Sunday, May 31, 2009

New Articles in New Testament Studies vol. 55 (2009)

In the latest volume of New Testament Studies 55/3 (2009) there are two articles of particular interest for text-critics, one related to OT, another to NT:

"The Text Form of the OT Citations in Hebrews Chapter 1 and the Implications for the Study of the Septuagint" by Susan Docherty, pp 355-365.

This paper offers a detailed investigation of the LXX texts underlying the seven OT citations in Hebrews chapter 1, taking account of significant twentieth-century manuscript discoveries and recent developments in the field of Septuagintal Studies. The findings are then related to the study of the use of the OT in the NT more generally, and to some important current issues in the study of the LXX, such as the value of Lucianic readings. This investigation supports the growing consensus that the author of Hebrews reproduced his scriptural citations faithfully, so that the burden of proof should now rest with those who argue for a deliberate alteration of his source.


"Manuscripts Cited by Stephanus" by J. K. Elliott, pp 390-395.

The third edition of Stephanus' Greek New Testament (ΤΗC ΚΑΙΝΗC ΔΙΑΘΗΚΗC ΑΠΑΝΤΑ: Paris, 1550), known as the editio regia, is held in high regard in English Protestantism. It was this text which underlay the English translation (by W. Whittingham and others) published in Geneva in 1557 that greatly influenced the Geneva Bible published three years later. In effect, Stephanus' edition was the Textus Receptus of the Greek New Testament for over three hundred years.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Update: Codex Climaci Rescriptus For Sale at Sotheby's

One of our readers found the relevant webpage at Sotheby's with description and images of Codex Climaci Rescriptus.

Cited from the description:

LOT 14


400,000—600,000 GBP


[Judea (probably Jerusalem), sixth century AD. and Egypt (probably St. Catherine's, Sinai), early ninth century AD.]

137 leaves (including 52 bifolia), approximately 230mm. by 185mm., with foliation according to the overtext in the hand of Agnes Lewis, written space of underscript 210mm. by 160mm., double column, 18 lines of faded brown ink in Christian Palestinian Aramaic uncials (a script most probably created from Estrangelo script for this Biblical translation, reflecting in its square monumental characters the Greek uncials in the manuscript that the translator worked from), written space of overscript 175mm. by 135mm., single column, 19 lines of black ink in Syriac Estrangelo script, underscript in varying states of fading, some slight water damage and crumbling to edges of some leaves, else in outstanding condition for age, each gathering of leaves within folders, the whole within three archival cloth-covered drop-back boxes, with the picnic basket in which Agnes Lewis and Margaret Gibson themselves kept it


The celebrated Codex Climaci Rescriptus is a valuable witness to the Old and New Testament, made within an Aramaic tradition one and a half millennia ago, and most probably surviving the centuries in the library of St. Catherine's, Sinai; it contains substantial parts of the New Testament in the closest surviving dialect to that spoken by Jesus Christ

1. The main body of this volume is written in Christian Palestinian Aramaic, almost certainly in Judea the mountainous southern region of modern Israel, in the sixth century. The quality of the uncial script as well as the size and grandeur of the original volume indicate that it was created by an experienced scriptorium within a wealthy centre, and this appears to rule out all those outside Jerusalem.

2. Subsequently, the manuscript appears to have passed to one of the early monasteries of the Sinai Peninsula or the north-west of mainland Egypt, most probably that of St. Catherine's, Sinai (built by the Emperor Justinian I between 527 and 565). Moir states in his edition of the Greek section of the palimpsest states, "I feel certain that this manuscript was there [St. Catherine's] in the course of its travels" (1956, p. 4). It may have been carried by Christian refugees fleeing from the Arab advance in the seventh century. The ancient and venerable library of St. Catherine's has preserved a significant amount of Christian Palestinian Aramaic material, including the only other sixth-century manuscript in the language to survive, the Codex sinaiticus Zosimi rescriptus (a palimpsest manuscript whose colophon identifies its copyist as a monk of Sinai and dates his work to 979; it is now scattered and divided in ownership between The National Library of Russia, St. Petersberg; the Niedersächsische Staats- und Universtätsbibliothek, Göttingen; and the Schøyen collection, London & Oslo), as well as some further small fragments of Christian Palestinian Aramaic, which are also mostly palimpsest (see Müller-Kessler & Sokoloff, 1998, p. 3 & S. Brock, Catalogue of Syriac Fragments (new finds) in the library of the Monastery of Saint Catherine, Mount Sinai, 1995). It appears that at some time in the distant past St. Catherine's took into their library a sizeable parcel of books written in that language, which some centuries later, having become outdated and perhaps unreadable, were set aside and their vellum reused.

3. Acquired by the pioneering Biblical scholars and twins, Agnes Smith Lewis (1843-1926) and Margaret Dunlop Gibson (1843-1920) in three stages between 1895 and 1906 (all in the vicinity of Cairo, the manuscript having presumably been 'liberated' from its monastic home in order to supply leaves for the antiquity trade there). They were staunch Scottish Presbyterians with a consuming interest in the early versions of the Bible, and a profound belief in female-education, in an age when it practically did not exist. They used their own fortune to become celebrated scholars in the fields of Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Syriac, and, thrilled by Tischendorf's discoveries at Sinai, they set off to St. Catherine's on a 'manuscript-hunting' expedition in 1892. They won over the difficult patriarch, partly through their insistence that nothing was to be abstracted from the library there, but only photographs taken; and on that expedition they returned with pictures of the Syriac manuscript which would make them famous, the fourth-century Syriac Sinaiticus (their lives and its discovery are the subject of a recent book, J. Soskice, Sisters of Sinai, 2009, which was adapted for BBC Radio 4 this April). Having returned home to Cambridge they were tipped off by a mysterious informant that spectacular manuscripts were to be had through various dealers in Cairo. This was quite different from the questionable removal of manuscripts from ancient libraries, and the twins regarded it as a rescue mission, returning to Egypt and acquiring a single leaf of the present codex (now fol. 24; published by them in Studia Sinaitica 6, p. cxxxix) in 1895. They acquired a further 89 leaves from the present manuscript in October 1905, and in April of the following year, while passing through Port Tewfik, Agnes Lewis bought two palimpsest-manuscripts on a whim. Upon returning home she discovered that one contained another 48 leaves of the present manuscript, and that the two portions were separated by only a single leaf – that which the twins had acquired first in 1895. They published the entire text in 1909. Only one other leaf of this scattered manuscript has emerged in the last century: in a collection of palimpsest fragments sold by Eric von Scherling to the collector Dr. A. Mingana, now in Selly Oak, Birmingham: his Syriac MS. 637 (the fragment contains Acts 21:14-26 in its underscript, and should attach to fol. 131 here; Rotulus 5, 1949; Catalogue of the Mingana Collection of Manuscripts, 1939, III: xxv & Bulletin John Rylands Libr. 23 April 1939, pp. 201-14). On the death of the twins the manuscript was left to Westminster College, Cambridge.


A. Smith Lewis, Codex Climaci rescriptus, Horae Semiticae 8 (Cambridge, 1909)

A. Smith Lewis, A Palestinian Syriac Lectionary containing Lessons from the Pentateuch, Job, Proverbs, Prophets, Acts and Epistles, Studia Sinaitica 6 (1895), p. cxxxix

A. Mingana, A Catalogue of the Mingana Collection of Manuscripts (1939)

M. Black, 'A Palestinian Syriac Palimpsest leaf of Acts XXI (14-26), Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 23 April 1939, pp. 201-14

A. Moir, Codex Climaci rescriptus (Ms. Gregory 1561, L) (1956)

K. Aland and B. Aland, The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism (1995), p. 126

K. Aland, Synopsis Quattuor Evangeliorum. Locis parallelis evangeliorum apocryphorum et patrum adhibitis edidit (1996), p. xxvi

C. Müller-Kressler, 'Christian Palestinian Aramaic and its significance to the Western Aramaic dialect group', Journal of the American Oriental Society 119 (1999), pp. 631-6

C. Müller-Kressler, 'Die Frühe Christlich-Palästinisch-Aramäische Evangelienhandschrift CCR1 übersetzt durch einen Ostaramäischen (Syrischen) Schreiber?', Journal for the Aramaic Bible 1 (1999), pp. 79-86

C. Müller-Kressler and M. Sokoloff, The Christian Palestinian Aramaic Old Testament and Apocrypha, Corpus of Christian Palestinian Aramaic 1 (1999)

C. Müller-Kressler and M. Sokoloff, The Christian Palestinian Aramaic New Testament version from the early period Gospels, Corpus of Christian Palestinian Aramaic 2 (1998)

J. Soskice, Sisters of Sinai, 2009, p. 236

Friday, May 29, 2009

Mystery MS


I teach several sections of a freshman NT survey course each year. Fellow NT professor, Phil Mayo, and I are seriously considering a new Zondervan backgrounds and survey text by Burge, Cohick, and Green. It comes close to the ideal textbook for which we've been searching.

