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Analytical-Literal Translation

Variants: Introduction

This page is an introduction to the list of Textual Variants posted on this site.


The Analytical-Literal Translation (ALT) is based on the Byzantine Majority Text. The translator believes this Greek text most accurately reflects the original manuscripts. However, there are two other Greek texts which are often used for Bible translation.

These are the Textus Receptus (which the King James Version and the New King James Version are based on) and the Critical Text (which versions like the New American Standard Bible, the New International Version, and the New Living Translation are based on).

For ease in comparing Bible translations, this section lists either every translatable variant or significant variants between the Byzantine Majority Text (MT), the Textus Receptus (TR), and the Critical Text (CT). This apparatus is more extensive than what is seen in the footnotes of many Bible translations. By using this apparatus, the reader will be able to find out if a difference in a verse between two Bible versions is due to a textual difference or due to a translation difference.

For discussions on why the translator of the ALT believes the MT is the most reliable of these three Greek texts, see the articles listed at Bible Versions Controversy: Greek Text-Types and this writer's book Differences Between Bible Versions).

Note: I had planned on doing every translatable variant for all the books, but doing so was getting too tedious and time-consuming. And all of the typing, and copying and pasting was bothering my wrists. But the books with every translatable variant listed should be sufficient to show how truly insignificant the vast majority of textual variants are. And the ones with only significant variants should be sufficient for comparison of Bible versions.

Translation of Variants

The TR and CT variants are translated as they would appear in the ALT if it was based on these texts. Alternative translations and other bracketed material seen in the ALT are omitted here unless the variant affects such material. However, words added for clarity are included and bracketed, as they would be in the ALT. But some versions do not bracket added words. So these words might appear in another translation without any notation.

When the textual evidence is considered to be divided for words or phrases, Greek texts place the words in brackets. Such divided evidence words are placed in brace brackets in the ALT and in this apparatus, i.e. {the}. Some other versions may also use some kind of notation to indicate them.

In different editions of the CT decisions are often changed as to whether divided evidence words should be included, omitted, or bracketed. And it is up to the translator whether to translate such words or not. So divided evidence words may or may not appear in a translation based on that Greek text.

It should be noted that although there are many variants listed in the pages with every translatable variant listed, the vast majority of them are minor. In fact, many of them are so minor that they would not show up in versions that are less literal than the ALT, and of the ones that would show up in less literal versions, the majority of them are insignificant. However, there are some significant variants.

For books with every translatable variant listed, the significant variants have the abbreviations for the Greek texts bolded. Pages with only significant variants listed have no bolding. By “significant” is meant variants which change the meaning of a verse or which would be obviously apparent when comparing Bible versions based on different Greek texts.

It also will be seen that the MT and TR are very similar (with the exception of in The Revelation), but there are a greater number of variants between the MT/ TR and the CT. Most of the significant variants are also seen between the MT/ TR and the CT.

Note: These variants lists are based on the first edition of the ALT, which was based on the first edition of the Byzantine Majority Text. However, since these lists were first posted a second edition of the ALT has been published, and it is based on the second edition of the Byzantine Majority Text. So there might be some variations between these variants lists and the ALT2 as only the page Most Important Textual Variants has been updated to the wording and textual base of the ALT2. See Byzantine Majority Text: Changes and Alternate Readings for further details on changes in the Byzantine text.

Significant Variants

The types of variants which are considered “significant” enough to be either bolded or included are:

1) Variants which change the meaning of a verse: e.g. Matt 5:22, the MT and TR includes "without a cause," but the CT omits it.  

2) Variants which change the subject of a statement: e.g. 1John 1:4, the MT and CT has "our joy," but the TR has "your* joy."

3) A difference in a word or phrase which would be obviously apparent when comparing Bible versions: e.g. 2Peter 3:10 ends in the MT and TR with "will be burnt up" but in the CT with "will be discovered." 

4) The omission or inclusion of a word or phrase which would be obviously apparent when comparing Bible versions: e.g. Revelation 1:11, the TR has Jesus saying, “_I_ am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last.” The MT and CT omit these words in this verse (but they are included elsewhere in the Revelation in both texts). 

5) The omission or relocation of entire verses: e.g. Matt 23:13,14 in the MT being reversed in the TR, and the CT omitting verse 13 and renumbering verse 14 as verse 13.

