Thursday, April 30, 2009

SBL Boston, Book Review of James Royse Scribal Habits in Early Greek NT Papyri, pt. 2

In the first part of my report on this book review session, I summarized Juan Hernandez presentation. He kindly offered the full version, which is now available for download in the right sidebar (TC Files). In this second part I was initially going to post a summary of the next presenter, Kim Haines-Eitzen's response to Royse's monograph. However, earlier this week I received a message from James Royse himself who, in this spirit of sharing, offered his complete response, which he has re-edited since the meeting. I will therefore now post the first part of this response. After this series is complete, the full version (PDF) will be made available among the TC Files.

James Royse responds (pt. 1):

First, let me thank AnneMarie Luijendijk for organizing this session, and my fellow panelists for their perceptive and generous remarks. It is, of course, an honor for an author to have one’s work reviewed by such distinguished scholars of the text of the Bible. And I am pleased, and more than a little embarrassed, that my work, begun when we were all very much younger (if alive at all), has received such positive reception. Time does not permit a full discussion of all the points that they raise. Very generally I would wish to second the calls for further investigation of various issues; there is much to be done in the study of these six papyri and other important manuscripts, and in the study of scribal habits, and there are too few of us to give adequate attention to all the readings in all the manuscripts. Nevertheless, the panelists have raised some points to which I would like to reply, in the spirit, well illustrated by their remarks, of scholarly cooperation in advancing our common goal of shedding light on the process of the transmission of the text of the New Testament. I will basically follow the order of the speakers, but with some cross-references.

First, there is Juan Hernández:
I appreciate Hernández’s comments, and am pleased to have been associated in some small degree with his doctoral work. I confess that some of the details of my dissertation have faded from my mind with time, and have been overwritten with the revisions and expansions found in the current book. Indeed, hearing Hernández’s description was in some ways like hearing of someone else’s work. But I am very grateful for his kind words, and for his comments about the role that my dissertation played in his own study of the New Testament text. As a very small footnote to all this, the appendix in my dissertation on P46 and the Ethiopic, to which Hernández refers, was not included in the revised book. Rather it is cited as a forthcoming article. At some point I decided that separate publication would be more appropriate, and would save some space in the current book. However, I never seem to be able to put the finishing touches on the article. Perhaps the enthusiasm of the current session will enable me to conclude that little work as well, although for now it exists only as an appendix in the dissertation.

How to Get Access to the Vatican through the Backdoor

It is very complicated to get a reader's pass and then to finally get a book in your hand. It is a long process. First of all you need a letter of recommendation and a something that will attest that you are doing legitimate research and are not a Da Vinci code fan.

It is professor Paul Burke of Clark University who shares his experiences of how to get access and conduct research in the Vatican Library. I thought this might be something to watch for those who are preparing for this year's SBL International Meeting in Rome. If you want to see something in the Vatican Library, you had better be prepared.

Burke ends his account by saying, "So it is a fascinating little way of getting access to the Vatican through the backdoors literally which is not experienced by most tourists."

In recent years the Vatican Library has undergone a major renovation. Read our previous reports:

Vatican Library Closed for Three Years
Library Repair Causes a Plea to the Pope

Nowadays, P75 is also in the collection of the Vatican Library. See More on P75 (P. Vatican ???)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Top Search Terms Driving Traffic to this Blog

What are the top search terms driving traffic to this blog from search engines this month? This is possible to find out at Alexa. Some were expected, others turned out to be rather unexpected. This is the top-ten terms that directs people from the search engines to this blog (the list is updated monthly):

#1 devils bible
#2 devil's bible
#3 codex gigas
#4 the devils bible
#5 the devil's bible
#6 misquoting jesus
#7 alexandrian witnesses
#8 maurice robinson
#9 evangelical textual criticism
#10 peter head textual

The devil's bible or Codex gigas keeps driving traffic to this blog, and so is the "misquoting Jesus"-issue. Many will have read Peter William's extensive review of Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus, his interview with Ehrman and some subsequent thoughts on the topic. Today I noticed an an on-line lecture by William's from 2006 offering an analysis of the book. (The talk starts a while into the soundfile after some chatting.)

Maurice Robinson is the "most wanted" ETC blogger, slightly less popular than the Alexandrian witnesses :-). I am sure Peter Head likes the idea that people connects him with "textual" (which is probably "textual criticism" - there seem to be a three-word limit to this data).

Was the old Nestle-Aland text basically Westcott-Hort?

Whilst reading the excellent article from our respected co-blogger Mike Holmes on Zuntz's Text of the Epistles (for biblio see below), I was reminded of a historical quibble I have with some text-critics who maintain that the text of Nestle-Aland was, for most of its existence, basically that of Westcott-Hort. Surely the latter two gentlemen would have been honoured by it, but the assumption seems to be based on a misunderstanding. Nestle, according to Aland-Aland Text des Neuen Testaments, based the text of his first two editions on Westcott-Hort and Tischendorf's eighth edition (Weymouth being the decider in case of a difference), and from the third edition on Westcott-Hort, Tischendorf, and Bernhard Weiss (and this was done consistently only from the 13th edition of 1927). I have no reason to doubt the Alands' report on the history of the Nestle-Aland edition, and therefore it is just as wrong to say that the old Nestle-Aland text was that of Tischendorf, or Weiss, than to say it was that of Westcott-Hort.

What puzzles me, though, is a remark in the Text des Neuen Testaments explaining that NA25 was still printed from the plates dating from 1898. Can such print plates be adjusted or altered, or does the remark only applies to those pages in which no change was made?

Holmes, Michael W. "The Text of the Epistles Sixty Years after: An Assessment of Günther Zuntz's Contribution to Text-Critical Methodology and History." In Transmission and Reception: New Testament Text-Critical and Exegetical Studies, ed. J.W. Childers and D.C. Parker, 89-113. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2006.

Twenty-three New Manuscripts in Athens!

The team from the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) has now finished their expedition to Athens. I hope we will see a final report from one member of the expedition, Eric Sowell, who has been blogging from Athens at Archaic Christianity. Also read our previous reports here and here.

The director of CSNTM and the expedition, Dan Wallace, has been there for nine weeks. Altogether, he reports, "we photographed nine NT MSS that Müenster has not yet catalogued; these will be posted on our site ( in a few weeks." However, it doesn't stop with that. Altogether, the team examined 23 uncatalogued MSS in Athens (!) which means that 14 of them are yet to be photographed, provided that the holding institution gives their permission. To my knowledge, the two holding institutions which have been visited are the Benaki Museum and The National Historical Museum.

We look forward to seeing the nine photographed MSS on the CSNTM website, which means that the holding institutions have agreed to make them available. Read more about a few of them here.

To express my heartily support for the work of CSNTM I would like to conclude this post by citing an endorsement I wrote a while ago:

It is my great privilege to endorse the work of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM). Under the direction of Dr. Daniel Wallace, the CSNTM is performing a great service to the scholarly community, specifically in the area of manuscript studies and textual criticism, by their dedicated work towards the goal of producing digital photographs of extant Greek New Testament manuscripts. These physical manuscripts are scattered all around the world (including places where they have been practically inaccessible), and to make them accessible to scholars doing textual research is a crucial task. In this process, even a large number of new manuscripts, hitherto unknown, apparently have come to light and are becoming officially registered as Greek New Testament manuscripts.

