Friday, April 30, 2010

Traianos Gagos (1960-2010)

A few days ago, Arthur Verhoogt announced on the PAPY-List the tragic news that on 24 April Traianos Gagos, Professor of Papyrology at the University of Michigan had died unexpectedly:

Dear Colleagues:

It is my sad duty to inform you that Traianos Gagos died very unexpectedly on April 24, 49 years old. We have lost a very dear friend, colleague, and one of the best documentary papyrologists of his generation. We are also losing a human being who had the capacity to make everybody feel at ease and respected in his presence. His service to the field of papyrology as a whole and especially to papyrology here in Michigan is well known to all. He was a great mentor to students and younger colleagues. We miss him.

Traianos will be buried in his beloved Greece.

Arthur Verhoogt

Department of Classical Studies

University of Michigan

A while ago I was working on the Papyrus 53 (Ann Arbor, Univ. Libr., Inv. Nr. 6652), which contains portions from Matthew and Acts. In the Kurzgefasste Liste the reconstructed format is 20-21 x 12 cm, whereas Scott Charlesworth in a more recent publication had indicated 16.5-18 x 10.8 cm. I consulted APIS and contacted Charlesworth because of the discrepancy. Eventually, Traianos Gagos, whom Charlesworth knew well, was kind enough to measure the fragments for us. As a result, Charlesworth recalculated the format to ca. 20 x 12.5 cm. This is just one small example of Gagos' kindness and generosity witnessed by many.

Gagos' colleague Arthur Verhoogt has announced on the PAPY-List that for those in the neighbourhood that can come, the University of Michigan is holding a Memorial gathering for Traianos Gagos on Monday, May 3, beginning at 4:00 PM in the Rogel Ballroom, Michigan Union, 530 South State Street. It is an open event for everyone wishing to share their memories.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Oldest Tetraevangelion?

In 1904 a fragmentary papyrus was purchased in Luxor, Egypt by Charles Bousfield Huleatt, who presented it to Magdalen College Library, Oxford University, where it was catalogued as P. Magdalen Greek 17 and subsequently registered as Greg.-Aland P64. The "Magdalen" papyrus contains portions of Matt 26 and remained unedited until 1953 when the ed. pr. was published by Colin H. Roberts, “An Early Papyrus of the First Gospel,” HTR 46 (1953): 233–37.

At first Huleatt had assigned the fragments to the third century, whereas A. S. Hunt assigned them to the fourth century. However, Roberts questioned this late dating and on the basis of palaeography assigned P64 to ca. 200. Apparently, he had obtained the agreement on this dating by other renowned experts (Bell, Skeat, and Turner). One possible reason for the late dating by previous scholars was that it had not yet been established that the codex format itself was so early.

In 1956 more fragments from the same codex turned up and were published by Ramón Roca-Puig, Un Papiro Griego del Evangelio de San Mateo (Barcelona: Grafos S.A., 1962). These fragments containing portions of Matt 3 and 5 were cataloged as P. Barc. Inv. 1 and registered as P67 in the list of NT papyri. Roca-Puig and Roberts could determine that they came from the same codex as P64, and this judgment has remained the scholarly consensus.

In his Manuscript, Society and Belief in Early Christian Egypt (London: Oxford University Press, 1979), C. H. Roberts claimed that there could be no doubt that P4 (in Paris) containing portions of Luke also came from the same codex. It had been dated by J. Merell to the fourth century in 1938, by Kurt Aland to the third century in 1963, but now Roberts assigned it to the same late second-century date as P64+67. In a 1997 article T. C. Skeat took up Roberts' remark and similarly argued that P4 comes from the same four-gospel codex as P64+67, which would make it the oldest known four-gospel codex.

Subsequently, co-blogger Peter Head and Scott Charlesworth have argued against this identification, mainly on the basis of codicological data – it is still possible that they were copied by the same scribe. See P. M. Head, “Is P4, P64 and P67 the Oldest Manuscript of the Four Gospels? A Response to T. C. Skeat,” NTS 51 (2005): 450–57; Scott Charlesworth, ”T. C. Skeat, P64+67 and P4, and the Problem of Fibre Orientation in Codicological Reconstruction,” NTS 53 (2007): 582–604.

However, no one has to my knowledge made a comparative textual analysis of these papyri. In his 1994 publication, Skeat included a brief analysis of the text of P4, providing ”some basic facts.” Unfortunately his analysis is unsatisfactory in two ways: it concerns only P4 and it is based only on deviances from the Textus Receptus.

In a forthcoming paper which has been accepted for the SBL Annual Meeting in Atlanta this year I will attempt a textual analysis of P4 and P64+67 in order to examine the textual quality, transmission character, and the nature of the readings in these papyri. The main problem with a comparative textual analysis as I see it is the brevity of P64+67, but, hopefully, something will come out of this study to supplement codicological and palaeograhical data that will help us to better evaluate these papyri.

