Friday, December 25, 2009

Review of The Text of the Gospels in Clement of Alexandria

Co-blogger Mike Bird’s review of Carl P. Cosaert, The Text of the Gospels in Clement of Alexandria (NTGF 9; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2008) is out in Review of Biblical Literature 12/2009.

Bird concludes his balanced review:
Cosaert has produced a significant work in a still largely uncharted area on the text of the New Testament in the church fathers, and there is much potential remaining here for showing the value of patristic authors for establishing the history of the text, scribal habits of the transmitters, and the reception of the New Testament. It is obviously impossible to determine the veracity of his data without the Greek text of Clement in front of you, but overall the impression I get is that his study is accurately detailed and analytically sound. Indeed, Cosaert’s near encyclopedic listing of Clement’s Gospel citations (including that of Clement’s opponents in an appendix) makes this a valuable reference resource that New Testament researchers and patristic scholars will want to avail themselves to.

The only major reservation that I have about this volume is the continued use of the notion of text-types such as “Alexandrian,” “Western,” “Caesarean,” and so forth. The Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (CBGM), pioneered in Münster, seems to have shown that variants indicative of a particular text-type are dispersed over a wide array of witnesses and that, furthermore, documents can fluctuate in the “type” of text that they exhibit. Application of the CBGM has so far been limited to the Catholic Epistles (where text-types are the least discernible), and one can still recognize the textual affinity of various manuscripts in a common trajectory or textual tradition whereby an identifiable textual group remains evident. Still, whether the historical nomenclature of text-types represents the most fitting way to express the fluidity and accordance of the manuscripts and patristic citations remains an open question. If anything, Cosaert’s study supports this, since he shows the relative fluidity of the textual traditions in Clement and the lack of a single dominant textual form that Clement’s texts of the Gospels corresponds to (with the exception, perhaps, of the Alexandrian quality of John). He is also correct to ask in what meaningful sense the primary influence on Clement’s text of Matthew can be Byzantine when Byzantine readings do not emerge as a unified text-type until the fourth century. I question, therefore, whether it is profitable to even try to place Clement in relation to a particular text-type. The most we can do is identify Clement against a series of analogous readings from other texts that may themselves fluctuate in the character and origin of their witness. That question aside, Cosaert has produced an outstanding volume that contributes significantly to matters of textual criticism in relation to the church fathers.

Earlier J. K. Elliott has reviewed this book in RBL here.

Read also my summary of Cosaert’s presentation at the SBL Annual Meeting in Boston, 2008 here. During the time for questions co-blogger Dirk Jongkind posed a question to Cosaert that is congruent with Mike Bird’s “major reservation” – Cosaert’s appeal to text-types: “What do we mean with a ‘fluid text.’ Does not your conclusion undermine your own analysis (there was no clear text types at this time, they develop later, why include them?).” Unfortunately, I do not know whether Cosaert replied, I did not record an answer in my notes.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Is This Really a Singular Reading in P64?

Today I have been working on P64. Take a look at the image of one of the fragment (frg. c) of P64.

In C. H. Roberts editio princeps he transcribes the second line (col. 2, verso frg. “c”) ι]β [ο] λεγομ[ενος (Matt 26:14) which is obviously erroneous.

K. S. Min points out, in his study of the Matthean papyri, that there is no space for the omicron and so transcribes ι]β λεγομ[ενος (followed by Comfort and Barrett).

The omission of the article would be a unique reading. However, the rounded bottom of the letter is a bit different from how the scribe wrote the letter beta elsewhere (twice in 𝔓67). Further, the trace of the extant letter before λεγο[μενος could perhaps also be an omicron written in smaller size. The letter is admittedly written somewhat below the line, which speaks in favor of a beta.

On the other hand, there seems to be at least one other example of a smaller omicron in this manuscript, see this image of line 2, col. 1, recto of this fragment:

What is your opinion?

Update: I have uploaded a better image of P64 (col. 2, verso frg. “c”)

Jewish and Christian Scripture as Artifact and Canon

Peter Head is one of the contributors to a very interesting new book but since he hasn't mentioned it yet, humble as he is, here it is:

Jewish and Christian Scripture as Artifact and Canon edited by Craig A. Evans and H. Daniel Zacharias

A fascinating collection of essays that builds upon the growing interest in manuscripts as artifacts and witnesses to early stages in Jewish and Christian understanding of sacred scripture.

Imprint: T & T Clark International
Series: Library of Second Temple Studies, The
Series Volume: 70
Pub. date: 25 Aug 2009
ISBN: 9780567584854
336 Pages, hardcover
$140 (109.70 on Amazon)

You can look inside here.

Publisher's description
Jewish and Christian Scripture as Artifact and Canon constitutes a collection of studies that reflect and contribute to the growing scholarly interest in manuscripts as artifacts and witnesses to early stages in Jewish and Christian understanding of sacred scripture.

Scholars and textual critics have in recent years rightly recognized the contribution that ancient manuscripts make to our understanding of the development of canon in its broadest and most inclusive sense. The studies included in this volume shed significant light on the most important questions touching the emergence of canon consciousness and written communication in the early centuries of the Christian church. The concern here is not in recovering a theoretical “original text” or early “recognized canon,” but in analysis of and appreciation for texts as they actually circulated and were preserved through time. Some of the essays in this collection explore the interface between canon as theological concept, on the one hand, and canon as reflected in the physical/artifactual evidence, on the other. Other essays explore what the artifacts tell us about life and belief in early communities of faith. Still other studies investigate the visual dimension and artistic expressions of faith, including theology and biblical interpretation communicated through the medium of art and icon in manuscripts. The volume also includes scientific studies concerned with the physical properties of particular manuscripts. These studies will stimulate new discussion in this important area of research and will point students and scholars in new directions for future work.

Table of Contents

Introduction — C. A. Evans and H. D. Zacharias
John P. Flanagan, “Papyrus 967 and the Text of Ezekiel: Parablepsis or an Original Text?”

Gregg Schwendner, “A Fragmentary Psalter from Karanis and its Context”

Thomas Kraus, “‘He that dwelleth in the help of the Highest’: Septuagint Psalm 90 and the Iconographic Program on Byzantine Armbands”

Don Barker, “Another Look at Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1353?”

Scott D. Charlesworth, “Public and Private — Second and Third-Century Gospel Manuscripts”

Pamela Shellberg, “A Johannine Reading of Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 840”

Peter Arzt-Grabner, “‘I was intending to visit you, but . . .’: Clauses Explaining Delayed Visits and their Importance in Papyrus Letters and in Paul”

Annette Bourland Huizenga, “Advice to the Bride: Moral Exhortation for Young Wives in Two Ancient Letters”

Marianne Schleicher, “Transitions between Artifactual and Hermeneutical Use of Scripture”

Larry Hurtado, “Early Christian Manuscripts of Biblical Texts as Artifacts”

Stephen Reed, “Physical and Visual Features of Dead Sea Scrolls Scriptural Texts”

Eduard Iricinschi, “‘A thousand books will be saved’: Manichean Manuscripts and Religious Propaganda in the Roman Empire”

Kirsten Nielsen, “The Danish Hymnbook: Artifact and Text”

David Chalcraft, “Some Biblical Artifacts in Search of a Sociological Theory”

Dorina Miller Parmenter, “The Bible as Icon: Myths of the Divine Origin of Scripture”

Peter M. Head, “Letter Carriers in the Ancient Jewish Epistolary Material”

Juan Hernández, “The Apocalypse in Codex Sinaiticus”

Update: As usual, Eisenbrauns (via James Spinti) offers a good bargain (30% off).

Friday, December 18, 2009

Resurrection in Vaticanus vs. Washingtonianus

At an upcoming international conference, "Resurrection of the Dead. Biblical Traditions in Dialogue" to be held at the Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium April 7-9, 2010, there is one paper is of particular interest:

"Absence and Ascendance: A Narrative Comparison of the Resurrection Scene in Codex Vaticanus and Codex Washingtonianus" by Tom Shepherd, PhD Professor of New Testament Interpretation Andrews University, USA.

Codex Vaticanus (B) and Codex Washintonianus (W) illustrate extremes in the ending of the Gospel of Mark. Whereas B has the famous abrupt ending at 16:8, W not only has the long ending of Mark, but also the Freer Logion included at 16:14. While relatively little time separates the copying of the manuscripts (B from the fourth century, W from the fourth to fifth), their text types are vastly different.

