Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 49:4 (Dec 2006)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous


Book Reviews

The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration. By Bruce M. Metzger and Bart D. Ehrman. 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005, xvi + 366 pp., $79.00.

For more than four decades, Bruce Metzger’s Text of the New Testament has been the standard introduction to NT textual criticism for the English-speaking world. The fourth edition of this venerable classic has undergone a more thorough revision than any previous iteration, in part because it is now co-authored by Bart Ehrman. The preface states, “Room for the addition of important bibliographical items, along with expanded information on the making and copying of books in antiquity and on the history of the transmission of the text of the New Testament, has been gained by the elimination of materials that seemed to be of peripheral interest to present-day readers” (p. xiii). One might think that a great deal has been sacrificed. Yet even though the hard-bound edition is slimmer than the paperback third edition, it has 64 more pages. Unfortunately, the preface does not specify exactly what has been dropped and what has been added. Only a comparison of this new text with the third edition reveals the differences. Much more material has been added than dropped.

The Text of the New Testament has three main sections: The Materials for the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (pp. 1–134); The History of New Testament Textual Criticism as Reflected in Printed Editions of the Greek Testament (pp. 135–94); and The Application of Textual Criticism to the Text of the New Testament (pp. 195–343). The greatest changes from the previous edition are found in the third part. Among these are the following additions. In Chapter 6.4, Eclecticism has been subsumed under Alternative Methods of Textual Criticism, which now includes a discussion of the majority text theory. In Chapter 6.6, Methods of Determining Family Relationships among Manuscripts now includes a treatment of quantitative analysis, the Claremont Profile Method, the Alands’ use of Teststellen, and the Comprehensive Profile Method. Chapter 6.7, The Use of Computers in New Testament Textual Criticism; Chapter 6.8, Significant Ongoing Projects (including the work of the Institut fur neutestamentliche Text-forschung and the International Greek New Testament Project); and Chapter 8, History of the Transmission of the Text of the New Testament, are new. In this last chapter, section 4 (The Use of Textual Data for the Social History of Early Christianity) is most likely Ehrman’s distinct contribution.

Though smaller in scope, other helpful additions include part 1, chapter 1 (expanded material on papyrus, parchment, ink making); three more Greek manuscripts (

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