Thursday, July 18, 2019

Textual Criticism and Other Areas of New Testament Studies: A Bibliography

Back in May I noted David Parker’s comments on the significance of the move away from the TR on New Testament studies. That got me thinking about how textual criticism more broadly has affected New Testament studies and that led to the start of a bibliography. I’ve copied it below and would like to expand it with readers’ help.

Textual Criticism and Other Areas of New Testament Studies

Aland, Kurt. “Glosse, Interpolation, Redaktion und Komposition in der Sicht der neutestamentlichen Textkritik.” Pages 35–57 in Studien zur Überlieferung des Neuen Testaments und seines Textes. ANTF 2. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1967.
Bird, Michael F. “Textual Criticism and the Historical Jesus.” JSHJ 6.2 (2008): 133–156. A look at the perils of ignoring textual criticism in the study of the historical Jesus. Summary here.
Dormandy, Michael. “How the Books Became the Bible: The Evidence for Canon­Formation from Work-Combinations in Manuscripts.” TC 23 (2018): 1–39. A detailed look at the question of what manuscript contents might tell us about canon formation. Cf. to Mead and Schmidt below. Online here.
Head, Peter M. “Textual Criticism and the Synoptic Problem.” Pages 115–156 in New Studies in the Synoptic Problem. Oxford Conference, April 2008. Essays in Honour of Christopher M. Tuckett, edited by P. Foster, A. Gregory, J. S. Kloppenborg and J. Verheyden. BETL 239. Leuven: Peeters, 2011. A thorough look at the importance of textual criticism for the synoptic problem.
Epp, Eldon J. “Issues in the Interrelationship of New Testament Textual Criticism and Canon.” Pages 485–515 in The Canon Debate, edited by Lee Martin McDonald and James A. Sanders. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002. A survey of how textual criticism impinges on questions of canon including order of books, contents of manuscripts, variants, etc.
Malik, Peter M. “Whose Fathers? A Note on the (Un-)Johannine Echo in the Egerton Gospel.” Early Christianity 9 (2018): 201–211. Offers critical interaction with Francis Watson’s argument in Gospel Writing that the Egerton Gospel is a source for John’s Gospel based on the scribal correction of the phrase “(y)our fathers.”
Meade, John D. “Myths about Canon: What the Codex Can and Can’t Tell Us.” Pages TBD in Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism, edited by Elijah Hixson and Peter J. Gurry. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, forthcoming. Argues that the contents of our codices are not a good guide to questions of canonicity.
Porter, Stanley E. and Matthew Brook O’Donnell. “The Implications of Textual Variants for Authenticating the Words of Jesus.” Pages 97–133 in Authenticating the Words of Jesus, edited by Bruce Chilton and Craig A. Evans. New Testament Tools and Studies 28.1. Leiden: Brill, 1998.
———. “The Implications of Textual Variants for Authenticating the Activities of Jesus.” Pages 121–151 in Authenticating the Activities of Jesus, edited by Bruce Chilton and Craig A. Evans. New Testament Tools and Studies 28.2. Leiden: Brill, 1998.
Schmidt, Daryl D. “The Greek New Testament as a Codex.” Pages 469–484 in The Canon Debate, edited by Lee Martin McDonald and James A. Sanders. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002. A survey of NT manuscript contents and the possible implications for canonicity. Cf. to Dormandy and Meade.
Shin, H. W. Textual Criticism and the Synoptic Problem in Historical Jesus Research: The Search for Valid Criteria. Contributions to Biblical Exegesis & Theology 36.  Leuven: Peeters, 2004. A comparison of text-critical criteria to those of the historical Jesus. Reviewed by Peter Head in JSNT 27.5 (2005): 47–48.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Barton on the Bible

John Barton, Oriel and Laing Emeritus Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture at Oxford, has a new book out titled A History of the Bible: The Story of the World’s Most Influential Book. (The British subtitle is The Book and Its Faiths.) Barton has written on this before in How the Bible Came to Be (1998) and of course in his many other publications, but this book is more extensive and is aimed at a wide audience. Here’s the publisher’s info:
A literary history of our most influential book of all time, by an Oxford scholar and Anglican priest

In our culture, the Bible is monolithic: It is a collection of books that has been unchanged and unchallenged since the earliest days of the Christian church. The idea of the Bible as “Holy Scripture,” a non-negotiable authority straight from God, has prevailed in Western society for some time. And while it provides a firm foundation for centuries of Christian teaching, it denies the depth, variety, and richness of this fascinating text. In A History of the Bible, John Barton argues that the Bible is not a prescription to a complete, fixed religious system, but rather a product of a long and intriguing process, which has inspired Judaism and Christianity, but still does not describe the whole of either religion. Barton shows how the Bible is indeed an important source of religious insight for Jews and Christians alike, yet argues that it must be read in its historical context—from its beginnings in myth and folklore to its many interpretations throughout the centuries.

