NEW TESTAMENT TEXT AND TRANSLATION COMM Hardcover – 13 Jan 2009
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About the Author
For the last 25 years Philip Comfort has been a senior editor at Tyndale House Publishers. He has written two novels, three collections of poetry, and over fifteen volumes on New Testament studies. He and his wife Georgia live in South Carolina.
Top Customer Reviews
In addition to the main body of the work, Comfort gives a brief introduction to the Textual Criticism of the Bible, and a history of the New Testament, both in Greek and in English. This further increases the usefulness of this already useful volume. Not only that, but it has an attractive hardcover binding that means it looks as good on the shelf as it does on your desk.
This is an impressive piece of work, and one that ought to sell more widely than it probably will. If you ever wondered why English translations differ, or what the notes at the bottom of the page in modern translations mean, then you might like this book. Just be aware that it's nearly 1000 pages long!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Comfort does consider internal evidence, as is evidenced in his discussions, but he is bold to disagree with the readings in the NA/UBS texts (see his list on pages 883-84). It is interesting that he often favors the text of Westcott and Hort in their edition of the GNT (also recently re-published by Hendrickson).
This is a first rate piece of scholarship, worthy to be used alongside Metzger and even preferred to him at times, because of its greater thoroughness. An added strength is his mentioning of the the textual reading adopted in the various English versions from the KJV through the HCSB. This volume should be used alongside your Greek New Testament and will provide invaluable help in interpreting those sometimes vague text critical notes, especially the very cryptic and brief ones in the NA27.
A very useful tool.
Philip Comfort is one of these scholars, and he has provided a fabulous resource for Bible scholars, pastors, and others to study the textual data on all the 3,000 or so places in the New Testament where we find textual variants that may affect the Bible translations we have in our hands. Comfort focuses primarily on the variants which result in differences between the various English Bible versions in use today (KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV, ESV, HCSB, NLT, TNIV, NRSV, etc.). He also highlights some of the intriguing variants and places where the Western family of manuscripts often expands the text. What makes Comfort's work so especially valuable is that his discussion is all in English! He discusses the Greek and other languages, but is mindful of the non-technical, English speaking reader. This makes New Testament Text and Translation Commentary (NTTTC) very accessible, opening up the intricacies of textual critical studies to the average Bible student.
While Comfort may not include all the textual data accessible to scholars in the UBS4 or NA27 Greek texts and other scholarly resources, he does format his work and provide relevant information in a much more user-friendly format. In places where there are two or more variants that have affected the English Bibles, Comfort will first give each variant reading in Greek and English, then he lists the Greek manuscripts and other supports for each variant, and he also adds which English Bibles follow that variant in their text or margin. Following all of this, he offers a brief discussion of that particular variant, taking us step by step through how a conservative, evangelical scholar will assess this textual evidence to arrive at a conclusion concerning this particular reading.
This detailed analysis of each major variant in the Greek New Testament makes up the bulk of the book and provides an easy to look up reference for practically any passage where one might encounter a variant. Comfort also provides a brief overview of textual criticism and a very interesting assessment of the major textual witnesses for each section of the New Testament. He displays an extensive understanding of the papyri manuscripts in particular as well as the history of textual criticism and all the relevant data. A few appendices are also included for more specialized discussions.
NTTTC doesn't stick to strictly textual critical matters. In Mk. 7:3 a discussion of manners and customs of Bible times is required to understand the Greek phrase "wash their hands with a fist". Exegetical matters are also addressed, such as in the conservative and delicate handling of the variant at 1 Cor. 14:34-35. NTTTC's format makes difficult and highly technical discussions much easier. When discussing the ending of Mark, he helpfully lays out all 5 variations of the ending providing a few pages of discussion. At Acts 20:28 he discusses two variants together, by first delineating all the various combinations of the two variants, and helpfully summarizing the options and discussing each option in light of exegetical matters as well.
The discussions in NTTTC prove enlightening. One learns the importance of understanding the patterns of particular scribes when discussing variants such as Luke 24:3 where Comfort explains why Wescott and Hort were wrong. The major passages like the ending of Mark and John 7:53-8:11 are covered in depth. Comfort is honest about some variants being driven by theological considerations, such as in Heb. 2:9. Interestingly, the theological bias in textual variants was almost always rejected by the church in days of old as well as today.
One excerpt of this work will serve to illustrate its value well. Regarding Jude 4, Comfort states:
The reading in TR, poorly attested, is probably an attempt to avoid calling Jesus despoten ("Master"), when this title is usually ascribed to God (Luke 2:29; Acts 4:24; Rev. 6:10). Hence, theos ("God") was appended to despoten. However, 2 Pet. 2:1, a parallel passage, identifies the redeemer, Jesus Christ, as the despoten. So here also the WH NU reading, which is extremely well documented, shows that Jude considered Jesus to be the absolute sovereign.
As one well attuned to the issues relating to King James Onlyism, I found this volume especially helpful. 26 times I found a KJV reading to be supported by no Greek manuscripts. Western additions such as "full of the Holy Spirit" at Acts 15:32 and "Jesus" at Acts 17:31 reveal that "omissions" are in the eye of the beholder. Does the TR omit these important phrases or the Western texts add them? It was through my KJV Onlyism debate lenses that I discovered a few minor errors in Comfort's text. He wrongly claims the KJV followed Stephanus' 1550 TR (along with the WH/ NU modern Greek Text) at Rev. 16:5 when in fact they followed Beza's conjectural emendation "and shall be" instead of "holy one". He also seems to state that a variant at Rom. 7:6 was introduced by Elzevirs' TR and then later adopted by the KJV, however the KJV was translated 22 years prior to the Elzevirs' work. The reading in question was introduced by Beza in one of his editions used by the KJV translators. Also at Luke 2:38 he lists the Vulgate as the sole support for the KJV reading, but Robinson-Pierpont's Majority Text edition includes the KJV reading "Lord".
