Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bibliothek Goussen

Heinrich Goussen (1863–1927) collected an extensive library centered around Oriental Christianity. The monographs in this collection publish until the year 1900 are now available online (English/Deutsch/Français). Thanks to the University of Bonn and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia for making these texts available. The digital collection offers most of the important Arabic, Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopic, Georgian, and Syriac editions from the 16th–19th centuries.

Marginal Comments Included in the Main Text

I found the following information in a rather old book and have not been able to verify this, but it looks interesting. According to Tregelles' intro to his text of Revelation (1844), the Codex Corsendoncensis (I believe this is Gregory-Aland minuscule 3, right?) reads as follows in 2 Cor 8:4-5 δέξασθαι ἡμᾶς ἐν πολλοῖς τῶν ἀντιγράφων οὕτως εὕρηται καὶ οὐ καθὼς ἠλπίσαμεν. The first two words δέξασθαι ἡμᾶς are an addition found in some mss, while everything from καὶ οὐ ... onwards is part of the regular text of 8:5. That leaves the words 'ἐν πολλοῖς τῶν ἀντιγράφων οὕτως εὕρηται' ('such it is found in many copies'), referring apparently to the addition of δέξασθαι ἡμᾶς. A good example of a marginal comment in the exemplar that was included in the main text. This phenomenon must have happened more often.

Monday, September 28, 2009

King James Only?

Here is a new blog devoted to the KJV-only debate

From the description:
Hysteria, misinformation, rancor and hype fill the King James Version (KJV) only debate. Cynicism sometimes colors the view of those on both sides of the debate. This blog aims to confront the King James craze head on, and evaluate the claims of KJV-onlyism from a Biblical perspective.

The authors are all former proponents of KJV-onlyism. Each has made his own journey out of that movement. We shall do our best to fairly represent the opposite view here, yet we acknowledge that there are multiple varieties of the KJV-only position.

We welcome honest debate in the comments. But we reserve the right to moderate discussions in an effort to keep this a charitable, Christ-honoring blog.

Hebrews 2.8 in NA27 and P46

Hebrews 2.8 contains the first bracketed text in Hebrews in NA27 - an indication that although the committee decided on AUTW as the text to print, they were sufficiently doubtful as to signal their doubts with single square brackets. This isn't the same as split decisions where the committee was not unanimous (these are not routinely marked and can only be discovered by reading Metzger's commentary carefully). This is a committee decision to codify their own doubts within the printed text (this is defcon 4 on the the scale of committee uncertainty [defcon 3 is to signal that NA25 had a different reading; defcon 2 is to provide evidence for and against the text reading; defcon 1 is to note that a variant exists - these are NA27's subtle indications of degree of doubt and well worth being familiar with]).

The text and apparatus presents this as a choice between the presence and absence of AUTW. The apparatus puts the witness of P46 in brackets. This means that the editors regard P46 as a "kind-of" witness to the absence of AUTW, but the brackets signal that things are not as simple as that. The editors of NA27, being careful about such matters, knew that readers would be interested in what P46 actually does read here, so they have a cool appendix where (all?) all the bracketed witnesses are explained. It is the place to go when you wonder what the complication is with P46 here. It is appendix II (pp. 721-749) and is a very valuable collection and on p. 745 re Heb 2.8 we discover that P46 lacks not only AUTW but the whole phrase AUTW TA PANTA.

Armed with this extra information we might notice that NA27 here over-simplifies the textual situation as a simple choice whether to read AUTW or not. In fact P46 offers a third reading altogether. Occasionally when you notice this in NA27 (it is a characteristic of NA27 which is the negative side of the editorial decision to include as much information as they possibly could in a compact and abbreviated manner - it is not something to complain about, but to be aware of) it is worth checking what else may be happening in the passage. A quick look at Tischendorf reveals the interesting information that D E syr and cop have TA PANTA before UPOTAXAI. This gives a fourth variant:


Once you write them down like this you can see that there are more issues here than the presence and absence of AUTW, but also about the presence and placement of the (arguably redundant) anaphoric TA PANTA. Incidentally in some cases like this it can be helpful to check the apparatus of the UBS 4 edition (although not on this occasion, since here it is worse that NA27).

