I indicated in my previous post that the overall character of the text (as opposed to the apparatus) of the Greek New Testament in 1981 was widely perceived by New Testament scholars in to be pretty much “set,” and not all much different from what it had been in 1881. I need to explain that a bit.
I chose 1881 intentionally (not just for personal reasons: by fluke, it happens to have been exactly a century before I finished my Master’s degree in which I focused on New Testament textual criticism). 1881 was a very big year for the field. It was the year that two famous New Testament scholars from England, named Fenton John Anthony Hort and Brooke Foss Westcott, published their highly significant edition of the Greek New Testament, which they called, with some temerity, The New Testament in the Original Greek. (Temerity because they were claiming to have solved virtually all the problems of establishing “the” original text.)
This was a huge event, as it turns out. But to make sense of why it was so huge I have to give a good bit of background. I think I can pull that off in a single post. (You can read more about all this in my book Misquoting Jesus.)
As is well known, throughout the middle ages, the Bible used in the Western (Roman Catholic) church was the Latin Bible, originally going back to translations of the Bible from Greek into Latin in the early fifth century (the so-called “Vulgate” produced, in part, by the famous church father and scholar extraordinaire, Jerome). Following the Renaissance, with its emphasis on the classics and its “rediscovery” of ancient authors in their original languages, and during the Reformation and the new found interest in knowing the “original” words of the New Testament, over which there was so much wrangling, editions of the Greek New Testament started to appear.
The first to be published was …
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