82 of 84 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 1996
The Text of the New Testament is the most detailed work on New Testament textual criticism available in the English language. In it, the Alands (significant contributors to both the Nestle-Aland 27th and the GNT fourth editions of the Greek New Testament) trace the history of the Greek texts from ancient times all the way through to an informative comparison of the modern critical editions. It is written at a level that can be easily understood by students with no previous knowledge in either textual criticism or Greek. However, its value to scholars cannot be over-estimated. The book includes detailed descriptions of every New Testament papyri and uncial manuscript, and details the most important miniscules as well. Its abundant tables and charts enable the reader to locate early manuscripts by date, content, length, and text "family." The Text of the New Testament should be required reading for anyone interested in the history of the Greek New Testament, and also for anyone int
73 of 77 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2006
The material below is from David A. Black's New Testament Textual Criticism: A Concise Guide, 1994, Baker Books: Grand Rapids (MI), pp. 36-39.
Today, four approaches to textual criticism can be seen among New Testament scholars. Each of the four current approaches may be identified with individual scholars. For the sake of convenience, these approaches may be called Radical Eclecticism, Reasoned Eclecticism, Reasoned Conservatism, and Radical Conservatism. The term "eclectic" means that the scholar tends to view each textual variant on its own merits instead of blindly following one manuscript or group of manuscripts. The term "conservative" is used here to refer to a generally high view of the traditional Byzantine text type and/or the Textus Receptus.
A. Radical Eclecticism (G. D. Kilpatrick, J. K. Elliott)
Radical Eclecticism holds to what may be called a purely eclectic text. This approach prefers a text based solely on internal evidence. Adherents of this view argue that since the history of the New Testament text is untraceable, none of the text types carries any weight. Hence the reading of any manuscript may be original, since no manuscript or group of manuscripts is "best". An eclectic scholar will thus choose the reading that commends itself as best fitting the context, whether in style or thought. This view, held primarily by a minority of British scholars, has been criticized for ignoring the value and importance of the external evidence, particularly the Greek manuscripts.
B. Reasoned Eclecticism (B. M. Metzger, K. Aland)
Reasoned Eclecticism holds that the text of the New Testament is to be based on both internal and external evidence, without a preference for any particular manuscript or text type. This view of the text is represented in the Nestle-Aland and United Bible Societies' Greek New Testaments. This approach often represents a predilection for manuscripts of the Alexandrian text type. This preference is based largely on Westcott and Hort's theory that the Byzantine text is a conflation of the Alexandrian and Western texts, and that the superiority of the Alexandrian text over the Western text can be shown through internal evidence. This approach has occasionally been criticized for producing a new "Textus Receptus" - a canonized form of the New Testament text.
C. Reasoned Conservatism (H. A. Sturz)
What might be called Reasoned Conservatism holds that each of the main text types is equally early and independent, going back separately into the second century. Like Reasoned Eclecticism, Reasoned Conservatism sees both internal and external evidence as useful. However; unlike Reasoned Eclecticism, which tends to follow the Alexandrian text, Reasoned Conservatism insists that no single text type can be preferred over all others, and instead emphasizes the geographical distribution of the text types. Scholars who hold to his view argue that the Byzantine text is older than the age of the earliest Byzantine manuscript (fifth century). For example, Byzantine readings once thought to be late have been found in early Egyptian papyri. Therefore, adherents of this view consider the Byzantine text type to be an early and independent witness to the text of the New Testament. They further believe that the reading that is the consensus of the majority of text types is most representative of the autographs. Reasoned Conservatism has been criticized for restoring the Byzantine text (which many feel to be "corrupt") to a place of usefulness.
D. Radical Conservatism (Z. Hodges, A. Farstad)
Finally, the approach that may be called Radical Conservatism holds that the Byzantine text type most closely approximates the original text of the New Testament. Scholars who hold to this view prefer the reading of the majority of manuscripts, which are, of course, mainly Byzantine. Several of these scholars have produced the New King James Version, which is based on the Textus Receptus, thus perpetuating the tradition begun by William Tyndale in 1525 and continued in King James Version of 1611. This approach has been criticized for being too mechanical and for ignoring the fact that manuscripts must be weighed and not just counted. For example, if ten manuscripts are copies of a single parent manuscript, then an error appearing in the parent will appear ten times in ten copies. But these ten copies are equal to a single authority, not to ten.
I personally trust B. M. Metzger, K. Aland and co. (I.S)
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2002
This book sets the scene for the New Testament text, its transmission and the extant manuscripts. The book is not quite as interesting a read as Metzger's book which is more readable. However this book benefits in a much higher level of detail regarding certain aspects of the mss, as well as giving a very detailed introduction to the use of the aparatus of the NA26 and UBS3 Greek New Testaments, which is no doubt essential for someone who desires to understand these in every detail. It also deals in much more detail with other modern editions of the Greek New Testament, their pros and cons.
