The Naive and the Naughty

Bruce Terry
on the PA

Excerpt for Review: B. Terry, Introduction to Textual Criticism, (Internet, 2008)

Page Index

Bruce Terry: - Introduction

Bruce Terry: - on the PA
    Terry on the PA - His online notes on Jn 7:53-8:11

Terry on Text Crit - His summary of Metzger: Review
    (1) The "Lost Gospel" Fallacy -
    (2) A Naive View of TC -
    (3) Rejecting the Majority of MSS -
    (4) The Genealogical Fallacy -
    (5) Nonsense about "Text-types" -
    (6) Appeal to Dubious "Authority" -
    (7) The False "Canons" of Yesteryear -
        (a) Prefer the "Harder" Reading - Bengel (1725)
        (b) Prefer the Shorter Reading - Griesbach (1775)
    (8) Nonsense about Copying Errors -
    (9) Nonsense about Editing Practices -

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Mr. James Snapp Jr. gives a succinct description of Bruce Terry's webpages, on TC-Alternate-List (Yahoo Groups):

About Bruce Terry: I think he worked in Texas in the 1990's, but is currently a professor at Ohio Valley University. Most of his webpages about NTTC reword Metzger in terms of content and conclusions; for instance at Dr. Terry presents lists of translation-affecting variants and upon consulting the first list (from the beginning of Matthew) at you can see that Terry even adopts the "rank" of each variant, as given in the UBS materials.

So basically -- with some significant exceptions -- these pages are a simplified presentation of Metzger's materials, adjusted for non-Greek-readers. It looks like it /could/ produce individuals like Bart Ehrman because it is just a simplification of the approach that /did/ produce -- or helped produce -- Bart Ehrman. (Dr. Ehrman seems to have multiple explanations of the impetus for the development of his current agnosticism, so I don't mind contradicting him about this; he's contradicted himself.)

That's why Dr. Terry misrepresents Hort's eight Byzantine "conflations" as if they sufficiently show "a tendency to combine readings of the other types of text." It's also why he still can say things like,

"They [i.e., copyists] were more likely to add material than omit it, so the shorter reading is more likely than not to be original."

- He is just echoing Metzger, who wrote before the research of Royse (whose research shattered that axiom, vindicating some earlier writers who had protested it) was published.

There are a couple of other statements by Dr. Terry that beg for adjustment. His statement that the KJV was based on the Byzantine Text is basically true but it downplays the hundreds of differences between the TR and the Byzantine Text. Also, he stated that the KJV "sometimes follows the Latin Vulgate instead," and this, while technically true, is so nebulous -- what is this "sometimes"?? One reading in 100? 1 in 1,000? 1 in 2,000? -- that it is bound to give the novice reader a distorted impression of how often the KJV depends solely on the Vulgate. Scrivener made a collection of those instances in Appendix E of his book on the Authorized Bible; cf. pages 282-283ff. in the 1884 edition online) – and although he cautions the reader that his list is "probably quite an incomplete one," which it is, it seems sufficiently clear to me that the number of readings in the TR that are clearly the result of dependence upon the Vulgate is less than the number of readings in B that are clearly the result of h.t.

Yet Dr. Terry offers a hint of dissent from Metzger's approach, stating forthrightly,

"Where a reading is found in more than one kind of ancient text, it is more likely to be original than a reading found in only one kind of ancient text."

(Though even Metzger admitted this, in a very qualified way.) Consistently applied, this principle would reverse many of the readings adopted into the NA text. Terry also has written about the internal evidence in Mark 16:9-20 (an essay which forms a chapter in my online research paper on the subject), and the general tint of his essay is that Metzger has grossly overstated the significance of internal evidence in that passage.

Yours in Christ,

James Snapp, Jr.
The "Lost Gospel" Fallacy (msg #3183, TC-Alt list, Apr 30, 2010)

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Bruce Terry
on the PA


Review of: B. Terry,
Introduction to Textual Criticism,
(Internet Webpage, 1985,1998,2008)

Headings have been added for clarity and navigation purposes.

Bruce Terry on the PA

Bruce Terry appears essentially to sum up and format the UBS Greek Text (2nd ed.?) apparatus for this passage, for students unfamiliar with Greek. He also adds some (perhaps confusing) notes on various 'modern versions' (English translations from the 60s-80s). Finally, he attempts to explain the double brackets found in the UBS text, and gives a brief explanation for what may explain the omissions, based on current opinion (c. 1980s).

