Monday, June 29, 2009

Foundations for Syriac Lexicography II

I'm pleased to announce that Foundations for Syriac Lexicography II has appeared.

Here's the blurb:

"This volume is the second in a series that addresses issues related to a contemporary approach to Classical Syriac lexicography. The international team of authors invited to participate in this volume represents a wide range of disciplines and opens new horizons in lexical thinking. The essays of Dean Forbes and Janet Dyk break new ground in discussions of taxonomy and are of relevance to lexicographers of any language: Forbes applies computational methods of pattern recognition to word distribution in the Hebrew Bible and discusses its application to grammatical classification, and Dyk examines the form and functions of the Syriac passive participle. Peter Williams examines matters involved in translating Greek words with alpha privatives into Syriac. In a joint article Terry Falla and Wido van Peursen discuss the syntax and translation of two Syriac particles, gyr and dyn. Andreas Juckel provides scholars for the first time with the text of the Harklean margin to the Corpus Paulinum along with a detailed analysis. George Kiraz and Bishop Polycarpus Augin Aydin provide important information on Syriac lexica from the East that deserve to be more widely known in the West: Kiraz examines the lexical and grammatical works of Audo, Manna, and David, and Aydin provides an English translation of the methodology that Manna used in compiling his lexicon."

As far as relevance for textual criticism is concerned, Juckel's article on the Harclean is very important. Falla's and van Peursen's article on the significance of two frequent Syriac particles is also very relevant for text-critical study of γαρ and δε in the NT. My own article documents what might appear to some rather surprising forms of translation caused by difficulty rendering alpha privatives into Syriac. Here is yet another case where failure to understand the target language might lead the unwary to suppose that the version has been produced from a variant Vorlage.

SBL International Meeting in Rome: Preparation

I have arrived in Rome for the SBL International Meeting. I am staying at the very nice Swedish Institute in the vicinity of Villa Borghese – this is a fantastic area. During this conference we will have three sessions in the unit Working with Biblical Manuscripts with 13 papers. I hope to be able to report more on that. However, this time I am presiding the sessions so I probably cannot make as extensive notes as from the SBL in Boston last year.

The SBL Int. Meeting begins tomorrow with an opening session at 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM followed by a reception. In the opening session Maurice Gilbert of the Pontifical Biblical Institute will give a talk on "The Pontifical Biblical Institute: A Century of History." Gilbert, a Belgian Jesuit, has been associated with the Pontifical Biblical Institute since 1967; first as a student, then professor of exegesis of the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament. Subsequently, he was in charge of both the Institute's Roman centre as well as the one in Jerusalem. Now he is emeritus. He has also published a book with the same title. Kent Richards of the SBL presides the session. Paul Achtemeier, Union Theological Seminary, and Lawrence Boadt, Washington Theological Union, and James Kugel, Harvard University are respondents.

See also the videoclip, "A Century of Studying the Bible" with the Vice Rector of the Pontificial Biblical Institute at Bibbiablog. Now I am off to the town to take something to eat (probably a pizza or spaghetti), and maybe check out the Pontificial Biblical Institute at Piazza della Pillotta.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

New Greek New Testament Manuscripts On-line

Daniel Wallace, director of the Centre for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts announces on Wieland Willker's Textual Criticism discussion list that 36 MSS from Athens have recently been uploaded to the CSNTM website including 30 MSS from the Benaki Museum and six from the National Historical Museum.

See also our previous report on the new MSS found in Athens here.

Moreover (also via Willker), three more MSS now have Gregory-Aland numbers. They belong to the Van Kampen collection and are located at the Scriptorium in Orlando, Florida:

Scriptorium, VK 272 is GA 2895
Scriptorium, VK 862 is GA 2896
Scriptorium, VK 906 is GA 2897

See our previous reports on the Van Kampen collection here and here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Christianization of Egypt

Roger Bagnall evaluated name occurrences in documentary texts to tentatively estimate the rate of Christianization of Egypt. His results challenged the notion that Egyptian Christianization was a gradual process (per Roger Rémondon, 1952).

Roger S. Bagnall, 'Religious Conversion and Onomastic Change' BASP 19 (1982): 105–124.


Bagnall's data have come under fire for various reasons, but are still very much defensible. Two matters bear consideration with regard to the low 3rd century numbers. First, Earlier Christianity was probably centered in the metropolitan areas. Second, Christian names may have been avoided during and after the persecutions affecting the data.

Ewa Wipszycka, 'La valeur de l'onomastique pour l'histoire de la christianisation de l'Egypte' ZPE 62 (1986): 173–181.
Roger Bagnall, ‘Conversion and Onomastics: a Reply’
ZPE 69 (1987): 243–250 (reprinted in Later Roman Egypt, 2003).
Ewa Wipszycka, 'La christianisation de l'Egypte aux IVe–VIe siecles: Aspects sociaux et ethniques'
Aegyptus 68 (1988): 117–165.

Research Group: Mark Depauw (Coordinator), "Names and Identities in Christian Egypt" (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) funded for 2009–2012.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Eisenbrauns 10-Day Sale (40% Discount)

We are in the middle of a 10-Day Sale at Eisenbrauns, June 18-28, offering 40% off selected volumes in the Coniectanea Biblica Old/New Testament Series (CBOTS/CBNTS).

