Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Robot scribe copies Bible

I became aware of this link thanks to David Parker.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Textual Criticism and the Koran

Over at Addenda & Errata, Dan Reid has an interesting post on The Dangerous Science of Textual Criticism which discusses textual criticism of the Koran and he includes links to some news articles that include the claim that "a secret archive of ancient Islamic texts had surfaced after 60 years of suppression".

Grinfield Lectures

The 2007-8 Grinfield Lectures
The University of Oxford

Dr Jennifer Dines, CSA (Cambridge)
‘The Book of the Twelve:
Translation, Interpretation and Current Research’

Part two
Thurs, 21 February: ‘Devices and Desires: Clues to Translational Agenda’
Thurs, 28 February: ‘Endings and Beginnings: Order Matters’
Thurs, 6 March: ‘Reading the Twelve: Approaches Old and New’
Dr Jennifer Dines is Chair of Council of the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology in Cambridge. She is the author of The Septuagint (London, 2004) and a contributor in the French translation and commentary series La Bible d’Alexandrie. She was co-editor of the recent volume Jewish Perspectives on Hellenistic Rulers (University of California Press, 2007). In 2007, Dr Dines delivered Part One of this series on the LXX Minor Prophets.

*All are warmly invited. The lectures will be held in the Examination Schools, The High Street, Oxford.

Monday, January 21, 2008

PigeonRank™ and Textual Criticism

I have just finished putting together my own website. I was trying to figure out how to get it to come up on a Google search (yes, I am that lame) when I came across some information on the technology that powers Google. I am wondering if this patented method of mass data collection and organization could be used in TC. Read more, here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Review of the Digital Textual Commentary of Metzger

As announced on this blog here, Bruce Metzger’s A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (2nd ed. United Bible Societies/Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1994) has been digitalized and released by a number of software companies. This review treats the version available from Accordance, which has been tagged so as to allow a number of valuable search capabilities (for details and orders, see here).

Now, if one has the printed version, why bother about the digital? The first reason is obvious: If you regularly use a digital UBS GNT, why not integrate it digitally with its companion volume, in order to facilitate your study and work? The digital version opens up a whole world of search possibilities that can enhance the use of this valuable resource. Thus, apart from general text-critical guidance, equivalent to the printed version, the search capacity of the digital version allows for more detailed exploration of various aspects relating to the extensive work of the committee. In addition, I think the digital version will be particularly useful when scholars want to find representative examples of various textual phenomena – examples, since the commentary contains a very limited selection of variants in the first place – to the extent that one agrees with the explanations and definitions of the committee.

In the Accordance search fields for this module one can search in the following categories: “Reference” (the passages discussed), “Titles” (words in the titles), “English Content,” “Scripture,” “Greek Content,” “Hebrew Content,” “Transliteration,” “Manuscripts,”” Syriac,” “Certainty,” “Uncial Greek.” These can be combined in advanced searches (with “AND,” “OR,” “NOT” commands). In the following, I will briefly go through some of these categories with selected examples of possible searches.

1. Reference
I start in the category “Reference,” in order to identify all the passages discussed in the commentary, as distributed book by book. Below I have counted only the main references (in a few cases a discussion of a certain passage extends to another passage):

Matthew 181
Mark 150
Luke 191
John 184
Acts 545 (!)
Romans 97
1 Corinthians 91
2 Corinthians 50
Galatians 38
Ephesians 43
Phillipians 29
Colossians 33
1 Thessalonians 19
2 Thessalonians 11
1 Timothy 25
2 Timothy 15
Titus 10
Philemon 7
Hebrews 49
James 26
1 Peter 46
2 Peter 26
1 John 39
2 John 9
3 John 3
Jude 15
Revelation 92
Total: 2028 passages

The very large number of passages in Acts (over 1/4 of the passages) is of course due to the significantly different “Western” text of Acts as represented by Codex Bezae.

2. English Content

2.1 Theological Motivation behind Textual Alteration
As is well-known, the committee frequently refers to possible theological motivation behind textual variants. The digital version facilitates a closer look at such places in the commentary. In order to identify them, I used some relevant keywords like “Christological,” “theological,” etc within the English content search field. I have only included references that are relevant in relation to scribes (i.e., not a reference to e.g., an author’s theology or the like). In a few cases the keywords overlap or occur more than once in the same passage. Apparently, in one case theological motivation is explicitly rejected, e.g., in Phil 2:7 where the variation is described as “non–doctrinal.”

a) keyword “theological” renders 12 hits concerning the following ten passages Luke 2:38; 11:4; 16:12; 24:51; 24:53; Acts 2:41: 5:32; 9:22; Rom 9:4; 1 Pet 1:22.

