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.

Friday, May 10, 2019

XVIII. International Conference on Patristic Studies at Oxford

Every four years the International Conference on Patristic Studies meets at Oxford. This year it meets from August 19–24, and I’ve made plans to participate.

Dr. Francesca Barone (Chargée de recherche au CNRS) and I have organized a workshop entitled, “Early Christians and the Books at the Edges of the Canon” [proposal PDF]. The papers to be presented in the workshop are as follows:
Alessandro De Blasi: Gregory Nazianzen’s poem I 1, 12: On the Genuine Books of the Holy Scripture 
John Meade: Origen and the Disputed Books: A Reappraisal of the Evidence for an Origenic Recension of Books Outside the Hebrew Canon 
Francesca Barone: The Book of Esther in John Chrysostom’s Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae  
Edmon Gallagher: Jerome’s Use of the Deuterocanonical Literature 
Claudine Cavalier: Between the Sages and the Fathers: Esther, a key book
I plan to combine some of my interests in this paper: Origen’s work as grammarian and the disputed books. Here is the abstract of my paper:
In the first half of the third century, Origen created a six-columned synopsis, the Hexapla (perhaps more columns were added as needed for books like Psalms), for those books that were extant in Hebrew, the Seventy, and the Three Jewish revisers (Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion). Debatably, from this work, Origen published a corrected edition of the version of the Seventy. This revised version of the Seventy went through further corrections at the hands of Pamphilus and Eusebius (cf. the many colophons bearing their names in these contexts). But did Origen make a revised edition of the Greek version for the disputed books? In this paper, I will survey the evidence for Origen’s recension of the disputed books for which there seems to be evidence: Baruch, Sirach/Ben Sira, Wisdom of Solomon, and Judith. After surveying the relevant data, I analyze the evidence of a revision of Sirach/Ben Sira further before drawing some preliminary conclusions about Origen’s textual work on this book and others like it.
The overall program for the conference appears to be full of very interesting papers. I look forward to gathering with friends and colleagues in Oxford. It will be my first visit there, and I could not be more excited about it.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Markan Priority, Messianic Secret, and the Textus Receptus

I’ve just finished reading David Parker’s essay in the new book The Future of NT Textual Scholarship (more on that here). Even though I disagree with the main thrust of Parker’s work in the Living Text of the Gospels, there are few text critics I enjoy reading more than him. He always gets me thinking about things in fresh ways or from new angles. And very often he is asking the right question even when I don’t agree with his answer.

Here is a case in point from the essay just mentioned, and I’d love to hear from people who are better versed in the history of Gospel scholarship than I am. On pages 398–399, Parker writes:
The result [of using 4th/5th c. manuscripts for critical editions] represented a huge change from the Textus Receptus. Gone were the Johannine Comma, the Pericope Adulterae, the Longer Ending of Mark. Gone too were so many harmonisations and alterations in the text of Mark that the new editions produced what by comparison with the Textus Receptus was a new version of the Gospel. A new approach to the Synoptic Problem and the influential theory of the Messianic Secret were just two developments that would never have been possible using the Textus Receptus.
Now, I would not have thought that certain views of the Synoptic problem or Wrede’s messianic secret theory weren’t possible using the TR. But that could well be due to my ignorance. Even if that’s an exaggeration, it does get me thinking about the degree to which certain prominent views in NT studies over the last 150 years wouldn’t be possible (or would be far less compelling) if we were all still using the TR. What say our readers on this question?

Friday, April 26, 2019

Pauline Authorship according to British New Testament Scholars

Here’s a nice, concrete graph from a survey that Paul Foster took of attendees at the 2011 British New Testament Conference. What I like is that these data allow me to avoid having to say “most/many/some scholars think that Paul did/didn’t write...” in my classes. Instead I can show some hard numbers. Here is Foster’s explanation:
The survey was not rigorously scientific; only those who felt inclined returned their forms. My estimate is that approximately 70 percent of the audience participated. For each of the thirteen Pauline letters and also for Hebrews respondents were asked whether they considered each letter to be written by Paul, or not, or whether they were undecided. There were approximately 109 respondents, although two more cast an opinion only in relation to 2 Thessalonians, and one or two decided not to record their opinions in relation to the Pastoral Epistles. (p. 171)
This is limited to mostly British NT scholars, so it cannot simply be taken as representative of all NT scholars. But it certainly beats my own vague, general impression.

