Friday, January 16, 2015

Falluomini on the New Gothic Fragment

Some time ago, Peter Head blogged about a recent discovery of new fragments of the Gothic Bible. He referred to Carla Falluomini, who states in the new edition of The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research that: “no new parts of the Gothic Bible have been found that would have attracted attention to this branch of the biblical tradition” (p. 331). So this discovery, albeit of a fragment, is highly significant. In fact, it is significant as part of the few literary remains of the Gothic language in general.

Professors Rosa Bianca Finazzi and Paola Tornaghi of The Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan who made the fantastic discovery of the two folios dated to the 6th-century named it Gothica Bononiensia, since it was found in the Basilica of San Petronio in Bologna. They published a complete analysis including transcription of the text and images in “Gothica Bononiensia. Analisi linguistica e filologia di un nuovo documento,” Aevum 87 (2013): 113-155 (the image below is taken from this article, p. 152). Thanks to Irmengard Rauch from Berkeley University, an English translation is available in Interdisciplinary Journal for Germanic and Semiotic Analysis 19, 2 (2014): 1-56. Moreover, they have published another article focusing on the linguistic significance of the new finding: “Alcune riflessioni sul palinsesto gotico-latino di Bologna,” in Carla Falluomini ed., Intorno alle Saghe Norrene, Edizioni dell’Orso (Alessandria, 2014), 229-265. More on the Gothica Bononiensia here.

In the guestpost below, Carla Falluomini (University of Turin) offers further comments on the new fragment. She has specialized on the Gothic version and her new book The Gothic Version of the Gospels and Pauline Epistles is soon to be published in the ANTF series (ANTF 46) by De Gruyter. Carla was also a referee in the nomination process for the Gothic Codex Argenteus (the “Silver Bible”) to be included in the UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register (which happened in 2011). See my blogpost on that topic and the Gothic version in general here.

A New Gothic Fragment
The Gothic fragment discovered recently in Bologna (where it is preserved, in the Archivio della Fabbriceria della Basilica di San Petronio, Cart. 716/1, n°1; olim Cart. 353, cam. n°3) offers for the first time parts of an independent – i.e. non-translated – text, probably part of a sermon or liturgical prayer (there are markers of orality, which suggest that it was read in front of an audience). The main topic of the text is the power of God (the author offers some exempla of salvation, e.g. of the three Hebrews in the furnace, of Noah, etc. ). The manuscript may be dated in the first third/half of the sixth century, judging by the similarities with the other Gothic manuscripts. Some codicological divergences between this fragment and the Gothic manuscripts certainly produced in Ravenna suggest that the place of its production may be different. Verona, another important centre of Gothic power, might be a possible alternative. The script is the ‘sloping uncial’, a script used for glosses and texts of ‘everyday use’, not the elegant and regular script of the Codex Argenteus.

The place and period of the composition of the text is unknown but the most probable guess is that it was produced in North Italy, in the first part of the sixth century (it seems unlikely that this kind of text was brought from Moesia to Italy by Theoderic the Great and/or the Gothic clergy). The author is unknown (it is not impossible that the author coincides with the scribe). He was certainly a (Homean) priest, very expert in the Holy Scriptures. The text transmits several citations from the Old and New Testament, marked in the link margin by a horizontal sign (not a diplé as usual in the Gothic manuscripts). Some of these citations – e.g. from the Psalms, Acts and 1 Peter – are not preserved in the extant parts of the Gothic Bible, which is transmitted in a fragmentary form.

The text of the citations derives from the Wulfilian tradition. It agrees perfectly with the text of the manuscripts of the Gothic Bible (only one deviation, which is not relevant to textual criticism). Furthermore, the author uses the particular form Nauel ‘Noah’, attested in the Gothic biblical tradition. Some Gothic words are attested for the first time, together with the title of the Acts (here in dative: tojam ‘deeds’).

Update (2015-01-21): I have added a paragraph about the initial discovery of the new Gothic MS by Professors Rosa Bianca Finazzi and Paola Tornaghi (TW).


  1. Interesting! Is that sloping (Greek?) uncial I spy in the inferior text?

  2. Why is the one deviation from the Gothic manuscripts not relevant for textual criticism?

  3. Eric, the deviation is apparently deemed insignificant in regard to a Vorlage (it cannot really be used for text-critical purpose). As you know, citations/allusions of biblical text have to be adequately analyzed in their context.

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