Review: New Testament Text and Translation Commentary

First, the nitty:

  • Hardcover: 944 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (October 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 141431034X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414310343
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 2.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Amazon.com Sales Rank: #145,542 in Books (See Bestsellers in Books)

Then the gritty:

This commentary is especially useful for pastors and teachers who know that the members of their audiences use a variety of different English versions. It is also a helpful tool for serious students of the Bible, including laypeople and seminary students. In addition to this passage-by-passage commentary, the reader is introduced to the art of textual criticism, its importance for studying the New Testament, and the challenges translators of English versions face. Presented in a clear, easy to read manner. All major English translations are surveyed & tabulated.

My review:

I am treading on dangerous ground here. I used to be a KJVO (King James Version Only), migrating to the TRO position (Textus Receptus of the KJV 1611) a few years ago. Recently, however, I have become mildly interested in textual criticism, no longer seeing it as an attempt to destroy the word of God, but to restore it to it’s first form. While this area of study holds very little interest for me, I found this book helpful in continuing the discussion.

The author presents in one volume the answer to so many of my questions – which textual variants destroy the doctrine and theology of the Church? Is there one or two that destroy the deity or divinity of Jesus Christ? His flesh? His death, burial and resurrection? Which textual variant established the Catholic Church? Which one denies hell? Or any other of the myriad of doctrines?

In previous discussions with KJVO’s I have asked the question – What are the major theological differences in explored in the textual variants? This book serves the purpose of showing the different variants and what each change could mean. Perhaps change is not really a good word – perhaps variant.

The book deserves a better cover and paper, but it serves it’s purpose. This is a scholarly work and should be treated as such – of course that could be my taste for dusty, black-cloth covered boards over bleached white paper with yellowed edges. Over all, the the quality of the book is above average, with the binding allowing the book to open easily and lay flat – convenient for study.

With each variant – the book only covers the New Testament – Comfort gives the history, and the support, using the KJV/TR as a comparision as well. He uses logic and common sense, as well as references to uses in Church history, of which is a special interest to me. He attributes much, however, to scribal error, not allowing enough room for purposed ‘mistakes.’

He makes note of which translation follows which variant, criticizing none in the process. He takes the time to explain the deviations and the possible theological results.

I have read only little of Dr. Metzger, but in comparing the styles of the men, I find Comfort accessible to those who are just now turning to Textual Criticism, as well as those who have studied it for years. He lays out in simply language his documentation and his understanding, leaving room as well to disagree with him.

He provides several appendices detailing the cause of errors, as well as his thoughts on Aland and Metzger’s textual criticism.

This book is a highly valued tool in understanding Textual Criticism, and while not suitable as a standard commentary, it should be used in study along with any translation of Holy Writ. Instead of staying in myths of dogma’s, pastors and teachers should read for themselves the history of the Green New Testament Text.

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8 Replies to “Review: New Testament Text and Translation Commentary”

  1. An amazingly interesting string of posts, topped off with this one. Not amazing in the sense of, “I didn’t know he was capable of such!” but amazing in the sense of quantity wrapped in quality… the thought provoking kind.

    Thank you!

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