The scholarly work of Blass can be characterized by precision, rigorous analysis, and an incredible knowledge of both primary and secondary sources. When many grammarians were merely working from critical texts, Blass determined to go back to the manuscripts themselves. In this way, he is not only able to refer to New Testament texts for evidence for grammatical phenomena, but also the differences in the manuscript tradition. This painstaking focus on the smallest details has given Blass’ grammatical, philological, and textual efforts an enduring quality that has lasted to this day and set him apart from the other grammarians of his day.
Building on his critical editions of the Gospels and Acts, Blass presents his theory of the history background and text of Luke’s two volume Gospel and Acts in Philology of the Gospels. He deals with issues of the Gospel’s literary character, the location and date of writing and the condition of its text. The variety of issues examined and the quality of the discussion caused Alfred Plummer to write, “The interesting work on the Philology of the Gospels, by F. Blass, is chiefly occupied with the Gospel of S. Luke, and should be read side by side with the sections of the Introduction to this volume which treat of the same topics” in the preface to his International Critical Commentary on Luke.
In the same breath with Moulton and Robertson the name of Friedrich Blass deserves commemoration . . . One of the innovations of Blass was the citation of textual variants according to the manuscripts rather than according to printed editions, as Winer and Buttmann had done. Blass made liberal use of the LXX and frequently cited the apostolic fathers.
—Frederick W. Danker, Multipurpose tools for Bible Study
[Blass] represents a transition towards a new era. The translation [of his Grammar] by H. St. John Thackeray has been of good service in the English-speaking world.
—A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research
First published in 1898, [Philology of the Gospels] remains a useful resource for textual criticism of the gospels . . . Blass' analysis of gospels texts does not shy from particulars of conflicts among early manuscripts of the gospels, nor from striking sweeping summary statements such as this: ‘We clearly see that there have been very ancient readers who did not shrink from willful alterations of the sacred text, if it did not suit their dogmatic convictions, or if it might give support to opposite tenets.’ But rather than casting doubt on the authority of Scripture, Blass' analysis represents a redoubled effort to hear each author's voice more purely.
—Nathan Bierma, Calvin College
Friedrich Wilhelm Blass was a German Protestant classical scholar who lived from 1843 to 1907. During the course of his life, he published extensively on textual criticism of classical authors, such as Demosthenes, Isocrates, Dinarchus, Aeschines, and many others. In the New Testament he published critical editions of the Gospels and Acts, which eventually became the basis of his work Philology of the Gospels. In Indo-European Linguistics and Greek grammar his major contributions included his monograph, Pronunciation of Ancient Greek, his important Grammar of New Testament Greek, and his revision and significant enlargement of Raphael Kuhner’s classical grammar.