NB: I have not reported here on Carsten Peter Thiede's claim in several publications that the Magdalen Papyrus is from the mid 1st century, since it has received no support among scholars, but, on the contrary, has been falsified by several scholars (see e.g., Peter Head's article here)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Noah's Ark found ... again

"A group of Chinese and Turkish evangelical Christians claim to have uncovered remnants of Noah's Ark on its legendary mountain resting place in Turkey. "

I sure that we will hear more in the coming year, especially if UNESCO responds. Read more and see a supposed photograph, here.

UPDATE: Apparently, the whole thing is a hoax (we can't blame the Kurdish villagers for having a bit of fun, can we?). Image that. Read Mike Heiser's blog entry here. Thanks, Mike.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Critical edition of the Qur'an

Somewhat late in time I've become aware (thanks to Hugh Houghton) of this Boston Globe article on a critical edition of the Qur'an known as the Corpus Coranicum.

Refutal of the "Ecclestiastical Text Theory" Position

The Old Testament Studies Blog refutes the "Ecclesiastical Text Theory” position here.

Update: In this connection, I would like to remind about the blog "King James only?" maintained by former proponents of KJV-onlyism who have made their own journey out of that movement.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Review of Eldon Epp “Junia”

I have recently come across a rather “robust” review of Eldon J. Epp’s book Junia Among the Apostles in Touchstone Magazine by John Hunwicke in Oxford. Some valid points are made by Hunwicke such as how Rom 16:7 gets routinely used as a bit of an egalitarian battering ram and the genuine grammatical ambiguity of Rom 16:7 itself. Still, I think that IOUNIAN was a woman and she was regarded as an apostle (Chrysostom’s comments still echo in my mind on that one), though I’d probably see “apostle” in the lesser sense of messenger (Phil 2:25; 2 Cor 8:23). What is more, I don’t think the Belleville writes with the same rhetorical force as Epp and I don’t think she has this big “socio-cultural agenda” that Hunwicke imputes to so many. If Hunwicke wants to take on so many who go for the alternative reading from his own, he should also have included Richard Bauckham’s discussion in Gospel Women.

Coptic Bible Resources on the INTF Website

Siegfried Richter, the INTF Coptic expert, just informed me that Münster has launched an online index of Coptic New Testament manuscripts (here). The searchable database is helpful for determining which and how many manuscripts are extant for a particular text. Additionally, PDFs listing Greek-Coptic diglots and comparing dates are also offered.

There are currently two sets of sigla used to describe Coptic biblical manuscripts. The first was developed by Gerd Mink and Franz-Jürgen Schmitz, published in:

Schmitz, Franz-Jürgen, and Gerd Mink, eds. Liste Der Koptischen Handschriften Des Neuen Testaments: Sahidischen Handschriften der Evangelien. 3 vols. Arbeiten zur neutestamentlichen Textforschung 8, 13, 15. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1986, 1989, 1991.

The Münster-educated Austrian Coptologist, Karlheinz Schüssler, produced a second set of sigla, which unfortunately used the exact same appearance in his Biblia Coptica fascicles:

Schüssler, Karlheinz, ed. Biblia Coptica: Die koptischen Bibeltexte. 9 fasc/3 vol. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1995–2007.

Schüssler's webpage contains images of the many manuscripts contained in his list, as well as transcriptions of the more important witnesses to Sahidic John.

As a result, the siglum "sa 1" may represent either a Genesis manuscript (Schüssler) or a manuscript with Luke, Mark and John (SMR).

I encourage scholars to employ the SMR (Schmitz-Mink-Richter) sigla, and this online list is one of the main reasons. The list is bi-annually updated, is free, and reflects the longterm commitment of the INTF to Coptic Bible. Hopefully, the SMR list will eventually incorporate Old Testament manuscripts.

Thanks to Siegfried and his assistant Matthias Schulz for this new resource, and also to the larger INTF team for their forward-looking use of the internet.

David Parker and the Gospels

I am probably about a year later than everyone else here in that I have only just finished reading David Parker's An Introduction to the New Testament Manuscripts and Their Texts. All in all, a good and informative read, and a good intro to TC for a Master's or Doctoral level course. I still think Aland/Aland or Metzger might be a better text book for undergrads because they just read a bit easier. Several highlights were Parker's discussion of the textual witnesses and versions in relation to each major NT corpora. One or two barbed comments appear that put a smirk on my face, esp. when Parker writes: "Textual criticism both by its nature and by its findings shows fundamentalism to be inadmissible, and has an important role to play in offering an alternative to all world-views which insist on the inerrancy and perfection of texts as a guide through life" (p. 190). I had an instant morbid curiosity as to what would happen if someone were to read that aloud at certain places in the USA. My favourite quote from the book is about the Gospels. Parker writes:

"The Four Gospels, the Tetraevangelium, is the book of Christianity - not four books, but one codex. Such manuscripts comprise more than a half of all continuous-text Greek copies of New Testament writings. In every ancient language of Christianity, copies of the Gospels predominate among what survives. And in case this preoccupation is seen as an ancient phenomenon, be it noted that the Gospels in these ancient languages are traditionally far better served with editions and results of research than is any other part of the New Testament. Moreover, more editions of the Gospel manuscripts have been published, in facsimile or in some other form. Finally, it should be observed that many statements made about the New Testament text in general are really statements about the Gospels which have been extrapolated to the rest. I am thinking particularly about the entire concept of text-types and textual groupings" (p. 311).

