Comfort vs. Metzger (2)

NTTTC.jpgComfort, Philip.

New Testament Text and Translation Commentary

Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2008. Pp. xli + 899. Hardcover. $39.99

Westminster Bookstore | Amazon | Dove Booksellers | CBD



The other day I said how I found Comfort’s New Testament Text and Translation Commentary more satisfying than Bruce Metzger’s A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. because it can be used as a stand-alone reference whereas Metzger’s volume requires you to use the UBS4 in addition to it i order to see the variant readings.  Taking Matthew 17:21 as my example, here’s what I’m talking about:

17.21 omit verse {A}

Since there is no satisfactory reason why the passage, if originally present in Matthew, should have been omitted in a wide variety of witnesses, and since copyists frequently inserted material derived from another Gospel, it appears that most manuscripts have been assimilated to the parallel in Mk 9.29.

A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed., 35.

This of course seems sparse, because it is.  Metzger’s commentary is a companion and the UBS4 is the resource that provides the majority of the information (indeed, all of the textual info).  Here’s the information supplied in the UBS4 apparatus:

4 20 {A} omit verse 21 א* B Θ 33 579 892* l 253 ite, ff1 syrc, s, pal copsa, bopt ethms geo1, A // add verse 21: τοῦτο δὲ τὸ γένος οὐκ ἐκπορεύεται εἰ μὴ ἐν προσευχῇ καὶ νηστείᾳ (see Mk 9.29) (א2 ἐκβάλλεται for ἐκπορεύεται) C D L W Δ f1 f13 28 157 180 (205 1505 l 1074 ἐξέρχεται) 565 597 700 892c 1006 1010 1071 1241 1243 1292 1342 1424 Byz [E F G H O Σ] Lect (l 184) (l 514) ita, aur, b, c, d, f, ff2, g1, 1, n, q, r1 vg (syrp, h) cop(meg), bopt arm ethpp, TH geoB slav Origen Asterius Basil Chrysostom; Hilary Ambrose Jerome Augustine

The Greek New Testament, 4th rev. ed., 65.

Now before I quote Comfort on the same passage I will readily admit that there are more witnesses provided in the UBS4 apparatus, but I think that Comfort’s commentary on its own is more convenient than having to use the other two together.

WH NU omit verse
א* B Θ 0281 33 892* ite syrc,s copsa
Variant/TR add verse
τουτο δε το γενος ουκ εκπορευεται ει μη εν προσευχη και νηστεια
“but this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.”
א2 C D L W f1, 13 Maj *syrh, p) Origen

The external evidence against including this verse is substantial, including א* B (the two earliest manuscripts), 0281 (a seventh-century manuscript discovered at St. Catherine’s Monastery in the late twentieth century), and early witnesses of Old Latin, Coptic, and Syriac. If the verse was originally part of Matthew’s gospel, there is no good reason to explain why it was dropped from so many early and diverse witnesses. Thus, it is far more likely that this added verse was assimilated from Mark 9:29 in its long form, which has the additional words “and fasting.” In fact, the same manusctipts (א2 C D L W f1, 13 Maj) that have the long form of Mark 9:29 have the additional verse here. Thus, a scribe took the full verse of Mark 9:29 as presented in his manuscript and inserted it here; most other manuscripts maintained this insertion in the transmission of the text. (The short form of Mark 9:29 appears in א* B.) The verse is included in KJV and NKJV and excluded in all other modern versions except NASB and HCSB which include the verse in brackets.

New Testament Text and Translation Commentary, 51.

I also appreciate that Comfort lists information about English versions.  For this reason alone I think his commentary makes a great addition to Metzger’s.  Now I’m not saying that Comfort can replace Metzger and a UBS4, but I certainly do believe that I’ll be turning to this volume more often for quick (and sufficient) answers before cracking the other two.  I find Comfort’s explanation more satisfying than Metzger’s and it’s certainly going to offer more help to the non-expert.


7 thoughts on “Comfort vs. Metzger (2)

  1. and it’s certainly going to offer more help the non-expert

    I think that’s the major difference between the two books. I really I think I’m going to have to pick a copy up. Hopefully I’ll get enough Amazon gift certificates for my birthday.

  2. Mike: Yeah, that and the fact that Metzger’s commentary is specifically geared towards telling us why the UBS team picked the readings they did. It’s a shame that WTS doesn’t carry it because you could have gotten it through them with your earnings. I think you’ll enjoy it though, it’s massive!

    BTW, do me a favor and click my WTS links. Thanks.

  3. Kevin: For as boring as I find textual criticism, Metzger’s commentary is actually my favorite commentary to read. I think Comfort will be taking his place very soon.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s