6) A question in one text appearing as a statement in another, e.g. 1John 4:20 in the MT and TR ends with the question, “how is he able to be loving God whom he has not seen?” But the CT ends with a statement, “he is not able to be loving God whom he has not seen.”

7) A difference in spelling of a proper noun changes the name in English: e.g., Matt 13:55, in the MT and TR the name of one of Jesus’ brother is Joses, but in the CT it is Joseph.

8) Any other differences which would be obviously apparent when comparing Bible versions.

Insignificant Variants

Examples of variants which are considered to be too “insignificant” to be either bolded or included are:

1) When the only variant is one Greek text bracketing a word or phrase (indicating the textual evidence is considered to be divided) that another either includes or omits. In the ALT such divided evidence words and phrases are included in brace brackets: e.g. Heb 3:2, the MT and TR have “in all his house” while the CT has “in {all} his house.”

2) A word is included in one text which is omitted in another. But the word is such that most translations would add it for clarity anyhow: e.g. Rev 22:6, the CT has “the Lord,” while the MT and TR have just “Lord.” But most translations would add the word “the”making it “[the] Lord.

3) The inclusion versus omission of a conjunction or interjection which does not change the meaning of the text: e.g. James 4:2 in the MT and CT begins with “But” while the TR does not.

4) The word or phrase included in one text but omitted in another is so insignificant only the very careful reader would even notice it: e.g. Heb 11:15, the MT and TR have “from which they went out” while the CT has “from which they went out from.” 

5) One text “expands” the name for Christ compared to another text: e.g. Rev 12:17, the MT and CT have “Jesus,” while the TR has “Jesus Christ.” Similarly, when one text has “Jesus” before a verb, but another has “He” or simply the verb alone (with the pronoun implied): e.g., Matt 9:12, the MT and TR have “Jesus said,” but the CT has, “He said.”

6) A minor change in verb tense and/ or mood: e.g. Rev 14:13, the MT and TR have “they shall rest” while the CT has “they will rest.”   

7) The use of different words which have basically the same meaning in the context: e.g. Heb 10:2, the MT and TR have “been purified” while the CT has “been cleansed.”

8) The change of a word is so minor only the very careful reader would notice it: e.g. Heb 11:26, the MT and CT have “treasures of Egypt” while the TR has “treasures in Egypt.” 

9) Variants which only show up in the ALT due to its “special features,” such as:

a)   Showing the use of the progressive present: e.g. Rev 1:19, the MT and TR have “to be coming” (a present infinitive) while the CT has “to come” (an aorist infinitive). Most translations would render both as “to come.”

b)   Showing the use of the plural second-person pronoun, e.g. 3John 1:12, the MT and TR have the plural “you,” hence the translation is, “you* know.” But the CT has the singular “you,” hence the translation would be, “you know.” Most translations would render both as “you know.”

c)   Showing the use of the emphasized pronoun, e.g. Matt 9:4, the MT and TR include the pronoun along with the verb, hence the translation is “are _you*_ thinking.” But the CT omits the pronoun, hence the translation would be based on the pronoun being implied by the verb, “are you* thinking.” Most translations would render both as “are you thinking,” or maybe just, "do you think."

10) Any other variants which are so minor that only the very careful reader would notice.

Untranslatable Variants

There are probably about as many untranslatable variants as there are translatable ones. These are not indicated in this apparatus, as there is no way to do so. And besides, knowing untranslatable variants would not be helpful to the English reader in comparing translations.

Following are examples of such untranslatable variants:

1)  Word order change. Greek word order can be considerably different than English word order. So all translations, even the most literal, will change word order to some degree. So a difference in word order in the Greek text would not show up in a translation: e.g., in James 3:4, the MT and TR have skleron anemon, while the CT has anemon skleron. In both cases, the translation would be “fierce winds.” To render it as “winds fierce” as CT word order has it would be too awkward in English for any translation. But in some cases a word order change is translatable, and these cases are noted but are not bolded. 

2)  Two words have slightly different spellings but identical meanings: e.g., in James 3:1, the MT and TR have ilepsometha, while the CT has ilempsometha. But in both cases, the translation is “we will receive.”

3) The use or non-use of the “movable nu.” This is a “n” which is sometime added to the end of words, but which in no way changes the meaning of the word: e.g., Matt 14:4, the MT and CT have ouk exestiv while the TR has ouk exesti. But in both cases the translation is “it is not lawful.”

4) The use of a contraction in one text which another spells out: e.g., in Matt 9:13 the word translated “_but_” is alla in the MT and CT, but all’ in the TR. 

