Tuesday, September 30, 2008

In Memoriam Ted Herbert

It is with sadness that I pass on the news that my friend the Old Testament textual critic Edward D. Herbert died earlier today (Tuesday), after being diagnosed with cancer about a month ago. He was Vice-Principal of the International Christian College in Glasgow and had carried out significant research on the biblical manuscript from the Dead Sea Scrolls, 4QSam-a. Significant publications of his include: Reconstructing Biblical Dead Sea Scrolls - A New Method Applied to the Reconstruction of 4QSama (Leiden: Brill, 1997) and '4QSama and its relationship to the LXX: An exploration in stemmatological analysis', in Bernard Taylor, ed., IX congress of IOSCS, Scholars Press, 1997, pp. 37-55.

Ted left behind a moving message to the students of his college, which can be viewed here.

Zondervan Publishes Handwritten Bible (via Antonio Lombatti)

Antonio Lombatti notes an initiative from Zondervan to publish a handwritten(!) Bible in order to mark the 30th anniversary of the NIV.

It will be tricky to survey scribal habits, since each verse will be written by a different person (31,173 verses). Instead of a "colophon," an index will list each participant's name and the number of the verse he or she copied.

USA Today (29/9) reports that "A photo facsimile of all the verses will be compiled and published in time for Christmas 2009. . . . One set of originals will be bound and offered to the Smithsonian. The second set, also bound, will be auctioned to benefit the International Bible Society, which holds the NIV copyright and is co-sponsoring the project with Zondervan."

Read the whole story here.

Call for Papers, International SBL in Rome

The call for papers began 15 September and will end on 31 January. David Trobisch and our own Tommy Wasserman are heading the panel which seems most germane to this blog:

Working with Biblical Manuscripts (Textual Criticism)
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.

Find out about other sections, here.

The meeting will be held in the Pontifical Biblical Institute 30 June – 4 July, 2009.

Hunting the Aleppo Codex

Here is an interesting news article on Aleppo codex.


I hope the article doesn't scare things further underground.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Coptic and Syriac books at BYU

I note that PDFs of some very useful books are on the Brigham Young University site:


Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Irony of Samaria: Σαμαρεια / Σαμαρειτης in the Greek NT

The following is a short note, hopefully fun.
There are several ironies in the spelling of Σαμαρεια/Σαμαρια in our Greek texts.

Readers of United Bible Societies Greek text and the Nestle Aland text will be familiar with the following spellings:

Σαμάρεια (the place), and
Σαμαρίτης (a person of the place, male)
Σαμαρῖτις (a person of the place, female)

The spelling of the two forms is inconsistent, though the root will sound identical when read with a first century pronunciation.
[[ ει is correctly pronounced like the ι [i] vowel sound rather than the [e] sound (close to ey in 'they') that is often heard in academic circles.]]
But this inconsistency is only the first in a series.

The world turns upside down when Westcott and Hort are brought in. Westcott-Hort have:

Σαμάρια (the place) and
Σαμαρείτης (the person, male)
Σαμαρεῖτις (the person, female)

Not only are both WH and UBS/NA internally inconsistent, but they are the opposite of each other. That is a rather unexpected result.

Do the manuscript traditions support either of these inversions or provide a solution? On the surface one would not expect that WH and UBS/NA would come to such doubly inverted results without some good manuscript support. These can be checked rather quickly and fairly comprehensively today because of the books of Swanson, who records manuscript deviances on points like these.

(for the complete listing of the data from Swanson, please view my fuller note at
http://alefandomega.blogspot.com/2008/09/irony-of-in-greek-nt.html Only the results and conclusions are presented here.)

