Monday, August 01, 2016

2016 ISBL Paper Summaries

International SBL finished a few weeks ago in Seoul, South Korea. I did not go, but Jacob Peterson did and he has kindly agreed to summarize the text critical papers he attended for us. Thanks, Jacob.

Yonsei University
The International Society of Biblical Literature meeting was held at Yonsei University in Seoul South, Korea from 3–7 July this year. This was both my first time visiting Asia and my first ISBL. The culinary and cultural experiences alone were worth the visit and I could write a much more interesting series of posts on sampling Korean street food and visiting the DMZ. But since this is the ETC blog, I suppose I’ll stick to covering the two textual criticism sessions.

While I don’t have prior experience to compare against, there was enough interest in the textual criticism sessions that some attendees were left standing against the wall or sitting on the floor. I apologise in advance if I have misrepresented anyone’s paper or missed out on a key element from their presentation.

The two text-critical sessions were back-to-back on 5 July and fell under the heading “Working with Biblical Manuscripts (Textual Criticism).” The first session had the theme “Greek New Testament Manuscripts” and featured three presenters.
  1. Pasi Hyytiäinen, University of Helsinki
    Pasi presented a paper titled “Textual Evolution in Acts 5:38–39 of D and the Effect of Social-Historical Context.” In the paper, Pasi demonstrated a new way for using data from the CBGM to investigate the textual history of the text present in Codex Bezae. In particular, he examined how the various manuscripts attesting the expansions of Acts 5:38–39 present in Bezae reveal the stages of development of that text. Additionally, he showed that a careful study of the social-historical context can potentially reveal explanations for the expansions; in this case, he pointed out changing attitudes among Christians towards Gamaliel as evidenced by the Gospel of Gamaliel.
  2. Jacob W. Peterson, University of Edinburgh
    Next was my own paper, “New Readings in Papyrus 46,” in which I examined the text of P46 in Col. 1.23 and 2.7. Based on the new images produced by CSNTM, I argued that P46 contains a previously unknown singular reading, αμετακινητοι, in Col. 1.23. Then I argued for understanding P46 as reading εν τη πιϲτει in Col. 2.7, which is an instance of P46 joining with Sinaiticus against Vaticanus.
  3. Didier Lafleur, Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes
    Dr. Lafleur presented his ongoing research on the manuscript collection at the Albanian National Archives in a paper titled, “Working with Biblical Manuscripts in a Non-Biblical Context: A Detailed Approach of the Greek New Testament Manuscripts from Albania.” He discussed some of the past research conducted on the manuscripts, but also the preservation of the manuscripts by the Albanians and, more recently, the Chinese. Dr. Lafleur surmised that one of the reasons these manuscripts of Christian scriptures were not destroyed was because they were now viewed as cultural pieces demonstrating the skill of Albanian preservationists.
The second session had the theme “Jewish Bible, Christian Old Testament and the New Testament, and Early Christian Literature” and was slated for four speakers. Unfortunately, Timothy B. Sailors (Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen) was unable to attend and present his paper on “Manuscript Witnesses to Early Christian Literature: A New Project on Texts Preserved in the Languages of the Christian Orient.”
  1. InChol Yang, Claremont School of Theology
    InChol presented a paper titled, “A Text Critical Analysis of the First Taunt Song in Hab. 2:5-8,” that focused on using paratextual features in manuscripts as guides. In particular, he pointed to the spacing and line gaps present in some manuscripts of Habakkuk as a means to understanding divisions in the text which ultimately aids in interpretation.
  2. Ronald van der Bergh, University of Pretoria
    Dr. van der Bergh gave a presentation on “OT Awareness of Ps. 109:1 (LXX) in Codex Bezae.” In his talk he discussed the eight citations of Ps. 109:1 in Codex Bezae and how they differ. His analysis showed that the scribe did not show a tendency towards harmonization and had an apparent lack of awareness of the LXX form of the text.
  3. Stephen C. Carlson, Australian Catholic University
    Dr. Carlson gave the concluding presentation titled, “The Text and Timing of the Antioch Incident (Gal. 2.11–14)” which I believe was an expansion of the section from his monograph dealing with the same passage. Dr. Carlson argued convincingly for the reading τινας … ἦλθεν over τινας … ἦλθον in Gal. 2.12. The larger result of this text-critical decision is that it resolves the exegetical problem surrounding the timing of the Antioch incident.
I very much enjoyed my time in Korea and getting to interact with the other participants. I look forward to seeing everyone in San Antonio for national SBL… I call dibs on the Brill display.


  1. Thanks for the summaries, Jacob!

  2. Thanks. Did Lafleur's presentation mention anything specifically about 1143?

    1. James,
      Yes he did. If I'm remembering correctly, he discussed some of Batiffol's work on 1143, but the discussion of the manuscript was from a historical perspective and not necessarily concerned with textual features of the manuscript.

  3. Thanks Jacob. Judging by these papers I can see why the street food and cultural activities may have been the highlight.

  4. The problem with the ISBL seems to be that the more experienced scholars are reluctant to present their papers in the meeting and this of course matters...on the other hand, this gives new opportunities to the newcomers who do not have any prior experience of international conferences. But, I can say that we had the best presentations in our sessions. The participants had prepared real presentations, and this kind of boring paper readings were absent in our sessions...