The Plan and Scope of the Collation

Collation Base.  By tradition, Greek collations published for the use of scholars have used some edition of the Received Text, usually the text of Stephens 1550, Elzevir 1624, or some combination of the two (as in reprints of Mill's text), as the basic text against which all of the critical texts are collated. Any text might serve equally as well as a collation base; the editions of Stephens and Elzevir were arbitrarily used for this purpose only because, for many years, they were the most readily available Greek texts. However, because the present work is intended for those who have little or no ability to read Greek, these texts would not be convenient or suitable as a constant point of reference. Therefore the King James version, or rather, the Greek text presumed to underlie the King James version, is used as a collation base instead. Wherever the King James version is insufficiently literal for the purpose of accurately presenting its own underlying reading, another more literal rendering is offered, with the actual King James rendering given in parentheses. The King James translators did not follow any one published text, but, like all translators, they chose readings from the several printed texts and other sources available to them at the time. In a few places it is unclear what reading underlies the King James version, and so there is room for disagreement in this matter; but for our purposes it is only necessary to indicate where the collation base differs from those commonly used in other works of this kind. It is for this reason that the readings of Stephens 1550 and of Elzevir 1624 are indicated in the collation. All of these differences between the collation base and the texts of Stephens and Elzevir are also listed separately in Appendix A. One must also distinguish the King James version as it is commonly printed today from the original edition of 1611: The collation base represents the supposed Greek readings of the text as it appeared in the Oxford Standard edition of 1769, which is followed by all modern editions of the King James version, and the readings of the 1611 edition are given in the collation as deviations from the base. See the page Changes in the King James Version for complete information on this subject.

Editions Fully Collated.  Eleven editions of the Greek New Testament (listed below) are fully collated in this work. This means that for each variant, all of the editors that adopt it in their texts are listed. The marginal readings of Westcott and Hort, which they offered as being equal in value to the readings adopted in their text, are also indicated. Where an editor is not listed for a given reading or for another alternative in the same place, there his text either displays the reading represented in the King James version, or a reading which cannot be distinguished from it in English translation. Differences between the editions which are untranslatable are not indicated. In hundreds of doubtful cases, where small differences in the Greek texts may or may not be translated differently in English, the collation registers a difference. This is done for the sake of completeness. Special symbols which pertain to the critical editions are listed and explained at the end of this Introduction.

Early Editions and Versions Occasionally Cited.  The following are cited occasionally in this work: The Complutensian Polyglot (1514), Erasmus' text of 1527, Beza's of 1598, the Clementine Vulgate (1592), Tyndale's translation (1535), the Geneva Bible (1560), and the Bishops' Bible (1568). Whenever these agree with the King James version in a divergence from Stephens, they are given as possible sources for the translation. This is done in order to justify the inferential collation base, and to provide the student with germane information that may be found interesting.

Punctuation and Accent Variants.  Strictly speaking, the differences of punctuation and accentuation between the critical texts do not fall under the heading of various readings, because the earliest Greek manuscripts lack these marks. They are therefore a matter of interpretation, along with paragraphing. Nevertheless, a few of the more interesting differences of this type are given in the collation, especially where a difference between English versions in common use may be explained by it.

Manuscripts.  This work is a collation of selected critical editions, and not a collation of manuscripts. Manuscript readings which have not been adopted by any of the editors are not represented here.

Various Renderings.  This work is a collation of Greek texts, and not a list of various English renderings. Alternative renderings are offered only incidentally, in connection with the Greek readings under consideration.

The Format of the Collation

Citation of Editors.  The editions represented in the collation are referred to by the following abbreviations. For detailed information on these editions see the corresponding articles in the Bibliography.