The Results for Spelling the Place Name Samaria:

B is consistently -EI-, 10/11, corrected 11/11.
א is consistently -I-, 11/11.
p75 is consistently -EI-, 4/4
p45 is -EI-, 1/1
p66 is consistently -I-, 3/3
A is predominantly -EI-, 9/11 (Lk 17 and Ac 1.8 exceptional)
D is predominantly -I-, 9/10 (Lk 17 EI)
C is mixed, -EI- 4/10, -I- 6/10
E is predominantly -I-, 10/11 (Jn 4.7 -EI?-)
H is predominantly, -EI- 10/11 (A15 -I-)
W is consistently -I- 4/4.
Θ is consistently -I- 4/4.
Miniscules are predominantly -EI-,
though a few show a mixture
like 565 = -EI- 2/4 , -I- 2/4;
614 = -EI- 5/7 , -I- 2/7 ;
1175 = -EI-3/7 , -I- 4/7 .

The place name was spelled -ει- in the old Alexandrian (p75, B, A in Acts)
and in the Byzantine traditions.
Another Alexandrian spelling was -ι-, which is also the Western reading.

It appears that Westcott and Hort abandoned the spelling of B because it lined up with the Byzantine reading and because significant Alexandrian witnesses and the Western witness agreed. However, this looks different today, since p75 and p45 have joined B's spelling. WH should have paid more attention to Σαμαρεια in the six examples where the old Alexandrian manuscripts B and A agree in Acts.

This becomes more telling when the gentilic noun 'Samaritan' is investigated.

(for a complete listing of data from Swanson on Σαμαρειτις and Σαμαρειτης, please see http://alefandomega.blogspot.com/2008/09/irony-of-in-greek-nt.html)

Results and Conclusions

The spelling for the gentilic Σαμαρειτης is a little more inconsistent than for the place name Σαμαρεια, but the same manuscripts are basically lining up with the same relationships.

B is consistently -EI- 9/9.
א is consistently -I- 8/8 (plus one correction of a lacuna with -EI-)
p45 is consistently -EI- 1/1
p75 is consistently -EI- 6/6
D is mixed -EI- 3/8, -I- 5/8. But still in the same direction of its 9/10 preference of Σαμαρια over Σαμαρεια.
W is consistently -I- 8/8.
A is predominantly -EI- 6/7 (Lk 9:52 -I-.) In Acts [Alexandrian] it is -EI- 1/1.
C is mixed -EI- 5/8, -I- 3/8. The three -I- are in Matt and Luke.
The Byzantine manuscripts are predominantly -EI-

How does one distill this?

There is no consistent evidence that would support either UBS/NA or WH ! Differentiating the vowel EI/I in the place name 'Samaria' from the gentilic name 'Samaritan', whichever flip-flop one chooses, appears to be an artificial introduction into the spelling tradition by both published critical texts. UBS/NA may be faulted for following the -I- traditions in the gentilic names Σαμαριτης and Σαμαριτις. The manuscripts that they were following for this tradition would have led them to choose the place name Σαμαρια as well. Likewise, Westcott and Hort should have stuck with their acknowledged preference of B and old Alexandrian witnesses. The papyri p75 and p45 have reinforced the spelling Σαμαρεια. But again, there is no consistent support for maintaining a distinction between Σαμαρια and Σαμαρειτης. The only old witness that moves a bit in that direction is D, Codex Bezae. But Bezae is hardly a reliable tradition, and it only scores 3/8 with Σαμαρειτης. One might also point to the mixed attestation of C, but it, too, is hardly a sterling example of a tight manuscript. It means that there are no manuscripts that consistently support either UBS/NA or Westcott-Hort.

But the manuscripts do support consistency. B, p75, A, and K are on one side (-ει-), and א, p66, and D (-ι-) on the other. Whatever the original authors may have written, the various ancient publishing houses seem to have passed on one tradition or another, though with occasional inconsistencies and some evidence of cross-contamination.

