Friday, October 29, 2010

Definitions of Textual Criticism

Nick Norelli provides a listing of various quotes about the purpose of textual criticism (though part of some debate as to whether or not TC seeks to identify the inerrant originals).

Initial Review of SBLGNT - Stephen Carlson

Duke Ph.D student Stephen Carlson offers some initial thoughts on the SBLGNT, primarily re: the text of Galatians in which he is currently studying.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Blog on Biblical and Early Christian Studies

A new blog called RBECS (Reviews of Biblical and Early Christian Studies) looks interesting and already has a range of posts and reviews. I shall not say too much here about the excellent contributors.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

SBL and Logos Bible Software announce a new Greek NT


Logos Bible Software and the Society of Biblical Literature have announced the publication of a new, critically edited Greek NT: The Greek New Testament: SBL edition, edited by yours truly. It will be available very soon as a free download, and will also be available in print form by the time of the SBL meeting in Atlanta.

More detailed information (including the Preface and the Introduction) and a “download” link will soon be available at the website:

Some background regarding the edition: the starting point for the editorial work on this new edition was an electronic comparison of four editions: Westcott & Hort, Tregelles (using the excellent electronic version prepared by Dirk Jongkind and Tyndale House), Robinson & Pierpont 2005, and the Greek text behind the NIV (as printed in Goodrich and Lukaszewski, A Reader’s Greek New Testament [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003]). Obviously, where there was disagreement among the four editions, I had to determine which variant to print as the text; occasionally I concluded that a reading not found in any of the four editions was the most probable reading and adopted it. But even where all four editions agreed, I worked through the text and determined whether to accept that reading or to adopt an alternative reading as the text (In all, there are fifty-six variation units in the SBLGNT where I preferred a reading not found in the text of any of the four primary editions).

With regard to orthography, the edition follows BDAG; with regard to elision, crasis, movable ν, etc., it follows WH; verse divisions follow NA27/UBS4; paragraphing generally follows NRSV, and punctuation generally follows WH (and where paragraphing and punctuation conflict, matters were resolved on a case by case basis).

The new text is accompanied by an apparatus that (reminiscent of the original Nestle text) records not differences between manuscripts but the differences between five editions of the NT: WH, Treg, RP, NIV, and NA27 (which is cited in the apparatus only where it differs from the NIV text). In all, there are 6,928 places where the SBLGNT differs from one or more of these five editions. (Thus there are many interesting places of variation in the manuscript tradition that are not noticed in this limited apparatus.)

The following list indicates agreements/disagreements between editions at the 6,928 instances of variation:

SBLGNT—WH: 6,049 agreements, 879 disagreements

SBLGNT—Treg: 5,701 agreements, 1,227 disagreements

SBLGNT—NIV: 6,312 agreements 616 disagreements

SBLGNT—RP: 969 agreements 5,959 disagreements

Also, the SBLGNT differs from NA27/UBS4 at 542 places, and thus the two will agree at 6386 places.

As will be clear from the nature and scope of the apparatus, this text may be considered a “reading edition,” with the apparatus serving to alert the reader to the more important places where there are differences between editions of the Greek NT and to indicate how other editions have handled matters.

As mentioned earlier, additional information is available at the website:

ETC Blog Dinner at Atlanta SBL

Judging from the last two years (2009 in New Orleans; 2008 in Boston), Monday evening seems like a good time for our annual ETC Blog Dinner. How will that suit everyone?

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Article on the text of Revelation

A former student of mine, Jeff Cate, has written an article on the text of Revelation in a recent book, Essays on Revelation: Appropriating Yesterday’s Apocalypse in Today’s World, Wipf & Stock, 2010 (edited by Gerald Stevens). The title of the article is "The Text of Revelation: Why neither Armegeddon nor 666 may be exactly what you think." The article includes an introduction to the history of textual studies of the book, an overview of the major witnesses, and discussion of some of the major variants.

paz y gracia,

Bill Warren

CSPMT directors

I supply below the details of the Directors of CSPMT as given to me by Paul Anderson. One is of course free to comment. I, for my part, will wait and see:

The Most Reverend Archbishop Chrysostomos, Ph.D., Director
Synod in Resistance of the Old Calendar Greek Orthodox Church
Byzantine and Orthodox Studies Scholar
Etna, California

Archpriest Victor Potapov, Director
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Church
Russian scholar and leading ROCOR official
Washington, D.C.

