Dan Wallace on The Reliability of the Text of the New Testament

46 is the earliest (nearly) complete manuscrip...

Dan is holding a seminar in Texas this month. It’s described as

A fun, informative, interactive, and challenging seminar on the reliability of the New Testament text with Daniel B. Wallace.


There is a game that demonstrates the effectiveness of textual criticism. Wallace himself has conducted seminars called “The Gospel According to Snoopy” for the past 30 years at universities and other settings. His goal is to demonstrate in a practical way how textual criticism can succeed in reconstructing a missing text.

This may be of interest to inhabitants of Plano, Tx. and the surrounding environs.

Quote of the Day

It is no longer necessary, I trust, to offer any apology for laying aside the received text. When so much conscientious labour has been expended on textual criticism, it would be unpardonable in an editor to acquiesce in readings which for the most part are recommended neither by intrinsic fitness nor by the sanction of antiquity.*

* J.B. Lightfoot, of the Byzantine textual tradition, in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. A revised text with introduction, notes, and dissertations p.vii. No fan of the Byzantine text that one… And who can fault him for his low estimation of it.

The New Testament Virtual Manuscript Room

This is simply an amazing, amazing tool.

This site is devoted to the study of Greek New Testament manuscripts. On the page “Manuscript Workspace” we provide tools for performing searches on manuscript metadata and manuscript images. On the pages “Transcribing” and “Indexing” users are able to generate additional metadata to selected images.

While our tools are fully functional for testing, they provide additional features and save options once a user has created an account and is logged in on the site. That way users can save transcribed pages to their personal account and create personalized annotations to images.

I signed up and after a brief look around I can honestly say I am impressively impressed.  I’ve added a link to the nav panel under ‘Useful Sites’ because this is one more useful site indeed.

It’s Here! Nestle-Aland 28 Came Today Via UPS

Again, thanks to the good graces of Bobby K. of Hendrickson Publishers, a copy of NA 28 came today.  I haven’t even unwrapped it yet.  I’m just savoring the moment actually.  Fear not, though, as soon as this post is up I’ll be peeling off the shrink wrap and diving in.

I’ll review it in due course and post the review online for your perusal.

Scholars You Should Know: T. Michael Law

T.M. writes of himself-

My main research is on the translations, revisions, and recensions of the biblical text in early Judaism and Christianity. The texts and versions include the Hebrew Bible, Qumran materials, Aramaic Targums, Greek Septuagint, other Greek Jewish versions, the Latin Vulgate and the so-called ‘daughter versions’ transmitted in the various languages of Eastern Christianity (Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, Georgian, Ethiopic, etc.). Textual study provides a solid base from which to address questions concerning the formation of Scripture and the developvment of the idea of an authoritative text within both Judaism and Christianity.

Yes, you read that right, he’s one of those guys interested in the text of the Bible.  Or more accurately, the texts of the Bible.