My monograph, The Epistle of Jude: Its Text and Transmission is among the discounted books. You find it here with description and extracts from several reviews.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A mathematical conundrum

According to Ehrman (Misquoting Jesus, p. 84), John Mill (1707) examined readings in 100 Greek mss, and concluded there were 30,000 variants. Ehrman notes that we now have 57 times (his figures) the number of witnesses available to Mill (p. 88) and that there are between 200,000 and 400,000 variants (p. 89), which, incidentally, is more variants than there are words in the NT (p. 90).

Why should there be approximately 57 times more witnesses and only (very) approximately 10 times more variants? Were Mill's figures bloated? Or do subsequently discovered mss reveal ever lower proportions of previously unknown variants? What role do different estimates of the versions play in this?

Textual criticism of ETC competition

An anonymous commenter justly complained of an excess of typos in one of my posts (see here for the offending piece). In response to that, I would like to amend my ways by announcing a competition for the person who can present me with the longest list of genuine typos (including broken links and Malapropisms) on the ETC blog by the end of July 2009. The ETC blog has its own TC! You are allowed to use software to help you, or work as teams if you are willing to share the prize.

The prize will be your choice of either my Studies in the Syntax of the Peshitta of 1 Kings or my Early Syriac Translation Technique and the Textual Criticism of the Greek Gospels.

If, having received your prize, you can document more than three typos in it by the end of 2009, then you will receive the other book in addition.

I'm not sure whether any takers will feel that the prize is sufficient, but I would be delighted if any could contribute towards improving the typography of this blog.

Tregelles GNT for Bibleworks

Some two weeks ago, Dirk Jongkind announced the release of a digital transcription with images of the Greek New Testament by Tregelles on a new website here.

Dirk said: "The transcription should be relatively easy to incorporate into most Bible programs, and the smarter than average geek may be able to link directly to the relevant image of the print page (this would mean access to Tregelles's critical apparatus)."

One such "smarter than average geek" is Michael Hanel at The BibleWorks Blog who has now re-compiled the transcription for use in BibleWorks. Michael says:
Thanks to his [Dirk Jongkind's] contributions, as well as the other people who worked on this project, the team was able to produce a digital edition of Tregelles’ text as well as a secondary text which consists of corrections to Tregelles’ text.

Because they produced the text under the attribution, non-commercial, share-alike license, I was able to re-compile their texts for use in BibleWorks. If you want to know more about the Tregelles text itself or the Tregelles project, check out the official website and the Introductory PDF. The PDF is especially valuable because it documents the 469 changes they made to the original Tregelles text.

Moreover, Thomas Keene at Nerdlets has plans to produce an eBook.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

D.C. Parker, Codex Sinaiticus

I was in the British Library today and saw that their catalogue is now advertising an important new book by David Parker entitled Codex Sinaiticus: The Story of the World's Oldest Bible. I know some will want to quibble with the title, but some licence should be allowed for advertising. The BL printed catalogue appears more precise than the online advert in stating that it is 208 pages long. For once, book buyers may be better of getting it from the BL in Sterling rather than from Hendrickson ($39.95), who apparently won't have it till November. But note that Eisenbrauns are offering it for 8 dollars less (and with two pages fewer and the BL!), again in November. However, the best price I've seen is on at a mere $24.99, available from Nov. 15. Obviously Parker is very well placed to write a book on this subject.

Early manuscripts of Romans

First there were six, than there were five.

P40 was dated by Aland as coming from the third century. As far as I can tell from the few letters I can see clearly in the pictures (here), this is very optimistic indeed. I am glad that the holding institution agrees and suggests a fifth/sixth century date. I suggest we adjust our lists to reflect this uncertainty: the first couple of decades people still know that Aland's dating is disputed, afterwards we state it as fact that the papyrus comes from the third (the usual shift from opinion to certainty). That still leaves five witnesses of Romans dated to the third century (P27, P46, P113, P118, and 0220).

Scribal Practices in the DSS

SBL is offering Emanuel Tov's Scribal Practices and Approaches Reflected in the Texts Found in the Judean Desert in their Brill paperback series. However, I cannot yet find it on the SBL pages.
Paper $49.95 • 444 pages • ISBN 9781589834293 • Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 54 •Hardback edition
This monograph is written in the form of a handbook on the scribal features of the texts found in the Judean Desert, the Dead Sea Scrolls. It details the material, shape, and preparation of the scrolls; scribes and scribal activity; scripts, writing conventions, errors and their correction, and scribal signs; scribal traditions; differences between different types of scrolls (e.g., biblical and nonbiblical scrolls); and the possible existence of scribal schools such as that at Qumran. In most categories, the analysis is meant to be exhaustive. Numerous tables as well as annotated illustrations and charts of scribal signs accompany the detailed analysis. The findings have major implications for the study of the scrolls and the understanding of their relationship to scribal traditions in Israel and elsewhere.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Photographing for the CSNTM in Munich

Yesterday, Dan Wallace and his assistant JD Lemming from Dallas, and M. Fassnacht from Muenster, came to Munich, brought along all their heavy equipment and are busy to photograph about 28 NT manuscripts (mostly minuscules) of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek .This Library is one of the largest in Germany (about 10 million books; collection of many manuscripts, and about 18,000 incunabula, the largest collection of incunabula in Europe), and one of the most beautiful. This evening, I had the pleasure to take Dan and JD along on a small sightseeing tour including some Munich specialties. After photographing all day, they are working in the evening to shift / convert all the data to hard disks / DVD's etc. It's good to know that soon more high-quality photos will be available for the ongoing task of the full collation of every single manuscript.

