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4 Stars Out Of 5
Good book for NT Greek student in textual criticism
October 1, 2016
The first edition was commended by F.F Bruce while this edition was commended by textual criticism scholars Bart Ehrman and Michael Holmes as an important primer on textual criticism. It is indeed a primer as Dr. Greenlee has stated in the preface. This book is not for scholars but for beginners. It is the aim of the book to help such beginning students to understand the facts and principles of textual criticism of the New Testament and then to begin to apply them in this important field.
There are eight chapters, an appendix, supplementary readings, selected bibliography and two indexes (persons and subjects, scripture references). There are also six plates (pictures) of Greek manuscripts.
This book is for those who know basic Greek. There are some Greek words in his discussions. It is a revised edition of the first edition in the 1960s. There were mostly minor except for two areas. The order of presentation of internal evidence was changed. The other was the use of UBS Greek NT as the basic referent text.
The book though about 20 years old is very helpful in understanding the facts and principles of textual criticism in the following discussions covered.
The discussion in paleography with the materials (to write on, to write with and book forms) and handwriting styles (including abbreviations) contributed in knowing about ancient documents.
Second, the discussion about sources of textual criticism (though dated in terms of the latest count or numbers of manuscripts) provided valuable information that we have Greek manuscripts in various forms, early Bible versions (in several languages) and patristic quotations mostly in Greek and Latin. It was not exhaustively discussed but sufficient to give an idea what the sources are.
Third, the transmission of the text listed the sources of the textual variants that would be helpful in the practice of textual criticism though short but will suffice to inform beginners.
Fourth the discussion of the printed text and the critical text are helpful in seeing the historical development of putting a single text of the Greek NT and also the ideology (or theory) behind it.
Lastly the explanation of the procedure of textual criticism that includes several examples of NT passages is helpful in understanding the application of such a process.
There are several things I hope that gets updated or revised for a third edition.
First, I think it would be good to have the number of manuscripts count be within the last 5 years though the class professor can (and should) take care of this in the lectures and notes.
Second, with the availability of UBS 5th edition, the Nestle Aland 28th edition and the SBL edition by Holmes, how to read the critical apparatus of each of these recent editions would be helpful (though this can also be taken care and updated in class by the professor).
Third, I think it would have been good to include a brief discussion of various views of dealing with textual criticism. With this, even if this book will take a certain approach in resolving passages with textual variants. The defense of Textus Receptus was briefly discussed and it was somewhat dismissive in its rebuttal (even if valid).
This book will indeed help a beginner to understand the important discipline of textual criticism. In a beginning class (with subsequent or another class), this can help as one of the textbooks. But if textual criticism is just part of a class like a Greek exegesis course, this book can serve as a teachers resource or just a recommended reading. If someone is not taking a class and just wanted an exposure of what textual criticism is all about, David Blacks NT Textual Criticism book is better
Great book on Text Criticism and must read for all christians
June 29, 2016
Age: Over 65
I agree with the review of "oldmanchubb" and agree that this book should be read by all Christians as most are ignorant of how they got their Bibles. It gives me a great appreciation for those before us in preserving the word of God, and in some cases at the cost of their lives.
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.