(Feel free to use the graphic but make sure that Paul Foster gets credit for the data collection.)

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Upcoming Textual Criticism Events at Oxford

The University of Oxford has planned two events in May relevant to Old Testament textual criticism. On May 14-15, John Screnock and Jan Joosten will convene “Horizons in Textual Criticism Colloquium: Translating and Transcending Textual Criticism.” There’s a great line up of presenters for this one.

On the evening of May 14, Oxford also has planned a public forum, The Origins of Biblical Texts, the first of a six-part series entitled, The History of the Bible from Qumran to Today. All are welcome.
Naturally, I’m interested in both of these events and wish I could attend them. If you are in the Oxford area, you should attend and report on how they went here in the comments  :-).

Monday, April 22, 2019

Robinson and Bordalejo on the CBGM and 1 Peter 4.16

A recently posted article on Academia by Barbara Bordalejo and Peter Robinson spends some time on the interesting change in the NA28 at 1 Peter 4.16. There, the ECM and NA28 read ἐν τῷ μέρει τούτῳ instead of ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τούτῳ. The change is noteworthy because μέρει is somewhat awkward but much more so because it’s only attested in the 9th century and later. All the early evidence—Greek and versional—is on the side of ὀνόματι. Hence the many editions and commentators that prefer ὀνόματι.

Bordalejo and Robinson are interested in this change because they see it as a case where
the effect of the CBGM is to act as a kind of sleight of hand, with the textual flow diagram suggesting that all the older manuscripts and versions amount to a single line of descent, and so (indeed) having no more stemmatic weight than the single line of descent represented by the Byzantine text (p. 22).
The problem they have is in the textual flow diagram which shows 01, 1739, and P72 deriving ὀνόματι  from 03.

As they explain,
the change appears first in Vaticanus (03) and thence descends to Sinaiticus Alexandrinus [sic; they seem to think the “/2” after 01 means 02 but it doesn’t] (01 02) P72 and 1739. This is in accord with the way in which the CBGM shows textual flow working. Because Sinaiticus has more variants from the Ausgangstext (350) than has Vaticanus (280), the textual flow shows the text of Sinaiticus as descended from Vaticanus. But this is simply not true. Sinaiticus is comprehensively not a copy of Vaticanus or descended from it. It is here that the exclusion of sub-ancestors from the textual flow diagrams becomes a problem. [Andrew C.] Edmondson’s representation of the textual flow appears to show all of 01 02 [sic] P72 and 1739 descending from 03. But this is not the case. Not one of these four [sic] manuscripts is a descendant of 03.
The problem here is that they read the textual flow diagram exactly the way it should not be read, namely, as if it were a traditional stemma. A textual flow diagram is not and should not be read as if it is telling us what the actual, historical ancestors were. Instead, it shows us the most closely related witness that has more ancestral readings (i.e., the closest potential ancestor in CBGM terms).

Because of this, they are exactly right to note that “It is possible that there might have been an exemplar below the archetype from which all of the uncials, P72 1739, and all the versions, might have descended.” This is indeed a possibility, especially given the loss of NT manuscripts. But what the coherence shows is that no matter which reading we set as initial (ὀνόματι or μέρει), the coherence suggests that the text probably did changed from μέρει to ὀνόματι in the course of transmission. As Tommy and I have written
This suggests that, if reading b was the original source of reading a, reading a must have nevertheless developed from b a number of times as the text was subsequently copied. The simpler explanation, in light of the transcriptional evidence already discussed, is that it also developed in this way in the first place. (New Approach, p. 73)
To be sure, anyone is welcome to set aside the evidence of coherence at this point in favor of what they might consider weightier, alternate evidence. The CBGM never forces our decision, it only provides additional evidence, evidence that must be interpreted. But it is to misread the evidence from the textual flow diagram to think that they suggest that 03 was the historical exemplar of P72, 01, and 1739. This is precisely what Tommy and I warn against in our book (see p. 92).

