Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The King James Bible at 400


The party is coming to an end. We have had a year of celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the translation of the King James Bible. Celebrations, large and small, scholarly and devotional, have taken place all over the world in honor of this milestone. Mostly the presentations at these events have celebrated the literary, historical and cultural achievement of the King James Bible. Not much attention has been given to text-critical matters relating to the KJV.
Our celebration of this splendid early seventeenth century achievement comes at a time when its language is revered but the text on which it is based is generally regarded as late and corrupt. Especially over the last two centuries stunning manuscript discoveries and refinement of methods have overthrown the once dominant Textus Receptus (The New Testament in the KJV was based on Beza’s 1598 edition of this text), and today translators generally depend on an eclectic text, like The Nestle/Aland 27th edition. Many readings found in the King James have been relegated to the apparatus by modern editors. For example, few scholars today would be willing to argue that either Mark 16:9-20 or John 7:53-8:11 were part of the original (or initial) text of these books.
However, there are a few places in the New Testament where I believe the King James represents the original text of the writer. In my recent book, Text and Story: Narrative Studies in New Testament Textual Criticism (Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2011), I argue on eclectic grounds that three readings represented in the King James, but missing from modern editions, should be re-considered:
Mark 9:29: prayer and fasting
Luke 4:18: to heal the brokenhearted
Romans 8:2: set me free.
In addition to these I have argued in earlier studies listed below that other readings found in the King James Version but absent from the modern editions should be placed in our printed texts rather than in the apparatus:
Mark 15:28: “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors” (Evangelical Quarterly, LXI, 1989, 81-84)
Ephesians 5:30: “…of his flesh and of his bones” (JTS 41, 1990, 92-94)
1 Peter 4:14: “On their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified” (CBQ 43, 1981, 93-95).
As the birthday party for the KJV comes to a close, let us celebrate this translation for its splendid language and influence. But we should also be alert in these and a few other instances for indications of the original text of the New Testament.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Tendency in the Pauline Corpus of Codex Vaticanus

Before anyone accuses me of heresy, yes, Vaticanus is a good manuscript, and especially in the gospels. But the longer I am working in Paul, the more difficult I find it to treat it with the same respect here as in the gospels. Clearly something has happened in its ancestry, which is, let us say, remarkable.

I don't think the scribe of Vaticanus is responsible for this phenomenon. We have his work elsewhere in the manuscript and I haven't noticed something comparable there. So any tendency only to be found in the Pauline corpus is more likely a remnant of something that happened earlier on. And frankly, I don't think the particular tendency we are talking about is exclusive to Vaticanus, it may share this tendency with a number of other manuscripts, in particular the Greek - Latin bilinguals. But it is at times quite pronounced in Vaticanus, more so than in the others.

So what is the vice we are talking about? Hold your chair. It is that of reversing the order of the name-title 'Jesus Christ'. And Vaticanus will almost always be at the side of the order 'Christ Jesus'. In Romans, for example, it is the singular reading of Vaticanus in 5:17, 5:21, and 16:27. And elsewhere it has 'Christ Jesus' often with only minimal support from others (regardless of whether it is deemed to be the original text or not), such as the Latin bilinguals, or minuscules 33 and 81, or Sinaiticus (and it may be that each of these three combination agreements have a different meaning).

I said that very often Vaticanus will be on the side of the 'Christ Jesus' reading, but not always. In Gal 2:16 we find the collocation Jesus and Christ twice, in either order —and twice Vaticanus gets it wrong (I agree here with NA27). Anyway, all this is leading me to a rethink of quite a number of variants, because it seems to me that, strong though Vaticanus might be, we have hit a particular weakness here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

New from Brill: Textual Research on the Psalms and Gospels

A new publication from Brill has appeared:

Textual Research on the Psalms and Gospels / Recherches textuelles sur les psaumes et les évangiles: Papers from the Tbilisi Colloquium on the Editing and History of Biblical Manuscripts. / Actes du Colloque de Tbilisi, 19-20 septembre 2007.
Edited by Christian-B. Amphoux & J. Keith Elliott with Bernard Outtier.
Novum Testamentum, Supplements 142
ISBN13: 9789004209275
Pages, Illustrations: xxvi, 274 pp.
List price: €105.00 / $144.00

Publisher's description
"Recent research on the text of the Psalms and Gospels in Greek and in certain versions, principally Coptic, Georgian and Armenian, reveals common characteristics when attempting to separate later editions of a text from its earliest forms. The essays in this collection give concrete examples of the issues involved and suggested explanations for textual changes."

Table of Contents
Part I The Psalms/psaumes

Gilles Dorival, Titres hébreux et titres grecs des psaumes

Mzekala Shanidze, Old Georgian Psalter and the Titles of the Psalms

Florence Bouet, Pluralité et choix éditoriaux: étude des variants λόγος-νόμος au Ps 118, 105 et νόμου-ὀνόματος au Ps 129,5

Charles Renoux,Quelques psaumes dans les documents liturgiques anciens géorgiens et arméniens

Part II The Gospels/évangiles

Christian-Bernard Amphoux, Qu’est-ce que le type de texte “césaréen”?

Didier Lafleur, Le codex de Koridethi (Θ.038) et la famille 13: une nouvelle collation de l’évangile de Marc

J.Keith Elliott, The Endings of Mark’s Gospel and the Presentation of the Variants in the Marc multilingue Edition

Josep Rius-Camps, Le Codex de Bèze: Base indispensable pour une edition de l’évangile de Marc

Jenny Read-Heimerdinger, The Problem of Editing a Text with a Multiple Textual Tradition

Bernard Outtier, Les types de texte des évangiles en géorgien ancient
Appended: D.M. Lang, Recent Work on the Georgian New Testament

Darejan Tvaltvadze, The Manuscripts of Georgian Translations of the Gospels from the Black Mountain

Manana Machkhaneli, The Manuscript Anbandidi

Jost Gippert, Fragments of St John’s Gospel in the Language of the Causasian Albanians
Appended: Review, The Caucasian Albanian Palimpsests of Mount Sinai, Simon Crisp

Anne Boud’hors, Le caractère harmonisant des traditions de l’évangile de Marc en copte sahidique

Extract from the preface
(kindly shared by J. K. Elliott)

... As far as the Psalms are concerned, there are four essays here. Two concern the titles, the first by Gilles Dorival. He revisits a topic that he has made his own, namely the headings of the individual Psalms in Hebrew and Greek.


Mzekala Shanidze’s essay parallels Dorival’s, by looking at the titles of the Psalms in Georgian. As in other essays dealing with the Georgian versions, we are obligated to examine the Georgian ‘Vulgate’ as well as the earlier, often more fluid, pre-Athonite versions, and note any differences and changes between the texts.


Florence Bouet homes in on two highly significant variants in the Psalms, those at Ps. 118 (119):5 νόμος/λόγος and at Ps. 129 (130):5 νόμου/ ὀνόματος. ... Obviously here Christian and Jewish influences seem to be in evidence but the attestation as a whole cries out for explanation.


Inevitably and appropriately, because these essays originated at a conference in the Caucasus, there are also important examples from the Georgian and Armenian traditions concerning the history of the Psalms. Charles Renoux takes up the important liturgical uses of the Psalter in those languages. Obviously, the Psalms were used from their beginnings in liturgical contexts in the Temple and for particular Jewish festivals. Renoux’ essay explores how, where and when the Armenian and Georgian Christian communities made use of the Psalms. They seem to have originated from the Jerusalem liturgical practices of the 4th-5th centuries....

