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Novum Testamentum Graecum. Editio Critica Maior. Hrsg. vom Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung. IV: Die Katholischen Briefe. Hrsg. von B. Aland, K. Aland, G. Mink u. K. Wachtel. Teil 1: Text. [1. Lfg.: Der Jakobusbrief. 2., durchges. Aufl. 1997. XII, 19* S., 102 S.]. 2. Lfg.: Die Petrusbriefe. 2000. VI, S. 20*-24*, S. 103-261. Teil 2: Begleitende Materialien. [1. Lfg.: Der Jakobusbrief. 2., durchges. Aufl. 1997. VI, B 39]. 2. Lfg.: Die Petrusbriefe 2000. VI, S. B41-B90.


Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft 4. Jakobusbrief: Kart. ¬ 15,00, ISBN 3-438-05600-3. Petrusbriefe: Kart. ¬ 25,00. ISBN 3-438-05601-1.


David C. Parker

The second instalment of the Münster Editio Critica Maior (ECM) of the Greek New Testament follows hard on the heels of the first (James), which came out in 1998. Since that was not reviewed in these pages, it is worth beginning with a brief overview of the features which make this edition so outstanding.

There are two fascicles for each instalment. The first contains the introduction and critical text and apparatus. When one looks at the page, one sees a line of critical text, with an even number beneath each word (odd numbers refer to spaces), and beneath that a list of the variants beneath the word(s) and/or spaces(s) to which they refer, each prefaced with a letter, b for the first, c for the second, and so on. Sometimes there are two lines of critical text. There is then a line across the page, and below that the apparatus. Each variation is indicated by the number(s) of the words and spaces, and within it each variant by a letter, beginning with a for the support for the text. Ambiguous evidence is then indicated, showing which variant might be supported by the witness, followed by a list of witnesses lacunose in that place. The format has the following advances:

separation of base text, list of variants, and apparatus proper numbers for gaps and words, so that a reading can be succinctly referred to in the apparatus by its number(s) use of a letter for each variant reading, beneath the 'a' reading, the preferred text a separate 'address' for each variant double arrows for ambiguous support use of both negative and positive apparatus.

The second volume contains lists of Greek manuscripts, their errors and lacunae; lists of patristic citations; lists of versions and their manuscripts, lists of subsidiary readings found in Text und Textwert but not in the main apparatus of the ECM, and further information and notes on patristic and versional readings. Its advances include

a distinction between significant variation and manuscript error separation of problematical versional and patristic readings from more clear-cut evidence.

There are enormous complexities in producing such an edition as this. They fall into two groups - complexities for the editor, and complexities for the user. The biggest traditional problem for the editor has been gathering the evidence around an existing text, forming a new one on its basis, and then reshaping the evidence around that new text. Thankfully the use of computers has solved that problem. It has also made possible the generation of separate lists, leading to the other advances.

The biggest traditional problem for the user has been handling the data presented. The use of both negative and positive apparatus resolves a problem that arose from trying to solve it. The traditional apparatus criticus has - certainly for a text with a large number of witnesses, such as the New Testament - generally been a negative one. That is, witnesses are only cited when they differ from the printed text. This is misleading 1) when minor variants are ignored and 2) when evidence (for example, from a version) is ambiguous. But a positive apparatus, in which every witness is cited at every point of variation, is hopelessly large. The virtues of each system meet in the ECM: the simple use of three dots, to indicate all witnesses not named elsewhere in the variation, resolves the problem.

The volume has two further evident virtues: extremely clear typefaces, and a wonderfully low price, so low that there is no excuse for not buying it. At pennies or cents per hours of work it must be unbeatable.

The Petrine fascicles contain two features not found in the first: a blue sheet containing a list of the symbols listed in full in the first, so that the volume is more intelligible on its own; and a note on the reconstruction of the text of 1Peter. Notable here is a discussion of the method of using local genealogy, that is, reconstructing a stemma of witnesses at each place of variation. Two articles by Dr Gerd Mink are cited for further information. It is stated, on the basis of this evidence, that the witnesses most closely related to what is called the Ausgangstext are the majuscules 01 03 04 025 and the minuscules 81 307 1175 1243 1739 1852. Nobody will be surprised at the number of minuscules representing an ancient text. It is perhaps unexpected that none of them is more recent than the eleventh century.

