Monday, June 26, 2017

Special ETS Session: Growing Up in the Ehrman Era

It’s just over ten years since Bart Ehrman published his bestselling Misquoting Jesus (reviewed here) and almost ten years since Christanity Today called textual criticism one of “the hottest issues in evangelical theology.” In that time, textual criticism, particularly of New Testament, has become a staple of Evangelical apologetics, with articles on the subject in study Bibles, popular apologetics, and books on the reliability of the Bible. Unfortunately, the apologetic output too often suffers from ignorance of what we all know to be a highly technical field. At times, the results can be quite embarrassing (for example). And the problem does not seem to be improving despite the increasing number of well-trained, Evangelical text-critics.

So, about a year ago, Elijah Hixson and I began planning a way to address this problem. The result is a book project that we are excited to say has recently been accepted by IVP Academic. (More on that later.) Today, as part of that larger project, we would like to announce a special session at this year’s Evangelical Theological Society meeting in Rhode Island. Rather than offering one more response to Ehrman and co., however, the idea is to hold an in-house discussion, one which takes stock of our apologetic efforts over the last decade.

The session is two-part. The first part offers selections from the forthcoming book and the second part is a panel of top Evangelical scholars who have written on the apologetic topic at hand. Elijah and are especially excited that everyone we asked to join the panel has agreed. We actually adjusted our original schedule to give our panelists extra time. Readers will notice several fellow ETC bloggers on the panel and at least one who will be participating in ETS for the first time. Don’t miss it!

Here are the details:

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Careful Timing of Burgon’s Last Twelve Verses

Some time ago, I posted Hort’s review of Dean Burgon’s defense of Mark 16.9-20. Along with that, and more interesting than the review, was a letter that Hort sent to Westcott about his review and the importance of its timing. Hort tells Westcott that he hopes the review is out before the committee for the RV meets to discuss this passage. And so it was. The review was published just before that meeting.

What I had not realized then was that Hort, in timing his response, was following in Burgon’s calculated footsteps. Burgon himself had timed his own book to precede—and so influence—the committee’s discussion of this passage.

Here is what A. H. Cadwallader says in his article “The Politics of Translation of The Revised Version: Evidence from the Newly Discovered Notebooks of Brooke Foss Westcott,” JTS 58, no. 2 (2007): 415–39. After discussing how careful the committee was to remain tight-lipped about their internal deliberations and disagreements, Cadwallader says (pp. 424-25),
The newspapers were officially provided only with details of the days of meeting, the members present, and the passages examined. This provided at least one antagonist, Dean Burgon, with the opportunity to time a publication on the integrity of the last twelve verses to Mark’s Gospel (the ‘Longer Ending’) before the Company dealt with the passage. Westcott’s close companion on such textual issues, Fenton J. A. Hort, saw the political danger immediately, and bemoaned to Westcott the rapid refutation that was needed if the Company was not to swing behind the moderately conservative Frederick Scrivener. As it was, the implication from the minutes is that the discussions on this passage were lengthy if not heated. Of all the 412 days of meeting, this seven-hour meeting yielded the least number of verses processed.
Having seen the minutes from these meetings, I can say that they are pretty boring. The first few entries detail who voted for what change but after that they quickly become a mere record of who was present and what changes were voted for. But Cadwallader’s observation is probably right to see the less-than-usual progress as a sign of serious debate. At least we know the decision was not made hastily.

Perhaps I should also note that Cadwallader has been at work on a history of the RV and I hear that he is making good progress. It should be a fine study when it comes out.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Chiesa’s Historical Philology of the Hebrew Bible

I can’t remember where I came across Bruno Chiesa’s work, but I think readers here will at least be interested to know of its existence. The two pertinent volumes I have in mind are titled Filologia storica della Bibbia ebraica or Historical Philology of the Hebrew Bible. Volume 1 covers Origen up to the medieval period and volume 2 takes us to the present.

I couldn’t get my hands on a copy before leaving England and it seems no library in the U.S. has them. The best I could do was this RBL review from Paul Sanders which provides a good English summary. I’ll clip from his conclusion here:
At the end of the eighteenth century, the focus of exegesis started to shift from philology to literary criticism and hermeneutics. Chiesa argues that textual criticism and literary criticism have different tasks. Textual criticism, which in Chiesa’s view deserves a positive reevaluation, tries to establish the oldest documented form of the given text, whereas it is the role of literary criticism to establish its original form. Chiesa believes that the time is ripe for the creation of critical editions of the books of the Hebrew Bible, especially of those for which a historical archetype can be reconstructed. During the past decades, several Italian scholars, such as Paolo Sacchi, have undertaken preliminary work in this field, but their studies have received too little attention.

In these two volumes, Chiesa has shown himself to be an independent expert who is thoroughly acquainted with the existing literature, both old and modern. Chiesa offers a magnificent overview of the history of the philology of the Hebrew Bible, paying due attention to periods that are usually disregarded by other authors. He even discusses the contribution of scholars, such as John Philoponus (sixth century), whose biblical studies have only recently been brought back into the limelight (104–9).

Friday, June 16, 2017

Forging Antiquity Website and Blog


Here is the new website for the Macquarie University/Heidelberg University project led by Malcolm Choat and funded by the Australian Research Council:

"Forging Antiquity: Authenticity, forgery and fake papyri"

And the related blog Markers of Authenticity

Questions of authenticity, forgery, provenance and ethics are very hot topics, as reflected in this year's SBL Programme (HT: Malcolm Choat), where I will contribute a paper together with Malcolm on Simonides, "The Cable Guy: Constantine Simonides and his New Testament papyri":

S18-235– Papyrology and Early Christian Backgrounds
1:00 PM to 3:15 PM
Theme: Authenticity and Dating
Roberta Mazza, University of Manchester, Presiding
Malcolm Choat, Macquarie University and Tommy Wasserman, Orebro School of Theology
The Cable Guy: Constantine Simonides and his New Testament papyri
Andrew Smith, Shepherds Theological Seminary
Analysis of Ink from Ancient Papyri through Raman Micro-Spectroscopy
Kipp Davis, Trinity Western University
Dead Sea Scrolls papyri, scribal features and questions of authenticity
Charles E. Hill, Reformed Theological Seminary
Dating and Breaking Up (the text): Textual Division as a Non-Paleographical Aid in Dating Biblical Texts

S19-140 Public Scholarship in the New Media
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Robert Cargill, University of Iowa, Introduction
Nina Burleigh, Newsweek Magazine
Ariel Sabar, The Atlantic
Caroline T. Schroeder, University of the Pacific
Christopher Rollston, George Washington University
Jodi Magness, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

S19-238 – Qumran
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Theme: Discovering and investigating manuscript and scribal features of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Alison Schofield, University of Denver, Presiding
Oren Gutfeld, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Randall Price, Liberty University
The Discovery of a New Dead Sea Scroll Cave at Qumran
Ira Rabin, BAM Federal Institute of Materials Research and Testing
Material analysis: authentication or forgery detection?
Arstein Justnes, Universitetet i Agder
Yet Another Fake? A Pre-2002 Dead Sea Scrolls-like manuscript
Sarah Yardney, University of Chicago
Assessing Current Methods for Reconstructing Biblical Dead Sea Scrolls: A Quantitative Approach
Eibert Tigchelaar, KU Leuven
A Critique of Frank Moore Cross’ Typological Development of the Jewish Scripts

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Text und Textwert for Revelation

Darius Müller announced the latest (and last) volume of the Text und Textwert a few months back. As users of the ECM know, the TuT volumes are used to determine the most important witnesses cited in the ECM and these are then further reduced for citation in the NA. So for this and other reasons these are important volumes.

