Greek New Testament Produced at Tyndale House aims to be ‘world’s most accurate’

Tyndale Greek New TestamentTyndale Greek New Testament

After 10 years of scholarly work, Tyndale House is launching a new version of the New Testament in its original Greek language, which aims to be the most accurate ever published. Taking as its authority the very oldest available manuscripts, the new edition reflects as clearly as possible the earliest recoverable wording of the books.

The version of the Greek New Testament that currently forms the basis of most English Bible translations was published in 1975, but since then several important ancient manuscript discoveries have been made. The Greek New Testament Produced at Tyndale House includes the evidence from these manuscripts, presented in a way that mirrors the sources it is drawn from. This means that paragraph marks reflect the earliest manuscripts rather than being edited to create a text flow that is more appropriate to modern languages. Tyndale House has also been involved with others in pioneering new techniques that can account for copying errors made by the scribes who created them.

About the Editors

Dr Dirk Jongkind

The edition’s editor, Dr Dirk Jongkind, Vice Principal of Tyndale HouseDr Dirk Jongkind, Vice Principal of Tyndale House, has given a decade of his life to leading the Greek New Testament project in order to achieve a version that reflects the latest thinking on these so-called “scribal habits”. According to Dr Jongkind: “As God’s unique revelation of himself to the world, the Bible is unfathomably precious, and it is our desire at Tyndale House to make the very best academic research about the New Testament available to those who work on our modern translations of it.”

Dr Jongkind“The scribes who copied the texts that have become our earliest known manuscripts of the New Testament were only human, and inevitably they made small mistakes. The great thing is that now we have so much evidence at our fingertips, we can study the types of errors the New Testament scribes made and come to more informed conclusions about what the text being copied would have said. Christians will be relieved to know that our 10-year study of the most important manuscripts shows that while errors are part and parcel of the copying process, there is no evidence whatsoever of systematic revision of the text. So while a scribe might accidentally change ‘Jesus Christ’ to ‘Christ Jesus’, we don’t encounter textual differences between the manuscripts that materially change the meaning.”

Dr Jongkind was previously curator of the Codex Sinaiticus documents (one of the earliest known complete New Testaments in the world) held by the British Library, and his PhD focused on the textual habits of the scribes who produced the manuscript. He is an Associate Editor of the Tyndale Bulletin and serves on the editorial board of the Journal for the Study of the New Testament. A fellow of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge University, since 2005, he is currently Academic Vice Principal of Tyndale House.

Dr Peter Williams

Dr Peter Williams, Principal of Tyndale HouseThe associate editor of The Greek New Testament Produced at Tyndale House is Dr Peter Williams, Principal of Tyndale House. Dr Williams is chairman of the International Greek New Testament Project and a member of the translation committee of the English Standard Version of the Bible.

The Greek New Testament Produced at Tyndale House will be available from Cambridge University Press (£115 for calfskin binding, £85 for French Morocco leather binding and £47.50 for imitation-leather binding; www.cambridge.org) and IVP (£55.99 for TruTone imitation leather binding and £30.99 for hardback; www.ivpbooks.com).

About Tyndale House

Tyndale House is a Christian institute for biblical understanding, with a rigorous data-driven approach to tackling questions about the nature, origin and meaning of Scripture. Founded in Cambridge in 1944, it has become the headquarters of a global fellowship of Christian academics that includes many leading members of the biblical scholarship community. It is also home to one of the world’s most significant libraries for biblical studies, as well as the Tyndale Bulletin academic journal.

For further details about The Greek New Testament Produced at Tyndale House, or for interviews with Dr Dirk Jongkind, please contact Alice Jackson, Tyndale House Communications Officer, at [email protected] or 01223 566624. More information about the edition can be found at www.thegreeknewtestament.com.

 

Frequently asked questions

Why do we need another Greek New Testament?

Soon after the publication of Erasmus’s first edition of the Greek New Testament in 1516, multiple editions of the Greek New Testament began to be published. Until the 19th century, however, these editions differed more in their scope and textual apparatus than in the actual text. But since the mid-19th century, editions of the Greek New Testament have differed more significantly in their text, based on the discovery of, and eclectic selection from, many more Greek manuscripts than were available to Erasmus. Around 1975, however, a number of factors led to the nearly universal adoption of a single standard text, published by the German Bible Society. Since 1975, significant advances have been made in our knowledge of the text of the Greek New Testament. This has included (a) the discovery of further primary material (eg, early papyri), (b) improvements in the accuracy with which we can use early versions, and (c) careful study of scribal habits. Existing Greek New Testaments have generally not been updated in light of this accumulated knowledge.