In my perusal of the textbook a few evenings ago, one error jumped out at me.

On p. 16, there is a picture of a papyrus manuscript, with a paragraph beneath describing it as P52. That it is most certainly not, and in fact they have a picture of the real P52 on p. 442. I've written to Zondervan, pointing this out, but have not yet heard back.

What I'm uncertain of, is the actual identity of the fragment on p. 16. I'm not even sure if it is a biblical MS. It is not a professional hand, reminds me of some of the scribbled letters among the Oxyrhynchus papyri....(It looks like my scan of p. 16 is not going to be readable. If people would like, I can try to post a cropped scan of just the fragment.)

In the photo credits at the back of the book, they indicate that the photograph on p. 16 is from Glasgow University Library. However, Glasgow has only one papyrus that I am aware of, and that is P22. This link will provide you a view of P22, which you can see is not what is pictured on p. 16.

Any guesses or actual identifications? If someone can solve the mystery, I will pass it on to Zondervan (though I would hope they could provide the correct ID to us).

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A conflationary reading in P16vid at Philippians 4.7

According to NA27 at Phil 4.7 P16 reads: KAI TA NOHMATA KAI TA SWMATA UMWN (ET: 'And the peace of God, which surpasses all thought, will keep your hearts and minds and your bodies in Christ Jesus').

Firstly I think based on the following (admittedly not very high quality) picture of P16, that although the vid is fair enough, the reading is pretty secure:




The interesting thing here is that the evidence for the conflationary reading in P16 (III/IV) is the earliest evidence for the variant which has SWMATA instead of NOHMATA (i.e. F G a d MVict Pel). P16 proves in this case that much later bilingual and Latin witnesses can preserve readings which originated as early Greek variants.

I reckon that someone must have collected examples like this in a study entitled 'Conflationary Readings in the Papyri of the Greek New Testament and their implications for textual transmission'. But I may have imagined this article. Anyone got any words of wisdom?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Elliott review of Parker

The latest JTS also has a long (8 page) review of Parker's Introduction by J.K. Elliott: JTS 60 (2009), 234-241.

Elliott is very appreciative of the book generally, while also pointing out quite a few problems, foibles, omissions, and typos. He refers to it as a primer, but his comments register the lack of any introduction to NA27, few discussions of texts and methods (which for most of us will limit its use as an introductory text). Elliott poses the interesting issue that the Aland's were (rightly) criticised for failing to do justice to publications not controlled by their Institut, and suggests that Parker is in danger of becoming myopic in relation to publications and methods outside of the current Birmingham/Munster axis (e.g. no intro to Claremont Profile Method; no criticism of Mink etc.). All in all he thinks Parker is a "master plumber".

Friday, May 22, 2009

Umlauts and Kumquats

I am pleased to announce that, as of today (22 May 2009), my student Edward D. Gravely was awarded the PhD in NT Textual Criticism on the basis of his comprehensive study of all the Vaticanus Umlauts (Keith Elliott as outside reader, with publication recommended):

Edward D. Gravely, "The Text Critical Sigla in Codex Vaticanus" (PhD dissertation, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC, 2009).

I am equally happy to announce that, on this same day, my student Jonathan C. Borland was awarded the ThM in NT Textual Criticism on the basis of his thesis concerning the Pericope Adulterae (also with favorable pro-publication comments from Keith Elliott, who viewed the thesis per his request):

Jonathan C. Borland, "The Old Latin Tradition of John 7:53-8:11" (ThM thesis, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC, 2009).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Some Features in Vaticanus

Mike Bird posted a portion of Vaticanus which he had used in tormenting his Greek students. Good for him for using manuscripts in his Greek classes. But this clip also has at least three other interesting features:
a) the letters not re-inked (e.g. the final nu in ESTIN, line 8)
b) the use of an umlaut/distigma to signal a word order variant in line 5 (not in the margin)
c) an error (I think) in the apparatus of NA27 re the same word order variant in line 5: NA27 has B* supporting the NA27 txt line: IDEIN PROFHTHN. It is obviously more likely that I am wrong than NA27, but I can't figure out how/why at the moment.

The clip is as follows

Codicology and Palaeography in the Digital Age

International Conference: "Codicology and Palaeography in the Digital Age", Munich, 3-4 July 2009

The conference will focus on the challenges and consequences of using IT and the internet for codicological and palaeographic research. The authors of some selected articles of an anthology to be published this summer by the Institute for Documentology and Scholarly Editing (IDE) will present and discuss their excellent research results with scholars and experts working on ancient books and manuscripts. The presentations will be given on current issues in the following fields: manuscript catalogues and descriptions, digitization of manuscripts, collaborative systems of research on manuscripts, codicological databases, manuscript catalogues, research based on digital resources, e-learning in palaeography, palaeographic databases (characters, scripts, scribes), (semi-) automatic recognition of scripts and scribes, digital tools for transcriptions, visions and prototypes of other digital tools. A panel discussion will be held with renowned exponents in the field of codicology and palaeography and contributors of cutting edge research to get an overview of the state of the art as well as to open up new perspectives of codicological and palaeographic research in the “digital age”.
The conference is open to the public.

Programme Details and Contact on the web-site

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Codex Climaci Rescriptus for sale

I don't know if this is breaking news or not, and I could not find confirmation on the Sotheby's website, but it seems that Sotheby's is going to sell the Codex Climaci Rescriptus ('for the benefit of Westminster College, Cambridge'). The guide price is between £400.000 - 600.000 pounds and the pages from the catalogue PDF (the only notice I have seen, can somebody find them on the Sotheby's site?) are worthwhile for downloading, if only as an up-to-date introduction to the manuscript.

This is arguably the biggest sale of any manuscript for quite a while. But how sad that a respectable Cambridge theological college has to revert to selling their crown jewels on the street...

What is "scholarly publishing"?

In the comments to an earlier post, we have been having a conversation about what constitutes "scholarly publishing", especially with respect to publications on web-sites etc. (see the comments to this post). The issues, especially in relation to web-based publication, are clearly very important. I found the following characteristics helpful (from an article by Leah Halliday, 'Scholarly communication, scholarly publication and the status of emerging formats' in Information Research 6. 4 (July 2001); online at:

A scholarly publication requires (essential (E); Highly desirable (HD); and preferable (P)):


  • Publications should not be changed (HD).
  • Different versions should be clearly identified (HD).
  • To satisfy all potential interest, trustworthiness should be based on 'institutionalised' measures such as peer review rather than on personal knowledge (HD).
  • Each publication should have at least one identifiable author (P).


  • The potential audience must be made aware that the publication exists (HD).
  • The publication should have metadata containing a minimum set of information, preferably including information about all versions (P).

Accessibility: the document must be readily obtained by those who wish to use it.

  • The author must intend that the publication be made publicly available in a durable form over the long term (E).
  • The publication must be durably recorded on some medium (E).
  • The publication must be reliably accessible and retrievable over time (E)
  • There should be a commitment not to withdraw the publication (E).
  • The publication must be publicly available, i.e. available to any member of the public on demand as of right, whether for payment of a fee or not. (E).
  • The publication should have stable identifiers (HD).

North on Negatives

J. Lionel North, ‘Thou Shalt Commit Adultery’ (EXOD. 20:14, AV 1631): A First Survey of Alteration Involving Negatives in the Transmission of the Greek New Testament and of Early Church Responses to it' JTS 60 (2009), 22-69. On-line (previously noted here).

