Thursday, December 28, 2006

Atom and RSS

I've been asked about the site feed for this blog. If you use a newsreader and want regular updates on when this blog is changed then you should use Atom which is supported by this blog and not RSS (Really Simple Syndication). Google (which owns Blogger) regards Atom as superior and therefore only supports Atom. If you don't understand this don't worry. However, if you use a newsreader you can put the URL into your reader for regular updates.

Friday, December 22, 2006

News on the Coptic find?

Does anyone know any more news relating to the Coptic manuscript find reported here?

Variants affecting carols

Can anyone cite instances where unusual variant readings have affected Christmas carols?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Order Wasserman for your library

I'm pleased to be able to say that we now have the URL whereby one can order Tommy Wasserman's investigation of the Epistle of Jude. Please forward the URL to your librarian.

The Epistle of Jude: Its Text and Transmission
ISBN-10 91-22-02159-0
ISBN-13 978-91-22-02159-9

Here is the summary

The study treats the textual tradition of the Epistle of Jude. The nucleus of the study is an exhaustive critical apparatus presenting the evidence of 560 Greek MSS, including dozens of lectionaries. The major part of these textual witnesses have not received the attention they deserve. Now, for the first time, all these MSS have been collated in a complete book of the NT. The complete collation has brought many new readings to light, some of which were only known through ancient versions, and previously known and important readings have gained additional support.

The reconstructed text differs from the edition from the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Münster, Editio Critica Maior (ECM), at five points:

v. 5: κυριος (ECM: ιησους)
v. 13: απαφριζοντα (ECM: επαφριζοντα)
v. 15: παντας τους ασεβεις (ECM: πασαν ψυχην)
v. 18: οτι[2] (ECM: omit)
v. 18: του (ECM: omit)

Appended to the apparatus is an errata list to the ECM of Jude, and another list of differences between the two editions that accounts for the cases where the interpretation of the manuscript evidence differs between the editions. These lists, along with the table of contents, can be downloaded from here.

An accompanying textual commentary explains the rationale behind the various text-critical decisions in over 100 passages. An innovation is the employment of a new rating system of a more descriptive nature than counterparts. In a treatment of the literary and text-critical relationship between 2 Peter and Jude, it is argued that the Epistle of Jude has literary priority. Further, the textual traditions of the two writings show that scribal harmonization between the parallel accounts occurs relatively infrequently. Two significant witnesses, P72 and Codex Vaticanus (B 03), lack such harmonization altogether.

The history of the text is also the history of readers and their world, as disclosed through the palaeographic and textual evidence. Every manuscript has a unique story to tell, about the ancient copyists, owners and users. In particular, the two earliest papyrus witnesses to Jude, P72 and P78 (ca. 300 C.E.), are studied in detail. For the first time, plates of these early papyri and the recently registered uncial 0316 are published with complete transcriptions. In addition, plates of two significant minuscules are published with short descriptions.

The book can be ordered here.

Bill Petersen dies

It has been reported on the hugoye-list that the distinguished textual critic William L. Petersen, Director, Religious Studies Program and Professor of Religious Studies and Classic and Ancient Mediterranean Studies at Penn State University died yesterday evening (20 December 2006). Bill's webpage is currently here and from there one can access his wide ranging CV.

Bill's most famous work was almost certainly his authoritative work on the Diatessaron: Tatian’s Diatessaron: Its Creation, Dissemination, Significance, and History in Scholarship(Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae 25; Leiden: Brill, 1994).

Bill was very kind to me and spent over two days working intensely through my book on the translation technique of the Syriac Gospels, even though he had not met me at that stage. He sent me copious learned corrections. It was therefore a great privilege to meet him when I became involved in the IGNTP.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

New Warden of Tyndale House Announced: ETC Blogmeister Appointed!

Congratulations to Pete Williams on his new appointment.

