Ancient Texts and Modern Readers

"Begin at the beginning," was the King's suggestion to Alice. "Go on to the end. Then stop." Kurt and Barbara Aland of the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Münster, Westphalia, Germany, begin their book on the New Testament with Erasmus' editio princeps of 1516, the first printed edition. They then survey the printed editions since, attaining such detail and intricacy that by page 43 even they have misgivings.

"Much of the above discussion has been rather complicated—perhaps too complicated for the beginning reader of this book—because many of the things mentioned and many of the terms used are new and unfamiliar. . . . The reader should not be unduly concerned for the moment with the details and the difficulties—at least a first impression and a general appreciation have been gained. Later, after completing this book and gaining familiarity with the Greek New Testament, the reader may return to these pages and reread them."

Those familiar with the preface to the first edition may remember that the Alands told them, "The purpose of this book is to introduce readers (including beginners with no previous experience) step by step to the difficulties of the material, if they will read it straight through from the beginning." Intelligent beginners will proceed to get a copy of Bruce Manning Metzger's The Text of the New Testament:...

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