Thursday, December 02, 2010

A day in the life

It was the last day of term and in order to round off a class on NTTC I took my students to see some manuscripts in the Cambridge University library.

The three oldest were all P.Oxys (Gregory-Aland P17 and P27, and Rahlfs 990; all third or fourth century). 990 is a fragment of a parchment codex of Tobit, and is one of the earliest Christian parchments with Biblical text. P17 with its large letters and multiple reading-helps looks very much like a text used for some sort of a public function, while the other two are 'good weather manuscripts' (only readable when there is enough light because of the small letters). Originally the papyrus may have been brighter though.

We also had two majuscule palimpsests, Zacynthius (040) and a Cairo Genizah item, majuscule 093. With the latter it took us about 15 minutes before we could correlate the first words of the published transcription (Taylor 1900) with the manuscript. The dating of the first is still a problem with 6th and 8th century the two options. If Zacynthius is really 6th, it is a contemporary of 093 (would be nice for reasons of parallelism).

We had to rush through our two remaining manuscripts, Codex Macedoniensis 034, and minuscule 70. The first, a ninth century majuscule, may be one of the youngest manuscripts to omit the pericope de adultera (though the fact that the passage is 'forgotten' λιθ [ληθη] is marked inline and in the margin). Minuscule 70 has a textual value of close to zero, but is interesting because of its scribe, Georgios Hermonymos. He worked in the second half of the 15th century, produced dozens of manuscripts (I know of 28 still preserved, 4 in Cambridge), and is extremely easy to read. Both Macedoniensis and 70 could have been written yesterday, such is the quality of the parchment.

Teaching is such a burden ...

9 comments:

  1. Dirk, any knowledge or speculation re how a portion of the NT ended up in the genizah?

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  2. Are there any photos of 034 available?

    I would be delighted to see the PA folio in particular. Is it online somewhere?

    peace
    Nazaroo

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  3. Holmes: any knowledge or speculation re how a portion of the NT ended up in the genizah?

    Since Dirk has not replied, I note that, for whatever reason, 093 of Acts as a palimpsest was overwritten in Hebrew, which would then account for its presence in the genizah.

    Presumably the NT underwriting was assumed to be sufficiently obliterated before the parchment received Hebrew text. Once the Hebrew was present, the genizah then would have been the appropriate place for subsequent destruction/disintegration.

    (Thanks to Leslie McFall for showing me this MS while in Cambridge).

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  4. Thanks, Dr. Robinson, for that tidbit. Just how a NT manuscript came into the hands of a Jewish scribe is fascinating to contemplate. Was it sold as scrap parchment and then put back on the market? Was the scribe desperate enough for cheap parchment that he was willing to overlook the blasphemous text still visible on it--or was the text only temporarily invisible? Was there a choice of used parchment on sale, and he considered this the least offensive option of several?

    Given that Tov distinguishes between Jewish and Christian LXX mss by whether they are a scroll or a codex, how does 093 play into the equation--was it unbound and sewn into a scroll? So many questions on this codicological mystery.

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  5. DJ:
    "Codex Macedoniensis . . . a ninth century majuscule, may be one of the youngest manuscripts to omit the pericope de adultera. "

    csntm.org:
    "The manuscript turned out to be from the 10th century, containing all four Gospels . . . . Of note is the manuscript’s lack of the pericope adulterae (John 7.53–8.11)."

    Textual critics are almost always right 99% of the time, especially if they leave themselves enough wiggle room.

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  6. I would indeed go for the scrap parchment option for the Genizah manuscript. Especially since the underlying Greek text is written in largish letters (which could mean public use, which could mean that it was actually used, which could mean wear and tear).

    As for text-critics 99% right. The great thing about blogging and about answering questions in front of a public is that no one expects you to actually check qualified statements. (At least, no one should expect me to.)

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  7. Dirk: "Codex Macedoniensis 034 ... a ninth century majuscule, may be one of the youngest manuscripts to omit the pericope de adultera.

    Not sure exactly what is meant here. If the youngest among the uncials, then perhaps yes (depending on the dating of Y/034); but the vast bulk of continuous-text MSS that omit the PA are later minuscules, including MSS dating into the 16th century (445,562).

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  8. 562 is on the CSNTM website--any idea which page has John 8:12?

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  9. Buck: 562 is on the CSNTM website--any idea which page has John 8:12?

    http://images.csntm.org/Manuscripts/GA_562/GA_562_0023a.jpg

    Page begins in 7:52, followed by 8:12 (the P of PALIN is missing, never having been rubricated).

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