Here is Darius’s announcement:
The “Text and Textwert” volume of Revelation is on the way to the printing presses by De Gruyter (ANTF 49).

It will be edited by Markus Lembke, Darius Müller, and Ulrich B. Schmid in connection with Martin Karrer (head of the ECM project of Revelation housed at ISBTF, KiHo Wuppertal/Bethel).

The volume contains both the collation results of the 123 selected test passages of Revelation and the evaluation list of all available Greek manuscripts. Facilities also include a comprehensive introduction in German and Englisch (English translation was done by Garrick V. Allen) as well as six appendices which offer useful additional information to the material.
Details from de Grutyer are here.

Congrats to the team in Wuppertal for reaching this milestone.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Error in NA28 apparatus (Phil 1.23)

I should say at the outset that finding errors in NA28 is rewarding because they are so few and far between, and because you are pitting your wits against the best in the business. Finding errors in NA28  is a sport based on a fundamental level of respect in the colleagues who have over the years made the NA into the gold standard in our field. It is also a challenge because many things that look at first sight like errors turn out not to be errors, but rather misunderstandings on the part of the challenger.

So with this brief introduction I shall note an error I spotted today following a great Logos seminar on page 170 (fol. 87R) of P46 [there is a problem already hidden there for the inquisitive, but I won’t say any more on that right now].

At Phil 1.23 NA28 notes that the word EIS is omitted before the articular infinitive TO ANALUSAI in P46c D F G. You wouldn’t be at all sure about the reading of P46* on this basis - a first guess might be that P46* did read EIS and a corrector has marked it for deletion - but you wouldn’t know anything except that there was some complexity in the manuscript here. [Incidentally, you might also wonder why DFG are agreeing with P46c but not (by definition) P46* - which could also be interesting if it really happened.] To figure out what was going on with P46 here you’d have to consult a good image.

But when you did consult a good image you would realise that the entry in NA28 is an error, at least the little “c” is an error. There is no correction to the text of P46 at this point:

I offer this small post as a homage to NA28 with a hope that this might be corrected in future editions (NA27 correctly noted P46 D F G as witnesses to the omission).

Sunday, June 11, 2017

John Bunyan on the ‘True Copy’ of the Scriptures

Here’s a little anecdote on how John Bunyan once responded to a Cambridge critic about his use of the English Bible:
To these years before the Restoration belongs also the story of Bunyan’s encounter on the road near Cambridge with the university man, who asked him how he, not having the original Scriptures, dared to preach. To this he gave answer by asking this scholar, in turn, if he himself had the originals, the actual copies written by prophets and apostles. No, but he had what he knew to be true copies of the originals. “ And I,’’ said Bunyan, “ believe the English Bible to be a true copy also,” upon which the university man went his way.
—John Brown, John Bunyan: His Life, Times, and Work (1885), p. 117

Friday, June 09, 2017

Phoenix: A New Hotbed of Textual Criticism

Manuscripts love the heat—and so will you
The Gurry family has just landed in the blazing sun of Phoenix, Arizona where I will be teaching New Testament in the fall. By my count, this means that the number of Biblical text-critics in the city has just doubled—amazing! (For those who don’t know, my colleague and sometime fellow-blogger, John Meade, is expert in all things OTTC with special emphasis on the Syro-hexapla.) So, if you want to study textual criticism, come to Phoenix Seminary. I can promise lots more sun than Cambridge or Oxford.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Tyndale House Edition: Romans 1:1 and Manuscript Tendencies

“Knowledge of documents should precede final judgement upon readings.” Useful though this adage by Westcott and Hort is, it is also a little bit of an open door: lots of things should precede ‘final judgement’ (and when is anything ‘final’ in our discipline?) But what are the things that one needs to know about a document? It seems to me that ‘knowledge of documents’ includes also ‘knowledge of its readings’. Because manuscripts are not just characterised by their appearance, their dating, and their paratextual apparatus, first and foremost they are carriers of a text with a specific wording. The particulars of the wording of a manuscript, its ‘readings’, make a manuscript textually different from others and are an accumulation of inherited readings and scribe-created ones, but for our purposes today this latter distinction is irrelevant. What I want to demonstrate is how important it is to know about the tendencies a manuscript exhibits in the wording of the text, patterns within their readings. None of these individual readings needs to be unique to the witness, as long as one can make a case for a certain inclination to a type of reading. So we are talking ‘manuscript habits’ rather than ‘scribal habits’, or perhaps better, ‘manuscript tendencies’. Today I will share an example that explains a difference between the Tyndale House Edition and the modern critical editions.

Romans 1:1 starts as follows in the current Nestle-Aland, UBS, and SBL texts: Παῦλος δοῦλος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, ‘Paul a servant of Christ Jesus’. The Tyndale House Edition breaks the mold of modern critical texts and has, Παῦλος δοῦλος Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ, ‘Paul a servant of Jesus Christ’ [edited: Initially I claimed wrongly that we had retained the reading of Tregelles]. The difference is that of the word order in ‘Jesus Christ’. Both orders are found widely elsewhere in the Pauline corpus, though ‘Christ Jesus’ is typically Paul, with hardly any occurrence outside his writings.
The evidence for ‘Christ Jesus’ here in Rm 1:1 is limited though, only B(03) and P10, a roughly written papyrus that doesn’t seem to have been part of a whole text of Romans, but contains nothing more than the opening of the epistle. Both manuscripts are palaeographically dated to the fourth century. In addition there are the minuscules 81 and 1838. Neither the two minuscules or P10 in themselves would be sufficient to tip the scales in favour of considering ‘Christ Jesus’ in the main text, but it is the presence of B(03) that opens up the possibility.

I assume that one of the main reasons why ‘Christ Jesus’ is preferred is that it is more likely that typically Pauline usage is harmonised to the more general pattern than the other way around. It would almost require a scholarly and editorial mind in order to make a text more ‘Paul’ than Paul himself was, and since we don’t know of such source, the reading of B(03) and P10 is more likely original than not.
This is where manuscript tendencies come in.