A final irony for this situation is the resulting spelling. The old Alexandrian and the Byzantine manuscripts share a bed here. Together, they both point to Σαμαρεια and Σαμαρειτης as the preferred forms for the Greek NT. The Byzantine text (Robinson-Pierpont) has this spelling right. Fortunately, a person can read both the WH and UBS/NA texts correctly when one is trained to hear the old language.

for an older ETC-blog discussion on 'why spelling matters' see:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Shepherd of Hermas Notes

The Shepherd of Hermas was very popular and highly regarded in some circles in the early period.
a) it is present in Codex Sinaiticus (the British Library portion, after the Epistle of Barnabas, includes the Shepherd of Hermas up to Mandate iv.3.6; among the 'New Finds' at St Catherine’s Monastery there are Parables 6, 8.1–2; 9.xiv–xvi, xviii; Visions 1–5; Commands 1–4)
b) it was generally popular (e.g. Irenaeus quoted from it in Adv. Haer. II.xxx.9 and even designated it as "Scripture" in IV.xx.2)
c) Hermas is extant in 21 papyri (acc LDAB; Sept 2008), including ten from Oxyrhynchus, four of which were clearly substantial judging by the surviving pagination: P. Oxy 404 (III/IV); P. Oxy 1172 & 3526 (IV; page 71); P. Oxy 1599 (IV; page 73); P. Oxy 1783 (IV); P. Oxy 1828 (III); P. Oxy 3527 (III; page 83); P. Oxy 3528 (II/III; page 119); P. Oxy 4705 (III); P. Oxy 4706 (II); P. Oxy 4707 (III).
Of the others some early and substantial manuscripts include: P. Iand. I.4 (II/III); P. Mich 2.2 130 (III); P. Mich 2.2 129 (III; 31 folios); P. Berlin 5513 (III/IV); P. Bodmer 38 (IV/V; 22 folios).

In terms of manuscript attestation and patristic appreciation the evidence looks better than large parts of the New Testament.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Conjectural Emendations in Nestle Editions

In a series of recent posts at the Amsterdam NT Weblog, Jan Krans has been offering comments on conjectural emendations found in the Nestle editions (mostly in the apparatus only).

Three posts have appeared so far:

Conjectures in the Nestle Editions (1): Wellhausen on Mt 5:5

Conjectures in the Nestle Editions (2): Ritschl on 1 Thes 2:16

and, stimulated by a comment from Peter Head:

Conjectures in the Nestle editions (3): a note on method

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Day in Oxford

Had a nice day-trip to Oxford yesterday with another ETC blogger (a.k.a. Simon Gathercole). The Oxford folk were very kind and accommodating (considering we were from Cambridge, and one of us was a foreigner). We managed to see some good things in Duke Humfrey’s Library (the oldest reading room in the Bodleian Library - and rather atmospheric compared with the manuscript room in Cambridge University Library):

P. Oxy 1 (most of a page of the Gospel of Thomas)
P. Oxy 1170 (=P19)
P. Oxy 1597 (= P29)

Then we spent the afternoon in the Papyrology Rooms of the Sackler Library (make sure you get this right) and saw:

P. Oxy 2383 (P69) [on this see here and here];
P. Oxy 4406 (P105);
P. Oxy 4803 (P119); P. Oxy 4804 (P120); P. Oxy 4805 (P121); P. Oxy 4806 (P122) [on these see here];
P. Oxy 4844 (P123); P. Oxy 4845 (P124) [on these see here].

So that was eleven (admittedly quite small) manuscripts in one day: no amazing new discoveries; great for checking a couple of details - it is always helpful to see the real thing no matter how carefully you’ve transcribed information from pictures, helpful for two current writing projects, not quite long enough for a really thorough look at the newest Oxy ones.