I'm not going to attempt to solve the general textual problem here, more illustrate how to get the most out of the NA27 edition while being aware of its limitations, but it is worth noting that even with the extra bracketed information about P46 we haven't yet got all the relevant information about how this verse reads in P46. Along with the shorter reading here, there is a different placement for the second AUTW and the lack of the article before PANTA (when it does occur later on). P46 has its own, rather elegant, way to present the thought of this passage. Interesting.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bibliography of Greek New Testament MSS

Prof. Keith Elliott is assembling the third Supplement to his Bibliography of Greek NT mss. The last supplement was in Novum Testamentum 49 (2007): 370-401. He would be grateful to be sent the bibliographical details of any recent relevant material - editions, articles, plates etc. to add to his files. Better he told the same information more than once than he miss out a useful item. Contact him at

Friday, September 25, 2009

Reading Marks in P46 (Heb 2.5-8)

Secondary reading marks occur in various places throughout the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri. There are a couple previously in Hebrews, but they kick in quite consistently at 2.5 (see the picture below). In general they serve to mark the thought units within the OT citation (Ps 8.5-7) - it is less clear to me what is going on in v5 (as if it were me I would place a mark after MELLOUSAN to separate the prepositional clause).

One interesting feature of P46 here is the reading TIS in v6 (it is masc. suggesting a personal question: 'who?', as opposed to TI which is neut., 'what?') [which, of course could be original to Hebrews since it is not assimilated to the LXX, which in most witnesses has TI]
Anyway Zuntz had an ingenious theory that v6 in P46 (reading TIS) consisted of a question and an answer: 'Who is the man whom Thou mindest?' 'Truly the Son of Man, for him Thou visitest.' Among the various objections to this (from style, theology, syntax), perhaps we could make two objections from P46 itself: firstly, whoever put in the reading marks surely did not recognise the two clauses as question and answer since then we would expect an extra reading mark (as it is the marks seem to treat the double clause as a unit, suggesting parallelism as normally taken); and secondly, that if P46 had wanted to indicate that 'Man' and 'Son of Man' were christological titles it could have used nomina sacra for ANQRWPOS.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Biblical text in greatest Anglo-Saxon find

The headline news in the UK today (apart from Obama's supposed snub of Brown) is of what is said to be the greatest find of Anglo-Saxon gold in history. See the BBC. The nice thing about the strip of gold in the image is that it shows a biblical inscription. It looks rather like Numbers 10:35 to me:

s]urge dne disepentu[r inimici tui et
f]ugent qui oderun[t te a facie tua

'Arise, Lord, let your enemies be scattered and let those flee from before you who hate you.'

Appropriate enough for battle I guess. Any comments on the textual form? What does this tell us about the Latin text being used in Staffordshire? Can anyone make out the writing on the 'inside' of the inscription, or is that the impression of the writing on the front?

A Day at Work


Thanks to my colleague Maria Brolin who (secretely) took this picture of me delving deep into the Book of Hebrews. Maria who is responsible for the website of Örebro Theological Seminary has now also put up my personal homepage here (this far only in Swedish).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bagnall Chapter One

Last week I posted some initial comments about Roger Bagnall's new book, Early Christian Books in Egypt. Now I want to look at it chapter-by-chapter. I'll start with chapter one. There are several good reasons for starting with chapter one:
first, the chapters come in a numerical sequence and chapter one is the first in that sequence (followed in turn by chapters two, three and four);
secondly, this numerical sequence is reflected in the binding of the book (and the pagination), with chapter one printed as pages 1-24 and bound in "before" chapter two (it is a codex in English, reflecting traditional left-to-right reading practices);
thirdly, chapter one is on-line so anyone can read it (well anyone in the 4% of the world's population with an internet connection);
fourthly, chapter one (as I find often to be the case) opens the book with some of the general issues which the author thinks is important.
Of course one wonders whether one should throw off the repressive power-play that this sort of control over my reading habits represents, but hey, maybe the revolution can wait.