Monday, June 15, 2009

How many mss

Every year or so I find that I have to update the figures of NT mss which I give in lectures. This time I've left it a bit more than a year and the last figures I have were collected in February 2008:

Papyri 124
Uncials 318
Minuscules 2882
Lectionaries 2346

Does anyone want to offer updated figures on the ones I have below? Obviously it would need to include the 77 turned up by Dan Wallace and his team, but I'd be pleased to be assured that I wasn't missing any.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

NT Text and Translation Commentary

On the blog, What I learned from Aristotle, Philip Comfort's book, the New Testament Text and Translation Commentary is positively reviewed.

I picked up a copy of Comfort's book at the SBL in Boston, but I have just had the chance to use it a couple of times, so I cannot really access it yet, but it does look user-friendly.

See also Bill Warren's note about the book here. In the comments Peter Head said he would put it on his shopping list for the SBL, but I know he got his copy for free there because the generous author was in the booth (not when I arrived though...).

Kevin Edgecomb and Nick Norelli also have comments on the book, here, here and here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Guess Which Manuscript

Over at Sitz im Leben, Brandon Wason has a quiz for us, guess which manuscript.

A New Rating System for UBS GNT

United Bible Societies are ahead of their time! The July issue of Bible Translator (Technical Papers) is already out, just in time for the TTW –Triennial Translation Workshop, which is being held in Bangkok right now.

In this issue I propose a new rating system for Greek New Testament editions. It is a revised version of a proposal that was included in my monograph on Jude.

Tommy Wasserman. "Proposal for a New Rating System in Greek New Testament Editions." Bible Translator 2009 60/3:140-157.


Various rating systems have been employed in critical editions of the Greek New Testament ever since the eighteenth century. The current letter-rating systems in the UBS Greek New Testament editions have been subject to severe critique ever since they first appeared in the first edition of 1966. In my experience, however, there is still a need for this kind of basic guidance among Bible translators and students of the New Testament.

In this article, I present a new descriptive rating system based on the generally accepted principles of textual criticism that takes into account external and internal evidence. This, in itself, is a pedagogical advantage that may enhance the individual learning process and the increased engagement with the textual problem in question. The rating will show the state of the evidence from the perspective of the editor(s), and, at the same time, it will invite the users of the edition to struggle with this same evidence on their own.

Thus, the following symbols are used to describe the evidence:

{e + i}
External and internal evidence unequivocally support the adopted variant reading.

{e > i}
External evidence favors the adopted variant reading, whereas internal evidence is ambiguous.

{e < i}
External evidence is ambiguous, whereas internal evidence favors the adopted variant reading.

{e = i}
External and internal evidence are balanced or, alternatively, external evidence favors one variant reading, internal evidence another.

(The latter symbol is roughly equivalent to the bold dot in the ECM.)

In the article I provide several examples of these various ratings in variation-units in the Epistle of Jude. Scholars and editors can use this system when they make textual decisions in any given unit of variation, weighing external and internal evidence, however they are perceived. I propose it for the future editions of the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How To Learn Biblical Languages Effectively

Do you have experience of struggling with endless Hebrew or Greek paradigms trying to learn a Biblical language?

Are you an instructor struggling with pedagogy?

"How do I get my students to learn Biblical languages effectively?"
"How do I make this fun?"
"How can they preserve and develop their language skills?"
"How can they become habitual readers of Hebrew and Greek?"

When it comes to Koine Greek I belong to this second category, although I am now on a research leave and temporarily not much in the classroom.

Today I would like to promote the Biblical Language Center (BLC), founded and directed by no other than our co-blogger Randall Buth. I think the BLC holds the answer to the questions I just posed.

The whole idea behing the learning philosophy of BLC can be summarized as "language immersion." This is evidently the most effective way of learning a new language - it is the same way you learnt your mother tongue as a child. The idea is to not take a detour via another language, but to get as immersed as possible in the language you are learning:
We have found that a successful language learner already starts to think in and to understand a language before literacy. An effective audio and oral internalization of a language is necessary to enhance reading comprehension and speed, and to boost long-term retention. One cannot fluently read the Bible in its original languages, without those very languages living inside of them.

BLC's goal is for students to fluidly read the Bible with a natural and instant comprehension. Therefore, BLC immersion courses use living language methods in teaching Biblical Hebrew and Koine Greek. This means that more than 90% of classroom time is filled with the spoken biblical language. The result is an internalization of the languages which speeds the pace of learning and improves the reading of the biblical text.

In order to achieve this immersion, varying techniques are used in the classroom. For example:

Total Physical Response (TPR) means that the students respond to commands that require physical movement. I remember doing a lot of this when I learnt English in primary school ("- Class, point to the blackboard with your right hand," etc). I think it is interesting that I actually remember this (I remember very little else from the textbooks).

Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) is another method used which builds language proficiency through reading and telling stories.

BLC has offered courses in Biblical Hebrew and Koine Greek since 1996. They are held at Kibbutz Tzuba, 20 minutes from Jerusalem. If you are unable to attend a course you can still use the materials by yourself; they are self-explanatory, starting with a lot of pictures, and everything with MP3 recordings.

