Saturday, April 29, 2006

Edinburgh Textual Criticism Conference

The textual criticism conference held by the Center for the Study of Christian Origins at New College Edinburgh on 27 April was a resounding success. Full credit to Paul Foster as organizer/co-ordinator of the event. The three papers from Klaus Wachtel and Holger Strutwolf of the Institute fur neutestamentliche Textforschung were informative and covered the methodology behind the Editio Critica Maior, the forthcoming NA28, and a criticism of the standard formulation of text-types.

A summary of the papers is being posted by Michael Leary at his blog Ekthesis. Who evidently took better notes that I did and his summary and assessment are worth reading.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Interview with Maurice Robinson

Dave Black has posted two interviews with Maurice Robinson about his approach to NT textual criticism:
Interview One
Interview Two

Student's Guide to Textual Criticism

Also noted by Justin Taylor:

Paul D. Wegner, A Student's Guide to Textual Criticism of the BibleIts History, Methods and Results (IVP, 2006)—334 pages for just $14.40. Unusually this book seems to focus on both testaments.

IVP publicity here.

Commendations by Walter Kaiser and Bruce Waltke here.

Ehrman vs Bock on women

As noted by Justin Taylor on Between Two Worlds:

'Bart Ehrman and Darrell Bock debate textual criticism online. Ehrman says scribes intentionally downplayed women's leadership. Bock says Today's Bibles are faithful to the original text.'

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

“Light” in Isa 53.11 and its possible effect upon Christian Resurrection Theology

Here’s a brief comparison of three translations of Isaiah 53.11

ESV: Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

RSV: he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities.

NRSV: Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge. The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

In translating the verse there is some debate as to what the Servant sees: (1) the fruit of his work (KJV, NKJV, RSV), (2) “light” meaning life, resurrection, vindication etc (NRSV, NIV, NJB), or (3) something unspecified (ESV).

Part of the problem is that there is no reference to “light” in the MT, Vulgate or Peshitta (hence the omission from the ESV, NASB etc) but it is included as part of the LXX and 1QIsa A and B. Additionally in the Isaiah Targum, it states that the Servant will see the “retribution” of his enemies. The ambiguity of modern translations derives from the textual confusion as to what the Servant sees after his suffering. It is quite possible that “light” was added in certain textual traditions in order to clarify this ambiguity. In this sense “light” could refer to either continued life in the face of death (Ps 36:9, 56:13) or life somehow attained beyond death (Ps 49:19; Job 33:28, 30, cf. 1 Clem 16:12).

In Jewish literature of the second-temple era it was possible to regard “light” as a catchword for “resurrection life”. Although the equation is somewhat debated (it could in some instances refer to the immortality of the soul), nevertheless several passages appear to link “light” with the life of the eschatological resurrection: 1 En 58:3; 92:3-5; 108:12-13; 2 En 65:8; Ps. Sol. 3:12; 1QS 4:8; Sib Or 1.379. If the resurrection connotations of “light” are imported into Isa 53.11 then in the words of G. E. Nickelsburg: “For Isaiah the resurrection of the righteous is in itself the vindication of the righteous” (Resurrection, Immortality, and Eternal Life in Intertestamental Judaism [HTS 26; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1972] 19).

Early Christian interpretation of Jesus’ death and resurrection was understood via the grid of Isa 53.11-12 where the death and resurrection of Jesus was prefigured in the suffering and vivification of the Servant of Isaiah. It is this template that arguably stands behind the pre-Pauline formula of Rom 4:25 where Jesus “was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification”. See further the references to the resurrection of the Servant/Jesus in 1 Clem. 16.12 and Justin, Apol. 1.51.

Thus, the interpolation of “light” in Isa 53.11 (if it was an interpolation?), particularly via the Septuagint, arguably affected the resurrection theology of the early Christians where it was understood as both (a) the vindication of Jesus, and (b) as part of the justification of those whom he represented. How early this influence goes back is disputable as some do not see in Rom 4.25 any echo of Isaiah 53 (e.g. Kasemann, Romans, 128). In any case, the post-NT reading of Isa 53.11 with an emphasis on resurrection is very much in keeping with pre-Christian understandings of this passage in the LXX and 1QIsa.

More on P113 (the other side)

Further to our previous post (here) which attempted a careful reading of one side of this small fragment (P. Oxy 4497), I shall continue with the reading.