One thing I like about the Book of Common Prayer is that every day has a Gospel reading. Though Protestants, esp. those of the evangelical and reformed variety, have a special affection for Paul, that should never interfere with the special and devout attention that Christians have for the story and teaching of Jesus.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Digitization of the Cairo Genizah Fragments

The Taylor-Schechter Collection at the University of Cambridge has announced significant progress in the digitization of its approximately 140,000 Hebrew manuscripts:

"65,000 images are already safely stored away on the Library's DSpace digital repository... more than 500 superbly high-quality digital images are shot every day. More than 310,000 images will be produced by project's end, and the experienced team .. are well on schedule to achieve this within three years." (Genizah Fragments 59, April 2010)

The Friedberg family of Toronto has donated more than £1,000,000 in support of the project. Post-doctoral students and those planning a sabbatical may want contact the unit, as there is plenty to be done. Register to access the Friedberg database here.

P126: two notes

P126 is, as we have already noted here, a small papyrus fragment containing parts of Hebrews 13.12-13 and 19-20.
There are two points of interest to note:
  1. Although not much text survives (around 25 letters on each side), the upper margin survives and it contains page numbers: 161 and 162. So the last page of Hebrews would be page 162 and we can figure out approximately how much text was on the page 161: approximately 15 lines of NA27 text. Hence, according to the ed. pr., Hebrews would have taken around 45 pages, leaving around 117 pages before Hebrews. So we might be able to imagine what might have preceded Hebrews in this manuscript.
    There are a few different ways to do this, but nothing obvious springs to mind (Rom & 1 & 2 Cor look too long at this rate to fit into 117 pages). But this is something to ponder.
  2. At Heb 13.12 P126 reads: EXWTHSPULHSTHSPA[REMBOLHS. This would be a kind of conflationary reading (combining the two readings attested as alternatives in other manuscripts), which (as the editor suggests) may have come about through the incorporation into the text of a textual annotation in the exemplar.
As noted by Tommy already:
P 126 Florenz, Istituto papirologico "G. Vitelli", PSI 1497
Date: fourth century
with Heb 13,12-13; 19-20
ed. pr. in Pubblicazioni della Società Italiana: Papiri Greci e Latini 15, Firenze 2008, 171-2.

Up-date: see a more recent post here for another publication with photos.

STS Conference 2011 Call for Papers

The Society for Textual Scholarship
Sixteenth Biennial International Interdisciplinary Conference
March 16-18, 2011
Penn State University
MORRIS EAVES, University of Rochester
LISA GITELMAN, New York University
WILL NOEL, Walters Art Museum
DAVID STORK, Ricoh Innovations
Program Chair: Matthew Kirschenbaum, University of Maryland
Deadline for Proposals: October 31, 2010

After many years of successful meetings in New York City, the Society for Textual Scholarship is inaugurating a new venue for its biennial conference: Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania. This new venue will accommodate the STS in a state of the art conference center with up-to-date technology support and other amenities, which will in turn facilitate the introduction of several new session formats. The new formats, new venue, and stellar line-up of confirmed keynote speakers--addressing textual and media scholarship and theory, conservation and archival practices, and relevant aspects of computer science--promises to make the 2011 conference an especially invigorating and important one for the STS.

Accordingly, the Program Chair invites submissions devoted to interdisciplinary discussion of current research into particular aspects of textual work: the discovery, enumeration, description, bibliographical analysis, editing, annotation, and mark-up of texts in disciplines such as literature, history, musicology, classical and biblical studies, philosophy, art history, legal history, history of science and technology, computer science, library and information science, archives, lexicography, epigraphy, paleography, codicology, cinema studies, new media studies, game studies, theater, linguistics, and textual and literary theory.

As always, the conference is particularly open to considerations of the role of digital tools and technologies in textual theory and practice. Papers addressing newer developments such as forensic computing, born-digital materials, stand-off markup, cloud computing, and the sustainability of electronic scholarship are especially encouraged. Papers addressing aspects of archival theory and practice as they pertain to textual criticism and scholarly editing are also especially welcome.