SStephens 1550 (Estienne 1550)
EElzevir 1624
GGriesbach 1805
LLachmann 1842
TTischendorf 1869
TrTregelles 1857
AAlford 1849 as revised in 1871
WWordsworth 1856 as revised in 1870
WH Westcott & Hort 1881
NANestle-Aland 1979 (Aland et al. 1979)
HFHodges & Farstad 1982 as corrected in 1985

For example, The following entry from the collation indicates that the texts of Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, Westcott & Hort, and Nestle-Aland all omit certain words from Matthew 1:6

Mat 1:6. Omit "the king" before "begat Solomon." L T Tr A WH NA.

Operative Expressions.  Each item contains certain words (Omit, Add, Read...instead of..., Transpose, and Repunctuate) that propose a single text-critical operation. Each operation represents a revision of the text presumed to underlie the KJV. Below is a sample of each type of text-critical operation.

Mat 1:6. Omit "the king" before "begat Solomon." L T Tr A WH NA.

Mat 1:7. Read "Asaph" instead of "Asa." L T Tr A WH NA.

Mat 1:18. Transpose "Jesus Christ" to "Christ Jesus." WHm.

Mat 3:6. Add "the river" before "Jordan." L T Tr A WH NA.

Mark 1:3. Repunctuate "crying in the wilderness, Prepare" to "crying, In the wilderness prepare." Tr HF.

Readings.  The words printed in double quotation marks (" ") represent the Greek words to be omitted, replaced, added, transposed or repunctuated, along with adjacent words. Insofar as possible, there is no mingling or combination of variants; each entry presents a discreet variant to be considered separately. The few exceptions made to this policy are made only where it would have caused much confusion and annoyance to exhibit related variants separately.

Consequent Renderings.  When the sense of a verse becomes unclear in the King James version after an indicated omission or addition, the words "and render .. " introduce a literal rendering (i.e. translation) of the revised Greek text. In order to clearly distinguish these consequent English renderings from alternative Greek readings, the words of a consequent rendering are printed in single quotation marks (' '). For example:

Mat 3:14 omit "John" and render 'he forbad.' L T Trm Am W WH.

The variant reading is expressed in this manner because the form, Read "he forbad" instead of "John forbad," would have implied that the change in Greek involves a substitution of words when it does not. The operative expressions in every case refer to the omission, addition, substitution, or transposition of words in the GREEK text, so that the reader may see the relative frequency of the various types of changes. This method of presenting the various readings will also facilitate comparison of the collation with Greek texts and exegetical commentaries.

Alternative Renderings.  Occasionally, alternative English renderings are offered for the same Greek reading. These alternative renderings are given in parentheses, and are also printed in single quotation marks. Sometimes they are given along with a reference to some commonly used English translation. The abbreviations used for such references are given at the end of this introduction. In the following example, an alternative rendering from the English Revised Version of 1881 is given:

Mat 5:32 Read "causeth her to suffer adultery" (ERV 'maketh her an adulteress') instead of "causeth her to adulterate herself" (KJV 'to commit adultery'). L T Tr A WH NA.

In many cases, like the one above, the revised text is awkward or difficult to understand when translated literally: but no great attempt has been made here to present it in an agreeable manner through interpretation. The difficulty of the new reading is in fact one of the reasons that the modern editors have favored it, according to the idea that later correctors are likely to be responsible for the smoother readings.

Supplied Words.  The translation of Greek into English sometimes requires the insertion of English words which do not have any counterpart in the Greek text. In the King James version these words were italicized in order to alert the reader to the fact that they have been added for the sake of clarity. In this collation, such added words are put in square brackets:

Mat 9:18 Read "came to [him]" instead of "came." L WH.

English Style.  The rules of usage typical of early modern English, which include, for example, the use of the form "thou" for the nominative singular personal pronoun and "ye" for the nominative plural, are regularly followed in the translation of variant readings presented here. This is done not only for the sake of presenting the variants in a style similar to the King James version, but also because these forms express grammatical distinctions which correspond to distinctions in the Greek. The expression of some variants depends upon such distinctions, as in Matthew 6:5:

Mat 6:5 Read "when ye pray, ye shall not be as" instead of "when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as." L T Tr A WH NA.