There are a number of variants elsewhere in Romans where B(03) occupies also a heavy minority position in its readings. In the following five places B(03) has Christ Jesus where almost everyone else has Jesus Christ: 5:17; 5:21; 13:14 (’Christ Jesus’ for ‘Lord Jesus Christ’); 16:25 (together with minuscule 1739); 16:27. In addition there is 3:22 where B(03) has ‘Christ’ for ‘Jesus Christ’, whilst A(02) has ‘Christ Jesus’, and also 5:15 where minuscule 1739 has ‘Christ Jesus’ for ‘Jesus Christ’. The changes in B(03) are not systematic or exhaustive by any means, but they are remarkable, and concentrated in this particular witness.

There are two things one can do: accept the text of B(03) in all these places, or conclude that B(03) has in this particular feature the tendency to do what we above rejected as highly unlikely, namely to make Paul’s text more like Paul. I believe it is the latter, but this implies something quite interesting: the text-critical canon to prefer the reading that is most in line with the style of the author has been applied apparently already in this fourth century manuscript! In B(03) we find an intensification of Pauline style, at least when it comes to the order ‘Christ Jesus’ (I believe that I have found similar intensification of author’s style elsewhere in B(03), but that is not for now).
Summing up, B(03)’s tendency throws a large shadow over the value of B(03) in Rm 1:1 and makes it hard to accept its reading. More broadly, I hope this shows how important it is to know the tendencies of some of the key witnesses (and constellation of witnesses) in order to understand and explain the evidence at any given point. And that is why we need good and deep studies of our main manuscripts. To come back to Παῦλος δοῦλος Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ in the Tyndale House Edition, now you know the story—it is more than just a numbers game.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

“PAVONe” – Platform of the Arabic Versions of the New Testament


The Digital humanities Center at the University of Balamand has just launched “PAVONe”, Platform of the Arabic Versions of the New Testament. Here is the news piece with pictures of the launching event. The Platform contains a huge number of Arabic manuscripts of the four gospels and lectionaries and a number of modules:

Since 2012 our Digital Humanities Centre at the University of Balamand has been developing an online database for the Arabic text of the Gospels. The database is accessible online and it’s open for scholars.

The database contains the following sections/services:
  1. The “About” section: It includes a presentation of the project and the methodology used. 
  2. The “Manuscripts” section: It allows the user to browse the Gospels manuscripts transcribed in the database. Two browsing modalities are offered: the first one allows the scholar to visualize the manuscripts in their geographical location using a geotagging feature; the second one allows the filtration of the manuscripts by a variety of parameters (date, language...). Both modalities lead to the same resources and give the researcher the possibility of displaying some codicological and paleographical properties of the manuscripts and their content as well. 
  3. The “Lectionary” section: It gives the liturgical structure of the lectionary as used by the Rum Orthodox Church and allows the researcher to browse the corresponding pericopes in the lectionary manuscripts. All the transcribed texts are published with a copy of the manuscript containing the reading. This allows the scholar to examine the original digital photo of the text and to compare it with our reading. 
  4. The “Citations” section: In this section, we identified all the citations and allusions of the Gospels verses in the literature produced by Christians and Muslims in the first millennium. We limited our sources to the works mentioned in the monumental work: “Christian-Muslim Relations. A Bibliographical History”. This section enables the researchers to browse all these citations and allusions and to compare them with their parallels in the lectionaries and/or continuous texts of the Gospels. 
  5. The “Search” section: this module allows the researcher to look for a specific verse in all the contents of the database regardless of the type of the source. The user can search, for example, for a verse in the “Muslim-Christian citations” and lectionaries at the same time...

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Missing Witnesses in Textual Flow Diagrams

After about 3½ years of studying the CBGM, I continue to learn new things about it. Sometimes I discover answers to question I was not even asking. This happened this week while reproducing the textual flow diagrams in my thesis. Because these diagrams connect each witness with their closest potential ancestor (within the constraints set by the user), someone smarter than me might  wonder what happens when a witness’s closest potential ancestor is not extant at the point of variation being studied.

Well, I found the answer. When this happens, any descendants are simply left out of the diagram, even if they are extant at this point.

Let’s give an example. If we look at the textual flow diagrm for the whole Catholic Epistles, we see that 104 is the closest potential ancestor for 1838 and 459. 459, in turn, is the closest ancestor for 1842.

104 and its descendants in the predominant textual flow for the Catholic Epistles
So, what happens when 104 is not extant? Its three descendants will disappear whenever the diagram is set to connect each witness with its closest potential ancestor (a connectivity of 1). In such cases 1838, 459, and 1842 are not displayed. For example, here is 2 John 1.2/2-6 with a connectivity of 1: You will not find the four witnesses I just mentioned.

At 2 John 1.2/2-6 with connectivity set to 1, 104 and its descendants are missing
But if you change the connectivity to absolute, they all reappear because they can be connected to other potential ancestors which, unlike 104, are extant at this point of variation.

At 2 John 1.2/2-6 with connectivity set to absolute, the descendants of 104 reappear
I think there are probably better ways to handle these situations, such as making the non-extant ancestors gray or circling them with a dashed border. Alternately, the descendants that have no ancestor available could just free float in the diagram.

I suspect this was something that was just overlooked in the original programming. Perhaps the situation will be treated differently in Acts. In any case, it’s worth knowing in case you’re using a connectivity of one and wondering where some of your witnesses have gone.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Editio Critica Maior: Acts announced

The Editio Critica Maior for Acts appears in the latest German Bible Society catalogue (HT: Greg Paulson on FB). It is due for publication in August 2017. We look forward to this and encourage and congratulate all those involved.

There are two main volumes on the text itself comprising 1,180 pages (there are 1,006 verses in Acts, so around one A4 page per verse). There is a second volume on materials. And (new for Acts compared with the Catholic Epistles) is a third volume on Studien. It is interesting that this is not entitled Kommentar, since I guess I had expected something like a textual commentary. It will be interesting to see what this volume contains. It is a bit disappointing that no scholars are named, only the Institut fur Neutestamentliche Textforschung - no doubt reflecting the hard work of many and the collective mode of textual decision-making, but I hope that contributing individuals will be named on the title page inside.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Tyndale House Edition: Getting the Readings Right

A textual apparatus is useful as a quick summary of the evidence at a particular location and also to raise questions as to unexpected manuscript combinations or readings. However, by its very nature, an apparatus presents the evidence in an atomistic way and runs the risk of fostering a view of an artefact as little more than a collection of mutually independent readings. So it is advisable to have a large number of images open on your screen - and nowadays that is not much of a problem. But then we get the small problem of understanding what is actually there. The following two examples posed considerable problems, even though there is no problem with the physical clarity of the writing.

The first example is from Gal. 5:26.
Μὴ γινώμεθα κενόδοξοι, ἀλλήλους προκαλούμενοι, ἀλλήλοις φθονοῦντες.
‘Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.’

There is variation on the case ending of the second occurrence of the reflexive pronoun αλληλοις / αλληλους. In many aspects this is an interesting variant: not only are the early big codices split but also the Textus Receptus has a different reading from the Majority Text (provided that the CNTTS apparatus in BibleWorks is correct).

