Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Paul Foster on Prof Luhrman on Paul Foster on the Gospel of Peter

Another interesting item in Novum Testamentum is Paul Foster's paper 'The Disputed Early Fragments of the So-Called Gospel of Peter - Once Again' NovT 49 (2007) 402-406.

We noted Paul Foster's original article here; where I made the prophetic comment: "I suspect the Luhrmann's of this world will want to respond to Foster at some point."
Well Luhrmann did respond (NovT 48 (2006) 379-383) and now Foster is responding in his turn to what he sees as a personal attack. Such things are, unfortunately, extremely interesting and well worth reading.

J.K. Elliott, Supplement II

Keith Elliott has published a second supplement to his A Bibliography of Greek New Testament Manuscripts in the most recent issue of Novum Testamentum 49 (2007) 370-401.

While this will be of general interest, it also marks (I think) a significant moment in the history of this blog, since on p. 386 it includes a post on this blog among the bibliographical items cited. I am open to correction, but this is the first time I've noticed the ETC blog appearing in an academic journal. Hopefully it won't be the last time. So well done Tommy, and thanks to Keith for noticing us.

Another item worth noting is the number of ETC bloggers who appear in this supplement: Tommy Wasserman (whose name appears a phenomenal 11 times - don't get a big head Tommy, lots of them are still "forthcoming" and we know what that means don't we!); Peter M. Head (once sadly without the "M"); Dirk Jongkind (although the book doesn't appear); Michael Holmes; Peter Rodgers and Amy Anderson.

So well done all ETC bloggers for productive work on Greek NT manuscripts.

Answers to Dan Wallace Quiz

Dan has now published the answers he was aiming for in his quiz a couple of days ago (here), and it seems that we have done rather poorly (see the brief discussion here). I scored nil out of seven attempted questions, which, I think, looks impressive in comparison to my senior colleague’s nil out of ten.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Paragraphing, Punctuation, Orthography in GNT Editions (Ricoblog)

Over at Ricoblog, Rick Brannan continues to discuss the differences between Greek editions of the NT in the areas of paragraphing, punctuation, orthography, here. Rich raised the question on his blog earlier this month, here. Note the remark at the bottom of this latter (original post) about the "subparagraph breaks" in NA27, which Rick dicovered as he was working on the Logos Bible Software edition of NA27 (cf. screenshot displaying such a break before John 1:18). (I never noted these myself.)

Dan Wallace's TC Quiz for Students

Over at the Parchment and Pen Blog, Dan Wallace provides a TC quiz.

1. The first published Greek New Testament was:
a. UBS1
b. Complutensian Polyglot
c. Novum Instrumentum
d. Textus Receptus

2. How many of the original New Testament books still exist?
a. all of them
b. Paul’s letters
c. just the Gospel of John
d. none of them

3. How many manuscript copies of the Greek New Testament are known to exist today?
a. less than 50
b. approximately 2000
c. approximately 3000
d. more than 5000

4. A textual variant is:
a. the wording of a verse or passage found in one or more manuscripts
b. a word or phrase found in at least one manuscript that differs from the wording of the text printed by the editor(s) of a Greek New Testament
c. any place where the original wording of a document is in doubt or is not uniform among the manuscripts
d. a manuscript that contains a particular wording

5. The prevailing theory of textual criticism held today among scholars is known as:
a. reasoned eclecticism
b. majority text view
c. rigorous eclecticism
d. independent texttypes view
e. providential view

6. The oldest complete New Testament known to exist today is:
a. P52 (also known as Rylands 457)
b. Vaticanus (B)
c. Sinaiticus (a or Aleph)
d. Chester Beatty Papyri

7. Westcott and Hort were:
a. British scholars who developed a theory of textual criticism that is followed today in liberal seminaries
b. Theological liberals whose text-critical views can be entirely dismissed because these men were theological liberals and thus biased against the Bible
c. All of the above
d. None of the above

8. The long ending to Mark’s Gospel (Mark 16.9-20) is not found in:
a. Aleph and B
b. most ancient MSS
c. the Alexandrian texttype
d. the Caesarean witnesses

9. The total number of textual variants among the Greek manuscripts, ancient versions, and patristic commentaries on the New Testament is:
a. ten
b. between 1000 and 1500
c. approximately 100,000
d. approximately 300,000 to 400,000

10. The most important rule for textual critics to follow when deciding on the wording of a particular textual problem is:
a. the harder reading is to be preferred
b. the shorter reading is to be preferred
c. the reading that best explains the others is to be preferred
d. the reading that most clearly affirms inerrancy is to be preferred

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

In the Mail: The Greek New Testament with Dictionary (WH); "Leather Bound"?

