Friday, December 03, 2010

UBS Greek New Testament Reader's Edition with Textual Notes

On my desk: The new UBS Greek New Testament Reader's Edition with the Greek-English dictionary compiled by Barclay M. Newman, and with textual notes compiled by Florian Voss.

I picked up this book at the American Bible Society book booth. Although not in the picture from the Hard Rock Café in Atlanta, I actually bumped into Florian Voss in the restaurant, and I asked him to tell me more about these textual notes which he has compiled for this new reader's edition, which is offered here by Eisenbrauns either in hardcover or in flexisoft leather (my copy).

Florian has been kind to send me the following reply:

Our intention regarding the notes was to give the reader at least an idea that the text of the New Testament is not undoubtedly clear but has to be reconstructed out of a variety of manuscripts. As the apparatuses of the Nestle-Aland and the UBSGNT seemed to be too complex for a reader’s edition, we decided to take the apparatus of the UBSGNT as a basis but to reduce the information significantly.

Compared to the UBSGNT, the information was reduced in two ways: First, the notes are focused on places where variants significantly impact the meaning of the text. The approach was to look at modern English translations and to see where they have footnotes such as “Some manuscripts add…”; Some manuscripts omit” or something like that. Where more than one translation had such a footnote I formed an own opinion whether a textual note might be advisable or not. Second, as for the manuscripts, only the most important ones were selected: the papyri, some uncials and minuscules (01-06, 019, 032, 33, 81, 1006, 1739, 2053, and 2344), and the Byzantine tradition as represented by Byz. (1006, 2053, and 2344 are cited only in parts of the NT.)

I am aware of the limited value of notes like this. As explained in the introduction, they are to be understood just as a first step into the world of NT textual criticism and any reader is invited to progress beyond the Reader’s Edition some day and to make use of the Nestle-Aland or the UBSGNT.

Speaking of editions, I also picked up the SBLGNT and had it signed by the editor and co-blogger Mike Holmes. And during the meeting I got many questions from scholars who are not directly into textual criticism about the edition - it was the topic of the day at the meeting. We have already had some discussion about the new edition and I am sure it will continue. (For example, I look forward to discuss Mark 1:1 with Mike - who has opted for the shorter version without "Son of God" - probably to Peter Head's great pleasure, since Pete wrote an article, in his early career, arguing for the short version.)

Furthermore, I too, succumbed to Hendrickson's very attractive offer of the new Sinaiticus facsimile (sorry Camilla...) as they threw in David Parker's new monograph on the codex (which David kindly signed for me) and a fine print of one of the pages in the deal. David was present for several hours at Hendricksons to show the facsimile to interested people, and I think the publisher sold more copies than they could dream of (like some 30-40 copies). I arranged to have my copy sent from Alban books in the UK. Otherwise the shipping and customs would cost me a fortune (no customs in the European Union). Actually, this happened at one SBL meeting when I ordered a lot of books from the American Bible Society, and they sent it with Feedex. This was one of my worst bookbuying experiences ever, with all sorts of fees (shipping, customs, extra fee, VAT). However, the nice ABS representative gave me some compensation at a subsequent SBL meeting by offering some extra discount.


  1. Where more than one translation had such a footnote I formed an own opinion whether a textual note might be advisable or not. --Florian Voss

    With all the recent interest in citing the Byzantine Text, it's a shame that two different English translations probably cannot be found with footnotes that make any mention of the hundreds of places (other than the omission of an entire verse, which they can hardly ignore) where the Byzantine text differs substantially from the text used in the translation. I can think of only one--the NKJV.

    This 'brief introduction to textual criticism' apparently ignores most of the biggest textual differences between English translations. That makes about as much sense as Zondervan's interlinear NT with Nestle for the Greek and KJV for the English.

  2. I would expect the Net bible should have most of those places covered as well.

  3. May I ask a rather silly question about the notes in the UBSGNT ? There are many places where the "pas" abbreviation is used twice (ex: p.2n2 "...aor pas ptc f.s.gen, pas be promised in marriage"): if the first "pas" means the passive voice, what about the second one?

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