Friday, July 4, 2008

Accordance, BibleWorks, Logos: Greek New Testament Texts

Rick Brannan from Logos recently posted a very helpful article on the differences between the Nestle-Aland27 (NA27) and the United Bible Society 4th Ed. (UBS4) Greek New Testament texts. As he points out, the Greek texts are essentially the same, but there are differences in punctuation, casing, spelling, and formatting. With his post as an impetus, I pulled together a quick spreadsheet showing how NA27 and UBS4 are implemented in Accordance, BibleWorks, and Logos.
Some observations:

  • Morphological coding is independent of NA27 or UBS4, so Rick doesn't mention it, but it is a significant factor in one's use of the texts. Each coding scheme is slightly different, and so one has to be somewhat familiar with the design of each. For the NA27/UBS4 texts, there are schemes by Gramcord, Logos, Friberg, Swanson, and a custom one by BibleWorks. (Sections 44a and 44b of the BibleWorks7 Help file provide excellent coding scheme tables and explanations of the BW7 and Friberg coding philosophies.)
  • Since BW7 does not provide paragraph formatting, one of the main differences between and NA27 and UBS4 is obscured. The BNM/T version is based on the NA27 punctuation and the GNM/T on the UBS4, so one can detect those differences.
  • In addition to NA27/UBS4, there are quite a few other Greek NT texts available. I have included them in my table. Note that the Stephanus text of 1550 was the basis for the Beza text of 1598 that was the text used for the KJV. Scrivener in 1894 used the Beza text and modified it to more closely match what must have been the underlying Greek text used by the KJV translators. The Stephanus and Scrivener texts are both representatives of what is called the Textus Receptus. The Robinson-Pierpont text, updated by Robinson in 2005, presents the so-called Majority Text which reflects the Greek text which is supported by the majority of ancient manuscripts. (There is a separate and different Majority Text presented by Hodges-Farstaad, a text available only in Logos.) Critical editions of eclectic texts (which also describes the NA27 and UBS4) are presented by Tischendorf and by Westcott and Hort.
  • In my table, users of each of the Bible software programs may most appreciate the abbreviations which I highlight in bold. Especially for BW7 and Logos, typing the abbreviations in the command line or Go box will call up that particular text.
  • The basic BW7 package comes with all the texts listed (except for the von Soden; cf. below). For Accordance and Logos, the texts you get depend on the package you buy, but you can add on the modules individually.
  • Note that BW7 handles the morphological coding of the texts somewhat differently than Accordance and Logos. In BW7, the text and its morphological coding are two separate but closely linked files, hence two separate texts are indicated. In Accordance and Logos, the text and its coding are embedded together.
  • Getting a critical apparatus for the Greek NT text is, well, critical, and the most useful one is the NA27 apparatus. It will cost you, however, and is only available as the Mac Studienbibel for Accordance or the SESB package for Logos. (There is a full version and a cheaper Logos version of SESB focused for English readers.)
  • There are many other ways to deal with text critical issues, however. Metzger's Commentary on the Greek NT is available for each. Tischendorf's apparatus is also available for each as well. The NET Bible also provides extensive text critical notes.
  • The CNTTS NT Critical Apparatus is the attempt to provide the most comprehensive view of the Greek manuscript texts. Though not entirely complete yet, it is available for Accordance (and also for BW7?).
  • Nothing beats looking directly at the texts of individual manuscripts. Accordance has modules for Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, Bezae, and Washington. BW7 has user-created databases for Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, Bezae, and Washington hosted on the BW blog.
  • Another great resource for textual criticism that includes Greek texts of the 69 earliest Greek papyrii is Comfort and Barrett's The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts. It is available in Logos (without photographs, however) and BW7.
  • BW7 users also can use the free custom module, a Textual Commentary on the Gospels by Wieland Willker compiled by Pasquale Amicarelli and hosted on the BW blog. In addition, note that Clint Yale and Pasquale have teamed up to provide von Soden's 1911 Die Schriften des Neuen Testaments hosted on the BW blog. (Note that it is a 170Mb ZIP file.)
If I've missed anything, please pass along corrections to me.
So, here is the XLS file if you have or can read Excel files, and here is a PDF version or you can click on the graphic at the top of this blog post.

UPDATE: 2008.07.10: Phil Gons from Logos just posted about textual apparatuses available in Logos. He also points to this very helpful article, "Critical Apparatuses: What and Why."

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