It is a book full of narratives, laws, proverbs, prophecies, poems, and letters, each with their own character and origin stories. Barton explains how and by whom these disparate pieces were written, how they were canonized (and which ones weren’t), and how they were assembled, disseminated, and interpreted around the world—and, importantly, to what effect. Ultimately, A History of the Bible argues that a thorough understanding of the history and context of its writing encourages religious communities to move away from the Bible’s literal wording—which is impossible to determine—and focus instead on the broader meanings of scripture.
Here is a clip chosen not at random from the section on NT textual criticism that I plucked from Amazon:
There are several thousand New Testament manuscripts from the first few centuries CE [!], from early papyrus fragments to the great elaborate fourth-century manuscripts such as Codex Sinaiticus. As well as manuscripts in Greek, the original language of the New Testament writers, there are many of translations into other languages, including even languages of northern Europe such as Gothic (see Chapter 18). The work of New Testament textual critics is painstaking and difficult, and earlier attempts to establish ‘the original text’ of any book have now largely been set aside in favour of tracing the history of different manuscript ‘families’, and so establishing various parallel traditions as to what, in detail, the books contain.

Thus there is not, and never can be, a text of ‘the New Testament’ as it left the hands of Paul, Luke or John: we have only variants. The implications of this for theories of the inspiration and authority of the New Testament have scarcely begun to be worked out. Where the words of Jesus are concerned, for example, we often know only roughly what he is supposed to have said (and whether he really said it is of course yet a further question). (pp. 285–286)
The British cover
From this you probably get a good sense of where Barton is coming from. I’ve had our library order a copy. But until then I’ll leave you with two more quotes from reviews of quite opposite persuasion. The first is from Julian Coman in the Guardian who is quite taken with the book and closes with this:
Along with the evident conviction that this marvellous “melee of materials” deserved fresh treatment beyond the absurdities of Da Vinci Code-style fantasies (conspiracy theories about the Bible’s compilation are well and truly laid to rest), it is this desire to free the Bible from overzealous interpreters that sums up Barton’s intellectual project. Asserting a perfect fit between scripture and the faiths of either Judaism or Christianity means doing violence to a set of texts that are open, mutually contradictory, historically situated, utterly diverse in genre and all the more suggestive for that.

Fundamentalists will not be queuing up to up to buy A History of the Bible: the Book and its Faiths. But for believers of a more open disposition, and non-believing lovers of great literature, reading it will be a revelation and a delight.
The second review is by another Barton, Barton Swaim in today’s Wall St. Journal, which closes with this:
Like many biblical scholars of a more “liberal” disposition, Mr. Barton wants to find a path between revering the Bible as in some sense a genuine revelation of God and dismissing it as a collection of ancient delusions. The evidence makes that middle path a hard one to travel. … John Barton’s reluctant, lukewarm “admiration” for the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures will impress some readers as perfectly respectable. But surely the Bible—a book that has outraged, captivated and upended greater minds than his—demands a more decided response.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Batovici on L2484 (Trinity Cambridge MS O.9.27)


Dan Batovici, ‘Digital Palimpsests: Mark in Trinity College Cambridge MS. O.9.27’ Open Theology 5 (2019).

Abstract: The O.9.27 manuscript of Trinity College Cambridge is a minuscule manuscript of Hesiod’s Opera et Dies. In a 2001 PhD thesis on Greek palimpsests in Cambridge by Natalie Tchernetska, this manuscript is described to contain two distinct lower scripts, one of which identified as a New Testament text. The author read four lines and a partial fifth of the one-leaf palimpsest that contain Mark 1:44, which is remarkable considering that the washing made the lower script virtually the same colour as the page. This note re-examines the Markan lower script in O.9.27 and offers an account of the use of image processing software for the purpose to uncover more text in a difficult palimpsest, a method useful when MSI is not available.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Is the Muratorian Fragment a Late Antique Fake?

Clare Rothschild says yes in “The Muratorian Fragment as Roman Fake,” NovT 60, no. 1 (2018): 55–82 and now Christophe Guignard says no in “The Muratorian Fragment as a Late Antique Fake? An Answer to C. K. Rothschild,RevSR 93/1–2 (2019): 73–90.

I haven’t had time to read either so I’m just the messenger here. For an informed opinion, I’d ask John Meade except he’s on vacation. Slacker!

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

10th anniversary of the Electronic Edition of Codex Sinaiticus

This month marks the tenth anniversary of the release of the electronic edition of Codex Sinaiticus!