In Acts 2:41, for example: “The substitution in D of πιστεύσαντες for ἀποδεξάμενοι was doubtless motivated by theological concern that faith in, and not merely reception of, the word preached by Peter is prerequisite to receiving baptism.”

Of the ten passages four receive A-rating, two B-rating and four are unrated.

b) keyword “pious” [copyists/scribes/glosses, etc] renders 11 hits in Luke 23:43; John 8:8; Acts 15:29; 28:31; 1 Cor 6:11; 2 Cor 4:6, 14; Phil 3:12; 2 Thess 2:8; 1 Tim 6:5; Rev 22:21.

In John 8:8, for example: “In order to satisfy pious curiosity concerning what it was that Jesus wrote upon the ground, after γῆν several witnesses (U Π 73 331 364 700 782 1592 armmss) add the words ἕνος ἑκάστου αὐτῶν τὰς ἁμαρτίας (“the sins of every one of them”).” See my article on the subject here. Codex Π, by the way, does not contain John 8:8, so this is an error both in digital and printed version of the commentary.

Four of the eleven passages receive A-rating, one B-rating, two C-rating and four are unrated.

c) keyword “piety” renders two hits in Gal 1:3 and 2 Pet 1:2. The comment on the latter passage says: “Other readings incorporate various amplifications reflecting the piety of copyists.”

One passage received A-rating, and the other B-rating.

d) keyword “doctrine” renders 3 hits in Luke 2:33, 41 and 43, all relating to the doctrine of the virgin birth.

For example, the comment on Luke 2:33 reads: “In order to safeguard the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus, ὁ πατήρ was replaced by Ἰωσήφ in a variety of witnesses . . .”

One passage receives B-rating, two are unrated.

e) keyword “doctrinal” renders 9 hits in eight passages: Matt 24:36; 28:20 (footnote 6); Luke 1:46; 24:53 (in footnote 21); Acts 1:2; 9:20; Phil 2:7 (“non-doctrinal”); 1 John 5:20.

In Matt 24:36, for example, the comment reads: “The omission of the words [οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός] because of the doctrinal difficulty they present is more probable than their addition by assimilation to Mk 13.32.”

Out of the eight passages, four have A-rating, one has B-rating, three are unrated.

f) keyword “Christological” renders 2 hits in Luke 24:53 and John 3:13.

In both cases the members of the committee were split in their opinion. For example, in Luke 24:53 θεόν {A}: “During the discussions a sharp difference of opinion emerged. According to the view of a minority of the Committee, apart from other arguments there is discernible in these passages a Christological–theological motivation that accounts for their having been added . . . On the other hand, the majority of the Committee, having evaluated the weight of the evidence differently, regarded the longer readings as part of the original text.”

One passage receives A-rating, the other B-rating. This is of course strange considering the “sharp difference of opinion.”

g) keyword “Christo-centric” renders 1 hit in Luke 8.3: “The plural [αὐτοῖς] is supported by good representatives of the Alexandrian and the Western text–types; the singular (compare Mt 27.55; Mk 15.41) appears to be a Christocentric correction, due perhaps to Marcion.”

The passage receives a B-rating.

h) keyword “reverence” renders 3 hits in Luke 24:53; John 11:33; Acts 4:24.

For example, the comment on Acts 4:24 says: “The shortest form of text appears to be the oldest; the additions were doubtless made in the interest of heightening the apostles’ reverence in prayer.”

Two of the passages have B-rating, one is unrated.

i) keywords “in the interest” (followed by reference to theological motive) occur in Luke 2:41 (see above); 23:42; Acts 1:14; 4:1, 19, 24 (see above), 32; 6:10-11; 9:31; 12:2; 15:32; 1 Cor 7:5; Gal 1:3.

For example, in Gal 1:3 the comment says: “The apostle’s stereotyped formula was altered by copyists who, apparently in the interest of Christian piety, transferred the possessive pronoun so it would be more closely associated with ‘Lord Jesus Christ.’”

Two of the passages receive A-rating, four B-rating, whereas seven are unrated.

I think these preliminary search results cover this aspect of the commentary rather well, broadly speaking, at least for this brief review (the passages in question would need more analysis and detailed categorization). I am sure there are more examples and, in fact, it is very difficult in many cases to define and identify “theological motivation.” Nevertheless, the impression is that these passages, where the committee is rather explicit on the matter, are very few in number as compared to the total of over two thousand passages contained in the commentary.

