Friday, December 28, 2007

TC Discussion List Inflation?

Recently I was invited to yet another "TC-list", i.e. a discussion list focusing on textual criticism of the OT and NT. Once upon a time there was one TC-list run by James Adair and Tim Finney. This list died out, and now there are three (to my knowledge):

Textual criticism, founded April 23, 2004
496 members; 23 messages in Dec 2007
Excerpts from the description: posts must be on-topic. contributors should be familiar with the contents of the web pages given in the Links section; moderated by Wieland Willker

TC-Alternate-list founded July 31, 2006
51 members; 51 messages in Dec 2007
Excerpt from the description: for people with a wider set of views; less formal atmosphere; "more freedom to discuss many related issues of interest (theology, doctrine, humour, politics); anonymity allowed; credentials not required or desired.

83 members; 90 messages in Dec 2007
Excerpt from the description: as little moderation as possible; discussion of the King James Version Only (or TR Only) viewpoint not tolerated; Each list member should be identified by given and last name

The first list, started by Wieland, filled the gap after the old TC-list. My guess is that the second list started because some people wanted to discuss Textus Receptus Only, KJV-only, or "wider issues" (e.g. doctrinal, etc). Perhaps some also felt surpressed because of lack of academic credentials (as judging from the list description). The third list, I suspect, also has to do with the moderation on the first list, but there is now an avoidance of KVJ-Only/TR-Onlyism and strict focus on academic discussion (which is good).

This is my highly subjective interpretation (full of guesses) of a development that is rather sad. Now we have three lists (and some seem to contribute to more than one). Time will tell if we have reached the peak.

Update: the second list, TC-Alternate-list, has been discussed on this blog here

Friday, December 21, 2007

New MS 4


New MS 3

I don't suppose it is worth calling it a quiz anymore, but there are certainly things here to discuss.

New Manuscripts in time for Christmas

"I bring you good news of great joy!"

Well, it is not as good as THAT news of course (Luke 2.10-11); but I thought you might like to know just the same.

The most recent volume of The Oxyrhynchus Papyri LXXI (2007) contains four new papyrus fragments of John's Gospel (edited by J. Chapa), although I haven't actually seen the published volume yet (thanks to Peter Rodgers for drawing my attention to these). The basic details are as follows:

P. Oxy 4803 (III) John 1.21-8, 38-44 [P119]

P.Oxy 4804 (IV) John 1.25-8, 33-8, 42-4 [P120]

P.Oxy 4805 (III) John 19.17-8, 25-6 [P121]

P.Oxy 4806 (IV or V?) John 21.11-14, 22-4 [P122]

Images are available on-line here. Two of these we are already discussing in previous posts.

Quiz time 2

And what about this one? There is not so much to it so I'll give you front and back (or is it back and front?).

Quiz time

So what do you make of this?

"Virtual Manuscript Room" – Call for Collaborative Thinking!

We have mentioned the "Virtual Manuscript Room" (VMR) previously on this blog, in our report from SBL (IGNTP presentation). Now Ulrich Schmid has asked me to post the call below, related to the VMR on our blog. In addition to responses sent directly to Ulrich and Martin (e-mailaddresses below), I also take the opportunity to encourage comments and discussion of the VMR on this blog.

Virtual Manuscript Room – call for collaborative thinking!

Since November 2007 Dr. Martin Faßnacht and Dr. Ulrich Schmid have
been working at the “Institut für neutestamentliche
Textforschung“ (Münster) on the “Virtual Manuscript Room“ (VMR), a web-
based service that integrates digital images of (Greek) New Testament
manuscripts with related information and electronic transcriptions.
The core tool to achieve that goal will be a database containing all
the relevant data pertaining to the items included.

The first and most important step when devising such a database is a
thorough and comprehensive definition of the tasks that the
application has to perform. An essential step towards that goal is to
know what potential users and contributors will require, and in
particular what searches they are likely to want to perform on the
assembled information. For example:

- For which mss are photographic reproductions on the internet

- Which mss, that have been found in Egypt, are currently housed in
the British Library?

- Which mss, dated up to the 5th century, are bilinguals, contain text
of Matthew and are not written on papyrus?

Feel free to add your own questions and return them to us, preferably
before 1 February 2008!

Dr. Martin Faßnacht (
Dr. Ulrich B. Schmid (

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The 2008 Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum, Topic = The Textual Reliability of the NT

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) is having the 2008 Greer-Heard Forum on the topic of the Textual Reliability of the New Testament this coming April 4th-5th, with some extra meetings taking place on April 3rd as well. The main speakers are Bart Ehrman and Dan Wallace, with responses by David Parker, Mike Holmes, Dale Martin, and Bill Warren. The event will be on the campus of NOBTS and is jointly sponsored by the Center for New Testament Textual Studies. As you might surmise, Bart Ehrman's works on "Misquoting Jesus" and "The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture" will figure heavily in the discussions. The Evangelical Philosophical Society will be hosting a special event in connection with this forum with several well-known evangelical scholars present in conjunction with that event. Also, Martin Heide is the speaker on Thursday at two events hosted by the Center for New Testament Textual Studies and the Biblical Studies Division. His presentations relate to the NT text and canon. For more information or to register, go to the Greer-Heard website ( Housing is available at a modest cost on the seminary campus.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Codex Boreelianus conference

I'm not sure whether it has been mentioned on this blog, but at the SBL Congress, at their paper, Geert Van Oyen and Jan Krans distributed a Call For Papers:

Utrecht Conference, 6-7 March 2009
Codex Boreelianus (F 09) and New Testament Textual Criticism

Prof. Geert Van Oyen

Dr Jan Krans

You can also see reports on SBL on the Amsterdam NT Blog.