From a scribal habit perspective the solution is straightforward as the second instance underwent influence from the first, resulting in twice αλληλους.

What I am interested now is the reading of a minuscule in the BnF, GA 6.

Often it is possible to ‘predict’ the reading of a manuscript given its affinity to other manuscripts, but in this case it is much trickier. Does the ligature indicate -οις or -ους? The problem is that this minuscule does not use many ligatures for these endings and I couldn’t find any parallels in the vicinity. So I fired off an email to Maurice Robinson who I trust to have seen a few more minuscules than I, with, what I thought, was a ‘simple’ question. Questions are never simple. The solution he came up with, which I think is likelier than any alternative I had, was that the ligature for the accusative plural -ους is quite distinct; and he sent me kindly some examples from Hebrews. When trying to locate these I stumbled over a clear parallel in Heb 2:18 for -οις in the expression δυναται τοις πειραζομενοις βοηθησαι, ‘he is able to help those who are being tempted’

This solves the problem of GA 6’s reading in Gal 5:26; it reads αλληλοις.

The second example is from Codex Vaticanus, B(03). What does it read after τις ουν in 1 Cor. 9:18? μοι or μου?

It is not particularly clear to me and could go either way. Coupled with the correction that happens in Sinaiticus, ℵ(01), there is plenty of uncertainty around. In this case I judged that the direction of change would be from μου to μοι, in part because of the position of the pronoun. Had μου been at its neutral position after μισθος the problem would never have arisen. Still, what B(03) actually says is not immediately clear.

These are just two examples where the granularity of the data is starting to pose limits of what we can know. As a wise author once wrote, reality is not digital but analogue. With sufficient study we can push back the grey areas, yet only to find others instead.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Publication and Textual Criticism

1st-2nd cent. inkwell (credit)
M.D.C. Larsen, ‘Accidental Publication, Unfinished Texts and the Traditional Goals of New Testament Textual CriticismJSNT 39 (2017), 362–387.
Abstract:  Notions of ‘authorship’, ‘publication’ and ‘final text’ are often mentioned in traditional textual criticism, but less frequently discussed in detail. The projects of source and redaction criticism end and textual criticism begins based on when scholars imagine a text was finished. Yet modern notions of publication, textuality and authorship, which are largely shaped by the printing press, are often anachronistically applied to the ancient world. Exploring evidence from Plato to 4 Ezra to Tertullian and Augustine, I take up the question of when a text was considered ‘final’ by reconsidering what counted as publication in the ancient world. Once the assumption of textual finalization is set aside, the tools traditionally associated with textual, source and redaction criticism become unhelpful. While textual critics have noted the practical impossibilities of arriving at the ‘original text’, I demonstrate the conceptual roadblocks to imagining an ‘original’ and ‘final’ text in the ancient world.
In this article Larsen discusses examples of “textual unfinishedness” and accidental publication in antiquity in order to further complexify (or from his apparent perspective, rule out of court completely) the notion of the original or initial (published) text (especially in dialogue with Michael Holmes). Examples from a variety of ancient sources suggest to Larsen that accidental publication (i.e. publication of unfinished notes or the like) was ‘common’ (p. 372), ‘fairly common and widespread’ (p 372). He also discusses revisions and multiple versions of literary works, suggesting that for such texts a ‘living text’ model is better than ‘a final and fixed book’ model for discussing its textual development. This has, for Larsen, implications for New Testament textual criticism:
‘The prevalence of accidental publication, stolen texts and author variants simultaneously identifies and destabilizes one of the foundational assumptions of traditional textual criticism: without the assumption of a text existing in a final form, the boundaries between text, form and redaction criticism fall apart. Ancient writing practices and the prevalence of textual fluidity invite us to rethink some foundational categories and ideas of the discipline.’ (p. 376)
An obvious example, for Larsen, is the gospel attributed to Mark, which could be thought of as ‘unfinished textual raw material’ – ‘an open and unfinished gospel tradition’ (p. 378). (Larsen notes for further evidence and discussion his forthcoming book Before the Book: The Earliest Gospels (New York: Oxford University Press), which is presumably related to his 2017 Yale doctorate). Broadly he doesn’t think that the conceptualisation of publication is a useful category for discussing ‘the traditionary processes of revising a fluid text’ (pp. 379–380). The gospels, in particular, ‘are not the kind of texts that had originals’ (p. 379). Publication, for Larsen ‘was only notional and so existed only as a social construct’ (p. 376 – I’m not sure what this means).

I found it an interesting article. I wasn’t convinced that the evidence discussed showed ‘the prevalence of textual fluidity’ (as opposed to some form of publication, since even the authors he discusses presume the appropriateness of the distinction). I’m certainly not convinced that that gospels ‘are not the kind of texts that had originals’ – I don’t see the point in opposing one extreme caricature – ‘a single authoritative original text’ with a caricature at the other extreme; nor do I think we should conceptualise all the canonical gospels in the same way (which is another way of saying I look forward to hearing the argument of his book at some point). I do think it is helpful to think about the way that different genres functioned in antiquity, and I do wonder about the prevalence of epistolary notions (where a single original text is assumed by the genre) in our broader conceptualisations of how the New Testament text functions (this is not raised by Larsen, except to disagree with it briefly). Anyway, plenty to discuss.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Krister Stendahl Working on the Textual Apparatus

Life Magazine (26 Dec 1955) featured an article by Alfred Eisenstaedt on Harvard Divinity School, “Harvard Revival. Back in touch with life of the churches its Divinity School gains a new vigor.” The article includes a curious photo of a group of three scholars working on analyzing textual variants in the New Testament using the latest high-tech, the Harvard Lab’s computer. I think this model might be Harvard Mark IV (built by Harvard engineers in 1952 under the supervision of Howard Aiken) or perhaps Rand´s Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC). Perhaps one of our readers can tell us which it is.

The doctoral student sitting at a desk is Rev. John W. Ellison who subsequently completed his thesis on “The Use of Electronic Computers in the Study of the Greek New Testament” (Harvard Divinity School, 1957).  Ellison also used UNIVAC to create a concordance of the NRSV text (published in 1957).

The scholar leaning over the desk is the Swedish Bishop and Harvard Professor Krister Stendahl. I don’t know who the third guy is, perhaps a computer technician. Does any reader know?

A former student of mine asked, when he saw this picture, “What is that big machine?” I replied that it is a textual apparatus.

Another pioneer in this field was Vinton A. Dearing, who wrote a program for the IBM 7090 to record and analyze variant readings. The results were published in Methods of Textual Editing, (Los Angeles: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA, 1962).

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Inerrancy and Textual Criticism

I have been reminded that some time ago I promised to open a discussion on the relationship between inerrancy and textual criticism. This is it. I’ll start with my thoughts and hope that others will contribute theirs as well as explore specific applications of the principles explored.