The conceptual heart of this article is a series of lists (pp. 55-68) of some 700 passages of textually unstable negation in the NT (North notes that approximately one-fifth of all negatives in the NT have suffered some textual alteration). The lists themselves (printed as prose, not as list, in various categories) are preceded by a discussion of patristic references to such variations, parallel phenomena in other textual traditions, and a discussion of some of the examples in each of his major categories. There are throughout some interesting and typically learned comments on particular passages and on general matters (such as whether we should treat such variations as "intentional"), but it would be fair to say that I did not find this a particularly easy read (not the sort of article that is easy to read quickly and extract the main points). So here is the official abstract:

Like many words in the New Testament, one-fifth of the 3,542 examples of the negative have suffered alteration, trivial or otherwise, through addition or omission or substitution. But the alteration of negatives is more provocative in that, given their function in logic, it can involve
contradiction. The Church Fathers had to face questions where dogma was at stake: did Paul believe that ‘we all shall not sleep’ or ‘we all shall sleep’, ‘we all shall be changed’ or ‘we all shall not be changed’ (1 Cor. 15:51)? Did death reign even over those who had not sinned like Adam (Rom. 5:14)? The unstable negative was also noted in Jewish, classical, and legal circles. Analysis of over 700 examples may prove useful to textual critics, students of scribal habits, and philologists as well as to dogmaticians and historians.

Jan Krans has some interaction with the article here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

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


Finally on my desk: Chris Keith's new monograph, The Pericope Alduterae, the Gospel of John and the Literacy of Jesus (NTTSD 38; Leiden: Brill, 2009).

Brief description:
This book offers a new interpretation and transmission history of the "Pericope Adulterae," arguing that the an interpolator placed the story at John 7.53-8.11 in order to highlight the claim that Jesus could write (John 8.6, 8) in light of a careful reading of John's Gospel.

For table of contents and abstract, see here.

The concluding words:
In conclusion, PA's importance as a window into early Christianity perhaps parallels the degree to which earlier and present scholars have overlooked it. PA clearly was one of the most spoken, read, remembered, and transmitted stories about Jesus in the early Church, deserving its reputation as one of the most popular stories in the gospels.

Order page (Eisenbrauns) here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Chuck Hill in JETS

Charles E. Hill, “The New Testament Canon: Deconstructio ad Absurdum?” JETS 52 (2009), 101-119.

In this excellent and interesting article Hill interacts with recent discussions of the NT Canon (especially those of Dungan and McDonald) which emphasise the idea that the fixing of the canon in the fourth century was rather discontinuous with earlier attitudes and represents a new idea: the fixed and closed canon collection. He also notes the impact of these ideas on popular culture. He writes:
"We are left in any case with the present NT as a collection of writings which,
while still serving as religious authorities to many, are increasingly seen as
indistinguishable from a larger class of similar texts, a set of writings not
originally written to be Scripture, but selected to be such for us by people of
a remote time and culture, who used principles of selection now considered
indefensible and obsolete." (p. 104)
Hill begins responding with a section entitled "The Scriptural Self-Attestation" - arguing along lines marked out by G. Vos that since in the OT God's redemptive action goes hand in hand with revelatory word, and since the OT looks forward with expectation to a new redemption act, it follows that "when the long-awaited redemptive action of God came, through a heralded messianic figure, that a new installment of word revelation should result" (p. 106). In addition the OT looks forward to new authoritative words (Deut 18.15-19; cf. Acts 3.22f); Jesus predicted gospel preaching as fulfilling the prophecies that God's word would go to the world (Luke 24.44-47; cf. Is 2.2f; 49.6; 52.7; 61.1f); and Jesus chose, equipped and commissioned the apostle-witnesses who wrote "in the performance of their commissioned apostolic ministries" (p. 112) as the deliberate construction of an authoritative written legacy. The idea of NT scriptures is basically the inevitable consequence of the appearance of the Messiah. And the NT documents - all the books that survive - are "the artifacts of that original commission delivered by Jesus to his apostle-witnesses" (p. 113 and early post-apostolic writings like 1 Clement; Ep Barn; Hermas, Ignatius and Polycarp: "expressly distinguish themselves from this unique apostolic authority", p. 113).

Hill then turns to discuss "Recognition of the New Covenant Scriptures" which basically consists of brief citations and discussion of early witnesses not to individual writings, but to the concept of "a closed corpus of Scriptures" (p .113):
  1. Muratorian Canon
  2. Tertullian, de pudicitia 10
  3. Clement of Alexandria's lost work on "the Covenantal Scriptures" (acc. Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. VI.14.1-2)
  4. Anonymous anti-Montanist cited in Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. V.16.3)
  5. Irenaeus of Lyons on the complete collection of the Scriptures (Adv. Haer. IV.33.8)
  6. Melito of Sardis catalogued the OT scriptures (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. IV.36.13) so may have had a similar conception of the NT.

Hill observes that the early church spoke of receiving and recognising certain books, not of selecting or choosing them.

PMH: This is well worth reading. It is noteworthy that Hill does not try to construct a more conservative argument from the history of reception without first sketching Scriptural reasons for a NT canon and the importance of the apostles. There is clearly more work to be done on the NT side of this in terms of the relationship between the apostle-witnesses and the actual authors (e.g. Luke 1.1-4 looks like a non-apostolic attempt to preserve the original apostolic witness - this model could apply to other NT books). One or two of his arguments could be questioned (e.g. the appeal to Melito is obviously an argument from silence determined by a pre-existing view of things); the process of tracing the actual history of the reception of the different documents is still necessary. It would be interesting to hear from Hill a list of areas that he thinks we should focus on in the next decade or so.

SBL Boston, Book Review of James Royse Scribal Habits in Early Greek NT Papyri, pt. 4-5


SBL24-129 New Testament Textual Criticism

The next reviewer was no other than Peter Head

First he explained why he had accepted the honour of an invitation to review the book:

(1) "I had interacted with James Royse’s ThD in my first academic publication (Head, 1990) as well as subsequently (Head, 2004, 2008) – and these are actually discussed on pp. 720ff" [I missed the first reason (Pete might fill in) - Pete just did]
(2) "I met Dr. Royse at SBL meetings;"
(3) "I saw the price of the book and saw the chance for a free copy."

Then Head excused for his own delay sending his review to Royse. But he noted to his comfort Royse's delay of 27 years between the dissertation and the monograph (see also the apology in the preface).

Head had done a "redactional study" of the two works. He concluded that there is three times as much material in the monograph. Where, then, have things stayed the same? – Most significantly, the summary conclusions are practically identical. The general conclusions stand. Especially the challenge to the traditional canon to prefer the shorter reading.

What has been expanded? Head notes that the papyri are treated a bit more like artefacts (not just like reservoir of readings), relating to Haines-Eitzen’s urge.

Royse has written a small monograph of each one of the papyri! Head focused the rest of his discussion on the study on P66. There are 129 singular readings indicated in the 1981 work. In the book 128 singular readings are listed. Hence, we lost one singular reading, which is found on p. 487 (John 12:12; the evidence of Codex Koridethi has been revised). On p. 408 Royse discusses John 18:47 which could potentially provide an additional singular, but after discussing the ink etc Royse decides to follow the editio princeps.

Colwell concluded that the scribe was careless (wildness in copying). By contrast Royse thinks the scribe was rather careful to render a literal version of his Vorlage (the scribe was responsible for the changes!). Head is not convinced that we must choose either to follow Colwell who studied P66* or Royse who based his characterization on P66c. It is a matter of who corrected, and against what Vorlage. [PMH: both phases are very important as illustrating scribal habits/behaviour.] Royse thinks the scribe has a tendency to omit.

Royse is rather critical of the treatment of corrections in the International Greek New Testament Project volume on the papyri of John. In no case does the IGNTP make clear what happened! The editors only offer their opinion of what was the original and what is the correction. Royse thinks it is certain that the scribe of P66 was Christian (harmonization to other parts of NT; curious use of nomina sacra and staurogram - this could be extended to other papyri as well; e.g., P45, P46, P47, P72 and P75 with harmonizations to other books).

[Head also noted an important general issue: "Royse is attempting to revise the traditional canons – developed on the basis of medieval manuscripts and generalizations about scribal habits from them – on the basis of singular readings in the early papyri; which by definition made no impact on the wider scribal and textual tradition – on this question I think we still need to do some more thinking. Scribal habits determined on the basis of singular readings do I think (cf. Jongkind) reveal something about scribal behaviour, but may be no so clearly about the general tendency of the textual tradition."]

