Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Oxford Syriac Conference Jan 2015: Call for Papers

Syriac Intellectual Culture in Late Antiquity

Translation, transmission, and influence

This conference explores the intellectual cultures of Syriac-language literary and scholarly communities of the late antique (c. 3rd-9th century) Near and Middle East. It will also provide an opportunity for postgraduate and emerging scholars in the fields of biblical studies, theology and religion, late antique and Byzantine studies, near eastern studies, and rabbinics to present their work on Syriac literature within the University of Oxford’s vibrant late antique studies community.

The conference welcomes proposals for papers on the following and related topics:
  1. The reception and revision of Syriac biblical translations, especially works such as the Harklean and Syrohexaplaric versions and Jacob of Edessa’s Old Testament revision. How did Syriac authors navigate the diversity of translation options available to them? How were later translations and revisions received in both exegetical and liturgical contexts? Which textual variants were employed by exegetes, and in what contexts?
  1. What role do translations of Greek patristic literature, such as the works of Gregory Nazianzen and Theodore of Mopsuestia, play in the context of Syriac literature? How is material from Greek historiography, such as the ecclesiastical histories of Eusebius, Socrates, and Theodoret, translated and transmitted by Syriac chroniclers?
  1. What factors played a part in the development of literary canons and exegetical traditions in Syriac? How did different communities determine which texts to elevate to canonical status? When and why were authors from rival communities read and utilized? How did Greek-language authors, such as Severus of Antioch, undergo a process of ‘Syriacization’? Which authors survived the decline of spoken Syriac and were translated into Christian Arabic, and how?
  1. What forms did Syriac intellectual life take over the course of the period, in monastic, scholarly, and church communities? How did Syriac culture react to and interact with influences such as Aristotelian and neo-Platonist thought, rabbinic scholarship, and other vernacular literatures? What role did Syriac scholars play in the early development of Arabic-language intellectual culture, and how did this role affect or change their own traditions?

Those wishing to present a twenty-minute paper may submit a brief abstract (250 words or less) and academic biography to The deadline for submissions is Monday, 17 November 2014.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

SBL ETC Blog Dinner

Sunday, 23 Nov, 7pm

The Hard Rock Cafe

Group Menu Price:

For those of you attending SBL and interested in textual criticism, the annual blog dinner will take place after the NTTC session on Sunday night "Nestle-Aland 28th Revised Edition" (4:00-6:30pm, Hilton Bayfront, Sapphire Ballroom L).  After the session finishes, we will walk together to the Hard Rock, where we have reserved the "Surf Shack" room.  The $22 group menu choice is required for the room reservation, and includes a beverage, entrée, dessert, tax and gratuity.  If you wish to join us, please RSVP in the comments below or send me an email.  The invitation is open to all who are interested in textual criticism, and who are desirous to hear Peter Head's customary year-in-review speech.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Call for Papers: Jeremiah, Scripture and Theology

The Fifth St Andrews Scripture and Theology Conference: The Book of Jeremiah, 6-9 July 2015
In July 2015, biblical scholars and theologians from around the world will gather to consider the Book of Jeremiah, using this ancient text to bring exegesis and theology into conversation. The conference organisers and the School of Divinity at the University of St Andrews are delighted to invite you to join the conversation.
You can also find us on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter at (@2015Jeremiah).
Further details of registration will appear here in early Autumn; in the meantime, please submit paper proposals of no more than 500 words (not including paper titles) to Penelope Barter Proposals are due by midnight GMT on Friday 27th Feburary 2015 for consideration in early March.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

British Library, Matthew 23 and Chrysostom

Though I don't think that there is much biblical stuff in the latest batch of Greek mss put online by the British Library, there is always something interesting, and this time it is a citation from the Gospel of Matthew. You can find the BL blog post here from which I copied below the image of Add MS 24371, sermons by Chrysostom.

At the top of the page Mat 23:1-3 is cited and these words are marked, as usual, with diples '>>' in the left margin.