Here is the text of an announcement distributed yesterday:
  • I am delighted to announce that the Trust Board of the UCCF has formally approved the Tyndale House Council's nomination that Dr Peter Williams be appointed as the new Warden of Tyndale House and Director of Research, UCCF, in succession to Bruce Winter. Peter is known to many as a former Research Fellow at Tyndale House. Currently he is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Aberdeen, and will be taking up his post during June 2007. Peter has published research on both Old and New Testaments, and has a particular interest in the Syriac translations of Hebrew and Greek biblical texts.
  • Dr Andrew Clarke, Chairman of the Tyndale House Council

Monday, December 18, 2006

ETC Annual Achievement Awards: Nominations

As the end of the year approaches we invite our readers (yes, all of you) to engage in a bout of critical reflection on the major text critical achievements of 2006. We invite nominations for awards in the following categories:

1. Best contribution to biblical textual criticism.
2. Best discussion of an individual manuscript.
3. Worst treatment of textual criticism in a biblical commentary.
4. Best evangelical contribution to biblical textual criticism.
5. Most arcane detail published in any text critical discussion.
6. Funniest item connected to textual criticism of the Bible.
7. Evangelical Textual Criticism Hall of Fame / Life-time achievement Award.

Nominations can be submitted (over the next 2 weeks) as comments or by email.
The 2005 awards are listed here (with earlier posts: here, here, and here).

Friday, December 15, 2006

More on Heide's 5th edition

Here is a summary of Martin Heide's book:

Recently, Martin Heide's book Der einzig wahre Bibeltext? Erasmus von Rotterdam und die Frage nach dem Urtext (The Only True Bible? Erasmus of Rotterdam and the Question for the Original Text) reached its fifth edition. It seems that ever since The Da Vinci Code appeared books dealing with the textual criticism of the New Testament are in popular demand. In contrast to popular claims that the text of the New Testament has been changed during its transmission to us, Heide's detailed investigation of the history of study of the New Testament text points to the overall reliability of the text.

In the first chapter "Erasmus und die Reformation" ("Erasmus and the Reformation"), Heide points to the position Erasmus held at the beginning of the German Reformation. Although Erasmus’ Greek text was used in Luther’s German translation, and some of Erasmus’ writings such as his Handbook for the Christian Soldier were essential for the German Reformation to gain ground, it is clear from his doctrinal convictions and from his relationships to the scientific and religious world, that he cannot be regarded and did not regard himself as a supporter of the Reformation cause. Rather, he remained on the Catholic side until his death in 1536.

The second chapter "Erasmus und die Heilige Schrift" ("Erasmus and Holy Scripture") deals with Erasmus’ view of the inspiration and authority of scripture. Erasmus had a high view of the Holy Scriptures, but allowed nevertheless some space for their authors’ shortcomings (which he illustrated by Old Testament quotations in the New Testament). He hesitated viewing all scripture alike as authoritative. As Luther, he disliked the Apocalypse and suspected that the epistle of James had not been written by James the apostle. Erasmus emphasized that a good deal of the Old Testament is not really helpful and recommended to read the historical books of Livy in place of such unedifying stories as David’s commission of adultery and murder.

The third chapter "Der erste gedruckte Text des griechischen NT" ("The first printed text of the Greek New Testament") takes the reader into the year 1515/16, when Erasmus prepared to print a revised Latin Bible, and finally decided to print the Greek text in addition to the Latin. This chapter, richly adorned by footnotes, gives much useful information on the highlights and flaws of Erasmus' endeavour and on the manuscripts Erasmus had available for printing. The reader is led through time until 1707, when John Mill’s Greek New Testament appeared and the first attempts were made to collate as many manuscripts for the New Testament as possible.
The fourth chapter "Der kritische Text" ("The critical text") presents a bird’s eye view on the history of New Testament textual criticism, from Bengel to Westcott and Hort and Nestle-Aland. The claim of Westcott and Hort to have the "Original Greek" was weakened by the discovery of the early Papyri: they pointed to the fact that some of the Byzantine readings thought by Westcott and Hort to be later inventions were already known before the fourth century. Heide gives some examples of these "living fossils". Finally he summarizes the presuppositions and methods used in New Testament textual criticism today, from "Thoroughgoing Eclecticism" to the "Received Text"-only-movement (the latter is in fact not a method, but an attempt to preserve an old edition of the Greek New Testament which was common in the 16th-19th centuries). Heide favours the method of "Reasoned Eclecticism" held by most textual critics today.