In addition, we find that passages in Luke and Acts are overrepresented, and this is clearly due to the many references to the “Western” text of Codex Bezae (D05) in Luke and Acts with its “theological tendency.”

To conclude this section, I noted, to my surprise, that the keywords “intentional” rendered only two hits, and “consciously” one hit, neither having anything to do with theologically motivated alteration.

2.2 Different Opinion among Committee Members

The next brief survey in the English Content search category relates to places where the committee members were in disagreement. First I looked at those specific places where individual members expressed their minority opinion explicitly by indicating their initials (when, as explained in the preface, they felt that “the majority had seriously gone astray”).

Since the possibility to search is limited to a list of individual search words, probably due to some technical reason, this type of search (for initials) demanded special search strings like “B * M” (for Bruce M. Metzger), where * in this case stands for the period.

The search gave the following results:

Bruce Metzger (B.M.M.) twenty-six passages, two of which were A-rated; five B-rated; twelve C-rated; two D-rated; and five unrated

Allen Wikgren (A.W.) twelve passages, five of which were B-rated; five C-rated: one D-rated; and one unrated

Kurt Aland (K.A.) three passages, two of which were C-rated; and one D-rated

Carlo M. Martini (C.M.M.) one passage, which was B-rated

Matthew Black (M.B.) none

As I had suspected (but not verified) from my experience with the printed version, Bruce Metzger most often expressed his different views (more than the other members in total). As a side note, I came to understand in the Metzger memorial session at the recent SBL Meeting in San Diego that C. M. Martini frequently would act as the mediator when there was disagreement among the members, so that a decision could finally be reached in spite of heated discussions. (Aside from an irenic nature, one can suspect that Martini’s pastoral experience and good command of German and English helped in this regard.)

Secondly I looked for the keywords “majority” and “minority” wherever they refer to the majority or minority of the committee. When there is explicit reference to an alternative view of a “minority,” this generally indicates a stronger disagreement between members than the simple reference to the “majority” view/decision (which of course always supports the printed reading).

a) keyword “minority” occurs in the following twenty-two passages: Matt 6:33 (C-rating); Mark 5:21 (C); Luke 10:32 (unrated, but square brackets); 22:17-20 (B); 24:3 (B); 24:6 (B); 24:40 (B); 24:51 (B); 24:52 (B); 24:53 (A); John 3:13 (B); 5:2 (C); 8:16 (A); 10:26 (B); 13:2 (B); 13:22 (B); 1 Cor 1:2 (unrated); 2 Cor 7:8 (C); Col 1:20 (C); 2:23 (C); 1 John 5:10 (B); Rev 12:10 (unrated).

I think it is remarkable that two of these passages receive an A-rating.

b) keyword “majority” occurs roughly 400 times referring to a majority of the committee. We can infer that in the other approximately 1600 passages, the committee was unanimous in their decision.

3. Manuscripts
In this category, it is possible to search for all textual witnesses (MSS, versional and patristic evidence) cited in the commentary, which extend well beyond the GNT apparatus itself (a list of all cited evidence is available). It should be noted, however, that this function is not suitable for any general statistics of textual affiliation because of the selective nature of incuded passages and manuscript citation. Nevertheless, this search function might aid in the search for particular examples.

A search for some examples of single witnesses renders the following results:

P45 is cited 61 times in the commentary (in somewhat less passages, since it may occur more than once in a discussion – the same goes for most examples below)
P46: 269 times
P66:75 times
P72:68 times
P75: 71 times
ℵ: 1114 times
A: 778 times
B: 926 times
C: 621 times
D: 1103 times (both D05 and D06)
1739: 344 times
Ambrose: 12 times
bo mss: 37 times

The search for particular papyrus witnesses requires a spacing between the P-symbol and the number. The reason for this is because the special papyrus symbol is a different font (MSS), and is thus treated as a separate word from the number following, since Accordance does not support multiple font types for the same word.

It is possible to find combinations of MSS supporting a reading, e.g., ℵ A B C D occurs in 23 passages. It is more difficult when first hand/correctors are involved, or when one wants to find other “non-successive” manuscript combinations (e.g., all passages where B agrees with 1739). Then one can use a search string like B 1739, but it requires a lot of extra work, since the list may include passages where B and 1739 have competing readings.

4. Certainty

In this category one can search for the letter-ratings A, B, C or D. As scholars know (and often regret), there is a related but distinct system with square brackets for uncertain words in the printed text. Thus, it would have been useful if the software had allowed searches for square brackets in this category. However, it is still possible to find those places (ca. 250 passages) by searching for “square brackets” in the English Content category.