Today I finally received my long-awaited copy of Westcott and Hort The Greek New Testament with Dictionary in the new Hendrickson edition. However, I was a bit surprised and disappointed to find that the book was in ordinary hardcover, I had expected smooth leather. When I placed my order the book was said to be "Leather bound" (at Amazon). Now I see that several resellers indicate "imitiation leather" or just "hardcover". Read more about the publication at Hendrickson's website here.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Help on Jn 10:10 Vaticanus

Would someone be able to check John 10:10 Vaticanus B/03for the reading


My blurry PDF does not make the H MH clear at all, though Swanson records this as listed above. Can someone confirm Swanson's transcription, here? (Naturally, I do not have access to photographs or facsimiles beyond this PDF freebie, or I wouldn't be asking.)

εὐχαριστῶ ὑμῖν πᾶσι

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Welcome Quiz. χαίρειν. τί λέγει;


If anyone has flown into Israel in the last three years they have been greeted by a large mosaic as they descend a long walkway and proceed to passport control. Maybe not as expected, the inscription is in Greek. What is it saying? τί λέγει;

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

David Parker: "Textual Criticism and Theology"

The latest issue of Expository Times (118.12 [Sept 2007], pp. 583-89) includes an article by David Parker on "Textual Criticism and Theology". The blurb reads:

For various reasons, the topics of textual criticism and theology are disconnected. The importance of reuniting them is explored with reference to: the concept of the original text, theologically motivated textual variation, concepts of orthodoxy, and the texts as historical documents. This article offers a fresh theological approach.

Parker draws attention to: (1) The erroneous assumption that the only goal of textual criticism is the reconstruction of the original text; (2) The debate as to whether textual variations were theologically motivated; (3) The assumption that the New Testament was produced and preserved by orthodox circles; and (4) Doctrines of Scripture ordinarily ignore the reality of the origin, nature, and historical development of the Bible.

In place of these Parker argues:

(1) The concept of the restoration of an original text is both inappropriate and impossible (no surprises here). Parker regards the wealth of textual variations as indicating that Christians treated them as living texts that could be expanded, re-worded, or reduced in order to bring out the true meaning of the text. The division between inspired Word, church reception, and church tradition are no longer discernible. The best we can do is to aspire to reconstruct the earliest collected edition of the text from the period 200-300 AD. The goal of the textual critical craft is the reconstruction of the development of the text and the relationship between different texts. He states that: "If the quest for an original form is set aside, the old recoverable form has still great significance. But there is no obvious reason theologically why that particular form of the text should be given a greater authority than a later one" (p. 586). Parker's point has been rehearsed enough and various criticism have been set forth. What I would contest is whether the journey towards an original text is quite so futile and I suspect that I am not alone in that optimism. In addition, an original text is significant historically for reconstructing first century Christianity and it is significant theologically if we are to ask what it actually was that God-breathed out.

(2) Parker argues for the theological motivation behind many textual variants. The upshot is that: "we do not have a text received by the church, but one produced within the church" (p. 587). No objections from me on that one, but a few qualifications are in order. I dare to ask, what is the actual percentage of variations that can be solidly demonstrated as being theologically motivated? What criteria does one use to determine a theologically motivated variation? For example is the exomen of Rom. 5.1 based on a mishearing of the omicron/omega, or does it stem from a soteriological issue of whether peace with God is a reality or a possibility? Do you see the problem?