Bordalejo and Robinson also seem to think there is some difficulty with the reading ὀνόματι but I don’t see it and their appeal to the CEB and Good News Bible is a bit odd—as is their citation of the ETC blog as an example of “groups of fundamentalist Baptists with the motto ‘King James Only’, and a group of well-qualified scholars who assert the value of the Byzantine text under various labels: as ‘textus receptus’ or the ‘majority text’” (p. 18)!

Robinson and Bordalejo have long been at the forefront of so much in the field of digital stemmatics and I have profited from reading so much of their work. In this one case, however, I think a misunderstanding has led to wrong conclusion about the CBGM.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

From Cairo to the Cloud: The World of the Cairo Geniza

I received an email this morning about a 92-minute documentary telling the story of the Cairo Geniza from discovery to upload on the cloud. I've not seen it, and the DVD does not appear to be too cheap. But the trailer (posted below) certainly makes me want to view it soon.

Here's a little more from the website:
In 1896, Talmudic scholar Solomon Schechter entered the sacred storeroom - or geniza - of an ancient synagogue in Cairo and discovered a vast collection of manuscripts that has revolutionized our understanding of Jewish history. 
Composed of religious texts and medical prescriptions, literary treasures and love letters, marriage contracts and business reports, magical amulets and children’s drawings, the Cairo Geniza reveals every aspect of society, from the impoverished beggar to the celebrated scholar. Among the most striking of the Geniza’s many discoveries are hand-written drafts written by Moses Maimonides himself, the legendary 12th century rabbi, scholar, philosopher, and physician.
Larger, more varied and, arguably, more significant than the Dead Sea Scrolls, the half million fragments of the Geniza open a window into a vanished civilization that illuminates over a thousand years of Jewish, Christian and Muslim life at the heart of the Islamic world and testifies to a “golden age” of relative religious tolerance nearly unimaginable today. 
After their discovery, the documents were dispersed among seventy different libraries and collections world-wide. Today, however, thanks to an unprecedented international effort, these archives have been digitally re-united. After a thousand years of silence, the Geniza has journeyed from Cairo to the cloud where it is freely accessible online to everyone, everywhere.
From Cairo to the Cloud tells this extraordinary story, the vital society the Geniza reveals, and the efforts taken by an international consortium of archivists and digital experts to bring these ancient manuscripts into the modern world.

From Cairo to the Cloud - Trailer from D-Facto Filmstudio on Vimeo.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Articles on Textual Criticism

It’s hard to keep up with everything that’s published even in one’s own discipline these days. At any rate, here are a few articles I’ve read recently. Feel free to let us know in the comments what I’ve missed or what you’re reading (or writing).

Jonge, Hank Jan de. “Erasmus’ Novum Testamentum of 1519.” NovT 61, no. 1 (2019): 1–25.

Abstract. Erasmus’ Novum Testamentum of 1519 is an improved and enlarged edition of his Novum Instrumentum of 1516. The chief component remained his new version of the NT in more cultivated Latin than that of the Vulgate. But the 1519 edition also includes several Greek paratexts not yet printed in 1516. This article discusses the Greek witnesses which were used for the new edition and points out Greek and Latin readings in which it differs from 1516. The importance of the 1519 Novum Testamentum is that it constitutes the consolidation of Erasmus’ humanistic programme for promoting the study of the NT as an essentially philological discipline. The work is Erasmus’ self-confident vindication of this programme against advocates of the Vulgate and scholastic theology.
As to be expected from de Jonge, this is a well-informed look at Erasmus’s second edition with plenty of good info on the first edition and how the second differed.

Miller, Jeff. “Breaking the Rules: Lectio Brevior Potior and New Testament Textual Criticism.” BT 70, no. 1 (2019): 82–93.

Abstract. Though the principle regarding a preference for the shorter reading is often still included in descriptions of text-critical method, it has fallen out of use. The maxim lectio brevior potior (“prefer the shorter reading”) should not be, and in fact is not, a factor in the modern practice of New Testament textual criticism. This article briefly states reasons for the maxim’s inapplicability and then surveys a large amount of contemporary text-critical and exegetical literature to demonstrate the maxim’s demise.
I’m not convinced that lectio brevior is actually dead, but I am convinced that it should be.

