In his introduction to New Testament textual criticism, Eberhard Nestle stated a desideratum, later repeated by Bruce Metzger, for a collection, arranged according to time and locality, of all passages in which the church fathers appeal to New Testament manuscript evidence. Nestle began this project with a list of references; Metzger continued the work by examining the explicit references to variants by Origen and Jerome and expanding Nestle’s list. This dissertation picks up where Metzger left off, expanding and evaluating the list. The purpose is to contribute to patristics and New Testament textual criticism in two ways: first, by providing a helpful catalogue of patristic texts that refer to variant readings; and second, by analyzing the collected data with a focus on the text-critical criteria used by the fathers.
The dissertation begins by considering the social and historical backdrop of the early church, especially textual scholarship in antiquity and its patristic application to the Old Testament. The explicit references to variants are then examined, first by individual father (organized by Greek and Latin), then by variant (for the variants discussed by multiple authors). This information is then summarized in terms of literary genres in which the references occur and the criteria used to evaluate the variants. After a general assessment of New Testament textual scholarship by the early church (including recensional and scribal activity), patristic textual criticism is compared to modern practice to assess to what extent the church fathers engaged in textual criticism and what insights we can gain from them today.
The second volume contains the catalogue of explicit references to variants (each entry includes the variants and their textual evidence in modern critical editions, the Greek or Latin excerpt and English translation, and a brief discussion of the context). Passages that discuss textual problems but are not explicit references to variants are collected separately. In an appendix, the lists by Nestle and Metzger are compared alongside the list of texts in the catalogue, followed by another appendix on Bede, and a third appendix containing a brief biography and bibliography for each father cited in the catalogue.