There is a nice textual variant here from line 6 on: πάντα οὖν ὅσα ἄν λέγωσιν ὑμῶν ποιεῖν, ποιεῖτε. (All that they tell you to do, do).

The words ποιειν ποιειτε 'to do, do' are rather rare, I found only two manuscripts in Legg's Matthew volume that have these words, Γ(036) (here) and minuscule 544 (here). Now if I had time I'd love to pursue this and trace the relation between Γ(036), 544 and Chrysostom's text further, but alas ...

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Survey of Surveys on Mark

Here is a collection of surveys of scholarship on Mark. I couldn't find one which summarised text-critical work on Mark's Gospel.

Surveys of Scholarly Literature:

R.S. Barbour, ‘Recent Study of the Gospel according to St. Mark’ Exp T 79 (1967-68), 324-329.
H.C. Kee, ‘Mark as Redactor and Theologian: A Survey of some recent Markan Studies’ JBL 90 (1971), 333-336.
H.C. Kee, ‘Mark’s Gospel in Recent Resarch’ Interpretation 32 (1978), 353-368.
S.P. Kealy, Mark’s Gospel: A History of its Interpretation, From the Beginning Until 1979 (New York: Paulist, 1982).
D.J. Harrington, ‘A Map of Books on Mark (1975-1984)’ BTB 15 (1985), 12-16
W. Telford, ‘Introduction: The Gospel of Mark’ The Interpretation of Mark  (ed. W. Telford; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1985), 1-41.
L.W. Hurtado, ‘The Gospel of Mark in recent study’ Themelios 14 (1989), 47-52.
W.L. Lane, ‘The Present State of Markan Studies’ The Gospels Today: A Guide to Some Recent Developments (The New Testament Student VI; ed. J.H. Skilton, M.J. Robertson III & W.L. Lane; Philadelphia: Skilton House, 1990), 51-81.
F.J. Matera, What are they Saying about Mark? (New York: Paulist, 1987).
M.M. Jacobs, ‘Mark’s Jesus through the Eyes of Twentieth Century New Testament Scholars’ Neotestamentica 28 (1994), 53-85.
W. Telford, ‘The Interpretation of Mark: A History of Developments and Issues’ The Interpretation of Mark  (ed. W. Telford; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1995, 2nd ed.), 1-61.
 P.G. Bolt, ‘Mark’s Gospel’ in The Face of New Testament Studies: A Survey of Recent Research (ed. S. McKnight & G.R. Osborne; Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), 391-413.
K.W. Larsen, ‘The Structure of Mark’s Gospel: Current Proposals’ CBR 3 (2004), 140-160.
D.J. Harrington, What are they Saying about Mark? (New York: Paulist, 2004).
W. Telford, Writing on the Gospel of Mark (Guides to Advanced Biblical Research 1; Blandford Forum: Deo, 2009)
C. Breytenbach, ‘Current Research on the Gospel according to Mark: A Report on Monographs Published from 2000-2009’ in Mark and Matthew I: Comparative Readings: Understanding the Earliest Gospels in their First-Century Settings (ed. E-M. Becker & A. Runesson; WUNT I.271; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011), 13-32.

H. M. Humphrey, A Bibliography for the Gospel of Mark, 1954-1980 (Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity, 1; New York: Edwin Mellen, 1981).
H.M. Humphrey, The Gospel of Mark: An Indexed Bibliography 1980-2005 (New York: Edwin Mellen, 2006).
F. Neirynck (et al.), The Gospel of Mark: A Cumulative Bibliography, 1950-1990 (BETL 102; Leuven: Leuven UP & Peeters, 1992).


Early Readers, Scholars and Editors of the New Testament on Sale!

Gorgias Press has a sale until 31 December on this newly published volume of ten papers presented at the Eighth Birmingham Colloquium on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament:

Early Readers, Scholars and Editors of the New TestamentEdited by H. A. G. Houghton
(Texts and Studies 11) 
Sale price: $57.00 (50%)

Contributions by Thomas O'Loughlin, Hans Förster, Ulrike Swoboda, Satoshi Toda, Rebekka Schirner, Oliver Norris, Rosalind MacLachlan, Matthew Steinfeld, Amy Anderson and Simon Crisp.