Fundamentally Bagnall is puzzled by a couple of things:
  1. Documentary evidence for the existence of Christians among the papyri is completely lacking until the middle of the third century (after which date there are reasonably numerous examples of identifiable Christians in letters and semi-official records). This is puzzling if the normal dates assigned to Christian literary texts (in the second and early third centuries) is correct: why would Christians write gospels but never write letters to each other?
  2. Scholars have disagreed about the dating of some of the early Christian texts. Especially Eric Turner 'who new vastly more early codices than Grenfell and Hunt or indeed practically anyone else before of afterward [and] fairly consistently also opted for later dates than those that the editors of papyri and other commentators had offered' (p. 12). In particular Bagnall thinks that the early Christian texts have been dated early in relation to each other and without comparative evidence from other texts, so the whole cluster could shift with each other to a later date.
  3. Bagnall attempts to model the number of Christians in Egypt across the first few centuries (based on a load of assumptions, but essentially assuming a steady rate of increase between 40 CE and the late fourth century throughout the whole empire). On this basis, for example, in 200 CE there were 21,747 Christians making up 0.395% of the population of Egypt (p. 20 - yes, inappropriate levels of precision I know). Using these figures, and working on the further assumption that Christians had or used books in the same proportion as the rest of the population he figures, for example, that in the second century there are 1,474 surviving books from Egypt; Christians (averaging things out) made up 0.092% of the population, and thus that we might explect 1.360 Christian books from the second century. He writes:
'On any reckoning, the number of published fragments of Christian character usually assigned to these early periods considerably exceeds the expected number.' (p. 21)
This combination of modelling and appeal to the authority of Turner is then the basis for the proposal that Christian literary texts have been dated too early (by most other scholars). A generally later dating would allow for more coherence not only with the models, but with the appearance of Christians in the documentary papyri.

There are plenty of positive points raised by Bagnall. He is a good writer, very clear. I think he has detected a tendency among some writers to think of how early texts can be dated, and an over-confidence in dates assigned by editors. I agree that a wider perspective is necessary and welcome. But I think there are a lot of problems here. The assumptions behind the modelling are to my mind problematic (e.g. I think Christians would be more book friendly than the general population, although not as bookish as the educated elite). The deliberate avoidance of literary evidence (Christian texts which speak of books, especially the martyrological reports) is not actually utilising all the evidence. And his argument is most noticeable for its avoidance of any engagement with the palaeography of the papyri - here we have simply the appeal to authority (of Turner instead of Parsons, Cavallo, Seider, Skeat etc., etc.). Bagnall is actually wrong to think that the dating of the Christian literary tests is as inbred as he thinks (he seems to think that Peter Parsons would date a Christian text on a different basis to other texts); he is also wrong to think that early Christian texts form a distinct palaeographically moveable cluster, as if they can be shifted back a century or so without any impact on the dating of every other second and third century literary text.
But it is good to hear the challenge and in the next chapters (which follow numerically) he offers some more argumentation.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Podcasts From Parchment to Pixel

The British Library offers five podcasts connected to the Codex Sinaiticus project and the exhibition From Parchment to Pixel:

Juan Garcés on Codex Sinaiticus 12 minutes

Juan Garcés, Curator for the Codex Sinaiticus Project at the British Library, talks about the curious past and exciting future of this remarkable manuscript: one of the oldest two complete Bibles in existence, possibly commissioned by Constantine in the [fourth] century as a 'master copy' for all Bibles.

The re-unification of Codex Sinaiticus in four parts (10+7+7+11 minutes)
Part 1
Juan Garcés of the British Library talks to Amy Myshrall, one of the team who helped create the digitised Codex Sinaiticus - probably the earliest surviving Bible in the world.

Part 2
Juan Garcés of the British Library talks to Timothy Arthur Brown, one of the team who helped create the digitised Codex Sinaiticus.

Part 3
Juan Garcés of the British Library talks to David Parker of the University of Birmingham, one of the team who helped create the digitised Codex Sinaiticus..

Part 4
Juan Garcés of the British Library talks to Rachel Kevern of the University of Birmingham, one of the team who helped create the digitised Codex Sinaiticus.