Here is the press release from ITSEE, University of Birmingham (by Hugh Houghton): 

Ten years ago this month, in July 2009, the complete digital edition of Codex Sinaiticus was released online at This remarkable collaboration between the four different institutions which possess parts of the manuscript (the British Library, Leipzig University Library, the National Library of Russia and St Catherine’s Monastery Mount Sinai), along with the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing at the University of Birmingham (ITSEE), has been acclaimed as an epoch-making event in the development of online resources for the study of ancient manuscripts. For the first time, it was possible to compare all surviving parts of the manuscript with each other in high-resolution colour digital images, while an electronic transcription of the complete text, with each word hyperlinked to its location on the corresponding image, offered an authoritative reading of the manuscript’s evidence for the text of the Bible in Greek and an innovative teaching resource to introduce students to engaging with New Testament manuscripts.

The impact of the edition has been extraordinary. In the first 48 hours after the launch of the edition, the server received 96.4 million hits, with over 1 million unique visitors to the website in the first month online. A global array of news articles celebrated the achievement, with mentions on the BBC’s Today programme, TIME magazine, USA National Public Radio and many leading newspapers. Alongside a full-colour facsimile of the manuscript, the research project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council also produced two scholarly books on the manuscript and the new discoveries made during the creation of the edition. Conferences about the manuscript and its edition were held in London and St Petersburg, as well as a special event at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in Boston, Massachusetts.

Back in 2009, an article in The Guardian newspaper proclaimed that “The online Codex Sinaiticus changes book scholarship for good”. Over the last decade, complete sets of digital images of hundreds – if not thousands – of manuscripts have been made freely available online, while the electronic transcription has led to the development of standards and software used in a variety of digital editing projects. Ten years on, we are seeking to learn more about the effect this electronic edition has had both on individuals and on biblical studies more broadly. What are the stories associated with this online edition? Who has been using the website? How has it changed their attitudes to the Bible? Has the digital edition encouraged people to learn Greek or undertake further studies? What other developments have been inspired by the online presentation of this manuscript?

To this end, a short survey of Ten Questions on Codex Sinaiticus has been set up to gather information. Alternatively, users of the electronic edition may send their comments directly to a dedicated email address ( The feedback will be shared among the partners in the project in order to assist with understanding the impact of the edition and the further development of the website and other resources.

Any of the following three links will take you to the survey:

Please help publicising the survey. It will help to show the effect which this digital edition has had over the last ten years.

Tregelles’s hymns

Samuel Prideaux Tregelles wrote hymns too. Here’s a link to 10.

As a textual critic, he occasionally couldn’t resist the temptation to use brackets as in these two instances:

1 O GOD of grace, our Father,
All praise we give to Thee,
‘Tis in Thy sovereign favour
All blessedness we see;
There only is the fountain
Whence living waters flow,
Which like a glorious river
Still gladden as they go.

2 As Thine, Thou didst foreknow us
From all eternity;
Thy chosen loved ones ever,
Kept present to Thine eye;
And when was come the moment,
Thou calling by Thy grace
Didst gently, firmly draw us
Each from his hiding-place.

3 Thy word, Thyself revealing,
Doth sanctify by truth,
Still leading on Thy children
With gentle heavenly growth:
Thus still the work proceedeth,
(The work begun by grace),
For each is meet, and training,
Father, to see Thy face.


1 THE gloomy night will soon be past,
The morning will appear,
The harbinger of day at last
Each waiting eye will cheer.

2 Thou Bright and Morning Star, Thy light
Will to our joy be seen;
Thou, Lord, wilt meet our longing sight
Without a cloud between.

3 Ah, yes, Lord Jesus (Thou whose heart
Still for Thy saints doth care),
We shall behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy full image bear.

4 Thy love sustains us by the way,
While pilgrims here below;
Thou dost, O Saviour, day by day,
Thy suited grace bestow.

5 But oh! the more we learn of Thee,
And Thy rich mercy prove,
The more we long Thy face to see,
And fully prove Thy love.

6 Then, shine, Thou Bright and Morning Star,
We wait for Thee to come
And take, from sin and grief afar,
Thy blood-bought people home.

Monday, July 01, 2019

Is the Future of Thesaurus Linguae Graecae Free?

