A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament

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A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament, full title: A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament. For the Use of Biblical Students. It is a monumental and most important book of Frederick Henry Ambrose Scrivener (1813-1891), biblical scholar, and textual critic. It is one of the most important book in history of New Testament Textual Criticism. In this book Scrivener listed over 3000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament inspite of manuscripts of early versions. It was used for the further work by Gregory and von Soden. The book was reprinted in 2005 by Elibron Classics.


First three editions

The First Edition had 506 pages. The Second Edition (1874) have been expanded into 626 pages, the Third into 751 pages, and the Fourth into 874 pages. Two first editions were issued in one volume, in the Third Edition material was divided into two volumes, with an increase of chapters in each. The First volume was edited in 1883, the Second in 1887. The Forth Edition was issued in two volumes too.

The Third Edition was prepared under great disadvantage. Scrivener after adding 125 pages to his book had an attack of paralysis in result his work was not wholly conducted upon the same high level as his previous publications. The framework of the Second Edition was originally adopted. The new additional material was only added to the almost unchanged material.

Fourth Edition

Fourth edition was prepared and edited posthumously by Edward Miller (1825-1901). Most of the accounts of ancient versions have been rewritten by distinguished scholars, who were leaders in their several departments. The early part of Volume I has been enriched from the admirable book on “Greek and Latin Palaeography”, by Edward Maunde Thompson. Many corrections suggested by eminent scholars have been introduced in different places all through the book.

It contains 15 plates with the texts of 40 manuscripts in facsimile (1st edition had 12 plates with 36 manuscripts).

The book was edited by George Bell & Sons.

Contents of the 4th edition

Volume I

  • Chapter I, pages 1–20 – preliminary considerations
  • Chapter II, pages 21–55 – General character of the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament (materials for writing, style of writings, abbreviations).
  • Chapter III, pages 56–89 – Divisions of the text, and other particulars (Ammoniam Sections, Eusebian Canons, Euthalian chapters, subscriptions, marginal markings, Synaxarion, Menologion)
  • Chapter IV, pages 90–130 – The larger uncial manuscripts of the Greek Testament (Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, Ephraemi and Bezae)
  • Chapter V, pages 131-168 – Uncial manuscripts of the Gospels
  • Chapter VI, pages 169-188 – Uncial manuscripts of the Acts and Catholic epistles, of St. Paul’s epistles, and of the Apocalypse
  • Chapter VII, pages 189-240 – Cursive manuscripts of the Gospels. Part I. 1-449
  • Chapter VIII, pages 241-271 – Cursive manuscripts of the Gospels. Part II. 450-774
  • Chapter IX, pages 272-283 – Cursive manuscripts of the Gospels. Part III. 775-1321
  • Chapter X, pages 284-306 – Cursive manuscripts of the Acts and Catholic epistles, 1-420
  • Chapter XI, pages 307-319 – Cursive manuscripts of St. Paul’s epistles, 1-491
  • Chapter XII, pages 320-326 – Cursive manuscripts of the Apocalypse, 1-184
  • Chapter XIII, pages 327-367 – Evangelistaries, or Manuscript Service-Books of the Gospels, 1-963
  • Chapter XIV, pages 368-376 – Lectionaries containing the Apostolos or Praxapostolos, 1-288

Volume II

  • Chapter I, pages 1–5 – Ancient Versions
  • Chapter II, pages 6–40 – Syriac Versions (Peshitta, Curetonian, Harklean, Palestinian)
  • Chapter III, pages 41–90 – Latin Versions (Old Latin, Vulgate)
  • Chapter IV, pages 91–144 – Egyptian or Coptic Versions (Bohairic, Sahidic, Fayyumic, Akhmimim)
  • Chapter V, pages 145-166 – The Other Versions of the New Testament (Gothic, Armenian, Georgian, Ethiopian, Arabic)
  • Chapter VI, pages 167-174 – Quotations from the Fathers
  • Chapter VII, pages 175-243 – Early Printed Editions, Critical Editions (Complutensian Polyglote, Novum Instrumentum omne, Editio Regia)
  • Chapter VIII, pages 244-256 – Textual Canons
  • Chapter IX, pages 257-273 – History of the Text
  • Chapter X, pages 274-311 – Recent Views of Comparative Criticism
  • Chapter XI, pages 312-320 – Character of the Ddialect of the Greek Testament
  • Chapter XII, pages 321-413 – Application of Principles to Select Passages

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