Here is the relevant part of Bruce Terry's webpage:

"Student's Guide to NT Textual Variants

John 7:53-8:11:

TEXT: include John 7:53-8:11 here
EVIDENCE: D E F G H K M U Gamma [Γ] Lambda [Λ] Pi [Π] 028 28 700 892 1010 Byz most lat vg syr(h,pal) some cop(north)
RANK: A to omit

NOTES: omit John 7:53-8:11
EVIDENCE: p66 p75 S A(vid) B C(vid) L N T W X Y Delta [Δ] Theta [Θ] Psi[Ψ] 33 565 1241 1333* Lect four lat syr(c,s,p) some cop(north) cop(south)

NOTES: include John 7:53-8:11 at the end of this gospel
EVIDENCE: f1 [Family 1]

NOTES: include John 7:53-8:11 after Luke 21:38
EVIDENCE: f13 [Family 13]

NOTES: include John 7:53-8:11 after John 7:36

OTHER: include John 8:3-11 after Luke 24:53
EVIDENCE: 1333c [i.e., 'c' = an unknown corrector]

COMMENTS: This passage is enclosed in double brackets in the UBS text, which means that the UBS Textual Committee felt that it was not written by John, but that it was old enough and historical enough to be considered as scripture. The passage was known to some third and fourth century writers, although it does not seem to be found in any extant Bible manuscripts until the fifth or sixth century. It possibly circulated at first in oral form and was later written down and added to the text of John or Luke."

- Bruce Terry
Student's Guide to the NT Textual Variants

The notes, for all their formatting, unfortunately are not really any more informative and clear than before, as found in the UBS footnotes. Sadly, there are also important errors in the apparatus, still being perpetuated in the 2008 updated version of Bruce's page, such as the listing of Codex "X" as if it were an Uncial manuscript copy of the gospels, when in fact it is a late (11th century) commentary on those portions read in church.

The lack of dates for the various witnesses make easy interpretation of the evidence impossible and leave the list unhelpful.

The lack of details regarding key manuscripts is also crippling. For instance, the fact that codices A and C have missing pages, and that Codex Delta (Δ) leaves a large space (12 lines) showing a knowledge of the passage and a desire to include it, is not made clear.

Perhaps more importantly, the explanation for the Double Brackets [ [...] ] around the passage is too apologetic and inaccurate. The UBS Introduction (pg. x para. 10.), explains quite clearly the real intent:

10. [[ ]] Double square brackets are used to enclose passages which are regarded as later additions to the text, but which are retained because of their evident antiquity and their importance in the textual tradition.

The UBS intro is carefully worded to avoid suggesting any status for such doubtful passages as "scripture", and this is quite misleading on the part of Terry. The scholars who compiled this text do not view the passage (John 7:53-8:11) as genuine. Terry may be treading softly here to avoid upsetting young faithful students, but the lack of accuracy does not enlighten the controversy over this passage.

Bruce Terry: Introduction to NT Textual Criticism

A Review by Nazaroo

Terry also presents a short essay on textual criticism, its purpose, and the current state of affairs, which seems to have been written c. 1980s, and updated in 1998, (as with his TC notes), then updated for the web in 2008.

Mr. Scrivener has remarked on the contents of this page, and asked for a review.

"In it one finds compressed almost every modern fallacy and inaccuracy, expressed in a friendly and very plausible manner. One could imagine many students exploring these issues, or graduating under this regime coming away with some very vague, sloppy and perhaps faith-damaging ideas about the Bible.

Its the kind of patter that has probably produced more than a few Bart Ehrmans, and should probably be critically sifted in the interests of accuracy."

- Mr. Scrivener, TC-Alternate List, Yahoo Groups, msg 3182.

I am happy to comply. A critique of the main fallacies and errors in that document follows.

(1) The "Lost Gospel" Fallacy

"The original writings of the New Testament no longer exist. They have been destroyed by the processes of time. "

- Bruce Terry, Introduction

This is a typical popular belief, but it has no historical merit. In fact, it is quite likely that the earliest copies and original documents were buried in jars or popped into a cave or sepulchure somewhere in the Middle East.

Archaeology, itself a new science, is constantly rediscovering places and artifacts that have been lost for centuries, mostly because for the largest part of man's recent history, we haven't even been looking for such items.

