Friday, December 07, 2018

John’s Bible Version in John 19:37?

See the update to this post below.
I continue my series of highlighting places where a NT author cites the Old Testament but does not use the Old Greek/Septuagint (see 2 Cor 11:3; 1 Cor 15:54). In addition, I would propose that the NT author in these cases probably does not give his own ad hoc rendering of the Hebrew, since there was a perfectly good revision of the older Greek translation at his disposal. My assumption, therefore, is that the NT author simply used and modified an already existing Greek translation of which he and his audience were aware. Here, I list the Hebrew, OG, and the readings of the Three for the part of Zechariah 12:10 that John quotes in 19:37 including some context:
Hebrew: וְהִבִּ֥יטוּ אֵלַ֖י אֵ֣ת אֲשֶׁר־דָּקָ֑רוּ וְסָפְד֣וּ עָלָ֗יו
“and they will look to me whom they pierced and they shall mourn for him.”
Greek: καὶ ἐπιβλέψονται πρός με ἀνθ᾽ ὧν κατωρχήσαντο καὶ κόψονται ἐπ᾽ αὐτόν
“and they will look to me because they danced triumphantly, and mourned over him”
John 19:37: καὶ πάλιν ἑτέρα γραφὴ λέγει· ὄψονται εἰς ὃν ἐξεκέντησαν 
“and again another scripture says, ‘They look at whom they pierced‘.”
Aquila: α’ σύν ᾧ ἐξεκέντησαν καὶ κόψονται αὐτόν
“[they will look to me(?)] whom they pierced, and will mourn for him.”
Theodotion: θ’ ...πρός με ὃν ἐξεκέντησαν καὶ κόψονται αὐτόν
“[they will look] to me whom they pierced, and they will mourn for him.”
Symmachus: σ’ ἔμπροσθεν ἐπεξεκέντησαν καὶ κόψονται αὐτόν
“[they will look to me(?)] before/in whose presence they pierced, and they will mourn for him.”
The OG’s κατορχεῖσθαι “to dance triumphantly” is a hapax legomenon in the Greek Old Testament’s corpus and probably resulted from reading a form of the verb רקד “to leap about, dance” Piel, which metathesized ד and ר due either to ד/ר confusion or exegesis.

The readings of the Three were originally incorporated into Origen’s Hexapla but come down to us via Ra 86 (image from DigiVatLib). John clearly depends on Theodotion’s version for his quotation of Zechariah 12:10, not the Old Greek. However, John has also modified it slightly by using a different preposition than Theodotion (but see the Syrohexapla for the Th fragment which could be retroverted as εἰς which would mean that Th’s version equal’s John’s form of the quotation in this respect). In any case, John has certainly not read with the Old Greek in this place but rather the revision of it.

The apostles (at least Paul, John, and Matthew) were aware of not only the older Greek version but also other forms of the Greek scriptures, for they cite and quote them too. What factors led to their choice? The Hebrew source? The texts at their disposal in any given situation? We don’t know. But what seems clear is that these Jewish followers of Jesus had not declared an exclusive preference for the older Greek version. At one point, they are quoting from the ‘LXX’ and at another point they are quoting from one of its revisions. We would do well to bear this phenomenon in mind as we continue to read the NT’s use of the OT and also how these matters develop in the second century and beyond.

UPDATE 12/8/2018

I’ve now had the chance to look at Syrohexapla (Syh fol. 112r) for the Theodotion reading in Zach 12:10 (ܒܗܘ), and no doubt, the translator rendered an equivalent for a Greek preposition before the relative pronoun ὅν. The beth is often used for εἰς in this tradition thus Ziegler’s εἰς in the second apparatus is probably correct.

In my mind, then, John removes πρός με (contextual to be sure) and modifies the verb from ἐπιβλέψονται to ὄψονται. But εἰς ὃν ἐξεκέντησαν seems to be the original reading of Theodotion and that would give three words of correspondence. Even Ra 86 agrees with John on the choice of the relative pronoun for two words of correspondence.

When compared with Aq, Sym, and OG, we see that not all come to the same rendering of the Hebrew which makes agreements between Th and John all the more interesting. Lastly, for the key word “pierce,” John had several lexical options in Greek but landed on Theodotion’s equivalent. It could be coincidence. But presuming that version is already around, I don’t think we need to argue along those lines in this case.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

New Book on the Revised Version by Cadwallader

Alan Cadwallader has been working on a major book on the Revised Version for years now. I first became aware of his work when I visited Westcott House a few years ago and found that he had preceded me and had very helpfully produced a catalogue of the materials there. Since then, I have been waiting for the fruit to appear. Now it has.