To what manuscript family does this Greek New Testament foundationally appeal?

This Greek New Testament is a revision of a previous Greek New Testament edition produced in the 19th century by Samuel Prideaux Tregelles. This major 19th-century edition was used as a textual source in Westcott and Hort’s classic edition The New Testament in the Original Greek.

Other than through an indirect influence via Westcott and Hort’s work, however, Tregelles’s edition was the only major 19th-century edition that was not part of the genealogy that contributed to the 20th-century Greek New Testament editions. This unjustly neglected edition followed a thoroughly documentary approach — which, with some variation, is most akin to the current editors’ work. The GNT editors therefore used Tregelles’s foundational work as a template, while at the same time re-evaluating all its readings in light of all major subsequent editions and in light of the earliest manuscript evidence. The editors have sought to ensure that all the words, spellings, and paragraph marks are found in multiple manuscripts and in at least one early manuscript.

 

How different is this text from the Nestle-Aland/UBS text?

The editors of the GNT believe that some significant improvements can be made relative to other existing editions. For example:

1) No previous edition has ever used the recent studies on the habits of scribes to inform editorial decisions as to what the earliest text was. Recent decades have provided a wealth of material regarding the errors scribes were likely to make, thereby providing the means for the Tyndale House editors to make more informed decisions about textual history.

2) In general, previous editors have allowed themselves considerable liberty in standardising spelling, making paragraph divisions, deciding punctuation, and other matters. Sometimes this has meant that modern editions have standardised spellings or introduced textual divisions against a very strong consensus of early manuscript witnesses. This may hide significant data about the origin and even interpretation of the Greek New Testament, as it is not possible to study the extent of variation of the spellings in the New Testament based on editions currently available. Attention to these and other philological details will make the GNT a particularly useful edition from which to begin philological investigation.

 

Will this text be made available digitally?

This text will be available digitally and will be free for many uses around the world, in accordance with the desire of Tyndale House to serve the global church in an open-handed way with the very best Greek text possible.

Breaking News – Sister of the Earliest Complete Old Testament Found

TYndale House Newsletter Header June 2017

TYNDALE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE

Tyndale House, Cambridge, England

Discovery published in the Tyndale Bulletin 68.1 (2017) 1-29

Tyndale House, Cambridge, announces a new discovery made by young researcher Dr Kim Phillips published in its latest Tyndale Bulletin 68.1.

Tyndale House Research Associate Dr Kim Phillips identifies the writing style of Samuel ben Jacob in newly published digitised photographs of a manuscript from the Firkowich collection in the depths of the National Library of Russia archives of St Petersburg. Locked away from the eyes of interested researchers for a number of years these microfilms have recently been posted online by the National Library of Israel. Due to painstaking work in the unusual practices of this
scribe Dr Phillips has been able to identify that this is Samuel ben Jacob’s work despite there not being any identifying colophon, or signed publication note, on the text. The mystery of who wrote these texts has been decoded.

Samuel ben Jacob is the scribe who wrote The Leningrad Codex, the earliest complete copy of the Old Testament we have reproduced in Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. This manuscript is behind most modern translations. Identifying this piece of work to be by the same scribe will allow scholars to check the accuracy of tiny details in the manuscript behind most modern Bible translations. This will then contribute to future scholarly Bibles.

“For the first time (for scholars outside Israel and Russia) it is possible to contextualise the readings of the Leningrad Codex against the background of equivalent readings in other manuscripts known to have been written by Samuel B. Jacob”

Dr Kim Phillips Tyndale Bulletin 68.1 p. 20

The Article is available online at www.tyndale.cam.ac.uk/tyndale-bulletin

For further information, please contact:

Alice Jackson, Communications Officer at Tyndale House, Cambridge.