(3) Parker objects to a view of the linear development of orthodoxy which created and preserved the texts. Citing Walter Bauer he maintains that "orthodoxy was only able to emerge once certain groups had the political power to outlaw groups with other points of view" (p. 587). Thus orthdoxy is a late phenomenon and it did not originate the texts themselves. Later he states that the text resulted from "the pluralism of early Christianity" (p. 588). I grow exceedingly weary of the Bauer-trump card that is so often laid on the table. Bauer's thesis has several discernible weaknesses including his view of the extent of the authority and influence of the Roman church, the development of Christianity in Egypt, and even his arguments about Christianity in Edessa have been challenged (see works by Robinson, Hultgren, Hurtado to name a few). The surviving point of Bauer's thesis is that Christianity in the early centuries was diverse and that point is so prosaic and banal as to no longer need restatement. That means that the group of big nasty orthodoxy bishops who eliminated the innocent pluralism of early Christianity is a myth. In many cases it was the NT text(s) that proved to be the undoing of the sectarian groups which is why Marcion took a knife to Luke's Gospel, why alternative Gospels had to be written, and it explains the introduction of some variants due to "heretics" who inserted alternative readings (though that is not to say that the proto-orthodox did not respond in kind). To be fair to Parker he is willing to admit that Ehrman's view is not the only show playing in town in regards to the significance of heresy and orthdoxy for textual criticism. And Parker is correct that we cannot assume that the text was transmitted exclusively through orthodox groups, but it is a fairly safe default setting to make in the absence of evidence to the contrary.

(4) Parker argues that theological statements about the text are often made without reference to the nature of the text, how it was received, and the realities of textual criticism. Then he proceeds to argue that what we have in the textual critical enterprise are witnesses to a text and not access to the original witnesses themselves. Here I am very sympathetic to Parker. I opine the fact that few books on the doctrine of Scripture take serious account of textual criticism. There are some doctrines of Scripture that would fall apart if they ever came into contact with the Septuagint. If one is really fixated on the original autographs and assumes that the first Christians were too, then one was to explain why the early church sought to use a translation of the Old Testament that often did some very creative things with the Hebrew text. My point is not that the autographs are insiginificant, but there are a whole host of issues about canon and reception that need to be brought into the mix. I haven't read it yet, but I hope to read Craig Albert's book: High View of Scripture? The Authority of the Bible and the Formation of the New Testament Canon to see if this offers something that takes greater account of textual criticism. As for his view of witnesses (textually and theologically) all I can say is that not everyone agrees. If I am reading Parker correctly, he is saying that NT studies can only be textual critical studies or studies in reception-history. He writes: "all study of the NT text has to begin with the manuscripts, and having begun with them, cannot progress beyond them" (p. 589). On this account there is no possibility of a commentary on "Paul's letter to the Romans" only "The Epistle of Romans in Vaticanus" etc. Yet I think it worth pointing out that others such as Ehrman and Koester who have emphasized the diversity and corruption of the NT texts still find themselves adequately resourced to write about the historical Jesus, Paul, and the early church of the first century. It seems to me that our textual witnesses (albeit via a convoluted path) take us beyond a text and back to historical events and persons.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

New Manuscript Discoveries

Further to our previous note about the CSNTM Patmos expedition, Dan Wallace reports in another place about some new discoveries made this summer (they have located some "lost" manuscripts, but they are not saying which ones yet).

In an article in Archaeology, Claudio Gallazzi, Professor of Papyrology at Milan University mentions that 7,000 papyrus documents have been recovered from Tebtunis by an Italian-French mission since 1998. (HT: What's New in Papyrology?)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Editing the Bible: Toronto Conference


The University of Toronto is hosting a conference (convened by John Kloppenborg) on "Editing the Bible" on 1-3 November 2007. Papers cover both Testaments and look exceedingly interesting. Two ETC bloggers will be giving papers. For more details.

