The Society of Biblical Literature, in keeping with its mission to foster biblical scholarship, is pleased to sponsor, in association with Logos Bible Software, a new, critically edited edition of the Greek New Testament. The SBL Greek New Testament (SBLGNT), which is freely available in electronic form, will be useful to students, teachers, translators, and scholars in a wide variety of settings and contexts.
Why a New Edition?
The many benefits and features of the widely used "standard text" of the Greek New Testament (i.e., the Nestle-Aland and United Bible Societies editions) are well known and widely appreciated, but it does not meet the needs of all users. For example, many scholars and students, especially those living in under-resourced regions, do not have easy access to an up-to-date critically edited Greek New Testament in electronic form. Thus, teachers who wish to include portions of the Greek New Testament in class assignments or use the Greek New Testament in their own scholarly research and publications often must input the Greek text letter by letter, which is both tedious and subject to error. Students writing exegetical papers face similar obstacles and challenges.
To address this need, the SBLGNT is available in electronic form so that any scholar or student may freely download all or portions of the text for personal study and research as well as for limited use in scholarly publications (see the End-User License Agreement). In addition, the text has been encoded in a Unicode-compliant font, SBL Greek, so that users can exchange their work easily without having to purchase a proprietary Greek font. In short, a contemporary, critically edited text of the Greek New Testament is now widely and freely available.
The Text-Critical Task Is Not Finished
The new text may have other benefits as well. The standard text is viewed by some of those who use it as a "final" text to be passively accepted rather than a "working" text subject to verification and improvement. For example, the exegetical habits of some scholars and students seem to reflect a belief that all the important text-critical work has already been completed, that one can more or less equate the standard Greek New Testament with the "original" text. With a mindset such as this, it is not surprising that entire commentaries have been written that simply take the standard text as printed and scarcely discuss textual matters.
In circumstances such as these, the existence of an alternative critically edited text—the SBLGNT differs from the standard text in more than 540 variation units—will help to remind readers of the Greek New Testament that the text-critical task is not finished. Moreover, by reminding readers of the continuing need to pay attention to the variant readings preserved in the textual tradition, it may also serve to draw attention to a fuller understanding of the goal of New Testament textual criticism: both indentifying the earliest text and also studying all the variant readings for the light they shed on how particular individuals and faith communities adopted, used, and sometimes altered the texts that they read, studied, and transmitted.
We trust that users of the SBLGNT will find that it meets its stated aims as well as their expectations of it. Obviously, numerous individuals deserve our thanks for their efforts to bring this idea to fruition, but the SBL and Logos would like to express special gratitude to two individuals for their careful, painstaking, and thoughtful work: Michael W. Holmes, who edited the SBLGNT and wrote the introduction to it; and Rick Brannan of Logos Bible Software, who developed the technical infrastructure for the project. Without the scholarship and expertise of Mike and Rick, we would not have been able to advance this significant dimension of critical New Testament research and teaching.