[email protected] | 01223 566 624 | www.tyndalehouse.com

Tyndale House is a registered charity no. 1161396 Limited company registration no. 9437542
Registered Office: Tyndale House, 36 Selwyn Gardens, Cambridge, CB3 9BA UK

NOTES TO EDITORS

Tyndale Bulletin 67.2 (2016) 287-307 Phillips has previously published work demonstrating single folios found in the Cairo Genizah to be by Samuel ben Jacob, using a set of identifying features, or fingerprints, that collectively point to this particular scribe’s handiwork.

For further details of the Cairo Genizah and its significance visit newly opened exhibition Discarded History: The Genizah of Mediaeval Cairo providing “a window on the life of a community a thousand years ago – a Jewish community in the centre of a thriving Islamic empire, international in outlook, multicultural in make up, devout to its core.” Cambridge University Library www.lib.cam.ac.uk

Tyndale House is an independent evangelical charity founded in 1944 to advance biblical research. It possesses one of the finest libraries for biblical research in the world, packed with specialist material on the language, culture, history, and meaning of the Bible and enjoys close links with the University of Cambridge. Tyndale Bulletin is a peer review journal of Biblical and Theological research. Published twice a year our next Tyndale Bulletin 68.2 is due out later this year.

Research Fellows working at Tyndale House are involved in various personal and collaborative projects.

Forthcoming Publications at Tyndale House

The Greek New Testament, Produced At Tyndale House, Cambridge. Expected Publication Date November 15th, 2017. Published by Crossway and Cambridge University Press

The Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge has been created under the oversight of editors Dr. Dirk Jongkind (St Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge) and Dr. Peter Williams (Tyndale House, Cambridge). While a few trusted Greek texts are in print, significant advances have been made in Greek translation studies of the New Testament since a standard text was adopted by academics in 1975. Together with their team, they have taken a rigorously philological approach to reevaluating the standard text – reexamining spelling and paragraph decisions as well as allowing more recent discoveries related to  scribal habits to inform editorial decisions. Ideal for students, scholars and pastors alike, and published to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, The Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge is a groundbreaking contribution to biblical scholarship.

For further details visit https://www.crossway.org/bibles/the-greek-new-testament-produced-at-tyndal-hconly/

Codex Climaci Rescriptus

Codex Climaci Rescriptus is an important and complex palimpsest containing much biblical text and many mysteries. Dr Kim Phillips is working alongside the Tyndale House Student Scholars Program to describe and publish this extraordinarily complex and intriguing manuscript. Research carried out on the codex is supported by the Museum of the Bible. For further details visit www.museumofthebible.org

www.stepbible.org

The STEP Bible is a free online resource providing translation overlays, which show the underlying biblical Hebrew and Greek, and explain how particular words were used in the ancient world. Tyndale House is currently working with the United Bible Society to create a Swahili version of STEP and our next project will be to create a Spanish version, as we seek to make this a multi-lingual resource.

What is the background to this discovery?

Codex Firkowich B19a (more commonly known as The Leningrad Codex, or L for short) was completed in around 1008. It is the earliest complete codex of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament).

  • L is the main manuscript behind the Hebrew Bibles used by scholars called the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia and the Biblia Hebraica Quinta (more recent, but not yet complete). See https://www.academic-bible.com/en/home/current-projects/biblia-hebraica-quinta-bhq/.
  • The textual traditions found in L and other manuscripts from the same period are referred to as The Masoretic Text (i.e. the text of the Hebrew Bible produced by a group of scholars called the Masoretes, between the 7th and 10th centuries).
  • Thousands of tiny details in L differ from the other high-quality Hebrew Bible codices written in the same period. Scholars have debated these differences: do they reflect an intentionally different Masoretic tradition, or are they simply errors?
  • The new manuscript, L17, will allow scholars to check whether those differences in the Leningrad Codex are deliberate. This will alter future scholarly Bibles, and will contribute to our understanding of how The Masoretic Text developed.

Both manuscripts were written by a scribe called Samuel ben Jacob (Samuel son of Jacob) Phillips has previously published demonstrating single folios found in the Cairo Genizah to be by Samuel ben Jacob, using a set of identifying features, or fingerprints, that collectively point to this particular scribe’s handiwork.

See http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/collections/departments/taylor-schechter-genizah-research-unit for details of the Cairo Genizah and its significance.

What is its significance?

This discovery is significant because it will allow scholars to check the accuracy of tiny details in the manuscript behind most modern Bible translations. Scholars have not previously been able to agree about the accuracy of the scribe behind the earliest complete manuscript of the Hebrew Bible.

