Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Eberhard Nestle on His Revision of Scrivener’s GNT


For some time now, my main church Bible has been a nice hardcover of Scrivener’s 1906 Greek New Testament. It combines several features I like: it’s hardy (mine having been rebound); the text is clear and uncluttered (verse numbers are in the margin); it gives clearly marked differences between the major editions of the GNT and Stephanus 1550; it details differences even in accent; it’s small.

This fourth edition is, however, a revision done by Eberhard Nestle that includes about 500 corrections to the third. I know this number only becasue Teunis van Lopik recently sent me the following note published by Nestle in 1905. Tuenis shared with me that he found it in his copy of Scrivener’s 4th edition which he purchased in 2006. His copy had been owned by the Dutch NT scholar F.W. Grosheide in 1907 according an exlibris signature and owner’s stamp. My thanks to Teunis for sharing this with us. I’ve printed it out to put in my own copy.


  1. In all this discussion there needs to be a clear distinction between Scrivener's edition of the Stephens 1550 TR with noted editorial variants (as described above) and Scrivener's TR compiled from various printed TR editions with the intent to closely match the text purportedly underlying the KJV.

    Most of those who refer to the "Scrivener TR" are generally representatives of the KJV-only, TR-only or Confessional Bibliology/Ecclesiastical Text camps, and intend the latter Scrivener edition. The difference is important and worth noting.

    1. Matthew M. Rose10/27/2020 10:28 pm

      Indeed, and it's probably also worth noting that neither edition should be taken as expressive of Dr. Scrivener's own personal text-critical methodology and/or decisions. In fact, his own preferred method would of produced a text which departed from either edition in well over a thousand places respectively.

    2. The two editions, Dr. Robinson mentioned, are clearly described in: "Historical catalogue of the printed editions of the Holy Scripture in the library of The British and Foreign Bible Society", compiled by T.A. Darlow and H.F. Moule, London, 1903-1911.

      "H Kaine Diatheke, Novum Testamentum. Textûs Stephanici A.D. 1550." First published in 1859, the 4th edition published by Nestle in 1906. (See DM nota after 4870, 4888, notes after 4901 and 4925 and DM 4955.
      From Nestle's edition, I quote:
      Editio prima, 1859. Repetita 1861, 1862, 1864, 1865, 1867, 1868, 1870, 1871, 1873, 1875.
      Editio secunda, 1876. Repetita 1877, 1878, 1879, 1881, 1883, 1886.
      Edition tertia (Editio Major), 1886. Repetita 1900, 1902. [Here Nestle missed the reprint of 1891; a copy is in my book case.]
      Editio quarta, 1906.
      The main text of this edition is Stephanus 1550. In the textcritical apparatus are variant readings from editions of Beza, Elzevier, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Westcott/Hort, the Greek text underlying the text of the English Revised Version of 1881.

      "The New Testament in the original Greek according to the text followed in the Authorised Version together with the variations adopted in the Revised Version." Edited for the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press by F.H.A. Scrivener. 1881.
      DM 4915.
      In 1894 a new edition is published with the same title , but now with ... by the late F.H.A. Scrivener.
      DM 4932.
      This edition of 1894 is reprinted by the Trinitarian Bible Society.

      It is good to compare Scrivener's this 2nd NT of 1881 with another edition of the Greek NT of 1881, published in Oxford and edited by Edwin Palmer. (DM 4916)
      The Revisers did not construct a continious and complete Greek text as base for their work. There was a list of the readings adopted (prepared by Scrivener, who was a memeber of the NT Revision Company). This list was communicated to the University Presses of Cambridge and Oxford.
      For Cambridge Scrivener published the NT Greek text of Beza 1598. Where the Authorized Version was translated from a variant text, Scrivener changed the main text (190 times), marked with an asterisk in the main text (the *'s omitted in the edition of 1894). In the apparatus the readings of the Revisers, underlying the RV, are presented.
      For Oxford Palmer published the text of the Revisers, destillated from the above mentioned list. Therefor he adapted the Stephanus text of 1550. In Palmer's apparatus are the variant readings underlying the AV.
      So both editions (Scriveners and Palmers) are artefacts to make clear the differences between AV and RV and the underlying texts.
      Both editions became a new life. Scrivener's because this text is copied by the TBS. Palmer's because his text became the text of Souter's NT of 1910.

