J.K. Elliott’s Greek Text of the Epistles to Timothy and Titus

A recent trip up north brought me to the very excellent library of the Vancouver School of Theology on the University of British Columbia campus.

Whilst browsing the shelves, I ran across a book I’ve been looking for for years: J.K. Elliott’s The Greek Text of the Epistles to Timothy and Titus. This is vol 36 in the University of Utah’s Studies and Documents series. It was published in 1968.

I’ve seen this title referred to in footnotes in several commentaries, studies and other monographs, but have been unable to track it down. Now that I have, I’m glad I did. The monograph is a portion of Elliott’s doctoral work. He uses his own “eclectic” methodology to establish his own text of the Pastoral Epistles. He interacts with a number of MSS, and what one ends up with is a textual commentary (from his eclectic point of view) on the Pastorals. Additionally, the introduction is a short but very well written guide to his methodology.

And the appendices are fairly fun too. Appendix 6 has several lists that show where Elliott’s readings are in agreement and at variance with published editions (Westcott/Hort, TR, Tischendorf, Tregelles, etc.) and is concluded with a list of all of his unique readings (against the editions he checked) along with the MSS that provide the textual evidence for the unique reading. For example, in $wh(1Ti 1.4), he accepts οἰκοδομην over οἰκονομιαν. No other edition (at least in 1968) took that reading. But he does, and he explains why.

An interesting follow-up will be to examine his unique readings with UBS4/NA27 and see if the UBS/NA has taken up any of his readings.

Update: I just scanned the 67 listed unique readings against NA27; nary a one of them is used in NA27. Most of Elliott’s readings have to do with word order, orthography, adding/deleting a conjunction or adding/deleting an article. Very few would actually change the sense of the text, and those only slightly.

I hope to blog on his ‘eclectic’ approach over at my personal blog (ricoblog) at some point. (Update [2007-03-26]: I’ve begun this series, see the bottom of the post for further links) One unique aspect is that MS ‘quality’ is only one of a number of factors. Readings supported in as little as one MS or even one early version, in Elliott’s methodology, may be considered as ‘original’ if other factors look good. In other words, there is no automatic veto if a reading is poorly attested — especially if that reading scores well in other areas examined.

Just to say: If you’re examining the Greek text of the Pastorals in any depth, you may consider locating Elliott’s work. Best to check a well-stocked theological library!


  1. This is a useful resource indeed. I was blessed in my doctoral work to have access to Howard Marshall’s library which contianed this book. Happy investigating Rick!

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