This year the conference is introducing several new formats.
Submissions may therefore take the following form:
1. Papers. Papers should be no more than 20 minutes in length. They should offer the promise of substantial original critical or analytical insight. Papers that are primarily reports or demonstrations of tools or projects are discouraged.
2. Panels. Panels may consist of either three associated papers or four to six roundtable speakers. Roundtables should address topics of broad interest and scope, with the goal of fostering lively debate between the panel and audience following brief opening remarks.
3. Seminars. Seminars should propose a specific topic, issue, or text for intensive collective exploration. Accepted seminar proposals will be announced on the conference Web site at least two months prior to the conference and attendees will then be required to enroll themselves with the posted seminar leader(s). The seminar leader(s) will circulate readings and other preparatory materials in advance of the conference. No papers shall be read at the seminar session. Instead participants will engage with the circulated material in a discussion under the guidance of the seminar leader(s). All who enroll are expected to contribute to creating a mutually enriching experience.
4. Workshops. Workshops should propose a specific problem, tool, or skillset for which the workshop leader will provide expert guidance and instruction. Examples might be an introduction to forensic computing or paleography. Workshop proposals that are accepted will be announced on the conference Web site and attendees will be required to enroll with the workshop leader(s). Workshop leaders should be prepared to offer well-defined learning outcomes for attendees.

Proposals for all four formats should include a title, abstract (one to two pages) of the proposed paper, panel, seminar, or workshop, as well as the name, e-mail address, and institutional affiliation for all participants. Format should be clearly indicated. Seminar and workshop proposals in particular should take care to articulate the imagined audience and any expectations of prior knowledge or preparation. ***All abstracts should indicate what if any technological support will be required.***

Inquiries and proposals should be submitted electronically, as plain text, to:
Professor Matthew Kirschenbaum (mkirschenbaum -at- gmail -dot- com)
Additional contact information:
Department of English
2119 Tawes Hall
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20740
Phone: 301-405-8505
Fax: 301-314-7111 (marked clearly to Kirschenbaum's attention)
All participants in the STS 2011 conference must be members of STS.
For information about membership, please contact Secretary Meg Roland at or visit the Indiana University Press Journals website and follow the links to the Society for Textual Scholarship membership page. For conference updates and information, see the STS website at .
Please post and recirculate this CFP as appropriate.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Help to Identify Manuscript Fragments

With the introduction of the Virtual Manuscript Room, new possibilities open up for collaboration with scholars and interested public worldwide. About three weeks ago, the Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung (INTF) uploaded several MSS from Biblioteca Nazionale, University of Turin: 333, 334, 335, 339, 2350, 2594, L1942 which can now be examined in the VMR.

In addition, numerous fragments of minuscule manuscripts were uploaded. These fragments have previously undergone a restoration and were subsequently placed in boxes in the library registered under three shelf marks: B.V.19, B.VI.43, and B.VII.33, but these unfortunately do not correspond to three MSS, because fragments of GA 338 have been found in two boxes (B.VI.43 + B.VII.33) and fragments of GA 612 have also been found in two of the boxes (B.V.19 + B.VI.43) - talk about contamination and block mixture!!!

Moreover, the fragments contain not only New Testament text but other texts and other MSS. The INTF staff says the process of identification will require some time and effort. And this is where the VMR users come in! The fragments have already been photographed and included in the VMR where anyone can look at them and contribute to their identification and subsequent registration. In the meantime the items are registered under temporary object id. numbers:

Turin B.V.19 ==> ObjID 90001
Turin B.VI.43 ==> ObjID 90002
Turin B.VII.33 ==> ObjID 90003

It is important to read the background and further description of these boxes and fragments in Martin Fassnacht's report here (click on "zeigen" to see the whole report). As you can see, we can expect more fragments to turn up in the future. Read also my earlier report here.

If you want to help with identification, go to the VMR (Münster) and click on VMR. Browse or read the MSS by choosing these ObjID numbers in the menu and go ahead.

Postscript: The majuscule MS GA015, the extant parts of which are divided between eight institutions (– how could this happen!), has also been registered in the VMR under a temporary number, ObjID 90004 (contrary to other items in this category, 90004 is found in the top of the menu). Two folios are in Turin (shelfmark A.1), and there are photos of these.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Secret Gospel of Mark: Recent news

The Secret Gospel of Mark is attracting more attention, from rather different perspectives (cf. previously here and here).

Francis Watson has attempted to move from 'suspicion of forgery' to 'beyond reasonable doubt' in a paper published recently in JTS. This is an interesting read, and raises some questions, although occasionally it gets a bit ridiculous. To my mind it doesn't close the discussion.

Francis Watson, 'Beyond Suspicion: on the Authorship of the Mar Saba Letter and the Secret Gospel of Mark' JTS 61 (2010), 128-170.

Roger Viklund has posed some questions about Stephen Carlson's use of relatively poor photographs in his hand-writing analysis: Tremors, or Just an Optical Illusion? A Further Evaluation of Carlson’s Handwriting Analysis.

