Sunday, May 30, 2010

James Edwards on Chapter Divisions in the Gospel Manuscripts

In the latest issue of New Testament Studies is an article by James R. Edwards entitled, "The Hermeneutical Significance of Chapter Divisions in Ancient Gospel Manuscripts". The abstract reads:

The study commences with the five major ways of dividing the gospels in Christian history, after which the focus falls on the hermeneutical significance of the Old Greek Divisions. The most defining characteristic of the Divisions is their tendency to demarcate chapters on the basis of the miracles and parables of Jesus. In lieu of miracles or parables, major units of Jesus' teaching also determine Old Greek Divisions. The Synoptic passion narratives, and particularly Matthew's, display the greatest precision and organization among the Divisions. Titles of divisions aided in locating specific passages, identified corresponding material in the gospels by the same title, and when read or memorized in sequence offered an overview of the gospel narratives.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

GA 086

The majority of Gregory-Aland 086 is currently held in the British Library. This summer I will be studying this palimpsest manuscript for my dissertation as it contains both Greek and Fayumic texts of John in its scriptio inferior. The manuscript was reused for a variety of purposes. The thirteen British Library leaves were reused for mathematical problems, and have recently been conserved and imaged with state-of-the-art technology (Coppen-Jacobs, 2009). Their original publicationis available online (Crum, JTS 1:3 [1900]:415-433).

The image above was published by Henri Munier, and identified by Crum as a further page of the same manuscript. The scriptio superior is a martyrdom. Siegfried Richter (Münster) identified this manuscript (CM 3890) at the Coptic Museum. Current transcriptions have been made only from the sepia photograph publish by Munier (above). The Munier edition is public domain, and can be downloaded, here.

I hope to make ultraviolet images of the manuscript, and also to share the images with my IGNTP collaborators in Münster and Birmingham. I believe that I have found a further leaf of 086 in another European library containing Mark, but it will be some time before I can say more. More on ultraviolet photography, soon.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Question Time: Why are these three passages interesting?


If Samuelsson Is Right about Crucifixion All Lexica Need Revision

Last Friday Gunnar Samuelsson successfylly defended his thesis "Crucifixion in Antiquity: An Inquiry into the Background of the New Testament Terminology of Crucifixion" at Gothenburg University (supervisor Samuel Byrskog).

The external examiner Erkki Koskenniemi Professor of Åbo University, Finland, was drastic in his opening when he said that "if Gunnar Samuelsson is right, then all lexica will need revision on this point." "Koskenniemi also pointed out that "if Gunnar Samuelsson is wrong, he will from this moment be known as the Gunnar Samuelsson who wrote about the cross."


This study investigates the philological aspects of how ancient Greek, Latin and Hebrew/Aramaic texts, including the New Testament, depict the practice of punishment by crucifixion. A survey of the ancient text material shows that there has been a too narrow view of the “crucifixion” terminology. The various terms are not simply used in the sense of “crucify” and “cross,” if by “crucifixion” one means the punishment that Jesus was subjected to according to the main Christian traditions. The terminology is used much more diversely. Almost none of it can be elucidated beyond verbs referring vaguely to some form(s) of suspension, and nouns referring to tools used in such suspension. As a result, most of the crucifixion accounts that scholars cite in the ancient literature have to be rejected, leaving only a few. The New Testament is not spared from this terminological ambiguity. The accounts of the death of Jesus are strikingly sparse. Their chief contribution is usage of the unclear terminology in question. Over-interpretation, and probably even pure imagination, have afflicted nearly every wordbook and dictionary that deals with the terms related to crucifixion as well as scholarly depictions of what happened on Calvary. The immense knowledge of the punishment of crucifixion in general, and the execution of Jesus in particular, cannot be supported by the studied texts.

Order the monograph from the department by sending an e-mail to: gunnar[dot]samuelsson[at]telia[dot]com

"Crucifixion in Antiquity: An Inquiry into the Background of the New Testament Terminology of Crucifixion"
ISSN: 1102-9773
ISBN: 978-91-88348-35-7

Update: Below I will cite the concluding chapter seven, "Answers to the basic questions of the investigation." I will cite the six questions and some significant parts of the answers (but not all - buy the book!):

1) "First, what is the ancient - pre-Christian - terminology of crucifixion? The answer is that there was no such terminology. There was only a terminology of suspension - a group of words and idioms that were used more or less interchangeably when referring to various forms of suspension ... The problem is that no specific terminology is linked to this particular form of execution - before the execution of Jesus.

When it comes to the individual terms, some conclusions can be drawn. A σταυρός is a pole in the broadest sense. It is not the equivalent of a 'cross' (†). In some cases, it is a kind of suspension device, used for the suspension of corpses, torture or in a few cases executionary suspensions. Very little or nothing is said about what it was made of or how it looked."