Luke in Cod. Bodmer 25 (credit)
The first thing I should say is about the relationship between inerrancy and this blog. As the blog’s founder I am very, very happy to sign inerrancy statements in almost whatever shape or form they take. However, the term I preferred when establishing this blog was simply to say that the scriptures were ‘true’. Although this might seem a weaker term, I do not mean it in a weaker sense. Moreover, it has the advantage of being self-evidently in continuation with all historic mainstream views of scripture that have been articulated down church history. Using the term ‘true’ also means that I am not forced into instant qualifications of the term I use because I am not using a technical term.

The second belief that I see as fundamental to this blog is the belief that God may be said to be the author of specific sequences of words which constitute scripture (i.e. belief in verbal inspiration). Though this belief is not without its problems, it is less problematic than alternative accounts of inspiration (e.g. that God inspired thoughts in scripture, but may not be said to be the author of specific words—the question ‘which thoughts?’ is even harder to answer than the question ‘which words?’).

That said, for the sake of discussion I want to use the term ‘inerrancy’, since, in this context, I believe it will optimise the point I am trying to make.

Basic thesis

My basic thesis is that inerrancy may only be used as a secondary criterion for the original reading. It cannot be used to overturn strong external support or to support conjecture.

Monday, May 08, 2017

What Is the Value of the Comparative Argument for the Reliability of the NT Text?

There is a common apologetic argument that says we should be far less skeptical about the text of the NT than we are for the text of other classical works since we have far more and far earlier manuscript evidence for the NT. You can find the basic comparison all the way back in Bentley. Among Evangelicals, the argument was deployed best by F.F. Bruce and his numbers for classical authors are still cited as if they have’t changed in over half a century. Today, the comparison is something of a staple of Evangelical apologetics.

But Bart Ehrman doesn’t buy it. He thinks the comparison is baseless and he gives three reasons why in a blog response to Dan Wallace. He explains:
First, it is not true that scholars are confident that they know exactly what Plato, Euripides, or Homer wrote, based on the surviving manuscripts. In fact, as any trained classicist will tell you, there are and long have been enormous arguments about all these writings. Most people don’t know about these arguments for the simple reason that they are not trained classicists. Figuring out what Homer wrote – assuming there was a Homer (there are huge debates about that; as my brother, a classicist, sometimes says: “The Iliad was not written by Homer, but by someone else named Homer” ) – has been a sources of scholarly inquiry and debate for over 2000 years!

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Tyndale House Edition: The Text of the New Testament, of an Edition, and of a Manuscript

Lots of ink has been spilled and many pixels been lit up on the question of what we mean when we say ‘the text of the New Testament’. Is the only thing we are left with ‘texts of the NT’, in which every imperfectly copied manuscript constitutes a new and different text? How much can the text of a ‘work’ (that is here, the New Testament) be changed before the text of a particular manifestation of that work (a printed edition, a manuscript – the latter is also an ‘artefact’) is no longer that of the original ‘work’?1

In a sense this question is no different from what philosophers have been discussing since the days of Plato. Intuitively, or naively, most people who think for a moment about the text and the various forms in which it appears, solve the question the same way as Plato did. Different manuscripts with their slightly different wording, and even different translations of the text in a wild variety of languages, all constitute different instances of the same text, a perfect idea reflected in the wordings of the various manuscripts.

Relevance theorists would say that this is true because an utterance has no meaning in itself but only functions to point to the intention of the speaker, and listeners will interpret an utterance accordingly. When it comes to textual criticism, it may follow that the majority of differences we are talking about will hardly affect the listener’s (reader’s) construction of the speaker’s (writer’s) meaning. The same mental construction of the speaker’s meaning can be formed using an array of different utterances, and we can find evidence of this in that few, if any, of the various sub-strands of Christianity are based on particular manuscripts or depend on specific translations. If there were only ‘texts’ and not a single ‘text’, it is quite remarkable how few problems this has created in the course of history.

Perhaps a fresh way of doing Plato is found in linguistics, namely in prototype theory. Prototype theory says that often concepts are used in ways that are close to the mental prototype of that concept, but also allows for uses that are quite different. We all have the image of what a dog is, though many of us will have the experience to think about some actual dogs as more ‘dog’ than others; they conform more closely to the prototype we have formed. Perhaps it is possible to force an analogy with the ‘texts’ and ‘text’ discussion. There is the ‘prototypical text’ (perhaps better the archetypical text when we throw in chronology) and manuscripts, or again translations, conform more or less to the prototype yet still are all instances of that particular category / prototypical field. This is how we seem to organise concepts in our mind, and it works pretty well in the practice of doing textual criticism.

So what we have set out to do in the Tyndale Edition is to present a text that approximates as closely as possible the oldest recoverable text since we hold that this is the best approximation and representation of the ‘ideal text’, the text of the ‘work’ as it was produced in the first place.

The theology of all this is of course quite a different matter.

1 Thanks to Michael Dormandy, who pointed me to this helpful distinction made by Driscoll: “Hamlet is a work. The New Swan Shakespeare Advanced Series edition of Hamlet by Bernard Lott, M.A. Ph.D., published by Longman in 1968, is, or presents, a text. My copy of Lott’s edition, bought from Blackwell’s in Oxford in 1979 and containing my copious annotations, is an artefact. (93)” I am quite conscious (and relaxed about this) that by talking about ‘original work’, I may be accused of misappropriation of the term as used by Driscoll.

Driscoll, M.J. “The Words on a Page: Thoughts on Philology Old and New.” In Creating the Medieval Saga: Versions, Variability, and Editorial Interpretations of Old Norse Saga Literature, edited by Judy Quinn and Emily Lethbridge, 85-102. Odense: Syddansk Universitetsforlag, 2010.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

St Catherine’s Monastery Manuscripts: Photographs online

Just a quick post to alert you to the fact that the Library of Congress has put its collection of photographs of manuscripts from St. Catherine’s Monastery online. For example, here you will find 1,081 Greek manuscripts (!). Heavenly.

(HT: Alin Suciu on FB)

Monday, May 01, 2017

Meet P132 and P133, Ephesians and 1 Timothy

P.Oxy. 5258 and 5259 are now P132 and P133. They contain text from Eph 3.21; 4.2, 14-16 and 1 Tim 3.13-4.8 and date to III/IV and III centuries, respectively. The editio princeps for each has been published by Geoffrey Smith and J. Shao and is online here.

P133 is now the earliest copy of 1 Timothy. Aside from this, there are some interesting things about P133.
In one case 5259 [P133] agrees with two MSS against the majority of witnesses (see ↓ 2 n.; see also ↓ 27 n.). In another it presents an elision occurring in only two other MSS against the majority of witnesses (see ↓ 5). Additional variants can only be inferred from the size of the lacunae. Notably, 5259 contains a previously unattested form of a nomen sacrum (see ↓ 22 n.).
I don’t have images for P133, but here is P132 courtesy of Smith. He also says his edition of P134 should be out in the next few months (on which, see Tommy’s post here).

