Tuesday, October 26, 2010

SBL and Logos Bible Software announce a new Greek NT


Logos Bible Software and the Society of Biblical Literature have announced the publication of a new, critically edited Greek NT: The Greek New Testament: SBL edition, edited by yours truly. It will be available very soon as a free download, and will also be available in print form by the time of the SBL meeting in Atlanta.

More detailed information (including the Preface and the Introduction) and a “download” link will soon be available at the website: http://www.sblgnt.com/

Some background regarding the edition: the starting point for the editorial work on this new edition was an electronic comparison of four editions: Westcott & Hort, Tregelles (using the excellent electronic version prepared by Dirk Jongkind and Tyndale House), Robinson & Pierpont 2005, and the Greek text behind the NIV (as printed in Goodrich and Lukaszewski, A Reader’s Greek New Testament [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003]). Obviously, where there was disagreement among the four editions, I had to determine which variant to print as the text; occasionally I concluded that a reading not found in any of the four editions was the most probable reading and adopted it. But even where all four editions agreed, I worked through the text and determined whether to accept that reading or to adopt an alternative reading as the text (In all, there are fifty-six variation units in the SBLGNT where I preferred a reading not found in the text of any of the four primary editions).

With regard to orthography, the edition follows BDAG; with regard to elision, crasis, movable ν, etc., it follows WH; verse divisions follow NA27/UBS4; paragraphing generally follows NRSV, and punctuation generally follows WH (and where paragraphing and punctuation conflict, matters were resolved on a case by case basis).

The new text is accompanied by an apparatus that (reminiscent of the original Nestle text) records not differences between manuscripts but the differences between five editions of the NT: WH, Treg, RP, NIV, and NA27 (which is cited in the apparatus only where it differs from the NIV text). In all, there are 6,928 places where the SBLGNT differs from one or more of these five editions. (Thus there are many interesting places of variation in the manuscript tradition that are not noticed in this limited apparatus.)

The following list indicates agreements/disagreements between editions at the 6,928 instances of variation:

SBLGNT—WH: 6,049 agreements, 879 disagreements

SBLGNT—Treg: 5,701 agreements, 1,227 disagreements

SBLGNT—NIV: 6,312 agreements 616 disagreements

SBLGNT—RP: 969 agreements 5,959 disagreements

Also, the SBLGNT differs from NA27/UBS4 at 542 places, and thus the two will agree at 6386 places.

As will be clear from the nature and scope of the apparatus, this text may be considered a “reading edition,” with the apparatus serving to alert the reader to the more important places where there are differences between editions of the Greek NT and to indicate how other editions have handled matters.

As mentioned earlier, additional information is available at the website: http://sblgnt.com/


  1. This is excellent, and opens the door for a number of low cost publications. I hope that the SBLGNT print edition is smaller than the NA27. I like the NA24 size.

  2. I'm so looking forward to getting a copy.

  3. Very interesting. I am particularly interested to see how it differs from NA.

  4. Great. Can you confirm that it will be available in hard copy?

  5. Interesting project: We seem to be entering again into an era similar to that of the 1850s, where many individual textual critics felt a need to publish their own GNTs.

    As an aid to critics to make a quick comparison between major trends in TC, it looks very useful.

    My only concern is that some foolish but well-meaning group of Bible translators might use it as the basis of yet another (English) "modern version", of which the market is flooded, and this will be exploited by publishers hoping to make yet another quick buck.

    Since it most closely follows the NIV base-text, we can assume your brand of TC most closely follows the philosophy of that group of GNT editors.

    But the stats are not of much use as is. It would have been better if you had indicated the same kind of stats based on differences which affect the English translation only, which would be a much better indicator of what this version is about.

    Differences reflecting the mores of various editors regarding "good Greek" will drastically affect the numbers and percentages of "agreement". Once again, such numbers will be arbitrary and meaningless, because they are not based on any scientific principle, or else it is left obscure and unstated.

    We can assume I suppose, that for instance, thousands of differences reflecting the type of Greek found in Codex B and Aleph will be found in the text, which biases students and those learning to master "Koine Greek" in a certain direction regarding what is "normal". (i.e., the student will be predisposed and prejudiced in favour of the WH text, even though that text was based on faulty and out of date linguistic information).