The New Testament text has a long and varied history, in which readers, scholars and editors all play a part. Understanding the ways in which these users engage with the text, including the physical form in which they encounter the Bible, its role in liturgy, the creation of scholarly apparatus and commentary, types of quotation and allusion, and creative rewriting in different languages or genres, offers insight into its tradition and dissemination.
       The ten papers in this volume present original research focusing on primary material in a variety of fields and languages. Their scope stretches from the evidence in the gospels for ‘ministers of the word’, and the sources used by the evangelists, to the complex history and politics of a twentieth-century critical edition. Key third- and fourth-century figures are assessed, including Origen, Eusebius of Caesarea and Augustine, as well as an anonymous commentary on Paul used by Pelagius and only preserved in a single ninth-century manuscript. Traces of a pre-Vulgate Latin version are detected in the poetry of Sedulius, while early translations in general are explored as a way of shedding light on the initial reception of the gospels. One of the earliest scholarly ‘editions’ of the gospels, underlying the manuscripts known as Family 1, is examined in Mark.
        The contributors were all participants in the eighth Birmingham Colloquium on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, an international gathering of established and emerging scholars whose work reflects the excitement and diversity of New Testament textual scholarship today.
Table of Contents
    •    Table of Contents (page 7)
    •    List of Contributors (page 9)
    •    Introduction (page 11)
    •    List of Abbreviations (page 15)
    •    1. Hupêretai ... tou logou: Does Luke 1:2 Throw Light on to the Book Practices of the Late First-Century Churches? (Thomas O'Loughlin) (page 17)
    •    2. The Gospel of John and its Original Readers (Hans Forster in co-operation with Ulrike Swoboda) (page 33)
    •    3. The Eusebian Canons: Their Implications and Potential (Satoshi Toda) (page 43)
    •    4. Donkeys or Shoulders? Augustine as a Textual Critic of the Old and New Testaments (Rebekka Schirner) (page 61)
    •    5. The Sources for the Temptations Episode in the Paschale Carmen of Sedulius (Oliver Norris) (page 83)
    •    6. A Reintroduction to the Budapest Anonymous Commentary on the Pauline Letters (R. F. MacLachlan) (page 109)
    •    7. Preliminary Investigations of Origen's Text of Galatians (Matthew R. Steinfeld) (page 123)
    •    8. Family 1 in Mark: Preliminary Results (Amy S. Anderson) (page 135)
    •    9. Textual Criticism and the Interpretation of Texts: The Example of the Gospel of John (Hans Forster) (page 179)
    •    10. The Correspondence of Erwin Nestle with the BFBS and the 'Nestle-Kilpatrick' Greek New Testament Edition of 1958 (Simon Crisp) (page 205)

    •    Index of Manuscripts (page 223)
    •    Index of Biblical Passages (page 225)
    •    Index of Subjects (page 229)
    •    Index of Greek Words (page 233)

Order here.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Mozart Manuscript discovered ... in a library!

A young researcher, named Balazs Mikusi, found Mozart's own score of the Piano Sonata in A. He was a clever researcher because he was in a library 'leafing through folders of unidentified manuscripts'. That is the best place to discover manuscripts.

He said in an interview: 'I think it is reassuring to know that we are getting closer to what Mozart really meant when he composed this piece.'

Friday, October 10, 2014

Nongbri on the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri (Michigan Portion)

In the recent issue of Archiv für Papyrusforschung 60/1 (2014), Brent Nongbri  has published an article on "The Acquisition of the University of Michigan's Portion of the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri and a New Suggested Provenance."

