Textual Criticism by Pastor Eddie
Updated: Aug 12, 2020
Textual criticism is a branch of textual scholarship, philosophy, and of literary criticism that is concerned with the identification of textual variants, or different versions, of either manuscripts or of printed books. ... This means that unintentional alterations were common when copying manuscripts by hand. For the Bible we find three primary methods to textual criticism. The first is the Textus Receptus. The Textus Receptus was a manuscript of the Bible that was compiled by a man named Erasmus in the 1500s A.D. He took the limited number of manuscripts he had access to and compiled them into what eventually became known as the Textus Receptus. The Textus Receptus is the textual basis behind the King James Version and New King James Version.
A second method is known as the Majority Text. The Majority Text takes all of the manuscripts that are available today, compares the differences, and chooses the most likely correct reading based on which reading occurs the most. For example, if 748 manuscripts read "he said" and 1429 manuscripts read "they said" - the Majority Text will go with "they said" as the most likely original reading. There are no major Bible translations that are based on the Majority Text.
The third method is known as the critical or eclectic method. The eclectic method involves considering external and internal evidences for determining the most likely original text. External evidence makes us ask these questions: in how many manuscripts does the reading occur? what are the dates for these manuscripts? in what region of the world were these manuscripts found? Internal evidence prompts these questions: what could have caused these varying readings? which reading can possibly explain the origin of the other readings? The New International Version, New American Standard, New Living Translation, and most other Bible translations use the Eclectic Text.
It is crucial for the accuracy of Scripture. With different methods we can have a better view to analyzing Scriptures.
The Christian faith is based upon God's own self-revelation, not the conflicting opinions or untrustworthy speculations of men. As the Apostle Paul wrote: "your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God" 1 Corinthians 2:5. The message of the Christian faith is, therefore, rooted in and circumscribed by God's own revealed word - not the authoritative words of men. What books properly make up the canon for the church? In answering this question, it is imperative that we not confuse the nature of the canon with the recognition of certain writings as canonical. The legitimate authority of canonical books exists independently of their being personally acknowledged as authoritative by any individual or group. The nature (or grounds) of canonicity is thus logically distinct from the history (or recognition) of canonicity. It is the inspiration of a book that renders it authoritative, not human acceptance or recognition of the book. If God has spoken, what He says is divine in itself, regardless of human response to it. It does not "become divine" through human agreement with it. Accordingly, the canon is not the product of the Christian church. The church has no authority to control, create, or define the Word of God.