By Ellopos Blog

Abstract. This article presents the Patriarchal edition of the New Testament of 1904, based upon the text of 116 manuscripts of lectionaries used in the Greek-speaking churches through the centuries. The article describes the non-use or very limited use of lectionaries in Western critical editions of the New Testament till the end of the 19th century – compared with this the Patriarchal edition has to be considered as an important scholarly achievement. The second part of the article deals with more recent attempts to edit the so called Byzantine text and postulates the principles that should guide a new edition of the Patriarchal text on the basis of new achievements in textual criticism.

Scholars involved with issues of criticism and publication of the New Testament text, especially in the Orthodox world, know that in year 2004 one hundred years have passed since the Orthodox Church, or more specifically, the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople published the first continuous, comprehensive Greek text of the New Testament in the Orthodox world. This text was published as The New Testament, Approved by the Great Church of Christ[1], by the Patriarchal printing house of Constantinople in 1904,containing a preface dated February 22, 1904.

In this short article we shall see, in the first section, the historic conditions under which this edition came on to the scene; and in the second section, the future prospects for a critical edition of the ecclesiastical text of the New Testament.


I will start by describing the broader climate prevailing in Europe from the 16th century to the early 20th century in relation to the Greek editions of the New Testament and, principally, to the kinds of manuscripts the New Testament editors took under consideration. The first editor of a Greek New Testament, Erasmus, in 1516 based his edition upon very few (six or seven) manuscripts of continuous text. It is not known how many and upon which manuscripts was based the Complutensian Polyglot (Complutensis) of the Spanish Cardinal Ximenes de Cisneros, which circulated in 1552.  However, at least one out of its six volumes (i.e. the volume which contained the Greek and the Latin texts of the New Testament) was ready in 1514.  It should be noted at this point that among the members of the academic committee under the Cardinal’s supervision was a Greek from Crete, Demetrius Doukas.

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