Friday, July 13, 2018

Coptology Job, WWU-Münster

Coptologists often lurk around as New Testament professors or the like, since only a handful of institutions dedicate a position to the subject area.  Stephen Emmel, whose ground-breaking work has fostered reconstruction of the disbursed fragments of Shenoute of Atripe's (Wikipedia article) writings, will retire in one year, and the Uni is inviting applications for this professorship through 25 Aug 2018.
The successful candidate will have general research and teaching experience in Coptology and should be internationally outstanding in one of the following research subfields: philology, language and literature, cultural history, archaeology or art history.

Congratulations to Prof. Dr. Emmel for an outstanding career and our appreciation to the WWU for renewing this important Lehrstuhl!

Monday, July 09, 2018

John DelHousaye: Ephesians 1:1 and the Most Elegant Readings

It’s my pleasure to introduce a guest post from my New Testament colleague, John DelHousaye. John is Associate Professor of New Testament at Phoenix Seminary where he has taught for over 15 years. Many of those included Greek exegesis courses based on Ephesians. Now, he has distilled the fruit of that labor into a new guidebook for students. Since John took special note of textual variants in his book, I asked if he would share some of that with us. (By the way, you can enter to win a copy of the book here.)

In Engaging Ephesians: An Intermediate Reader and Exegetical Guide (GlossaHouse, 2018), I had the opportunity to review many of the recorded variants from our witnesses to the letter. Educated with a bias against the Byzantine tradition, I wanted to be more sympathetic, especially because of the softening to the readings in the Nestle-Aland 28th edition, but concluded they comprised glosses and expansions. In the end, I did not adopt a single uniquely Byzantine reading. Ephesians is also attested in the papyri:

Eph 1:1–23 P46
Eph 1:11–13, 19–21 P92
Eph 2:1–7, 10–22 P46
Eph 3:1–21 P46
Eph 4:1–32 P46
Eph 4:16–29, 31–32 P49
Eph 5:1–6, 8–33 P46
Eph 5:1–13 P49
Eph 6:1–6, 8–18, 20–24 P46

I was not especially impressed by these witnesses: the transcription is often sloppy (see, for example, the P46 reading at 4:30). Also problematic were the variants in Codex Claromontanus (see 3:1). Variants in Claromontanus were also derivative (see 3:1). In my opinion, Codex Sinaiticus, our oldest complete copy of the New Testament, is the least derivative. I may be wrong, but I do not judge that the evidence is on the side of those seeking another point of departure. Of course, Sinaiticus seems to be filled with derivative readings and transcription errors.

My bias was confirmed, but then immediately challenged in the opening line. Sinaiticus reads:
Παῦλος ἀπόστολος ΙΥ ΧΥ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ τοῖς ἁγίοις τοῖς οὖσιν καὶ πιστοῖς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ
The Nestle-Aland 28 reads:
Παῦλος ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ τοῖς ἁγίοις τοῖς οὖσιν [ἐν Ἐφέσῳ] καὶ πιστοῖς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ·
The edited text dispenses with the nomina sacra and places Χριστοῦ before Ἰησοῦ; the preposition phrase ἐν Ἐφέσῳ is included with brackets.

Concerning the first variant, variation in the order of Jesus’s name and primary epithet, the Christ (Messiah), is very common in the manuscripts. We also find both orders in the immediate context without variants. On the one hand, Sinaiticus and most of the Byzantine tradition read Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ. On the other, most printed editions (Nestle-Aland, SBLGNT) follow the earlier reading in P46 (c. 175–225), which is also reflected in Vaticanus, Claromontanus, and other witnesses. I favor this reading because it is earlier and (slightly) more difficult—“Jesus Christ” being the default. The order also fits a couplet pattern:
  • Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ (1:1)
    Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ (1:1)
  • Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ (1:2)
    Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ (1:3)
We also find the inverse order without recorded variants in the final greeting (Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν, 6:24), which is significant because Ephesians appears to be structured as a chiasm.

A         Opening Greeting (1:12)
            1) The faithful (1:1)
            2) Prayer for “grace” and “peace”
            3) Directed to “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:2)
            B         Prayer on “mystery” of God’s will and spiritual warfare (1:323)
                        C         Christ’s Family: Gentiles and Jews (2:13:21)
                                    D         Walking with God (4:15:21)
                                                            1. “Walk” (4:1, 17; 5:2, 8, 15)
                                                            2. Trinity (4:16 // 5:1820)
                        C'        Christ’s Family: Spouses, Children, Slaves (5:216:9)
            B'        Spiritual warfare and prayer on “mystery” of the gospel (6:1020)
A'        6:2123:          Closing Greeting
            1') The faithful Tychicus (6:21)
            2') Prayer for “peace” and “grace” (6:2324, inverse order)
            3') Directed to “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (6:23)

Therefore, I judge the reading in Sinaiticus to be derivative and not a contender for the earliest reading in our manuscript tradition. In any case, the sense is little affected.