The Artemidorus Papyrus

There is a fascinating review of recent books on the Artemidorus Papyrus (wikipedia summary) in the current issue of The Classical Review (59.2, 2009, 403-410) by Richard Janko (for general bibliography see here). Basically this is a papyrus roll which looks like a first-century text but may well be (following Luciano Canfora's arguments which Janko accepts and augments) a nineteenth-century forgery by Constantine Simonides, well-known among NT textual scholars for his (forged) early copy of Matthew and his claim that the wrote Codex Sinaiticus (amply covered in a fascinating book by Keith Elliott, mentioned in the article [honourable mention also of Tregelles and Tischendorf]).
Janko shows that the portrait of Matthew on the frontespiece to Simonides 1861 book, which is basically a self-portrait by Simonides (Facsimiles of certain portions of the Gospel of St. Matthew, and of the Epistles of Ss. James & Jude, written on papyrus in the first century, and preserved in the Egyptian museum of Joseph Mayer) appears as a sketch in the Artemidorus Papyrus. It looks pretty persuasive to me. [HT: Papy list]

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

'the sceptre of his kingdom' (Heb 1.8 in P46 et al)

Here is a very interesting variant reading, and a place where one might certainly question (at least at first sight) whether the NA26=27 text has it right. In the citation of Ps 44.7-8LXX at Hebrews 1.8-9, P46, 01 and 03 read AUTOU: 'and the sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of his kingdom'.
In favour of this reading we could immediately suggest:
a) it has outstanding early manuscript support;
b) it is unassimilated to any known LXX reading (hence transcriptional probability suggests the movement to harmonise the reading to the LXX); and
c) it is the harder reading (since it is not clear to whom the pronoun refers).
The main difficulty with AUTOU seems to be internal. Hebrews introduces the citation as God's address to the son (1.8), and this fits the pronouns, including three definite occurrences of SOU and one SE. The AUTOU reading interrupts this pattern, whereas the alternative reading SOU maintains the pattern ('your throne ... your kingdom ... your God ... your fellows'). AUTOU disrupts the pattern in two ways: it introduces a third person pronoun without any clear antecedent (whose kingdom is 'his kingdom' in this context?); and secondly the only logical answer is that AUTOU refers to God, but since the whole citation is presented as a declaration of God directed to the Son, a reference to 'his kingdom' doesn't really fit.

So I would prefer to read SOU here, but I think perhaps I should actually read AUTOU. What do you think?

Here is P46 (just for interest):

Bagnall on Early Christian Books in Egypt


Roger Bagnall, papyrological supremo, has written an interesting book: Early Christian Books in Egypt (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2009), which I read last week. The first chapter is available on-line and is well worth reading as an introduction, but I found the other chapters, especially those on the economics of ancient book production and the spread of the codex, even more interesting, even occasionally intriguing, although not altogether convincing.

Even more exciting than the book itself is the promotional blurb provided by the publisher, which suggests that all previous scholarship on the subject has been biased and that the dates of Christian texts have been dated too early:

For the past hundred years, much has been written about the early editions of Christian texts discovered in the region that was once Roman Egypt. Scholars have cited these papyrus manuscripts--containing the Bible and other Christian works--as evidence of Christianity's presence in that historic area during the first three centuries AD. In Early Christian Books in Egypt, distinguished papyrologist Roger Bagnall shows that a great deal of this discussion and scholarship has been misdirected, biased, and at odds with the realities of the ancient world. Providing a detailed picture of the social, economic, and intellectual climate in which these manuscripts were written and circulated, he reveals that the number of Christian books from this period is likely fewer than previously believed.

Bagnall explains why papyrus manuscripts have routinely been dated too early, how the role of Christians in the history of the codex has been misrepresented, and how the place of books in ancient society has been misunderstood. The author offers a realistic reappraisal of the number of Christians in Egypt during early Christianity, and provides a thorough picture of the economics of book production during the period in order to determine the number of Christian papyri likely to have existed. Supporting a more conservative approach to dating surviving papyri, Bagnall examines the dramatic consequences of these findings for the historical understanding of the Christian church in Egypt.