Wilbur N. Pickering, Ph.D., Director
New Testament Textual Scholar
Valparaiso, Brazil

Kirk DiVietro, Ph.D., Director
Secretary of Dean Burgon Society
Pastor of Grace Baptist Church
Franklin, Massachusetts

David Warren, Ph.D., Director
Professor of Greek New Testament & New Testament Textual Scholar
Amridge University
Montgomery, Alabama

Paul D. Anderson, President
Founder of CSPMT
New Testament Textual Scholar
Rockville, Maryland

Friday, October 22, 2010

New Website of INTF

The Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung (INTF) in Münster has recently launched a new website!

Early Christian Manuscripts (Brill)

This book from Brill is just out:

Early Christian Manuscripts - Examples of Applied Method and Research (ed. by Thomas J. Kraus and Tobias Nicklas; Texts and Editions for New Testament Study 5; Leiden: Brill, 2010):
Series: Texts and Editions for New Testament Study, 5
ISBN-13: 978 90 04 18265 3
ISBN-10: 90 04 18265 9
Cover: Hardback
Number of pages: xx, 243 pp.
List price: € 99.00 / US$ 141.00

For the reconstruction of early Christianity, the lives of early Christians, their world of ideas, their ways of living, and their literature. Early Christian manuscripts - documents and literary texts - are pivotal archaeological artefacts. However, the manuscripts often came to us in fragmentary conditions, incomplete or with gaps and missing lines. Others appear to form a corpus, belong to an archive, or are connected with each other as far as theme or purpose are concerned. The present collection comprises of nine essays about individual or a set of certain manuscripts. With their essays the authors aim to present special approaches to early Christian manuscripts and, consequently, demonstrate methodically how to deal with them. The scope of topics ranges from the reconstruction of fragmentary manuscripts to the significance of amulets and from the discussion of individual fragments to the handling of the known manuscripts of a specific Christian text or a whole archive of papyri.

Editors’ Preface
List of Contributors

1. "Reconstructing Fragmentary Manuscripts—Chances and Limitations" (Thomas J. Kraus)

2. "Hunting for Origen in Unidentified Papyri: The Case of P.Egerton 2 (= inv. 3)" (Rachel Yuen-Collingridge)

3. "Papyrus Oxyrhynchus X 1224" (Paul Foster)

4. "Is P.Oxy. XLII 3057 the Earliest Christian Letter?" (Lincoln H. Blumell)

5. "P50 (P.Yale I 3) and the Question of its Function" (John Granger Cook)

6. "The Reuse of Christian Texts: P.Macquarie inv. 360 + P.Mil.Vogl.inv. 1224 (P91) and P.Oxy. X 1229 (P23)" (Don Barker)

7. "Papyri, Parchments, Ostraca, and Tablets Written with Biblical Texts in Greek and Used as Amulets: A Preliminary List" (Theodore de Bruyn)

8. "The Egyptian Hermas: The Shepherd in Egypt before Constantine" (Malcolm Choat and Rachel Yuen-Collingridge)

9. "The Babatha Archive, the Egyptian Papyri and their Implications for Study of the Greek New Testament" (Stanley E. Porter)


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library

Google is involved with the digitization of various European treasures and even with the Iraqi National Museum, and is now collaborating with the Israeli Antiquities Authority to digitize the Dead Sea Scrolls using multi-spectral imaging. Read the AFP article online. Pretty pictures, here. I am not sure when the project will be completed.

