Friday, January 30, 2009

SBL in Rome: Final Call for Papers!

On Peter Head's request, here is a final reminder to submit your proposal of paper for the SBL International Meeting in Rome 30 June - 4 July, 2009,(call for papers closes Jan 31).

For more information how to submit a proposal for the "Working with Biblical Manuscripts" unit, see here.

Thus far, we have nine papers on a variety of topics in textual criticism relating to both the Old and New Testaments. Interestingly, there is also a paper that compares the textual transmission of the Qur'an with that of the NT.

So, go ahead and submit your proposal!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"How Did Christianity Begin" - Bird vs. Crossley, pt. 2

Just a remainder about the second part of the radio show Unbelievable broadcasted a few days ago on Premier Christian Radio featuring Michael F Bird And James G Crossley who debate on the topic "How Did Christianity begin? A believer and non-believer examine the evidence" (also the title of their co-written book published recently by SPCK).

In this second part of the show they debate whether Paul believed Jesus was God and whether we can trust the Gospel portrayals of him. Listen to the program here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

David Parker, 2009 Kenneth W. Clark Lecturer at Duke

Mark Goodacre reports that his former colleague Dr. David Parker (Edward Cadbury Professor of Theology and Director of the Institute for Textual Scholarship, University of Birmingham) will deliver the 2009 Kenneth Clark Lectures at Duke.

The theme is Textual Scholarship and New Testament Studies including two lectures "New Testament Textual Scholarship Today" (Feb. 10) and "Using Textual Research" (Feb. 11). These are free public lectures held at Westbrook 0016.

Audio files from last year's lectures by Dale Allison are available on-line here. Hopefully, Parker's lectures will also be made available so that those of us who cannot make it to Duke can enjoy them too.

BTW, this reminds me of Goodacre's background in Birmingham. I remember once, when I visited Birmingham in 2006, a year after he had moved to Duke, his picture was still up on the faculty list in the entrance hall of the theological faculty! Apparently, it was a hard loss for Birmingham!

TC books on latest RBL

Over at RBL are two book reviews pertaining to textual criticism matters:

Reviewed by Marcus Sigismund

Reviewed by J. K. Elliott

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Phil 1.11: 'for the glory of God and approval for me'

The other day in house group we studied Phil 1.1-11. One thing we didn't touch on was the interesting variant in v11: EIS DOXAN QEOU KAI EPAINON EMOI (P46; it/ar). Here is a picture of P46 at this point:

Considering this is the earliest manuscript (by far), and the most difficult reading, I wonder whether this could make sense as the original/Pauline reading. On this basis EPAINON here would refer to approval or recognition received from God (as generally in Rom 2.29; and specifically in connection with apostolic ministry in 1 Cor 4.5, BDAG has other refs). The general thought would reflect Paul's conviction that his own eschatological reward is connected with the perseverance of his churches (as e.g. 1 Thess 2.19f: 'For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our gory and joy.'). The same idea (with quite different language) is present in Phil 2.16. So on this basis it seems possible to conceive of this reading as Pauline - not egotistical but eschatological. The righteousness of the Philippians comes through Jesus Christ, it brings glory to God, and it results (also) in eschatological reward for Paul. Silva pretty much accepts this view of things, but is rather cautious about adopting a reading on the basis of a single witness.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Named Letter-Carriers among the Oxyrhynchus Papyri

In the recent issue of JSNT 31.3(2009): 279-299, Peter Head has an article on named letter-carriers among the Oxyrhynchus papyri.


"This paper analyses the role played by named letter-carriers among Greek personal letters in the Oxyrhynchus papyri as possible background for Pauline practice, and within the context of recent proposals concerning the role of the letter-carriers within Pauline practice. Around forty letters are discussed, with three examples analysed in more depth (P.Oxy. 113; P.Oxy. 3313; P.Oxy. 3505). It is seen that, when named and identified within the letter, the letter-carrier frequently supplements the written communication with some oral supplement. Against some recent proposals no evidence is found in support of the view that the letter-carrier ever read the letter itself to the recipient."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Vatican Catalogues Its Hebrew MSS (via PaleoJudaica)

Jim Davila, over at PaleoJudaica notes that a new catalogue of the 800 Hebrew MSS in the Vatican has been published.

