A Critical Examination of the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method in New Testament Textual Criticism


This study offers the first sustained examination of the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (CBGM), a computerized method being used to edit the most widely-used editions of the Greek New Testament. Part one addresses the CBGM’s history and reception before providing a fresh statement of its principles and procedures. Parts two and three consider the method’s ability to recover the initial text and to delineate its history. A new portion of the global stemma is presented for the first time and important conclusions are drawn about the nature of the initial text, scribal habits, and the origins of the Byzantine text. A final chapter suggests improvements and highlights limitations. Overall, the CBGM is positively assessed but not without important criticisms and cautions.
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Biographical Note

Peter J. Gurry, Ph.D. (2017), University of Cambridge, is Assistant Professor of New Testament at Phoenix Seminary. He has published several articles on textual criticism and is the author with Tommy Wasserman of A New Approach to Textual Criticism: An Introduction to the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (SBL). He is currently editing a collection of letters between B.F. Westcott and F.J.A. Hort on their monumental edition of the Greek New Testament.

Table of contents

List of Figures

 1  Rationale
 2  Scope
 3  A Note on Terms and Percentages
 4  Preview of the Argument

1 The History and Reception of the CBGM
 1  History of the CBGM
 2  Reception of the CBGM
 3  Conclusion

2 The CBGM in Theory and Practice
 1  Understanding the CBGM
 2  Applying the CBGM to the Catholic Epistles
 3  Conclusion

3 Recovering the Initial Text
 1  Defining the Initial Text
 2  The CBGM as a Meta-Method
 3  Using Coherence to Detect Coincidental Agreement
 4  Conclusion

4 Scribal Tendencies in James
 1  Method
 2  Results
 3  Methodological Reflections
 4  Conclusion

5 A Historical Test: The Harklean Group in the CBGM
 1  The CBGM and Historical Reconstruction
 2  The Harklean Group and the Byzantine Text
 3  Implications
 4  Conclusion

6 The Selection of Variants in the CBGM
 1  Previous Study
 2  The CBGM’s Basic Principle
 3  Specific Cases
 4  Conclusion

7 Limitations and Improvements
 1  Limitations
 2  Suggested Improvements
 3  Conclusion

Summary and Conclusion

Appendix A: Changes in NA/UBS/ECM
Appendix B: Harklean Readings in 1 John
Appendix C: Orthographica in James


Textual critics, commentators, Bible translators, and all who study the New Testament in its original language. Also those involved in editing or the digital humanities.