Wieland Willker has provided this link to the official IAA release on the subject. The funding for this project is private, and Google is not involved with the actual digitization project. Digitization will begin sometime in 2011.

ETC Blog Five Year Anniversary


Now in October, this blog has been around for five years. Actually, the founding father, Peter Williams, wrote the first blogpost on 14 Oct 2005, "What this blog is about".

A few days later Peter Head, now my co-editor of the blog, wrote his first main post on 26 October. However, he was present from the very beginning posting the first comment to the first post, in his characteristic way:

I think a white background would be more appropriate for an evangelical blog:
a) more echoes of positive biblical symbolism;
b) better approximation to brightness of original manuscripts (both parchment and papyrus);
c) better reflection of the history of the Bible as a published book;
d) I could probably read it without squinting.

Note, that this blog had a different lay-out in the beginning (hence, Peter's remarks), first briefly with a black background, but then with old burgundy and white letters (a combination which caused problems to some readers). You can see how it looked in the good old days here in the way back machine. As one can see, we were already in November, one month after the launch, a group of 11 ETC contributors.

In the end of 2006, blogmeister Williams was appointed the new warden of Tyndale House, and from about that time he handed over the main responsibility for the blog to Peter Head and myself, although we managed to persuade Pete to stay on the blogteam, which we are still very happy about.

Last year we made some serious updates and experiments with colors and design: here, here, here, and here. Most ETC bloggers and readers who expressed their opinions agreed that we should somehow keep the old burgundy, which gave this blog a distinct characteristic, and so it is still there in the header and the letters.

Over these years we have posted 1510 posts on various topics in textual criticism (and occasionally some other stuff). There have been discussions of manuscripts, passages, reviews, announcements of books, conference reports, quizzes, annual achievement awards, and many other things, not least a good deal of humour. Our circle of readers has steadily increased.

What are your own favourite ETC-blogposts? You can browse through the archives in the right sidebar to refresh your memory.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Maurice Robinson Responds to T.B. Williams pt. 2

This is the second part of Maurice Robinson's response to T. B. Williams concerning the Longer Ending of Mark (first part here):

Robinson Responds to T.B. Williams pt. 2
4. When dealing with the “unexpected shift” between 16:8 and 16:9, Williams (409) notes that “the nominative singular participle in v. 9 seems to have no referent,” and that this “participial function in Mark 16:9 is different from what is found in the rest of the Gospel.” He further notes that “one could hardly argue that Jesus has been the subject up to this point,” even though that “while he has been mentioned [16:6-7], the events have primarily surrounded the women who have come to the tomb. Therefore, this sudden and uninformed shift weighs against authenticity.” However, once more the fallacy in this claim can be demonstrated from a similar shift in a neighboring undoubted segment of Mark, Note the context of 15:44-46 in particular:
44. ὁ δὲ Πιλᾶτος ἐθαύμασεν εἰ ἤδη τέθνηκεν . . . 45. καὶ γνοὺς ἀπὸ τοῦ κεντυρίωνος ἐδωρήσατο τὸ πτῶμα τῷ Ἰωσήφ. 46. καὶ ἀγοράσας σινδόνα καθελὼν αὐτὸν ἐνείλησεν τῇ σινδόνι καὶ ἔθηκεν αὐτὸν ἐν μνημείῳ . . .

44. Now Pilate marveled that he had already died . . . 45. and having known [this] from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. 46. And having bought linen cloth and taking him down he wrapped him in the linen and placed him in the tomb . . .

The point in parallel here is that, even though “while [Joseph] has been mentioned, the events have primarily surrounded [Pilate].” In fact, the shift from an obliquely mentioned Joseph of v.45 to him suddenly becoming the subject in v.46 is awkward in the same manner as Jesus becoming subject in 16:9 after having been mentioned obliquely in 16:6-7. The situation is further compounded in view of the fact that the aorist participles ἀγοράσας and καθελών otherwise match the γνούς of v.45, where Pilate is the clear subject. Such an awkward shift of referent forces the reader to do the same sorting out of the intended subject in 15:46 as occurs in 16:9. Thus, in view of this nearneighbor parallel instance, the issue in 16:9 should not be considered “different from what is found in the rest of the Gospel,” contra Williams’ claim to that effect.