He’s written rather a lot-

  • Origenes OrientalisThe Preservation of Origen’s Hexapla in the Syrohexapla of 3 Reigns (De Septuaginta Investigationes, 1; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, forthcoming).
  • T.M. Law and A.G. Salvesen (eds.), Greek Scripture and the Rabbis: Studies from the European Association of Jewish Studies Seminar, 2010 (Contributions to Biblical Exegesis and Theology; Leuven: Peeters Press, expected 2011).
  • ‘A History of Research on Origen’s Hexapla: From Masius to the Hexapla Project’, BIOSCS 40 (2007): 30-48.
  •  ‘Origen’s Parallel Bible: Textual Criticism, Apologetics, or Exegesis?’, Journal of Theological Studies 59.1 (2008): 1-21.
  • ‘The Translation of Symmachus in 1 Kings (3 Reigns)’, in Melvin H. K. Peters (ed.), XIII Congress of the International Organization of Septuagint and Cognate Studies (Septuagint and Cognate Studies; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2008), pp. 277-292.
  • ‘La version syro-hexaplaire et la transmission textuelle de la Bible grecque’, in F. Briquelle-Chatonnet and Muriel Debie (eds.) L’Ancien Testament en Syriaque (Études syriaques, 5; Paris: Geuthner, 2008), pp. 101-20.
  •  ‘The Use of the Greek Bible in some Byzantine Jewish Glosses on Solomon’s Building Campaign’, in N.R.M. de Lange, et al. (eds.), Jewish Reception of Greek Bible Versions (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009).
  • ‘Symmachus in Antioch?: The Translation of Symmachus in the Antiochian Recension of 1 Kings (3 Reigns)’, Textus 25 (2011).
  • T.M. Law and T. Kauhanen, ‘Methodological Reflections on the Study of Kingdoms: A Response to Siegfried Kreuzer’, BIOSCS 43 (2011).
  • ‘How Not to Use 3 Reigns: A Plea to Scholars of the Books of Kings’, Vetus Testamentum 61.2 (2011).
  • ‘Why are the Three Ignored in the Study of the Textual History of the Historical Books?’, in B. Lemmelijn, H. Ausloos, and J.C. Trebolle Barrera (eds.), After Qumran: Old and New Editions of Biblical Texts. The Historical Books (BETL; Leuven: Peeters, expected 2011).
  • ‘An Often Neglected Version in the Textual History of 1 Kings’, in a forthcoming FS(Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism; Leiden: Brill, expected 2011).
  • ‘Kaige, Aquila, and Jewish Revision’, in T.M. Law and A.G. Salvesen (eds.), Greek Scripture and the Rabbis: Studies from the European Association of Jewish Studies Seminar, 2010 (Contributions to Biblical Exegesis and Theology; Leuven: Peeters Press, expected 2011).
  • ‘Aramaic and Syriac’, ‘Aramaic Levi Document’, ‘Bible, Syriac Translation of’, ‘Dionysius the Areopagite’, ‘Elephantine Papyri’, ‘Ephrem’, and ‘Testament of Job’, in Roger Bagnall, Kai Brodersen, Craige Champion, Andrew Erskine and Sabine Huebner (eds.), Enclyclopedia of Ancient History (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, expected 2011).
  • ‘3-4 Kingdoms’, in James K. Aitken (ed.), Companion to the Septuagint (London: T & T Clark International, expected 2011).
  • ‘The Armenian Version of the Song of Hannah (1 Samuel 2)’, in C. Seppänen and E. Perttilä (eds.), The Textual Traditions of the Song of Hannah (expected 2012).
Works in Progress:
  • When God Spoke Greek (New York: Oxford University Press, due 2012).
  • III Kingdoms (1 Kings), Origen’s Hexapla: A New Edition of the Fragments of Related Greek Renderings of the Old Testament (The Hexapla Project; Leuven: Peeters Publishers, in progress, expected 2012).
  • J. Trebolle Barrera, P. Torijano Morales, A. Piquer Otero and T. M. Law, A Synoptic Polyglot Edition of 1-2 Kings (Madrid: CSIC, in progress, expected 2013).
  • P. Hugo and T. M. Law, Septuaginta: Vetus Testamentum Graecum auctoritate academiae scientiarum Gottingensis editum, Samuelis Liber Secundus (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, in progress, expected 2014).
  • IV Kingdoms (2 Kings), Origen’s Hexapla: A New Edition of the Fragments of Related Greek Renderings of the Old Testament (The Hexapla Project; Leuven: Peeters Publishers, expected 2015).

By the by, that’s the way it is with good scholars- they write. If someone has been an academic for 10 years and they have a dissertation and a few journal articles you can pretty much assure yourself that they aren’t really contributing to the field. The contributors are the writers. And good scholars are always writing something, always working on something. They don’t know the idolatry of idleness.

T.M. is one of those productive young scholars you should keep an eye on.  He’ll do substantial things (and he already is).  Oh- and I almost forgot to mention it- he’s also a blogger (putting the lie to the idiotic sometimes stated supposition that scholars are too good to blog;  again I would mention- scholars are communicators).