Oh, and in between we had a bite of lunch with the Inklings, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien at The Eagle and Child:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Back in Lund Again

From September 1 I have assumed a two-year research post ("postdoktor") at Lund University, where I did my PhD. However, I am still located at Örebro Theological Seminary. Twice a month I will visit the research seminar (for Biblical studies and Patristics) in Lund, led by Professor Samuel Byrskog. Byrskog's main research interest concerns tradition and transmission in Early Christianity; orality and scribality in ancient Greece and Rome and early Christianity; and social and collective memory. I look forward to discuss overlapping areas like oral and textual transmission in early Christianity in this seminar. The first material I will present, however, will be something about what Jesus wrote on the ground, material for a paper to be presented in Boston in November.

The main plan for the coming two years is to work with the early text of the New Testament, with a focus on the Gospels. I have some ideas that will perhaps result in another monograph, perhaps separate articles. Then I have some other half finished stuff on various other TC things.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Örebro Theological Seminary 100th Anniversary

One hundred years ago, on this day September 14, Örebro Theological Seminary, my seminary, was founded. The first five years, the seminary was located in the Filadelfia Church in Örebro, where the seminary's founding father, John Ongman, was pastor. A new school building was built in 1913. Seventy years later, a second building was inaugurated, which is the one in use today.

Today, Örebro Theological Seminary offers several educational programs with around 200 full-time and 160 part time students from a wide variety of denominations. The theological seminary is the largest program with some 300 students enrolled. It is a four-year program leading to a Bachelor of Theology, but a number of students are also admitted for one or two years of study. Other programs include Religious Studies for teachers (at different levels in public schools), courses in Missions, and a bible college program.

Over this weekend we have celebrated the 100th anniversary on campus and in the Filadelfia Church. Here, some of the teachers and former principals are interviewed. The first man on the left is the current principal, Dr. Pekka Mellergård.

I have had so many impressions during this weekend and so many special moments. In the service today in the Filadelfia Church, one old student (ninety-four years) told us about his encounters with the founding father Ongman. History came alive. This made me think about Papias who told about his encounters with the first followers of Jesus.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Colours of Swanson

In a comment to an earlier post Wieland Willker alerted me to something I had never noticed before, that is, that each of the Swanson volumes have a different colour:

Matthew - red
Mark - blue
Luke - Green
John - brown
Acts - pink
Romans - dark blue
1 Corinthians - orange
2 Corinthians - light brown
Galatians - light green

I haven't found an explanation for this anywhere in the books, and I would guess this is going to be difficult to maintain all the way through, but I thought I should let you know.

The use of vid in NA27

Just in case you always wondered, you can find here a complete list of all the times "vid" is used in the apparatus of NA27 (kindly prepared by Jan Krans, and up-loaded to the textualcriticism email group site by Wieland Willker in response to a question posed by me). [As long as you can log in to the yahoo group site I suppose]
The group discussion began with: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/textualcriticism/message/3978 .

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Citations for blog entries

I was chatting the other day with someone who had written an entry for Wikipedia, re-used the same material in a published article, and was worried (in my opinion rightly) about people accusing him of plagiarism and Wikipediism. This is a bit of a tangle, although responsibility for alterations to Wikipedia articles can be traced (don't think I don't know about that!), but it would take a bit of organising to construct the defence.

As for blog entries, well it is pretty clear to me that if other people want to take something written here and use it in some other forum it should be cited and referenced (whether on another blog, somewhere else on the internet, or in a published article or book). But it is not so clear to me when I am myself re-using and re-writing some thoughts that may have been expressed here in a preliminary manner. Sometimes then I would simply re-word the material without reference (although on occasion it will also be helpful to refer to the blog for discussion of the idea). I suppose if the final expression of my idea is substantially influenced by the discussion then a citation/reference is more important/essential. Perhaps it may be permissible (and realistic) to have a general note: 'some of the ideas developed here were first discussed on the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog and I am grateful for the discussion'.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Head 42nd in Olympic Racewalking

One of our readers, Jim West, wanted to know the outcome of Peter Head's olympic debute, earlier reported about here. Head, who had received a wildcard for the Olympic racewalking, unexpectedly came in as 42nd. Congratulations! However, there have been rather wild debates over the rules, specifically newly developed walking techniques, among IAAF Technical Delegates during an International Race Walking Forum held in Beijing just before the Olympics. One of their decisions was to accept Head's "backward technique," a variant of MacFadden's old "goose-step" method.

