Sunday, November 30, 2008

Codex Sinaiticus Update (via On Not Being a Sausage)

Unfortunately, I missed the SBL session on the virtual Sinaiticus (David Parker, Juan Garces et al.), since there was another session on textual criticism at the same time (bad planning by the organizers; this thing happened me twice). However, on the blog, "On not being a sausage" there is a brief report (what a name for a blog by the way).

Friday, November 28, 2008

Jan Krans on Conjectures in Nestle Editions (pt. 4)

Jan Krans on the Amsterdam NT blog continues his series on conjectures in Nestle editions. This time it is about a conjecture in John 19:29 mentioned by Johachim Camerarius the Elder in notes published in 1572. Read more here about this conjecture, which, according to Krans "has an impressive reception history, more so than almost any other conjecture on the text of the New Testament."

Ethiopic Manuscripts of the Bible

Visiting SBL 24-139 has been a wonderful experience, hearing a survey of all the Ethiopic manuscripts which are currently housed in North America and which will be, by and by, digitized and - at least in part - accessible in the internet. Steve Delamarter from George Fox University ( does the main work here, substantially helped by the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library:

The Bible in Classical Ethiopic, Ge'ez, is, despite its late appearance (most NT manuscripts date to the 12th-19th centuries, although Christianity entered Ethiopia before the 6th century), an important textual witness for two reasons: Ethiopia has been a long time virtually isolated from the Alexandrian and Byzantine mainstream Christianity, and most of the Ethiopic NT have been directly translated from the Greek.

I met Curt Niccum over there, whose edition of the Ethiopic Book of Acts will hopefully appear soon (so far, his edition proves the Book of Acts to have mostly Alexandrian, some D and some Byzantine readings).

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Historical Jesus and Textual Criticism

My attempt to show the relevance of textual criticism for study of the historical Jesus is now published in the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus:

Bird, Michael F.
Textual Criticism and the Historical Jesus
JSHJ 6.2 (2008) pp. 133-156

This study argues that historical Jesus research needs to pay greater attention to the field of textual criticism and study of early Christian manuscripts. It is accordingly argued that the field of textual criticism impacts historical Jesus studies in at least three ways: (1) the textual integrity of the New Testament and the possibility of historical Jesus research; (2) the significance of the agrapha; and (3) text-critical contributions to historical issues in life of Jesus research.

I note that relatively few text critics have anything to say about the historical Jesus (Westcott and Ehrman are the clear exceptions) and few historical Jesus scholars take into account the implications of textual criticisms for their respective studies. The article also includes a study of Mk. 5.1 and par. as a text case of how the two disciplines need to be brought together.

SBL Boston, Payne on the "Umlauts" in Vaticanus

This is the last paper summarized in this first NTTC session on Saturday. A paper by Michael Theophilos was announced in the program book, but that paper had been registered twice by accident (dittography?), so it was presented in a different session.

Philip B. Payne, "'Umlauts' Matching the Original Ink of Codex Vaticanus: Do They Mark the Location of Textual Variants?"

Payne began by advertising the facsimile which costs "just $5990" or something like it. (Payne's company, Linguist Software, is a retailer of this edition.)

As many of you know by now, Canart/Payne have earlier identified eleven places where the Umlauts in Codex Vaticanus have the apricot-colored original ink. The news is that the number of such Umlauts have increased with 40 new places! So now we have 51 instances. Another thing Payne wanted to demonstrate was that the scribe who penned them had the goal of systematically going through the codex to compare to another/other MSS. Payne presented some statistical counts which showed a very, very high "chi-square value" (statistics is not my thing, but Stephen Carlson helped me get that right in the comments section). Apparently, Payne had been checking all places against Nestle-Aland to find out if there was variation at those places where Umlauts exist, in order to calculate what the chances are that this reflects textual variation. The problems with this particular procedure (using Nestle-Aland 27) came up in the questions session.

Another important observation related to the "mirror impression umlauts" (see Wieland Willker's description here: These imprints show that the Umlauts were added *after* the text was written, and when there was already a "provisional binding" (so that the wet ink would make a mirror on the opposite page).

