Classroom Resources

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Tip 4.5 Using the Text Comparison Settings

The Text Comparison Settings Tool is a great way to compare two Bible texts and see where they differ. In this Classroom Tip we will look at ways to use this helpful tool in your classroom instruction for textual criticism and sermon preparation.

Open the Text Comparison Settings Tool by selecting Tools on the main BibleWorks menu, then select Viewing the text | Text Comparison Settings. Enter the abbreviations for the versions you want to compare in the text boxes. Check the box to Enable the display of the text comparisons in the Browse Window.

Teaching Textual Criticism

One of the most popular uses of the Text Comparison Settings Tool is to compare two or more texts to identify when they differ. Finding textual differences is fast, shows where major texts differ, and gives an indication where text-types differ.

Here are some comparison combinations to consider:

  • BYZ and SCR. This shows where the Majority Text and Textus Receptus differ.
  • SCR and STE. This shows where the Stephanus and Scrivener editions of the Textus Receptus differ.
  • BNT and BYZ. This shows where the Critical Text and Majority Text differ.
  • BNT and SCR. This shows where the Critical Text and Textus Receptus differ.
  • BNT and WHO. This shows where the Critical Text and Wescott-Hort text differ.
  • BNT, WHO, TIS. This shows where differences within a predominantly Alexandrian text-type occur, and (in the case of the BNT) where some Byzantine readings are found in the Critical Text.

The Text Comparison Settings Tool has a useful Export feature. In the Text Comparison Settings Window, click the button Export next to the versions you are comparing. This button sends to the Search Window all of the verses that contain a difference between the versions listed in the comparison box.

Once the verses are listed in the Search Window, you can save this verse list for future use. You can also use the Stats Tab to see what Bible books contain the most differences. For example, there are a higher number of verses in Revelation that differ between the BYZ and SCR than any other book.

The percentage of verses in a book with compared to the number of verses in the book emphasizes the differences between these two texts in Revelation even more:

Sermon Preparation

Sermon preparation and delivery has two components: 1) proper interpretation of the text, and 2) effective delivery to the congregation. Often a congregation uses more than one Bible version. If a preacher is to deliver the sermon effectively, he must be aware of how the congregation's translations read, so that he can explain the text effectively no matter which translation an individual may be using. The Text Comparison Settings Tool can help do this task more quickly.

First you need to determine which translations are being used in the congregation during an average service. Once you have determined the translations used in the congregation, include these translations in the Text Comparison Settings Tool.

As you work through the text in your sermon preparation, evaluate the highlighted text. Are definitions of words significantly different from one version to the next, requiring you to explain the meaning of the words? Did the translators make text-critical or grammatical decisions that make the translations read differently?

By noticing the differences between the versions you can prepare and deliver a message that will better meet the needs of your entire congregation and keep them from being confused if your message says something different than their Bible version.

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