The Ecclesiastical Text of Revelation—Does It Exist? -- By: Zane C. Hodges

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 118:470 (Apr 1961)
Article: The Ecclesiastical Text of Revelation—Does It Exist?
Author: Zane C. Hodges


The Ecclesiastical Text of Revelation—Does It Exist?

Zane C. Hodges

Ever since the epoch-making work of Westcott and Hort in the nineteenth century on the Greek text of the New Testament, it has been widely believed among textual scholars that the history of transmission of the New Testament in manuscripts was dominated by a more or less standardized ecclesiastical text. It was upon this text that the Authorized Version, still the most widely used version in the English speaking world, was believed to be based.

To Westcott and Hort themselves must go the credit of popularizing the view that at some time between A.D. 250 and 350, perhaps at Antioch in Syria, an effort was made to revise and standardize the then widely conflicting manuscript traditions and that from this revision emerged a form of text which gained predominance over all others until copying stopped with the invention of printing. This type of text Westcott and Hort called “Syrian.” In its popular printed form it is to be identified in the main with the textus receptus and as such it is the Greek text which underlies the Authorized King James Version of the English Bible. Later the term “Syrian” was generally discarded by textual scholars in favor of the more acceptable term “Byzantine.” The latter name merely indicates that this type of Greek text prevailed in the Byzantine Church. For this reason the text-type may also be called, from its assumed church acceptance, an “ecclesiastical text” of the New Testament.

Since the theory of a predominating ecclesiastical text has generally been extended to include not only the Gospels, where extant manuscripts are more numerous, but also the rest of the New Testament books, a study of this text in any book has relevance to the whole fabric of the theory. As a result of the monumental contribution of H. C. Hoskier to textual studies in his massive two-volume work, Concerning the Text of the Apocalypse, the theory of a prevailing ecclesiastical text of the New Testament is now subject to very exact and specific examination in the book of Revelation. Conclusions

drawn from such an examination may provide grounds for reconsideration of this matter in other New Testament books.

Although the facts concerning the major groupings of extant manuscripts in Revelation have lain before us in Hoskier’s volumes since 1929, there has been in general a surprising failure to analyze them adequately. In the most recent edition of the Nestle Greek Testament (24th, 1960), the critical apparatus continues to employ for the Apocalypse the standard symbol which in all books denotes the Byzantine, or ecclesiastical, text.You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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