Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Timo Flink Did It!

I have just finished a week's travel in Israel with Örebro Theological Seminary, which was absolutely fantastic. But I did not go home as my colleagues, but I proceeded from Stockholm to Joensuu in Finland, because I had been appointed the external examiner of Timo Flink's dissertation:

"Textual Dilemma: Studies in the Second-Century Text of the New Testament"

From the abstract:

This present research deals with hundreds of individual textual problems in order to further the discussions on the second-century text of the NT. I will study a text-critical problem in Jn 1,34 that is yet to achieve a consensus. I will argue that John the Baptist probably declared of Jesus that he is ὁ ἐκλεκτός τοῦ θεοῦ on the basis that such a reading best explains the rival readings.

Secondly, the text of Jude has been revised by two recent works that disagree on Jude 5, 13, 15, and 18. I will present my study of these textual locations and conclude that they should read ἅπαξ πάντα ὅτι ̓Ιησοῦς, ἀπαφρίζοντα, πάνταϛ τοὺϛ ἀσεβεῖϛ, and ὅτι ἔλεγον ὑμῖν ὅτι ἐπ ̓ ἐσχάτου τοῦ χρόνου, respectively. Again, scribal tendencies produced numerous rival readings into the NT textual tradition.

The bulk of the research is devoted to the orthographic Koine/Attic variations in the NT textual tradition. I will study 712 textual locations for which 373 textual locations attest two rival forms of the same word, eithoer Koine or Attic, orthographically. Based on the Greek usage on the extra-biblical non-literary and literary sources of the first two centuries, I will conclude that sometimes scribes Atticised the original Koine readings to their Attic equivalents, and in other times they modernised the spelling of the older Attic forms to their later Koine equivalents on the basis of the development of Greek during the second century. This research lays the foundation for further studies of early scribal habits in this respect. Based on my findings, I will present 94 textual changes, some probable, some tentative, to the critical text of the NT.

So today on 28 October I arrived in a cold Joensuu (it was 30 degree's Celsius in Israel). First I met Professor Lauri Thurén, who has been Flink's supervisor, and we had lunch together. In 3.15 AM (sharp) we went into a large hall together, where the audience were sitting; first the candidate, then the chairman Thurén, and finally I, and the examination began.

Before (30 secs before 3.15 PM):

I had prepared some 17 pages of material (introduction, general statement, summary, critical questions, concluding statement), from which I chose, and I can tell you that I made Flink sweat, but I know the Finnish like that (sauna), and, eventually, I recommended the Faculty of Theology to pass the dissertation and grant Flink the degree of Doctor of Theology.

After the sauna (ca. 5.15 PM):

I will perhaps come back with some more details on what was said this afternoon, but now I am off to "karonka" (festivities) in a few minutes. I am blogging this from a very nice Finnish hotel, Cumulus. One of the first things the lady in the reception told me was that the evening sauna was ready. Perhaps after the feast...

(In the photo from the left: Thurén, Wasserman, Timo Flink and his wife)


  1. Congratulations, Timo! What is next?

  2. Thank you.

    Finns like to relax after the sauna (and I did sweat), so I will take a short break :)

    My dissertation just scraped the surface on Atticism (Tommy knows what I mean), so that would be the logical place to continue. It seems that the scribal tendencies are quite complicated.

    Perhaps I prepare a journal article (before a monograph on Atticism) :)

  3. A special and warm thank you to you, Tommy, for a delightful and memorable event.

  4. Timo, you're welcome! It was my pleasure.

  5. Congratulations to all involved, especially Timo (though Timo's wife looks the most relieved of all the participants).
    As we await an article and/or monograph, will the dissertation be accessible in some format?
    again, congrats.

  6. Due to "copyright" issues, my dissertation may be purchased from Joensuu University Library (if they still have any :)).

    Please contact

    However, I have one reserved for you, prof. Holmes. I will send it to you next week. May I inquiry an address where to send it?

  7. Congratulations Timo, I'm intrigued to see more of your argument on John 1:34! Peter Rodgers

  8. "Before (30 secs before 3.15 AM):
    After the sauna (ca. 5.15 AM):
    . . . this afternoon . . .
    -- Posted by Tommy Wasserman kl. 4:11 PM"

    I'm wondering what a textual critic of the next century will think of the chances that this 'AM' reading might require a conjectural emendation for internal reasons.

    Scribes often write in a language other than their native one; sometimes several languages, such as the Irish scribes, living in Germany, who penned diglots in Greek and Latin.

    A careful textual critic, then, will want to master the scribe's native language as well as those in which he copied his text--for one thing, this can come in very handy for making sense of scribal doodles in the margin.

    But another value in this is that of evaluating odd readings such as this one. In Swedish, for example, does 'afternoon' start with an 'a'? Especially if 'morning' were to start with a 'p', this could explain the odd reading.

    But sometimes there doesn't appear to be any known reason for a scribal action. One must resist the temptation at such times to get inside the mind of the scribe and attribute some reason--any reason, for it. In the end some questions, unless they can be asked of the scribe himself, just need to remain unanswered.