Because the significance of these old forms has become unfamiliar to many, a grammatical paradigm is given in Appendix C.

Sources of the Collation

The collation presented here is based upon several sources of information. For all the editions prior to Nestle, about 4,000 variant readings were culled from the Concordance of Various Readings published as an appendix to the eighth edition of Wigram's Englishman's Greek Concordance. These were then checked against the critical annotations of two other works: The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament by George Ricker Berry (for editors prior to Westcott & Hort), and the annotated Novum Testamentum of F.H.A. Scrivener (for Westcott & Hort). The marginal and bracketed readings of the Westcott & Hort text, which were not indicated in Wigram's appendix, were taken directly from a copy of the Westcott & Hort text. The readings of Nestle-Aland were then derived by comparison with Westcott & Hort, by means of the collation published in the back of the Nestle text. Readings bracketed in Nestle-Aland were found by a page by page inspection of the text. The readings of Hodges & Farstad were identified by treating the "TR" citations of its apparatus as a collation against Stephens 1550 or Elzevir 1624. Besides these major sources, several minor sources were used to add a small number of variants. Altogether, about 5,100 readings were carefully gathered and verified by this procedure. The publication information for each of the sources is given in the Bibliography.

Comparison with Modern Versions

Problems Occasioned by Loose Renderings.  An effort has been made to make this collation usable in conjunction with any English version by the indication of adjacent words, alternative renderings, and other means; but it may sometimes be necessary for the reader to refer to a copy of the King James version in order to grasp the difference in readings indicated. For the sake of precision this work presents the most literal rendering possible, and so some interpretation will be necessary when the collation is compared to such non-literal versions as the New International Version. Most modern translators try to make their versions very easy to understand. In many verses an accurate literal rendering of the Greek text would force the reader to slow down and interpret the English, and so instead of this the translators tend to offer a highly interpretive rendering which helps the reader along but which bears little resemblance to the Greek text. In comparing such renderings with the more literal ones given in this collation, the reader should begin with the assumption that the translators have adopted the Greek reading supported by the majority of recent editors. Sometimes it will appear that the translators have followed the old reading of the King James version when in fact they are known to have accepted the reading of Nestle. Many of the various readings collated here could only be expected to make a difference in the most literal of translations.

Recommended Versions.  The following is a list of English versions suitable for close study, beginning with the most literal and ending with the least literal. For detailed information on these and many other versions see the articles in the Bibliography of English Versions.

  1. English Revised Version
  2. American Standard Version
  3. King James version
  4. New King James Version
  5. New American Standard Bible
  6. English Standard Version

Reversal of Operations.  When this collation is used in conjunction with a translation other than the King James version or the New King James Version, it will often be necessary for the reader to mentally reverse the operation indicated. This is because the translators often will have adopted the reading of the critical text. For example, in Matthew 1:25 the New American Standard Bible reads, "and kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus." At this point in the collation, a variant reading is registered in the following manner:

Mat 1:25 Omit "her firstborn" and render 'brought forth a son.' L T Tr A WH NA.

The revision indicated here has been accepted by the translators of the NASB, on the authority of Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, Westcott & Hort, and Nestle-Aland. Five editors are not listed because they support the reading of the King James version: Stephens (S), Elzevir (E), Griesbach (G), Wordsworth (W), and Hodges & Farstad (HF). If we mentally reverse the operation, we can present it as a revision of the NASB:

Mat 1:25 Add "her firstborn" before "a son" and render 'gave birth to her firstborn son.' S E G W HF.

Such reversals are easily performed for the NASB, because the NASB almost always presents a literal rendering either in its text or in its margin.

Marginal Renderings.  Normally the alternative renderings given in the margins of English versions are more literal than the ones in the text. These marginal renderings will often prove very useful in comparing the versions with this collation.