And so it goes on with (ἀνα)σταυροῦν and ἀνασκολοπίζειν, crux and patibulum. For example, Samuelsson says "crux is more firmly connected with the suspension of humans than σταυρός." "The ecclesiastically pregnant term crucifigiere did not evolve until the final years before the Common Era, and its usage is hard to define beyond denoting 'to attach in some way to a crux."

Then comes Hebrew/Aramaic terminology.


2) "Second, what can be said about the punishment that the term describes? The punishment consists in fact of punishments. There is a large group of terms and idioms which refer to varous acts of suspension, and this is almost all that can be said about 'the punishment' - it comprises various acts of suspension. ... What happened to Jesus on Calvary might then be only a momentary expression of local caprice. Previous and subsequent executions might have been completely different. What has become the solid image in the centre of the Christian faith might be just a freak of fate, not an expression of a well-defined and long-used execution form."

3) "Third, how do the New Testament authors depict the death of Jesus on the philological level? The New Testament authors are strikingly silent about the punishment Jesus had to suffer on Calvary ..."

4) "Fourth, how is the punishment of crucifixion defined by previous scholars?"

5) "Fifth, how do the insights from the present stud of the ancient texts cohere with the contributions of the major lexica and dictionaries? The outcome of the comparative study is that they are incoherent. At the heart of the discrepancy is the usage of the labels 'cross' and 'crucifixion' in the lexica and dictionaries. The label 'cross' is commonly applied to many more texts which contain σταυρός than those which - with at least a decent amount of certainty - can be determined to contain a reference to the punishment tool used in crucifixion in a traditional sense. In the same way, the label 'crucifixion' is applied to a large number of texts where the only qualifier is the occurence of, e.g., (ἀνα)σταυροῦν and ἀνασκολοπίζειν. In short, a lot of texts are identified as references to 'crucifixion' on the basis of a simple conjecture."

6) "Sixth, how has the punishment of crucifixion been depicted, and how should it be depicted in the light of the present investigation?"

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cambridg Clasicists are smartt!

Read about recent renovations to our Classics faculty, here. I assume that we will be having this one fixed.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Traianos Gagos Obituary

The University of Michigan Classics website now includes an obituary for Traianos Gagos which was skillfully written by Ludwig Koenen. You can donate to the Traianos Gagos Fund for Papyrology or read the obituary, here.

Visiting Cairo

I will be in Cairo from 4–12 June visiting some colleagues, accessing a manuscript, and seeing some wonders with my family. This photo of me was taken at St. Macarius' monastery in Wadi el-Natrun. Although their choice of reading lights is a bit eccentric, the monastery boasts an excellent library, especially with respect to biblical studies.

I am excited about visiting the Center for Middle Eastern Christianity at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo. This new institution (est. 2005) has hosted presentations discussing the Egyptian biblical tradition, and hopefully will be a strategic center for future research, particularly for Arab Christians. I will also visit some churches with friends.

In a future post, I hope to comment on some work which I hope to accomplish at the Coptic Museum with a palimpsest manuscript there. Using ultraviolet lights which I have purchased, I hope to produce new images of a largely unedited Greek-Coptic New Testament manuscript.

My family will accompany me. Please let me know if you have any suggestions for Cairo activities which are appropriate for my children (aged 3, 7, 9).

Luck on Conjectural Emendations

G. Luck, 'Conjectural emendations in the Greek New Testament' in M. Sanz Morales, M. Librán Moreno (ed.), Verae Lectiones: estudios de crítica textual y edición de textos griegos. Exemplaria classica: Vol. Anejo 1. Huelva: Universidad de Huelvá, 2009, pp. 169-202

This book (which includes other interesting chapters on the textual criticism and editing of Greek literature is reviewed over by David Butterfield at BMCR , including an appreciative paragraph on Luck's chapter:
Probably the most impressive article in the collection is the spicilegium of emendations upon the Greek New Testament gathered by Georg Luck, who fairly observes that the 20th century has seen something of a return to the 'Mumpsimus' style of conservatism to which a religious text instinctively allures its readers. His treatment merits careful attention from scholars given to knee-jerk rejections against modern conjectural emendation, whose antipathy subsides significantly if the conjectural nature of a reading is obscured by its occurring in an anonymous 'witness'. Luck discusses 32 passages from the NT, typically supporting a previous conjecture but in three cases (Mt. 16:2b-3, Lk. 14:5, Acts 17:26) offering his own afresh. His treatment of the various loci that have been typically acknowledged as problematic is masterly in its lucidity and logic. I find Luck's arguments convincing in twenty cases, and worthy of serious investigation in eleven other instances; at Acts 17:26, however, the vulgate: ἐξ ἑνός can easily understand ἀνθρώπου in reference to Adam.
Up-date: Stephen Carlson had already noted the article and listed the passages it deals with:
In the article, Luck discusses conjectures at Matt 6:28-9, 7:25, 8:30, 16:2b-3; Mark 9:23, 10:40, 12:4-5; Luke 6:1, 14:5; John 1:18, 7:52, 19:29; Acts 5:17, 16:12, 17:26, 20:28; Rom 9:5; 1 Cor 2:4, 2:13, 4:6, 12:13b; Gal 2:1; Phil 2:1-6, 2:30; Philem 9; Heb 11:4, 11:37; James 4:2, 4:5; 1 Pet 3:18-19; Rev 7:16, and 15:3.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A New Discovery in Athens?

