Development of the Greek NT: Simple Outline

P45_Matthieu_25.41-46Last Friday (May 6, 2016), I had the privilege of being a guest on Michael S. Heiser’s Naked Bible Podcast. Since the show (#99) is now live, I wanted to share some of the notes I threw together (emphasis on “threw”).

Mike asked me to give a sketch of the historical periods that make up the development of the Greek New Testament. Below is the very rough outline I put together as notes for the show. Mike asked me to concentrate a bit more on the 18th-20th centuries as he planned to chat particularly about KJV-only approaches to textual criticism.

If the outline is useful, great. If you find stuff that’s wrong or perhaps a little generalized, that’s OK too. These aren’t hard-and-fast periods. This is really the product of about an hour of just brain-dumping. Feel free to comment if you think there are things that should be tightened up or clarified.

  1. Autographs
  2. Early codices (papyri)
    1. Collections
      1. Gospels
      2. Acts + Catholic Epistles
      3. Paulines
      4. Apocalypse
    2. Four-gospel collections
      1. Tatian’s Diatesseron (Syriac)
        1. Talk about “Early Versions” (Latin, Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, Ethiopic, etc.)
          1. Vööbus, Metzger
  3. 4th-8th centuries: Major Uncial/Majuscules
    1. Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, Bezae, Claromontanus, Washingtonianus
    2. Others
  4. 9th-15th centuries: Minuscules
  5. 15th-17th centuries: Early printed editions
    1. Erasmus
    2. Complutensian Polyglot
    3. “Stephanus” and the Textus Receptus
  6. 18th-19th centuries: More manuscript discoveries
    1. Bengel, Tregelles: Early reconciling of MS evidence against the now standard TR.
      1. Previously, the apparatus would list MS variations from the established text (TR, Stephanus).
      2. Especially with Tregelles, these previously variant readings began to migrate up into the main (or “upper”) text.
    2. Tischendorf: Several editions based on new textual evidence he discovered. His edito octava maior is still used today.
    3. Westcott & Hort: Textual revolution. Reliance on better quality manuscripts (Vaticanus, Sinaiticus) to establish the text.
      1. Note Hort’s intro, which fully documents their principles
  7. 20th century: Nestle and Aland
    1. Nestle’s 1st edition: 1898. A comparison of three GNT editions, WH, Tischendorf, and Weymouth. The main/upper text established by the majority (consensus) reading, with Nestle mediating triple disagreements. Variations listed in an apparatus
    2. Nestle’s 13th edition (1927) was a complete reworking of the apparatus, listing manuscript info supporting/contrasting readings in the apparatus (instead of just editions).
    3. Nestle & Aland’s 26th edition (1979) was a complete reworking of the text in light of manuscript evidence. This is the basis of most modern translations. The 27th edition uses the same main/upper text with a significantly revised apparatus.
  8. 21st century: Edito Critica Maior and Digital Imaging
    1. Nestle-Aland 28th edition (2012) is the 27th edition with completely updated main/upper text for James-Jude, as well as completely (again) revised apparatus.
    2. New Testament Virtual Manuscript Room (NTVMR). The NTVMR is a warehouse of manuscript imagery, indexed by reference to manuscript page, of a massive and growing proportion of NT manuscripts.
    3. Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM). The CSNTM is focused on capturing high-quality images of New Testament manuscripts and providing the images to scholars and others online to consult.

3 thoughts on “Development of the Greek NT: Simple Outline

  1. I enjoyed listening to you on the Naked Bible Podcast. Thank you for introducing me to all this new information and broadening my horizons of all things biblical.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s