Johnson, Nathan C. “Living, Active, Elusive: Toward a Theology of Textual Criticism.” Journal of Reformed Theology 12, no. 2 (2018): 83–102.

Abstract. Although the doctrine of scripture is central to systematic theology, one aspect of Christian scripture is rarely engaged, namely, the ongoing presence of textual variants. And although the reconstruction of the earliest form of Christian scripture is the primary object of textual criticism, text critics have rarely given a theological rationale for their discipline. Across the disciplinary divide, this essay attempts a rapprochement. For systematic theology, the essay underscores the challenges of the variable, fluid text that is Christian scripture. For textual criticism, it calls attention to two useful theological concepts and retrieves the bivalent reading strategies of two premodern scholars, Origen and Augustine, who artfully blended theology and nascent textual criticism.
This one isn’t as recent as the others, but, having mentioned my excitement about Dirk’s chapter on theology in his new book, I was reminded of this article from Nathan Johnson that I read last year. In the end, I’m not convinced that “bivalence” is the way forward but it’s refreshing to see serious theological reflection on TC happening at this level. This article probably deserves its own blog post really.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Mark Ward: A New Tool for Teaching Textual Criticism to English Speakers

Today’s guest post is from Mark Ward. Mark received his PhD from Bob Jones University in 2012; he now serves the Church as an Academic Editor at Lexham Press, the publishing imprint at Faithlife, makers of Logos Bible Software. He has written hundreds of articles for the Logos blog, and his most recent book is Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible, a book “highly recommended” by D.A. Carson.

Though my efforts to grasp the CBGM have made me wonder if I should return all my biblical studies diplomas in shame, I am deeply grateful for the work of Evangelical Textual Criticism. I love to nerd out on all the asterisks and obelisks, and my stock method of impressing people at parties is to recite from memory all the NA28 sigla. (Not true.)

But I humbly suggest that believing textual critics ought to keep insisting to the church, for the good of the church, that most of their work is a tempest in a rather small teapot—and not the one Mother sets out when company comes over. Precisely because of my love for it, and after following it all these many years, and while acknowledging that textual criticism has chronological priority in exegesis, I insist that ETC is the etc. of biblical studies. It is the tithe on mint, dill, and cumin.

No, probably just the cumin.

And I have built a textual criticism teaching tool that, I hope, will help everyone see just how inconsequential the vast majority of textual decisions are: After two years of labor, and helped along by numerous skilled volunteers, the site launches with the complete New Testament (plus study tools!) today.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Dirk’s New Book on Textual Criticism

Since Dirk probably has better things to do than publicize his own book, I’ll take the liberty here to alert our readers of his book coming out next month from Crossway.

An Introduction to the Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge

By Dirk Jongkind

Is the New Testament text reliable?
What do we do with textual variants?
How do I use the Greek New Testament?

This short book, written as a companion to The Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge, provides crucial information about the Tyndale House edition in particular and the Greek New Testament in general.

Dirk Jongkind, one of the principal scholars behind this groundbreaking project, answers critical questions for understanding the biblical text so that you can have clarity and confidence as you engage with the New Testament in the original Greek.

Table of Contents:

  1. Your Greek New Testament and the Manuscripts
  2. Practicalities
  3. Manuscripts
  4. How Decisions Are Made
  5. Why Not the Textus Receptus?
  6. Why Not the Byzantine Text?
  7. Biblical Theology and the Transmission of the Text
  8. Where to Go from Here?
I really like that Dirk has a chapter on theology. Many of the great text critics of the past included theology in discussions of their method and approach and its nice to see that happening here. You can see the endorsements here. I just pre-ordered mine today. Looking forward to it.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

The Text & Canon Institute Fellowship at Phoenix Seminary

A few months ago, co-blogger, Peter Gurry, announced here that Phoenix Seminary had launched its Text & Canon Institute (TCI; read more about it here, here, and most recently here on the LAB).