Over at the Society for Classical Studies blog, there is a new post on the TLG. We get a little peek behind what goes in to adding new material to the site. But what really grabbed my attention is this last part from the director:
Additionally, Pantelia says that, with grant awards and other fundraising, the TLG endowment has grown under her direction so that soon subscription fees will no longer be required to support the project:
I am very confident…that before I leave the project, and hopefully long before that, the TLG will be free and open to everyone. So, everyone who has contributed financially, can think contributing to a TLG that exists in perpetuity. 
Open access to these myriad texts is potentially the best news a Hellenist has read all day.
Indeed it is—and not just for Hellenists!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Lingering Questions about First-Century Mark

I have actively tried to avoid posting too many speculative thoughts about all the new revelations and comments over the past week on the First-Century Mark (henceforth, FCM) ordeal, but a couple of questions are lingering in my mind, so I want to throw them out there. Admittedly, I have not kept up well with what people are saying on Twitter/other blogs, so my apologies if someone has already asked these questions. If anyone has, I am unaware of it and am not trying to plagiarise anyone. I'm happy to amend this post to share a link to someone else asking these questions if anyone knows of it.

1. Did Hobby Lobby pay for FCM or not? There's a Purchase Agreement that sure does suggest that they did pay money for it and other items.

If we assume that they did, in fact, pay money for it:

2. Did they get their money back at any point?

The answer to this second question leads to more questions though.

2a. If they did not get their money back, why not?

2b. If they did get their money back, on what grounds, exactly? Was it an easy process? Was it initiated by the seller when the seller first realised that there was a problem? Was it initiated by Hobby Lobby but went smoothly because everyone realised that there was some kind of problem? Did the process drag out? Were lawyers involved? What was the precise reason given for grounds to get the money back, and how easily/difficultly was this reason accepted?

I guess the thing I keep thinking about is that if you were to return a high-priced item and try to get your money back, I imagine you'd probably have to give a good reason for doing so. After all, the Purchase Agreement that Mike Holmes released reads to me like a binding contract. Even if they never actually paid money for the items in the Purchase Agreement, I would imagine that my question 2b above still applies. It seems to me that there must have been a reason given for why the agreement was broken if it was indeed broken—regardless of whether it was broken by being cancelled or by the money being returned (are there other ways to break such an agreement?). I imagine something like that is not broken easily. Then again, I don't know the legal ins and outs of how buying antiquities works.

If I'm right in my speculation that such a Purchase Agreement would not be broken easily, I would be very interested to know the answers to some of those questions I posed above.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Scott Carroll Responds to Christianity Today Article

Scott Carroll, Dirk Obbink, and Jerry Pattengale
On Elijah’s last blog post, Scott Carroll has chimed in, giving his side of things. I thought I would repost his comment here so it doesn’t get lost in the comments.
As you are aware, I seldom post to blogs, so forgive my intrusion.
  1. Despite what one might think of DO and what he has done (and that is yet to be untangled), it doesn’t feel right to me for someone to use his fall as an opportunity for self-promotion.
  2. The CT editor knew that I hadn’t spoken with the author, JP, for over 7 years (and not because of a binding non-disclosure). You would hope to think that the editor would have vetted many of the things said as only one person’s recollection was critically tied to the piece even though there was another person in the room. It was regrettably filled with misrepresentations, misrecollections, and exaggerations. The mixed narrative doubtless left the uninformed reader confused. I personally hold CT responsible for this.
  3. The basic elements of my recollection of those initial interactions have not changed since 2011. DO showed me the MK 1 papyrus on the pool table in his office. He said it had been dated to the late 1st or early 2nd c and he then went into some paleographic detail why he believed it must date to the late 1st c. It was in this conversation that he offered it for consideration for HL to buy (w/o mentioning a price). I said I would mention it to them which I did. I seem to remember mentioning it to them on occasion, but they never asked me about it or mentioned it to me. With my departure in June of 2012, I never signed a non-disclosure agreement.
  4. These are my recollections based on my brief conversation about the Mk 1 papyrus with DW. I mentioned it to DW briefly in passing. I told him that the dating was based on the opinion of a renowned Oxford scholar. He mentioned a debate, which I knew nothing of, and asked if he could mention it. I said it wasn’t owned by HL so I couldn’t speak for them. I told him he would have to use his own discretion. It wasn’t my debate and how could I possible tell DW (who I did not know) to do something like that? And for what benefit to HL or DO? I did not have pictures of the papyrus. I do not think there could have been any way possible for DW to have seen Mk 1 before debate.
  5. I wondered over the past 7 years why none of these people who knew the truth (non-disclosures aside) could step-up and verify what they knew. Why was the author of the CT article walking around with a scrap of paper in his wallet for 7 years like a memento verifying what happened without mentioning it to me or anyone else? The EES asked over a year ago (loosely paraphrased) ‘Who are we to believe the eminent DO or this nobody SC?’ No one could speak to the truth; afraid of DO and afraid of HL. Truth is never bound by non-disclosures. A year after the publication of Mk 1 and 7 years after the initial offering the CT articles feels more like a cover-up than an exposé. When people see that something is wrong and they don’t speak out against it, they become part of the problem and perpetuate it.
  6. I am sure much more will come out on this and related topics. I would hope to think that everyone will be the better for it. My best.
At this point, the one key person we have not heard from is Dirk Obbink himself. We’ll wait to see what he says.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Palaeography of an invoice

One thing I’ve already seen since Holmes’ email last night (see some discussion by Brent Nongbri here and here) is a questioning of the authenticity of the First-century Gospels invoice. Some have cautioned against taking it at face value. I even had one conservative Christian ask me directly this morning if I think it is real.

