Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Brief Update on the UBS6 from Florian Voss

Over on Twitter, Florian Voss gives a short update on updates being made for the UBS6.

Readers may remember that last year at SBL Holger Strutwolf gave 2022 as a possible date for the NA29 with the UBS6 following after that.

Monday, September 28, 2020

A Brief Guide to Good Typography


Good communication is clear. It’s more than that, but never less. To be clear, the language we use matters. All of us know that. 

But, if typography is what language looks like (according to Ellen Lupton), then the type we use also matters. Maybe you know that too, but you don’t know what to do about it. 

If so, you may be interested in my “Brief Guide to Good Typography.” It’s designed for busy students, so it’s brief. It’s not designed for professional designers, so it only covers the basics. I try to cover those elements of good typography that are the easiest to use and make the most improvement. If you find it  helpful, I’m very happy for you to share it far and wide.

A brief guide to good typography

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Some notes from fun reading: Erasmus, Original Text, Shorter Reading, Spurgeon, Al Capone(!)


I’ve been trying to read a few works that have been around for a few years that, for some reason, I haven’t read until now. What follows are some thoughts that are probably old hat to everyone else. It’s a longish post with some tangents and random thoughts.

I. Rethinking New Testament Textual Criticism, ed. David Alan Black

Book coverA solid little book. The essays are certainly valuable in themselves, but I wanted to point out a couple of things from Moisés Silva’s response at the end. Silva describes himself as “an unrepentant and unshaken Hortian” (p. 142), but makes the helpful observation that Hort was really not doing anything new. Silva writes (p. 142):

“Keep in mind that what Hort did—in collaboration with Westcott and, less directly, Lightfoot—was primarily to synthesize and logically articulate nineteenth-century text-critical scholarship, which was itself the culmination of intensive work tracing its lineage back to Bengel in the eighteenth century, Bentley in the seventeenth century, and Erasmus in the sixteenth century. Yes, Erasmus, because even the creator of what would later be known as the textus receptus was absolutely committed to the very principles that lie at the foundations of WH’s accomplishments.” 

Silva’s words here stuck out to me because it’s something I’ve been saying for a little while. Was Erasmus doing the exact same thing as text critics today? Well, not exactly the same thing. However, the more I read his annotations, and assuming I have at least a working understanding of how textual criticism is done today (a premise to which I am sure somebody somewhere might object), the more difficult it is for me to escape the conclusion that Erasmus was very much in the same trajectory of what we are doing today. One difference is that it is clear from Erasmus' annotations that it was not always his intention to give the original text [see note at the end of this post]. Some might claim that this is not a goal today [Warning: tangent coming], but 1. it certainly is for some of us, and 2. Even some scholars who might not affirm the importance of the original text still function as if that is something we’re after and also something that basically can be obtained. On this point, Silva points to Ehrman’s Orthodox Corruption of Scripture to demonstrate this point (p. 149):

Although [Orthodox Corruption of Scripture] is appealed to in support of blurring the notion of an original text, there is hardly a page in that book that does not in fact mention such a text or assume its accessibility. ‘Why is such-and-such a reading in Mark a later corruption and not original? Because Mark (authorial intent!) would not likely have said such a thing.’ Indeed, Ehrman’s book is unimaginable unless he can identify an initial form of the text that can be differentiated from a later alteration.

Monday, September 14, 2020

New Open Access Handbook of Stemmatology


De Gruyter has just published a major new handbook on stemmatology, i.e., the study of textual relations. The full title is Handbook of Stemmatology: History, Methodology, Digital Approaches. I sampled a few chapters over the weekend and I am looking forward to reading further. The format recalls another major open access introduction, Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies: An Introduction. Like that volume, this one is organized by subject areas that each have their own subeditor and contributors. Many of the names I recognize as leaders in the field. As with most handbooks, the goal is not to break new ground so much as to give the lay of the land. 

Here is the publisher’s description:

Stemmatology studies aspects of textual criticism that use genealogical methods to analyse a set of copies of a text whose autograph has been lost. This handbook is the first to cover the entire field, encompassing both theoretical and practical aspects of traditional as well as modern digital methods and their history. As an art (ars), stemmatology’s main goal is editing and thus presenting to the reader a historical text in the most satisfactory way. As a more abstract discipline (scientia), it is interested in the general principles of how texts change in the process of being copied. Thirty eight experts from all of the fields involved have joined forces to write this handbook, whose eight chapters cover material aspects of text traditions, the genesis and methods of traditional “Lachmannian” textual criticism and the objections raised against it, as well as modern digital methods used in the field. The two concluding chapters take a closer look at how this approach towards texts and textual criticism has developed in some disciplines of textual scholarship and compare methods used in other fields that deal with “descent with modification”. The handbook thus serves as an introduction to this interdisciplinary field.

