. How is the SBLGNT Apparatus Different from Other Apparatuses?

How is the SBLGNT Apparatus Different from Other Apparatuses?

Textual apparatuses can be excellent tools. They do an incredible job of densely packing a large amount of information into a small portion of the printed page. They contain information that is incredibly valuable to the specialist. But the compact nature, abbreviations and symbols take time and effort to master.
The apparatus for the SBLGNT is different. Using a minimum amount of symbols and abbreviations, it gathers some of the most well known textual critics of the past and present (Tregelles, Westcott and Hort, Robinson and Pierpont, those responsible for the Greek text behind the NIV, and those responsible for the NA27/UBS4 text) and records where they agree and where they take different readings. In this way, it is very similar to the apparatus that the Nestle text had for its first twelve editions (1898–1927).
The editions represented in the SBLGNT apparatus form a rough spectrum from Robinson-Pierpont as a representative of the Byzantine text, to Tregelles which, while pre-papyri, was one of the first to break from the Byzantine, to Westcott and Hort (including the great uncials but little papyri) to the NIV Greek text and the NA text which have the benefit of available papyri. The sorts of differences that end up in the SBLGNT apparatus are:

  • Likely to be represented in an English translation. The KJV, of course, uses a more Byzantine Greek source. The NIV and NA do not. Several other NT translations (ESV, NLT, NET, etc.) actually have their own underlying Greek text with some degree of difference from the NA27, most of the divergences in those would also be accounted for with readings given in the SBLGNT. This range of information gives the person preaching/teaching/exegeting the passage familiarity with options their pupils or parishioners may have represented in their translations.
  • Given the “spectrum” of the editions, the variant info might quickly point out some more interesting variants. If the SBLGNT agrees with Westcott and Hort, Tregelles, and NIV/NA but disagrees with Robinson-Pierpont, it is likely a pretty standard difference with the Byzantine text. But if the SBLGNT’s chosen reading is only present in Robinson-Pierpont or Tregelles then it might be more interesting and worth a deeper look into the specialist-oriented materials such as the UBS or NA apparatuses, technical commentaries such as ICC or Word Biblical Commentary, the Editio Critica Maior, Tischendorf, Comfort & Barrett, and the like.

No one apparatus is perfect for everyone. The NA27 apparatus gives manuscript-level information to those who require it. The UBS4 apparatus is geared towards translators. The SBLGNT apparatus complements these functions, pointing out readings of interest for further research, instead of competing with them.

More SBLGNT News

Over the past couple weeks, we’ve been rolling out additional downloads and SBLGNT-related products. The big news is that free access to the SBLGNT is available on the Logos iPhone app and Logos iPad app. You can also access the SBLGNT online for free at Biblia.com.

We have also recently made the SBLGNT text and apparatus available with the Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament Collection (3 vols.). If you have Scholar’s Silver and higher, then you already own the Lexham Greek-English Interlinear New Testament Collection (3 vols.), which means these updates should have already downloaded. If you don’t have Scholar’s Silver or higher, now is the perfect time to upgrade, with discounts up to 20% off!

Head on over to SBLGNT.com to learn more about the project and get your free SBLGNT download. We just posted PDF of the entire New Testament in addition to all the other versions, so check it out!

You should follow us on Twitter here.
Written by
Rick Brannan
View all articles
  • One minor annoyance with the SBLGNT is the Unicode characters used for the textual markers (Unicode 2E00-01, 2E02-03, 2E04-05). While they are nicely inconspicuous in the text and apparently actually what those characters are intended for in the Unicode spec, they are supported by almost no fonts, including standard Windows and Mac fonts that handle Greek and Hebrew text nicely.
    Therefore, in every environment I’ve found so far other than the full version of Logos, the textual markers just show up as boxes, which pretty much ruins both values of these textual markers: (1) Big blocks in the middle of the text are not inconspicuous and actually rather distracting. and (2) It’s usually impossible to differentiate the 6 different kinds of textual markers from each other, so all you know is that there was “some kind of” textual variant to be aware of in that verse…
    I suppose over time there will be better Unicode fonts that support these characters, but it seems like maybe a better solution would be to make the next edition of the SBLGNT use more common characters for this purpose.

  • Hi Jeff
    Thanks for your feedback and questions.
    As the text-critical sigla are now supported in the Unicode standard, it is best to use those values to encode the characters. There are several Unicode fonts that do support them, including SBL Greek (the font used in the print edition and in the PDF). If you don’t have SBL Greek, you can download it here: http://www.sbl-site.org/educational/biblicalfonts.aspx
    A helpful resource on apparatus characters and Unicode, which also lists some fonts with information on the range of characters supported, is online at: http://en.foursenses.net/textcriticismsigns
    There are some issues in the iPhone/iPod/iPad version of Logos (boxes) but I believe those will be addressed in a future release. Biblia.com renders the characters properly on major browsers, I believe, though I’m unsure how they might appear on smartphones using Biblia.

  • Jeff, it is possible to keep your favorite Greek font and have the diacritical marks at the same time. For instance, in program settings you could set your default font to Cardo or SBL Greek and your Greek font to Gentium Plus. The former will cover both latin characters and the dicritical marks, and the latter will cover Greek characters and accents. SBL Greek has a pretty good Latin character set, in my opinion; but I have noticed they are missing some common pronunciation symbols in English dictionaries.
    Anyways, I am thankful that we are able to set multiple fonts, for there is not one, excellent, all-purpose font. Or at least I am not aware of it.

Written by Rick Brannan