BibleWorks 9 - The CNTTS New Testament Apparatus

Written by Michael Hanel on June 30th, 2011

[See more here.]

I feel like I’m kind of in a jam when it comes to talking about the CNTTS New Testament Apparatus because as much as I could tell you about it, your time is better spent viewing the video BibleWorks made showing some of its features, so I will direct you to it first.

The CNTTS (Center for New Testament Textual Studies) is an organization whose goal is to aid New Testament textual criticism by collating New Testament manuscripts and develop aids for that same end (their goals are more thoroughly laid out on their website). Their apparatus is currently only available in BibleWorks and Accordance. What’s important about them for your purposes is that they’ve been hard at work producing a new critical apparatus that is one of the most thorough apparatus to date. Unlike the most commonly known apparatus that is found in the bottom of the page of the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament, an apparatus which is by no means comprehensive (it doesn’t try to be), the CNTTS has attempted to produce an apparatus that *is* comprehensive, that is one that notes every variant that exists in the manuscripts. Obviously since it exists in a digital form, this kind of comprehensive nature is possible, whereas it would simply not be feasible in book form; it would take multiple books — the CNTTS says their database is approaching 20,000 pages in length already!

The implementation of it contains not simply a listing of all variants, but editorial remarks about them as well. Thus variants are marked as significant, insignificant, singular or lacunae. These are all explained in much greater detail in the apparatus than I will share now, but the point is that you’re given not simply variants, but you’re given certain kinds of information about them, which can help in searching for significant variants or certain manuscripts, etc. In other words, it’s not just that the digital nature of the project makes it easier to be comprehensive, it also includes powerful search possibilities that infinitely increase the value of the apparatus.

Compare for instance what Tischendorf’s textual apparatus (on the left) looks like as opposed to the CNTTS apparatus (on the right). They both look a bit unwieldy, but be aware that clicking on symbols will tell you what they mean):

The biggest thing to notice is how much information the CNTTS contains. On the first variant marked in Tischendorf he says that δε is added in manuscript 13, 69, 124 and a Coptic manuscript. While that’s well and good CNTTS notes that this reading is found not just in 13, 69, and 124, but also in 1186, 1220 and f13 (a certain group of manuscripts referred to as family-13). While this in itself may be a relatively minor observation, the point is that because the CNTTS includes more manuscript evidence, you are better able to make textual critical decisions because you have better evidence at your fingertips. Chances are the CNTTS will show variants where Tischendorf won’t because its coverage is that much greater.

So should we just throw away all other textual apparatuses? No, not quite yet anyway. Tischendorf and Nestle-Aland still do have some value because they not only cite Greek manuscript witnesses, but they also note witnesses from other languages and quotations from the early Church Fathers. But when it comes to evidence drawn from Greek New Testament manuscripts, CNTTS is the top dog.

Spruce up your comments with
<a href="" title=""><abbr title=""><acronym title=""><b><blockquote cite=""><cite><code><del datetime=""><em><i><q cite=""><strike><strong>
All comments are moderated before being shown * = required field

Leave a Comment