    This is precisely what the Unitarian-biased Dana/Mantey Greek grammar did, in adopting the readings and linguistic theories of Hort, and in biasing a whole generation of students.

    What would be a useful set of statistics for comparison would be a list of omissions/additions only, showing significant variants between the texts, and giving us a clue what the consequences would be of adopting the text (and philosophy) of the compiler.


  6. Cool Mike,

    I look forward to my free copy* at SBL.

    * while stock lasts.

  7. For PJW (from the web-site): "With Smyth-sewn binding, a Kivar cover, and reader-friendly type, the print edition provides a durable, affordable alternative for scholarly research and classroom use."

  8. I can't wait to get my hands on this.

    Suggestion: There is no modern critical edition of the Greek NT available for Kindle readers. If you could get this text prepared for Kindle and other e-readers, I think you would be the first.

  9. Dr. Holmes,

    Congratulations on the completion of this project. One thing I just want extra confirmation about: this new text is not a consensus-text, right? You just used those four primary editions as the source of variants (plus, in those 56 cases, other sources), and weighed each variant against its rivals; the text was not determined via democratic election. Right?

    Also, who do I contact in the unlikely event that I find any typo's?


    A Greek NT for Kindle. What a great idea. Would you settle for a Greek Gospels with apparatus-like footnotes for all variant-units in the tc-decision affects translation?

    Also, bear in mind that the Kindle can read PDF's, so you can download out-of-copyright texts from the 1800's. Might need a DX for that though.

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

  10. Wow! Thank you for expending the amazing amount of work and critical judgment it takes to produce such an edition of the GNT! Is there any chance you could grace our eyes with the 56 deviations? I'm particularly interested in these. Thanks again for all your labor!

  11. A few comments re specific points:
    re hard copy: Peter H. has rightly noted the statement in the website that confirms that hard copies will be forthcoming; in fact, the edition is at the printer at this moment.
    re a comment by Nazaroo (“Since it most closely follows the NIV base-text, we can assume your brand of TC most closely follows the philosophy of that group of GNT editors”): such an assumption is incorrect. First, I doubt one can speak of “the philosophy of that group’: it was a large committee whose members represented a range of approaches to textual criticism. Second, one should note how the “NIV” Greek text was “reverse engineered” by Goodrich and Kohlenberger in the mid-eighties: “they created a text that deviates from the Standard Text only at the points where the NIV translators favored a different variant” (to quote from Goodrich and Lukaszewski’s introduction to their Reader’s GNT, p. 10). This implies, as I read it, that at many points the NIV text will have a default bias towards the “Standard Text,” especially at places that will not affect translation (and thus the resultant text may not really reflect “the philosophy” of the committee, if it ever had one). Third, and perhaps most important, agreement in results may or may not reflect agreement in philosophy, and in fact, often does not: e.g., Keith Elliott and I will sometimes agree on the same reading at a particular instance of variation, but for very different reasons that reflect our different approaches to textual criticism. The rate of agreement between the SBLGNT and the NIV text is far more a formal coincidence than it is a material one (i.e., it is a coincidence of result more than it is of text-critical method).
    re the question by James Snapp, Jr.: no, this is definitely not a consensus text, as a glance at the apparatus (once it is available—sorry!) will make clear. For now, note the following (in addition to the 56 instances where SBLGNT stands against all four editions):
    SBLGNT+WH vs. Treg NIV RP: 98x
    SBLGNT+Treg vs. WH NIV RP: 28x
    SBLGNT+NIV vs. WH Treg RP: 59x
    SBLGNT+RP vs. WH Treg NIV: 66x


  12. Caution: This is an amateur posting, so ignore me if you so desire.

    Why does the N/A committee have such a hard time getting #28 to the public? I'm just asking.

  13. Post-SBL, we should plan a series of reaction posts to reflect on this new text. In particular, I would love to learn who was on the committee and what were the key points of debate. We could also consider where this text will be most useful, and to what degree it can replace the more expensive NA editions.
    I hope that senior scholars will increasingly publish their work digitally in coming years, as Mike Holmes and others have done here.