– First systematic coverage of stemmatology as a field within textual criticism.
– Written by 38 experts in fields from various philologies to biology and information theory.
– Illustrations and many practical examples from a wide range of disciplines are provided to render the content more accessible.

H/T: Georgi Parpulov 

Monday, September 07, 2020

Shao on the Codicology of GA 2860


Last week in my textual criticism course we had a nice lecture from Jessica Shao on GA 2860. It’s a manuscript she worked on through the Green Scholars Initiative with Amy Anderson and her students at North Central University. They had multiple leaves from 2860 which turned out to match those at the Holy Land Experience in Florida.

Thursday, September 03, 2020

Gorgias Open Repository, Including Codex Zacynthius


Gorgias Press has just posted about their Open Repository. It looks to be a collection of all their open access books. There are a number of books of interest to text critics, a few of which have been known about for some time. But I wanted especially to highlight the inclusion of Kiraz’s great book on the Syriac dot and the two new volumes in the Text and Studies series on Codex Zacynthius edited by Hugh Houghton et al. Here are the descriptions of the latter two:

This book consists of a series of studies of Codex Zacynthius (Cambridge, University Library MS Add. 10062), the earliest surviving New Testament commentary manuscript in catena format. A research project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council has produced new multispectral images of the palimpsest undertext in order to enable a thorough investigation of the manuscript and the creation of a complete electronic edition. This volume, co-authored by the members of the project, will provide a full account of the research undertaken by the project. Many advances have resulted from this research, which will be presented here for the first time in print.

This book is the first-ever edition of the complete palimpsest undertext of Codex Zacynthius (Cambridge, University Library MS Add. 10062), the earliest surviving New Testament commentary manuscript in catena format. It relies on new multispectral images produced by a research project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council in 2018.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Reviews of Sabar’s New Book on the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife

Ariel Sabar’s new book on the saga of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife releases tomorrow and already there have been a slate of glowing book reviews. My copy is on pre-order so I have not read it. But all accounts so far are that it is a page-turner with important lessons for those of us who ply the scholarly trade. Here are some excerpts for you from the reviews I’ve read so far.
Veritas book cover

Lucas Wittmamn at Time Magazine
In our moment of truthiness, to borrow a term from Stephen Colbert, Veritas offers a vital lesson less about Christianity than about what happens when a scholar decides that the story is more important than the truth. King had spent her career presenting an important scholarly narrative about the need to re-evaluate and reinterpret the canonical story of Christianity, to allow for women to play a central role and to question some of the central tenets of how established churches told the world’s most famous story. But in Sabar’s convincing and damning assessment, when it came to Jesus’ wife, she bypassed the facts, ignored peers who warned her something was amiss and failed to thoroughly interrogate how Fritz came to possess this stunning artifact.
Katherine A. Powers at the Minneapolis Star Tribune
You could not find a better demonstration of the central truth about forgeries: that historical verisimilitude does not lie in reflecting the sensibility of the past but rather in fulfilling the persuasions and aspirations of the present. But there is more to this story than wishful thinking. Why did King suddenly change her mind about the authenticity of the scrap of papyrus and decide to accept it? Why did she move so quickly in presenting it to the world?

It would be unfair to tell you, for, in truth, the book is as good as a detective novel, possessing plot, subplots, hidden motives, bees in eccentric bonnets and startling revelations.
Alex Beam at the Wall St. Journal (paywalled)
‘Hotwife’ Pornographer Gulls Harvard Prof With ‘Wife of Jesus’ Hoax.” The headlines could have been worse for Karen King, the Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard University. But not much worse.
David Mikis in Tablet
Veritas is a gripping thriller, and a perfect beach read. I don’t want to spoil it, so I won’t reveal the possible involvement of Harvard’s administrators in the Jesus’ Wife fiasco. Suffice it to say that Harvard, not just King, fell for Fritz’s tantalizing papyrus. Sabar’s book adds to one’s sense that the ivory tower is tottering, with professors peddling wishful thinking that masquerades as scholarship, and letting their progressive values freely rewrite history.
Candida Moss in The Daily Beast
The negative reviews raise questions as to why King went ahead with her announcement and why the editors of HTR would allow publication to proceed. Under ordinary circumstances, it would have been rejected. HTR had been spooked, Sabar reveals, but published it in 2014 and without peer-reviewing the scientific data supplied in her article. (The editors at the time have recently been replaced.) Sabar adds that King refused to allow a (negative) response to be published alongside her article in HTR and that when she released her story to the press she did so on the condition that they only speak to pre-approved scholars. Had King not been a senior figure in the field, and had the editors of the journal not been her immediate colleagues, the outcome might have been different.