Sunday, April 5, 2009

Comparing Greek New Testament Texts using Accordance8, BibleWorks8, Logos3, and Manuscript Comparator

A blog post by Matthew Burgess, responding to a debate between Bart Ehrman and James White, notes that the reliability of the Greek New Testament is at least 95% even between the two most extreme text traditions (Textus Receptus vs. Westcott & Hort). That led me to this posting where I compare the tools available for comparing Greek NT textual traditions using Accordance8, BibleWorks8, Logos3, and the online Manuscript Comparator. Actually, it ended up being a rather long post with lots of graphics, so to read the full review, you can READ THIS PAGE on my Scroll and Screen site. Here, though, is my conclusion UPDATED (2009.04.07) in light of the comments:

Each program has its strengths and special capabilities. Manuscript Comparator does the best job of displaying differences, but it lacks the NA27 and is intended as an online resource. Accordance does a good job of display, allows for a variety of comparison options, and creates useful lists of differences. BibleWorks has the most versatility and is the fastest Windows application. Logos has the most texts available for comparison, provides numerical and graphical comparisons, and results export easily.


  • If you don't have any of the Bible software packages, Manuscript Comparator will achieve most of the the results you need.
  • If you do own one of the programs, my best advice is to familiarize yourself with the text comparison implementation in that package.
  • If you are looking to buy a Bible software program, the text comparison tools will probably not be a deciding factor, but the descriptions I provide here should make you aware of what is possible with each.
I am most familiar with BibleWorks, so if I have missed something significant in one of the other programs or in BW8, please let me know.

BTW, Logos provides a percentage difference between two versions. I ran a comparison of Scrivener's Textus Receptus (1894) against Westcott & Hort for the whole NT, and I came up with a 6.6% variance. (It took well over an hour to get that result.) So, a 93.4% reliable Greek NT? (And remember that this includes some spelling variations, insignificant transpositions, etc.)

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