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Novum Testamentum Graece is the Latin name of the Greek language version of the New Testament. The first printed edition was produced by Erasmus.

Today the designation Novum Testamentum Graece normally refers to the Nestle-Aland editions, named after the scholars who led the critical editing work. The text, edited by the Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung (Institute for New Testament Textual Research) is currently in its 27th edition, abbreviated NA27. NA27 is used as the basis of most contemporary New Testament translations, as well as being the standard for academic work in New Testament studies.

Methodology

The Greek text as presented is what biblical scholars refer to as the "critical text". The critical text is an eclectic text compiled by a committee that examines a large number of manuscripts in order to weigh which reading is thought closest to the original. They use a number of factors to help determine probable readings, such as the date of the witness (earlier is usually better), the geographical distribution of a reading, and accidental or intentional corruptions. In the book, a large number of textual variants, or differences between manuscripts, are noted in the critical apparatus—the extensive footnotes that distinguish the Novum Testamentum Graece from other Greek New Testaments.

Most scholars view uncial text as the most accurate; however, a few authors (such as New Testament scholar Maurice A. Robinson[1] and linguist Wilbur Pickering[2]) claim that the minuscule texts (Byzantine text-type) more accurately reflect the "autographs" or original texts than an eclectic text like NA27 that relies heavily on manuscripts of the Alexandrian text-type. This view has been criticized by Gordon Fee[3] and Bruce Metzger[4] among others. Since the majority of old manuscripts in existence are minuscules, they are often referred to as the Majority Text. It is worth noting, though, that the Majority Text as a whole is classified by the editors of the NA27 (of which Metzger is one) as a "consistently cited witness of the first order."[5]

The Novum Testamentum Graece apparatus summarizes the evidence (from manuscripts and versions) for, and sometimes against, a selection of the most important variants for the study of the text of the New Testament. While eschewing completeness (in the range of variants and in the citation of witnesses), this edition does provide informed readers with a basis by which they can judge for themselves which readings more accurately reflect the originals. The Greek text of the 27th edition is the same as that of the 4th edition of the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament (abbreviated UBS4) although there are a few differences between them in paragraphing, capitalization, punctuation and spelling.[6] The critical apparatus is different in the two editions; the UBS4 edition is prepared for the use of translators, and includes fewer textual variants, but adds extra material helpful for translators.

Editions

History

The first edition published by Eberhard Nestle in 1898 combined the readings of the editions of Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort, and Weymouth, placing the majority reading of these in the text and the third reading in the apparatus. In 1901, he replaced Weymouth with Bernhard Weiss's text. In later edition, Nestle began noting the attestation of certain important manuscripts in his apparatus.

Eberhard's son Erwin Nestle took over after his father's death and issued the 13th edition in 1927. This edition introduced a separate critical apparatus and began to abandon the majority reading principle.

Kurt Aland became the associate editor of the 21st edition in 1952. At Erwin Nestle's request, he reviewed and expanded the critical apparatus, adding many more manuscripts. This eventually led to the 25th edition of 1963. The great manuscript discoveries of the 20th century had also made a revision of the text necessary and, with Nestle's permission, Aland set out to revise the text of Novum Testamentum Graece. Aland submitted his work on NA to the editorial committee of the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament (of which he was also a member) and it became the basic text of their third edition (UBS3) in 1975, four years before it was published as the 26th edition of Nestle-Aland.

The current edition of Nestle-Aland reproduces the text of NA26 (the same text used in UBS3 and UBS4). The 27th edition presents a thoroughly revised critical apparatus and a rewritten introduction and appendices.

A more complete set of variants is listed in the multiple volume Novum Testamentum Graecum - Editio Critica Maior. A small number of textual changes in the most current edition will be incorporated in the 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland[7]. According to Hendrickson Publishers, the North American distributors of the book, "The current estimate is that the NA28 will not be published until at least the fall of 2009, at the earliest."[8]

Current editions

The NA27 text is published by Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (the German Bible Society).

