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Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism Hardcover – November 15, 2005

3.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Phillip Comfort has examined, many times over, every single word of every early New Testament manuscript. His previous works include The Test of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts, Early Manuscripts and Modern Translations of the New Testament, and New Testament Text and Translation Commentary.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: B&H Academic; First Edition edition (November 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805431454
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805431452
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #264,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John Matlock on December 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This momumental work explores the earliest New Testament writings (pre AD 300). The goals of the book are:

. to give an annotated list of all significant Greek manuscripts

. to assign dates for the earliest manuscripts

. to examine the nomina sacra (standardized abbreviations) used in the early manuscripts

. to present the history of textual variation in the early centuries of the church

. to explore various methods of recovering the original wording of the Greek.

All of this is within the main goal of helping students interact with the New testament test by knowing the original wording.

This book gives a rare insight into the work of the scholars putting the Bible together from very fragmentary documents. All in all, it is amazing that so much material exists from almost two thousand years ago.
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Format: Hardcover
With some judicious editing and better-quality printing of the photographs, this could easily become a five-star book. Before summarising some of the details that let it down, let us focus on the positive.

A key to understanding what this book offers is to read the subtitle: "An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism". So it has two distinct focuses:
- introduction to paleography
- introduction to textual criticism.

In the opinion of the present reviewer, it is more successful in its second focus than in its first.

The first chapter (54 pages) gives a general description of the production of manuscripts in New Testament times.

The next two chapters (144 pages) give an overview of (apparently) all the New Testament manuscripts from approximately the first 300 years, also explaining dating decisions. Chapter two consists of a brief introduction to some of the principal manuscripts, followed by a summary of key information for each manuscript. I read this through in full, and would recommend that readers do the same. However, it will subsequently prove to be a very good quick reference for the purpose of finding the key facts about any manuscript.

It is only in chapter three that we actually see reproductions of single pages from some manuscripts, and the whole of some tiny fragments. This is a disappointment for several reasons:
- I would have expected to have seen more pages and manuscripts reproduced than are actually in the book.
- The quality of reproduction is generally not good. The chief cause of this is the paper that is used, which is fine for normal text but not up to the job of reproducing photographs with sufficient clarity.
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Format: Hardcover
This introduction to the NT manuscripts is highly readable and filled with fascinating insights. Its only downfall is the book's poor quality photographs of selected manuscripts. This is a pity since examining the manuscripts is a key part to understanding palaeography.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Good introduction to the early NT manuscripts and the science of NT textual criticism. Unfortunately, Comfort does not seem to provide a rationale/method as to why the dates he provides for the manuscripts are usually earlier than the standard mss dates appearing in the Nestle-Aland or other standard text critical works.
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Format: Hardcover
Philip W. Comfort is senior editor of Bible reference at Tyndale House Publishers and a noted scholar in the field of biblical studies and textual criticism. Comfort has a Ph.D. in Theology from Fairfax University and a second doctorate degree earned under noted textual critic Jacobus H. Petzer from the University of South Africa. Comfort has taught at several academic institutions, including Wheaton College, Trinity Episcopal Seminary, Columbia International University, and Coastal Carolina University. He is author or co-author of numerous books, including The Origins of the Bible, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary (Tyndale, 2008), and the subject of the current review, Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism.

Encountering the Manuscripts is the effort of several years of detailed examination of every early New Testament manuscript prior to AD 300 (viii). For Comfort, the result of this work has led to the publication of The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts (with David Barrett), New Testament Text and Translation Commentary, and Encountering the Manuscripts. The first volume represents a joint effort to reconstruct the earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts. The second volume represents Comfort’s longstanding desire to aid the overall conversation around the relationship between textual criticism and English translations of the Bible. This third volume focuses more narrowly on the most significant New Testament manuscripts from the vantage point of paleography and textual criticism.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wish some of the greek terms in this book were in greek. Other than that, the content of the book accomplishes its stated goal. I wish some of the lists of manuscripts were put in the back as an appendix.
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