The result of the search for letter-rating is:

A: 507 passages
B: 538 passages
C: 368 passages
D: 9 passages (Matt 23:26; Mark 7:9; John 10:29; Acts 16:12; Rom 14:9; 1 Cor 7:34; 2 Peter 3:10; Jude 5; Rev 18:3)

These figures differ slightly from those indicated by Kent D. Clarke in his “Textual Certainty in the UBS’ Greek NT”, Novum Testamentum 113 (2002): 113, but, on the other hand, Clarke indicates the ratings in the edition, and not the commentary, and these figures are A: 514; B: 541; C: 367 and D: 9. If I look at a specific book and combine a search for “Certainty” with “Reference” I see that the software indicates 32 A-ratings in Matthew, whereas Clarke indicates 34.

In order to explain the discrepancy, I compared the printed commentary with the printed edition, and saw that in Matt 5:44 there are two A-letter ratings whereas there is one comment on the verse which is marked with “bis” (twice). On the other hand, I spotted an error in Matt 28:6 in the printed commentary, where an A-letter rating, present in the edition is missing (ἔκειτο). The digital version, of course, is most likely to contain all such errors and typos (eg. “Origin” for Origen in Rom 12:2) in the printed version, which is fine with me, since I think it could create more problems if the digital version attempted to correct the printed version.

Since we know that there are about 2030 passages discussed (see above), we may assume that approximately 600 passages were unrated (and these are not cited in the apparatus of GNT4). Maybe it would have been good for completeness sake to be able to search for “unrated” in the Certainty-category.

The digital version of Metzger’s Textual Commentary will not only save time for many students and scholars, but it is also likely to lead to new ways of using this standard reference work. The search capacity of the digital version does not allow any detailed studies of the textual affiliation of the witnesses since the commentary due to its nature is highly selective. Nevertheless, it does allow a more detailed exploration of various aspects relating to the work of the committee. Moreover, the digital version will be particularly useful when scholars want to find representative examples of various textual phenomena. We can be grateful to the United Bible Society and the software companies that they have made this fine resource available to us.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Romans 5:15-16 Question mark?

In the past we have discussed punctuation problems (here on James 4:5). Yesterday evening I was reading Chrys Caragounis on Romans 5:15-16 and he came up with a simple and quite brilliant suggestion for which he needed only 6 pages including footnotes (brevity being a sign of strength). He suggest reading the phrases

αλλ ουχ ως το παραπτωμα, ουτως και το χαρισμα (v15)
και ουχ ως δι ενος αμαρτησαντος το δωρημα (v16)
as rhetorical questions expecting a resounding Yes!

The translation of v15 would be something like 'But is it not as the trespass, so also the gift?' Or 'The gifts is as the trespass, isn't it?' Or, in Caragounis' words 'But does not the free gift operate just like the trespass did?'
This results in a great flow and explains how Paul can use the concluding αρα ουν in verse 18. Taken in this way, the basic mode of the whole passage remains that of comparison. And the only thing we have to change in our Greek edition is the punctuation.

(Chrys C. Caragounis, "Romans 5.15-16 in the Context of 5.12-21: Contrast or Comparison?" NTS 31 [1985], 142-48)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Two New Manuscripts (via Textualcriticism Discussion List)

On the textualcriticism discussion list, the director for The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) Dan Wallace announces that images of two new uncatalogued manuscripts have been posted. I have reported on one of them (in the holdings of Yale University)recently, but now there is another one, owned by CSNTM.

Dan Wallace says that "the INTF in Muenster has indicated that the Yale MS will probably be given the Gregory-Aland number 2881, assuming that it's not part of another codex. The manuscript owned by CSNTM (10th-12th century Luke) will presumably be given number 2882. It has several singular readings and quite a few readings shared by a minority of manuscripts."

View the images here.

Another new addition to the CSNTM web-page is a video from the Patmos expedition, on which I have reported earlier here.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Judas and Textual Criticism

Interesting things have been transpiring in the world of the Gospel of Judas. Some of them are relevant to our discipline as they involve textual criticism and a new reading. This new reading is especially interesting given the initial hype concerning Judas. National Geographic's site still tells us that this Gospel "portrays Judas as acting at Jesus' request when he hands Jesus over to the authorities." Shocking -- Judas is the good guy! The disciples are the baddies!

Two new critical editions have now been published. One by Kasser, Wurst, etal. and one by Brankaer and Gebhard-Bethge. Below I have placed the first National Geographic translation/transcription on the top and the new National Geographic transcription/translation below (both by Kasser, Wurst, etal.). Coptic font available, here.

