Thursday, October 21, 2021

Rodenbiker on the Canon List in Claromontanus


Kelsie Rodenbiker has a helpful article clarifying some issues about the odd canon list in Codex Claromontanus (the so-called Catalogus Claromontanus). The pre-pub was uploaded back in March and is available here but it looks like the JSNT version isn’t out yet.

For context, here is the NT list of books with stichometry (copied from here).

Evangelia .IIII.Four Gospels:
Mattheum ver.ĪĪDCMatthew2600
Iohannes ver.ĪĪJohn2000
Marcus ver.ĪDCMark1600
Lucam ver.ĪĪDCCCCLuke2900
Epistulas PauliEpistles of Paul:
ad Romanos ver.ĪXLTo Romans1040
ad Chorintios .I. ver.ĪLXTo Corinthians 11060
ad Chorintios .II. ver.LXXTo Corinthians 270
ad Galatas ver.CCCLTo Galatians350
ad Efesios ver.CCCLXVTo Ephesians365
ad Timotheum .I. ver.CCVIIITo Timothy 1209
ad Timotheum .II. ver.CCLXXXVIIIITo Timothy 2289
ad Titum ver.CXLTo Titus140
ad Colosenses ver.CCLITo Colossians251
ad Filimonem ver.LTo Philemon50
—ad Petrum primaCC—To Peter 1200
ad Petrum .II. ver.CXLTo Peter 2140
Jacobi ver.CCXXOf James220
Pr. Iohanni Epist.CCXXOf John220
Iohanni Epistula .II.XXOf John 220
Iohanni Epistula .III.XXOf John 320
Iudae Epistula ver.LXOf Jude60
—Barnabae Epist. ver.DCCCL—Of Barnabas850
Iohannis RevelatioĪCCRevelation of John1200
Actus ApostolorumĪĪDCActs of the Apostles2600
—Pastoris versiĪĪĪĪ—Shepherd4000
—Actus Pauli ver.ĪĪĪDLX—Acts of Paul3560
—Revelatio PetriCCLXX—Revelation of Peter270

And here are images from the BnF.

She clarifies a few things that seem to have been missed or forgotten thanks, in part, to Tischendorf’s original transcription. In particular, she argues that (1) the lines (obeli?) before the four NT books (there is also one before Judith too that is often missed) are probably later than the original hand; (2) the line before 1 Peter is not a paragraphos (contra Metzger) but marks the odd title to 1 Peter which she (rightly in my view) accounts for as a scribe’s mistake due to the repetition of ad in the Pauline letters just before; (3) following Metzger, the omission of Philippians, 1–2 Thessalonians, and Hebrews is best explained by homoioteleuton from Ephesians (εφεσιους) to Hebrews (εβραιους) if the list was originally in Greek.

From this she concludes that we shouldn’t see the original list as equivalent to our current NT. Instead, it’s a witness to “the continuing elasticity of the New Testament canon” in the 6th century. Of course, we don’t know how much later the lines (obeli?) are from the original scribe and the fact that the NT list doesn’t match the very books in Claromontanus raises questions for me about the purpose (and weight) of the list in its current form. 

In any case, Rodenbiker’s main contribution is to remind us of the line at Judith, to argue that the lines are later, and to offer a better explanation for the line at 1 Peter. On all three points, I think she’s right.

Update: Meade reminds me that he covered some of this ground in his Myths and Mistakes chapter.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Codex Ravianus and 5 lost manuscripts, now found


after Unknown artist,
line engraving, 1645
NPG D29240
© National Portrait Gallery, CC
In addition to the manuscripts I described here, a lot of (especially older or KJV-preferred) works will refer to another manuscript with the Comma Johanneum: one Codex Ravianus (named for it's former owner, Christian Ravis). E.F. Hills is honest enough to qualify his mention of Codex Ravianus: "The Johannine comma is also found in Codex Ravianus, in the margin of 88, and in 629. The evidence of these three manuscripts, however, is not regarded as very weighty, since the first two are thought to have taken this disputed reading from early printed Greek texts and the latter (like 61) from the Vulgate" (The King James Version Defended [1973 ed.]), pp. 204–205).