Friday, December 14, 2007

SBL International Meeting in Auckland: Call for Papers

This is a reminder that the call for papers to the SBL International Meeting to be held in Auckland 6-11 July 2008 is still open (until 1 February).

Since I chair the Working with Biblical Manuscript (Textual Criticism) section at the International Meeting, I would particularly like to invite papers to this section (note that you need to log in with your SBL membership number in order to submit a proposal).

Call For Papers: Papers concentrating on any aspect of the practical work with manuscripts of the Bible are welcome: managing variants, computer assisted tools, preservation techniques, evaluating the evidence of versions, papyrological insights, technical developments, social historical studies, scribal habits, producing critical editions, new projects, systematic-theological problems, teaching text-criticism in an academic setting, etc.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"A final touch of unpleasantness"

Obviously we're all gearing up for the end-of-year ETC Oscars. I nominate Hugh Evelyn-White for "Most endearing text-critico-autobiographical footnote". He's describing the room in which he transcribed the St Macarius Monastery texts. I particularly like the end.

"If another should ever have the opportunity of exploring this 'waste-paper room', he should be forewarned that it is entirely lightless and airless and that every movement raises choking clouds of fine dust which cannot be dispersed. Furthermore, the ancient timbers overhead swarm with voracious vermin which are roused to activity by the light or warmth of candles, and the proximity of a latrine adds a final touch of unpleasantness." (H.E.-W., Intro. to New Coptic Texts from the Monastery of St Macarius, xlii n. 3).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

SBL in San Diego VIII: New Testament Textual Criticism

On Monday afternoon at SBL we had a wonderful miscellany of papers. Others who who there may like to make some comments about this session, which followed the ETC Blog lunch. Unfortunately (you might think 'typically'), I had to rush from presenting to the Mark group in the morning, back to my hotel to run through my afternoon presentation, before rushing back for this session. I must also say that as I was the fourth presenter and was waiting patiently/nervously for my own time I wasn't able to pay as close attention to the first three presentations as I would have liked. Also most people used some form of projected material, but the presenters were lined up at the front where we couldn't see the screen.
  1. First off was our very own Tommy Wasserman (Örebro Theological Seminary) on 'Two Verses Plucked From the Fire: Jude 22-23' which was a closely argued treatment of the major problem here. And a very good job he did too.
  2. Second was Matti Myllykoski (University of Helsinki) on 'POxy 4009: Case Closed': this was marred by the fact that he couldn't get his laptop to project anything and had no real back up plan (except for a handout); so we had repeated references to what we could not see on the screen. Seemed to want to argue, using a different reconstruction from Luhrmann, that the back of this definitely was a part of the Gospel of Peter (but I could be wrong, as I was trying to think of what I could do if I couldn't get my laptop to project).
  3. Third was Gerald Donker (PhD student at Macquarie University-Sydney, Australia) on 'The Pauline Epistles in Athanasius: A Contribution to the Alexandrian Text Type': this was a preliminary report on his research on this subject with a lot of complicated statistical stuff which I couldn't understand. Seemed to think that Athanasius in Paul used an Alexandrian text (but only had 44 samples so far). Decent presentation, although too detailed on the statistical front for me (although not for everyone judging by the questions from the floor).
  4. Fourth was Peter M. Head (that is me) on 'Notes on P. Oxy 4497 (P113): The Smallest Portion of the New Testament Ever Identified'. Fortunately the laptop and the projector shook hands and behaved, so I was able to get on with the job at hand. Basically showed how this tiny fragment could be identified with confidence, drew some lessons from that which might be useful in disputed cases of identification and then speculated on what it may have been from (a large double columned Pauline corpus collection).
  5. Fifth was Geert van Oyen (University of Utrecht) and Jan Krans (Vrije Universiteit-Amsterdam) on 'Geert van Oyen, University of Utrecht and Jan Krans, Vrije Universiteit-AmsterdamCodex Boreelianus Revisited: A Fresh Look at Codex F (09) after 160 years '. I really enjoyed this presentation. Perhaps it was relief that mine was over; but they did a great (and occasionally hilarious) team job of their presentation. They had some of the most beautiful and detailed pictures I have ever seen projected. They conveyed a great deal of information in a very clear and entertaining way.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Harvard Papyri Online

The Houghton Library at Harvard have begun putting digital images of their papyri online (front page here). (HT PapyL also What's New in Papyrology?)
They haven't finished yet, but there are two of interest to NT scholars (and two more to come):

P10 (Rom 1.1-7; POxy 209 = Harvard MS Gr SM2218)

Gospel of Thomas (POxy 655 = Harvard MS Gr SM4367)

071 (Matt 1.21-24; 1.25-2.2; POxy 401 = Harvard MS Gr SM3735)
P9 (1 John 4.11-12, 14-17; POxy 402 = Harvard MS Gr SM3736)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Lecture on "Christology and Textual Transmission" in Norway

Yesterday evening I arrived here in Kristiansand in Norway. I am here as a guestlecturer as part of the Erasmus “Lifelong learning program” for exchange of teachers, staff and students and I will be teaching for two days at Ansgarskolen.

Today I taught on Paul’s theology in the Bachelor program. Tomorrow I will lecture for three hours on “Christology and Textual Transmission” in their master program for Biblical Studies, and among the texts I have read by way of preparation there is a particular article, “Christology and Textual Transmission: Reverential Alterations in the Synoptic Gospels” published in Novum Testamentum XXXV, 2 (1993) by a certain Peter M. Head (then London). Interestingly, this article came out the same year as Ehrman’s “Orthodox Corruption.”

