Manuscripts of the Greek Bible: An Introduction to Palaeography

Bruce M. Metzger, "Manuscripts of the Greek Bible: An Introduction to Palaeography"
Oxford University Press | 1981 | ISBN: 0195029240, 0195365321 | 160 pages | File type: PDF | 52,1 mb

After a thorough survey of the fundamentals of Greek palaeograpy, the author discusses many of the distinctive features of biblical manuscripts, such as musical neumes, lectionaries, glosses, commentaries and illuminations.

Summary: Enlightening introduction to how ancient texts reached us
Rating: 4

MANSCRIPTS OF THE GREEK BIBLE: An Introduction to Greek Paleography is a enlightening overview of how the Bible has come down to us written by noted New Testament scholar Bruce Metzger. It is, however, a work whose information goes beyond the New Testament, and the subtitle might as well be interchanged with the title, as with this work one can understand how many secular works in Greek were preserved to the modern day.

Metzger begins with a presentation of the Greek alphabet and its various styles. He gives a necessary explanation of Greek sounds, as a few later manuscript writers erroneously wrote some words based on their modern pronunciation instead of their ancient spelling. The idiosyncracies of the manuscript tradition, with its abundance of abbreviations, artistic colouring, glosses, and punctuation are spelled out in depth. I found Metzger's book most useful as I finally learned how publishers of the New Testament came to agreement on the division into chapters and verses. Of course, nearly all of this information is useful not only for people interested in the New Testament, but also for those who wonder how monks preserved other Greek-language works like, say, the plays of Aristophanes or the dialogues of Plato.

The core of Metzger's work is only 48 of the book's 140 pages. The remainder is a series of useful appendecies concerning dating of manuscripts, how to collate a manuscript, and various statistics. However, most entertaining is a series of 45 plates of manuscript pages with detailed analysis. The utter variety of version gives the reader an appreciation of scholars like Nestle and Aland who strived to create the best standard text.

I wasn't too happy with the book's folio format which, though it allows some of the plates to be reproduced closer to their original size, makes the book unwieldy and inconsistent with most of OUP's output. Nonetheless, MANUSCRIPTS OF THE GREEK BIBLE is quite a enjoyable introduction to the work of paleographym, and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in New Testament textual issues as well as budding classicists.


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