Marginal Readings.  Some alternative readings mentioned in the margins of modern English translations will not be found in this collation. The reason for this is that some translators have used the margin to indulge in textual speculations which none of the critical editors have supported. For instance: between 1952 and 1959 the Revised Standard Version included a note on Matthew 1:16 which reads as follows: "Other ancient authorities read Joseph, to whom was betrothed the virgin Mary, was the father of Jesus who is called Christ." But in this case the "ancient authorities" include only a single manuscript of an ancient Syriac translation! The reader may confidently dismiss any such marginal reading which is not listed in this collation. For detailed information on the manuscript support for questionable marginal readings in modern versions, a good resource is Philip Comfort's "Guide to the Ancient Manuscripts: a Guide to Understanding Marginal Notes on Different Readings" published as an appendix to The Eight Translation New Testament.

For Further Study.  Several resources are available to the student who wishes to compare the renderings of different English versions where no Greek textual issues are involved. Among the "parallel" Bibles designed for such study the best one available is the Eight Translation New Testament mentioned above; but the patient reader will profit much more from Word Meanings in the New Testament by Ralph Earle. Earle's book is written in a handy "guide" format (i.e. proceeding verse by verse through the New Testament), and he not only mentions but also gives explanations for most of the important differences in rendering among the major versions. The only shortcoming of Earle's book is that in his explanations he sometimes fails to notice the various Greek readings that are the true reason for the differences under discussion.

Comparison with Interlinear Greek-English Texts

Some of the problems mentioned above will be avoided by students who choose to compare the collation with the English words of an interlinear text. The word-for-word interlinear "translation" in such texts is of course much more literal than any version can be. Several interlinear New Testaments are available which also print a commonly used English version in parallel with the interlinear text (the King James version, New King James Version, New International Version, New American Standard Bible, and New Revised Standard Version are all available in this form). But with only one exception (Green's edition), none of these present a Greek text which everywhere gives the readings followed by the version printed in parallel. The Greek text printed is instead that of Stephens, an edition of Nestle, or the Majority Text, which the translators may or may not have followed at any given point. The reader should be alert for the occasional discrepancies.

Signs and Abbreviations

The following table gives the abbreviations for the editions represented in each item of the collation. For detailed information on these editions see the articles in the Bibliography.

SStephens 1550 (Estienne 1550)
EElzevir 1624
GGriesbach 1805
LLachmann 1842
TTischendorf 1869
TrTregelles 1857
AAlford 1849 as revised in 1871
WWordsworth 1856 as revised in 1870
WH Westcott & Hort 1881
NANestle-Aland 1979 (Aland et al. 1979)
HFHodges & Farstad 1982 as corrected in 1985

The following pre-critical texts are always indicated, along with the critical editors, when they support the readings of the King James version against Estienne 1550:

Vul Clementine Vulgate, third edition (Clement 1592)
CComplutensian Polyglot (Stunica 1522)
ErErasmus 1527
BBeza 1598
EElzevir 1624


TynTyndale 1535
GenGeneva Bible (1560)
BishBishops' Bible (1568)
KJVKing James version (1611)
ERVEnglish Revised Version (1881)
JNDDarby Version (1890)
ASVAmerican Standard Version (1901)
RSVRevised Standard Version (1946)
NASB New American Standard Bible (1963)

Other Signs:

is subjoined to the abbreviation for a critical text or translation when the reading is given as a likely alternative either in the margin or by means of brackets in the text.
mm is subjoined to the abbreviations WH and NA when the reading is doubly bracketed in those texts, by which the editors indicate their opinion that the reading is extraneous, but of evident antiquity.
is subjoined to the abbreviation for a critical text or translation when the reading is given in the text, while the reading of the King James version is given as a likely alternative either in the margin or by means of brackets in the text.
AV indicates the reading of the Greek text presumed to underlie the King James version (also known as the "Authorized Version").
AV1611 indicates the edition of 1611 when a distinction must be made between it and later editions. See the page Changes in the King James Version for further information.
AV1769 indicates the Oxford edition of 1769, followed by all modern reprints of the KJV.
NCollation in progress of Nestle 1927 as revised in 1941 (17th).