Wednesday, March 30, 2011

CNTTS Featured in Major Newspaper Article

The title ‘Changes to the Bible through the ages are being studied by New Orleans scholars’ was a bit unfortunate, but the Center for New Testament Textual Criticism at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary was featured in a major newspaper article.

The news writer attempts to explain CNTTS’ 10 year project to produce an exegetical commentary on the (non-original) variants.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

First Report from Birmingham Colloquium 2011

In spite of catching a terrible cold just before this meeting, which means a lot of sneezing and coughing, I am otherwise really enjoying the Seventh Birmingham Colloquium, as usual very well-organized by Hugh Houghton, David Parker and others, with good papers, discussions and, above all, good company including old friends and new acquintances.

Today there were several good papers and I hope that my own presentation on Mark 1:1 with some emphasis on the patristic evidence counts among them.

Jeff Kloha presented on "The NT Text of Nicetas of Remesiana (with special reference to Luke 1:46)" and it turned out that Nicetas attributes the magnificat to Elisabeth instead of Mary in Luke 1:46 (Jeff referred to it as a piece of "unorthodox corruption") – a tradition otherwise reflected in some VL MSS (3 4 11). Kloha identified a textual connection with 3, 4, 11 and 14 in several other passages, e.g., Luke 10:42; John 5:29; 14:13. Kloha suggested that the rather peculiar reading reading "Elisabeth" in Luke 1:46 may reflect a stream of the Greek tradition.

The next paper was offered by Claire Clivaz, "The Same Words, but not the Same Readings: Early Christian Readings of Lk 22,43-44." Clivaz opened by stating that after writing 640 pages on this passage (in her published dissertation) she still is confident that new early readings of the passage (=interpretations of the text rather than variant readings) could be discovered. The paper focused mainly on the ambivalence of the noun ἀγωνία from the second century CE onwards, as well as the association of struggle and sweat in a religious context.

In my own presentation on the textcritical problem in Mark 1:1, whether the phrase ‘Son of God’ was accidentally omitted from an original or added by some scribe(s), I focused in particular on the patristic evidence (given the theme of the conference), and attempted to demonstrate the marked tendency on the part of some fathers to abbreviate the text. Moreover, I argued for the plausibility of an accidental omission, even in the opening of a book, in the light of observable scribal habits in the extant tradition. Unfortunately, Peter Head, who has written an article defending the short version, wasn't here to argue with me :-(, but another co-blogger from Tyndale House, Dirk Jongkind, stepped in and posed a good question about the correction in Sinaiticus in Mark 1:1 and other corrections in this Gospel, and whether they can be shown to have been made from another exemplar or not.

Gary Pence offered the next paper on the "Citations of St. John's Gospel in the Writings of Basil of Caesarea" which was basically a good demonstration of the lack of good critical editions of Basil's various work which are necessar preconditions for further work of evaluating the patristic citations.

As the cream on the cappuchino, Ulrich Schmid offered a very stimulating paper on "Marcion and the Textual History of Romans: Early Editions of New Testament Writings and Corpora". It was so interesting that I did not at all mind that he went slightly over the alotted time, and for me personally I would have loved to here more. But, then there was time for lunch and the afternoon excursion to Lichfield Cathedral. More on that later perhaps.

In the picture: Ulrich Schmid and Rachel Kevern (presiding)

I took more extensive notes during Schmid's presentation, which I may publish in a separate post. However, Schmid posed three basic challenges relating to his subject – Marcion and the textual history of Romans:

1. How can we reconstruct Marcion’s text?
2. Marcion’s heavy theological agenda may have interferred with other (previous) editorial activity. So how can we tell who has edited what, and when, and for what purposes?
3. What is the appropriate reference point for interpreting editorial variation? We must remember that we cannot deal with individual writings and neglect that they have been transmitted in collections, and a collection is itself an editorial activity. At least one person (the collector) has affected the book in terms of editorial activity.

