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Shortly after his 93rd birthday, Metzger died in Princeton, New Jersey, on February 13, 2007. He was survived by his wife Isobel, who would die at the age of 98 on July 27, 2016 in Princeton, New Jersey, as well as their two sons, John Mackay Metzger and Dr. James Bruce Metzger.
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.[dubious – discuss] 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
Metzger, Bruce M. (1942). Studies in a Greek Gospel Lectionary (Greg. 303) (Ph.D.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University.
——— (1946). Lexical Aids for Students of New Testament Greek. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. OCLC2132643.
——— (1957). Introduction to the Apocrypha. New York: Oxford University Press. OCLC361082.
——— (1961). List of Words Occuring Frequently in the Coptic New Testament (Sahidic Dialect). Leiden: Brill. - note: "occuring" is misspelled in the published title
———; Metzger, Isobel M. (1962). The Oxford Concise Concordance to the Revised Standard Version of the Holy Bible (1st ed.). London: Oxford University Press.
——— (1963). Chapters in the History of New Testament Textual Criticism. New Testament Tools and Studies. 4. Leiden: Brill.
——— (1964). The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, And Restoration (1st ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press.
——— (1994). Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament: a companion volume to the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament (third ed.). London ; New York: United Bible Societies. ISBN978-3-438-06010-5. OCLC683422.
——— (1997). Reminiscences of an Octogenarian. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers. ISBN978-1-5656-3264-6.
——— (1999). Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation (Leader's ed.). Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press. ISBN978-0-6874-9779-9.
———; Ehrman, Bart D. (2005). The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, And Restoration (4th ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN0-19-516122-X.
——— (2006). Apostolic Letters of Faith, Hope, and Love: Galatians, 1 Peter, and 1 John. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books. ISBN978-1-5975-2501-5.
List of translations
Oxford Annotated Apocrypha: The Apocrypha of the Old Testament. Translated by Metzger, Bruce M. 1977.
The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha, Revised Standard Version, Expanded Edition. Translated by Metzger, Bruce M.; May, Herbert G. 1977.
Oxford Annotated Apocrypha: Revised Standard Version. Translated by Metzger, Bruce M. 1977.
New Revised Standard Version. Translated by Metzger, Bruce M. 1989.
The NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha, Compact Edition. Translated by Metzger, Bruce M. 2003.
Selected articles and chapters
——— (May 27, 1966). "The Meaning of Christ's Ascension". Christianity Today. 10 (17): 3-4.
——— (1970). "Names for the Nameless in the New Testament: A Study in the Growth of Christian Tradition". In Granfield, Patrick; Jungmann, Josef A. (eds.). Kyriakon: Festschrift Johannes Quasten. 1. Münster: Verlag Aschendorff. pp. 79-99.
——— (1972). "Patristic Evidence and Textual Criticism of the New Testament". New Testament Studies. 18 (4): 379-400. doi:10.1017/S0028688500023705. - Presidential Address, Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, delivered August 24, 1971, at Noordwijkerhout, The Netherlands.
——— (1972). "Literary forgeries and canonical pseudepigrapha". Journal of Biblical Literature. 91 (1): 3-24. doi:10.2307/3262916. JSTOR3262916. - Presidential address, Society of Biblical Literature, delivered October 29, 1971, in Atlanta, Georgia.
——— (November 1984). "How Well Do You Know the Apocrypha?". Guideposts. pp. 28-31.
Selected interviews and writings about Bruce M. Metzger
Petzer, Jacobus H.; Hartin, Patrick J., eds. (1986). A South African Perspective on the New Testament, Essays by South African New Testament Scholars Presented to Bruce Manning Metzger during His Visit to South Africa in 1985. Leiden: Brill. ISBN978-9-004-07720-1.
^James A. Brooks, "Bruce Metzger as Textual Critic," Princeton Seminary Bulletin, vol. 15, no. 2, new series (1994), 157.
^"The Fathers ... did not consider inspiration to be a unique characteristic of canonical writings." Bruce M. Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1997), 256, and see 211, n. 6.
^Bruce M. Metzger, The New Testament: Its Background, Growth, and Content, 3rd ed., rev. and enlarged (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2003), 317-8. And see the detailed discussion in Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1997), 251-4.
^Bruce M. Metzger, The New Testament: Its Background, Growth, and Content, 3rd ed., rev. and enlarged (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2003), 318. Also see Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1997), 287-8.