And last week, we rolled out the Text & Canon Institute Fellowship as part of the TCI’s mission of training and mentoring ThM students specifically planning on further study in the areas of text, canon, and ancillary fields. The benefits of the TCI fellows are:
  • A scholarship worth up to $10,000 for one year of the ThM program (in addition to any other scholarships or financial awards)
  • Specific mentorship with the directors of the Text & Canon Institute and participation in appropriate research projects
  • Opportunities to lecture at the master’s level
You can read more about the TCI Fellowship and even review the application to become a fellow here, but what exactly will ThM students study? The ThM is positioned currently as a residential, research degree in biblical studies. Here are a few highlights about the program.
  1. We have already taught the following research seminars: Gospels Criticism (taught by my colleague, John DelHousaye), Advanced Greek Grammar, and Old Testament Textual Criticism. Gurry plans to offer a seminar in New Testament Textual Criticism this fall, and I plan to offer either Advanced Hebrew Grammar or OT TC again in the spring of 2020. The ThM at Phoenix Seminary tilts heavily (though not exclusively) in the direction of the textual critical :-).
  2. Students can also expect to take German, advanced biblical/theological research methods, and MDiv courses (with ThM level work load).
  3. We would expect TCI fellows to write a ThM thesis in the areas of text, canon, or ancillary fields, while other ThM students may or may not choose to research those areas.
  4. Finally, and not to be trifled, one can expect to receive Peter Gurry’s excellent tutelage in the ways of Phoenix fast food.
Check out the materials linked above as well as the ThM and TCI Fellowship pages, if you are interested in studying biblical textual criticism with me and Gurry out in the wild, wild west of Phoenix, AZ.

Monday, April 08, 2019

New Printed Liste Coming from INTF

The most recent printed K-Liste
Greg Paulson has good news out of Münster today: a new printed K-Liste is in the works. This is very good news in my view. The work of tidying up the Liste for this may be the most obvious benefit but I think there is an even greater one in having a list that is, shall we say, frozen in time for comparison’s sake. The online K-Liste is wonderful but it can be easily changed frequently and without notice, something not true of a printed edition. From the announcement:
The Hermann Kunst-Stiftung has generously funded a short-term position at the INTF solely focused on preparing the Liste for publication. This has enabled a new concerted effort to verify the data in the VMR and update incorrect or outdated information in preparation for publication. The Liste will always be a work in progress. While it may not be possible to double-check every detail about every manuscript that is already in the Liste, our goal is to carefully and thoroughly verify as much information as possible based on the resources available to us.

These resources include printed catalogues, recent scholarship, and notifications from individuals. Through the VMR Forum we have been alerted to a number of location changes and new digital images available. We’ve also been making many direct inquiries to holding institutions to stay up to date with manuscript location changes, inquire about manuscript details, and request images to help us check our information in the VMR.
Please note Greg’s request for help. If you know of updates, send them his way.
One particular challenge is keeping up with manuscripts that have changed locations. Currently there are 137 manuscripts in the Liste where the owner/institution is unknown (listed as “besitzer unbekannt”). In addition, a number of manuscripts have been auctioned on Sotheby’s, Christies, Heritage Auctions, etc. While we have been able to ascertain the new locations of many of these auctioned manuscripts, we are asking for your help in tracking down the current location of five manuscripts in particular.
Read the whole post here.


Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Plans for the NA29 and UBS6

At SBL last November, Holger Strutwolf gave an update on the plans for the next editions of the NA and UBS editions. I took some notes and thought I would share them. (Sorry it’s taken so long to get these out.)
  • Both editions now have the same editorial committee. These editions will follow the work on the ECM volumes, but the committee is not bound to the same decisions as the ECM editors. They will make their own judgments. (That was a point that had not been entirely clear to me before.) Note that this means NA29 will be different in principle at least from NA28.
  • The UBS has heard from translators that the UBS edition has more variants than they really need to do their field translation work so the UBS6 will probably have fewer than the UBS5.
  • Greg Paulson and Dora Panella will be assistants on the editions
  • Holger mentioned 2022 as a possible date for the NA29 with the UBS6 following after that. They are waiting for at least one more ECM volume to be finished, probably on Mark. In that case, they can incorporate the ECM work on at least two more books (Acts and Mark). What’s happening with John, I don’t know.

