Thursday, December 11, 2008

Vaticanus Umlauts in a Patristic Text?

James Snapp announces an interesting find on the Textual Criticism discussion list (read the message here). As he was looking for further evidence of early writers' utilization of Mark 16:9-20 he came across an article, H. L. Ramsey, "Our Oldest MSS of St. Cyprian, III: The Contents and Order of the Manuscripts L N P," JTS 3 (1902): 585-94. Ramsey describes some features of Codex Vindob. 962 (MS L of Cyprian) from the ninth century, that resembles the Umlauts in Codex Vaticanus.

Wieland Willker has made available the relevant page from the original article by Ramsey here.

Snapp ends his message by asking, "Were Codex Vaticanus and this copy of works of Cyprian ever together?"


  1. Interesting! This begs a question whether the markings were first written by that "medieval scholar" or whether he was copying something that was already in his exemplar(s) ...

    Which of course begs a further question what indication this may have for the similar features in Vaticanus :)

  2. They were apprently written in red in this MS, not as the text and other corrections.

    As for Vaticanus, Payne has recently argued that the Umlauts were not added at the same time, but in several stages (as reported on this blog recently).

  3. Also, the "umlaut" sign is put over the text in this case, not in the margin as in B.

  4. On the other hand, there are triplets in the margin of this MS as in the OT portion of Vaticanus. As can be seen on Willker's descriptive page, they are irregularly shaped in Vaticanus, - some apparently in the same triangular shape as those in the patristic MS. It will be well worth to look the actual MS up (why doesn''t Jim take a month off from his pastoral duties to follow up this clue).

    In any case, this seems to be the closest analogy to the feature in Vaticanus so far, so it is important.

  5. A strange thing about these umlauts is that the variants they seem to represent do not reflect one known textual tradition.

    I once checked the ca. 100 umlauts in Mt and only about 50% show a Byzantine variant. There are roughly 130 major Byz variants in Mt. Of these, only 25% have an umlaut.

    For 2/3 of the other 50% of the umlauts a variant can be found among the other witnesses we have (D, OLat, vg, Sy). For 16 umlauts I haven't found any variant at all.
    Of the 46 "Byz" umlauts, only about 8 have additionally strong "Western" support.

    This variant distribution is difficult to explain.

    If one does such a highly time consuming task of comparing B with two or more MSS and then indicating only about 100 differences (of which about 50% are really minor stuff) then one must be either an idiot or the MSS used must have been very strange ones, or ...?

    is the link to Wieland's reply. James' original post was /4315

    A clear case of harmonisation to near context.

  7. Sorry for posting here. Can anyone provide the SBL style sheet for referencing the electronic edition of Vetus Latina Iohannes The Verbum Project The Old Latin Manuscripts of John's Gospel found here:

    Many thanks.

  8. Red ink in the umlauts does not necessary mean they were not in scribe's exemplar(s), though I admit such a case is not likely.

  9. Daniel, thank you for the correction, I have mended the link.

  10. Timo, especially not when most of the corrections are also in the ordinary ink. (A few corrections were apparently in red ink, suggesting that the person who added them could not resist to do a few corrections too.)

    I admit making the headline a bit too "news-paper like," but I think we should avoid the term "umlaut" speaking of the dots in this other MS (at least I provided a question mark).

  11. Hugh Houghton12/12/2008 12:47 pm

    For Anonymous (above):
    If I read the SBL Handbook sections 7.2.8 and 7.3.14 correctly, this is what they expect:

    Burton, P.H., J. Balserak, H.A.G. Houghton, and D.C. Parker eds. "Vetus Latina Iohannes. The Verbum Project. The Old Latin Manuscripts of John's Gospel." No pages. Cited 12 December 2008. Online:

    (As an aside, it's preferable (and shorter) to use the alias rather than the itsee address, although we hope that both will be stable.)