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Barbara Aland, Kurt Aland, Gerd Mink, and Klaus Wachtel, eds. (for the Institute for New Testament Textual Research). Novum Testamentum Graecum Editio Critica Maior. Vol. IV: Catholic Letters. Installment 1: James. Part 1: Text; Part 2: Supplementary Material. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1997. ISBN: 3-438-05600-3. Pp. xii+19*+102; vi+39. US $16.99.

1. It was always intended that the Editio Critica Maior (hereafter ECM) would be more than just a thesaurus of variants from which a critical edition could be built at a later stage. The Introduction makes it absolutely crystal clear in its opening words that we have here presented to us by the Münster Institut a new text "established afresh" and that it is "established on the basis of all the evidence presented" (p. 11*). In other words, our new Tischendorf is to give us a newly constructed text, unlike the International Greek New Testament Project, which was criticized by the Münster team (on more than one occasion) for not itself having constructed a new text of Luke. But nowhere are we informed how and on what principles the ECM text was established! Considering how much in the Introduction to NA27 is concerned with the history of the editing of that text, its goals and methods, and considering the great play made in K. Aland and B. Aland's The Text of the New Testament on the principles of the new Nestle, our new Editio Critica is launched with no explanation of the ways in which its text was arrived at!

2. Edited as it is by a different team from that behind UBS4 = NA27, with now only Barbara Aland common to both committees, an excitingly different new text of James was anticipated. But it is immediately obvious that what we have in the much vaunted new text is a damp squib--merely a very modest revision of the UBS text! It rather looks to me as if the editors took the text in UBS/NA as their working text and only gently or reluctantly adapted it. In James there are only two differences in text from NA27! These are at James 1:22 and at 2:3. The jettisoned reading at 2:3 was rated 'B' in UBS4 (having been upgraded from 'C' in the earlier editions), but that increased confidence by UBS4 (=NA27) has now been exposed in the ECM as unjustified and is yet one more nail in the coffin of the discredited and arbitrarily applied ratings system characteristic of the whole apparatus in UBS. A fuller discussion of this rating system may be seen in my review of Metzger's Commentary in Theologische Revue 93 (1997) cols. 20-23. Apart from those two alterations to the text, we are told somewhat dismissively but tellingly that "there was no need to alter the text" (scil. of NA27) (p. 11*)!

3. One minor but important change is the abandonment of square brackets (used to indicate uncertain readings in NA27 and UBS4) around words in the text in ECM. The use of brackets was an unhelpful practice confusingly overdone in the Nestle-Aland text. Now James 4:12 and 5:14 appear without brackets. At 5:14 the second occurrence of the pronoun was bracketed in NA27; the pronoun is read by 01 02 048 and the majority of manuscripts, but the word is absent in 03 025. ECM at location 30 prints the pronoun without brackets; the omission is relegated to the apparatus as variant e, and there is no bold dot to signify that the variant is an acceptable alternative. Thus the dilemma experienced by the editors of NA27, who resolved their quandary by resorting to their usual 'solution' of adding brackets, is not a dilemma recognised or accepted by the current editorial team behind ECM.

4. The changes may be slight, but the fact that any change has been made to a text that at one time was being promoted as an immutable "Standard Text" is highly significant. ECM also signals 11 places in the base text where an alternative reading in the apparatus merits "equal value" (see p. 11*). These readings are listed in the following table. The stranglehold on the text by 01 03 (Sinaiticus and Vaticanus) would be loosened just a little if these alternatives were to be adopted, but I am not sure if the editors really intend those readings deemed "equal" in value ever to displace the readings in the base text. There is no signal (a bullet point black dot) at 1:22 to indicate that the now jettisoned reading of NA27 is a variant of "equal value" (although that is provided at 2:3)! We have already noted the same at 5:14 in respect of the omission of the pronoun.

A List of the Variants of "Equal Merit" in ECM
VerseVariant Numbers in ECMReading of TextAlternative ReadingPrimary Support for Alternative Reading
1:2012-14ouk ergazetaiou katergazetai04* Byz
2:344-48h kaqou ekeiekei h kaqou02
2:198-14eij estin o qeojeij qeoj estin03
3:418-20anemwn sklhrwnsklhrwn anemwn02 plus 85 minuscules--the Byzantine text is divided here
3:88-14oudeij damasai dunatai anqrwpwnoudeij dunatai damasai anqrwpwn01 02
3:156-14auth h sofia anwqen katerxomenhh sofia auth anwqen katerxomenh04
4:126oomitP74 P100 03
4:1415omitgarP74 P100 01c 02
5:1026-32en tw onomati kurioutw onomati kuriou02
5:1814-16ueton edwkenedwken ueton02

5. A fuller review of the whole edition will appear in the April 1998 fascicule of Novum Testamentum.

© TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism, 1998.

J. K. Elliott
University of Leeds