I think the article is balanced and well written (some minor details need revision, e.g. the date for P72, on p. 113 “ca 200” which should rather be ca. 300).

In the conclusion of the article (pp. 128-29) the author says:
“It is noteworthy that in the scribal tradition this ‘adaptation’ [as observed in the article] is much more conservative than in the production of apocryphal gospels. The scribes were interested in ‘transmission’ of texts, rather than in the creation of new texts. Nevertheless the transmission of gospel texts should not be seen as a neutral activity. The scribe of the NT was a participant in the life of the church, and this life and faith clearly influenced the processs of transmission. . . . It is to their [the early scribes] credit that, with some exceptions, most of them withstood the temptation to ‘improve’ the Gospel texts. The ‘improvements’ examined here have not affected the general reliability of the transmission of the text in any significant matter; they do, however, point to the scribe’s involvement in his work as an act of devotion to the divine Christ.”
Now, it would of course be interesting for me (and the readers) if the author could comment very briefly on how he regards this subject in general and his article in particular in retrospect after almost 15 years. Is there something he would modify, etc?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

New Manuscripts at the CSNTM

Over at the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscript, images of 12 manuscripts have been added, one of which is an unregistered manuscript in Yale. Read more at the manuscript section at CSNTM here.

In San Diego I met director of the CSNTM, Dan Wallace and a lot of other friends. Below is a picture of us having coffee in the exhibition hall. From the left Rick Bennett (from Accordance), Peter Head, Jan Krans, Tommy Wasserman, Dan Wallace and Bruce Prior.

Volume XVII (2004) of Filologia Neotestamentaria, on-line

Volume XVII (2004) of the Filologia Neotestamentaria journal was recently made available on-line here.

The following items may be of particular interest for readers of this blog:

Christian-B. Amphoux, «La grande lacune du Codex de Bèze.» , Vol.17(2004) 3-26.

Abstract: "One of the most important NT manuscripts, the codex Bezae, included between the Gospels and the Book of Acts several writings that are nowadays lost. The present article corrects the author’s former views, published in 1996, concerning the contents of this lacuna: the 66 missing pages may very well have included a seven letters corpus, in fact a forerunner of the Catholic Epistles corpus, including Hb but not yet Jd. The analysis of these letters allows us both to understand better the period of redaction of NT writings and to bring this enterprise in connection with the writing process of the Old Testament."

Matthew D. McDill, « A Textual and Structural Analysis of Mark 16:9-20.» , Vol.17(2004) 27-44.

Abstract: "The purpose of this study is to address two questions: 1) Should Mark 16:9-20 be included in biblical exegesis and 2) If so, what are the structural features of this passage that might aid in its interpretation? In order to answer the first question, the external and internal evidence concerning this passage as a textual variant and the question of its canonicity will be explored. The second question will be answered by presenting a diagram of the passage’s syntactical and semantic structure and by making observations concerning the unit’s overall structure and development."

Josep Rius-Camps and Jenny Read-Heimerdinger, «The Variant Readings of the Western Text of the Acts of the Apostels (XVI) (Acts 9:31–11:18).» , Vol.17(2004) 45-88.

Abstract: "The present section deals with the events concerning the conversion of Peter (Acts 9:31–11:18) whereby he at last comes to understand that the good news of Jesus is for Jews and Gentiles alike. Since the Greek pages of Codex Bezae are missing from 8:29 to 10:14 and the Latin ones from 8:20b to 10:4, we have noted in the Critical Apparatus the variants of other witnesses that differ from the Alexandrian text. From 10:4b (fol. 455a), the Latin text of Codex Bezae is available. The Greek text starts at 10:14b (fol. 455b)."

Christopher M. Hays, «A Fresh Look at Boso&r: Textual Criticism in 2 Peter 2:15.» , Vol.17(2004) 105-110.

Abstract: "Commentators have often been stymied by the idiosyncratic patronymic Bosor assigned to Balaam of Beor by the best textual witnesses of 2 Peter 2:15. However, detailed investigation of the development of the Balaam traditions in tandem with the Edomite king-lists of Gen 36:32, 1 Chr 1:43, and Job 42:17d (LXX only) reveals a tightly intertwined history that paved the way for the unintentional replacement of Bewr with Bosor. The confusion of numerous other names and places associated with the two titles in the Septuagint and Targums witnesses to a trajectory which culminated in the textual variants of 2 Peter 2.15."

The next volume, Volume XVIII (2005) will be available in the next couple of days.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Holmes' 3rd edition Apostolic Fathers debuts at SBL

The third edition of the Apostolic Fathers by fellow blogger Michael Holmes was on display at both ETS and SBL at the Baker Academic bookstall.

It is a beautiful piece of bookmaking, so nice that the many on this blog who already own an earlier edition will want to get a copy of this one. I noticed that a very large consignment was brought in at the beginning of SBL and on Baker's table. It rapidly dwindled and the whole consignment seemed to be gone before the end of the conference.

The book is a small, green hardback, and approximately the same size as the small NA27. The paper has good opacity yet is so thin that the 800 pages are only slightly thicker than the NA27's 800 pages. The paper is also whiter than the creamy NA27. Most pleasant of all for reading is the font and generous leading (whitespace between lines). One's impression while reading is that this is delightfully 'clean' and 'clear'. They chose the GentiumAlt font with its lunate (should we say 'selenic'?) perispomenos tonos. A stiched, gold-ribbon place marker allows one to restrain the English side of the book and to comfortably read with one hand.

