Today I got to do a two-hour presentation at Calvary Chapel Birmingham (UK) on "How We Got Our Bible." We surveyed three major editorial issues that underly our English translations.
1) Which books do we include in our Bibles? (canon)
2) Which text of these books do we include in our Bibles? (textual criticism)
3) How do we translate these books into English? (translation)
It was a very brief overview of the issues for a lay audience, but I hope it was clear enough and gave some helpful context for using our English Bibles.
We also did a practical demonstration of textual criticism afterwards by letting participants hand copy a paragraph I had written summarizing the manuscript tradition. I then selected four manuscripts and attempted to reconstruct the original text. We succeeded in reconstructing it exactly for all but a few small cases. In the original, long numbers were written out, whereas in the manuscripts they all became abbreviated as digits. Similarly, the word "and" became "&" or "+". Also, the first copyist committed parablepsis and lost six or seven words, an error which was found in all of the manuscripts we examined. It was a very illuminating exercise for those who stuck around afterwards.