Saturday, December 25, 2010

HM Queen Elizabeth II on KJV

Queen Elizabeth II decided to lead off on the KJV in her Christmas message. Text here; video here.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Gift – Article on GNT MSS in Sweden / Jerusalem Colophon

Merry Christmas from me too!

And here is a little Christmas gift article about the Greek New Testament MSS in Sweden with a special excursus on the so-called Jerusalem Colophon:

Tommy Wasserman, "The Greek New Testament Manuscripts in Sweden with an Excursus on the Jerusalem Colophon," Svensk Exegetisk Årsbok75 (2010): 77-108.

Update: I have uploaded a new version since a table in the first version was in too low resolution

Happy Christmas

Merry Christmas to all our readers. Don't waste too much time looking at blogs.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Relaunch of TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism

Today, just now, something big has happened: The journal TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism has been relaunched.

About TC

TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism (ISSN 1089-7747) is a peer-reviewed electronic journal dedicated to the study of the Jewish and Christian biblical texts. TC is an online publication of the SBL and is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals. Users are permitted to download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of all TC articles. Articles may not be reproduced without permission.

TC publishes full-length scholarly articles, shorter notes, project reports, and reviews of works in the field of biblical textual criticism. Articles on any aspect of the textual criticism of the Jewish and Christian scriptures (including extracanonical and related literature) are welcome, and contributions that transcend the traditional boundary between Hebrew Bible and New Testament textual criticism are especially encouraged. We also invite articles discussing the relationship between textual criticism and other disciplines.

TC uses a "Permanent URL" so that readers will always be able to find it regardless of which server is the current host. Please use the following PURL when linking to TC and its contents:

Submissions should conform to the SBL Handbook of Style or the Chicago Manual of Style in cases where the former does not provide guidance. Articles may be submitted in any standard file format and should use Unicode for those ancient scripts covered by the Unicode Standard. Accepted articles are subjected to a peer-review process before publication. Articles are normally published in Portable Document Format (PDF) but may be published as HTML in some cases. Please direct all submissions to the following email address:

editors at jbtc dot org

Book Reviews

One goal of TC is to provide informative and timely reviews of books in the field of biblical textual criticism. Anyone who would like to submit a book for review or to volunteer as a reviewer may contact the TC book review editors here:

reviews at jbtc dot org


General Editor
Jan Krans is a member of the Faculty of Theology at VU University Amsterdam. His research interests include the history of interpretation, and New Testament textual criticism. He wrote a PhD dissertation on the differing approaches of Erasmus and Beza to conjectural emendation of the biblical text.

Assistant Editor
Tommy Wasserman is Academic Dean and Lecturer in New Testament at Örebro School of Theology in Sweden. He wrote a PhD dissertation on the text and transmission of the Epistle of Jude.

Book Review Editor
Thomas J. Kraus is a private scholar. His main research interests are, among other things, early Christian manuscripts, the issue of (il)literacy in late Antiquity, the Septuagint Psalms, and everything about book culture in Antiquity. He wrote a PhD dissertation on the language and style of Second Peter.

Assistant Book Review Editor
Heike Braun is a research associate at the University of Regensburg. She wrote a PhD dissertation on the history of the people of God and Christian identity.

Technical Editor
Tim Finney is a computer programmer and New Testament textual researcher. He wrote a PhD dissertation on the Ancient Witnesses of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

Editorial Board

* James R. Adair Jr, University of Texas at San Antonio
* Johann Cook, University of Stellenbosch
* Claude E. Cox, McMaster Divinity College
* Sidnie White Crawford, University of Nebraska
* Bart D. Ehrman, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
* Leonard J. Greenspoon, Creighton University
* Peter M. Head, University of Cambridge
* Michael W. Holmes, Bethel College
* L. W. Hurtado, University of Edinburgh
* Arie van der Kooij, Universiteit Leiden
* Johan Lust, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
* Tobias Nicklas, Universität Regensburg
* Melvin K. H. Peters, Duke University
* Klaus Wachtel, Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung

TC was founded by James R. Adair Jr in 1996, only three years after the advent of the World Wide Web. Dr Adair continued to serve as General Editor until 2009.

On the Amsterdam NT weblog, chief editor Jan Krans presents the current issue - vol. 15 (2010) - and our plans for the future.

Something Big in TC – Fifth Clue


Something Big in TC – Fourth Clue

The astronauts: Jan Krans, Tommy Wasserman, Tim Finney, Thomas J. Kraus and Heike Braun.

Something Big in TC – Third Clue


Something Big in TC – Second Clue

A welcome return.

Something Big in TC – First Clue

Only about seven hours to go now. Now there will be some clues.

First clue: we're not launching a rocket, but something else (we≠ETC).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The practical use of Greek accents

Greek accents have an undeserved reputation for being of no practical use. If sheer curiosity is not enough to persuade students to learn them, I hope these reasons might be more effective.

A knowledge of Greek accents:

1) helps you analyse previously unfamiliar vocabulary.

You are reading through the book of Acts and reach 1:18 where you have the phrase πρηνὴς γενόμενος. Many people are likely to be unfamiliar with the former word and so the question naturally arises as to whether it is the genitive singular of a first declension feminine noun *πρηνη. It is the accent which instantly tells you that this is impossible. Nor is this an isolated example. People who know the accents probably use them on a regular basis to decode and process unfamiliar texts.

2) helps you spot typos in Greek more readily.

Just as vultures hover over a battlefield, misplaced accents hover round other typographical errors in Greek. If you are an editor you probably will not check every ancient quotation, but not infrequently an accentual error is the first thing you notice to be wrong with a quotation and this leads you to check further. For example, if you know accents and you are reading Bart Ehrman's Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, p. 128, and come across ἐν ταῖς παλαίας ἀντιγραφαῖς, it may be that you instantly notice there is a missing iota in παλαιαις, or it may be that the wrong accentuation highlights the problem first. What if you're not sure whether there's a typo? After all, παλαιας is a possible word. Do you have to refer to an edition? No, the impossible accentuation on παλαιας confirms that there is at least one typo on this word. It's not therefore a big leap to infer that there are two. You're able to be pretty confident that the Greek letters are wrong without consulting an edition.

3) can be one of the fastest rough and ready guides to assessing the quality of someone's scholarship.

If a work contains lots of typos, it's pretty likely that references will be wrong too. If the author hasn't bothered to check such superficial errors as typos then s/he probably hasn't checked other things carefully either (e.g. quotations). The same applies to Greek accents. Carelessness in one area is likely to imply carelessness in others. The great advantage of Greek accents is that books generally contain more mistakes in Greek accents than in other parts of the text. So if you're wanting to check levels of scholarly care quickly you can scan a few pages with Greek in for 30 seconds and get a pretty good idea whether the Greek is carefully written. You probably wouldn't be able to get such a reliable impression of the typography of the English of a book in such a short time. Of course I need to issue the caveat that a scholar whose Greek was badly written could make a significant contribution. However, if you're going round the SBL book stalls and don't have long to decide whether a book by an unknown author is worth purchasing, a knowledge of Greek accents might provide an economic advantage.

So in certain circumstances knowledge of Greek accents could save time or even money. Are there any other significant practical reasons for learning them?