Dan Wallace with crew from Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts are out again on expeditions to Greece and Romania to "hunt down" and photograph manuscripts. Right now they are in Athens and it may well be that they have identified yet another unregistered Greek New Testament manuscript.

Read the report here.

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News from the Virtual Manuscript Room

Great news from the Virtual Manuscript Room in Münster. Martin Faßnacht reports that eight new minuscules are available: 579, 1661, 1751, 2174, 2403, 2411, 2429 und 2743. Three of them are commentary MSS of Revelation.

Further, one of the Turin MSS, Greg.-Aland 338, which we reported on here asking for help with identification has now been identified to a large extent with the assistance of several users, e.g., Maurice Robinson and Steven Whatley who posted their identifications in the comments section to the post above. Bruce Morrill entered the data into the VMR. There is still work to do e.g. on B.VI.43 (=90002) half of which pages have been identified.

Further, Jairo Paes Cavalcante Filho has worked extensively on 339 (in B.V.8) and identified the following NT books: Mark, John, Acts, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians and James. There is still work to do here too, there are some litte fragments which must be identified yet. The data will be entered into the system, but at this point it has been made available in a PDF-file: List → GA 339 → Dossier_CavalcanteFilho_1.

Martin also says, in connection to our post on P126, that he has "expanded the possibility to link in the Handchriftenliste not only resources from the INTF Archiv but also from external links. Now one can find the articel of Claire Clivaz also in the Handschriftenliste under the GA number P126."

Update (22 May): I have corrected some errors in the post above.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


The Society for Old Testament Study presents the AILEEN GUILDING CONFERENCE

‘The Septuagint and the Old Testament in the New’

Convened by Professor Cheryl Exum, President of the Society for Old Testament Study made possible by a legacy left to SOTS by Aileen Guilding.

University of Sheffield
21st ­ 23rd JULY 2010
4.00 p.m. Registration
7.00 p.m. Dinner
Joint Session with the SOTS 86th Summer Meeting
8.15 p.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks: Professor David Clines
(Sheffield), ‘Aileen Guilding and Her Work’
8.30 p.m. Professor Kristin De Troyer (St Andrews), ‘The Septuagint
and the New Testament: Another Look at the Samuel­/Kings Quotations and Allusions in the New Testament’
7.30-8:30 a.m. Breakfast
9.15 a.m. Professor Steve Moyise (Chichester), ‘Quotation and Allusion in Paul: The Minor Prophets as Test Case’
10.45 a.m. Coffee
11.15 a.m. Professor George Brooke (Manchester), ‘The Influence of the Dead Sea Scrolls on Modern Interpretations of Jewish Traditions in the New Testament’
12.00 noon Dr John Tudno Williams (Aberystwyth), ‘The Fourth Gospel and Jewish Worship: Guilding’s Theory Revisited’
1.00 p.m. Lunch
2.15 p.m. Dr Jenny Dines (Cambridge), ‘What If the Reader is a She? Biblical Women and Their Translators’
3.00 p.m. Dr James Aitken (Cambridge), ‘Translating Social Status in the Septuagint’
3.45 p.m. Tea
4.30 p.m. Dr John Jarick (Oxford), ‘Imagining a qohelet as an ekklesiastes’
5.15 p.m. Dr Angela Thomas (Norwich), ‘Fear and Trembling: Body Imagery in the Hebrew Bible and the Septuagint’
7.30 p.m. Closing banquet
7.30 a.m. Breakfast, followed by departure

For more details see here

Clivaz on P126 in EC 1

You may have thought there were enough print journals in the world already (cf. our previous discussion here) - especially if you are a librarian with finite shelf space and a strict budget. But not everyone would agree with you, especially not the publishers and presumably the editors of a new journal called Early Christianity, which according to its editorial manifesto, focuses on the study of early Christianity as a historical phenomenon, and deals with both first and second century (and beyond that judging from the first issue). In the first issue (available as a sample free here, otherwise 199 Euros for four issues per annum) there are lots of interesting articles (mostly, it must be admitted, on Pauline theology [a subject which I believe is sometimes treated in other journals]), including a section on New Discoveries which contains:
Claire Clivaz, A New NT Papyrus: (PSI 1497), 158–162.

This includes photographs of P126 (which we have previously discussed here), and some further reflection on the two points of interested noted in our earlier post.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Another Scribal Blunder

On the Amsterdam NT weblog, Jan Krans has a nice post on the scribal blunder in Codex Corsendocensis (Greg.-Aland 3).

