Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament by Bruce M. Metzger
This volume provides an insightful commentary on the Greek text of the United Bible Societies' 4th edition Greek New Testament. In producing a copy of the Greek New Testament many variant readings have to be analyzed and decided upon. Metzger has provided in this commentary an answer as to why one reading was chosen over another. In doing so he seeks to highlight the problem(s) involved with each set of alternative readings and also provides an explanation of the Bible Committee's evaluation and resolution of those problems.
A helpful introduction is provided wherein the history and basic rules of textual criticism are canvassed in order to show how the committee made their decisions. Metzger provides a brief introduction to the art and science of textual criticism. He provides an "outline of criteria" which was used by the committee. External evidence evaluates such things as the date of the textual witnesses, the geographical distribution of the manuscripts, the relationship of text families, and the understanding that witnesses should be weighed not counted. Under the internal evidence he highlights that the more difficult and shorter reading is to be preferred and that there needs to be a consideration of the context of each author and what they probably would have written.
The commentary itself follows a verse-by-verse canonical approach and provides a comment on the many textual variants found in the UBS4. About 30% (225 pages) of the commentary is on the book of Acts given the difficulty of the two differing text types in early circulation (Western and Alexandrian). Helpful discussion is also provided on such controversial passages as the ending of Mark's Gospel and 1 John 5:7.
The art and science of textual criticism is an important task for both scholars and preachers in seeking to establish the text of the New Testament. This tool will help aid that task immensely. However it should not be used as a substitute for doing the hard work first. This tool should be used as a check in confirming one's own work. Nevertheless this tool provides the "voice" of many scholars in how they decided one text over another - a gift for the student of the Greek New Testament.