In my own research on hundreds of manuscripts during the years, I realize the benefit I would have if I could access and examine original color images of the manuscript. In my experience, and judging from the samples I have seen of images from various expeditions, the CSNTM is truly on the cutting edge in terms of utilizing photographic technology to produce the best possible results. It is my hope that this enterprise will attract the support of a large number of stakeholders to embrace their exciting vision to make the manuscripts of the Greek New Testament available in digital form with the approval of the holding institutions. I am also delighted that the CSNTM cooperates with other leading institutes worldwide in this field of expertise.

Read other endorsements here.

A Blogcomment That Made It into CUP's Catalogue

Yesterday I was in Lund all day on a research seminar. In my postbox I found the new catalogue from Cambridge University Press on Religious Studies 2009. As I browsed it I found D. C. Parker's book, An Introduction to the New Testament Manuscripts and their Texts (Cambridge: CUP, 2008), the book that was recently reviewed at the SBL Boston. You will find links to all my summaries of that session here.

Interestingly, the endorsement cited in the catalogue was by Peter Head and first appeared here on this blog:

... anyone interested in the subject should drop whatever else they are doing and go and buy it ... Brilliant, lucid, learned, naunced, and able to look at things from lots of different angles. Also provocative, stimulating, informative and interesting.

Of course, as you can see, Peter wrote this half way through the book and added, "Criticism must wait until appreciation is complete," which he did in the update.

My impression is that practically all scholars in the field agree that this is a highly significant book, not least as a guide on how to work with manuscripts and the necessary tools and resources for such work. Moreover, it gives a good overview of what is going on right now in the field. Therefore I warmthly recommend buying it, e.g., here or here (paperback). However, it is not as suitable as a "textbook." Hence, the title promises too much in this regard.

While on the subject of Cambridge (publishers and scholars), I must add an aside note. In next week the professor of Philosophical Theology from Cambridge, Janet Martin Soskice, visits Lund university and holds two lectures. The second lecture is titled "Sisters of Sinai: of how two victorian ladies, rich and eccentric, made a priceless find in the Sinai desert and, aged over 50, reinvented themselves as scholars of Syriac and Arabic Christian manuscripts."

Simon Gathercole mentioned here that her book on the subject has recently been published and cited the blurb.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

When Literary Criticism Meets Textual Criticism

Literary criticism and textual criticism are not clearly distinguished in the study of manuscripts. People may sometimes be too quick to postulate two or more editions of OT books or different literary strata represented by different manuscripts.
A famous example comes from the book of Judges. In studying 4QJudga, Trebolle Barrera concludes that this fragment which lacks 6:7-10 is pre-Deuteronomistic, since the verses 8-10 tended to be attributed to a late Deuteronomistic redaction. The MT, on the other hand, as well as the Greek version reflects this later literary development. In search of more witnesses preserving traces of a shorter text, Barrera turns to the Antiochene text and the Old Latin, which he believes transmit the Old Greek, and finds three cases where the reading of 4QJudga agrees with the Antiochene text and/or the Old Latin.
Richard Hess has shown that in all cases (of 4QJosha and 4QJudga) where such anomalies occur, they are always found at points divided by the Masoretic parashiyoth which could simply show a certain scribal rearrangement of the text for specific purposes (e.g., liturgical). He emphasizes caution against using small fragments to warrant far reaching theories concerning the textual history of a book, especially in the absence of any evidence of a pre-Deuteronomistic text.
Is the Antiochene text of Judges a witness to a shorter form of the text? Natalio Fernández Marcos agrees that the ancient layer of the Antiochene text is the most reliable guide to the Old Greek in this case, especially where it agrees with the Old Latin, but he disagrees on the nature of the Antiochene text. He argues that the Antiochene or Lucianic text of Judges is an expansive rather than a short text, full of small additions of stylistic clarifications and corrections.
As is well known in LXX TC, the harder “wooden” reading is more likely to be secondary reflecting a revision towards the MT (the opposite of NT TC). Similarly, while the Antiochene text, in many places, is primary among the Greek witnesses, it is secondary to the Hebrew since it fails to explain how certain pluses were omitted in the rest of the witnesses had they been present in the Hebrew. (For the full treatment of the topic on which I base this discussion see, Natalio Fernández Marcos, “The Hebrew and Greek Texts of Judges” in The Earliest Text of the Hebrew Bible [ed. Adrian Schenker; LXXSCS 52; Atlanta, GA: SBL, 2003], 1-16).
The conversation continues, but cases like this make one wonder about scholars’ starting points and, sometimes opposing, frameworks when approaching the study of manuscripts. A literary critic views the history of the text as gradually expanding with one stratum upon another. A LXX textual critic views the history of a Greek text as gradually “shrinking”, i.e. revised towards a stricter adherence to the Hebrew text. Is there a way to distinguish the disciplines? Is the OT or NT scribe an author, a redactor, an exegete, a reviser/corrector, a copyist? Similar questions are asked of the translators as well. Do we favour one framework over another? Are we too quick to read data in the light of unique cases (i.e. the composition of the book of Jeremiah)? Just some thoughts.
Guest post: Μυρτώ Θεοχάρους

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Commentary on Hebrews


Right now I am working on a commentary on Hebrews in the series Nya Testamentets Budskap (NTB). I have just entered chapter 11. It is a brief popular level commentary with focus on the message ("budskap"=message) and theology of Hebrews and its application today. The scope and format is something like New International Biblical Commentary but without the notes. To some degree I deal with issues of translation, but the basis is the official Swedish translation Bibel 2000 (completed in 2000). There is practically no room for text-critical discussion – the scholar who wrote on the Gospel of John (the book to the left in the image) did include two brief paragraphs on the Pericope of the Adulteress. Perhaps I should double his amount and pick two passages then; after all, textual criticism is my thing.

If you were to choose one text-critical problem of exegetical signficance in Hebrews what would you pick?


A One Day Conference
Heythrop College, University of London
Wednesday 24th June 2009 between 9.30am - 5.00pm
All papers will take place in the Walker Room, 2nd Floor, Main Building

9:30-10:10: Registration and Tea/Coffee (Walker Room)
10:10: Introduction
10:10-10:50: Sarah Pearce, University of Southampton, "Philo's 'Family Values'"
10:50-11:30: Charlotte Hempel, University of Birmingham, "The Qumran Yahad in Recent Scholarship"
11:30-12:20: Tessa Rajak, University of Reading, "Ancestral Laws: What Josephus Made of the Greek Bible"
12:20-1:00: Deborah Rooke, King’s College, London, "Susanna in Handel's Oratorio"
Lunch ­ provided (Walker Room)
1:50-2:30: Jim Aitken, CJCR, Cambridge, "The Septuagint and "Alexandrian" scholarship"
2:30-3:10: Gillian Greenberg, University College London, "Literary Initiative in the Peshitta"
3:10-3:50: Sean Ryan, Heythrop College, "Dislocated Locusts: Re-visions of Joel & Amos in Revelation 9"
3:50-4:30: Jonathan Norton, Heythrop College, "Psuche, Pneuma, and Paul's Rhetorical Surprise"
4:30 Tea and departure

Conference fee: £15 (lunch will be provided)
Further Details: Ms Mariann Jakab (m.jakab at [via: BNTC email]

New Greek Manuscript of Revelation!

Things are getting really exciting at Archaic Christianity where Eric Sowell is reporting from his photographic expedition with the CSNTM team in Athens.