Payne made some points in order to prove that their were multiple exemplars for the Umlauts:
(a)Some Umlauts did not affect a mirror-Umlaut (even on the same page where there are such imprints). Therefore they were probably written at another stage, and, that the scribe compared the MS to multiple exemplars several times.
(b) Multiple exemplars also explains how the Umlauts seem to reflect so many different strands. Not one MS can account for all the variants.
(c) It also explains why some pages have more Umlauts than other (there is a page in Romans with a very high number). Perhaps the exemplars then were papyrus exemplars with just Romans ...

Payne thinks this also points to an early date; While the MS was in the scriptorium the scribe(s) had access to many other MSS to compare with ... The more time that elapsed from the writing of the MS, the less likely that new Umlauts would have been added. No other MS has been shown to contain Umlauts indicating textual variants, according to Payne.

Further, he made the suggestion that Umlauts be added in critical apparatuses. Swanson has begun to add Umlaut-data. (I pointed out to him afterwards that I included the information in my own edition of Jude, although only in the textual commentary).

Then Payne went on to some Umlauts in particularly discussed places, namely the PA (John 7:53-8:11) and the passage in 1 Cor 14 (about women). According to Payne, the presence of an Umlaut on the page where the PA is omitted is the earliest evidence for its existence at this location (earlier than Jerome). Payne thinks the evidence is important for its antiquity. Concerning the passage in 1 Cor 14, about the silence of women, the MS includes the verse, but, according to Payne, is the earliest evidence that it was omitted in another MS. [Hence, this evidence can be appealed to by those who suspect the passage is a later addition and/or do not like the passage.]

In sum, Payne proposed that his observations have four key implications:

1) the scribe was aware of variation, and thought that they were important

2) he or she wanted to preserve the most original text

3) the Umlauts provide windows into the text (even for passages where papyri has not survived. Twenty of the fifty-one original-ink Umlauts occur where no variants occur in the papyri.

4) the high proportion of Umlauts where there are known variation (the statistics) proves that the variants have survived in our extant MSS to a very high degree [my remark: it points to the tenacity of the textual tradition.]

5) this proves that the most ancient text has been preserved

Q: "What makes NA27 an appropriate standard to compare with? There are 25 Umlauts in James in Vaticanus. It is 540 lines of text. The NA apparatus has 220 places of variation, more than every third line has variation. If I switch to the Editio Critica Maior in James, it has 761 places of variation, not a single line without variation. If my son marked lines, he would have a very good chance to hit a line where there is variation [100% implied]."

Answer: "It is the variants with significance that matters (and that is what is in the NA), not the minor variants... Payne thought Schmid's calculation was a confirmation (I didn't quite understand why).

Q: "Was there a companion collection where the reader could check the alternative reading?"

A: No, I don't think so. The scribe was a professional calligrapher working in a scriptorium (perhaps the best calligraphy of all extant MSS). There must have been many MSS, especially in a scriptorium in Alexandria. Anyone could compare with MSS in the Scriptorium. A companion volume was not necessary and there are no indications of chapter and verse numbers to facilitate such a use."

Q: Jongkind questioned the reference of the Umlaut in 1 Cor 14:34-35, and suggested that it may refer to the known transposition there (vv. 34-35 follows after 14:40 in D F G and other Western witnesses), it need not indicate an omission of the whole.

A: Payne thinks it is not about transposition, then it would have two sets of Umaluts, but Dirk then asked if there are other examples of this. Payne has not checked. Payne thinks that if it refers to a transposition, the Umlaut would be at v. 40 (since only one Umlaut was used). Or he/she would have added two Umlauts.

Q: "Was it the original scribe who added the Umlauts?"

A: Payne thinks there are some reasons to believe so: It is generally agreed that it has preserved a very good text. We know that in the case of Luke of John (P75) it is ancient. The quality of Vaticanus' text suggests that the scribe copied ancient exemplars or those that had the reputation of being very good texts. It is this type of person that would take time and trouble to do this kind of examination (i.e., to add Umlauts in comparison to multiple exemplars).

Q: "But could they not have been added by someone else, who thought there should be another variant?"

A: Payne answers that then the actual readings would probably be indicated in the margins, but if it was the scribe it would suffice with just the Umlauts.

Q (from a papyrologist): "What is an 'Umlaut'? Why do you use this term?"

A: Payne explained what an Umlaut referred to (textual variation), and that he had coined the term because it referred to a unique sign and therefore not known until recently in papyrology, and because of its convenience without having to make longer explanations like "two dots placed next to each other..." since most will know what an Umlaut usually stands for, i.e., the two dots places over o in some alphabets like the German and Swedish).