Recent research in textual criticism has focused attention not only on recovery of the earliest form of the text of the New Testament, but also on the history of the transmission of the text. Because narrative analysis illustrates the underlying emphases of a story, it is well suited to demonstrate how telling the story of the resurrection in different ways highlights distinctive theological themes.

Through a narrative analysis of the ending of Mark in B and W, this paper will elucidate their special theological emphases in connection with the story of the resurrection of Jesus. Whereas the open ending of Mark in B focuses attention on the failure to share the resurrection report and implies the need for the reader to go and tell, the much longer ending in W closes many of the gaps (but not all) and focuses attention on the cosmic role of Christ and the success of his emissaries in sharing the gospel. These directions in the resurrection narrative in the two codices will be tied to other themes in each codex and to trends in church history that they illustrate.

Other main speakers at the conference: Heikki Räisänen, Geert Van Oyen, André Wénin, John J. Collins, José Costa, Adela Yarbro Collins, Daniel Marguerat, Claire Clivaz, Tobias Nicklas, Gerd Lüdemann, and Odette Mainville.

There will also be a number of seminar papers, not yet announced. Read more here.

Review of A Textual Guide to the Greek New Testament

New reviews have been added to Review of Biblical Literature, and one of them is:
Zeba Crook's review of Roger L. Omanson, A Textual Guide to the Greek New Testament: An Adaptation of Bruce M. Metzger's Textual Commentary for the Needs of Translators (Stuttgart: German Bible Society, 2006).
Crook seems himself as a translator and as such belongs to the primary target group, i.e., "Bible translators, most of whom... will lack formal training in textual criticism but who will need to grapple with issues pertaining to the reconstruction of the biblical text." It is clear from the review that Crook lacks this knowledge. He finds the often extended discussion of examples very helpful, while the introduction to the field and the theoretical framework does not answer her questions, as reflected in the concluding paragraph:
The practice of textual criticism naturally invites people to wonder about the relationship of the reconstructed text (UBS4) to the original New Testament documents. Does textual criticism re-create the original text? On the one hand, Omanson appears to leave this question unanswered when he says that the current text in UBS4 is as close to the original as our present state of knowledge allows. But later he says rather obliquely, “In the earliest days of the Christian church, after an apostolic letter was sent to a congregation or an individual, or after a gospel was written to meet the needs of a particular reading public, copies would be made.” These, Omanson writes, were “certain to contain differences in wording from the originals,” but he adds that “[m]ost of the differences arose from accidental mistakes, such as mistaking a letter or a word for another that looked like it” (16*). I would have preferred a little more specificity. What period exactly does Omanson have in mind: first century or second–third century? How many variants are not included in the “most” to which Omanson refers? Omanson’s implication appears to be that not much changed in the period between autograph and our earliest full Greek manuscripts (some 250 years). Given the utter paucity of textual evidence from this period (at least in Greek), this seems a groundless claim to make.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

P127 = POxy 4968

The New Manuscript of Acts mentioned previously is published in The Oxyrhynchus Papyri vol. 74, pp. 1-45 (edited by David Parker and Stuart Pickering) (What's New in Papyrology has photos of the title page and table of contents). I have now seen this volume (although photos are not yet up on the Oxy website), and can summarise some of the information on this important manuscript (described by the editors as 'the most significant new addition to the Greek evidence since ... 1927' [the date of the publication of P38]).

  • Eight leaves from a papyrus codex beginning with Acts (pagination survives: 112 on fol. 7a), page size 16.5 x 21.5 cm, two columns.
  • Fifth century date
  • Important find re codex construction: at least one full bifolium; binding cord still present; repairs to papyrus, kolleseis, quire make up not clear.
  • Text: portions of Acts 10-12, 15-7 preserved (more precisely: Acts 10.32-35, 40-45; 11.2-5, 30; 12.1-3, 5, 7-9; 15.29-31, 34-36, (37), 38-41; 16.1-4, 13-40; 17.1-10); 'highly distinctive text' - suggests a free text diff from both Vat. and Bez.(which in turn suggests to the editors that 'it is hard to see how the bipolar concept of a two-text form of Acts can continue to be maintained', p. 8); 'an expanding free text that has a strong tendency to omit' (p. 12: contrast with Bez.); attests some readings previously singular to Bez.
  • Transcription (credited to R. Coles)
  • Commentary: on textual and other features.
Up-date (Sept. 2010): photographs are on-line here.

SBL Meetings Call for Papers

Call for papers for the SBL International Meeting in Tartu, 25-29 July, 2010 has been open for a while, but nothing really happens until after the SBL Annual Meeting. Today we had our first submission and I hope we will have plenty more until the call for papers closes 31 January. So here is a reminder:
Papers concentrating on any aspect of textual criticism are welcome, in particular the practical work with manuscripts. Examples of topics: papyrological insights, scribal habits, preservation techniques, technical developments, computer assisted tools, producing critical editions, evaluating the evidence of fathers or versions, discussion of particular passages, social historical studies, new projects, systematic-theological problems, teaching text-criticism in an academic setting, etc.

Go to the SBL site, log in, and make your submission! Then relax and enjoy Christmas.

By the way, I am delighted that Jan Krans is my new co-chair in this unit, successing David Trobisch.

Today the call for papers for the SBL Annual Meeting in Atlanta 2010 opens:
The New Testament Textual Criticism Section invites proposals for two sessions: 1) The first session will be devoted to the history of the textual transmission of the New Testament, especially the social-history of early Christian textual transmission and the history and practice of textual criticism. 2) The second session is an open session for which proposals are welcome on any aspect of New Testament textual criticism. Papers should be submitted via the online system. For questions, please contact AnneMarie Luijendijk at

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Angels and Shepherds

Luke 2:15

Καὶ ἐγένετο ὡς ἀπῆλθον ἀπ᾿ αὐτῶν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν οἱ ἄγγελοι, καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι οἱ ποιμένες ἐλάλουν πρὸς ἀλλήλους• διέλθωμεν κτλ.

Though the text as printed above (καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι οἱ ποιμένες ἐλάλουν) receives a D rating in the first edition of Metzger's Commentary, and though I can see how καί makes sense in Luke's way of handling these sentences, I keep on struggling with the double nouns. The 'shepherd-people' is an awkward construction as it stands, and I still need to be convinced that it fits Luke. Metzger's explanation of how the words 'καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι' got left out, is, well, unfortunate (I would have gone for something like smoothing out the syntax rather than homoioteleuton). But then, weirder things happen without a viable explanation and I would not place too much worth on the need for a proper reason to explain why the text stands as it does. Still, on the other hand, there are a zillion possible explanations that could explain its insertion.
This would be a case where the discovery of an early manuscript with the reading καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι but without οἱ ποιμένες would solve all my problems. Sometimes evidence just gets in the way, doesn't it? Nothing left, then, to settle for simply 'οἱ ποιμένες'.

Monday, December 14, 2009

ETC Annual Achievement Awards 2009: Nominations

As the end of the year approaches we invite our readers to engage in a bout of critical reflection on the major text critical achievements of 2009. We invite nominations for awards in the following categories:

1. Best contribution to biblical textual criticism.

2. Best discussion of an individual manuscript.

3. Worst treatment of textual criticism in a biblical commentary.

4. Best evangelical contribution to biblical textual criticism.

5. Most arcane detail published in any text critical discussion.

6. Funniest item connected to textual criticism of the Bible.

7. Evangelical Textual Criticism Hall of Fame / Life-time achievement Award.

Nominations can be submitted (over the next 16 days) as comments or by email.

4G Is Here

Today Swedish Telia, as the first operator in the world, launches a 4g-network. American Verizon and Docomo in Japan will follow later. The 4g-net is only available in the central parts of Stockholm and Oslo at this point. Theoretically the so-called LTE-technique opens for a maximum speed 100 Mbit/second. Ericsson and Huwaei are the companies that developed the technique, which will allow for new services, like streaming HD-TV. The price for this kind of connection will be around 600SEK ($85)/month, Telia says, but the introductory price, valid until summer, is symbolic 4SEK (ca 50 cents [sic!]) - I assume this means one will have to sign up for a long term subscription.

Personally, I will probably not get 4G for a long time. I just cancelled my Telia 3G broadband a week ago, since I can now connect the computer to the internet with my mobile phone like any 3G modem.