Schmid then went on to elaborate on this challenges and offer some preliminary answers. I will return to that in another post. However, the very quick answer to the first challenge, of course, is to read Schmid's 1995 monograph, Marcion und sein Apostolos: Rekonstruktion und historische Einordnung der marcionitischen Paulus-Briefausgabe (Arbeiten zur neutestamentlichen Textforschung 25; Berlin: De Gruyter, 1995). This fine treatment of Marcion's text of the Apostolos (in Marcion's case the Pauline Epistles) has unfortunately often been overlooked in scholarly discussions. It certainly deserves more promotion.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Gordon Fee Donates Specialized Collection to NOBTS


The H. Milton Haggard Center for New Testament Textual Studies (CNTTS), New Orleans, happily announces its receipt of Gordon Fee’s personal textual criticism library. The specialized volumes and other materials have been designated The Gordon D. Fee Collection on the New Testament Text.

The collection is comprised of rare and newer books which Dr. Fee amassed in his half century as a text critic. The collection also includes extensive documentation supporting his work on textual criticism projects.

Noteworthy is Dr. Fee’s collation files on Luke and John, including his signature graphic depiction of the textual variants. The quality of the graphic depiction of the variants in Luke and John is such that the center hopes to digitize the data, make them freely available, and to use them for the center’s own research. Also included are Dr. Fee’s files on the text of various church fathers.

In 2005, Dr. Fee was honored with Evangelical Textual Criticism blog’s Lifetime Achievement Award, 2005 (award; cf. nomination).

In donating his collection, Dr. Fee was passionate that his materials be made available for the advancement of the discipline. In this regard, CNTTS is particularly suited to receive the collection. There are currently nine students working toward a textual criticism PhD at the center’s home at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and 10 part-time researchers at the center. CNTTS has produced its own extensive apparatus of the variants of the Greek New Testament (Bible Works, Accordance), and has commenced a ten year exegetical commentary project on the meaning of the (non-original) variants; the project will be made accessible on the web in due course. CNTTS also cooperates with the International Greek New Testament Project and with the Virtual Manuscript Room project sponsored by the Institut für neuetestamentliche Textforschung (INTF) in Münster.

The acquisition was coordinated by James M. Leonard (PhD cand., Cambridge) who is the current recipient of the CNTTS’ post-doctoral research grant as Visiting Scholar. Leonard served as Dr. Fee’s teaching assistant and worked under him in the capacity of Exegesis Assistant at Regent College (1991-1993). Both Leonard and 2008 recipient of the center’s post-doctoral grant Michael Theophilus (PhD, Oxford) studied with Fee at Regent College, Vancouver.

Tischendorf Exhibition in Leipzig

If by any means you can spare some time, visit the University Library in Leipzig.
There is an exhibition dealing with Tischendorf and his life, the Biblical-manuscript-"Indiana Jones" of the 19th century, from February 18th until May 29th 2011, opened daily 10am - 6pm. See here for more details, interviews, booklets etc.

as well as echoes and comments:

and a catalogue

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Birmingham Colloquium: Programme Available

A draft programme has been posted here for the seventh Birmingham Colloquium next week. Good to see some ETC bloggers involved:

Monday 28th March
7.30 pm: Dr Hugh Houghton Classifying Biblical Citations as Evidence for the New Testament Text
8.00 pm Prof. Ulrich Schmid Marcion and the textual history of Romans : Early editions of New Testament writings and corpora
Followed by a drinks reception

Tuesday 29th March
9.15 am Dr Jeff Kloha The NT Text of Nicetas of Remesiana (with special reference to Luke 1:46)
9.45 am Prof. Claire Clivaz The Same Words, but not the Same Readings: Early Christian Readings of Lk 22,43-44
10.30 am Coffee
11.00 am Dr Tommy Wasserman The Son of God was in the Beginning (Mark 1:1)
11.30 am Gary Pence Citations of St. John's Gospel in the writings of Basil of Caesarea
12 noon Dan Batovici Eriugena's Greek variant readings of the Fourth Gospel
12.30 pm Lunch

1.15 pm: Coach departs for excursion to Lichfield Cathedral (including a tour of the library and visit to the Bible exhibition; there will also be time to attend evensong or explore the city; supper (not included in the price) will be at the Hedgehog Inn.)
10.00pm: Coach returns to Woodbrooke.

