In this blog Dr. Hurtado gives a clear explanation of how “intentional” alterations by the early reader of a manuscript “unintentionally” found its way into the next copy made of that manuscript.
We are so fortunate to have the variations in all known manuscripts compiled in the Greek publications of Nestle Aland and that of the United Bible Societies. That gives modern translators of the Bible an oversight over all manuscripts. The translators of the King James Bible had only the hastily compiled text by Desiderius Erasmus to work with! He used only five manuscripts, arbitrarily choosing the variation he preferred.
In my essay that has just been published (mentioned in my post yesterday), my broader emphasis is that intentional textual variants in NT writings likely resulted from ancient readers. In the case of the variation-units I survey in that essay, I submit that readers were trying to judge the referents in statements that were somewhat ambiguous. I further propose that the variants likely resulted from readers perusing the context of each ambiguous statement to make their judgement, in short, doing just what serious readers and modern commentators do: exegesis based on context.
But, whereas modern commentators write a new text about the biblical text, these ancient readers (and we’re talking about the 2nd-3rd centuries likely) wrote what they judged to be the correct referent into their text of the NT writing. Ironically, out of their high regard for the text and its clear meaning, they felt free to alter the word…
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