Moving to the New Testament and the Gospels there are eleven major contributions in this volume. The first, by Christian Amphoux, concerns itself with the Caesarean text-type. Amphoux’ own distinctive contribution to the history of the New Testament has been to locate the differing forms of text within the history of the fissiparous early church and his idiosyncratic and carefully-argued conclusions are to be found in the essay here. ... Amphoux is a keen defender of the Caesarean text-type and his paper here stresses the position of this form of the Gospels in relation to other text-types, ‘Western’, Alexandrian and Byzantine.


As a corollary to Amphoux’ paper, Didier Lafleur’s contribution happily meshes with it. He fortuitously writes about the text of a major Caesarean witness, namely Codex Koridethi (Θ, 038), a manuscript that happens to be housed in Tbilisi. Alongside that, his new collations of the manuscripts of family 13 in Mark confirm the homogeneous character of this family and he also shows the agreements of the family with not only Koridethi but also minuscules 28, 565, 700 and uncial W 032. He establishes that one of the family members, minuscule 788, stands closest to the archetype of that family and how frequently family 13 as a whole allies itself to Codex Koridethi. Consequently, he, like Amphoux, encourages the use of the Caesarean text-type (obviously not a geographically-centred ‘local’ text) as a serious and distinctive grouping and a legitimate textual form found not only in Mark but in the New Testament Gospels as a whole.

J. Keith Elliott’s essay focuses on two other early Greek manuscripts א 01 and Vaticanus B 03 particularly in that perennial textual crux, the ending of Mark which they conclude at 16:8. These two manuscripts are both accorded separate sections amid the seven differing manuscripts of Mark in Marc mutilingue as both demonstrate differing textual stages in the history of Mark. But they happen to agree in their form of the ending of Mark and are the only two ancient Greek witnesses to the shorter text. Among other supporters of the shorter reading are the two earliest Georgian witnesses. Elliott’s paper shows whatever Mark’s original intention may have been – and it is unlikely that anything he may have written beyond 16:8 has survived – his Gospel once circulated in the truncated form now exhibited by these two old Greek uncials. Inevitably, and within the second century, attempts were made to repair the damaged ending and Mark was duly provided with a ‘proper’ and satisfying conclusion that included references to the anticipated post-Easter appearances. The longer ending, commonly numbered Mark 16:9-20, represents a later editing of the text of Mark and, as such, belongs to a history of this Gospel that had an inevitable impact on a reader’s understanding of Mark as narrator and on his theology.


Rius-Camps’ paper advocates the use of this bilingual [Codex Bezae] in any establishing of an edition of Mark. Jenny Read-Heimerdinger looks at D in Luke. Based on her and Rius-Camps’ studies of D in Acts, she is prepared now to promote D in Luke as an early and coherent writing that must be taken into account because it represents the first volume of a comprehensive ‘demonstration’ of the claims of Christianity from a Jewish perspective.

Luke 24: 13-35 is taken as an example to show how Jesus in this work was interpreted in Jewish written and oral traditions.


As befits a contribution by the director of the Orioni project at Tbilisi State University responsible for examining the Georgian Gospels, Sophio Sarjveladze’s essay is an over-arching survey that may be seen as a worthy introduction to the other essays in this volume dealing with aspects of the Georgian version. But as is typical of most articles in this volume, broad principles and generalised summaries give rise to, and are indeed supported by, specific and well-chosen Biblical references. Sophio Sarjveladze’s examples reveal the complexity of her text-critical researches and the care with which her team’s efforts are rooted in close philological examination.

Following this is Bernard Outtier’s essay. With his long-established and wide-ranging expertise in Georgian studies he is well placed to proffer a general survey of current research in the area of the Georgian version of the Gospels and its text-types. He appends a valuable bibliography. Once more we are enabled to observe parallels between the materials and methodologies applied by Georgian scholarship and those relevant to other versions as well and also to the Greek New Testament manuscript tradition as well.

Attached to Outtier’s piece is an important but now inevitably outdated article by David M. Lang (1924-1991).


Darevan Tvaltvadze’s article narrows Outtier’s and Lang’s surveys to the Georgian manuscripts emanating from the Black Mountain where Georgian monks produced a distinctive form of the pre-Athonite Gospels that began a process of examining the Georgian against the Greek. Her analysis of certain of the Black Mountain manuscripts reveals where older readings still survive. These manuscripts thus form a median position between the oldest forms and Giorgi’s Athonite Vulgate.

Focussing even more narrowly, Manana Machkhaneli examines one Georgian manuscript under the microscope, namely the so-called Anbandini manuscript. Following her researches into its distinctive readings she reports here that she has been able to place it in the family tree of Georgian Gospel manuscripts as a ‘mixed’ type, comparable to the Ksani manuscript that shared some characteristics with the protovulgate text and with the Adish recension but which also has singular readings. Another building block in the multifaceted history of the Georgian Gospels now seems to have been placed.

Shortly before the Tbilisi colloquium in 2007 we became aware that a publication was about to emerge that concerned Biblical writings in a hitherto virtually unknown language, Caucasian Albanian. It was entirely appropriate that one of that publication’s editors, Jost Gippert of Frankfurt am Main, should introduce that version and its importance, especially in its relation to the Georgian and Armenian versions. In the time between the conference and the present book the publication appeared. As a consequence, Gippert’s paper here is a revision of his original text which describes the recently deciphered manuscripts. As well as having this insider’s contribution, it seemed worthwhile to append to it a review of it by Simon Crisp of the United Bible Societies. His review was commissioned as an article for Novum Testamentum and is reproduced here to emphasise the significance of this new version.


In the present volume Anne Boud’hors looks at the situation of the Coptic, a version as early as the Latin and Syriac. Here, after a comprehensive tour d’horizon concerning the current state of Coptic study of the Gospels, she zooms in on five textual variation units in Mark to demonstrate what may be learned from the Sahidic Coptic manuscripts. She observes a harmonising tendency not only in relation to its revised version but also in the earliest redactions. Her conclusions are preliminary and tentative as work is still underway and to a certain extent pioneering in its attempt to trace and track the history of the early Coptic version. As in other essays, this article also flags up potentially profitable methodologies that consider variants not only within one particular tradition but in connexion with other versions. The approach again is interdisciplinary and cross-cultural.

UPDATE: Order page from Eisenbrauns

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ba(si)leia as nomen sacrum?

Perhaps lots of other people have, but I haven't seen basileia written as a nomen sacrum. (I mentioned this to Larry Hurtado and he hadn't either.) I think there is one in POxy 5072. Richard Goode has discussed the Egerton Papyrus's use of basileus as a nomen sacrum (in the 2007 Birmingham conference volume), and I looked at the nice photo in Bell and Skeat, and interestingly the supralinear stroke starts in almost exactly the same place there as it does in POxy 5072 - at the very end of the beta, almost at the beginning of the alpha. The abbreviation is - mutatis mutandis - in the same form as well (BALEUSI in P.Eg. and BALEIA in the text below).
Check out line 9 of POxy 5072:
(It's one of the images posted by oxy.ac when they publicised the open access of the papyri images. It'll be the first in the next POxy vol.)

New Article in TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism

A new article has appeared in TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism vol. 16 (2011).

"The Diversification of Colossians’ Text and Women’s Status in the Early Church" by Matteo Grosso.

