Standard Bearers
Isaiah 59:19
"So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun.
When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him."
Byzantine Text History
History of the Patriarchal text of the New Testament
by Peter A. Papapoutsis


To The Reader
Of The New Testament of
The Holy Orthodox Bible

What you hold in your hands dear Christian reader is an English translation of the Official Greek New Testament of The Holy Orthodox Church as codified and published by the Patriarchate of Constantinople and New Rome. First, what is the New Testament? The New Testament is God’s supreme gift to mankind. Within its pages lay the way to eternal life which leads to our Most Blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. By simply reading the New Testament, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can get to know God and know Him more abundantly. At the same time we can get to know the mind and heart of God and His plan for our lives here on earth. The New Testament is the Church’s response to God and her relationship with Christ in which we see that the Church continues in the life and work of Christ which He began during His life on earth.

Within the New Testament we see the birth of our Most Blessed Lord, as foretold by the Prophets of old, the proclamation of His Gospel calling all men to repentance, His passion, and sacrifice for the sins of the all Mankind, and His glorious resurrection showing us all a glimpse of our blessed hope to come. We also see Christ giving His great commission to the Church to go unto all the earth and proclaim His Gospel of repentance, mercy and grace to all. It is within the New Testament that we discover, through the writings of Saint Paul, that to know Christ is to know life as God intended it to be, a quality of life beyond mere human understanding, which can be enjoyed in the here and now on earth. Finally, it is within the New Testament that we see that Jesus Christ is the only perfect image and likeness of the invisible God. God is like Jesus Christ because Jesus Christ is God incarnate. That dear Christian reader is the New Testament.

The New Testament was written in the common of Koine Greek language of the first century AD, and was completed in a relatively short period of time following the death and resurrection of Our Most Blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Chirst, probably by 90 AD. The New Testament was written by the Apostles and/or their disciples setting down in written form the Apostolic teaching as preserved by the Holy Spirit within the Sacred Apostolic Tradition of the Church. Thus, the Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, all the Epistles, and later the Book of Revelations became copied and distributed, first exclusively among the local churches, and later to the public at large when non-Christians began to take notice and be curious at these religious writings. By the late fourth century, however, knowledge of the Greek language was staring to disappear in the western half of the Roman Empire. By the fifth century all knowledge of Greek had almost entirely vanished in the western half of the Empire, but the Greek language did not vanish in the eastern half of the Empire. It was within this eastern half or “Byzantine” Empire that the work of preserving, copying and proof-reading the Greek New Testament texts continued unabated, even after the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453 AD to the Ottoman Turks.

By the time of the Byzantine Empire’s fall, some of these Greek New Testament manuscripts were taken by a number of Greek-Speaking scholars who fled to the west. These few Greek New Testament manuscripts formed the basis of Erasmus’ first Greek New Testament. William Tyndale’s English translation of the New Testament is essentially based on Erasmus’ Greek New Testament, and that of the Textus Receptus on which is based the venerable King James Version of the New Testament. However, the great majority of the Greek New Testament manuscripts remained in Greece at the Great Monastery of Mount Athos. The Turks allowed the work of the monks of Mount Athos, in preserving, copying and proof-reading the Greek New Testament texts to continue during their occupation. Further, these “Byzantine” Greek New Testament manuscripts are in an overwhelming degree of agreement. These texts have a long and proven lineage. Indeed, no other manuscript’s history stretches back for as many centuries as that of the New Testament. More importantly, in regards to the Greek New Testament’s text, from the fifth century till today, the focus for copyists and scholars was exclusively on Mount Athos. It is from this source and this source alone, that the official “Patriarchal” text of the Greek New Testament was taken.

The Great Monastery of Mount Athos is the very epicenter of Orthodox Christianity, and, in particular, Greek Orthodox Christianity. From as early as the fifth century the monks of Mount Athos rapidly accumulated various classical and ancient manuscripts, especially those of the Greek New Testament, and went about copying and preserving these manuscripts, without interruption, to this very day. Therefore, it was natural for the Patriarchate of Constantinople and New Rome to turn to Mount Athos for help in establishing an official Greek New Testament for the Holy Orthodox Church.

According to Mr. Petros Petallides the Patriarchal text arose from the need for a uniform text throughout the Greek Orthodox Churches. During the Turkish occupation there were various editions of the Greek New Testament with the result that in different places a different Greek New Testament was read. To avoid this the Ecumenical Patriarchate appointed a committee in 1902 to decide on a text that would be adopted as the official text. The committee retired in Mount Athos and studied about 20 Byzantine manuscripts from which they decided on one taking into consideration some parts of the other manuscripts. This text was published in 1904 and it has been since then adopted by all Greek Orthodox Churches. For those who hold to the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture, the Byzantine text has long held a position of great esteem especially over other self-contradicting and eclectic Greek New Testament texts.

Although the Patriarchal text is the base text in the present translation, any and all variations between the Patriarchal text and the Textus Receptus Greek New Testament will be noted in footnotes, although the variation between the two are extremely minimal except for the book of Revelations that shows appreciable variations throughout all Greek New Testament manuscripts. Further, the Greek New Testament text present in the Holy Orthodox Church’s liturgical texts also shows some variation with the Patriarchal text, and those variations will also be properly footnoted in the present translation.

The English style that is used throughout this translation is what many would call “Biblical” or “Traditional” English, but in a slightly modernized form. The philosophy behind this current work is that the reader, and hearer, might be instilled with reverence and awe as he approaches the Word of God, and that one might realize the sacredness of scripture and that this is truly God’s revelation of Himself to man. Therefore, by presenting God’s Word in “Biblical” English the sacred and holy nature of Almighty God is clearly and succinctly conveyed and the soul of the partaker of Holy Scripture is uplifted to the very heights of God’s love and mercy that He has for all mankind. Contemporary English fails to do this. We cannot feel the sense or depth of God’s sacredness when we approach God with the same language we use in business and everyday conversation. In other words, since there is nothing special about Contemporary English, there is nothing special about God. Thus, the style of English in this present translation is intended to uplift men’s souls and bring them to a sense of fear and trembling people must have of the Lord.

New Testament Konie Greek is very difficult to translate because it is hard to convey in English exactly what the Greek means. In fact, Konie Greek, or all Greek for that matter, is so difficult to convey in English that this present translation can be properly termed an “approximation”. In any event, whether this present work is a translation or an approximation I will leave to the reader to decide. My most earnest prayer is that Almighty God, by Our Most Blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, through the Power of the Most Holy Spirit, sanctify the present translation and use it for the glory of his Holy Church and for the edification of all Mankind.

May the Grace and Mercy of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be upon all who abide in Christ’s love and sincerely seek to apply the message of Our Lord’s Gospel everyday in their lives and, in general, in our world at large.

Glory be to God in the Highest, and in Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Translator,

PETER A. PAPOUTSIS

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