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2. Revision of the Catholic Letters

The Editio Critica Maior sets new standards in providing source material relevant to the history of the text and in analysing it systematically. Therefore, the versions and the quotations from patristic literature are cited in the present edition according to the second edition of the ECM of the Catholic Letters. The selection of Greek manuscripts cited in the present edition comprises the witnesses that are most important for reconstructing the text.

The text

Compared to the 27th edition, the text differs at altogether 34 passages, for example:

Jak 2,3 ἢ κάθου ἐκεῖ ἐκεῖ ἢ κάθου
1 Pt 4,16 μέρει ὀνόματι
2 Pt 2,11 παρὰ κυρίῳ παρὰ κυρίου
2 Pt 2,18 ὄντως ὀλίγως
Jd 5 ἅπαξ πάντα ὅτι Ἰησοῦς πάντα ὅτι [ὁ] κύριος ἅπαξ


The reconstructed text of the Catholic Letters reflects the second edition of the ECM in one further respect. Passages for which the editors had to leave open the decision as to which of the variants is the initial text are specially marked. The second edition of the ECM has a split guiding line at these passages. In the new Nestle-Aland the reading text remains unchanged in such cases, but the sign ♦ precedes the reference mark in the text and the citation of the variant seen as equal to it in the apparatus. As a consequence square brackets, which could in any case be used only for possible additions, have become obsolete in the Catholic Letters.

Defining the Consistently Cited Witnesses for the Catholic Letters

The ECM text of the Catholic Letters was established by means of the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (in what follows “coher- ence method”). One essential concept of this method is that of “potential ancestor”. One of two textual witnesses may be classified as potential ancestor of the other, if it more often supports a variant from which the variant of the other witness can be derived. Some witnesses have many, others have a few or only one potential ances- tor. The percentages of agreement between witnesses compared are used to arrange the potential ancestors of a witness in a ranking order, according to their degree of relationship. The method can also be applied to a comparison with the reconstructed initial text. Hence we can say for which manuscript texts the initial text A has the highest rank among their potential ancestors. This is the case, apart from a couple of highly fragmented papyri and majuscules, for altogether 18 majuscels and minuscules. Their text is more closely related to A than to anymanuscript text. In addition, there are a few other consistently cited witnesses, partially only for individual writings. In addition, all the papyri containing the thext of the Catholic Letters were included.