The title perhaps sounds too optimistic in regard to provenance—to cite the conclusion:

The goal of this paper was two-fold – to clarify the history of acquisitions of Beatty biblical papyri and to reassess what we know of the provenance of the find. I am reasonably satisfied with the results of the first task. As to the reassessment of provenance, I think dissatisfaction is the order of the day.
Brent has kindly made his article available here.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

2014 Panizzi Lectures

The Giant Bibles of Twelfth-Century England
A series of three lectures in the British Library by Christopher de Hamel
The great Latin Bibles, in huge multiple volumes, are by far the largest and most spectacular manuscripts commissioned in England in the 12th century, decorated with magnificent illuminated pictures. The lectures will consider the purpose of such books and why they were suddenly so fashionable and also why they passed out of fashion in England during the second half of the 12th century.

1: The Bury Bible
Mon 27 Oct 2014, 18.15-19.30
The first lecture will consider the purpose of such books and why they were suddenly so fashionable. It will look principally at the Bible of Bury St Edmunds Abbey, now in the Parker Library at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. The manuscript was commissioned in the time of Anselm, abbot of Bury 1121-48. A chronicle of the abbey records that the cost for it was found by Hervey, brother of Talbot the prior, and that the manuscript was incomparably decorated by the hand of Master Hugo. The work is usually dated to around 1130. Hugo is the earliest professional artist in England whose name is known.
This lecture will discuss what we can tell about Hugo and his work, from close examination of the manuscript itself. It will look at the larger questions of where exemplars and materials were found for the Bible, and at the phenomenal expense of such undertakings.

2: The Winchester Bible
Thu 30 Oct 2014, 18.15-19.30
The Winchester Bible is still in the cathedral where it was commissioned, doubtless by Henry of Blois, bishop of Winchester 1129-71. It too was illuminated by professional painters, who apparently also worked on frescoes in Spain. This year the manuscript is being rebound in preparation for exhibition in New York and eventual installation in a new display gallery in Winchester Cathedral.
The lecture will take advantage of its disbinding to make new observations about its production, and to suggest new dates for the different phases of the work, undertaken in parallel with a second (but lesser) giant Bible from Winchester, now in the Bodleian Library, MS Auct. E. Infra 1 and 2. These two Bibles were constantly changed and upgraded during production, which came to an abrupt end on the death of Henry of Blois on 8 August 1171. They were then taken up again a decade later, the Bodleian Bible was finally completed, and the two sets were corrected against each other. The Winchester volumes, however, were eventually abandoned a second time and were wrapped up still unfinished.

3: The Lambeth Bible
Mon 3 Nov 2014, 18.15-19.30
One volume of the vast Lambeth Bible has been in the library of Lambeth Palace since its foundation in 1610. The long-lost second volume is owned by All Saints’ Church in Maidstone and is on permanent deposit at the Maidstone Museum. Despite its fame and quality of illumination, nothing has been hitherto known about the Bible’s original owner or patron.
This lecture will propose that it was commissioned around 1148 for Faversham Abbey by King Stephen, king of England 1135-54, elder brother of Henry of Blois and protagonist with the Empress Matilda in the civil war of the 12th century. This involves analysis of the unusual iconography of the miniatures, rich in dynastic imagery, and an investigation of the earlier career of the principal artist in the production of manuscripts in a professional scriptorium at Avesnes Abbey in Flanders.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Conference of the European Society for Textual Scholarship

TEXTUAL TRAILS. Transmissions of Oral and Written Texts
Helsinki, 30 October – 1 November 2014
Texts tend to travel across space and time, whether they are carried by sound waves, embedded in parchments, codices and books, or stored online. They pass from mouth to mouth, from singers' performances to scholars' notes, from stone engravings to printed books, or from writing desks to digital editions, and each of these transmissions leaves traces...
The eleventh international conference of the European Society for Textual Scholarship, TEXTUAL TRAILS. Transmissions of Oral and Written Texts (Helsinki, 30 October – 1 November 2014), will explore all kinds of textual trails from various angles of scholarly editing and textual scholarship.
We are looking forward to an exciting three-day programme with almost 70 papers by textual scholars from four continents and over twenty countries.