The Apostolic Fathers, Greek Texts and English Translations, 3rd edition, edited and translated by Machael W. Holmes, after the earlier work of J. B. Lightfoot and J. R. Harmer. Baker Academic, 2007. ISBN 978-0-8010-3468-8.

For those interested, 'the dove' περιστερά, is now included in Martyrdom of Polycarp 16.1, and the textual apparatus in general has been "significantly expanded". At the same time, references in the text to the apparatus have been simplified so as not to distract from smooth reading.

Incidently, Michael dedicated the edition to his father William Holmes and to Bruce Metzger (doktorvater), both of whom passed away in 2007.

Michael is deservedly happy with the outcome of this edition and we on the blog will want to extend a sincere 'Congratulations'. I know that he worked hard with the publisher in producing this.

εὖ ἐποίησας, Μιχαήλ.

Friday, November 30, 2007

More reflections on TC at SBL

Over at the (Amsterdam NT Blog) Jan Krans has posted some interesting and helpful reflections on several TC sessions at the SBL, supplementing some of our own (and with more to come):


Mark Session One

IGNTP Session
This one has the details about proposed future editions on NA which Tommy referred to here.

Have we covered all the SBL sessions yet? Or are there more to be done?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

SBL in San Diego VII: Gospel of Mark Session Two

The second session of the Mark group met under the general heading of Textual Beginnings and Endings in Mark to consider three papers:

a) Dean B. Deppe (of Calvin Theological Seminary) on Markan Christology and the Omission of yiou theou in Mark 1:1. I was interested in this paper because it argued for the inclusion of 'Son of God' into the first verse of Mark and included a lot of arguments against my article (NTS 1991) which argued the opposite. I had got to know Dean when he visited Tyndale House on sabbatical and he had kindly sent me an advance copy of his paper. Broadly speaking his argument was that 'Son of God' is so fundamental a concept in Markan Christology, and 'Christ' is such a nuanced one, that to begin with 'the gospel of Jesus Christ' would be a rather misleading summary of Markan Christology. On this basis 'Son of God' practically demands to be original, and the omission can be explained on accidental grounds. Dean's argument was both broadly based and detailed on the textual arguments about 1.1. I wouldn't say that I was persuaded to jettison my early argument, but I thought it was a good discussion.
One specific point he raised concerned the nature of the A corrections to Sinaiticus and whether their inhouse nature supported the idea that they were corrections against the exemplar, which would suggest that the absence of 'Son of God' form Sinaiticus was merely the result of a scribal slip. I pointed out that Milne and Skeat suggest there may be grounds for thinking that the A corrector had access to a different textual tradition (or even one with marginal variants noted). Some more research would be good on this question. Perhaps the Sinaiticus project will address this point.

b) The second paper was by Clinton Wahlen (of Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies and well known to me from his time in Cambridge doing his PhD) on The Freer Logion and Early Eschatological Reflection. This was a detailed discussion of the Freer Logion and an attempt to understand it as a piece of eschatological reflection. There was a useful discussion here too, and some suggestions made about the details of his paper.

c) The third paper was by Marie Noonan Sabin (of Bristol, ME) on A New Ending for Mark? This was not really about a new ending, more of a plea for taking the existing ending at 16.8 in a positive sense: the women were amazed by divine revelation and in awe. She made an impassioned presentation, but I snuck out before the questions so I'm not sure how the group in general received this one.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lost in Transmission, by Nick Perrin

Nick Perrin's new book is called Lost in Transmission? What we can know about the words of Jesus? (due for release in January 2008 with Thomas Nelson). The blurb reads: "Bart Ehrman, in his New York Times bestseller, Misquoting Jesus, claims that the New Testament cannot wholly be trusted. Cutting and probing with the tools of text criticism, Ehrman suggests that many of its episodes are nothing but legend, fabricated by those who copied or collated its pages in the intervening centuries. The result is confusion and doubt. Can we truly trust what the New Testament says? Now, Wheaton College scholar Nicholas Perrin takes on Ehrman and others who claim that the text of the New Testament has been corrupted beyond recognition. Perrin, in an approachable, compelling style, gives us a layman's guide to textual criticism so that readers can understand the subtleties of Ehrman's critiques, and provides firm evidence to suggest that the New Testament can, indeed, be trusted." Should prove interesting to say the least.

Monday, November 26, 2007

SBL in San Diego VI: IGNTP Presentation

My next report is from the IGNTP project presentation, led by David Parker. The most significant change in the IGNTP in recent times is of course the collaboration with the INTF in Münster. This collaboration started with the so-called Principio project focused on the Gospel of John (some of the publications are already out/on-line, as reported on this blog). Now this fruitful collaboration will continue in other parts of the New Testament as well and within the framework of the Editio Critica Maior. In addition to volunteering collators in the US and UK there are currently 25 co-workers (not counting the committee). All this also means that the IGNTP is no longer an exclusively American/British undertaking, but international, better reflecting the name.

Klaus Wachtel from the INTF in Münster announced some very good news in the session. Looking back, he stated that it took the INTF 10 years merely to edit the Catholic Letters. Now, however, given the co-operation with IGNTP and funding for 23 years (sic) by a grant from Academy of Sciences in Germany, the plan is to get the whole work done in these 23 years!