In the Epistle to the Colossians, the family of 06 and other documents traditionally labeled as “Western” display notable variant readings in passages concerning women and their status in the Christian community. In this note the author examines these readings with the purpose of detecting what pictures they provide over against the other branches of the tradition. He also evaluates to what degree, if any, an ideologically oriented scribal tendency is at work.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ending the Year on a High: The Euthalian Apparatus

It is quickly running to the end of this year, and it started to look like as if no exciting books were going to appear this year at all. However, when I came in Tyndale House this morning, I found an unexpected but most pleasant surprise waiting for me. Vemund Blomkvist had sent me his dissertation on the Euthalian apparatus.

Vemund Blomkvist,The Euthalian Apparatus: Text, Translation, Commentary Series of Dissertations Submitted to the Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo / Acta Theologica 39 (Oslo: Unipub, 2011).

So far I have had tremendous fun with this study, which does exactly what the title says (with the limitation that it concentrates on the chapter titles (κεφαλαια - τιτλοι), the introductions to the big divisions (προλογοι), and the υποθεσεις to the individual letters. Blomkvist's interest is not text-critical but that of reception history - which is totally legitimate, especially when one puts so much work into translating and bringing together all this material that is also of interest for people with different questions. Truly original work, and research that will spark off other research.

Just the translation of and commentary on Euthalius would have been tremendous, but Blomkvist also throws in the 'Marcionite' prologues (which I actually hold to be originally Marcionite - pace Dahl and Ulrich Schmid), the Priscillan edition (from the Latin), the υποθεσεις on Paul of Theodoret, and the same by Theophylact.

I hope to come back later with some further thoughts, but one of the fascinating gems is worth sharing straightaway. Since the author had worked with and has access to the notes of the late Nils Dahl, he mentions a discovery made by Dahl in four Latin mediaeval manuscripts of Monte Cassino where the Euthalian prologue to Paul is fused with the Muratorian canon. Harnack had discussed the Muratorian part back in 1898, but did not mention the importance of finding Euthalian material in Latin.

Congratulations to Vemund with this excellent dissertation!

Update: Blomqvist will defend his thesis publicly tomorrow (15 December). English summary is found here.[TW]

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Notes on Luke 22: P75, NA27 & Sinaiticus

Yesterday we had some fun with P75 in an MPhil seminar. The basic assignment was to read page 53 (containing Luke 22.38-56). Among the many things we noticed were the following:
  1. For the last word of v41 P75 reads PROSEUXATO (not PROSHUXATO as NA27 app. suggests) - a reminder that the NA apparatus is somewhat an approximation and can't be guaranteed to present sufficient evidence to reconstruct readings of manuscripts in detail. We wondered whether it would be better to place P75 in parentheses in the apparatus (I think it probably would be better).
  2. For the omission of 22.43f NA27 app. refers to the first corrector of Sinaiticus - from NA27 one would think that the original of Sinaiticus has the verses, the first corrector (in the scriptorium) deletes; and a later corrector restores them. But the Sinaiticus project web page now attributes the deletion to the Ca corrector, and the restoration to the Cb2 corrector - which places the action much later than the first corrector. I guess/hope that the next revision of NA (NA28) will incorporate the results of the Sinaiticus Project in the apparatus.
  3. For the same variant NA27 cites for the addition (among other things): Ju[stin] Ir[enaeus] Hipp Eus Hier. Immediately one wants to know the reference in Justin so as to assess whether Justin knows the text as part of Luke or (possibly) as an independent floater. This is such a general problem with patristic references in our small editions that I began to wonder about how big an appendix - which provided a reference for each patristic citation in the apparatus - would actually be, especially for second and third century writers. In my imagination it would be about as long as the appendices for minor variants and differences between the editions, and would be just as valuable than either of those. What do you think?
  4. In 22.47 P75 reads PROSHRCETO (NA27 txt: PROHRCETO). Here it is a helpful outcome of reading the manuscript that one realises it is more than a simple one letter variant, since the reading of P75 suggests a different referent for the following AUTOUS - it would refer to the disciples and Jesus (v45); whereas for the NA27 reading it presumably refers to the OCLOS mentioned earlier in the verse (but pluralised). Just an example of how textual criticism helps close reading of the text.
  5. We noted that NA27 doesn't offer any evidence in support of the txt reading for 22.19b-20, which would suggest that the editors were completely (IMO overly) satisfied with the originality of the longer reading here. Or is it more a by-product of the decision to take such a large unit as v17-20 for the variants - for such a long unit listing support for the txt reading would involve a lot of parentheses no doubt.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Pics from SBL Annual Meeting San Francisco 2011

Edgar Ebojo, PhD student at Birmingham University (working on P46) is also an excellent photographer. He generously shares with us his pics from the recent annual meeting in San Francisco. They are uploaded to this folder.

Since I noticed that Edgar was everywhere with his camera, I never got out to get new batteries for my own camera, which I brought to San Francisco. I just used my mobile phone whenever I felt I had to capture a moment, e.g., Peter Head still fervently revising his presentation during a session ...

... a few minutes before delivery. For further reference, see his famous six steps for a successful paper. Unfortunately, this year, Peter had omitted his famous red circles and arrows from the presentation (something I have started to use to great success myself).

Thursday, December 01, 2011

BASP 48 (2011) – Lots of Interesting Stuff


The Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologist 48 (2011) has just been published (HT: Papy-L). The following articles and reviews are of particular interest:

"Two More Pages of Crosby-Schøyen Codex MS 193: A Pachomian Easter
Lectionary?" by Albert Pietersma and Susan Comstock (pp. 27-46)

See recent discussion about this codex on this blog here.

"Grenfell and Hunt on the Dates of Early Christian Codices: Setting the
Record Straight" by Brent Nongbri (pp. 149-162)

Brent Nongbri presented an interesting paper on the subject of dating with focus on P66 at this year's SBL in San Fransisco.

"Greek Amulets and Formularies from Egypt Containing Christian Elements:
A Checklist of Papyri, Parchments, Ostraka, and Tablets" by Theodore S. de Bruyn and Jitse H.F. Dijkstra (pp. 163-216)

See here and here for background and criteria. De Bruyn has also published an essay on the subject in a Brill volume on Early Christian Manuscripts edited by Kraus & Nicklas (see here).

Review of Stanley E. und Wendy J. Porter, New Testament Greek Papyri and Parchments: New Editions. Mitteilungen aus der Papyrussammlung der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek, N.S. 29 (Text) und 30 (Tafeln) by Amphilochios Papathomas (pp. 255-258)

There are also reviews of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri volumes 73 and 75. By the way, the new book review editor of the journal is AnneMarie Luijendijk (Princeton University), also chair of the SBL Annual Meeting program unit of New Testament Textual Criticism.

I take this oppurtunity to mention that the electronic archives of this journal are maintained by the University of Michigan who has made available volumes 1-46 (1963-2009) on-line. Here you have articles and reviews that could keep you busy for days.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

More Digitized GNT MSS from the British Library

Some more Greek MSS have been uploaded to the The British Library's Digitised Manuscripts. There are three GNT MSS among them:

Harley 5777 = GA 446
Four Gospels, 15th century

Arundel 524=GA 476
Four Gospels, 11th century

Arundel 534= GA 1961
Theophylact of Bulgaria, Commentary on the Letters of Paul, 14th century

(HT: Jim Snapp)

For other reports on this project and the digitized GNT MSS of the British Library (which I think are now 74 MSS) , see here, here, here, here and here.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Made it home from sbl

Made it home from SBL and San Francisco yesterday. Had some teaching today - supervisions which may have been a bit ragged around the edges (no lectures though fortunately). One of the (many) highlights of the trip was a visit (by bike) to the Muir Woods, an old-growth forest of Coastal Redwoods. I also heard (and gave) some presentations, ate some food, got some exercise, talked with some friends, bought some books and had a couple of misadventures. And thanks to a crowded flight and an unexpected upgrade I had quite a comfortable flight back to Heathrow.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Greetings from the SBL

I am sitting in the lobby of Mariott Marquise, the enormous 30-floor hotel where I am staying at. I have just returned from a very nice ETC blogdinner with some twenty friends, where Peter Head, by the way, held a marvellous speech nearly as good as his presentation delivered earlier today. Peter had checked some blog statistics, and it turned out we had had over a million visitors.

