The NA28 text marks a departure from the traditional methodology of textual criticism. As described by Jeff Kloha in the Concordia Theology Journal,
Previous generations learned to classify manuscripts based on “text-types,” such as “Alexandrian,” “Western,” and “Caesarean.” However, more comprehensive comparison of all readings in all manuscripts, now made possible by computer analysis, shows that these classic divisions (first identified in the early eighteenth century, before the discovery of any papyrus manuscripts) are not meaningful, especially in the period of the greatest variation, the second and third centuries. The method now employed has been labeled the “Coherence-Based Genealogical Method.” Using comprehensive computer databases, the “coherence” of witnesses in their relationships to each other is able to be discerned over an entire book or corpus, so that the researcher can determine rather quickly if decisions made about the “initial text” could have produced the resultant stemma of manuscripts. It is important to note that the databases and software do not determine the “initial text” readings; the researcher, using any method (Reasoned Eclecticism; Thoroughgoing Eclecticism; even Majority Text Theory) determines the “initial text” reading in each place. The software then compiles a stemma based on all those decisions to determine if an accurate stemma results. Individual textual decisions can then be altered, the program run again, and refinements to the text made until a “coherent” stemma of witnesses is produced. This is certainly very different from the “Local Text-Type” theory that most pastors learned in Greek class, a method which, it must be said, fell out of disuse decades ago. Hence the changes to the text....
[The NA28] reflects a shift in assumptions about what the evidence allows one to reconstruct. Where previous generations, emboldened by a confidence in science which was possible only in the Enlightenment, claimed to be able to reproduce the “New Testament in the Original Greek,” late twentieth century scholars have known that extant evidence reaches only back to the second century, and that for only a scattering of passages. There may be nearly 150 years between the original writing/delivery of a New Testament text and the now-preserved manuscripts. Given the strong dependence on a genealogical method, this edition claims only to to reconstruct the “Ausgangstext,” or the “Initial Text,” defined as follows:
“The initial text is the form of a text that stands at the beginning of a textual tradition. The constructed text of an edition represents the hypothetical reconstruction of the initial text.” ([Editio Critica Maior] 2 Peter, 23)
This edition helpfully acknowledges that reproducing an “autograph” of any New Testament writing is an impossible task, given available evidence. This also leads to a perhaps surprising move by the editors: the removal of any reference to a conjecture in the apparatus. Since the editors claim to reconstruct only the hypothetical text that stands at the head of the manuscript tradition (and not the “autograph”), conjectures are not part of their project. So, for example, the conjecture that 1 Corinthians 14:34–35 is a post-Pauline interpolation has been deleted from the apparatus.
Note that bias is still involved in this methodology since the initial text is unknown. Are there any scholars who have identified flaws with the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method? With the exception of the Textus Receptus, what other scholarly manuscript compilations are available aside from the Nestle-Aland text and UBS (which seems to be following the same path as the NA28)?