Judas 46:24-47:1 (images)
"In the last days they will curse your ascent to the holy [generation]."
ⲛϩⲁⲉⲟⲩ ⲛⲛⲉϩⲟⲟⲩ ⲥⲉⲛⲁⲕ'ⲁⲩⲱ <ⲛ>ⲛⲉⲕⲕ̣ⲧ̣ⲏ̣ ⲉⲡϣⲱⲓ̈ ⲉⲧⲅⲉ̣[ⲛⲉⲁ ⲉⲧ]ⲟ̣ⲩ̣ⲁⲁⲃ:
ⲛϩⲁⲉⲟⲩ ⲛⲛⲉϩⲟⲟⲩ ⲥⲉ<ⲛⲁ- > ⲛⲁⲕ' ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲉⲕⲃ̣ⲱ̣ⲕ̣ ⲉⲡϣⲱⲓ̈ ⲉⲧⲅⲉ̣[ⲛⲉⲁ ⲉⲧ]ⲟ̣ⲩ̣ⲁⲁⲃ:
"In the last days they [will ???] to you, and you will not ascend on high to the holy [generation]."

With our new reading, Judas no longer makes it to the holy generation. He is not a good guy, after all. In fact, Jesus is explicit in saying that Judas will not go to the eternal generation. I am not an expert here, but I will point out a few issues concerning the original transcription. First, the word which is translated "curse", ⲥⲉⲛⲁⲕ'ⲁⲩⲱ, does not resemble the typical word 'curse,' ⲥⲁϩⲟⲩ. In fact, the scribe has inserted a stroke after the kappa which usually indicates that a high frequency word has just been completed (here, ⲛⲁⲕ, "to you"). This is not the only stretch. The word <ⲛ︦>ⲛⲉⲕⲕ̣ⲧ̣ⲏ̣ is based (1) upon a series of reconstructed letters and (2) the editorial addition of the direct object marker. According to the new critical edition (p. 211), the reading ⲃ̣ⲱ̣ⲕ̣, "go," is certain when looked at under infrared light. From this comes the reading above.

This is not the only place where the translation of Judas has come under renewed discussion. When Judas was told that he would be the 13th, was this good or bad (GJudas 44:21, 46:20)? Was this an anti-apostolic number or was this a number related to the evil entity Saklas? The former was good if you were a Sethian Gnostic, the latter was bad. Was Judas a god (Ehrman) or a demon (Coptic: ⲇⲁⲓⲙⲱⲛ, GJudas 44:21)? Even in Gnostic cosmologies, demons are not appreciated. April DeConick, of Rice University (blog), has been the chief challenger of the old consensus, and has nearly produced a new consensus on Judas. In doing so she has challenged the integrity of the scholars who produced the original transcriptions, translations, and the hype which surrounded them under a shroud of secrecy. You can read her New York times piece, here. She also has a new book out titled, The Thirteenth Apostle. Among other things, she rejects the label proto-Orthodox to refer to the early Christians who would later win out, write history and start an ETC blog -- DeConick prefers the term Apostolic. The new consensus now rejects the idea that Judas is a witness to the historical Jesus.

I think that there is still work to be done here; the new reading still does not make sense without editorial emendation. It may be that there was parablepsis, but I would guess that there may be other answers to this quandary. I expect to see more reconstructions of this verse as scholarship struggles to understand better GJudas.

Email Discussion Lists and Blogs: Some Remarks on a Correction

As noted in a recent posting (here), the most recent issue of Novum Testamentum contains a short note with a bit of a story to it (see Stephen Carlson's comments there):
Peter M. Head, Dale M. Wheeler, Wieland Willker, 'P. Bodmer II (P66): Three Fragments Identified. A Correction' Novum Testamentum 50/1 (2008): pp. 78-80.

In 2005 I published a short piece in Novum Testamentum: 'P. Bodmer II (P66): Three Fragments Identified' Novum Testamentum 47 (2005): 105-108. This claimed to place and identify three small pieces of P66 which had hitherto not been identified. Wieland Willker subjected my proposals to some critical attention and wrote a paper, which was distributed on the Textual Criticism email group (the email is in the archives: here, his paper does not seem to be available any more), which called one side of one of my identifications into question (that is a polite way of saying that it was impossible). Wieland did not propose an alternative, but eventually, Dale Wheeler proposed what is I think the correct identification of this small piece (also in the archives, scroll down on the previous link) - which shifted the piece one line up and a couple of letters across (so I wasn't that far off!).