P132, recto
P132, verso

While we’re on the topic of papyri, I know there are good reasons for moving away from “recto” and “verso,” but can we not do better than using left and right arrows to refer to the respective sides? These sigla face the same problems as Gothic letters, don’t they?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Preserving the Cairo Geniza: Video

As part of its new exhibition on the Cairo Genizah, the Cambridge University Library has put together a nice video on the process of conserving this extensive collection of Medieval Hebraica. More info here.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Greek New Testament Produced at Tyndale House: First Steps

Where do you start when preparing a Greek New Testament? Of course you can start absolutely from scratch, by typing in each and every letter and accent manually, with all the associated risks, but somehow this did not appeal very much. So we needed an existing text that we could adjust towards the desired wording of our edition.

What we did was to settle on the text as prepared by Samuel Prideaux Tregelles as our point of departure. The actual procedure was that we started with an electronic edition of the Nestle-Aland 26 / UBS3 text and adapted every paragraph, word, punctuation, and accent to match the print edition of Tregelles. We even asked permission to start out with the Nestle-Aland / UBS text as we wanted to avoid any shade of doubt as to existing copyright arrangements, yet in reply we were told that no permission was needed to create a new text in this way.

Interestingly, when Tregelles prepared his text, he started off with a Textus Receptus and adapted this text so that it matched his own. Especially in cases where Tregelles did not make an explicit decision or weighed the evidence, his text still reflects the TR. I assume that changing the TR to Tregelles included more changes than the NA26 / UBS3 to Tregelles.

It is surprisingly difficult, though, to get everything right. Even though two people worked independently on creating the digital Tregelles, and every difference between the two versions was resolved by reference to the printed Tregelles, a considerable number of errors remained. The whole exercise was a valuable lesson in the psychology of textual work. When starting from the same base text two transcribers of a second text may make at times the same error.

It is our digital Tregelles that functioned as a point of comparison for the SBL Greek New Testament project, and its editor, Mike Holmes, notified us of a good few errors in our transcription that came up in comparing Tregelles with a number of other editions. It is often impossible to see if you have typed a Greek ‘ο’ or a Latin script ‘o’.

There are a number of reasons why Tregelles was chosen as our starting text. One is that by starting from Tregelles we go back beyond Westcott-Hort and their influential and lucid textual theories, but not as far back as the Textus Receptus. We could have opted for the text of Lachmann too, but I think that Tregelles is more explicit, and certainly more accessible, in justifying his methodology and theoretical approach. Another reason is that Tregelles is the most recent critical text that was not included in the triad of texts used to create Nestle’s first edition (Westcott-Hort; Tischendorf 8th; Weymouth [in itself the result of a comparison of editions]) or fourth (Weymouth replaced with Weiss).

Whilst working on the digital Tregelles, we were hoping / expecting that this would lead to a full-scale, fresh edition of the GNT, and this is reflected this in the abbreviations used for the Tregelles New Testament: TNT1 for the text that reflects the print as accurately as possible, TNT2 for the text in which obvious print errors are corrected. The next edition could then be TNT3 (Tyndale New Testament), which gives an instant ‘editional’ pedigree, but it turned out this name was never going to work. Regardless, there is some history behind our text.

For Tregelles see:

S.P. Tregelles, An Account of the Printed Text of the Greek New Testament: with Remarks on its Revision upon Critical Principles. Together with a Collation of the Critical Texts of Griesbach, Scholz, Lachmann, and Tischendorf, with that in Common Use (London: S. Bagster and Sons, 1854).

———. The Greek New Testament, edited from ancient authorities, with their various readings in full, and the Latin version of Jerome (London: S. Bagster & Sons, 1857-79).

———. Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament. Vol. 4 of An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, edited by Thomas Hartwell Horne and John Ayre, 12th ed. (Longmans, Green, and Co., 1856 [1869]).

Congrats to Mike Holmes on His Retirement!

Thanks to Juan Hernandez, news has reached the interwebs that Mike Holmes is retiring from his position at Bethel University. Mike’s work hardly needs an introduction at this blog so I will instead say how much I have appreciated the time Mike has given to me over the years. I remember him sitting with me for about an hour when I was in grad school to talk about the divorce passages which I was working on for my masters thesis (see photo). Ever since, he has generously given his time to talk to and encourage me along the way. Last year at SBL, Tommy Wasserman and I had a great lunch with Mike and got to hear the story of how he went from rural farm life to accomplished academic life. It was quite a story.

Many congrats, Mike, on your well-deserved retirement. I hope this does not mean we will be seeing less of you in the years to come. Don’t miss the “be like Mike” video shared by Juan Hernandez (HT: Chris Keith).

Michael W. Holmes and Peter J. Gurry
Discussing the divorce passages with ECM in hand.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

ETC Interview with Thomas Hudgins

I’m happy to present another installment of our ETC interview series. Today’s interview is with Thomas W. Hudgins who is Assistant Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Capital Seminary and Graduate School. I first spoke with Thomas a little over a year go when he had just completed his doctoral thesis on the Complutensian polyglot and I thought readers here would be interested in that work. His most recent publication is a Festschrift for David Alan Black which includes a number of essays on text criticism from our own Tommy Wasserman and Maurice Robinson and others. You can learn more about Thomas at his blog or read his list of publications.

PG: I understand you have two doctorates, the first one in education (EdD) and the second in New Testament (PhD). Most people who teach New Testament in U.S. seminaries only have the second, so what led you to do both?

TH: Explaining the PhD at the Complutense is a little easier since the PhD is the norm. I love the New Testament and wanted to study it for the rest of my life and help others do so as well. But why an EdD and a PhD? The easy answer is I am a glutton for punishment—or so people often say when they hear I did two. But there’s actually a better answer. An opportunity arose for me to enter the EdD program at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and at the same time assist a seminary start-up in Central America. I had taken plenty of classes on the biblical languages, book studies (e.g., Isaiah, Mark), and theology, but despite having an undergrad degree in biblical studies and an MDiv, I had never taken a single course on education (and homiletics courses don’t count). That’s pretty remarkable if you ask me, especially considering the church is in part an educational institution (“teaching them...” Matt. 28:20).

I don’t know how many hours the average PhD program (for biblical studies) requires of instruction in the field of education, but I know it’s not a lot. The opportunity to study in the education department at Southeastern really changed my life—personally and professionally. It was the first time I was ever challenged to think about education. Even though I entered the Doctor of Education program, I was able to work with a faculty member outside of the department. I knew I wanted to do something different from what you would generally find with an EdD dissertation. I wanted to study the New Testament and education. So, I applied to study with David Alan Black (yes, Dave has a separate application to work with him). Working with him was one of the best experiences of my life.

