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THE NEW TESTAMENT was written in Koine Greek during the first century AD. From the time of its original revelation, handwritten copies continually were prepared in order tomaintain and preserve that original text into the modern era. All copies made prior to the invention of movable-type printing were made by hand, resulting in various scribal alterations, most of these being of a minor nature. Although the autographs no longer exist and no two manuscript copies are completely identical, sufficient evidence exists by which one can produce an accurate representation of the original text by comparing and evaluating the overall manuscript consensus. Robinson and Pierpont have taken the utmost care in preparing that text for this edition.
Various other methods for restoration of the original NT text have fallen short of their goal, in part due to methodological subjectivity, and in part to a presuppositional bias against the claims of the Byzantine Textform. The texts created under such a bias tend to be based on only a handful of favored manuscripts, and fail to consider all transmissional factors in the preservation of the original text. As a result, the modern eclectic texts tend to preserve more of a caricature than the essence of the originals.
In contrast, Robinson and Pierpont have applied many of the same methods of textual criticism to their task, but without the anti-Byzantine bias. Their method of “reasoned transmissionalism” is based on the wider scope of manuscript transmission throughout history. The preface of this edition explains the basic method by which the present editors have arrived at their basic text. The appendix contains Robinson’s essay, “The Case for Byzantine Priority,” which presents a rationale for and defense of the theory and methodology that has been applied in the preparation of this edition.
About the Authors
MAURICE A. ROBINSON began studying Greek in 1965, and NT textual criticism in 1966. His original training followed the perspective of reasoned eclecticism, which he continued to study and practice for nearly a decade.
Specialized study in the field of textual criticism took place from 1971-77 under Kenneth W. Clark, then emeritus of Duke University. During this time he received the degrees of Master of Divinity (1973) and Master of Theology (1975) from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, North Carolina. In 1982, he was awarded the Ph.D. in NT textual criticism by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, Texas, with his dissertation entitled Scribal Habits among Manuscripts of the Apocalypse.
As a result of his studies under Clark, he was slowly led to shift his position from reasoned eclecticism to Byzantine-priority, and in 1976 joined with William Pierpont in the quest to establish an accurate Byzantine text and viable underlying theory. Since that time, he has presented many papers and articles dealing with NT textual criticism at various venues.
Robinson is currently Senior Professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, North Carolina.
WILLIAM G. PIERPONT began studying the Greek New Testament in 1932, and was trained in the Westcott-Hort theory and method at Friends University, Wichita, Kansas. The closer examination of the manuscripts and theoretical perspectives underlying that approach led him into a life-long study of NT textual criticism that in the mid-1960s resulted in his support and defense of the Byzantine Textform.
Pierpont worked for over 40 years as a research engineer at Beech Aircraft in Wichita. Even while employed at Beech, Pierpont was able not only to conduct an intensive study of Greek NT textual criticism, but also to acquire a reading and speaking knowledge of more than two dozen world languages, including Polish and Mandarin Chinese. Following his retirement, Pierpont devoted the remainder of his life to text-critical and related investigative work.
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