Thursday, June 30, 2011

Manuscripts and CNTTS Apparatus Included in BibleWorks 9

BibleWorks has just announced a new version of their software, Bibleworks 9, which is going to be released in mid-July. Among the upgrades is the introduction of their manuscripts project which seeks to produce transcriptions and provide images (mostly from facsimile editions) to some important Greek New Testament manuscripts (free of charge). The new version further includes the CNTTS NT textual apparatus (also free of charge) produced by co-blogger Bill Warren and his associates at the CNTTS in New Orleans.

See a video demonstration of the CNTTS apparatus in Bibleworks here and another one on the "MSS Tab"here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Epistle of Jude: Its Text and Transmission on Supersale

James Spinti tells me Eisenbrauns is offering my monograph as "Deal of the Day" for $31.60
at a 60% discount.

The offer is good until noon tomorrow, Eastern US time.

Extracts from reviews here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

CSNTM on iTunes U

The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) is now present on iTunes U, with twenty uploaded video clips (to begin with).

Here is the announcement from director Dan Wallace:

[A]fter a year of production behind closed doors, as of today, 27 June 2011, CSNTM is now on iTunes U. We have uploaded twenty video clips to begin with, in six different categories. We will be uploading new videos every week for the next several weeks. The videos are intended for a lay audience that is motivated to learn about the transmission of the text of the New Testament. That is, an understanding of Koine Greek is not required, even though much of the material would be helpful to those in an introductory course on textual criticism. Within a few months, CSNTM will also be offering on its site a set of DVDs for these first twenty videos along with a workbook that supplements the videos.

To visit CSNTM's iTunes U collections, go to

Daniel B. Wallace, PhD
Executive Director
Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts

Monday, June 27, 2011

Review of Scribal Habits in Codex Sinaiticus

On the blog Reviews of Biblical and Early Christian Studies maintained by some doctoral students including "core contributors" Dan Batovici (St Andrews), David J. Larsen (St Andrews), Justin A. Mihoc (Durham), and Samuli Siikavirta (Cambridge), you can read reviews and reports on presented papers. To my knowledge, at least two of the contributors have worked in the field of textual criticism, and there are several reviews in the category "textual criticism", the most recent being Batovici's review of our co-blogger Dirk Jongkind's, Scribal Habits of Codex Sinaiticus (Texts and Studies 5; Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias, 2007), here. Batovici, by the way, did his MPhil in Cambridge under Peter Head on the text of the Shepherd in Codex Sinaiticus.

You can also follow this band on facebook.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Craig Evans on Use of Manuscripts

Over at Bible and Interpretation, Craig Evans has a short article on How Long Were Biblical Manuscripts in Use. The blurb reads:
I speculated that if the Gospel of Matthew were published and circulated in 75 CE and if it and some of the first copies of it were in use as long as the manuscripts in the collections and libraries studied by Houston were in use, then some of these manuscripts could still have been in circulation, being read, studied, and copied, as late as the end of the second century and perhaps even on into the third century. This means that New Testament autographs and first copies could still have been available when our oldest extant papyri manuscripts (e.g., P45, P46, P66) were produced. If still in circulation and being read and copied, the autographs and first copies would have continued to give shape to the text. In a sense, then, the gap between autograph and extant manuscript is bridged.
In the end Evans wonders what bearing this has for conceiving of early Christian libraries and the formation of the canon:
What I propose is that the New Testament canon of writings be viewed more as a library or collection. Many of the libraries and collections that Houston studied were assembled either by families or by groups of literate friends with common reading interests. Members of these groups met together from time to time to read and study. They acquired manuscripts, sometimes multiple copies, compared and discussed texts, and made notes, which in some instances approximate what we today would regard as commentary. I should think that some of these activities were very much those of early Christian groups that collected the founding documents of the Christian faith. In short, some of the dynamics behind the collecting, reading, and studying of the literary collections studied by Houston might be very close to the dynamics behind the collecting, reading, and studying of sacred texts by early Christian groups.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Can Textual Criticism Be Exciting?

Recently, on the blog Biblical Studies at Leuven, Loretta H. Y. Man shared her experience of an internship at the Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung (INTF) in Münster, where she participated in the project Editio Critica Maior. Her task was to transcribe Mark’s Gospel in Greg.-Aland 2487. Can this be exciting? Read her answer here (and try out her quiz).

I wonder whether Loretta found any interesting readings in 2487.

