A Commentary on the Manuscripts and Text of the New Testament

Comfort’s A Commentary on the Manuscripts and Text of the New Testament is “an up-to-date commentary on all the significant manuscripts and textual variants of the New Testament.” It feels and looks very similar to Bruce Metzger’s A Textual Commentary on the New Testament. One key difference between these two texts is that Metzger only comments on the variants which appear in the UBS version of the Greek New Testament but Comfort doesn’t limit himself to commenting only on those variants.

What also makes this commentary stand out is that he takes into account the Nomina Sacra in the manuscripts. In many manuscripts scribes present the divine names “with specially calligraphy to disntinguish these names as being sacred.” (8)

In his first introductory chapter he addresses the Nomina Sacra, like “Lord,” “Father,” “Son,” and Spirit. Sometimes these names are written in full. At other times they are contracted with an overbar. He discusses the “why” of the Nomina Sacra, and the variants between manuscripts.

The second introductory chapter is an annotated list of manuscripts of the New Testament. Each entry includes the designation of the manuscript, original publication and current location.

The text itself works provides a passage then various things:

  1. What comfort takes to be the original wording of the verse
  2. Variant readings
  3. Manuscript information

For instance His commentary on Mark 1:11 looks like this:

You are my beloved Son.

“Son” is written as a nomen sacrum (sacred name) in one early MS (Codex Sinaiticus) as well as L. God hereby indicated that Jesus was the divine Son of God, not just a son of God.

His commentary on Acts 5:32 looks like this:

The Holy Spirit whom God has given.

The divine “Spirit” is written as a nomen sacrum (sacred name) in four early MSS (P45, Codex Sinaiticus, A, D) as well as P74 33.

Overall this will be a very helpful book to those engaged in textual criticism (most others won’t find this very useful). However, as someone who is more engaged in systematic theology (exegesis is in fact a part of that!) having comments on the nomen sacra in particular passage is actually very helpful. Also very helpful is that this book looks an awful lot like your Greek NT. I highly recommend it for those who have are engaged in biblical/theological scholarship.

You can purchase this book through Kregel Academic or through Amazon.

Note: I received this book courtesy of Kregel Academic in exchange for an impartial review.

Published by cwoznicki

Chris Woznicki is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He works as the regional training associate for the Los Angeles region of Young Life.

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