• The Leningrad Codex is the main basis for the Old Testament in most Bible translations in the world

o Including most English translations
o And most scholarly editions of the Hebrew Bible

• Scholars will be able to use this newly identified manuscript to check the accuracy of the most widely used manuscript of the Old Testament.

Who discovered it?

Research by Dr Kim Phillips, Research Associate at Tyndale House, Cambridge, and Research Associate at the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit, University of Cambridge, aged 35.

About Dr Phillips

Photo of Kim Phillips available for use by media

Qualifications: MA, MPhil, PhD from University of Cambridge; PGDip from University of Wales Research Associate at Tyndale House [www.tyndalehouse.com] carrying out research on the Codex Climaci Rescriptus and on early Masoretic Manuscripts, research supported by the Museum of the Bible [https://www.museumofthebible.org]

Tyndale House is an independent evangelical charity founded in 1944 to advance biblical research, which is also producing its own edition of the Greek New Testament to be published by Crossway and Cambridge University Press this November. See www.tyndale.cam.ac.uk/thgnt_blog 

Research Associate at the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit, University of Cambridge [http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/collections/departments/taylor-schechter-genizah-research-unit/unit-staff/dr-kimphillips]
Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit, University of Cambridge, is a collection of around 193,000 manuscript fragments making up the world’s greatest repository of information about Judaism for the mediaeval period and much of the early modern period.

See http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/collections/departments/taylor-schechter-genizah-research-unit

How was it discovered?

Phillips identifies Bible manuscript in St Petersburg, Russia, as by the scribe who also wrote the famous Leningrad Codex, the earliest complete copy of the entire Old Testament in Hebrew.

Identification only became possible in 2017 when the National Library of Israel put digital copies of old microfilms of the collection in St Petersburg online.

What was discovered?

The newly identified manuscript

  • is also known to scholars as L17.
  • contains Joshua–2 Kings (i.e. Joshua, Judges, 1–2 Samuel, 1–2 Kings)
  • was dated by Israel Yeivin to around AD 975, earlier than the Leningrad Codex
  • was already known to a few scholars, but they were not aware of its link with the Leningrad Codex
  • was originally around 240 folios (480 sides) long and is now about 180 folios (360 sides) long
  • is in the Russian National Library and is labelled in two parts: EVR I Bibl. 80 and EVR I B 13

The identification by Phillips is based on 11 distinctive traits of the scribe called Samuel ben Jacob (Samuel son of Jacob)

Where can these images be found online?

National Library of Israel
National Library of Russia
Discovery published in the Tyndale Bulletin 68.1 (2017) 1-29
The article is available online at www.tyndale.cam.ac.uk/tyndale-bulletin

For further information, please contact:

Alice Jackson, Communications Officer at Tyndale House, Cambridge.
[email protected] | 01223 566 624 | www.tyndalehouse.com

Tyndale House News – April 2017

Tyndale House News

Reproduced by permission of Tyndale House Communications Dept.

The Greek New Testament: Produced at Tyndale House

Dr Dirk Jongkind, Senior Research Fellow in New Testament

We are approaching the end of nearly a decade’s work producing a new edition of the Greek New Testament as the entire finished text has been submitted this month to the publishers, Crossway. This work has been headed up by Dr Dirk Jongkind, Senior Research Fellow in New Testament, who has recently become our Academic Vice Principal. Involving about 30 researchers in different ways, this edition is seeking to present the most accurate ever printing of the New Testament scriptures based on a careful study of scribal habit.

Read more at the start of Dirk’s blog.


Writing Lines: T-S D1.108 and the Song of Moses

Read this fascinating article about a manuscript in the Cairo Genizah. Written by Tyndale House Research Associate Kim Phillips Writing Lines: T-S D1.108 and the Song of Moses has been selected as fragment of the month at Cambridge University Library.


Historical evidence that Jesus lived and died: Guardian Article

Did you miss Dr Simon Gathercole’s article, former Tyndale House reader, during the Easter period? Written in the Guardian’s world news section on Easter Sunday read his article What is the historical evidence that Jesus Christ lived and died?


Book Now For Tyndale Fellowship Conference 2017 – Early Bird Discount Ends Soon (Before 30 April 2017)

Book Now For Tyndale Fellowship Conference 2017