Still, it's worth looking into. Given how little Greek manuscript support there is for the Comma Johanneum, we might as well try to track down what we can.

A quick Google of Codex Ravianus reveals that it was once numbered 110 by Wettstein (not to be confused with GA 110), but it was later excluded from the list of Greek NT manuscripts because it is considered to be a copy of the Complutensian Polyglot. A part of me wants to poke at that a bit more, but on this, Tregelles writes:

The Codex Ravianus at Berlin certainly contains this passage; but the MS. itself is nothing whatever but a modern transcript taken almost entirely from the Complutensian Polyglott with a few readings introduced from the text of Erasmus. The very handwriting is an imitation of the Complutensian Greek types. The real character of this MS., which some in the last century were so incautious as to quote as though it possessed authority, was very fully shown by Griesbach and Pappelbaum. This MS. is now preserved at Berlin simply as a literary forgery, and not as the precious monument of the sacred text which it was once described as being. It is uncertain who formed this MS., and whether Rav[is] himself took a part in the fraud, or whether he was himself the dupe of others. A learned man who had not made MSS. his study might be thus misled. 
(Horne, Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures [10th ed.], vol. 4: Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament; "the critical part re-written and the remainder revised and edited" by Tregelles, p. 218)

That last sentence is relevant for more than just Codex Ravianus; let the reader understand. Still, Codex Ravianus doesn't turn up easily in a quick search. What can we know about it?

As Wikipedia can be a decent place to start (if never a good place to finish), I checked the Wikipedia page for Codex Ravianus.  According to it, the manuscript is (was!) in Berlin (Berlin, Staatsbibliothek Gr. fol. 1, 2). It is a 2-volume manuscript.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The New CSB Note at 2 Peter 3.10


Last night in class, the students and I were talking about how changes in the NA28 might affect English translations. So I pulled up 2 Peter 3.10 in the CSB as an example. I wrote about this note before and criticized it for being misleading. Lo and behold, the CSB has updated the note with what appears to be perhaps the first Bible footnote taken from an ETC blog post! I can’t be sure, of course, but the evidence looks compelling.

The old note at 2 Peter 3.10 said “Or will not be found” which read as if it was saying “some Greek mss read...” which is, of course, not the case. Now it says “Some Syriac and Coptic mss read will not be found.” That’s much better.

Here’s my ETC post.

And here’s the new CSB note.

Curiously, this change is not noted in the official list of changes in the CSB 2020 revision. But it certainly is a change from what I found in 2017.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

PhDs and Post-Docs in Textual Criticism at Leuven


 From an email: 

KU Leuven, Belgium, offers 2 full-time post-doctoral (2 years) and 3 PhD positions (4 years) for suitably qualified candidates to form part of the research team of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) funded Odysseus project “1Cor – Text, Transmission and Translation of 1 Corinthians in the First Millennium”. The project’s main goal is to produce full scholarly editions and textual analyses of 1 Corinthians with a multilingual perspective.

The successful post-doctoral candidates will work on the Greek and Coptic transmission of the text respectively. The doctoral studies will focus on citations of 1 Corinthians in Early Christian writers, the text in liturgical manuscripts, the textual developments in the Latin tradition or other versional evidence.

Further information about each position and application details can be obtained through the following links. The deadline for applications is 25th November 2021, the project will start on 1st March 2022.


Postdoctoral Position (Coptic):

Postdoctoral Position (Greek):

3 PhD Positions:


Please feel free to circulate this information more widely and to alert colleagues and students who you think may be interested and suited.

Informal enquiries may be addressed to

Friday, September 24, 2021

Hebrew Scribes at the End of the Line

Composing a text by hand demands an awareness of certain details that we can ignore when using a word processor. One of these details is if the next written word corresponds to the available space. At times, the space didn’t for Hebrew scribes, and when this happened, they had several ways to navigate this situation. Let’s review some of these. For more information on these practices, see Tov’s discussion in chapters 4 and 5 of his book Scribal Practices. This list depends on and derives in part from his helpful discussions.