Finally, Head appreciates the transparency, which is easy to follow, i.e., what exactly did the scribe do? The book has been produced on a PC. Head congratulated the author, the series editors and the publishers on such a splendid piece of book production. [TW: should we interpret this ironically; is Pete a Mac freak like me? PMH: not at all. I was commenting on the interesting fact that this beautifully produced book, produced using Nota Bene on a PC, was a revision of a dissertation written on an IBM Selectric typewriter]. Head made it his mission to find a typo, but could not detect one until 401 note 14 “P46” should have been “P66.” [I also noted "one moment of unclarity (page XVII para 2)"]

Royse responds

Next, Peter M. Head:
All of the speakers have remarked upon the history of this work, its first appearance as a dissertation, and then its second appearance in the present form. But Head has given most attention to the continuities and changes, and seems better able than I am to describe what has happened. Certainly, as I revised and expanded the dissertation I was well aware that there were some dangers in the expansion, and that perceptive readers (such as our panelists), trained to detect layers of textual accretion, would be able to see that the material from 1981 did not always flow smoothly into the material from 2006, as both Jongkind and Head on occasion note. I am honored that Head has given such careful attention to the development of this work.

Also, his decision to look at the work on P66 in more detail reflects my own understanding of the importance of that manuscript. Particularly the study of the some 465 corrections seems to me to shed much light on the nature of copying a New Testament book around the year 200. Although I devoted a great deal of time to an analysis of those corrections, crucially aided by the studies of Gordon Fee and Errol Rhodes and many other scholars, I suspect that there is yet much to be discovered. What is especially interesting is that in P66, as also in P46 and again some 150 years later in Codex Sinaiticus, the extensive corrections preserve in one manuscript several layers of textual change that can, at least in theory, reveal much about what was happening to the text during the early period. Of course, the challenge is to organize what lies in such layers in a perspicuous manner.

I mention a few points very briefly. In his note 5 Head wonders about my decision to confine attention to singulars in A occurring in the first two chapters in Revelation; I chose the first two chapters for examination simply in order not to digress too much, and my point there was a very limited one. Naturally, a wider and more thorough investigation, as we now have in Hernández’s work, Scribal Habits and Theological Influences in the Apocalypse: The Singular Readings of Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, and Ephraemi, is much to be welcomed.

With respect to Head’s finding “one moment of unclarity” at p. xvii, second paragraph, line 2: let me note that one should delete the phrase “and asterisked”— I honestly don’t know what happened there, but it is an unwarranted addition. And at p. 401 n. 14, line 2 from the end: yes, “P46” should be “P66.”

In addition to this, Royse actually ended his response to Peter with this off-the-record statement: "I did find another typo, but I will let you find it for yourself."

I can now proudly announce that I have found it on p. 453, n. 105, “a construction that indeeds [sic] makes perfectly good sense.” I can't believe Peter missed this one!

After this came the final review by a certain Dutch scholar. Don't forget to tune in!

Earlier posts in this series:

Part 1: Juan Hernández' presentation

Part 2: Royse responds to Hernández

Parts 3-4: Haines-Eitzen's review and Royse's response

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dan Wallace in JETS

The most recent issue of JETS contains the plenary lectures on the text and canon of OT and NT from last year's ETS conference (see previously here). The NT papers are both excellent. I'll make some comments on one paper here:
Daniel B. Wallace, 'Challenges in New Testament Textual Criticism for the Twenty-First Century' JETS 52 (2009), 79-100.

This is not a technical discussion, and only one or two actual manuscripts or variant readings are mentioned in the paper, which has more the tone of a pep talk for evangelicals to get more acquainted with the issues posed by the discipline. He begins with Bart Ehrman and then
Dan discusses three 'postmodern intrusions into NT TC'.
The first of these is the Ehrman/Epp/Parker redefinition of the goal of NT TC away from determining the wording of the original text, their approach is anchorless, isolationist, and self-defeating, and 'the quest for the wording of the autographa is still worth fighting for' (p. 85).
The second is 'epistemological skepticism' - just because we can't know something certainly (e.g. the date of P52 or the correct text of ancient writers) doesn't mean we can't know anything.
The third is a focus on community/collaboration - which unlike the other two Dan welcomes in terms of various collaborative projects involving lots of acronyms: IGNTP, INTF, UBS, CSNTM.

He then discusses the role of theology in NTTC. Dan notes that theological issues have played a prominent role recently. He makes four points:
First, this blog is a symbol of the importance of theological issues in textual criticism (a good acknowledgement except for the unfortunate fact that he refers to us by the wrong url as which goes basically nowhere and at the moment doesn't even refer back to here - I guess they'll find us if they really want to).
Second, the prominence of discussion of the orthodoxy of the variants - in Dan's words: "no viable variant affects any cardinal doctrine" (which is commendably cautious).
Third, Dan thinks that those who reject inerrancy because we don't have the autographs are illogical (perhaps here he could have more carefully distinguished between the autographic text and the autographic manuscripts, for more of Dan on this see here).
Fourthly, Dan argues that the incarnation provides a methodological model for historical work in NT TC (not with any explicit reference to Peter Enns [for background see Enns]).

Finally Dan proposes some Desiderata:

Knowledge of documents: we ought to know them better, discover more, make digital photos, collate them and analyse them.

Closing gaps: evangelicals ought to contribute to this field, especially in the versions (like Pete Williams); apologists ought not to make exaggerated statements (as if!); and we ought to teach church members the real facts about the Bible to innoculate them against losing their faith by reading Bart Ehrman (slight paraphrase).

It is a good read, with some interesting details about various things. Most of it I basically agree with. Just a couple of quotes I was not sure about:

1. "Although the second-century MSS are all fragmentary, they attest to most of the NT books and over 40% of the verses of the NT." (p. 87) This figure seems way too high for me. Perhaps a typo for 0.4%. [Up-date: See comments for discussion: it is not a typo, but is not really a serious claim.]

2. The CSNTM has "discovered somewhere between 40 and 50 NT MSS" (p. 96; in fact recently Dan has upped this figure to 75 new mss - WSJ article and Dan on WSJ article). I continue to be fascinated by the number of new mss which the CSNTM claims to have discovered (and which we have often noted with delight on this blog). I might have missed it, but as far as I can tell we are still waiting for a single scholarly publication which actually discusses or demonstrates even one of these new discoveries. Nor, as far as I can see, are any of the images of these 75 mss available on the CSNTM website. Maybe a bunch of you, sworn to secrecy, are even now working away on these new discoveries. Let me know. [Up-date: See comments for discussion: new figure is 77 which is explained by Dan in comments; I was right on no scholarly publications yet, wrong on no images: 2881 and 2882 are on-line at CSNTM and more coming]

3. The CSNTM has "discovered the only biblical majuscule in Constantinople, a fragment of Mark that may be as old as the third century" (p. 96). I seem to recall Dan saying in a comment to this blog that this could be sixth or seventh century.

Transcription Practice


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sinaiticus Conference: Some More Details

Some further details about the Sinaiticus Conference have emerged (see previously announcement and busy week); although the web-site has not yet been up-dated and no timed programme is yet available. For anyone still wondering whether it will be worth coming to the conference this list may be useful (although it has no official status).

A provisional list of speakers and topics is as follows:
Daniel Batovici The Shepherd of Hermas in Codex Sinaiticus: textual and reception-historical
Christfried Böttrich The history of the 'Codex Sinaiticus'
Christopher Clarkson Book-making in the fourth century
Archbishop Damianos The New Finds
Eldon J. Epp Codex Sinaiticus in modern Biblical scholarship
Harry Gamble Codex Sinaiticus and its fourth century readers
Juan Garcés Codex Sinaiticus and the mass-digitisation of Greek manuscripts at the British Library
Peter M. Head Some Observations on Various Features of Scribe D in the New Testament of Codex Sinaiticus
Juan Hernández Codex Sinaiticus: the earliest Christian commentary on John’s Apocalypse?
Dirk Jongkind Scribal habits of Codex Sinaiticus
Father Justin The New Finds
Rachel Kevern Transcribing Codex Sinaiticus
Jan Krans The digitisation of Codex Boreelianus
Ekaterina Krushelnitskaya Codex Sinaiticus Petropolitanus
René Larsen Parchment production in the fourth century
Scot McKendrick Codices Sinaitici
Amy Myshrall Transcribing Codex Sinaiticus
Panayotes Nikolopoulos The New Finds
David Parker The fourth century New Testament text of Codex Sinaiticus
Albert Pietersma Psalms in Codex Sinaiticus
Peter Robinson Creating a 21st century edition of Codex Sinaiticus
Ulrich Schmid Citations of the LXX in their New Testament versions
Ulrich Schneider The future of Codex Sinaiticus
Helen Shenton The conservation of Codex Sinaiticus
Emanuel Tov The Septuagint of Codex Sinaiticus
David Trobisch Codex Sinaiticus and the early editorial history of the Bible
Kristin de Troyer Reading Judges for the first time
J. Verheyden 'That awful scribe B': some observations on the text of Hermas as compared to that of the Prophets
Klaus Wachtel The corrected New Testament of Codex Sinaiticus
Steven Walton Codex Sinaiticus as a manuscript of the 21st century

More on How the New Testament Came Together

Peter Rodgers posted a question whether it is possible to get hard copies of Peter Head's new book, How the New Testament Came Together, through a distributor in USA, since he'd like to make it available to his students at Fuller Seminary, Sacramento.