A funny remark about Peter's presentation and what followed. There had been some word exchange between the other presenters Jan Krans and Silvia Castelli concerning some issue in Peter's paper relating to Bengel and Wettstein. Wayne Kannaday then introduced Jan Krans's presentation, which immediately followed Pete's, as "The Folly of Peter Head," and then corrected himself, "The Folly of Conjecture? Baljon’s Novum Testamentum Graece of 1898."

I will return with some more words about this year's SBL conference. Let me give you one piece of news: this week the new UBS committee has its first meeting here in San Fransisco.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

SBL Super Sale on The Epistle of Jude II

This is just a brief note that my book is now on display at the Eisenbrauns booth in the book exhibition – I didn't realize that they were waiting for the copies I brought with me, but now they are there (15 copies left). I will stop by at the booth on Monday 1 PM to chat and sign. I am of course also present on all the NTTC sessions. Now I am off to hear a couple of interesting papers on papyrology (several of them related to the New Testament).

ETC Dinner Monday at 7pm

Just to confirm that I have been over to Sam's Grill and booked a table/room/set of booths will walls removed for 20 of us for Monday night starting at 7pm (Tommy and Pete W will hopefully be over once their meeting has finished). The address is 374 Bush Street, San Francisco (obviously). All are welcome (up to 20 anyway). Hopefully we shall have some semi-official reflections on the blog over the past year. ... (if anyone wants to offer such reflections let me know in the comments).

Judging by the comments to the previous post the following people are definitely coming:
Peter Head
Jan Krans (+1)
Martin Heide
Tommy W (l)
Pete W (l)
Dieter Roth
Peter Rodgers
Bob Relyea
Edgar Ebojo
Peter Gurry
Chuck Hill
Eric Rowe

So that is fourteen. If more than six people say they want to come (in the comments) I'll get back to Sam to see about a larger room.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Head on the Four-Gospel Codex

Just a note that my paper from last year's SBL has now been published:
‘Graham Stanton and the Four-Gospel Codex: Reconsidering the Manuscript Evidence’ Jesus, Matthew’s Gospel and Early Christianity: Studies in Memory of Graham N. Stanton (eds D.M. Gurtner; J. Willits, & R.A. Burridge, LNTS 435; London: T&T Clark, 2011), 93-101.
Most of the other papers deal with Jesus, Matthew's Gospel and other aspects of early Christianity (surprisingly enough). For a link to the publisher (which may or may not have a table of contents) go here (hopefully they may be cheaper at SBL).
Well done to the editors for getting this published in less than one year.

Now back to work on the two papers for this year's SBL (still quite a few hours before the plane leaves).

Gadarene, Gerasene and Gergesene Variants

Handout now completed for my SBL paper, but the challenge remains as to whether received wisdom can be overturned ... I don't have much experience with flying a kite.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

SBL Super Sale on The Epistle of Jude

The SBL Annual Meeting is approaching. I will pack my bag tomorrow. Jim Spinti of Eisenbrauns is running a special sale on my monograph, The Epistle of Jude: Its Text and Transmission and other titles in the Coniectanea Biblica series (OT/NT). My book now sells for $20 (list price $79), and eligible for an offer of free shipping to US addresses.

You will be able to get a signed copy for this price at the Eisenbrauns booth at the SBL book exhibit. I will stop by some time (to be announced later in a blogpost) during the meeting and chat about Jude, New Testament textual criticism and other interesting things with whoever is there.

Here is the link to the sale for those who will not be there:

The Epistle of Jude

The Epistle of Jude
Its text and transmission
Coniectanea Biblica New Testament Series - CBNTS 43
by Tommy Wasserman
Almqvist and Wiksell, 2006
xv + 368 pages + XVI plates, English
ISBN: 9789122021599
List Price: $79.00
Your Price: $20.00

Monday, November 14, 2011

Published: Parallel Pericopes of the Synoptic Gospels (Editio Critica Maior series)

In August I announced that a long-awaited tool from the INTF in Münster was soon to be published: Parallel Pericopes of the Synoptic Gospels edited by Holger Strutwolf and Klaus Wachtel in the Novum Testamentum Graecum, Editio Critica Maior series (NTGECM). The publication is the result of a research project designed to complement the test passage collations (Text- und Textwert) of the Synoptic Gospels, by which the influence of textual parallels on the formation of variants can be studied. It presents evidence of 159 MSS in 38 synoptic pericopes. Sample page here.

Today, the volume arrived in my mail, graciously sent to me by the editors, and it looks very nice. In my blogpost I stated that it would be nice if we would have access to the database in the future. Now I note in the preface:

To enable computer-aided analyses of the material presented in Parallel Pericopies, the full critical apparatus comprising collations of 159 manuscripts is made available as a text file at http://intf.uni-muenster.de/PPApparatus/.

If you follow that link you can download the full contents of the critical apparatus, but in contrast to the printed volume which displays most passages through a negative apparatus (cf. NA27), this database offers a full apparatus at each variant passage, which is very convenient if you want to do research. For example of such research, using this tool, see Klaus Wachtel's SBL paper from 2009 which is available online: "The Byzantine Text of the Gospels: Recension or Process."

Finally, I just want to explain what the database shows in the different columns:

In the first column on the first line you see the digit "1," which stands for book 1 in the NT = Matthew; then "3" for chapter 3; "13" for verse 13; and "6" for the letter address "6" where the textual variant in question starts. Thus, here it refers to the third word in τότε (2) παραγίνεται (4) ὅ (6) Ἰησοῦς (8), i.e., the definite article. As in the printed publications in the ECM series, even numbers correspond to words in the printed text, odd numbers to the spaces in between, where we may find additions of words in MSS noted in the apparatus. The next column also has "6", i.e., this particular variant starts and end in 6 – it involves only the presence of the definite article.

The next column, "a," means variant a (which is always the printed reading); variant b in this case stands for the omission of the article and it is attested only by 372 further down in the list. If "zz" appears in this column it signifies lacunae. (Incidentally, I think this data in the printed volumes in the ECM series including this one, should always be carefully verified against the corresponding appendices with list of lacunae, because there are some discrepancies between the two, and I think the appendix is more complete).

The next column gives us the reading in unaccentuated Greek "o"=ὅ, i.e., the article is present in this witness. The next column refers to the witnesses. However, the first line, "A" indicates the reconstructed initial text (Ausgangstext), i.e., the printed text. The two last columns read "3" and "13" which means that the variant also ends in the same verse. There are also additional columns where data may appear, e.g., "f" which stands for Fehler and indicates that the editors have judged that a certain reading represents an error on the part of the scribe.

In order to understand the database wholly, it is crucial to carefully read the introduction to this or any other volume in the ECM series in order to understand the presentation of the material and the apparatus according to the new and excellent ECM standard (which, by the way, I largely followed in my own work on an edition of Jude).

