Text Types

Text Types

In this section I will provide a synopsis of the difference text types or sources that compile the current Hebrew and Christian Cannon.  For the Tanach we have several but the oldest extant version would be the Aleppo Codex.   Below are the major sources for today’s scripture.

  • Hebrew ScripturesComplutesian_Polyglot_1522

    • Masoretic Text
      • Aleppo Codex
      • Leningrad Codex
      • Dead Sea Scrolls
    • Septuagint
      • Codex Vaticanus
      • Codex Sinaiticus
      • Dead Sea Scrolls
  • New Testament Text Types

    New Testament manuscripts can be classified according to certain major types or families. A family is the name given to a group of texts with a common ancestor. These texts are discovered through the deviations common to a group of manuscripts. For example, the errors made in copying the text in Alexandria were perpetuated in later reproductions. Classification according to families is the basic point of departure in the actual work of textual reconstruction. One reading of a text that represents a good family may provide more support for the original text than a dozen readings from a poor family. Caution is required at this point lest a generalization become misleading. Families are not represented by entire manuscripts but often only segments of them. The modern practice of copying an entire manuscript of the New Testament at once was seldom followed in antiquity. Thus, several families of texts may be represented in a single manuscript. Four types of families of texts have been sufficiently defined to merit discussion1.[spacer height=”20px”]


    The Alexandrian Text

    The Alexandrian text-type (also called Neutral or Egyptian) is the form of the Greek New Testament that predominates in the earliest surviving documents, as well as the text type used in Egyptian and Coptic manuscripts. Up until the 9th century, Greek texts were written entirely in upper case letters, referred to as Uncials). Most modern New Testament translations, however, now use an Eclectic Greek text that is closest to the Alexandrian text-type. Alexandrian readings tend to be shorter; and are commonly regarded as having a lower tendency to expand or paraphrase. Some of the manuscripts representing the Alexandrian text-type have the Byzantine corrections made by later hands (Papyrus 66, Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Ephraemi, Codex Regius, and Codex Sangallensis)3.[spacer height=”20px”]

    The Byzantine Text

    This family has been designated by many names. It is called Byzantine because it was adopted in Constantinople and used as the common text in the Byzantine world. It was produced in Antioch, Syria, under the direction of Lucian near the beginning of the fourth century and has been called the Syrian or Antiochene text. It was used almost universally after the eight century. Both Erasmus, who created the first printed Greek text, and the translators of the King James Version of the Bible used this type of text. It was produced by combining earlier texts and has less value than the Alexandrian text. A (Codex Alexandrinus, fifth century) and C (Codex Ephraemi, fifth century) are the oldest representatives of the Byzantine family. A great majority of late uncials and minuscules belong to this group1.[spacer height=”20px”]

    The Western Text

    This family of texts was closely related to the church in the west, particularly in North Africa. Although it can probably be traced to the second century, its value has been disputed. It was used by the erly church fathers. Its age would seem to suggest great importance, but there are clear indications that it was not carefully preserved. It is best represented by the Old Latin translations, by the Syriac versions, and the church fathers. Its most famous representative is manuscript D (Codex Bezae) for the book of Acts1.[spacer height=”20px”]

    The Caesarean Text

    This family of texts was widely used in Caesarea from which it derived its name. It seems to have arisen out of the Alexandrian text but was also mixed with the Western text. Consequently, its value is limited. Metzger suggests that it is necessary to distinguish between two stages in its development, the pre-Caesarean and the Caesarean (Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, p. 215). Some of its more prominent representatives are W (Washington Codex, fifth century), P45, and two groups of minuscules and lectionaries1.

  • Source Credit