Wednesday, December 17, 2008

SBL Papyrology and New Testament Papers

I am not planning to blog on all the papers in this Group, not because they were not interesting and informative (which they generally were, especially those by Blumell, Head and Weaver), but because they are not relevant to Textual Criticism (which, interestingly, is not all there is to be studied in relation to the Bible). But there were several papers which dealt with NT manuscripts which I will mention here. (In some respects this was unfortunate, but I won't discuss the problems of demarcation now.)

In SBL 22-69 Don Barker discussed (in a change to the announced programme) P. Macq. Inv. 360 (which with P. Mil. Vogl. inv. 1224 makes up NT P91). This early third century papyrus contains the remains of part of a single sheet of a manuscript of Acts (2.30-37, 2.46 - 3.2), written in a semi-informal hurried block script with some influence from cursive. Some inner margins survive, calculations suggest that the written area would have been around 24 cm x 14.4 cm (plus margins). Previously unrecognised, but pretty clear in the images shown were a series of vertical fold marks, which suggested that this portion was from the middle left-hand edge of a folded page, which had been reused, folded and kept as a healign amulet. Don proceeded to demonstrate how this worked with a scale replica of the papyrus which as a finale he folded and then tore into pieces.

Pretty much all the papers in SBL 23-135 dealt with biblical manuscripts on Papyrus (the one exception is also pretty interesting)

Michael Theophilos presented 'A New Fragment of James from Oxyrhynchus'. This was an excellent presentation by one of the maestros of image-presenters (for his recent "fame" see this report of his impact on NOBTS) and dealt with a new P. Oxy. NT text forthcoming in volume 75 (hopefully). It is identified as 51.4B 19/c(1-4)b. This means from Box 51; from the fourth excavation season (hence 1902); the 18th folder; layer c; from a group of four fragments; of whcih this is the second (b). It has 10 lines of text, measures 10x13 cm; and is the top right hand corner of a leaf containing James 3.14-15 and 3.18-4.1 in a large round uncial. A lot of attention in the presentation was given to the result of some MSI on a ambiguous letter on verso line 8 (the MSI resolved a perceived problem).

Ingrid Lilly presented a discussion of the marginal notes in LXX P967 Ezekiel, which has seven different types of marginal marks and notations all of which seem linked to reading. An interesting talk with a good handout (probably could have done with some images to help); and an important area of study.

Two presenters discussed amulets, already noted by Tommy: Theodore de Bruyn discussed 'Criteria for Identifying Biblical Inscriptions as Amulets' and John G. Cook discussed 'P50 and the Question of Its Function'

Dave Nielsen discussed the early manuscript witnesses to the Shepherd of Hermas from the perspective of 'the Question of Developing Canonicity'. Given the popularity of Hermas (28 extant greek mss; lots of translations; 12 mss from II-III) this was interesting (for some details see Hermas notes). He basically noted that in terms of codicology, palaeography, punctuation etc. the manuscripts of Hermas are indistinguishable from mansucripts of texts which were included into the New Testament. If the NT mss were of texts regarded as Scripture; then probably Hermas was similarly regarded.


  1. Another interesting thing with Theophilus' paper was the fact that this early papyrus offered support for a variant found only in later minuscules, maybe it was KATASPEIRETAI in James 3:18, but I don't remember exactly. Again, it illustrates the tenacity of the textual tradition.

  2. After consulting the ECM of James, I don't think it could have been KATASPEIRETAI in 3:18 (not attested by any MSS). Instead, I am almost certain that it is KATAPSEUDESQE in James 3:14, earlier attested only by 1840, a minuscule from the 16th century!