Friday, November 11, 2011

DVD Available of Ehrman vs. Wallace Debate

Latest news from the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts:
On October 1, 2011 Dr. Bart D. Ehrman and CSNTM's Executive Director, Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, debated the reliability of the text of the New Testament at Southern Methodist University. This was the largest debate over the text of the New Testament in history. A professional film crew recorded the debate, which is now available to you. In this exciting dialogue you have the opportunity to listen to two leading scholars talk about this issue from opposing viewpoints. Can we trust the text of the New Testament? You decide.

The DVD is priced at only $15.50 plus shipping and handling. Currently only the USA format (NTSC) is available. Pick yours up today.

The DVD is copyrighted by CSNTM; please do not replicate or distribute it.

Click here to purchase DVDs
There is a video trailer about the debate, which is a bit too melodramatic for my taste, but here it is:

For my own thoughts on this debate, see here.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

ETC Dinner at SBL

It looks (to Tommy and myself) as if Monday evening should be the time for our annual ETC dinner at SBL (by far the majority of other receptions are on the weekend nights). In the programme there is an ECM session (P21-325; 4:00PM - 7:30PM), so it would probably be best to begin after that session I suppose (not sure whether the business part of that session is open or closed, but someone could tell us in the comments). But we are open to objections and alternative plans in the comments (for a few days anyway). Also ideas for places to eat would be welcome.

Cf. 2010, 2009, 2008

The Textual History of the Greek New Testament: Changing Views in Contemporary Research

A new important book published by SBL has just appeared:

The Textual History of the Greek New Testament: Changing Views in Contemporary Research edited by Klaus Wachtel and Michael W. Holmes.

ISBN 1589836243
Status Forthcoming
Price: $34.95
Binding Paperback
Publication Date November, 2011
Hardback edition available from Brill Academic Publishers (www.brill.nl)

The volume represents the published contributions of a colloquium organized in Münster 2008 by the Institute for New Testament Textual Research, in which I participated. For more background, read my reports and comments on the colloqium:

Day 1

Day 1 continued

Day 1-2

Images from the colloquium and CBGM software and database

Publisher's description of the published volume:
This collection of essays by respected scholars represents the state of the art of textual criticism as applied to the New Testament. Addressing core topics such as the causes and forms of variation, contamination and coherence, and the goals and the canons of textual criticism, it presents a first-class overview of traditional and innovative methodologies as they are applied to reconstructing the initial wording of the New Testament writings. In this context, the new Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (CBGM) is introduced and discussed extensively. Integrating established approaches and procedures, the CBGM features a new category of external evidence: genealogical coherence of witnesses.

Klaus Wachtel is Research Associate, Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung at Münster University. He is co-editor of Novum Testamentum Graecum, Editio Critica Maior. Michael W. Holmes is University Professor of Biblical Studies and Early Christianity at Bethel University. He is editor of The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition.

The volume front matter, including the table of contents and introduction is available here.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Robots and Archives

The archival corollary to "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" would be "Who digitally copies the digital copies?" As we digitally images our manuscripts, we must ask how will we be maintain the digital images as they become more prolific than the originals? DVD images may become corrupt as soon as 20 years or may last considerably longer. The US Library of Congress has risen to task of copying their materials with robots. In the Time Magazine video below, the inventor of the system discusses his system which copies video media en masse.

Monday, October 31, 2011

New Second Century Text of John?

A Comment in an earlier post referred to this article (New NASA technology reveals ancient texts) which claims, among other things:
NASA super cameras, developed originally for military surveillance and scientific surveys and adapted for work at the St. Catherine library, now can reveal in amazing detail not only smudged or damaged surface portions but also the earliest and most intriguing strata of the palimpsests. Incredibly, these cameras even make it possible to read documents wholly or partly destroyed by fire.

And what has the Texas-led team discovered so far? Among other things, an extremely ancient portion of the Gospel of John, perhaps dating from the second century and which contains wording missing in the conventional biblical text.
There would seem to be some potential problems with this. For a start one wouldn't expect many second-century texts of John on parchment (required for a useful palimpsest).

Greek palaeography course

There's an opportunity to do a summer course in Greek palaeography, 13-18 August 2012 in Lincoln College, Oxford. [Per Paul Anderson]

Friday, October 28, 2011

Here and There

Some points of interest on the internets:

The latest Scripture Language Report from the UBS reports that "Bibles have become available in ten more languages and New Testaments in 27 more than this time last year." (HT: Bibliablog)

David Lamb hates Study Bibles (and I sympathise).

Rod Decker approves of the NIV non-rendering of selah in the Psalms (here and here). Jim Hamilton is not so keen (here).

The papyri of the University Library in Groningen, The Netherlands are online.

Also there is quite a full report of the Hurtado study day (featuring Professor Wasserman) over at BECS.

The Lindisfarne Gospels Online

Congratulations to all manuscript lovers: The Lindisfarne Gospels (BL, Cotton MS Nero D IV) have been digitized and are available online at the British Library Digitised Manuscript website.

More Digitized GNT MSS from the British Library

Hugh Houghton informs me that a few more GNT MSS are now online at the British Library website:

Here are the GA numbers and links:

GA 384

GA 447
GA 448

For previous releases see here, here, here, here, and here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

PDF's for Coptic Bible

Alin Suciu has made available several articles listing key witnesses to the Coptic Bible. If you like to pack your hard drive with PDFs like I do, you will find this helpful. Thanks, Alin!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rodgers, Text and Story: Review

In a previous post Peter Rodgers announced the publication of his new book: Peter R. Rodgers, Text and Story: Narrative Studies in New Testament Textual Criticism (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2011).

I went to the Wipf and Stock website (see previous post), but couldn’t order the book as they don’t seem to ship to the UK (get this sorted Robin Parry). I put it on my list of books to buy at SBL (don’t think of this as an actual list, more a general intention), and promptly forgot about it until Peter kindly (and independently) sent me a copy in the mail. I thought I would write up a brief review on the blog, but it won’t be a savage critical review for the following reasons:
  1. Peter is a friend of mine and a respected older evangelical pastor with a scholarly interest in textual criticism;
  2. Peter is a member of this blog (I know Tommy attempts the odd savage critique of my early work on this blog, but I’m a tall Australian and he is Swedish);
  3. Peter studied with G.D. Kilpatrick who once rented a flat in Oxford to my uncle Alan (incidentally I met him once while staying with my uncle and aunt and G.D. Kilpatrick immediately pulled a Greek NT out of his pocket and we talked about Mark 1.1 - I thought it was excellent that an Oxford Professor walked around with a GNT in his pocket)
  4. Peter was (I think I remember correctly) curate at the Round Church in Cambridge (I don’t remember this from personal experience, it was a seriously long time ago; not as far back as Noah, but definitely before the internets was born);
  5. Although it is not a long book, it covers 10 passages and has loads of arguments, but I don’t have time for the extensive engagement of a long review (remember this is a blog).
Anyway, the book is very readable (I only got it yesterday and have actually read the whole thing already), with an introduction, ten brief chapters, and a conclusion. It is only 106 pages of text. Clearly this means that it is not a full-on scholarly treatment of each passage and all the history and issues raised; that is no bad thing even if there aren’t enough footnotes for the enthusiast (note that he certainly references scholarship in English, French and German).

In a nutshell Rodgers thinks that attention to the way in which various NT texts allude to or echo OT passages or broader scriptural stories can offer a new perspective on textual problems where external and internal evidence is indecisive. Hitherto, he argues, there has been ‘a clear tone-deafness to intertextuality and its possible bearing on text-critical issues’ (p. 10). A repeated theme/claim is that Christian scribes of the second and third century may have missed allusions that would have been obvious to Jewish(-Christian) authors and original readers (e.g. p. 42f, 53, 60, 70, 76, 83, 92). So many of his preferences are for readings where the external evidence is at least somewhat divided, where one of the readings exhibits evidence of allusive reference to an OT text or embedded story more than the other reading.