The distributor, Grove Books indicates the following information on their website (terms and conditions):

Booklets are sent post-free in the UK. For overseas orders, we charge £1.00 for the first booklet plus 25p for each further booklet in Europe, and £1.50 for the first booklet plus 25p for each further booklet in the rest of the world. Subscriptions and ebooks are post-free anywhere in the world.

Rylands Papyri

In a search for a good picture of what may well be the oldest fragment of the Pauline corpus, P32, I noticed that - possibly all of - the Rylands Papyri are online here, and have been for quite a while.

One way of finding P32 is to search by subject, choose 'Christianity' and find it under inventory number 5. And, for good order, some of the other papyri in this collection are also quite interesting (the Nicean creed, gospel of Mary, and, of course, that fragment of John's gospel).

How the New Testament Came Together

Just to announce a new 28 page booklet which I hope some readers may find useful: Peter Head, How the New Testament Came Together (Cambridge: Grove, 2009).
The blurb: How did twenty-seven ancient Christian documents come together as the New Testament? How were they recognised, read and bound together as one half of the Christian Bible? Beginning with Jesus and the documents which arose from the apostolic testimony to him in the first century, this booklet traces how Paul’s letters and the four gospels came to be grouped together and how the basic shape and contents of the New Testament emerged by the end of the second century.

It can be ordered (as a book or an e-book) from Grove Books (£3.50).

The aim in writing it was to offer something relatively readable on the history of 'how the NT came together' (i.e. NT canon formation but without using or defining 'canonical' or offering a theological analysis of the history). It is meant to be "popular" in level - to address issues of concern for thoughtful Christians without a theological education and busy clergy who might read a booklet but wouldn't wade through something like Metzger on the subject.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Scull Examines Our Head Today

Over at Paul of Tarsus In Historical Context Head gets examined by Scull today.

(Kevin Scull examines Peter Head’s new JSNT article, “Named Letter Carries among the Oxyrhynchus Papyri” in JSNT 2009)

How To Do Digitization?

Over at Parchment and Pen, Dan Wallace, recently home from his trip to Athens where he and his team photographed MSS (see our previous reports here) notes the recent article in Wall Street Journal on digitization of MSS by Alexandra Alter. One issue is the costs for expeditions, for the CSNTM about $10,000 a week, as compared to another undertaking led by Father Columba Stewart, executive director of the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library at St. John's Abbey and University in Minnesota, who says a digitization project costs roughly $20,000 a year, since they apparently use a different strategy: "Armed with 23-megapixel cameras and scanning cradles, he sets up imaging labs on site in monasteries and churches, and trains local people to scan the manuscripts." Wallace says "That’s a remarkably efficient model, but I don’t think it’s the best one for what CSNTM does." Then he goes on to explain the reasons:

The equipment we use requires a technician on-site. Things break down, especially the cameras—sometimes on a daily basis. And they need to be refurbished after about 30,000 pictures. If we had 23 sites where our equipment was being used (as this other organization does), the cost just for the equipment alone would exceed $400,000. This does not include the ongoing costs of paying locals to do the work. Also, CSNTM goes through multiple check-points to ensure the highest quality of images. We do all this on-site. We realize that we have only one shot at shooting (pardon the pun!) the manuscripts, and we must get it right.

Read more here.

Greek New Testament Manuscript on Display at National Library of Russia

There is an on-line exhibition at the National Library of Russia, "The Ostromir Gospel and the Manuscript Tradition of the New Testament Texts," held in celebration of the 950th anniversary of the oldest Russian dated book. Below is a brief description of the exhibition:

The peculiar place, that the Ostromir Gospel occupies in the historical and cultural process, allowed to form the conception of the exhibition as display of the previous and following manuscript tradition. The project aims to demonstrate masterpieces of book arts of Byzantium and the South Slavs and to trace the thousand-year way of the development of a Russian manuscript book. Thanks to the fact that sacred texts were copied by only professional scribes, and, usually, these manuscripts were finely decorated, on view in the exibition are unparalleled, the most beautiful examples of mediaeval book arts. They illustrate harmonious synthesis of the text and images, the exquisite calligraphy and endless inventiveness of the refined design, the lofty Christian idea and perfection of the Word of God, recorded on superb leaves of invaluable manuscripts.

The exhibition is organised into four sections. The second section is of special interest for the readers of this blog. It displays 11 Greek manuscripts from the 6th-13th centuries, demonstrating manuscript arts.

I have indexed these MSS according to their Greg.-Aland number as follows:

Greg.-Aland 022. РНБ. Греч. 537. Sarmisahly Tetraevangelion (Codex Purpureus Petropolitanus, Codex N, Codex Caesariensis)

Greg.-Aland 041. РНБ. Греч. 34. Tetraevangelion. 9th cent.

Greg.-Aland 330. РНБ. Греч. 101/1. Tetraevangelion. 12th century; last quarter of 13th cent.
Note that this MS has now been divided in two parts under shelfmarks Греч. 101/1 and 101/2 (whereas the Liste has shelfmark Gr. 101)

Greg.-Aland 568. РНБ, Греч. 67. Tetraevangelion, 11th cent.

Greg.-Aland 569. РНБ. Греч. 72. Tetraevangelion with Commentary, 1061.

Greg.-Aland 2132. РНБ. Греч. 801. Tetraevangelion, 10th cent. (third quarter)

Greg.-Aland 2145. НБ. Греч. 222. Tetraevangelion, 1144.

Greg.-Aland L243. РНБ. Греч. 21, 21а. Gospel of Trebizond. Gospel Lectionary, 10th cent.

Greg.-Aland L250. РНБ. Греч. 55. Gospel and Praxapostolos Lectionary, 10th cent.

Greg.-Aland L1393. РНБ. СПбДА Б I/7. Gospel Lectionary, 11th cent. (first half )

Greg.-Aland L1552. РНБ. СПбДА Б I/5. Gospel lectionary, 985.

According to the website, the National Library of Russia holds 525 Greek manuscripts, of which 115 books are Tetraevangelions and Gospels with commentary, written on parchment or paper, and 71 codices are service Gospels.

I do not know how this squares with the information gathered by the INTF, but a quick check in the Kurzgefasste Liste reveals that there are 105 continuous texts and 87 lectionaries registered today, but then I have not checked which of these that contain Gospel texts. There may be some unregistered MSS at this institution. It is also possible that a couple of "Gospels with commentary" were not be registered in the Liste because they did not contain a proper running Gospel text. Perhaps this could be a place to visit for Dan Wallace's and the CSNTM.

Finally, a funny episode I had with this library some years ago. I was trying to get access to Codex P 025 instead of relying on Tischendorf's old collation. The codex is a palimpsest and the upper writing is Greg.-Aland 1834. Neither of them was available on microfilm at the INTF in Münster. However, my predecessor Carl-Axel Albin, who had studied many MSS and compiled an edition of Jude some 50 years ago had written to the library to order a microfilm of the folios with Jude. They sent him Jude, not from 025 but from 1834. When he wrote them again I don't think they replied.

When I contacted the library about 025, at first they were very pessimistic because they did not have the technical possibilities to produce good images that would reveal the text of 025. But then they sent me a suggestion of a trade. I would get some images and they sent me a list of modern Swedish books that they wanted to acquire for the library. However, I did not proceed further with this. I eventually chose to follow Tischendorf's collation in this case.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bible and Church Conference, 20th June, Westminster Chapel, London

There is a new website Bible and Church whose goal it is "to support and equip Churches with excellence in Biblical Scholarship." The site and associated events are sponsored by Tyndale House, Cambridge, UK.

One such upcoming event is a one day conference on 20 June 2009 at Westminster Chapel, London.

