Zeba Crook's review of Roger L. Omanson, A Textual Guide to the Greek New Testament: An Adaptation of Bruce M. Metzger's Textual Commentary for the Needs of Translators (Stuttgart: German Bible Society, 2006).
Crook seems himself as a translator and as such belongs to the primary target group, i.e., "Bible translators, most of whom... will lack formal training in textual criticism but who will need to grapple with issues pertaining to the reconstruction of the biblical text." It is clear from the review that Crook lacks this knowledge. He finds the often extended discussion of examples very helpful, while the introduction to the field and the theoretical framework does not answer her questions, as reflected in the concluding paragraph:
The practice of textual criticism naturally invites people to wonder about the relationship of the reconstructed text (UBS4) to the original New Testament documents. Does textual criticism re-create the original text? On the one hand, Omanson appears to leave this question unanswered when he says that the current text in UBS4 is as close to the original as our present state of knowledge allows. But later he says rather obliquely, “In the earliest days of the Christian church, after an apostolic letter was sent to a congregation or an individual, or after a gospel was written to meet the needs of a particular reading public, copies would be made.” These, Omanson writes, were “certain to contain differences in wording from the originals,” but he adds that “[m]ost of the differences arose from accidental mistakes, such as mistaking a letter or a word for another that looked like it” (16*). I would have preferred a little more specificity. What period exactly does Omanson have in mind: first century or second–third century? How many variants are not included in the “most” to which Omanson refers? Omanson’s implication appears to be that not much changed in the period between autograph and our earliest full Greek manuscripts (some 250 years). Given the utter paucity of textual evidence from this period (at least in Greek), this seems a groundless claim to make.