Up-dated: see below

Here is a picture:

On this side we have clear traces of letters above the first clear line. None were visible on the other side which raised the question as to whether we had the upper margin. This evidence suggests that we don't have the upper margin. So we have an extra line on this side:

Line 1:
Not too much is visible here. The first visible ink looks like the bottom of a left-down diagonal and the second visible trace looks like a part of a lower horizontal line. The angles suggest that these must be parts of the same letter. Three or four basic possibilities for this combination: delta, alpha, lamda, chi. Does the horizontal line continue right across between the two traces? If so then probably a delta. But it doesn't seem to. No other examples of any of these letters on either side of the fragment except for alpha (of which we have many examples). Potentially alpha, although other letters can't be ruled out.
There is some kind of a dot/trace to the left of the tear between the lines. If this was ink it would have to be a long tail (psi, phi?), but I don't think it is the same colour as the ink. I think it is just a spot in the papyrus, we had a few of these on the other side.
The other traces are simply vertical lines. The first is reasonably close to the preceeding trace then there is a pretty long gap to the second vertical descender. These are compatible with loads of different letters so I don't think there is much to be gained from listing them all here. We could certainly exclude some letters, so the traces are relevant to the identification of the text, but we'll leave that open for now.

Line 1: ]. . . [ (this doesn't look like much yet does it?)

Line 2:
Ah, some clear letters. No real problems here: MU (with a big space to the left), HTA, KAPPA (this has lost a bit of the vertical line, but the angles of the diagonals and the general spacing are very similar to the two clear kappas, and there is nothing else it could be!), ALPHA.
In connection with the other side we raised the question as to whether the large space to the right of the existing letters meant we had the margin. The evidence of this side is tantalising. The space to the left of the MU is bigger than most/all of the spacings between letters elsewhere. So it could be the left-hand margin. On the other hand the space is not large enough to say definitely that we have the margin, especially since MH could be introducing a new clause and thus be given a punctuation-type space. Basic gut instinct suggests this is the left hand margin, but can that be proven?

Line 2: M H K A

Up-date begins here:

Line 3:
The first letter is missing, but the line above it (and the following two letters) is visible. So with NU (the downward slope of the horizontal line distinguishes this from the HTA in the line above, which would also nto make any sense as a NS) and IOTA abbreviated the only option is PNI, the nomen sacrum for PNEUMATI. The next two letters are also clear as OMICRON and UPSILON. The mark to the left of the omicron in this case does look ink-coloured and may be a punctuation mark. Hence:

Line 3: P] N I : O Y [ (unfortunately I can't put in the over-lines and the colon stands for a dot)

Line 4:
The first letter is a little unclear. First impression is that it is a GAMMA, closer inspection suggests that the horizontal line and the dot are not actually joined - in which case it would be an IOTA followed by a punctuation point. A problem here is that this dot, if it is punctuation; is different from the proposed punctuation point in the previous line (which was more like a short line than a dot). I'd like to look at these with some more magnification to compare them. Also it will be interesting to see how the punctuation may or may not work with the text once identified. For the moment I'll opt for IOTA dot. Then we have an OMICRON. The next letter has only some traces remaining and a mark above it. The trace of the letter is of small horizontal stroke followed by a vertical element. It is a little odd and doesn't really correspond to a standard shape. Fortunately we have already noted the unusual UPSILON with this feature on the other side.
Here is a picture. The additional trace, which is a r.h. upward diagonal also clearly fits with this model and thus an UPSILON is the best explanation. Above the UPSILON is a mark which looks like a breathing mark (and almost certainly is), the only question I have in my mind is whether the mark comes from the same scribe as the text as the ink looks a different colour.

As regards the next trace it looks like something in the interlinear area - it is spatially equivalent to the breathing mark rather than the top of a letter. Not too sure what this is.

So, line 4: ?] I : O Y [? (plus breathing and another interlinear mark).

Line 5: Well, the second letter is clearly a KAPPA, the first letter is less clear. It looks like we have part of a vertical upright stroke and a (rather short and thin) upper r.h. diagonal. The only obvious candidate is UPSILON, even though it is not the standard shape. But the other upsilons are similar enough to confirm this.
line 5: ]Y K [

Line 1: ]. . . [
Line 2: ]M H K A
Line 3: P] N I : O Y [ (with over-lines and the colon stands for a dot)
Line 4: ?] I : O Y [? (plus breathing and another interlinear mark)
line 5: ]Y K [

NB. I said previously that the nomen sacrum - PNEUMATI - was probably critical in the identification of the piece (at least as proposed) as from Romans. With no complete words I doubt if anyone would have bothered it it wasn't for this indication (both in form and content) that this was an early Christian text, possibly Scripture. Even so the fact that we have no complete words might encourage some caution as we explore whether this proposed identification is actually correct (more on this later in another post).

Does pointing matter?

Does Hebrew pointing matter? This may seem a strange question from someone who spent the good part of five years of his life teaching students to point Hebrew (see my exasperated The Great Pointing Crisis). However, I am asking it more as a theological question and in relation to evangelical doctrines of scripture.