It is a little disconcerting to realise how few of the things in the blurb are actually contained in the book. The verbs of the blurb sound impressive: "Bagnall ... shows ... provid[es] a detailed picture ... reveals ... explains ... offers a realistic reappraisal ... examines ..."; but the book is actually very brief and not much given to detail or actual facts (certainly nothing of a palaeographical argument about any particular manuscript). The basic motif, as regards dates assigned to early Christian literary texts, is 'Eric Turner dated many of these texts late' and Turner's dates fit better with some statistical modelling I've come up with for estimating the Christian population in Egypt. He doesn't think much of the scholarship in this field that he has read (although he hasn't read much because he doesn't read theological journals and he spends one sixth of the book critiquing Carsten P. Thiede's claims as if they have never previously been addressed). (Fair enough, that gets personal, since I wrote a thorough critique of Thiede in 1995* which Bagnall does not mention) It is rather strange to me that he critiques 'the excessively self-enclosed character' of scholarship on the subject of early Christian books on page 1, and then later refers dismissively to 'a number of articles not cited here [which] appeared in theological periodicals little read in papyrological circles' [page 94] - so whose scholarship is more excessively self-enclosed?

Anyway, I hope to pick up on some of the issues raised by Bagnall in some later posts.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A New Home for the Mingana Collection

Jim Davila brought my attention to the news article in today's Birmingham Post, reporting that "one of Birmingham’s most iconic buildings has finally reopened following completion of a two-year refurbishment programme costing more than £40  million." This building is the Muirhead Tower, a central feature of the landscape for almost 40 years, 16 storeys high, located on the University of Birmingham campus. The Mingana collection will be located here:

The university’s Special Collections will be based in the purpose-built Cadbury Research Library, bringing all the university’s collections under one roof including the famous Mingana collection of middle-eastern manuscripts.

The space has been designed to be fire and moisture protected and temperature controlled to protect the priceless collection, which consists mainly of Arabic and Syriac Middle Eastern manuscripts, a very small number of Hebrew/Jewish works, coins, seals and a few clay tablets.

The Collection was founded in Birmingham between 1925 and 1929 by Edward Cadbury who named it after its collector, Alphonse Mingana.

Read the whole story here.

Read also the information from Birmingham University: Special Collections Muirhead Tower Development including images of the new Special Collections facility.

This summer I saw some magnificent items in the collection during the official launch of the Virtual Manuscript Room. I also took part in a special workshop led by David Parker on one of the Greek New Testament MSS: Birmingham University Library, Mingana MS Peckover Gr. 7 (Gregory-Aland 713 and L586).

More on Mingana here and here.

Call for Papers, International SBL in Tartu, Estonia 2010

The call for papers for the SBL International Meeting in Tartu, Estonia 2010 begins today 15 September and will end on 31 January. I am pleased to announce that Jan Krans, Vrije University, Amsterdam is my new co-chair for this program unit.

Call For Papers: Papers concentrating on any aspect of textual criticism are welcome, in particular the practical work with manuscripts. Examples of topics: papyrological insights, scribal habits, preservation techniques, technical developments, computer assisted tools, producing critical editions, evaluating the evidence of fathers or versions, discussion of particular passages, social historical studies, new projects, systematic-theological problems, teaching text-criticism in an academic setting, etc.

A video presentation of Tartu is available from SBL here.
Further details on the conference here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Christ-Believers in Ephesus

Let me announce a new publication by my colleague Mikael Tellbe, Örebro Theological Seminary:

Christ-Believers in Ephesus: A Textual Analysis of Early Christian Identity Formation in a Local Perspective. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 1 - WUNT 242. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009. ISBN: 3-16-150048-2; ISBN13: 978-3-16-150048-0

This book deals with issues relating to the formation of early Christian identity in the city of Ephesus, one of the major centres of the early Christian movement towards the end of the first century and the beginning of the second century CE. How diverse was the early Christian movement in Ephesus? What were its main characteristics? What held this movement together? Taking these questions as a starting point, Mikael Tellbe focuses on the social and theological diversity of this early Christian movement, the process of "the parting of the ways" –i.e. issues of ethnicity –, the influence of "deviating" groups and the quest for authority and legitimacy, as well as issues of commonality and theological unity. The author argues for a textual approach and the impact of various textual "prototypes" in the task ofanalyzing the process of early Christian identity formation in Ephesus.