5. Williams cites (410-11) as “another oddity” in 16:9 “the combination of ἐκβάλλω and παρά,” and builds an entire case on the awkwardness of this collocation:
In fact, the combination . . . is not found anywhere else in the NT. Thus, its presence in 16:9 is not only awkward for Mark but it would be unusual for any NT author . . . . The conjunction would have to carry a sense that is unknown in the NT — that of separation.

In particular, Williams points out (411) that ἐκ or ἀπό would be more appropriate to the context. Yet this entire claim is seriously flawed, since Williams focuses on the weakly supported minority reading of several aberrant MSS (C* D L W 0112 33 579 892 pc) while totally failing to mention the overwhelming majority reading of this passage found in all other witnesses, which is αφ᾿ ἧς ἐκβεβλήκει and not παρ᾿ ἧς ἐκβεβλήκει. This variant is clearly noted in the Nestle apparatus, even though the editors (peculiarly) chose to follow the aberrancy of παρά rather than the more correct consensus involving the fully appropriate ἀπό. At best, failure to take note of the variant that would obviate this difficulty is an unconscious oversight on Williams’ part; at worst, it is a matter of unfairly stacking the deck by ignoring and not mentioning the known legitimate alternatives even when such are immediately available.

In summary, these five examples represent only a portion of what I see as serious methodological flaws in Williams’ “Method or Madness” article — flaws that taken in concert seriously call into question both the method and its conclusions. In light of these considerations, I see no reason to modify or abandon what I have stated previously in my “Amid Perfect Contempt” article in the Perspectives on the Ending of Mark volume [see reference and link in previous part].

Monday, October 18, 2010

New NIV available from November 1

The press release today given at the 3rd Lausanne Congress says that the Updated NIV is going to be available electronically from November 1. I don't know what the textual decisions of the Updated NIV will be. However, the first text I'll look up will be Mark 1:41 to see whether they support the NIV 'Filled with compassion' or the TNIV 'Jesus was indignant'. I've just finished an article which I think deals a blow or two against the reading orgistheis here, but if I were a betting man my money would be on an agreement between the Updated NIV and the TNIV here (Note: ETC does not support betting).

Anyway, it would be good to get some running commentary on ETC on textual decisions of the translation as we become aware of them.

I am not quite sure what the Updated NIV will be called: surely not the UNIV or uNIV. Anyway, the way users will distinguish between the old and new NIVs may not be entirely in the publisher's control.

Maurice Robinson Responds to T.B. Williams pt. 1

About two weeks ago Peter Head drew attention to an interesting article in the recent Bulletin for Biblical Research: Travis B. Williams, "Bringing Method to the Madness: Examining the Style of the Longer Ending of Mark" BBR 20.3 (2010), 397-418. Peter summarized:
Basically Williams argues that previous discussions of the style of the Long Ending have been methodologically unsound. So he proposes a sound method and procedure (or methodological procedure), applies this to the evidence (well, half of the evidence), and proposes that the style of the Long Ending is distinctly non-Markan. So no surprises there then.

Interestingly he states: 'due to spatial limitations and the fact that dissimilarity reveals more about authenticity than similarity, our discusson will be confined to strong indications of an un-Markan style plus instances that have wrongly been labelled un-Markan' (p. 404). This looks like dealing with only half the evidence to me.

In his article Travis Williams addresses co-blogger Maurice Robinson's own study of the Longer Ending of Mark (LE) in Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: Four Views (ed. D.A. Black; Nashwille: B&H Academic, 2008), 40-79. (The other three views are those of D. A. Black, Keith Elliott and Daniel Wallace). Look inside the book here (Amazon). I selected this book for the Eisenbrauns/ETC sales which is still up.