Although I have not seen the final book in hand, I was able to use some of the chapters in pre-pub form thanks to Alan’s generosity. If the rest of the book is like what I saw, then you can expect it to be finely researched, insightful, and full of spicy details. I learned a good deal from what I read. For a taste of the earlier fruit of his research, see the article I mention here.

The price is uncomfortable, but I hope to get a copy somehow at some point. If you’re interested in Bible translation, the history of New Testament scholarship, or Victorian church politics, you’ll want to take a look.

The full details are The Politics of the Revised Version: A Tale of Two New Testament Revision Companies, The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies (T&T Clark, 2018).

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Review of David Daniels, Is the ‘World’s Oldest Bible’ a Fake?

A couple of weeks ago during my trip to Denver for ETS/SBL, I read David W. Daniels’ book, Is the “World’s Oldest Bible” a Fake? I decided to write a review of it that I posted as an ‘unpublished’ review on

In the book, Daniels attempts to argue that Codex Sinaiticus is a modern production (c. 1840s). This bizarre position has been a trend in recent years among KJV-only circles and even taken up by people I’ve known and respected for decades.

I honestly cannot stress enough how much I do not recommend this book to anyone. I quote from my conclusion:
In summary, David Daniels demonstrates over and over again that he is agenda-driven by a desire to undermine any opposition to the KJV, he cherry-picks references that he can twist in his favour without giving the full context (or without reporting information from the same works that he cites elsewhere that could undermine his point), and he has effectively zero experience with real manuscripts. I cannot recommend this book to anyone.
One of the most striking things to me is how much Daniels doesn’t say. If you are on the fence about this issue, that should concern you—what Daniels is not telling you.

To be clear, I don’t harbour any ill-will toward Daniels. In fact, I wrote a positive review of one of his other books, a biography of Jack Chick.

That being said, I cannot recommend his book on Codex Sinaiticus to anyone. That is not because I’m opposed to finding out manuscripts are fakes. The Museum of the Bible is to be commended for removing some of its Dead Sea Scrolls after getting further tests done (let’s not forget that they were the ones who paid for these extra tests and have supported Kipp Davis’ investigations on their authenticity this whole time). Also, there was that other manuscript that caused a big stir and turned out to be a fake a few years ago. No, the problem with Daniels’ book is that it is built on one-sided reporting, conspiracy theories and a desire to defend the King James Version at all costs rather than the careful analysis, experience with manuscripts and expertise that normally leads to the identification of forgeries.

Read my full review here.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Giveaway: Three Copies of To Cast the First Stone

Princeton University Press has just released Tommy Wasserman and Jennifer Knust’s major new book on the Pericope Adulterae: To Cast the First Stone: The Transmission of a Gospel Story. I currently have three copies sitting in my house ready to be given away. You know the drill: you have until Friday morning (Arizona time) to enter to win in any of the ways listed. We’ll pick the winners next week.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Publisher details

The story of the woman taken in adultery features a dramatic confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees over whether the adulteress should be stoned as the law commands. In response, Jesus famously states, “Let him who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” To Cast the First Stone traces the history of this provocative story from its first appearance to its enduring presence today.

Likely added to the Gospel of John in the third century, the passage is often held up by modern critics as an example of textual corruption by early Christian scribes and editors, yet a judgment of corruption obscures the warm embrace the story actually received. Jennifer Knust and Tommy Wasserman trace the story’s incorporation into Gospel books, liturgical practices, storytelling, and art, overturning the mistaken perception that it was either peripheral or suppressed, even in the Greek East. The authors also explore the story’s many different meanings. Taken as an illustration of the expansiveness of Christ’s mercy, the purported superiority of Christians over Jews, the necessity of penance, and more, this vivid episode has invited any number of creative receptions. This history reveals as much about the changing priorities of audiences, scribes, editors, and scholars as it does about an “original” text of John.

To Cast the First Stone calls attention to significant shifts in Christian book cultures and the enduring impact of oral tradition on the preservation—and destabilization—of scripture.