Naturally, the work will proceed through several stages:

Stage 1: INTF+IGNTP, Gospel of John (to 2013);
Stage 2: INTF+IGNTP, Pauline (to 2026);

Unfortunately, the presentation went so fast that I did not have time to note stage 3, but it included Revelation (2031). (I know that Jan Krans took a picture of the slide so he can fill in [PMH: see now here]). During this time the INTF will also complete the ECM for the rest of the Gospels and Acts (the latter I believe is another collaborational project). Wachtel also took the opportunity to announce that there will be a colloquium in Münster after the SNTS, 2008 (which, BTW is in Lund, Sweden). The colloquium will focu on the CBGNT, and other notions such as the "initial text", Ausgangstext, etc. The editors of the ECM are very aware that the Coherence Based Genealogical Method (CBGM), that plays a vital role in the new edition needs to be explained and evaluated by other text-critics and scholars, hence the colloquium. Wachtel also mentioned a few words about the NT transcripts on-line. The number of transcriptions on-line is constantly growing, and the website will eventually include both Greek MSS, versions and patristic evidence.

Then David Parker presented "The virtual manuscript room" which will provide an environment for working with manuscripts (far wider than just the NT, it will contain MSS of any text in any language), i.e. images, digitized microfilm, transcriptons, fully searchable databases with bibliography (something like a virtual Kurzgefasste Liste), paleographical and codicological data, textual data and analyses, discussions, etc. It will be possible to go directly from the eletronic edition (like the NT transcript prototype) into the virtual manuscript room.

Anyone can participate! It is a collaborative concept (cf. Wikipedia) where areas of manuscript research will be "colonized". But some areas will need some kind of ackreditation. The initial structures of the "colony" are being created in Birmingham and Münster. The INTF has funding for two posts for two years to develop the GNT manuscript content.

Thus, primary resources will become available everywhere in the world. This will give opportunity to develop collaborative projects which will catalogue large populations of MSS, e.g. the Latin Vulgate, MSS of John Chrysostom. It will provide a common forum for full-time manuscript scholars.

Then presentations followed from a number of scholars working with various areas of the IGNTP of John. I will just list them shortly below:

Ulrich Schmid: the majuscule book and website
Jon Balserak: Vetus Latina Iohannes (=the Verbum project).
Christina M. Kreinecker (an associate of Karl-Heinz Schüssler at the University of Salzburg: Transcription of some 20 Coptic MSS containing the Gospel of John
Peter Williams: Old Syriac; Andreas Juckel: Peshitta, Harclean with retroversion

Further research on the Greek material
Alison Welsby: Family 1 in the Gospel of John
Jac Perrin: Family 13 in the Gospel of John
Chris Jordan: the lectionaries in the Gospel of John (focus on 8-11th century)
Rod Mullen: Greek Patristic Evidence
Bruce Morrill: methodological questions like comparison of the Claremont Profile Method, with the Teststellen-method.

SBL in San Diego V: Gospel of Mark Session One

This year the Mark Group had two sessions which focussed on issues of textual criticism. In this group all the papers are distributed beforehand and the members of the group sit in an inner square of tables while attenders can sit on chairs around the outside. I'm not too sure I like the exclusion of the attenders, but it is nice to have a table to spread the papers out on in front of you. (The huge ballroom was rated as safe for up to 506 people; I guess there may have been fifty people present).
On the Monday morning, under the general title of Individual Variants and the Broad Picture in Mark, we had four papers:
Me (Peter Head) on The Gospel of Mark in Codex Sinaiticus, which included a power-point presentation of features of the way in which Mark is presented in Codex Sinaiticus.
Nick Perrin (now of Wheaton College), “Angered” or “Moved”? Mark 1:41 in Light of Mark’s Exodus Motif and Vicki Cass Philips (of West Virginia Wesleyan College), Jesus, Anger, and Impurity: Investigating Mark 1:40-45 gave constrasting perspectives of how different readings of Mark 1.41 might fit within Mark's broader thematic concerns. Perrin argued that 'moved with compassion' was the best reading for Mark 1.41; on the basis of Mark's concern to portray Jesus as the compassionate one in line with Isaiah 49.9-11. Vicki Cass Philips offered a reading of Mark incorporating 'anger' at 1.41 (somehow I didn't receive a copy of her paper beforehand, so don't have much detail in my notes).
Then Leroy Andrew Huizenga (also of Wheaton College) gave a paper entitled “I Am”: Mark 14:62 in Light of Markan Narrative Dynamics. In this paper he argued that narrative criticism can have a role in textual criticism. He argued that 'the contrast between Jesus’ bold and direct confession before the high priest and Peter’s denial in this Markan intercalation functions best with the shorter reading'.
All of these three papers attempted to connect arguments about individual variants to bigger-picture discussions about Markan purposes and narrative dynamics. They were interesting from that perspective, but not particularly decisive.

Erasmus' 4th edition?

Does anyone know of any electronic versions of the various editions of Erasmus' Novum Instrumentum, esp. the 4th edition?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Clivaz on Luke 22:43-44

At SBL in San Diego I had the pleasure of meeting Claire Clivaz, an article of whose has been discussed previously on this blog here and here. If one goes to the end of her publications list here, one will find the details of her dissertation:

L'ange et la sueur de sang (Lc 22,43-44) ou comment on pourrait bien encore écrire l'histoire. (Thèse de doctorat défendue en 2007 à l'Université de Lausanne) Leuven: Peeters (série BiTS), à paraître en 2008.

We await its appearance next year. It apparently argues that these verses are authentic.

SBL in Dan Diego IV: The Metzger Tribute


Lifted from the comments to a previous post to enable other comments on this session:

The Metzger tribute may have managed to have a balance of Metzger perspectives. It featured two of his students (Holmes and Ehrman) who obviously adored him and his work.