I don’t have any reason to doubt that it’s real, but I also think we can quantify that a little bit. Are we not text critics? Is it not part of our job to analyze handwriting on handwritten documents? I don’t mean to make light of a very serious situation, but I do think it could be helpful to post an analysis like this. I freely admit that I am not trained in contemporary forensic handwriting analysis, so my thoughts here should not be taken as definitive. I am only analysing the letters as I would give an informal analysis on the fly if a friend asked me to describe the letters in a Greek NT manuscript. I’m pretty sure the date of the Mark fragment itself is proof that an opinion can change when something is studied in greater detail.

With that in mind, I offer this assessment of the handwriting of two samples. The first is the handwriting on the invoice where it is signed Dirk Obbink, which I designate INV in the discussions that follow. I have not used the signature line in the comparison, because it is qualitatively a different style—it is a ‘signature’ style, rather than a ‘print’ hand used elsewhere.

The other is the handwriting of the paper note, which I designate PAP.
Descriptions for each letter are below the screenshots of them.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Invoice for the sale of First-Century Mark (and more)


I pass along here (with permission) an email I and the other members of the First-Century Mark panel just received from Mike Holmes. Brent Nongbri has already posted this, so be sure to see his website and the comments there, too.

Dear Bart, Roberta, Brent, Jill, and Elijah,

I am sending you this note because (1) we are all members of the SBL panel scheduled to discuss P.Oxy. 5345, otherwise known as “1st c. Mark” (FCM), at the SBL Annual Meeting in November, and (2) earlier this year I acquired some additional information regarding this document—information that I feel obligated to communicate to you, in your capacity as fellow panelists.

You will recall that in the aftermath of the publication of P.Oxy. 5345 in mid-2018, one of the lingering questions centered around the role of the Green Collection (owned by Hobby Lobby Stores) in the matter. Given that the Egyptian Exploration Society (EES) repeatedly (and rightly) affirmed that the fragment has never been for sale, why did representatives of the Green Collection seem to think that the Collection had acquired the fragment?

The answer is relatively straightforward: Prof. Dirk Obbink sold it and three other allegedly early Gospel fragments to the Green Collection, the result of negotiations that began in early 2012 and continued into early 2013, when a purchase agreement was executed.

Accompanying this email is a file containing two items. The first is a redacted copy of the purchase agreement between Prof. Dirk Obbink and Hobby Lobby stores, which documents the sale of four Gospel fragments—one each of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, each allegedly dated “Circa 0100 AD.” The second item is a photograph of a list written by Prof. Obbink himself (and in the photograph held down by his fingers) that specifies the contents of these four fragments: Matthew 3.7-10, 11-12; Mark 1.8-9, 16-18; Luke 13.25-7, 28, and John 8.26-8, 33-5. The two items together document the fact of the sale and the identity of the items sold.

In the agreement Obbink clearly asserted (in item 1) that he was the owner of the property described therein. The fragments in question, however, were and remain the property of EES. This is certainly the case in regard to the Mark and Luke fragments, which were published in The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, vol. 83 (2018) as P.Oxy 5345 and P.Oxy 5346, respectively. It is almost certainly the case in regard to the Matthew and John fragments: an EES representative has confirmed to me that EES also possesses fragments of Matt 3.7-10, 11-12 and John 8.26-28, 33-35.

It is worth noting that the Green Collection, though having received title to the fragments (see point 10 of the purchase agreement), never took physical possession of the fragments. Instead, in accordance with other terms of the agreement (see points 10.1-10.2) the fragments were left in Obbink’s custody for research and publication (the intended venue of initial publication being specified in 10.3).

It seemed advisable to consult with the EES about the FCM matter before sharing the information mentioned above more widely, so earlier this month I met in London with representatives of the EES and discussed with them its significance and implications. I am now sharing it with you. You, in turn, are free to share with others or post in your blog (a) the information contained in this letter, and (b) the accompanying document.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Best wishes,

I’ll try to keep my thoughts as brief as possible.

1. It seems that Obbink was selling items without the knowledge or consent of the Egypt Exploration Society (EES). Admittedly, the EES say that none of the unpublished fragments are first-century, but neither were the Mark and Luke fragments, despite appearing as such on the invoice.

