For online introductions to the materials involved in New Testament Textual Criticism, few sites can compete with Robert Waltz’s Encyclopedia of NewTestament Textual Criticism. It was updated relatively recently, which seems to have had the effect of pushing together the words that used to be at the ends and beginning of many adjacent lines of text. That’s bad. But on the positive side, several valuable new entries have been made since 2016. Let’s take a look at some of the more important ones!
● In a new essay, Archetypes and Autographs, Waltz raises some questions about potential problems involved in the question for the earliest text of a composition.
● Waltz has offered a thoughtful critique of the “Assured Results” of scholarship, cautioning against casually accepting a scholarly consensus. A handy supplement: Waltz’s essay on Some Sample Variants and how critics have attempted their resolution. (Even readers who do not agree with Waltz’s conclusions (I certainly disagree with several of them) may benefit from this display of how some “pat answers” have been created for some common text-critical questions.)
● A new page provides biographies of over 30 individuals who have made contributions of one kind or another to the field of New Testament textual criticism, from Kurt Aland to Francisco Ximénes. (Alas; the full scope of the alphabet could be reached had Nicholas Zegers been mentioned, but so far, no entry for Zegers). The selection of detail might be nitpicked – A.E. Housman receives 27 paragraphs; Bruce Metzger got nine lines – but all the biographies are interesting.
● An informative essay on the history of Books and Bookmaking.
● A review of Canons of Textual Criticism, in which Waltz mentions that the rule That reading found in the majority of early text-types is best is his favorite rule regarding external evidence.
● An entry on Chemistry and Physics and their significance in the study of ancient manuscripts – especially in the identification of various pigments in illustrations, and in the detection of forgeries.
● An essay on methods of Collation.
● A brief consideration of Conjectural Emendations, including one in First Corinthians 6:5 that was adopted in Michael Holmes’ SBL-GNT.
● A collection of profiles of various Critical Editions (including the work of Reuben Swanson).
● A review of important Manuscript Libraries, facilitating the easy realization of which library is meant by which Latin or Latinized name.
● Neumes – musical notations – are described.
● Nomina Sacra and Other Contractions are listed and described.
● Old Testament Textual Criticism is summarized in an entry that covers a variety of sub-topics, ranging from the Septuagint to the Dead Sea Scrolls.
● The entry on palimpsests has been revised, and is likely to be expanded again as more and more researchers gain access to new findings yielded by the use of multi-spectral imaging.
● The entry on Versions of the New Testament has been revised.
● Writing-materials receive plenty of attention in an entry that discusses not only papyrus, parchment, and paper but also inks and pens.
Those are just some of the new and newly expanded materials that await the studious visitor to the Encyclopedia of New Testament Textual Criticism site.
Other works by Robert Waltz include a presentation of the text of Philippians with a concise apparatus and textual commentary, and a compilation of the text of Galatians with a running apparatus for select variant-units. He has also prepared a webpage to address some technical concerns (and how to resolve them) related to the ENTTC site.
A presentation of a 2013 version of the contents of the ENTTC site can be downloaded as a PDF. Features of special note in this document include Appendix II, a Manuscript-Number Conversion Table (especially helpful for those who consult the work of Tischendorf, von Soden, etc.). Its “Appendix IX” lists variant-units which have tended to be magnets of disagreement among compilers; it also features a rudimentary appendix for those variant-units.