Something Big Will Happen Soon

Something big in textual criticism will happen soon, so keep your eyes open on the countdown clock in the right sidebar.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Quality of the Sinaiticus transcription

I have considerable admiration for the whole Sinaiticus project, but especially when it comes to the underlying quality of what is produced. Though one could argue that the web-presence is not as slick as is possible, I think there is little argument as to the quality of the images and the transcription. Everyone who has worked for a long time with a single manuscript develops an understanding for the mechanics of its scribes and correctors. The transcribers of Sinaiticus clearly knew the manuscript.
Take the following example from Philemon 18.

The initial correction is from ελλογα to ελλογι (-γει). Tischendorf notes that corrector C wrote the iota but that this correction was erased (super α C ut videtur ι adscripserat, ut esset ελλογι, sed rursus rasum est). On the website both the corrector who added the iota and who erased it is identified as Ca. Though no reason is given for the second identification it is more likely than not that the transcribers are correct. Ca would normally strike the α out or would mark it in any other way. The fact that there is nothing like this visible, seems to indicate that he corrected his initial correction almost immediately.

Quality stuff.

Friday, December 17, 2010

What Did Jesus Write on the Ground?

Some readers may remember my report of the very highlight of SBL Annual Meeting in Boston 2008 ... for me personally, that is – the presentation I held together with Jennifer W. Knust of our co-written paper, “Earth Accuses Earth: Tracing Jesus’ Writing on the Ground.”

Jennifer and I continued to work on the material and submitted an article in the beginning of 2009 to Harvard Theological Review, which was accepted after a long period of review. Then came an even longer period editing and waiting for the article to get published. After two years from submission, we are now thrilled that the article is finally out in the current issue, HTR 103 (2010) (2010): 407-446.

The story of the woman taken in adultery (John 7:53–8:11) has a long, complex history. Well-known in the Latin West, the story was neglected but not forgotten in the East. Incorporated within Late Antique and Early Medieval Gospel manuscripts, depicted in Christian art, East and West, and included within the developing liturgies of Rome and Constantinople, the passage has fascinated interpreters for centuries despite irregularities in its transmission.

Throughout this long history, one narrative detail has been of particular interest: the content and significance of Jesus' writing. Discussed in sermons, elaborated in manuscripts, and depicted in magnificent illuminations, Jesus' writing has inspired interpreters at least since the fourth century, when Ambrose of Milan first mentioned it. Offering his opinion on the propriety of capital punishment, the bishop turned to the pericope in order to argue that Christians do well to advocate on behalf of the condemned since, by doing so, they imitate the mercy of Christ. Nevertheless, he averred, the imposition of capital punishment remains an option for Christian rulers and judges. After all, God also judges and condemns, as Christ showed when, responding to the men questioning him and accusing the adulteress, he wrote twice on the ground. Demonstrating that “the Jews were condemned by both testaments,” Christ bent over and wrote “with the finger with which he had written the law,” or so the bishop claimed. Ambrose offered a further conjecture in a subsequent letter: Jesus wrote “earth, earth, write that these men have been disowned,” a saying he attributes to Jeremiah (compare Jer 22:29). As Jeremiah also explains, “Those who have been disowned by their Father are written on the ground,” but the names of Christians are written in heaven.

The published article includes a good number of nice plates, one of which is the only depiction we have found of the Pericope of the Adulteress in a Greek New Testament manuscript, Florence, Laurenziana cod. Plut, VI, 23 (= Greg.-Aland 187), fol. 184v:

As I have reported earlier, high-resolution color images of the Plutei MSS of Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence are now available online. So here is the link to this beautiful and rather unique illuminated Gospel codex. There is one other MS in Paris with a similar type of comic-strip like illuminations (but without this specific motive).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mike Bird in Commercial for SBLGNT


Don't miss Mike Bird's commercial for Mike Holmes' SBLGNT.

HT: Brice Jones, who also reports from SBL Atlanta, where he heard some really good papers ;-) and tells us that he has received an acceptance letter to the PhD program at McMaster Divinity College. Congratulations Brice!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Robinson on the Bodmer Papyri

Another book I picked up at SBL was James M. Robinson, The Story of the Bodmer Papyri: From the First Monastery's Library in Upper Egypt to Geneva and Dublin (Eugene OR: Cascade Books [Wipf and Stock], 2011 - yes that is the date printed in my copy as purchased in Nov. 2010).

It is an unusual book as the main story part was composed 'two decades ago' according to Robinson in the preface and has not been revised or up-dated (in fact 'two decades ago' is already perhaps a bit optimistic as internal evidence suggests a composition date of closer to 1980). The outline of Robinson's story has already been known in his paper 'The Pachomian Monastic Library at the Chester Beatty Library and the Bibliotheque Bodmer' (which is republished here but without the photographs found in the Occasional papers of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity (1990) edition).

So this was state of the art research, and tells the story of Robinson's interviews with the various characters involved in finding, selling and purchasing the manuscripts, but is now twenty years old (not even the bibliography of editions of the Dishna texts has been up-dated with e.g. P. Bodmer XXXVIII in 1991 or P. Bodmer XXX-XXXVII in 1999). It is nevertheless definitely worth a read; and there are loads of interesting details. Two things I noted were that P. Bodmer XVII (P74) was not from the same original collection (p. 21); and that the rebinding of P. Bodmer XIV-XV (P75) likely rendered it impossible to read (since the binding thongs did not go throguh the centre of the spine but through the front and back covers near the nner margin, with the result that the book couldn't be opened out enough to read the text at the inner margin; p. 32).

Thursday, December 09, 2010

New Testament Manuscripts Image Collection

Rick Bennett told me he has blogged the other day about a new Accordance module, "New Testament Manuscripts Image Collection" over at the Accordance Blog:
We used the Scripture ranges provided to us (with some modification), created e-texts for the facsimile introductions, and then interleaved the high-resolution images taken by the CSNTM. The end result is the first of its kind: a fully indexed, locally stored collection of high-resolution images of four facsimiles (including one pseudo-facsimile), and one original manuscript of the Greek New Testament.

The module costs $179.00 and includes images of the following codex facsimiles: Alexandrinus, Sinaiticus, Vaticanus (pseudo-facsimile), Washingtonensis, and the original Codex 2882. These are also freely available at the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM).

I think it is nice with all sorts of resources in textual criticism, but of course images of the real MSS are preferable to facimiles (e.g., Codex Sinaiticus). Nevertheless, we get here a convenient way of looking instantly at the manuscript evidence in connection with the study of a certain text in the Greek New Testament.

Update: Pete points out in a comment that the module includes links to the online images of Codex Sinaiticus

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Codex Sinaiticus Project recognised

Just the other week the Codex Sinaiticus Project received a commendation for their work (as read on the Museums and Heritage site here). However, the Pilgrim Conservation price was not awarded to the manuscript project, but to some restoration activity that built scaffolding so that the public could see some paintings as intended. Clearly, the comfort of up-to-date digital access from your sofa lost out on climbing up the good old scaffolding.

Glad that no one can accuse the price of being indiscriminately progressive.

Michael Holmes SBLGNT Page

Co-blogger Mike Holmes has started a new webpage! The primary focus of activity, as Mike says, is the SBL Greek New Testament page. We have added links to the SBLGNT webpages (Holmes/SBL-Logos) in the right sidebar.

See earlier posts about SBLGNT here, here, and the initial announcement here.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Hill, Who Chose the Gospels?

One of the books I picked up at SBL, and the one I chose to read on the plane home was C.E. Hill, Who Chose the Gospels? Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy (Oxford: OUP, 2010). Chuck, who has written a load of important things about the history of the NT canon (some listed on his faculty web page) has written a readable, but not sensational, treatment of the history of the four-fold gospel canon (he has also written a short summary here).

