Thanks to the folks over at Evangelical Textual Criticism I was inspired today to exercise my manuscript reading skills. The book I most enjoy turning to for examples of clear manuscripts is Bruce Metzger’s oversized book, Manuscripts of the New Testament: An Introduction to Greek Paleography.
Metzger’s fine work begins with an introduction to Greek paleography and includes chapters on the Greek alphabet, pronunciation, book making, transcribing manuscripts, dating of manuscripts, and others. The chapter on transcribing manuscripts provides useful charts which list the different letter shapes that appear during different time periods. Moreover, there are extra charts addressing the different letter combinations used in miniscule manuscripts. For anyone that can read Greek but has no experience with reading miniscule manuscripts, I challenge you to read one without a chart.
Perhaps more importantly, the work contains 45 plates from the most important manuscripts. The manuscripts covered range from the earliest NT papyri scraps such as p52 to the important uncials such as the Codex Sinaiticus to fifteenth century miniscule manuscripts. The plates are clear, large, and excellent for anyone seeking to hone their papyrology and paleography skills. My only complaint is that the plates are black and white, but they still look great. Additionally, each plate is accompanied with pertinent information about each manuscript such as: current location of the manuscript, size, folios, date, and other interesting features.
So whether you are looking to learn to read NT manuscripts, hone your skills, or simply like to look at the most famous NT manuscripts, Manuscripts of the New Testament is worth owning.