Technically, I have noted that one distinctive characteristic of the ECM is that variant readings are longer than in other editions. This is to be welcomed, since many editions atomise variants into single words or short phrases, even where they comprise phrases or even longer units. The consequence is that it is often hard to work out how different witnesses relate to one another. The longer units make the comparison, and also understanding the apparatus, much easier.

To anyone who has worked on textual editing, the technical accomplishments of this work are a sufficient source of wonder. It is to be hoped that users who are not in that position will still explore the riches available in the volume. It would be a shame if New Testament scholars were to ignore everything but the text, because the variety of the ways in which the manuscript tradition has read and written the text is a commentary on the possible meanings which have been found in it, a commentary of value both for the exegete and the theologian. The value of a critical edition is not that just it establishes a critical text for the user, but that it provides the user with full information about the various forms in which the text has existed. Future writers on the Petrine correspondence should begin - and continue - their work on the basis of these two deep blue fascicles. For it is a remarkable fact that those working on 1 and 2Peter will, henceforth, be able to engage more fully with the whole history of the text and consequently its interpretation than have any previous exegetes and theologians. It may seem contradictory, but it follows that part of the value of a major critical edition is to stimulate interest and text-critical discussion, rather than to present a final statement. For a thorough commentary should consist of an engagement not only with a reconstructed and more-or-less final form of the text, but also with all the other forms in which the text has existed.

What about the text? Whereas in James there was only one word in which the ECM editors chose to differ from the text of the twenty-seventh edition of Nestle-Aland, they depart from it seven times in 1Peter and eight times in 2Peter. Given their comparative lengths (100 and 59 pages), the second figure is proportionately higher.

All eyes will be on a particular reading in this edition: the editors' selection of ouch eurethesetai at 2Peter 3.10 against eurethesetai. The reading is significant in that, as the editors put it, ,Es gibt bislang dafür keinen griechischen Zeugen' (22*). The support consists of: the Sahidic and (with the caution V, ut videtur) the single MS (Ann Arbor, Univ. Lib., P. Mich. 3520) of the Coptic version in dialect V; ten manuscripts of the Philoxenian version (the details telling us which MSS these are will be found on p. B 68). The editors suggest that this may be a conjecture, ,die so naheliegend wie plausibel ist'. This is an interesting observation, and I take it to mean that it is suggested either that the text had become so hopelessly corrupt that conjecture was essential, or that the author had mistaken his own meaning. We must await the promised commentary for further information.

Given the fact that Münster editorial technique has often been associated with preference for external over internal evidence, that is, to follow reliable witnesses rather more often than to look for the best sense, this will be hailed as showing remarkable courage. In fact, Münster has always been rather more subtle than that. Nevertheless, the editors of this volume have here made a courageous and interesting decision. I cannot find another edition which has the same reading, though it is preferred by some commentators (e. g. Bigg in the old ICC commentary, p. 213; Mayor).

The Petrine fascicles offer us rather more information on how the text was selected than did the first two. But the uncertainty surrounding this reading opens up for us a series of other questions, which we hope the editors will address in the supplementary studies which are to appear. To understand the text fully, we will need to know how they view their editorial task, and in particular what status they believe their reconstructed text to have. Is their intention to reconstruct the text of the collected catholic epistles, or more ambitiously of the individual letters, or do they have some other purpose?

It should here be emphasised that the ECM volumes are at the end of a process which perhaps began with the Kurzgefasste Liste der griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments (ANTF 1) of 1963, and has included the Text und Textwert and Das Neue Testament auf Papyrus series, catalogues of Coptic manuscripts, editions of Syriac manuscripts, concordances, and many other studies, seen and unseen. Editing the Greek New Testament from the number of witnesses now available to us, is an immense undertaking, immense in gathering and presenting the data and immense in making the series of decisions which go into producing a critical text. The scholars of Münster have had the patience not only to set this formidable task in hand, but also to preface it with nearly half a century of preparatory tasks. In doing so, they have raised the discipline of textual criticism to new levels, and have provided a series of tools that has changed the face of New Testament scholarship. We thank and congratulate the editors, and look forward to the rest of the Catholic Epistles - and beyond!