In response to the other commentators and the Alexandrian texts. It is not really in the scope of this book or Metzger's to really prove their opinions of various manuscripts and their individual value. That really becomes clear when the entire New Testament tradition is studied as a whole and entails considerable work. Those criticizing Aland and Metzger et. al. in my experience do so from a position of ignorance as armchair critics.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2002
Kurt Aland is second to none in his knowledge of the greek manuscripts. (although a case could be made for Bruce Metzger)
I constantly use this book for reference. This book, and Metzger's "Text of the New Testament" are both top of the line books on textual criticism.
If you're a serious Bible student, and want to know which manuscripts are the most "weighty", and why certain readings are chosen over other variant reading to go in the NT Text we have today....this is the book for you!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Kurt and Barbara Aland wrote "The Text of the New Testament" to serve as an introduction and guide to either the Nestle-Aland or United Bible Societies Greek critical texts, both of which Kurt Aland had a hand in. The first edition of this book was published in 1982, so it refers to the NA26 and USB3 (which the authors call GNT) instead of the current NA27 and USB4.That doesn't seem to matter, as the comments on the two editions' strengths and their critical apparatuses apply to the current editions. You don't need to read Greek to read this book. Although it occasionally uses short Greek examples, it is easy to understand the point that is being illustrated without being able to read the Greek. It is written as an introduction to the Greek text, but it can also serve as an introduction to the practice of textual criticism of the New Testament for the more general reader.
Before they get into the practical challenges of textual criticism, the authors take us through the history of printed editions of the Greek New Testament from 1514 until the NA26 in the late 20th century, explaining how editors through the ages arrived at their versions of the Greek text. "The Text of the New Testament" does not attempt to explain or challenge competing theories of textual criticism. It takes the methodology behind the NA and USB texts for granted, as it is introducing those texts. The Alands are adherents of some version of "reasoned eclecticism" which Kurt Aland has described as a "local-genealogical method". The authors stress the importance in understanding the history of the Church in evaluating manuscripts, and they favor the Alexandrian texts while being fairly dismissive of the Byzantine.
There is some background on how the Greek texts were transmitted before the authors delve into the types of manuscripts that are witnesses to the New Testament, their distribution by century and category, their level of agreement, and their somewhat cumbersome system of labeling, which you must know in order to decipher the notations in the critical editions. Another chapter addresses New Testament witnesses in other languages. Then the authors explain the critical apparatuses of the NA26, USB3, and SQE13 (Gospel synopsis) Greek texts, comparing their features, notations and generally explaining how to use them. Finally, the authors present their rules of textual criticism, common causes of variants and how to evaluate them, and some examples of what textual critics do.
Some recommendations for further reading may be out of date, as more books have been published over the past 25 years. The translation from the German by Erroll F. Rhodes is a bit stiff at times, but the meaning is always clear. "The Text of the New Testament" is fairly dense. With over 5,000 manuscript sources for the New Testament in Greek alone and a need to identify them, there is a lot of information to convey. This book is intended for readers who will be actively or passively involved in textual criticism, either doing it themselves or needing to understand the information that the critical editions offer, including those working in New Testament exegesis. So it's a bit much for the casual reader, though you could skip the lengthy charts of manuscripts and the chapters that explain the critical apparatuses if you're just looking for general information on New Testament textual criticism.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2009
If your looking for the "bottom line" when it comes to manuscripts (mss) of the New Testament, this book is it! They provide not opinion, but detailed facts, even down to the average number of variants for each NT books. Graphs showing the number of known extant mss vs the century when they came out. A detailed chart listing all known papyri and Uncial mss for each NT book chapter by chapter! It is also easy to read even for the beginner. I consider it THE sourcebook on the subject. Highly recommended!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2005
This is a must read for anyone interested in NT Textual Criticism. It is a standard text with Bruce Metzger's, Text of the New Testament. Highly recommended. It is a translation from German, but is quite readable.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2010
I don't know Greek. Always wondered how the Bible came to be. This book is excellent. I have a much better appreciation now of the work that goes into truly revealing "the Word" by scholars. While the book is inclusive regarding the tools and techniques used by scholars it was still understandable to me a beginner. Thank you Kurt and Barbara Aland for your wonderful book!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2009
This book is great for and serious Textual Criticism student. Its very detailed and a powerful resource to have at our disposal. Everyone who wants a deeper understanding of our new testament manuscripts needs to check this out for sure!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2014
An indispensable source to accompany Aland, et. al. Greek New Testament. This volume should be in the library of every serious student of the Greek New Testament.