Sunday, September 16, 2012
A friend pointed me to a blog post last Thursday (9/13/12) on the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog announcing the impending release of the Nestle-Aland twenty-eighth edition of the Novum Testamentum Graece (NA28) by the German Bible Society. This new version will represent the state of the art in modern text criticism of the NT. In a video announcing the new release Dr. Holger Strutwolf primarily addresses changes that will be made to the critical apparatus in the new edition that aim at making the presentation simpler and more user friendly. The apparatus in past editions are models in sharing loads of information in a small space. It is also noteworthy that he mentions the aims of the new edition to be both "the reconstruction of the original text and the reconstruction of the textual history of the Greek NT." I will be interested to see the adjustments that have been made here. More importantly, it will be interesting to see what changes have been made in this new edition to the text of the NT itself. The NA28 will serve as the standard academic text used in higher education, and it will likely be the text followed in most future translations of the New Testament into various modern languages, including English.
The new NA28th edition also brings to light some of the significant problems/questions that exist for those who have embraced the modern critical text. Here are a two:
First, all current modern translations based on previous editions of the modern critical text (the NA27) will now be outdated and will need either to be replaced or updated. Though this might be a boon for publishers who can hawk new and improved editions of their modern translations, the results for how the stability and reliability of Scripture is viewed is less certain.
Second, it reminds us that those who rely on the most recent modern critical edition of the NT (ministers, churches, ministries, schools, etc.) are dependent on essentially secular academic organizations (like the German Bible Society) which are bound by no confessional or ecclesiastical responsibilities. This is especially ironic for otherwise conservative and evangelical types who would vociferously denounce liberal theology but who somehow believe that an exception should be made in the area of text criticism or that it is essentially neutral territory and that secular and liberal theologians can be trusted to preserve the standard text of Scripture used by faithful Christians.
One of the great practical advantages of embracing the received text as standardized in the Reformation era is the fact that one is freed from constant updating and tinkering with the NT text. Rest assured this will not be the end. A few years down the road there will also be a NA29.