Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bible Rankings by sales, 2011

 Bible Translations - Based on Unit Sales   (March 2011)

     1        New International Version                        (TNIV)
     2        New Living Translation                             (NLT)
     3        King James Version                               (KJV)
     4        New King James Version                       (NKJV)

     5        English Standard Version                          (ESV)
     6        Reina Valera 1960 (Spanish)   
     7        Holman Christian Standard Bible            (HCSB=NRSV)   
     8        The Message   
     9        New American Standard Bible updated    (NASBu)
     10      Other Translations   

The newest listing is interesting.

(1) Its no surprise that the NIV is at the top, since about 60% of all modern book sales is based on promotion budgets and campaigns, and the NIV is the flagship for many Bible publishers.   The NLT is again one of the longest running easy modern translations, popular with many for whom English is a second language.  Number 6 isn't really an English translation, but is of interest to a growing Spanish-speaking population in the USA, hence its inclusion by the CBA Listing.

(2) The actual numbers aren't given, but its a good bet that collectively the KJV and NKJV would still outrank sales in numbers of any other single version, in English-speaking countries of the West at least.

(3) The "Holman" Bible was originally meant to follow the KJV NT text (i.e., the TR or Majority Text) but the originator and editor Farstad died shortly after the project began, and those who took over switched to the UBS text.

(4) The NASB and CEV have slid down and off the chart respectively, in part because the Spanish version was inserted (out of place here), but mainly because these older translations have lost promotional investment to newer versions.

(5) The suprise is the NLT, which has probably moved up for a few reasons: (a) it has won 2nd place in the 'modern version' race due to its longstanding history, (b) it is one of the popular versions purchased by educational institutions and liberal denominations, (c) money has been invested in promoting it, especially among Roman Catholics in North America, (d) it is the default '2nd language=English' translation for new immigrants to NA.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bible Rankings by sales, 2005

*Bible Translation Market Share for March and April 2005

  1.   NIV                        (New International Vers, 1984 rev  Basis: BHS, UBS2/NA26 )
  2.   KJV                       (King James Version,  1769 Oxford: TR Stevens/Beza )
  3.   NKJV                     (New King James Version, 1979 Basis: TR (scrivener), HF?)
  4.   NLT                       (New Living Translation [TLB], 2nd ed 2004 BHS, UBS4/NA27)
  5.   The Message         (The Message, 1993, 2002 )
  6.   NASB95                 (New Amer. Standard 1995rev Basis: ASV, BHS N23/NA26)
  7.   NCV                      (New Century Version 1978-91 : N23/NA26 )
  8.   TNIV                     (Todays New International Version, 2002:  BHS, etc., NA27 )
  9.   ESV                      (English Stand. Vers. 2007 rev: from RSV71, BHS2, UBS4 )
  10.   HCSB                  (Holman Christian Standard Bible 2010,   BHS5, NA27 )
* Reflects cumulative Bible sales at all Mardel stores for March and April 2005 

The chart above is quite interesting.  Although the publisher listed the NIV as the top seller (no doubt pushed by hardcore promotion from the publishers), the KJV and NKJV together probably outstripped it in sales, even in the USA.

Almost all other bibles are based on the latest available 'critical Greek NT texts', essentially just one text: the UBS2-4  and/or NA26-27.   Both are based on the Westcott/Hort text, updated and modified by Aland, who adopted the Nestle-text (23rd ed.) and then made some 500 changes to that.  Aland was also a heavyweight player in the UBS text(s), which adopted his text, then adopted his apparatus and punctuation, finally making the UBS4 and NA27 essentially identical.  RC Cardinal Martini also got involved in the 60s, but then retired. 

Most of the modern versions have been adopted and simultaneously printed along with Apocrypha by the Roman Catholic church, in an attempt to supplant the English Bible (KJV).

"Back in 2005 a rough estimate set the number of Bibles sold at around twenty-five million copies. That was just in the United States! Back then the amount spent on Bibles sales was estimated to be more than half a billion dollars per year. The American Bible Society distributed over 60 million Bibles last year in the U.S. alone. The Gideon's distributed 59,460,000 Bibles worldwide last year. This is an average of over one million Gideon Bibles every week, or about 113 per minute. One publisher has 350 different editions of the Bible in print this season alone."

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Textus Receptus vs. Byzantine (Majority) Text

On Willker's textual criticism list (Yahoo Groups) James Snapp Jr. recently posted an excellent summary of the relationship between the Textus Receptus (TR) and the Majority Text (Byzantine text-type).