Jennifer Knust is associate professor of New Testament and Christian origins at Boston University. Her books include Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions about Sex and Desire. Tommy Wasserman is professor of Biblical studies at Ansgar Teologiske Høgskole in Norway. His books include The Epistle of Jude: Its Text and Transmission.

You can read the introduction here.


“This valuable and delightful book leaves no stone unturned in tracing the fascinating reception history of the biblical story of Jesus’s encounter with the adulterous woman. Deeply scholarly and wonderfully accessible, To Cast the First Stone will prove relevant for many discussions on the early church.” —AnneMarie Luijendijk, Princeton University

“Brilliantly conceived, massively researched, and convincingly argued, Knust and Wasserman’s wide-ranging analysis of the pericope adulterae is a milestone in the field of textual studies, destined to be the definitive account for a generation.” —Bart D. Ehrman, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

“Knust and Wasserman use the story of the adulteress to illustrate the fascinating transmission history of gospel literature and the various personalities and forces that contributed to the process. To Cast the First Stone will undoubtedly become the standard book on this story.” —Chris Keith, author of The Pericope Adulterae, the Gospel of John, and the Literacy of Jesus

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Was P18 a Roll or a Codex? A New Article with Pictures in It!

It’s a well-known feature of the early Christian textual transmission that the vast majority of manuscripts are in codex format. There are a few odd-balls in the mix, one of which is P18 (P.Oxy. VIII 1079; BL Pap. 2053 verso; LDAB 2786), a fragment containing portions of Rev 1.4–7. On the opposite side of the fragment (→), there’s the ending of the book of Exodus, published separately as P.Oxy. VIII 1075 (Rahlfs 909; LDAB 3477).

The presence of an ending of a different work on → led Arthur S. Hunt, the fragment’s principal editor, to conclude that P18 is a re-used roll. And this conclusion had been widely accepted until Brent Nongbri disturbed the status quo with his 2013 article. There, Brent posits that, instead, our fragment is likely to have been once part of a composite codex.

In the course of my investigation into the papyri of Revelation, I ended up revisiting this problem and wrote a little piece, which has been published in the latest issue of NTS (it’s in fact the first issue of the 2019 volume, so perhaps we’re dealing with a bit of realised eschatology, pace Rev 1.19).

For the article, see now ‘P.Oxy. VIII 1079 (P18): Closing on a “Curious” Codex?’, NTS 65 (2019) 94–102.

New, Open Access Book on the Arabic Text of Paul

I just noticed this week that there’s a new book on the Arabic text of Paul. Included is a list of Arabic manuscripts of Paul and info about the digital edition of the main manuscript focus (Vat. Ar. 13). The digital edition includes a French translation of the manuscript. For background on that, see here. Wonderfully, it’s open access so it’s free. It’s part of Brill’s Biblia Arabica series.

Les manuscrits arabes des lettres de Paul: État de la question et étude de cas (1 Corinthiens dans le Vat. Ar. 13)

Author: Sara Schulthess
Series: Biblia Arabica, Volume: 6

Cet ouvrage ouvre une fenêtre sur la transmission des lettres de Paul en arabe. Il s’interroge sur le manque d’intérêt depuis le début du 20ème siècle pour les manuscrits arabes du Nouveau Testament et apporte une contribution à la récente reprise scientifique de ce champ, en étudiant le corpus largement inexploré des manuscrits arabes des lettres de Paul. Après un état des lieux établi à l’aide d’un répertoire de manuscrits, l’étude se concentre sur un manuscrit, le Vaticanus Arabicus 13. L’édition de la Première lettre aux Corinthiens de ce document du 9ème siècle est suivie d’une analyse linguistique et philologique pointue ; elle permet de dégager des éléments exégétiques qui mettent en lumière l’intérêt théologique du texte.

This work provides an insight into the transmission of the Letters of Paul into Arabic. It aims to understand the lack of interest since the beginning of the 20th century for the Arabic manuscripts of the New Testament and to contribute to the current scholarly rediscovery for this field by studying the largely unexplored corpus of the Arabic manuscripts of the Letters of Paul. After a broad overview with the help of a list of witnesses, the study focuses on a specific manuscript: Vaticanus Arabicus 13. The edition of First Corinthians of this 9th century document is followed by a close analysis of linguistic and philological aspects, while the underlining of interesting exegetical points reveals the theological interest of the text.