on 20 December 2010
Very little needs to be said about this book. It's an excellent introduction to the manuscript history of the New Testament. The work is well-written, relatively easy to read, and could be used by introductory college classes in the subject. Indeed, it was probably written for that specific purpose. As a side note, Bruce Metzger is a Christian, while Bart Ehrman is an atheist. Metzger even makes an appearance in Lee Strobel's infamous "The Case for Christ", while Ehrman is the author of the bestselling atheist book "Misquoting Jesus". A piquant combination!
The first chapter of "The Text of the New Testament" deals with the making of ancient books in general, to give the students a feeling for the purely technical problems involved when the New Testament was written down, "published" and re-copied. The next chapter presents the most important ancient NT manuscripts. The oldest fragment of any NT text is known as P52, contains a few verses from the Gospel of John, and has been dated to the first half of the second century. Naturally, the famous Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Vaticanus are all discussed. Apart from the Greek manuscripts, Metzger and Ehrman also mention translations into Syriac, Latin, Gothic and other ancient languages. There are even fragments of a Nubian translation.
The next two chapters give an overview of the history of textual criticism. For centuries, the dominant version of the New Testament was the Textus Receptus , based on medieval Byzantine manuscripts. Today, this manuscript tradition is considered inferior and is no longer used in Bible translations. Only a few fundamentalists still cling to it, usually in the King James Version. The last five chapters of the book are more technical. They deal with the methods used by modern textual critics. Of particular interest are the causes of errors in ancient NT manuscripts, including intentional changes. The notion that doctrinal changes caused Christian scribes to change the New Testament is a particularly contentious one.
I warmly recommend this work for serious students.
on 26 September 2010
Having studied New Testament Text & Canon for my degree 41 years ago, I was inspired soon after retirement to return to it. Having been lent a book by Bart Ehrman which both disturbed & enthused me, I discovered he was the heir-apparent to Bruce Metzger whose work I had studied. Delighted to see the latest edition of his textbook is co-authored with Ehrman, I decided to purchase. I am half-way through it, &finding it stimulating & scholarly.
on 21 March 1997
This text provides and excellent introduction to the history of the development of the text of the New Testament. In doing so, Metzger makes am implicit argument for the value of textual criticism. At the same time, one senses a real passion for New Testament scholarship. This is a good companion to anyone learning Koine Greek and wanting to understand the history behing the study of New Testament texts.