Re: Third century manuscript

From: Don Wilkins (
Date: Thu Apr 15 1999 - 13:14:24 EDT

At 12:52 AM -0700 4/14/99, clayton stirling bartholomew wrote:
>C. Navarro,
>Another source I overlooked is Ruben Swanson's Gospels and Acts (5
>vols), the best tool by far for looking at early witnesses to the GNT.
>Does not cover Epistles or Revelation. A set of all five vols are
>currently on sale for a about $65.
>Any of the rest of you b-greek people who think you may ever get
>intrigued by the text critical issues in the GNT ought to jump on these
>now while they are available. These are a whole lot better than reading
>the apparatus in NA27. Trust me!

Not that it needs to be said, but Clayton is right on the money. Swanson's
work is the best thing since Metzger's textual commentary, and far more
comprehensive. I only wish that there were some way for him to complete the
NT in a hurry, but God bless 'm for what he is doing. One thing that
probably should be added regarding the original question is that *copies*
of ancient mss are no better--and certainly a lot more laborius to
use--than a good compilation like N/A or (far better) Swanson. What one
really needs in order to go beyond these limits are *facsimiles* of mss.
Using the N/A etc. a textual critic is in roughly the same situation as the
reader of a translation in that s/he has no choice but to accept the
decisions of the editor(s) as to the correctness of the ms readings. Of
course the expert opinion is usually correct, but even an inexperienced
student of Greek could learn and practice enough with a facsimile to derive
benefit from it and perhaps even dispute a particular reading now and then.
The bad news, of course, is that it is evidently very difficult and/or
expensive to obtain facsimiles of important mss. I've never made such a
purchase myself (only one of a late non-biblical ms), but I know that a few
of the people on the list either have or work at a library which has. I
have a friend who has photocopies of important papyri scraps and mss, and
photocopies are better than text copies, but even photocopies are
significantly inferior to facsimiles. There are some interesting ms photos
on the net, but again, the quality cannot compare to that of a facsimile,
and (as far as I am aware) there are no complete mss available.

Don Wilkins

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