Friday, December 12, 2014

A Critical Edition Of The Greek New Testament, Or The Textus Receptus?

Just a few days ago, Antonio responded to a question about editions of the Greek New Testament. Let's take a look. Here is the question that was posed:
"What can we trust more–reading the Greek of the Textus Receptus, or reading a critical edition of the Greek New Testament? Which is better? And do you have an article dealing with this topic?"
AP: Without a doubt, we can better trust a critical edition of the Greek New Testament, for example, one like the Nestle-Aland (28th edition). The Textus Receptus or "received text" is that of Erasmus' Greek New Testament (1516). At that point in time they had hardly begun the task of serious text-critical study with the New Testament in Greek. And Erasmus' text was very bad. He didn't even have a complete copy of the New Testament in Greek, and what he had of Revelation was missing the final verses, which forced him to re-translate those verses into Greek from the Latin.

I only have a chapter dedicated to the text of the New Testament in my book Guía para entender el Nuevo Testamento (4th ed.; Trotta, Madrid: 2011). If at all possible, you should read Bruce M. Metzger's The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976).

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TWH: This is a question that causes lots and lots of stir in different circles. Some people believe that the TR is the "end all, be all." Personally, I walk around with my UBS4, which contains the same text as that of the NA27. If you're interested in a helpful comparison of the NA27 and UBS4, Logos Bible software has a helpful article here. The Nestle-Aland 28th edition was unveiled in 2012. And the UBS5 has just been released in recent days. If I was trapped on an island and all I had was the TR, I would read it with great joy and diligence. With that said, like I said before, I walk around with a modern critical edition of the Greek New Testament. The value for me lies more so in the apparatus that it contains. (Someone's probably asking, "Why are you using the UBS edition if the value is in the apparatus? Isn't the apparatus better in the Nestle-Aland edition?" The answer to the second question is yes. The problem is I find the Nestle-Aland textual apparatus more difficult to look at. It makes my eyes bleed. The UBS apparatus may not give you as much evidence "below the line," but at least I don't have to take a Tylenol after I look it through. Of course, I'm being a little facetious!)

I teach my students at Capital Seminary and Graduate School how to do a textual analysis. I absolutely cringe at the idea of my students (and any serious student of God's Word for that matter) not knowing how to evaluate text-critical evidence. It doesn't mean that they need to be text-critical extraordinaires, but it does mean they need to know how to think through the evidence and reach well-reasoned conclusions. Students of the New Testament have to be able to think through the textual data. I guess my point in mentioning all of that is even with a modern critical edition of the Greek New Testament, you have to wrestle with textual issues. Having such an edition doesn't free the student of God's Word from having to think about such things.

By the way, David Alan Black and I have written a chapter in a festschrift for Jesús Peláez that you might find interesting:
Black, David Alan and Thomas W. Hudgins. “Jesus on Anger (Matt 5,22a): A History of Recent Scholarship.” Pages 91-104 in Greeks, Jews, and Christians: Historical, Religious, and Philological Studies in Honor of Jesús Peláez del Rosal. Edited by L. Roig Lanzillotta and I. Muñoz Gallarte. Córdoba: El Almendro, 2013. 

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