JTA (The Global News of the Jewish People) reports (Jan 21):

"ROME (JTA) -- With the help of Israeli scholars, the Vatican has published a catalog[ue] of the Hebrew manuscripts kept in its library.

Publication of the work, a Vatican communique said, 'represents a significant example of co-operation between the cultural institutions of the Holy See and of Israel.'

The book, edited by the technical staff of the National Library of Israel, will be formally presented at an event Jan. 30 that will feature the Israeli ambassador to the Holy See as well as the Vatican librarian and former director of the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts of the Jewish National and University Library.

The book includes all Vatican manuscripts in Hebrew script -- a total of approximately 800 items distributed over 11 collections."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

CSNTM Photographs Van Kampen Collection: Unregistered MSS

Over at CSNTM, Jeff Hargis reports on "Two New Manuscripts in One: VK 908.".

VK 908 contains the Acts and the Catholic Epistles (Apostolos) and the Pauline Epistles. Hargis explains that Titus, Philemon, and Hebrews have been displaced between the Thessalonian letters, with the result that these three epistles were copied a second time by someone who probably thought they were missing (hence "two new minuscules in one"). I do not know whether the INTF will assign this manuscript two different Greg.-Aland numbers.

In my own work on Jude I have encountered similar examples. Greg.-Aland 90 actually contains two texts of Jude, copied from two different exemplars - the first of them from an exemplar of Theodore Hagiopetrites dated to 1293 C.E.. Only the second text was collated by the INTF for the Text und Textwert. In my monograph, The Epistle of Jude: Its Text and Transmission I have labeled the two versions (copied by the same scribe and placed in separate parts of the codex!), 90a and 90b. In other codices I also found the same texts copied twice (but not Jude). Apart from my monograph, such observations are noted in an article, "Some Bibliograhic Notes on Greek New Testament Manuscripts," Novum Testamentum 49,3 (2007):291-295.

Now some words about the Van Kampen collection:

Robert van Kampen (1938-1999) managed to assemble one of the largest private collections of rare biblical manuscripts and artifacts in the world. His collection was founded in 1986. He desired that the collection would be available for scholarly research, and open to public display, so in 1994 "The Scriptorium" was established as a repository for collection in Grand Haven, Michigan. Private, personal tours of the collection were given to the public for five years in the small museum in Grand Haven, Michigan. The Scriptorium also hosted some significant conferences in the 90s at Hampton Court, Hereforshire in England, gathering several leading scholars in textual criticism and related fields. (That facility has now been sold by the Van Kampen family.) As an outcome of this scholarly activity, several books were edited a series called The Bible as Book. One of the editors of these volumes, Kimberly Van Kampen, I assume is a daughter of Robert Van Kampen. However, she now seems to have left the scholarly career and is into horse breeding at her establishment, Hampton Green Farm.

The Van Kampen Collection includes eleven witnesses to the Greek New Testament including some which are previously unrecorded. The majority predate the thirteenth century. The earliest Gospelbook with lists of Kephalaia, and full-page portraits of the Evangelists is claimed to date from the ninth century (!) on the web-site describing the collection here. This date, however, is very controversial. Bruce Metzger, who was allowed to examine the MS dated it later (I think I read an article on this, but I cannot remember the details). Interestingly, this MS has now been registered as Greg.-Aland 2860 in the digital update of the Kurzgefasste Liste, where it is dated to the 11th century! Thus, I assume that the INTF staff has examined the MS and concurred with Metzger.

