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Some of the main Greek sources we may use include:

The _GNT are collections that basically include compilations of most of the same known Greek manuscripts, but they still have a main reading. So, many knowledgable Bible students will argue that SBLGNT vs MGNT doesn't really matter because translators look to the texts.

So, then what Greek textual criticism philosophy would have guided translators' decisions, or which Greek sources were popular among the translators doing the English work?

Relevant English translation could likely include:

  • ESV (English Standard Version - Crossway)
  • NASB (New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update - The Lockman Foundation)
  • NLT (New Living Translation - Tyndale House)
  • NIV (New International Version - Zondervan)
  • NKJV (New King James Version - Thomas Nelson)
  • CEV (Contemporary English Version - American Bible Society)
  • HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible - Holman Bible Publishers)
  • Amplified - The Lockman Foundation & Zondervan (jointly)
  • Others?

Translations like The Living Bible and The Message are too far from word order mattering because of the heavy re-phrasing.

Example

A recent question addressed a different matter of Galatians 1:3, but a textual difference came to light with the following Greek discrepancy: essentially whether Lord goes with God father and Lord or Lord Jesus Christ...

Galatians 1:3

SBLGNT

θεοῦ πατρὸς καὶ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ
God father and Lord of us Jesus Christ

MGNT

θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ
God father of us and Lord Jesus Christ

NASB:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,

That Greek discrepancy between SBLGNT and MGNT may not matter much, but it illustrates where Greek texts can make a difference. So, other examples of how different Greek sources may have affected any particular English translation would certainly be on topic.

Question

  • Which Greek sources tended to be favored by translators for which English translations?
  • What Greek textual criticism philosophy affected how how the Greek source was used?
    • Such textual criticism philosophies can be concisely stated...
    • Eg prefer "older" or that "more newer indicated missing even older source"?
    • Eg prefer "normal grammar" to explain unusual text as possible mistake
    • Eg consider consistency with a narrative as evidence, such as long vs short ending of Mark?
  • What English translation phraseology philosophy may have affected how the English may have been rendered?

Not seeking long answers

Please try using bullet points or charts to keep this concise.

We don't want mini-encyclopedias for answers. This question could invite overly-long answers. Please try to be concise and match Greek text influence and use with an English versions in bullet points or lists, and only a few paragraphs for elaboration.

This is a bit of a research-oriented question, seeking a lot of information concisely organised in one place.

This would need sources like a translation's own preface notes or a book by someone who interviewed the translators themselves or their publishers, et cetera.

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  • Great question! Could we add original KJV as well? Feb 21 at 20:34
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    This varies somewhat. The textual philosophy of each translation is given in the preface to each version.
    – Dottard
    Feb 21 at 21:55
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    @MarkVestal absolutely! I didn't include it because it seems more widely-known it was heavily dependent on the TR with an aim of having a Crown-sanctioned Bible, legitimizing the second monarch crowned as Defender of the Faith, using the language that the recent Shakespeare had accidentally standardized.
    – Jesse
    Feb 21 at 22:13
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    @Dottard so, someone could write a research-answer with Bible prefaces as the sources?
    – Jesse
    Feb 21 at 22:14
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    The literature on this subject is huge with much debate and acrimony. Incidentally, the KJV did more to standardize English that did Shakespear. Much of his vocabulary has been lost to modern ears.
    – Dottard
    Feb 21 at 22:19

1 Answer 1

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I will answer this for English versions since 1500.

The OT has been translated by almost all versions using Biblica Hebraica, with occasional "corrections" from the LXX.

In the NT, up to 1870, most versions used the Textus Receptus (TR), based on just five (or six) late Medieval MSS and published by Erasmus in 1516, 1518, 1522, etc, such as the

  • Tyndale of 1526
  • Geneva Bible of 1560
  • Bishop's Bible of 1568
  • KJV 1611 and it five subsequent revisions (including the last in 1769)
  • Douay-Rheims Bible of 1610
  • Noah Webster, 1833
  • Young's literal Translation of 1862
  • New King James Version
  • etc

With the publication (1881) of Wescott and Hort text based on the vast number of new and ancient MSS, many new versions based on it appeared. This text was subsequently updated and revised many time as new discoveries were made and has become known as the Nestle-Arland text, now known as NA28 or USB5. [The SBLGNT is essentially the same text.] Most modern versions are based on this text such as

  • the Revised Version of 1881
  • English Revised version, ERV
  • RSV
  • NRSV
  • NAB
  • CSB
  • NASB
  • UNASB
  • NIV
  • ESV
  • NLT
  • etc, + over a hundred more

In 1994 Farstad & Hodges et al published the "Majority" text, which is quite different from either the NA28/UBS5 or TR. A few versions have appeared based on this text such as the Majority Standard Bible

There is another text known as the Byzantine text published in 2005 by Robinson and Pierpoint. I do not know of any versions based on it but others may be able to suggest some.

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