Wednesday 30th March
9.15 am Dr Dirk Jongkind The Relevance of the "Early Byzantine Glossary" of Paul for the Textual Criticism of the Corpus Paulinum
9.45 am Prof. Pier Franco Beatrice Heracleon's Hypomnemata as a Source for the Apostolic Writings of his Time
10.30 am Coffee
11.00 am Dr Claudia Greco Νόθοι κόσμοιο πολῖται: Jesus' Prayer for His Disciples in Nonnus' Paraphrasis (P 25-62~Jo. 17. 9-19)
11.30 am Michael A. Clark Nicetas of Heraclea's Catenae of John: Preliminary Considerations
12 noon Krista Whittenburg Pelagius' Text of 1 Corinthians
12.30 pm Lunch

1.45 pm Prof Bill Warren A new commentary on the exegetical value of textual variants
2.00 pm Timothy Sailors Tatian's Diatessaron as a Witness to the Text of its Sources
2.30 pm Dr Wim Hendriks Mark 6:3 : Is not this the Carpenter?
3.15 pm Tea
3.30 pm Dr Amy Donaldson Patristic References to New Testament Variants: Their Value and Limitations
4.00 pm Concluding round table
4.30 pm Break
7.00 pm: Optional Conference Dinner (University Staff House), with a presentation on the Staffordshire Hoard.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Yahweh and Asherah

A three-part BBC documentary, 'The Bible's Buried Secrets,' is popularizing an argument that Monotheistic Judaism is an evolutionary development from a polytheistic religion which recognized that God had a wife -- Asherah. Francesca Stavrakopoulou, senior lecturer at Exeter, has attempted to demonstrate this prehistory from an ostracon inscription and allusions in the Hebrew scriptures. She has argued that God's wife was essentially edited out of the Bible. Read the Discovery News article. Michael Heiser offers a response, here. I have neither read on the subject or seen the documentary, so if anyone wants to refine my description, please feel free to do so.

A Primer to the Apparatus of "The New Field"


For my first post on ETC, I thought I would introduce my work by explaining the textual apparatus for the new edition of the Hexaplaric fragments, which the Hexapla Institute uses currently. Some changes to it may occur between this draft and the final draft, but this primer will provide the reader with a basic overview. I will use Job 32:1b as a model of the apparatus and I will comment on the function of each line below.

Job 32:1b

HT: כִּי הוּא צַדִּיק בְּעֵינָיו׃

LXX: ἦν γὰρ Ιωβ δίκαιος ἐναντίον αὐτῶν.

σʹ: διὰ τὸ αὐτὸν δίκαιον φαίνεσθαι ἑαυτ

Wit1: C (= 250 3005) ↓cI138 260 732cII 161 555

Wit2: αὐτῶν] του O (Syhtxt) 55 68 157* 795 AethA = M↓

Attr: σʹ] > 250 3006

Var: αὐτόν/δίκαιον] tr 161 | ἑαυτῷ] εαυτω(ν) 139 643; εαυτων 255 395 559 612; αυτων 740; εαυτον 680; επ αυτων cII 161 555 3006

NonGr: N/A


1. The "HT" is the Hebrew text taken from BHS fifth edition. Though the Hexaplaric fragment does not always agree with this text, it is the base text used for the edition. All variants to this text are discussed in the "Notes" section at the end of each entry.

2. The LXX text is the text of Joseph Ziegler, Septuaginta Iob, Goettingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1982.

3. Line three contains the putative original text and attribution.

4. The "Wit1" line lists all of the available evidence for the fragment. In this case, only the catena mss (listed according to Rahlfs's numbers) preserve the text. C represents the oldest tradition of the Catena of Job and it is best preserved in mss 250 and 3005 among others. cI represents the earliest recension of C, and cII along with 161 and 555 represents the final recension of the catena of Job and is probably the work of Niketas. Unless noted otherwise, C and cI preserve these readings in the margin, while cII has preserved them in the commentary portion of the catena. The down arrows indicate that the witnesses will occur in one or more of the apparatuses below.

5. The "Wit2" line is used for any relevant variants from Ziegler's First Apparatus. Usually, if the Hexaplaric fragment has influenced or interfered with the transmission of the LXX text via the Hexapla, that data will be listed in Wit2.