Most are probably familiar with the story of how Elias Levita (1469-1549) called into question the antiquity of the Masoretic pointing and how the question of the antiquity and inspiration of the vowels became a matter of special controversy in the seventeenth century. Key elements included the bringing to Europe of the first copy of a Samaritan Pentateuch by Pietro della Valle in 1616, with a script that was (rightly) judged archaic and that lacked pointing. Johannes Buxtorf (snr) attempted to refute Elias Levita’s contention that the vowels were late, and this contention was continued by his son, Johannes Buxtoft (jnr), who particularly strove with Louis Cappel. Very much connected with this is John Owen’s controversy with the London Polyglot of 1657[1658].

Even towards the end of the seventeenth century the Helvetic Consensus Formula (1675) said that:
‘... The Hebrew original of the OT which we have received and to this day do retain as handed down by the Hebrew Church, “who had been given the oracles of God” (Rom 3:2), is, not only in its consonants, but in its vowels either the vowel points themselves, or at least the power of the points not only in its matter, but in its words, inspired by God.’ (Canon II, Klauber’s translation)
Subsequent opinion has concluded that those who argued for the antiquity or inspiration of the vowels were wrong.

Some will also be aware that there has been some movement towards re-establishing the antiquity of the vowels—not arguing that they were ancient written entities, but rather affirming the antiquity of the reading tradition. Many who work within Masoretic studies find this plausible, and my Doktorvater, the great Semitist Geoffrey Khan, always used to say that the vowels were as old as the consonants. Even the Samaritans have their own oral system of pointing (with occasional marks in manuscripts) and this has been studied by Stefan Schorch (Die Vokale des Gesetzes: Die samaritanische Lesetradition als Textzeugin der Tora 1. Band 1: Das Buch Genesis [Beihefte zur Zeitschrift fur die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 339; Walter de Gruyter, 2004]). It both agrees and disagrees with the Masoretic system.

I should like to distinguish between (a) the pointing as a source of information to us about ancient Hebrew and (b) the pointing as a necessary guide in the identification of lexemes and grammatical forms in particular instances.

It seems to me that the pointing is very important in giving us a knowledge of the language and in moving us closer to the position that a native speaker would be in (function a), but is relatively unimportant in actually identifying the lexical or grammatical forms being used (function b). I read through Jeremiah 36 and Genesis 1 last night in Hebrew with this in mind and came to the conclusion that with competence in the language (based on a knowledge of pointing) it was possible to identify the lexemes and grammatical forms in all words in these texts. I wonder how much this is the case across the Hebrew Bible.

Often when people have sought to disregard pointing, they have disregarded it in both functions a and b. Such was the case with Dahood. I wonder, however, what people think about the following as a possible evangelical approach:

To accept that pointing is a reliable guide to ancient Hebrew, to its repertory of lexemes and grammatical structures, but to argue that it is not necessary for the identification of lexemes and grammatical structures in particular cases. This would seem to me to have the advantage of being able to maintain that the ancient written text (consonants comprising words with clear lexical identity and in specific grammatical forms) is self-sufficient provided one has (from somewhere) expertise in the language.

Whether the object marker is pointed with sere or seghol is not relevant for grammatical function or lexical identification. Neither is the question of whether a form is in pause or not (though unit division itself can be sematically important).

The Helvetic Consensus Formula was IMHO wrong in attributing ‘inspiration’ to the vowels. However, I would like to think they were particularly striving to be able to maintain that words in the text had particular grammatical forms and lexical identities. If so, they would not have been so much in error.


Monday, April 24, 2006

SBL International


The programme for the SBL International Conference (Edinburgh, 2-5 July: general web page) includes some interesting offerings in 'Working with Biblical Manuscripts'. The on-line program includes abstracts of some of the following.

7/03/2006; 8:45 AM to 12:00 PM. Theme: The Use of the Codex; David Trobisch, Bangor Theological Seminary, Presiding

  • Larry W. Hurtado, University of Edinburgh: Does Size Matter? Early Christian Codex-sizes and Significance (30 min)
  • Malcolm Choat, Macquarie University: Combinations of Christian works in Codices (30 min)
  • Scott David Charlesworth, University of New England: Christian Preference for the Codex as a Window on Textual Authority and Comparative Transmission of Canonical and Non-canonical Gospels in the Second Century (30 min)
    Break (45 min)
  • Don Barker, Macquarie University-Sydney: Christian and Secular Codices from Oxyrhynchus (30 min)
  • David J. Trobisch, Bangor Theological Seminary: What is There in a Picture? An Introduction to Codex Washingtonianus W 032. (30 min)