On day two Eric reported:

Our next stop was a local institution that I am not at the leisure to identify at the moment, but here is a clue: they have Greek New Testament manuscripts and they are located in Athens. There you go. I've just narrowed it down to a lot. We were able to spend time with twelve New Testament manuscripts. They were all minuscule lectionaries or minuscule manuscripts of the gospels, all later than 10th century. This was a lot of fun but was just discovery and prep work for a later visit where a team would actually photograph (hopefully) all of these manuscripts and the others that the institution owned.

On day four, Eric announced that the team had received permission to photograph manuscripts at this institution:

It was either late in the day on day 3 or early day 4 (I do not recall) that we received final permission to photograph manuscripts next week at an institution. Yay! They were going to have us come in on Thursday and Friday of next week, but only for 4.5 hours a day. Unfortunately that was not enough time for us, so we requested one more day and that was approved, so Wednesday through Friday of next week we're shooting. Yay!

On day eleven the team started the photographing including a previously unknown copy of Revelation!:

Today we photographed an 18th century paper manuscript of Matthew, one copy of Revelation (already in the K-Liste) and part of the previously unknown copy of Revelation.

Here is an image showing Dan Wallace and one of the other teammembers, Garrett, working with that latter codex. Possibly the manuscript of Matthew is also uncatalogued.

So we look forward to further reports. We know this institution has at least twelve New Testament manuscripts + the three MSS that were photographed on the first day. If they can keep up this pace next week they will probably make it.

Okay, I confess I am very curious of where they are! Besides the National Library with hundreds of MSS, and the Benaki Museum where the team has been recently (locating eight uncatalogued MSS), only one other institution in Athens has that number of catalogued MSS. If that is not it, it means they have located even more new manuscripts! I hope they have and I say with Eric, Yay!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Red Letter Bibles Again

About one year ago, Peter Head posted a brave defence of Red Letter Bibles.

In summary, Peter defended Red Letter Bibles because:
  • In effect, Jesus said hearing and doing ‘these words of mine’ are foundational to the faithful life; allegiance to ‘me and my words’ is announced as a criteria for judgement (Mark 8.38; Luke 9.26). His words are eternal (Matt 24.35; Mark 13.31; Luke 21.33). He is the Word of God, his own words come directly from God, and so the one who loves Jesus will pay special attention to his words (e.g. John 14.23f), abiding in Jesus involves abiding in his words (John 15.7).
  • The evangelists themselves place special emphasis on Jesus words with the result that the synoptic evangelists agree much more closely in the wording of the words of Jesus than in the narratives which surround those words.
  •  Paul too seemed to place special importance in Jesus words as basis for Christian instruction (see e.g., 1 Cor 7.10; 9.14; 11.23ff; cf. instruction not based on Jesus’ words in 1 Cor 7.12, 25).
He also pointed out that the red ink was originally intended to connect the words of Jesus with the plot line of Jesus’ redeeming death: a symbolism of Christ’s blood.

The post was followed by a very stimulating discussion with over fifty comments (admittedly with some help from Peter: “Can’t we make this up to fifty comments? I always feel better when a post gets fifty comments.”)

Anyway, I was reminded of this today when I read a post at The Eagle and Child who pointed out that two books isolating the words of Jesus have been published recently: The Words of Jesus: A Gospel of the Sayings of Our Lord with Reflections by Phyllis Tickle and The Red Letters: The Sayings and Teachings of Jesus by Timothy J. Beals.

The publisher of the latter book describes it thus:
A groundbreaking book that presents Jesus’ own words from the Gospels, topically arranged but without any commentary, so that people may hear his message in his terms.

While the entire Gospel narrative is essential to Christian theology, Jesus’ own words distinctively teach us how to live and how faith makes a difference in one’s life. The Red Letters gives a clear overview of Christianity’s foundational message in a unique way: allowing Jesus to speak for himself, without any human commentary.

This groundbreaking book simply includes all of Jesus’ words from the Gospels, arranged by topic and rendered in the ESV translation. Jesus’ own words. Nothing more, nothing less. For everyone who would like to rediscover the heart of Christianity—or perhaps discover it for the first time—as Jesus Christ himself communicated it.
This is of course something different than a Red Letter Bible since it means Jesus’ words have been completely taken out of their context, which I find highly questionable; one may even get the impression that the black letters are equated with “human commentary.”

To return to Red Letter Bibles, the Eagle and Child blog does not like them, basically because:
  • The words of Christ are not “more Scripture.”
  • It is sometimes difficult to determine where Jesus’ words begin and end, e.g., John 3:16 (is it still Jesus speaking?; TNIV does not include v 16 as part of Jesus’ words).
  • The red print is distracting.
I think it is a hard call, there are good arguments for and against, but in the end, I think I prefer my black letter Novum Testamentum.

Bart Ehrman and Dan Wallace on the Preservation of Scripture

Over at What is Truth, Kent Brandenburg has a series of posts on “The Erroneous Epistemology of Multiple Version Onlyism.” Inspired by a positive review of Bart Ehrman’s recent book, Jesus Interrupted in USA Today, opinion section (available here), he discusses the issue of the preservation of Scripture, and soon enters the area of textual criticism with a long discussion. Here is an extract:
With all that being said, a recent debate between James White and Bart Ehrman revealed only minutiae of differences between the two in their approach to the preservation of Scripture—they both have about the same view. They differ greatly as to the conclusions to be made, but their differences on preservation itself aren’t much. James White and Daniel Wallace are about the same too and here’s what Daniel Wallace said in an interview about textual criticism:

“I have quite a few heroes! Colwell for his method; Metzger for his learning and insights; Fee for his ability to burst bubbles with data; Tischendorf for his dogged determination in search of manuscripts; Kurt Aland for his vision for INTF; Jerome and Origen for their handling of the textual variants in the pursuit of truth; Sturz for his humility. The list is endless, frankly. I could add Michael Holmes, Bart Ehrman, . . . .”

Bart Ehrman is a hero to Wallace. He said it. There are some strong similarities between Ehrman and Wallace. Ehrman assumes the Bible must not be true if God promised preservation, because he’s looked at the evidence and that ruins everything about Christianity for him. Wallace has also shaped his view of inerrancy around evidence. Ehrman kept what he thought Scripture said, looked at evidence, and apostatized his beliefs completely. Wallace looked at evidence and then changed what he believed about Scripture. Both have allowed evidence to alter their beliefs.
Read the whole post here.

The interview with Dan Wallace that Brandenburg cites was made by Peter Williams for this blog. Read it in its entirety here.

TC Files Section on the ETC Blog

In the comment section to the post on the book review section of Royse's Scribal Habits, the sky-high prices of some scholarly books was debated. Maurice Robinson wondered what publishers would do if scholarly writers got together to offer free PDF downloads of their scholarly works at a common website.

Well, as a very small step in this direction we have just added a section on this blog of "TC Files" for download on the right sidebar (thanks to my colleague and "blogexpert" Maria Brolin for technical advise). So far you will find Hernandez' tribute to James Royse including the review of his book, and a thesis (Magisterschrift) by Ivo Tamm (equivalent to a Master thesis), Theologisch-christologische Varianten in der frühen Überlieferung des Neuen Testaments? He wrote this work at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, under the supervision of Barbara Aland. We have presented the author and his work here.