6. The "Attr" line shows the preservation of the attribution in detail. In this case, mss 250 and 3006 are sine nomine or without attribution. All of the other witnesses from Wit1 contain an attribution to Symmachus as the author of the fragment.

7. The "Var" line shows any variants from the putative original text. In this case, ms 161 has transposed αυτον and δικαιον. I deemed ἑαυτῳ to be the original text on the basis of 250 3005 and 137 (corrected). The variants εαυτων and επ' αυτων arose through assimilation to the LXX lemma. Εαυτον arose through otacism from εαυτων. In this instance, the HT provides a control, since
בְּעֵינָיו is singular. The data in Wit2 is from Ziegler's First Apparatus, and it is plausible that Symmachus or one of the other Three has influenced the reading of the O text (i.e. the best representatives of the fifth column of Origen's Hexapla, contained in La and Syh according to Ziegler).

8. The "NonGr" line would list readings from non Greek sources. There is no relevant material in the Arm La Syh or Co for this lemma.

9. The "Notes" section allows the editor to discuss textual decisions, the placement of these readings in individual mss, retroversions from the Versions, and the patristic sources from which these readings arose. For example at 32:1b, Ziegler's
Edition posits that Olympiodorus ("Olymp") is the church father associated with this Symmachus fragment, yet after checking the critical edition of the Olympiodor Kommentar, ed. by Dieter Hagedorn, it is now clear that Olymp had nothing to do with this fragment and his association with this fragment occurred much later, since only the Niketas catena preserves this link; therefore, I did not place "(Olymp)" in the Wit1 line as Ziegler did.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Successful PhD defense!

At 1:30pm today, I successfully defended my University of Cambridge PhD dissertation entitled "John's gospel: the Coptic translations of its Greek text." Simon Gathercole was the internal examiner, and Paul Foster (University of Edinburgh) was the external examiner. In the British system, the PhD defense is referred to as the Viva Voce ("with a living voice") or, simply, as the Viva!

I am grateful to have found two examiners who were interested in both Coptic and New Testament textual criticism. Both asked a number of lively questions which showed their own engagement with the dissertation. The entire event took about an hour and fifteen minutes. The examiners challenged me to explain the contribution of my research to academia and to respond to some overarching criticism concerning the use of the versions in textual criticism.

My dissertation explored the use of the Coptic versions in the reconstruction of the Greek text of John's gospel, considering where the Coptic may be cited with the most confidence. Different chapters evaluated the approaches to translations used, the issues implicit in the source language (Greek) and the translation language (Coptic), the evolution of the Coptic texts over time, and the interrelationships of the Coptic texts themselves. Additionally, I identified two previously unpublished Coptic texts of John's gospel in Middle Egyptian and Fayumic.

My examiners have my gratitude for their time and helpful comments. I am additionally indebted to Peter Williams, my supervisor (with me in the photo, above), from whom the original concept of the dissertation came, and who promptly and carefully proofed so many drafts, supplying an endless amount of excellent, constructive criticism. In the final stretch, Gerd Mink transcended the bounds of kindness, reflecting the spirit of cooperation so prevalent in Münster, and commented extensively on the penultimate draft. The highest praise goes to my wife and three kids who endured the ordeal and who have brought me so much happiness along the way.

ⲟⲩϫⲁⲓ ϩⲙ ⲡϫⲟⲉⲓⲥ!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Leimonos Monastery GNT MSS Online

Leimonos Monastery in Lesbos has launched a Digitial Library where you can access their collection of manuscripts including Greek New Testament MSS:

The Digital Library of Leimonos Monastery aims at highlighting the written cultural legacy that can be found at the display bookshelves and the cases of Leimonos Library during the five centuries of its operation, from 1526 A.D until today. The library was established within the framework of the program “Elevation and promotion of the cultural wealth of Leimonos Monastery, Lesvos with the use of new technologies”.

The Digital Library is divided, as in its initial prototype, into three parts, the collection of Byzantine and post-Byzantine manuscripts, the Library of prototype books and the Archive of Greek and Ottoman documents.

This website presents part of Leimonos written wealth, while summary descriptions are also included. Specifically, more than 108 manuscripts are presented and some of the monastery’s old documents and books as well. Our future goal is the constant renewal of the Digital Library not only by enriching descriptions, but also by publishing the monastery’s written wealth with the ultimate aim of highlighting its whole part.