Apparently, two other Gospel books and a lectionary in the collection are dated to the eleventh century, and two manuscripts of the Acts of the Apostles belong to the twelfth, but these dates must be verified by experts at the INTF once they become registered. It is also unclear to me how many of these MSS that have been registered before. For example, I know that Greg.-Aland 2523 is one of the items in the collection. In the Kurzgefasste Liste from 1994 it is registered as Athens Nat. Libr., 2720 (dated to 1453), so at some point it has been transferred from Athens to Orlando. This may be the case with other MSS too. When already registered MSS are transferred to other locations without the knowledge of the INTF, there is always a risk of double registration (see e.g., the case of 2483=2866 here), so "new" MSS have to be carefully examined before they can be registered and assigned new Greg.-Aland numbers.

Several years ago when I realized that the Van Kampen Collection had unregistered MSS, including at least two copies of the Apostolos, as judging from information they had put on the web (here). After Robert Van Kampen's death in 1999, the family decided to relocate the collection to a theme park to be built in Orlando, Florida. So from 2002 it has been on loan to the Holy Land Experience in Orlando, in the facility with the similar name as the original repository Scriptorium: Center for Biblical Antiquities, where a part is still on public exhibit. This museum is described as a "non-sectarian library/research center" housing the several thousand manuscripts, scrolls, and other religious artifacts of the collection, which also includes other resources like the personal library of the text-critical scholar Eberhard Nestle.

So in those days I contacted a Dean Tisch, director of administration at Sola Scriptura, which is the collective ministry now in charge of the collection, the theme park, etc. I asked Mr. Tisch for permission to access the MSS in question (actually I wanted to purchase some photos of the folios with Jude), but, for some reason, the answer was unfortunately negative. I have been under the impression that the people in charge of the collection now are more "ministry-orientated" and, perhaps for that reason not so interested in academic values, but I hope I am wrong. Anyway, I think the restrictive attitude that I experienced back then was not in line with the wish of the founder, Robert Van Kampen, who wanted to make the items accessible for scholars. But, in fact I had heard of other scholars who were able to gain access to some items (e.g., photos of relevant parts of the MSS), but for my part I gave up.

Now, I am really pleased to hear that the CSNTM has been able to photograph the GNT MSS, and I do hope that they will get permission to make the images available for scholars. I think that is the right way to honour the legacy of Robert Van Kampen.

Read more about the collection with a focus on Hebrew MSS in this paper by William Baker, "United States: Hebrew manuscripts and incunabula."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where did you put those manuscripts?

I just finished reading the following article:
AnneMarie Luijendijk, 'Papyri from the Great Persecution: Roman and Christian Perspectives' in The Journal of Early Christian Studies 16:3 (Fall, 2008): 341–369.
The article contrasts two pieces of documentary evidence with the patristic accounts of Diocletian's persecution. The first papyrus (P.Oxy. XXXIII 2673) speaks of the confiscation of church property and the second (P.Oxy XXXI 2601) preserves evidence of Christians circumventing demands for imperial worship.

Dr Luijendijk
(LOY[as in boy]-EN-DIKE[as in bike]) mentions another text which is of particular interest. The Gesta apud Zenophilum contains an excerpt from a text titled the Acta of Munatius Felix which documents the confiscation of the goods of a Numidian (modern Algeria) church in the first decade of the 4th century. Numerous gold, silver and bronze items were turned over in addition to clothing and other goods. When the authorities searched the premises, they found further valuables including a codex. When the homes of church readers were searched, 37 manuscripts turned up.
These naughty Christians had neglected to submit their biblical manuscripts to the authorities.

In the first P.Oxy text, only a few bronze items are relinquished to the authorities. Are the Christians in this Fayumic town also hiding their manuscripts and other goods? Are the authorities looking the other way? This article poses a number of provocative questions concerning how the persecution played out and the ways in which Christians learned to avoid legal punishment. The second P.Oxy text demonstrates how an early Christian escaped offering tribute in a forensic setting. The ancient author's Christian faith is
marked by the isopsephy of a final Ϟθ' which apparently is code for "Amen".

