About the King James Version Extended
In 1869, the famous German biblical scholar Constantin von Tischendorf published a unique English edition of the New Testament. Unremarkably for the time, he used the King James, or "Authorised," Version for the text. But he included at the foot of each page an English textual-critical apparatus showing the places in which the Textus Receptus underlying the New Testament of the KJV differed in a translatable way from one or more of the famous great uncial manuscripts Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and Alexandrinus. This site makes that textual-critical data available in a convenient, digital form.
What is the Textus Receptus?
In this context, "the Textus Receptus" is a convenient shorthand for the Greek text underlying the New Testament of the King James Version, particularly as reconstructed by Frederick Henry Ambrose Scrivener in his The New Testament in the Original Greek According to the Text Followed in the Authorized Version (1881).
More generally, the Textus Receptus refers to the form of the text found in a set of closely akin—but not identical—printed editions of the Greek New Testament that appeared during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The King James Version does not follow any one of these exactly, but conforms most closely to Theodore Beza's fifth edition of 1598. For more information, see Scrivener's preface to his 1881 edition.
What are Codices Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and Alexandrinus?
The fourth-century codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus and the fifth-century codex Alexandrinus are three of the oldest sources for the text of the Greek New Testament. They are not the oldest; Papyrus 45, for example, generally dated to the third century, contains portions of the gospels and Acts. But unlike other manuscripts of equal or greater antiquity, each of these codices contains a complete or nearly complete text of the New Testament.
- Sinaiticus (ℵ) contains the entirety of the New Testament.
- Vaticanus (B) contains the great majority of the New Testament, but lacks the end of Hebrews (9:14-13:25) as well as the pastoral epistles, Philemon, and Revelation.
- Alexandrinus (A) lacks most of the Gospel of Matthew (1:1-25:6) as well as John 6:50-8:52 and 2 Cor. 4:14-12:6, but otherwise contains a complete New Testament text.
What do the symbols in the notes mean?
Throughout, ℵ refers to Sinaiticus, B to Vaticanus, and A to Alexandrinus. These are the standard sigla; Tischendorf used S, V, and A, but that system might cause confusion, as S and V are commonly used for other manuscripts.
When a manuscript has been altered by a corrector, an asterisk is used for the original reading and a superscript numeral for the revised reading. Thus, for example, A* means "the original reading in Alexandrinus," while ℵ2 means "a correction in Sinaiticus." Note, however, that Tischendorf has in general only recorded original readings.
Will this site eventually contain variant information for the Old Testament?
That and other extensions of the project are under consideration. At this time, however, nothing is imminent.
Why does the King James Version italicize so many words?
In general, italicized words in the KJV are those that lack a direct basis in the original language but were supplied by the translators in order to produce a smoother, more idiomatic English text. Very occasionally, however (e.g., 1 John 2:23), they instead indicate a textual-critical doubt on the part of the translators about underlying words in the original. For lists and discussion, see Frederick Henry Ambrose Scrivener, The Authorized Edition of the English Bible (1884), 61f.
Have any changes been made to Tischendorf's critical apparatus?
Though Tischendorf was a great and careful scholar, in a small number of places it has been found necessary to correct or adapt his notes:
At Mark 1:44, ὅρα μηδενὶ μηδὲν εἴπῃς, Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus omit μηδὲν. But Tischendorf's note, "SA om. nothing," is misleading, since for reasons of English style the KJV rendered the double negative μηδενὶ μηδὲν as "nothing to any man." The KJVX makes it clear that "any" should become "no." (The result—"See thou say to no man"—is admittedly still awkward. It would be more natural in this context to translate εἴπῃς as "tell," as the KJV itself does in the Synoptic parallel Matthew 8:4. But that might leave readers with the false impression that the variant extends to the Greek for "say.")
At Luke 6:4, καὶ τοὺς ἄρτους τῆς προθέσεως ἔλαβεν καὶ ἔφαγεν ("and did take and eat the shewbread"), Sinaiticus omits ἔλαβεν καὶ. It is easy to see where Tischendorf's note, "S om. and did take," comes from; but omitting those three words breaks the English, since the KJV does not repeat "did" before "eat." The KJVX instead notes that Sinaiticus omits "take and."
At Luke 12:38, where the Textus Receptus reads φυλακῇ καὶ but Sinaiticus and Vaticanus have κἂν, Tischendorf's note gives as alternative renderings the more idiomatic "or" and the more literal "and if." The former fails to convey a translatable feature of the variant; but the latter exaggerates the difference, since the KJV translated the καὶ of the Textus Receptus non-literally as "or." Here the compromise translation of "or if" has been adopted as least imperfect.
At John 5:4, Tischendorf's note on Alexandrinus is essentially followed. But with "washed" substituted for "went down," it seems plain that ἐν should be translated as "in" rather than "into."
In 1 Cor. 7:3, Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and Alexandrinus have τὴν ὀφειλὴν where the Textus Receptus reads τὴν ὀφειλομένην εὔνοιαν. Tischendorf's note here, "SVA her duty for due benevolence," is at least confusing; the Revised Version of 1881 translates ὀφειλὴν more naturally as "due," and that is the approach taken here.
At Heb. 4:4, where Alexandrinus omits τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ ἑβδόμῃ, Tischendorf's note is subtly mistaken. It is not "the seventh day" that must be marked as omitted, but the occurrence later in the same verse of "the seventh day" (entirely in roman).
At 1 Pet. 2:1, πάσας καταλαλιάς ("all evil speakings"), Alexandrinus omits πάσας. Tischendorf's apparatus passes over this variant; it is included here.
At 1 Pet. 2:19, Tischendorf's note, "A this is thankworthy with God," is erroneous. That reading is found in another fifth-century manuscript, Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, but not in Alexandrinus.
Finally, Tischendorf was sometimes careless in his handling of italics. In Luke 5:13, for example, where the KJV text has "his hand," Tischendorf's note reads "S* his hands." Perhaps it is pedantic to mark "his" as a supplied word here. But there is no basis in the Greek for using italics in the text and roman in the note; the uncorrected reading of Sinaiticus simply substitutes τὰς χεῖρας for τὴν χεῖρα. Here and elsewhere, the policy of the KJVX is to replicate in the notes the italicization of the main text except insofar as a difference in the Greek can fairly be said to require a change.
April 10, 2021