Textual variants in the New Testament  

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Textual variants arise when a copyist makes deliberate or inadvertent alterations to a text being reproduced. Some common alterations include the deletion, rearrangement, repetition, or replacement of one or more words when the copyist's eye returns to a similar word in the wrong location of the original text. If their eye skips to an earlier word, they may create a repetition (error of dittography). If their eye skips to a later word, they may create an omission, or they may resort to performing a slight rearranging of words to retain the overall meaning without compromising the context. In other instances, the copyist may add text from memory from a similar or parallel text in another location. Otherwise, they may also replace some text of the original with an alternative reading. Spellings occasionally change. Synonyms may be substituted. A pronoun may be changed into a proper noun (such as "he said" becoming "Jesus said").

Origen, writing in the 3rd century, was one of the first who remarked differences between manuscripts of texts that were eventually collected as the New Testament. He declared his preferences among variant readings. For example, in Template:Bibleref2, he favored "Barabbas" against "Jesus Barabbas" (In Matt. Comm. ser. 121). In Template:Bibleref2, he preferred "Bethabara" over "Bethany" as the location where John was baptizing (Commentary on John VI.40 (24)). "Gergeza" was preferred over "Geraza" or "Gadara" (Commentary on John VI.40 (24) – see Template:Bibleref2). At Hebrews 2:9, Origen noticed two different readings: "apart from God" and "by the grace of God".

Mill estimated the number of variations in the New Testament text at 30,000 based on '... nearly 100 manuscripts ...'. Eberhard Nestle estimated this number as 150,000–200,000. Ehrman has estimated "...between 200,000–400,000 variants [in] several million pages of manuscripts."

Since 1981, Greek New Testament manuscripts have commonly been categorized into five groups.

An abbreviated list of textual variants in the New Testament is given in this article (below).

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Textual variants in the New Testament" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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