Ehrman's stories were worthy of Comedy Central....For those who weren't there, he took a story from the Metzger "tradition"--an anecdotal story of his life which was supposed to say something of Metzger's character. Ehrman applied some form critical technique to sort out whether the story were apocryphal, or what could have been the sitz im leben Metger or sitz im leben Princeton. The punchline, actually, punchlines, were priceless. Thanks Prof. Ehrman.

The third contributor certainly gave an alternative perspective of Metzger. Princeton Seminary OT Prof. J. Roberts gave us the impression that he respected Metzger, but didn't especially like him or adore him. Roberts expressed his beef against Metzger for allowing a three-person committee to unilaterally revise final readings of the respective NRSV committee, and such like. His contribution also gave us some personal insight into the making of the NRSV. In the end, I doubt that his presentation allowed us to appreciate Metzger much more.

The fourth contributor was Harry Scanlin who had a personal and working relationship with Metzger, through Scanlin's capacity as president (I think) of United Bible Societies. Scanlin gave some interesting insights of a personal nature, as well as some insights in the workings of the UBS GNT.

Of great regret, however, was that Gordon Fee, who was originally slated to give his part in the "Memorial Session in Honor of Bruze Metzger," was ill and unable to attend. I don't have any special insight into what Fee might have said, and we can only hope that perhaps he will give us his thoughts in a future publication. Fee already gave a short, but insightful comment to this blog shortly after Metzger's death. No doubt, however, Fee's presence would have brought us an even deeper and more nuanced appreciation of Metzger than we already have.

James Leonard

Thursday, November 22, 2007

SBL San Diego: Random Reflections

I arrived back from SBL yesterday and made it in to work this morning for a supervision. I shall post later on some of the sessions I went to. Some general thoughts first:
  1. For me there was too much textual criticism this year. Four official NTTC sessions; two on editions (UBS5; IGNTP); two on textual issues in Mark; two on papyrology (which both included NT mss). With so much on we all had to pick and choose which sessions to go to, which meant some sessions lacked critical mass and some TC friends I barely even saw to talk to throughout the conference. It also meant there was not much time to go to sessions on subjects I teach.
  2. I was pleased that my own presentations (on Mark in Sinaiticus and P113) both went OK, with no computer problems. After last year's SBL I resolved to buy a decent laptop and learn how to do a decent powerpoint-style presentation. From this year I think I will resolve to continue with this style - with highly visual things like manuscripts it makes such good sense - although given the experience of some of presenters (two I went to had projection problems), I shall resolve in future to also have a decent back-up plan in case the technology doesn't work.
  3. I enjoyed meeting up with people to share meals with them. I had several organised before-hand and others organised or spontaneous at the conference. At last year's SBL I had the impression of meeting hundreds of people in a 'networking' kind of manner - many brief conversations which were generally superficial and publication oriented. So in repentance of superficiality I resolved this year to avoid all receptions and sit down for meals with individuals and small groups. On the way over I was praying about having ten substantial conversations rather than a hundred superficial ones. This may have been an over-reaction, but worked for me. So thanks to Rikk, Don, Dan, John, David, Simon, Tommy, Jan, Peter, Peter, Rick and Alanna, who shared themselves, and in some cases food, with me this time (I have the distinct impression that I have left someone out of this list so apologies in advance).
  4. I really appreciated some things in a new way. The militarisation of American society, the awesomeness of air-craft carriers, the attitudes to service of American waiters and waitresses, the Californian surf beaches (specifically the Sunset Cliffs Boulevard and Ocean Beach - where I had a great breakfast on the pier; Coronado's bike path and the Silver Strand Beach - where I had a great paddle; and Imperial Beach - where I had an all-American breakfast in a greasy-spoon cafe). Thanks to the friendly bloke in the bike-hire place on Fifth Avenue for kitting me out with a great bike for the duration of the conference (the bike and waking up at 5am meant I was able to see a lot of San Diego and the surrounding beaches before the proceedings began in the mornings). I wasn't able to get to the more northerly beaches at any time warm enough to join in the body surfing (nor did I see any really tempting monster surf).
  5. This year, unlike last year, I took advantage of the weak dollar against the pound the spend a portion of my book allowance on some good books. Mostly general NT, commentaries, and things useful for teaching, and a large-print NA27 for my tired eyes.

