Wednesday, August 31, 2011

An Early Papyrus MS of 1 Corinthians in Green Collection

It seems that the Green Collection, in addition to the manuscript of Hebrews noted previously on this blog, is also in possession of a fragment of 1 Corinthians. According to a report on the Bethel web-site (found by a friendly sleuth), this is 'a small fragment (ca. 1-3/4" w. x 2-3/4" h.) ... (which) preserves portions of 1 Corinthians 8.10-9.3 & 9.27-10.6' [PMH: this would make it a small portion of quite a big page]. Apparently a second-century date is being proposed, as it was for the Hebrews manuscript. [PMH: hmmm. I think I'll wait for the photos.]
The bare bones of the story are confirmed on another web-page which also confirms the rumour that the Green collection has also purchased the Bodmer Psalms Codex (see here).

Tov's 3rd edition

There is an announcement here of a Third 'Revised and Expanded' edition of Emanuel Tov's Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible. This is really the standard text in this area. The second edition hardly differed from the first, and was not particularly worth purchasing if you already possessed the first. To judge from the change in page numbers and the publicity about the book there will be rather more difference this time. [Notified by Jack Sasson]

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Greek Particles, Linguistics, and TC

Over the weekend I read Margaret Sim's excellent study on the particle ἵνα (and honestly, it sounds more boring than it actually is). Not only does it have a foreword by Larry Hurtado himself, it is quite convincing in its basic thesis on what sort of thing ἵνα actually is. I had to overcome some initial resistance because of the word 'linguistics' in the title. I have a love / hate relationship with 'linguistics', but in this case I have to admit defeat and acknowledge that linguistics indeed helps to shed new light. That ἵνα is a function word comes as no surprise, but the sort of function it has, should have come as no surprise - yet it did (here you have to read the book itself, but basically ἵνα introduces a thought, attitude, utterance connected to something before in a subjective way). To add to my overall sense of surprise, it is a concept from Relevance Theory ([meta-]representation) that proved so effective in this study. Just to make sure, I have nothing against RT, but 1) so often it simply states the obvious, and 2) every study using RT devotes 25% of the space to explaining what RT is (only 10% in Margaret Sim's book).

Since there was nothing on Textual Criticism in this book, I took a bit of time to look at the text-critical issues surrounding ἵνα. I had expected to find quite some confusion in the textual tradition surrounding ἵνα, ὅπως, and εἰς τὸ + infinitive constructions, and indeed there is quite a bit going on. Both in the gospels and Paul the Greek-Latin bilinguals have a couple of instances where they prefer ἵνα over ὅπως (Mt 6:18 D; Phlm 6 F G) or over ὥστε (Mt 27:1 D), or over the infinitive (Eph 1:18 F G; 1 Thess 3:3 F G) though the reverse happens in Acts 17:15 and 18:27 (both D).

Big splits within the tradition are rare though. After some quick searching I found Mt 12:17 and Mk 5:23 (earlier manuscripts have ἵνα; later ὅπως). As for the first one, only Matthew uses both ἵνα and ὅπως to introduce the fulfilment formula, and elsewhere in this gospel there is no dispute which of the two is original. I can see good reasons for either choice here.
The one in Mark 5:23 is equally tricky. ὅπως is not a favourite of Mark (only one - undisputed - occurrence) but this makes it transcriptionally so much more likely that it is dropped in favour of the widely occurring ἵνα.

Sim's book addresses the relative occurrence of ἵνα and ὅπως diachronically and notes the increase of the former and the decrease of the latter. If ὅπως would be the reading favoured because of its 'classical feel' then it might well be that the later tradition picked it up partly under influence of the literary culture of its day. However, for this it would be necessary to compare the frequency of ὅπως in Atticist writers over against their Koine colleagues. Anyway, with only two instances (there may be more though), we can hardly speak of 'an Atticistic tendency towards ὅπως' in parts of the manuscript tradition.

Margaret G. Sim, Marking Thought and Talk in New Testament Greek: New Light from Linguistics on the Particles INA and OTI (Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick, 2010).