But the second variant, [ἐν Ἐφέσῳ], is more meaningful and difficult to resolve. Our earliest manuscripts (P46, the original hand of Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Origen) do not mention the city. ἐν Ἐφέσῳ is written by a different hand in a different color of ink in the margin of Sinaiticus; the words are also in the margin of Vaticanus.[2] We may interpret these facts at least two ways. The scribes noted an omission or made an emendation.

On the one hand, some argue the letter was intended to be an encyclical.[3] The content of the letter is more general, suggesting a broader application, perhaps with Tychicus serving as its carrier and reader throughout Asia Minor (6:21–22). Perhaps a scribe (or pseudonymous author) wanted to harmonize the letter with Colossians, which is closely related in style and substance and reads ἐν Κολοσσαῖς (1:1). If we omit τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Ἐφέσῳ, we have a seemingly more harmonious τοῖς ἁγίοις καὶ πιστοῖς (see Col 1:2).

On the other, the first copyist of Sinaiticus, or more likely because of the absence of ἐν Ἐφέσῳ in the earlier P46 someone else, might have omitted the phrase by accident or in order to generalize the letter. A clearer example of this pattern is the omission of τοῖς ἐν Ῥώμῃ at Rom 1:14 in some later witnesses. Do these readings presuppose an early catholicity to the Pauline letters?

The use of οὖσιν without a predicate is anomalous (see Rom 1:7; Phil 1:1; 1 Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 1:1). Origen, a native speaker, struggled to make sense of it.[4] Also, as William Larkin notes, all extant manuscripts have the superscript or heading ПРОΣΕΠΕΣΙΟΥΣ.[5] The association with the city is not arbitrary. Our witnesses do not provide an alternative location.[6]

The wording and arrangement also suggest a parallelism, conveying a dual citizenship:
τοῖς     ἁγίοις τοῖς οὖσιν      ἐν Ἐφέσῳ
καὶ      πιστοῖς                       ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ
Although the reading ἐν Ἐφέσῳ is uncertain, I find no compelling reason to drop it.

My study of Ephesians led to a deeper appreciation of the letter’s elegance. Overall, Codex Sinaiticus is the best witness to this rhetorical beauty. In some cases, along with other considerations, the more elegant reading should be preferred. Of course, the original copyist of Sinaiticus inherited a flawed text and added further infelicities. Nevertheless, in my opinion, this codex remains the best point of departure. 


  1. Adapted from see John Paul Heil, Ephesians: Empowerment to Walk in Love for the Unity of All in Christ (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2007), 38-42.
  2. Eadie, Ephesians, xviii.
  3. John Eadie attributes the theory to Usher (A Commentary on the Greek Text of The Epistle of Paul to The Ephesians, 2nd ed. [New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1861], xxiv).
  4. Eadie, Commentary, xix.
  5. William J. Larkin, Ephesians: A Handbook on The Greek Text (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2009), 2.
  6. Marcion may have claimed the letter was intended for the Laodiceans, but no extant witness supports this.

Friday, July 06, 2018

The CBGM Applied to the Old Testament

I often get asked if the CBGM could be used on the text of the Old Testament. The short answer is yes, it could be. There is nothing in principle that excludes any tradition from being used with the CBGM. The better question, of course, is should it be and I have had mixed thoughts about that. Well, my mixed thoughts aside, now it has been.

I have just come across an MDiv thesis completed at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary earlier this year by a fellow named Dean G. Ellis. I’m traveling and have only had a chance to skim it, but I thought I would alert our readers to it.

The title is “Applying the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (CBGM) to the Text of the Old Testament: An Evaluation.”

Here is the abstract:
The goal of this research is to apply the Coherence Based Genealogical Method (CBGM) to the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 5 was chosen to evaluate this method. This method is being used to evaluate General Epistles in the New Testament and will result in changes to the Editio Critica Maior of the New Testament. To date, this method has not been applied to the Old Testament. This study relied on the development of new software algorithms to align the Hebrew text and perform the CBGM analysis. Initial results indicate that this method is applicable to Old Testament texts and is able to propose a model for the transmission of the text. Textual relationships were identified, and a proposed route of textual transmission was determined. This method has many promising applications within Old Testament textual studies. It also has several strengths and weaknesses that are addressed.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Newly Published Articles and Books in NTTC

I am certain that many of our readers are on holiday and to avoid idleness (when you do not watch the interesting FIFA World Cup), here are some recent publications of interest (apart from the NTS article on "Tertius in the Margins" mentioned in another blogpost):

H. A. G. Houghton, ed., Liturgy and the Living Text of the New Testament (Gorgias Press).
"The textual history of the New Testament is a dynamic tradition, reflecting differing readings, interpretations and uses of its canonical writings. These contributions represent original research by an international range of scholars, first presented at the Tenth Birmingham Colloquium on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament."