In fact Chuck doesn’t think that anyone chose the gospels, he thinks (quoting and following Bruce Metzger) that they ‘imposed themselves as canonical upon the church’. The approach works backwards from an excellent and thorough demonstration that Irenaeus was not alone in accepting an exclusive four-fold gospel canon towards the end of the second century (Hippolytus, Tertullian, Origen, Dionysius, Cyprian, Victorinus, Marinus and Euplus [yes a new one to me too] held fundamentally similar views). In working back through the second century Hill argues that Justin Martyr and Papias both also had a four-fold gospel collection, and there is perhaps room for some disagreement here (although it should be noted that Hill has published a long article on the “new” Papias material he discerned in Eusebius, and for a fuller argument see Hill, ‘What Papias Said About John (and Luke): A “New” Papian Fragment’ JTS 49 (1998), 582-629). If you work backwards from the really clear evidence I think you are more inclined to think that somewhat marginal evidence is actually proof that the four-fold gospel was known in a period when working inductively from the available evidence we might not be able to say that.

Overall I think this is a really useful book. It is not sensationalist (despite the talk of conspiracy, Hill is generally in respectful dialogue with other scholars [with a hint of frustration that they haven’t considered all the relevant evidence]). Occasionally I found myself not quite so convinced of Hill’s position as he was, but had to admit he had arguments for his position. Certainly if you accept that Papias had a four-gospel canon tradition this would be tremendously significant for how we read the less clear evidence in the early part of the second century.

I found quite a few problems / errors / something more than just differences of opinion, especially in relation to manuscripts and such things. Somethings to consider for the second edition:

  • p8. Here Hill is discussing how many other gospels existed in the second century and gives a list of nine, noting ‘It is not unlikely that more Gospels might have circulated before 175. But if they once existed they have left no record, even in later lists of books to be avoided ...’ But there are later lists of non-canonical gospels which do provide some record of numerous named gospels. For example, there is a Samaritan list of 35 named non-canonical gospels (J. MacDonald & A.J.B. Higgins, ‘The Beginnings of Christianity according to the Samaritans’ NTS 18(1971)54-80, esp. pp. 66-69), and the Decretum Gelasianum also names a number of gospels and other books.
  • p. 13. In discussing the Oxyrhynchus Papyri Hill mentions 500,000 pieces, ‘only about a tenth of which have so far been published’. But in fact it is more like a hundredth, since the most recently published is P. Oxy 5071 (Parsons, cited by Hill in note 7 confirms this).
  • p. 20f. Here Hill is discussing the lack of early manuscripts of Mark. He argues that since church fathers knew Mark, and since some manuscripts could have included Mark alongside other gospels, ‘there is reason to believe that at this time Mark was more widely used in Christian churches than the statistics of papyrus discoveries would, by themselves, lead us to believe’. I think on the contrary that there is no reason to believe this (and I have argued this more fully in an essay on Mark in a forthcoming book edited by Hill) - it is rather a consistent phenomena that church fathers who doubtless knew Mark did not often quote Mark (for Clement of Alexandria for example Cossaert has 274 quotations from Matthew; 143 from Luke; 72 from John and 1 from Mark; for Didymus Ehrman has 155 passages from Matthew; 146 passages from John; 111 passages from Luke; and 10 passages from Mark; Brogan found only one quotation from Mark in Athanasius!).
  • p. 25. Hill writes: ‘A “book” was a scroll, or roll, a long sheet of papyrus or parchment rolled up with rods attached at each end to serve as handles.’ In Greek bookrolls on papyrus no rods are used (either in contemporary illustrations or in actual archaeological finds).
  • p. 30f. Hill follows Hurtado’s idea that use of a codex might correspond with identification of the text as scripture by the scribe; and further that public reading in church required a large codex. Since non-canonical gospels are often on rolls or small codices, they probably were not regarded as equivalent with the four canonical gospels. But in discussing the size of two non-canonical texts Hill slightly cooks the books. This is perhaps not a big problem, but suggests that perhaps the overall argument is driving how the evidence is perceived and presented. Firstly by taking P. Oxy 4009 (G.Peter?) as representing a miniature codex (‘a strong possibility’), whereas we don’t really know that for sure, and the editors also suggest that it could have been from a double columned codex. Secondly by describing P. Ryl 463 (G. Mary) as ‘a miniature’ when as reconstructed (9cm x 13.5 cm) it certainly goes beyond the normal categorisation of a miniature codex.
  • p. 72. Here Hill is comparing Clement of Alexandria’s use of non-canonical gospels with his use of the canonical ones, citing a monograph by Mutschler [whose first name is misspelt as Bernard, when it is actually Bernhard] on Irenaeus that he used Matt 757 times; Luke 402 times; John 331 times and Mark 182 times. Now I haven’t been able to check Mutschler’s book, nor his definition of “use”; but it is plain that the more recent monograph actually on the subject (The Text of the Gospels in Clement of Alexandria by Carl Cossaert) offers significantly different figures: 274 quotations from Matthew; 143 from Luke; 72 from John and 1 from Mark (and actually discusses Clement’s lack of knowledge of Mark).
  • p. 84. Here Hill is discussing the Akhmin codex of the Gospel of Peter. He writes: ‘It has often been reported that this codex was found in the grave of a monk ... This is part of a legend that has grown up around the discovery. We don’t know if the person in whose grave it was found was a monk or not, or what the person thought of the book. As far as we know, the gravedigger could have thrown it into the grace to get rid of it!’ Well, the reason it is often reported is not because of legend, but because the original publication of the manuscript, by one of the French archaeologists who excavated the Christian cemetery at Akhmim, stated that it came from the grave of a monk. One might disagree with this, or wonder whether the archaeologists had sufficient basis for making this identification (as van Minnen does in an article cited by Hill), but the conclusion is more well-grounded than Hill’s speculation. Another grave in the same cemetery contained a mathematical papyrus - the phenomena of people being buried with texts that had some relevance/value to them is fairly widely attested.
  • p. 118. Here Hill is discussing various aspects of Skeat’s view that some NT papyrus manuscripts were originally four-gospel codices. I was especially interested in this bit, and read it especially carefully and found a couple of problems. a) He notes that the scribe of P75 has some harmonisations and suggests that these ‘seem to indicate the scribe’s knowledge of Matthew and perhaps Mark’. This reference to Mark goes beyond the evidence, even of Comfort and Barrett (cited as evidence) who note the scribe’s knowledge of Matthew (as also picked up in Royse), since the possible reference to Mark is only in a direct parallel to a passage also in Matthew - if the scribe knows uniquely Matthean readings it doesn’t make much sense to propose he drew a reading from Mark. b) Hill states ‘if copied around 200, it is more likely than not that it [P75] had such a companion volume [containing Matthew and Mark], whether attached or separated.’ This is interesting, but I have no idea how this likelihood is measured. I would think this is extrapolating beyodn the available evidence. c) In discussing Skeat’s view of P4, 64 & 67 he states that in Skeat’s view ‘the codex contained at least three Gospels, and other features of the papyri indicated that this condex in fact originally contained four.’ Hill gives no indication of what these ‘other features’ are. I had another look at Skeat and can’t find any comment in this direction. d) Hill says that ‘Skeat’s conclusions have indeed been accepted by a number of other papyrologists’, but the footnote refers only to van Haelst, writing more than twenty years before Skeat and who does not accept Skeat’s view (although he does accept that P4 is probably from the same codex as P64 & P67). e) Hill notes that Skeat’s views have ‘not gone unchallenged’ (with footnote to Head and Charlesworth) but then says: ‘it seems agreed, however, that the books of Matthew and Luke represented in P4, 64, 67 were copied by the same scribe, whether bound together with Mark and John or not.’ This fails to note the major disagreement about whether we should even think of Matthew and Luke as bound together.
  • p. 119. Hill says that P75 ‘has sectional divisions which would make it easier to read aloud to a congregation’. This is clearly either wrong or rather exaggerated. I’m not saying that P75 couldn’t be read aloud to a congregation, but it has less help in this than just about any other NT manuscript. (On p. 121 he refers to ‘the apparent liturgical design of the papyri P75’ which I also found very questionable).