Programme and registration:

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Early image of Christ holding a book

The BBC reports the find of a glass plate in Spain (here). It mentions a 4th century date for this artefact, which may be true or not. The reconstruction is interesting:

The central figure holding the cross is in all likelihood a depiction of Christ, while the two others I would take as the angels present at the resurrection, not unlike the Gospel of Peter. What is interesting though, is that Christ holds a small codex in his hand, while both companions each seem to hold a scroll.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Keith Elliott Festschrift

Textsand Traditions: Essays in Honour of J Keith Elliott  (ed. J. Kloha & P. Doble; NTTSD 47; Leiden: Brill, 2014),
The methodology of New Testament textual criticism, the critical evaluation of readings, and the history and texts of early Christianity is the focus of the influential work of J. K. Elliott. Readings in Early Christianity: Texts and Traditions offers eighteen essays in his honour. The essays, by colleagues and students from his long career, reflect Elliott's wide interest and impact. From questions of the purpose and practice of textual criticism, to detailed assessment of New Testament literature and the readings of its manuscripts, to provocative studies of the reception of Jesus and the New Testament in the second century, this volume will be of value to those studying the New Testament and Early Christianity.

Table of contents

Michael W. Holmes, When Criteria Conflict
D. C. Parker, Variants and Variance
Eldon Jay Epp, In the Beginning Was the New Testament Text, But Which Text? A Consideration of ‘Ausgangstext’ and ‘Initial Text’*
Jenny Read-Heimerdinger, Eclecticism and the Book of Acts
James A. Kelhoffer, Hapless Disciples and Exemplary Minor Characters in the Gospel of Mark: The Exhortation to Cross-bearing as both Encouragement and Warning
James W. Voelz, The Characteristics of the Greek of St. Mark’s Gospel
Tjitze Baarda, The Syro-Sinaitic Palimpsest and Ephraem Syrus in Luke 2:36-38 and 1:6
Peter Doble, Codex Bezae and Luke 3:22: A Contribution to Discussion
Jeffrey Kloha, Elizabeth’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46)
H. A. G. Houghton, A Flock of Synonyms? John 21:15-17 in Greek and Latin Tradition
L. W. Hurtado, Textual Ambiguity and Textual Variants in Acts of the Apostles
Holger Strutwolf, Urtext oder frühe Korruption? Einige Beispiele aus der Apostelgeschichte
J. Lionel North, 1 Corinthians 8:6: From Confession to Paul to Creed to Paul
Peter M. Head, Tychicus and the Colossian Christians: A Reconsideration of the Text of Colossians 4:8
David R. Cartlidge, How to Draw an Immaculate Conception: Protevangelium of James 11-12 in Early Christian Art
Paul Foster, The Education of Jesus in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas
Denise Rouger et Christian-B. Amphoux, Le projet littéraire d’Ignace d’Antioche dans sa Lettre aux Ephésiens
William J. Elliott, How to Change a Continuous Text Manuscript into a Lectionary Text
Bibliography J. K. Elliott

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Hawarden Seminar on the OT in the NT

Since the study of the OT in the NT often (always?) depends on the study of the particular text forms involved, and because I have fond memories of attending some of these conferences years back, I include this note here:

The Annual (Hawarden) Seminar on the OT in the NT The 2015 Annual Seminar on the Use of the OT in the NT will be held at Gladstone's Library Hawarden ( from the evening of Wednesday 25th to lunch time on Friday 27th March 2015. This is an opportunity for all those working in this field to come together to share papers, hear about any new developments and publications, and to network informally. Both established scholars and PhD students are very welcome, but places are limited to approx. 20.

If you wish to participate in this year's seminar, please contact the booking office at Gladstone's Library directly to book your room by telephone on 01244 532350 or by email to>; please note that you cannot reserve your place via the online booking system, as we have made a group booking. Please let the staff know when booking that you are part of the OT in the NT Seminar group, so that they can allocate you to one of the group's reserved rooms. The overall cost will be in the region of £175, depending on what "extras" you opt for (e.g. ensuite bathroom), and a small deposit will be required at the booking stage. When you have booked, please also email the seminar convenor, Susan Docherty on> in order to be added to the confirmed list of participants.