One of my Greek students studied the Living Koine Greek Introduction pt. 1 parallel with our seminary textbook and made significant progress in the course and has continued to develop his skills - he is way ahead of his fellow students. (I cannot deny that I am very glad for his interest also in Greek manuscripts. He has just completed his first thesis on a Greek manuscript, which we got registered as Greg.-Aland 2894.)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Original Gospel of Mark

On April Fool's Day, I suggested that I would be presenting a paper at SBL-New Orleans which would argue that the New Testament was originally written in Latin. Today, I came across a relevant statement included as a subscription to a 17th18th century Bohairic text of Mark (Horner, Bohairic NT, vol. I, cviii):
ⲉⲩⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲓⲟⲛ ⲍⲱⲏⲥ ⲕⲁⲧⲁ ⲙⲁⲣⲕⲟⲛ .....
ⲁϥⲥϧⲏⲧϥ ϧⲉⲛⲧⲁⲥⲡⲓ ⲙⲙⲉⲧⲣⲱⲙⲉⲟⲥ ⲙⲉⲛⲉⲛⲥⲁϯⲁⲛⲁⲗⲩⲙⲯⲓⲥ ⲛⲧⲉⲡⲉⲛⲥⲱⲧⲏⲣ ⲙⲓⲃ ⲛⲣⲟⲙⲡⲓ ⲟⲩⲟϩ ⲁϥϩⲓⲱⲓϣ ⲙⲙⲟϥ ⲛϫⲉⲡⲉⲧⲣⲟⲥ ϧⲉⲛϯⲡⲟⲗⲓⲥ ⲣⲱⲙⲏ ⲟⲩⲟϩ ⲁϥⲥϧⲏⲧϥ ⲛϫⲉⲙⲁⲣⲕⲟⲥ ⲉϥϩⲓⲱⲓϣ ⲙⲙⲟϥ ϧⲉⲛϯⲡⲁⲛⲧⲁⲡⲟⲗⲓⲥ ⲛⲉⲙϯⲃⲁⲕⲓ ⲣⲁⲕⲟϯ ⲛⲉⲙⲭⲏⲙⲓ...
"(The) Gospel of Life according to Mark
Peter wrote it in Latin twelve years after the assumption of our savior and he preached it in Rome, and Mark wrote it and was preaching it in the metropolis and village, Alexandria and Egypt..."

While I do not believe that Mark's gospel was authored in Latin, I am amused by this historical reconstruction of Egypt's patron saint and his gospel. Are there any other parallel subscriptions or marginalia? The use of the Coptic subject marker ⲛϫⲉ- could be suggestive of a Greek Vorlage. One wonders why Mark's gospel would not be preserved more often among early Egyptian manuscripts.

Monday, June 08, 2009

A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint Now Complete

A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint by T. Muraoka

Year: 2009
ISBN: 978-90-429-2248-8
Pages: XL-757
Price: 95 EURO
Publisher: Peeters Publishers

Muraoka's A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint is now complete. The earlier most recent version was based chiefly on the Pentateuch and the Twelve Prophets.

Summary cited from Peeters website:

This complete lexicon supercedes its two earlier editions (1993; 2002).

* The entire Septuagint, including the apocrypha, is covered.

* For the books of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and Judges the so-called Antiochene edition is fully covered in addition to the data as found in the standard edition by Rahlfs.

* Also fully covered are the two versions of Tobit, Esther, and Daniel.

* Based on the critically established Göttingen edition where it is available. If not, Rahlfs's edition is used.

* For close to 60% of a total of 9,550 headwords all the passages occurring in the LXX are either quoted or mentioned.

* A fully fledged lexicon, not a glossary merely listing translation equivalents in English.

* Senses defined.

* Important lexicographical data such as synonyms, antonyms, idiomatic expressions, distinction between literal and figurative, combinations with prepositions, noun cases, syntagmatic information such as what kind of direct or indirect objects a given verb takes, what kind of nouns a given adjective is used with, and much more information abundantly presented and illustrated with quotes, mostly translated.

* High-frequency lexemes such as prepositions and conjunctions fully analysed.

* Data on contemporary Koine and Jewish Greek including the New Testament taken into account.

* Morphological information provided: various tenses of verbs, genitive forms of nouns etc.

* Substantive references to the current scientific literature.

An indispensable tool for students of the Septuagint, the New Testament, Hellenistic Judaism, and the Greek language.

Via Louis Sorenson, LXX discussion list who also points to this comparison by Ed Glenny between the lexicons by Muraoka and Lust.

The lexicon can be ordered from Eisenbrauns

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Following up Reuben Swanson's work

The post about distribution and obtaining Reuben Swanson's extremely useful NTGM raises a separate question:
Who is continuing his work and what is the time schedule proposed?

It would be wonderful if those books had generated enough revenue to fund the ongoing project. Does anyone know how the project stands? Several on this list are connected to grad students and institutions that might be able to lend a hand.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Codex Sinaiticus Conference Programme + Two Workshops in Birmingham

The latest version of the programme looks as follows:

Monday, 6 July 2009


Welcome address

Codex Sinaiticus in its historical context
Harry Gamble - Codex Sinaiticus: the book and its readers in the fourth century
David Trobisch - Codex Sinaiticus and the formation of the Christian Bible
Emanuel Tov - The Septuagint section in Codex Sinaiticus compared with other sources


Parallel sessions

The making and conserving of Codex Sinaiticus
Helen Shenton - The conservation of Codex Sinaiticus
Christopher Clarkson - Book-making in the fourth century
René Larsen - Parchment production in the fourth century