The Material Gospel Conference at Notre Dame

Jeremiah Coogan and David Lincicum are continuing their good work at Notre Dame on first millennium books with a conference schedule for May 31, 2019.
This conference brings together leading scholars of Gospel literature and material texts to discuss the history and significance of the material Gospel in the first five centuries CE.

Session I

David Lincicum (Notre Dame): Welcome
Clare Rothschild (Lewis University): “Galen’s De indolentia and the Early Christian Codex”
Jeremiah Coogan (Notre Dame): “Navigating the Gospel: Nonlinear Access and Practical Use”
Respondent: Nathan Eubank (Notre Dame)

Session II

Chris Keith (St Mary’s University Twickenham): “The Gospel Read, Sliced, and Burned: The Material Gospel and the Construction of Christian Identity”
Angela Zautcke (Notre Dame): “Erasing the Gospels: Insights from the Sinai Syriac Gospel Palimpsest”
Respondent: Paul Wheatley (Notre Dame)

Session III

Sofía Torallas Tovar (University of Chicago): “Resisting the Codex: Christian Rolls in Late Antiquity”
Matthew Larsen (Princeton): “Codex Bobiensis: A Real-and-Imagined Biography of One Gospel Manuscript”
Respondent: Robin Jensen (Notre Dame)
Website is here. Wish I could go.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Scribes & Scripture: A New Conference on the History of the Bible

It is about time co-blogger, Peter Gurry, and I announce another project we have been working on for the past few months: Scribes and Scripture: A Conference on the History of the Bible. You can read more about it on the website. Here, I want to announce our first mini-conference this Saturday 9:00-12:00 at Church on Mill in Tempe, AZ.

We have a couple of other conference possibilities that we are discussing with pastors in AZ and NC, and we will let you know the details of those as the time draws closer.

In short, Peter and I want to bring some of our expertise on the matters of OT and NT Text, Canon, and Bible Translation into churches that are seeking more understanding on how we received the Bible. Should be fun and informative!

Monday, April 01, 2019

A New Second-Century Matthew?!

I just browsed the new database of objectively dateable Greek bookhands, “The Collaborative Database of Dateable Greek Bookhands” (see previous blogpost), and came across P.Simon. M111690 (top right corner on the image below). It is listed as 2d century and contains text from the Gospel of Matthew (ch. 19), but I cannot find it in the official registry of New Testament manuscripts – is this a new unregistered manuscript?

Here is the description of the hand:
The hand on the fragments is upright, with letters that are mostly separate with some abutting, with an irregular baseline, and biliniarity aspirational rather than always maintained, written without ligatures.
The papyrus has a very notable reading in 19:24, ευκοπωτερον εστι καλων δια τρυπηματος ραφιδος  διελθειν η πλουσιον  εισελθειν εις την βασιλειαν του θεου, “It is easier for a cable to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (my italics).

The word καλων (image below) is unique, though καμιλον (which can mean “cable”) is attested in 579. 1424 arm. The translation “rope” is also attested in the Georgian version (the Adysh Gospels reads, ზომთსაბლისაჲ, cable”). The Babylonian Talmud (Berakhot 55b) talks about an elephant going through the eye of a needle. The confusion of cable and camel may go back to a very early period, since the meanings “camel” and “thick rope” are derived from the same stem in Semitic languages. On camels in the Gospels, including this passage, see further our blogmember Martin Heide’s, The Camel in the Biblical World (Penn State University Press, forthcoming).

This will be a very welcome addition to the few manuscripts we have from the second century. Papyrus 64+67 containing Matthew (dated to 175-225 by Orsini and Claryssee) are of course among them.

Link to the entry in the Collaborative Database of Dateable Greek Bookhands (CDDGB).

Database of Objectively Dated Greek MSS: The CDDGB

A few days ago, Grant Edwards, PhD student at ITSEE in Birmingham and affiliated to Baylor University announced a new resource he has been compiling for some time, "The Collaborative Database of Dateable Greek Bookhands" (image below). This will be a collaborate and growing resource as users are able to sign up and submit new dateable manuscripts as well as suggesting revision to existing entries.

