by Rabon Vincent (with Norm Edwards this time)
I read your article that mentioned the need for commentaries with great interest. I’ve been thinking about doing a commentary on Revelation. Of course, there is the admonition at the end to be careful not to add to or take away from the words.
With that in mind, I am hoping to use the purest Greek text I can find to be the source document from which I produce the commentary.
In order to find the purist Greek text, I have been using well known corruptions (1Jn 5:7, 1Tim 3:16, etc) as a litmus test to help me in my search. Using this technique I have, so far, come to think of the Scholtz text and the Aland-Black text as purer than many of the others.
However, the thought occurred to me, there is probably someone who has gone down this dusty trail before, making the comparisons, possibly coming up with a computerized version of a 99.999% pure text. If so, there is no need for me to re-invent the wheel. I would gladly use their text.
Do you know of any source material (on or off the Internet) that could be of use in this project?
Have a great feast!
— Wily Elder
I am not as knowledgeable of the various Greek manuscripts as you are. I have looked for English translation books with the significant differences among the various Greek manuscripts and have not found any. Nevertheless, it is clear from various Bibles that note some manuscript variations, that Revelation has the highest percentage of alternate readings of any book.
I would not be concerned about the admonition not to add or take away words as long as your objective is to convey what the best Greek manuscripts say. If you believe that you know the true doctrines of the Bible or that you understand prophecy and then you translate the Greek words (or choose Greek manuscripts) so that they agree with your ideas, then you may be in trouble.
If you end up with what appears to be a right translation, but you cannot explain its meaning, then I would just leave it as is and go on. I think most of the manuscript discrepancies that we have now came about because somebody decided that he could more clearly explain what the Bible meant—but may not have been right.
I would be somewhat careful with the “test scripture” approach. Manuscripts are usually copies of copies of copies of… A manuscript might fail on one of your “test scriptures”, but otherwise be one of the best manuscripts available. One of your “test scriptures” could have been corrupted by a copyist many years ago, but then since then all of the copies have been faithful. Other manuscripts may pass your test scriptures, but be faulty elsewhere.
We would be served well if all copyists did nothing but make perfect copies. That way we would have exact copies of the originals. But sometimes, the spelling of words changes over the years, and copyists decide to use the new spellings that everyone else is using (when you hear Bible critics talk about the numerous thousands of “discrepancies” between the Bible manuscripts, nearly all of them are spelling discrepancies—there is no question at all in meaning). Sometimes, language changes over the years, and copyists decide to update the manuscripts to use current words and language structure. Sometimes, the names of places change, and copyists decide to put the new name of a place rather than the old one. And sometimes, there are scriptures that are unclear, and the copyist believes they know the “whole story”, so they add things to clarify it.
If the copyists were always right in their “improvements”, we would be even better served than with the ones who simply make perfect copies every time. However, they are all human, many did not understand the doctrines, and some worked for church organizations that tried to make sure that the Bible reflected their version of doctrines.
Why has God let this happen to us? Why didn’t he give us perfect manuscripts of the Bible so that we could obey Him?
I believe that this is answered by the Parable of the Talents (Matt 25:14–30). God simply does not give the same amount of truth to everyone, but judges us fairly on what we do with what we have. Just as God lets parents either enhance, help or mess up the lives of their children for generations to come, He lets copyists and Bible scholars enhance or mess up the future of other believers for generations to come. In both cases, He put us in a world where we can really make a difference and He wants to see what we will do—but He also limits the damage so that His plans may continue.
We certainly need honest people, who desire to believe God in spite of traditional religion teaching, to study the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts and to write which they believe are most accurate and why. Most people do not have the skills or time to do this, but many would be benefitted if some people would do it. It is the purpose of the Holy Scriptures Version to make this kind of research available for future generations.
Thanks a lot. Please keep up the good work. I am not sure of the manuscript issue with 1 Timothy 3:16. It would be good to publish a list of what you believe are other important “test scriptures” to at least check in a manuscript.
I will publish your letter so that others can contact you [see e-mail above] or Rabon Vincent Jr, 324 E Albion St, Avilla, Indiana 46710-9434; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ask Your Help
Please send concise descriptions of potential translation improvements that you have studied to Rabon Vincent Jr, 324 E Albion St, Avilla, Indiana 46710-9434; e-mail: email@example.com. Please understand that whatever you send may be edited and printed in this column and/or the Holy Scriptures Commentary. We cannot be responsible for returning manuscripts.
If someone wants to send money specifically for The Holy Scriptures publishing, mailing and research, we are keeping a separate accounting for it at PO Box 107, Perry, Michigan 48872-0107.