Thursday, May 21, 2020

New Minuscule 2957 and Its Allies – Guest Post by Post

I want to introduce Darrell Post, graduate of Virginia Beach Theological Seminary, whom I invited to do this guestpost on the newly registered minuscule 2957 (David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University, Greek MS 053). Darrell has followed this blog for many years and is very interested in New Testament textual criticism. He has done us all a great service by creating and editing useful articles on Wikipedia.

He created the page on New Testament amulet (here). He thoroughly revised and expanded the page for NT papyri (here), uncials (here), minuscules (here), and lectionaries (here).

These helpful lists contain a lot of bibliography and links to images which is very helpful. The lists of minuscules can also be viewed by hosting institution. Darrell told me that someone else started individual pages for each minuscule, but he has not touched those pages since they are full of errors. He just focused on the lists. Here is his guestpost:

Guestpost by Darrell Post

Duke University owns a manuscript (MS 053) of Theophylactus’ commentary on the Gospel of John dated circa 1540 (see images here). The Scripture text appears to be complete with the words of the gospel written in light brown ink and the commentary text in a darker hue. This manuscript has just been issued a GA number, 2957. Wanting to know what sort of text was represented, I collated John 11:1-57 against the 2005 R-P Majority Text. Not surprisingly, MS 053 was found to mostly agree with the Byzantine text with several alternative readings.

Later while collating the text of GA-318, a damaged manuscript containing only John 7:9-12:8, I found it to be a nearly perfect match to Duke’s MS 053. Both manuscripts are commentaries with Scripture text in different color ink, and in John chapter 11 they share almost the exact same words, 943 out 953. Leaving out scribal corrections and most spelling differences, as allowed by the CBGM, the coherence between the two manuscripts is 950 out of 953. The two manuscripts also share a rare abbreviation (IE) of δεκαπεντε and the rare full spelling of Jesus in 11:33 and 38, along with the full spelling of πατηρ in 11:41. They also include a few somewhat hard to find readings of the NA text where it differs from the MT (αυτω instead of αυτου in 11:12, omission of αυτου in 11:54).

According to the test passages evaluated in the Text und Textwert tool available on the INTF web page, GA-318 (and therefore Duke’s MS 053) may be part of a subset of manuscripts belonging to the cluster Wisse identified as Cluster 2148. Working through this list, I have thus far found seven other manuscripts that match the proposed sub-set of Cluster 2148: 315, 742, 817, 819, 854, 1160 and 2735. Several other manuscripts probably also belong to Cluster 2148 including 833, 855, 857 and 2470.

With a few exceptions, all ten of the manuscripts collated thus far include each of the following unique, identifying readings from John 11: The omission of marian in 11:28, the omission of poiesai in 11:37, and the addition of de after the second legei in 11:39.

The table below shows the percentage of agreements between these ten manuscripts for John 11:1-57 against the 953 words in the R-P Majority Text.

318 MS053 315 817 742 2735 819 1160 854 2148
318 100% 99.7% 99.3% 99.2% 99.3% 99.1% 98.6% 99.0% 98.8% 98.3%
MS053 99.7% 100% 99.2% 99.1% 99.2% 99.0% 98.5% 98.8% 98.7% 98.2%
315 99.3% 99.2% 100% 98.8% 98.5% 98.3% 98.1% 98.4% 98.3% 98.0%
817 99.2% 99.1% 98.8% 100% 99.5% 99.1% 99.1% 99.2% 98.8% 98.5%
742 99.3% 99.2% 98.5% 99.5% 100% 99.2% 99.0% 99.1% 99.0% 98.4%
2735 99.1% 99.0% 98.3% 99.1% 99.2% 100% 99.4% 99.5% 99.8% 98.4%
819 98.6% 98.5% 98.1% 99.1% 99.0% 99.4% 100% 99.3% 99.2% 98.0%
1160 99.0% 98.8% 98.4% 99.2% 99.1% 99.5% 99.3% 100% 99.3% 98.3%
854 98.8% 98.7% 98.3% 98.8% 99.0% 99.8% 99.2% 99.3% 100% 98.4%
2148 98.3% 98.2% 98.0% 98.5% 98.4% 98.4% 98.0% 98.3% 98.4% 100%

POSTSCRIPT: Greg Paulson has drawn attention to the fact that Maurice Robinson mentioned this manuscript in a comment on James Snapp’s blogpost about Greek MSS in the K. W. Clark collection at Duke University in 2017: “Also to be included but not yet digitized is Duke Gr. 53 (ca. AD 1450), Commentary of Theophylact on the Gospel of John with NT text interspersed. Peculiarly, this MS has no GA number even yet, although other Theophylact commentary MSS have a GA number). In this MS, the PA is not included, as is typical for commentaries.” Well, now by 2020, the manuscript has been digitized and yesterday it got its Gregory-Aland number – 2957.