Biblical Studies Carnival November

The Biblical Studies Carnival for November has been posted by Deane Galbraith at the Bulletin for the Study of Religion. This is a quite comprehensive carnival divided into seven sections and several subsections:

1. Academy, Biblioblogging and Handy Hints
a. Conference Time
Many references to SBL Annual Meeting blogposts and other meetings.
b. Academic Biblical Studies versus Faith
c. Handy Hints and Resources
d. Biblioblogging Anomaly
(An interview with Jim West)

2. Christian origins
a. The Gospels and Jesus
b. Paul and Pseudo-Paul
c. Apocalypse Now
d. Other Christian Origins Blogging

3. Emerging Judaism
a. Tanach
b. Jewish Pseudepigrapha and Mysticism
c. Ancient Near Eastern and Hellenistic Background
d. Septuaginta
e. Talmud and Rabbinics
f. Other Emerging Judaism Blogging

4. Language, Text and Translation
a. The NIV
b. Critical Edition
c. Hebrew
d. Greek

5. Reception History

6. Humor and Gossip

7. Biblioblog Top 30

All in all there are five references to ETC blogposts! Moreover, this blog makes it into the top 30 bibliobloglist (#9) as judged by "quality not quantity" (in reference to the latter, Deane refers to another bibliobloglist for November based on Alexa ranking (where ETC is #45).

Monday, December 06, 2010

SBL Gatecrashing

Before I say anything about the SBL sessions, if I manage to collect anything from my not so detailed notes from this year's meeting, I will share some funny memories on the theme of SBL gatecrashing.

First, Ulrich Schmid invited me to the Birmingham breakfast (thank you), and I told my room mate and colleague, Mikael Tellbe, to join me and meet my friends. He was a bit hesitant and felt embarrassed since he did not know anyone (but me), but I told him not to, and so we had a very good time with a relaxed conversation around one of the two breakfast tables, and we both had nice chats; there were about 15 people there and I think I knew almost all (most of the folks were from ITSEE, save Mark Goodacre).

Mikael then told me it was my turn to join him to the Regent College breakfast reception the next morning. At the entrance we were warmthly welcomed by Rikki Watts, whom I had not met before. Then we were told to sign the guestbook indicating name and e-mailaddresses. We served ourselves breakfast and sat down at one of the tables. There were perhaps 60 people in the room, around 6-7 tables, Gordon Fee was there with his wife, and I also knew Michael Theophilus and Jim Leonard sitting at other tables (Jim had actually been Gordon Fee's TA when Mikael was at Regent, so Jim had learnt a lot, he said, from the experience of marking Mikael's papers, etc).

After people had settled around the tables, Rikki Watts held a nice talk about stuff going on at Regent these days. Then he said that we should go around each table, and everyone should present themselves and say when they were at Regent, what they studied, and what they are doing now. I bent towards Mikael and said, "You can say something about me being your colleague - I can't stand up." Then, I changed my mind, and said, "Ok, I can say something short..." But then, as the turn came to our table, I changed my mind again and told Mikael, "No, you go ahead and say something about me," which he did, "And this is Tommy Wasserman, and he has not been to Regent" :-). But I added, "But Regent has been to us - we have had several faculty members at our school."

Eventually, when everyone had presented themselves, it turned out there were three people present who had never studied at Regent. During the presentation, one of them stood up and said boldly: "I am at the wrong place, but I have learnt an awful lot!" The next evening when Peter Head and I were sitting at the hotel bar, Rikki Watts came by and joined us to discuss the cost of book manufacturing in the first century, and other interesting matters. It turned out that Peter and Rikki had had neighbouring study spaces for years at Tyndale Library, and were best of friends. Now I had the opportunity to return the hospitality and could take care of the bill.

The next, much funnnier story ;-), is about my colleague Mikael (I hope he doesn't read this, but I can't resist). Mikael met up with a friend and fellow student from the old days at Regent several times during the meeting. This very nice guy, whom I had the opportunity to meet, is currently writing a commentary for Zondervan, and was invited with another colleague to the Zondervan authors' meeting. The other person, however, was prevented to come to the meeting, and so the friend invited Mikael instead (who is not a Zondervan author - yet). The meeting turned out to be very cosy and informal. Of course, the Zondervan directors wondered who Mikael was, but after explaining he was heartily welcomed - in the end the Zondervan manager insisted that Mikael should have the little book bag gift which was given to the invited authors with some complementary Zondervan books.

However, at the beginning of the meeting, when everyone had settled around the table, the Zondervan representative announced a nice little welcome lottery – the price was a pack of commentaries. The winning ticket had been hidden under one of the chairs. So everyone stuck down their hands and fumbled around under the chairs. Lo and Behold! Mikael pulled out a little piece of paper, and bent towards his friend waving with the ticket: "Hey, I've won the lottery, I have the ticket ... what should I now do?" The uninvited guest wins the lottery? Then, suddenly, someone else announced that he had the winning ticket. What now? Didn't I have it, Mikael thought? Mikael looked again on his piece of paper. On it he could read the chair production number and place of manufacturing.

Friday, December 03, 2010

UBS Greek New Testament Reader's Edition with Textual Notes

On my desk: The new UBS Greek New Testament Reader's Edition with the Greek-English dictionary compiled by Barclay M. Newman, and with textual notes compiled by Florian Voss.

I picked up this book at the American Bible Society book booth. Although not in the picture from the Hard Rock Café in Atlanta, I actually bumped into Florian Voss in the restaurant, and I asked him to tell me more about these textual notes which he has compiled for this new reader's edition, which is offered here by Eisenbrauns either in hardcover or in flexisoft leather (my copy).

Florian has been kind to send me the following reply:

Our intention regarding the notes was to give the reader at least an idea that the text of the New Testament is not undoubtedly clear but has to be reconstructed out of a variety of manuscripts. As the apparatuses of the Nestle-Aland and the UBSGNT seemed to be too complex for a reader’s edition, we decided to take the apparatus of the UBSGNT as a basis but to reduce the information significantly.

Compared to the UBSGNT, the information was reduced in two ways: First, the notes are focused on places where variants significantly impact the meaning of the text. The approach was to look at modern English translations and to see where they have footnotes such as “Some manuscripts add…”; Some manuscripts omit” or something like that. Where more than one translation had such a footnote I formed an own opinion whether a textual note might be advisable or not. Second, as for the manuscripts, only the most important ones were selected: the papyri, some uncials and minuscules (01-06, 019, 032, 33, 81, 1006, 1739, 2053, and 2344), and the Byzantine tradition as represented by Byz. (1006, 2053, and 2344 are cited only in parts of the NT.)