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Michael Bird Debates James Crossley on Premier Christian Radio (via Euangelion)

Two weeks after Peter Williams' debate with Bart Ehrman on Premier Christian Radio, the next ETC-blogger appears on the same radio show, yes, Unbelievable. The idea of this show is to invite a non-believer and a believer every week for a debate.

This week it is Michael Bird who debates James Crossley on topics like "Did Jesus believe he was God" and "Does the resurrection explain the origins of Christianity?" Bird and Crossley have debated these topics before, not least in their joint publication How Did Christianity Begin?: A Believer and Non-believer Examine the Evidence (SPCK).

Michael says on his blog Euangelion that "it was good fun" and "James was well behaved for the most part."

You can hear the first part of two here. Don't forget to tune in next week and listen to part two.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Syriac of Romans

I write on the use of the Peshitta as a witness to the Greek text of Romans in the latest TC volume. I hope this article will be part of a larger project suggesting a reevaluation of the way we use the versions.

1000 posts

It is gratifying to have passed the 1000 posts mark.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Scriptures excavated at Smyrna: Conjectural Emendation Suggested

There is a report on-line that 'Greek scriptures' have been discovered during an excavation of the Agora at Smyrna (see here).

"Following long stages of expropriaton and demolition work held by the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality, the Agora excavations continue to reveal new findings, such as Greek scriptures and drawings from Roman times."

This is so implausible that it is crying out for a conjectural emendation: "Greek graffiti" are surely what is meant (up-dated in light of the comments). This makes better sense of the second occurrence:
"Some scriptures written in Greek as well as some drawings pertaining to the Roman and Hellenistic times are expected to give clues about the daily life at the time."

For further discussion of this graffiti see Ben Witherington's report from SBL (up-dated from the comments)

[Probably a translation error: what is the Turkish?]

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Helmut Koester on A Century of NT Scholarship

The Centenary edition of the Harvard Theological Review contains an interesting article: H. Koester, 'New Testament Scholarship through One Hundred Years of the Harvard Theological Review' HTR 101.3-4 (2008), 311-322.

It contains a couple of interesting observations about NT textual criticism:

a) between 1908 - 1937 half (51) of all the articles on NT (102) in HTR dealt with textual criticism (in the same period there was nothing on intertestamental literature, or Philo, or Josephus);

b) between 1938-1968 'contributions to the field of New Testament textual criticism have dwindled to a small number' (p. 315; 14 articles) (with many more on Judaism, and the Greco-Roman world);

c) between 1969-2006 'the area of New Testament textual criticism has shrunk to a mere seven contributions' (mostly by E.J. Epp) (while other fields expanded: general NT; Judaism; ancient Christianity).

In reflecting on these he offers some comments on the state of German scholarship, on the study of Judaism in this period, as well as on the importance of Coptic sources; in relation to textual criticism he wrote:

'New discoveries of manuscripts, particularly of New Testament papyri, brought new excitement to the scene of New Testament study, and American scholars, some educated in Europe, such as James Hardy Ropes, or coming from Europe, such as Kirsopp Lake, played an important role in this discussion. Later, the center of these investigations had moved to the text-critical institute in Munster, where it became streamlined without achieving any significant progress, as J. Eldon Epp (sic) has so aptly argued in several publications.' (p. 321)

Friday, January 09, 2009

"All Roads Lead to Rome:" SBL International Meeting Call for Papers, First Reminder

This is the first reminder to pull yourself together, write up the abstract and submit your proposal for the upcoming SBL International Meeting in Rome 30June - 4 July, 2009, celebrating the centenary of the Pontifical Biblical Institute.

Thus reads the call for papers in the Working with Biblical Manuscript Program Unit:

"Call For Papers: 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."

For more information how to submit a proposal for this unit, see here.

We hope to have enough papers for several days, I know of five so far, including my own paper, but we expect many more.