First, scribes could utilize the margin to finish the word. This practice is not uncommon. Here is a portion of column 2 of 1QIsaa illustrating this practice.

Second, a scribe could fill in the remaining line with space fillers. The scribe of 1QIsaa resorts to using dots in 1QIsaa Col 3:6.


Third, a scribe at times began a word at the end of a line but didn’t finish it. Instead, the word was written in full at the beginning of the next line. Here is an example from 1QIsaa Col 2:11.


Fourth, it is possible that the scribe of 1QIsaa began a word and simply failed to finish it. See 1QIsaa Col 6:3.


Fifth, a scribe might begin a word at the end of the line and complete it on the next line. Tov states that this was a practice of scrolls written in paleo-Hebrew. 11Q1 Col 3:5, 6, 7 are examples of this.


Sixth, a scribe might resort to a smaller “font-size” to fit the word in the available space. See 1QIsaa Col 16:30 (the first line in the photo below).

Seventh, a scribe might write part of the word above the line. Here are some examples from 4QPsx.


Eighth, a scribe might cram words together leaving little space between the words. This tendency is common in 4QPsx and here in 1QIsaa Col 16:24.

Ninth, a scribe might leave bigger spaces between letters as here in 4QDeuth 1:5–7. Tov labels this device “proportional” spacing. 


These pictures were taken from photos found at the Leon Levy DSS Digital Library and the DSS Digital Project.

Monday, September 20, 2021

More NT Textual Criticism Guest Lecture Videos


I’m teaching NTTC again at the seminary and that means having guest lecturers visit to share their work. The first two videos are now up at the TCI YouTube channel. If you subscribe there, you’ll get new videos when they’re posted. Thanks to Mike and Edgar for letting me share these.

Ebojo on P46 and the Pastoral Epistles


Holmes on Editing and Translating the NT for Church and Academy

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Richard Porson’s Famous Handwriting

Although he published little, the Cambridge classicist Richard Porson (1759–1808) is best known for his insight into Greek meter, accentuation, and orthography. He was apparently skeptical of Granville Sharp’s rule about the use of the Greek article that has been so important to New Testament studies. he was even suspected by some of having written a tract against it under the pseudonym “Gregory Blunt” (pun intended). More popularly, he was known for “an astonishing memory, a turn for satire and badinage, beautiful penmanship, personal slovenliness, and alcoholism” (Naiditch, xxi). But Porson denied having written it and his biographer agrees (Watson, 267270). His greatest legacy, as far as I am concerned, is his Greek handwriting that was turned into what I consider the best Greek typeface ever designed in Britain. 

The original characters were cut by Richard Austin and cast by Caslon and Catherwood. Austin was paid 22 pounds and 7 shillings. It was first used in 1809 in E. D. Clarke’s Greek Marbles brought from the shores of the Euxine. Its simplicity and lack of ligatures made it easy to read so that it was quickly copied and by the mid 19th century it was “almost universal in Britain” (Bowman, 2). You can see it in all sorts of books from Metzger’s Lexical Aids to Westcott and Hort’s GNT to Loeb Classical Library. One reviewer at the time compared the new type to the “disgustingly luxuriant” types of Bodoni and said that, in contrast, “the eye of the scholar now peruses, with a satisfaction bordering on delight, the porsonic type” (Bowman, 2). 

Porson’s Book Notes from c. 1800 (source)

Porson’s handwriting

The original type specimen from Cambridge University Press (from Bowman)

It was also used for the early editions of the UBS Greek New Testament but this changed—to Metzger’s chagrin. He says that he was not happy about the change to the “less attractive and harder to read [type] than the beautiful Porson font of Greek type that I had recommended for the earlier editions” (Reminiscences, 73). Kurt Aland admits as much in the intro to the NA26 (p. 43*) when he says “the font used [for NA26] is certainly lacking in the simplicity and clarity of that used for The Greek New Testament.” Given its ties to Cambridge, I tried to get the THGNT editors to use it but they went with Adobe Text instead (not a bad choice).

Westcott and Hort’s GNT (1881)

You can download a digital version of Porson from the Greek Font Society.

Further reading