Chapter 5 "Vom textus receptus und vom Mehrheitstext" ("The Received Text and the Majority Text") gives, as an introduction, in 5.I some insights into the text-critical methods of Erasmus. Though Erasmus was bound to a certain measure by his and the Catholic church’s high regard for the Latin Vulgate, he nevertheless knew and promoted principles of textual criticism known still today, such as the preference for the lectio difficilior.

Chapter 5.II (Gospels to the Epistle of John) and 5.III (Apocalypse) present the most important singular readings of the Received Text. Chapter 5.II gives also a very detailed analysis of the so-called Comma Johanneum, and chapter 5.III deals with the large number of flaws found in Erasmus’ text of the Apocalypse. In chapter 5.III Heide demonstrates in detail that the claims made by some (such as Hoskier), that Erasmus had another manuscript of the Apocalypse besides his mutilated Codex Reuchlini in Basel available, are baseless.

In chapter 6 "Vom Mehrheitstext und vom kritischen Text" ("The Majority Text and the Critical Text") Heide tries to present the history of the New Testament text. Chapter 6.I starts by clarifying some common expressions ("Urtext, Kritischer Text, …"). The earliest manuscripts of the New Testament are in focus in chapter 6.II, their special character, their scribes, their transmissional errors, their textual affinity to later manuscripts, etc. Chapter 6.III is about the Codex Vaticanus and dwells especially on the newly-found "Umlauts". Chapter 6.IV discusses the "Lucianic recension", dismisses it and opts for a gradually "improved" text of the New Testament (6.V), which grew in phases of different size (the largest step should be expected during the Constantine era) from the early papyri to the later Byzantine text. Heide argues especially from the so-called mixed textforms of the 5th and 6th centuries which are found in the texts of the manuscripts, of the early translations and of the church fathers.

Chapter 6.VI draws additional parallels between the papyri and later Byzantine manuscripts, arguing especially from the Septuagint. 6.VII deals with the question of wilful alterations of the New Testament text. Chapter 6.VIII gives insights into the habits of New Testament scribes, focussing on the nomina sacra. Chapter 6.IX goes into the question of "orthodox corruptions" and discusses some well-known orthodox corruptions (Mt 27:34; Lk 2:27-48; 23:45) and a lesser known one (John 1:42). Chapter 6.X discusses more readings, always majoring on the differences between the early or Alexandrinian text and the Byzantine text. Especially helpful are detailed discussions of well-known readings such as Mt 1:7, 10; Mk 1:2; Joh 1:18; and 1 Tim 3:16. At various points, Heide draws parallels between the methods and insights of Erasmus and those of the later critics.

In chapter 7, Heide discusses the various methods of translations employed today and favours a translation which is "as literal as possible and as free as necessary".

The book is rounded up by several excursuses, especially on Erasmus’ text of the Apocalypse, an extensive bibliography and an index to scriptural quotations.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dissertation section

I've now added a Dissertation Section on the .com partner site to this blog. This brings together material on or about dissertations by Tomas Bokedal (Lund), James Palmer (Cambridge), Ivo Tamm (Münster), and Tommy Wasserman (Lund). The section on Tommy Wasserman contains the errata list which he has passed on to me. As previously indicated the editors of the .com site welcome the submission of appropriate academic material to be considered for publication on the site.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Wasserman on Jude: More Details

To add some minor points to P.M. Head’s report of the disputation held in Lund ...

Before I attended the disputation, it was clear from a cursory reading of Wasserman's dissertation The Epistle of Jude: Its Text and Transmission (Coniectanea Biblica, New Testament Series 43, Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 368 pp. and plates), that his work has substance. Setting as an aim to reconstruct the text of Jude on the basis of all available manuscripts, Wasserman did not only shrink back from a challenging task like that, but even, when asked during the disputation (from 3:15 to 5:30 p.m.), what degree of accuracy would be acceptable?, replied: at least that of the ECM ...

The Disputation in Lund: speaking is Prof. Walter Überlacker, in the middle, the opponent, Dr. P.M. Head, at the right, T. Wasserman.

P.M. Head counter-collated 10 of the most important manuscripts Wasserman had collated, and found 485 positive checks, but no errors. There are some 10 places where the reading was not clear (and where most textual critics would differ in their estimation), but the opponent found no obvious errors in Wasserman's collation.