Scott G. Brown and Allan J. Pantuck have posed some questions about Stephen Carlson's use of an external hand-writing expert in 'Stephen Carlson’s Questionable Questioned Document Examination' here at Timo S. Paananen's web-site which is a good resource on SGM matters).

Up-date: The BAR have recently published an opinion on the Letter to Theodore by a "qualified" document expert (I use the quotation marks deliberately - check out the qualifications!) which opines that Smith probably did not write the 18th Cent. Greek text. Here. (It is not dated; hopefully it was not the first of April.)
Up-date 1a: Peter Jeffery comments on the hand-writing analyses here with discussion here.
Up-date 1b: Some questions are raised about the qualifications of the "expert" in the comments here.
Up-date 2: Surprise, surprise ... the other BAR expert (who seems actually to be an expert), apparently disagrees, but his report is not finished so you'll have to buy the next issue. See here.

What do I think? I wish I knew. Here is something I wrote recently:
M. Smith discovered a letter from Clement of Alexandria to (an otherwise unknown) Theodore written in an eighteenth-century hand in the back of a published book (see M. Smith, Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel of Mark (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1973) also ‘Clement of Alexandria and Secret Mark: The Score at the End of the First Decade’, HTR 75 (1982), 449-461). Among other things this letter mentions three expanded forms of Mark’s Gospel: the original Gospel, a secret gospel also written by Mark (on the basis of notes), and a further expansion used by Carpocratians (on whom cf. Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. I.25). If this was an authentic letter of Clement it would provide evidence for expanded versions of Mark known in Alexandria, and in the third case at least, the expansions would reflect the views of a libertarian sect. However, I consider this letter to be of doubtful authenticity – specifically on the grounds of its extremely late attestation, the uncertain provenance of the manuscript, certain stylistic questions about the relationship of the letter to Clement’s normal style (A. H. Criddle, ‘On the Mar Saba Letter Attributed to Clement of Alexandria’ JECS 3.2 (1995), 215-220), and the impression that the letter seeks to disclose the contents of the secret gospel (F. Watson), and the air of mystery which the original editor encouraged by his dedication of his book ‘to the one who knows’. I have not, however, found recent attempts to prove that M. Smith was himself the author of the Clementine letter (S. Carlson, The Gospel Hoax: Morton Smith's Invention of Secret Mark (Texas: Baylor University Press, 2005); P. Jeffrey, The Secret Gospel of Mark Unveiled: Imagined Rituals of Sex, Death, and Madness in a Biblical Forgery (Yale: Yale University Press, 2007); F. Watson, ‘Beyond Suspicion: On the Authorship of the Mar Saba Letter and the Secret Gospel of MarkJTS (forthcoming)) completely persuasive (cf. esp. S.G. Brown, Mark's Other Gospel: Rethinking Morton Smith's Controversial Discovery (ESCJ 15; Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2005); ‘Factualizing the Folklore: Stephen Carlson's Case Against Morton Smith’ HTR 99 (2006), 291-327; ‘The Question of Motive in the Case Against Morton Smith’ JBL 125 (2006), 351-383; ‘Reply to Stephen Carlson’ ExpT 117:4 (2006), 144-149; ‘The Letter to Theodore: Stephen Carlson’s Case against Clement’s Authorship’ JECS 16 (2008), 535-572 and recently R. Viklund, ‘Tremors, or Just an Optical Illusion? A Further Evaluation of Carlson’s Handwriting Analysis’ (accessed March 2010)).

Zooniverse and Oxyrhynchus

If you are keen on Greek manuscripts, and in between a PhD and job, you may want to explore the postdoctoral opportunity at Oxford advertised here. Here is an excerpt:

"The collections of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri project are an incredibly rich resource. Previous work to transcribe them en masse relied on image processing techniques which were unable to reliably recover the Greek text. The problem faced in classifying and transcribing large numbers of the papyri, however, is one of pattern recognition, a task to which the human brain is well suited. By using a flexible web-based interface, the job of transcribing can be shared not only with a small number of scholars, but also with a force of volunteers at least 250,000 strong, spread around the globe. The successful candidate would be part of the first large scale application of techniques developed for distributed citizen science to textual analysis and as such will serve as an exemplar of the potential for this technique in the humanities."

The concept is successfully underway with galaxy classification within the Galaxy Zoo project. Read the Time magazine article, here.

A Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible (Zondervan)

Editors: A. Philip Brown II, Bryan W. Smith, Richard J. Goodrich, Albert L. Lukaszewski

Format: European Leather, Black

List Price: $74.99 (USD) Book & Bible Cover Size: Large
Page Count: 2256

Paper Edge Description: Plain
Size: 7.1 wide x 10 high x 2.4 deep in. | 180 wide x 254 high x deep 61 mm
Weight: 4.13 lb | 1871 gms

Recently I was presented with a beautiful copy of A Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible (RHGB) in Fine-Grain Black European Leather which comes in a nice paper box. The RHGB is published by Zondervan and edited by A. P. Brown II and B. W. Smith (Hebrew Bible); R. J. Goodrich and A. L. Lukaszewski (Greek New Testament). The two parts, previously published separately and well received, have now been brought together in one handsome volume produced in leather.