I would have liked Comfort to address more passages relevant to the KJV Only debate. It would have been great if he had mentioned which variants the printed Greek Majority Text's of Hodges-Farstad or Robinson-Pierpont adopted as well. But space constraints are totally understandable. I also wish he had somehow indicated if the manuscript listings given for a particular passage are complete or not. If more evidence is available (or not) for a given variant, it would be nice to know. Perhaps using an asterisk when all the known witnesses to a variant were listed would help.
All in all, I can't recommend Comfort's work more highly. This is an important volume and I will be referring to it often in years to come.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by Tyndale House for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
The aim of the New Testament Text and Translation Commentary is to show how and why our English translations differ, especially when there are variations in the underlying Greek manuscripts. The bulk of this book is comprised of the actual commentary itself, but readers will want to begin with the introductory material and appendices. Working through these materials prior to working with commentary will give the reader a basic understanding of the art of textual criticism and will better prepare them to make the best use possible of the commentary. The topics covered in the introduction and appendices are as follows:
o 1. The Practice of New Testament Textual Criticism
o 2. Significant Editions of the Greek New Testament
o 3. Significant English Versions
o 4. Abbreviations
o 5. How to Use the commentary
o 6. Glossary
* Appendix A - Scribal Gap-Filling
* Appendix B - Aland's Local-Genealogical Method
* Appendix C - Metzger's Judgment of Variant Readings according to Text-Types
* Appendix D - The Importance of the Documentary Considerations
The commentary follows the canonical order of the New Testament, beginning first with the gospel of Matthew and ending with the book of Revelation. The English translations commented on in this volume are:
* King James Version (KJV)
* New King James Version (NKJV)
* Revised Standard Version (RSV)
* New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
* English Standard Version (ESV)
* New American Standard Bible (NASB)
* New International Version (NIV)
* Today's New International Version (TNIV)
* New English Bible (NEB)
* Revised English Bible (REB)
* New Jerusalem Bible (NJB)
* New American Bible (NAB)
* New Living Translation (NLT)
* Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
* The NET Bible (New English Translation) (NET)
The significant versions of the Greek New Testament interacted with in this volume are:
* Textus Receptus (TR)
* Westcott and Hort's The new Testament in the Original Greek (WH)
* United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament (3rd & 4th editions) (NU)
* Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (26th & 27th editions) (NU)
As I stated above, the aim of this commentary is to show how and why our English translations differ, especially when there are variations in the underlying Greek manuscripts. The commentary lays out where there are differences in the English translations and shows which Greek manuscript \ variant they follow. Comfort offers many insightful comments throughout the book, helping the reader understand how a particular Greek text or variant reading underlying the English translations may have influenced the translators' decisions.
Serious Bible students from interested laypeople to seminary students and even pastors will benefit from the New Testament Text and Translation Commentary. My own New Testament studies have been greatly enhanced by this volume. I'm sure it will become a mainstay at your desk as much as it has on mine. Readers who enjoy this book will also want to check out these other Tyndale House Publishers' titles by Philip W. Comfort:
* The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001)
* The Many Gospels of Jesus (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008)
Philip W. Comfort (D. Litt. Et Phil., University of South Africa) is a professor of New Testament at Coastal Carolina University and Senior Editor of Bibles and Bible Reference at Tyndale House Publishers. He has published several books on Bible translation and textual criticism.
The author presents in one volume the answer to so many of my questions - which textual variants destroy the doctrine and theology of the Church? Is there one or two that destroy the deity or divinity of Jesus Christ? His flesh? His death, burial and resurrection? Which textual variant established the Catholic Church? Which one denies hell? Or any other of the myriad of doctrines?
In previous discussions with KJVO's I have asked the question - What are the major theological differences in explored in the textual variants? This book serves the purpose of showing the different variants and what each change could mean. Perhaps change is not really a good word - perhaps variant.
The book deserves a better cover and paper, but it serves it's purpose. This is a scholarly work and should be treated as such - of course that could be my taste for dusty, black-cloth covered boards over bleached white paper with yellowed edges. Over all, the the quality of the book is above average, with the binding allowing the book to open easily and lay flat - convenient for study.
With each variant - the book only covers the New Testament - Comfort gives the history, and the support, using the KJV/TR as a comparision as well. He uses logic and common sense, as well as references to uses in Church history, of which is a special interest to me. He attributes much, however, to scribal error, not allowing enough room for purposed 'mistakes.'
He makes note of which translation follows which variant, criticizing none in the process. He takes the time to explain the deviations and the possible theological results.
I have read only little of Dr. Metzger, but in comparing the styles of the men, I find Comfort accessible to those who are just now turning to Textual Criticism, as well as those who have studied it for years. He lays out in simply language his documentation and his understanding, leaving room as well to disagree with him.
He provides several appendices detailing the cause of errors, as well as his thoughts on Aland and Metzger's textual criticism.
This book is a highly valued tool in understanding Textual Criticism, and while not suitable as a standard commentary, it should be used in study along with any translation of Holy Writ. Instead of staying in myths of dogma's, pastors and teachers should read for themselves the history of the Green New Testament Text.