Update: Wikipedia article about 4G

Friday, December 11, 2009

SBL New Orleans: Summaries from SBL Sessions on Textual Criticism

Brief summaries from some SBL session on New Testament textual criticism and papyrology by Rex Howe of Dallas Theological Seminary have been published on the Friends of CSNTM website here. It should be noted that these cover only a part of the many papers that were presented in NT textual criticism (the last session is not covered, and neither the IGNTP session, nor the joint NTTC/LXX session). Moreover the summaries should be read with caution, because some are misleading.

For example, the summary of Matteo Grosso's paper, "'Where There Is No Male and Female': The D-Text of Colossians and Women" says:
The textual insertion (ἄρσεν και θῆλυ) suggested by some D-type witnesses in Colossians 3:11 has often thought to have been influenced by the inclusion of the phrase in Galatians 3:28. Grosso challenged such an explanation and posits another: those behind the D-type tradition were influenced by an anti-female bias.

In fact, I understood Grosso's argument for the reading as the opposite. From the viewpoint of internal evidence, the Western reading here is actually pro-female, and therefore goes against its own anti-female tendency (if there is one), whereas the omission in other MSS may be due to an anti-female tendency. Therefore Grosso suggested that the reading is to be regarded as all the more reliable. Grosso presented an earlier version of this paper at the SBL in Rome and in light of the response there he now presented a more nuanced and cautious argument.

Another paper that Rex found to be the most exciting was Geoffrey Smith's on a "New Oxyrhyncus Papyrus of Mark 1:1–2." According to the programme, Smith was actually supposed to talk about the Bodmer Misc. Codex (in which P72 is found). When I told Peter Head that he had changed topic and was going to present on Mark 1:1, he thought I was joking (how could he think that?). Peter has written an article on Mark 1:1, in which he prefers the shorter reading, excluding the words "Son of God." This new papyrus fragment attests to the shorter reading (you should have seen Peter's happy smile). However, Smith proposed that it is an amulet and I agree with that judgment for several reasons. I will come back to that in my own summary of the paper. In any case, Rex points out that not everyone in the audience were not convinced that this is an amulet (perhaps you can guess who).

Rex has also posted summaries of various ETC papers here including: Daniel B. Wallace, "The Text of the Gospels in the Papyri"; William F. Warren, "The Text of the Gospels in the Apostolic Fathers"; Stanley E. Porter, "The Text of the Gospels in Apocryphal Greek Gospel Papyri"

Bible and Church Conference DVD

The DVD from the Bible and Church Conference in Westminster Chapel, London, sponsored by Tyndale House, earlier this year is now out. The three speakers are all ETC bloggers:

Peter Williams, "Have we got the history right?"

Dirk Jongkind, "Have we got the text right?"

Simon Gathercole, "Have we got Jesus right?"

Read our earlier announcement which includes a film clip featuring Peter Williams here.

Obtain the DVD here.

New Manuscripts up at CSNTM

Jeff Hargis, field director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, announces on the TC discussion list that images of several manuscripts have been uploaded at the website here. These are from the University of Glasgow:
These manuscripts include P22, a third century fragment of John's gospel. Others include GA 560, GA 561, GA 562, GA lect 162, GA lect 239, GA lect 240, and GA lect 241. The manuscripts are posted on the "Manuscripts" section of the website. CSNTM is grateful to the University of Glasgow for permission to post these images.

One MS in the Glasgow collection that the team examined is MS Gen 229. It contains lectionary information and κεφάλαια for Matthew, a short hypothesis and indication of στίχοι in Matthew. However, it turned out that there is no actual NT text. Read Dan Wallace's story here.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

PhD Scholarship in OT Textual Criticism

Jim Davila announces an impressive raft of PhD scholarships at St Andrew's, including The Emanuel Tov Scholarship: for a student interested in Old Testament / Hebrew Bible Textual Criticism.
Congratulations to St Andrew's on these six scholarships to celebrate 600 years of Divinity (Cambridge is celebrating 800 years, but not in such an impressively student-centred manner).

Searching for Nomina Sacra with Accordance

Over at the Accordance Blog, Rick Bennett has posted on "The Search for ‘Sacred Names’." In this post Rick summarizes the paper he presented at the SBL in Rome (which I blogged about here).

In his excellent SBL paper, Rick demonstrated how Accordance with the GNT-Pap module - a digitized version of Comfort and Barrett, now extended with some new papyri, 𝔓118-121, and 𝔓123, can be used to search for and analyze the distribution and form of nomina sacra.

I have just been using this module myself when I searched for some nomina sacra, although I used the first version which has been updated since then. Of course I compared the results with the printed edition (and images and other sources). I did spot some errors and limitations along the way, that I have reported to Accordance.

Errors is to be understood here as deviances from the printed version of Comfort and Barrett (2d edition), not as de facto errors (which unfortunately occur too). I found three errors relating to P45: Luke 11:11 (wrong brackets); Acts 11:8 (wrong brackets); Acts 16:18, Comfort and Barrett abbreviates IH XP in the printed version, but the digital version has IH XY. I think these errors occur both in GNTPAP-C and -M. I suspect that the wrong bracket formatting, [ ... [ or ] ... ], occur at several places in the module, not just in the transcription of P45, and I assume that these could be searched for rather easily by folks like Rick Bennett who knows practically everything there is to know about search strings (needless to say that he has helped me a lot with those).

One limitation that still remains in the latest version is the possibility to exclude hits that occur within conjectural text set in square brackets. Rick tells me that the developers will do something about that in a future version. For now one has to sort that out manually. Some other limitations that were included in an earlier version of this post have now been dealt with in the current version of the module (which I don't have for the moment).

In sum, the software is very useful for this kind of research. The fact that one gets hits in the reconstructed passages is a limitation, but in the end, the most important thing is that all the factual hits are there, and it is clearly better to get more hits and exclude irrelevant ones, than to miss some cases.

Update: the above post has been edited since some of the limitations that I brought up are not relevant for the latest version of the module. Thanks to Rick Bennett for updating me :-)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Seminar Curriculum Question

I am dithering about which manuscripts to study next term in an MPhil seminar I run. So I thought I would ask for some help here. Basically we have already done the papyri so I need eight or nine manuscripts to study covering the full range of material on parchment.

Here are my preliminary thoughts:

Week 1: fragmentary uncials (a la Parker in Status Quaestiones or 0311-0315)
Week 2: Vaticanus (no not focusing on the dots)
Week 3: Sinaiticus
Week 4: Alexandrinus (or not?)
Week 5: Bezae
Week 6: not sure
Week 7: 1739
Week 8: A.n. other minuscule (prob. not one by the same scribe as 1739 [just saying this before Amy chips in])
Week 9: An interesting lectionary manuscript.

Criteria: helpful to have some secondary literature; photos available (published facsimile or on-line); interesting or important text or features or particular readings; connects with or raises some general issue in NT TC; like to have a spread of NT material (not all gospels etc.).

So any ideas?

Cursed Manuscripts

The Egyptologist and Classicist Hugh Evelyn-White was involved in archaeological exploration in the Nitrian region of northern Egypt in the first half of the twentieth century. His labors brought him into contact with a number of monasteries in the region, and, as a result, he brought back a considerable number of manuscripts to Britain. White attracted the attention of a young lady whose love drove her mad and resulted in her suicide. Grief overtook White, who supposedly had conducted himself in a respectable fashion, and he killed himself with a firearm. In the time leading up to his own death, White wrote:

Things are no better, rather worse and likely to be worse. I shall never again laugh at the threats written in those MSS.: they have got me all right, and it seems likely they have not done with me yet. I had leave from the Abbot to carry those MS. leaves to Cairo, remember that, but the other monks told me it would be on my head, and so it has proved (Add. MS. 45690, fol. 63).

Gerald Bonner, 'The Crum Papers' The British Museum Quarterly 29 no. 3 (1964): 59–67 (63).

Carlson on the CBGM and Jude 5

At the SBL when I bumped into Stephen Carlson I was delighted to hear that he has chosen as topic for his dissertation to investigate stemmatic methods in NT textual criticism, specifically the Coherence Based Genealogical Method. A few days ago Stephen posted an article review about the CBGM on his blog Hypotyposeis.

Carlson refers to Klaus Wachtel's example in Jude 5 (see Carlson's bibliography) where the ECM adopts Ιησους. Since I have dealt a lot with Jude over the years I am of course very interested in this crux. First, it is important to note that the evidence is not clear cut in this passage even with the CBGM (as far as I know), although the coherence might be better for Ιησους than κυριος. Therefore, in the installment κυριος was printed with bold dot below the main line reading.

