Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Putting the Distigmai in Their Place: Payne's Response Posted in PDF

I have now uploaded Phil Payne's full response in PDF format here:

Critique of “The Marginalia of Codex Vaticanus: Putting the Distigmai in Their Place” presented by Peter M. Head to the NT Textual Criticism Seminar Nov. 21, 2009 in New Orleans

It will also be available under TC Files in the right sidebar.


  1. I do appreciate the effort that Philip has put into this engagement with my presentation and I hope that we can still be friends. I realise that he is not yet persuaded by my argument, even though he acknowledges that it is both neat and plausible. I hope one day that he will get the distance and see the force of the argument (and the method he has agreed with) and see that it is also true. Indeed, I am sure that the published form will be better and even more persuasive than the oral form as a result of this helpful interaction. Of course I think he has a set of pre-committments that hinder the wider vision (as of course in other ways we all do). And I am sorry that he thinks that my skepticism about his "dating dots by colour" amounts to a dereliction of duty (because that sounds pretty serious).

  2. Peter M. Head wrote that Payne “acknowledges that [my argument] is both neat and plausible. ... He thinks that my skepticism about his ‘dating dots by colour’ amounts to a dereliction of duty.”

    I, too, desire that our friendship will continue.

    Head’s presentation is neat, but I do not acknowledge that his presentation is “plausible.” I specifically state:

    The ultimate question is, given their variety in color, location, orientation, shape, and apparently even purpose..., whether Head’s view is even plausible that “the system of distigmai is a unified system … all are the product of the same process and of approximately the same date.” How can they all be the product of the same process and of approximately the same date in cases where there seems to be obvious re-inking? ... [which is required only after fading,] a process that takes considerable time. Particularly problematic for Head’s view is the distigme at 1409 B 25 (Acts 18:16), where the left dot appears to be re-inked but the right dot is not re-inked and still displays what Canart classifies as “probable” to be the original ink of the codex. ... [and distigmai where] traces of the original ink color of the codex protrude from the distigme at 1469 A 3... and 1501 B 42. ... Head must provide an explanation of these variations in ink color in order to make his thesis plausible.

    It is, in part, because Head has not provided an explanation of these very specific variations in ink color and because I cannot imagine an explanation that would, if all distigmai were written at “approximately the same date,” that I regard his thesis to be implausible.

    It is within the context of these issues that I advised Head prior to his SBL presentation, not as an accusation, for at that point there had been no dereliction, but as a statement urging academic responsibility, that “it would be a dereliction of duty not to acknowledge that his thesis provides no explanation for the differences in ink color.”

    Head writes, however, “I am sorry that he thinks that my skepticism about his ‘dating dots by colour’ amounts to a dereliction of duty.” This misrepresents my statement, which had nothing to do with his skepticism about my “dating dots by colour.” Rather, Head should acknowledge that it is a weakness of his view (that all the Vaticanus distigmai were written by de Sepulveda in the sixteenth century) if he has no explanation why: 1. the ink color of distigmai on the same page vary so markedly, 2. why most appear to match the dark chocolate brown ink color of the re-inked text, and why 3. fifty-one distigmai match the apricot color of the original ink of Codex Vaticanus.

    “Dating dots by colour” sounds ridiculous since it lacks contextual controls, but Head cited color to confirm the originality of diplai. Neither Paul Canart, who probably has spent more time working with Codex Vaticanus than anyone else, nor I are saying that one can look at ink color in isolation from its context and deduce its age. One dates a manuscript based on all known evidence. In the case of Codex Vaticanus, the apricot color of original ink contrasts sharply with the dark chocolate brown of its re-inking in the Middle Ages. When Paul Canart and I examined original Codex Vaticanus leaves in the Vatican Library, we compared each apricot-colored distigme to original ink in text on the same page, usually within close proximity. Close proximity minimizes the likelihood that sunlight or some other factor might have selectively changed one but not the other. Before concluding that they matched in color, we used an internally lighted loupe to confirm the match.

    In order to be plausible, Head’s thesis must explain how, if every distigme in the Codex was penned by de Sepulveda at approximately the same date, there could be this degree of match with the color of the original ink of Vaticanus in fifty-one distigmai scattered throughout its pages, not to mention all the other issues I identified as incompatible with his late date in my last post to part 5 of my critique.

  3. Cheers Philip.
    a) "plausible" came up in a footnote somewhere. My cheecky interpretation.
    b) Obviously I am coming at the dofkau from a different direction to "dating by colour". Comparison of systems at points of interference takes precedence in my view to any other means of analysis.
    c) If I can make the case in publication that I claimed at SBL, i.e. that the systemic lateness of the dofkau can be joined with a 98% match-rate with Erasmus, then the late date of the dofkau will probably be widely acknowledged.
    d) after that anyone who is interested can attempt to sort out why the dofkau come in different colours.

  4. Then history can judge. Or some scientist with a small probe.

  5. If the distigmai (I still like "umlauts" better) are late and not early, then I wonder if they could have indeed have been added in two stages, or waves: one wave from Franz Lucas Brugensus (derived from Werner of Nimeguen?), and another wave from Sepulveda.

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.