The speakers at this conference are all ETC-bloggers:

Peter Williams, "Have we got the history right?"

Dirk Jongkind, "Have we got the text right?"

Simon Gathercole, "Have we got Jesus right?"

The objective of these lectures are: "Expose false claims about the New Testament; show how the New Testament can be trusted; and equip ordinary Christians to share their faith with confidence."

Download broschure here.

Hear Peter Williams' invitation to the conference:

Friday, May 08, 2009

Hebrews 6:9: Future or Present?

This is a linguistic problem rather than text-critical problem. The text in Heb 6:9 reads:

Πεπείσμεθα δὲ περὶ ὑμῶν, ἀγαπητοί, τὰ κρείσσονα καὶ ἐχόμενα σωτηρίας, εἰ καὶ οὕτως λαλοῦμεν.

The NIV translates: "Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case–things that accompany salvation."

The NIV, as most translations, follow the same interpretation of ἐχόμενα as in BDAG, s.v. ἔχω 11a: "to be closely associated" of proper situation or placement where the "to" of belonging and the "with" of association are expressed by genitive (in this case σωτηρίας), where Heb 6:9 is listed among the examples.

The Swedish Bible translation, B2000, on the other hand, reads in retranslation to English: "But concerning you, my beloved, I am, in spite of these words, confident of the better and that you are close to salvation."

Disregard the awkward style since this is a retranslation. The thing that interests me here is the interpretation of τὰ κρείσσονα καὶ ἐχόμενα σωτηρίας in a temporal (futuristic) sense as "the better things and coming (things) – salvation." Perhaps the focus on future salvation in 1:14; 10:25, etc. led the committee to this decision. However, salvation is also present to the author, e.g., 7:25.

The translation committee has apparently chosen to interpret ἐχόμενα according to BDAG s.v. ἔχω 11β, i.e., temporal, to be next, immediately following, hence "close," with σωτηρίας understood as an epexegetical genitive. I wonder whether this is possible, especially since there is no definite article with ἐχόμενα.

Perhaps it is needless to say that I will not follow the latter interpretation in the commentary I am working on.

Hebrews 10:39 offers an important parallell where the author, after a similar warning as in 6:4–8, associates the addressees with salvation, ἡμεῖς δὲ οὐκ ἐσμὲν ὑποστολῆς εἰς ἀπώλειαν ἀλλὰ πίστεως εἰς περιποίησιν ψυχῆς.

Any insights and suggestions are welcome!

Digitising Manuscripts

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting survey of current projects involving digitising manuscripts: here (HT: JT).

Monasteries of the Fayyum

The Monasteries of the Fayyum by Nabia Abott (Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization 16; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1937) available on-line here
(via What's New in Papyrology)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Georgian Version and Manuscripts

James Snapp reported a broken link to some images of Georgian MSS. The post was three years old, so these things happen. However, below I provide some new links.

First an introduction to Georgian Manuscripts by Helen Machavariani including some images:

Old Georgian manuscripts occupy a special place in the treasury of the Georgian national culture. History, travels, dictionaries, hagiography, Church law, phylosophy, this short list shows the variety of the ancient Georgian manuscripts. The study of the Georgian culture by means of the Georgian written language monuments can be traced back onl y to the V century. These samples of the written language have survived as epigraphical monuments (made on stone and mosaic) and manuscripts (palimpsest).

The ancient Georgian manuscripts also give us a rich material to study the development of decoration of manuscripts. The V-VI centuries' palimpsests are not only the most important monuments of the old Christian literature but they also illustrate the well developed book making art. Making of an ancient manuscript book consisting of successive interconnected processes (processing of the parchment, rewriting, painting of the text's pages, decoration of the manuscript by the engraved frame work, etc.) required a certain division of labour,
participation of different skilful specially trained workers.

Read more here.

Secondly, there is the ARMAZI project to digitize Old Georgian MSS including the the Albanian palimpsest manuscripts from Mt. Sinai, the Vienna palimpsest manuscript with parts of the four Gospels, OT, Protev. Iacobi, etc; and the Adishi Gospels.

Read more here.

Se one result of this project in this digital critical edition of the Adishi Gospels:

Novum Testamentum georgice e codicibus chanmetico et Adishi
The Old Georgian Four Gospels: Khanmeti and Adishi Redaction
edited by Sophio Sarjveladze and Darejan Tvaltvadze,
ARMAZI version (online) by Jost Gippert


Not every wound is healed by the same treatment.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Pressrelease from Israel Antiquities Authority: A Rare 2,000 Year Old Hebrew Document Written on Papyrus was Seized in an Operation

A Rare 2,000 Year Old Hebrew Document Written on Papyrus was
Seized in an Operation (6/5/09 )

The director of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery in the Israel Antiquities Authority: “It seems we are dealing with rare historic evidence regarding the Jewish people in their country from more than 2,000 years ago”.

A document thought to be an ancient text written on papyrus was seized yesterday (Tuesday) in an operation led by the Intelligence Office of the Zion Region and the Undercover Unit of the Border Police in Jerusalem, in cooperation with the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery and the Archaeological Staff Officer in the Civil Administration.

The document is written in ancient Hebrew script, which is characteristic of the Second Temple period and the first and second centuries CE. This style of the writing is primarily known from the Dead Sea scrolls and various inscriptions that occur on ossuaries and coffins. The document itself is written on papyrus. The papyrus is incomplete and was in all likelihood rolled up. It is apparent that pieces of it crumbled mainly along its bottom part. The holes along the left part of the document probably attest to the damage that was caused to it over time. The document measures 15 x 15 centimeters.
Fifteen lines of Hebrew text, written from right to left and one below the other, can be discerned in the document. In the upper line of the text one can clearly read the sentence “Year 4 to the destruction of Israel”. This is likely to be the year 74 CE – in the event the author of the document is referring to the year when the Second Temple was destroyed during the Great Revolt. Another possibility is the year 139 CE – in the event the author is referring to the time when the rural settlement in Judah was devastated at the end of the Bar Kokhba Revolt.
The name of a woman, “Miriam Barat Ya‘aqov”, is also legible in the document followed by a name that is likely to be that of the settlement where she resided: Misalev. This is probably the settlement Salabim. The name Miriam Bat Ya‘aqov is a common name in the Second Temple period. Also mentioned in the document are the names of other people and families, the names of a number of ancient settlements from the Second Temple period and legal wording which deals with the property of a widow and her relinquishment of it.

According to Amir Ganor, director of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery in the Israel Antiquities Authority, “Theoretically, based on the epigraphic style, the material the document is written on, the state of preservation and the text, which includes a historic date that can be deciphered, we are dealing with a document that appears to be ancient as defined by the Antiquities Law. Since this object was not discovered in a proper archaeological excavation, it still must undergo laboratory analyses in order to negate the possibility it is a modern forgery”. Ganor adds, “The document is very important from the standpoint of historical and national research. Until now almost no historic scrolls or documents from this period have been discovered in proper archaeological excavations. A historic document that can be definitely dated based on a reference to a historical event such as the ‘destruction of Israel’ has never been discovered. Much can be learned from this document about the names of people, their surnames names and the locations of settlements in Israel during this period. From an initial reading it seems that this document deals with the property of Miriam Bat Ya‘aqov, who was apparently a widow. The deciphering of the entire document by expert epigraphers and historians may shed light on how the people of the period managed their affairs and supplement our knowledge about their way of life. What we have here is rare historic evidence about the Jewish people in their country from more than 2,000 years ago, during the days following the destruction which sent the people of Israel into exile for a very long time – until the creation of the State of Israel”.

For downloading a hight resolution image - click here

Photograph: The Scroll Conservation Laboratory, Israel Antiquities Authority.

For further details, kindly contact: Yoli Shwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority spokesperson, 052-5991888,

Via Paleojudaica. If this is genuine, Jim Davila says, "this is a very important find, effectively the discovery of a new Dead Sea Scroll. (Okay, if you want to be technical, a Judean Desert Scroll. Same difference.)"

A Comprehensive Introduction to the Coherence Based Genealogical Method

During the Münster colloquium last year, Gerd Mink presented the Coherence Based Genealogical Method (CBGM). The plan was to upload that presentation, but now the INTF announces that they have posted not only the original presentation, but a comprehensive step-by-step introduction to the Coherence Method.

You will find the download page here.

See my previous reports from the Münster colloqium here, here, here and here.