If you have other appropriate academic material that you would like to make available in this forum, you may send it to tomwas[at]spray[dot]se for consideration.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A busy week in London and Cambridge, July 2009

The Sixth Birmingham Colloquium on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (2009) is to be held in conjunction with the Sinaiticus Conference (6-7 July, details here). As well as being a busy time during which these two conferences are held together this will also overlap with the Tyndale Fellowship Triennial Conference in Cambridge (6-9 July, details here) and the Gospel of Thomas workshop in Cambridge (7-8 July) arranged by Simon Gathercole and Stefan Witetschek, so I will not be able to attend. I wonder how many delegates will be at SBL in Rome the week before...

Update (TW): Hugh Houghton of the ITSEE has provided some more details. Right after the Sinaiticus conference, on the next day, Wednesday 8th July, a one-day conference is scheduled to mark the launch of the Virtual Manuscript Room at the Barber Institute lecture theatre in the University of Birmingham. The programme is still under preparation, but speakers will include Peter Robinson, David Parker and David Thomas. The organizers hope that the Sinaiticus conference participants will also be able to join in for this in Birmingham. If there is enough interest, transports will be organized from London to Birmingham and accommodation in Birmingham on Tuesday 7th July. The conference is being organised by Frouke Schrijver (, and further details will be posted on the ITSEE website when available.

Juan Hernandez' Tribute to James Royse (In Search for a PhD. Project and Method)

Following up on yesterday's post on the SBL book review of Royse's monograph, Juan Hernandez contacted me and offered his full presentation to our readers. It may be particularly helpful for PhD. students in search for a project and method to learn more about Hernandez' struggle in this regard, before he found his "exemplar" in James Royse. Those same students may also want to read our post, "Where to do PhD".

Below is the introduction of Hernandez' presentation. If you want to read the whole paper you may request it from tomwas[at]spray[dot]se. In the future we may make this available on our related website (which has been "under construction" for the last years).

It is an incredible privilege for me to be here tonight to honor Dr. James R. Royse and to offer a few reflections on what his work has meant to me. I will leave it to others on this panel and to history to confirm what I already know to be true: that this is a work of singular importance—extraordinary for its immense learning, comprehensive scope and painstaking detail. But perhaps more importantly, Royse’s work is an exemplar for all who aspire to do justice to the study of scribal habits. (Of course, the conclusions are also groundbreaking). I, on the other hand, hope to offer a glimpse of how one book made a difference to the scholarly trajectory and pursuits of a fledgling Ph.D. student, who was—essentially—at his wits end as to what to “write on.” I think it’s safe to say, that if it were not for Royse’s Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri, that my own academic interests, endeavors, and development over the course of the last few years would have been far different.

Monday, April 20, 2009

SBL Boston, Book Review of James Royse Scribal Habits in Early Greek NT Papyri, pt. 1

I will now try to finish my maraton report from the SBL in Boston – I still have some months to do this before the next meeting. You may think it comes a bit late, but it is too important to be passed over. It is time for the final, the review of James Royse, Scribal Habits. Again I want to state that this summary is in my own words, sometimes omitting, sometimes elucidating what was said in the session.

SBL24-129 New Testament Textual Criticism

Theme: Review of James Royse, Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri (Brill)

AnneMarie Luijendijk, Princeton University, Presiding
Juan Hernandez, Bethel College, Panelist (25 min)
Kim Haines-Eitzen, Cornell University, Panelist (25 min)
Peter M Head, Tyndale House, Panelist (25 min)
Dirk Jongkind, Tyndale House, Panelist (25 min)
James Royse, San Francisco, CA, Respondent (25 min)
Discussion (25 min)

Juan Hernandez
The first reviewer was Juan Hernandez. He offered a personal reflection of what Royse’s work has meant for him. In his witty introduction he stated, “This is a work of ‘singular importance’. It is an exemplar for all who want to study scribal habits.” What then did Royse’s work mean for a Ph.D. student specifically? In 2003 Hernandez stood as a crossroads. He had to come up with a dissertation proposal. His interest was in textual criticism, but there was no text-critical scholar around. How was he to embark without specialists? He contacted a lot of scholars about what to do. He was interested in the Book of Revelation. The path eventually led to James R. Royse. The approach of Epp (The Theological Tendency of Codex Bezae) and Ehrman (The Orthodox Corruption) on theological variation aroused his interest. Could this perspective be applied to Revelation? One problem was the fact that there is no Western text of Revelation. Could Ehrman’s method be applied? No. Christological controversies and their bearing upon the transmission seemed rather marginal. Then Hernandez found the work of Royse (i.e., his dissertation).

The undertext was: Scrutinize every claim!; Check everything for yourself! Even Royse’s 1981 dissertation was considered groundbreaking and remained a standard work for twenty-seven years (until it was superseded by the monograph). To put this work into perspective, E.C. Colwell had urged that someone someday would publish a commentary on singular readings (and he was talking about the three papyri he had studied). Royse came along, corrected and updated Colwell’s original work. Royse checked the readings against all available editions. His study was much more nuanced than an attempt to classify the text of these witnesses in broad terms, e.g., according to text-types. Royse goal was to cast light of each scribe’s habits. This was necessary to be able to arrive at canons of criticism applicable to papyri. Hernandez said he was “electrified” by the 1981 study. He was given “access.” It was a gigantic how-to-do manual. It was permeated of transparency. Everything was available for scrutiny. His prior interest was in theological variation. Royse, however, was not a friend of “theologizing.” Royse applied an extreme caution. He singled out only three variants that were theologically motivated (in P72). It was cristall clear for Hernandez that he would have to learn from Royse. He now had to put behind him notions of theological variation and start with the mundane, the facsimiles! Everything that he needed was there in Royse’s work, being the model.

Then Hernandez said some words about the monograph: The current publication superseeds the prior study in a number of ways. It has more chapters, more nuances in classification of singular readings, many new topics, and exhaustive appendices. The only missing thing was P46 in relation to the Ethiopic (a joke!). In the new work Royse has identified sixty-four additional singular readings (I think). The thesis stands concerning the implications for the canons of criticism. The burden of proof still rests with those who will prefer the short reading (in the early papyri). In sum, the monograph is a veritable encyclopedia of scribal habits (surpassing Colwell’s original urge for a commentary).

More to come.

Update: Juan Hernandez has kindly offered his full presentation to our readers. It can be requested from tomwas[at]spray[dot]se. (See also next post.)

It Was a Joke!

Since several people have congratulated Peter Head for his award of a wild card for the Olympics in Beijing and Dave McGovern has just left a rectifying comment on this story and our subsequent report that Peter came in as 42nd, I take the opportunity to confess that it was a joke, but, as you can see on the images Peter does have a talent for sports ;-). Apparently, Ingus Janevics of Latvia was the real person who came in as 42nd in Beijing.