    7/04/2006; 8:45 AM to 12:00 PM
  • Tommy Wasserman, Lund University: P78 – the Epistle of Jude on an amulet? (30 min)
  • Pablo Torijano Morales, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Andrés Piquer-Otero, University of California-Berkeley and Juan-José Alarcón: Text-critical Value of Secondary Versions in the Study of The Septuagint 3-4 Kingdoms (30 min)
  • John P. Flanagan, Leiden University: Isaiah 6:13: A New Look at an Old Textual Problem (30 min)
    Break (45 min)
  • Ekkehard Henschke, Oxford: Tischendorf's Codex Sinaiticus and its Modern Presentation (30 min)
  • Elvira Martin Contreras, Oriente Antiguo Instituto Filologia: M1’s Massoretic Appendices: A New Description (30 min)

    7/05/2006; 8:45 AM to 11:30 AM
  • Holger Szesnat, CambridgeTheological Federation: Teaching the Text-critical Basics (30 min)
  • Kathleen Maxwell, Santa Clara University: The Relationship Between Paris 54 and Princeton, Garrett 3 (30 min)
  • Alanna Nobbs, Macquarie University: Papyri from the Rise of Christianity in Egypt: An Overview of the Project (30 min)
    Break (45 min)
  • Edwin Judge, Macquarie University: Papyrus Evidence for the Appearance of Distinctively Christian Names (30 min)

Hodayot as witnesses to Psalter variants

The thirteenth joint meeting of the Oudtestamentisch Werkgezelschap and the Society for Old Testament Study is being held in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, 21-24 August 2006. In the programme I note that, on 23 August, John Elwolde (UBS, Valladolid, Spain) is giving a paper entitled 'Evidence for Textual Variation in the Hodayot's Use of the Psalter'. [For any readers not familiar with the term, the hodayot(h) are 'praises' or hymns found amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls.] I rather doubt whether there is any method that could establish the existence of new Psalter variants merely on the basis of hodayoth, but that is probably not what the paper is trying to achieve.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Samaritan Pentateuch online

It's probably been online since 2002 (that's the most obvious interpretation of the page), but until today I had not realised that von Gall's edition of the Samaritan Pentateuch was available online. To see it click here. Now admittedly there are some weaknesses with this edition, most notably its tendency to give preference to Masoretic spellings. Nevertheless, it is still the best edition of the whole.

On the same site you will also find von Soden's Die Schriften des Neuen Testaments, the Cambridge edition of the Septuagint, Field's Hexapla, and many more goodies including images or editions of a number of important manuscripts.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Grinfield Lectures


Grinfield Lectures on the Septuagint (Second Series), University of Oxford

Origen's hexapla: the development of Septuagint tradition and its reception in antiquity

Professor Peter J. Gentry, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Dr Bas ter Haar Romeny, Leiden, Dr Alison Salvesen, Mansfield College, and the Revd Dr Gerard Norton, OP, Birmingham (retired), will deliver the second series of Grinfield Lectures at 5 p.m. on the days shown in the Examination Schools.

Professor Peter J. Gentry Tue. 25 Apr.: 'The interdependence of the Old Greek and the Three in Ecclesiastes.'

The Revd Dr Gerard Norton and Dr Alison Salvesen Wed. 26 Apr.: 'Preparing a new edition of the hexaplaric Psalter: the significance of the material discovered since 1875.'

Dr Bas ter Haar Romeny Thur. 27 Apr.: 'Towards a new edition of Field? Challenges for database and publication.'

(with thanks to Jim Aitken for details)

Greek Accents in Eight Lessons

Tangential to TC, but still interesting, here is some information gratefully received from Jim Aitken (can anyone identify the ms of Rom. 14:22 ff. on the front cover?).

Greek Accents in Eight Lessons

Dr John A.L. Lee
Published by the Ancient History Documentary Research Centre, Macquarie University.

Greek Accents in Eight Lessons (2005) is specially designed to teach the basics of ancient Greek accentuation to those who have learnt some Greek but are not sure of their accents. This small book (30 + vi pages) takes the user through the essentials in eight easy lessons, with exercises – answers are provided. John Lee is a graduate of Sydney (BA 1966) and Cambridge (PhD 1970). He taught ancient Greek at the University of Sydney for nearly thirty years before his retirement in 2001.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Göttingen edition of Ruth

The Göttingen Septuagint edition of Ruth is due to appear in June. Here is a warm tribute by J.W. Wevers to its editor Udo Quast, who passed away at the end of last year.

Van Seters, The Edited Bible

John Van Seters, The Edited Bible: The Curious History of the 'Editor' in Biblical Criticism (Eisenbrauns, May 2006). $39.50 / 428 pp.