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Eugene Nida (1914-2011) R.I.P.


Eugene Nida has passed away today at the age of 96. There is an obituary by Dr Philip C. Stine on the United Bible Societies website here.

As Stine writes "Nida recognised the need for translators to have the very best base texts to work from, and led major projects on both the Greek New Testament and the Hebrew Old Testament." In this connection I would like to remind us that in 1955, Nida, as Translation Secretary of the American Bible Society, took the initiative to establish an international committee to prepare the first edition of the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament (UBSGNT). The first editorial committee was composed of Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Bruce M. Metzger, Allen Wikgren and Arthur Vööbus.

I am very grateful for his scholarship and dedication to text and translation. May he rest in peace!

IGNTP Papyrus Transcriptions Available


IGNT Papyrus transcriptions made available through Institutional Repository

Following the release of the Vetus Latina Iohannes transcriptions, the International Greek New Testament Project ( has made available its transcriptions of papyri which contain the Gospel according to John on the University of Birmingham Institutional Research Archive.

Find the links to twenty-seven papyrus witnesses available from the repository here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Again the Jordanian Lead Codices

In the most recent Palestine Exploration Quarterly (July 2011) Philip Davies discusses the lead codices from Jordan that have caused such a stir earlier this year (we mentioned the story on this blog here). It is an (overtly?) cautious evaluation of where the discussion is at the moment and has some good pictures too.

Davies rejects the authenticity of the few copper plates included in the collection (among which the only one with possible Christian imagery), but does not wholly exclude the possibility that the lead codices may go back to antiquity. Likewise, Davies is clearly not enamoured by the Elkingtons's theory that these codices go back to early Christians fleeing besieged Jerusalem, yet refrains from pouring dirt on their personal behaviour.

Two quotes:
"Thonemann, for one, is in no doubt that the entire collection is a modern forgery and that scholars should not be wasting their time on them. I disagree: they may well turn out all to be quite modern or fairly modern. I think the balance of evidence is falling in this direction. But it is not wise for anyone to draw such definitive conclusions about things one has not seen. Moreover, in any case much about the artifacts themselves is intrinsically curious, as is the story of their ‘finding’ and of the subsequent publicity. If this all turns out to be a ‘story about a story’ (in my view quite likely), it will nevertheless be a story worth unravelling."

"It seems to me worthwhile trying to secure them for scholarly and scientific examination, not least because if they are evidence of a dubious Jordanian industry it is worth knowing as much as one can about its methods (much useful research has been done on Israeli forging techniques)."

A Day in Honour of Larry Hurtado in Edinburgh

The new director of Centre for the Study of Christian Origins at the School of Divinity (Edinburgh University), Dr. Helen Bond, announces a day in honour of the former director and head of the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh, Professor Larry Hurtado, whom most of our readers will be familiar with:

We have a few ideas for the coming year, but I’d like to announce only one at the moment – a day in honour of Prof Larry W. Hurtado on 7th October 2011, 10am – 4 pm. We’ve invited a distinguished list of speakers – Profs Richard Bauckham, Tommy Wasserman and Thomas Kraus – all of whom will engage with Larry’s work in the areas of early high Christology, text criticism and early Christian manuscripts. Its likely to be a lively and engaging discussion, and we might even let Larry offer some kind of a response . . . As always, all are welcome. More details to follow.

I very much look forward to come to Edinburgh and participate in this event. It was with this occassion in mind, I also suggested to Alban and Eisenbrauns to run a special sale on some of Larry's books (see previous post).

Read about my previous visit to the School of Divinity, Edinburgh here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Evangelical Textual Criticism Book Sale


20% discount, post free, on all UK/Europe orders until 30th September 2011.

Use this form or order securely online at Enter code TC0811 at the checkout to apply 20% discount and free postage. And you can add any title from the website – why not, for example, The Westcott-Hort Greek New Testament: Comparison Edition.

The Codex Sinaiticus facsmile is offered at a 15% discount (free shipping in Europe).

