4 Stars Out Of 5
Great Intro to Text Criticism
September 26, 2012
The title to this book is straight and to the point and this work is indeed an introduction to New Testament textual criticism (the art/science of looking at old manuscripts and figuring out the original wording). I would add the adjective "Great" to the title because that is precisely what this work is.
Textual criticism is such an important discipline and the average bible reader is probably unaware of how many thousands of hours have been dedicated to sorting through the 5000 plus Greek manuscripts that exist. That's to say nothing of translation issues!
At any rate, I believe it's important for Christians to understand the history behind their bibles and how prior to the printing press, everything was copied by hand. When you copy things by hand, unintentional variants are introduced. How do textual critics make an informed decision on which reading is the best? Greenlee opens up a wonderful discussion in all things related to this field. When an astute reader happens to see a footnoted biblical passage that would say "the earliest manuscripts do not have this verse" or anything along those lines, in reading this work, they will understand why!
I would recommend this book for anyone who wants to start to understand the human side of the bible and some of the challenges that existed prior to Gutenberg. In understanding the human side of the bible, I believe it strengthens our appreciation of how solid the underlying text is. It's under 150 pages and gives enough of an understanding without being too bogged down in unnecessary detailing, as there is a lot of technical issues with this study. If one feels comfortable with this work, then you could move on to Metzger/Ehrman's "Text of the New Testament", but full disclosure - it's much thicker and technical.
I would also invite those of the "KJV only" movement to read this, as it would be helpful in providing a foundation in understanding why post-KJV Bibles are not heretical and are actually probably more faithful to the original reading.