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The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  757 ratings  ·  49 reviews
This thoroughly revised edition of Bruce M. Metzger's classic work is the most up-to-date manual available for the textual criticism of the New Testament. The Text of the New Testament, Fourth Edition, has been invigorated by the addition of Bart D. Ehrman--author of numerous best-selling books on the New Testament--as a coauthor. This revision brings the discussion of su ...more
Paperback, Fourth Edition, 366 pages
Published April 28th 2005 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1964)
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4.19  · 
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 ·  757 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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Nov 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an extremely readable and engaging book. It is perfect for the knowledgeable lay person who wants to gain insight into the transmission history of the New Testament. .
Fred Kohn
Someone recommended that I read this book, and I'm glad I did. Portions of the book seemed encyclopedic, and while those portions were not fun to read, I do think they make the book a good one for the more casual student of the N.T. to have in his/her library.
Mike Hankins
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
In studying the Bible, many simply take at face value the idea that the Engligh version (or variations thereof) are the exact, word-for-word recreations of what the original writers wrote. However, this is not entirely the case. The New Testament is an ancient middle-eastern document, and presents us with the same difficulties we face with all other ancient documents. Because the original texts do not survive, we have to base our understanding on many numerous copies, and while many copies of th ...more
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read an older version of this book written by Bruce Metzger, before Bart Ehrman got involved. The main criticism I have is the way the book is organized. Although it is organized, it's not organized as I would have done. The organization doesn't seem as intuitive as it could've been. That criticism aside, this is an extremely helpful and informative book, arguably the seminal work on the topic. The reader will learn a great deal about New Testament manuscripts and the process by which scholars ...more
Joel Wentz
Feb 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
I had no idea this book existed until a prof recommended it, and now I think it's an essential part of any serious bible student's shelf. Metzger and Ehrmann helpfully summarize every aspect of the preservation of ancient texts, even going into detail into the process of how papyrus and parchment were made and written on in ancient societies. This work is in many ways eye-opening in it's mind-numbingly detailed trace of every important manuscript that has been used in biblical translation. Readi ...more
Douglas Fyfe
Nov 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cracking book. Everything you've ever wanted to know about NT text transmission but were afraid to ask.
Lots of detail where required, but you can skip that for the great tales of how we've come to where we are now.
I read a fourth updated edition is out now - it would be good to read what's happened in the 20 years since in this (surprisingly) agile and evolving field.
Sean McGowan
Aug 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biblical-studies
Good standard book on New Testament Textual Criticism. However, if one is looking for an introduction, I would go with Dr. James White's King James Only Controversy, or David Alan Black's New Testament Textual Criticism: A Concise Guide; then I would read this book.
May 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: bible
An academic look at how the New Testament came to be what it is. This book addresses the issues of textual variance, scribal emendation (editing/correction), and basically how Bible Translators do their work.
An interesting read for people who wonder about these things.
John Nash
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is definitely valuable to people interested in textual criticism. The challenges faced by exegetes and translators is not one people give a lot of thought to. The idea that the New Testament is still under dispute and that several competing schools contend for the right to call their text the most accurate is hard for some people to believe. But ignoring the difficulties in this field doesn't do anyone any good. Definitely worth a read and the secondary resources recommended at the end ...more
B. Hawk
Jul 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biblical-studies
It's difficult to fault the work of a scholar like Bruce Metzger, and in this study (updated and revised by him and Ehrman) the quality of his scholarship shows. The book is most commendable for two main approaches presented: a historical overview of the text of the NT; and an introduction to students wishing to study biblical textual criticism. In both, this book is a laudable introduction.

Throughout the book are woven the two foci, as part one emphasizes "Materials for New Testament Textual Cr
Aug 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is really a sort of handbook of textual criticism, with a handbook's peculiar mix of instructive and referential material. In the first section Metzger writes about the method of productions of manuscripts, the common features of manuscripts, and so on, then he surveys the most important manuscripts (this is where the book leans more toward reference) and the early versions (that is, translations) . The next part discusses the most important printed editions and the textual-critical ideas b ...more
Douglas Wilson
May 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: biblical-studies
Good and bad, depending.
James Davisson
Oddly engrossing, full of little nuggets and tidbits and side stories about the history of the documents in question. Not all of the Greek is translated, but enough of it is so that a non-Greek speaker like me can enjoy and follow the text.
Adam Balshan
Sep 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: bible, literary
3.5 stars [Literary]
Writing: 3.25; Use: 4.25; Truth: 3.5.
Bert Jan
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I finally read this classic (4th ed), in preparation of my class on TC this fall.
Jesse Rupp
Mar 25, 2019 rated it liked it
A strange balance of informative and sloppy.