New Edition of NT for Syriac Christians & Scholars

A brand new edition of the Syriac text of the New Testament (Pshitto) was published this year (2007) by the teaching staff of the Syriac Orthodox Monastery Mor Gabriel near Midyat in the South East of Turkey. It is called Pshitto of Mardin (Pshitto dMardin in Syriac) because it prints the text of a manuscript which is kept in Mardin, in the Church of the fourty martyrs (ms. 35/2, from the 13th century, which had never been printed before).
Mor Gabriel is the oldest Syriac Monastery in the world (founded in AD 397) and has a long scholarly tradition. Philoxenos (ca. 440-523), later bishop of Mabbug and originator of a revision of the Syriac New Testament (i.e. the Philoxenian version) was among its most famous students. Today Mor Gabriel accommodates a school of Syriac language and theology which preserves and passes on the venerable tradition of Syriac Christianity.
The Mor Gabriel edition of the Pshitto is good news for anyone interested in the Syriac Bible. Compared with the widely used UBS-EPF edition of the NT and Psalms, which is admittedly more handy because of its smaller size, the Pshitto of Mardin (ca. 1250 g.!) is a pleasure for the eye. It has a very clear script (vocalized Serto) and an agreeable layout.
The edition prints the text of a single manuscript, but it reports all important differences with the versions.
A few other features make it even more attractive: headings, cross references, parallel passages. Quite remarkable is the age of Jesus which is indicated at the beginning of each chapter in the Gospels, which tells a lot about the view of the publishers on the historicity of the Gospel reports.
Except for an English translation of the introduction the entire book is in Syriac. In the back some important comments by Church Fathers have been included (p. 660-724, unvocalized Serto). Moreover a one page bibliography, a glossary (p. 726-731), 5 maps and 4 photo's of other Pshitto manuscripts are provided.
The Syriac community in Turkey has a history of suffering and persecution. In 1915, at the end of the Ottoman empire, Kurds and Turks massacred a million Syrians, among them the entire community in Mor Gabriel. At present the Syriac Church is surviving or at best slowly recovering in an environment where Christians are often treated as second class citizens. With this situation in mind one paragraph in the introduction is moving:
"All this work we have undertaken is for us, the staff (İsa Gülten, Kuryakos Ergün, Yusuf Beğtas and İsa Doğdu) nothing but an expression of the sincere love we have for the Syriac language and of our love for our brothers and sisters, beloved ones, friends and relatives, who have a discerning understanding, so that they may read easily and meditate readily the life-giving message of our Lord in this dark age when souls are thirsty and lacking in spirituality. We believe that the Syriac people of the 21st century, if they are to become strong and have respect for these matters of life, they must pursue diligently the true understanding of the teaching of Christ, which is hidden in this Holy Book. They must not dive shallowly but deeply into the varied expressions of its life-giving meaning and go back to the essence and the source of their golden era, before the splendid glory of the Syriac civilisation was over."
Apparently biblical scholarship in Syriac Christianity can still go hand in hand with Christian engagement in Church and ministry.
İsa Gülten, chief editor of the Pshitto dMardin, is arch deacon of the Syriac Orthodox Church.

The New Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ: Text according to the Pshitto of Mardin
Istanbul: Monastery of Mor Gabriel in Cooperation with United Bible Societies, 2007
XV + 731 p. + 5 maps and 4 photographs
Hardcover with dust jacket
ISBN: 978-975-462-059-7

Gie Vleugels

Monday, November 19, 2007

SBL in San Diego III: New Testament Textual Criticism & Early Christian Manuscript Session on Miniature Codices

The first presenter, Thomas J. Kraus, admitted that he had promised in previous SBL presentations to have a database of miniature codices ready by this year. However, he had now come to realize that there were more serious questions to address before compiling such a list, not least the definition of what constitute a miniature codex - is Turner's old definition (codices not wider than 10 cm) vaild? And what data is relevant to include in a list, and what broader conclusions can be drawn thereof. Kim Haines-Eitzen, who was presiding, aptly summarized these questions in the "what?" (the nature of the miniature codex) and the "why?" (the function) of these codices. The panel and the audience agreed that in order to see if Turner's definition was valid, the net had to be cast more broadly, in the first stages in order to see what categories the extant evidence itself broke down to. Apparently, the panel present, Kim Haines-Eitzen, Malcolm Choat, Ann-Marie Luijenduijk and Thomas J. Kraus were in the first stages of this this joint venture, which first involves compilíng a list, and then try to draw conclusions from these data and answer the questions of significance.

Thus, Kraus went on to present a number of examples of Greek miniature codices, and the kind of data included in his prelliminary list (in various level of detail): 1. Publication,, inv. no.; 2. Material; 3. Date; 4. Provenance; 5. Dimension; 6. Bookform, extent; 7. Text; 8. Scribe/Hand; 9. Catalogue (here often the LDAB).

Malcomlm Choat then went on with a similar paper, focusing on Coptic miniature codices. One could see that there was a dominance of such codices used for sacred texts, but there were other items as well (like notebooks, writing exercises, magic rituals, etc). Choat, personally, had started to work with the following rough categories in terms of the format:

1. Large format (200+ each side, roughly square)
2. Twice as high (200+) as broad
3. "Aberrants" (much higher than broad, and using Turner's designation)
4. c. 120-160 mm and roughly square
5. Miniature (less than 100 mm both sides, arbitrary number, but actually miniature)

Ann-Marie Luijenduijk, in her paper, focused on one miniature codex in the Princeton library, apparently it was a divination book with Christian oracles. One thing that was clear was the enthusiasm with which Luijenduijk spoke about her "petit book". This enthusiasm and "wow"-feeling is probably the impression of most of us when we encounter a miniature codex for the first time in real life (not on an enlarged image). Maybe this very "wow-feeling" is part of the answer of the significance of the miniature codex.

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.

SBL in San Diego I - First Session: Towards GNT5

On Friday I arrived well in San Diego and went to bed after 28 hours of traveling, and being awake a few extra hours in order to cope with the jet lag. During the afternoon I found my hotel and went down with a shuttle to the huge San Diego convention center in order to register. Then I met some friends, but I soon went home to sleep.

Saturday morning I went to my first session, "Towards a Fifth Edition of the UBS GNT." In the panel was Jan Bühner (presiding), Roger Omansson, Florian Voss, Ulrich Schmid (in place of Klaus Wachtel). One of the important rationales for this session was the wish not only to lay out the plans for the fifth edition, but also to ask the gathered specialists and/or users for advice on various levels, e.g. in relation to the choice of variant units to include, and what to do with the famous and often criticized letter rating system (A-D).

Bühner first gave some history and introduction of the UBS GNT editions. Already in the mid-50s Eugene Nida had the idea to make a manual edition for Bible translators. After the INTF in Münster was founded in 1959, the work, as we know, became closely connected to the scholarly work undertaken at this institute.