I am aware of the limited value of notes like this. As explained in the introduction, they are to be understood just as a first step into the world of NT textual criticism and any reader is invited to progress beyond the Reader’s Edition some day and to make use of the Nestle-Aland or the UBSGNT.

Speaking of editions, I also picked up the SBLGNT and had it signed by the editor and co-blogger Mike Holmes. And during the meeting I got many questions from scholars who are not directly into textual criticism about the edition - it was the topic of the day at the meeting. We have already had some discussion about the new edition and I am sure it will continue. (For example, I look forward to discuss Mark 1:1 with Mike - who has opted for the shorter version without "Son of God" - probably to Peter Head's great pleasure, since Pete wrote an article, in his early career, arguing for the short version.)

Furthermore, I too, succumbed to Hendrickson's very attractive offer of the new Sinaiticus facsimile (sorry Camilla...) as they threw in David Parker's new monograph on the codex (which David kindly signed for me) and a fine print of one of the pages in the deal. David was present for several hours at Hendricksons to show the facsimile to interested people, and I think the publisher sold more copies than they could dream of (like some 30-40 copies). I arranged to have my copy sent from Alban books in the UK. Otherwise the shipping and customs would cost me a fortune (no customs in the European Union). Actually, this happened at one SBL meeting when I ordered a lot of books from the American Bible Society, and they sent it with Feedex. This was one of my worst bookbuying experiences ever, with all sorts of fees (shipping, customs, extra fee, VAT). However, the nice ABS representative gave me some compensation at a subsequent SBL meeting by offering some extra discount.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

A day in the life

It was the last day of term and in order to round off a class on NTTC I took my students to see some manuscripts in the Cambridge University library.

The three oldest were all P.Oxys (Gregory-Aland P17 and P27, and Rahlfs 990; all third or fourth century). 990 is a fragment of a parchment codex of Tobit, and is one of the earliest Christian parchments with Biblical text. P17 with its large letters and multiple reading-helps looks very much like a text used for some sort of a public function, while the other two are 'good weather manuscripts' (only readable when there is enough light because of the small letters). Originally the papyrus may have been brighter though.

We also had two majuscule palimpsests, Zacynthius (040) and a Cairo Genizah item, majuscule 093. With the latter it took us about 15 minutes before we could correlate the first words of the published transcription (Taylor 1900) with the manuscript. The dating of the first is still a problem with 6th and 8th century the two options. If Zacynthius is really 6th, it is a contemporary of 093 (would be nice for reasons of parallelism).

We had to rush through our two remaining manuscripts, Codex Macedoniensis 034, and minuscule 70. The first, a ninth century majuscule, may be one of the youngest manuscripts to omit the pericope de adultera (though the fact that the passage is 'forgotten' λιθ [ληθη] is marked inline and in the margin). Minuscule 70 has a textual value of close to zero, but is interesting because of its scribe, Georgios Hermonymos. He worked in the second half of the 15th century, produced dozens of manuscripts (I know of 28 still preserved, 4 in Cambridge), and is extremely easy to read. Both Macedoniensis and 70 could have been written yesterday, such is the quality of the parchment.

Teaching is such a burden ...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Joosten, Conflicting Exegetical Tendencies in the Septuagint (LXX 8)

For general orientation to this series of posts see here.

Jan Joosten, ‘To See God: Conflicting Exegetical Tendencies in the Septuagint’ in Die Septuaginta - Texte, Kontexte, Lebenswelten: Internationale Fachtagung veranstaltet von Septuaginta Deutsch (LXX.D), Wuppertal 20.-23. Juli 2006 (ed Martin Karrer & Wolfgang Kraus; WUNT 219; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008), 287-299.

A fascinating topic is the object of Joosten's article on the Septuagint Pentateuch. He explores the conflicting tendencies observed in the LXX with regards to "seeing God". One sees traces of what has come to be called "palestinian exegesis", i.e. the "toning down" of passages envisaging the "seeing of God". This tendency is found already in the Hebrew Bible and it is followed by the Targum and the Midrash. In Philo and the New Testament, God has become ἀόρατος ("invisible"), i.e. impossible to be seen, whereas the dominant notion prior to this period was that "to see God" was dangerous but not impossible (pp. 288-289).

At the same time, the opposite tendency is observed in the LXX. One finds passages where, not only is the notion of "seeing God" let to stand, but it is often introduced at the expense of the Hebrew. Joosten finds Hayward's "intertextual" explanations "fragile" and tries to explain this opposing tendency as originating from Egyptian influence. Seeing the god was an important feature in Egyptian religion and this element came through at various points in the LXX Pentateuch. He supports his theory by presenting additional instances in the LXX where Egyptian culture has permeated the version and argues that the LXX is "no flat translation" but "intertwines a great number of inputs" (p. 299). Joosten highlights the need to discern "tendencies" in the translation before attributing divergences between the Hebrew and the Greek to theological reasons. However, his rejection of Hayward's intertextual explanations need not be a pre-requisite for establishing his own theory. Intertextuality observes the use of similar language, but it does not comment on the translator's motivation. It is possible that both explanations could work together.

Μυρτώ Θεοχάρους
Chr. Adamopoulou 8
190 09 Pikermi, Attiki

Friday, November 26, 2010

ETC Dinner at SBL Atlanta

We had a great dinner on the Monday evening. Christian Askeland had organised our own room at the local Hard Rock Cafe so we had a great space and enjoyed good food and fellowship and varied discussion around the table. Here are some pictures. Names can be provided in the comments if you wish (Eric!).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Back from SBL: First Thoughts

Arrived back in the UK this morning and back in Cambridge around lunch-time, so after some eating, unpacking, sitting still, and loading up the washing machine, a few moments for early reflections (in no particular order).

1. Pity not to have any decent WIFI in the Hyatt or the Marriott - this is presumably why no one has posted any blog about any TC papers as yet - I couldn't even check emails except for the first day.
2. I managed to do a gym workout every day (although without either a pool or any concept 2 rowing machines these were a bit limited to cycling, weights and jogging) and keep well below my meal budget (except for a bit of a blowout at the ETC dinner - some photos later I think).
3. Disappointed not to see much of Atlanta. I managed a bus trip to Marietta, and a walk yesterday to the Olympic Park and then down Auburn Avenue to the Martin Luther King Centre (we chose to do this rather than visit the Aquarium since MLK really did live in Atlanta, whereas the fish are all imported for tourists to look at - typical American tourist-fakery), but was otherwise lucky to get any fresh air some days.
4. Professionally speaking it was fine - my paper on Four-Gospel Codices (or not!) seemed to go OK and will go into a collection of essays from that session (with some more ideas that came to me from some helpful feedback and further reflection); I had a good meeting with a publisher about a book (nothing specific I want to announce now though); and a surprise invitation which sounds interesting (nothing specific I want to announce now though); and a good meeting with a PhD student who will finish soon (hint, hint!), as well as quite a bit of strong encouragement about my letter carriers book (as well as to publish last year's paper on those dots before I forget even more about them).
5. I went to a lot of presentations but can barely remember any of them now, while I remember lots of eating and sitting and driking and chatting with people. (I don't know if Tommy is planning to blog some more notes on specific papers)
6. I thought I did well in not buying too many books but have recently unpacked a stack of thirteen new books (and I have ordered a Codex Sinaiticus).
7. I can't think of anything else right now. I think it was all OK, although I don't think it is going to enter my memory as a classic SBL or as a particularly significant one in the field. YMMV.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

SBL Special on The Epistle of Jude: Its Text and Transmission

Special super saver for those readers who attend the SBL. Go to the Eisenbrauns booth - they sell my monograph,The Epistle of Jude: Its Text and Transmission, for $20!

