Bruce Manning Metzger's Biography
Bruce Manning Metzger (February 9, 1914 - February 13, 2007) was an American biblical scholar and textual critic who was a longtime professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and Bible editor who served on the board of the American Bible Society and United Bible Societies. He was a scholar of Greek, New Testament, and New Testament textual criticism, and wrote prolifically on these subjects. Metzger is widely considered one of the most influential New Testament scholars of the 20th century.
Metzger edited and provided commentary for many Bible translations and wrote dozens of books. He was an editor of the United Bible Societies' standard Greek New Testament, the starting point for nearly all recent New Testament translations. In 1952, he became a contributor to the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible, and was general editor of the Reader's Digest Bible (a condensed version of the RSV) in 1982. From 1977 to 1990, he chaired the Committee on Translators for the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible and was "largely responsible for... seeing [the NRSV] through the press." He considered it a privilege to present the NRSV--which includes the books referred to as Apocrypha by Protestants, though Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox consider them deuterocanonical--to Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Demetrius I of Constantinople.
Central to his scholarly contribution to New Testament studies is his trilogy: The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (1964; 2nd ed., 1968; 3d enlarged ed., 1992); The Early Versions of the New Testament: Their Origin, Transmission, and Limitations (1977); The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance (1987). The first volume of a series that he founded and edited, New Testament Tools and Studies, appeared in 1960.
Metzger's commentaries often utilize historical criticism and higher criticism, which attempt to explain the literary and historical origins of the Bible and the biblical canon. For instance, Metzger argues that the early church which assembled the New Testament did not consider divine inspiration to be a sufficient criterion for a book to be placed in the canon. Metzger says that the early church saw it as very important that a work describing Jesus' life be written by a follower of or an eyewitness to Jesus, and considered other works such as The Shepherd of Hermas and the Epistles of Clement to be inspired but not canonical.
In discussing the canon, Metzger identifies three criteria "for acceptance of particular writings as sacred, authoritative, and worthy of being read in services of worship...", criteria which were "generally adopted during the course of the second century, and were never modified thereafter", namely, orthodoxy (conformity to the rule of faith), apostolicity, and consensus among the churches. He concludes that, "In the most basic sense neither individuals nor councils created the canon; instead they came to recognize and acknowledge the self-authenticating quality of these writings, which imposed themselves as canonical upon the church."
List of books and publications(partial):
- Apostolic Letters of Faith, Hope, and Love: Galatians, 1 Peter, and 1 John (2006)
- The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, And Restoration (1964). 2005 4th edition with Bart D. Ehrman, ISBN 0-19-516122-X
- The New Testament: Its Background, Growth and Content (2003, James Clarke & Co., Cambridge; ISBN 978-0-227-17025-0)
- The Oxford Essential Guide to Ideas and Issues of the Bible (2002 with Michael D. Coogan)
- The Oxford Guide to People & Places of the Bible (2001 with Michael D. Coogan)
- The Bible in Translation, Ancient and English Versions (2001)
- Greek New Testament (2000 with B. Aland)
- Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation: Leader's Guide (1999)
- Reminiscences of an Octogenarian (1997)
- The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance (1997)
- Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (1994)
- The Oxford Companion to the Bible (1993 with Michael D. Coogan)
- The Reader's Bible (1983)
- Manuscripts of the Greek Bible: An Introduction to Palaeography (1981).
- New Testament Studies: Philological, Versional, and Patristic (1980)
- The Early Versions of the New Testament: Their Origin, Transmission, and Limitations (1977)
- Lexical Aids for Students of New Testament Greek (1969)
- Historical and Literary Studies: Pagan, Jewish, and Christian (1968)
- Chapters in the History of New Testament Textual Criticism (1963)
- List of Words Occuring Frequently in the Coptic New Testament (Sahidic Dialect) (1961) - note: "occuring" is misspelled in the published title
- Introduction to the Apocrypha (1957)
- The Oxford Concise Concordance to the Revised Standard Version of the Holy Bible (1962 with Isobel M. Metzger)
- The Making of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (1991 with Robert C. Denton and Walter Harrelson)