A few months after I started teaching New Testament and Greek full-time at Capital Seminary, another opportunity arose for me to study in the PhD program at the Complutense University in Madrid, Spain and work with another world-renowned New Testament scholar, Antonio Piñero, on a topic that few had engaged in recent years (even though the subject’s quincentennial was rapidly approaching). Who could resist, right?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Blogging the Tyndale House Edition of the Greek New Testament

Over at the Tyndale House website, we are now hosting a blog dedicated to the Greek New Testament we have been preparing. This blog will be devoted to that project only, but rest assured, with the exception of the first introductory post, we will cross-post everything to our beloved ETC Blog, which will also be the place where comments are welcomed (there is a direct link between the two). Rather than asking you to check (or subscribe to) an additional address, it seems better to keep things centralised. The blog at the Tyndale House address functions to give the posts a sense of thematic continuity and visibility and catch some of the search traffic that is targeted at our edition.

And for the purists - one might notice the hand of Peter Gurry in its design.

Attempted Attack on St. Catherine’s Monastery

Christianity Today reports of an attempted attack on the monastery of St. Catherine on Tuesday. ISIS has reportedly claimed responsibility. St. Catherine’s is, of course, the original home of Codex Sinaiticus and still houses a number of leaves. Its library is one of the richest in the world in terms of ancient Christian manuscripts.

Here is the description of the attack:
One policeman was killed and four injured during an exchange of gunfire at a checkpoint about half a mile from the monastery entrance. Police were eventually able to gain control and force the militants to flee, according to the Ministry of Interior as reported by Ahram Online.

ISIS claimed responsibility in a terse statement via their official news agency, Amaq. However, local speculation suggested it may have been a result of skirmishes between disgruntled tribes and the government.
If anyone has any additional information on the state of the monastery, please post it in the comments. And do pray for the safety of the monks and others who live near or frequent the site.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

3rd Summer School in Textual Criticism in Ferrara, Italy

(photo credit)
Paolo Trovato sends word about his 3rd summer school in textual criticism. I attended part of last year’s school and can say it was a great experience. One of my favorite aspects is that it attracts students who are working on a range of textual traditions. I find that I learn the most about textual criticism from those not working on NTTC. So do not be put off by lectures on Catullus and Dante; NT students will be most welcome.

The Department of Humanities at the University of Ferrara will offer an intensive seven-day summer school in Textual Criticism. The course is designed for both graduate and PhD students (max. 20 people) from diverse disciplines who would like to improve their knowledge in the field of Textual Criticism and discuss their research topics with instructors and colleagues. An introduction to current theories as well as the presentation of individual research subjects will be covered in the first four days. The final days will be spent delving more deeply into particular aspects of Textual Criticism, both in modern and classical languages, with particular attention to more recent developments, and discussing individual research.

On Saturday and some weekday afternoons free guided visits and tours in medieval and Renaissance Ferrara are scheduled.

Among the programme instructors you will find Dario Bullitta (University of Venice), Dàniel Kiss (Universitat de Barcelona), Nicola Morato (Université de Liège), Roberto Rosselli Del Turco (Università di Pisa), Elisabetta Tonello (University e.Campus) Paolo Trovato (Università di Ferrara), and Giorgio Ziffer (Università di Udine).
See here for complete details.

One tip for those attending: book a room with A/C. You will thank me later. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Codex Sinopensis (O 023) Online

The following is another guest post from Elijah Hixson. He is currently writing a PhD thesis at the University of Edinburgh on the NT purple codices about which Jerome famously said, “parchmens are dyed purple, gold is melted into lettering, manuscripts are decked with jewels, while Christ lies at the door naked and dying” (Epist. 22.32).

The Bibliothèque nationale de France have just made some very nice, high-quality images of (most of) Codex Sinopensis available! The manuscript is gorgeous and worth a look.

Codex Sinopensis (O 023), f. 8v.
Codex Sinopensis (Paris, BnF supp. gr. 1286; O 023) is a 6th-century manuscript of Matthew’s Gospel. It is one of the purple codices—deluxe manuscripts written in gold and silver inks on parchment that has been dyed purple (on Codex Rossanensis, one of the other 6th-century purple codices, see here). Codex Sinopensis is especially magnificent, because it was written entirely in gold ink, and there are five extant miniatures painted right into the pages of the Gospel. These are some of the earliest examples of Christian art in manuscripts. Art historians know this manuscript well, and its well-trained scribe was probably in his or her prime. There are very few mistakes and corrections in this manuscript, compared to its two siblings.

Its text is not especially exciting; Codex Sinopensis has an early form of what will become the Byzantine text. What is more exciting than its text is its textual relationship with two other purple codices, N 042 and Σ 042. These three manuscripts were all copied from the same exemplar. Back in 2015 at the SBL Annual Meeting in Atlanta, I presented a paper on Codex Sinopensis and its close relationship with its two siblings as a way to test the singular readings method of determining scribal habits (summarised here).

If my quick count of the newly available images is correct, the new images include 41 of the 43 folios at the BnF, but they also include images of the lost leaf from Ukraine. Shortly after Henri Omont published the editio princeps of the 43 Paris leaves, Prof. Dmitry Aynalov sent a photograph of a 44th leaf, which was in the custody of a gymnasium (the equivalent of American high school) in Mariupol, Ukraine. The leaf has been lost since at least 1966, when Kurt Treu could only write that it was formerly in Mariupol and to my knowledge, the leaf has never resurfaced. Now, however, the BnF has digitised their black/white photograph of the lost leaf, which is grounds for rejoicing.

The two pages I could not find on Gallica are folios 11 and 30, but both of those folios include miniatures, and images of the painted sides are readily available all over the internet. Realistically, that leaves 11v and 30r as the only pages of Codex Sinopensis that are still only accessible through Omont’s pseudo-facsimile in the editio princeps. Of course, Muphy’s Law would correctly predict that if one is writing a doctoral thesis on Codex Sinopensis, one would encounter a discrepancy on f. 30r, line 9 about which the editio princeps is unclear, but that is another story.

The images are posted at Gallica ( The easiest way to find them, however, is through the links to each folio/bifolio at

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Dániel Kiss on Uncertainty in Textual Criticism

Its [textual criticism] reputation for arbitrariness can probably be ascribed to the fact that
having grown up in a late stage of the age of printing, we are used to carefully edited texts, and textual corruption strikes us not only as unfamiliar, but also as uncanny and somehow fundamentally wrong. But a doubt that affects the reconstruction of a passage in Catullus is no different in kind from one that affects how the same passage should be interpreted, nor from one that might affect Roman economic history in the late Republic. If textual criticism is difficult at times, that is not because it is arbitrary, nor because textual critics are incompetent, but because centuries of textual corruption have resulted in problems for some of which there is no easy solution. Faced with such difficulties, one can only make progress by strenuous and open-minded research.