More laughs at scribal blunders, typos in editions, and other stuff here.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rare Book Dealer Bruce Ferrini Dies at 60

Jim Davila/Paleojudaica reports that Bruce Ferrini, the controversial art and antiquities dealer, has died last week at the age of 60. Read more in the Akron Beacon Journal.

Jim Davila has collected older posts with reports of Ferrini here.

Read our earlier reports about Ferrini and MSS here, here

New Dissertation in TC on the Pericope of the Adulteress

A new dissertation in New Testament textual criticism has seen the light at Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen written by John David Punch under the supervision of Jan G. van der Watt, and with the title "The Pericope Adulterae: Theories of Insertion and Omission."

The dissertation, over 400 pages, includes this summary:

While the majority of the scholarly world seems to be settled in accepting the fact that the Pericope Adulterae (John 7:53-8:11) is a non-Johannine interpolation, numerous questions remain unanswered in regards to the pericope, such as who penned these words, where the story originates from, and when was it inserted/omitted/re-inserted into the Fourth Gospel. In addition to this, there are mild debates that continue in regards to Greek manuscripts, the influence of lectionary practice, and the relevancy of the Patristic witnesses. Further, there is a minority who still argue for the inclusion of the Pericope Adulterae in the Fourth Gospel. Though there is a majority viewpoint, issues related to John 7:53-8:11 appear to be far from settled.

The present work does not argue for either side, but instead tests a hypothesis of several theories relating to the insertion or omission (and subsequent re-insertion) of the passage from the Gospel of John. Such theories are proposed in relation to collation of internal and external evidence both for and against the inclusion of the pericope. No particular theory is advocated for; instead each theory is evaluated based upon the evidence presented in this work and suggestions for further work are offered.

Chapter 1 presents an introduction to the Pericope Adulterae itself, along with a brief summary of the history of biblical interpretation and the history of such interpretation in relation to the Gospel of John in particular. Five theories of omission/insertion are then highlighted, setting the foundation for the work that will follow. These theories are categorized as Redactional Insertion, Ecclesiastical Insertion, Liturgical Omission, Accidental Omission, and Ecclesiastical Suppression.

Chapter 2 summarizes the history of research regarding John 7:53-8:11, beginning with the nineteenth century developments in textual criticism that broke away from Textus Receptus. This summary is not exhaustive, but rather highlights the major movements in the research of this passage up to the present day, detailing scholars who have either had a profound impact on textual criticism, written major works relating to the Pericope Adulterae, or written multiple works on the subject.

Chapter 3 presents a working translation and exegesis of the pericope. The translation is offered with comparison to the numerous variants associated with the passage; the exegesis is offered based upon the traditional location of John 7:53-8:11 immediately following John 7:52 and preceding 8:12.

Chapters 4 and 5 discuss the internal evidence of the literary context, style, and vocabulary of the Pericope Adulterae. In Chapter 4, comparison The Pericope Adulterae: Theories of Insertion & Omission is made between the pericope and the immediate context of John 7-8 as well as the larger context of the Gospel of John. This includes discussion of various themes common to the Tabernacles Discourse and to the Gospel of
John as a whole. Further, issues of transition between John 7:52 and 8:12 are evaluated. In Chapter 5, suggested “non-Johannine“ and “Johannine“ style and vocabulary are discussed, in addition to arguments relating to hapax legomena, Lukan and/or Synoptic influence, and the relationship between the Pericope Adulterae and Susanna.

Chapter 6 presents the external evidence of the Greek papyri/manuscripts, manuscripts in additional languages, and the Patristic Witnesses. Evaluation is made in regards to both the presence and absence of John 7:53-8:11 in numerous manuscripts and in the works of various Church Fathers. Further, several theories traditionally offered in response to the external evidence, such as Source Theories, Lectionary Text Theories,
Majority Text Theories, and Multiple Edition Theories, are discussed as well.

Chapter 7 discusses each of the theories presented in Chapter 1. The five theories presented include Redactional Insertion, suggesting that a later Johannine redactor or community inserted the pericope at a later date; Ecclesiastical Interpolation, suggesting that later scribes not related to the Johannine redactor or community inserted the pericope; Liturgical Omission, suggesting that due to lectionary practice and manuscripts the pericope was omitted; Accidental Omission, suggesting that multiple copies of the Gospel of John were released, one without the pericope and one with the pericope; and Ecclesiastical Suppression, suggesting that the Church omitted the pericope out of fears that it could be misinterpreted and/or misapplied. Each theory is treated individually, though at times theories overlap with one another. Further, each is evaluated based upon the evidence presented in Chapters 4-6. Following this evaluation, suggestions for further study of the Pericope Adulterae are offered.

