Academic journal article Journal of Biblical Literature

New Testament Greek Manuscripts: Acts of the Apostles

Academic journal article Journal of Biblical Literature

New Testament Greek Manuscripts: Acts of the Apostles

Article excerpt

Bell & Howell Information and Learning: Greek text omitted

New Testament Greek Manuscripts: Acts of the Apostles, ed. Reuben J. Swanson. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press; Pasadena, CA: William Carey International University Press, 1995. Pp. xxii + 304. $119.95.

As the subtitle indicates, this volume consists mainly of a horizontally arranged line-by-line compilation of Greek variant readings of Acts collated against the highly regarded fourth-century uncial manuscript Vaticanus. As with previous volumes in this series, Swanson's theoretical, methodological, and formatting principles distinguish this apparatus from those most frequently used by textual critics, notably UBS^sup 4^ and NA^sup 27^. Significantly, though, his choice of Codex B as exemplar does not bias the apparatus in favor of the Alexandrian text, as one might presume, but, rather, imbues it with an innate relevance. Swanson can rightly boast that his apparatus is constructed around a core document that was actually read and used by the early church.

Expressing his thoroughgoing commitment to objectivity, the editor purports to offer a complete reporting of every variant from those sources he has used, including subtle orthographic distinctions and minor variations in nomina sacra. While the number of those witnesses is necessarily limited in number and confines itself exclusively to Greek language sources, it remains an impressive and useful sampling, consisting of ten papyri (the third century P^sub 45^ being the oldest), fifteen of the most important uncials, thirty-five well-chosen minuscules, and citations of the text of Acts in the works of Clement of Alexandria. Lacking though, as Swanson acknowledges, are the attestations of versional witnesses, lectionaries, and, except for Clement, patristic sources.

The horizontal method of reporting is, as Bruce Metzger writes in the Foreword to the volume, "user friendly." At a glance the reader can recognize deviations in the transmitted tradition that will inform the labors of textual critics, historical investigators, and exegetes. …

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