The field of textual criticism of the Bible is also a paradigm of remarkable, unlikely discovery.

Over-skepticism generally is actually bad for science, because it paralyses explorative activity.

(2) A Naive View of Textual Criticism

"For the first fifteen hundred years of copying, copies had to be made by hand. This means that all the types of errors that can creep into handwritten copies can be found in the manuscripts of the New Testament. Fortunately we have enough copies to establish what the original read like with a good degree of certainty. This is the task of textual criticism: to examine the manuscripts and determine what is original text and what are copying errors."

- Bruce Terry, Introduction

An oversimplification of the goal(s) of T.C., and its task.

Its not simply original versus "copying errors". There is also deliberate editing activity among the various ancient copies. Then again, textual criticism naturally extends into literary criticism and interpretation. Finally, before proposing changes or "corrections" to the traditional text, critics must construct a plausible history of the transmission and alteration of the text, and explain why they believe previously accepted readings are somehow 'wrong'.

Bias and Politics

But far more important is bias and hidden agendas. Textual criticism has been used both ideologically and politically, to further certain ends having much more to do with religion and competing power groups than disinterested science and the search for historical truth. To ignore this elephant in the room is hopelessly unrealistic and inadequate.

(3) Rejecting the Majority of Manuscripts

"One of the drawbacks of making copies is that once a mistake has been made, unless it is so obvious as to be corrected, it will appear in all the copies of that copy from now on.

Because of this, consideration must be given to the age of the manuscripts that contain a particular reading as well as the number of manuscripts that contain it."

- Bruce Terry, Introduction

The idea here is that the majority of later manuscripts are somehow hopelessly tainted and useless for improving the accuracy of the NT text, through accumulated errors.

But this is a very basic logical fallacy. In text-critical circles, its simply a rationale for rejecting the majority of copies, and folloing the readings of a handful of surviving 2nd-4th century documents, based on their relative age. But these particular more ancient copies are demonstrably full of false readings, because they contradict each other as often as they do the traditional text.

There is no a priori reason to believe that the age of a manuscript has that much relevance, for several reasons:

(a) All manuscripts reflect basically the same "text" in about 85% of places, and the differences are not earth-shattering alterations or corruptions. They are for the most part accidental errors. Deliberate editing does not appear malicious for the most part.

(b) During most of the hand-copying period, manuscripts were proof-read and corrected repeatedly, from much earlier manuscripts. Most serious variants were caught and not endlessly repeated in subsequent generations of copies.

(c) Copies were made most often from the earliest and most accurate available master-copies. Most copies then were not copied in long sequences of generations, but actually skipped them by, and a copy could often be made from a master-copy hundreds of years older than the survivor now in our possession.

There is no reason to dismiss the mass of surviving copies arbitrarily in favour of a few older copies. Older copies with more variant readings may be alluring, but most of these variants are simply errors, and cannot be intruded back into the text on any scientific basis.

(4) The Fallacy of Genealogical Error Proliferation

"If an error is made in an early manuscript, all the copies from it will contain that error. If it was an often copied manuscript, there will be many manuscripts that contain that error, so the true text cannot be arrived at by counting manuscripts."

- Bruce Terry, Introduction

This is simply not true on a few counts:

(1) Most errors are caught in the proof-reading process, and correcting is done repeatedly, every time a hand-copy is made. Even when an error goes undetected for a time, it will almost always be caught in subsequent copying and cross-checking. It will then be corrected in both the master-copy and further copies made from it.


This correcting activity in which alternate readings are imported from other independent copies is known as "mixture", and it makes simple genealogical relationships between manuscripts impossible to construct. Mixture also prevents the majority of errors from becoming dominant among copies, and so the majority of manuscripts has even greater probability of being correct than if mixture were not present.

(2) the probability remains overwhelming that most errors will be minority readings, even with random numbers of copies being made from randomly selected master-copies.

(3) In fact, the later an error gets into the copying stream, the less number of copies will contain the error, even with uneven numbers of copies made from each master-copy, in most cases.

Pickering and his assistants have shown this conclusively by mathematically modelling the process, and this can be reviewed here:
(for diagrams, download a copy of Pickering's book).

(5) Nonsense about "Text-Types"

Manuscripts that were copied from the same or similar manuscripts show similar readings and similar errors. These manuscripts are grouped together....[and] are commonly given the names Alexandrian, Western, Caesarean, and Byzantine ["text-types"]

The Alexandrian type of text is slightly shorter than the other kinds of text. ... Most textual critics today consider this to be the most reliable form of ancient text.