Roger Omansson then continued to sketch in more detail the history and development of the various editions, from the first edition that appeared in 1966 up to the fourth edition. For that fourth edition more manuscripts were cited than ever, and 293 variant units were dropped and 284 were added, on the basis of what was of relevance for Bible translators (and which involved significance in meaning), among some other factors. One way that this significance in meaning was judged was the close examination of 15 actual translations in order to see what variant units really affected the choice of the translators (including also the observation of what textual notes appeared).

Later on Ulrich Schmid read out a paper written by Klaus Wachtel of the INTF, who had problems with his flight connection. Among other things, Wachtel described the basis for the selection of witnesses for the GNT4, for which was the Aland categories I-V where used. For the fifth edition, this has now changed altogether as a result of the work of the institute in Münster, as reflected in the TuT series, and development of newer methods (like the CBGM) which allow for a more correct application of the "codex eliminatio", and the focus on significant witnesses representing a broad spectrum of witnesses and crucial points in the transmission history. Among examples, Wachtel mentioned that 322 is a copy of 323 (and will thus be eliminated); 2464 is a late and bad representative of the Byzantine text; manuscripts 468, 424, 617. 1448 and 429 suffice to represent the Harclean group, etc.

One particular feature that was dwelt upon during the session both in the presentation and the subsequent discussion was the letter rating system. Nida had wanted this system for translators that were not necessarily scholars. This is even more true today, as Omansson pointed out, i.e. many translators have never had a course of textual criticism. So what do the translators think now? Do they need the rating system. Some colleagues say "abandon", other "retain". Many translators read the Greek New Testament, but at the same time (or just because of that) they need a guide, especially when approaching the Nestle-Aland edition. But what about the optimism of the ratings? It may create an impression of a secure text, more than it is. In conclusion: if the rating system is to be retained it has to be revised.

In the discussion, I of course took the opportunity to mention (and promote) my own experiment with a rating system in my edition of Jude, where I use different symbols and definitions. To summarize them briefly:

e+i: external evidence and internal evidence unequivocally support the adapted reading
e [greater than-sign] i: external evidence supports the adapted reading, whereas internal reading is ambiguous
e [smaller than-sign] i: internal evidence unequivocally supports a reading whereas external evidence is ambiguous
e=i external and internal evidence are balanced, or, alternatively, external evidence favors one variant reading, internal evidence another.

I suggested that this type of rating system invites the user to also grapple with the state of the evidence and the concept of "external" and "internal" evidence, which are the criteria used also in the reasoned ecclectic approach of the UBS committee. Omansson apparently showed interest, so I presented him with two copies of my book (he asked for one to be reviewed in the Bible Translator).

Thursday, November 15, 2007

ETC Lunch at SBL

Our ETC Society of Biblical Literature lunch will be held on Monday, 19 November. Interested persons can congregate after the "Mark" session (9:00-11:30am in Salon 3 - MM). There is a great deal of TC at this year's conference, and I should guess that we will have much to discuss. We will have to eat quickly as some of us are presenting in the afternoon.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Lane's Arabic Lexicon goes online

Thanks are due to David Instone-Brewer for putting Lane's massive 8-volume Arabic Lexicon online here.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Problems with the Original

Here is an interesting news story that has some analogies with textual criticism.

Aleppo Codex Reunion

After a 60-year separation, a small piece of the Aleppo Codex is being sent to be with the larger manuscript. Read the Haaretz article, here.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Towards the Fifth Edition of the UBS GNT

This is just to highlight an important presentation regarding the planned Fifth Edition of the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament. The meeting is AM17-20 at the forthcoming Society of Biblical Literature congress in San Diego on 17 November this year. Time: 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM; Location: Del Mar A - GH [Correction: Ort Convention Center 31A].

Monday, November 05, 2007

Free Access to SAGE Journals throughout November

On X-talk, here, James Pantou notifies that there is free online access to SAGE journals throughout November, after registration here.

Among the journals of particular interest are:

Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus
Journal for the Study of the New Testament
Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha
The Expository Times

In the latter, for example, you can dowload the following items:

David Parker, "Textual Criticism and Theology" in Expository Times 2007 118: 583-589.

Book Review of Tommy Wasserman, The Epistle of Jude: Its Text and Transmission (CBNTS 43; Sweden: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 2006. SEK 211. pp. xvi + 368 + xvi plates. ISBN 91—22 — 02159 — 0 )by Paul Foster in Expository Times, 5 2007; vol. 118: pp. 411 - 412.

In my opinion, this review is very well written :-)

Friday, November 02, 2007

IGNTP online editions temporarily unavailable

As noted in a comment to a previous post the IGNTP online editions are temporarily offline. Here is what Peter Robinson had to say:

"Some of the readers of this site may have noticed that the electronic editions linked to from -- that is, the electronic NT editions being made by ITSEE at Birmingham ( have not been functioning since early 1 November, 2007: over 24 hours, as I write. We apologize for this break in service. The editions are based on a University of Birmingham server, and we are currently seeking to identify and resolve the problem. We will try to fix this a s quickly as we can. Peter Robinson (co-director of ITSEE, with David Parker and Barbara Bordalejo)"

Having checked this morning, it appears to me that the problem relates strictly to the body of the Byzantine, Vetus Latina and Majuscule editions and not to the preliminary matter, which remains available.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

One Hundred Fifty Thousand!

On Reformation day 2007, early evening, we welcomed our 150.000th visit to the ETC blog. A warm thank you to all our readers!

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:
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)