Textual Criticism

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Uncial script: a text written completely in capital letters, without spaces (scripto continua), diacritics, or punctuation. Older than minuscules.

Minuscule: a text written in lowercase letters with a few words starting in capital letters. Several centuries after Christ.

Codex: a book (collection of pages that turn) made of paper, vellum, papyrus, or similar and written by hand (manuscript) . It replaced the old scroll.

  • Vaticanus (B) – c. 325–350
  • Sinaiticus (a.k.a. Aleph, א) A – c. 330–360
  • Alexandrinus (A) – c. 400–440
  • Ephraemi (C) – c. 450
  • Bezae (D) – c. 400

Scroll: a long sheet rolled so that one page (segment) is exposed at a time.


A way of grouping texts by region of origin and time.

  • The Alexandrian text-type
    • Also called the “Neutral Text” tradition; less frequently, the “Minority Text”
    • From around Alexandria, Egypt and from the Alexandrian Church
    • 2nd–4th centuries
    • Greek
    • e.g. Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus
    • Used mainly by translations after 1900
    • Used for the NIV, NAB, NABRE, Douay, JB, TNIV, NASB, RSV, ESV, EBR, NWT, LB, ASV, NC, GNB
  • The Western text-type
    • Sometimes called the Caesarean text-type
    • From North Africa to Italy and from Gaul to Syria
    • 3rd–9th centuries
    • Greek and Latin
    • Used for the Vetus Latina
  • The Byzantine text-type
    • Also called Koinē text-type or “Majority Text” (because the Byzantines made more copies of these than of any others)
    • 5th–16th centuries
    • 95% of all the existing manuscripts
    • Used by the Eastern Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire (starting on the 5th century)
    • It contains the most harmonistic readings, paraphrasing and significant additions, most of which are believed to be secondary readings
    • Used mainly by translations during the Reformation-era via the Texts Receptus (a.k.a Received Text or RT, 80% Byzantine text-type)
    • Used for KJV, NKJV, Tyndale, Coverdale, Geneva, Bishops’ Bible, OSB

Novum Testamentum Graece

  • Also called “Critical Text”
  • Is a text compiled by a committee that examines a large number of manuscripts in order to determine which reading is most likely to be closest to the original.