    3. Yes. I have the latter which is re-printed by the Trinitarian Bible Society.

    4. Very helpful points of clarification. I have written about both the editions you mention before: http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/2016/10/the-greek-text-of-english-bible-between.html

    5. Thanks for the link.
      Burgon: "The Textus receptus has been departed from by them {= the Revisionists} by far more then 5000 times, almost invariably for the worse." ('The Quarterly Review', vol. 152, no. 304 (July & Oct. 1881), p. 366)
      In 1883 the Burgon revised this text: "The traditional Text has been departed from them nearly 6000 times, -almost invariably for the worse." ('The Revision revised', p. 107)
      Ellicot and Palmer are quoting Burgon ("far more then 5000") from the QR. ('The Revisers and the Greek Text of the New Testament'. 1882, p. 42)
      Cook mentioned 5788 changes to the Greek text "according to Scrivener's notes". ('The Revised Version of the first three Gospels'. 1882, p. 222)
      In 'The Revision revised', p. 405, Burgon wrote: "At this rate, - since, [excluding marginal notes and variations in stops,] Scrivener {+ note: MS. communication from my friend, the Editor.} counts 5337 various readings in his Notes,) - the number of alterations gratuitously and uselessly introduced by you into the Greek Text of the entire N.T., is to be estimated at 3590." Burgon's "you" is Ellicot. Burgon is answering Ellicot's (and Palmer's) 'The Revisers' of 1882.
      Miller, the editor of Scrivener's 'Plain Introduction', ed. 4, 1894, vol. 2, p. 243, mentioned Scrivener's estimation of 5337 as "number of variations adopted by the Revisers", with reference to Burgon's 'The Revision revised', p. 405.
      Darlow & Moule, 4915, mentioned Scrivener's number 5788 of textual changes and continued with : "E. Nestle, however, counted 5,618 notes in Scrivener's edition, and about 5,250 in Palmer's edition. ... See The Expository Times, xv, p. 371."

      Peter, your 5614 is very close to Nestle's 5618!

    6. Could either of our resident bean-counters tell us how many of the 5000+ differences were actually substantial and /or translatable? I suspect the number to be far less under that restriction.

    7. A similar question is asked by Peter Gurry four years ago: "It would be useful to have more precise numbers on how many changes did not actually affect the translation, but that would take a good deal more work." (http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/2016/10/the-greek-text-of-english-bible-between.html)
      It is easier to count then to weigh.
      But we do have the work of Scrivener and Palmer. "Both volumes should be in the hands of every scholar" wrote Burgon (https://archive.org/details/revisionrevised00burggoog/page/n96/mode/2up). The use of their Diglots will certainly help to weigh the numbers.

  2. I have the Scrivener edition that was printed before the WH text was released. So it shows variants between Tregelles, Lachmann, but not WH. I thought about getting it rebound. But the font size is a bit small. Peter, how is the font size on yours?

  3. For comparison it would be helpful to have the actual text of the sheets handed out to the Revision Committee by Westcott and Hort, I believe it would have started in 1871 and included the whole New Testament.

    There may be some information about this in the book by Alan Cadwallader, The Politics of the Revised Version (2018). Any help on this appreciated!

    1. Steven, if you mean the installments, yes. They are all extant at Trinity College Library. See my article for discussion: ‘A Book Worth Publishing’: The Making of Westcott and Hort’s Greek New Testament (1881)

    2. Already more then 11 years ago "Schmuel" and others is told about the Cambridge copies of the installments in Wieland Willker's Yahoo's TC Conversation Group, topic 4435 (2 - 24 Febr. 2009).
      Apparently, after all this years, it is a tough job to look into the Cambridge copies.

  4. Alexander Thomson6/02/2021 11:05 pm

    I must thank you for this piece, which I have just discovered!
    Very man y years ago, I found, in a secondhand bookshop, this very book, unused, though there is a dedication, by the [Scottish Episcopalian] Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway, to a [named] man who is being admitted, in a Sunday in 1911, to the Order of Deacons - but who, clearly, never used the gift! I love this volume, for the reasons you mention, and because of the copious cross-references it contains. what an assiduous man was Scrivener! My copy has had thorough use, and has been everywhere with me, even in water, and has survived - but now it does need to be rebound. Why cannot we have similar, pocket/portable editions for NA28 etc.? I greatly appreciate the note by Nestle, which is very informative : it is wonderful to see a great and useful work made even greater and more useful! If we only had such now....!