Thursday, March 08, 2007

Among the papyri in Lund

Here are a few personal lines of what is going on in relation to my research just now.

On Tuesday I traveled from my hometown Örebro to Lund university (500 km). On that day I completed my final course in the PhD programme, which means that I officially earned the degree that day, although the real trial was of course the examination in December previously reported on this blog. After having earned my degree I could also apply for a research post which has been announced (and the final day for application was March 7). I had prepared the application 16 pages long. For the description of the research project (3 pages) I wrote my short proposal last weekend under the heading: "'Orthodox Corruption' Revisited: Scribal Motivation in New Testament Textual Transmission". I do not think that I will get the post, because I saw who some of the other applicants were (folks that have earned their degree during the last five years are eligible). In any case, I will write something on the subject, as soon as I have time, but I have to prepare papers for three conferences (Birmingham colloquium, SBL International and Annual Meetings). In the afternoon I went to the exegetical seminary (OT + NT), which funny enough was a presentation of a paper by professor Bengt Holmberg on Bauer's thesis with the title "Did Heresy Emerge before Orthodoxy? Walter Bauer's Thesis on the Earliest History of the Church in Later Research" (my quick translation). Two of the questions for the discussion that followed was: a) How much (justified) critique can an historical hypothesis be subjected, before it "suffers the death of many qualifiations?"; and b) To what degree does the erroneous terminology, "orthodoxy" and "heresy," affect the result of an (historical) examination?

I spent the Wednesday morning in the university library, where there is a collection of 800 papyri, which has been completely forgotten since the 30's! Back then, an interested librarian bought them for the university, and from that particular purchase, the other part of this particular lot went to Ann Arbour in Michigan so maybe in APIS some items will be reunited in the digital realm. Only 50 of the papyri have been edited. Now there is a project in co-operation with APIS to digitize the lot. I saw about 20% of the collection on Wednesday. They were brought out in boxes that contained the papyrus items mounted in glass. However, this had been done 75 years ago, and the tape around the glass had dried out, so the glass fell open, and out the very fragile fragments, some of which lay in the bottom of the box!!! I am glad that there is now a conservation project going on, but only one person is working on this project, and it will take a long time. I did not discover any Christian papyri, but some of the items contained religious language (APOLLWN, hAGIOS, MEGALOS QEOS), but no nomina sacra were spotted.

More to follow soon: new discoveries of and in manuscripts

7 Comments:

Peter M. Head said...

Hi Tommy,

Congratulations on finishing the PhD programme.

Re the Lund Papyri: the absence of nomina sacra is no proof of the absence of any Christian literature (it is just an easy first level sorting device). Probably there are loads of biblical and early Christian manuscripts in various libraries which just happen to lack divine names in the extant portion.

Anyway I look forward to the new discoveries.

Pete

Tommy Wasserman said...

PH:"the absence of nomina sacra is no proof of the absence of any Christian literature (it is just an easy first level sorting device)."

Yes, and I am making use of that sorting device when I go through the material for the first time. Unfortunately, those items I have seen thus far have been fragmentary and in very bad shape. It takes a lot of skill to work with them. Perhaps I will try with some items if I have time. Anyway, I will go through the whole lot once, and we will see.

In regard to new discoveries, those defintely involve Greek New Testament MSS.

Rod said...

Tommy,

Re: "a paper by professor Bengt Holmberg on Bauer's thesis with the title "Did Heresy Emerge before Orthodoxy? Walter Bauer's Thesis on the Earliest History of the Church in Later Research"

I doubt this is available in English, but if it were to become such, I'd be very interested. I've been gathering material in preparation for a project on the same general subject--and also along the lines of an examination of Ehrman's thesis that your proposal suggests.

Thanks,

Rod Decker

Tommy Wasserman said...

Re: "a paper by professor Bengt Holmberg on Bauer's thesis ..."

I doubt this is available in English,

Do not doubt! Practically everything we write here is in English, otherwise we would not have many readers ...

Holmberg's paper is actually the very first rough draft to the introductory chapter in a volume in which all the participants in a major research project will write a chapter, summing up there results and being a bit bolder than in their respective monographs. You can read about the project at:

http://www.teol.lu.se/nt/identitet/eng.html

"I've been gathering material in preparation for a project on the same general subject--and also along the lines of an examination of Ehrman's thesis that your proposal suggests."

Sounds as if we should discuss this further.

Tommy Wasserman said...

... sorry, Holmberg's draft was actually in Swedish, but the final product will be in English.

P J Williams said...

Any Coptic material?

Tommy Wasserman said...

PJW: "Any Coptic material?"

No Coptic material among the papyri in Lund that I have seen thus far. The current person working with the collection is also writing a history of how it came to Lund. Unfortunately, she was ill when I was there, so I could't ask her about this and that.

Otherwise there are few interesting manuscript in Lund, but Adolf Deissmann gave the university a medieval manuscript of the Apophtegmata Patrum. A colleague of mine is working with his dissertation on the Apophtegmata, and neither he nor his supervisor, who is professor in patristics were aware of the manuscript, until I told them about it. Only a few folios are extant but incidentally two of the particular apophtegmata were already part of his study, and therefore he will include plates and transcriptions of this MS to make the dissertation more pleasant.