Head is already preparing for the next Olympics in London 2012. Since it is impossible to get another wild card in race walking, he has changed sport.
At this point, it is uncertain if it will gain olympic status.
Good luck to this brave man we say!

What sort of textual critic are you?

1. You can define 'hermeneiai' and discuss their significance.

2. You know what 'vid' means.

3. You have an opinion on whether P4, P64 and P67 are from a single manuscript.

4. You know why 1739 is more important that 1738 and 1740.

5. You probably own more Greek New Testaments than any of your immediate colleagues.

6. Before you travel to a new town you check to see what manuscripts are there.

7. You have studied a load of languages (although some of us can't remember all the vocab).

8. You just know that dots are difficult to date.

9. You regularly consult and refer to books that are more than a hundred years old.

10. Even your academic friends think some (all?) of your publications are obscure and technical.

Monday, September 08, 2008

A Burglary at Örebro Theological Seminary

Tonight there was unfortunately another burglary at our seminary. We have had much problems with this during recent years. The burglars stole some computers including mine (although not my "research" Macintosh which I never leave at the office). They did leave some blood traces on my Brill tote bag from the SNTS, and a footprint on the first page of an article on textual criticism; I let the investigating police keep this external evidence.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Text of the Gospels in Clement of Alexandria

SBL has just announced this forthcoming title in the New Testament in the Greek Fathers series:

The Text of the Gospels in Clement of Alexandria by Carl P. Cosaert, Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Walla Walla University.

Description: "This volume applies the latest methodological advances in patristic textual analysis to explore the nature of the Gospel text used by Clement, an early Alexandrian father who wrote extensively on the Christian faith and filled his writings with thousands of biblical citations. After examining Clement’s life and use of the New Testament writings, the book lists all of his quotations of the Four Gospels and compares them to those of other Alexandrian Christians and to the most significant ancient Greek and Latin manuscripts. The book demonstrates that the form of the Gospels in Alexandria was in transition at the end of the second century and argues that Clement’s Gospel text reveals an Alexandrian influence in John and Matthew and a stronger Western influence in Luke and his citations of Mark 10."

The SBL paperback will be available for $47.95, the hardback from Brill Academic Publishers (no price yet).

Genealogical Queries 1.0 Online

Klaus Wachtel from the INTF in Münster reports that version 1.0 of the on-line software 'Genealogical Queries' including a guide in English and German is available here.

Quiz Question

How many New Testament Papyri actually contain a complete book of the New Testament?

Think carefully before answering.

Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Catalogue On-line

The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek is putting the catalogues of its holdings in medieval manuscripts on-line here. This is a great idea, since they contain loads of information about each manuscript (although not images).

This can be consulted for the following NT manuscripts (they hold 28 NT mss in all according to the Liste and some LXX pieces according to the Rahlfs-Fraenkel, Verzeichnis so there should be more to follow at some point):

2038 (BSB Gr. 23, fol. 333-415)
1930 (BSB Gr. 35)
423 (BSB Gr. 36 [Matt] and 37 [John])
1909abs (BSB Gr. 110)

The links will take you to the first page of each of these entries in the catalogue. These are all late (i.e. XV or XVI) commentary manuscripts so it is very helpful to be able to access the information about them in this form, e.g. which church fathers are quoted; which folios correspond to which chapters of the text etc.
Incidentally I gather that the use of abs in the Liste will be phased out in future and manuscripts such as 1909abs (a direct copy - Abschrift - of another known manuscript, i.e. 1909) will be given their own Gregory-Aland number.