John Kloppenborg (University of Toronto): "Introduction: Editing the Bible"
John van Seters (Religion and Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University): "The Edited Bible: The Curious History of the "Editor" in Biblical Criticism
Hindy Najman (University of Toronto): "Authority and Tradition: Archetypes of Tradition"
Eugene Ulrich (University of Notre Dame): "Insights from the Dead Sea Scrolls for Future Editions of the Hebrew Bible"
Sarianna Metso (University of Toronto): "Editing Leviticus"
Robert Kraft (University of Pennsylvania): "In Search of Jewish Greek Scriptures: Exposing the Obvious?"
Kristen de Troyer (Claremont Graduate University): "From Reconstructing the Old Greek Biblical text to Reconstructing the History of the Hebrew Biblical Text: The Contribution of the Schoyen Joshua and Leviticus Papyri"
David Trobisch (Bangor Theological Seminary): "The First Edition of the New Testament"
Michael Holmes (Bethel College/International Greek New Testament Project): "What Text is being Edited?"
Ryan Wettlaufer (University of Toronto): "Unseen Variants: Conjectural Emendation and the New Testament"
Holger Strutwolf (Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung, Münster): "Scribal Practices and the Transmission of Biblical Texts – New Insights"
Peter Head (University of Cambridge): "The Significance of New Testament Papyri for a Critical Edition of the New Testament"
Klaus Wachtel (Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung, Münster): "The Coherence Based Genealogical Method: A New way to Reconstruct the Text of the Greek New Testament"

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Westcott and Hort unicode with original spelling?

A blog request: I would like help in getting a reliable unicode version of Westcott and Hort. There is a caveat below, please note.

The recent republication of Westcott and Hort's GNT by Hendrickson is welcomed. For a sample page, see Matthew: http://www.hendrickson.com/pdf/chapters/9781565636743-ch01.pdf
The fonts are clear and the text looks quite inviting. (Wouldn't Greek subheadings befit a Greek document? Do others find English distracting within Greek?).

the caveat:
Some electronic editions of WH currently being used in some popular software packages like Bibleworks are edited and do not reflect the WH text being republished above. E.g., in the Matthew page above the following names occur:
Δαυειδ (be happy that Matthew didn't follow a more Josephian Δαβείδης)
but these are re-spelled in the Bibleworks edition of WH. (The ει in this list above are spelled ι in Bibleworks' WH for some unknown reason.)

Those WH spellings have a good claim to originality and it would be a shame for a new generation of students to think that WH themselves ignored the manuscripts on this, or that WH were not broadly confirmed by the 20th papyri finds.

My request is, would someone send me or point me to a truer WH unicode text? The Perseus people have posted one, though their delineation and versification need to be corrected by hand when using with students. Does anyone have a clean unicode WH? We use the WH texts with our students in the summer SXOLH. Because of student use, I prefer an accented, word separated, correctly versified text.

With thanks in advance,

I am the Alpha and the Omega (Rev 22.13)

The other day I was introducing the Greek alphabet to some beginning students, and we checked in with the interesting alphabetical reflection in Rev 1.8; 21.6; 22.13. If you look at Rev 22.13 in NA27 you will see that it is printed with the alpha written out in full and the omega written as a single letter: EGW TO ALFA KAI TO W (the others are the same). I thought it might be interesting to see what some of the manuscripts had.

So here is Sinaiticus:

And here is Alexandrinus:

So these two manuscripts reflect the same lettering as NA27: EGW TO ALFA KAI TO W. But the notable thing here is that both of these clearly indicate that the single letter W (omega) is an abbreviation (by using the over-line). This suggests that these manuscripts use the single letter to represent the word omega. If these two are representative (even if they are not, they are the earliest manuscripts), then the printed editions should therefore print the full word represented by the abbreviation: EGW TO ALFA KAI TO WMEGA. This is surely how this text was intended, understood and read in the seven churches to which this was written. Abbreviations are not normally reproduced in the critical edition. So do you agree with me that this would be worth revising in future printed editions of the Greek New Testament?

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Bible in Arab Christianity

For all those reading Arabic and deeply interested in the Arabic Version, there is now available by Brill (pretty pricy ...) a collection of articles, The Bible in Arab Christianity, ed. by David Thomas. Ever wanted to know about the Arabic version of John 1:1 & 1:18?, then read "The Arabic Versions of the Gospels: A Case Study of John 1:1 and 1:18". Or try "Anti-Jewish Polemic and early Islam", or "Is there Room for Corruption in the 'Books' of God?". Although textual criticism and textual history are not the main subjects, there is a lot of stuff available to get a glimpse of this rather neglected field of research.