Hurry up while stock lasts!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

SBL GNT: Three Questions and Replies

Earlier this week I hosted a chat session on Facebook (here) about the SBL GNT (occasionally an old dog can learn a new trick or two). A few of the questions raised and answered may be of wider interest, so I am taking the liberty of posting them here as well.
Question: one person wondered why the selected critical editions where chosen, and why others (such as the earlier editions of the GNT by Eberhard Nestle) were not.
Reply: The selection of four editions to serve as primary resources for establishing the new SBL edition—WH, Tregelles, Robinson-Pierpont, and the Greek text behind the NIV translation—is based on a combination of reasons. Westcott-Hort—the starting point for both the early Nestle and the UBS editions—is a classic, and an obvious choice (and it was available in e-format). Re the Byzantine tradition: unlike WH, I’m convinced that at points, only the Byzantine tradition preserves the original reading, and so it had to be represented in the mix. Also, it is the textual tradition of choice for the Orthodox tradition, and so deserved to be represented. The Robinson-Pierpont edition (available in e-format) is an excellent representative of the Byzantine tradition, and thus was an easy choice in this regard. As for Tregelles, I’ve long been impressed by his independent and insightful judgment, an impression confirmed by David Parker’s analysis of the text of James in the Editio Critica Maior in comparison to earlier editions, which validated a high percentage of Tregelles’ choices. With Tyndale House having recently made it available in e-form, it commended itself as a good counterpoint to WH.
The choice of a modern critical edition was more complicated. First, there aren’t many to choose from. Second, the publishers were rightly concerned that the new edition have a clear and uncontestable copyright—both for the sake of the new edition, and out of respect for existing editions. Thus in light of their concerns it seemed best not to use NA26-7/UBS3-4 in the initial stages of creating the SBL edition. Once this decision was made, then the reconstructed Greek text behind the NIV translation commended itself as an alternative: it records, where it differs from UBS/NA, the independent textual choices of the original NIV translation committee (an international group of respected scholars), yet (because the NIV translation committee used the UBS/NA text as its starting point) it reflected, indirectly, the NA/UBS textual tradition as well. In effect, using the Greek text behind the NIV allowed the project to maintain a clear copyright, to acknowledge (indirectly) the well-earned excellence and stature of the NA/UBS editions, and to include (where the NIV differs from the NA/UBS text) a contemporary alternative perspective to the textual decisions of the committee responsible for the NA/UBS editions.
In short, the choice of these four editions to serve as initial resources (but certainly not the only resources) for building the new SBL text reflects a combination of historical considerations, text-critical theory, publishers’ concerns, and pragmatic considerations.
What about other editions? Each has benefits, but also drawbacks. For example, Tischendorf relied too heavily on Sinaiticus. Von Soden (still valuable as a source of information) built his text on flawed theoretical assumptions; and Vogels, Merk, and Bover are heavily influenced by von Soden. The original Nestle tradition was built on the editions of WH, Tischendorf, and (after Weymouth) B. Weiss, who like WH was heavily influenced by Vaticanus, so the Nestle text (up through the 25th edition) is very similar to WH. Either one would provide a good starting point, but both together add little to what one gains from either one alone. Similar considerations apply to other potential candidates (such as the Greek text, edited by R. V. G. Tasker, putatively behind the New English Bible).

Question #2: “Why is the NIV considered more standard than the NA in the Apparatus?”
Reply: I don’t consider the Greek text behind the NIV translation “more standard” than the NA text. The fact that “NIV” is visually more present in the apparatus than “NA” is largely a matter of pragmatism. Let me explain in two steps. First, once the Greek text behind the NIV was selected as one of the four primary resources for the new SBL edition (see the answer to the first question above for the reasons behind this choice), it had to be included in the apparatus alongside the other three editions. Second, from the start I wanted the apparatus to include the evidence of the NA/UBS text, from which the Greek text behind the NIV differs at about 235 or so places. So now the question was a practical one: how best to incorporate the NA testimony into an apparatus that already includes the NIV testimony? Option 1: insert the NA evidence at every one of the 6928 variants, or option 2: insert it explicitly only at those 235 or so places where it reads differently than the NIV, and for the other nearly 6700 places let the NIV stand for both NA and NIV. With either option, the full testimony of NA is present in the apparatus. However, option 2 results in a more compact apparatus, and reduces the chances for error in constructing the apparatus, so the choice was made to adopt option 2 rather than option 1. Note that the choice is entirely a pragmatic one, and does not imply any claim that the “NIV” is somehow “more standard” than NA. Given the sequence in which the apparatus was built, it was simply a pragmatic choice to cite NA only where it differs from NIV. In any case, the full testimony of NA is presented, either explicitly or implicitly, in the SBL GNT apparatus for every one of its 6928 variation units.

Question #3: Would the end product be different if I had started with the manuscripts rather than editions? That is, did the use of existing editions rather than the manuscripts as the starting point for the SBL edition bias the outcome?
Reply: I don’t think that the end result would have been any different if I had started with the manuscripts rather than existing editions. To explain why, let me quote a section from the Introduction to the edition:
Where all four editions agreed, the text was tentatively accepted as the text of the SBL edition; points of disagreement were marked for further consideration. The editor then worked systematically through the entire text, giving particular attention to the points of disagreement but examining as well the text where all four editions were in agreement. Where there was disagreement among the four editions, the editor determined which variant to print as the text; occasionally a reading not found in any of the four editions commended itself as the most probable representative of the text and therefore was adopted. Similarly, where all four texts were in agreement, the editor determined whether to accept that reading or to adopt an alternative variant as the text.
That is, once the four editions were compared, I then systematically went through the entire text of the NT in light of the manuscript evidence, not only where one or more of the four differed, but also where all four were in agreement (and at several places, I did adopt a reading not found in any one of the four). In short, the entire SBL text was decided on in light of the manuscript evidence (not on the basis of the editions); in addition, in view of the fact that there are places throughout where I either agree with each one of the four against the other three (SBL/WH vs. Treg NIV RP: 98x; SBL/RP vs. WH Treg NIV: 66x; SBL/NIV vs. WH Treg RP: 59x; SBL/Treg vs. WH NIV RP: 28x) or reject all four, I don’t think the use of existing critical editions biased the outcome.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"Wives PERmit to your husbands" (Col. 3:18 cj)

When I saw the facsimile from Sinai
I noticed the price was quite high.
The monastery's name
and my wife's is the same
and so she'll allow me to buy.

ETC SBL dinner

Following the Papyrology session which ends at 6:30 on Monday, we will head over for some classic America dining at the Hard Rock Cafe. We have two sets of reservations. One for those who are on the ball at 7:00 pm with Christian Askeland, and one for those who like to sit around and talk for a while with Peter Head (naturally) at 7:20. The restaurant is one block directly south from the conference hotels and on the left side of the street. Dinner runs between $12 and $20.

Monday, November 15, 2010

P46, P66 or P75 for a Fistful of Dollars

When I was in Edinburgh two years ago I noticed that Larry Hurtado had what looked as very ancient NT papyri mounted in frames on the wall in his office. These turned out to be very good replicas of P46 and P66 (as I recall), handmade by papyrologist Don Barker (Macquarie University).

