Here are seven tidbits about the Bible that you may not already know. These are all well-known to the people (pastors, theologians) that study in the field but is information that rarely makes it into a sermon.
1. We may very well have an original document from the New Testament.
There are some documents from the New Testament that have been discovered that date very close
to when the original would have been penned. Much depends on how and when you date both the manuscripts and authorship of them, but it’s fun to think about. (I always had the impression that some of my seminary professors thought it very likely, although wouldn’t say it outright since there was no way to confirm it.)
2. Greek with no spaces and Hebrew with no vowels.
Have you seen on Facebook those memes where words are typed with numbers or characters and you can still read it? That’s similar to how people wrote thousands of years ago. They relied on the brawn and brains of the readers to figure out all the stuff in between.
3. A woman helped translate the New Testament.
Barbara Aland works as an editor for the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament
, which is the Greek text translators use to then translate into English. It’s a compilation of orginal language manuscripts. She also played a part in the highly regarded Greek-English dictionary that translators rely on called BDAG
4. Textual Criticism is the field of study relating to old documents.
is also not exclusive to Biblical texts but all historic documents. The techniques in this field can be applied to anything from documents of Shakespeare to a bunch of torn up letters from 100 years ago you found in your attic.
5. Your Bible tells you how it was translated.
Ever read any of that boring stuff at the front and back of your Bible? Every Bible I’ve seen has at least a few pages going over their translation techniques. Many will have a great deal of information and resources on the topic. It’s actually worth taking a look at every now and then.
6. New Testament manuscripts get categorized by presumed location of scribe.
It’s called a text-type
and is based on certain distinctions that show up within all the documents in that category. The three prominent ones are called Byzantine, Alexandrian and Western. This is actually important to know because different translations are based on the use or combination of different text-types. The Nestle-Aland (referenced above) uses all text-types but favors the Alexandrian. The King James Version is based on the Byzantine.
7. Wondering how that Bible gets into your hands?
It goes something like this:
- Start with tons of really old, kinda old and not so old manuscripts in the original language.
- Someone like Barbara Aland takes those manuscripts and puts them into one original language document like the Nestle-Aland 28.
- English speakers use that document to translate into English. (They may still look at other manuscripts if they feel it’s needed.)
- Often the translators are working with a publisher such as Zondervan, so then the finished translation easily finds its way into your heart home.
(More articles at www.ThinkingThroughChristianity.com)