Offers of papers are welcome, so please send the proposed title and a short abstract by 10th December 2014 to>. There is no one overall theme to this year's conference, so all abstracts which relate to the general field of the OT in the NT will be considered. Proposers will be informed whether or not their paper has been selected in mid-January, and further details of the timings and running order will be provided then.

Friday, October 03, 2014

A Newly Published Byzantine Greek Lexicon

There is a helpful review at BMCR of a newly published Byzantine Greek lexicon:

Eva Villani, Il lessico Ambrosiano inedito ΑΝΤΙΧΕΙΡ (C 222 inf., ff. 207r-208v).   Milano:  EDUCatt, 2014.  Pp. 248.  ISBN 9788867800865.  €15.00 (pb).

The review (by Eleanor Dickey), includes translations of some entries which offer unparalleled new definitions, and this includes a couple of biblical words (here I am selecting from and quoting the review):

 Φ 5: φαρὲς τὸ καθαρὸν ἑβραϊκὴ λέξις, ἤγουν τὸ ἀφωρισμένον τῷ θεῷ, ἐξ οὗ καὶ φαρισαῖος ἓν σίγμα·
Φαρές (means) ‘pure’ (and is) a Hebrew word, or rather (it means) something set apart for God, whence (comes) φαρισαῖος (‘Pharisee’) with one sigma.’ [The point about Hebrew is correct, for the root of ‘Pharisee’ is פרש ‘set apart’.]
 Σ 22: σμίλαξ εἶδος δένδρου καὶ κλί(νεται) τῆς σμίλακος·
Σμίλαξ (is) a kind of tree, and it is declined in the genitive σμίλακος, feminine.’ [The scribe originally wrote εἶδος βοτάνης ‘a kind of plant’ and then corrected it to ‘tree’. The correction is interesting because LSJ gives four meanings for σμῖλαξ (accented thus in LSJ; Villani’s accent probably goes back to the manuscript, which has accents), of which two are trees and two other kinds of plant: holm-oak, yew tree, kidney bean, and bindweed.]
Τ 7: τύχην τινὲς ἐπὶ τῶν εὐτελῶν πραγμάτων λέγουσιν, ἐξ οὗ εὐτυχῆ καὶ δυστυχῆ σκυτοτόμον καλοῦσι, καὶ οἰκοδόμον, τινὲς δὲ ἐπὶ τῶν μεγάλων ἀξιωμάτων τάσσουσι ταύτην· πανευτυχεστάτους καλοῦντες καίσαρας καὶ σεβαστοκράτορας, δοξάζουσι δὲ πάλιν ἄλλως ἕτεροι τὴν τύχην, τύχην καλοῦντες καὶ αὐτόματον περὶ τὰ ἀνθρώπινα πράγματα, εἰσὶ δὲ οὗτοι τῶν παλαιῶν φιλοσόφων·
‘Some people use τύχη (‘fortune’) for cheap things, whence they call a cobbler or a builder ‘fortunate’ or ‘unfortunate’, but others apply this word to great honours, calling emperors ‘most all-fortunate’. And others again think differently about ‘fortune’, calling ‘fortune’ (something that happens by) chance in human affairs, and these people are among the old philosophers.’ 
Σ 51: στέλεχος φλοιός, κυρίως δὲ ῥίζα τοῦ δένδρου·
Στέλεχος (is) the bark, but properly the root of a tree.’ [LSJ defines στέλεχος as ‘crown of the root, whence the stem or trunk springs’.]
Σ 39: σπεκουλάτωρ στρατιώτης βαστάζων ξίφος καὶ ἀποκεφαλίζων·
Σπεκουλάτωρ (is) the soldier who bears a sword and beheads.’ [LSJ gives among other meanings of σπεκουλάτωρ ‘one of the principales or head-quarters’ staff of a legionary commander or provincial governor (whose duties included the carrying out of executions).’] 

NB Dickey's closing comment: "In short, this work is good and useful and provides scholars with the rare opportunity to explore a previously unknown text containing a significant amount of ancient material; it would be lovely if there were more dissertations of this type."