  1. I am pleased that finally a GA number has been assigned to this MS, which I had cited in my continually expanding PA-related collation data over the past 24 years as simply "D53".

    The mystery is why it has taken so long for a GA number to be assigned, since the MS has been readily accessible and known for all these years.

  2. Greg Paulson shared with me that the issue related to past INTF policy on commentaries by a single author. He also hinted at a forthcoming explanation on the INTF blog page, as to their current policy.

  3. Yet all the other (ca. 124) Theophylact MSS have a GA number, and the same applies to most if not all other single-author commentaries as well; so that explanation doesn't quite make sense.

    1. Yes, this was my first thought. There many manuscripts with single-author commentary that have been readily received into the liste whether the commentary is framed or alternating.

    2. It looks as if there are significantly more than 124. Georgi Parpulov's checklist ( has 184 manuscripts listed as having Theophylact's commentary (169 on the Liste as minuscules, 1 as a lectionary(!), and 14 without GA numbers, not including 2957). He identifies two further MSS (720 and 1991) as both Theophylact and Zigabenus. And von Soden has eight more manuscripts with Θ^ε sigla where Parpulov does not identify the commentary (320 589 590 739 848 1178 2148 2381). So potentially up to 195 manuscripts there.

    3. My estimate (and it was only an estimate) was limited to those Theophylact MSS containing John or portions thereof. Theophylact MSS also exist for the remaining gospels, but these did not relate to my research.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Thanks Darrell for your research and this post.

    What is the percent of agreement between a representative of Cluster 2148 and the R-P text?

    Is the commentator in GA-318 known? If not, would you say your research indicates that it is a copy of the same work by Theophylact of Ohrid?

  6. Eric, the mss I have checked so far that belong to Cluster 2148 strongly agree with the R-P text in John 11:

    315: 98.2%
    318: 98.7%
    742: 99.1%
    817: 99.0%
    819: 98.6%
    854: 98.6%
    855: 99.1%
    945: 99.2%
    1160: 98.5%
    2148: 98.1%
    2735: 98.6%
    2957: 98.6%

    In John 11 there are 50 instances where the NA text varies from the R-P Majority Text. The mss of Cluster 2148 includes between 3 and 7 of these readings. All but two are very commonly found. Probably the most interesting one is in 11:12 where Cluster 2148 joins f13 as nearly the only minuscules to read οι μαθηται αυτω where other mss read οι μαθηται αυτου, αυτω οι μαθηται or a conflation of both.

    GA-318 is also a Theophylact commentary, as are the others in Cluster 2148.

  7. All in the cluster are Theophylact commentary except 945, which is simply a continuous text MS.

    It should be noted that the text of John presented in the Theophylact MSS tends to reflect the text as it appeared in the original Theophylact archetype.

  8. It occurs to me that there may be significant overlap between mss of John that don't contain the PA and mss of John that are commentaries or copied from commentaries that skipped it.

  9. Many Greek NT commentary MSS *do* contain the PA, but lack any marginal or interspersed commentary at that point. As is well known, Greek fathers prior to Zigabenus simply did not comment on that liturgically skipped passage, for various reasons.

  10. Surely this raises a question relevant to Jn. 7:53-8:11:
    Out of the 267 or so minuscules that do not have the PA, exactly how many of them are MSS of John in which the Theophylact commentary accompanies the text? (Or to rephrase: how many are members of Cluster 2148? Since we're to weigh rather than count, it would seem that the weight of all such copies ought to be boiled down.

  11. Easy enough: "Of the 267 or so minuscules that do not have the PA," exactly 83 "of them are MSS of John in which the Theophylact commentary accompanies the text. "

    Whether these are all part of Cluster 2148 (that Theophylact MS, along with 16 others, happens to contain rather than omit the PA), I can't say. Nor can I say whether the same clustering occurs outside of the PA or its immediately surrounding verses

    "(Or to rephrase: how many are members of Cluster 2148?" Of those cited previously, as noted, all are Theophylact cluster 2148 members except for the non-commentary MS 945.

    "It would seem that the weight of all such copies ought to be boiled down" — most definitely so.

    1. Great info!

      And what about the other 184 MSS that omit, how many of those are commentaries of some sort?

      Additionally, how about the 1400 or so MSS that contain the PA, how many of those are commentaries?

    2. Easy enough: 63 other non-Theophylact commentary MSS also omit the PA, while 72 other non-Theophylact commentary MSS contain the PA (actually commented on only by 10 Zigabenus MSS).

