In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Textual Criticism of the New Testament

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Series
  • Reference Works and Bibliographies
  • Critical Editions of the Greek New Testament
  • Critical Editions of Synoptic Texts
  • Apparatus Critici and Thesauri of Readings
  • Text-Critical Methodology
  • Theology and Textual Variation
  • Facsimiles, Full Collations, and Photographs of Manuscripts
  • History of Printed Editions
  • Patristic Citations
  • Codicology and Paleography
  • Scribal Activity

Biblical Studies Textual Criticism of the New Testament
James Keith Elliott
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 May 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 May 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0124


Textual criticism is concerned with documents written by hand. It is both a science and an art. As a science, it is involved in the discovery and reading of manuscripts, cataloguing their contents, and, for literary works, collating the readings in them against other copies of the text. In New Testament studies, textual critics are mainly concerned with Greek manuscripts and traditionally with trying to establish, and publish, the earliest recoverable writings of the New Testament. The art of the discipline is in classifying the differing text-types into which manuscripts are said to fall, in evaluating the textual variation in manuscripts, and in establishing a critical text, usually furnished with an apparatus criticus, typically as footnotes displaying a selection of alternative readings. More recently, many text critics have also been concerned to understand the significance and literary or theological importance of distinctive readings. Translations of the scriptures into Latin, Coptic, and Syriac, as well as other versions in early Christian languages such as Gothic, Georgian, and Armenian, also occupy text critics. The biblical citations and allusions found in the writings of the Church Fathers also belong to New Testament textual criticism. Paleography, codicology, and papyrology are studies that interest many in the field. Although primarily concerned with the manuscript tradition or the establishing of new critical editions, textual critics inevitably concern themselves also with the history of the printed editions of the New Testament in Greek.

Introductory Works

This section is divided into books written in English and those in other languages. It is important to note that some of the major introductions to the topic have been revised and updated multiple times.

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