Dave McGovern maintains an excellent web-site on racewalking: and now also a blog. These are the places to go if you are into real racewalking.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Coptic Text of the Pauline Epistles

Along with Codex Tchacos (= the Gospel of Judas Codex), two other codices were found. One of these contained the Pauline Epistles. This codex was sold about a year and a half ago and has been sent to Augsburg to be restored by Gregor Wurst. Apparently, it is also Sahidic with considerable Middle Egyptian influence. A picture has apparently been published of one side of a relatively intact leaf of Colossians in Ink and Blood Dead Sea Scrolls to the English Bible. Is there anyone out there who can send me a scan of the photo from this publication? The pamphlet was created as part of a traveling exhibition. cha25 [a]

UPDATE: The text is written in Sahidic (although the vowels are not abbreviated) and preserves a text essentially the same as the circa 600 CE Chester Beatty Codex.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Photography Expedition in Greece: Hunting Down MSS

Over at Archaic Christianity we can follow Eric B. Sowell on a photography expedition to Greece with a team from the Centre for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) led by Dan Wallace. The trip will last from the 11th to the 28th (the 12th = day one in Greece) and Eric will report regularly on his blog. Interestingly, Eric says that "all of the places we will go is still an unknown." I must confess that I am a bit jealous of Eric, but I do hope his trip will be exciting and fruitful. Below I have linked to his three first reports.

Friday 10/4: Getting Ready For My First Greek NT Manuscript Photography Expedition

Monday 13/4 (about day one): Greece Trip Day 1 Travelling

Monday 13/4 (about day two): Manuscript Business in Athens

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Two New Titles in the ANTF Series

Two new titles are announced by De Gruyter as forthcoming this year in the series Arbeiten zur neutestamentlichen Textforschung (ISSN 0570-5509) (via ITSEE).

The Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung (INTF) is responsible for the series. Besides the director of the INTF, Holger Strutwolf, David Parker of the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing (ITSEE) is co-editor of the series - yet another sign of the fruitful cooperation of these two institutes in recent years.

David C. Parker, Manuscripts, Texts, Theology. Collected Papers 1977-2007
23 x 15.5 cm. Approx. XII, 375 pages. Hardcover. RRP Euro [D] 99.95 / for USA, Canada, Mexico US$ 140.00. *
ISBN 978-3-11-021193-1
Series: Arbeiten zur neutestamentlichen Textforschung 40
Languages: English
Type of Publication: Collection
to be published June 2009
Also available as an eBook

About this Title
David C. Parker is one of the world’s foremost specialists in the study of the New Testament text and of Greek and Latin manuscripts. In addition to editions, monographs and more popular writings, he has published many articles on different aspects of textual criticism. This volume brings together twentyfive of them in a revised and updated version.
The collection is divided into three topics. The first deals with manuscript studies. As well as three very different studies of Codex Bezae, there are articles and reports on individual manuscripts and classes of manuscripts and reports on visits to libraries. The second section has the theme of textual criticism. It includes broader studies dealing with the theory of the discipline and more detailed discussions of particular problems, including translations into Latin, techniques for grouping Greek manuscripts, and the comparison of modern editions. The third section contains papers in which Parker has discussed the often overlooked relationship between textual criticism and theology. These studies explore particular textual problems and their wider significance, and cover topics as varied as “Jesus and Textual Criticism”, “Calvin’s Biblical Text” and “The Early Tradition of Jesus’ Sayings on Divorce”.

Louis Charles Willard, A Critical Study of the Euthalian Apparatus
23 x 15.5 cm. Approx. 200 pages. Hardcover. RRP Euro [D] 79.95 / for USA, Canada, Mexico US$ 112.00. *
ISBN 978-3-11-021567-0 Series: Arbeiten zur neutestamentlichen Textforschung 41
Languages: English
Type of Publication: Monograph
to be published September 2009
Also available as an eBook

About this Title
Manuscripts of the New Testament frequently contain, in addition to the text, supplementary information such as excerpts from the Fathers, chapter lists, quotation lists, introductions to sections, for example, the Pauline letters, and to individual books. The „Euthalian apparatus“ is the name given to one such collection of helps to the reader. Unfortunately, the relationship of the various parts, the identity of the author, the time of the writing, and the provenance remain uncertain. This work collects, summarizes, and analyzes the sometimes disparate published scholarship on the apparatus through 1970. The bibliography updates the original bibliography through 2007 and includes newly identified, earlier bibliographic references.

Postscript: In the abstract of Klaus Wachtel's upcoming SBL presentation in New Orleans he mentions "a research project at the Münster Institute for New Testament Textual Research" involving "full collations of 38 synoptic pericopes in 156 manuscripts." I have long been waiting for the publication of the results of this project, and I wonder when this fine tool will appear in the ANTF series.

Monday, April 13, 2009

SBL 2009 Annual Meeting Preliminary Program Book

Update: I have removed the contents of this post including comments because Matthew Collins of the SBL asked me to do so. Apparently, the program book is not linked from any part of the SBL site and anyone who has announced the page has done so in error, since SBL has not announced it. I am very sorry for this, I got the link from another biblioblogger, and it was never my intention to do something offensive.

The Pericope Adulterae, the Gospel of John, and the Literacy of Jesus

Now available from Brill in the New Testament Tools Studies and Documents series:

Chris Keith, The Pericope Adulterae, the Gospel of John, and the Literacy of Jesus (NTTSD 38; Leiden: Brill, 2009). ISBN 978 90 04 17394 1

Cover: Hardback
Number of pages: xvi, 350 pp
List price: € 114.00 / US$ 169.00

Table of Contents
Foreword (Helen K. Bond)
Introduction: The Most Popular Story in the Gospels
Chapter One: A History of Research on John 8.6, 8
Chapter Two: Speaking of Writing: καταγράφω and γράφω in Hellenistic, Jewish, and New Testament Contexts
Chapter Three: Writing and Gradations of Literacy
Chapter Four: Scribal Literacy in the New Testament World: The Scribes (and Pharisees) as Text-Brokers
Chapter Five: The Pericope Adulterae at John 7.53–8.11: The Location
Chapter Six: The Pericope Adulterae at John 7.53–8.11: The Preceding Context of John 7
Chapter Seven: The Pericope Adulterae at John 7.53–8.11: The Narrative
Chapter Eight: The Pericope Adulterae at John 7.53–8.11: The (Divine) Grapho-Literacy of Jesus
Chapter Nine: The Historical Context for the Insertion of the Pericope Adulterae into the Gospel of John: A Proposal
Conclusion: The Pericope Adulterae in the Early Church

"Although consistently overlooked or dismissed, John 8.6, 8 in the Pericope Adulterae is the only place in canonical or non-canonical Jesus tradition that portrays Jesus as writing. After establishing that John 8.6, 8 is indeed a claim that Jesus could write, this book offers a new interpretation and transmission history of the Pericope Adulterae. Not only did the pericope’s interpolator place the story in John’s Gospel in order to highlight the claim that Jesus could write, but he did so at John 7.53–8.11 as a result of carefully reading the Johannine narrative. The final chapter of the book proposes a plausible socio-historical context for the insertion of the story."

Chris tells me that a modified version of chapter five on the location of the pericope will appear in Novum Testamentum later this year. Congratulations Chris!

Friday, April 10, 2009

News from CSNTM

The CSNTM brings us good news (via Archaic Christianity):

Images of the GNT MSS at Scriptorium in Orlando are now posted online here.

Dan Wallace posts descriptions of the eight uncatalogued NT Manuscripts at the Benaki Museum in Athens here. It still has to be determined whether they are new discoveries, or already known MSS that have been relocated without the knowledge of the INTF. An update will follow.

In December 2008, Jeff Hargis of the CSNTM posted a description of codex VK 908 here. It consists of two separate MSS bound together in a single codex. The two MSS have now been registered as Greg.-Aland 2892 and 2893. Read more here.