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Bible Odyssey Featuring "Alexandrian Text" and "Early Versions"

A year ago or so I was invited to contribute to SBL's project Bible Odyssey which was launched about two months ago. I was told that this week my article on the "Alexandrian Text" is highlighted on the Bible Oddysey home page, together with an article on  "The Earliest Versions and Translations of the Bible" by Brennan Breed and a timeline of "The History of the English Bible" and a newly added videoclip on Early Christian Martyrdom featuring Candida Moss.

Just a week ago, John Kutsko of the SBL sent out a report about the two first months of the website, and it turns out that "People are very interested in ... 'life in first century Galilee' and 'how the Hebrew Bible relates to the ancient Near East,' as well as 'the binding of Isaac' and 'the woman caught in adultery.'” The last entry is written by my friend Jennifer Knust and we have worked a lot together on this topic for some years now. There is a related video clip in which Amy Jill Levine discusses the pericope adulterae, and another entry on the manuscript history of the passage (John 8:1-11) by another friend of mine, Chris Keith. Earlier this year, Chris, Jennifer and I contributed to a conference at SEBTS, the Pericope Adulterae symposium.

Kutsko continues his report on the Bible Odyssey webpage saying that many visitors come from North America and Europe, but that there is also strong traffic from Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Israel. Personally, Kutsko thinks the "Ask the Scholar" button (see the magnifying glass on the image above, or go here) is the coolest of all. Here they have received questions such as:
  • Why does God speak in the plural in Genesis?
  • Was John the Baptist an Essene?
  • How many scholars believe that Q existed as a source for Matthew and Luke?
  • Has the biblical figure of Satan evolved?
  • Why is ‘almah in Proverbs 30:19 translated differently?
  • How does domestic architecture vary in the Second Temple period?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Codex Climaci Rescriptus contains Aratus and Eratosthenes

We've partially cracked the previously undeciphered 20 sides of Codex Climaci Rescriptus. They contain astronomical texts by Aratus and Eratosthenes. In the case of the latter this is the earliest known manuscript.

See further DeMoss press release.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ancient Textual Scholarship: Pseudo Aelius Herodianus

The Partitiones contains orthographical and inflectional observations on Greek. A number of these words appear to come from the Greek Bible, both Old and New Testament, though the work in itself does not betray any ecclesiastical Christian connection. Under the initial syllable /i/, for example, the entry ιησους is glossed rather simplistically, as ο θεος. The work is ascribed to Aelius Herodianus (II AD), but apparently falsely so, according to the Neue Pauly. The Pinakes website lists his work under Herodianus Alexandrinus (also II AD), but I haven't seen any justification for this. A date of this work with its New Testament terms somewhere in the second century AD would be nice, but it is inherently unlikely that the writings of the New Testament (including Mark - Boanerges is mentioned) already had drawn attention from any grammarian. My own rule of thumb for dating anything is that if I don't have a clue it is likely to be fourth of fifth century AD.

Secondary literature on authorship, date or nature of the work seems absent (or at least I haven't found it; any help appreciated).

The Partitiones are potentially interesting because of some of the glosses and particular spellings, though these may have been influenced by liturgical influences or Byzantine linguistic updating. The explanation for Moses, μωσης is that it derives from μως (88.6), an explanation that would not work with the spelling μωυσης:
μῶς, τὸ ὕδωρ, ὅθεν καὶ Μωσῆς, κύριον.

There is clearly a relation with what Micheal Psellus (XI AD) writes:
53, 255-256
παρ' Αἰγυπτίοις γὰρ τὸ ‘μῶς’ ὕδωρ ἐστὶ σημαῖνον,
ὁ δὲ ληφθεὶς ἐξ ὕδατος Μωσῆς αὐτοῖς καλεῖται.