Friday, June 17, 2011

SBL GNT compared to 5 editions


I have posted on my website some comparisons (graciously provided by a colleague at Logos) of the SBL GNT with the five editions that are represented in the critical apparatus of the SBL edition. Some of the comparisons update information previously available, and some are new. Here is a sample:

SBL agrees with NA: 6381 ..................... SBL disagrees with NA: 547

SBL agrees with NIV: 6310 .................... SBL disagrees with NIV: 618

SBL agrees with WH: 6047 .................... SBL disagrees with WH: 881

SBL agrees with Treg: 5699 ................... SBL disagrees with Treg: 1229

SBL agrees with RP: 970 ............. .......... SBL disagrees with RP: 5958

Here is a comparison of each of the six editions against the other five:

SBL ] WH Treg RP NIV NA 46

SBL WH Treg RP NIV ] NA 14

SBL WH Treg RP NA ] NIV 43

SBL WH RP NIV NA ] Treg 150

SBL Treg RP NIV NA ] WH 353

SBL WH Treg NIV NA ] RP 4848

Next, a comparison of any two editions against the rest:

SBL WH ] Treg RP NIV NA 82

SBL RP ] WH Treg NIV NA 58

SBL Treg ] WH RP NIV NA 25

SBL NA ] WH Treg RP NIV 10


For other comparisons, follow the link at the beginning of this post.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Seven Newly Digitised GNT MSS in the British Library

British Library announces:

Phase two of the British Library’s project to digitise all of its ca. 1,000 Greek manuscripts is now well under way. This phase (also generously funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation) will digitise and make publicly available a further 250 manuscripts, adding to the 284 manuscripts digitised in phase one. We are currently about half way through this second phase and plan to publish the digitised manuscripts in batches during the rest of this year on our Digitised Manuscripts viewer.

A new batch of manuscripts has now been published online, and contains 24 manuscripts ranging in date from the tenth to the nineteenth centuries. They include a group of illustrated medieval manuscripts of the gospels, formerly owned by the celebrated English physician and book collector Anthony Askew (fl. 1699–1774), acquired by the British Museum in 1775. Also included is a tenth-century parchment manuscript of Old Testament fragments (Add MS 20002), acquired in parts from Sinai by Constantin von Tischendorf (1815–1874) during his second journey to the East in 1853, which came to the British Museum in 1854. Another part of this manuscript is housed in the Bodleian Library at Oxford (Bodleian Auct. T. infr. ii. 1). A further highlight is an eleventh-century manuscript of Symeon Metaphrastes’s Saints’ Lives for December (Add MS 11870), which bears ownership marks of Cardinal Salviati (d. 1553) and Pope Pius VI (1775–1779).

In this first batch of 24 digitised MSS there are seven GNT MSS and two LXX MSS. I have compiled hyperlinks to these MSS, according to Greg.-Aland and Rahlfs numbers:

Greg.-Aland 44 = Add MS 4949

Greg.-Aland 109 = Add MS 5117

Greg.-Aland 438 = Add MS 5111

Greg.-Aland 438 = Add MS 5112

Greg.-Aland 439 = Add MS 5107

Greg.-Aland 449 = Add MS 4950

Greg.-Aland 449 = Add MS 4951

Greg.-Aland 502 = Add MS 19387

Greg.-Aland L320 = Add MS 21261

Rahlfs 509 = Add MS 20002

Rahlfs 1655 = Add MS 21030

More on the project here.

Other digitised MSS during this project here, here, here and here. Now, if I am correct, that makes a total of 71 GNT MSS in the British Library available online.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bill Warren Looks to Salvage Possible Remains

CNTTS Director Bill Warren is on vacation this week, but now we know where: North Arabian Sea

ETC Goes Mobile

In case you haven't yet noticed, you can now view this blog in a version adapted to mobile phones.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Surprising Examples of Textual Stability


I am sometimes surprised at where there is little or no variation in the New Testament Greek manuscript tradition. In preparing the CNTTS exegetical-textual commentary, I came across two such examples in 1 Pet 3.

I preface the first one by asking you to think about the sayings dealing with Jesus ascending to heaven and sitting at the right hand. At the right hand of whom? I suspect that most people would answer, “…at the right hand of the Father.”

In actuality, of the 14 New Testament passages which make such an assertion, none say the Father. Usually, we read “right hand of God” or “right hand of power.” Our memory is probably influenced by the Apostle’s Creed which reads, “He ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father.”

I expected interference from the Apostle’s Creed to be evident in the manuscript tradition for 1 Pet 3:22. Surprisingly, one can search very deeply in the Greek manuscript tradition and not find such evidence. In the 14 New Testament passages, I found only one manuscript which reflects the wording of the Apostle’s Creed (right hand of the Father). It is the largely unknown 15th century ms 1751.