Where-Is-This Quiz

Here is yet another quiz to test your geography. Clue: these places all have some or other connection to New Testament textual criticism:

#1 Where is this?:

#2 and this?:

#3 and this?

#4 and this?

#5 and, finally, this?

Codex Sinaiticus in Korean (via Googletranslation)

As a preparation for the upcoming conference on Codex Sinaiticus, it may be good to read some facts about the codex in this report on a Korean webpage. (Please note that it has been machinetranslated by Google.)

In case you missed Peter Head's recent significant report on 1 April, here it is again: Codex Sinaiticus Produced Near Jerusalem.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

New Greek Texts From Oxyrhynchus

New Greek Texts From Oxyrhynchus
7pm to 8.30pm, Wednesday 24 June 2009
Convenors: Professor Eric Handley, CBE, FBA, University of Cambridge and Dr Dirk Obbink, University of Oxford
Speakers: Dr Dirk Obbink, Professor Peter Parsons, FBA, University of Oxford, and Dr Dorothy Thompson, FBA, University of Cambridge

Just over a hundred years ago, on a site some 100 miles south of Cairo, two Oxford scholars, on behalf of the Egypt Exploration Society, excavated some 50,000 pieces of ancient books and documents that had been discarded in the city dump, and had survived the centuries in the dry climate.

The excavators were Bernard P. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt. They devoted successive seasons to their task between 1897 and 1907, and gave more years still to publishing some of their significant discoveries. The site, by its Greek name, is Oxyrhynchus—'The City of the Sharp-nosed Fish', as Peter Parsons calls it in the title of a much-admired book that appeared in 2007. More than seventy volumes of The Oxyrhynchus Papyri have so far been published. They continue to reveal texts of Greek literature otherwise lost to the modern world, together with fragments of Christian gospels, technical treatises, tax returns, petitions to the authorities, private letters, wills and a host of other documents that give a unique insight into the life of the city and the Greco-Roman civilization of which it was part.

The presentation evening offers an opportunity to preview some of the exciting new texts to come from Oxyrhynchus and to consider such questions as did Euripides write two versions of his play Medea? How do modern methods of image-making work to recover an unknown classical text? How much can a personal letter reveal of the world about the writer? There will also be an opportunity to hear something of the present state and future prospects of the Oxyrhynchus project as a whole. A compact display of papyri, photographs, and other relevant material will also be on view.
Please note our registration and seating policy:

1. This event is free of charge. There is no advance registration for this event and no tickets will be issued.
2. The rooms for this event will be open from 6.30pm onwards - please do not arrive at the Academy before this time.
3. The first 100 audience members arriving at the Academy will be offered a seat in our Lecture Room where this event will take place. The next 50 people to arrive will be offered a seat in our Overflow Room which has a video and audio link to the Lecture Room.

(via Paleojudaica)

Being real

It is better to be silent and be real than to talk and not be real.

SBL Boston, Book Review of James Royse Scribal Habits in Early Greek NT Papyri, pt. 3-4

The next reviewer was Kim Haines-Eitzen (KHE).

In 1991 first year in graduate school, KHE discovered Royse’s work. She was not alone in her fascination for Greek New Testament manuscripts! If you want to pay attention to Hort’s dictum that knowledge of documents should precede judgment on readings, you must study Royse’s work which focuses on the starting point of textual criticism. To many of us Royse’s book is widely cited. His list of singular readings indicates those that are supposed to have been introduced by the scribe we study.

Then KHE turned to some specific papyri. After examining P45 on over 90 pages, Royse arrives at the “basic features of the copying by the scribe” (p. 197) which are as follows (here abbreviated): The scribe is concerned to produce a readable text, and is successful in reading this goal with virtually no correction. Thus, there are few nonsense readings, few corrections, and few obvious errrors. Secondly, the scribe has a marked tendencey to omit portions of the text. Thirdly, harmonization is a frequent cause of error, with harmonization to the immediate context being the most important type. Fourthly, stylistic and grammatical improvements are sometimes attempted. Finally, the scribe is rather rarely subject to certain errors of sight, perhaps also of hearing, of influences of similar forms, and simply of oversight. KHE then continued with P46. However, she questioned whether these brief summaries “help us get a sense of a scribe.”

In any case, P72 is most interesting to KHE. This scribe stands out as is evident in the described main features of the scribe (614): “Alone among our papyri P72 gives evidence of some theological purpose in the scribe’s creation of singulars: two singular readings and one asterisked reading appear to reflect the scribe’s belief that Christ was fully God.” KHE adds that the handwriting of this scribe is easily worst. She adds that this is perhaps why she is most sympathetic to this scribe (laughter). Royse thinks that it is tempting to conclude that theological changes came about not until 300 C.E.

[Additional comments by TW: In his monograph, Royse refers to Barbara Aland who relates the changes in P72 to the fact that it is very late among the early papyri and that it is part of a manuscript containing a Christian’s personal collection of writings. He also refers to other studies, including my own, that have shown interesting connections with the non-New Testament writings contained in the whole Bodmer Codex of which P72 is a part.

In any case, he says, “the contrast between these three readings and what we find elsewhere in our six papyri is striking and indicates how unusual such alteration must have been in the early period.” Royse further refers to Min who found no theologically intentional readings in the early Matthean papyri. Finally, he points to Hernández who examined Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus and Ephraemi Rescriptus in Revelation. He reports a few readings in the two former that are of Christological import, but no such readings in the latter. Interestingly, Hernandez himself told us in his presentation (now available for download in the sidebar) that his original plan was to write about this subject, before he found Royse’s dissertation!]

Anyway, KHE disagrees with Royse on this particular point, i.e., she thinks theological changes were introduced earlier on, but, as one of her concluding question (see below) implied, she thinks more research is necessary to bring clarity on this point. She did not develop this further but instead concluded by posing the following questions, as a kind of “where do we go from here”:

1) To what extent does the focus on singular readings push towards the text from the form, ie. the physical features. Could we not include the physical features (codicology, handwriting, etc) to situate the scribes.

2) Royse hints that the theological variants come in 300CE. but most of the textual variants in the tradition were already introduced. Where are we with theological variations?

3) Text-types: Royse refers to text-types, e.g., P72 is Alexandrian. KHE is disappointed with this terminology. How does it help us to understand the early papyri? [Here I may recommend reading the review of D.C. Parker’s book by Epp which focused on this issue].

Final conclusion: “We have still a lot to do.” See also Royse’s own suggestions for future research (737ff).

Royse responds:
Next, Kim Haines-Eitzen:

Both Haines-Eitzen and Jongkind draw attention to the brief summaries of scribal habits for each of the six papyri. Haines-Eitzen questions whether the summaries “help us get a sense of a scribe,” and Jongkind remarks that a one-page summary of scores of pages of analysis is not all that helpful. Of course, to provide extended “integrated reflection” (as Jongkind puts it) on the scribal habits would have been to risk expanding the book even more. But perhaps in such extended discussion I could have avoided some of the tensions (shall we say) in the summaries that Haines-Eitzen points out. Alternatively, perhaps it would have better simply to forego such summaries and let the analyses speak for themselves. At least that would have avoided the shortcomings, and omission is always so much more tempting than addition.

I turn to Haines-Eitzen’s concluding three points (or “questions”).

Point 1: I would concur that the physical features of manuscripts can be crucial. Haines-Eitzen, of course, has given much attention (in her provocative study, Guardians of Letters) to the peculiarities of P72 and of the codex of which it forms a part (or perhaps two parts, 1–2 Peter and Jude), giving careful attention to the curious features(scribal and otherwise) of the disparate texts joined there into this “third-century miscellany” (as she calls it), and arguing that it was the product of an early scribal network.

And Jongkind, in his recent work, The Scribal Habits of Codex Sinaiticus, creatively combines many aspects of that very complex manuscript, such as the arrangement of the quires, the nature of the paragraphing, the use of nomina sacra, and the scribal tendencies to produce certain sorts of variations, all sorted out among the three scribes and the various correctors. Here again, I would not wish to be seen as in any way claiming completeness or finality in my analysis, and I would welcome further and more comprehensive discussions.

Especially the codex to which P72 belongs seems, as Haines-Eitzen well observes, to be a different sort of physical object than the usual New Testament manuscript, and it would be natural that its unique properties should have implications for our understanding of its text and for our evaluation of its readings for purposes of textual criticism. I might refer further to the fascinating analysis of the “Bodmer Miscellaneous Codex” by Tommy Wasserman in chapter two of his recent The Epistle of Jude: Its Text and Transmission, which integrates codicological and textual considerations of this compilation.