Kevin Pilot
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If you have an interest in Greek text, specifically the translation and transmission, this is a great book. I know I was a little shocked the most Biblical scholars exclude Mark 16:9-20, probably correctly, along with a variety of other verses that are in the King James. This book helps explain the methodology in determining which verses belong, which might have had a alternative translation, and which don't. All of this is premised on at least a basic understanding of Greek, but the methods use ...more
May 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Introduction to biblical textual criticism in history and methods. It is hard to imagine the level of detail that textual critics had to go thru before the days of advance computers and massive databases. It is equally hard to imagine the issues with the transmission of information before the days of the printing press or copiers. Then again, we are facing similar type of issues today with the wide dissemination of information with the Internet - how can we recover the source material from the m ...more
Sep 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: the intellectually curious
Recommended to Arthur by: no one
This is the one book that anyone interested in NT textual criticism must read. Years ago, I happened to glance at the 3rd edition while browsing in a bookstore, and I quickly became fascinated by this academic discipline, to which I'd previously given little or no thought. Now, I can hardly think of a visit to London complete unless I can stop by the British Library and gaze upon the important codices they keep on display. The 4th edition is attractive and includes welcome updates by Bart Ehrman ...more
Mary Brodd
Dec 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
exhaustive description of all the ways that different versions of manuscripts can exist, and the way that researchers can figure out where an individual MS fits in the grand scheme of things. Even more makes me wonder how people can claim that there is JUST ONE ONLY ONE INERRANT WORD OF GOD, when this idea flies in the face of the facts. (I have read also an earlier edition of this book, one that wasn't co-authored by Bart Erhman, and while I do like this edition I think it's been, um, "dumbed d ...more
Jul 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is a great introduction to the text of the New Testament, as well as the many textual problems associated with reconstructing as original of a reading as possible for texts within the New Testament. The book is accessible for people who do not know a lot about textual crticism or the New Testament, but a knowledge of Greek would help make it even more accessible. The book is a bit dry in the chapter that describes all of the manuscripts of the New Testament found, but other than that i ...more
Colin Smith
Mar 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read this edition a number of times, and it is my favorite study of Textual Criticism. I haven't pursued the latest revision by Bart Ehrman, largely because I know Ehrman's views on the textual history of the New Testament, and they are not in step with his late mentor's. Indeed, Ehrman is no longer actively involved in this area of New Testament scholarship, so I'm not sure his contribution would truly be an improvement on Metzger's outstanding work.
Don Bryant
Oct 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
I don't rate this high because I think Ehrman is right. He's just a good read and raises the issues that need to be faced. His responses are so stereotypical that one wonders how much he really struggled with them. There is an absence of nuance that indicates not a careful reconstruction but wholesale abandonment. Ben Witherington at his blog carefully deals with Ehrman's stuff. A good and thorough response.
May 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bibliology
Great resource for understanding the text of the NT, written by one of the foremost authorities on the text of the NT. A must read for those who are of the mind that the Textus Receptus is of divine origin, as they will be flooded with a wealth of information that will challenge that view. In addition to this 4th edition, a great friend (Brent) found a first edition of this book (1964) and passed it on to me...Thanks a million Brent!
Jan 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the New Testament
Recommended to Cliff by: John Hall
Shelves: done-read
This book is a fantastic introduction to the textual tradition of the new testament. Anyone who thinks they know anything about nesw testament scripture MUST know the stuff that is in this book. The recently deceased Metzger was the authority on New Testament textualism for the latter part of the twentieth century, so the book is definitely worthwhile.
Chris Comis
Very convincing scholarship overall. Unfortunately, B. Ehrman has abandoned his biblical moorings since co-writing this book. But Metzger does a wonderful job of arguing for the Majority Text tradition. Not personally persuaded yet, but still good food for thought.
Mark Jr.
Nov 07, 2011 rated it liked it
I actually read the older edition that didn't have Ehrman as a contributor. Metzger was one of those fairminded, straightforward liberals who didn't seem to feel much pressure to annoy conservatives. His work on textual criticism was genuinely helpful and clear.
Jan 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I suppose this is why it's the primary text in its field. Good introduction with a nice mix of history, analysis, and pure information. I really should buy this to use as a reference tool at some point. Quite readable too.
Thomas Kinsfather
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
A thorough look into New Testament textual criticism. Metzger addresses textual criticism theory and practice. He also surveys a wide variety of exact MSS and notes their characteristics.

Not recommended for the novice of the layman. This book is technical.
Wyatt Houtz
May 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. Great academic introduction and a great annoyance to KJV-only folk who may see it as "good or bad, depending"
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Bruce Manning Metzger (February 9, 1914 – February 13, 2007) was an American biblical scholar and textual critic who was a longtime professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and Bible editor who served on the board of the American Bible Society and United Bible Societies. He was a scholar of Greek, New Testament, and New Testament textual criticism, and wrote prolifically on these subjects. Metz ...more