For any further information concerning the material and its scientific utilization, you can contact the Assistant Professor Apostolos Spanos, who is responsible for the Digital Library.

The following twenty-two MSS (subdivisions liturgical and patristic) are available for download (!):

Ms. Lesbiacus Leimonos 35 = GA 1156 (ff. 121-156)

Ms. Lesbiacus Leimonos 67 = GA 1157

Ms. Lesbiacus Leimonos 97 = GA 1158

Ms. Lesbiacus Leimonos 99 = GA 1159

Ms. Lesbiacus Leimonos 141 = GA 1712

Ms. Lesbiacus Leimonos 145 = GA 1713

Ms. Lesbiacus Leimonos 227 = GA 1714

Ms. Lesbiacus Leimonos 132 = GA 1757

Ms. Lesbiacus Leimonos 195 = GA 1758

Ms. Lesbiacus Leimonos 55 = GA 1841

Ms. Lesbiacus Leimonos 294 = GA 2217

Ms. Lesbiacus Leimonos 507 = GA 2220
In the printed K. Liste the library shelfmark was indicated as no. 355, but, in the library catalogue and the digital Liste it is 507.

Ms. Lesbiacus Leimonos 360 = GA 2682
(Apparently, this is considered a "lectionary" by the cataloguers, whereas it meets the common definition of a continuous text MS by the standards of NTTC, as reflected in the K. Liste – see further Ulrich Schmid's comment below)

Ms. Lesbiacus Leimonos 1 = GA L798

Ms. Lesbiacus Leimonos 37 = GA L799

Ms. Lesbiacus Leimonos 38 = GA L800

Ms. Lesbiacus Leimonos 40 = GA L801

Ms. Lesbiacus Leimonos 41 = GA L802

Ms. Lesbiacus Leimonos 66 = GA L803

Ms. Lesbiacus Leimonos 137 = GA L1211

Ms. Lesbiacus Leimonos 344 = GA L2055

Ms. Lesbiacus Leimonos 368 = GA L2056

There are still six registered MSS missing from this archive (GA 1715, GA 2218, GA 2681, GA L1210, GA L1212, GA L1213).

The Digital Library offers descriptions to each of the MSS, which I have not linked to here.

HT: Ulrich Schmid (VMR news 2011-03-16).

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Örebro School of Theology Launches New Website


Örebro School of Theology has launched a new webpage:

What has this to do with textual criticism, you ask?

Two things:

I work there :-)

In addition, there is a manuscript in one of the headers (reload the page until you see it). Quiz: which manuscript?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Testing New Blog Features

I am trying out some new features on the ETC blog, one of which is a search box in the right sidebar. I tried it out by writing "GA" in the box and it returned a whole bunch of entries about MSS (GA = Gregory-Aland). Try it out for yourself and feel free to comment.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Out of Egypt: Mount Sinai, Monastery and Manuscripts

Dr. Jeff W. Childers of the Graduate School of Theology at Abilene Christian University, offers some reflections on his recent trip to Saint Catherine’s Monastery at Mount Sinai here:

"Out of Egypt"

HT: Nick Zola

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Codex Bezae Resources and Special Booksale

Today I would like to draw the attention to several Codex Bezae resources:

Firstly, the digital facsimile (in low resolution) published by Cambridge University Library can be found here.

We blogged about this project last year here. (High resolution images will be available in the future.)

Secondly, there is a transcription and translation (French and English) here.

Thirdly, there is a dissertation from Murdoch University for free download:

Kenneth Panten (1995). "A History of Research on Codex Bezae, with Special Reference to the Acts of the Apostles: Evaluation and Future Directions." PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

Fourthly, for users of Bibleworks there is a special Bezae module for free download here.

Finally, I have arranged a little booksale with Eisenbrauns on the paperback edition of David Parker's excellent study on Codex Bezae (thanks to Wieland Willker for reminding me of the paperback). During a few days you will get a 15% discount on the book here.

Readers are welcome to add to this list of resources in the comments.

Update: A better Bezae module for Bibleworks (divided in three files) is found here (Greek), here (Latin) and here (some missing pages).