Although the author said in the summary that "[n]o particular theory is advocated for" it is nevertheless clear that in the end he favors #5 Ecclesiastical Suppression, as he concludes his examination on p. 359, right before the final heading "Proposed further study":
Ultimately, theory #5 accounts for the internal and external evidence in a less complex fashion than the four other theories suggested. There are questions that remained unanswered and the theory is likely unproveable, but arguably there does not appear to be a better theory that has been suggested to date that accounts for all the evidence.

I have not read in any detail, but I assume it was suitable to treat this theory as the the concluding one, being able to account for all the evidence, after difficulties with the other theories had been laid out.

The dissertation is freely available here.

A presentation (in Dutch) of the author and the thesis is found here (on p. 6). This is my attempt to translate Dutch (updatethanks to Jan Krans who made some corrections in the comments):

"John David Punch has studied theology at the University of Pretoria, Literature and Biblical Studies at Birmingham Theological Seminary, and Science and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alabama. Punch has been involved in church work and worked as youth pastor; he has been a member of the Briarwood Presbyterian Church Youth Ministry Staff and worked as Park Street Church Minister to Youth in Boston USA. The promotion [=research leading to the promotion] was supervised by the Research Institute for Religious Studies and Theology."

Congratulations to the new doctor!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Eisenbrauns' Text-Critical Deal of the Day

Eisenbrauns is offering the following title at reduced price:

Scribes and Scripture: New Testament Essays in Honor of J. Harold Greenlee

Edited by David Alan Black
Eisenbrauns, 1992. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9780931464706

Sale Price: $10.50

The sale ends noon, Eastern US time on Monday.

More at Eisenbrauns.

Video Clip Featuring Trajanos Gagos and the Michigan Papyrus Collection

One of our readers, "Donna" left a comment on our announcement of the tragic death of "Traianos Gagos (1960-2010)" which I thought deserves a main post:

We are deeply saddened to hear this news.
Here is a short video we produced about the U of M Papyrus Collection featuring Traianos. He could not have been more helpful - a wonderful spirit!

Our sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. Many generations of scholars and papyrologists worldwide will benefit from his progressive work through the internet.

Link to the Video Clip:

At one point in the clip, Gagos characteristicially says: "Well, I am a big believer in sharing information, dissemination, 95% of the collection is free on the internet."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Journal Rankings for New Testament

PhD students often ask for advice on the top journals in the field. So here is the list, in three separate tiers, of the top eight journals in New Testament studies. This list uses three published ranking lists (the only three that I am aware of) and my own personal ranking:

The three published ranking lists are:
  1. European Reference Index for the Humanities (ERIH) (published in 2007) (A, B, or C)
  2. Excellence in Research for Australia Initiative (ERA) (published in 2010) (A*, A, B, or C)
  3. J.A. Fitzmyer, An Introductory Bibliography for the Study of Scripture (Rome: PIB, 1990), 12-21 (which marks the top journals with a double asterisk).
The personal ranking is simply a PMH top five. Personal opinion based on experience, discussion, rejection rates (when known), editors.

The top tier is simply those journals ranked at the top of all four lists:
NTS (**) [ERIH: A] [ERA A*] [PMH5]
ZNW (**) [ERIH: A] [ERA A*] [PMH5]
The second tier are those journals lacking a single top rank:
JBL (**) [ERIH: B] [ERA A*] [PMH5]
Rev. Bib. (**) [ERIH: A] [ERA A]
Biblica (**) [ERIH: A] [ERA A*]
CBQ (**) [ERIH: A] [ERA A*]
The third tier is the one other journal lacking two separate top rankings:
Nov. Test. [ERIH: A] [ERA A] [PMH5]
This list works well - the Fitzmyer ratings are very dated in my opinion (although for Biblica and CBQ confirmed by both other systems) but they are balanced by my own opinions. It is nice to have eight on the list because it leaves two spaces free so that you can personalise your own top ten. Clearly it is not (!) open for discussion.
[I got some links from Mark Goodacre]

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sacred Scriptures as Trash

There have been a lot of discussions about the origins of manuscripts of the sacred scriptures, their texts and usage, etc. (e.g. 'the birth of the codex'); but there have been rather fewer studies of the disposal of those manuscripts which were discarded on the rubbish heaps of Oxyrhynchus ('the death of the codex'). I recall (admittedly fairly vaguely at this distance) that in 2006 AnneMarie Luijendijk gave a presentation on this subject at SBL in Washington; and a revised version of that presentation has now been published as a very informative article:

AnneMarie Luijendijk, ‘Sacred Scriptures as Trash: Biblical Papyri from Oxyrhynchus’, Vigiliae Christianae 64 (2010), 217-254.