  14. I'm disappointed in the exclusive choosing of Logos. Hope to see it for Accordance as well.

    For those who want a kindle version, get an iPad and use Logos on it ;-)

  15. Another few comments re specific points:

    Re Kindle (Denny Burke’s suggestion): a great suggestion; in fact, I can confirm that SBL will be looking into this possibility as soon as the Annual Meeting is over.

    Re typo’s (a question from James Snapp, Jr., who graciously considers the possibility “unlikely”): I am more pessimistic than James; as a firm believer in the truth of Romans 3:23, I take it for granted that there will be typo’s, and only hope that none are too embarrassingly obvious. Please, do send information about any typo’s to me: holmic@bethel.edu Thanks in advance for all such assistance, and apologies if I cannot respond to every e-mail.

    re Christian Askeland’s wish “to learn who was on the committee”: sorry, there was no committee.

  16. Mike, are you thinking of publishing how you came to some of the decisions for the text? There are already some decisions of yours that I prefer over the NA27 text.

  17. Mike, very glad to hear about this edition. Sorry to hear about Mark 1:41! I hope my refutation of anger in this verse will be convincing when published.

  18. Congrats, Mike! Since everyone seems very jubilant and positive about this, let me throw in a thought: In a time when digital photos of many of the most important manuscripts of the NT are becoming available on-line (as well as on-line transcriptions), and therefore giving scholars and enthusiasts easier access to making textual decisions, isn't "another" Greek text based on "critical Greek text editions" and step backward?

  19. Danny, I thought I'd just try to clarify your statement:
    "I'm disappointed in the exclusive choosing of Logos. Hope to see it for Accordance as well."

    It wasn't a matter of the publisher or editor choosing Logos. I think Logos chose him and as the publisher Logos has developed the N.T as a product of Logos; thus the idea of another publisher picking the title up would be literally insane.
    A parallel would be something akin to a book which was commissioned by Baker publishing, advances paid, ect., and letting Thomas-Nelson sell it, as well. I don't think that's happening.

  20. The SBLGNT is also available here: http://studybible.info/SBLGNT

  21. Dear Mr. Holmes:

    Thanks for your prompt response.

    Will you be publishing online your own approach to NT TC anytime soon?

    Something like Metzger's account of his NT choices might be too ambitious, but how about a basic statement of principles?


  22. Nazaroo: "Will you [Mike] be publishing online your own approach to NT TC anytime soon? ... a basic statement of principles?"

    This is already available in several publications, not least in the important overview, "Reasoned Eclecticism in New Testament Textual Criticism," in The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research (eds. Ehrman & Holmes), 336-60. And for more argumentation for this approach check Mike's chapter, "The Case for Reasoned Eclecticism," in the volume Rethinking New Testament Textual Criticism, edited by D. A. Black.

  23. There are certainly some unusual features behind this edition, but I think the oddest is the decision to have an apparatus which indicates which of the four editions support a reading. Given that of the four editions two are closely related and over 130 years old, another is not a real edition but a hack created by reverse engineering a popular ET, and the other is only an edition of one strand of the textual tradition.

    I can understand a process which begins with a comparison of freely available electronic editions and then varies the text in light of the editors view of things. But I can't really figure out why the apparatus would list the editions which support readings (leaving out more important editions) rather than a summary of the manuscripts which support readings.

    On that basis I can't see what students will gain from this edition except for a text with Mike Holmes' personal and scholarly authority behind it.

    But it is early days yet, and if he got Mark 1.41 right then it may win me over.

  24. By the way, you can get SBLGNT into Bibleworks 8 now (http://bibleworks.oldinthenew.org/?p=649)

  25. There is some more info here: http://www.supakoo.com/rick/ricoblog/2010/10/29/OnTheSBLGreekNewTestamentSBLGNT.aspx

  26. Pretty strange to see "NIV" in an apparatus. But it seems to function as a stand-in for NA. ;)

  27. But I can't really figure out why the apparatus would list the editions which support readings (leaving out more important editions) rather than a summary of the manuscripts which support readings.

    In my mind, the very fact that the NA27 is absolutely miserable for looking through the back for differences between critical editions makes the presentation of the SBLGNT extremely handy.