Eisenbrauns blurb:
"There is a generally accepted notion in biblical scholarship that the Bible as we know it today is the product of editing from its earliest stages of composition through to its final, definitive and 'canonical' textual form. So persistent has been this idea since the rise of critical study in the seventeenth century and so pervasive has it become in all aspects of biblical study that there is virtually no reflection on the validity of this idea" (from the Introduction). Van Seters proceeds to survey the history of the idea of editing, from its origins in the pre-Hellenistic Greek world, through Classical and Medieval times, into the modern era. He discusses and evaluates the implications of the common acceptance of "editing" and "editors/redactors", and concludes that this strand of scholarship has led to serious misdirection of research in modern times.

For further details check the Eisenbrauns website.

'Kiss the son' in Psalm 2:12


Liudger Sabottka, 'Ps 2,12: "Küsst den Sohn!"?', Biblica 87 (2006) 96-97.

Abstract: The long-standing difficulty in Ps 2,12 נשקו-בר is tentatively resolved by deriving נשקו from נשק II – 'to be armed', and interpreting the verbal form according to Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, § 52h, as 'privative Piel': 'to be/get disarmed', whereas בר takes its normal meaning 'pure, sincere'.

I've never found the rendering 'kiss the son' quite so problematic in the context of Psalm 2, but clearly many translations (e.g. NRSV, NEB) think they can produce something yet more plausible.

Lord's prayer doxology in different TRs

I'm wondering if someone can give me a brief overview of the presence or absence of the phrase οτι σου εστιν η βασιλεια και η δυναμις και η δοξα εις τους αιωνας αμην in the various Textus Recepti of Matthew 6:13. The phrase is lacking from Tyndale's 1526 NT, which would suggest to me that it was absent from Erasmus' 3rd edition, but I don't have an easy way of checking this. Obviously the phrase is present in Stephens 1550 and Scrivener 1894.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

ESV conjectures in Jeremiah 18:14

The English Standard Version is a translation that I would like to like, since I think that literary qualities are often a desirable feature of Bible translation and that 'essentially literal' translation is also important for parts of the Bible (e.g. John's Gospel). However, I am finding it hard to appreciate the rather large number of conjectural emendations in the OT. A particularly bad example I have just come across is in Jeremiah 18:14 where the ESV reads 'Does the snow of Lebanon leave the crags of Sirion? Do the mountain waters run dry, the cold flowing streams?' (bolded words represent either conjectures or points where the translators depart from the Hebrew to follow something unspecified). Since every single word in MT is a well attested Hebrew word I wonder why they have felt it necessary to move so far away from the mss. Here I offer my own translation and paraphrase, but I'd be delighted for any suggested improvements.

'Does the snow of Lebanon leave the rock of the field? Can exotic cool flowing waters be uprooted [to be carried elsewhere]?' No, sorry. Given that refridgerators have not yet been invented good drinks have to be taken in situ if they are to retain their quality. However, God's people have moved away from their good situation.

The LXX's μη εκλειψουσιν απο πετρας μαστοι η χιων απο του Λιβανου μη εκκλινει υδωρ βιαιως ανεμω φερομενον can probably all be explained as a translation based on the consonants of MT with daleth for resh read in קרים.

MS 2866=2483–sold by Ferrini, registred twice

One of the recent registered MSS in the Liste is 2866 (= MS 2932 in the Schøyen collection in Oslo). The owner was kind enough to let me examine Jude in the MS. When I had entered the data in my computer I dicovered that it had the same text as another MS 2483, including marginal corrections, etc. It turned out that even the line breaks were identical. I doublechecked with Maurice Robinson who had examined the Pericope of the Adulteress in the MS, and he compared the two transcriptions and confirmed that text and line breaks are identical, i.e. this is one and the same MS, which has been registred twice in the official list.

The owner told me via his librarian that it had come from a private collection in France, sold to him by Ferrini. According to the Kurzgefasste Liste, 2483 was owned by a René Bonjean in Bulligny, Château de Tumejus. I am not surprised that the institute in Münster has not kept track of these transactions which involved the infamous bookdealer Bruce Ferrini, who was also involved in the transactions with the recently published Gospel of Jude (which he also offered to Schøyen in 2000).

Anyhow, the MS is now registered twice in the Liste, and there are some discrepancies between these entries in terms of dating, numbers of pages and format. My own examination of the manuscript indicates that the data in the old entry of 2483 concerning numbers of pages (348) and format (21,7x15,4) is correct. Therefore I have chosen in my file to retain also this dating (13th century rather than c. 1300). The MS is presented online at:

(I have notified the INTF in Münster.)

UPDATE: The INTF has now confirmed to me that they will delete entry 2866 and register: 2866 = 2483.

UPDATE: The librarian of the Schøyen collection has now counted the number of folios, and indeed there are only 340 left, which means that 8 folios have gone missing. Peter Heas was correct in his suspicion (see in comments below).