Bible Society Worker Killed in Gaza


The Palestinian Bible Society
Jerusalem Office

Bible Society worker assassinated in Gaza


The PBS announced today that Rami Ayyad was found dead near the Bible Society Bookshop in Gaza early this morning. Rami was kidnapped last night by an unknown group directly after he closed the doors of the bookshop at around 16:30. A day before, Rami noted that a car with no plate numbers had been following him. News of his kidnap was reported to the main office after his family received a telephone call from him at around 18:00 saying that he had been taken by a group of people and will return home late that evening. Another phone call was made carrying a similar message. The director of the Bible Society had informed the Police in Gaza of the incident.

At 6:25 this morning, news was received that Rami’s body had been found at a location near the Teachers’ Bookshop in Gaza were he had spent most of his time running the bookshop. Signs of bullets and knife stabs could be clearly seen on his body.

Rami 26, leaves behind two young children, and a pregnant wife. The funeral is expected to take place at 16:00 today. No group or party has claimed responsibility.

The Bible Society in Gaza has received previous threats and vandalism. However, the support from the community has been very well noticed because of the humanitarian role that the Bible Society has been taking the last four years in the strip.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Patmos Expedition 2007

Dan Wallace has notified me about the very fruitful expedition that his team of four people from the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscript (CSNTM) undertook to Patmos in the summer of 2007.

From the CSNTM report:

"Monday was the first day that we were able to begin our digital preservation efforts. It took two trips to get all of the equipment and people up to the monastery in the ‘Patmos SUV’—a one-liter, four-door (!) sedan. We were grateful that we did not have to haul the camera equipment up the hill every day, but could leave it behind in the library for the duration of our work there. The car had to be left at the parking lot of Chora, as we hiked four hundred yards up the hill, lugging the equipment. The Abbot greeted us warmly as we began our work. We were so grateful for his support!

The Monastery of St. John the Theologian includes two different libraries. Both libraries are immaculate. One is used primarily for study. It includes many modern and resource materials in general circulation, used by the priests. The other library is dedicated to the collection of ancient books. Visually, it is breathtaking. It contains three or four reading tables in the middle of the room, surrounded by a cloud of silent witnesses, the bookshelves filled with the ancient volumes. One end of this library is roped off for a special collection of ancient manuscripts. This small library is one of the most important in the world for ancient Greek manuscripts. It also is a model of how these documents should be stored and cared for. What a wonderful environment for housing their collection of 80 New Testament manuscripts! It is clear that the monks of Patmos take their responsibility of these important artifacts very seriously.

The assistant librarian, Ioannis Melianos, was waiting to assist us when we arrived. He truly exemplified a servant’s heart. Ioannis, always with a smile on his face, let everyone into the library. We were brought to a special room, used for photographing the documents. Every morning began with the team in prayer as an important part of the process. About the time that the computers were set up Ioannis would come in, announcing that coffee was served. Nothing quite like fresh-brewed Greek coffee to wake you up in the morning!

The team usually began work by 9:30 and continued shooting until about 1:00 PM. The process used is designed to be efficient but never at the cost of damaging a manuscript. Each team member has an important responsibility such as squaring up the text, noting details about the leaves, taking the shot, turning the page, verifying the images on the computer.

This year CSNTM was able to photograph thirteen manuscripts on Patmos that range from the 9th to the 14th centuries. Before photographing the manuscripts we prepare them by counting the leaves, confirming the content (Gospels, Paul, etc…), determining if the dating found in other sources is accurate, noting the material the manuscript is made of, and measuring the manuscript. This results in a detailed description of each manuscript, almost a unique fingerprint if you will. Included in those being preserved were Gregory-Aland 1175 and Gregory-Aland 1164.

Manuscript 1164 had to be removed from a museum case in order to be photographed. It had probably been a very long time since this manuscript was last handled. The first paragraph or two of 1164 in each Gospel is written in gold ink. What a magnificent treasure this is!"