My own concluding comment (made in retrospect): I think the statistics Payne referred to, and the method of comparing with Nestle-Aland was unconvincing. Otherwise the paper was good, some of the subsequent answers to questions a bit speculative. The case of 1 Cor 14:34-35 is ambiguous, more data is required. Moreover it would be important to check for Umlauts without MS support (and here we should compare with all available data). A high degree of Umlauts where there is no known variation would probably imply an early date (more likely for the textual data to have been lost).

Update: I have updated the text slightly thanks to Stephen Carlson (see comment). I should also add that it was unfortunate for the presentation that Payne did not show images. That would have been most helpful in this case, especially for those who were unfamiliar with Umlauts, but also in order to see the nature of the ink, the imprints, the position of the Umlauts, etc.

SBL Boston, Smith on P72 and Clivaz on P75

The following two presentations (in the same Saturday session as the previous) will not be as extensively summarized as the previous.

Claire Clivaz: "Reconsidering P75 in the Frame of a Various Egyptian Tradition"

Clivaz argued for a reconsideration of Egyptian witnesses. The presentation was divided into three parts:

1. The status of P75 in present Western culture
The high status (it costed millions of dollars to transfer the MS to the Vatican). This reflect a type of "consecration". On the other hand, in the Leuven database the MS is quite anonymous. There is also a growing number of designations for MSS, (cf. Stanley Porter who wants more sigla for some textual witnesses that do not make it into the Kurzgefasste Liste.)

2. The "P75-effect"
According to Martini's analysis of the relationship P75-B, the text of Vaticanus was not the result of a recension, but on the other hand, several questions, according to Clivaz, have not been solved, e.g., the bias of the witnesse in Luke 22:43-44, which calls for a cautious judgment.

In 1962 Joseph Fitzmyer suggested that P45 and P75 give evidence of a fluctuating state of the text in Egypt in the early period.

In order to prove this fluctuation Clivaz presented a comparison of P75 with P106, P119, and P120, and how much these witnesses disagree also in relation to the larger Alexandrian group.

3. What can be said before P75? A Difficult but Necessary Challenge
Here Clivaz presented a picture of the scribes, as making their own decisions about the text almost as authors. I may have misunderstood her. She brought up the so-called Western non-Interpolations as examples. Then she cited Clement of Alexandira who spoke about the "people of right opinion" Stromata I,IX. Clement claimed a distance to these "people of right opinion" (she thinks they are other Christians). She thinks it is warranted to speak about "Christianities" (cf. Ehrman's Lost Christianities).

She sees John 1:34 as a conclusive test case. She thinks the scribe of P75 was sensitive to a reading in Luke 23:35 here. The first hand copied ο υιος ο εκλεκτος which was corrected to ο υιος του θεου.

When there was time for questions I brought up the following:

(a) methodology. I wondered how and what Clivaz had actually counted in order to arrive at such fluctuation. One must first seek to establish what was in the exemplar of the scribe. Kyong Shik Min's study of the Matthean papyri is a good example of what kind of work is necessary. I can only suspect that Clivaz counted all sorts of scribal errors. Moreover, one could point to the example of P39 which agrees almost verbatim with B and P75, in order to prove that in the midst of "fluidity" there was a stream of a stable and controlled textual tradition.

(b) When it comes to John 1:34, and the new reading in P75, the easiest explanation is that the scribe made an error when he was correcting himself. I actually think the exemplar at this point had both εκλεκτος and θεου,i.e., a conflated reading, which reflects harmonization to Luke 23:35, εἰ οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ χριστὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ ἐκλεκτός. This conflated reading in John 1:34 is attested by the Sahidic version. In fact P75 shares some unique readings with the Sahidic, one of which is in the preceding verse (the addition of και πυρι). Most importantly, one cannot base a thesis that the scribe of P75 made his own theological creations based upon one reading which is also ambiguous! I referred to James Royse's fine study of the manuscript (without knowing that Royse himself was in the room), which proves that P75 was copied from one exemplar. There are perhaps merely two or three readings in the whole MS which, according to Royse, may not have been in the exemplar (but they probably were).

Lastly, I should offer an apology because I thought her presentation of the textual data at one point was incorrect, which I also brought up, but it turned out that the data in question was not from John 1:34 (which I thought; the passage was not indicated on the power point), but from Luke 23:35, so I misunderstood her at that point.