Don Barker maintains the website New Testament and other Papyrus Manuscript Reproductions/Replicas. He has reproductions in stock of P46 (1 Cor 14.34 -15.6), P66 (John 3) and P75 (Luke 14.26-15.3) for $60 per item, but it is possible to order almost any papyrus manuscript that a customer wants if there is a suitable image to work from. In my experiences, replicas such as these are great for teaching purposes.

Don has agreed to run an "SBL Atlanta special" for us. He will bring a number of copies to the S22-329 SBL Papyrology and Early Christian Backgrounds Group session on 22 Nov. 4.00-6.45 PM, and will take 10% off the cost as a SBL/ETC special (i.e., $54/item)! It is possible to pre-order by sending me an e-mail at tomwas[at]spray[dot]se, and I will make a list – "The first at the mill can grind the first" (and I am on the top of the list). But you will have to be there at the session to make your purchase.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sinaiticus at the SBL

The colour facsimile of Codex Sinaiticus which we announced three months ago, here, seems now to have been released, although Hendricksons' website indicates "Pub Date: February 2011." According to ITSEE news, it will be presented to the Director of the SBL along with David Parker's new book Codex Sinaiticus: The Story of the World's Oldest Bible at the forthcoming SBL Annual Meeting in Atlanta. If you are going to the SBL, don't miss the event to take place at the Hendrickson booth in the Exhibit hall at 3PM on Sunday November 21st.

If you are not going to the SBL, you can order David Parker's new book from Eisenbrauns here, or the British Library bookshop.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holmes' SBLGNT on Facebook!

Logos Bible Software has just started a Facebook comment thread here to invite questions about the new SBL Greek New Testament edition that Michael Holmes announced on the ETC blog recently (don't forget to read the comments). A few days later, Stephen Carlson shared his initial impression of the edition here. And of course Rick Brannan working for Logos shared his thoughts.

Now you have the chance of discussing it again with Mike. He will be watching the Facebook thread for questions all week and post detailed replies on Tuesday the 16th at 10 a.m. PT. So go ahead and post your questions, to make sure that there is room and time for Mike to give thorough replies (I hope Mike has done all his SBL preparations...)

Emanuel Tov's Publications On-line

Emanuel Tov has graciously made available a large number of his publications on his website here, including his two volumes on Scribal Practices and Approaches Reflected in the Judean Desert.


Dizionario del sapere-religioso del novecento

The 2 volume encyclopaedia: Albert Melloni (ed.), Dizionario del sapere-religioso del novecento has just been published by il Mulino of Bologna ISBN 8815137326. There is a section on philology and textual criticism of the NT by J. K. Elliott "Filologia e critica testuale del Nuovo Testamento" (pp. 897-907), preceeded by a corresponding section on the philology and textual criticism of the OT by Agustinus Gianto.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Mark 1:41 at International SBL

I'm grateful to the chairs of the Working with Manuscripts section of the International SBL that my paper proposal has been accepted for the meeting in London next July. The abstract is below:

The case for 'filled with compassion' in Mark 1:41

The reading ὀργισθείς 'becoming angry' has become very popular amongst commentators and has received recent impetus through adoption in the SBL Greek New Testament and in the 2011 edition of the NIV. Despite the fact that external attestation is considerably stronger for σπλαγχνισθείς 'filled with compassion', scholars have tended to be swayed by the consideration that they cannot imagine how any scribe might change the text towards the allegedly 'harder' reading ὀργισθείς. However, this paper will argue that it is far easier to conceive of someone replacing σπλαγχνισθείς by ὀργισθείς than the reverse for a range of reasons, including the currency of the term ὀργισθείς in contrast to the rarity of the term σπλαγχνισθείς. Considerations of morphologically related terms suggests that if σπλαγχνισθείς were to be corrupted by accident, the form ending is -ισθεις that it would be most likely to become is none other than ὀργισθείς. Moreover, if ὀργισθείς were the authorial text, the existence of such a convenient substitute as σπλαγχνισθείς is hard to account for by mere appeal to chance. This paper also considers methodological double standards which are sometimes applied in the advocacy of ὀργισθείς.


Apparently, Jim West is considering – provided that he can acquire the proper clothing – to come to the Seventh Birmingham Colloquium on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament will be held at the ITSEE in Birmingham from 28-31 March 2011. I am certainly going to the colloquium, and I hope to be able to offer a co-written paper.

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Esther Scroll, POxy 4443


When I looked the other day at the way paragraphs were indicated in Greek biblical manuscripts, I was struck again by the apparent anachronistic way in which POxy 4443 indicates a paragraph: ekthesis + paragraphos + enlarged initial letter.
There used to be a time when the combination of such features was deemed to be indicative of a 5th century date. The Esther scroll is dated to the late first / early second century AD.
So how come that in manuscripts of the New Testament we only find the combination of these three features 300 years later? Chance?

P52 and John Rylands Library in the Press

J. K. Elliott has written a piece in Times Literary Supplement 29 October on the collection of biblical MSS in John Rylands Library in Manchester ("Manchester bibles").

Here is an extract:
A. S. G. Edwards’s Commentary article
(January 29) on the digitization of
forty Middle English manuscripts in
Manchester’s John Rylands Library as part of
an ongoing programme paid due respect to
Manchester’s medieval English texts. But its
holdings of biblical materials are also particularly
noteworthy, and many of them qualify
for various superlatives. The Library’s biblical
manuscripts – the largest number in Britain
outside London, Oxford, and Cambridge
– are regularly consulted and their distinctive
readings cited in most modern critical editions
of the Bible.

Two of its treasures are particularly well
known and regularly seen by visitors to its
newly refurbished building in Deansgate.
One (P.Ryl. 457) is the famous papyrus fragment
containing four verses of John 18 and
known to New Testament scholars as P52.
Experts are generally agreed that it was written
by the mid-second century, and thus this
tiny fragment is not only our first witness to
this Gospel, but the oldest example of any
New Testament text in the world – and probably
the earliest Christian writing extant. The
other is a papyrus portion of Deuteronomy in
Greek (P.Ryl. 458).

One can access the whole article by signing up for a free trial of TLS here.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Hurtado on Developments in NT/Christian Origins

On his blog Larry Hurtado has listed what he thinks are major developments in the study of NT/Christian origins over the last century or so. The first three in the list relate to textual criticism:

# The “de-throning” of the textus receptus and the turn to a critically-based NT text. Westcott & Hort (1880s) were crucial (though they built much on the work of earlier scholars). Today, all scholars agree that our editions of the NT must be based on sound critical principles and the best evidence subjected to critical analysis.

# The discovery & publication of early NT papyri. In particular, the Chester Beatty biblical papyri (which includes both NT & OT) in the 1930s had profound effects thereafter on scholarly notions about the early history of the NT writings. The Bodmer biblical papyri (1950s-1960s) furthered this. We now have copies of NT writings (often partial/fragmentary) that take us back to ca. 200 CE, and so allow us to peek back into the second century. This evidence still needs to be mined further, but has already generated significant shifts in scholarly views (e.g., the demise of the “Caesarean text” of the Gospels, and theories of a 3rd or 4th century “recension” behind the “Alexandrian” text of the Gospels).

# Methods in text-critical analysis. These include more soundly-based quantitative methods (prompted particularly by E.C. Colwell in the 1960s) for establishing textual relationships of manuscripts. Now, with the development of computer-applications, there are further developments, esp. the Muenster-based “Coherence Based Genealogical Method” for attempting to map the “textual flow” of the transmission of NT writings.