The scribes of Codex Sinaiticus
Dirk Jongkind - Scribal habits of Codex Sinaiticus
J. Verheyden - 'That awful scribe B': some observations on the text of Hermas as compared to that of the Prophets
Peter Head - Scribe D in the New Testament of Codex Sinaiticus


Experiencing Codex Sinaiticus
David Parker - The fourth century New Testament text of Codex Sinaiticus
Amy Myshrall and Rachel Kevern – Transcribing Codex Sinaiticus
Kristin de Troyer – Reading Judges for the first time
Klaus Wachtel – The corrected New Testament text of Codex Sinaiticus

Key note address
Eldon Epp - Codex Sinaiticus in modern Biblical scholarship

Reception and Exhibition

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

The New Finds
Archbishop Damianos - tbc
Panayotes Nikolopoulos - tbc
Father Justin -


Parallel sessions

The travels of Codex Sinaiticus
Christfried Böttrich - The history of 'Codex Sinaiticus'
Nicholas Fyssas - tbc
Ekaterina Krushelnitskaya – The St Petersburg fragments of Codex Sinaiticus: history, storage, publicity
William Frame – The British Museum purchase of Codex Sinaiticus

Reports on related projects

Ulrich Schmid - Citations of the Septuagint in their New Testament versions
Jan Krans – The digitisation of Codex Boreelianus
Juan Garcés – Codex Sinaiticus and the mass-digitisation of Greek manuscripts at the British Library


Parallel sessions

Codex Sinaiticus and the history of biblical texts
Daniel Batovici - The Shepherd of Hermas in Codex Sinaiticus: textual and reception-historical
Juan Hernández - Codex Sinaiticus: the earliest Christian commentary on John’s Apocalypse?
Albert Pietersma and Cameron Boyd-Taylor – The Psalms in Codex Sinaiticus

Codex Sinaiticus in the present
Peter Robinson - Creating a 21st century edition of Codex Sinaiticus
Steve Walton - Codex Sinaiticus and its importance for contemporary Christianity

Final address
Ulrich Schneider – The future of Codex Sinaiticus

For registration and further information, see the Codex Sinaiticus Project homepage.

Following this conference there will be two one day workshops in Birmingham. The following information is cited from the ITSEE conferences and seminars webpage:

Wednesday, 8 July: a day focusing on the Mingana Collection, to celebrate the launch of the first phase of the Virtual Manuscript Room, a resource on the internet for scholars working with manuscripts and texts. Speakers include a number of experts in Arabic texts and manuscripts. Details will appear shortly on this website. If you are interested in attending, please contact Frouke Schrijver.

Thursday, 9 July: The International Greek New Testament Project is hosting a one-day seminar. The subject is a single Greek manuscript of the Gospels, Birmingham University Library, Mingana MS Peckover Gr. 7 (Gregory-Aland 713 and L586). A number of speakers will discuss different aspects of the manuscript, including its miniatures, a comparison between the art-historical and textual evidence (Kathleen Maxwell), the recent history (Lionel North), the palaeography (David Parker or any other interested party), the lectionary evidence and the palimpsested manuscript (Chris Jordan), the textual history (Klaus Wachtel), the possible Diatessaronic unique logion of Jesus at Mt 17.21, together with its relationship to the Syriac and Armenian versions of Ephrem's commentary (Ulrich Schmid and David Taylor). Then we will assess where this integrated approach to MS and textual study has got us to and is leading us. Further details will appear soon on this webpage. If you are interested in attending, please contact Dr Helen Ingram. If anybody is interested in offering any other presentation on this MS (especially the codicology/palaeography) we can provide an advance link to the digital images.

For anybody who is thinking also of attending the Codex Sinaiticus conference, we are looking at providing transport from London to Birmingham on the Tuesday evening.

Reuben Swanson's Books Now Available From SBL

Recently we reported the sad news that Reuben Swanson had passed away. Several noted in the comment section that the distribution of his books has always been a bit of a problem. For example, I think my seminary, Örebro Theological Seminary, is the only library in Sweden that owns a complete set of his New Testament Greek Manuscripts.

However, we can now announce (being tipped by an anonymous commenter) that Dr. Swanson's New Testament Greek Manuscripts can now be purchased from SBL, here.

Some of his other works, including the NTGM are available at Also, his upcoming Synopsis of the Gospels from Codex Vaticanus will soon appear.

Update: James Spinti points out that Swanson's books have always been available at Eisenbrauns.

Online: Jongkind's Review and Royse's Response

The full review by Dirk Jongkind's (i.e., not just my recent summary) of James Royse's Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testamewnt Papyri (NTTSD 36; Brill, 2008) is now available under TC Files (in the right sidebar), and so is James Royce's full response (to all of the reviewers, Juan Hernandez, Kim Haines-Eitzen, Peter Head and Dirk Jongkind). Juan Hernandez' presentation is also available, and Peter Head's and Kim Haines-Eitzen's presentations will appear soon.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

SBL Boston, Book Review of James Royse Scribal Habits in Early Greek NT Papyri, pt. 7

This is my last post of the series on the SBL 2008 book review session SBL24-129 in which James Royse's recent monograph Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri (NTTSD 36; Brill, 2008) was reviewed. The series concludes with Royse's response to Dirk Jongkind. For earlier posts in this series, see below.

Royse responds to Jongkind

Finally, Dirk Jongkind:

Jongkind has pointed to some specific features that could bear improvement. Some of his points are matters of style and presentation, and I am probably not the best judge of what is good or bad there. But I would like to respond briefly on a couple of points.