Geoffrey Smith: "The Relationship between Physical Codex and 'Sacred' Text"

This was a paper on the final benediction in 1 Peter 5:14b omitted in P72, ειρηνη υμιν πασιν τοις εν Χριστω.

First Smith gave a general background to small codices (P72 is part of a rather small codex in square shaped format, and part of a miscellany). Then he referred to Jerome Quinn's proposal that the ending of 1 Peter in P72 is the original ending. However, Smith now proposes that the omission in P72 is instead a conscious alteration related to the scribe's theological tendency and purpose, as reflected in other variant readings and the very collection of this codex (referring to a study by Wasserman in NTS). The omission was affected by the presence of a colophon which includes the words ειρηνη τω γραψαντι και τω αναγινωσκοντι. This colophon occurs at other places in the collection too (also provided by other scribes). The "collection-addition," then, made the original piece benediction superfluous.

I offered two comments in response to Geoffrey during question-time:

(a) At one point Smith happened to state that P72 was the earliest witness to the text of 1 Peter, but it is not! He has to check the Coptic Crosby-Schøyen Codex MS 193, which is a century earlier! I am quite confident that this witness has the piece greeting, however.

(b) The same colophon has been found (by me) in another MS! MS Or. 7594 also known as "The Budge Codex" (dated to 275-325 C.E., i.e., roughly contemporary with the Bodmer miscellany). This codex is written in Coptic (the Bodmer miscellany was also copied by Copts), but, significantly, the colophon (after Deutoronomy) is in Greek reading, ειρηνη τω γραψαντι και τω αναγινωσκοντι. This shows that the colophon was maybe more common than previously thought, (the earlier parts collected in the Bodmer Misc. Codex are not unique in this regard), and this observation possibly weakens the force of this particular piece of evidence for a "scribal network," displaying certain conventions in this collection (Haines-Eitzen). On the other hand, the formula is still unusual, and the Budge Codex may have been produced by the same "network." But there is no other link between the two codices than what is already mentioned (they do not seem to have a common provenance, but they could of course have travelled).

I had planned to write a follow-up including this piece of evidence and its various implications, together with one of our co-bloggers, but I couldn't help disclosing the discovery, since it was rather important for the conclusions. I still hope to write something about it, perhaps from a wider perspective of miscellanies, scribal networks, etc. In the meantime I hope Smith mentions the helpful comments at this SBL session in a footnote ;-).

SBL Boston, Head on nomina sacra in P66

This is my first report from the SBL and, hence, I will start with the first New Testament Textual Criticism session on Saturday morning. The first presenter is the blogmeister himself, Peter Head. I should emphasize that what follows is a summary of my own notes, and not the wording of the actual presenter. I may have added here and there, and I have certainly left things out.

SBL Boston, New Testament Textual Criticism morning session, 22/11, 2008 (Gordon D. Fee presiding)

Peter M. Head, "Nomina Sacra in P66"

1. Introduction
In his introduction Head explained why he had chosen this topic, the answer being that nomina sacra (ns) is a notable feature of early Christian texts (especially Biblical texts). Moroever, there has been a signifcant and interesting history of scholarship in the area, recently with interesting interchange between Larry Hurtado and Christopher Tuckett, concerning both the origin and usage of ns. This paper seeks to meet the need for more inductive studies, such as Tuckett has pleaded for, in order to arrive at conclusions based upon more complete data.

2. Why this MS (P66)?

Of course it is desirable to consider the role of ns in all mss, but, naturally, one has to begin somewhere. Head explains why he begins with P66: (a) it is early; (b) It is sizable and fairly complete (larger part of John); (c) the scribe is Christian. [Here I should perhaps add that Peter has worked a lot with this MS from different aspects during recent years, which is another factor]

3. The data

3.1 Consistently contracted forms

There are four terms that are always contracted.

(a) Iησους: 180 extant occurenses, all contracted (2 letter form)

(b) Θεος: 65 extant occurences, in the singular all are contracted (plural not contracted)

(c) κυριος: 37 extant occurences, all contracted (even when not referring to Jesus)

(d) Χριστος: 189 extant occurences, all contracted (2 letter form)

Head now proceeded to show images with other notable features involving these ns. Since very fast and efficient with his Power Point, I may have missed one or two examples.