PhD Scholarship in OT Textual Criticism at the University of St. Andrews for 2011

The University of St. Andrews offer several PhD Scholarships in Divinity for 2011, one of which is:
The Emanuel Tov Scholarship: for a student working in the field of Text Criticism in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible

The scholarship covers tuition fees for a UK or EU student, or a contribution of around £3500 per annum towards overseas tuition fees for a student from outside the EU.

An additional stipend of £1000 per annum will be offered to the recipient for three years. The Tov scholar will be supervised by Professor Kristin De Troyer, and will provide research assistance to her.

Further information is available from Ms Margot Clement, Postgraduate Secretary

The closing date for applications is January 15, 2011

Oxford Bibliographies Online - Biblical Studies and Textual Criticism

The recently launched Oxford Bibliographies Online, claims to be an "expert guide to the best available scholarship across the social sciences and humanities." I cannot evaluate this claim, but there is a strong section on Biblical Studies. Below are the subjects and authors:

Afterlife and Immortality by Stephen L. Cook
Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha by David A. deSilva
Canon, Biblical by Lee Martin McDonald
Chronicles, 1 and 2 by Steven Shawn Tuell
Corinthians, 2 by Thomas D. Stegman
Daniel by Carol Newsom
David by Victor H. Matthews
Deuteronomistic History by Gary N. Knoppers
Deuteronomy by Stephen L. Cook
Epistles, Catholic by Peter H. Davids
Exodus, Book of by Thomas B. Dozeman
Galatians by Mark D. Nanos
Galilee by Mark Chancey
Genesis, Book of by Victor H. Matthews
Gospels, Apocryphal by James Keith Elliott
Hebrews by Ellen B. Aitken
Interpretation and Hermeneutics by Stephen L. Cook
Isaiah by Marvin A. Sweeney
Israel, History of by Marc Brettler
Jesus of Nazareth by Pierluigi Piovanelli Job Carol Newsom
Joshua by Thomas B. Dozeman
Judaism, Hellenistic by Lester L. Grabbe
Judaism, Rabbinic by Rivka Ulmer
Judges, Book of by Gregory Mobley
Kings, 1 and 2 by Gary N. Knoppers
Mark, Gospel of by James Keith Elliott
Martyrdom by Jan W. van Henten
Matthew, Gospel of by Daniel J. Harrington
New Testament and Early Christianity, Women, Gender, and Sexuality in the by Todd C. Penner
New Testament, Rhetoric of the by Duane F. Watson
New Testament, Social Sciences and the by Dietmar Neufeld
New Testament, Textual Criticism of the by James Keith Elliott
Old Testament, Social Sciences and the by Victor H. Matthews
Passion Narratives by Ellen B. Aitken
Pastorals by Raymond F. Collins
Pentateuch by Thomas B. Dozeman
Philo of Alexandria by David T. Runia
Proverbs by Timothy J. Sandoval
Psalms by Stephen Breck Reid
Q by John S. Kloppenborg
Qumran/Dead Sea Scrolls by Carol Newsom
Revelation (Apocalypse) by Daniel J. Harrington
Sacrifice by William K. Gilders
Scriptures by Vincent L. Wimbush
Slavery by John Byron
Solomon, Wisdom of by Daniel J. Harrington
Synagogue by Anders Runesson
Synoptic Problem by John S. Kloppenborg
Thomas, Gospel of by Stephen J. Patterson
Twelve Prophets, Book of the by Marvin A. Sweeney

The section on New Testament textual criticism is authored by J.K. Elliott and includes the following sections (the introduction is freely available):

Introductory Works
In English
In Other Languages
General Overviews
Collected Essays
Reference Works and Bibliographies
Critical Editions of the Greek New Testament
Critical Editions of Synoptic Texts
Apparatus Critici and Thesauri of Readings
Text-Critical Methodology
Variants in Selected Books of the New Testament
The Acts of the Apostles
The Pastoral Epistles
The Letter of Jude
The Book of Revelation
Theology and Textual Variation
Facsimiles, Full Collations, and Photographs of Manuscripts
Introduction to Manuscripts
History of Printed Editions
Patristic Citations
Codicology and Paleography
Scribal Activity

Thursday, November 04, 2010

New Dissertations from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

The Center for New Testament Textual Studies and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary announce details on two tc dissertations.

Yesterday, Min-Seok Jang successfully defended his PhD dissertation entitled “A Reconsideration of the Date of Papyrus 46.” Jang (BA Yonsei University; MDiv Korea Baptist Theological Seminary; ThM NOBTS) compared 15 characteristics of p46 to a large number of papyri. In addition to the 80 papyri examined in previous p46 research , Jang examined 154 documentary papyri, 108 literary papyri, and 48 reformed documentary papyri, all categorized into five periods ranging from the second half of the first century to the second half of the third century. He concluded that p46 appears to have more in common with the papyri produced between A.D. 75 and A.D. 200 than with papyri from the later period. A narrower range between A.D. 100 and A.D. 150 is possible, but problematic.

Last week, David Champagne (BS Florida State University; BS Mississippi College; MA NOBTS; ThM NOBTS) passed his PhD comprehensives and has now begun work on his dissertation tentatively entitled, “An Analysis of Superscription and Subscription Traditions in New Testament Manuscripts.”

Birmingham Thesis on Arabic Versions of the Gospels

The Center for New Testament Textual Studies (New Orleans) is pleased to have received Hikmat Kachouh's thesis entitled "The Arabic Versions of the Gospels: The Manuscripts and their Families."

The thesis was submitted to the University of Birmingham in fulfillment of the PhD, and was supervised by D.C. Parker.

At first glance, what impresses the reader is the sheer size of the thesis. In three volumes, it comes to 1012 pages.
  • Vol. 1: Thesis
  • Vol. 2: The Abridged List of the Arabic Gospel Manuscripts and the Collation of the Test Passages
  • Vol. 3: Textual data and stemmas

Monday, November 01, 2010

New NIV replaces old

The updated NIV is now available. Interestingly enough it seems that the old NIV is not. Of course one will be able to find it all over the web, but if you go to you will find the nNIV is now the 'NIV' on offer whereas the oNIV is nowhere to be seen (at least I couldn't find it).

Can anyone do us a nice electronic comparison of the two texts and tell us the story in numbers?

On the back of the news that the SBL GNT got Mark 1:41 wrong, I'm torn between feelings of indignation and pity to see the same decision has been made in the nNIV: 'Jesus was indignant'. Crazy, when the internal arguments are so overwhelmingly against ...

Call for Papers: SBL London, 2011

Call for papers is open for the SBL International Meeting in London, July 4-8, 2011.

Program unit "Working with Biblical Manuscripts (Textual Criticism)" (chairs: Jan Krans & Tommy Wasserman):

Papers concentrating on any aspect of textual criticism are welcome, in particular the practical work with manuscripts. Examples of topics: papyrological insights, scribal habits, preservation techniques, technical developments, computer assisted tools, producing critical editions, evaluating the evidence of fathers or versions, discussion of particular passages, social historical studies, new projects, systematic-theological problems, teaching text-criticism in an academic setting, etc.

Go to the SBL site, log in, and make your submission! We have one submission already.

Peter Head has no excuses not to come this time – train from Cambridge to London ca. £20.

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.