The list of minuscules on the on-line update of the Kurzgefasste Liste (2008-02-27) reaches up to 2882. This means that at least eleven new minuscules have already been registered since the last update about a year ago. It will be interesting to see what the other nine are, possibly some from Albania (read more about the CSNTM expedition to Albania here, and sample images and descriptions of MSS in Albania here). And many more are apparently in the pipeline! In fact, I have sent in a couple for registration myself.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

That's Easter

With the holiday approaching, St Helen's Bishopsgate, a church in the City of London offers some reflections on Easter:

From Life to Death


From Death to Life.

The second filmclip features two prominent biblical scholars in Cambridge. Don't miss it!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Martin Hengel on the NT Text in the Second Century

I am currently reading through Martin Hengel’s The Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ and Hengel has a bit to say on the textual tradition of the Gospels in the second century (pp. 26-31). He maintains that the Gospel texts were still to some degree “fluid” and were influenced by a “richer” parallel tradition evident from harmonizing supplements. He contends that Mark is the most effected by this parallelizing and Matthew was the strongest influence. Hengel also asserts that in the first half of the second century (before Justin), the words of Jesus were not quoted too frequently and there was a lack of concern with quoting them exactly. This style of free quotations is also applied to Paul and the Old Testament. He writes: “In other words, as a rule the first Christians often quoted from memory and were fond of adapting the text to the catechetical situation”. In addition, people not only used the original texts but also prepared extracts from the Old Testament, the new Christian scriptures, and even from ‘apocryphal’ material, i.e. the testimonia or eklogai. Christian teachers had this freedom because they were “inspired by the eschatological gift of the Spirit of God, who was the true expositor of the biblical text”. The use of texts was pragmatic and situational rather than precise.

Hengel goes on to say that this does not mean that the textual tradition in the manuscripts was arbitrary. He thinks we should differentiate between oral tradition/catechetical praxis and the transmission of the text by early scribes. Hengel even posits early Christian scriptoria around the turn of the century in places such as as Rome, Ephesus, or Antioch. Christians rapidly built up their own means of codex production. Hengel states: “The text of the Gospels is the best transmitted in the whole of antiquity: about six Gospel papyri go back to the period around 200 or the second century AD, and a further nineteen to the third century”. He rejects the notion of a chaotic diversity brought into line in an orthodox way. Instead, he writes: “The relative consistency of the Gospel text despite all the appearance of its running wild up to the end of the second century may be connected with constant reading in worship, which on the whole required fixed forms of text. Liturgical usage is more ‘conservative’; the same goes for the scribal customs in the early Christian scriptoria. The difference at precisely this point from the often romance-like apocryphal literature, say the apostolic acts, but also the Gospel of Thomas, in which the Greek fragments and the Coptic translation are often substantially different, is striking. Once again: no ancient text is as well attested as the Gospels.”

A few comments: (1) I think Hengel is plotting a middle ground between Birdsall and Koester on the stability of the Gospel texts in the second century; (2) I do not at all think that Jesus’ words were quoted infrequently since reading the Apostolic Fathers convinces me otherwise (esp. Ignatius) as these authors were “red letter Christians” and often prefaced Gospel quotes with “As the Lord said”. (3) I’m a bit more ambivalent about Christian scriptoria and the charismatic teachers, specifically as to whether or not we can really speak of the former as conservative and the latter as creative, sounds too general to me. (4) I’d also be interested to read more about early Christian testimonia collections and their effect upon the textual tradition. Apparently a good place to start is Martin C. Albl, And Scripture Cannot Be Broken: The Form and Function of the Early Christian Testimonia Collections. Novum Testamentum Supplements 96. Leiden: Brill, 1999.

GNT Manuscripts in the VMR

After our recent report on the Virtual Manuscript Room a few days ago, several MSS have now been added in the manuscript section here. Among the now accessible Greek New Testament MSS are:

Ming. Chr. Arab. 93 = 0106

Ming. Gr. 2 = L1982

Ming. Gr. 3 = 479

Peckov. Gr. 7 = 713 and L586 (palimpsest)

To my knowledge there are seven more GNT MSS in Birmingham, and we can hope that they will also appear in due course, although only one of them belong to the Mingana Collection which is now being added to the VMR (in Selly Oak College: Ming. Georg. 7; Braithwaite 1-5; and one in Woodbrooke College, s.n.).

Peter Robinson of the ITSEE also made a clarifying comment to our last report here

Update: Ulrich Schmid points out that only a fragment of 0106 is found in the binding of Ming. Chr. Arab. 93 (see comments).

I have also added a link to the Virtual Manuscript Room in the sidebar (links).

Monday, April 06, 2009

New Testament Papyri: Part Three

The 'New Testament Papyri’ have three things at least in common, they are manuscripts written on papyrus, they contain texts that are customarily included within the New Testament, and they are enumerated according to a standard list. Outside of these three features, and particularly the concrete surface on which written text is written, there is considerable diversity. But before we discuss this diversity, there are at least two inter-related problems with this list. The first problem is the problem of identification. Which manuscripts should be included in the list?

Famously, some scholars have argued that a small papyrus fragment from Qumran, with only around ten clear letters on five lines and only one complete word KAI, is a copy of Mark’s Gospel, and that this should be added to the standard list.[i] Although, this identification has been resisted by NT scholars generally, and to my mind rightly, it should also be admitted that there are manuscripts included within the list with rather similar profiles. P113 is the smallest of all New Testament manuscripts, with only one complete word (ou) and fourteen clear letters on one side over four or five lines (and 11 clear letters on the other side).[ii] This problem requires careful work, but currently the list seems perfectly well managed and this is only a theoretical problem, not an actual one requiring revision of the list.

But a second, already well known, problem exists with the standard list, in that not all of the manuscripts included in the list seem to have been what they are meant to have been, that is ‘continuous text manuscripts of a book of the New Testament’.[iii] Given the small size of many of the papyri (a subject to which we shall turn in a moment), it is simply not always possible to determine the original form and content of the papyrus manuscript. Sometimes we have sufficient information to determine that a text is certainly not from a continuous text of the New Testament.

  • Some texts could be from a church father (or mother, or daughter) quoting a text (P7),[iv]

  • or from a lectionary rather than continuous text (as has been proposed for good reason in connection with P2, P3, P44),[v]

  • or even from a songbook (P42)[vi];

  • some portions certainly were originally (or at some point) used as amulets (P50, P78).[vii]

  • Some portions seem to be school exercises in copying (P10);[viii]

  • others could well be part of a series of excerpts (e.g. P12, P43, P62).[ix]

  • Recently a Greek-Latin lexicon has been included in the list (P99).[x]

  • Another group of papyrus manuscripts which are clearly not continuous text manuscripts are those manuscripts (all V – VIII) of John which feature ‘hermeneiai’ – prophetic sentences presented alongside portions of John’s Gospel (P55, P59, P60, P63, P76 and P80) – which are clearly a separate type of production and not a ‘continuous text manuscript’.[xi]

No doubt there are some inconsistencies here, either because those who manage the list have exercised an ‘occasionally uncritical attitude’ – and thus included texts that were never continuous manuscripts of the Greek New Testament; [xii] or because, having taken a more inclusive approach to witnesses to the Greek New Testament on papyrus, a number of similar manuscripts (especially of excerpts of texts in amulets – the Lord’s Prayer and the opening sentences of the gospels appear frequently) have not actually been included into the list.[xiii] We could note in passing that many of these manuscripts which are clearly not continuous text manuscripts are also from the later period of the papyri and are relatively unimportant for editing a Greek New Testament (although doubtless full of interest for the history of reception and interpretation of the New Testament).