So the email discussion group enabled substantial criticism along with collaborative thinking which led to a resolution of the problem. As we said in a footnote to our jointly authored article:

  • "Willker deserves credit for a thorough study of the physical circumstances of the proposed identification which problematised the proposed identification (in a paper distributed on June 27, 2005 on the Textual Criticism email discussion group). Wheeler suggested the alternative proposal which is advanced here (28th June 2005). Head humbled himself before the evidence, consolidated the alternative proposal and drafted this note, which has subsequently been worked on by all three."
So, is it true, as Stephen Carlson has commented (here)

  • "Nowadays a good blog post on a blog with a robust comment section (like this one) performs much of the same functions the old tclist used to do." ?

Probably that is true. I must say that I miss the old TC-List; but I doubt that there is any element in the email discussion list exchange given above that couldn't be replicated on this blog (or perhaps even has been replicated). The key element was Wieland's willingness to spend time checking the details.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

James Royse's Scribal Habits Finally Here

Finally, a copy of James R. Royse's Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri (NTTSD 36;Leiden: Brill, 2007) has arrived in the mail. Just like the dissertation from 1981 on which it is based it is a massive work – xxx + 1058 pages!

Cited from the preface:

"I must regret that, despite many acts of encouragement, there has been this delay [26 years!] in preparing the work for publication. . . . I am honored and pleased that the present volume has been accepted as the intial work in the new series [New Testament Tools, Studies and Documents; eds. Eldon J. Epp & Bart D. Ehrman]. . . It [the publishing process] would have moved even more quickly had I not felt the need, once again, to attempt to take account of relevant publications, and thus to revise the work still further. But such revision must come to an end at some point, and I trust that the current position is auspicious. . . . For publication I have retained the basic form of the dissertation, but have thoroughly revised the content throughout. This revision has included checking yet again the evidence of the six papyri studied, as well as the citations in the critical editions utilized here. Some errors in the dissertation are here silently corrected, while more often discussions are extended to take account of subsequent publications. While the main lines of argument in the dissertation remain, the evidence and the conclusions based on it have often been revised. . . . Thus, without at all wishing to disavow the dissertation, I intend this publication to supersede it. . . . I have attempted to take account of the works specifically devoted to the six papyri or to the topic of scribal habits; yet even within such limits I would not wish to claim completeness."

In order to get some impression on this last point I just checked the index of modern authors and noted that there are nineteen references to two of my works on P72. When I went through them quickly I saw that Royse has certainly interacted with and made good use of them. (However, when I later checked my own name in the bibliography, I see that poor "Wiefel, Wolfgang" has been misplaced within my entry.)

This was already a standard work before the revision, and it will certainly continue to be so for many years to come. In my first impression, there is a huge amount of new material including discussions particularly in the footnotes, for example there are 470 notes in the chapter on P45; 866 on P46; 188 on P47; 752 on P66; 364 on P72; and 455 on P75, and there are chapters on other subjects as well.

Finally, from the preface again:

"This work is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Jack Finegan [Royse's supervisor]. As noted earlier, it was while studying and discussing New Testament textual criticism with him that the plan for this work was first developed, and my work on it was first encouraged."

Selected Articles and Reviews in Novum Testamentum 50/1

Articles of special interest in the latest Novum Testamentum 50/1 (2008):

Sinai Ar. N.F. Parchment 8 and 28: Its Contribution to Textual Criticism of the Gospel of Luke
pp. 28-57
Author: Kachouh, Hikmat

P. Bodmer II (P66): Three Fragments Identified. A Correction
pp. 78-80
Authors: Head, Peter M.; Wheeler, Dale M.; Willker, Wieland

Book reviews:
In the Beginning: Bibles before the Year 1000: The Freer Biblical Manuscripts: Fresh Studies on an American Treasure Trove: In a Monastery Library: Preserving Codex Sinaiticus and the Greek Written Heritage
pp. 92-96
Author: Elliott, J.K.

Monday, January 07, 2008

ETC Colour Scheme

I received an email from a reader who said:

"I was referenced to your group's blog ... from a posting at ... It looked like something I would enjoy reading.
However, I simply could not because the black background and text color selection for the blog made that impossible (for my eyes at least).
I thought I would drop you a note of "criticism" (pun intended), in the hope that whoever your webmaster is could be convinced to change those background and text colors to something that is not so difficult to read.
Please take this input in the positive manner that it was intended."

Basic legibility is obviously an important issue (which has not been much discussed since our opening posts). In response to the first post on this blog (what-this-blog-is-about) I wrote:

I think a white background would be more appropriate for an evangelical blog:
  • a) more echoes of positive biblical symbolism;
  • b) better approximation to brightness of original manuscripts (both parchment and papyrus);
  • c) better reflection of the history of the Bible as a published book;
  • d) I could probably read it without squinting.

