Monday, November 14, 2011

Published: Parallel Pericopes of the Synoptic Gospels (Editio Critica Maior series)

In August I announced that a long-awaited tool from the INTF in Münster was soon to be published: Parallel Pericopes of the Synoptic Gospels edited by Holger Strutwolf and Klaus Wachtel in the Novum Testamentum Graecum, Editio Critica Maior series (NTGECM). The publication is the result of a research project designed to complement the test passage collations (Text- und Textwert) of the Synoptic Gospels, by which the influence of textual parallels on the formation of variants can be studied. It presents evidence of 159 MSS in 38 synoptic pericopes. Sample page here.

Today, the volume arrived in my mail, graciously sent to me by the editors, and it looks very nice. In my blogpost I stated that it would be nice if we would have access to the database in the future. Now I note in the preface:

To enable computer-aided analyses of the material presented in Parallel Pericopies, the full critical apparatus comprising collations of 159 manuscripts is made available as a text file at

If you follow that link you can download the full contents of the critical apparatus, but in contrast to the printed volume which displays most passages through a negative apparatus (cf. NA27), this database offers a full apparatus at each variant passage, which is very convenient if you want to do research. For example of such research, using this tool, see Klaus Wachtel's SBL paper from 2009 which is available online: "The Byzantine Text of the Gospels: Recension or Process."

Finally, I just want to explain what the database shows in the different columns:

In the first column on the first line you see the digit "1," which stands for book 1 in the NT = Matthew; then "3" for chapter 3; "13" for verse 13; and "6" for the letter address "6" where the textual variant in question starts. Thus, here it refers to the third word in τότε (2) παραγίνεται (4) ὅ (6) Ἰησοῦς (8), i.e., the definite article. As in the printed publications in the ECM series, even numbers correspond to words in the printed text, odd numbers to the spaces in between, where we may find additions of words in MSS noted in the apparatus. The next column also has "6", i.e., this particular variant starts and end in 6 – it involves only the presence of the definite article.

The next column, "a," means variant a (which is always the printed reading); variant b in this case stands for the omission of the article and it is attested only by 372 further down in the list. If "zz" appears in this column it signifies lacunae. (Incidentally, I think this data in the printed volumes in the ECM series including this one, should always be carefully verified against the corresponding appendices with list of lacunae, because there are some discrepancies between the two, and I think the appendix is more complete).

The next column gives us the reading in unaccentuated Greek "o"=ὅ, i.e., the article is present in this witness. The next column refers to the witnesses. However, the first line, "A" indicates the reconstructed initial text (Ausgangstext), i.e., the printed text. The two last columns read "3" and "13" which means that the variant also ends in the same verse. There are also additional columns where data may appear, e.g., "f" which stands for Fehler and indicates that the editors have judged that a certain reading represents an error on the part of the scribe.

In order to understand the database wholly, it is crucial to carefully read the introduction to this or any other volume in the ECM series in order to understand the presentation of the material and the apparatus according to the new and excellent ECM standard (which, by the way, I largely followed in my own work on an edition of Jude).


  1. By the way, if anyone's computer is like mine, clicking on the page image will take you to a new page in the same window, showing just the two images (and not in high enough resolution to view them any better), which you won't be able to back out of. Don't despair; simply pressing the ESC key will bring you back to the ETC article.

  2. I don't know exactly what you are talking about, but for the first image you can follow a link to the sample page, and for the second image, actually I get a larger one in my browser when I click on it (Firefox), but if you want to see the whole think, follow the link to the database (in textformat).

  3. What an amazing tool! I don't yet have the volume but certainly wish I did!

    BTW, I'm pretty sure "A" must mean a witness other than Alexandrinus, since it is lacuna at this place, and further down it shows "zz" next to "02" for this variant.

    Jonathan C. Borland

  4. Thanks Jonathan. I did this in a hurry and did not pay attention. I have corrected that now.

  5. 'A' means the initial text, that is, the reading accepted as "original", like in the ECM series elsewhere.

  6. Yes Timo I corrected that. I apparently had some temporary brain problem.

  7. I still can't believe that they can cover 38 pericopes on only 160 pages this way.
    Can the book be ordered somewhere already?

  8. Wieland, the book is available from the American Bible society, the German Bible society and Hendrickson Publishers.

  9. Ah, ok, I found it at Amazon, listed as forthcoming Jan. 2012.

    One of the authors is
    "Klaus Wach Tel".


    Looking forward to it!!!

  10. Well, it has been published. I have a copy.