Bibliographical details:
Tiftixoglu, Victor: Katalog der griechischen Handschriften der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek München. Bd. 1. Codices graeci Monacenses 1 - 55. Neu beschrieben von Viktor Tiftixoglu. Revidiert sowie mit Einleitung und Registern versehen von Kerstin Hajdú und Gerard Duursma. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2004. - (Catalogus codicum manu scriptorum Bibliothecae Monacensis; T. 2, Ps. 1)

Hajdú, Kerstin: Katalog der griechischen Handschriften der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek München. Bd. 3. Codices graeci Monacenses 110 - 180. Neu beschrieben von Kerstin Hajdú. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2003. - (Catalogus codicum manu scriptorum Bibliothecae Monacensis; T. 2, Ps. 3)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Fred. H. Chase on Codex Bezae

In the Tyndale House library we have F.H. Chase's copy of Scrivener's edition of Codex Bezae. This seems to be the copy he used in preparing his The Old Syriac Element in the Text of Codex Bezae (London: Macmillan, 1893). In the Preface to that work Chase wrote:
  • 'The only satisfactory way of investigating the text of the MS. was, as it seemed to me, minutely to examine some section large enough to guarantee that no characteristic feature of the text would be left unnoted. Having a special interest in questions connected with the Acts, I chose for my purpose the earlier chapters of that Book. The first step was to mark in different ways (1) the variations from the common text in particular words and phrases; (2) changes of order; (3) interpolations; (4) omissions. This preliminary review over, I considered separately each variation thus marked, and tried to arrive at an explanation of it.' (p. viii)

Well, Chase's copy of Scrivener on Codex Bezae (signed and dated Sept 1892) is carefully marked up with (1) blue underlining for variations; (2) black pencil underlining for changes of order; (3) red underlining for additions (= interpolations); and (4) marks for omissions. This actually extends throughout the whole manuscript (Gospels and Acts) with myriads of small comments.

In relation to Acts there are some notes on a sheet of paper listing "Syriac of Acts 1-8" which seems like an early outline of his book. There is also a pencilled note at the beginning of Acts: "collated this in certain important places with Cod. Bezae on Jan.26.1893". This seems to have focused on erasures and corrections. Next to Acts 12.1 there is another date: "Aug.26.'93". At the end of Acts there is another note: "Sheringham 5 Sept.1893".

So perhaps there might be people interested in Chase's work, or in the history of the study of Codex Bezae, who might like to consult this volume.

Luke's Genealogy: how many names?

I've been wondering about Luke's genealogy recently. Copying such an extensive list of names was obviously quite difficult, so we have numerous issues in the spelling of various names, and bigger questions about the whole shape of the genealogy and how many names are in the genealogy. It is all a bit more messy than I would like.

Irenaeus (Adv Haer III.22.3) seems to have known a text of Luke with 72 generations: "Wherefore Luke points out that the pedigree which traces the generation of our Lord back to Adam contains seventy-two generations, connecting the end with the beginning, and implying that it is He who has summed up in Himself all nations dispersed from Adam downwards, and all languages and generations of men, together with Adam himself."

But I can't locate a manuscript reflecting that number, although there are lots of possibilities: e.g. Bezae has 65 names; 1071 has 73 names; Vaticanus has 76 names; Sinaiticus has 77 names; Alexandrinus has 74 names (W and 579 omit the whole thing).

NA27 prints a text with 77 names, this has the advantage of neatness (significant sevens all over the place; cf. Bauckham in Jude and the Relatives of Jesus); but the disadvantage that this neatness is pretty much imposed on the textual evidence (esp. at 3.33 reading Aminadab, Admin, Arni). Is that a reasonable approach? Did Irenaeus make the whole 72-thing up or did he simply miscount? It is interesting that he draws theological significance from a reading for which we have currently no evidence. Should we accept that the textual evidence is too uncertain to allow far-reaching theological deductions from the ennumeration (M.D. Johnson, Purpose of Biblical Genealogies)? Or should we allow the theological neatness to help us determine the original text?