Accuracy of the New Testament

In "The Text Of The New Testament", Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland compare the total number of variant-free verses, and the number of variants per page (excluding orthographic errors), among the seven major editions of the Greek NT (Tischendorf, Westcott-Hort, von Soden, Vogels, Merk, Bover and Nestle-Aland) concluding 62.9%, or 4999/7947, agreement.[9] They concluded, "Thus in nearly two-thirds of the New Testament text, the seven editions of the Greek New Testament which we have reviewed are in complete accord, with no differences other than in orthographical details (e.g., the spelling of names, etc.). Verses in which any one of the seven editions differs by a single word are not counted. This result is quite amazing, demonstrating a far greater agreement among the Greek texts of the New Testament during the past century than textual scholars would have suspected […]. In the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation the agreement is less, while in the letters it is much greater"[9]

Book

Total Number Of Verses

Variant-Free Verses-Total

Percentage

Variants per page

Matthew

1071

642

59.9  %

6.8

Mark

678

306

45.1  %

10.3

Luke

1151

658

57.2  %

6.9

John

869

450

51.8  %

8.5

Acts

1006

677

67.3  %

4.2

Romans

433

327

75.5  %

2.9

1 Corinthians

437

331

75.7  %

3.5

2 Corinthians

206

200

78.1  %

2.8

Galatians

149

114

76.5  %

3.3

Ephesians

155

118

76.1  %

2.9

Philippians

104

73

70.2  %

2.5

Colossians

95

69

72.6  %

3.4

1 Thessalonians

89

61

68.5  %

4.1

2 Thessalonians

47

34

72.3  %

3.1

1 Timothy

113

92

81.4  %

2.9

2 Timothy

83

66

79.5  %

2.8

Titus

46

33

71.7  %

2.3

Philemon

20

19

76.0  %

5.1

Hebrews

303

234

77.2  %

2.9

James

108

66

61.6  %

5.6

1 Peter

105

70

66.6  %

5.7

2 Peter

61

32

52.5  %

6.5

1 John

105

76

72.4  %

2.8

2 John

13

8

61.5  %

4.5

3 John

15

11

73.3  %

3.2

Jude

20

18

72.0  %

4.2

Revelation

405

214

52.8  %

5.1

Total

7947

4999

62.9 %

 

Influence

Earlier translations of the Bible, including the Authorized King James Version, tended to rely on Byzantine type texts, such as the Textus Receptus. A number of translations began to use critical Greek editions, beginning with the translation of the Revised Version in England in 1881-1885 (using Westcott and Hort's Greek Text). English translations produced during the twentieth century increasingly reflected the work of textual criticism, although even new translations are often influenced by earlier translation efforts.

A comparison of the textual and stylistic choices of twenty translations against 15,000 variant readings shows the following rank of agreement with the Nestle-Aland 27th edition:[10]

Abbreviation Name Relative Agreement with Nestle-Aland 27th edition
NAS New American Standard 1
ASV American Standard Version 2
NAU New American Standard 1995 Update 3
NAB New American Bible 4
ESV English Standard Version 5
HCS Holman Christian Standard Bible 6
NRS New Revised Standard Version 7
NET New English Translation 8
RSV Revised Standard Version 9
NIV New International Version 10
NJB New Jerusalem Bible 11
REB Revised English Bible 12
JNT Jewish New Testament 13
GNB Good News Bible 14
NLT New Living Translation 15
DRA Douay-Rheims American edition 16
TLB The Living Bible 17
MRD Murdock Peshitta translation 18
NKJ New King James Bible 19
KJV King James Version 20

See also

References

  1. Robinson, Maurice A. and William G. Pierpont (2005). The New Testament in the Original Greek: Byzantine Textform. Southborough: Chilton.
  2. Pickering, Wilbur (1977). The Identity of the New Testament Text. Nashville: Nelson.
  3. Fee, Gordon (1979). "A Critique of W. N. Pickering's The Identity of the New Testament Text" Westminster Theological Journal, 41. 397-423.
  4. Metzger, Bruce (1992). The Text of the New Testament. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press. 290-293.
  5. Novum Testamentum Graece (1993) Barbara and Kurt Aland, eds. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft. 12*.
  6. Elliott, J. K. (1996). "A Comparison of Two Recent Greek New Testaments", The Expository Times, Volume 107, Number 4, pages 105-106.
  7. University of Bremen list of textual updates for Nestle-Aland 28
  8. Email correspondence, March 2008.
  9. 9.0 9.1 K. Aland and B. Aland, "The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions & to the Theory & Practice of Modern Textual Criticism", 1995, op. cit., p. 29-30.
  10. The Comprehensive New Testament (preface, and graph on back cover).

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