Here is the abstract:
Most New Testament papyri with a known provenance were found at the site of the ancient Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus, or more precisely: on that city's rubbish mounds. The fact that sacred scriptures were discarded as garbage is surprising in view of the holiness of Christian biblical manuscripts, intrinsically and physically. Yet the trash aspect of provenance has never been adequately problematized or studied. Taking a social-historical and garbological approach, this article demonstrates that at Oxyrhynchus in antiquity entire manuscripts with biblical writings were deliberately discarded by Christians themselves, unrelated to persecution and issues of canonicity.
The basic claim is that 'studying the praxis of discarding manuscripts provides social information on Christian communities and their habits towards holy scriptures' (p. 218). There is some general discussion of Oxyrhynchus and the manuscripts of the Christian scriptures that have been recovered from the rubbish dumps of that site (pp. 221-228). There is an introduction to 'A garbological approach' - the academic study of garbology (Wikipedia also has an introduction) (pp. 228-231). She then presses the tension between early Christian reverence for Scripture generally and their own Gospel manuscripts particularly (examples on pp. 231-236) and their disposal as trash (as distinct from the possibly more respectful/reverential disposal by burial, pp. 236-240).

AML argues that Christians did dispose of their Scriptures as trash (it was not deposited by persecutors, since that called for burning, pp. 240-241); that they did so while regarding them as Sacred Scripture (pp. 241-243); and that although often only fragments survive the likelihood is that they were discarded as whole copies (pp. 243-245): 'these manuscripts either deteriorated (further) on the trash heap, which may explain their present fragmentary state, or they had been torn up before they were discarded' (p. 244). She doesn't so much explain how or why this was done - the evidence of the final stages of usage is rarely very clear - but insists that it is an interesting datum:
'despite all the evidence for the physical holiness of Christian manuscripts, at Oxyrhynchus in late antiquity Christians deliberately discarded entire manuscripts with sacred scriptures as trash'. (p. 250).
An appendix provides brief notes on NT manuscripts which appear to have been discarded as a whole: P115; P5; P13; P70; P77

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Edoardo Crisci and Greek Christian manuscripts

Edoardo Crisci, the Italian paleographer, kindly sent me some fascicles of his writing which I was unable to acquire in my university library (which typically has everything). I am pleasantly surprised not only by the author's generosity, but also by the quality of research which I will outline here, as it is relevant to those of us studying ancient Christian manuscripts.

Edoardo Crisci. “Riflessioni paleografiche (e non solo) sui più antichi manoscritti greci del Nuovo Testamento.” In Oltre la scrittura: variazioni sul tema per Guglielmo Cavallo, edited by Daniele Bianconi and Lucio Del Corso. Dossiers Byzantins 8. Paris: Centre d'études Byzantines, 2008.
In this chapter, Crisci surveys some scholarly debate concerning the manufacture of Christian scriptures in the early period and reviews some of the earliest witnesses, offering comments on their historical relevance and suggestions on their dating. E.g., the author argues that P⁶⁶ is better dated to the first half of the third century than to the late second century (79–81).

Edoardo Crisci. “Papiro e pergamena nella produzione libraria in Oriente fra IV e VIII secolo d.C. Materiali e reflexioni.” Segno e testo 1 (2003): 79–127.
In this article, Crisci makes a simple but important point. Early Christian scribes tended to use parchment in higher quality manuscripts. By circa 600, parchment became the standard medium for biblical and liturgical texts.

Edoardo Crisci. “Note sulla più antica produzione di libri cristiani nell'Oriente greco.” Segno e testo 3 (2005): 93–145.
Basically, the prior article, but on steroids. Crisci has developed and nuanced his earlier analysis of the tradition, including further patristic and statistical evidence.

Edoardo Crisci, Christoph Eggenberger, Robert Fuchs, and Doris Oltrogge. “Il Salterio purpureo Zentralbibliothek Zürich RP 1.” Segno e testo 5 (2007): 31–98, DVD.
I am keen on publishing manuscripts in electronic formats, and those journals with electronic publication seem like a great option for this. Although Segno e Testo does not have electronic access, the publication more than makes up for this by offering a DVD with fine images of the purple Psalms parchment. Additionally, the print publication has excellent color images.

Recommend Segno e testo to your librarian, if your institution is even vaguely interested in manuscript paleography! While the series is primarily Italian language, articles in the other major research languages are also common.

Editio Critica Maior: Review Article

I have written a longish review article on the Editio Critica Maior, which has now been published in the excellent Tyndale Bulletin (feel free to subscribe). Some blog posts in 2007 anticipate a couple of the themes in the published review (see how big?, more thoughts, bold dots).

Here are the details: Peter M. Head, ‘Editio Critica Maior: An Introduction and Assessment’, Tyndale Bulletin 61.1 (2010), 131-152. If you are interested you can find a copy online here.

Up-date: For other NT articles in the same issue see the list with comments at Euaggelion.

Monday, May 10, 2010

How Can You Be a Textual Critic and Not Lose Your Faith?

At the 2009 SBL meeting Juan Hernandez, Assistant Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Bethel University, was interviewed by Dr. Eugenia Constantinou for Ancient Faith Radio, a podcast that serves the Greek and Russian Orthodox communities.