The text of the Hebrew part is based on the Leningrad Codex (L) and there are no text-critical notes in this part. Instead, on the bottom section of every page are glosses meant to aid the user in reading the Hebrew Bible. Note that these are not definitions, only glossses to suggest to the reader the particular sense(s) that seems to be emloyed in a given context. The glosses, according to the introduction (p. xviii-xviv) are based on The Hebrew-Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT) and Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon of the Old Testament (BDB), and in some cases ”alternative lexical sources.”

As for the Greek New Testament part, the printed text, according to the introduction (pp. 9-10), has developed in two stages. In the mid-eighties, Edward Goodrick and John Kohlenberger III compiled the text that underlie the New International Version (NIV). That text deviates from UBS3/4 at points where the NIV translators had made different textual choices. The text then went through a second stage as Gordon Fee went over it in the 90’s and adjusted it according to decisions made by the The New International Version (TNIV) committee. This is the text used in A Reader’s Greek New Testament.

For convenience sake, however, variations from the UBS text are noted in a textual apparatus, below the section with glosses for the Greek words. A quick perusal gives at hand that the textual apparatus not only contains the deviating UBS variants, but there are also other significant variants, although the attesting manuscript witnesses are not listed, but rather ”Some Mss Add” or ”Earlier Mss,” etc. A third feature of this apparatus is the indication of Old Testament citations.

The definitions used for the Greek glosses were based on the word lists of Warren Trenchard’s Complete Vocabularly Guide to the Greek New Testament (intro, p. 10), and each was systematically checked to ensure the suitability to the particular context. Thus, in a number of cases, the glosses had to be revised in consultation with standard lexica.

At this point I have little to complain about. One lack that suprises me, in light of the (probable) high cost of production, is the quality of the bookbinding. In comparison with my NIV Study Bible that has rounded corners and a binding that gives a rather solid impression, the new RHGB, an even thicker tome, has somewhat thinner and softer cover without rounded corners, and the leather in the corners already sticks out a bit from inside the binding. I see a potential risk that the binding will not last as long as the rest of the book, technically speaking, although one can always keep it in the beautiful paper box, and/or use it carefully. The binding of my copy of A Reader’s Hebrew Bible in Italian Duo-Tone also does not have rounded corners, but there is a seam around the edge of the cover, and this binding looks more durable to me.

You can order A Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible directly from Zondervan here (price: $74.99).

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tyndale House and Bible and Church Conference

This week I was contacted by the librarian at Tyndale House. The Tyndale House Library wanted to purchase my commentary on Hebrews in Swedish! I have understood that the aim of this amazing library is to acquire all academic books about the Bible in all languages! This is no modest goal, but in order to achieve it, the Tyndale House ministry needs all support it can get.

Several of our blogmembers are affiliated to Tyndale House but they very seldom tell us about all the wonderful things that are going on all the time at Tyndale House, probably out of modesty. I for one would like to know more. Okay, not everything is immediately related to textual criticism, but I think practically all our readers have a general interest in Biblical Studies.

In any case, in the recent Tyndale House Newsletter we get to know about the plans for the next steps: the future expansion of the library and the increase to the ministry of Tyndale House. Central to these steps is to make the work more widely known, and therefore the Newsletter needs to be more widely distributed. So go here to subscribe. There you can also subscribe to the monthly e-News updates (latest eNews from March here). On the same page you can also read the latest issue (and earlier) of the Newsletter. There are nice pictures of our two Peters, Head and Williams. We are also reminded of the thirty minute documentary on "The Jesus Accounts" featuring Peter Head.

Another approaching major event organized by Tyndale House is the Bible and Church conference. This year, on Saturday June 12th, the three speakers (and ETC bloggers) Peter Williams, Dirk Jongkind and Simon Gathercole meet up again at St Helen's Bishopsgate in the heart of London to give three lectures: "Evidence of Eyewitnesses," "Evidence of Manuscripts," and "Evidence of History." It would be nice to have a comment or two about last year's conference. How did it go? Was it well attended? I have noted that one can order a DVD of the talks here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Craig Evans Debates Bart Ehrman

About two weeks ago (yes, we're slow sometimes), there was a live debate hosted by First Family Church, Overland Park, KS, between Craig Evans, Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College of Acadia University, in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada and Bart Ehrman, the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The debate evolved around seven questions:

1: Are the gospels historically reliable?

2: Do the gospels accurately preserve the teachings of Jesus Christ?