My search included the very detailed apparatuses of Editio Critica Maior (ECM) and of the Center for New Testament Textual Studies for all 14 passages. I don’t know how many total manuscripts this involved—surely hundreds, but only the one cited above showed influence from the Apostle’s Creed.

The second reading which surprisingly lacks variation is the end of 1 Pet 3:21 which refers to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I expected numerous reverential expansions such as “Jesus Christ our Lord” or “our Lord and Saviour” or even “our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (etc.). As it turns out, of all the many manuscripts scoured by ECM, there is only a 14th century manuscript which expands the text at all, and only minimally so: “Jesus Christ our Lord” (629, which is idiosyncratic elsewhere).

These two examples make me more cautious in assuming scribal accretions.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Review of SBL Greek New Testament

The publication of The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition (hereafter SBLGNT) is indeed significant. It represents a considerable amount of work, and the editor, ETC blogger Michael Holmes, has clearly spent a lot of time on a large range of textual decisions.

Although it is hard to prove motivation, I am personally confident that the main reason for SBL’s support of this edition is the question of copyright and the desire to have a modern critical edition of the GNT which can circulate freely on the web. This is manifest not only from the second paragraph of the Preface, but also from the choice of base editions: Nestle-Aland, which, though under copyright, would have been an ideal edition to include, has been largely excluded, while the editions of Westcott and Hort (WH), Tregelles (Treg), Goodrich and Lukaszewski (NIV), and Robinson and Pierpont (RP) have formed the main basis for textual comparison.

What is therefore so striking to me is how much the SBLGNT actually resembles NA27 rather than differs from it. Where it differs the most is in text-critical decisions, where Holmes has obviously invested a lot of work. This is of course the most important area in which to differ. However, in most other matters it is very close to NA27.

The text was produced initially through conforming WH’s edition to the ‘orthographic standards of the SBLGNT’ (p. xi), which turn happen to be those of BDAG (p. xii). Now BDAG claims that its ‘principal New Testament textual base is Nestle-Aland27’ (BDAG, p. x), and affirms a relationship to Walter Bauer’s Griechisch-deutsches Wörterbuch (Berlin, New York: De Gruyter, 1988) edited by Kurt and Barbara Aland (BDAG, p. vii). So in essence the base text that was used was a version of WH with more or less NA27’s spelling, and of course we must remember that WH and NA27 do have a historical relationship, through the use of WH by Eberhard Nestle.

Another sign of the closeness of SBLGNT and NA27 is the use of Richard J. Goodrich and Albert L. Lukaszewski, A Reader’s Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003). This text is essentially that of NA27, altered in 231 places where it is believed that the NIV editors made a different decision.

Holmes gives a helpful table of agreements and disagreements on p. xii (adapted):

SBL-WH 6,049
SBL-Treg 5,701
SBL-NIV 6,312
SBL-RP 969

SBL-WH 879
SBL-Treg 1,227
SBL-RP 5,959

Thus the relationship between SBLGNT and ‘NIV’ (Goodrich and Lukaszewski) is especially close.

Verse division follows NA27; paragraphing follows NRSV. ‘Punctuation generally follows that of Westcott and Hort. Regular exceptions include instances where a textual decision of the adoption of NRSV paragraphing required a corresponding change in punctuation. … Conflicts between NRSV paragraphing and Westcott and Hort punctuation have been resolved on a contextual basis.’ (p. xiv).

What may not be so obvious here is yet another influence from the NA/UBS tradition. The NRSV claims to have followed UBS3 (with information available from the preparation of UBS4). ‘Only in very rare instances have we replaced the text or the punctuation of the Bible Societies’ edition by an alternative that seemed to us to be superior.’ (NRSV preface ‘To the Reader’).

These factors together explain the significant family resemblance which SBLGNT has to NA27.

This is not to say that independence of thought is not shown throughout in textual and paratextual decisions, but someone who has only used NA27 and then reads SBLGNT will encounter the largely familiar, whereas they would be more struck by differences in reading the more independently-minded editions of the 19th century.

One point of difference is the significant reduction in sigla used to point to variations. NA27 has special symbols for omissions (whether of a single word or multiple words), for insertions, and for reordering of words. These are all dropped and we are left with two basic sets of signs, one of which pertains to a single word and the other to multiple words. One has to look at the apparatus to find out whether there is a substitution, addition or omission.