Incidentally, Dr. Constantinou is the translator of Andrew of Caesarea’s commentary on the Apocalypse that has been mentioned here on the blog. (Unfortunately, the commentary/dissertation is not found through that link anymore - perhaps someone can give us an updated link.) More about Constantinou here.

The interview revolves around the question of faith and the Bible’s ancient manuscripts; in particular, how Hernandez can be a textual critic and not lose his faith “like Bart Ehrman” (her words). The interviewer is also interested in knowing how Hernandez ended up in a discipline that is not typically peopled with Hispanic-Americans of Pentecostal background.

The interview begins about 20 minutes into the program and is largely biographic. If you want to begin listening at that point, you can download the podcast and open it in iTunes (or equivalent) and skip forward:

Listen to the interview here.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Reading and Discussing John 2 in Cana in Greek

Last summer I posted on "How to Learn Biblical Languages Effectively" promoting the methods of the Biblical Language Center (BLC), founded and directed by co-blogger Randall Buth.

The learning philosophy of BLC can be summed up as "language immersion," with the idea not to take a detour via another language, whether English or, in my case, Swedish, but to get as immersed as possible in Hebrew or Greek.

There are varying techniques in order to acquire immersion, one of them is Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS). This Spring the BLC organized an intensive Koine Greek language course "With Jesus in the Gaililee" with a "total immersive environment" for ten days over the Easter holiday where the Gospel texts were read in the Gailean environment.

On the second day of this course the participants went to the historical site of Cana where they read and discussed John 2.

Read more on the alef and omega blog.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

How The New Testament Came Together: Reviews

Last year I published a booklet on How the New Testament Came Together (Grove Books). These sort of booklets don't generally get reviewed in academic journals, but I have seen two reviews, one on a blog and one in a Christian newspaper. Since they are both positive (!) I thought I would share them with you in the hope that this useful little booklet would be more widely used.

Andrew Gregory, who is Chaplain at University College in Oxford and teaches NT in the Faculty of Theology over there, reviewed it in the Church of England Newspaper. There does not seem to be any on-line edition so I have posted a copy of the review here.

Fortunately Andrew seemed to really like the booklet, describing it as an 'excellent account', 'clear and accessible', 'nuanced and winsome', in short 'an excellent book and [one which] deserves to be widely read'. I think I might get away with quoting one paragraph:
As is to be expected of a Grove Booklet, the discussion is short, clear and largely jargon free. But no one should doubt the depth of detailed knowledge and careful judgment that underpins this work. Teachers and other specialists who read it will appreciate the way in which Head offers a clear and accessible route through a range of primary evidence and modern debates, and will want to add it to reading lists for their students. Students in turn will find an excellent introduction to the topic, and a useful list of further reading in the endnotes. For other readers, who have no essays to write, and who want just a brief but informed introduction to the formation of the New Testament, I know of nothing to rival Head’s account.
Andrew had a couple of "quibbles". He thought that on occasions, where the evidence is thin, I tended to "maximalist" rather than "minimalist" conclusions. On this I waver a bit between taking this as a compliment (since Andrew tends to be a bit "minimalist"); and wanting to dispute the reduction of such a complex field into two alternatives. I also don't think I am a "maximalist" really. He also thought I should have discussed the criteria for canonicity in the early church. On this I'm sure I would have done if I thought I could have documented them in the early church. And thirdly he was mildly concerned that among the "Questions for Reflection" at the end of each chapter where some that could not be answered from the information provided in the booklet (e.g. "How does the canonical shape of Paul's letter collection affect our interpretation of Paul?"). On this I am unrepentant, since I see them as questions for (further) reflection, not questions for comprehension.

Matt Evans, who blogs at Broadcast Depth, also reviewed the booklet and he liked it too. In fact he liked it so much he gave it an A (which was nice, as it is a long time since I have had a piece of written work graded). He said:

How the New Testament Came Together is a handy little booklet. It gives just enough information to its reader to allow them to better understand where their Bible came from. It also gives them an idea of what kinds of discussions took place over what should and should not be in the New Testament canon.

The only thing that I wish this primer included was a little more information on the early church councils and what they did to help or hurt the formation of the New Testament canon. Other than this, I believe Peter Head accomplished his purpose wonderfully.

This booklet should be read by those with little knowledge or doubts of how their Bible came to be. It is an extremely simple read, yet thorough enough to get its reader to think and to convince them to research the topic more for themselves.

So there may be some mileage in a revised edition which addressed the criteria and church council issues; but otherwise it is nice to get such positive reviews.

CSNTM Video on CNN and American Airlines

Eearlier this week we posted the news that the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) will be featured on CNN and Delta and American Airlines in May and June. The one-minute video has now become available on You Tube here:

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Hebrew MSS Website of Complutense University, Madrid

Paleojudaica reports that the collection of Hebrew MSS (21 MSS) of the Complutense University, Madrid, now have their own website: Los manuscritos hebreos de la Biblioteca Histórica en la web.

