When it comes to the many thousands of manuscripts upon which our English New Testaments are based, there are basically two major “families” of manuscripts: the Byzantine family and the Alexandrian family.
The predominant view among conservative Bible scholars today is to prefer the ALEXANDRIAN family of manuscripts…
…hence most modern English translations either footnote or bracket certain words, phrases, sentences, and even paragraphs (John 7:53-8:11; Mark 16:9-20)… words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs which were accepted as God’s Word in Bibles prior to the 20th Century.
But I want to give you five reasons, among many, that I prefer the BYZANTINE family of manuscripts:
1. While we have no 2nd Century manuscripts from this family, we see 2nd Century Church Fathers quoting Byzantine readings.
2. The Alexandrian family was discovered only in one region of Egypt; the Byzantine family was found in all parts of the Mediterranean world.
3. A massive majority suggests early Christians thought these renderings were superior and chose to copy from this family rather than the other. (The Alexandrian family was located in a remote part of the known world and probably had less manuscripts to compare).
4. The Byzantine family seems complete; the Alexandrian does not (see Mark 16).
5. God has kept the Byzantine family preserved and known through the entire history of the Church; the Alexandrian family was lost and unknown for over 1,500 years.
The words of the Lord are pure words,
Like silver tried in a furnace of earth,
Purified seven times.
You shall keep them, O Lord,
You shall preserve them from this generation forever. - Psalm 12.6-7
Probably most of the readers of this blog are using English Bibles that are based more upon the Alexandrian family than the Byzantine family. Should you burn them and go back to the tried and true KJV? No. Here’s the thing, it’s not a major deal.
* Less than 5% difference between the two families of texts, the main difference being the Alexandrian family is smaller (Mark 16:9-20 omitted, other verses and words omitted).
* No major Christian doctrine impacted or changed (the most significant doctrinal issue is that the importance of fasting is weakened in the Alexandrian texts).
* As proof that I do not believe it is a major concern, I continue to preach and teach from an Alexandrian-based translation (ESV) even though I have preferred the Byzantine family for some time now. When I get to a verse or passage in the ESV that is impacted, such as Matthew 6:13, I point out how the verse(s) is bracketed or in footnotes, explain why, and then preach it as God’s Word.
Whichever textual family is actually correct, the Christian faith is not compromised.