Further, I note that a minuscule witness like 1501 which is basically a Byzantine witness yet attests to Ιησους, and none of its 10 closest potential ancestors have this reading, which is also an indication that this reading could also emerge independently, i.e., the adopted reading in the ECM does not have perfect coherence, so I suppose that this particular criterion is not entirely decisive. (Minuscule 93 is another witness which four closest potential ancestors have κυριος.) The program "Genealogical queries" on the website of the INTF can generate a textual flow diagram for Jude 5/20 involving the subject of the verb which looks like this. Just click on the image to get a larger version in your browser. One can note the line up to 1501 from 424 attesting to reading n (with κυριος). Unfortunately, I am not sure which all of the readings are in this stemma (although it can be inferred from the attesting witnesses), because the variation unit (Jude 5/20) does not correspond with the ECM apparatus that gives the larger stretch of text Jude 5/12-20, involving several distinct textual problems.

In any case, Carlson concludes in regard to the CBGM in general:
To its credit, the CGBM appears to be more rigorous and precise about evaluating external evidence than the heuristic rules of thumb currently employed in reasoned eclecticism. Its main drawback is that this promised precision may be more apparent than real. The theoretical basis for the CGBM is the work of one man, and the technique has been applied only to the Catholic Epistles. It has not been tested for other texts and its operation is still poorly understood outside of Muenster. Indeed, it has not borrowed its concepts from classical stemmatics or even from phylogenetics in biology, which have been tested and found to be robust over many different applications. It is still very much an unproven method; time will have to tell as more people gain experience with it.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Sustainable Living and the UK National Health Service

If you are following the news about Copenhagen and are interested in what the NHS is doing about sustainability in the UK (where the NHS is Britain's largest employer and one of the largest contributors to the UK carbon footprint), the BMJ has commissioned a video about the impact of climate change on babies born today, and how the NHS can reduce its carbon footprint.

The video is here: Maisie & George and the future of their planet

How is this connected with textual criticism? It is a quiz. Answers in the comments please!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Archaic Mark Epilogue

The University of Chicago published the following news in an article "Scholarly sleuthing, exhaustive examination uncover a forgery in Library":

The Divinity School’s Margaret M. Mitchell, together with experts in micro-chemical analysis and medieval bookmaking, has concluded that one of the University Library’s most enigmatic possessions is a forgery.

Mitchell said experts from multiple disciplines made the findings possible. “Our collective efforts have achieved what no single scholar could do ― give a comprehensive analysis of the composite artifact that is an illustrated codex. The data collected in this research process has given us an even deeper understanding of the exact process used by the forger,” said Mitchell. “It will, we hope, assist ongoing scholarly investigation into and detection of manuscripts forged in the modern period."

Mitchell completed the analysis with a study of the textual edition the forger had used. She confirmed and refined Stephen C. Carlson’s proposal that the modern edition from which the forger copied the text was the 1860 edition of the Greek New Testament by Philipp Buttmann.

Congratulations to Stephen Carlson, he was right all the time!

Read the whole story here.

Read the whole (almost) story of the forgery here.

Thanks to "Jorwed" who sent me the link.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Wachtel on the Byzantine Text of the Gospels

The very last paper In the last NT textual criticism session a few days ago at the SBL in New Orleans was presented by Klaus Wachtel, INTF, Münster:

"The Byzantine Text of the Gospels: Recension or Process?"

Codex Alexandrinus (A 02) and the Purple Codices (N 022, O 023, S 042, F 043) are often classified as early witnesses of the Byzantine text and thought to support the theory that it was the result of a recension made early in the 4th century. Full collations of 38 synoptic pericopes in 156 manuscripts brought together in a research project at the Münster Institute for New Testament Textual Research can now be used for a fresh look at the question of how the Byzantine text of the Gospels arose. In fact, the evidence points to a development rather than to a recension, although it becomes clear that a large part of this development had already taken place by the 5th century. This paper will describe the phases of that development represented by Codex Alexandrinus and the Purple Codices.

Since Wachtel perceived that people in the audience were a bit tired in this late afternoon (especially the Europeans with the huge time difference), he decided not to read his whole paper, but instead summarized it, showed the slides, and went straight to the conclusions.

However, the whole paper including tables is now available for download on the INTF website here.

Kephalaia in Alexandrinus

There is a new article out: Greg Goswell, ‘Early Readers of the Gospels: The KEPHALAIA and TITLOI of Codex AlexandrinusJGRChJ 6 (2009), 134-74 (on-line). Not only is the author based in Melbourne (always a good sign), but he includes complete lists (with ET) of all the kephalaia in Alexandrinus with some reflections on the hermeneutical significance of the divisions. (HT: D. Stark) Here is the closing paragraph:

Textual divisions are an element of the paratext of Scripture. They act as a commentary on the text that can at times be an insightful guide. I have sought to demonstrate that there are four main possible effects of a textual break, namely to separate or join material, and to highlight or downplay features of the text, and I have provided multiple examples of each effect (function) using the kephalaia. The function of a textual break in separating or joining material has at times provided the reader with exegetical insights. One clear trend within all four Gospels is the highlighting of the element of the miraculous in the ministry of Jesus and (the reverse side of this) the downplaying of his teaching. The headings usually focus on the fact of controversy between Jesus and the religious leaders rather than what issues were controverted. The lack of attention given to dominical passion predictions and the paucity of divisions within the passion narrative itself suggest that there is little focus upon the suffering and atoning death of Jesus. Instead the divisions in the passion narratives reflect a homiletical tradition (or liturgical usage) in which there is a moralistic focus on positive and negative ethical examples. This study of the Gospels in Codex Alex-andrinus has demonstrated that delimitation criticism has the potential of generating new exegetical insights (or recovering old ones long for-gotten) and of helping us to scrutinize and re-evaluate contemporary exegetical traditions and commonplaces.

Biblioblog Top 50 update

Earlier this week I mentioned the monthly Biblioblog Top 50. Apparently, however, it will only be updated twice a year from now on. A new top 50 list was just published based on visits from June-November. Now this blog is ranked #18.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

World News in Ancient Greek

Not quite on topic, but I thought that a number of readers of this blog might be interested in World News in Ancient Greek [thanks to Myrto Theocharous for pointing this out.]

Congratulations to Amy Donaldson

Congratulations to Amy Donaldson, who today (Dec. 3) successfully defended her dissertation on “Explicit References to New Testament Variant Readings Among Greek and Latin Church Fathers,” in partial fulfillment of requirements for the Ph.D. degree at the University of Notre Dame (her dissertation committee included Brian Daley (chair), Robin Darling Young, David Aune, and Michael Holmes). In addition to a discussion of many individual passages and variant readings that are mentioned by one or more of the Greek and Latin fathers, the dissertation includes a very comprehensive catalog of explicit references by fathers up through the time of Augustine in the early fifth century (although later works are sometimes included when they contribute significantly to the discussion). In short, the desideratum wished for by Nestle and Metzger has now been accomplished. It is to be hoped that the dissertation (the catalog, in particular) will be published sooner than later (though university requirements and other circumstances may delay matters somewhat).

Hearty congrats and best wishes to Amy for this accomplishment.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

P127: New manuscript of Acts

The ITSEE News reports as follows:
Volume 74 of The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, recently published, contains David Parker's edition of P127, a fifth-century papyrus containing parts of Acts 10-12 and 15-17.
According to the introduction it is "the most significant new addition to the Greek evidence since ... 1927... It offers a new free version of Acts. Although it differs greatly from Codex Vaticanus, it also presents a strikingly different version from that found in Codex Bezae".
There is nothing yet on the Oxy web-site and I haven't seen vol. 74 as yet.

In the Biblioblogosphere

It is a new month and that means two things in the biblioblogosphere:

1. The Biblical Studies Carnival (xlviii) is published, this time by Doug Chaplin aka Clayboy. This carnival notes several of our posts in November (on Archaic Mark, and the first SBL reports highlighting Peter Head's paper on distigmai here and here and two other reports here and here).