Robinson has now written a response to Williams which will be published in two parts (the full response will eventually be published under TC-Files).

Robinson's Response to Travis Williams on the Long Ending of Mark
Since my own study of the Longer Ending of Mark (LE) is addressed in Travis Williams’ article (“Bringing Method to the Madness: Examining the Style of the Longer Ending of Mark,” BBR 20.3 [2010] 397-418), I consider it valid to offer a brief comment.

I suggest that this study, like most others claiming to deal definitively with matters of style and syntax, remains flawed, and serves only to further muddle the discussion. Among the many fallacies that could be noted, I select five that occur in close sequence in the middle of the article (Williams, 406-411), in the order they occur.

1. Williams claims (406) that the unique use of ἕτερος in 16:12 is out of step with the exclusive Markan use of ἄλλος. This is supported by a footnote (406n23) that points out a supposed Markan failure to differentiate between different types of seed in the parable of the sower, claiming on this basis that “Mark uses the term [ἄλλος] to denote both ‘another of the same kind’ as well as ‘another of a different kind.’” This is supported by mention that the Lukan parallel uses ἕτερος in place of the Markan ἄλλος, concluding that “this reveals that Mark prefers ἄλλος even in situations in which another term may have been more specific.” But such a line of reasoning simply is incorrect on two major grounds: first, one cannot make Lukan word preference a touchstone for Markan style and usage (this particularly if one holds to Markan priority!); second, the seeds in the Markan version of the parable in fact are not different — rather, the same type of seed is merely sown in different soils. Within a proper Markan context, ἄλλος then remains the only appropriate term for the Sower, whereas in 16:12, ἕτερος is clearly required. This then becomes a non-issue.

2. Williams claims (407) that the absence in the LE of such a “distinctive Markan stylistic feature” as the term εὐθύς is “glaring,” and that “it is striking to find it absent from the Long Ending.” Yet there are many long stretches of Mark in which εὐθύς does not occur that extend far beyond the 12 verses of the LE. Examples include 2:13-3:5 (20vv); 3:7-4:4 (33vv); 6:55-7:34 (37vv); 8:11-9:14 (43vv); 9:25-10:51 (78vv); 11:4-14:42 (154vv), etc. In fact, even in the portion up to 16:8, the last appearance of εὐθύς was in 15:1 — some 55 verses earlier! Obviously Williams’ claim on this point is seriously flawed.

3. Similarly, Williams also claims (407) that the absence of πάλιν in the LE is “glaring,” since such is “another favorite of Mark.” Leaving aside the fact that πάλιν is far more characteristic of John, indeed Mark does hold second place among the four gospels in the use of this word. However, the same facts apply as in the case of εὐθύς: numerous long stretches exist in Mark in which παλιν simply does not appear. Examples include 1:1-2:1 (45vv); 4:1-5:20 (60vv); 5:22-7:31 (109vv), etc. And once more, even in the portion up to 16:8, the last occurrence of πάλιν was at 15:13 — some 42 verses earlier. Once more, Williams’ claim is flawed.

[TW: More to follow in part 2]

Friday, October 15, 2010

Birmingham Colloquium 2011: Early Christian Writers and the Text of the New Testament

The Seventh Birmingham Colloquium on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament will be held in Birmingham from 28-31 March 2011.

The theme is "Early Christian Writers and the Text of the New Testament"

Proposals are invited for papers of 30 or 45 minutes on this topic.
Suggestions for workshops, presenting work in progress, are also welcome.
These, and any enquires, should be sent to Hugh Houghton.

Further information (and a booking form) will be posted on the web
page at

Monday, October 11, 2010

TC Books from Eisenbrauns

Eisenbrauns has a list of textual criticism books available at 15-40% discounts. Tommy Wasserman helped select the books for the sale too! Looks like bargains galore to be found!!

