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Summary of Plusses and Minuses of Greek Texts

In the following e-mails the e-mailers’ questions and comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.


I wrote you about a month ago about questions concerning the formal equivalence translations vs. dynamic equivalence translations, I appreciate your answer.  I'd like to ask a favor—would you, in a nutshell, explain the plusses and minuses of each of the three Greek NT texts (the TR, CT, MT)?

Since I last corresponded with you I have purchased The Greek New Testament According to the Majority Text (Farstad & Hodges) to supplement my library which already included Nestle's Greek and Stephanus's Greek.  I have also bought Nelson's Study Bible with the NKJV translation (which was translated from the TR but has footnotes of the CT and MT).

I use the NASB and have been very pleased and am awaiting the LITV by Green. After reading what I could on the different Greek texts I must admit I am, frankly, confused as to which one is the most accurate and faithful to the original autographs. At this point I still favor the CT but from what I have read I believe the MT has tremendous value but my head says stick with the CT while I feel my heart being drawn to the MT.

There, probably, is a tremendous amount of confusion among other lay people, not just myself, about this issue.  I appreciate your answer to the above question.



The TR was based on about 20 Byzantine Greek texts which were available in the 1500's. It's main "selling" point is was the sole Greek text used from the 1500’s until the late 1800’s and is still in use today. So it has been used for about 5000 years. The arguments against the TR are that all of the manuscripts used were rather "late" (c. 1200 or later) and only a small number of manuscripts were used.

The CT is based mainly on a handful of Alexandrian/ Egyptian manuscripts. Their primary selling point is they are the earliest manuscripts of the NT (i.e. the papyri, c. 150-300) and include the two early (almost) complete manuscripts of the NT (i.e. Aleph and Beta, c. 325). The main argument against the CT is that most of the mistakes (either intentional or accidental) probably entered into manuscripts in the first two centuries, hence earlier is not necessary better. It can also be reasonably concluded that latter scribes knew these manuscripts were corrupted, hence why they did not copy them, and hence why there are so few of them.

The MT is based on the majority reading in the over 5000 Greek manuscripts now available. But it also takes other factors besides "number" into consideration. Given that the Byzantine text-type is the most numerous, the MT is basically a Byzantine Text Form. The main argument in it's favor it the number of manuscripts. These manuscripts represent the text type that the scribes considered trustworthy enough to copy. The main argument against it is the manuscripts are later than the CT ones (c. 400 or later for the most part).

I hope that helps. For further details, see the articles listed on my Greek-Text Types pages.

Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light

Bible Versions Controversy: Greek Text Types
Bible Versions Controversy

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