Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Teaching Textual Criticism in Oslo

I am blogging from Oslo Central station (Burger King wireless). I have just been to Menighetsfakultetet here in Oslo, Norway, to teach New Testament textual criticism for two days, and it has been a treat. The auditorium was practically full; in the audience were professors, including my very hospitable host Karl Olav Sandnes who had invited me, and graduate and postgraduate students. They were all very interested in the subject and I did my best to increase that interest. I normally bring with me some "artefacts", i.e., various facsimiles, papyrus, ink and reed pen, images of MSS, etc. I had also prepared quite an extensive power point presentation with a lot of images and examples. They enjoyed my various anecdotes, which I cannot resist telling, not least the one about the famous Norwegian collector Martin Schøyen (see here). I also mentioned that when Maurice Robinson was there in Oslo to examine Greg.-Aland 2866 (which I subsequently identified as Greg.-Aland 2483), and had made an appointment with Schøyen at his house, he just came back from a ski tour (this is very typical for the Norwegians, "gå på tur").

The first day was focused on the history of textual criticism leading up to recent developments. The second day was focused on the practice of textual criticism, the nature of various apparatuses (NA27, UBS GNT, ECM, Swanson) and tools. The students spent some time transcribing and collating manuscripts from images and we considered textual problems in Mark 1:1; John 1:3-4; Rom 5:1; Rev 13:18 ("the number of the beast" - here we also considered Irenaeus' discussion of the problem).

However, we started the second day of practical textual criticism with an instruction video (in Norwegian):

After the teaching, I went to the very nice little exhibition in the university library of their fine papyrus collection where I saw Greg.-Aland P62. But more about that in another post.


  1. There's a lacuna in the English half of the video (the subtitles); the last few folios are blank. A sans lacunae recension of the English text, containing an alternate rendering of the text for 'book', can be found here.

  2. OT: I have a question regarding the traditional titles our translations, and even our Greek or Hebrew critical editions, add to specific pericopae, such as "The Parable of the Prodigal Son". Many of them are misplaced, leading to wrong readings of the passage. Does anybody know how to trace back the origins of these titles?
    I haven't found answers to this in the books I have in hands...
    Thank you very much.

  3. Djair,
    Many codices have section or page titles. See especially Delta (037).

  4. IF

    If you can keep your text when all about you
    others are bracketing theirs and blaming it on you;
    If you can trust your charts when all men doubt you,
    And make more charts to show their doubting skewed;
    If you can wait and not die awaiting publication,
    Or, being lied about, don't ad hominem in return,
    Or, being baited, don't give way to baiting,
    And yet not look to sarcasm, nor talk too wry;

    If you can dream - and not make dreams your thesis;
    If you can think - not making mere thoughts your claim;
    If you encounter interpolation and omission,
    And treat those two imposters just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the crap you've spoken
    Twisted by profs to make a course for schools,
    Or watch the theory you spent your life on broken,
    turned inside out and remade by wornout fools;

    If you can make one heap of all your status
    And risk it all on one claim of scribal gloss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breath a word about your dross;
    If you can force your heart and hand and eyesight
    To serve their turn long after they are spent,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the tenure which says to them: "Get bent!";

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your temper,
    and whine about colleagues - never losing touch;
    If neither media nor spying friends can catch you;
    If all your peers will haply quote you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the naughty intern minute
    With sixty seconds' worth of disgraceful fun -
    Yours is the college and everything that's in it,
    And - which is more - you'll be a real textual critic my son!

    Rudyard Nazaroo

  5. Thank you very much, Daniel.
    I tried to decipher the "table of contents" of Luke found in Codex Delta (http://www.e-codices.unifr.ch/en/csg/0048/191/medium) and it does mention the one who wanted to receive his part of the inheritance (in other words, "the prodigal son"). I'm still looking for other sources, but your clue really helped me.

  6. http://www.uio.no/english/about/news-and-events/events/2010/papyrus-exhibition.html