    I also think that the product description on Logos' website is right on this issue too:

    Often even seasoned scholars struggle to know how to weigh the evidence before them. This reality becomes clear when we find that even major technical commentaries scarcely do more than list the manuscript evidence with little or no discussion of their significance. But because the SBLGNT's apparatus cites other critical editions rather than specific manuscripts, users have instant access to how the some of the greatest text-critical minds of the past two centuries have weighed the evidence and their resulting conclusions.

    ...though perhaps slightly melodramatic in its presentation.

    In any case, it is completely true that commentaries *don't* deal with the TC and most students have no clue what to do with weighing variants. Seeing how others have weighed them can only help the process. I'm not sure that the SBLGNT will replace the NA27, but it will be an excellent additional voice and what it does provide will be extremely helpful sitting open beside it.

  28. "some of the greatest text-critical minds of the past two centuries" = "some of the greatest text-critical minds from two centuries ago" and no one from the last hundred and thirty years!

  29. Colleagues,
    Permit me a quick remark (I'm between classes) re Peter Head's comment that the apparatus reports the readings of four editions: The apparatus in fact reports the evidence of 5 editions: WH, Treg, NIV, NA/UBS, and RP. Thus one has the historically important edition of WH, and alongside it a major counterpoint from its day, Tregelles). One also has, for each of the 6928 variants, the evidence of the current reiging "standard text," NA27, and alongside it one of the few contemporary alternatives to it, the reconstructed NIV text, which represents the consensus (with all the faults and benefits that a concensus has) of a major group of scholar/translators. (In a sense, NIV stands to NA27 as Tregelles stands to WH.) The fifth text, RP, is a fine representative of a major alternate textual tradition of considerable historic interest.

    The main point, however, for now is that the apparatus presents fully the evidence of 5 editions, not four.

  30. I admit I'm a bit disappointed in the SBL for not contacting Accordance and BibleWorks (or WordSearch) to produce an official version as a simultaneous release (e.g. not a quick download like BW just did), especially given the open release to the public and for the Sword Project.

    As someone with a personal interest in this field, I applaud any attempt to get the text in as many hands (or devices) as possible. But, when it seems that certain platforms were specifically left out, it leaves one wondering if the motivations behind it are in the best interest of all those who could benefit from the text.

  31. Michael Holmes wrote: One also has, for each of the 6928 variants, the evidence of the current reiging "standard text," NA27

    The introduction says "NA is cited only when it differs from NIV." So presumably the readings of NA are usually not directly indicated. They must be inferred from the NIV. But this is very strange, because few scholars would think that the NIV has independent value as a text-critical authority.

    ... In a sense, NIV stands to NA27 as Tregelles stands to WH.

    Hardly. And again, the NIV is being used instead of NA in the apparatus. What's the reason for this?

  32. "some of the greatest text-critical minds of the past two centuries" = "some of the greatest text-critical minds from two centuries ago" and no one from the last hundred and thirty years!

    As Dr. Holmes has already stated. That is false. There are five editions, listed and thus the work of great minds like the Alands, Metzger and the rest of the UBS & NA committees is represented as well ... not to mention the TC work of Dr. Holmes himself represented in the text -- that's five edition covering nearly 200 years representing the views of text critics up to the year 2010. That's relatively recent, I think.

    And with regard to one of those minds form 130+ years ago. It was David Parker who wrote in his comparison of the Editio Critica Maior on James:

    "The fact that Tregelles comes so well out of this comparison with [the texts of] Lachmann, Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort, and the Editio Critica Maior suggests that we need to reconsider the usual view of nineteen century textual criticism as a linear development culminating in The New Testament in the Original Greek. It may be that we have overlooked the significance and standard of Tregelles' achievement. For thoroughness of citation, the Editio Critica Maior may be the new Tischendorf, but as far as its text goes it deserves to be called the new Tregelles" (Citation HERE).

    In any case, you cannot dispute the statement that most students, scholars, and commentaries don't know how to weigh the evidence themselves and virtually always defer to Metzger's commentary over real text critical work. And for that reason, Dr. Holmes edition *and* its apparatus are extremely welcome in my view.

  33. Ok. Sorry. Five editions in the apparatus, my bad. I suppose since the NIV was based on the NA text that it doesn't differ much.