For general information about the Biblical Studies Carnival see the carnival homepage maintained by Tyler Williams, who incidentally is hosting the next carnival in January 2010 on the same website. It is possible to nominate posts by sending suggestions to biblical_studies_carnival AT

2. The Biblioblog Top 50 for November is out, and this blog is ranked no. 36, which is very good - we have readers! Our best ranking since this list started was #9, February-March 2009. Below I have listed our rankings:

October 2008 #22
November 2008 #26
December 2008 #36
January 2009 #17
February 2009 #9
March 2009 #9
April 2009 #13
May 2009 #20
June 2009 #25
July 2009 #28
August 2009 #28
September 2009 #54
October 2009 #35
November 2009 #36

One may get the impression that we lost a lot of readers since March, but that is not the case. Instead many new blogs, more or less related to biblical studies, are being added successively to the "Complete List of Biblioblogs" which means that the competition gets tougher and tougher. In fact, just looking at our own statistics for this year, the summer month July has unexpectedly been the best month so far, mabye because of long reports from conferences in Rome (SBL), London (Codex Sinaiticus) and Birmingham (VMR launch/Mingana collection).

These two monthly events, Biblical Studies Carnival and Biblioblog top 50 could be interpreted merely as narcissistic manifestations. On the other hand, they can be viewed positively as tools that draw reader's attention to: (1) good posts on good blogs and (2) good blogs with good posts.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A New Reconstruction of the Text of Marcion's Gospel and a New Doctor

Congratulations to Dr. Dieter Roth, Edinburgh University, who has just been awarded a PhD!

Thesis Title: “Towards a New Reconstruction of the Text of Marcion’s Gospel: History of Research, Sources, Methodology, and the Testimony of Tertullian”

Examined By: Ulrich Schmid and Paul Parvis

This thesis provides the initial and foundational steps for a new reconstruction of the text of Marcion’s Gospel. Though Harnack’s 1924 magisterial work on Marcion remains valuable and important, shortcomings in his reconstructed text of the Marcionite scriptures, as well as advances in critical methodology, text criticism, and patristic studies have led to the recognition that new reconstructions of Marcion’s scriptures are a scholarly desideratum. With the text of Marcion’s Apostolikon examined and reconstructed in a 1995 work by Ulrich Schmid, this thesis provides the most important elements for a new examination and reconstruction of Marcion’s Euangelion.

Chapter 1 provides an extensive history of research, not only to provide the context and rationale for the present work, but also to provide the first in-depth scholarly survey of work on Marcion’s Gospel in 150 years. In addition, since several flaws in earlier studies arose out of a lack of an accurate understanding of the status quaestionis at various points in the history of research on Marcion’s Gospel, by considering and engaging with previous scholarship such errors can be avoided.

Chapter 2 begins with a consideration of the sources for Marcion’s Gospel and provides a comprehensive listing of verses attested as present in, verses attested as absent from, and unattested verses of this Gospel. The chapter concludes with a methodological discussion, highlighting the particular importance of understanding the citation customs of the witnesses to Marcion’s text and noting the significant citation customs of Tertullian demonstrated by Schmid’s and my own research.

Chapter 3 begins the analysis of the data found in Tertullian, the most extensive and important source for Marcion’s Gospel. This chapter examines all of the verses that Tertullian attests for Marcion’s Gospel that are also cited elsewhere in Tertullian’s corpus and focuses particularly on how these multiply-cited passages provide insight into Tertullian’s testimony to readings in Marcion’s text.

Chapter 4 continues the analysis of Tertullian’s testimony by examining the remaining verses, i.e., those attested for Marcion’s Gospel but not multiply-cited in Tertullian’s corpus.

Chapter 5 provides a reconstruction of the 328 verses in Marcion’s Gospel for which Tertullian is the only witness and offers not only readings for Marcion’s text, but also the relative certainty for those readings.

Chapter 6 summarizes and concludes the thesis, along with brief mention of avenues for future research.

Dieter is planning to continue the work with a complete reconstruction, which means that for the moment public access to the thesis is restricted. If anyone is interested in various issues related to reconstructing Marcion's Gospel a few recently published articles by Dieter address important aspects of working with Marcion's Gospel and the testimony for it:

“Matthean Readings and Tertullian’s Accusations in Adversus Marcionem,” The Journal of Theological Studies 59 (2008): 580–97;
“Marcion’s Gospel and Luke: The History of Research in Current Debate,” The Journal of Biblical Literature 127 (2008): 513–27; and
“Did Tertullian Possess a Greek Copy or Latin Translation of Marcion’s Gospel?,” Vigiliae Christianae 63 (2009): 429–67.

Read also about my first meeting with Dieter in Edinburgh earlier this year, as I was there for the Northern Scholar's Lecture, here. And last week I had the pleasure to meet Dieter again at the SBL, and he joined us for our record breaking ETC blogdinner.

And don't forget to look up Dieter's piece in the SBL Forum "American versus British Ph.D. Programs: Three Doctoral Students Reflect on Their Decisions. Why I Chose To Start in an American Ph.D. Program and Finish in a British One"

Friday, November 27, 2009

Home from SBL 2009

Safely home now from the SBL meeting in New Orleans. No doubt Tommy will be blogging individual papers for several months. So this is just a brief reflection and some highlights. I realise that it is extremely costly to go to SBL: money, time, consumption of resources, time away from family and teaching (and feeling crumby for a couple of days after I get back). I often find it a rather strange and even unsettling experience which raises fundamental questions about what I am doing with my life. But I also enjoy the whole experience, even if one has to extrovert for four days in a row.

I enjoyed giving one paper this year. In previous years I have often done two (or last year even three), which is invariably stressful no matter how far in advance I prepare them. I put a bit more thought into the one presentation as a presentation, and even managed to rehearse it twice at home, and I think this helped with the clarity and focus of the presentation (although the final version of the powerpoint was prepared in the 'plane while waiting on the tarmac at Heathrow).

I majored on sessions relevant to my research interests in "NT Textual Criticism" and "Papyrology and Early Christianity" with various other things more connected with teaching (Mark, NT Theology etc.). Probably the highlight was the new text of Mark 1.1-2 from Oxyrhynchus, but lots of these were interesting and may be blogged in more detail in coming days. There were some odd schedule conflicts and it was noticeable that attendance at some sessions (esp. papyrology) was pretty low.

I had great room-mates and was able to spend time with lots of people (although it is striking how many people who were in New Orleans I didn't meet); I got plenty of exercise in the hotel gym, walking about, and one longer ride; enjoyed some jazz (on the street and in Preservation Hall); enjoyed some good food on a budget (breakfast buffet meant a banana generally could suffice for lunch which left some great dinners). I had several helpful discussions about publishing matters (while managing to buy only three books), and have some ideas for future projects of various sorts (this section deliberately vague). I also met with some students thinking about coming to Cambridge. It was also noticeable that several friends are struggling with job hunting in a difficult economic environment.

Initially I found New Orleans a bit grim (not helped by a delayed flight which meant I didn't arrive until 1AM on Saturday morning, the rain, the smell, the sights on Bourbon Street at 5AM on Sunday morning). Monday afternoon was lovely and sunny and I hired a bicycle for an enjoyable tootle around in the sun covering the French Quarter, the Garden District, Audubon Park and the bike path on top of the levee upstream along the Mississippi (I arrived back a little late to the final TC session and sat in the back sweating and rehydrating!).

On Tuesday a friend with a car meant we could head south for a two mile nature trail in the Barataria Nature Preserve (unfortunately no alligators, but plenty of interest as it follows a lovely bayou through a range of different habitats - we did see egrets, vultures, squirrels, lizards, snakes and fish leaping); followed by a trip to the end of the road at Lafitte where we had lunch looking out on shrimp boats coming in and a large flock of pelicans while feasting on the Shrimp Special (shrimp cocktail, followed by shrimp gumbo, fried shrimp, and stuffed shrimp with shrimp salad). Getting out and about helped me to appreciate the natural environment of the area, as well as something of its fascinating history.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Panel on Textual Criticism and Exegesis in New Orleans III

Jim has already posted on Larry Hurtado's presentation. Next was my presentation, entitled "Surrounded by a Cloud of Witnesses." I have already described it briefly here, but to rehearse a little, my main point was this:
Variants that are judged as textual corruptions of the initial text, nevertheless stand in a direct or indirect hermeneutical relationship to the initial text, and as such they are more or less valuable for understanding that text.

I used Luke 10:41-42 (Jesus' response to Martha) in order to illustrate the point. The NASB text reads:

But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but {only} one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

My own interpretation of this passage is the following: Jesus is saying to Martha that there is one thing in life that is more important than everything else, and that is to be in his presence. That is what Mary has chosen and she should not be blaimed for doing so. According to the poll here on the blog 29 responses agreed with this interpretation, whereas 9 responses disagreed, so the small sample at least indicates that this is a common interpretation.