Monday, March 07, 2011

Text and Transmission in the Second Century

Over at Earliest Christianity, Tim Henderson summarizes the essay by Michael Holmes, "Text and Transmission in the Second Century” recently published in The Reliability of the New Testament: Bart Ehrman and Daniel Wallace in Dialogue which we have blogged about here.

For a description of Tim Henderson's upcoming monograph – the published version of his dissertation on the Gospel of Peter to be published my Mohr Siebeck – see his own "shameless promotion".

New ETC Blogger: John Meade

The ETC blog team proudly presents a new blog team member:

John Meade

Meade is a candidate for the PhD (ABD) at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky in the department of Old Testament. His dissertation is “A Critical Edition of the Fragments of Origen’s Hexapla of Job: 22-42,” which is also being compiled for the Hexapla Institute, of which he is a part (

He has many interests in the area of biblical textual criticism including Hebrew Bible, LXX, Hexapla, NT, and the study of the ancient versions for their interpretation of the text.

The ETC team is particularly happy to strengthen its competency in the field of Septuagint studies, and we look forward to many interesting blogposts by John.


Friday, March 04, 2011

Greek Manuscripts at Princeton

Recently I came across a review which alerted me to the existence of of S. Kotzabassi & N.P. Sevcenko, Greek Manuscripts at Princeton, Sixth to Nineteenth Century: A Descriptive Catalogue (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010).
There is a fair bit of information at the publisher's website (here), which suggests that around 25 of the 64 manuscripts presented are NT manuscripts. In fact the sample catalogue entry is for minuscule 1357, with a very full description and many colour photos.
And Tommy has managed to procure a review copy (for himself, not to share) and so we shall soon have a very thorough critical review of the entire volume (in great detail).

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Textual Criticism and the Synoptic Problem

The book New Studies in the Synoptic Problem. Oxford Conference, April 2008. Essays in Honour of Christopher M. Tuckett (eds P. Foster; A. Gregory; J.S. Kloppenborg & J. Verheyden; BETL 239; Leuven: Peeters, 2011) has now been published (at Euro 85 for a 961 page book which is not bad IMO). (For an earlier post on the conference see here, and also Dan Batovici's article ‘The Oxford Conference on the Synoptic ProblemCurrents in Biblical Research 7.2 (2009) 245-71 which is helpfully online).

My chapter, on 'Textual Criticism and the Synoptic Problem', can be found here. Other chapters of direct relevance to TC include Judy Lieu on 'Marcion and the Synoptic Problem' and Scott Brown on 'The Secret Gospel of Mark and the Synoptic Problem'. But all of them are interesting if you are interested in the Synoptic Problem (and who wouldn't be!).

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Political PhD Plagiarism Problems

Copying things is a contemporary as well as an antiquarian issue.

The German aristocrat, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (a.k.a. Baron Cut-and-Paste), until recently the German Defence Minister, has resigned amidst revelations that he copied half of his PhD thesis (2006) (BBC report; for the data see here and also here).

Another aristocrat, Saif Al-Islam Alqadhafi (son of Col. Gaddafi of Libya), may also have some trouble with his LSE PhD (Independent; for the PhD see here). His topic? Ironically enough it was "The Role of Civil Society in the Democratisation of Global Governance Institutions: From ‘Soft Power’ to Collective Decision-Making?" Not too much collective decision-making in Libya at the moment it seems. (LSE is also in trouble for accepting £1.5 million after his PhD was passed.)

Finally Sinaiticus Arrives in Sweden

Finally, two monhts after Christmas, Codex Sinaiticus arrives to Örebro School of Theology.

Thanks to Maria Brolin for capturing the moment.

I preordered this beautiful facsmile copy at the SBL meeting in Atlanta, and it eventually costed £250 including shipping (and I can tell you it's heavy!), Parker's new book about the codex and a fine print of one of the folios – a very good bargain I think. However, it doesn't beat my Vaticanus facsimile (1968 color edition) bargain, which I got in trade for a Swedish study bible in five volumes, which in turn I had bought at a second hand bookstore for 300SEK (=$46).

More about the Sinaiticus facsimile here and here.