[i] C.P. Thiede, The Earliest Gospel Manuscript? The Qumran Fragment 7Q5 and its Significance for New Testament Studies (London: Paternoster, 1993).
[ii] I do not in fact think that the two manuscripts are indistinguishable in terms of the security or otherwise of their identification. In the case of P113 I consider the identification completely secure on the basis of the fit of all the clear letters, the secure nomen sacrum, the fit of all the unclear ‘traces’ without any sense of ‘struggle’, the coherence of front and back material (and the coherence of the shape and size of the original codex with known patterns within early Christianity), without any special pleading based on unusual variants or unusual lettering. In all these respects P113 contrasts with 7Q5. P.M. Head, ‘‘Notes on P. Oxy 4497 [P113]: The Smallest Portion of the New Testament Ever Identified’ New Testament Textual Criticism Group SBL 2007; and cf. esp. Stefan Enste, Kein Markustext in Qumran: Eine Untersuchung der These: Qumran Fragment 7Q5 = Mk 6, 52-53 (Novum Testamentum et Orbis Antiquus 45; Freiburg: Universitätsverlag; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2000). R.H. Gundry, ‘No Nu in Line 2 of 7Q5: A Final Disidentification of 7Q5 with Mark 6:52-53’ JBL 118 (1999), 698–707 on the Qumran fragment.
[iii] Cf. E.J. Epp, ‘The Papyrus Manuscripts of the New Testament’ in The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Quaestiones (ed. B.D. Ehrman & M.W. Holmes; SD 46; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 3-21, p. 5, although as we shall see Epp is clearly mistaken in supposing that ‘All of the papyri [ie. the 96 known from the Liste in 1995] are continuous-text MSS, that is MSS containing (originally) at least one NT writing in continuous fashion from beginning to end’. Aland & Aland, Text of the New Testament, 85 acknowledge the problem; discussed more fully in S.E. Porter, ‘Textual Criticism in the Light of Diverse Textual Evidence for the Greek New Testament: An Expanded Proposal’ in New Testament Manuscripts: Their Texts and their World (eds. Thomas J. Kraus & Tobias Nicklas; TENT 2; Leiden: Brill, 2006), 305-337; this is ‘expanded’ from his earlier similar discussion in ‘Why so many holes in the papyrological evidence for the Greek New Testament?’ in The Bible as Book: The Transmission of the Greek Text (ed. S. McKendrick & O. O’Sullivan; London: British Library & Oak Knoll Press, 2003), 167-186.
[iv] So Elliottt, ‘Absent Witnesses’, 50. P7 (III/IV although some have thought VI) consists of a single fragment with some sort of homily and a citation (marked) of Luke 4.1-3 (cf. K. Aland, ‘Neue neutestamentliche Papyri’ NTS 3 (1957), 261-265)
[v] These all exhibit unusual combinations of texts: P2 (VI) has John 12.12-15 in Greek and Coptic on the verso, with Luke 7.22-26 in Coptic on the recto (and Luke 7.50 in Coptic on the verso); P3 (VI/VII) has Luke 7.36-45 on one side and 10.38-42 on the other side of the same sheet; P44 (VI/VII) consists of 13 fragments containing Matt 17.1-3, 6f; 18.15-17, 19; 25.8-10; John 9.3-4; 10.8-14; 12.16-18. Aland & Aland, Text of the New Testament, 85 identifies these as lectionaries; Porter, ‘An Expanded Proposal’, 317-318 agrees and suggests adding P53 (III) on the (to my mind insufficient) grounds that it is unlikely that the two leaves (one containing Matt 26.29-35 & 36-40; the other Acts 9.33-38 & 9.39-10.1) came from the one very large codex.
[vi] Aland & Aland, Text of the New Testament, 85. P42 from VII/VIII is a bilingual (Gk-Coptic) text containing Luke 1.54-55 and 2.29-32 (along with eleven other songs from Scripture). It was originally published by P. Sanz and W. Till as ‘Eine griechisch-koptische Odenhandschrift’ MBE 5 (1939), 9-112.
[vii] Aland & Aland, Text of the New Testament, 85. Peter Parsons, editor of P78 (P. Oxy 2684) opined that ‘most probably we have to do with an amulet’ (The Oxyrhynchus Papyri XXXIV (London 1968), 5); cf. for a full discussion T. Wasserman, ‘P78 (P. Oxy XXXIV 2684): The Epistle of Jude on an Amulet?’ in New Testament Manuscripts: Their Texts and their World (eds. Thomas J. Kraus & Tobias Nicklas; TENT 2; Leiden: Brill, 2006), 137-160 (answering in the affirmative). Some scholars would add others to this list (e.g. T.J. Kraus adds P105 in ‘ “Pergament oder Papyrus?”: Anmerkungen zur Signifikanz des Beschreibstoffes die der Behandlung von Manuskripten’ NTS 49 (2003), 425-432 (from p. XXX); J.K. Elliott thinks that P31 (‘a single sheet, blank on the reverse, that contains only Rom. 12. 3-8’) ‘was probably a text used as an amulet’ (‘Absent Witnesses? The Critical Apparatus to the Greek New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers’ in The Reception of the New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers (ed. A.F.Gregory & C.M. Tuckett; Oxford: OUP, 2005), 47-58 (here from p. 49).
[viii] P10 (P. Oxy 209, IV) contains Romans 1.1-7 on the top portion of a single sheet, with a blank space and then some cursive writing (Grenfell and Hunt: ‘a writing exercise’ Oxy Pap II, p. 8 [CHECK]).
[ix] P12 (III/IV) also contains only Heb 1.1 above a letter, and Gen 1.1-5 on the verso; P43 (VI/VIII) contains Rev 2.12-13 on one side and 15.8 – 16.2 on the other (in a different hand?) of a single sheet; P62 (IV) is a small codex with Matt 11.25-30 followed by Dan 3.53-55.
[x] Chester Beatty Codex ac. 1499 (IV/V); this is a glossary containing single words and phrases from the Pauline epistles with Latin gloss: Rom 1.1; 2 Cor 1.3-6, 1.6-17, 1.20-24, 2.1-9, 2.9-5.13, 5.13-6.3, 6.3-8.13, 8.14-22, 9.2-11.8, 11.9-23, 11.26-13.11; Gal 1.4-11, 1.18-6.15, 1.14-2.4, 2.4-3.19, 3.19-4.9; Eph 1.4-2.21, 1.22(?), 3.8-6.24 (but not even in this canonical order). A. Wouters, ed. The Chester Beatty Codex AC 1499: A Graeco-Latin Lexicon on the Pauline Epistles and a Greek Grammar (Chester Beatty Monographs, no. 12; Leuven: Peeters, 1988).
[xi] On these see B.M. Metzger, ‘Greek Manuscripts of John’s Gospel with “Hermeneiai”’ in Text and Testimony: Essays on New Testament and Apocryphal Literature in Honour of A.F.J.Klijn (eds T. Baarda et al.; Kampen: Kok, 1988), 162-169; D.C. Parker, ‘Manuscripts of John’s Gospel with Hermeneiai’ in Transmission and Reception: New Testament Text-Critical and Exegetical Studies (ed. J.W. Childers. and D.C. Parker; Texts and Studies 3/4; Piscataway, N.J.: Gorgias, 2006), 48-68 – Parker argues plausibly for the inclusion of P60 in this list despite the fact that the extant portion lacks any part of the term e(rmhnei/a; he also discusses 0210 and 0302, see esp. p. 50 re the format, although note his conclusion that the text of these manuscripts is important. On the function of such features see P.W. van der Horst, ‘Sortes: Sacred Books as Instant Oracles in Late Antiquity’ The Use of Sacred Books in the Ancient World (ed. L.V. Rutgers et al.; CBET 22; Peeters, LUP, 1998), 143-173.
[xii] Porter notes the tension between the statement in Aland and Aland, The Text of the New Testament, 85 which attributes some of these inclusions to ‘the occasionally uncritical attitude of earlier editors of the list’, and the fact that ‘Kurt Aland was responsible for the papyri list from P48 onwards, and so at least ten were placed on the list during Aland’s tenure’ (‘An Expanded Proposal’, 313 and n 25).
[xiii] For a discussion of this problem and a list of seventeen additional textual witnesses to the Lord’s prayer see T.J. Kraus, ‘Manuscripts with the Lord’s Prayer – They are more than simply Witnesses to that Text itself’ in New Testament Manuscripts: Their Texts and Their World (TENTS 2; Leiden: Brill, 2006), 227-266.