For our US based readers, Jim Spinti of Eisenbrauns has put together an Evangelical Textual Criticism Blog sale offer featuring the Sinaiticus facsmile for $639.20 (free shipping in the US).

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Reading Elitism in Antiquity

In a recent book, William A. Johnson (Readers and Reading Culture in the High Empire: A Study of Elite Communities [Oxford: OUP, 2010]) makes an intriguing proposal that the typical format of high quality texts with no spaces between words or punctuation was intentionally demanding and deliberately elitest. I cannot adjudicate upon that observation/claim, but I did just last night come across an interesting parallel with Suetonius' account of Augustus's writing habits:

"I have likewise remarked this singularity in his hand-writing; he never divides his words, so as to carry the letters which cannot be inserted at the end of a line to the next, but puts them below the other, enclosed by a bracket. He did not adhere strictly to orthography as laid down by the grammarians, but seems to have been of the opinion of those who think, that we ought to write as we speak; for as to his changing and omitting not only letters but whole syllables, it is a vulgar mistake. Nor should I have taken notice of it, but that it appears strange to me, that any person should have told us, that he sent a successor to a consular lieutenant of a province, as an ignorant, illiterate fellow, upon his observing that he had written ixi for ipsi. When he had occasion to write in cypher, he put b for a, c for b, and so forth; and instead of z, aa." (Augustus, 88-89).

I am wondering if Suetonius' account of Augustus's writing style is an example of being "non-elitest" by not dividing words and writing as the same as speaking, or just as peculiar idiosyncrasy that differs from standard orthography of the day?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Textual Criticism at Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Yet another journalist has hyped textual criticism in order to shock readers. This time we can read about how Hebrew Bible research at Hebrew University in Jerusalem is significantly reconstructing the text of the Old Testament. The author concludes:

"Considering that the nature of their work would be considered controversial, if not offensive, by many religious people, it is perhaps surprising that most of the project's scholars are themselves Orthodox Jews."

I wonder what educated group of religious people finds textual criticism "offensive." Probably, he means to suggest that the results of their work are offensive.

In Jerusalem, scholars trace Bible's evolution (Associated Press Article)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Parallel Pericopes of the Synoptic Gospels (Editio Critica Maior series)

A long-awaited tool from the INTF in Münster is soon to be published:
Parallel Pericopes of the Synoptic Gospels edited by Holger Strutwolf and Klaus Wachtel in the Novum Testamentum Graecum, Editio Critica Maior series (NTGECM).

Publisher: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft Stuttgart
Publication info: Forthcoming January 2012
Bibliographic info: ca. 160 pages
Cover: Cloth
ISBN: 1-59856-940-6
ISBN13: 978-1-59856-940-7

This is the result of a research project designed to complement the test passage collations (Text- und Textwert) of the Synoptic Gospels, by which the influence of textual parallels on the formation of variants can be studied. It presents evidence of 154 MSS in 38 synoptic pericopes.

Klaus Wachtel’s SBL paper from 2009, “The Byzantine Text of the Gospels: Recension or Process,” is an example of how the tool can be used for a specific research question. I am sure this tool will be very useful. It would also be nice if we would have access to the database in the future.

Publisher’s description:

The Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Münster, Germany, presents a new volume in the Novum Testamentum Graecum, Editio Critica Maior series: a special edition of the Greek text and a critical apparatus for 38 parallel pericopes from the Synoptic Gospels that also includes three parallel passages from the Gospel of John and the First Letter to the Corinthians. The apparatus comprises all the variants of 154 manuscripts preserving text from at least two Synoptic Gospels. This volume presents evidence from those primary witnesses from which any study of the textual history of the Synoptic Gospels has to start. Parallel Pericopes is an invaluable resource for research of the history of the Greek text of the Synoptic Gospels.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Tommy Wasserman elected to SNTS

Kudos to Tommy Wasserman, who was elected to membership in the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas at its 66th annual meeting last week at Bard College, NY. This represents a significant acknowledgement by fellow NT scholars of his contributions to the discipline. Congratulations, Tommy!