Standardized Hebrew and Greek Texts
While intensive efforts are being made to digitalize Bible manuscripts, practicality, good sense, and convenience necessitate a localized and widely accessible collection of available textual data. This need has led to the production of standardized Hebrew and Greek Bibles that modern scholars and laypeople alike can use. These Bibles contain numerous tools explaining significant and semi-significant textual variants and where they are found. Numerous editions and versions have been created, but we will briefly explore mainstream representatives for the Hebrew Bible and the Greek New Testament. These volumes hold primacy and learned historians may reference them in order to weigh the biblical text as used in Historical Apologetics for Christianity. They also facilitate the production of our modern English translations.
Our illustrative texts for the Hebrew Bible come from the Biblia Hebraica series, now in the process of completing its fifth installment, the Biblia Hebraica Quinta (BHQ). The website detailing the creation of the BHQ is: https://www.academic-bible.com/en/bible-society-and-biblical-studies/current-projects/biblia-hebraica-quinta-bhq/. The Hebrew text is accessible at: https://www.academic-bible.com/en/online-bibles/biblia-hebraica-stuttgartensia-bhs/read-the-bible-text/. The first three installments in this series are known as the Biblia Hebraica Kittel (BHK1-3) and the fourth installment is the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS). The BHQ began publishing its “fascicles” in 2004 and continues to be published into the present. The underlying basis for the text is the Leningrad Codex, representing the Masoretic Text. The production of the BHQ is being developed by editors from thirteen different countries representing a variety of religious persuasions. The German Bible Society overseeing the development of the text describes it thus:
“The Biblia Hebraica Quinta is a manual edition (editio minor), in the Biblia Hebraica tradition, produced for serious students of the Hebrew Bible. It aims to provide them with a clear presentation of the surviving evidence of the text’s transmission that is relevant for translation and exegesis.”
Our representative for the Greek New Testament is the Novum Testamentum Graece, or Nestle Aland edition. The text takes its name from its most influential editors Eberhard Nestle and Kurt Aland and is edited by the Institute for New Testament Textual Research. The NA is currently in its 28th edition and has origins dating to 1898. It is an eclectic text outlining the evidence found in numerous Greek MSS and a variety of VSS. The text is formulated and compiled by an appointed editorial committee and published by the German Bible Society.
We now bring this article series to a close, so let’s end with a call to faith in the biblical text. The Bible is an ancient collection of historical documents that may be reliably utilized today in order to ascertain truths about the subjects contained within its pages. The Bible openly proclaims its own reliability in the doctrines of inspiration and inerrancy. These claims are upheld by cross-examination, even across translations. In sum, the data supporting reliable textual transmission for both Old and New Testaments overwhelmingly outnumbers all other historical works. With this “embarrassment of riches” upholding the Bible’s divinely-inspired text, believers can and should offer a cogent historical apologetic for Christianity. If we can know anything about ancient works, then we can be positive of the Bible’s standing!