Point 2: I would not wish to appear at all certain on such a complex topic as the theological corruptions of the text. But I would observe that it is (I believe)perfectly consistent to hold that dogmatic changes began to occur around 300 and that the majority of textual variants arose during the first three Christian centuries (that is, before 300). We have to keep in mind that the vast majority of textual variants do not involve (as it seems) theological corruption. So, while most textual variants may have arisen early, the comparatively few theological corruptions could have been late on the scene. Of course, others have thought to find theologically motivated readings in, say, P46. I have not been inclined to agree, but in any case the numbers of such readings would be, I believe, comparatively small; but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t exist.

Point 3: I used the term “textual type” in connection with the papyri with some hesitation (see, e.g., p. 15 n. 52). Of course, in calling, for example, P72Alexandrian, I was simply repeating what others have said, and while such terminology may be anachronistic for the early papyri or otherwise problematic, it seems to me to be useful shorthand for describing the textual relations. But I would hope that my investigation does not depend to any great degree on such characterizations.

In his response to KHE, Royse also mentioned some related points that Jongkind had made. However, I have not yet posted Jonkind's presentation. On the other hand, Royse had a separate more lucid response to Jongkind, so therefore I hope our readers will have forbearance with this little anachronism.

Earlier posts in this series:

Part 1: Juan Hernández' presentation

Part 2: Royse responds to Hernández

Monday, May 04, 2009

Biblical Studies Carnival 41 is out

Over at Exploring our matrix, James McGrath has posted a comprehensive and amusing Biblical Studies Carnival 41. There is a special "parade of ancient manuscripts." Go check it out!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

IAA: Index of Armenian Art (Illuminated Manuscripts)

Thanks to Kathleen Maxwell for bringing to my attention the Database of Armenian Manuscript Illuminations, the first part of the Index of Armenian Art.

This database features a chronological database of Armenian manuscripts, including color images. So far there are 55 illuminated Armenian MSS ranging from ca 600 C.E. to the 13th century. Among these treasures are the Etchmiadzin Gospels (late 6th - early 7th cent.) with the final four miniatures and the beautiful book covers.

SBL International Rome, Program Book Available

The SBL International Meeting Program book is now publicly available here where you will also find abstracts to the papers. Below are some sessions related to textual criticism:

1-5 Dead Sea Scrolls and Hebrew Bible

8:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Room: C214 - GU

Theme: The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Textual History of the Hebrew Bible

Armin Lange, University of Vienna, Presiding

Sidnie White Crawford, University of Nebraska
The Contribution of the “Non-Aligned Texts” to Understanding the Textual History of the Bible (20 min)

Discussion (10 min)

Kristin De Troyer, St. Andrews University
Looking at Bathsheba with Text Critical Eyes (20 min)

Discussion (10 min)

Julio Trebolle, Universidad Complutense de Madrid
The History of the Biblical Text: Implications for Other Fields of Study (20 min)

Discussion (10 min)
Break (30 min)

Chelica Hiltunen, University of Oxford
An Examination of the Supposed pre-Samaritan Texts from Qumran (20 min)

Discussion (10 min)

Panel Discussion
Russell Fuller, University of San Diego, Panelist (15 min)
Arie van der Kooij, Leiden University-The Netherlands, Panelist (15 min)
Eugene Ulrich, University of Notre Dame, Panelist (15 min)
Discussion (15 min)

2-20 Working with Biblical Manuscripts (Textual Criticism)
8:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Room: C211 - GU

Martin Heide, University of Marburg
The Semitic Background of Some Variants in the Greek New Testament (30 min)

Keith Small, London School of Theology
A Quranic Window onto New Testament Textual History (30 min)

Dave Nielsen, Brigham Young University
The Reception of Sense-Units in Versions of the Greek New Testament (30 min)

Break (30 min)

Bill Warren, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
When is a Textual Variant an Error?: Case Studies for Determining Scribal Errors (30 min)

2-43 Text Criticism Workshop on Samuel and Kings
1:30 PM to 4:15 PM
Room: T302 - GU

Julio Trebolle, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Presiding
Pablo Torijano , Universidad Complutense de Madrid

More Kaige Characteristics in I-IV Regnorum (30 min)
Discussion (15 min)

Andres Piquer-Otero, Universidad Complutense de Madrid
“Chariots of Israel”?: Textual Criticism and the Narrative Traditions of Elijah and Elisha (30 min)

Discussion (15 min)
Break (30 min)

Julio Trebolle, Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Textual and Literary Criticism of 2 Kings 17:2-6 (30 min)

Discussion (15 min)

3-11 First Esdras
8:30 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: C021 - GU

Gary Knoppers, Pennsylvania State University University Park, Presiding

Adrian Schenker, University of Fribourg
The Priority of 1 Esdras in Comparison with MT Ezra-Nehemiah (30 min)

Paul Harvey, Pennsylvania State University
First Esdras: Style and Semantics in Hellenistic Greek Context (30 min)

Bob Becking, Utrecht University
The Story of the Three Youth and the Composition of First Esdras (30 min)

Break (30 min)

Zipora Talshir, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Ancient Composition Patterns Mirrored in First Esdras (30 min)

Deirdre Fulton, Pennsylvania State University
Lower Criticism and Higher Criticism: The Case of 1 Esdras (30 min)

3-15 Historical Books (Hebrew Bible)
8:30 AM to 11:00 AM
Room: Sala Pro E - GU

Hava Guy, The David Yellin College
Three Royal Deaths in Early Prophets: Type-scene or Intertextuality? (30 min)

Kevin Hall, Oklahoma Baptist University
Poetic Justice: Can a Preposition Make Hannah a Priest? (30 min)

Marie-France Dion, Concordia University Montreal
The Deuteronomistic’s Characterization of “The People” (30 min)

Break (30 min)

David Elgavish, Bar Ilan University
War Descriptions in the Book of Kings: A portrayal of Moderation (30 min)

3-46 Working with Biblical Manuscripts (Textual Criticism)
1:30 PM to 5:00 PM
Room: C215 - GU

Eun Woo Lee, Presbyterian College and Theological Seminary
Pozin's Synchronic Reading and the Textual History of Joshua 3-4 (30 min)

John P. Flanagan, Leiden University
Translation Techniques in the Latin Versions of Isaiah (30 min)

Peter M. Head, Tyndale House
The Identification of Letter-carriers in Subscriptions to the Pauline Letters: Manuscripts, Sources and the Development of a Tradition. (30 min)

Break (30 min)

Matteo Grosso, University of Torino
“Where There is no Male and Female”: On the Textual Tradition of Colossians 3:11 (30 min)

Rick D. Bennett, Jr., Reformed Theological Seminary
The Search for Nomina Sacra: An Analysis of the Distribution and Form of Nomina Sacra in Early NT Papyri with New Technology (30 min)

4-13 Working with Biblical Manuscripts (Textual Criticism)
8:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Room: C109 - GU

J. L. H. Krans, Utrecht University
Working with Codex Boreelianus (F 09) (30 min)

James M. Leonard, University of Cambridge
Singular Readings in a Primary Versional Witness to the D-text: A Sampling from
Codex Glazier (30 min)

Tommy Wasserman, Lund University
"Misquoting Manuscripts": The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture Revisited (30 min)

Break (30 min)

Timothy B. Sailors, University of Tubingen
A New 'Gospel of the Apostles': Observations on the Initial Proposals and Suggestions for Further Research (30 min)

Friday, May 01, 2009

P52 for sale on EBay

I thought that this was a joke at first, until I realized that it was in fact a reproduction. The same EBay store also sells a reproduction of a Kassite cuneiform seal and Gears of War II (used) for your XBOX 360.

Who said this?

One of our favourite pastimes to celebrate the start of the month: the who-said-what quiz on a remarkable quote.

I don't think the following quotes are 'googleable' (they all come from the same page), which serves to demonstrate that not all interesting and surprising knowledge has been digitised. So, who said this, and was/is this scholar right?

"Therewith it is implied that the textual criticism of the New Testament cannot be carried out by statistical methods. (...) None but commensurable entities can be reduced to figures, and no two variants are strictly commensurable. (...) What is the sum total of, say, an egg plus a grape plus a unicorn?"