2. Dan Wallace revealed last year that his non-disclosure agreement (NDA) was at the request of the seller, so Obbink appears to have been the one who requested that Wallace sign a NDA.

3. This particular invoice is numbered 017. Does that mean Obbink had made 16 other sales before this? I think it would be wise initially to treat all items sold by Obbink while he had access to the Oxyrhynchus Collection as suspect. It could be that these four fragments were the only things he ever allegedly sold that came from the Oxyrhynchus collection, but there could be more. One thing about which I would be curious is whether Obbink sold papyri to anyone else.

4. I think if I were buying things, and I decided to work with someone of Obbink’s stature with the kinds of genuine credentials he has, and that person was who offered to sell me something, I don’t know that it would have even occurred to me not to trust him or her about whether or not the item(s) had a clean provenance. Yes, hindsight’s 20/20, and yes there is an element of taking responsibility for your actions, but what it looks like to me is that the Greens were indeed trying to do that by going through a well-credentialed and respected Oxford scholar, and their biggest fault in this specific situation was that they may have trusted the wrong person.

5. It looks like the evangelicals were telling the truth here. It seems to me that some of the people who suggested or otherwise accused the Greens, Scott Carroll, Dan Wallace, etc. of lying when compared to statements made by the EES and others might owe some apologies. Such reactions probably stem from the same cause of all this (if I’m right on point 4, above), that it is unthinkable that someone from the EES could be telling anything other that the truth. If anyone does need to apologise, I hope they have the integrity to do so.

Here is the full PDF that Holmes sent.

[Updated for typos and things]

Update: The EES have issued a statement here in which they confirm that Holmes did approach them earlier with this information. Some points of interest (quoted from their statement):

"The four fragments listed in the photograph do fit with catalogued EES texts because the combinations of surviving verses on the front and back of the fragments are distinctive. The Mark and Luke must be the texts published recently as P.Oxy. LXXXIII 5345 and 5346. The Matthew and John fragments are currently being prepared for publication."


"We are grateful to Professor Holmes for sharing with us in advance the newly revealed contract and photograph, and we are working with him to clarify whether the four texts in the photographed list, or any other EES papyri, were sold or offered for sale to Hobby Lobby or its agents, and if so, when and by whom. This may take some time, and unless and until new evidence emerges, there is no more we can say."

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Gospel of Mark Movie in Koine Greek

From the folks at and the Lumo Project comes a high production quality movie of Mark’s Gospel completely in Koine Greek. Here’s the announcement, with the video of Mark 1 posted below. (I note they got Mark 1.1 correct.)
I first made contact with the LUMO project and Faith Comes by Hearing last fall about the possibility of doing a Koine Greek narration for the excellent Gospel films that LUMO has produced. After many months of work, I am now pleased to finally announce the release of—as far as I know—the first full-length Gospel film in the original language in a restored Koine pronunciation. This first release (of chapter one) is viewable via the YouTube channel. I will try to release one chapter of it per week over the next several months. This first release is chapter one. I am making Greek captions/subtitles for each portion as well so that with each release you will also be able to follow along by reading the text as it is narrated. Click on the captions button to turn Greek captions on/off.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Text and Studies Series (Gorgias) Hosted by De Gruyter

Gorgias Press has entered a partnership with De Gruyter for the electronic hosting of the Texts and Studies volumes, which means that individual chapters are now available for each volume.

The chapters of “Early Readers, Scholars and Editors" (2014) and “Commentaries, Catenae and Biblical tradition” (2016) are available free of charge at:

Chapters of  “Textual Variation: Theological and Social Tendencies” (2008), “Transmission and Reception” (2006) and “Studies in the Early Text” (1999 repr. 2013) are available for download at £23 each:

The most recent volume (“Liturgy and the Living Text”) will be available at a later stage.

(HT: Hugh Houghton)

Friday, June 07, 2019

Romans 16.3 as window into Codex Vaticanus

I’ve been enjoying leading some seminars for the Logos Summer School in Oxford. Yesterday we looked in some detail (!) at a page of Codex Vaticanus and enjoyed reading some of the text of Romans. Some interesting details are seen in one small portion of the page we were looking at (page 1460 according to the codex; page 1464 according to the online images).

The NA28 text has: Ἀσπάσασθε Πρίσκαν καὶ Ἀκύλαν τοὺς συνεργούς μου ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, οἵτινες ὑπὲρ τῆς ψυχῆς μου τὸν ἑαυτῶν τράχηλον ὑπέθηκαν.

Feel free to discuss this in the comments: ‘what do you see here?’