Now the UBS committee thought that the third reading, which is reflected in the NASB translation, is the most difficult reading because of the absolutenss of ενος (one thing) which can be perceived as a strong rebuke of Martha – scribes asked: Weren’t Martha’s preparations necessary? and so the other smoother readings originated.

As a result of the absolute interpretation on the part of some scribes, the first change that happened in the textual tradition according to the committee was a substitution of ολιγων (a few things) for ενος, in order to stress that Martha’s activity was also important, although Mary made a better choice (την αγαθην μεριδα). This is the second reading. Then the fourth reading developed as a conflation, that is, a combination of the second and third reading, combining ενος and ολιγων, with ”disastrous results as to sense” but is this scenario really likely from the viewpoint of external evidence?

Is it possible that the fourth reading, attested by a wide array of important witnesses including 𝔓3, Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, could have developed from the second reading extant only in one Greek minuscule, 38, and some versions? Theoretically, it is not impossible, but it is very unlikely. Besides, even the word order of the fourth reading speaks against this possibility.

Gordon Fee has argued persuasively that the real choice is between the third and fourth readings, one is clearly a revision of the other. The real question is which variant that can best be explained as the revision of the other. The choice must be made on internal grounds given that both readings are so well attested.

What then is the meaning of the fourth reading, ”but few things are necessary, or only one”? Jonathan Borland drew the attention to a 19th century commentator, Wilhelm Meyer who thought it originated because of the explanation which takes the passage and the word ENOS as referring to one dish. Martha worried about many things, but just a few or one dish was necessary to prepare. However, Fee follows Godet’s interpretation which is less culinaric, ”few things are necessary,” that is, for the body, ”or only one,” that is, for the soul. Fee identifies this as the more difficult reading which led a scribe to clarify by omitting the perplexing reference to a ”few things,” because ultimately only one thing is necessary and that is what Mary chose.

Fee further thinks the variation between γαρ and δε among witnesses in the third reading reflects the fact that the fourth reading, where γαρ makes more sense, is original. The γαρ introduces an explanation, ”but few things are necessary, or only one, for [γαρ] Mary has chosen the good part...”

Okay, but if the fourth reading is initial, and the third reading is smoother, is there another way of interpreting it than a strong rebuke of Martha? Otherwise we just have one difficult reading originating from another difficult reading. Fee does not answer this question clearly in his treatment. In fact, when he concludes his argument for the fourth reading he says that "if we accept the fourth reading then the text is not so much a ’put down’ of Martha, as it is a gentle rebuke for her anxiety." So in the end Fee implies that he still interprets the third reading as a "put down," which hardly makes it a smooth reading. He does, however, point out that the third reading never seems to have given anyone trouble in antiquity among those who comment on the text.

So is there an alternative smooth interpretation of this reading? I suggest the following:

Jesus could have meant that Martha worried about many things when only one thing was necessary for the moment, that is, focus on what you are doing and don’t worry about the many things that you cannot attend to now. And then he went on to say that Mary focused on one thing and that was the good part (or the best part if you will).

In conclusion, external and internal evidence in my opinion suggest that the fourth reading has priority. Notwithstanding, the study of the readings in the passage made me aware of several alternative interpretations, specifically a smooth interpretation of that reading which is now adopted in NA27.

Finally, if any reader was there at NOBTS and took a picture of us, I would be grateful to have a copy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Panel on Textual Criticism and Exegesis in New Orleans II


Several of us benefited greatly from the hospitality of Bill Warren and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. The Center for New Testament Textual Studies shuttled people back and forth from Providence House to downtown regularly. Prof. Warren was superb in recommending restaurants.

Additionally, NOBTS and CNTTS had an open house followed by a session on textual criticism ( The panel was comprised of Larry Hurtado, Tommy Wasserman, and Michael Theophilus.

Prof. Hurtado argued that the longer reading of Mark 1:1 (… “the Son of God”) was an addition reflecting sound exegesis of the whole of Mark’s Gospel. One of the reasons for the shorter reading is that an accidental omission of ΥΥΘΥ (Son of God) would seem unlikely at the beginning of a book. Presumably, a scribe would have started his arduous task after a refreshing coffee break, etc.

I wonder, however, if a scribe was really less likely to make mistakes when fresh. I’m not sure that the data does support the presumption. A perusal of the opening verses of the individual writings of the New Testament indicates that they all have their fair share of accidental mistakes throughout the manuscript tradition. Perhaps a fresh start led the scribe to being in a hurry. This might explain the word order inversion of Christ Jesus in Rom 1:1, for example.

Prof. Hurtado conceded the existence of accidental mistakes in opening verses, but doubted whether an accidental omission similar to the omission of Son of God in Mark 1:1 could be found. I think, however, that 1 Cor 1:1 would be one such reading. There, κλητός is omitted in several manuscripts so that the text reads “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus [or, Jesus Christ] through the will of God…” instead of “Paul, CALLED to be an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

SBL New Orleans 2009 ETC Blog Dinner

My batteries are reloaded :-). I have just been to the annual ETC blog dinner, and we apparently broke a new record with some 35 participants, the large majority of which are currently involved in TC, including friends from Birmingham and Münster and others that joined in. Unfortunately, we couldn't all sit at the same table, and Peter Head cancelled the speech he had prepared on the napkin in the last minute (with all the annual awards and everything...).

In any case, this dinner was just after the TC section, in which six of us had presented papers, so at least I had that nice feeling of relief - my paper on "Text-types and Criteria for Evaluating Readings in New Testament Textual Criticism" went very well – and enjoyed myself very much for the whole evening.

From the menu I had a Chicken Gumbo, actually I don't remember the full name of it, but it was delicious, and for desert some vanilla ice cream. New Orleans is known for its spicy seafood, and I have had the chance to taste that too. I am very content with the food, except the breakfasts which have not been exactly what I am used to.

When I sum up, this meeting has been terrific, not least for getting the opportunity to meet all friends (and particularly the manuscript geeks out there). Bill Warren and Steven Whately here from New Orleans have been particularly gracious to me in all kinds of ways. In fact, Steven picked me up at the airport way past midnight when I arrived, and will bring me there again tomorrow early in the morning. So the ETC blog award 2009 for brotherly service at least goes to Bill and Steven.

There is so much to blog about from this meeting. As usual I have been crazy enough to take extensive notes of many papers (some I just couldn't keep up with), and this will probably make for another SBL marathon series that will last for a long time (perhaps until the next meeting). I hope my co-bloggers are not turning lazy when they see me at the computer – I hope some of them will contribute on the topic SBL New Orleans 2009 so that we can share with all our readers our experiences during these days.

That's all for now, more to come.

Monday, November 23, 2009

SBL New Orleans 2009 Brief Note

I am in the Marriot Lobby and the batteries are low. Today there was a massive amount of textual criticism, which is good for any TC addict. During the IGNTP session in the morning a new word was coined by Rachel Kevern who described the procedure of doing electronic transcriptions, which ended with an appeal, in which she by accidence, said that the IGNTP needs scholunteers (scholars/volunteers). In the discussion Scott Hayes suggested that people helping out with transcription could be acknowledged in some way for doing such work (good for their CV). Larry Hurtado with his tounge in his cheak followed up with a suggestion that T-shirts be printed saying "I am an INGTP-scholunteer."

During this session Hugh Houghton had a very interesting presentation on capitula in OL witnesses with many useful pieces of information. Moreover, Christian Askeland presented on editing John in Coptic. And Craig Koester presented an exegete's viewpoint on the IGNTP John in which he discussed matters of punctuation and internal evidence in a number of interesting passages. After the IGNTP public session there was a board meeting (my first board meeting).

The afternoon was filled with marvellous papers in the New Testament textual criticism session. More on that later. Afterwards I went on to a TC editorial board meeting. I have just been out for good food with Peter Head, Jim Leonard, Dirk Jongkind, Jan Krans, and one other scholar whom I have never met before. Going out and having a good time together is as good as it gets. Tonight there is the Scottish reception.