Dan Wallace: The Basics of New Testament Textual Criticism

Available as free downloads from iTunes.  Here.

Textual Criticism remains today as one of the most overlooked disciplines in Biblical studies. In this collection, Dr. Daniel B. Wallace of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) teaches people from the lay to the scholarly level about the basic principles and practices of New Testament Textual Criticism (NTTC). Dr. Wallace defines New Testament Textual Criticism and discusses topics like identifying textual variants, categorizing manuscripts, and interpreting the available evidence.

Well that first sentence isn’t true at all, is it?  Doesn’t everyone who studies the Bible do work right off in textual criticism???  I can’t imagine, for the life of me, how anyone could pass themselves off as learned in the subject without mastery of the biblical languages and facility in textual criticism .

Anyway- in spite of the patent exaggeration of the lead sentence in the description, it’s still a useful resource.  Hat tip from the BibleWorks people on FB.

At Last. At Long Last. The Qumran Biblical Manuscripts

I’ve been talking about this for years and it came out a few months back and now I’ve finally got a copy.  This, of course, is the Qumran Biblical Scrolls.

I’ve downloaded it and installed it and opened it up and here’s a screenshot of one of the Jeremiah scrolls:

So, yeah!  And I bet the Logos people are glad I have it as well, so I don’t complain anymore about how long it took to get published.  Not that I would complain…

But of course the chief reason to have it is so that it can be consulted when textual questions arise instead of having to depend on the apparatus of BHQ (which is only available in 5 volumes anyway).

New in Novum Testamentum

Among other things-

The Confession of Jesus and the Curses of Peter – Joel Marcus has recently revived the view that the longer reading of Jesus’ words in Mark 14:62 … is original, for the shorter reading … threatens Markan priority, given Jesus’ enigmatic, ambivalent response in Matt 26:64 … Marcus and all other commentators have conducted the debate on traditional text-critical and redaction-critical grounds. Employing a disciplined and historical approach to narrative criticism, this article (1) contends on narrative and Christological grounds that the shorter reading of Jesus’ words in Mark 14:62 is original; and (2) explores how narrative criticism contributes to textual criticism.

If you don’t subscribe to NT this article can be yours for a paltry $35…  Baby’s gotta eat I suppose.

BibleWorks 9: Greek Manuscripts

The most exciting aspect of the new BibleWorks 9 program is the inclusion of Greek manuscripts including Vaticanus and Sinaiticus and Bezae and a number of others (as you’ll see below)(click to enlarge).

Users can easily choose whichever manuscript they want to view, and with right click choose the level of zoom for viewing the manuscript:

It’s just simply fantastic.  One needn’t travel the world to lay hands on the most important Uncials, they’re here!  And one needn’t any longer take the word of someone else on the reading of a particular text, it’s available at one’s fingertips both in transcription (in the middle column of the program) and visually (on the right).  Further, verses and chapters are handily tagged so that they’re more than easy to find.

Furthermore, if you look at the top right corner you’ll see the currently selected verse in the major editions and the textual variants are easily discerned.  This is so useful for textual criticism.  So useful.

Finally, the layout of the page is very compatible for research.  Useless materials aren’t included, there is no clutter on the screen, and users can simply hover their mouse over any item and find an explanation.

Biblical scholars and researchers, students, and text critics will most definitely want to take a look at this material.  It’s outstanding.  And that’s after my just having utilized it for about an hour.  What other treasures I’ll discover remain to be seen.  When I do, I’ll pass them along next time, when I examine the program’s other aspects.

Comparing and Collating Manuscripts: Juxta

Some may find this useful:

Juxta is an open-source cross-platform tool for comparing and collating multiple witnesses to a single textual work. The software allows users to set any of the witnesses as the base text, to add or remove witness texts, to switch the base text at will, and to annotate Juxta-revealed comparisons and save the results.