The most frustrating siglum is probably ‘NIV’. It is, of course, not possible to tell from the English NIV whether it follows κρυφαίῳ or κρυπτῷ in Matthew 6:18 or whether it reads ἐκ or ἀπὸ in Matthew 7:4. Such instances could be multiplied. But of course ‘NIV’ does not mean the English NIV of 1984 (nor that of 2010), but Goodrich and Lukaszewski’s edition, itself based largely on NA27. No wonder the Introduction can say ‘NA is cited only when it differs from NIV’ (p. xv). It would be simpler if it simply said ‘NA27’, but the circuitous route of citation seems to be part of the plan to create a modern critical edition which can be circulated freely.

Undoubtedly the real usefulness of this edition is that it is available freely electronically and will therefore be used in all sorts of apps and may be widely copied. This really is useful, and the nature of the mistakes made (see errata below) shows clearly that the SBLGNT was not created using electronic code from a commercial version of NA27, but was indeed produced on the basis of WH, even though it has come to resemble NA27 uncannily.

However, I cannot say that I find the hard copy at all useful. It is a full centimetre higher and wider than NA27 and weighs 94g more, and if it is indeed a millimetre thinner that isn’t much compensation.

[Vital statistics: NA27 190mm × 136mm × 24mm; 490g; SBLGNT 210mm × 146mm × 23mm; 584g]

Moreover, if one wants to do any kind of critical work, one really isn’t able to do so because we do not know what manuscripts lie behind this edition without consulting other editions. In fact, one has no easy way of knowing whether any manuscripts lie behind the edition (e.g. for book titles).

What may be said is that Holmes has been a thorough and bold editor, generally eschewing brackets as a poor substitute for decisiveness. One may wonder why the Pericope Adulterae and Romans 16:25-27 are relegated to footnotes, whereas the ‘Intermediate Ending’ of Mark is placed in a section in the main body of the work in a section entitled ‘Other Endings of Mark’. Perhaps at least Romans 16:25-27 ought to have merited a section entitled ‘Other Endings of Romans’, since it is far more widely attested than the ‘Intermediate Ending’ of Mark.

Harder to understand are cases where there are differences between the editions and yet no variant is recorded. Thus in Luke 3:32 the form Ἰωβὴλ occurs with no variations marked. How many more times have differences between the editions been passed over in silence?

Aside from its generous copyright arrangement, this edition could have additional merit if scholars became convinced that where it differs from NA27 it was right more than 50% of the time.

One might be able to find out a certain amount about the editorial process through considering typographical errors. Purely for illustration I note how on lines 11-12 of p. xix a different Greek font appears for no reason, but I have not counted such minutiae systematically, nor have I systematically checked the apparatus.

Matthew 15:14 ὁδηγοί τυφλῶν
Matthew 15:15 παραβολήν ταύτην
Matthew 21:15 Δαυίδ ἠγανάκτησαν
Matthew 26:36 Γεθσημανὶ,
Matthew 27:24 ἰδὼν (elsewhere paragraphs begin with a capital)
Mark 4:2 πολλά καὶ
Mark 7:27 γάρ καλόν
Mark 14:72 δίς ἀπαρνήσῃ (apparatus)
Mark 15:14 κακόν ἐποίησεν (apparatus)
Luke 1:21 αὐτόν ἐν (apparatus)
Luke 1:27 Δαυὶδ,
Luke 2:51 Ναζαρὲθ,
Luke 5:1 Γεννησαρὲτ,
Luke 8:20 ἰδεῖν σε θέλοντές.
Luke 18:5 αὐτήν ἵνα
John 6:71 αὐτόν παραδιδόναι (apparatus)
John 7:34 εὑρήσετέ,
John 7:36 εὑρήσετέ,
John 7:42 Δαυὶδ, (2×)
John 10:29 μεῖζων ἐστιν
John 21:24 ἐστίν ἡ (apparatus)
Acts 2:29 Δαυὶδ,
Acts 3:25 Ἀβραάμ Καὶ
Acts 10:29 μεταπεμφθείς πυνθάνομαι
Acts 13:43 ἔπειθον· αὐτοὺς
1 Cor 14:37 ἐστὶν·
1 Tim 6:19 αἰωνιόυ (apparatus)
Titus 3:13 ζηνᾶν τὸν νομικὸν
Hebrews 2:26 ὅς οἶκός ἐσμεν
Hebrews 7:28 υἱόν, εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τετελειωμένον (I find it hard to see why the comma should be there)
James 2:11 εἰπών Μὴ ... καί Μὴ
2 Peter 2:10 Τολμηταὶ,
Rev 9:11 Ἀβαδδών καὶ

Further errata, generally of a different kind can be found at:

