"Tischendorf's effort has been and still is widely regarded as one of the most complete and comprehensive critical editions of the Greek New Testament ever assembled. Textual critics today still find Tischendorf's insights and information valuable."
You get three works for the price of one!
- Novum Testamentum Graece (Tischendorf's eighth edition Greek NT with accents/diacritics)
- Novum Testamentum Graece: Apparatus Criticus (Tischendorf's Critical Apparatus)
- Novum Testamentum Graece: Prolegomena
Novum Testamentum Graece and Novum Testamentum Graece: Apparatus Criticus, edited by George C. Yale.
Constantine Tischendorf, famous for his discovery of Codex Sinaiticus (one of the oldest, most complete Greek manuscripts in existence) and textual critic par excellence of the 19th century, published his massive 3-volume magnum opus Novum Testamentum Graece, Editio Octavo Maior from 1869-1872.
Tischendorf's effort has been and still is widely regarded as one of the most complete and comprehensive critical editions of the Greek New Testament ever assembled. Textual critics today still find Tischendorf's insights and information valuable. 'Subsequently other critical editions appeared, including those prepared by Constantin von Tischendorf, whose eighth edition (1869-72) remains a monumental thesaurus of variant readings, ... ' (Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, p. 10*, emphasis added)
As Tischendorf was more knowledgeable of these manuscripts than most (he is responsible for the transcription and publication of many of the manuscripts he cites) he was specially able to consolidate the various textual differences with a scope unable to be matched by any other single human of his day. Tischendorf cites all major readings of all major variants, provides the evidence of virtually all of the known uncials, many of the miniscule readings, as well as data from ancient versions and the Fathers. In other words, if the evidence for or against a given reading was available in 1869, Tischendorf most likely cites it.
Tischendorf's apparatus becomes even more usable as a Logos Bible Software 4 compatible resource. Apparatuses, while they provide incredibly valuable information, are infamous for their cryptic use of abbreviations and shorthand to cram detailed, technical information in as small a space as possible.
'What's an apparatus, and who would want one?'
- People with interest in Bible translations. Most modern Bible translations are based on the modern critical text(s)—BHS (Hebrew) & NA/UBS (Greek). The NA/UBS text is an 'eclectic' manuscript. That is, it isn't a simple reproduction of a particularly good early manuscript that has been found. Rather, it is the product of work done to evaluate available manuscripts to construct what is thought to be the best reflection of the original canon/autographs. In other words, textual critics have sifted through manuscripts (and manuscript fragments, citations within the writings of the fathers, lectionaries, and all sorts of very early translations [Syriac, Latin, etc.]) to obtain a better picture of which text was most likely the earliest and original. The Greek text itself is the product of that scholarship; the apparatus shows how and why the product ended up like it did. For any given verse, there are most likely alternate forms of words or even different words in a number of different manuscripts. The textual apparatus is the key that unlocks these differences. In the past, apparatuses have been relegated to the use of trained scholars and textual critics due to their hugely abbreviated form and highly technical content. This is changing. Publishing the apparatus electronically allows for the demystification of a number of symbols and such so that one need not go through the process of learning symbols, learning about given manuscripts, etc. So, this applies to folk who have interest in Bible translations because the apparatus can help one see why different translations (i.e., NKJV and NASB) may render things differently. The NKJV tends to prefer Byzantine readings, while the NASB uses the NA/UBS.
- People with basic Greek training who have always wondered what all the stuff on the bottom of the printed page is all about. Many students who have only been able to study Greek for one year or even one semester have a basic understanding of Greek, but have little understanding of the idea of variant readings, and how to use an apparatus. Such students also have little motivation to expend the effort to learn the intracacies of how to use the apparatus. Here is one quick example that conveys how one may use the apparatus information: 2 Thess. 2:9 in NA27 (and Tischendorf) has 'h parousia'. Tischendorf notes that uncial 'F' omits the 'h'. Important? Maybe, maybe not. But the key is, prior to having an apparatus (or having an excuse to figure out how to use one), one never would have known that a manuscript omits that word. One can then examine 'F' to see when it is dated, and even search to see where else 'F' offers variants or support for readings within First Thessalonians or other Pauline Epistles, or even the whole New Testament.
- Translators and folks who translate verses as part of their process of exegesis. According to Gordon Fee, one of the major steps in the exegesis of a New Testament passage is to Establish the Text (Gordon Fee, New Testament Exegesis, Third Edition, p. 15). Fee continues: "The first concern of the interpreter of any ancient text is the textual one. What words did the author use, and in what order? The science that seeks to recover the original form of hand-produced documents is called textual criticism, which has become a very technical and complex field of study. With a small amount of concerted effort, however, student exegetes can learn enough so as (1) to feel at home with textual discussions (e.g., in articles and commentaries) and (2) to feel somewhat comfortable in making their own textual decisions. All in all, the provision of a textual apparatus as comprehensive as that of Tischendorf provides the student of the Bible with another tool to examine the text of the New Testament in greater detail while enabling the student to practice a more complete exegesis of the New Testament text."
Note: Volume 3 of Tischendorf's original apparatus defines all of the abbreviations used in the apparatus and provides a great deal of other information (in Latin). While other recent electronic editions of Tischendorf's "complete apparatus" leave out Volume 3 (which really provides the key to the entire apparatus), the Logos Bible Software edition includes all volumes of the work.