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NA27 vs. UBS4

NA27 vs. UBS4 (Greek New Testaments)

This article addresses the question:

  • Is the Logos title Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament 27th ed. based on the UBS text or the NA27 text?

One continual source of confusion in Greek texts has to do with the text that is collectively known as the "NA27/UBS4" Greek New Testament. For all intents and purposes, these are the same texts, as the prefaces to each edition plainly state. They were produced by the same people, with the same scholarship, even though (in print) they are intended for different purposes.

However, the NA27 and UBS4 texts are not identical. There are slight differences between the two. These occur in a few areas:

  • punctuation
  • casing
  • spelling (including accents)
  • formatting

In addition, the printed editions of each differ greatly from one another. Each has its own critical apparatus, among other things.

Which Text?

Which texts are the Logos NA27 and UBS4 based on?

Back in the days of Logos Library System (1995-1999), there was one text: na26.lsf / na26.lix. There was also an interlinear version. This text had its genesis in the old CDWord product. Though it was known, by file name, internal identifier and title, as the NA26 text, the underlying text was, in actuality, the UBS3 Greek New Testament. When we moved to the Libronix DLS, and on to NA27/UBS4, the naming inconsistency stuck.

With the advent of the German Bible Society's Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible, however, a version of the NA27 Greek New Testament with proper casing, spelling, accenting and formatting became available. So Logos is pleased to offer electronic editions of both the UBS4 and the NA27, with paragraphing, casing, formatting, etc. of each respective print edition. These editions are included in the Original Languages Library and all configurations of Scholar's Library (including Silver and Gold).

What about other morphologically tagged texts?

Several morphological texts are available in Logos Bible Software Series X. But which Greek text do they use? Some are obvious (by the title of the book), others are not:

Specific Differences Between UBS4 and NA27

As mentioned above, the differences are in four primary areas: punctuation, casing, spelling, and formatting. Please note that we are speaking of just the NT Bible text at this point, not front/back matter, apparatuses, footnotes, margin notes, etc.

One thing to keep in mind is that the autographs (the original Greek manuscripts as written by the NT writers) had no punctuation, no casing, no spaces, and were not formatted at all -- they were typically just a sheer block of letters on a page, or columns on a page. All of these things are later additions.

Punctuation

There are areas where the UBS4 text and the NA27 text are punctuated differently. Where one has a full-stop, the other may have a semi-colon. Or perhaps one has a comma and the other does not.

Casing

One result in differences of punctuation is, logically, differences in casing. Paragraphs typically start with upper-case letters, as do quotations or quoted text. As there are small disputes on paragraph breaks, casing is affected.

Spelling

There are minor variations in spelling in some places. For example, in 1Co 6:3, the UBS4 text has "mhtige" while the NA27 text has "mh tige". The UBS4 text treats it as a crasis but NA27 treats it as separate words. See also Acts 17:7 or 1 Cor 9:1.

Paragraph Formatting

The text is formatted differently as well. For instance, the UBS4 text (in print) has pericope heads in English, and even cross-references after the heads at points. The NA27 has none of this. Another difference is the formatting of quotations of the Old Testament: The UBS4 has these in bold, and the NA27 has these in italic.

What about the NA26 and UBS3?

The NA27/UBS4 is only the latest "critical" edition of the Greek text. Prior to the release of this text, the critical text was the NA26/UBS3 text. Thus, the old Logos Library System had the NA26 text (NA26.lsf/NA26.lix). The NA26 is to the UBS3 as the NA27 is to the UBS4 text.

So what changed between NA26 and 27 or between UBS 3 and 4? Not the main Greek text. The body of NA26 is the same as that of NA27. Likewise for UBS3 and UBS4. The difference between NA26 and NA27 is in the apparatus (see below). The difference between UBS3 and UBS4 is similar. That is, the changes are all in the apparatus, not the main body of Greek text. The apparatus changes in both editions are significant.

How does Metzger's "Textual Commentary" fit in?

Metzger's Textual Commentary is a fabulous book, highly recommended for anyone working with the Greek. The Textual Commentary is, essentially, an expansion of the UBS4 textual apparatus. Metzger (who was on the committee that produced NA27/UBS4) provides further information on the background of many places in the Greek NT where these variants occur.

Other Differences (between print versions)

Apparatus(es)

As mentioned above, the NA27 and UBS4 texts are designed to meet different needs. The primary difference between these two in print is not the main body text. Instead, each volume presents its own radically different critical apparatus.

What is an apparatus?

This is a valid question. A critical apparatus is used to record textual variants among manuscripts. There are literally thousands of Greek manuscripts, papyri, and fragments (not to mention ostraca) that provide textual evidence to NT textual critics. The apparatus is a shorthand method of providing information on which manuscripts support the accepted reading (i.e., the main body text) and which provide an alternative.

So, what is the difference?

The UBS4 Greek New Testament, in print, was designed to be used by translators. It provides information on major variants that may affect one's translation. Thus, the UBS4 apparatus is smaller, but where it does provide information on variants, it traditionally supplies a lot of information. The UBS4 has, in actuality, two different apparatuses -- the textual (or critical) apparatus and the discourse segmentation (i.e., punctuation) apparatus. In addition, a cross-reference system is also meshed in the apparatuses.

The NA27 Novum Testamentum Graece, on the other hand, is geared more toward scholars and textual critics who often have different concerns than do translators. Thus, the NA27 apparatus has information on many more variants, but it is presented in a more compact notation and often to less of a degree. It also treats variants that may not have translational significance (e.g., variants in word order or orthography). The NA27 also has a huge amount of information in the margins of the text (cross references, Eusebian canon references for the Gospels, and more).

Regarding the Tischendorf Apparatus and how it compares -- well, the Tischendorf apparatus is massive in comparison to both of these. It is fairly much exhaustive, at least for the material Tischendorf had at hand. That is why Tischendorf is valuable. However, at the same time, none of the manuscripts recovered in the past 140 years are treated at all in Tischendorf's magnum opus. The serious, thorough text critic will want to use NA27 and supplement it with Tischendorf when more exhaustive information is required.

Other Differences

Other differences are primarily physical. That is, the UBS4 in print is typically in a maroon ("ox blood") leather or faux-leather cover, while the NA27 is typically black. The sizes are different -- NA27 typically has wider margins than the UBS4. In the U.S., when buying a print Greek NT, one typically has to look hard to find an NA27, while finding UBS4 texts is pretty easy.

Last Updated: 8/16/2011