First, let me confess that I like footnotes. In the works of others, footnotes are often among my favorite parts. And, for what it is worth, some of my favorite parts of this book are in the footnotes. During the writing, as I pursued various paths of enquiry, I often thought of the comment of Herman Melville in Billy Budd (Chapter 4): “In this matter of writing, resolve as one may to keep to the main road, some bypaths have an enticement not readily to be withstood.” Of course, I may have given in too often to such enticement, and perhaps for the sake of clarity and explanation I should have cited Melville’s comment in a footnote.

Second, as already noted, Jongkind wonders about the value of the summaries. But let me say something about Jongkind’s particular example of a scribal habit: “that a transposition can be explained best by assuming that initially the scribe forgot a word, noticed this, and inserted it somewhat belatedly at the first possible opportunity.” This does seem to me to be an important point (although I would replace “forgot” by “omitted”), and I believe that one can often see this habit at work in various manuscripts. Perhaps I should have emphasized it more. But it does not seem to me to be “hidden in the commentary” (as Jongkind says). It is mentioned in the text in the discussion of the transpositions of each of the six papyri. And at each of those places there are—dare I say?—footnotes that will lead the reader down a bypath to find in Supplementary Note 9 (pp. 755–56) that this observation was made by Colwell and even earlier by Havet, Hoskier, and others. Of course, more could have been said. Perhaps some day I will say more on this topic, but in the meantime I encourage others to investigate this tendency in these six papyri and in other manuscripts. Many other tendencies deserve more extended treatment. After all, I attempted only a “partial fulfillment” (as I say on p. 101) of the goal of a commentary on the singular readings of these papyri.

Third, I appreciate Jongkind’s comments on my use (or lack thereof) of the interesting and important essay by Junack. And I will concede that more could have been done with this issue of whether a scribe is copying by letters, by syllables, by words, or by some larger units. I appealed to the distinction as made by Colwell on occasion, but did not collect systematic data or attempt to draw the data together into some overall perspective. I would encourage others to do so. However, I would say that (a) my chief interest was “about the type of errors we find,” and that (b) trying to say anything more seems to me to run the risk of attempting to gain insight into the psychology of the scribe. And this latter task is very difficult, to say the least. I believe that we can see that a scribe tends to omit syllables, let us say, and that that “type of error” can inform our evaluation of the scribe’s readings. I would hesitate to say much more. However, at least one could attempt to determine what general patterns there are with respect to letters, syllables, and so on, in a scribe’s errors. And my own attempts there were not systematic.

Fourth, with respect to Jongkind’s discussion of isolated textual traditions, let me say that, in my opinion, the primary purpose of studying the scribal habits of manuscripts is to sharpen or revise our analysis of readings. This happens on different levels. At the first level, we can hope to find that a particular manuscript displays specific tendencies in its errors, and we can then use those tendencies in our assessment of the value of that manuscript at some particular variation unit. For example, if we find (as I believe we do) that P46 tends to omit portions of the text by a leap from the same to the same, then P46’s support for a reading that can be so explained may be, to that extent, discounted. That is, we will find it more likely that P46 created that shorter reading, and thus less likely that that shorter reading goes back to the exemplar of P46. For such an inquiry the singular readings provide, I believe, the best evidence for the scribe’s tendencies. And then at the second level, we can hope to generalize on the tendencies found in specific witnesses. That is what happens in the canons of internal criticism. If we find (as I believe we do) that scribes in general tend to omit portions of the text by a leap from the same to the same, then we may reject readings that could have arisen in such a way. Now, my general point about isolated traditions was that, for such purposes, whether we have the work of one scribe or the combined work of several scribes is irrelevant for the assessment of readings.

However, I completely agree with Jongkind’s summary comment that it is much more likely that we do not have such “complex scribes” in the New Testament tradition. In fact, though, Jongkind’s work on Codex Sinaiticus (pp. 144–47) provides one apparent example in the Septuagint: we have there a passage from 1 Chronicles, namely 9:27–19:17, inserted into 2 Esdras. Jongkind notes that this insertion is unique to Codex Sinaiticus, but that there is no sign of correction. What he then (reasonably enough, as it seems to me) infers is that the exemplar of Codex Sinaiticus (i.e., the exemplar at this point of the Septuagint) had the same insertion, and was used for both the initial transcription and the earliest stage of correcting activity. If this is so, we can see a little isolated tradition, consisting of that exemplar and Codex Sinaiticus. But, as Jongkind notes, the textual evidence for 1 Chronicles is comparatively weak, as Brooke and McLean cite only 25 manuscripts. And certainly the breadth and complexity of the manuscript tradition of the New Testament make such isolated traditions much less likely.

Fifth, I turn to Jongkind’s discussion of the shorter reading. Here of course I did attempt to integrate the results for the six papyri, and to say something about the implications those results have for the canon of preferring the shorter reading. Jongkind is correct in reminding us that Griesbach’s first canon is a much more nuanced, and much more complicated, piece of advice than the principle of simply preferring the shorter reading. Indeed, I suspect that the nuances and the complications are precisely what have caused it to be replaced in many subsequent lists of canons by simpler and more direct principles. That is, perhaps everyone will agree with Hort that “scribes were moved by a much greater variety of impulse than is usually supposed” (cited in chapter 1, footnote 35). Nevertheless, having a canon of criticism that tells us that scribes do this, and also that, and then sometimes something else except when they are doing some other thing, true as it may be, may not really provide much guidance in choosing among readings.

