> ScrollAndScreen

Comparing Greek NT Manuscripts and Texts

To see what tools are available for comparing Greek NT textual traditions, I have compared Accordance8, BibleWorks8, Logos3, and the online Manuscript Comparator. For each, I indicate texts available for comparison, comments on the use of the resources, and some pros/cons to the implementation. As a baseline text for comparison, I will look at Mark 1.1-6.

In general, the most interesting and useful comparisons are between:

When making comparisons, ideally one should be able quickly to scan multiple texts and identify omissions, insertions, differences, and transpositions. 

All four options are described on this page with thumbnail graphics, but each package also has a separate page with full-size graphics.

Do note that not all texts in each program are necessarily identical. E.g., the Westcott & Hort text in BibleWorks8 reflects modifications of format (punctuation, capitalization, accents, etc.) or orthography (spellings, especially moveable-nu and names) based on the Online Bible format.



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Usually BW8 displays text verse by verse, but one can also specify a passage of any length. In order to see texts in vertical rather than horizontal parallel, one should use the Parallel Versions Window available through the menu via Tools > Viewing the text > Parallel Versions Window or by clicking on the panes button in the toolbar. (See figure 2.) This window is also customizable, but the best feature is that also allows for the kind of setup shown in figure 2 where I have compared 4 Greek texts, placed the KJV (which used the Textus Receptus) and ASV (which was largely based on the Westcott & Hort text) on either side, and enabled comparisons of both the Greek texts and the KJV/ASV texts. It is somewhat difficult to save text results in BW8. The Browse Window results may be copied/pasted into another program (be sure to enable "Export Colors" in the text copy configuration dialogue), but can not be saved at all in the Parallel Windows except by snapping a screen image.


Manuscript Comparator (< click to access site)

What is particularly remarkable in this implementation is the efficient way that the comparisons between all 5 texts are indicated. Here is the description provided at the site:

The visual and dynamic nature of this implementation makes for easy comparison of the texts. Given the dynamic interaction of the data, static results cannot be saved for offline use. A screen image can capture a snapshot, of course, and one can bookmark the results page generated for quick return to that view online.


Each program has its strengths and special capabilities. Manuscript Comparator does the best job of displaying differences, but it lacks the NA27 and is intended as an online resource. Accordance does a good job of display, allows for a variety of comparison options, and creates useful lists of differences. BibleWorks has the most versatility and is the fastest Windows application. Logos has the most texts available for comparison, provides numerical and graphical comparisons, and results export easily.