Monday, June 30, 2008

Book and Manuscripts Conservation Studio on Patmos

One may think that time, in some regards, has stood still in those monasteries where so many Greek New Testament MSS are kept. However, this situation is rapidly changing at many places including Sinai, Athos and Patmos. For example, there is now a books and manuscripts conservation studio in St John Theologican Monastery on Patmos in Greece, working to preserve the MSS. Activities include digitization and disinfestations projects. Since 2006 the studio organizes a summer workshop related to the conservation and research on Byzantine book binding. So if you don't know what to do in September, go to Patmos one week and get a practical introduction to Byzantine binding (I should mention some previous experience is required).

Read more and look at images of the library, the conservation studio, and the summer workshop here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wallace on Patmos, Kozani and Meteora

Earlier in this month, Dan Wallace and his CSNT team visited Patmos and took photos of MSS there, among which was at least one unregistered New Testament MS (a leaf of an uncial lectionary). I had previously discovered this MS in the binding of another MS, and asked Dan to look for it, which he did. I am awaiting a Greg.-Aland number from the INTF. Read Dan's brief report here.

Just a few days ago, the team heading for the Meteora monasteries (quite a lot of MSS there) made a detour to a small town, Kozani, and, yes, found new MSS. Read that report here.

The first scholar to research the monasteries of Meteora was the Swedish traveler Jacob Jonas Björnståhl (1731-1779). Just like Wallace he was looking for Greek New Testament MSS, and indeed he found them, but some he had to dig out. They were in such bad condition that he had to sip vinegar to be able to stand the odour. I know that he also wrote his signature in at least one of the GNT MSS which he found very significant, so I hope Dan and his team notice that signature.

Björnståhl tragically died during his journey in Thessaly (although not in Meteora, but in Volo). Many MSS that he had acquired during his travels were donated to Uppsala University Library, including some GNT MSS. Many of his other papers (letters, etc) are deposited in an archive in the University Library in Lund. For example a letter of recommendation from a Greek bishop to those monasteries in Meteora, without which Björnståhl would not have been able to enter. This was a time when the Turks plundered the churches and monasteries, and it was not an easy thing for a European to be admitted there.

In a few weeks I will present a paper at the SNTS in Lund on the MSS in Sweden, including an excursus on Björnståhl, and maybe I will find something in the archive to show (if they admit).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Zohrab's Armenian Bible

I hear from Tigran Aivazian that Zohrab's 1805 edition of the Classical Armenian Bible has now republished, at an amazingly cheap price for the amount of information provided:

The Zohrab/Zohrabean edition is the only edition of the whole Classical Armenian Bible and this reissuing obviously represents a huge amount of work. I'm glad to know that the size of font has been enlarged.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Your Favourite Dates in TC

I just notice that in exactly a week's time (23.6.2008) it will be 301 years ago that John Mill died, which also fell on a Monday. This Principal of Edmund Hall, Oxford, had just lived to see his Novum Testamentum. Cum lectionibus variantibus complete in print a couple of weeks before.

Which leads to the natural question, What are your favourite dates in Textual Scholarship? [Birthdays of spouses, submission of dissertations, first job, and comparable trivia are not permitted]

Thursday, June 12, 2008

SBL 2008 Sessions

I booked my plane tickets for SBL today. The program is now online.

New Testament Manuscripts (Umlauts, P66.72.75, and a P.Oxyrh. fragment)
Versions and Fathers (Clement of Alexandria, Andrew of Caesaria, Coptic, and Jesus writing on the ground)
Review (David Parker, New Testament Manuscripts and Their Texts)
Review (James Royce, Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri)
Int. Org. for Septuagint and Cognate Studies (Ex, Cant, 3 Kgdms, Lamentations, Hexapla)
TC of Hebrew Bible (Peshitta, Samaritan Pentateuch, Isaiah, Red/Reed Sea)
TC of Hebrew Bible (Ethiopic Manuscripts in N. America)
TC of Samuel-Kings Workshop

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

P99 and the Reader's Bibles

I have seen a few Reader's Greek New Testaments floating around Cambridge recently (sample), and I must confess to having bought a Reader's Hebrew Old Testament a couple months back. We have at least one ancient parallel to this phenomenon. The Chester Beatty Codex ac. 1499 (P99, ca. 400 CE) contains Greek glosses for difficult Latin words (or perhaps vice-versa as the Greek precedes the Latin) for Romans, 2 Corinthians, Galatians and Ephesians. The manuscript is probably a writing exercise from a Pachomian monk polishing his Latin (A. Wouters, 1988, 166168). This codex says a great deal. Egyptian monks (assuming that P99 came from the Dishna papers) were interested in the Latin Bible. The monks were active in educating themselves (the codex also contains a Greek grammar which consists of verbal paradigms). The ancient writers were struggling with the increasing gap between spoken Greek and Classical/Attic Greek (ibid., 80 f.).