Previous Posts in this series: Part One and Part Two

Comparing GNT Texts (and Manuscripts)

Over at Biblical Studies and Technological Tools, Mark Hoffman has posted an evaluation of how some of the available software tools can handle comparisons of Greek New Testament texts (editions). The fuller version of the comparison is available here). He has used Accordance8, BibleWorks8, Logos3, and the online Manuscript Comparator (by Weston Ruter).

Hoffman concludes:

Each program has its strengths and weaknesses. Manuscript Comparator does the best job of displaying differences, but it lacks the NA27, and results cannot be saved. Accordance does a good job of display and creates useful lists of differences, but only two texts at a time can be compared. BibleWorks has the most versatility, but it is difficult to save results. Logos has the most texts available for comparison and results export easily, but one must get accustomed to the way it displays differences

I think many people do these type of comparisons. It would be interesting to hear what our readers think about the methodology and results?

One important thing is to get the software to disregard some features that are insignificant from the genealogical perspective (e.g., editorial features such as moveable nu, etc).

In the comment section I pointed Hoffman to the software Collate and Anastasia which are more suitable for advanced manuscript comparisons and the production of critical apparatuses. These tools are used for the NT transcript prototype (INTF, Münster) and the forthcoming digital NA28. I used Collate 2.0 for my comparison of 560 MSS in Jude. Read more about those tools here. BTW, Anastasia and Collate have their own blog nowadays (but it seems not to be updated very often).

In this connection I should also mention the on-line software LaParola which allows for comparisons and includes a vast amount of editions and manuscripts. It is also possible to insert the whole on-line site into BibleWorks.

Friday, April 03, 2009

"What Does It Mean to Discover a Manuscript?" (via CSNTM)

Over at The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscript, Jeff Hargis writes on the topic, "What Does It Mean to Discover a Manuscipt?":

In the last few years, the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts has discovered more manuscripts of the New Testament than the rest of the world combined. In the past nine months alone, CSNTM has discovered about twenty, and we are in the process of presenting our finds to the academic community.

Read the whole story here.

I am happy to have been able to contribute to at least one of those discoveries thus far. It was a leaf from an uncial lectionary that was found within another liturgical manuscript. We reported on that here last year. The reason I knew it was there is that I had discovered it some years ago in a microfilm collection in Denmark.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Virtual Manuscript Room Launch in July

As many of you know, the Virtual Manuscript Room (VMR) - a major digitisation programme that will be of great significance for New Testament textual criticism - is under construction. The lead institution is the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing (ITSEE) at the University of Birmingham, and the partner institution is the Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung (INTF) at the University of Münster. (For me, this combination implies that the project will be a major success.)

We have reported previously on the VMR here, and here, and here . Jan Krans (VUNT blog) has a detailed post on the VMR here.

The VMR web-site hosted by ITSEE in Birmingham is actually already up, but some links do not work properly yet. According to the ITSEE conference page there will be a conference to launch the VMR in Birmingham on 8 July 2009. More details will be posted later.

For a very detailed description of this project, you can access the official project plan here.

Extra Large Biblical Studies Carnival

On April 1 (and it is no joke) the Biblical Studies Carnival XL was published on James Gregory's blog. Given that it is the fourtieth, XL, it is indeed extra large. Apparently, James is a regular reader of our blog - there are at least eleven links to ETC blogposts. That has to be a record! Thanks James!

Over at Biblioblog Top 50, the list for March has been posted. The Number One Biblioblogger this month is Jim West. This blog is still no. 9.

Freebies Online

Via Estudios Biblicos: Sage Journals Online including journals such as JSOT and JSNT offers free access to 30 April. Register here.

Via Nick Norelli (Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth): In the Edinburgh Research Archive you can access some publications of noted scholars at the university including Larry Hurtado, here. There is, for example, his study on the Nomina Sacra in P52. The linked list also includes theses that Hurtado supervised. Some, like that of Chris Keith, however, may have a temporal embargo. (Keith's monograph, btw, is coming out in the NTTSD series on Brill very soon.)

I also want to note EThOS, a service from the British Library providing access to British theses online. I have ordered several with significance to textual criticism. In my experience, it is often important not only to read a subsequently published monograph, but also the dissertation, which can include significantly more material. For example, I look forward to reading co-blogger Amy Anderson's thesis on Family 1 in Matthew.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Codex Sinaiticus Produced Near Jerusalem

Recently we reported about the discovery of a fourth-sixth century monastery which has been partially (and badly) excavated 'in the hills near Jerusalem' (here). An interesting mosiac was unearthed: "O Lord God of Saint Theodorus, protect Antonius and Theodosia the illustres, Theophylactus and John the priest."

Now Theophylactus is named as a scribe of Codex Sinaiticus (ff. 42, 160b, 199b), and Antoninus is named within Codex Sinaiticus as providing the source text for some parts of the Greek Bible (see the notes from the Pamphilian corrector in 2 Esdras and Esther - in the Codex Friderico-Augustanus). This can hardly be coincidence, since both names are extraordinarily rare in the patristic period. It follows that Codex Sinaiticus must have been produced in this monastery.

The excavators of this monastery have also found some documents, one of which seems to be the copy of a loan arrangement which states that the monks of St Catherine's monastery have borrowed some manuscripts which they promise to return safely.

Askeland SBL Paper Accepted

My paper, 'Was the New Testament originally written in Coptic?', has been accepted to the New Testament Textual Criticism section for SBL 2009. Of course, the answer to this question is no. However, the Coptic versions are our best hope for rebuilding the Latin autographs of the New Testament texts (from which the Greek translations were made) which predate the Coptic translations by only one (or maybe two) decades. After evaluating my dialectal-stemmata with a Tau-cubed equation, I have shown with a 87% likelihood that the Coptic translations were created by an Alexandrian -- perhaps the apologist Apollos from the Acts narrative. I will be showing some clips from Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ to buttress my case that Latin was extensively used in the Eastern half of the Roman empire.
[This was posted on April Fools' Day, 2009.]