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Funded PhD Positions in Germany

Do you want to be paid to write your PhD at a prominent German theological school?  The Graduiertenkolleg in Wuppertal has advertised six funded positions for this fall (six starting in Sept, one in Oct). The positions pay approximately €27,000 per year ($30,000 USD) for three years, but the benefits exceed the stipend.  Participants benefits from interdisciplinary seminars and faculty dialogues funded by the larger initiative, which resides at the Protestant University Wuppertal and the University of Wuppertal. Faculty from the seminary have been active in Septuagint research (Siegfried Kruezer) and currently are leading the Editio Critica Maior project on Revelation (Martin Karrer). The Confessing Church movement associated with the seminary is best known by Americans for its broad opposition to the Nazi regime in WWII, especially in the preparation and publication of the Barmen Declaration.
Broadly speaking, the Graduiertenkolleg fosters scientific research on the creation of digital editions of texts, both ancient and modern, engaging faculty and students from across the humanities.  “The project’s goal is ultimately the establishment of a ‘grammar of editing.’” 

PhD positions advertisement (German)

Dokument-Text-Edition Graduiertenkolleg hompage (English)

Wuppertal University offers excellent classes to support German language learning for students and spouses, who often need to quickly develop a proficiency in the language.  By train, one can travel from Wuppertal into the Düsseldorf city center in twenty minutes.

Application deadline: 25 June 2019

New Book: A Critical Edition of the Hexaplaric Fragments of Job 22–42

I can finally announce that my critical edition is set to be released this Fall. I still need to work through  another round of proofs this summer, but it will appear by SBL in San Diego. This is the first volume to be published by the Hexapla Institute in Peeters’ new series, Origen’s Hexapla: A Critical Edition of the Extant Fragments. The description for the series is as follows:
Frederick Field’s marvelous late Victorian edition (1875) of the remains of Origen’s Hexapla is now outdated. Field rearranged earlier collections, and added new material, notably retroversions into Greek from Syriac sources. In the course of work on critical editions of the Septuagint, new manuscripts and patristic sources have become available, as well as new editions of Church Fathers and catenae. Some of these contain better readings and even previously unknown material from Origen’s Hexapla. This new critical reconstruction of all known hexaplaric materials is being prepared by the Hexapla Project, a project spawned by the Hexapla Institute under the aegis of I.O.S.C.S.
 The description for A Critical Edition of the Hexaplaric Fragments of Job 22–42 is as follows:
A Critical Edition of the Hexaplaric Fragments of Job 22-42 contains the established text of all the preserved readings of Origen’s Hexapla in Greek, Syriac, Latin, and Armenian for Job 22-42 with variant author attributions and variant readings presented in a series of apparatuses. In most entries, the editor has supplied Notes in the form of brief commentary on the readings. This edition of hexaplaric fragments surpasses previous editions (e.g. Frederick Field’s work) in two ways: (1) the edition contains more readings of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion and (2) the critical text of each reading is based on the most up-to-date manuscript evidence for the hexaplaric readings of Job. The new edition will have immediate relevance for textual criticism of the TaNaK/Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, the Greek lexicon of the late second temple period, and early Jewish and Christian interpretation of the Hebrew scriptures in Greek.
I’m thrilled to see this project nearing completion and hope this volume represents well the vision of its editorial committee: Peter Gentry, Alison Salvesen, and Bas ter Haar Romeny. There are several more volumes for the series in the pipeline, and it’s exciting to see growing interest in this field, both for its own sake and also as it relates to Old Testament textual criticism.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Paulson Review of THGNT

I’m driving cross country today but, through the magic of Blogger, here is a review of the THGNT from Greg Paulson for you. Here’s the conclusion:
In spite of these lingering queries, there is no doubt that the THGNT possesses many quintessential hallmarks of a hand-sized critical edition. The edition, which boasts high quality collaboration among some of the discipline’s foremost text-critics and scholars, is a most welcome addition to the market. The apparatus cites pertinent manuscripts to elucidate the editors’ decision-making process and includes other editorial features that greatly assist the reading experience, such as paragraphing, accents, and breathing marks. In sum, the editors have achieved their goal of creating an edition that is easy to use. They have removed some of the cumbersome barriers of other critical editions and offered a stream-lined approach to delving into the text—even though users will have to get accustomed to the edition’s distinctive aspects like its orthography and an alternate order of books. The edition’s sleek page design, void of cross-references and other marginal features, containing a minimal apparatus and simple paragraphing, seem especially advantageous for those who want to read through the Greek text with as few distractions as possible—and for that purpose, it is heartily recommended

Thursday, May 16, 2019


For months now I have not been able to comment on this here blog using Google Chrome (PC). I’ve mostly just used other browsers or just refrained from commenting as much. But recently several other people have noted that they’ve been having trouble too, but some with different browsers.