Ultimately, editors of the text and most critics of the text want to make choices of some kind or other. And for that purpose simple, direct principles are the most useful. For example: “Prefer the reading of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.” “Prefer the reading that is not harmonized.” “Prefer the shorter reading.” Those are the sorts of principles that inform most modern texts. Indeed, we have on record in Metzger’s Textual Commentary the principles used to construct, or at least to justify, our current “standard” text in Nestle-Aland. And we see there nothing like Griesbach’s first canon. Moreover, it is not all that often that one sees even in the totality of discussion of a variation unit such disparate points that Griesbach combines. Of course, most variation units receive no discussion at all. But the ones that do often involve the conflict of two or three principles. The shorter reading is not supported by B and א and friends, or the reading of B and א agrees with a parallel. Under those circumstances the editors have to balance principles. But if one has to balance the sorts of things that Griesbach tries to balance in his first canon, one may give up in despair at ever reaching a decision. (Of course, such considerations do not show that Griesbach’s canon is false.)

Finally, I should note that Jongkind’s own study of Codex Sinaiticus has provided yet further evidence that early scribes tended to omit rather than to add. This adds to my conviction that the preference for the shorter reading is fundamentally mistaken. And I wonder if there is, or really ever was, any evidence at all that scribes tended to add. In any case, there is increasing evidence, from the work of Hernández on Revelation, of Head on the early less extensive papyri, and of Jongkind on Codex Sinaiticus, that omission was more common than addition, and thus that the scribal tendency underlying the preference for the shorter reading is illusory.

Of course, we have here an overall tendency. Within that tendency there may still be plenty of additions, as we see in these six papyri, which could account for Jongkind’s observation that “traditions tend to grow over the course of centuries” (p. 4). Also, the text may have been affected not only by the changes introduced by scribes but also, as Jongkind notes, by the efforts of revisers, redactors, and editors. As extreme examples, we may think of the ways that Matthew and Luke, at least on the two-document hypothesis, handled the text of Mark. Clearly, their overall tendency was to expand. But that tendency to expand did not prevent Matthew and Luke from omitting on occasion, as at Mark 1:32, where each adopts one clause of a redundancy in Mark, or Mark 4:26–29, the parable of the seed growing secretly, where each of Matthew and Luke chooses to omit the passage entirely. Now, I would not wish to define precisely the difference between copying activity and editorial activity, although, like other things, we usually know them when we see them. And thus we distinguish the scribe of P46 or P66 from Matthew or Luke or Origen. But within the transmission of the New Testament (or the Septuagint or the Masoretic Text) there are many factors at work, and surely we cannot expect to explain the complications that we find by appeal to anything other than complex, sometimes conflicting, tendencies. However, despite such qualifications, I believe the evidence strongly supports the view that early scribes of the New Testament tended to shorten the text. And that is, if not the entire story, at least an important part of the story.

Again, I thank all of the panelists for their insightful and stimulating remarks.

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

Part 5: Peter Head's review and Royse's response

Part 6: Dirk Jongkind's review

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A Black Day for Theology in Sweden

I am almost too depressed to blog this, but today came an evaluation from the national board of higher education in Sweden (Högskoleverket) who practically announced a frontal assault on theological education in our country. Many institutions (including the three free standing seminaries, and even some of the large faculties like Lund university) were severely criticized for being too focused on Christianity, etc, etc. The board threatens to recommend the government to withdraw the rights to grant degrees, if the institutions do not change a lot of things (our seminary will loose even the right to grant a basic degree in theology, although most of our teachers are PhD's).

Many have found the whole evaluation process to be very biassed and characterized by prejudism. I don't think I can go into details, but some of the questions that were put to us were remarkable, and the very tone and atmosphere when one committee visited our institution was very unpleasant.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Tregelles's Greek New Testament Released!

I am ever so pleased that we are finally able to issue our transcription and the images of the Greek New Testament by Tregelles. The project was made possible within the Tyndale House, Text and Canon Project. We put some sort of introduction together on a dedicated website (all found here), including the images of the original, printed version. The transcription should be relatively easy to incorporate into most Bible programs, and the smarter than average geek may be able to link directly to the relevant image of the print page (this would mean access to Tregelles's critical apparatus). For this reason we encoded the page numbers. For reasons of citation, we even included a title page on the site.

There are two versions, distinguished by the edition number after the acronym (and yes, I couldn't resist the temptation: Tregelles's [Greek] New Testament). TNT is the transcription as is, TNT2 contains a large number of corrections of printing errors in the actual text and normalisation of accents (in total around 450).

There are no problems with copyright connected to the two texts. We used for a substantial part NA27 as our base text for the initial adaptation, and the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft kindly informed us that they had no issue with this. From our part we release the text under the attribution, non-commercial, share-alike licence as formulated under the Creative Commons 3.0 protocol.

Later we may even publish some pictures of the rousing party we are about to embark on here at Tyndale House!

"In Search of the Lost Scribes." Lecture by Timothy Janz, Curator of Greek Manuscripts at the Vatican Library

On June 8-9 2009, Dr Timothy Janz, Curator of Greek Manuscripts at the Vatican Library will come to Stockholm to deliver the Ars Edendi Lectures (this year including a lecture and a seminar).