I will come back with

Sunday, November 22, 2009

SBL New Orleans 2009 I: Peter Head Putting the Distigmai in the Right Place Pt. 2

The previous post continues here:

4. The distigmai and the small chapter numbers
Peter pointed out that the small chapter number are not generally thought to belong to the oldest layer, i.e., when the codex was first produced. T. S. Skeat examined the hand which he found was different, and the system does not correspond to other features of text segmentation. So it is later, and it also accomodates to the diple. On four occasions written over the top, e.g., 1249 C., 1252 C13. On the other hand, also this feature is earlier than the distigmai, as seen when they interfer on at least five occasions, e.g., 1240 C23, 1245 B 6, 1273 B R 41, 1496 B.

5. Large chapter numbers
These were perhaps added in the 9th century. The large numbers are also older than the distigmai. Sometimes distigme appear outside, sometimes inside large nubmers (did not take down the examples).

So, all three systems above (diple, small and large chapter numbers) interfer with the distigmai, and they are prior. This establishes a relative chronology.

6. The distigmai and other marginal material.
A distigme is written over a lection marker 1409 C 10 R; another over a faded note 1426 C 32; another affected by a reinked text: 1479 B 39 L; another displaced by a marginal comment 1512 B 17; yet another one was tucked in perhaps to avoid interference with a large capital letter (that Skeat has dated to the 15th century); and, finally, there are distigme on the first page of the minuscule addendum.

7. The right place: 16th century (Sepulveda)
Curt Niccum has suggested that the distigmai (formerly Umlauts) were added in the 16th century. Juan Ginés de Sepulveda (1490-1574) had access to Codex Vaticanus and in letter exchange supplied Erasmus with 365 readings to show that these readings agreed with the Vulgate against the TR, and that Erasmus should revise his edition. [As Jan Krans pointed out to me, Erasmus prefered to go with the pope’s opinion and refused to carry through this revision.]

Now, Peter had compared the published text of Erasmus reflecting MSS available in his time and had found that in the gospels there was a 92% match between Erasmus edition and the distigmai. If one includes the notes in Erasmus the rate goes up tp 98%! This supports Niccums' thesis.

The relative chronology shows that the distigmai are late.
A comparison of the distigmai with Erasmus' edition gives 98% match.
This explanation is economical.

After the presentation Payne was the first to respond. He said none of the photos with examples of distigmai shown in the presentation were in apricot color. Payne admitted that they therefore could be later distigmai, and, in fact he has pointed out himself that one sign of late addition is their displacement. Then he mentioned another piece of evidence n the Another piece in the mirror impression of some distigmai, which would have occured only after the binding of the codex when the distigmai were still wet enough. As for the relative chronology, then, the diplai, added before the codex was bound, are only expected to be prior to distigmai, so no objection to that.

Peter Head then resonded that we primarily need to date the distigmai as a unified system, and it is questionable to date it on the basis of the color. Everything can happen with dots.

Payne was apparently not convinced by Head's relative chronology but admitted that the Erasmus' material may be something. Then Payne turned around to address the audience and said he had found five places where there is a special form of distigme which marks large blocks of text (major interpolations). He offered a handout with new material that he had brought. This apology felt a little bit awkward.

Then Amy Anderson, who was presiding, gave Peter the word again and pointed out that against the textual evidence available up to the 4th century we don’t get enough match against the distigmai (somewhere in the range 60-70%). [TW: I said to Peter earlier, that this comparison group will be very important; after some more thought, I think it may also be necessary to compare with some early representatives of the Byzantine text; and moreover I think it would be interesting to look specifically at places where the TR has peculiar minority readings and diverge from the MT].

Nevertheless, Head thinks the 98% match with Erasmus is the death-knell of Payne’s theory.

David Parker got to respond and agreed with Peter that the dating by the color of dots is problematic.

Tim Brown asked Peter how he would date the reinforcement. I do not remember exactly Peter's response but since he thinks the distigmai were added in teh 16th century he does not accept that they were reinforced, since Tischendorf dates the reinforcement of the manuscript to the 10-11th century.

In conclusion: Peter presented a convincing argument that the distigmai were added late, probably in the 16th century as Niccum has proposed, based on the relative chronology of marginal features in the manuscript, and on a close match with Erasmus' edition. In my opinion, this in itself does not entirely exlcude the possibility that some of the distigmai were very early, but I do agree that Peter's explanation is the more economical (Occams' razor), so that only one explanation for the origin of the distigmai is necessary, regarded as one unified system.

Payne still comes back to the apricot colored ink of a few distigmai which is his strongest argument. Of course, his apology created a certain impression of someone desperately clinging on to a theory in which he has invested so much. But, to be fair to Payne – although this presentation must have been rather payneful – I think the case is not entirely closed (but almost).

I have not personally looked into this matter much, but what I would do if I were Peter Head writing an article on the subject on the plane back to Cambridge, I would, if possible, seek to address Payne's remaining argument based on the color of the ink and find contra evidence (if Peter can find access to the facsimile in the cabin). Do any of the later dated features that Peter highlighted in his presentation, or other features known to be late, also have a similar apricot color? Is there any fluctuation in the color of the ink in those later layers?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

SBL New Orleans 2009 I: Peter Head Putting the Distigmai in the Right Place Pt. 1

The first New Testament textual criticism session is over. There were several interesting papers. The one I enjoyed the most was probably that by Peter Head prepared on the plane to New Orleans:

”The Marginalia of Codex Vaticanus: Putting the Distigmai (Formerly known as 'Umlauts') in Their Place"

Phil Payne, who discovered the distigmai and has dated them to the 4th century (which Head thinks is the "wrong place") was sitting on the frontrow. Don't ask me about the funny hat Peter is wearing on the photo. I have never seen him wear it before. Maybe it is a special for SBL, to create an effect.

Unfortunately I don't have time right now, here in the lobby of Sheraton Hotel, to summarize Peter's whole paper, but it was divided into seven points, so we will see how far I get.

1. Intro: the story so far
PH briefly showed some examples of the distigme and charts of distribution. The total number is a bit uncertain, approximately 800 (some are unclear). Payne thinks some distigmai are original to the scribe working in the 4th century. This standpoint has been accepted by Miller, Epp, and others. Payne's main case is that these distigmai are in the apricot color ink. At the last meeting Payne showed some statistics trying to demonstrate (with NA27 as a basis of comparison) how the distigmai corresponds to textual variants.

Peter Head argued that the distigmai all belong to one unified system that was added some time in the 16th century. The feature is Interesting for the history of textual criticism. Head emphasized several times that he was not persuaded by the appeal to the ink color. On the other hand he agreed with Payne that the distigmai mark textual variation, and that the different colors do suggest more than one movement through the NT text (they were obviously not added in e.g., one and the same day).

Peter Head's main argument was based on the establishment of a relative chronology of these dots compared to others features of the codex as they appear in its margin. This lead Head to his second point:

2. A note on the method
The best place to look when establishing a relative chronology is the place where there is interferene between the different systems. The more ancient system will have a more consistent pattern, whereas the more recent will wary in its placement as other older items interfere.

3. The oldest stage: the diple.
This system of adding the diple in the margin of an OT quotation [TW: and I think also at some points extrabiblical material] is original to when the codex was first produced.

When diple and distigmai interfer the latter is secondary. The placement of the diple is consistent, not the distigme. e.g. page 1255 A39, 1255 B 3L

There are totally 16 places of interference between the systems, where the placing of distigmai is accomodated – the diple is never accomodated.

Part 2 will follow in another post. Now I am soon off for dinner.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Oxford Handbook of Papyrology

I will have to order this title:

The Oxford Handbook of Papyrology by Roger S. Bagnall

ISBN13: 9780195178388
ISBN10: 0195178386
Hardback, 712 pages
Jun 2009, In Stock
Price: $150.00 (06)
Shipping Details
Thousands of texts, written over a period of three thousand years on papyri and potsherds, in Egyptian, Greek, Latin, Aramaic, Hebrew, Persian, and other languages, have transformed our knowledge of many aspects of life in the ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern worlds. The Oxford Handbook of Papyrology provides an introduction to the world of these ancient documents and literary texts, ranging from the raw materials of writing to the languages used, from the history of papyrology to its future, and from practical help in reading papyri to frank opinions about the nature of the work of papyrologists. This volume, the first major reference work on papyrology written in English, takes account of the important changes experienced by the discipline within especially the last thirty years.

