Monday, November 19, 2007

SBL in San Diego II: IGNTP and Petersen Sessions

I am now at the SBL meetings in San Diego. I have spent a rather large part of the day with textual critics.

The IGNTP session this morning was a packout. The IGNTP have decided to hold part of their meeting in public each year and then to go into closed committee meeting. I’d guess that there were 12 or 13 different editorial reports given in 90 minutes. The committee meeting was the first one since the British and American Committees reconstituted themselves into a single committee.

The session in memory of William L. Petersen was a panel session chaired by AnneMarie Luijendijk. The panel consisted of myself, Ulrich Schmid, Lucas van Rompay, and Bart Ehrman.

I began with reflections on Bill’s skill as a reviewer and moved from there to a type of book review, namely a critique of the 2002 book Thomas and Tatian by Nicholas Perrin, which argues that the Gospel of Thomas was originally written in Syriac and contains numerous Syriac catchwords.

Ulrich spoke about a manuscript (a Middle Dutch Harmony of the Gospels from Utrecht) which was lost during WWII. The time and place when it appears to have gone missing were towards the end of the war in Bonn. Ulrich had done lots of archive work, but if the manuscript does still exist it is likely to have been taken home by an Allied serviceman and might remain in the possession of the family. It would be great if there were a volunteer interested in military history to chase up in detail the questions of which troops and personnel were in Bonn at the time to see if the manuscript can yet be located.

Lucas spoke about Bill’s interests in Romanos the Melodist, Efrem, and the Diatessaron. One matter he raised was the likelihood that Efrem’s influence on Romanos was not direct.

Bart discussed Papyrus Egerton 2, comparing it with Gospel harmonies of the second century, touching on matters such as the Gospel of the Ebionites, the Dura fragment, the Diatessaron, Irenaeus, and Epiphanius.


  1. James Leonard added:
    Among the great presentations we had, I especially enjoyed Ulrich Schmidt's painstaking sleuth-work on trying to track down the lost Utrecht Harmony. Apparently, it went missing sometime in the mid-1940s, amidst the war and its aftermath.

    The story, in all its fascinating detail, went much longer than anticipated, apparently. So Schmid had to skip some really interesting details. I look forward to reading the paper in its entirety, should it be published any time soon.

    One line of research which opened up multiple other inexhaustible lines of research was that perhaps the harmony ended up in the possession of an American soldier, with the hopes that someone some day might open up grandpa's old footlocker and find the manuscript tucked away in the attic. Apparently, we know details of which army unit occupied the pertinent district. However, I got the impression that Schmid really thinks that the document went missing before the Americans showed up, or was destroyed in the process.

    Nonetheless, if the document is buried away in some G.I.'s attic, perhaps an appeal to America's militaristic society might be fruitful. There is a certain subculture in America which celebrates American military history at a popular level. Notices in publications such "Military Times" might draw due attention, especially since such notices would probably list the army unit. An article might even be written about the military situation in the town prior to the occupation to justify including a discussion of the Utrecht Harmony. Such articles with an alternative perspective are highly valued in such magazines.

    The article or notice would attract the attention of remaining soldiers who belonged to the unit, and this would stir up discussion among old army buddies. Of course, many of those old heroes have gone on to receive their reward, but a younger generation of pop historians are very keen on this stuff as they avidly research their grandfather's life during the war.

    Because of the intensity of this American pop sub-culture, one could imagine that such an approach could possibly be productive, if the document was carried off by an American soldier.

    One wonders, however, how likely such a thing could have been "smuggled" back to the U.S. I know, for example, that my own grandfather could only manage to "smuggle" back a French coin and a German coin inside his gasmask at the end of World War I (!), apparently at a considerable risk of prosecution if he had been caught. I would presume that smuggling anything would have become much more difficult in the Second World War. American militaristic society wasn't prone to plundering defeated enemies.

  2. Peter Williams' critique of Nick Perrin's book focussed on the sayings with Greek and Coptic attestation. In keeping with the spirit of the session (Bill Petersen's style etc.) it was pretty devastating.

  3. Ulrich's paper dealt with Utrecht University Library MS 1009 (327 folios).

  4. Bart discussed harmonistic aspects of:
    a) Justin's Quotations
    b) Tatian's Diatessaron
    c) Dura Europos Greek fragment
    d) PE2 & P. Ko/ln 255
    e) P. Cairo 10735
    f) Gospel of Ebionites acc Epiphanius, Panarion 30.