  12. Thanks doc!!

    So, of the 267 MSS that omit the PA, 146 are commentaries (55%). And more than half of these (83 or 57%) contain Theophylact's commentary.

    "while 72 other non-Theophylact commentary MSS contain the PA"--this added to the 17 Theophylact MSS which, "contain rather than omit the PA" gives us 89 total. Which is approx. 6% of the total Gk. MSS which contain the PA.

    Am I following correctly?

  13. I have now completed several more John chapter 11 collations on these Theophylact commentaries that relate to Cluster 2148. A few clear sub-groups have surfaced:

    318, 2957, and 315 have several readings that distinguish from the overall cluster.

    2735 and 854 are nearly identical, and along with 819 and 1160 have four identifying readings that distinguish from the overall cluster.

    855, 2470, 742, 817, and 306 all share characteristics of the Cluster 2148, but otherwise are nearly free of other departures from the MT.

    More complicated manuscripts with many individual readings are 833, 733, 856, 1183, and 2148. These all have clear connections to the cluster, but include many more unrelated departures from the MT and the cluster.

  14. This seems like double-dipping. Has anyone ever made the argument that some of these commentaries should (perhaps) be weighed as patristic evidence? Or at least discounted to that effect?

    And the 900% increase in omission vs. inclusion rate is quite telling, although I'm not 100% sure what exactly it is saying. In some ways it brings to mind the argument of Burgon, basically that there should be no wonder if the bulk of the Gk. Father's (and/or commentaries) pass over this place; because as you have so aptly pointed out, it's: "well known, Greek fathers prior to Zigabenus simply did not comment on that liturgically skipped passage, for various reasons."--and as Burgon argued, why would they comment on a passage that was not publicly read (generally speaking)?

    1. J. Wales,
      I can only comment on what I have researched. In John 11, there is one verse that apparently was never part of the Lectionary system, John 11:46. I have collated John 11 in the majuscules and in about 270 minuscules thus far, and I have found that these mss OMIT John 11:46 in its entirety:

      028 (10th century gospels majuscule)
      382 (11th century, four gospels, NO commentary)
      732 (13th century, gospels with commentary)
      1029 (14th century, gospels with commentary)
      2106 (12th century, Mark & John with commentary)

    2. ...and given how many gospels with commentary minuscules I have collated thus far it works out to roughly 5% of minuscules with commentary omit John 11:46. The other 95% included comments on the verse even though it was not read.

    3. Darrell,

      Thank you very much for that info! That puts things in a peculiar light. I think that your data gives an example (albeit on a smaller scale) on what can result from the mechanism of liturgical formulas and public reading.

      It also proves that the exclusion of a passage from the Lection cycle, can (and in some cases does) effect MSS which contain commentaries, as well as majuscules and miniscules that don't. Thanks, and sorry if my comments came out of left field, I was addressing Dr. Robinson. I probably should have stated such. Either way, the data you just provided is extremely helpful!

  15. No double-dipping involved. The father's commentary is considered distinct from the running biblical text of the MS, which latter has the GA number.

    Note that some commentary MSS (including some Theophylact ones) actually don't even contain a full running text, but only the first and last words of a verse or long phrase, while the commentary is present in full. (I suggest that those type of MSS should *not* have been given a GA number in the first place, but that seems now to be a fait accompli).

  16. "Note that some commentary MSS (including some Theophylact ones) actually don't even contain a full running text, but only the first and last words of a verse or long phrase, while the commentary is present in full."

    MAR, Interesting, I don't suppose that there's a list of these specific MSS; either in general, or as pertains to the PA?

    1. I am sure Dr. Robinson's list is much more complete than mine, but I know of 849, 882, 1411, 1412, 1819, 1820, 2129, and 1366. On my list to double-check, I have 731 and 772, but I don't think these have a complete Scripture text either.

      Of course any of these could vary, in some books/passages more complete than others.

  17. My list only involves MSS containing the PA or its bordering verses; thus my list differs from Darrel's except for MSS 849 and 1411, since the others he cited might be extant for Jn 11 but not for the PA region.

    Those MSS in the PA area that really should *not* be considered continuous-text at that point are the following: 430, 599, 770, 821, 849, 885, 1411, 1814, 2480. Those only partially defective in this regard are 0141, 832,and 861. Note that Darrel's incertain 731 and 772 are *not* involved in this matter in the PA area.

    1. In addition, Bruce Morrill's dissertation lists non-continuous text mss for John 18.

  18. Perfect, both of you gentlemen (D. Post & MAR) have been very helpful, thank you!