The real significance of this text is the electronic release of its text with an enlightened End-User License Agreement. For this many users will be grateful. However, the hard copy of the SBLGNT is not significantly cheaper than NA27 and offers no advantages whilst having a number of significant disadvantages.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

New Manuscript Discoveries in Athens by CSNTM

Rory P. Crowley, Intern Coordinator for the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM), reports about the (re-)discovery of four Greek New Testament MSS during an expedition to Athens in May:

During this time, we discovered a twelfth-century Gospels minuscule! After that, Wheatley and Wallace discovered another two Gospels manuscripts. Later, J.D. and Paul found fragments of a manuscript of Acts in the back of a Gospels manuscript. Altogether, this expedition yielded four New Testament manuscript discoveries!

Read the whole story on the CSNTM blog.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Not the Prologue of John

My long-awaited article 'Not the Prologue of John' is now out in the Journal for the Study of the New Testament 33 (2011) 375-86.

Here's the abstract:
This article considers the history of the transmission of the opening verses of the Fourth Gospel and the ways in which the text was divided or not divided into segments by commentators (e.g. Ptolemy, Heracleon, Irenaeus, Cyprian, Chrysostom, Augustine, Cyril, Philoxenus), liturgical systems and the scribes of early manuscripts (e.g. Arabic, Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopic, Georgian, Greek, Latin, Syriac). There is then investigation of the division of the text in the period of print from 1495 (the first printing of Jn 1.1-14) to the present. It is found that systems that regarded Jn 1.1-5, 1-14, or 1-17 as a unit preceded those that regarded 1.1-18 as a unit and that these earlier analyses each have distinct exegetical advantages over the common modern position of viewing 1.1-18 as a unit. The reasons for the currently preferred division and its exegetical consequences are explored with the conclusion that Jn 1.1-18 should not be regarded as the prologue of the Fourth Gospel.

In the course of the article, I argue that it is more probable than not that the initial text contained a paragraph mark after 1.5, and that the view which regards Jn 1.1-18 as the prologue of the Gospel is very late. In fact, given that no one in the early church, and hardly anyone later, seems to think that the first 18 verses are the prologue it's hard to imagine that the author clearly intended his readers/hearers to take it as such.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

A Somewhat Brighter Day for Theology in Sweden

Two years ago I wrote a sad blogpost on a black day for theology in Sweden and a follow-up post including a link to an article in Christianity Today. In a national evaluation of education in Theology and Religious Studies conducted by the National Board of Higher Education in Sweden (Högskoleverket), Örebro School of Theology, along several other institutions, was severely criticized for being too focused on Christian theology, etc, etc.

The whole evaluation process, nation wide, was, according to many, biassed and characterized by prejudism and a lack of clear evaluation criteria, which opened up for arbitrariness at different levels. It was severaly criticized by many representatives from different institutions and backgrounds. Subsequently, however, one of the responsible civil servants retired, and the other was transferred, so none of them took any part in the subsequent process to follow up the decisions. Moreover, the National Board of Higher Education got a new director (who is a theologian himself). The evaluations in all areas (including Theology) will look very different in the future, and one of the first things will be the working out of clear criteria in co-operation with those institutions to be evaluated.

From my personal viewpoint, the visit by the evaluation team two years ago was a very unpleasant experience indeed. It felt something like a police interrogation, but I am trying to put that behind me now and look forward.

In any case, the authorities then gave us, and several other Swedish institutions, one year to make necessary changes, which we did. For example, we had to transfer all practical courses to the non-academic sphere; we had to offer more courses in History of Religion, outside the classical theological subjects, and also integrate more critique of Religion.

To take an example, Homiletics, is now outside the system for higher education and does not grant any credit points. (It will still be necessary for those students who are preparing for ministry to have theory and training, but it will be outside the academia.) Our ambition has been to combine these necessary changes with an improvement of the quality of the education (especially that part which is outside the system for higher education). In the future, against the background of the so-called Bologna Process with its emphasis on "employability", it could happen in the future that even these more practical courses can return to the academia, but for now it is impossible – there can be no "confessional elements" in education.

Today came the decision from the National Board of Higher Education that Örebro School of Theology, among five other institutions, may keep the right to grant the degree of Bachelor of Theology 180 Credit points, whereas one institution looses its right. We can now draw a sigh of relief. There was still some minor critique which we will have to pay attention to in the future, but for now we will have some piece and quiet – well, at least soon – I was just interviewed by the local bransch of Swedish television (SVT) about the positive outcome.

This is a somewhat brighter day for theology in Sweden, in particular in Örebro.

Update: TV interview (in Swedish)