An example of this is his take on Heb 2.9 where he prefers XWRIS QEOU (with Origen, loads of fathers, 1739 and some other support), because of the way in which the wording, shape and story of Psalm 22 informs the broader context of Hebrews 2 in such a way as fits with the reading XWRIS QEOU in 2.9 (pp. 31-43). He argues that ‘copyists who did not hear the echo of Ps 22:1 in 2:9 or recognize the importance of Psalm 22 for the early chapters of Hebrews would have failed to recognize the literary and theological value of the harder reading’ (p. 42f).

It is interesting that Rodgers often (as in this example) finds common ground with B. Ehrman on the preferred reading, but not on the question of scribal motivation; he states in the conclusion that ‘the context of second temple Judaism is equally as fruitful as the Christological debates of the second and third centuries for explaining textual change’ (p. 105).

Sometimes this takes Rodgers into what might be thought of as pretty wild territory. For example he argues for the reading WNEIDISAS ME in Mark 15.34 (on the basis of a combined allusion to Ps 22 and 69), but with only D and some Old Latin in support (pp. 44-53); in Phil 4.7 he prefers the text - ‘your hearts and your minds and your bodies’ - with support only from P16 (and then not completely - his reading is really somewhat conjectural) and some vulgate manuscripts, and the basis of a claimed echo of Is 26.3 (pp. 72-76). Here we see something of the radical eclectic, the disciple of Kilpatrick (Elliott also offers a supporting blurb on the back cover).

At other points, somewhat similar arguments can support a reading already widely accepted: so the long text of Luke 22.43f (on the basis of allusions to Is 53 and Ps 22); the NA reading of Acts 20.28 (on the basis of a complex of echoes to Gen 22; Is 43 and Ps 74); the NA reading of Luke 3.22 (on the basis of a complex of echoes to Gen 22; Is 42 and Ps 2). In addition he argues for other readings, which while not adopted in NA have been argued before, e.g. reading QEOS in Rom 8.28; ‘and fasting’ in Mark 9.29; ‘me’ in Rom 8.2.

The great thing about Rodgers’ approach is the integration of exegesis (broadly conceived, including the structures of thought and story underlying NT texts) with textual criticism. The pondering of OT allusions and echoes is very valuable, although the arguments for these allusions are not, in my humble opinion, universally persuasive. Nor indeed, are the allusions demonstrated in detail (Rodgers paints the broader picture of the themes and story of an OT text well, but doesn’t always pin the broader story to the details of the NT reading). Take Luke 22.43f as an example. He thinks that these words ‘would have been “heard” by their earliest readers as an echo of Isaiah 53, and of Psalm 22’ (p. 60). But this is defended only on the most general basis (Luke is interested in these texts; scholars have studied the relevance of these texts to NT writers, they appear in a list of 12 passages that have been thought to be reflected in this passage), never on the basis of the wording of the reading itself.
Another example is Phil 4.7. Rodgers thinks that the original reading is ‘And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds and your bodies in Christ Jesus.’ These three terms are ‘a conscious echo of Is 26.3’ (p. 75); but ‘the echo of Isaiah 26 was not of sufficient volume to copyists less attuned to intertextual echo than Paul and his readers’ (p. 76). But we might ask how load is this echo? [Is 26.3 RSV: ‘Thou dost keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusts in thee.’] Rodgers thinks that ‘bodies’ are in view in Is 26.19 and throughout Philippians, but fails to show any real anchor for this echo in Phil 4.7. So the strength and clarity of the proposed allusion/echo remains an important issue for me in considering each of these cases. When the case for the allusion/echo is strong (say for Heb 2.9) this made the text-critical argument also strong, but reasonably often this was not the case (some friends would suggest that I am not strongly attuned to picking up quiet echoes).

An interesting aspect of this is the broader question about transcriptional probability. Rodgers, appealing to Gentile scribes as missing OT allusions, stands against the TC tradition that sees harmonisations towards the OT as a marked scribal characteristic. Rodgers recognises that he stands outside the common assumption (p. 104), urging the many unharmonised variants, and the support of Holmes and Parker. This would make for an interesting further discussion. [We could note that on at least one occasion, when dealing with Luke 3.22 Rodgers does appeal to scribes who had memorised the Psalms as an explanation for the D reading, see p. 24, 29] [We could also note that the suggestion that Gentile scribes could alter the text reasonably often in this way, stands in some degree of tension with his general stance that early scribes copied their texts carefully and accurately, p. 24, 60.]

In summary I should say that of his ten examples I think I already agreed with three of them strongly and two of them mildly. Of the five others I was pleased to read the discussion and argument, and found one or two of them “interesting” (as opposed to convincing) and will certainly try to take these into account in the future, but couldn’t pronounce myself persuaded that he was right. I certainly take the point that some readings may exhibit original authorial intertextuality, but would like a more solid foundation for some of the claims. As a whole it is certainly a worthwhile ‘experiment in New Testament Textual Criticism’ (p. 101), an interesting contemporary example of a reasonably radical eclecticism (in the tradition of Kilpatrick and Elliott) in a spirit of loyalty to a high view of Scripture, and a reminder that the critical apparatus can hide interesting readings for which a good case can be made.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ehrman's Appeal to Intrinsic Evidence

Over at the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM), Nika Spaulding and Robert D. Marcello summarize the recent debate at the Southern Methodist University campus (Dallas) between Bart Ehrman and Dan Wallace here. It should be noted in this connection that Wallace is the director of CSNTM, and that Spaulding and Marcello of course largely share Wallace’s views on the NT text.

I am happy to have contributed a little to the preparation of Wallace’s argument (in private correspondence) about the inconcistency on the part of Ehrman (and others), when he appeals to intrinsic evidence, and at the same time takes a completely agnostic position as to what a certain author wrote. In fact, I discussed this issue with Ehrman on a textual criticism discussion group in 2008 (here). Ehrman fully realized the problem as he responded:
Now, if someone can explain to me the logic of appealing to an author’s style when you don’t think you can get back to his words (hence his style), I’ll eat my Westcott and Hort!
Consequently, in the new edition of his The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture (recently released), he has a brief discussion of the “resulting theoretical problem,” i.e., the apparent contradiction of his own reconstruction of an early form of the text, and his claim that there is no way of getting to an original (pp. 350-52). There he states:
At the same time, I have not observed other critics wrestling with the issue; instead they continue to use intrinsic probabilities even while admitting that we have no access to an authorical text. I belive that is a problem, but I also believe it has a theoretical solution.
Then Ehrman proposes that although we are reconstructing an “author” with verbal, stylistic, literary and theological predilections, and although “recognizing them allows us to decide which readings go back to his imaginary pen and which were later creations of scribes,” we must at the same time acknowledge that this author is not a tangible human being of the past.

I actually agree with Ehrman – this is the bottomline of my own reply to him (and actually in accordance with the theoretical basis for the Coherence Based Genealogical Method, which seeks to reconstruct something more than the archetype of the tradition, but less than the authorial text – the term used is “the initial text”). So the question then is how far removed is our reconstructed author’s text from the historical author’s text? In my discussion with Ehrman I further suggested:
As I said, the simplest theory is that the initial text is the autograph (we do not know); the more complicated theory, the less is intrinsic evidence worth .... In practice, we assume that the text we reconstruct approximates towards the author’s text.
In sum, other text-critics have indeed wrestled with the problem, even directly in discussion with Ehrman. I also discuss the issue in my essay “The Implications of Textual Criticism for Understanding the ‘Original Text’” in Mark and Matthew I. Comparative Readings: Understanding the Earliest Gospels in their First Century Settings. Edited by Eve-Marie Becker and Anders Runesson (WUNT I 271; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011). There is much to say about this problem. I have found Peter Shillingsburg’s works very helpful in this area. Perhaps I will post something on that in the future.