There are some notes about the MS in Kurt Aland, "Zur Liste der neutestamentlichen Handschfriften. V." in ZNW 45 (1954):201. According to Aland there was on fol. 347 verso an owner's note (Athos, Lavra) and a buyer's note (the MS was sold in Istanbul, 1925). Further, fol. 348 was empty – I do not know what was on fols. 341-346, but probably no portion of NT text since the current owner has not even noticed that the folios were missing until I told him so. Perhaps someone could not resist the temptation to remove the folios and sell them separately or use them for other purposes ... The only person we know of who has been in possession of the MS between the time that photos were taken and Schøyen bought the MS is Bruce Ferrini.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Conference of Song of Songs, Milan

The forthcoming conference on the Song of Songs in the Middle Ages (Milan, 22-24 May, 2006) will have some focus on the Latin manuscript tradition. See here.

Alexander Souter Lecture and Colloquium

I suppose that it's rather short notice to give of a lecture and colloquium related to textual criticism in Aberdeen. However, on 19 April (i.e. this Wednesday) there will be a colloquium on Alexander Souter, who produced Novum Testamentum Graece: Textui a Retractatoribus Anglis Adhibito Brevem Adnotationem Criticam Subiecit Alexander Souter (Oxford, 1910). We hope thereafter to have an annual lecture in his honour. Full details of the colloquium including speakers David Dumville, Jane Stevenson, Jennifer Carter, Peter Noble, Giovanni Orlandi (on 'Souter and textual criticism'), Simon Young and Winrich Loehr are to be found here.

There should be plenty of opportunity to raise germane text-critical questions. I will let people know more about the publication of material from the colloquium as soon as it becomes clear what plans are.

There is no charge for attendance at the colloquium.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

6 6 6 or 6 1 6 ??

The Oxyrhynchus guys still have not figured out that it was a reference to RONALD (6) WILSON (6) REAGAN (6). They have however put up a picture of the earliest 616 reading for Rev. 13:18, and a discussion of the numerology involved.

They did not mention the possibility of Hebrew gematria in the interpretation of the verse. Any takes on 666? (I do not really think it is Reagan.)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Another Judas, certainly not the betrayer...

Judas is now in focus, but there were more than one Judas...

The superscript to Jude is not a part of the text proper, and therefore it was subject to considerable expansion by scribes; some scribes apparently were afraid that the readers would think that the apostle Judas was the author; hence, the superscript of MS 581 reads: αλλος ιουδας ου μη δε ο προδοτης την επιστολην πασιν εθνεσιν γραφει.

Another curious note on a "Jude-confusion":
In The Crosby-Schoyen Codex MS 193 in the Schoyen Collection (ed. J. E. Goehring; CSCO 521; Leuven, 1990), J. Robinson has a chapter on the history and codicology of the Coptic MS, in which he mentions on p. xxxv a brief article that appeared in New York Times, where it was announced that the University of Mississippi had acquired two biblical MSS, among which was the "Book of Jude." When I read this, I mailed J. Robinson asking him about this reference, but he referred me to C. W. Hedrick who had helped him with that material. It turned out that Hedrick, like Robinson, had no idea about that MS either and he replied, "The description of MC [Mississippi Codex] II is on p. xxxvi in Goehring the contents of MC I are listed in note 24 ... Perhaps the reporter got the report confused?" Probably the reporter mixed up the contents of the Mississippi codices with the Bodmer miscellaneous codex (with P72) in Bodmer's collection. I haven't read the original New York Times' article, so I don't know more details.

UPDATE: John McChesney-Yong sent me the original article in New York Times, "TWO ANCIENT MSS. BEING DECIPHERED" (NYT, Feb 12, 1956. pg. 107). The University had bought the two codices for $5,000. The editing of the MSS was entrusted to Allen Cabaniss and William W. Willis.

Today one of these codices is in the Schøyen collection, see: Here we read that one of the original editors, William Willis, subsequently came into possession of a fragment of the codex! (After 1952, there were 41 fragments, very sad...)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Evangelicals and the TC of the Qur'an

As a result of comments on a previous message I have become minded to express a few thoughts on an evangelical approach to the textual criticism of the Qur'an. It is especially important that evangelicals should be able to show that their approach is consistent with their theology.

Thesis 1: Evangelicals should beware of wholesale adoption of the conclusions of 'Orientalist' scholars who work basically within a secular framework. I have seen a tendency amongsts some evangelicals to accept without criticism the conclusions of scholars like Nöldeke on the Qur'an, when the same evangelicals would not similarly accept Nöldeke's conclusions on the Pentateuch. Evangelicals have options open to them to explain the Qur'an's origins that secular scholars do not. They also may have a greater understanding of the nature of religious commitment and the way this affects the choices of scribes in the transmission of religious texts.

