Variants and Apparatus

Critical apparatus definition  

The 'critical apparatus' is a list of variations found in different manuscripts. It may include abbreviations for the manuscripts or for the editions that have compiled a text based on those manuscripts, or both. 

STEPBible includes the New Testament Manuscript Variant Apparatus (VarApp), and the Logos Bible Software and the Society of Biblical Literature Greek New Testament Apparatus (SBLGNTApp).

You access these apparatus in the Bible version and Commentary dropdown menu by clicking the Bible button at the left end of the Find bar.

Click the Commentaries tab, and choose All or Ancient. If you choose All the apparatuses appear at the bottom of the list.  

You can view the apparatus you choose alongside any New Testament Bible or commentary.  STEPBible displays the text of the apparatus in conjunction with the text of the New Testament version you choose.

This illustration shows the following selected for display:
  • KJV -The King James version
  • TR - KJV Greek NT ed. Stephens 1550 & Scrivener 1894.
  • ESV - English Standard Version 2016
  • SBLG - The Greek New Testament: SBLGNT upgraded by Tyndale House
  • SBLGNTApp - The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition, Apparatus
  • VarApp - NT Manuscript Variant Apparatus

The following information accompanies VarApp.  

You can also access this information by clicking on "VarApp" at the bottom of any page displaying it. Data for VarApp comes from

New Testament Manuscript Variant Apparatus (VarApp)
This module gives the main variant readings of the Greek New Testament. The data is collected from the apparatus of various editions of Nestle-Aland and the United Bible Society New Testament. Some additional information about the Fathers comes from Early Christian Writings.

Since there are thousands of manuscripts of the NT, it is natural that there are differences between them, and it is not always easy to determine which was the original reading, even if the text of 99% of the verses is clear.
In this module, the variants of a verse, if they exist, are listed separated by an empty line. The text of the SBL Greek New Testament is always given first, and the alternative readings are on the following lines. Every reading is followed by the witnesses, that is the manuscripts that contain it.

The order for the witnesses is: papyri, uncials, families, minuscules, lectionaries, ancient versions, fathers, editions, and Italian translations.

Papyri: The manuscripts written on papyrus rather than parchment. They are indicated by a p with a superscript number. e.g.  p66 p75

Uncials: The manuscripts written with capital letters. They are listed with the Hebrew letter aleph (א), a capital letter (Latin or Greek) or a number that begins with zero, and an asterix for later scribal corrections.  e.g.    ‭א* B C* 

Families: Two families of minuscules are listed: f1 (=1, 118, 131, 209, 1582) and f13 (=13, 69, 124, 174, 230, 346, 543, 788, 826, 828, 983, 1689, 1709).

Minuscules: The manuscripts written with lower case letters. They are listed by a normal number. Byz indicates the majority of Byzantine manuscripts; Byz2005 indicates the edition of Robinson in 2005 when it is different from previous editions.  e.g.    33 180 565 

Lectionaries: Lect indicates the majority of the lectionaries. Individual lectionaries are indicated by l and a superscript number. After the number, 'pt' (=part) indicates that the verses appears at least twice with different readings; 'm' indicates un lectionary in its Menologion (the readings for special days); 's' indicates a lectionary in its Sinaxarion (the readings for the liturgical year). e.g.    l184 l185m l1761m

Ancient Versions: The translations of the New Testament done in the first centuries after Christ.  e.g.   vg syrh(ms) (syrpal) copbo(pt) slavmss(mg)

Fathers: The quotations of the Christian writers in the first centuries after Christ. e.g.  Tertullian Origen Phoebadius Ambrose

Editions: The other editions of the Greek text, when different from the SBL text, are indicated: the Textus Receptus (ς), the edition of Westcott and Hort (WH), the Nestle-Aland (NA), and the Editio Critica Maior (ECM). Some times the different editions of the Textus Receptus have different readings; in such cases the editions of Stephanus (1550) and of Scrivener (1894) are listed. Ten times the text of Nestle-Aland is different from that of UBS, once the editions of UBS are different, and once those of NA; these cases are indicated by NA and UBS and if needed a number indicating the edition.

Italian Translations: Eight translations are listed: the Nuova Riveduta (NR), the C.E.I. or Jerusalem (CEI), the Nuova Diodati (ND), the Riveduta/Luzzi (Riv), the Diodati (Dio), the Traduzione interconfessionale in lingua corrente (TILC), the Nuovissima (Nv) and the Nuovo Mondo (NM). When the NR or the Riveduta put an alternative reading in a footnote, it is indicated by an upperscript 'mg'. The aim is not to list all the different translations of these Bibles, but to indicate which manuscripts they followed.

Here is a link to A Student's Guide to New Testament Textual Variants
Here is a link to An Introduction To Textual Criticism by the same author.

The following information accompanies the SBLGNTApp:

Logos Bible Software and the Society of Biblical Literature Greek New Testament Apparatus (SBLGNTApp)

The SBLGNT is edited by Michael W. Holmes, who utilized a wide range of printed editions, all the major critical apparatuses, and the latest technical resources and manuscript discoveries as he established the text. The result is a critically edited text that differs from the Nestle-Aland/United Bible Societies text in more than 540 variation units.

The SBLGNTApp uses its own set of  abbreviations, explained at  and summarized below:

WH   -  Westcott and Hort,   New Testament in the Original Greek (Cambridge: Macmillan, 1881)
Treg - Tregelles, Greek New Testament  (Bagster, 1857–1879). 
NIV -   Reader’s Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003) behind the NIV as determined by Kohlenberger. The variants almost always follow NA27. 
RP -  Robinson and Pierpont,  New Testament in the Original Greek: Byzantine Textform 2005, (Chilton, 2005). 

Here is a link to a Logos Bible Software article Critical Apparatuses: What and Why

For more information on this subject, explore the chapter Manuscripts and Meanings.