Wallace: There Are 1,838 Differences Between Textus Receptus and the Majority Text

When I introduce New Testament transmission history and textual criticism, it is amazing to me that there will always be one student who approaches me afterwards with questions about the majority text and/or Westcott and Hort.

It’s amazing to me because a 17-year-old knows enough to even ask about them.

During a Q&A session with the Summit students, the very first question was from a young man asking me about the difference between the Textus Receptus and the Majority Text because he was under the impression that they were the same.

Back in 1994, Daniel Wallace explained the history and data in a JETS article, noting that TR and MT experienced a massive resurgence in the 70s and 80s and that resulted in some interested findings:

If the 1970s marked the rebirth of the MT theory, the 1980s were the decade of its rapid growth. Pickering’s book was followed by a second edition in 1980 and the epoch-making Greek New Testament according to the Majority Text, edited by Zane C. Hodges, Arthur L. Farstad, et al., in 1982. Though marred by its entire reliance on printed editions of the Greek NT (primarily von Soden’s) rather than on first-hand collations, this text was the first Greek NT based on the majority of Greek witnesses. Preliminary estimates on the textual differences between the TR and the Majority Text had been as low as five hundred. The final text, however, ended up with nearly quadruple that amount. [FOOTNOTE 59: By my count, 1838] Thus the Majority Text both revealed concretely that the Byzantine text-type had been poorly represented by the TR and, because of this, became a catalyst for debates among traditional-text proponents. But perhaps the most surprising feature of the Majority Text is the stemmatic reconstructions for John 7:53-8:11 and the entire book of Revelation, for in these places there are several minority readings, contrary to the title and wishes of the editors.

So the result should be: Let the TR be the TR and let the MT be the MT. I’d probably also say let the Byz be the Byz, (I’d love to check Hodges-Farstad against Robertson-Pierpont, but, for whatever reason, Hodges-Farstad isn’t included in Bibleworks).