Tommy Wasserman has committed to writing more exhaustively on the conference highlights. I offer here some preliminary highlights. Almost every paper at the conference was excellent. My highlights ignore the many excellent overviews (e.g. by Gamble, Trobisch, Tov, Clarkson, Shenton, Parker, Epp, et al.) as well as the parallel sessions which I did not attend. This felt like a historic event.
Father Justin announced that a new fragment from Judges may have been located in the monastic library. He also described plans for the construction of a new library at St Catherine’s which will include conservation facilities. These new facilities take two or more years to complete.
Tim Brown explained the potential discovery of a new scribal hand in Sinaiticus. If he is correct, hand B will now need to be split into B1 and B2. Perhaps, (per Brown) one scribe was training the other. The hands differ in how they render Alpha and Lambda, among other characters.
The Danish scholar, René Larsen, who works with IDAP, described how one can determine the animals used to create a particular sheet of parchment. I may blog more on this in weeks to come. Additionally, he also described the potential to localize the provenance based on spectrographic analysis; impurities in the water and the type of substances used in preparation may suggest specific regions. If I remember correctly, Sinaiticus is mostly cow with a few sheep thrown in.
If you have the opportunity to visit the display at the British Library, you will be fully mortified by the video documenting the reception of the manuscript in 1934. One can watch the “conservators” take the manuscript out of the tin and accost it in every way possible. I also enjoyed the letter from a seven year old who sent in his 2/6’s for the £100,000 subscription. Apparently, the public contributed substantially to the purchase and received the manuscript with much fanfare.
Klaus Wachtel will henceforth be known as “Dr. Byz” thanks to a statement by David Parker. His presentation on the corrections demonstrated that the primary corrector was not as Byzantine as some have suggested. Wachtel offered two savory tidbits in the Q&A. First, he challenged the misconception that א and B had similar texts; in comparison to the agreement of the Byzantine tradition, this is far from true. Second, he stated that the closest text to the corrector under question was, in fact, the main text of Sinaiticus.
Ulrich Schmid analyzed a fascinating variant from Psalm 14:1–3 / Rom 3:10–18, questioning the presumption that deviant Septuagint references in the New Testament should be assumed as interpolations based upon (e.g.) christological agenda. Schmid noted in particular that Sinaiticus had the longer version passage (=Rom 3:13–18) in the Psalms, but a (Christian!) corrector marked it for deletion.
If you have not yet seen the digital edition, do so here.