1 August 2002

New Bibles for Scholars, on the Web

At Tyndale we've just got a copy of the new facsimile of Vaticanus,
and I thought they had sent the original by mistake - it really looks
like the real thing! Every page is cut exactly like the original,
so where the original pages have holes, the facsimile has holes.
A new website about Vaticanus will tell you more.
I've just come back from SNTS in Durham where I spoke to a designer
of the new electronic Nestle-Alund 28, which will be free on the web
(to start with at least) and has exciting features!
Also, some developments in Peshitta translation, the Old Latin
(pre Vulgate) and straightforward web Bibles for scholars,
including the first instance of the English Standard Version on the
Web (did you know the translation committee worked at Tyndale?).

4) LATIN (pre Vulgate) VETUS LATINA [restricted]

Straightforward pointed Hebrew with English in parallel
- MT without variants and Jewish Publication Soc. translation
Straightforward Greek NT with variants from WH and NA26/27
- text has no accents or breathing, but it does have variants!
Multiple Greek eds and English trans all-at-once
- no accents, but full Stephens 1550, Scrivener 1894, Byzantine
Majority & Alexandrian, Vulgate and some English translations.
Crosswalk's Hebrew, Greek & English Bible linked to lexicons
- pointed Hebrew, accented Greek, choice of translations. Quick & easy
Fonts are at http://bible.crosswalk.com/OtherResources/BSTFonts/
English Standard Version
- aims to give a consistent word-by-word translation while keeping
a good English style. It is based on the RSV but it is by no means
a simple revision of it.
There are lots and lots of other Bibles 'out there'
- see Tyndale's Biblical Studies page

The new edition of Nestle-Alund (NA28) is in preparation.
The text itself will probably be the same as NA27 (which
was the same as NA26 - which Kurt Aland regarded as the
new 'Textus Receptus'). The Textual Apparatus will be much
improved. But there is much more...
They plan to make an electonic publication on CD and on
the Web alongside a new paper publication. The electronic
versions are very exciting, because all the limitations are gone.
- every textual source can be listed
- every variant, however 'unimportant', is given
- the text can be laid out to show every variant
All this could be done in a book (if it was big enough)
but the electronic version can do far more:
- hover over a word and see all variants listed
- click on a MS variant, and you see that MS text
- corrections are marked in blue. Click for the original
- temporarily filter out variants you don't want,
eg show only MSS which agree with Vaticanus
More is planned for the future
- click on a MS to see an image of the original (this
depends on who owns the original, and whether they
have put it on the web. Till then, you have to visit Munster,
which has microfilms of virtually every surviving text.)
How much?
- the CD will be free with the book version
(it will work on PC & Mac, using a web browser)
- the web interface will be FREE at
That's the tough one. Only 1 John is done so far and
it will be on the web 'in October 2002'. But progress
is swift, and they are already ahead of schedule.
The 20 most important MSS wiil be transcribed in 3 years,
when all the NT will go online
Barbara Alund said that this project will take us 'closer to
the original text'. Therefore the project still gives a fixed
text with variants all compared to that text.
The Biblon 2000 project (mirrored at Tyndale) is far further
ahead than NA28, and doesn't claim to find THE original text,
because you can make your own. Click on a variant in the
apparatus and it is incorporated into the text, so that you
can build your own version. Try it out at:
Vaticanus B:
We don't yet have the text on the web (though the new NA28 should
have it, eventually). In the meantime you'll have to come and use the
wonderful new facsimile at Tyndale. This publicaton is already giving
Vaticanus research a boost - see some of the fruits of this work at

The Peshitta is being re-assessed, and many scholars regard it as a
second century translation. Maurice Casey continues to argue that
many of the Gospel sources were first recorded in Aramaic - he told
me last week that his book on Aramaic Q is just about to come out.
The importance of the Peshitta is finally becoming recognised.
Peshitta in Syriac
- not always easy to use, but where else can you find this?
Peshitta in English
George M Lamsa's translation (Harper & Row 1933) isn't on the web
(as far as I know), but other English translations are:
James Murdock's translation of the Syriac Peshitta (1852)
- an Online Bible version can be downloaded from
- a searchable version (with a huge number of other translations) at
The Peshitta is being newly translated by Vic Alexander at

4) LATIN (pre Vulgate) VETUS LATINA [restricted]
The Vetus Latina is the Old Latin text of the Bible - the version
before the Vulgate, which is found no-where in print. It has to
be reconstructed from tens of thousands of citations in early
Church Fathers. This work is gradually being published as small
portions of text with comprehensive commentaries on how the text
was constructed, but publication is slow.
Cambridge University Library started a trial subscription to
Vetus Latina online, so I had a go. In ten minutes I was able to
do some research which I had been putting off because it would
have taken me several weeks. I wanted to trace all the early Latin
translations of Eph.5.32 where marriage (or the marriage of the
church to Christ) is called a "mysterion". The Vulgate translated
this as "sacramentum" which, in early Latin means something which
is hidden, but under Aquinas gained very different meaning.
It is from this text that marriage became one of the seven
sacraments. The Vetus Latina database showed that most Fathers
translated it as "sacramentum" even before the Vulgate, though
a handful translated it as "mysterium" and one as "mysterii
sacramentum". Interesting!
If you're in Cambridge (or other subscribed sites) you can see it at
If it says 'not subscibed', read about it or arrange a free trial at

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