"Luke's account of Martha and Mary of Bethany is present in the textual tradition in two versions. The majority of scholars and editors prefer the shorter reading, “only one thing is necessary.” This view is also taken up by the influential UBS Committee, which regards the long reading as a conflation. This preference for the shorter reading is mistaken on several grounds. First, it builds on a factual error presupposing a reading that does not exist in the extant Greek textual tradition. Second, it neglects the history of interpretation and specifically its significance for the textual problem. Third, it is motivated at least in part by positing a dichotomy between the two sisters. In this article, I argue that the long reading in the passage in Luke 10:41–42, where Jesus replies to Martha that “few things are necessary, or indeed only one” is the initial text and the lectio difficilior, as well as the text that is best suited to its narrative context in Luke's Gospel."

Garrick V. Allen, “There Is No Glory and No Money in the Work”: H. C. Hoskier and New Testament Textual Criticism, TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism 23 (2018): 1–19.
"Focusing on the work and life of H. C. Hoskier, this article explores the broader intellectual context of late nineteenth and early twentieth century textual criticism. This examination illuminates the deep context of current trends in textual scholarship on the New Testament, arguing that the discipline has much to learn from the dark corners of the tradition. Though seemingly dry and laborious work (and of a truth it is the latter to a large extent) some of the most wonderful truths, some of the most interesting problems present themselves to his mind as letter by letter, line by line, and page by page the patient collator toils along slowly at his task."

There are more articles to be published in this journal very soon. Also, check out the reviews in the new volume.

Alan Taylor Farnes, "Scribal Habits in Selected New Testament Manuscripts, Including Those with Surviving Exemplars," Unpublished PhD dissertation,  University of Birmingham, 2018.
"In the first chapter of this work, I provide an introduction to the current discussion of scribal habits. In Chapter Two, I discuss Abschriften-or manuscripts with extant known exemplars-, their history in textual criticism, and how they can be used to elucidate the discussion of scribal habits. I also present a methodology for determining if a manuscript is an Abschrift. In Chapter Three, I analyze P127, which is not an Abschrift, in order that we may become familiar with determining scribal habits by singular readings. Chapters Four through Six present the scribal habits of selected proposed manuscript pairs: 0319 and 0320 as direct copies of 06 (with their Latin counterparts VL 76 and VL83 as direct copies of VL 75), 205 as a direct copy of 2886, and 821 as a direct copy of 0141. I discuss in Chapter Four the need to better understand the scribal habits of manuscripts written by scribes who wrote in their non-native language. Additionally, I conclude that 205 and 2886 are, in fact, not copies of one another. In the conclusion, I argue that there is no common scribal habit shared by all scribes except that this study has not found a scribe who adds more words than they lose. Additionally, textual critics should place greater emphasis on the roles played by patrons and readers of the text rather than on scribes alone."

Happy holiday!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

(Not) a new conjecture

A.H. Cadwallader, ‘Tertius in the Margins: A Critical Appraisal of the Secretary Hypothesis’, New Testament Studies 64 (2018), 378–396.

There are lots of things of interest in this article about the role of Tertius in Romans 16.22. One of the claims of the article is that Tertius’ greeting was originally a marginal note, incorporated into the text by an early copyist. Although this is claimed as an original contribution of the author, in actual fact it repeats in practically every element the theory advanced by Hugo Grotius in 1646, and discussed in ten different scholarly works on the text of Romans between 1835 and 1898 (and on this blog last year). It seems like The Amsterdam Database of New Testament Conjectural Emendation (online at should be more widely known among NT scholars (and editors).

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

New Introduction by Anderson and Widder: Textual Criticism of the Bible

A new introduction, Textual Criticism of the Bible: Revised Edition (Lexham Methods Series) is in the pipeline. The first edition of this introduction was authored by Wendy Widder in 2014. Widder, who is more a specialist on the Hebrew Bible and language, has now been joined by our own co-blogger Amy Anderson, which means that the aspect of New Testament textual criticism has been significantly improved in the revised edition.

According to Amazon. the book is scheduled to come out on 24 October, so you should be able to get your signed copy at SBL.

My blurb:

With this handbook Anderson and Widder provide a clear and helpful introduction to Old and New Testament textual criticism. In a time of increasing specialization and fragmentation, a handbook that takes what the two fields have in common – in particular scribal habits – as the starting point, is very welcome. Clear explanations, definitions of key-words, lucid tables and illustrating examples make this introduction particularly suitable for the beginning student.

Tommy Wasserman
Professor of Biblical Studies, Ansgar Teologiske Høgskole, Norway

Monday, June 18, 2018

Critique textuelle de l’ancien Testament for Free Download

Good news for Old Testament textual critics! The University of Zurich Library has made the volumes of CTAT available for free download as part of ZORA (Zurich Open Repository and Archive). I’ve been told (correct me if you know something more) that there will be no Pentateuch volume for this series. I want to thank Dougald Mclaurin and Brian Davidson for bringing this news to my attention. Enjoy!

Volume 1: Josué, Juges, Ruth, Samuel, Rois, Chroniques, Esdras, Néhémie, Esther

Volume 2: Isaïe, Jérémie, Lamentations

Volume 3: Ézéchiel, Daniel et les 12 Prophètes

Volume 4: Psaumes

Volume 5: Job, Proverbes, Qohélet et Cantique des Cantiques