3: Do the gospels accurately preserve the activities of Jesus Christ?

4: Do the gospels contain eyewitness tradition?

5: Do archaeologists and historians use the gospels as sources?

6: Have the gospels been accurately preserved done through the centuries

7: Do scribal errors and textual variants significantly impact any teaching of Jesus or any important Christian teaching?

See a video of the debate here.

Or, listen to an audio recording here.

If you don't have time, you can read a (tendentious and humorous) summary of the arguments here.

Finally, a reflection: a local church hosting a debate between two New testament scholars would be something very unusual in Sweden. Local churches here seem to pay little attention to what the academy does (they should since it will affect them).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"Archaic Mark" – Final Verdict

As we have known for many years now, Chicago MS 972 = Archaic Mark = Greg.-Aland 2427 is a modern production. In the latest issue of Novum Testamentum 52 (2010) 101-133, Margaret M. Mitchell, Joseph G. Barabe and Abigail B. Quandt have published an article, "Chicago’s 'Archaic Mark' (ms 2427) II. Microscopic, Chemical and Codicological Analyses Confirm Modern Production" in which they give the final verdict from their analysis of the manuscript in the following areas:

* physical and chemical make up
* palaeography,
* iconography,
* textual readings

It is nice to see that Stephen Carlson is duly acknowledged in the very first paragraph as the scholar who exposed "Archaic Mark" from the fourth perspective, textual readings:
The latter line of inquiry, into possible modern editions that might have been used to account for the codex’s surprising level of concurrence with Codex Vaticanus,3 has been taken up skillfully by Stephen C. Carl- son, who proposed that the exemplar used by the scribe of ms 2427 was the 1860 edition of the Greek New Testament by Philipp Buttmann,4 indicating that the manuscript is a modern forgery.

It is good to now also have a comprehensive analysis of the three other areas, not only to confirm the MS as a forgery, as I see it, but to gain insights from the methods and results in order to expose other forgeries in the future - the subtitle to Abigail Quandt's portion is telling: "Reconstruction of the Forger’s Technique." She concludes:
In summary, the materials and processes used in the creation of the “Archaic Mark” reinforce, on the one hand, what is already known about manuscript forgeries during the modern period and, on the other hand, give us an even deeper understanding of the careful work that went into creating such a complex and ultimately successful forgery that has mystified scholars up until the present day.

In Mitchell's final portion titled "The Forger’s Textual Dependence" Stephen Carlson's "keen detective work" is acknowledged, but also Wieland Willker:
The most extensive list of comparisons of ms 2427 with Buttmann’s 1860 edition, following on and confirming Carlson’s proposal, was made in an excellent online contribution by Dr. Wieland Willker. Willker lists nine “first rate indications” of agreement between ms 2427 and features unique to Buttmann, and seven instances as “additional supporting evidence.” Tracing the genealogical history accounting for these “unique features” and “very rare or unusual readings” in the Buttmann edition allows us to confirm how strong and decisive the case is for its use by the forger of ms 2427.

Wieland's online contribution “Ms 2427 – a fake” (2006) is available here.

Epilogue: Another Fake by the Same Scribe?
A while ago I wrote a long report on the story of "Archaic Mark" here. Towards the end I hinted at another manuscript which was probably copied by the same scribe and illuminator who worked on "Archaic Mark," and in the comments, Wieland Willker correctly guessed that I was talking about Greg.-Aland 2537 in the Hermitage of St. Petersburg. The original claim was made in an article: Mary Virginia Orna et al, “Applications of Infrared Microspectroscopy to Art Historical Questions about Medieval Manuscripts,” in Archaeological Chemistry IV (ed. Ralph O. Allen; Advances in Chemistry Series 220; Washington, D.C.: American Chemical Society, 1989) 270. It is clear that the text of MS 2537 is different. The question is whether it was copied from a real manuscript or another edition? A brief report from anyone who wants to check by e.g., going through Text und Textwert is welcome and could be published on this blog.

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Vetus Latina fragment of Acts

Jean-Louis SIMONET writes: "A new Vetus Latina fragment of the Acts of the Apostles (Ac 4:9-22, 12th Century) will soon appear, in the next issue of "La revue bénédictine". My article (in French) about this fragment will be entitled "Une lecture vieille latine des Actes des Apôtres dans un recueil liturgique de Graz". It includes a description, a transcription of the Latin text, and a discussion of the place of this new fragment in the Latin tradition of the Acts. The same manuscript also includes two fragments (Ac 14;8-17, 14:19-15:14) of the Vulgata, which I collate from the Stuttgart edition."