So what do you think? Is our blog illegible or difficult to read for you? Would you like a new design? Let us know in the comments.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

David Malick on Women in Codex Bezae

The latest issue of Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism vol 4 (2007) is now out.

It contains article by David E. Malick, "The Contribution of Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis to an Understanding of Women in the Book of Acts."

Malick concludes: "So it is that this paper has sought to highlight some of Lukas’s portrayals of women in Acts against alterations made in Codex D. Not every textual variant clearly demonstrates a theological perspective. The intent of some changes is not always evident, due to problems with the transmission of the text, or ambivalent readings in Codex D. But where intent is clear, so is a predisposition against women. Thus Codex D provides a window into theological thought about women in the early Church. An additional benefit of this study is that it highlights."

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Am angang was das wort

Over the Christmas break we payed a visit to the marvellous Fitzwilliam Museum and I noticed an interesting piece of NT reception-history. Engraved on an 18th century hunting sword were the words: "Am angang was das wort, wud das wort was bei Gott, und Gott was das Wort."
Unfortunately I can't find an image, but more details are available here. For an earlier contribution to this theme (use of the NT on lethal weapons) see the lower picture here.

Larry Hurtado in RBL

The last RBL includes:

Larry W. Hurtado, ed.
The Freer Biblical Manuscripts: Fresh Studies of an American Treasure Trove
Reviewed by Juan Hernández Jr.

Textual Criticism and the Historical Jesus

What role does (or should) textual criticism have for study of the historical Jesus? I ask this for three reasons:
(1) Very few text critics write on the historical Jesus. The exceptions being perhaps B.F. Westcott in his book An Introduction to the Study of the Gospels and Bart Ehrman in his book Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. (Our co-blogger Peter Head has also written an article for Journal of the Study for the Historical Jesus, but it had nothing to do with textual criticism).
(2) Many books on the historical Jesus have as part of their introduction a discussion on the nature of the oral tradition beneath the Gospels and the theological creativity of the Evangelists in shaping the traditions within the Gospels; but very little attention is given to the nature of the textual tradition that transmits the Gospels to modern readers. One might argue that there was a reliable stream of oral tradition from Jesus to the Evangelists (e.g. Gerhardsson, Riesner, Hengel, Bauckham, et. al.) and that the Gospels, though clearly theological biographies, have not so theologized the tradition to make all history irrecoverble. But all that is of little consolation if we do not have a reliable textual tradition to work with. We cannot automatically assume that UBS4 or NA27 takes us back to the historical Jesus even if there was a reliable oral tradition and even if the Evangelists and their sources were not too creative in shaping the tradition. Some like Bultmann eschewed the quest for the historical Jesus for theological reasons (it is tantamount to seeking "Christ according to the flesh") but one of Bultmann's students, Helmut Koester, has seen the quest as impossible partly due to the nature of the Gospels. Koester himself writes:
"[T]he text of the Synoptic Gospels was very unstable during the first and second centuries. With respect to Mark, one can be fairly certain that only its revised text has achieved canonical status, while the original text (attested only by Matthew and Luke) has not survived. With respect to Matthew and Luke, there is no guarantee that the archetypes of the manuscript tradition are identical with the original text of each Gospel. The harmonizations of these two Gospels demonstrate that their text was not sacrosanct and that alterations could be expected ... New Testament textual critics have been deluded by the hypothesis that the archetypes of the textual tradition which were fixed ca. 200 CE ... are (almost) identical with the autographs. This cannot be confirmed by any external evidence. On the contrary, whatever evidence there is indicates that not only minor, but also substantial revisions of the original texts have occurred during the first hundred years of the transmission" ("The Text of the Synoptic Gospels in the Second Century," in W.L. Petersen, ed., Gospel Traditions in the Second Century, p. 37)
In other words, one needs to establish that the textual tradition is just as stable as the oral tradition in order for the quest to be possible!