- In John 20:14, there is an interesting puzzle. Royse suggests in his study that there was originally a ΙC (Ιησους) subsequently corrected to ΚC (κυριος). Head is not entirely convinced.

- In the next example the nomen sacrum was without the over-bar (either the scribe forgot the overbar, or it has worn off).

- In 10:33-36 we find two uncontracted plural forms of θεος, which gives us a clear signal that the scribe treated them distinctly since they did not refer to God.

- In 4:11 we find what, in my opinion, was the most interesting example in the whole presentation. Here the scribe first wrote an overbar over ΘΥ in the word ΒΑΘΥ, but this was later erased (possibly by the scribe himself). Significantly, Head proposed that this is evidence of the fact that the scribe read and was therefore anticipating ns in his exemplar.

- In 12:21 κυριε (ΚΕ) is spoken to Philip, but still there is a ns). Similarly elsewhere, when κυριε is used in politeness (whether addressing Jesus or someone else) it is consistently abbreviated as ns (see John 4:11, 15, 19; 13:16).

- In 20:15 there is an ambiguous example where the scribe seems to have provided a line over αυτω. Head is not sure if this is because it refers to Jesus.

3.2 Inconsistently abbreviated words in P66

(a) πνευμα: 20 times contracted, 1 time not

- In John 3:5-8 we find two occurences of πνευμα where the first has been abbreviated, the second not (appropriate exegesis, the one time it is not abbreviated, since it does not refer to the Holy Spirit). In another place, the scribe has begun unabbreviated, and then realized that an abbreviation is possible, so the scribe erased and supplied an overbar (without saving space).

- In John 6:63, according to Royse, the first hand wrote ΠΝΕΥ.

(b) πατηρ: 96 contracted, 12 times not

- Examples in John 6:44f.; John 8:44. In the latter example, the word is even contracted on the second occasion, referring to the devil (i.e., the contrnot determined according to context)

(b) σταυρος / σταυροω: 6 times contracted, 2 times not
Only in John 19 there some staurogram are found, 19:6, 15, etc. Head thinks they must have given the visual impact of a crucified person.

(c) ανθρωπος: 35 times contracted; 20 times not

- Illustrative examples in John 5:5-9, 9-15, where there are five uses of ανθρωπος, reflecting an inconcistency, sometimes contracted, somtimes not, without logical pattern. Similarly in John 9:1ff.

(d) υιος: 32 contracted; 19 times not

- Examples are found in John 4:50, 53; 5:19-20. Again the scribe is inconsistent. In John 11:27 there is a perplexing example of a christological formula, "Christ, the Son of God," where only υιος is unabbreviated!

- In the expression "The Son of Man" we find that sometimes both terms are contracted, sometimes only the first or the second, and sometimes neither term is contracted. The inconsistent pattern, according to Head, suggests that the scribe did not recognize this as a title.

4. Conclusions

Head expressed his surprise of having reached the final part with conclusions, with another two minutes left! (However, I don't remember if he considered this to be positive or negative.)

He sums up his observations.

- Four ns occur with regularity: God, Jesus, Christ, Lord.
- Reverantial referentiality is clear regarding God in singular, cf. plural; but uncertain regarding Lord.
- The ns are already part of a scribal tradition, as is apparent from the relative degree of regularity, and from the example of ΒΑΘΥ (=anticipation)
- The irregularity of other ns is difficult to account for. Perhaps the previous tradition, and specifically the exemplar, was also inconsistent in cases like, πνευμα so that the scribe sometimes found it contracted in the exmplar and sometimes not.

Time for questions:

Q: "How do you abbreviate the plural God?"
A: "Since there are no examples I can make up an answer. At least he is not bound to two-letter forms (cf. ΠΝΑ for πνευμα)." However, Head could not think of any examples where a plural for of θεος has been contracted.

Q: "Does it not seem as if the scribe is making decisions?"
A: Head thinks he inherits a tradition that contracts the four terms, cf. ΒΑΘΥ. He is expecting to read two-letter abbreviations in his exemplar. Also the inconsistency may point to this. Gordon Fee, who has studied P66 extensively, fills in that the scribe is know for inconsistency, e.g., letter size, etc. There are many carelessnesses.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Home from SBL

Safely home now from the SBL meeting in Boston. I had a great time. Hopefully we can blog the key moments in the next week as a retrospect on the conference with some interaction with the papers. I won't start that right now as my brain is not fully connected yet. Some personal highlights:
- surviving a busy schedule of presentations which all seemed to go well (although I may hear different in due course)
- getting some exercise in the hotel gym every day (except the first day when I went jogging around Boston at 5:00AM and just about froze my throat)
- meeting up with friends and colleagues and potential students for chats and coffee and meals (I also enjoyed the food, but figure I should give the impression that people matter more to me than my stomach)
- hearing a load of interesting papers, some of which are making me rethink some things. (Only a couple made me think: 'I'd rather be somewhere else right now')
- turning up to one session with a dozen donuts in a box and offering them freely to those around (to general surprise and amazement - I guess grace does that)
- a really good ETC dinner on the Monday evening: good fellowship and spirited discussion (also good food, but see above)
- buying only one book (which is one that I really wanted - another one I wanted to buy the author kindly gave me for free) [this left more money for food]
- a great manuscript-viewing seminar in Harvard on the Tuesday (doubtless we'll get some details on this later [I could perhaps mention the Chinese meal six of us shared, but that might get distracting])
- getting loads of ideas and some good offers for things to do in a possible future sabbatical.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Houghton identifies new early Latin texts

Well, the ETC blog has been unusually quiet during SBL, though many of the bloggers have been attending. I think this may be because so many of them are participating in events while here.

There have been many tc-related events here, some of which clash with each other. However, I thought it would be worthwhile reporting on the 'unveiling' this morning by Hugh Houghton of his recent identification of 4 previously unnoticed Old Latin manuscripts of John's Gospel (or manuscripts which contain a mixture of Old Latin and Vulgate text). They had been overlooked as Old Latin witnesses previously because statistics from test passages placed them reasonably close to the Vulgate. However, this was due to 'block mixture', or the presence of different text profiles within the same manuscripts, which can arise due to the use of more than one exemplar in an ancestor. It sounds like a great discovery.

Update (TW): If I understood correctly, Hugh has added the new MSS to the online VL edition at so anyone can access the text and check it out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Westcott Manuscript (addressing 2 Peter 3.10)


Papyrological Institute at the University of Michigan

Papyrological Institute at the University of Michigan (from Papy-List; more info: here)
1 July- 31 July 2009
In July 2009, the Department of Classical Studies and the Graduate Library at the University of Michigan will host a Papyrological Institute for advanced graduate students and junior faculty in Ancient History, Classics, Egyptology, Byzantine Studies and related disciplines. The 2009 Papyrological Institute will focus on late antique documentary papyri. In keeping with the goals of previous years, the Institute aims to provide participating scholars with direct experience of the papyri through close reading of individual texts, and with knowledge of the field of papyrology in general, so that they may employ this knowledge effectively in conducting their own future teaching and research. The Institute at Ann Arbor will be the latest in the series of institutes that have been held at Yale (2003), UC Berkeley (2004), Cincinnati (2005), Columbia (2006), and Stanford (2008) under the sponsorship of the American Society of Papyrologists.

The institute will include a combination of lectures and advanced coursework with first-hand experience working with ancient sources. Students are expected to participate actively in all of the institute’s programs and activities; a full-time commitment is required while the Institute is in session. In general, mornings will be dedicated to introductory lectures by the principal instructors, Professor James G. Keenan, Director, Loyola University of Chicago, and by Professors Traianos Gagos, Arthur Verhoogt and Terry G. Wilfong, and Ms. Leyla Lau-Lamb (conservation) of the University of Michigan. Afternoons will be devoted to advanced coursework, to workshops on individual papyri, instruction in elementary Coptic, and papyrological conservation. A selection of unpublished material will be provided for participants to work with. At the end of the week, Fridays will be devoted to pro-seminars and to lectures on special topics concerned with the historical documentation for late antique Egypt.

Admission to the summer Papyrological Institute is by application only; approximately twelve scholars will be selected to participate. Any qualified academic may participate; no previous experience with papyrology is required. For work with Greek and Coptic papyri, a high degree of competence in Ancient Greek and/or Coptic is essential. Instruction in elementary Coptic will be provided as part of the course. Participation in the institute is free of charge. Applicants are expected to seek financial support from their home institutions to facilitate their participation, but grants may be available for candidates who lack other means of support. Participants who complete the Institute will receive a certificate from the American Society of Papyrologists, but no credit will be given for the course and no grades or transcripts will be issued.