I will probably post at least one more reminder, since Peter Head has asked for such on January 30, here (at about 11 PM?). In Boston I heard rumours about the Tyndale House people renting a villa in Rome and bringing family members along (will there be any time for textual criticism?).

And don't forget about the Sinaiticus conference in London, 6-7 July.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Peter Williams Debates Bart Ehrman On British Radio

Bart Ehrman of the University of North Carolina and Peter J Williams of Tyndale House, Cambridge recently appeared on the radio programme "Unbelievable?" hosted by Justin Brierly on Premier Christian radio.

They discussed Bart's best-selling book Misquoting Jesus (reviewed here) and whether the textual variation and transmission of the New Testament Documents is as bad as the book makes out. They also discussed what impact this has for a Christan view of the Bible's authority.

You can listen back to it online in the programme archive at Alternatively you can click the "download the podcast" option to get the MP3 or subscribe in itunes.

The Old Has Gone, the New Has Come: The Umlaut Changes Name to Distigme

In the beginning of December, Philip Payne contacted me and said he had given a lot of thought and investigation into the best name to identify the pairs of dots in the margins of Codex Vaticanus B, known since the original discovery in 1995 as "Umlaut(s)." Those he had spoken to up to that point agreed that the expression "dot pair" (or "dot pairs" in the plural) would be more appropriate. I had some hesitation since Umlaut is now widely known and used, but, nevertheless, I drew his attention to David Parker's suggestion in his recent introduction (see last post) where he says, "The description of these as 'umlauts' is graphic but inappropriate. The use of points in critical sigla in antiquity is found in the διπλῆ περιεστιγμένη, the ὀβελὸς περιεστιγμένος and the ἀντίστιγμα περιεστιγμένον, but the textbooks seem to be silent on this precise phenomenon (e.g. Gardthausen, Palaeographie ... Perhaps δίστιγμα would be a more appropriate term" (p. 73).

This developed into a larger discussion with several scholars involved. The main choice at the beginning was between dot pair and distigma. Timothy Brown, in particular, presented some good arguments in favor of distigma, and the question looked settled, when Payne announced that he would adopt the term if no one opposed to it before Christmas Eve. He would then change the term in a forthcoming book as well as an article, both for which the deadline was approaching. He stated the key reasons for the change:

1. It will be readily recognized as a technical term with a specific
meaning, namely the presence of two (di) points (stigmata).
2. It has no other meaning that might distract from its use to
identify the locations of textual variants.
3. It is related to other expressions that described textual variants
in antiquity and is the most in keeping with the standard lexicon of
Greek paleography.
4. It is the expression most likely to gain universal acceptance.

A few days later on December 17, however, I happened to come across a reference to a list of text-critical signs included in Harleian MS 5693 (Illiad), which were said to have been used by Aristarkhos, and in this list there is in fact the "duo stigmai" (in the feminine plural) which accompany the antisigma. According to the list both are used in comination to mark a doublet in the text (the antisigma marks the first, and the duo stigmai the second occurence of the same words/thought). A specialist on Homeric textual criticism, Dr. Adrian Kelly was consulted, and it turned out that this list which was added to the MS in the 16th century may be erroneous on this point (the actual MS has to be checked to see if there is the double-dot sign in the Illiad text). According to Kelly, all other references to the 'stigme' as a text-critical sign in the Homeric tradition, in the scholia vetera et recentiora, all (other?) MSS, and in all modern treatments of Homeric textual criticism make it absolutely clear that Aristarkhos used the single 'stigme' to denote that for which the anonymous 16th cent. author uses 'duo stigmai'.