From the webpage one can access an overview of the collection with one part in English translation:
Hebrew manuscripts in Complutense University Library
The collection Hebrew Manuscripts of the Madrid Complutensian University Library is formed by 21 codex of Spanish origin, principally from Toledo and contains mainly biblical codices. All the manuscripts were brought together in Alcalá at the beginning of the 16th century by Cardinal Ximenez de Cisneros for the compilation of the Complutensian Polyglot Bible. BH MSS 617 is from Jesuits College of Madrid (Colegio Imperial). Villa-Amil nº 3 was destroyed or missig in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939)
The majority of the collection is formed by biblical codex (BH MSS 1, BH MSS 2, BH MSS 4, BH MSS 5, BH MSS 6, BH MSS 7, BH MSS 11, BH MSS 12, BH MSS 13 y BH MSS 617). There are, however, three commentaries by Abraham Ibn Hezra (BH MSS 8) and David Quimhi (BH MSS 9 y BH MSS 10)

There is an etymological dictionary with proper names of both the old and new testaments by Alfonso de Zamora (BH MSS 14). By David Quimhi there are five codex: two hebrew dictionaries, Sefer ha-Sorasim, (BH MSS 17 y BH MSS 21) and three hebrew grammars Sefer ha-Miclol, (BH MSS 18, BH MSS 19 y BH MSS 20).
Finally, there are two liturgical manuscripts: Mahzor o sefardic prayer book (Selihot and other liturgical poetry) (BH MSS 15) and a play by Hayyim bar R. Semuel Meir de Tudela, Seror hayyim (BH MSS 16)

Further there is a downloadable inventory and a bibliography.

The bibliography contains several online items. For example:

ORTEGA MONASTERIO, María Teresa (2004). “Spanish biblical hebrew manuscripts”, en Hebrew studies, vol. XLV (2004) pp. 163-174.

ORTEGA MONASTERIO, María Teresa (2006), “Spanish biblical hebrew manuscipts, second part”, en Hebrew studies, vol. XLVII (2006), pp. 67-82.

Read also this post from which one can download a review of Ortega Monasterio's edition of the Masorah of one of the MSS.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Dan Wallace and CSNTM on CNN

Brice Jones reports that Dan Wallace and The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) will be featured on CNN and Delta and American Airlines the next two months (May and June). Jones cites Wallace's announcement:
For the month of May, 2010, the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts will be featured on CNN closed-circuit TVs at American Airlines gates in major hubs throughout North America. American Airlines contacted CSNTM three months ago because they had seen the Wall Street Journal article (May 8, 2009) that mentioned the work of CSNTM. AA put together a one-minute video about the work of the Center. It’s attached. American Airlines and Delta Air Lines are also including in their in-flight radio broadcasts under “Innovative Technologies” a three-minute interview with Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, Executive Director of CSNTM. This will be in flights for both May and June, 2010. CSNTM is pleased that these airlines have taken the initiative to feature the Center’s work during these two busy months. The audio and video will give CSNTM exposure before more than 10 million people on 65,000 flights. Please pray that the Lord would use this exposure to bring more funds to CSNTM especially so that the Center can send out more teams on photographic expeditions.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Color Images of Vaticanus Marginalia

In the beginning of this year I posted a long series of responses by Philip Payne to an SBL paper by Peter Head. The response was also posted in a PDF-version on TC Files in the right sidebar (accessed 156 times so far). As a result of the on-going discussion Phil Payne revised this response a number of times which, I suppose, has both advantages and disadvantages. In any case, Payne has recently produced and sent me yet another version, which I think may be useful because in it:

1) Payne provides high resolution color images of Vaticanus marginalia in relation to the various issues that are raised in the discussion;

2) He has made the paper focus somewhat more on the phenomena in Vaticanus and somewhat less on Peter Head's paper.

He has also added interline space in the text so that it is much easier to read.

The new version can be downloaded here and on TC Files in the right sidebar.

A Dramatic Increase in Blog Traffic

Every once in a while this blog gets an unexpected dramatic increase in the number of readers. For example, in 2008 we had a couple of posts on Codex Gigas - the Devil's Bible here and here , which at the time was highlighted on the National Geographic Channel. A news reporter found our blog and linked to it and suddenly the blog traffic temporarily increased dramatically.

Last week it happened again when a large high tech blog named Slashdot wrote about the news, "80,000 Vatican mss to be digitized!" . Slashdot was mainly interested in the technical aspect of image storage, the choice of file format etc, "Vatican Chooses Open FITS Image Format", and through the link many high tech geeks were directed to this blog for manuscript nerds. One of the Slashdot readers speculates in one of the hundreds of comments:

"Does this mean in the monasteries we are going to have monks transcribing these manuscripts bit by bit? I mean, if you just scan the stuff in what else will they have to do all day. Pray for the boredom to be over..."