Morgenthaler' book on NT statistics

From: Mark House (
Date: Wed Jan 19 2000 - 12:49:59 EST

Ruben Gomez inquired on Tue, 18 Jan 2000 18:25--

>I would very much appreciate some informed opinions on R. Morgenthalers's
>Statistik des neutestamentlichen Wortschatzes (Zurich/Frankfurt am M.:

Here are the comments of Anthony Kenny, from _A Stylometric Study of the New
Testament_, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), pp. 5,6. It's a bit dated, but
still helpful in evaluating the pros and cons of Morgenthaler:

     "For many years, the starting-point for all those who wished to acquire
statistical information about the New Testament has been Robert Morgenthaler
’s Statistik des neutestamentlichen Wortschatzes (Zurich, 1958)....
     "In recent years, however, a number of tools of New Testament
scholarship have appeared which render Morgenthaler’s work partially
obsolete. Morgenthaler’s vocabulary list is based, for the most part, on the
concordance of Moulton and Geden; the underlying New Testament text is the
twenty-first edition of Nestle. In 1979 there appeared the twenty-sixth
edition of Nestle, which is expected to become the textus receptus of the
future. Morgenthaler in 1982 brought out a supplement to the third
impression of his work, pointing out that the variants between the two
editions of Nestle were statistically rarely of importance, and listing the
alterations to his Stasistik which would be necessary to bring it into line
with the new text. But more important than the appearance of the
twenty-sixth edition of Nestle was the publication of the series of
fascicules of K. Aland’s Vollständige Konkordanz zum griechischen Neuen
Testament, between 1975 and 1983.
     "Much of the information in the massive Vollständige Konkordanz can be
obtained, in a comparatively handy form, in the Computer-Konkordanz zam
Novum Testamentum Graece published by the Münster Institute for the Study of
the Text of the New Testament in conjunction with the computer centre of the
same university. This first appeared, in partial form, in 1977.... It
provides, moreover, the database for the second volume of the Vollständige
Konkordanz: a volume whose title is Spezialübersichten and whose principal
content is a ‘Wortstatistik’ which bids fair to replace Morgenthaler, and
which was published in 1978.
    "The ‘Wortstatistik’ of the Vollständige Konkordanz is more accurate
than Morgenthaler, without being in every way an improvement upon it. It is
more accurate, because it is a computer count of a machine-readable text,
whereas Morgenthaler seems to have reached his figures by a hand-count of
the entries in the Moulton-Geden concordance, or, in the case of some of the
more frequent words, of the entire New Testament text itself. It is also
based on the more recent twenty-sixth edition of Nestle. Unlike
Morgenthaler, the ‘Wortstatistik’ includes in its database some controverted
portions of the text, such as the story of the adulteress in the Gospel of
John, and both the longer and shorter endings of St Mark.
     "Against these improvements must be set a number of disadvantages in
the new ‘Wortstatistik’. In the first place, though more lavishly and
expensively produced, it is much less easy to consult because of its
straggling layout. Secondly, unlike Morgenthaler it does not provide the
total number of words in each book, which is essential to any serious
statistical study of vocabulary. Thirdly, it includes as part of its
database a number of verses which appear only in the apparatus of the
twenty-sixth edition of Nestle; this makes it unreliable as a wordlist of
that particular text. The Computer-Konkordanz, though described on its title
page as ‘Konkordanz zum Novum Testamentum Graece von Nestle-Aland, 26
Auflage’, likewise includes references to these verses which are not part of
the N26 text; but there, at least, they are marked with an asterisk.
Professor F. Neirynck of Leuven, in an article ‘La Nouvelle Concordance du
Nouveau Testament’ in Ephemerides Thcologicae Lovanienses, has provided a
useful concordance to the dubious verses which are unjustifiably included in
the ‘Worstatistik’. By subtracting the figures in Neirynck’s table from
those in the ‘Worstatistik’ one does, at last, arrive at a reliable
statistical wordlist of the most recent standard edition of the New

Mark House

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