Re: [textualcriticism] Comparing Byz and TR in the Gospels

Msg #6251

 "The Textus Receptus was the collation-base for many collations. The exact identity of which TR (Stephanus or Elzevir), and of which edition, may vary among collators; nevertheless, it's still the TR. And those collations are still useful. The idea has probably occurred to a lot of textual critics, though, that it would be better to compare the text of a specific MS to the Byzantine Text itself, instead of to the TR, so that one can immediately see how Byzantine or non-Byzantine a MS' text is, instead of seeing how similar it is to the TR.
  But are the differences between the TR and the Byzantine Text really so great that remarkably different results will be obtained if one uses Byz, instead of the TR, or the TR instead of Byz, as a gauge of a MS' text's normality?
These are actually pretty good numbers, and I think it makes the case *FOR* using a Byzantine like RP2005.   Here is a summary of the comparison for the Gospels:
  In Matthew, there are 159 differences between RP2005 and Scriv1881. But 109 of those differences are either the kind of mistakes that two copyists could make copying from the same exemplar (involving itacism, orthography, word-division, and parableptic error), or, in four cases, occur where Byz is divided. 46 are distinctive disagreements.
  In Mark, there are 142 differences between RP2005 and Scriv1881. But 69 are either the kind of mistakes that two copyists could make copying from the same exemplar (involving itacism, orthography, word-division, and parableptic error), or, in 11 cases, occur where Byz is divided. 73 are distinctive disagreements.
  In Luke, there are 221 differences between RP2005 and Scriv1881. But 67 are either the kind of mistakes that two copyists could make copying from the same exemplar (involving itacism, orthography, word-division, and parableptic error), or, in 15 cases, occur where Byz is divided. 140 are distinctive disagreements.
 In John, there are 158 differences between RP2005 and Scriv1881. But 51 are either the kind of mistakes that two copyists could make copying from the same exemplar (involving itacisms, orthography, word-division, and parableptic error), or occur where Byz is divided. 107 are distinctive disagreements.
  So in the Gospels as a whole, Scrivener's TR varies from R-P's Byzantine text 680 times, and in 366 of these cases, the TR contains a distinctly non-Byzantine reading (i.e., a reading that implies non-Byzantine ancestry). So when you collate, you are looking at only the differences. If R-P is a good representation of the  typical Byzantine tradition, then your analysis says that the typical Byzantine manuscript will likely have about 700 differences between it and the TR, of which roughly 1/2 will be TR specific.
  How big a difference is that? Well, between NA25 and NA27, there are 115 differences in Mt., 82 differences in Mk., 97 differences in Luke, and 114 differences in Jn. -- 408 in all. But I'm pretty sure that the textual character of any MS could be identified confidently whether it was collated against NA25 or against NA27. So the 680 differences (or, the 366 distinct differences) between Scrivener's TR and R-P's Byz in the Gospels probably are not big enough, collectively, to obscure the textual character of complete Gospels-MSS collated against the TR." 
Yours in Christ,

James Snapp, Jr.
"There's no question that the TR is in the Byzantine family, and certainly a TR collation will determine if a given manuscript is Byzantine or not, but that is not always the question we want to answer. For non-Byzantine manuscripts the 360 odd TR specific differences are not likely to be significant (compared to heir differences to the Byzantine base text), but for Byzantine manuscripts, they introduce unnecessary noise into trying to classify manuscripts in their subfamilies."

textualcriticism (Yahoo Groups)
Msg #6261  Feb 6, 2011
The concept of "noise" is apt, in textual transmission.  We have already had an engineer posting here on that subject.   There should actually be a way to quantify the Signal/Noise ratio in accurate engineering terms, for comparison purposes.  How about it, Joe?

Another interesting point here is that these variants may or may not make a difference, depending upon the task at hand, and the type of text being compared.   It is surely worth observing that when doing a more subtle operation, like classifying a manuscript among groups within its own text-type, problems or inaccuracies might arise.

We saw a similar phenomenon when people tried to apply Principle Components Analysis (PCA) techniques to MS grouping.  The methods were unable to focus the picture tightly enough to actually improve the picture or the classification of MSS into sub-groups or families.

Principle Components Analysis Examined  <- - - Click here.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Ancestors of Aleph/B: Gospel Fingerprints

Having collated the data regarding line-width variations during the transmission history, we can now assemble a unique fingerprint for each gospel, showing its independent transmission history before being combined into a single manuscript which formed an early archetype for Aleph/B.

Luke uniquely goes through two phases of poor copying, one quite early, involving manuscripts with column-widths between 20 - 25 letters per line.  It is apparent that a long and colorful transmission history is recorded in the clustered errors found in that gospel.   We are viewing at least seven detectable copying generations before this gospel settled into the latest common ancestor of the Aleph/B line, before the two separate lineages for those two manuscripts again diverged.   Luke clearly arrived at its Alexandrian destination by an entirely different route than the other two Synoptics.

Luke's final experience parallels that of Mark, as shown below, with a second phase of bad handling in formats having column widths between 11 to 16 letters per column, probably similar in appearance to Codex Vaticanus & Sinaiticus, with  3 or 4 - columns per page. 

Matthew shows an independent history of transmission prior to its incorporation in a common manuscript containing the other gospel texts which ended up in the common ancestor to Aleph/B.   Matthew seems to have suffered the most damage when it was copied from a manuscript about 17-19 letters per column, probably having 2 or 3 columns per page as in Vaticanus, although it took significant damage also when being copied from a narrower column manuscript of about 14-16 letters per column like Codex Sinaiticus.

Remarkably, most of Mark's significant variants appear to have arisen late in the copying process, perhaps in the early 3rd century, when narrow columns were the common practice.  In this, it seems to share a common history with Luke, which also suffered heavy damage in this later period, when columns averaged about 11 to 16 letters per column.