Review: The UBS5 Greek NT


Publisher: Hendrickson, 2014.

Buy it at Amazon or straight from the publisher.

With thanks to Hendrickson for the review copy.

A sample chapter of the UBS5 can be seen here in PDF format.

I’ve been a fan of the Greek New Testament (GNT) ever since my wife bought me the NET-NA27 diglot back in 2008. Since that time I have amassed several GNTs, including several containing the Nestle-Aland (NA) text. I have never actually used a UBS version until now.

For the reader who is not well-versed in GNTs, there is no difference in the Greek base text of the UBS5 and NA28 editions, though they do differ a little bit when it comes to punctuation and paragraphing.

I read through the GNT and the LXX almost every day (currently I am working through Genesis, Psalms, Revelation, and the Synopsis Quattuor Evangeliorum). So I having been using the UBS5 quite a bit over the past few weeks and there are a few features in the UBS5 that make me favor it over my NA28 edition. But first, I will recap a few key changes that update the UBS5 from the UBS4:

  • Readings of papyri 117-127 are now included in the critical apparatus.
  • The discourse analysis tool has been revised.
  • The apparatus of textual decisions from modern Bible translations has been expanded.
  • The text and critical apparatus of the Catholic/General Epistles is from the Editio Critica Maior.

All great updates, especially the inclusion of the completed ECM text of the Catholic Epistles. I have the two-volume edition of the ECM for the Catholic Epistles, but it is great to have the shrunken down version of it in a portable GNT. Only the ECM text for the Catholic Epistles has been included in the UBS5 because that is all that has been completed for the ECM project so far (with the rest of the NT is projected to be completed by 2030).

Compared to the Greek text of the UBS4/NA27, the UBS5/NA28 edition has different variants in the following places: James 1:20; 2:3, 4, 15; 4:10; 1 Peter 1:6, 16 (x2); 2:5; 4:16; 5:1, 9, 10; 2 Peter 2:6, 11, 15, 18, 20; 3:6, 10, 16 (x2), 18; 1 John 1:7; 3:7; 5:10, 18; 2 John 5, 12; 3 John 4; and Jude 5, 18 (x2).

One aspect of the UBS5 edition that I prefer over the NA28 edition is the critical apparatus. I find the UBS apparatus to be much more valuable than the NA apparatus. Of course, “valuable” is a subjective judgment and others might rightly say that the NA apparatus is more valuable to them. But for me, I really like how the critical apparatus in the UBS gives you fewer variants but with greater depth, while the NA provides you with a greater scope of variants but less depth. There is nothing wrong with either approach; it just depends on what is more important to you. Personally, I much prefer the UBS approach as it is aimed more at translators, while the NA is aimed more for textual critics. And while I fancy myself an armchair NT textual critic, in my daily readings of the GNT I find the UBS apparatus more useful and valuable.

I also greatly appreciate how the UBS apparatus provides you with more information in regards to which early Christian writers support each variant reading, as well as the apparatus that shows what variant reading other modern English translations opted to take (including some important German, French, and Spanish versions).

Additionally, I really appreciate the dictionary in the UBS5 edition. None of my NA27 or NA28 editions have a dictionary in them, and while I have a good degree of proficiency with Hellenistic Greek, there are of course many instances where I cannot figure out what a word means (I obviously don’t know every Greek word and all of their forms!). Having a small dictionary containing all of the vocabulary of the GNT is a very useful feature!

The only pro I can see for my NA28 edition is that I like the feel and look of its blue cover better. But I ultimately don’t really care that much about a book’s cover and the black flexisoft version of the UBS5 I have will no doubt stand up better to use than a hardcover. Note: the UBS5 with dictionary also comes in a hardcover version (and a hardcover version without the dictionary).

All in all, the UBS5 is excellent and contains some great updates. I now read my UBS5 daily instead of my NA28. What else can I say apart from that!

3 responses

  1. The variants list should include 1 Peter 2:25 for a total of 34 changes: πλανώμενοι, ἀλλὰ (NA27) → πλανώμενοι, ἀλλ᾽ (NA28)

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