ΙΙ

The Patriarchal edition of 1904, even though it was based on a limited number of manuscripts and lacked the possibility at that time of being assisted by today’s advances in technology, was the first serious effort in the Orthodox Church to produce a uniform text of the Greek New Testament which has been reproduced for many decades, and is still being reproduced not only by Apostoliki Diakonia but also by other Christian organisations in Greece such as Zoe and Soter, as well as by many other publishing houses.  There are, however, certain minor differences between these editions, and especially between those of the continuous text and the older editions of the liturgical pericopae. The recent edition of the lectionary by the Apostoliki Diakonia,[4] carried out in collaboration with the Greek Bible Society, is a striking example of absolute agreement and uniformity between the continuous Patriarchal text and the liturgical text of New Testament readings.

[4] Ἐλογάδιον. Ἀποστολικὰ καὶ Εὐαγγελικὰ ἀναγνώσµατα τῶν Κυριακῶν καὶ Ἑορτῶν, Κείµενο-Μετάφραση, Athens 2003.

Whatever shortcomings have been observed in the Greek New Testament editions of the past, they cannot be a factor that inhibits something better occurring in the future. Basileios Antoniades himself pointed out at the end of the Preface to the Patriarchal Edition of 1904 that, just as happens in all human endeavours, this edition has certain imperfections, especially as a first attempt.  He adds, “But the word of God is not bound by human imperfections …‘for it is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe’”.

Which are the positive elements allowing us to be optimistic that a critical edition of the Greek ecclesiastical text of the New Testament may become reality in the near future?

1. The thought about the necessity of a well-studied edition of the liturgical text matured among the international academic community long ago. This desire has been expressed by both foreign and Greek textual critics. At this point, it should be taken into consideration that a critical edition of the text of the Gospel of John was prepared and edited by the “Centre for Editing of Religious Texts” (now called “The Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing”) at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, with participation by the United Bible Societies, the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Münster, Germany, and by some Orthodox scholars including the writer of this article. The edition has been created for academic purposes and as a gesture of appreciation toward the textual tradition and toward today’s praxis in the Orthodox Church. This edition, The Gospel according to John in the Byzantine Tradition (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2007), is also available in electronic form.

2. The critical editions of the New Testament during the 18th and 19th centuries constituted a serious evolution in the field of New Testament textual criticism, as did the well-known editions of Nestle-Aland and The Greek New Testament of the United Bible Societies (UBS) in the 20th century. In the United Bible Societies’ 4th edition of The Greek New Testament, the contribution of Byzantine lectionaries which were given close attention by a research group from the University of Thessaloniki is considerable. Regarding the promotion of the ecclesiastical text, I should mention two editions of the New Testament from the USA: the edition of Z. C.Hodges – A. L. Farstad, The Greek New Testament According to the Majority Text (1982/1985) as well as the foundation of a society for the promotion of the Byzantine majority text referred to as the “Majority Text Society” in Dallas; and the edition of M. Robinson – W. Pierpoint, The New Testament in the Original Greek According to the Byzantine / Majority Text form (Atlanta, 1991). Both of these editions show that there is a revival of the interest in the Byzantine text, mainly in the USA, in late 20th century.

Home of Ellopos Blog