Order the book from Eisenbrauns here (price: $149.00).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chaplin on Red Letter Bibles

Doug Chaplin aka Clayboy thinks Bibles with the words of Jesus in red might be “the worst evangelical heresy” for three reasons:
1. It lies about the nature of the books we have – reports and narratives by witnesses of words (most of them anyway) spoken in another language, and already someone else’s words by the time they reach us.

2. It overthrows the nature of scripture. The whole canon is the locus of inspiration and witness to revelation.

3. It denies the incarnation. The whole point about the nature of gospel as witness to the Word made flesh is that Jesus’ deeds do God’s work, and his words are one part only of the story. Story is the category through which we know Jesus, not dictation, because we need to see and know God’s life lived out in human flesh and not simply instructions dictated in a vacuum. The stories are not just a rather unimportant framework for the words; the stories are the essence of the god news of the incarnate Word.
Also read Peter Head’s defence of the red letter bibles and a subsequent discussion here.


In the comments to this post, Stephen Carlson pointed out that Chaplin’s arguments against red letters “also argue against the modern practice of using quotation marks in the narrative” for the following reasons:
(1) Just as the red lettering mark words Jesus didn’t actually say (because he spoke in Aramaic), so too are the words in quotation marks not really the exact words of the speakers especially in the gospels.

(2) Just as red lettering give focus to Jesus’ words over others, so too do quotation marks give focus to some words of the biblical text but not to others.

(3) Just as red lettering distinguish Jesus’ words (in red) from his actions, so too do quotation marks.
Peter Williams points out that many languages manage without speech marks and before the twentieth century English Bibles managed well without them.

Chaplin has responded to Carlson on his blog Red Letter Bibles strike back arguing that quotation marks are not to same. However, he concludes that “it might be possible to construct a purist argument that all our texts should be written in a largely unpunctuated stream of uncials … BUTIDONTTHINKTHATWILLCATCHON.”

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Text-Critical Articles and Reviews in The Bible Translator

Jan Krans over at the Amsterdam NT Weblog has compiled "a selection of text-critical articles and reviews from The Bible Translator 1950-2000."

Review of Wasserman

A review of my monograph on Jude has been posted on a new blog, "diglot" here. Unfortunately, it is not possible (yet) to see who is responsible for this blog.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Sisters of Sinai (II)

Simon previously noted the appearance of Janet Soskice's new book, Sisters of Sinai: How Two Lady Adventurers Found the Hidden Gospels (London: Chatto & Windus, 2009). I finally got around to reading it in the last week or so and enjoyed it. It is worth recommending here not only because of the presence of two ETC bloggers (Dirk and Pete) in the acknowledgements, but because it is great on the atmosphere in both the Sinai and in Cambridge during the lives of these two great and unusual women, and on the details of the discovery and transcription and publication of the Sinaitic Syriac palimpsest. I also enjoyed hearing something about their own faith and piety.
It is not a technical book - I read it on the exercise bike not in the study. And there are a few detail problems (e.g. the section on the ending of Mark on pp. 212-3 has a number of rather glaring inaccuracies; and the whole discussion of the date and significance of the Sinaitic Syriac Gospel text is not much up-dated from the rather excitable statements of the original finders), but they don't detract particularly from the inspiring tale of what these two ladies accomplished. Incredible inherited wealth, independence of mind, life-long learning, provision for good theological education in Cambridge, and a passion for manuscripts - what more could you want? Oh yes, sordid petty scholarly status squabbles in Cambridge and beyond. I'm giving it to my daughter to read next (it doesn't look as if she will inherit incredible wealth, but the other things may encourage her).

I found this sentence interesting: 'The twins devised a winch-basket improvised out of the rope-netting that normally protected their camel equipment.' (For 'camel' I'm pretty sure we should read 'camera'!)

