Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Bible Odyssey Featuring "Alexandrian Text" and "Early Versions"

A year ago or so I was invited to contribute to SBL's project Bible Odyssey which was launched about two months ago. I was told that this week my article on the "Alexandrian Text" is highlighted on the Bible Oddysey home page, together with an article on  "The Earliest Versions and Translations of the Bible" by Brennan Breed and a timeline of "The History of the English Bible" and a newly added videoclip on Early Christian Martyrdom featuring Candida Moss.

Just a week ago, John Kutsko of the SBL sent out a report about the two first months of the website, and it turns out that "People are very interested in ... 'life in first century Galilee' and 'how the Hebrew Bible relates to the ancient Near East,' as well as 'the binding of Isaac' and 'the woman caught in adultery.'” The last entry is written by my friend Jennifer Knust and we have worked a lot together on this topic for some years now. There is a related video clip in which Amy Jill Levine discusses the pericope adulterae, and another entry on the manuscript history of the passage (John 8:1-11) by another friend of mine, Chris Keith. Earlier this year, Chris, Jennifer and I contributed to a conference at SEBTS, the Pericope Adulterae symposium.

Kutsko continues his report on the Bible Odyssey webpage saying that many visitors come from North America and Europe, but that there is also strong traffic from Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Israel. Personally, Kutsko thinks the "Ask the Scholar" button (see the magnifying glass on the image above, or go here) is the coolest of all. Here they have received questions such as:
  • Why does God speak in the plural in Genesis?
  • Was John the Baptist an Essene?
  • How many scholars believe that Q existed as a source for Matthew and Luke?
  • Has the biblical figure of Satan evolved?
  • Why is ‘almah in Proverbs 30:19 translated differently?
  • How does domestic architecture vary in the Second Temple period?


  1. Dr. W.,
    I also was excited to hear about this new project. However, my initial excitement has waned as many of the articles seemed to express solely the theological outlook of the author rather than critical research. An opportunity to interact with scholars is always welcome. The articles that you mentioned, while brief, were well written. Maybe, I expected too much from a site which after visiting seems to be geared towards individuals getting acquainted with the covered areas. Finally, thanks as always for your willingness to share your knowledge and expertise.


  2. Shouldn't the references for the PA be to John 7:53-8:11, rather than just 8:1-11?

    James Snapp, Jr.

  3. Knust wrote, "When copying their Gospel books, Greek scribes often marked the passage with asterisks, a custom designed to indicate what may not be original to the text."

    That is not entirely true. Asterisks were also used in the lectionary-related marginalia to draw attention to a variety of lectionary-related features. Only the MSS in which the entire PA is marked should be regarded as indicative of scribal intent to convey doubt about the legitimacy of the passage.

    The MSS with asterisks alongside 8:3-11 -- not the entire passage, just those ten verses -- should be understood instead to reflect lectionary usage; the asterisks are intended to show where, within the lection for Pentecost, one can find the lection for St. Pelagia the Penitent's feast-day.

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

  4. (Nine verses, I mean. It was pretty late/early.)