Read the whole report here with nice images. For example, there is a very nice picture of Billy Todd preparing a manuscript for photographing (we know he isn't reading it since he holds the MS up-side-down).

We are very grateful for the service that is being done to us in making these MSS accessible for research and we wish the CNSTM good luck in the future!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Teaching Textual Criticism

How do you teach textual criticism to your students? In the program that I teach in, students get a single lecture on "text and canon" in first semester, a whole lecture on the text and transmission of the New Testament in a second semester Greek class, and thereafter they cover text critical issues spasmodically in subsequent exegesis classes.

In my first year class when I cover "Text and Canon" the lecture takes the following form:

a. Clearing the deck. (i) Bible did not fall from the sky bound in leather, written in ye-old-Englishe, with words of Jesus in red, with Scofield footnotes, and with an introduction by J.I. Packer or Alister McGrath; and (ii) the Bible was not transmitted along the lines of a game of Chinese Whispers where "send reinforcements we're going to advance" becomes "send three and six pence, we are going to a dance".

b. Introduce the different witnesses. I talk about papyri, codices, lectionaries, patristic quotations, etc.

c. Examples of textual differences. I use Acts 4.1 and the variants related to "Priests" or "Chief Priests" or "High Priests" to illustrate the problem.

d. Reasons for differences in the text.

e. Principles of textual criticism.

How do you teach textual criticism to your first year students?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

IGNTP John majuscules: How reliable are the transcripts?

No I am not going to start a full-scale scaremongering on the transcripts as befell Comfort's volume on the early papyri some time ago. IGNTP John is a great project (earlier posting on this blog here), also because it has a version on the Internet. Any project that makes its database publicly accessible is of tremendous value --- but I have a few worries.

Out of curiosity I checked one folio of the electronic transcript of Sinaiticus (folio 59) with my own transcript of Tischendorf's transcript, in cases of doubt with Tischendorf's transcript itself and also with the photographs. Only one folio, and only covering John 17:22 - 19:13, and this from only one manuscript.

This is what I found (and you can check for yourself here and here):

1) column 3, line 2:
IGNTP has δεδωκε, should be δεδωκεν

2) col. 3, l. 28:
IGNTP has συνεισηλθε, should be -θεν

3) col. 3, l. 37:
IGNTP has ειπε, should be -πεν

4) col. 7, l. 45
IGNTP has ειδον, should be ιδον

5) col. 7, l. 47
IGNTP has εκραξαν, should probably be - with Tischendorf - εκραξᾱ (with superstroke). This one is admittedly difficult as it is half under a correction.

6) col. 8, l. 11
IGNTP has οφειλει, should be οφιλει

7) col. 8, l. 17
IGNTP has εισηλθεν, should be εισηλθε̄ (with superstroke).

At one point the transcript is improving on Tischendorf:
col. 6, l. 42
IGNTP has rightly αληθειας, not αληθιας

The following point is 'undecided' without a better photograph:
col. 7, l. 36
IGNTP: no ο at end of line, Tischendorf: there is an ο.

The score in terms of penalty points:
Tischendorf: 1
[I had 3 errors in my transcription of Tischendorf, and I thought each of these three more annoying than the eight by IGNTP and Tischendorf combined.]

On the positive side I am glad there is nothing major, on the worrying side I think 7 errors on a folio is a little high. However, the advantage of electronic databases is that it is possible to clean them up slowly over the years, and, after all, we have to start somewhere, don't we?

Up-date: Do read the comments. It is clear that this particular electronic transcription was unreliable and should not have been on-line. The whole electronic edition has been temporarily withdrawn so that the technical problems can be fixed (hence the link given above may not work for the moment) - at least for Sinaiticus an early unchecked transcription was apparently put on-line even though an accurate and thoroughly checked transcription was available (and was used in the production of the book). So this looks like a technical problem in putting the wrong version of the transcription(s) on-line, and is not an indictment of the reliability of the textual work undertaken by the IGNTP team. None of these problems effect the reliablity of the published book. Do read the comments for more information. (PMH)