Finally, “the theoretical problem” is of course mainly a problem for those who are utterly pessimistic about reaching the initial text (“the more complicated theory, the less is intrinsic evidence worth”).

Friday, October 21, 2011

“The Son of God Was in the Beginning (Mark 1:1)” – (Free Access)

I have just provided a link on my institutional webpage to a free access version of my JTS article, “The Son of God Was in the Beginning (Mk 1:1).” Journal of Theological Studies 62/1 (2011): 20-50. (Just scroll down to the title and link to the article.)

Mark 1:1 Handout

I am making a handout on the text-critical problem in Mark 1:1 available. I originally used it for the SBL in Tartu 2010. It can be found under TC Files (free download) in the right sidebar or via this link.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

1 John 2:23 in the KJV


I'm giving a talk at Exeter University on Friday entitled 'Things that might surprise you about the King James Version'. Here is one of them (though given the educational levels of ETC readers it might not surprise everyone): in the original KJV small print (later replaced by italics) was used to represent words not in the original. But then in 1 John 2:23 there is a rather different use, which aligns with the presence of a textual variant and the whole phrase 'but he that acknowledgeth the Sonne, hath the Father also' is in small print. One interpretation could be that they were indicating that the words in small print should be 'in, but with doubt'. Obviously the translators were aware that they were going against Tyndale, the Matthews Bible, Geneva Bible, etc. But could it be that they wanted to ensure the reading they wanted (i.e. the longer reading) got in, but without the political rumpus of a change to the text? Ultimately they could have been seen to be making a claim about the meaning of the text rather than about the original wording. Can anyone adduce further considerations to guide our interpretation of this?

Mark 1.1: the Long(ish) reading

Tommy's excellent presentation on the text of Mark 1.1 is now available in audio via the CSCO website (where it is also described as argued persuasively):

Tommy Wasserman, ‘The “Son of God” was in the Beginning,’ lecture (44min)

Wasserman, Question and Answer, (28min)

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Apocalypse Project (Wuppertal)

I am pleased to announce the latest major inquiry into the text of the Greek New Testament. At the beginning of this month, a team based at the Kirchliche Hochschule Wuppertal-Bethel has started work on an Editio Critica Major of the book of Revelation in partnership with the INTF-directed Editio Critica Maior series. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Fund) has funded the initiative. Martin Karrer is the primary investigator. Ulrich Schmid is playing a leading role in deploying the latest relevant technological innovations. The project will progress in three phases with a completed edition hopefully after approximately ten years.
At least two from our blogroll will be active in the project. For the next two and a half years, I will be editing the Sahidic text of the Apocalypse. In a year, Martin Heide will begin creating an edition of the Syriac. I am fortunate to be able to conduct my research in Münster, which is a world center for Coptology as well as New Testament textual criticism. My colleagues at the INTF have repeatedly surpassed my expectations with their kindness and Gastfreundschaft! ...not to mention patience for my rudimentary German.
In coming months, I will say a bit more about the project. I am excited that Alin Suciu has discover a new fragment of the Sahidic Apocalypse which he has also identified as deriving from the same codex as other already-known leaves.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Leonard on Middle Egyptian Matthew

Yesterday James (Jim) Leonard, one of our ETC bloggers, defended his Cambridge PhD thesis on the Middle Egyptian Schoyen Codex of Matthew. This manuscript (mae2) had been edited by Schenke, who had maintained that the codex shows signs of a non-canonical Matthew. Though Leonard had been initially drawn to the codex by this idea, he ultimately rejected (and refuted) this notion.

His treatment also contains a number of new reconstructions of lacunae in the manuscript and rearranges two pieces.

A significant conclusion is that mae2 is not actually a weird manuscript at all. In fact, when certain things are taken into account, it is more like NA27 than either 01 or 03!

Well done, Jim!

[Technical note: in the Cambridge system the award of the degree is formally confirmed by a large committee and one does not really 'know' the result of a viva immediately. However, in certain circumstances, e.g. when examiners discuss publication plans, it is legitimate to celebrate in anticipation of formal confirmation.]

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"How on Earth Did Larry Hurtado Become a Text-Critic?"

Some years ago when Larry Hurtado had been invited to the research seminar at Lund university in Sweden, where I did my PhD at the time, I mentioned in advance to the professors and students, that I know Larry Hurtado from my field, New Testament textual criticism. "You know, he is a leading text-critic. What? Is he working in textual criticism? I didn’t know that." The large project in Lund at the time was devoted to exploring the First Hundred Years of Christian Identity and Larry had been invited to speak mainly on early Christian worship in relation to that project. So textual criticism, on this occasion, was left to the coffee time, where it was basically a subject for a chat between Larry and myself.

A year ago I was in Oslo, invited to give lectures on textual criticism at Menighetsfakultetet. The professor in charge of the course then mentioned that he had invited Larry Hurtado to participate in a project on prayer and identity. They will host a conference in just a month or so. I told Sandnes, "Yes, I know Larry rather well. You know he is a leading text-critic. What? Is he working in textual criticism? I didn’t know that."

A few months ago, when I had just received the invitation to come to Edinburgh for this very occasion, to speak specifically about Larry’s contribution to New Testament textual criticism, I shared this news to my colleagues at the coffee table including a New Testament scholar, who knew Larry Hurtado's work quite well (he thought), but replied: ”What? Is he working in textual criticism? I didn’t know that.”

So, instead of asking "How on earth did Jesus become God?" (a subject which I leave happily to Richard Bauckham), a more relevant question in light of these reactions, would be, "How on earth did Larry Hurtado become a text-critic?"

The above is the opening om my presentation, which you can download and listen to over at the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins website. Incidentally, Larry told me afterwards that he had just had the same reaction from one of the distinguished guests this day – "Did you do work in textual criticism, I didn't know that."

There were about seventy attendants in the Martin Hall, at the School of Divinity, Edinburgh University. Alban Books had a small bookstall (on the table to the right), where some titles by Hurtado and the presenters were available.

A local PhD student has made all the talks and discussions from this day available. Below are direct links to the audio files (the introduction by Helen Bond, the other presentations by Thomas Kraus and Richard Bauckham, responses by Larry, and Q & A to all three sections):

Helen Bond, "Appreciation for Larry Hurtado and his Career" (8min)

Tommy Wasserman, "How on Earth did Larry Hurtado Become a Text Critic?" (56min), Q & A (8min) and handout

Thomas Kraus, "Larry Hurtado and Manuscripts" (71min)

Larry Hurtado, Response to Wasserman and Kraus (11min)

Richard Bauckham, "Devotion to Jesus Christ in Earliest Christianity—An Appreciation and Discussion of Hurtado’s Work" (62min) and handout

Bauckham, Q & A (17min)

Hurtado/Bauckham discussion (41min)

Mark also recorded my presentation on Mark 1:1 in the postgrad seminar, which will soon be posted.

The only thing I hate with these audio clips is to hear myself speaking with that typical Swedish accent and pronunciation, sigh.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Exemplar of P46

P46 is a manuscript copied from a Greek - Latin exemplar. This explains the many readings of P46 that are subsequently found in later Greek - Latin manuscripts and it explains the direct influence of Latin errors in the Greek.