Including new work by twenty-seven international experts and more than one hundred illustrations, The Oxford Handbook of Papyrology will serve as an invaluable guide to the subject.
Product Details
712 pages; 125 halftones; 6-3/4 x 9-3/4;
ISBN13: 978-0-19-517838-8
ISBN10: 0-19-517838-6
About the Author(s)
Roger S. Bagnall is Director of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Another Greek Mosaic Quiz

Possibly inspired by my recent Greek Mosaic travel quiz, one of our readers Brice Jones has posted another one on his blog here. Brice is a graduate student at Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT,doing a Master of Arts in Religion (Biblical Studies). He writes on his blog that he collects Greek New Testaments and that he likes attending the SBL. So, I guess I might bump into Brice any day now.

I am in New York waiting for my flight to New Orleans. I will get there 11.17PM (=6AM Swedish time). I will have traveled 24 hours before I get to my destination. And tomorrow I am on that panel at NOBTS.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

ETC Dinner at SBL, Monday 7 pm

We're all set for our ETC blog dinner on Monday night, Nov. 23rd, at 7 pm. We'll be at the Gumbo Shop about a block from Jackson Square, located at 630 St. Peter's Street--somehow the address seemed right for our group! :) This is a more moderate priced setting with quality food and a great atmosphere. Let's plan to meet in the lobby of the Marriott after the session ends, say at 6:40, then we can walk over together (about 10 minute walk).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Panel on Textual Criticism and Exegesis in New Orleans

One day before the SBL Annual Meeting opens in New Orleans, on 20 Novmeber, 3-5PM there will be a panel talk on textual criticism and exegesis (I don’t know the exact title) at New Orleans Baptist Seminary, arranged by Bill Warren, director of the Center for New Testament Textual Studies (CNTTS). Panel members include Larry Hurtado, Edinburgh University, Michael Theophilos, Oxford University and Tommy Wasserman, Lund University/Örebro Theological Seminary. (-Yes, just men. I think Bill attempted to include a female scholar on the panel, but was unsuccessful.) Each panel member will offer a 20 minute presentation, and there will be plenty of room for response and discussion.

I have just finished my own presentation, “Surrounded by a Cloud of Witnesses,” in which I will make three points.

Pay attention to:

- the scribes
- the variants
- the parallels (including all the variants)

I will just mention the first and third point in passing because of the time constraint. My actual example from Luke 10:41-42 (Jesus’ response to Martha) will focus on the second point. I will emphasize that:
Variants that are judged as textual corruptions of the initial text, nevertheless stand in a direct or indirect hermeneutical relationship to the initial text, and as such they are more or less valuable for understanding that text.
The pre-eminent criterion in textual criticism suggests that the variant that is the initial text should be able to account for the origin, development, or presence of all other readings in its variation-unit. My point in this presentation is that conversely, the origin, development or presence of all other readings in the variation-unit contributes to the understanding of the initial text.

As for the example, Luke 10:41-42 (NASB) says:
But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but {only} one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
As most English versions NASB reflects the variant readings adopted in NA27.

This is basically how I have interpreted Jesus’ answer to Martha: Jesus is saying to Martha that there is one thing in life that is more important than everything else, and that is to be in his presence. That is what Mary has chosen and she should not be blaimed for doing so.

How many agree with my interpretation of the passage (in NASB)? Please answer the poll in the right sidebar, but don’t think too much about your answer – I want your spontaneous reaction.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

ETC Dinner at SBL New Orleans

Up-date: I have just shifted this to the top of the pile so as to get something sorted.

We need to organise another ETC dinner during the SBL conference coming up in New Orleans. Last year Monday evening seemed to work well (since most of the institutional receptions seem to be on Saturday and Sunday, and some people will want to get to church on Sunday evening). Some of us will be at the NTTC session which ends at 6:30PM (23-327 @
Balcony J - MR); some others may be at the Samuel-Kings session (23-340) which ends at 7PM. Any ideas on location (for meeting and then eating?)? Local help especially welcome.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Michael Holmes

Congratulations to Michael Holmes on his recent promotion to University Professor of Biblical Studies and Early Christianity at Bethel University (for an earlier news report see here). The first page contains a link so that you can listen to his lecture From Scrolls to Scrolling: Scripture, Technology, and the Word of God (although sadly we can't see the pictures that obviously accompanied the lecture).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Form and Function in the Late Medieval Bible

The Centre for the History of the Book in the University of Edinburgh is hosting a conference next summer (12-14 July 2010) on "Form and Function in the Late Medieval Bible" and have invited offers of papers (by December 20 2009):
Papers are invited on any aspect of the Late Medieval Bible (c.1230-c.1450) and its place within medieval religion, culture and society; sessions will address the evolution of the Late Medieval Bible, its layout, addenda and art, as well as its connection to exegesis, preaching and liturgy.

Conspiracy Against Users of Internet Explorer?

Several people have complained that the Virtual Manuscript Room does not support Internet Explorer, now recently James F. McGrath, who, with his tongue in his cheek, expressed disappointment that he could not find Fox Mulder and Dana Scully when he followed the link to the VMR (and "Münster X-Files"), although he had found one conspiracy:

Actually, there is one indication of a conspiracy on the site. It is a conspiracy against users of Internet Explorer. The virtual manuscript room web site is not optimized for use with Internet Explorer, although you can just barely make use of the site anyway.

Therefore I thought it useful to publish below the response made in the comments to previous post by Ulrich Schmid, one of the responsible person's for the VMR in Münster:

Since the issue of IE support comes up every now and then with regard to the INTF's NT.VMR, I would like to clarify our position on that.

1. For the first installment of the NT.VMR we had to meet deadlines and our limited resources did not include coding support.

2. We had to choose between supporting a rather limited range of functions and options for more than one platform or additional functions for just one platform.

3. Since it seems to be fairly easy to download one of the supported (free) browsers and we do not ask to pay for our service, we thought people could live with that for the time being.

4. For the next few months we have to meet other deadlines that leave little room for supporting IE in the nearest future.

5. Depending on the results from the next deadlines, we might be in a position (mid-2010) to set up a forum in which requests for additional functions and support can be placed and will be dealt with.

Ulrich Schmid

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Münster X-Files on NT Manuscripts Go Public

Those who have visited the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Münster probably know that each of the registered New Testament manuscripts have a special dossier containing various information relating to the manuscript. These "Münster X-Files," hitherto safely stored in large metal lockers, are now being scanned and the documents (PDF) are made available in the Virtual Manuscript Room (Münster), accessible through each manuscript entry. The links appear in the field "Resources."

I am certain that researchers will be able to find goldnuggets among these files in the future. So far only the dossiers of a number of papyrus MSS have appeared, e.g., P1, P20, P21, P22, P26 und P37. This image shows the entry of P1. There are 13 documents available for download.

Read also my previous announcement of the digitial Kurzgefasste Liste here.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Arabic Website on TC (Fadie A. Fahmy)

Here is a guest post from Fadie A. Fahmy, in which he presents his website "Scholarly faith" (slightly edited by TW):

I am Fadie A. Fahmy (21 years), and my blog is mainly concerned with textual criticism. As Christian Arabic communities are almost KJV-only (our major Arabic translation is translated from KJV), they believe that all the MSS are identical. It was muslims who translated Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus, and this led me personally to seriously study textual criticism. I studied the discipline on my own from the major textbooks. Then I started to invite my friends to study it too.

I have written several essays on textual criticism published on my blog, and I give lectures in several Churches to educate people about the discipline. Lately, I and a friend (Atef Wagih) have translated almost all the reviews of Misquoting Jesus. Dan Wallace helped us tremendously for nearly two years or so; we got permission to translate his reviews, and various publications relating to textual criticism.

So, here are the reviews translated so far:

Dan Wallace:

1- "The Gospel according To Bart"
2- Lee Strobel's interview with Wallace about Misquoting Jesus
3- The first chapter of Dethroning Jesus about Misquoting Jesus
4- Second century papyri (published originally in English on


5- Ben Witherington, "Misanalyzing textual criticism"
6- Craig Blomberg, Review of Misquoting Jesus
7- Michael Kruger, Review of Misquoting Jesus
8- Peter Williams, Review of Misquoting Jesus

We also got permission to translate Misquotes in Misquoting Jesus (of Dillon Burroughs), which we are working on now. We translated Reinventing Jesus (of J. Ed Komoszewksi et al.), and we are currently negotiating with the publisher (Kregel) concerning permission to publish.

In addition, I have made an interview with Wallace, here, and another interview with Williams, here.

All these works help much in defeating the arguments of whoever argues against the reliability of the NT text.

If you need any further information you can post an e-mail through our website (just click on the envelope).