The Byzantine type of ancient text seems to be the most recent of the four. It was apparently produced in an attempt to produce a common type of text. It shows a tendency to combine readings of the other types of text. It became the standard Greek text for the church of the middle ages, and so is the text used in most later manuscripts.

Some textual critics today prefer this kind of ancient text as being the closest to the original and refer to it as the Majority Text, since it is found in the majority of manuscripts.

- Bruce Terry, Introduction

The writer speaks of the text-types as if they were equally well defined, and of equal value as entities. Then he suggests that one type is preferred by "textual critics", the Alexandrian. In passing, he suggests the Byzantine text-type is inferior and secondary, because it is "later".

All "text-types" are not equal.
As the author admits, The Caesarean text for instance, is only known and 'defined' in the Gospels, as a handful of unusual readings shared by some related witnesses. But no surviving manuscript is a good representative of this "text", and many textual critics doubt it ever had an independant existance.

Byzantine Text-type:
The grouping of manuscripts into text-types has some value, and the Byzantine (Majority) Text is well-defined, with most copies showing a uniform and accurate text.

Counting Text-Types instead of Manuscripts

But textual critics have been using this as an argument and excuse for ignoring the vast majority of manuscripts and other witnesses. The originator of text-types, Lachmann, hoped to reduce the many Byzantine manuscripts (some 5,000 copies) down to a single "vote", by pitching text-types against one another, instead of manuscripts and independant witnesses. This is clearly the real agenda for selling "text-types", as our writer explains further below:

"Where a reading is found in more than one kind of ancient text, it is more likely to be original than a reading found in only one kind of ancient text." - Terry

Thus, the scam is to give each "text-type" one vote, and so the 5,000 independant witnesses of the Byzantine text-type are reduced to only one vote, and a handful of Alexandrian witnesses are promoted to equal status.

"Alexandrian" Text-type?
Similarly, a handful of peculiar manuscripts are given inflated status and authority by calling them a "text-type". In fact, the "Alexandrian" manuscripts do share a remarkable number of peculiar readings, suggesting an earlier common ancestor. But most of these readings are in fact clumsy errors, not "original readings".

Secondly, this group of manuscripts diverge from each other so often that a common text for them cannot be defined much of the time. The so-called "Alexandrian Text-type" is not a real text, but merely a collection of minority readings, leaving the nature, and even the existance of a single "Alexandrian" text implausible. The early manuscripts suggest rather that in Alexandria, many texts were used, and the state of the "text" was relatively 'wild' and uncertain.

If "Text-type" itself were a significant criteria for readings, then the Byzantine text would be the best defined, and most convincing version of the New Testament. The idea that the Byzantine text, with its many diverse witnesses, was some kind of later official creation imposed upon Christians after the 4th century is groundless.

(6) Appeal to Dubious "Authorities"

... Most textual critics today consider this to be the most reliable form of ancient text.

- Bruce Terry, Introduction

In fact, Most textual critics are not credible, nor Christians.

Those supporting the Alexandrian readings and modern versions that adopt them often present "textual critics" as authorities, and suggest especially that modern critics have a scientific credibility that must be reckoned with.

But the state of the "science" of textual criticism is a mess, for two good reasons.

(a) On the one hand, it is a soft historical study, with little real scientific objectivity or methodology. It is admitted to be "eclectic" and very subjective in nature.
(b) On the other hand, it is unusually affected by religious and idealogical bias, with strong political forces, vested interests, and special interest groups constantly pushing their own agendas.

To suggest that textual criticism is a 'disinterested science' is simply ludicrous and absurd. There is too much at stake in terms of conflicting world-views and religious interest for bias to be sensibly controlled.

This is especially important given what we are NOT told:

(a) Most textual critics "today" are not Christians at all, and represent very liberal/humanist/secular strains of philosophy and thought. There is a very real issue of whether Christians should be relying upon people ideologically opposed to the mainstream Christian gospel for advice on the wording, and control of their own Bibles.
(b) Most textual critics "today" are really entrenched in mainstream academia, which has long since abandoned any form of Christian belief or philosophy. These people are trained to have a mindset hostile to Christian religious and social goals, and in fact are actively undermining Christianity in any form.