Thesis 2: Evangelicals approach the textual criticism of the Bible with sympathy because they 'know' that God has spoken truthfully through Holy Scripture. Being evangelicals they naturally do not believe that God has similarly spoken through the Qur'an (and they might be able to give some justifications for this belief; however, this is not the forum to justify such a belief). However, the divine imperative to judge impartially means that they must give as sympathetic a hearing to any explanation of a Qur'anic 'problem' as they would to an explanation of a biblical 'problem'.

Thesis 3: Evangelicals do not believe that historical information may justifiably be held back from investigation and therefore expect information about biblical manuscripts to be made widely available. They therefore have every reason to call the relevant authorities to make early copies of the Qur'an available in scholarly editions, facsimiles and digital images.

Thesis 4: Just as evangelicals (or at least many in this blog) believe that theological reasoning may be used in a justification of an evangelical approach to textual criticism of the Bible, so also they should accept that Muslim scholars may legitimately seek to justify their approach to the text of the Qur'an within a theological framework.

Anecdote: In response to a written attack by some Muslim on the text of the Bible, I was approached by an evangelical apologetics organisation to write a response. I prepared a brief response which sought to justify an evangelical approach both theologically and historically and openly declared my evangelical commitment (or bias, if you prefer). The organisation decided not to publish it, perhaps because it was too brief, but I also suspect that they wanted me to pretend to be some 'neutral' academic who would come to the Bible's defence as an 'objective' observer. Why do apologists so often think that their arguments are more effective when they feign neutrality?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

'Anti-Priscan' tendency?

Dominika A. Kurek-Chomycz, 'Is There an “Anti-Priscan” Tendency in the Manuscripts? Some Textual Problems with Prisca and Aquila', JBL 125.1 (2006)107-28. See further

Friday, April 07, 2006

St. Judas?

A Gnostic gospel makes the headlines.,2933,190826,00.html

Thursday, April 06, 2006

P113: the Smallest NT Fragment in the Known Universe


As already noted in a previous post (which I think I may have set free into cyberspace [he means: 'I lost it' (ETC ed.)], while strangely connecting the comments from that post to this one - so you can follow the development of this if you are keen); P113 is the smallest portion of the NT ever identified and published (this is 2.7 x 2.4 cm; P52, which is pretty small, is comparatively huge at 8.9 x 5.8 cm). But it is still worth careful study, and because it is so small we can take a look at what goes into identifying and studying texts on papyrus.

Firstly we shall try to read this text. Beginning with just this one side.


OK. Let's start with the first line of the photo: only three immediately clear letters are the last three: K R I.
Qn. KRI is not a word, but does begin plenty of words. Certainly doesn't end any words, but no continuation visible to the right of the iota. So suspicion that perhaps we have the right hand margin - needs to be checked against other lines and the other side but the papyrus to the right of the iota looks clean and has plenty of space for another letter so the lack looks significant.

Backtracking to the beginning then: First letter only partially visible as curved cross stroke joining to top of strong horizontal. Not too many options for this - looks like a MU; but could conceivably be an iota with the trailing edge of a previous letter.
Second letter could be either a very large punctuation point or a very small omicron.
Third letter has a bit missing in the middle but top two small strokes and end of lower sloping tail is visible. Could conceivably be a strange psi with the upright missing in the damaged bit above the visible lines, but most likely an upsilon. In either case then the second letter cannot be a punctuation point since no words begin UKRI....
Conclusion for line 1: ]MOUKRI (r.h. margin)
Most likely construal as: ]MOU KRI