5)  Two different prepositions are used, but in the context their meanings are the same: e.g., in Hebrews 11:38, the MT and TR have en, but the CT has epi. But in this context, both are rendered as “in.” Sometimes synonymous words other than prepositions are used. 

6)  One Greek text includes a preposition with a noun, but another text does not include the preposition. However, prepositions are often included within nouns due to the “case” they are in: e.g., in 2Peter 2:18, the MT has aselgiais, which means “flagrant sexual immorality.” But it is in the dative case, and one way to render a dative is with the word “with.” So the translation would be, “with flagrant sexual immorality.” However, the TR and CT have an ev before aselgiais. The preposition ev can mean “with.” So again, the translation is “with flagrant sexual immorality.” 

7)  A preposition precedes a noun, but the noun in different texts is in a different case. In such a case, the preposition becomes the deciding factor in translating the phrase: e.g., in 2Peter 2:11, the MT and TR have para kurio, while the CT has para kuriou. The preposition para can mean “before,” and the noun means, “Lord.” But in the first case it is a dative and the latter is a genitive. A dative is generally translated with a “to” or “with” and a genitive with an “of.” But since a preposition is present, it determines what comes before the noun. So the translation in both cases would “before [the] Lord.” 

8)  A compound word in one Greek text is actually two words in another: e.g., in James 3:5, the MT and TR have meyalauchei while the CT has meyala auchei. In both cases, the translation would be “boasts greatly.” 

9)  The exclusion or omission of a definite article (i.e. “the) when it is not needed in English. For instance, Greek often includes a definite article before a name, but English does not: e.g., Revelation 19:10. In this verse the word “Jesus” appears twice. Both times in the TR it is preceded by the article, but in the MT only the second occurrence has the article, and in the CT neither occurrence has the article. But in all cases, the translation would simply be “Jesus.” 

10) Any other variant which is so minor that there is no way to translate it using correct English.

Greek Texts

Byzantine Majority Text: The Greek New Testament According to the Byzantine Textform. As edited by Maurice A. Robinson and William G. Pierpont. Revised edition, 2001.

Textus Receptus:  F.H.A Scrivener’s 1894 edition.

Critical Text:  The Greek New Testament edited by Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, and Allen Wikgren, fourth edition, Copyright 1966, 1968, 1975 by the United Bible Societies and 1993, 1994 by Deutsche Bibelgesellsschaft (German Bible Society), Stuggart (which is identical to the Nestle-Aland 27th Edition of the Greek New Testament). 

Abbreviations and Notations

e.g.      - For example

CT:       - Critical Text

MT:      - Byzantine Majority Text.

TR:       - Textus Receptus

MT/ TR -   Both indicated Greek texts have the same reading.

MT:      - Significant variants have the abbreviations for the Greek texts bolded on pages with every translatable variant listed. On pages with only significant variants listed, no bolding is used.

[the]     - Word(s) added for clarity. Note: Sometimes words are included in one Greek text which are omitted in another. But when translating the other text these would be need to added for clarity. So the translation in the note appears as it would in a translation. For instance, the following note for Rev 6:7 indicates the word ”the” appears before “voice” in the MT but not in the TR or CT:   6:7  MT: the voice – TR/ CT: [the] voice

{the}    - Word(s) which are bracketed in the indicated Greek text, meaning the textual evidence is considered to be divided as to whether they are original or not. Note: Although the Greek texts themselves use brackets for divided evidence words, since brackets are used for words added for clarity, this apparatus uses brace brackets for divided evidence words.

eating … to God  - Words which are identical in all Greek texts have been omitted, or the entire passage enclosed by and including the words around the ellipse are omitted by the other Greek text.

Note: - Some common significant variants are only bolded or listed the first time they occur. This notation explains this practice. It is also used to point out other important points about a variant.

omits    - The word(s) do not appear in the indicated Greek text.

read,    - How the passage would read in light of the variant.

_but_    - Indicates the use of the Greek strong adversative (alla) instead of the weak adversative (de, translated as “but” when used in an adversative sense).

you*     - Indicates the original is plural (also, your*). With no asterisk the second person pronoun is singular.

_you_   - Indicates the pronoun is emphasized in the Greek text (also, _I_, _he_ , _she_ , etc.)

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This introduction to the textual variants was posted on this site September 28, 2000.
It was last updated February 2, 2005.

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