Textual Critics cannot simply be "counted", any more than manuscripts can simply be "counted", without being critically evaluated and weighted according to their purity and credibility.

(7) The False "Canons" of Yesteryear

In spite of all the talk of "textual critics today", as though we were now on firm scientific ground, our propagandist now reverts back to the 18th century for his guiding principles. Terry now introduces the two most useless textual "canons" (rules) ever suggested in the farce that is textual criticism:

In general, (a) copyists were more likely to change difficult readings to easier ones, so the more difficult readings are often the original ones.

And (b) they were more likely to add material than omit it, so the shorter reading is more likely than not to be original.

- Bruce Terry, Introduction

(a) Prefer the more Difficult Reading?

The first question we must ask about this proposal is, what does the critic mean by the "more difficult reading"?

When we look back at the originator of this rule, J. A. Bengel (1725 A.D.!) we see that he had in mind readings that had the appearance of accidental errors, which a copyist then would have mistakenly "corrected" in an effort to smooth and clarify:

Bengel wrote, "Proclivi scriptioni praestat ardua" ("The difficult reading is to be preferred to that which is easy.")

But Bengel himself had never intended this to be a general principle, but only a possible solution to a very small number of special cases.

Kenyon observes that even in deliberate cases, this 'canon' has very limited application because the process is not controlled by "difficulty", but independant influences, while in the case of accidental changes, it makes no sense at all, :

Stated so absolutely, this proposition is misleading. Many forms of mistake produce a reading harder than the true one. ...Similarly, errors due to homoioteleuton often produce nonsense, as in the case quoted on p.8 from the Codex Vaticanus. In fact, it may be said generally that in the case of accidental errors the principle is not sound; but in the case of errors due to deliberate alteration it is generally true.

- Sir Fredrick Kenyon, Handbook to the TC of the NT, (London, 1901) p. 13

Most of the time, the "difficult reading" is likely to be the false one, because every mistake a copyist might make would certainly tend to generate a more "difficult reading" of every possible kind! The original ought to look less difficult.

Kenyon only finds the rule valid and credible for deliberate changes to the text:

Deliberate Changes:

"A scribe or commentator fails to understand a passage, and puts some word which he thinks makes it easier; and odd word is replaced by a commoner one; a marginal paraphrase extrudes the phrase which it was intended to explain; an expression which may give offence is omitted or toned down. In all such cases the more difficult reading is likely to be the true one. A hard reading will not be deliberately inserted instead of an easy one; but the reverse may, and not infrequently does, take place.

The difficulty of course, is to determine whether a discrepancy between two or more manuscripts is due to accidental or deliberate alteration; and where this cannot be discerned with certainty, Bengel's canon must be applied with great caution."

- Sir Fredrick Kenyon, Handbook to the TC of the NT, (London, 1901) p. 13

But even here, a certain kind of "difficult reading" is clearly implied, namely a reading that still makes good sense grammatically, but the reading is nonetheless difficult theologically, or morally, or politically.

Here again however, in order to apply such a concept to a pair of alternate readings, one has to have already composed a history of the text and a political/religious history of ideas in conflict, to explain both the existance of the variants and the priority of one over the other.

This itself is more difficult than the difficulty of either reading....

In modern times, this rule has been freely and maliciously applied to the Holy Bible by people who firmly reject the whole idea that the original "autographs" were error-free. That is, these people believe that the Evangelists, Paul etc. made grammatical errors and mistakes even while being inspired by the Holy Spirit, or rather they don't believe in a Holy Spirit at all.

It all comes down then to how we view the divine originals themselves. Layland Haines asks,

"Would not one expect the apostles and their associates to write in a clear, easy-to-read style? Surely they were not clumsy and unrefined writers who used short and hard-to-understand language."

- L. Haines, Authority of Scripture, Ch. 6

Far from being "modern science", 'prefer the more difficult reading' turns out to be 18th century mistaken intuition, out of date, limited and near-worthless for solving practical problems in the NT text.

(b) Prefer the Shorter Reading?

"...and copyists were more likely to add material than omit it, so the shorter reading is more likely than not to be original. "

- Bruce Terry, Introduction

If only life could really be so simple.

Once again, instead of modern science, we are given 19th century fuzzy thinking, this time from the German critic J. J. Griesbach (1775): 'lectio brevior lectio portior' ('Prefer the Shorter Reading')

But this is no general canon or guiding principle for selecting readings either: Royse dismissed it as worthless, and observed that it has been applied mindlessly for the last 2 centuries, without any support from the real data.

