From: Susan Jeffers (
Date: Sat Nov 06 1999 - 09:29:35 EST


Can someone tell me in broad-brush terms why there are 3 eclectic (I think
I know what that means...) texts in current use, and who uses which? I've
gotten impressions from the discussions here and elsewhere, but decided to
finally just ask the question that it seems everyone else already knows the
answer to.

This is a matter of practical importance, in that my main work is
facilitating Bible study groups, and we often use interlinear Bibles. The
ones I have handy are

1) Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, KJV, Baker Book House 1985
reprint of copyright 1897 edition. It's based on the Textus Receptus.

2) NKJV Greek English Interlinear New Testament, Thomas Nelson Publishers,
1994. It's based on the Majority Text. The introduction says:
"Today, scholars agree that the science of New Testament textual criticism
is in a state of flux. Very few scholars still favor the Textus Receptus
as such, and then often only for its historical prestige as the text of
Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Tyndale, and the King James Version. For about a
century most have followed a Critical Text (so called because it is edited
according to specific principles of textual criticism) which depends
heavily upon the Alexandrian type of text. More recently many have
abandoned this Critical Text ... for one that is more eclectic (selecting
readings from various sources). Finally, a small but growing number of
scholars prefer the Majority Text, which is close to the traditional text
except in the Revelation."

        QUESTION: Would the UBS/NA text be what this author is calling
the Critical Text, or the "more eclectic" text? What's the other one?

3) Also we often use Strong's Concordance numbers, which I suppose are
based on the TR.

4) Then I have my handy UBS Bible from seminary Greek class, and my
BibleWindows program, which both use the same text as the Nestle-Aland.

I've come to believe that this is mainly a political matter. It seems like
"regular old people" who patronize Bible bookstores in small towns mainly
use the KJV and NIV as their English translations, and these bookstores,
when they carry anything in Greek at all, have interlinear Bibles based on
either the TR or the MT. And Strong's Concordance, of course.

Then in academic bookstores and university/(liberal) seminary classes, they
seem to use the NRSV or other recent non-NIV critical editions for the
English, and UBS/NA for the Greek, with nary an interlinear or Strong's in
sight. Learn it all, learn it right, or forget it.

Based on this limited data the basic division between the masses and the
elite seems pretty clear. I guess the masses (or their publishers and
teachers) think the elite is going off into la-la land, leaving the Truth
of Scripture far behind. And I guess the elite think the masses are, well,

Does the above seem accurate? Also, can anyone help me distinguish between
groups (denominations, seminaries, scholars ... ?) who favor the MT vs the
TR and vice versa?

I'm sorry for being flippant, but hardly anybody ever talks about these
differences openly, and most people seem only to know their own group's
point of view. I feel frankly bewildered by the diversity of texts, and
want to be a bridge among people from the different groups. This subject
comes up almost every week, when the Living Bible guy has a clause that's
not in the RSV guy's Bible, and the Greek texts we've brought along for
reference don't agree either. We understand that "ancient manuscripts
differ," but we're trying to understand the pattern of the differences and
why the different scholarly groups behind our various Bible editions chose
as they did, in social and political terms. We understand why there's an
NIV as opposed to an RSV, we're trying to go beyond that.


Susan Jeffers

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