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Why are you going back to the Textus Receptus, which has been rejected by the NRSV translators and most other scholars?

Answer by Robert Brow     March 2000       (www.brow.on.ca)

Yes, I am currently using the New Testament in Hodges and Farstad, The Greek New Testament According to the Majority Text. This is the family of texts which was later known as the Textus Receptus.

To the horror of some NT scholars I have now made the model shift to viewing the Egyptian Text, which is used in the NRSV, as representing an early group of manuscripts which is in the providence of God, but which did not become our canon.

The church did not complete her task of finalizing the New Testament canon till say 350 AD. And the finalized canon not only gave us our present list of NT books, but those books were read in the Majority Text which the universal church then used for 1500 years. This was the text which was adopted both for the Greek NT of the Orthodox church and for Jerome's Vulgate. They may have had devious reasons for this, but that is the text of the universal church.

The Majority Text Greek New Testament is like a book that has gone through many preliminary drafts and many editions. And with any book that becomes a classic it is the finally agreed edition that is retained for posterity. But for a hundred years there was a strange scholarly concern with the earliest documents. That suggested that the universal church should live by the earliest possible draft of our canon that we can identify. An extreme example of this is the idea that it is the document Q and Mark's
Gospel that was originally given, and all later editions have no business in our canon. We might as well insist on performing Shakespeare's very first draft of Hamlet.

There is no doubt that the Egyptian family of texts, mainly used by the NRSV, is found in the oldest of the most ancient manuscripts that have survived. But the plain fact is that for some good or bad reasons it was the Majority Text that was eventually adopted as our canon. The way those copyist/editors wrote about the Messiah is therefore worth considering for
the important theological question that interests me in my current reading of the Greek text.

The question is particularly important for our Jewish/Christian dialogue. Was Jesus a man whom Christians claimed was the Messiah that the Jews had expected (and rejected when he came) ? Or was it the Lord King Messiah of the Old Testament patriarchs and prophets who decided to take human flesh in the womb of the virgin Mary (and was recognized as such by the apostles) ?

With that by way of introduction here is an example of how the two models seem to be reflected in the First Epistle to the Thessalonians 3:11 The Majority Text has -o kurios ymon Iysous Christos- whereas the Egyptian text, as in other places, has the shorter "Lord Jesus." Was -Christos- or Messiah added in the Majority family of texts, or was it deleted by the early Egyptian Text copyists?

3:13  Again the majority text speaks of -en ty parousia tou Kuriou ymon Iysou Christou. The Egyptian text prefers to avoid referring to his -parousia- coming as Messiah. If the ET is older, then we have to explain why the MT deliberately adds the Jewish term Messiah in both 3:11 and 3:13.

The Egyptian Text is certainly comfortable with the term Lord Jesus Messiah in 1:1,3, 5:2-8 and even -en to euaggelio tou christou- (3:2).

Incidentally for some strange reason the NRSV, having translated -Christos- as Messiah beginning in Matthew 1:17, 18, began reverting to the more comfortable Greek term in Romans 3:24, 5:6-8, etc. Is it that calling our Lord "Jesus Christ" sounds less Jewish than "Jesus Messiah"?

4:16 -oi nekroi en Christo anastysontai proton- Those who were dead in (the faith of, belonging to ?) the Messiah will rise first. One could argue that Paul is only referring to New Testament brothers and sisters who had died. But if Paul is including the Old Testament saints in this resurrection, they would already in the Old Testament period be -en Christo- and therefore having faith in or belonging to the Lord King Messiah. If we adopt the latter model, it would prove that Paul's faith was in the Lord King Messiah of the Old Testament patriarchs and prophets, and he rejected the common Jewish view that the Messiah was a future King who would come to reign and put things right.

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