Thursday, July 10, 2008

International SBL Meetings in Auckland, New Zealand

The session on Biblical Manuscripts took place this afternoon here in Auckland (Thur. afternoon here that is). Scott Charlesworth from Australia presented a solid paper on the copying practices in the early NT papyri. He compared overlapping texts among the NT papyri to see what types of differences were there. He differentiated the different types of copying processes behind the various papyri, then compared them from various perspectives to see what types of changes were most commonly made to the text in each of the copying processes. When published, his work should provide a solid foundation for discussions (this is part of his dissertation, which has been approved).

The second presentation examined the punctuation of 1 Cor. 14:33 with respect to whether the major segmentation break for the WS clause should be in the middle of v. 33 as in N-A, or at the end of v. 33. After reviewing how various Greek New Testaments and English translations have been punctuated, an overview of the grammatical and linguistic evidence for the WS clauses in 1 Cor. and Paul overall was given, followed by a brief summary of the implications of the textual variant in vv. 34-35 for the punctuation of v. 33. Then the bulk of the presentation highlighted the evidence in the manuscripts themselves, with the overwhelming consensus among the manuscripts being that the major punctuation or segmentation break should be at the end of v. 33, not in the middle of the verse. This would result in "as in all the churches of the saints" being applied to the principle of God being one of order, not disorder, and would negate applying this WS clause to verses 34-35.

Thanks are expressed to our own Tommy Wasserman as one of the leaders of this section at the International SBL meetings.


  1. I take it that the second paper was your paper Bill.

    It raises for me the imponderable question as to whether 'the overwhelming consensus among the manuscripts' can be decisive for settling such a question about the flow and structure of Paul's argument.

    It seems to me that manuscript delimitation practices is one factor among others that ought to be borne in mind. Other factors supporting this view could include:
    a) that 11.16 provides a parallel to this idea coming at the end of a unit of thought
    b) there is no evidence for a general requirement that women be silent in all the churches (which in any case is contradicted in 11.5; Acts 2.17f: ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy’ [cf. Joel 2.28ff]; Rom 16.1: Phoebe was a deacon of a church; Rom 16.3-5: Prisca and [her husband] Aquila have a church in their house; other female gospel ‘workers’ are mentioned in this chapter: Mary 16.6; Junia 16.7; Tryphaena and Tryphosa 16.12; Phil 4.2-3 appeals to Euodia and Syntyche as those who ‘have laboured side by side with me in the gospel’; Col 4.15: Nympha hosts a church in her house; 1 Tim 3.11: female deacons)
    c) the idea that God is ‘a God of peace’ is a commonplace in Paul’s letters to other churches (cf. Rom 15.33; 16.20; 2 Cor 13.11; Phil 4.9; 1 Thess 5.23; 2 Thess 3.16; cf. also Heb 13.20)

  2. Sorry, I also meant to ask which manuscripts vary from 'the overwhelming consensus'.

  3. Sorry, I also meant to ask which manuscripts vary from 'the overwhelming consensus'.

  4. Sorry,

    I didn't mean to say that twice.

  5. "with the overwhelming consensus among the manuscripts being that the major punctuation or segmentation break should be at the end of v. 33, not in the middle of the verse." -- But the majority of manuscripts adds "your" in v. 34, so that "as in all the churches of the saints" can hardly be applied to v. 34 with "your women". So perhaps the punctation of v. 33 in most manuscripts is influenced by the reading of the majority text in v. 34. What does the evidence looks like if one prefers the N-A reading in v. 34 (omitting "your"), so that the punctuation of the majority text looses its significance?

  6. Even allowing the NA/UBS text (without UMWN):

    Were the major punctuation break to occur in the middle of v.33, it would then seem overly redundant (reading "as in all the churches ... the women in the churches."

    This alone suggests the proper location for the break indeed is at the end of v.33.

  7. Thanks Bill for the report! Yes, it is nice to be able to monitor a conference section from the exact opposite side of the world :-). I am sorry I could not make it to New Zealand to listen to the papers.

  8. As an answer to Peter and others, yes, several types of evidence must be weighed in making the punctuation decision, but so often the mss are not considered, which was a major point in my paper.
    For example, 01 has a full segmentation break at the end of 1 Cor. 14:33, leaving no doubt whatsoever as to the division of the text on this specific matter. 02, 03, and 044 likewise have the same clear divisions (and 06 and 012 of course, but due to moving vv 34-35 to after v. 40). The only exceptions are a few later minuscules. What I haven't examined yet are the Church Fathers and versions, so more remains to be done, but so far it seems to be an open and shut case for keeping all of v. 33 together with the major punctuation or segmentation at the end of the verse. Hope this clarifies some of the points raised.

  9. By "overwhelming consensus among the manuscripts," I take it that you did textual criticism at the text-segmentation level and found variants in text segmentation that would support variant interpretations of the respectively segmented text.

    This is one of the first factors to bear in mind, and I suppose that one can pick and chose which segmentation variant to follow based on the interpretation he hopes to derive.