In his thesis, however, Wasserman virtually gave no insights in his working philosophy. How did he transliterate? What computer-system was involved? Wasserman replied: "I sat down at the Microfilm reader most of the time and collated every single manuscript with a sheet of the base text." Since most of the manuscripts of Jude are Byzantine, Wasserman collated against the Byzantine Text (ed. by M.A. Robinson) and noted the differences, one sheet for each manuscript. Then he used the software "Collate" to feed his computer with the data acquired by the procedure described above. He modeled the general layout of his textual apparatus after the layout of the ECM (Editio Critica Maior). His text deviates at four places from the ECM (vv. 5. 13. 15. 18).

Later in the evening, the party united the "freshly baked" Doctor of Philosophy with his examiners and his opponent. Tasty dishes were served with unleaded beer, accompanied by toasts managed by the toastmaster. A retired Professor of Theology who sat next to me observed that theologians normally do not engage very much in (text)-critical work if they take their faith seriously. "But", he added, "Tommy is different".

Wasserman on Jude: breaking news

I have just got back from Lund, Sweden (which, being dull, grey, wet and drizzly was much like Cambridge) and can report that Tommy Wasserman withstood the opposition of his faculty opponent (one P.M. Head) and satisfied the three examiners enough to be awarded his doctorate (see here and previously mentioned on the blog).
It was good to meet Tommy at last and to scare him a bit with my robust questioning of his thesis. It was nice to meet up with Martin Heide, as well as other NT colleagues from Lund and elsewhere, including Walter Uberlacker (Tommy's supervisor), Maurice Robinson (one of the examiners), Bengt Holmberg (who gave me a lift in his car), Ulrich Schmid (who revealed that his middle name was Bernhard - I think I remember it correctly), Samuel Byrskog (who I was happy to meet up with following corrrespondence about his book which I reviewed), Chrys Caragounis (who was not so happy about a review of his big book on Greek), and several others, not to mention Tommy's wife, three children, mother, brothers, friends and colleagues who featured at the party which followed the doctoral examination/defence.
However, there was no dancing on the tables, which I had been assured would feature at some point in the evening. Perhaps it was the light beer.

Michael Martin: Two endings of John

In a recent article in Biblica entitled 'A note on the two endings of John' Michael Martin argues that the Fourth Gospel contains two epilogues (20:30-31 and 21:25) and concludes that therefore the second was added later. I am not sure that the link between premiss and conclusion is so tight. Even if we grant that John has two epilogues it does not follow that one was added later since he has not explored possible subversion of literary convention within the Gospel.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Avoiding blasphemy in Syriac

It is rather peculiar that the Harclean Syriac is quoted as supporting the spelling Μαριαμ in NA27 to Luke 2:19. The Harclean uses the Syriac form Mariam regardless of the Greek spelling. To do otherwise might lead to blasphemy in Syriac.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Anglo-Saxon Bible translators needed

Apparently there is an urgent need for translators to render the Bible into Anglo-Saxon (Old English). See here.

Heide's 5th edition

The 5th edition of Martin Heide's Der einzig wahre Bibeltext? Erasmus von Rotterdam und die Frage nach dem Urtext (VTR: Hamburg, 2006) has appeared. Martin is probably the most linguistically competent of our bloggers. In this book he treats the origin of the textus receptus and writes extensively on a whole range of textual issues.

Further details are available here.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Reflections on Ms Copt.e.150(P)

Here is a rather poor image, scanned from Schenke, of the Coptic ms of John 20 that has been thought by some to give ms support to the idea that John 21 was not originally part of the Gospel. I assume that the scanning of a single image is within copyright law. The ms ends midway down a page with John 20:31.

As for dating Schenke (p. 893) says,

‘Die Schrift des Texts wirkt jedoch ausgesprochen flüssig und scheint am ehesten mit dem Urkundenstil des 4. Js.s vergleichbar zu sein.’

I have represented the end of the text thus, using typos, incomplete words, etc. to represent the Coptic.