Monday, June 09, 2008

Gentry on the Septuagint

Justin Taylor interviews Peter Gentry on the Septuagint here. Gentry has a rare grasp on the technicalities of this subject.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

A Question for Cambridge Scholars

It is well known that Westcott and Hort supplied pre-publication fascicles of their in-progress Greek New Testament to the members of the English Revision Committee during the period 1870-1881, specifically as follows (from Hort, Introduction, p. 18):

"The Gospels, with a temporary preface of 28 pages, were thus issued in July 1871, the Acts in February 1873, the Catholic Epistles in December 1873, the Pauline Epistles in February 1875, and the Apocalypse in December 1876."

These preliminary fascicles obviously were subject to comment and criticism from the Revision Committee, with the accepted and reasoned results of such being implemented into the final 1881 W-H edition. Hort notes (p. 18 once more) that "many corrections dealing with punctuation or otherwise of a minute kind, together with occasional modifications of reading, have been introduced into the stereotype plates within the last few months" prior to actual publication.

The question I have (knowing that certain of W-H's letters and papers are stored within the Cambridge University Library) is whether any of these preliminary fascicles also are part of the Cambridge collection. If so, it would seem a fascinating study for someone first to reproduce in full the text of their "temporary preface", and then to compile a collation of differences between the Greek text of the preliminary fascicles and that which actually was published.

(An added bonus would be the record of any handwritten notes that may have been placed on those fascicles by either Westcott or Hort).

Sounds like a good project for someone at Tyndale House to undertake.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Eyewitness Testimony and TC

Irenaeus makes an intriguing comment when he is about to discuss the variant readings of the number of the beast (666 vs. 616) in Rev 13:18. I quote from the translation in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Against Heresies 5.30:

"... and this number being found in all the most approved and ancient copies [of the Apocalypse], and those men who saw John face to face bearing their testimony [to it] ..."

Besides the testimony of the 'ancient copies' (which in Irenaeus's case cannot have been very ancient), Irenaeus also appeals to the testimony of those who saw John face to face and who apparently confirm the reading 666. Though their testimony might have come to Irenaeus by means of a written testimony (I don't know), it is fascinating that he attributes independent force to the wider tradition within the church which secured this particular reading. I have never seen this appeal to 'oral testimony' before in textual criticism of the NT, but am wondering if there is more out there.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Mark and Matthew Conference Program (Aarhus, 25-26/7)

Today I received the program for the conference in Aarhus, Denmark. Not until now did I find out who was going to present the other paper in textual criticism, and it was Barbara Aland. I look forward very much to this conference. I should add that the title of my paper in the program is not the real title, but a preliminary that the organizers proposed. I hope to be able to upload a preliminary version of my paper somewhere for the readers (or simply paste it into the blog without footnotes). Unfortunately, none of us has had time to get the website working.

Aarhus-Conference 2008
Mark and Matthew. Texts and Contexts I: Understanding the First Gospels in their First Century World(s)

Friday 25.7


11.30-12.30 Barbara Aland
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany
“Text critical problems in Mark and Matthew. Recent developments”

14.00-15.00 Tommy Wasserman
Örebrö Theological Seminary, Sweden
“Implications of textual criticism for understanding the ‘original text’”

15.00-16.00 Stanley E. Porter
McMaster Divinity School, Canada
“Linguistics and Semantics in Mark and Matthew”


16.00-17.00 John Kloppenborg
University of Toronto, Canada
“The Synoptic Problem and its Implications for the Interpretation of Mark and Matthew” (With Q)

17.30-18.30 Mark Goodacre
Duke University, USA
“The Synoptic Problem and its Implications for the Interpretation of Mark and Matthew” (Without Q)


18.30-19.30 Eve-Marie Becker
University of Aarhus, Denmark
“Dates: The Evidence and its Implications for the Study of Mark and Matthew”

Saturday 26.7
“Locating Mark and Matthew”

10.00-11.00 David E. Aune
University of Notre Dame, USA
“Mark and Matthew: Genre and Structure”


11.30-12.30 Morten Hørning Jensen
University of Aarhus, Denmark
“First Century Galilee and Syria”

Sean Freyne
University of Dublin, Ireland
“Hermeneutics and historical interpretation. The Jewish context of Mark and Matthew”

15.00-16.00 Warren Carter
Brite Divinity School, USA
“Hermeneutics and historical interpretation. The Roman Imperial context”

16.30-17.30 Anders K. Petersen University of Aarhus, Denmark
“Defining Christian Culture: Mark and Matthew”

17.30-18.30 Oda Wischmeyer
Friedrich-Alexander- Universität, Germany
“Building Community Using Text: Mark”

18.30-19.30 Anders Runesson
McMaster University, Canada
“Building Community Using Text: Matthew”