—Dániel Kiss from What Catullus Wrote, p. vii–viii.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Masoretic instructions on how to format the text

My colleague Kim Phillips has written another fascinating piece about a manuscript in the Cairo Genizah. Read it here

Zach Cole Reviews Christian Oxyrhynchus

In lieu of our own Peter Head’s unsuccessful attempt to review Christian Oxyrhynchus: Texts, Documents, and Sources, I offer this snippet from Zach Cole’s new and helpful review in JETS (60.1):
Foremost among this project’s shining virtues is that it brings together in one place what would otherwise require several dozens of volumes. Further, the editors’ careful and consistent treatment brings some of the older editions up to date and provides English translations where some were lacking. Also laudable is the extent to which the editorial introductions to each text provide crucial background information and evaluation; the result is much more than a simple database of texts, but rather a coherent and understandable anthology. Another strength is the inclusion of texts written in languages other than Greek. The reader will find some texts in Syriac, Coptic, and Latin. Finally, while the subject of Christian documentary papyri has received increased attention in recent years (e.g. the work of AnneMarie Luijendijk and of Blumell elsewhere), sadly it remains unfamiliar to many scholars of NT and early Christianity. The present volume is thus an ideal entry point into the fascinating world of Christian documentary texts.
The only complaint he lodges is that the book should have included the 20 Old Testament fragments from Oxyrhynchus. The editors’ reasons for not doing so—having to do with the problem of using nomina sacra to identify them as Christian rather than Jewish—are a bit inconsistent with some of their other comments in the volume. But that’s Cole’s only criticism.

It’s too bad this volume isn’t a bit more affordable.

Monday, April 03, 2017

More Unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls in the US?

One of the 15 fragments.
(Photo credit)
Owen Jarus, who reported extensively on the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife fragment for Live Science, has an article today about 15 new Dead Sea Scroll fragments recently sold to an undisclosed institution in the U.S. Jarus apparently has photographs of all of these sent by the seller and notes that some appear to be in Greek (see photo).

Here’s the relevant portion:
It’s not certain when the 15 fragments sold through Les Enluminures will be studied and published. The institution in the United States that now owns those fragments has not made a public announcement about the acquisition, Hindman [the president of Les Enluminures] said.

Spokespersons for the Museum of the Bible, Azusa Pacific University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Lanier Theological Library all told Live Science that their institutions had not bought the Les Enluminures fragments.

Les Enluminures sent a batch of black-and-white photographs of the fragments to Live Science. The images show what appears to be Greek text on some of the fragments, a language that has been seen on other Dead Sea Scrolls. Hindman said she believes all 15 fragments were once in the collection of Bruce Ferrini, a collector in Ohio who died in 2010.
It would be good to see photos of all 15 of these if Jarus has them. You can see one more in this galleryFull article here. 

Saturday, April 01, 2017

New Evidence for Earliest Tetraevangelion (Part 1)

Seven years ago, I presented a paper on SBL in Atlanta (2010) on "A Comparative Textual Analysis of 𝔓4 and 𝔓64+67"  which was later published in the TC Journal vol. 15 (2010).

Background to the paper here.

In my last couple of slides I pointed out that there is more to discover, in particular in reference to 𝔓4 = BnF Suppl. gr. 1120 ii 3 / 4.
Two years later, Simon Gathercole published his study in NovT 54 (2012) on the earliest title of Matthew's Gospel which is found on the flyleaf of this MS an image of which was published for the first time.

However, as I said in my paper there is yet more to discover. There are traces of letters on the flyleaf (reverse side of where the title of Matthew is found), which had been noted by T. C. Skeat and Kurt Aland but they were unable to decipher them from black and white photos. I now have access form high-resolution images from the National Library in Paris.

Further, I pointed out that there are mirrored impressions on fragment B, verso because the pages had been glued together for centuries and fragment D has left impressions, but I did not work further on this, and I have had too many projects to think about it.
At the last SBL in San Antonio, however, Elijah Hixon presented a wonderful paper, "Was There a Staurogram in P.Oxy. LXXI 4805 (P121)?" in which he presented a digital restoration using photo-manipulation software.

This gave me the idea to try again on P4 using his software, where the first step is to create a profile by entering all the visible letters and then trying to trace the faint letters from the new high-res images (and also to mirror the impressed letters on fragment B). The results are amazing, and I have been able to decipher about three verses from Luke on fragment B, and Matthew (!) on the flyleaf – this is new evidence that 𝔓4 and 𝔓64+67 did belong to the same codex as argued most forcefully by T. C. Skeat.

In the next post, I will supply transcription and comments to five textual variants.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Book Notice: A Companion to Byzantine Illustrated Manuscripts

This volume offers an overview of Byzantine manuscript illustration, a central branch of Byzantine art and culture. Just like written texts, illustrations bear witness to Byzantine material culture, imperial ideology and religious beliefs, as well as to the development and spread of Byzantine art. In this sense illustrated books reflect the society that produced and used them. Being portable, they could serve as diplomatic gifts or could be acquired by foreigners. In such cases they became “emissaries” of Byzantine art and culture in Western Europe and the Arabic world. The volume provides for the first time a comprehensive overview of the material, divided by text categories, including both secular and religious manuscripts, and analyses which texts were illustrated in Byzantium, and how.

Edited by Vasiliki Tsamakda, University of Mainz

Contributors are Justine M. Andrews, Leslie Brubaker, Annemarie W. Carr, Elina Dobrynina, Maria Evangelatou, Maria Laura Tomea Gavazzoli, Markos Giannoulis, Cecily Hennessy, Ioli Kalavrezou, Maja Kominko, Sofia Kotzabassi, Stavros Lazaris, Kallirroe Linardou, Vasileios Marinis, Kathleen Maxwell, Georgi R. Parpulov, Nancy P. Ševčenko, Jean-Michel Spieser, Mika Takiguchi, Courtney Tomaselli, Marina Toumpouri, Nicolette S. Trahoulia, Vasiliki Tsamakda, and Elisabeth Yota.

Price: unaffordable ($259)

HT: Rick Brannan

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Marginal dots of Vaticanus – Again

Every now and then I see the claim that the two dots that appear in the margin of Vaticanus indicate textual variants known by the original group of scribes. I believe that our own Peter Head agrees that they may indicate knowledge of textual variation at these points, but also that these marginal dots are very late.

I am not sure if the following is on his list of examples but it may be instructive. Here we have the two dots under a correction which projects into the margin.

The passage is Lk 18:19 and the variant concerns the presence / absence of the article before θεος. The original (archetypal/initial/autographic – take your pick) hand omits the article, which is then added by the second corrector. Rather unusually, two dots are placed under the omicron, closer together than the normal marginal dots (there are two sets on this page, 1337, col. 1), but apparently intended to match the size of the letter in question.

This suggests to me that at least these dots are 1) indeed connected with noting textual variation, 2) are by necessity added after the work of the second corrector. Add to this that the use of two dots to mark textual variation is rare in the tradition as a whole but is used elsewhere in Vaticanus, it follows that also those other marginal dots are post second corrector. Of course, the textual variants thus indicated might well be known to the original group of scribes, but the dots are an incorrect way of proving that.