(3) Most historical Jesus book say very little about textual criticism and when discussion does occur it is usually confined to comments on well-known variants link the pericope de adultera and are usually dependent upon Metzger's textual commentary when they do make comments.
What I propose then is that textual criticism can contribute to historical Jesus studies in the following ways:
First, a prolegomena to study of the historical Jesus requires some statement on both the nature of the oral tradition and the nature of textual tradition. For this reason I find it odd that Bart Ehrman argues for the orthodox corruption of Scripture while at the same time writing books about the historical Jesus, Paul, Peter, and Mary Magdalene. He cannot have it both ways.
Second, researchers could make greater use of the agrapha found in textual variants as part of their source material. To my knowledge only Joachim Jeremias and Marvin Meyer have made significant use of this material. The agrapha are conveniently listed at Text Excavation as:
Matthew 3.15: The baptismal light.
Matthew 6.8: Before you open your mouth.
Matthew 6.25: What to drink.
Matthew 9.34: By the authority of demons.
Matthew 12.47: Someone said to him.
Matthew 16.2b-3: The signs of the times.
Matthew 20.28: The conspicuous places.
Matthew 21.44: Falling upon this stone.
Matthew 27.49: Water and blood.
Mark 1.2: In the prophets.
Mark 10.2: The testing Pharisees.
Mark 14.39: Saying the same word.
Mark 16.3: Angels descending and ascending.
Mark 16.9-20, [21]: The endings of Mark.
Luke 3.22: Today I have begotten you.
Luke 5.38-39: Old wine and new.
Luke 6.5: On the sabbath.
Luke 9.55: What kind of spirit.
Luke 10.41-42: Need of one.
Luke 12.21: Not rich toward God.
Luke 13.7-8: A basket of dung.
Luke 22.19b-20: In my memory.
Luke 23.5: Not baptizing as we do.
Luke 23.17: To release one man.
Luke 23.34: Father, forgive them.
Luke 23.48: Woe to us.
Luke 24.3: Of the Lord Jesus.
Luke 24.6: He is not here.
Luke 24.12: Peter at the tomb.
Luke 24.36: Peace to you.
Luke 24.40: Hands and feet.
Luke 24.51: Borne up into heaven.
Luke 24.52: Having worshipped him.
John 4.9: Jews and Samaritans.
John 5.3-4: The stirring of the water.
John 7.53-8.11: The pericope de adultera.
Third, textual criticism can also be used to inform certain discussions in the life of the historical Jesus. The one that comes to my mind is where did Jesus exorcise the Demoniac in the vicinity of the Decapolis, was it Gedara, Gergesa, or Gerasa (see Mk. 5.1 and par.)?
Any other possible contributions of textual criticism to the study of the historical Jesus?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Second International Summer School in Coptic Papyrology

An International Summer School in Coptic Papyrology, the second one of its kind after Vienna 2006, will be held in Leipzig from 27 July to 3 August 2008. It will be organised by the Papyrus Collection of the University Library and the Egyptological Institute of the University of Leipzig. Students and graduates from fields such as Coptology, Egyptology, papyrology, religious studies, ancient history, Arabic studies, or Byzantine studies are invited to participate, provided they have aquired a solid knowledge of Coptic. There will be two classes to apply for, one on literary (biblical and hagiographical) and and one on documentary (legal, epistolary, etc.) Coptic papyri. Students will have the opportunity to work on unpublished original papyri. A fee of € 250,- will include accommodation in a nearby residence hall (Villa Tillmanns), daily breakfast and lunch. The number of places is restricted to 20.

Applications should contain:
1. The applicant’s curriculum vitae.
2. Letters of reference from two teachers, who should also
comment on the applicant’s language skills in Coptic.
Please send applications to:
PD Dr. Sebastian Richter (email)

Ägyptologisches Institut der Universität Leipzig
Burgstr. 21, 04109 Leipzig, Germany
tel.: + 49 341 9739019
fax: + 49 341 9737029

This summer school will provide an introduction to Coptic papyrology within its setting in the fields of Egyptology, classics, ancient history, early Christianity and archaeology.
Classes will be taught on palaeography and decipherment of literary as well as documentary hands, on the Sitz im Leben of both kinds of manuscripts, and on their relationship to other textual or archaeological evidence. For practical exercise, each student will be given an unpublished papyrus to work on. The intention is to offer a mixture of taught classes and workshops in which students can learn to appreciate the manifold information which the different kinds of papyri provide, as well as get acquainted with the wide range of questions raised by the papyrological material. The programme will offer insights into the late antique and early Christian culture of Egypt. Main instructors of the summer school will be: Anne Boud’hor (Paris), Jenny Cromwell (Oxford), Stephen Emmel (Münster), Tonio Sebastian Richter (Leipzig), Georg Schmelz (Heidelberg), and Reinhold Scholl (Leipzig). Speakers will include Sebastian Colditz (Leipzig, Byzantine studies), Hans-W. Fischer- Elfert (Leipzig, Egyptological Institute), Jörg Graf (Leipzig, Papyrus Collection), Verona Klemm (Leipzig, Oriental Institute), Nadine Quenouille (Leipzig, Papyrus Collection), and Uwe-Karsten Plisch (Berlin, Nag Hammadi and New Testament Studies). Classes will be taught in English.