Shepherd on Narrative Analysis as a Text Critical Tool


Thomas R. Shepherd, 'Narrative Analysis as a Text Critical Tool: Mark 16 in Codex W as a Test Case' Journal for the Study of the New Testament 32 (2009), 77-98.
Tom Shepherd uses a narrative approach to show that some themes (notably the power of Christ) which appear in Mark 16 are also characteristic of Codex W as a whole. This suggests that narrative approaches can be useful for text critics 'in delineating and mapping out the theological emphases of an individual passage and its implications for an entire book.' (p. 96)

Monday, September 07, 2009

New TC Resources List at NT Gateway

Over at NT Gateway is a new resources page listing TC books an articles. Only two items up so far, but I'm sure it will grow.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Audio resources for Textual Criticism

I had an email from a reader asking about audio resources on Textual Criticism. Does anyone know of a list anywhere? Or should be create a list here?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Computers and Ancient Language

Two new articles show how computers can potentially assist in paleography and linguistics:

The first follows an Israeli acheivement which could potentially create a "Google-like search engine" for corpora of manuscripts and which could also be used to match fragments dispersed across modern collections. Those of us who have spent time with such manuscripts will realize the limitations to such technology.

The second involves a lost language from the Indus valley. A mega-civilization there may have predated the great societies of the Ancient Middle East. Mathematicians have used algorithms to discover regular patterns in the surviving cuneiform-like texts; hopefully, these discoveries will lead to the unraveling of the language, its texts and the history of this lost civilization.

Interviews with Hurtado, Kloppenborg, Köstenberger, Wallace et al.

Check out the scholar interviews on Broadcast Depth that have been posted or will be in the near future:

Darrell Bock. Research Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary. Forthcoming on 3 September 2009.

Larry Hurtado. Professor and Head, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh. 20 August 2009

John Kloppenborg. Professor and Chair, Department and Centre for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto. 13 August 2009.

Andreas Köstenberger. Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology and Director of PhD Studies, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. 27 August 2009.

Thomas Schreiner. James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, School of Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Forthcoming on 10 September 2009.

Robert Yarbrough. Associate Professor and Chair, New Testament Department, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Forthcoming on 17 September 2009.

And in case you missed it (like I) you might want to check out this interview with Dan Wallace on Tolle Lege! (Rob Kashow). As usual Dan mentions new discoveries of manuscripts, for example:
During our time in Germany, two of us went to England to photograph a newly discovered MS owned by a private party. Sorry, but I’m not allowed to tell any more details than that—except that it’s a tenth-century Gospels MS and that we will be posting those images on our site soon.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Second National Patristic Conference in Cambridge

The Second National Patristic Conference is taking place in Cambridge next week (SECOND NATIONAL PATRISTIC CONFERENCE), Wed - Fri (9-11 Sept.)

As well as a load of interesting patristic type papers (as one must expect, including an especially interesting one on 1 Clement) there are a couple of text related papers, and a couple of others on non-canonical texts:

Tim Carter Marcion and the Codex Bezae

Hugh Houghton Chapter Divisions in the Old Latin Versions of John

Stephan Witetschek How Ascetic is the Gospel of Thomas?

Michael Steenberg The Gospel of Truth and the Truth of the Gospel: assessing the scope of Valentinian influence on the works of Irenaeus

David Horrell on Insights from the Earliest Manuscripts of 1 Peter

The latest NTS includes an article by David G. Horrell entitled 'The Themes of 1 Peter: Insights from the Earliest Manuscripts (the Crosby-Schøyen Codex ms 193 and the Bodmer Miscellaneous Codex containing P72)' which is an interesting attempt to look at the early reception of 1 Peter through a close investigation of the manuscripts as a whole.

More Leaves of Sinaiticus

A new leaf from Codex Sinaiticus has been found, as I have reported earlier here and here.

Paul Foster drew my attention to a news article on this discovery in the Independent today:

A Greek student conservator who is studying for his PhD in Britain, Mr Sarris had been involved in the British Library's project to digitise the Codex and quickly recognised the distinct Greek lettering when he saw it poking through a section of the book binding. Speaking from the Greek island of Patmos yesterday, Mr Sarris said: "It was a really exciting moment. Although it is not my area of expertise, I had helped with the online project so the Codex had been heavily imprinted in my memory. I began checking the height of the letters and the columns and quickly realised we were looking at an unseen part of the Codex."

Mr Sarris later emailed Father Justin, the monastery's librarian, to suggest he take a closer look at the book binding. "Even if there is a one-in-a-million possibility that it could be a Sinaiticus fragment that has escaped our attention, I thought it would be best to say it rather than dismiss it."