Are writte]n not in this book. Are written these things but in order th[at
You] may believ that the Lord is the Chris[t] the s
on of] God that you will bel hat
you may recei]ve life for ever in
his] name
and you will rece<>

As you can see the end of the text is a real mess. Could it just be that the scribe gave up? I'll try to put the Coptic text up, once I work out how to do it! In the mean time I have put the Coptic text in a file here.

Gesa Schenke, 'Das Erscheinen Jesu vor den Jüngern und der ungläubige Thomas: Johannes 20,19-31' in Louis Painchaud and Paul-Hubert Poirier, eds, Coptica - Gnostica - Manichaica: Mélanges offerts à Wolf-Peter Funk (Les presses de l'Université Laval / Peeters, 2006) pp. 893-904.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Gignilliat on sunergei in Rom 8.28

Over at Biblica, there is an article by Mark Gignilliat entitled "Working Together with Whom? Text-Critical, Contextual, and Theological Analysis of sunergei in Romans 8,28".

The text-critical issue that he deals with is whether or not one should prefer some mss that make theos the subject of the verb sunergei (supported by P45 A 81 sa [Coptic] Origen) or those that omit theos and make panta the subject (Aleph C D F G etc). There are theological implications to the text-critical choice made here. Gignilliat writes: "In other words, this text is a classic example of where text-critical arguments and internal evidence may be at loggerheads." His own approach to prefer theos for textual, contextual, and theological reasons.

Mt 27:46 Reading 'against the grain'

I would like some information and feedback on questions related to both text and language, mainly for the purposes of bridge material and explanations for beginning students in the language.

(I will use both unicode and an ASCII transliteration below for cross-browser transparency. Some on this blog are probably aware that I use a seven-vowel "Imperial KOINH" pronunciation. My question below does not deal with how the ancients read the texts -- there is widespread agreement among linguists that EI=I in the Imperial period going back to the Hellenistic period -- or as to what should be normative today. The questions deal with modern readers and are as much sociological as theoretical. It seems that the easiest way to find out would be to ask an appropriate audience.)

1. Basically,
how do people with either an Erasmian or a 'reformed' (Sidney Allen-Stephen Daitz) pronunciation read a NT text like

2. Would the approach or readings change if one decided that Matthew wrote ΣΑΒΑΧΘΑΝΕΙ SABAXQANEI?
(The same questions and data apply to Mark 15:34, too, where Sinaiticus joins the chorus of ΣΑΒΑΧΘΑΝΕΙ SABAXQANEI.)

3. Also related, does anyone have knowledge as to how and why UBS/NA have abandoned ΣΑΒΑΧΘΑΝΕΙ SABAXQANEI in favor of ΣΑΒΑΧΘΑΝΙ SABAXQANI?

4. Are people on this list happy with what NA/UBS have done?

3a-4a. An aside: the change of WH Mt 27:46 ΕΛΩΙ ΕΛΩΙ ELWI to ΗΛΙ ΗΛΙ HLI can be explained on normal text-critical grounds (though the spelling ΗΛΕΙ ΗΛΕΙ HLEI should actually get the nod). But returning to the above UBS question, "how was SABAXQANI justified?": the same questions can be raised for WestcottHort HLEIAN in Mt 27:47 or PEILATOS Mt 27:2, 13, 17, kai ta loipa in many a text.

5. Scheduling and commitments prevented me from attending Pete Williams' promising contribution on spelling for NT criticism. Such are the constraints of an SBL. That session would have discussed the other side of this question, the text-critical side.
Any interesting feedback, Pete?

Randall Buth

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Codex Fuldensis online

I'm not sure how long it's been around, but I've just noticed that Codex Fuldensis, the sixth century Gospel Harmony, thought to bear a close relation to Tatian's Diatessaron, is now online here.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Jude: Text and Transmission

Just across my desk is: Tommy Wasserman, The Epistle of Jude: Its Text and Transmission (Coniectanea Biblica: New Testament Series 43; Almqvist & Wiksell International, 2006). As is customary in Sweden the thesis is published prior to the doctoral defence about which I'm sure we will hear shortly. This appears to be the most definitive study of the text of Jude ever undertaken. There are still some technical matters to be sorted out before the book will be available for order over the internet. We will post details when they appear.