Friday, April 09, 2010

Relevance of Greek Discourse Studies to Exegesis and Textual Criticism

Stephen Carlson (Hypotyoseis) draws the attention to Stephen H. Levinsohn's online article, “The Relevance of Greek Discourse Studies to Exegesis," Journal of Translation 2 (2006) 11-21. In particular the article treats three discourse-related areas which, according to the writer, tend to be handled unsatisfactorily in exegesis: the order of constituents in the clause and sentence, the presence versus absence of the article with nouns, and the significance of the conjunctions used. Stephen Carlson rightly points out that these areas are of great significance for textual criticism as well.

Two years ago I had a fine student, Annika Ralston, who is acquinted personally with Levinsohn as she has been involved in work with Summer Institute of Linguistics. Anyway, she wrote an essay under my supervision: "Discourse Analysis and Interpretation: A Test Case in Matthew 24–25," and it is available here.

Accordance Users Conference and Textual Studies Sale

Accordance will host a users conference with "nationwide invitation" (although I assume it is a worldwide invitation since I received it). This is the first "Users Conference" and it will be held in the Dallas, TX area in September 24-25, 2010. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Martin Abegg, leading Dead Sea Scrolls scholar.

See the full announcement here.

Further, during April to May 9, Accordance offers a 20% discount off their usual price on textual studies modules:

Critical editions and tools
* CNTTS Apparatus (whole NT), $80
* Tischendorf's 8th edition, $40
* The Mac Bibel Studienbibel including the GNT NA 27 apparatus and the BHS apparatus, $119
* LXX Swete Apparatus with text (when complete will cover the whole LXX), $88
LXX Cambridge Apparatus, more in depth but never completed, $48
"LXX Apparatus add-on" including both Swete and Cambridge, $120

Göttingen Text and Apparatus: Torah and Ruth to be released soon (not on sale).

Textual commentaries and notes:

* Comfort's Textual Commentary, $36
* Metzger's Textual Commentary, $28
* NET Notes (available with the NET Group), $30.
* MT-LXX Parallel aligns the Greek and Hebrew texts word for word, $80

Unfortunately, the digital versions of Bezae, Vaticanus, Washingtoniensis and the GNT Papyrus module are not on sale.

More details about the Textual Studies Sale here.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

New Commentary on Hebrews


Finally, my new commentary on Hebrews is out (in Swedish), With Eyes Fixed on Jesus: The Epistle to the Hebrews. Tomorrow we will have a release party at Örebro Theological Seminary, when I will present the commentary, be interviewed, and hopefully sign some copies.

The commentary is the fifth in the Swedish commentary series Nya testamentets budskap (The Message of the New Testament). I would characterize it as an intermediate level commentary.

For Scandinavian readers who want to order the book, go here (Sweden); here (Norway); here (Denmark); here (Finland).

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Greek NT MSS from the Gruber Rare Books Collection on-line

I was meaning to post on The Gruber Rare Books Collection at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago a long time ago, but now is the perfect time, because Jeff Hargis announced the other day on W. Willker's textual criticism discussion-list that the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) have posted images of fourteen Greek New Testament manuscripts in the collection:
CSNTM is pleased to announce the posting of fourteen Greek New Testament manuscripts from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, as well as a single leaf held by a private owner in Chicago. The manuscripts were photographed in March 2010 by a team from the Center and include GA 1424, an important late 9th or early 10th century manuscript that includes the entire New Testament. The manuscripts are posted on the “Manuscripts” section of the website. CSNTM is grateful to Dr. Ralph Klein, curator of the Rare Books Collection of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and to Dr. Edgar Krentz, for permission to post these images.

The Gruber Collection was mainly assembled by L. Franklin Gruber (1870-1941), President of Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary, Maywood, Illinois. The MSS dates from the 9th to the 13th centuries. The most well-known, as apparent from Hargis' announcement is Greg.-Aland 1424. One of the interesting features of this MS is the so-called TO IOUDAIKON scholia found in few GNT MSS (incidentally, one other is in Sweden, so I have prepared an article including a brief treatment of the scholia and its suggested connection to the Jerusalem colophon).

As we have reported earlier on this blog, here, Dr. Nadezhda Kavrus-Hoffmann is cataloguing the Greek Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts in collections in the United States.

In March last year, she was at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Chicago. She then found that the MSS had been studied very little by Seymour De Ricci and Kenneth Clark who had put together earler catalogues, and there were some erroneous information. For example, Kenneth Clark had dated one the MS to the latter 12th century, but Kavrus-Hoffman found palaeographic evidence that suggested a later date, and also the style of the miniatures confirmed her judgment.

In another MS there were notes in the margins about a solar eclips which helped her to establish the date and location of the scribe when he wrote the note.

Read the whole story here. I will come back with more news about Kavrus-Hoffmann's work.

An overview of the Greek New Testament MSS in the Gruber collection is found here.

The images of the MSS are found at CSNTM here.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Textual criticism of the ETC blog

We found many words here in one exemplar of the ETC blog, but these words could not be found in the manuscript corrected by Pamphilus the Martyr. We have therefore removed them.