Only a quarter of the fragment is visible through the book binding but after closer inspection, Father Justin was able to confirm that a previously unseen section of the Codex had indeed been found. The fragment is believed to be the beginning of Joshua, Chapter 1, Verse 10, in which Joshua admonishes the children of Israel as they enter the promised land.

Speaking to The Art Newspaper, Father Justin said the monastery would use scanners to look more closely at how much of the fragment existed under the newer book binding. "Modern technology should allow us to examine the binding in a non-invasive manner," he said.

Mr Sarris said his find was particularly significant because there were at least 18 other book bindings in the monastery's library that were compiled by the same two monks that had re-used the Codex. "We don't know whether we will find more of the Codex in those books but it would definitely be worth looking," he said.

Now let's hope for more leaves to be found!

Read the whole story here.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

John 14:17c

Jim Hamilton draws my attention to his extended discussion of the text of John 14:17c in James M. Hamilton Jr., "Appendix 2: 'He Is with You, and He Is in You?' The Text of John 14:17c," in God's Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments (NACSBT; Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2006), 175–82.

Aland's Kurzgefasste Liste On-line Soon

Ulrich Schmid of the INTF just announced in a comment to a previous post that a database version of the Kurzgefasste Liste der griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments (ed. Kurt Aland) will be published on-line soon, perhaps by the end of September. This will allow fantastic new possibilities of doing simple or advanced searches among the catalogued MSS, including, for example, new search fields with information like "exemplar of" and "copied from." New information on individual items can be added continuously, I suppose under editorial supervision.

We very much look forward to this on-line tool!

Biblioblog Top 50 for August 2009

The biblioblog top 50 for the month of August 2009 is up. Jim West is the top blogger for the 6th month in a row. Congratulations! Jim is quite active in the blogosphere — there are no less than ten posts on his blog from yesterday! This blog has moved up one slot to 27th place. It seems we have a stable readership and that is nice.

Apart from the top 50-list there are almost 250 additional biblioblogs listed. It seems like very hard work to produce all these statistics. This time some "metabiblioblogs" like the biblioblogtop50 blog itself has been removed from the list: "We [the blogeditors] were meaning to say that we had dropped the ‘meta-biblioblogs’ (us, and from the listing. It was all getting a bit incestuous." If it had been included it would, according to Alexa statistics, have been listed as no. 8 (so that is the explanation why this blog moved up one place...).

Review of Parker's Introduction

In the latest Review of Biblical Literature we find a review of David Parker's An Introduction to the New Testament Manuscripts and Their Texts by Matteo Grosso. Recently, I met Matteo at the SBL in Rome, where he presented a paper. He is very appreciative of Parker's approach, although, like most other reviewers, he points out that this is not an actual handbook to NT TC:

[T]he most original features of this work pertain to its content. Certainly, this is not a handbook of New Testament textual criticism as such a genre has been traditionally conceived. Being rather An Introduction to the New Testament Manuscripts and Their Texts from a certain point of view, it offers much more: it starts from the specific treatment of the actual tradents of the New Testament text (the manuscripts), then covers the principal problems of the discipline. It is not just a matter of internal organization: the priority bestowed by the author to the manuscripts is palpable all through the book. Coherent with Westcott and Hort’s golden rule, according to which “Knowledge of documents should precede final judgment upon readings,” which Parker states in capital letters as early as page 2, his approach grants a special focus on the artifacts that carry the New Testament texts and the many ways to deal with them. In doing so, he effectively avoids the always impending danger of overlooking the fact that the text of the New Testament, as reconstructed in the various critical editions in use, is an abstract entity, while it existed (and exists) concretely in many different forms.

Read the whole review here.

In the same issue of RBL a review of Reuben J. Swanson's, Reflections on Biblical Themes by an Octogenarian, by Peter Penner may be of interest. There is an essay by Swanson that deals with textual criticism. Penner writes:

Textual Criticism”: The essay on text criticism is another helpful tool that the author has used with students and ministers interested in the topic of textual criticism. A helpful introduction, illustrations that challenge the reader, and solid work with Greek texts offer much help to the reader who looks for a good initiation to the area. The content demonstrates deep knowledge and years of Swanson’s experience in this field of New Testament scholarly work, even when one could disagree on the interpretation and the outcomes of the argument.