vaticanus was used as the basis of the somewhat different 5th Century version of the Greek New Testament on vellum now called Codex Sinaiticus sent from Rome to a Catholic convent near Mount Sinai. These two somewhat faulty versions of the Greek New Testament and the few related documents are called the Alexandrian Version of the Greek New Testament.

The superior Majority Greek Text is the coherent Byzantine form of the Greek text that is based on the vast majority of about 5,000 surviving Greek manuscripts and fragments of the Greek New Testament. A version of the Byzantine text has been preserved by the Greek Orthodox Church.

Bruce Metzger considers the excellent Greek Majority Text to be ?corrupt? since he considers it to be based on the ?conflation? of ?divergent readings?. However he also states, ?It is characterized chiefly by lucidity and completeness.? [Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary of the Greek New Testament, Second Edition, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, D-Stuttgart, 2002]. In fact, the Greek Majority text is supported by over 5,000 Greek manuscripts and fragments that date to the Second Century. The New King James Version of the New Testament is an excellent modern English version that is based on the Greek Majority Text.

Which is more likely and reasonable? Over the first four centuries when the Greek text was being copied over and over and old damaged copies were being destroyed, was it more likely that that some words or whole lines were accidentally missed or possible obscured on some worn or torn papyrus pages leading to the faulty Alexandrian Greek versions? Or was it more likely as Metzger apparently claims that the thousands of sacred manuscripts supporting Majority Greek Text were somewhat forged or augmented by numerous transcribers leading to the excellent Majority Greek Text? This had to have happen at times when long distance communication was difficult and printing presses did not exist. Bruce Metzger?s position appears to me to be unsupportable.

Actually, it is the Critical Minority Greek Text of the New Testament that is an embarrassing mess with hundreds of significant omissions, incomplete verses, defective verses, weird wordings, and outright errors in comparison to the New Testament Majority Greek Text. For example, the Minority Greek Text and the modern English New Testaments based on it are missing the following verses: Matthew 17:21, Matthew 18:11, Matthew 23:14, Mark 7:16, Mark 9:44, Mark 9:46, Mark 15:28, Mark 16:9-20, Luke 17:36, Luke 23:17, most of John 5:3-4, Acts 8:37, parts of Acts 9:5-6, most of Acts 24:6-8, Acts 28:29 and Romans 16:24. In addition, over 1,000 other verses are missing important words or using different words.

The missing last line of the Lord?s Prayer in Matthew 6:13 of the Minority Greek Text is the reason Roman Catholics end the Lord?s Prayer at the word ?evil?. In the Minority Greek Text the version of the Lord?s Prayer in Luke 11:2-4 is further flawed. Bruce Metzger?s claim that the New Testament in Greek is 99% complete does not really apply to his favored Critical Text that has many divergent readings, missing verses, and missing words and phrases.

According to Greek scholars Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland (The Text of the New Testament, 2nd Edition, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, 1987), more than one-third of the verses in the Minority Greek Text are significantly uncertain with at least two or more major words being different from other Greek versions. As noted above, in many cases whole verses or important parts of verses are missing in the Minority Greek Text. This does not include the many important differences that depend on single words. For example, the addition of a single Greek sigma in Luke 2:14 in the Minority Greek Text significantly and theologically changers the message of the angels! That great message of the Majority Greek Text, ?Peace and good will to men? turns into ?peace to men of good will? in the Minority Text. The ancient Aramaic Peshitta version of the New Testament has ?peace and good hope to mankind.?

Unfortunately, the Metzger logic that has been promoted for about a century has led to the use of the inferior Minority Greek Text of the New Testament for most of the modern English versions including the Revised Standard Version (RSV), the New International Version (NIV), the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), the English Standard Version (ESV), the New American Standard Bible, the Jerusalem Bible and many others.

The idea that the faithful Jewish apostles and their followers, some uneducated fishermen, would write down the holy words of Jesus spoken in Aramaic in any foreign language like Greek is quite nonsensical. According to the tradition of Eastern Christians, the 22 Aramaic New Testament Books of the Peshitta were delivered from Apostles to believers in Odessa, Mesopotamia, in the year 78 A.D. They would have been in the same script font as in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The other 5 books and the ?Pericope de adultera? may have been written somewhat later.

It is noteworthy that the Greek Majority New Testament Text is actually in general agreement with the Aramaic Peshitta New Testament. Hence, that Peshitta text used by Assyrian Christians today generally confirms the Majority Greek Text. However, there are some variations and word differences that indicate that the Peshitta is the original text.

For example, the Aramaic Peshitta text of the beautiful Romans 5:7-8 states: ?Hardly would any man die for the sake of the wicked: but for the sake of the good, one might be willing to die. God has here manifested his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.? In sharp contrast the New Revised Standard Version states for Romans 5:7: ?Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die.? From where did this nonsense come? Obviously, the Greek translator mistranslated the Aramaic word that means ?wicked?. It is easy to show very many other differences related to the translation of Aramaic words among numerous words used in the Greek New Testament versions.

There is no ancient Greek text that exactly matches the ancient Aramaic Peshitta from which it could have been translated. On the other hand, the Greek New Testament texts are clearly based on the Aramaic Peshitta text since the wide variety of the Greek versions (Byzantine, Western, Caesarean, Alexandrian) contain varied content, very many alternative translations of Aramaic words, some missing words or whole phrases, and obvious misunderstandings of Aramaic words.

While the Aramaic Peshitta appears to be perfect, the Greek texts are all somewhat flawed. As noted above, the Greek scholars Barbara and Kurt Aland (1987) have pointed out that among the various Greek New Testament versions about one-third of the verses are significantly different. Most of those differences are associated with the faulty Alexandrian Greek text. These characteristics alone clearly show the Aramaic Peshitta to be the original and the Greek versions to be translations.

The content of the Aramaic Peshitta has not been changed throughout the centuries. The Peshitta text is essentially the same today as in all the earliest surviving manuscripts: Codex Ambrosianus (5th Century) Ambrosian Library, Milan Italy; the Mortimer and McCawley Manuscript (6th Century); and the famous Khabouris Manuscript (12th Century). The British and Foreign Bible Society (1905 & 1920) published the full text of Peshitta 22 books along with the so-called Western 5 additional books.

The Assyrian Bible scholar, George Lamsa (1892-1975), translated both the New Testament and the Old Testament into everyday English using the historic Aramaic Peshitta text of the New Testament and the ancient Aramaic Tanakh text of the Old Testament. Lamsa wrote a small book proclaiming and defending the Aramaic originality of the books of the New Testament (New Testament Origin, George M. Lamsa; Chicago: Ziff-Davis; 1947). George Lamsa published about three dozen books supporting his translation of the Bible and the Aramaic primacy of the New Testament text.

My personal favorite English translation of the Aramaic New Testament into modern English is The New Testament According to the Eastern Text (1940) by George Lamsa. Copies of the Lamsa English translation of the New Testament from the Aramaic of both the Old and New Testament are still in print or readily available.

For personal study of the English and Aramaic versions, I like The Aramaic-English Interlinear New Testament, 2nd Edition, 1992, three volumes, The Way International. You can get them by telephone order from The Way International Bookstore in New Knoxville, Ohio 45871. They also have other useful study aids including ?Lexicon to the Syriac New Testament?, ?The Concordance to the Peshitta Version of the Aramaic New Testament?, and ?English Dictionary Supplement.? Also useful is the <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=""></a><!-- m --> internet site.

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Essay Concerning the New Testament - by ograabe - 06-25-2013, 04:00 PM

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