Here is Edwards announcement (via Papy-L) with links to the database and further description:
Dear Colleagues, 
I am pleased to announce a new online resource: The Collaborative Database of Dateable Greek Bookhands. The CDDGB is a catalogue of objectively dated Greek manuscripts written in a literary script between 0-899 CE. In time, manuscripts from earlier centuries will be included as well. 
The database and a complete description of the project can be found here: 
To access the database directly click below:
I hope this resource proves useful to those tasked with assigning dates to Greek manuscripts and to anyone interested in Greek handwriting.
If you have questions or comments please email me directly at
Best regards,
Grant Edwards | PhD student 
Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing
University of Birmingham

Thursday, March 28, 2019

ETS Septuagint Studies: Last Call for San Diego Papers

This post is for all those out there writing last minute ETS paper proposals with hopes of submitting them before 5:00pm (Central) tomorrow afternoon.

I want to encourage you to submit a proposal to ETS’s Septuagint Studies section. You can read more about the steering committee here and begin to submit your proposals here.

You can learn much more about the history of the section over at William Ross’ blog here.

Will and I along with rest of the Septuagint Studies committee look forward to reviewing your proposals and hearing about your fascinating research in the grand field of Septuagint.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Example Passages from the NASB Update

Over at the Opened Heart blog, Rob Oberto has helpfully culled a list of verses that the Lockman Foundation has been sharing on their Facebook page of the forthcoming update to the NASB translation (mentioned here). They have been posted as “NASB 2020.” Whether that date will hold as the actual publication date isn’t clear yet. In any case, here are some samples of the work in progress:

1 Thessalonians 5:14:
We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. NASB 1995
We urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. NASB 2020
Micah 6.8:
He has told you, O man, what is good… NASB 1995
He has told you, a human, what is good... NASB 2020
Joshua 1.9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” NASB 1995
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified nor  dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” NASB 2020
Luke 1.38
And Mary said, “Behold, the Lord’s bondslave; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. NASB 1995
And Mary said, “Behold, the Lord’s slave; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. NASB 2020
John 1.18
No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. NASB 1995
No one has seen God at any time; God the only Son, who is in the arms of the Father, He has explained Him. NASB 2020
Some of these are more noteworthy than others, of course. Some are quite odd, like Micah 6.8. 

Monday, March 25, 2019

A Non-Evangelical Reads Misquoting Jesus

Bart Ehrman has from time to time expressed surprise that Christians and particularly Evangelicals reacted so negatively to his book Misquoting Jesus. In his follow-up book Jesus, Interrupted he writes, for example, that
The conservative evangelical response to my book surprised me a bit. Some of these critics criticized Misquoting Jesus for “misleading” people—as if facts such as those I have just cited [about the originals being lost, there being hundreds of thousands of variants, that some of these mistakes matter a lot, etc.] could lead someone down a slippery slope toward perdition. A number of critics indicated that they didn’t much appreciate my tone. And a whole lot of them wanted to insist that the facts I laid out do not require anyone to lose their faith in the Bible as the inspired word of God. (pp. 184–185)
Ehrman then goes on to take issue with this last point since he thinks the facts are incompatible with belief in the Bible as the inspired word of God. Still, he clarifies that he had no intention of making people lose their Christian faith as a whole. From there he goes on to make a summary case for why he’s fine saying that the vast majority of variants don’t matter but that some still matter a lot. I don’t really have any complaint about that way of saying it, although I might demur on some of the particular ways Ehrman thinks they matter.

Be that as it may, the question I think is worth considering is the degree to which Misquoting Jesus does, in fact, mislead people. I have long felt that most of the book is quite good and makes for a nice, eminently readable introduction to textual criticism for those who know next to nothing about it. But I did close the book thinking—and I know others who did as well—that Ehrman had overcooked his goose, especially as regards inspiration. But, then, I’m an Evangelical and so, according to Ehrman, maybe that explains it.

What, then, do non-Evangelicals take away from the book? Asking that question recently reminded me of an early review of the book from an unlikely source: the creator of one of America’s most beloved cartoons and a man who is quite certainly not an Evangelical.