Juxta comes with several kinds of analytic visualizations. The primary collation gives a split frame comparison of a base text with a witness text, along with a display of the digital images from which the base text is derived. Juxta displays a heat map of all textual variants and allows the user to locate — at the level of any textual unit — all witness variations from the base text. A histogram of Juxta collations is particularly useful for long documents. This visualization displays the density of all variation from the base text and serves as a useful finding aid for specific variants. Juxta can also output a lemmatized schedule (in HTML format) of the textual variants in any set of comparisons.

Why Isn’t There…

A Greek New Testament that’s a critical edition based on one manuscript as there is a Hebrew Bible?

What I mean is that the standard Greek text used by most NT scholars is Nestle-Aland.  But Nestle-Aland is an ‘eclectic’ text.  That is, it’s a text which never actually existed anywhere at any time in early Christianity.  It is a text compiled by modern scholars.  It has no ‘base text’.  On the other hand, Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia is based on Codex Leningradensis and the textual apparatus then notes various significant or sometimes insignificant textual variations.

There are of course editions of the Greek New Testament that are – like Leningradensis – unitary.  But none of them is a critical edition and none takes the time or bothers to attempt to be such.  My question- why not?

Isn’t it time, with all the information we have at hand, to do a truly useful text critical edition of the New Testament which is based upon a text which actually existed?  What are the text critics doing but repeating ad nauseam what has already been done?

Come on you text critics- give us something we can use that isn’t based on the opinions of persons who, though bright as they were, were wrong on numerous counts.

BibleWorks 8 and The Text of the New Testament

46 is the earliest (nearly) complete manuscrip...


I mentioned the other day a new module that BibleWorks is working on- and didn’t feel free to divulge too much ‘before the right time’.  Meanwhile, I’ve discovered that the good news has already leaked a bit on the BibleWorks forum, so I have no issue with repeating here what is described there:

As soon as CNTTS releases the final product (soon we hope) we will have it available for BibleWorks users as a module. We are also planning a release of the first 7 of our own manuscript transcriptions (full searchable transcriptions with images and a robust set of transcription, collation and tagging tools) soon, probably about the same time as the CNTTS material. You text critical geeks are about to get an overdose. These two items complement each other very well.

And I can agree, it is the most fantastic text-critical tool since the invention of text critical tools.  As the CNTTS asserts

The highly searchable CNTTS apparatus, developed by students, professor and visiting scholars, is the most detailed and comprehensive electronic critical apparatus on the market. An electronic innovation with almost 17,000 pages of compiled data, the project simply would not be feasible in a printed format. The CNTTS includes 10 times as much data as the critical apparatus printed in the United Bible Societies’ editions of the Greek New Testament.

I can’t imagine anyone not wishing to lay hands on this as soon as it’s acquirable.   I hope that will be soon.

The Logos Press Release Concerning their SBL Greek New Testament

I discussed my perspective on it back at the end of October.  I’ve since downloaded the BibleWorks 8 version and think it quite useful; though, so far as classical textual criticism is concerned, the SBL Greek New Testament is, again, merely a collection of witnesses to witnesses.

The Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software announced today the release of The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition (SBLGNT), a critically edited Greek New Testament.

For the first time ever, students, teachers, pastors and laypeople throughout the world can access a reliable, critically edited version of the Greek New Testament for free electronically. And because the SBLGNT has a generous end-user license agreement and doesn’t require proprietary fonts, users can easily interact with and share the text at no cost.

With the work of textual criticism far from complete, there is a continual need for fresh research and analysis. The SBLGNT, edited by Michael W. Holmes, utilizes a wide range of printed editions, all the major critical apparatuses, and the latest technical resources and manuscript discoveries to establish the text. The result is a critically edited text that differs from the Nestle-Aland/United Bible Societies text in more than 540 variation units.

In addition to the free electronic edition, the Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software also offer a reasonably priced, professionally produced print edition of the SBLGNT, which includes the full apparatus of variant readings from the NA27 and the four primary editions on which the SBLGNT is based.

To find out more about the SBLGNT or to download a copy, visit http://www.sblgnt.com.