[Don't quote me yet on this, please read on.]

In that doorstop of a study Scribal Habits, James Royse discusses the singular reading επευξ of P46 in Heb 5:6. This is almost certainly nonsense as it stands, having replaced the normal ιερευς ('priest'). Zuntz suggested that this reading is a Latin alphabet error, a replacement of Greek Rho ρ for a Latin 'p' which is then graphically represented as a Greek Pi, π. The Xi ξ is a 'simple' replacement of ς. Royse rejects this explanation ('there appears to be no other evidence that our scribe was in any way influenced by Latin') and treats the reading as an inexplicable error (though he treats the preceding ει as a separate variant).

First, I believe the whole variant is ειεπευξ for ιερευς. That is, the first syllable ει represents an itacistic reading of the initial iota of ιερευς.
Secondly, I may have found another instance of a Latin misreading in 2 Cor 10:12 where we have the puzzling νεκρουντες ('died') for μετρουντες.

The appearance of νεκρ- for μετρ- might be interference of the Latin stem MORT- as in MORTALES. Admittedly, a few other errors have to take place at the same time τρ - ρτ, but that is not an argument against this proposal. Τhe fact that we have a strange reading implies that a few errors have occurred—what is left for us is to reconstruct these errors.
Thirdly, I actually quite like Zuntz's suggestion, and would love to see it as the hypothesis for an extended study of P46. What if there is a large Latin element in this manuscript? Can other readings be explained by means of Latin influence? In addition, it would open up interesting questions on the 'how?' of the countless instances where P46 joins the Greek - Latin bilingual manuscripts virtually on its own.

So, this is the justification of my first paragraph. A theory that may be worthwhile to put to the test, either to reject or accept.

Friday, October 07, 2011

A Wonderful Day in Edinburgh

This is just a quick report from the day in honor of Larry Hurtado.

I have had a fabulous day here today, doing a presentation in which I reviewed Larry Hurtado's scholarship in NT textual criticism.

The other presenters, Thomas Kraus and Richard Bauckham (we are all on this picture, chatting in the garden during one of the breaks), similarly reviewed Larry's works; Thomas Kraus on early Christian artefacts (including such areas as the adoption of the codex, the nomina sacra and the staurogram) and Richard Bauckham on Christology.

It all went very well, and I know that Larry was very pleased with the day. I also particularly enjoyed talking to some of the PhD students here during the reception afterwards. It is nice to be able to give some advice, and I remember well the days of my own struggles as a PhD student.

Then the organizers and us presenters, some of Larry's close colleagues and the Hurtado couple went out to a very nice restaurant in the centre of Edinburgh to have a meal together.

This whole day has been quite enjoyable for me. Apparently, one of the PhD students, which is also a friend of mine, recorded the presentations, so perhaps they will eventually be released on the website of the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins (CSCO). The same goes for my own presentation yesterday on Mark 1:1 for the postgraduate seminar, which was likewise very enjoyable.

Perhaps we will have to edit that one a bit, especially the part in which I tell about the background of the paper. Anyway, one of the things that triggered that piece was Peter Head's cheering during an SBL presentation of a new papyrus attesting to the short reading. :-) The other reason for working on that verse was because it is one of Bart Ehrman's main examples of what he labels as "anti-adoptionistic corruption" of the NT text.

Anyway, we were in a crowded room of approximately twenty students and a couple of senior scholars including Paul Travis (presiding), Larry Hurtado, Helen Bond and Paul Foster, all posing very intelligent questions after my one hour presentation.

Tomorrow (Sat) it is shopping day for me here, after having breakfast with my colleague Thomas Kraus staying at the same hotel.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

New Book: Text and Story, by Peter Rodgers

Members and readers of this blog my be interested in a new book I have published entitled Text and Story. It has just appeared and is available through the publisher. It will also be available on Amazon, etc in about a month. I hope to see many of the blog members at SBL in San Francisco.

New Book Information

Peter R. Rodgers, Text and Story

Narrative Studies in New Testament Textual Criticism

ISBN: 13:978-1-61097-304-5

Order from:

Pickwick Publications

Wipf and Stock Publishers, Inc

199 West 8th Avenue, Suite 3

Eugene, OR, 97401 – USA

(541) 344 – 1528

FAX (541) 344 – 1506


Peter R. Rodgers

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New bit of Jeremiah in Coptic

Alin Suciu has identified a ms of Jer 21-22 in Coptic amid a British Museum acquisition from Christie's. Details here. [via Jack Sasson]

Monday, September 19, 2011



The making of Biblical manuscripts (4th-15th centuries):

Appraisals and perspectives
International conference
University of Namur (FUNDP), Belgium
Research centre « Pratiques médiévales de l’écrit »
24-25 May 2012
Throughout the Middle Ages, the Bible was one of the most copied texts in the Christian world. As a sacred text, it was widely commented, rewritten and put to various uses in different contexts and with different purposes. It reflects the various changes that writing systems and technologies underwent; not surprisingly, it was the first book to be printed. Wherever one looks, the Bible gave rise to the most sophisticated expressions of the medieval craft of book-making.

Biblical texts and manuscripts have for a long time attracted the attention of philologists, exegetes and historians; however, things are different when it comes to the artefacts that gave the Bible its material existence. Although the production of biblical books in certain periods and a few exceptional manuscripts have already been studied in detail, we are still very far from being able to build a historical typology of biblical books. To achieve this aim, it seems necessary to adopt a global and a comparative perspective. Therefore, a particular effort needs to be made to highlight the manner in which the difficulties involved in the material process of making the sacred book have been resolved at different points in time and in different countries.

This conference intends to establish the state of the art with respect to Bible making from late Antiquity to the fifteenth century, while also opening up new perspectives for future research. In order to promote a comparative and comprehensive approach to these issues without losing focus, the conference will concentrate on Bible making in the West (both in Latin and in the vernaculars) as well as in the Byzantine and Hebraic parts of the Mediterranean world.

The conference organizers look forward to receiving proposals that centre on the material aspects of Bible books and especially those that adopt a wide-ranging approach; reports on finished or ongoing research are both welcome. Case-studies on isolated textual witnesses will only be considered if they shed new light on production modes and technical aspects that can be shown to have a wider currency. Similarly, paper proposals addressing cultural aspects (e.g. contexts of production and reception), philological aspects (e.g. issues of text transmission, the set-up of books and prologues, paratextual features) or iconographic ones (e.g. the decorative apparatus) should preferably address their interaction with the books’ material aspects (structure of the volumes, lay-out, readability...).

Seeking to clearly define the thematic scope of the conference, we propose a pragmatic definition of the concept of “Bible book” as follows:
* the entire Bible text, or a part of it, organized on a book-after-book basis, with or without marginal comments, handwritten or printed (incunabula);
* the entire Bible text, or a part of it, prepared for liturgical uses (evangelical books, psalters), with the exception, however, of liturgical books which include non-biblical materials (missals, breviaries, books of hours).
Abstracts (maximum 500 words) are to be sent before 30 September 2011 to chiara.ruzzier@fundp.ac.be. Confirmation of acceptance will be given as soon as possible.

A small number of grants are available for junior scholars and PhD students who have no access to institutional funding. Please send your application (including a short CV) to chiara.ruzzier@fundp.ac.be.

Xavier Hermand: xavier.hermand@fundp.ac.be
Chiara Ruzzier: chiara.ruzzier@fundp.ac.be
Facultés Universitaires Notre-Dame de la Paix
rue de Bruxelles 61
B-5000 Namur

Invitation and call for papers (PDF)