What is the ‘Patriarchal’ Text of the New Testament?
It is the official text of the Greek speaking churches. This Greek New Testament, obtainable from
http://kainh.homestead.com/English.html is the 1904 ‘Patriarchal’ edition of the Greek Orthodox
“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 NT
with the result that in different places a different NT 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
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.” by Petros Petallides (kainh.homestead.com)
How was the New Testament Text Transmitted?
The Hebrew scriptures (“Old Testament”), were written and compiled over a long period (approx.
1450 – 400 BC). These Scriptures were entrusted for their keeping to the Jews (Romans 3:2). But that part of Scripture called the “New Testament” has been preserved in a different manner.
Written in the common Greek (Koine Greek) language of the 1st century AD it was completed in a relatively short period following Jesus’ death and resurrection, probably by 90 AD. It was an
apostolic production fulfilling the promise Jesus made to them prior to His death (John , ). The apostles wrote as well as preached the truth.
Thus the Gospels, Acts, Letters, and later Revelation became copied and distributed, firstly, we
may reasonably suppose, among the Christian communities themselves and later more broadly as non-Christians began to take notice. By the late-fourth century, however, knowledge of Greek was in sharp decline in the western half of the empire. A century later and knowledge of Greek had almost entirely vanished in the west. But the knowledge of Greek did not vanish in the eastern half of the empire. And it was within the
Why is the ‘Patriarchal’ Text Important?
Monks – the scholars of their day – first came to
according to the official history of
transcribing manuscripts continued unabated at
11th centuries were written in majuscule writing, today’s capital letters, Few samples of
manuscripts or fragments of manuscripts in majuscule writing are preserved to this day in
the libraries of Mount Athos. The reason is that since the mid-9th century miniscule writing
became predominant, and all the manuscripts of the previous centuries were transcribed in
that writing and therefore became unused and little by little disappeared.” 2
By the time of the fall of
These few copies formed the basis of Erasmus’ first Greek New Testament.3 Tyndale’s New Testament, which still remains as a model of clarity4 is essentially based on Erasmus’ text. In 1550, an edition by Robert Stephanus was published, the third edition of which became one of the two ‘standard’ texts of the ‘Textus Receptus’ on which the King James Version is essentially based.
However, the majority of the Greek manuscripts of the new Testament remained in
during their occupation.
For those who hold to the inerrancy of Scripture, the Byzantine text form has long held an
esteemed position over self-contradicting Western text forms such as the Codex Vaticanus and
Codex Sinaiticus: these last two often disagree with one another and so their witness is
By contrast, the Byzantine texts are in substantial agreement. They have a proven lineage. Indeed no other textual history stretching back centuries even exists elsewhere. Unambiguously from the 5th century onwards the focus for copyists and scholars was
2 Libraries and manuscripts in
3 First edition published in 1516, subsequent revised editions in 1519, 1522, 1527 and 1535.
4 Witness his correct translation of ekklesia to ‘congregation’ rather than ‘church’, a word of very different etymology.