And possibly also with this passage from Joannes Zonaras (XII AD):
ἡ δέ “κάλεσον” ἔφη. καὶ παρήγαγε τὴν μητέρα, καὶ ἡ Θέρμουθις τὴν τοῦ παιδὸς τροφὴν ἔμμισθον αὐτῇ ἀνατίθησι, καὶ ἐκ τοῦ συμβεβηκότος ὀνομάζει αὐτό. τὸ γὰρ ὕδωρ μῶς καλοῦσιν Αἰγύπτιοι, ὑσῆς δὲ τοὺς σωθέντας ἐξ ὕδατος· ἄμφω γοῦν συνθεῖσα τὰ ῥήματα εἰς κλῆσιν αὐτοῖς τοῦ βρέφους ἐχρήσατο.

See also the spelling of Bethphage (accentuation as in TLG):
Πᾶσα λέξις ἀπὸ τῆς βη συλλαβῆς ἀρχομένη διὰ τοῦ η γράφεται· οἷον· Βηθλεὲμ, καὶ Βηθανία, Βηθεσδὰ, Βηθσαϊδὰ, καὶ Βηθσφαγὴ, ὀνόματα τόπων ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις·

The spelling Bethsphage is interesting and common in the later manuscript tradition. But is this an adaption, is there variation within the tradition of the Partitiones, or what? It seems that without a critical edition of the Partitiones and a good study on the contents there is little we can do as yet.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Review of The Story of the Bodmer Papyri

My review of James M. Robinson, The Story of the Bodmer Papyri: From the First Monastery's Library in Upper Egypt to Geneva and Dublin (Cambridge: James Clarke, 2013; ISBN 9780227172780) has been published in Review of Biblical Literature:

The conclusion of the review:
Stories of manuscript discoveries are always exciting, and this account of one of the most valuable treasure troves of biblical and other manuscripts is no exception. In my opinion, Robinson convincingly establishes the connection between manuscripts in the Bodmer and Chester Beatty libraries as well as a number of other collections, primarily Mississippi, Cologne, and Barcelona. Although Robinson’s investigations in Egypt are likely to be influenced by rumors and exaggeration and the exact extent of the “Dishnā Papers” is impossible to establish, his main proposal of a common discovery is thoroughly backed up with documentation and hard evidence from the manuscripts themselves.

On the other hand, the book is poorly edited and betrays many traces of several layers of revision and scattered updates, not only by Robinson, who “composed the book two decades ago” from several earlier publications and new material, but, more recently, also by K. C. Hanson, who edited and published the book (vii). The resulting unevenness is all the more annoying in a book that presents the reader with many names, dates, and details about the manuscripts, which are repeated back and forth, sometimes with variation, which creates confusion.

For example, we are told in the introduction (6) that the Vatican Library was given P. Bodmer XIV–XV (P75) in 2007, a piece of information that may give the reader a sense that the book is brought up to date. In the next sentence, another manuscript is mentioned, “the Savery Codex (then the Crosby Codex of the University of Mississippi),”
 Read the whole review here.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

An Amulet Referring to the Last Supper in John Rylands Library

The Daily Mail reports today (September 3rd, 2014) that Dr. Roberta Mazza, Research Fellow of the John Rylands Research Institute at the University of Manchester, recently made a significant re-discovery in the vaults of John Rylands Library. She found a papyrus amulet from Egypt dated to the sixth century. The apotropaic text was written on re-cycled papyrus (traces of a grain tax receipt have been identified on the reverse side with multispectral imaging). The amulet contains biblical passages from Psalm 78:23-24 and Matthew 26:28-30 and others. The text includes:
Our God prepared a sacred table in the desert for the people and gave manna of the new covenant to eat, the Lord’s immortal body and the blood of Christ poured for us in remission of sins.
The news story claims that this is the first example of an amulet referring to the Christian Eucharist in the context of (apotropaic) magic, which I assume is correct. However, several other statements are erroneous (as usual when things get in the media), for example:
The papyrus contains some of the earliest documented references to The Last Supper.
It is also one of the first recorded documents to use magic in the Christian context.
Some Christians still use passages from the Bible as protective charms, so the amulet marks the beginning of a trend in Christianity [my italics].
An image of the amulet is available here.