So, with the irony of the request noted, would readers be willing to leave a comment and let me know which browsers/OS you are having trouble with? I don’t know if I can fix it, but more info will help me look for a solution. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Crowdsourcing a marginal note at Luke 22:43–44


Luke 22:43–44 in GA 1424:
Luke 22:43–44 in GA 1424
I admit that abbreviated minuscule script is a bit outside my normal time range. Most of the time I’m not too bad at it, but it helps if you already know what you’re looking at. That being said, I was looking at the Lukan Gethsemane Scene in 1424 earlier, and noticed it has three marginal notes. I was able to make out two of them (rather I should say, enough of two of them), which are interesting enough on their own. They both seem loosely to derive from older patristic sources (Epiphanius? though a catena of [Pseudo-?]Titus of Bostra attributes a longer note to Chrysostom, of which one of the notes in 1424 appears to be an abbreviated form—GA 39 contains the text; The text of Luke 22:43–44 is on f. 203r, and the beginning of Chrysostom’s comments is at the 6th line of the commentary at the top of the page, but the comments relevant to this section are marked with a symbol and appear on f. 203v.).

Listing them in order of appearance on the page from top to bottom, the first is:

Text: διὰ τὴν ὑπερβολὴν | τῆς θαυμασιότητος | δοξολογῶν αὐτὸν | ὁ ἄγγελος ἐφαί|νετο· οἷα λεγειν· | σή ἐστιν ἡ ἰσχὺς | δέσποτα σὺ γὰρ ἴ|σχυας κατὰ θα|νάτου ἐλευθέρω|σας τὸ γένος ἀνθρώπων:

[rough translation:] “Because of the excess of astonishment, the angel appeared glorifying him, because he said, ‘Yours is the strength, O Master, for you are strong over death, setting free the race of mankind.’”

At the bottom of the page, a third note identifies Luke 22:43 as a fulfilment of Deuteronomy 32:43:

Below: square brackets relate to the text itself; round brackets are my suggested clarifications. Neither are perfect, as I admit that this type of hand is getting near the limits of my competency.

Text: [something]: ὤφθη δὲ αὐτῷ ἀγγέλος ἀπ᾽ ὀυρανοῦ ἐνϊσχύων αὐτόν: οὐχ ὢς δε ὁ [κυριον?]· ἀλλ᾽ ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ [it starts to get hard to read here, but ἐνισχυ]σάτωσαν αὐτὸν πάντες ἄγγελοι θεοῦ.

[rough translation]: [something]: “But an angel from heaven appeared to him, strengthening him”: But not (strengthening him) as Lord (or, not his divine nature?), but in order to fulfil that [which was spoken(or written) (by Moses?)]: “Let all the angels of God strengthen him.”

The second note, ironically the shortest and probably easiest, is the one that I’m having trouble with. I’d rather not spend more time trying to sort it out, so I though I’d ask for the wisdom of our readership. Can anyone decipher the full note easily? I can see letters here and there. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s οὐκ split over the last two lines. I can see ἀστερισ[κος?] on the first/second line. It probably begins with τα Putting it all together would take me more time than I’d like to spend though. For context, Luke 22:43–44 are marked with asterisks in this manuscript, and my guess is that this note might be a text-critical remark, or at least I would think it’s an explanation of the asterisks. This manuscript does have marginal notes like this elsewhere that reveal a knowledge of textual variants.

Feel free to correct my rough transcriptions and translations of the other two notes as well, but I’m mainly asking about the second note, pictured below. I’ll try to check back and update/give credit.

Thank you much!
The second note:
GA 1424, marginal note at Luke 22:43–44.
EDIT: Thanks to Peter Montoro who sent me what I think is a reasonable proposal for parts of it, then he and I together put the rest of it together: τὰ ἔχοντα τοὺς ἀ|στερισκούς· ἔν τι|σιν ἀντιγράφοις οὐ | κεῖται:

Rough translation: “The things that have the asterisks: they do not lie in some copies.”

Fun fact: in 1986, these verses were used as part of a medical diagnosis:

William D. Edwards, Wesley J. Gabel and Floyd E. Hosmer, “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ,” Journal of the American Medical Association 255.11 (1986), 1455–1463, esp. p. 1456.

On Epiphanius:

K. Holl, Epiphanius, Bände 1-3: Ancoratus und Panarion [Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller 25, 31, 37. Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1:1915; 2:1922; 3:1933]: 1:153-161, 169-233, 238-464; 2:5-210, 215-523; 3:2-229, 232-414, 416-526. Retrieved from:

See also Dirk Jongkind’s post about Luke 22:43–44 in the Tyndale House Greek NT.