Update: Yes, I (TW) suggested to James Spinti, Marketing Director of Eisenbrauns and a regular reader of this blog, that they run a sales on some TC paperbacks, and specifically James Royse's monograph, which is just out in paperback (see previous blogpost). Eisenbrauns now offer it for $67.46 – now that is a bargain!

Since Eisenbrauns is the only publisher in the world (sic!) which have my own book on the textual tradition of Jude in stock, I am also happy that it is included in sales every now and then.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Royse on Scribal Habits Now in Paperback!

About a year ago, I was contacted by SBL Editorial Director Bob Buller who had read with interest my blogposts from the SBL 2008 book review session SBL24-129 in which James Royse's recent monograph Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri (NTTSD 36; Brill, 2008) was reviewed.

You can find links to the seven blogposts here .

The full text presentations from this SBL section are available under TC-Files in the right sidebar.

Bob also noted the subsequent discussion about the high price of the Brill edition. In fact, the very first remark in the comments to the first post was made on this point by Wieland Wilker: "The real shame is that this phantastic book is so expensive! 310 Euro! $ 369! Come one! This book belongs into the hand of every NT scholar."

Buller told me he was intrigued with the idea of making this work available in an SBL paperback. On the other hand, he was worried that SBL would end up with a lot of very expensive copies sitting in a warehouse, if the demand was not so great. We discussed the matter and I wholeheartedly recommended the enterprise.

Now I can tell you that the SBL paperback edition of Royse's monograph has been announced here and it costs $89.95 (i.e., under 1/4 of the harback list price). Now, that is still a lot of money for a book, but then you must keep in mind that this one is over 1000 pages long, and, as Wieland said, it belongs into the hand of every NT scholar!

In our conversation Bob Buller also asked for recommendations of other Brill books that would be worthwhile for the SBL to publish in paperback. Any suggestions?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Controversial New Article on Greek Archaeology and Palaeography

On the lighter side of things, America's Finest News Source has published an article on a recent National Geographic-sponsored controversy on the ancient world, here. Apparently, the textual tradition of the Iliad is not as reliable as once thought.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Center for Study and Preservation of the Majority Text

I am informed by Paul Anderson that with others he has just launched the Center for the Study and Preservation of the Majority Text: The site is currently under construction. I'm not exactly sure what the 'preservation' will be, though perhaps it is in part defence. The most historically informative section may be the details of Byzantine families when they are uploaded. One gets a sense of the ethos through the interesting collocations in the In Memoriam section, which lists the perceived heroes of the cause.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Williams on the Long Ending of Mark

Interesting article in the recent Bulletin for Biblical Research: T.B. Williams, ‘Bringing Method to the Madness: Examining the Style of the Longer Ending of Mark’ BBR 20.3 (2010), 397-418.

Basically Williams argues that previous discussions of the style of the Long Ending have been methodologically unsound. So he proposes a sound method and procedure (or methodological procedure), applies this to the evidence (well, half of the evidence), and proposes that the style of the Long Ending is distinctly non-Markan. So no surprises there then.
Interestingly he states: 'due to spatial limitations and the fact that dissimilarity reveals more about authenticity than similarity, our discusson will be confined to strong indications of an un-Markan style plus instances that have wrongly been labelled un-Markan' (p. 404). This looks like dealing with only half the evidence to me.

Monday, October 04, 2010

How to Link to a Manuscript in the VMR

Readers of this blog may find it useful to be able to link to a certain MS in the List of MSS in the Virtual Manuscript Room (Münster). Martin Fassnacht recently told me that he had broadened this possibility.

The link to use for Papyrus 1 is the following:

It is the last five digits that identifies the specific MS. The first digit represent the type of MS, and the other four the Greg.-Aland number of that MS with zero digits to fill out if necessary:

1 = papyrus, e.g., 10120 = P 120
2 = majuscule, e.g., 20004 = 04 (Codex Ephraemi rescriptus)
3 = minuscule, e.g., 30081 = 81
4 = lectionary, e.g., 41775 = l1775

Below is a link to P1: