Thursday, November 27, 2008

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 ;-).


  1. In relation to the Coptic Crosby-Schøyen Codex MS 193. This, alongside of P72/P.Bodmer Misc. was quite fully discussed by David G. Horrell, 'The Themes of 1 Peter: Insights from the Earliest Manuscripts' (SBL 22-119). I didn't attend the session, but I have read the paper.

  2. I met Horrell at the Scottish reception. He came over, and we chatted. He is writing his dissertation also on the citations of Isaiah in 1 Peter. Since I saw Martin Karrer and Michael Labahn in the room I introduced him to them. They are involved in a project (with Ulrich Schmid) dealing with LXX citations in the NT. I told David that it is very important to consider the LXX tradition itself. In order to evaluate how the authors and scribes treated these citations we must have more knowledge of the LXX transmission itself.

    Anyway, Horrell of course was grateful for this new contact. He was invited to give a paper on their conference in Wuppertahl in March next year.

    I am so sorry that I missed David's paper - must ask him for a copy.

  3. David G. Horrell is Professor of NT at Exeter, and writing the ICC on 1 Peter.

  4. I wonder if he is writing his second dissertation, or if maybe I have mixed up the persons...and refer to a different David, or a different Horell, or a wholly different scholar altogether.

  5. Tommy, you have the right person, but he finished his dissertation many years ago.

  6. Pete, no it can't be. When I look at his picture,, he looks very different from the other scholar I met. I definitely got it mixed up.

  7. Hi Tommy. As you know, I am going to argue in my dissertation that the first hand reading of P75 is NOT a conflation or an error, but a genuine variant. I have added argumentation for that, as you suggested.

  8. Timo: that is good, i.e., that you add arguments. The blogreaders may find this conversation a bit enigmatic, so I hope you do not mind that I mention that I have read your dissertation and proposed some changes, including your discussion of this passage.

    The most important thing that you have to consider is not this variant in isolation! It needs to be evaluated in the light of *all variation* in the MS ("knowledge of documents should precede judgment of readings"). What I mean is that this MS was most probably copied from one exemplar (look at Royse chapter on P75 very carefully and discuss with Royse. Look also at the reading shared with the Sahidic in John 1:33, and elsewhere), and this increases the likelihood of an error in this individual passage (rather than a new and unique reading not found elsewhere). Once you have argued for the unique reading not found elsewhere, it is another thing to argue for the theological creativeness of the scribe. That I thing is very difficult considering that the scribe seems to follow the exemplar in virtually 100% of all places where we have known variation. It will be very difficult to convince me there. I think P75 is one of the worst possible examples to choose if one wants to demonstrate textual fluidity, then other papyri should be chosen as examples. But a good study of an individual passage is good in itself (and need not be used for an overarching thesis).

    On the other hand, one can never be sure, everything is possible, but not everything is likely. Personally I would go for the explanation that is most likely.

    I wish you good luck and I am confident that your discussion will be much improved.

  9. Thanks Tommy,

    Re Clivaz No. 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.'

    I think the point here is that Clivaz accepted Martin's argument (JBL 124 (2005), 269-294) that the so-called 'Western non-Interpolations' are actually anti-separationist additions in the Alexandrian tradition, and thus that P75 reflects a textual tradition which has a previous life (beyond straight-forward copying).

  10. Smith's presentation was interesting, but I confess to not finding it persuasive.