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