Three more things to note:
  1. there are no trailing 'legs' visible above this line. Not quite enough space there to suppose that this is the top margin (that would be a bonus!).
  2. the writing is along the fibres; what used to be called the recto: the right side for writing on papyrus (these days generally known, rather unromantically as an arrow ->). Now, who wants to have a go at line 2?
  3. five of these six letter-shapes are very relevant to describing the hand (and ultimately to dating this piece):
  • 1. mu with curved cross stroke
  • 2. tiny omicron
  • 3. upsilon with long sloping tail
  • 4. kappa with joined diagonals (upper diagonal straight, lower diagonal curved)
  • 5. upright rho with small enclosure.
  • I suppose, technically speaking, that the shape of the iota is also relevant to a description of the hand, but I'll pass that by here.
Line 2 is a bit more complicated than line 1. There are only two clear letters: 2nd letter: alpha and 4th letter: omicron. There are various types of damage and dots about too.
The first letter has a vertical upright and a horizontal upper stroke. Only three options: gamma, tau, or (less likely) a pi with an overrun. Unfortunately we don't seem to have clear examples of any of these letters to compare with. First instinct was a gamma, so we'll say G/T. The dots could just about be directly over each of the first two letters and if I thought they were ink I'd think they were textual markers, indicating problematic letters. But that is probably just an over-exotic imagination looking for such things among the dotty splotchiness of a damaged papyrus. If I had a microscope I'd have a look to see if they were ink; failing that I'll opt to ignore them.
It looks like there is a third letter to the right of the alpha but it is tricky to figure out. We have to ignore the trailing leg of the upsilon from the line above; other than that there seem to be faint traces of a horizontal line to the left of the hole and something underneath the hole. There is also a high mark to the right of the hole, but that is altogether of a stronger character than the other traces. So what is going on here?? Good question. If the first letter is a gamma we might anticipate a rho, making gar; but there is no way the high mark can reflect a rho (perhaps a rho could have stood in the hole?). More likely that mark might reflect punctuation (introduced either by the scribe or, if the colour is different, perhaps subsequently by a reader). If it is punctuation that will at least suggest that this ends a word, which will limit our options for these three letters, although of course we don't know (at this stage, without cheating!) how much space we've got before these three letters. So as for the third letter I have no idea what it could be. (Could there have been an erasure?)
Put it down as a [?]!So far: G/T A [?]. (not so good!)

Then we have omicron, pretty clear; slightly different from line one but still small.
Then letter four is a little strange. Basically it looks like an upsilon: vertical upright with two upper diagonals. But the r.h. upper diagonal is hardly visible and the l.h. upper diagonal is faint and curvy. Against it being an upsilon are two marked differences from the upsilon in line 1: the faint and curvy l.h. upper diagonal, and the lack of a long trailing leg. In favour of it being an upsilon is that nothing else is even close. The only other possibility I could come up with would be that it could be an iota with some sort of breathing. Against the iota theory is that it would still be a strange breathing mark and that the upper r.h. diagonal definitely exists. For the moment I'll opt for upsilon and explain the oddities simply on the basis that odd things happen when you are writing with a reed pen on a sheet of papyrus.
The final letter is pretty unclear and it is not helped by the tear (possibly this has slightly drifted apart, which could affect the angles). It would be possible to attempt to decide which letters this trace is compatible with, but it is getting late, so I'll shelve that until we have a proposed identification and then check with this letter. There is a bit of a mark in the 'Florida' section (see previous goofy comment), not clear at this stage whether that is ink (perhaps a trailing leg) or just a line in the papyrus; so can't completely confirm theory that the r.h. margin is here (although it looks possible, as one would expect some evidence of a letter in the available space.
So the summarise line 2: G/T A [?]. O U ?

Line 3: three clear letters: rho, omicron (very small again), alpha.
First letter has only the tip of what was presumably a horizontal line and the end of a r.h. upper diagonal. Not much to go on, but only two realistic alternatives: kappa and psi. We have a kappa in line 1 which would match onto these surviving pieces easily, so that has to be the likely candidate (also psi is generally fairly rare).
Not too clear what is happening after the alpha - some sort of a dot at a central height, but doesn't really look like ink (need that microscope); also some sort of mark/trace/dot at the lower edge. Probably nothing!
line 3: K R O A

Line 4 only has one clear letter: alpha.
Letter preceding alpha looks like it might have two horizontal strokes, or are they just lines in the papyrus?
After the alpha we have a kind of dot which doesn't look dotty, rather more like the lower bit of a horizontal stroke, but presumably damaged.

line 4: ? A ?


line 1: ]M O U K R I

line 2: ]G/T A [?]. O U ?

line 3: ]K R O A [

line 4: ]? A ? [

OK. Now I'm going to compare with Cockle (the editor of OxyPap 4497). Fortunately it checks out. He's got the text as well so (from Rom 2.12):

He also agrees that in line 2 the final letter of KRIQHSONTAI is smudged and may have been altered (but from what?). He also thinks that the trace at the end of line 2 is a 'line filler of diple form'. It doesn't look like a gamma, so that is probably reasonable. At the end of line 3 he reads a tau (with dot) - is this a bit optimistic?
At the start of line 4 he reads (and the text basically demands) a kappa, which would partly explain the two horizontals, although they aren't exactly in the right position for a kappa, but if the papyrus itself is damaged in the final line that may explain it.
Line 2 has 11 characters, line 3 has 13 characters, line 4 has 12 characters. Pretty short lines - there is only about as much missing to the left as is extant on the right.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Textual Criticism at ELF

The European Theologians Network, which forms part of the European Leadership Forum, will be running a session on New Testament textual criticism (see here). You have to apply and be accepted to be allowed to attend, but if you are European or involved in ministry in Europe then it is worthwhile trying to attend. Within the forum there is also a section on the textual criticism of the Qur'an.