The titles and exact times are as follows:

8 June, 5-7 PM, William-Olssonsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Frescati (Stockholm University):

"In Search of the Lost Scribes: A Numerical Approach to Greek Paleography"

Description: "In this lecture Dr. Janz will describe his use of statistical analysis to plot the characteristic handwriting of known scribes in order to identify 'lost' scribes"

9 June, 10:15-12:00 AM, William-Olssonsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Frescati

"Scholia: What are they Good For? ― Reflections on a New Edition of the Sophocles Scholia"

Description: "In this seminar, which is aimed at students and scholars knowledgeable in classical Greek, Dr. Janz presents some reflections on his new edition of the Greek scholia on Sophocles.

Doctor Janz studied at Université Laval (Quebec City, Canada), the Sorbonns and Lincoln College, Oxford. He has received a phd from the Sorbonne for thesis work on the Septuagint (the Greek Bible), and another phd from Oxford for his work on the Sophoclean scholia. He is currently Curator of Greek manuscripts at the Vatican Library.

Flyer here.

An announcement (in Swedish) and image of the lecturer is available on this blog.

See also our report on the International Summer School in Greek Palaeography at Lincoln College, Oxford, where Timothy Janz was one of the tutors.

Last year there was a second International Summer School in Greek Palaeography. Here you can see a lot of photos.

The Ars Edendi Lectures are organized by the research project Ars Edendi. Last year the project brought Nigel Wilson. Lincoln College, Oxford (who was one of the other tutors at the International Summer School in Greek Palaeography.
Ars Edendi is a Research Programme funded by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation for two four-year periods, beginning January 2008, and based at the section for Classical Languages at Stockholm University. The Programme is conceived as a laboratory of editorial philology concerned primarily with medieval Latin and Greek texts. Model editions representing various textual categories will be produced, and a final methodological study is to be published. An international, interdisciplinary network of scholars will be engaged in discussing the textual choices, development and results of the Programme.

I was not aware of this happening until today. Perhaps I will go for a ride to Stockholm next week then.

Monday, June 01, 2009

SBL Boston, Book Review of James Royse Scribal Habits in Early Greek NT Papyri, pt. 6


Dirk Jongkind
SBL24-129 New Testament Textual Criticism

In the series of summaries from SBL in Boston, we have arrived at the last reviewer who is our co-blogger, Dirk Jongkind.

The dutch people are known for their cheese, tulips and chocolates, but I have also read somewhere that they are known for being direct, open and honest. This is of course a cliché, but, in this case, the description (save the cheese, tulips and chocolates) did fit well with Jongkind’s presentation.

J. started with an apology for maybe being too harsh (I didn't think he was; and the friendly tone characterized all of the four presentations as well as responses). Then he proeceeded, first, with the many good things to be said of this book. After briefly mentioning a number of positive aspects, from which he has benefitted a lot he proceeded with the criticism. “Royse’s book,” he said, “is easy to criticize not because it has errors, but because, given its sheer volume it must contain some inconsistencies.” Examples of negative features that J. mentioned include the rather prolonged genesis of the book; too many footnotes commenting on too much, using too heavy prose. Too extended discussions and too many references to modern authors. After all these footnotes and the extensive treatment, the conclusions of a chapter amount to a single page. At the same time, many good observations are hidden in the footnotes. Royse could have provided better access to these observations.

Then J. turned to an example on p. 51ff where Royse defends Colwell’s approach to study singular readings. J asked a critical question whether we study the scribe or the manuscript? What does Royse say of those who study a group of readings that include non-singulars too, as Barbara Aland does? [Royse reviews her method on p. 60ff]. J. said that if studying the scribe, then it is warranted to study the singular readings, but if we study the tendency of the manuscript, there is no need to exclude non-singular (one studies the accumulated errors). Even when studying non-singular readings, one can often discern that a reading derives from a scribe’s mistake (regardless whether it is an earlier scribe or not).

Junack’s Abschreibspraktiken also appeared in 1981, and is an extremely important essay. There are nine references to this study in Royse. In none of the nine places is there a reference to Junack’s point where he attacks some of Colwell’s conclusions about how the scribes of P45, P66 and P75 had copied. Junack completely disagrees with Colwell and J. thinks rightly so, whereas Royse repeats Colwell’s conclusions. Scribal habits, J. said, is also about how the scribe copies and Royse fails here.

[Colwell had concluded that “In general, P75 copies letters one by one; P66 copies syllables, usually two letters in length. P45 copies phrases and clauses” (Colwell, “Scribal Habits,” 380). Junack pointed out that this position, that the scribes of P66 and P75 were copying text without attention to the mening, is untenable. Junack thought it more plausible to ascribe the particular features and errors of these scribes, not to the way they copied the letters, but to the action of the hands; cf. D. Jongkind, “Singular Readings in Sinaiticus” in Textual Variation: Theological and Social Tendencies? (eds. H.A.G. Houghton & D.C. Parker; Gorgias Press, 2008), 48-49.]

The next point that J. brought up concerned Griesbach’s canon of preferring the shorter reading. Royse does not gives attention to Griesbach’s several exceptions to the rule. Most of the omissions fall under Griesbach’s exceptions. Griesbach was talking about the substantial readings.

J. pointed out that in a correction phase much more is added than removed, so in Sinaiticus.

[TW: One must not forget the “additional reading”-aspect; perhaps some corrections in Sinaiticus, for example, are to be seen not as alternative readings but additional readings...]

James Royse´s reponse will follow...