Application Procedure: The application consists of the completed application form along with current curriculum vitae and two letters of recommendation. All materials must be received by 15 February 2009 in order to be considered for admission. Notification of decisions will be issued in March. For further information about the Summer Institute, please contact Professor Traianos Gagos (traianos at

Send application materials to:
Professor Traianos Gagos
Department of Classical Studies
University of Michigan
2160 Angell Hall
Ann Arbor, MI

Friday, November 14, 2008

IBR Service at SBL: Sunday Morning

Mike Holmes commented to the previous post that IBR (Institute for Biblical Research, the American cousin (sister?) of Tyndale Fellowship) sponsors a Sunday morning worship service open to all at SBL:
7:30 AM to 8:30 AM
Room: Meeting Room 304 - CC
The service includes prayers, congregational singing--which has always been very stirring--readings from Scripture and a meditation.
IBR invites anyone interested to attend, and please feel free to share the information with others.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

SBL ETC get together

With SBL just around the corner it would be good to have a get together for a meal and some personal catch up for ETC bloggers and regular readers/commenters. I haven't really had much time to think about the schedule (due to lots of teaching and trying to finish my papers for SBL!), so suggestions would be welcome.
I see that some Bibliobloggers are getting together on Sunday evening (see the post from Michael Halcomb), so it may be better to avoid the clash and support that gathering if we can (or get to a church - not always easy at SBL). I personally would prefer a dinner since the lunches always turn out to be a bit rushed (especially if, as last year, one has a paper to present straight afterwards!), but I would love to hear suggestions in the comments.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Digitising Sinaiticus by Henschke

Ekkehard Henschke, Director of Leipzig University Library 1992-2005, has published a project report entitled 'Digitising the Hand-Written Bible: The Codex Sinaiticus, its History and Modern Presentation' in Libri 57 (2007), 45-51. (an earlier version was presented at the International SBL in Edinburgh, 2006).

It is interesting background to the Sinaiticus project from the Leipzig (interestingly pro-Tischendorf) perspective.

Monday, November 10, 2008

P39 for sale again.

P39 is to be auctioned (again!) by Sotheby's (estimated price £200,000 - 300,000): P39 (some nice images).

Up-date: I was sad to see that 0313 is also for sale in the same auction: 0313 (with two ETC bloggers mentioned in the description).

Digital Edition of the Leiden Peshitta

It has come to our attention that Logos Bible Software has recently begun working on a digital edition of the Leiden Peshitta. Possibly, we will publish a review of this tool in the future.

The following is from the prepublication details (also orderpage):

The Syriac Peshitta of the Old and New Testament originated during the first centuries of the Christian era, and has been used ever since in the non-western churches of Syrian signature. Much like the Greek translations of the Old Testament, this ancient version is an important source for our knowledge of the textual traditions behind the biblical text. In contrast to the manuscripts of most Hebrew traditions, which date from the beginning of the Middle Ages, the extant Syriac manuscripts date from the fifth century. Some New Testament scholars argue for Aramaic as the original language of portions of the New Testament, and similarities between Aramaic and the Syriac of the Peshitta lead these scholars to encourage the study of the Peshitta.

This edition of the Old and New Testament was prepared at the Peshitta Institute in Leiden, and has become the standard Syriac edition. A. Ceriani’s photolithographic edition of 1876 serves as the basis for the Leiden Peshitta.

The Logos edition of the Leiden Peshitta features the entire running text of the Syriac translations of the Old and New Testament, plus the deutero-canonical works. The entire Peshitta contains a limited critical apparatus. This edition also contains two manuscript versions of Tobit, Epistle of Baruch, 1 Maccabees, Prayer of Manasseh, and Psalms, and is available in two Syriac scripts: Serto and Estangela.

This edition of the Leiden Peshitta will benefit students of the history of the Bible text, Syriac language and literature and Syriac Christianity.