Regardless of whether the duo stigmai actually occurs in the Homeric context, perhaps in this MS alone, the lead at least made it clear that the stigme (feminine) is well established both in ancient and modern textual criticism, which is a decisive argument to prefer it to the neuter form (stigma/stigmata). After taking this prolonged scholarly consultation in account, Payne accepted the minor modification and concluded that the most appropriate expression for the double-dot sign in Vaticanus is the compound expression distigme (singular)/distigmai (plural). Below I cite, with his approval, his message on January 3 to the colleagues:

"Dear Colleagues,

Thank you all for your thoughtful input and patience in determining the ideal term for the horizontally-aligned, double-dot text critical symbols at mid character height in the margins of Codex Vaticanus B. I am sure we all wish to give special thanks to Dr. Kelly, T. A. E. Brown, T. Wasserman, and H. A. G. Houghton for their expert analyses.

I propose, based on all of your input, that we henceforth use distigmai (in the plural) or distigme (in the singular, with the final e pronounced as a long a since it represents eta) as the technical term for the double-dot text critical symbols in the margins of Codex Vaticanus B rather than 'umlaut'. I propose that in normal English use, distigmai and distigme not be italicized or put in quotes. I recommend that the final e of distigme not be given either a macron or a circumflex accent since there is a long tradition of representing its root as stigme.

The key reasons for the choice of distigmai and distigme are:

Since the convention in the NT of Codex Vaticanus B is for pairs of dots to identify the locations of textual variants, the name should specifically identify two dots. A search of LSJ indicates that the most common way to represent two in compound words in classical Greek is with the prefix di. The word conventionally used in Greek to represents dots of ink on writing materials is stigmai (stigme when referring to one specific occurrence). I recommend, therefore, the use of the specific term distigmai (distigme when referring to one specific occurrence) to identify the double dots in Codex Vaticanus B and any other manuscripts in which similar horizontally-aligned marginal notations identify the location of a textual variant.

Since this is a technical term with a specific meaning, it makes sense to use a technical term to represent it rather than a non-technical expression such as double dots or pairs of dots.

The feminine form stigmai (stigme for specific instances) is the original name for text critical dot symbols and the name normally used for these. Consequently, distigmai (distigme for specific instances) is more appropriate than the neuter distigmata (distigmata for specific instances) as the name for the double dot symbols in Codex Vaticanus B.

A single word title will facilitate future searches for this technical term, hence distigmai/distigme rather than duo stigmai. Having two separate forms also makes it clear whether one occurrence is in view or plural occurrences.

Distigmai and distigme have the added benefit that they do not convey any other meaning, which is the primary weakness of 'umlaut'. Dr. Kelly confirmed that duo stigmai as used by the sixteenth century critical sign list maker, repeated by Friedrich Gotthilf Osann, and included in the edition of Homer's Iliad by Dindorf, although it indicates a variant textual location, always occurs in pairs with antisigma and so is used differently and with a more specific meaning than the distigmai in Codex Vaticanus B.

Please encourage your colleagues henceforth to use the term distigmai (singular distigme) rather than umlaut. In the published extended form of the essay I read at the NT Textual Criticism Seminar at the SBL Annual Meeting in Boston, I will use distigmai and distigme:

Philip B. Payne and Paul Canart. 'Distigmai Matching the Original Ink of Codex Vaticanus: Do they Mark the Location of Textual Variants?' pages 191-213 in Patrick Andrist, ed., Le manuscrit B de la Bible (Vaticanus gr. 1209): Introduction au fac-similé, Actes du Colloque de Genève (11 juin 2001), contributions supplémentaires. Prahins, Switzerland: Éditions du Zèbre, 2009. Hopefully I will be able to be able to make this volume available at significant discount at the Linguist's Software booth at the SBL annual meeting in New Orleans.

Gratefully yours,

Postscript: On the Textual Criticism discussion list, James Snapp announced a few days ago that he had found that Codex Sangallensis 50 (Latin Gospels, 800's), has similar signs in the margin next to annotations, and in the text above the passage or word to which the annotation pertains. See e.g., Mark 2:1, page 174 of the MS at

It seems to me that the usage of the distigme is varying, but now we at least have a better term for it.