1. The branch of study that traces the hist. of the transmission of ancient texts with a view esp. to determine the most ancient form of a given text, thereby laying the basis for interpretation. Also called lower criticism because of its basic or primary character; cf. Higher Criticism.
2. There are perhaps ca. 200,000 variant readings in NT MSS (see Manuscripts of the Bible, 3 b); some arose inadvertently, others by design. Origen* tried to cope with some variants. A Textus* receptus gradually became standard; later studies hold some other readings in higher regard.
3. The importance of ancient versions and ch. fathers for NT textual criticism was recognized by J. Mills.* J. A. Bengel* noted families of MSS and formulated basic principles of textual criticism that emphasized preference for the more difficult readings. J. J. Wettstein* introd. a system of numbering MSS. See also Griesbach, Johann Jakob; Hort, Fenton John Anthony; Lachmann, Karl Konrad Friedrich Wilhelm; Lake, Kirsopp; Soden, Hans Karl Hermann von; Tischendorf, Lobegott Friedrich Constantin von; Westcott, Brooke Foss. FWD
See also Theology.
The New Testament in the Original Greek, ed. and rev. B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort, 2 vols. (New York, 188289); A. Souter, The Text and Canon of the New Testament, rev. C. S. C. Williams, 2d ed. (London, 1954); W. Arndt, The Chief Principles of New Testament Textual Criticism, CTM, V (1934), 577584; F. G. Kenyon, Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, rev. A. W. Adams (London, 1958); E. E. Flack, The Sacred Text: The Lutheran Evaluation of Biblical Criticism, What Lutherans Are Thinking, ed. E. C. Fendt (Columbus, Ohio, 1947), pp. 4871; I. M. Price, The Ancestry of Our English Bible, 3d rev. ed. W. A. Irwin and A. P. Wikgren (New York, 1956); B. M. Metzger, Annotated Bibliography of the Textual Criticism of the New Testament 191439; K. Aland, Kurzgefasste Liste der Griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments, I (Berlin, 1963) and Studien zur Überlieferung des Neuen Testaments und seines Textes (Berlin, 1967); Materialien zur neutestamentlichen Handschriftenkunde, I, ed. K. Aland (Berlin, 1969); Die alten Übersetzungen des Neuen Testaments, die Kirchenvüterzitate und Lektionare, ed. K. Aland (Berlin, 1972).
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