What NA28 May Mean For the Future of Reasoned Eclecticism

DBWallaceNT manuscript guru Dan Wallace recently wrote at his blog on the newest edition of the critical text of the Greek New Testament, “Nestle-Aland 28: The New Standard in Critical Texts of the Greek New Testament.” There was a lot of interest there, but a few things stood out.

As INTF [Ed. – Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung in Münster] worked through the Catholic letters, they came to see much greater value of the Byzantine manuscripts than they had previously. In Wachtel’s presentation, he noted that the NA27 displayed “prejudice against the Byzantine tradition” while the NA28 recognized the “reliability of the mainstream tradition.” This is a welcome change in perspective, made possible because of exhaustive collations.

The changes are so great that the apparatus symbols will change as well, from a gothic “M” to “Byz.” Wallace calls it a “sea change” in Münster for how the text is approached.

Secondly, Wallace says “a step back” has been taken in the editorial process.

The previous edition was edited by three Protestants (Kurt Aland, Barbara Aland, Bruce Metzger), one Roman Catholic (Carlo Martini), and one Greek Orthodox scholar (Ioannes Karavidopoulos). The latest edition lists as its editors only “the Institute for New Testament Textual Research… under the direction of Holger Strutwolf.” … the final decisions about the text are solely in the hands of Münster.

No ecclesiastical information was listed, and it sounds like there is a fairly firm bottleneck in the final decision making process. Textual scholars would be able to say if this is typical or a departure from the norm, but Wallace noted it as a step back.

So then, on come the questions.

  1. Is this a change in reaffirming the role of the Byzantine, Majority text? (See Wallace’s article for some redefinition of what “Majority/Majorities Text” will mean going forward.) Is this a step toward bringing Received Text and Critical Text proponents together?
  2. Why was there a bias against the M/Byz, and what evidence changed that bias in the mind of the editors?
  3. With the narrowing of editorial input, is this one more area where we will come to miss Bruce Metzger’s influence (the other being holding B. Ehrman at bay)?
  4. Will the additional support for Jude 5 to be read as ἅπαξ πάντα ὅτι Ἰησοῦς reinforce a Christ-centered, redemptive-historical hermeneutic? (I’m not holding my breath, though I am pleased with the NA28’s finding!)
  5. Wallace notes, “the apparatus functions now as ‘a gateway to the sources’ instead of the more restricted purpose of the previous edition ‘as a repository of variants’.” First – thank you! Second – why did it take so long?!?!?!

Any textual scholars who can shed some light?

Will you be purchasing the NA28 immediately?

Read Dan Wallace’s article here.

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