  34. By the way, if you want a list of 56 passages where Mike doesn't agree with any of the four exemplars, James Snapp has made a collection:
    Gospels: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/textualcriticism/message/6054
    Acts & Paul: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/textualcriticism/message/6056
    CEs & Rev: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/textualcriticism/message/6058

  35. Re Mike Aubrey: I think Mike's text looks more valuable to me than his apparatus.
    I think if you really wanted to construct an apparatus that gave readers access to the best TC thinkers of the last two centuries one could do that - but it may take a couple more editions to add some more relevant voices.
    The fact is that neither WH nor Treg nor RP take any notice of the papyri. So one presumes that quite a few readings are going to follow NIV over against these others.

  36. @Rick Bennett,

    I agree with your sentiments. I believe if the SBL is putting it's stamp on this, making it as open and accessible to everyone would have been a high ideal to shoot for. (But I'm unclear whether this was Logos' idea and SBL approved it or SBL thought it up and sought Logos out.)

    Anyway, I just want to clarify. BibleWorks didn't make the new BibleWorks version, I did, a BibleWorks user, not an employee. My advice would be for some Accordance user to do the same. But you're right, cooperation would have been better.

  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

  38. @Michael Hanel

    I saw your post, but thought you were one of the BW Michael's (isn't there at least one who works for the company?).

    Currently, Accordance does not support user created Bibles which use non-Roman characters, so it isn't possible for anyone to do as you did. This topic came up when Tregelles was released to the public. We discussed the possibility of adding this capability, but it is admittedly low on the list with everything that we have going on.

  39. @Rick Bennett,

    Sorry for the confusion on my part. There are at least two Michaels that I know of at BibleWorks (Bushell and Tan) and I realized that Michael H. could also be confused w Michael Holmes, but I certainly didn't mean to cause that confusion. I just wanted to clarify that the only way BibleWorks had it was because I chose to do it on my own. Do you think I'll get a link on the SBLGNT website? :-)

  40. I think Mike's text looks more valuable to me than his apparatus.

    Agreed. I would say that apparatus has more of a "lay" audience.

    I think if you really wanted to construct an apparatus that gave readers access to the best TC thinkers of the last two centuries one could do that - but it may take a couple more editions to add some more relevant voices.

    My understanding on that point was that the texts used were chosen because they were available digitally. It would be interesting to throw in older UBS texts in the mix along with other mid-20th century editions.

  41. Christian Askeland wrote << and opens the door for a number of low cost publications. >> Christian, what did you mean? Are you talking about there being no requirement to pay for license to include a copyrighted Greek text in one's work?

    David Robert Palmer

  42. I’ve just added an update to the BibleWorks version of the SBLGNT that includes the apparatus (as a module) in addition to the versions that Michael Hanel put together. http://bibleworks.oldinthenew.org/?p=649

  43. Mark 1:41 "anger"
    John 1:34 "the chosen one of God"
    Hebrews 2:9 "without God"
    Jude 5 "Jesus"
    Revelation 18:3 "have fallen"

    I just glanced the text as a Sword file. So far I like what I see (read: I agree :))

    Maybe someday Mike can prepare an edition that follows recent findings regarding orthographics as well. Not that this is such a major issue.

    Hopefully this edition will find itself on Bible translators' desks.

  44. David,
    It is currently very expensive to license the NA27 text. I assume that the SBLGNT text will be licensed for much less or for free. The website suggests that the publication "encourages the development of new electronic and print products based on the SBLGNT through a liberal permission and licensing policy." We can already see this with the e-Sword, Bibleworks and other editions which have been published.
    I would love to have a pocket Hebrew-Greek Bible with no critical apparatus.

  45. Thank you Dr. Holmes for this labor of love.

    Just to be clear, there are 56 places where SBLGNT stands against the four editions of Tregelles, WH, R-P, and NIV.

    When NA27 is thrown into that mix, there are only 46 places where SBLGNT stands alone. Is this correct?

  46. Re Peter Gurry's question: see the Introduction, p. xi, note 9:
    "9. In all, there are fifty-six variation units in the SBLGNT where the editor preferred a reading not found in any of the four primary editions. In thirty-eight of those instances, the editor’s preferred reading is also read by WHmarg (30x) and/or Tregmarg (2x) and/or NA (10x)."

