“New” Greek New Testament — But Not Really
Here is an interesting article by Dr. Jeff Kloha. I’m looking forward to his further articles on the NA28. The “Nestle-Aland” text is the one most frequently used by students, pastors and scholars. It provides a large amount of data in the footnotes indicating minor textual differences, called “variants” that exist between the various copies of the original documents of the NT, known as the “autographs” — none of which we have, by the way. Some would use this reality to propose that somehow we have an uncertain, unreliable or shaky knowledge of what the New Testament actually contains. Not true at all. Anytime you hear anyone using the matter of textual variants to dispute or try to refute the doctrine of inspiration or inerrancy you need to know you are dealing either with a person who has no real awareness of what he speaking about, or, as is sadly more often the case, a flat-out liar trying to deceive you.
Keep in mind that there is not an iota (see what I did there?) of Christian doctrine that depends on a textual variant, that is, in spite of the myriad of textual variants, we do in fact have a reliable text of Holy Scripture.
It would be dangerous to suggest that there is some vast distinction between the form of the text and the material brought forward by the text (forma and materia). So, while our confidence is in the material content of the texts we do have, we can also be confident that God in His providential care for His Church has allowed us to have, to this day, a reliable form of the texts that he gave by plenary, verbal inspiration, inerrantly, to those penmen who were moved along by the Holy Spirit, writing the very God-breathed words that the Lord wants us to have and to know. We may not have the very original autographs, but we do have a reliable form of them. That’s the take-away from this kind of thing we must impress upon the laity.
Also, be doubly careful not to get caught up in foolish speculations about the canonical authority of those texts the Church has always received, for instance, any speculations that, for example, the Book of Acts perhaps should not be counted among the homolegoumena, should be put into that category of ideas that, as my friend Jim Voelz likes to say, “Would make for an interesting journal article, but is probably wrong.” Smile