Key Features Included
* The entire running text of the entire Old Testament and New Testament, plus deutero-canonical works
* Limited critical apparatus
* Two manuscript versions of Tobit, Epistle of Baruch, 1 Maccabees, Prayer of Manasseh, and Psalms
* Available in two Syriac scripts: Serto and Estrangela

Praise for the Print Edition
This magnificent series provides a reliable base from which to compare the Syriac Old Testament with the Hebrew Vorlage and the Greek and Aramaic versions.
—James H. Charlesworth, Religious Studies Review
. . . This authoritative edition is an indispensable source not only for the biblical text but also for early Eastern Christianity.
—M. P. Weitzman, Journal of Theological Studies

The pre-publication price is $49.95 (download or CD-Rom)

Friday, November 07, 2008

Serious and Trivial Thoughts on new edition of NT Greek Papyri and Parchments from Austria

Stanley E. Porter and Wendy J. Porter, New Testament Greek Papyri and Parchments. New Editions 2 volumes. Vol. 1: Text; Vol. 2: Plates, Mitteilungen aus der Papyrussammlung der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek (MPER) XXX (Berlin; New York: de Gruyter, 2008).

New and independent editions of manuscripts are always welcome and this re-edition of the papyri and small parchments from Vienna is no exception. Texts and plates, what more could we want?
Just for the fun of it, let's compare the Porters edition of 0101 (G39780) compare with the IGNTP edition of the John majuscules. Walter de Gruyter over against Brill!

Round 1: The Plates.
The plates look better in Schmid's work, the resolution of the pics is much higher than in the Porter volume. However, the verso side in the Porters' volume is darker and makes some of the letters easier to read. I have also the distinct feeling that the plates in the two books are not identical: the holes in the Porters' version look different, bigger, and more numerous, which would indicate a more recent picture. Am I seeing things here or not? Both editions only offer B/W pictures.
Minimal advantage to Brill.

Round 2: The Transcription.
First punch delivered by de Gruyter: having the plates and transcription in different physical volumes makes it so much more handsome to compare the two. The second uppercut is also landed by the Porter team, they give two versions of the text, a diplomatic text (what is there), and a reading text (with word divisions, accents, and reconstructions). The Schmid team has only one transcription, with word divisions and reconstructions of lacunae, but without accents.
And what about the actual transcribed letters? Schmid et al. are pretty certain, where Porter & Porter show much more caution. The first have in the first line only one dotted letter, the latter have three, but also have blanks on three places where the first have a letter (and two of these letters are undotted!) Who is right? Personally I would have fared a middle course between the two. The first two letters (T H) seem certain and complete to me (both dotted by the Porters. The next epsilon is uncertain (I agree with Stan and Wendy), the pi is incomplete but likely (Ulrich cum suis: certain; Porters print a blank), the first omicron after the lacuna is in my humble opinion (and based on the plates) a guess and cannot be printed as a modern transcription (Porters win). Wessely, the original editor, may well have seen an omicron in his days (and on second and third reflection the omicrons are almost an upright linear; there may be something of a case here). The final epsilon is printed as uncertain by the IGNTP project, and only appears as a lacuna in the MPER, again advantage Porter.
However, the reading text of the Porters shows some curiosities, it does not correspond exactly to the diplomatic text given earlier. In the first recto line, three letters that were absent from the transcription appear now as dotted letters. [By the way, the difference is not that a different text is given, simply that a different impression is given of what is actually there]. The introduction (xii) gives a - possibly relevant - statement, the exact meaning of which I find hard to decipher. "Whereas in the diplomatic edition we have plenty of sublinear dots to indicate that we know a letter was written, but cannot with certainty decipher it, in the reading edition we provide a texts, as much as we are able, but leave the sublinear dots to indicate that on the manuscript these were not clearly read." The reading text, in the end, contains two more and one less letter as what we find in the John majuscule volume.
Advantage Porter, clearly (forgetting about the reading text).

Round 3: The Commentary
Easy one, as there is no commentary on the transcription in the IGNTP volume, whilst there is a good commentary in the newer volume.
Porter wins.

The two volumes by the Porters give us editions of the text, and as these are commentated transcriptions, they provide the reader with the possibility to agree or disagree with them on an argument-based level. Well done. It is also nice to have the whole bunch of currently published material from Vienna together in one set. All in all, I think Stan and Wendy Porter did an admirable job and produced a volume that is pretty much indispensable for NT text-critics. The comparsion with IGNTP John fails of course partly because of the different aims of that project, but still, in the case of 0101, I prefer the Porters' diplomatic text (not their reading text) above Schmid's c.s. But let's give Brill due credit for printing on paper that is so much whiter than Walter de Gruyter's, though the latter has a posher cover.