  47. Thank-you Christian. I would have figured that one would have to pay a licensing fee to use the whole NA27 text with all its diacritics, etc. But what I am wondering about is a work like Swanson, where he simply notes where the UBS text lies in agreement with the manuscripts. The NA@& is spelled out in a sense, but only insofar as it agrees with those manuscripts. Reason I am asking is because I have finished a Swanson type apparatus of Jude, showing 8 GNT editions and 62 Gk manuscripts. The 8 editions are TR, TG, WH, NA27, RP, ECM, TW, SBL.

    But I don't use the NA27 as the main text with all its diacritics.

  48. Concerning my work on Jude that I just posted about, I need some qualified proofreaders. Qualified means you know New Testament Greek well, and have access to the 9 editions I cite. (Just added von Soden). If you don't have Wasserman's edition, get it; it's worth its price. How is mine different? It is eleven inches wide, so has bigger continuous sections of text, so is easier to read and get a picture. Also shows readings of 9 critical editions. Thank-you for your indulgence. Anyone who does proofread gets a free final ebook edition. Email me at davekanaka live com

    David Robert Palmer

  49. wow--made it all the way to 50 comments without any comment inflation by Peter Head.

  50. Some info here: http://www.bethel.edu/news-events/news/2011/january/holmes-greek-new-testament

  51. Comparing amended transcriptions against each other to produce a further transcription is removing the base text so far away from the original as to be totally misleading for readers.
    The base form as demonstrated by the Codex Sinaiticus (CS), available in photographic form online, contains no paragraphs, no punctuation, no separate words and no accents. Accents are a recent innovation applied to this text; the Westcott-Hort text has no accents. Accents force an assembly of letters which might form an inflected Greek word to fit only one headword and therefore only one meaning.
    Inserting certain inflected words without accents into the Liddell Scott Jones (LSJ) lexicon on line shows that certain of these assemblies of letters produce multiple answers of headwords and therefore multiple meanings.
    If that were not bad enough modern transcriptions have entirely glossed over the fact of the contractions; are they contractions of words or phrases? The name of the crucified man whose headword contraction is “IS” (now isn’t that an interesting coincidence today?) is unknown. The contraction currently taken as his name would allow more than one solution and almost certainly has been adopted with that as one of its reasons. The extended contraction adopted as his name by later transcriptions has no historical support from prior to the date when these texts were said to be first constructed by the writer/s. If the two letters above are sounded phonetically the extension of the contraction can be seen to be only exactly that.
    The texts have been produced originally so they have UNCERTAINTY. This is to avoid censorship by the authorities. For readers to gain the correct information out of the texts they need to see that the uncertainty is fully present as they read. This is so they can draw the correct assumptions. A text where the name of the central character is unknown is very difficult to censor because the censors cannot determine who is being written about.
    We can tell severe censorship existed because of the fate of Hermogenes of Tarsus, his historical work and the scribes who undertook the copying, all eliminated by Domitian. (Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, Domitian para 10). The NT texts are all historical works and would thus fall to be so scrutinised. Hermogenes’ crime was not even to set out matters which offended on the face of his work but only to make “incautious allusions” to them. Any allusions in the NT texts directing us to important information will therefore be very cautious indeed and a reader needs to see the uncertainty to follow the allusions.
    One example and then I will shut up. For this one needs to think as a female, a class of person in those times given very little consideration.
    A young female discovers her relative is 6 months pregnant. She hurries to stay with her for 3 months. That takes her relative’s pregnancy to full term and yet the young female leaves her relative before the birth and fails to return even for the naming ceremony.
    Is that normal behaviour for a young female? It is not.
    Males may not care about young babies but young females cannot get enough of them. No young female after having stayed 3 months with her relative right up to the date of her relative giving birth would voluntarily have absented herself from the scene.
    So why has she left?
    Duress can only have been applied. The 3 month stay with the relative argues that it is not internal family duress. It is therefore external duress which has been applied. What makes her so socially important that external duress is applied event to the point of preventing her coming to the naming ceremony? That situation is one of the “cautious allusions” that require a solution, not too difficult to answer when one considers the full implications of the first of her two names.