Dirk Jongkind tells us:

"While Royse may be correct in seeing the history of the reception of Griesbach's Canon as one that tends to repeat a simplistic interpretation of 'lectio brevior lectio portior', it is incorrect that Griesbach did not qualify his first canon."

- Jongkind,Scribal habits of Codex sinaiticus, p. 139

That is, even Griesbach would have rolled over in his grave to see how this idea is being foolishly applied today in critical Greek NT texts.

"The second part of the canon [in Griesbach's writings], ...mentioning "certain exceptional cases...(e.g. ...homoeoteleuton)" [Royse, 594] mentions 6 exceptions, thus qualifying what sort of readings Griesbach had in mind when he formulated the canon in the first place. The 3rd exception is "if that which is lacking could be lacking without harming the sense or the structure of the sentence, as for example incidental, brief propositions, and other matter the absence of which would be scarcely noticed by the scribe when re-reading what he had written" (cited in Metzger, Text... p.120). ...the majority of omissions Royse noted fall under this category. Apparently Griesbach was only concerned with the few substantial rewritings and not with the vast majority of inconsequential readings [omissions]. On the other hand, the reception of this canon in later scholarship shows that it is very easy to misunderstand Griesbach on this particular point."

-Jongkind, p. 139

Metzger seems to deliberately mislead in quoting Griesbach selectively:

Griesbach: "...for scribes were much more prone to add than to omit. They scarcely ever deliberately omitted anything, but they added many things; certainly they omitted some things by accident, but likewise not a few things have been added to the text by scribes through errors of the eye, ear, memory, imagination, and judgement"

- quoted by Metzger, Text, p.120

But as Jongkind notes, Griesbach is simply horribly wrong here. These wild and irresponsible statements were made nearly 100 years before the first real scientific investigations of scribal habits were begun, which later showed that Griesbach's "intuition" about the statistical behaviour of scribes was pure horse-manure.

See the articles here for examples of recent analysis:

"Griesbach gives the false impression that accidental additions outnumbered accidental omissions though his exact wording as to the relative proportion of these two phenomena is ambiguous."

-Jongkind, ibid, p.159-140 footnote

(8) Nonsense about Copying Errors

"Sometimes the eye of a copyist would jump back to similar letters and he would copy the same thing twice. Sometimes his eye would jump ahead to similar letters and he would omit the text between them."

- Bruce Terry, Introduction

True. But what Bruce Terry doesn't say, because he probably doesn't know it, is that copyists tended to accidentally OMIT words and phrases 4 to 10 times as often as they would duplicate a word or line, and even when they did make the latter mistake, it was easily spotted almost always corrected, and rarely perpetuated in further copies.

One can find study after study that confirms scribes tended to omit far more often than they tended to accidentally add materials, even from the margin.

all of them found scribes tended to accidentally omit lines.

(9) Nonsense about Editing Practices

"Sometimes a copyist would omit or change material that he thought was superfluous, harsh, or contrary to his beliefs or practices. Copyists would often bring parallel passages into perfect agreement by changing one or the other of them to read like the other. This especially happened in the Gospels, where even whole verses were sometimes added to one Gospel from another. It also happened with Old Testament quotations, where copyists had a tendency to change quotations that the writer had paraphrased to read exactly like the Greek Old Testament. Copyists would sometimes replace rare or unfamiliar words with more familiar synonyms. Sometimes they would try to improve the grammar and smooth out the text to read easier. The textual critic must be on the lookout for all of these kinds of changes. He must always ask: Is there is any reason why copyists might have changed one reading to another? Often the reason for a change gives the clue to the original reading."

- Bruce Terry, Introduction

Again, Terry gives a whole list of different kinds of changes, but fails to explain the relative frequencies of these edits.

(a) One of the most common practices in Alexandria was to solve awkward, wordy, or problem passages by simply deleting them or shortening them.

Why is this important? Because most of the important changes that have been foisted on the Greek text used by modern translations are omissions, not various other changes, which often don't significantly affect the text.

(b) Secondly, almost half of the changes made, on the theory that scribes had deliberately and "creatively" added material, have turned out to be simple accidental omissions due to homoioteleuton (eye-skips from similar word endings), not additions at all.

For a good list of accidental omissions in the Alexandrian text-type, see our page here:

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