Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The King James Bible at 400


The party is coming to an end. We have had a year of celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the translation of the King James Bible. Celebrations, large and small, scholarly and devotional, have taken place all over the world in honor of this milestone. Mostly the presentations at these events have celebrated the literary, historical and cultural achievement of the King James Bible. Not much attention has been given to text-critical matters relating to the KJV.
Our celebration of this splendid early seventeenth century achievement comes at a time when its language is revered but the text on which it is based is generally regarded as late and corrupt. Especially over the last two centuries stunning manuscript discoveries and refinement of methods have overthrown the once dominant Textus Receptus (The New Testament in the KJV was based on Beza’s 1598 edition of this text), and today translators generally depend on an eclectic text, like The Nestle/Aland 27th edition. Many readings found in the King James have been relegated to the apparatus by modern editors. For example, few scholars today would be willing to argue that either Mark 16:9-20 or John 7:53-8:11 were part of the original (or initial) text of these books.
However, there are a few places in the New Testament where I believe the King James represents the original text of the writer. In my recent book, Text and Story: Narrative Studies in New Testament Textual Criticism (Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2011), I argue on eclectic grounds that three readings represented in the King James, but missing from modern editions, should be re-considered:
Mark 9:29: prayer and fasting
Luke 4:18: to heal the brokenhearted
Romans 8:2: set me free.
In addition to these I have argued in earlier studies listed below that other readings found in the King James Version but absent from the modern editions should be placed in our printed texts rather than in the apparatus:
Mark 15:28: “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors” (Evangelical Quarterly, LXI, 1989, 81-84)
Ephesians 5:30: “…of his flesh and of his bones” (JTS 41, 1990, 92-94)
1 Peter 4:14: “On their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified” (CBQ 43, 1981, 93-95).
As the birthday party for the KJV comes to a close, let us celebrate this translation for its splendid language and influence. But we should also be alert in these and a few other instances for indications of the original text of the New Testament.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Tendency in the Pauline Corpus of Codex Vaticanus

Before anyone accuses me of heresy, yes, Vaticanus is a good manuscript, and especially in the gospels. But the longer I am working in Paul, the more difficult I find it to treat it with the same respect here as in the gospels. Clearly something has happened in its ancestry, which is, let us say, remarkable.

I don't think the scribe of Vaticanus is responsible for this phenomenon. We have his work elsewhere in the manuscript and I haven't noticed something comparable there. So any tendency only to be found in the Pauline corpus is more likely a remnant of something that happened earlier on. And frankly, I don't think the particular tendency we are talking about is exclusive to Vaticanus, it may share this tendency with a number of other manuscripts, in particular the Greek - Latin bilinguals. But it is at times quite pronounced in Vaticanus, more so than in the others.

So what is the vice we are talking about? Hold your chair. It is that of reversing the order of the name-title 'Jesus Christ'. And Vaticanus will almost always be at the side of the order 'Christ Jesus'. In Romans, for example, it is the singular reading of Vaticanus in 5:17, 5:21, and 16:27. And elsewhere it has 'Christ Jesus' often with only minimal support from others (regardless of whether it is deemed to be the original text or not), such as the Latin bilinguals, or minuscules 33 and 81, or Sinaiticus (and it may be that each of these three combination agreements have a different meaning).

I said that very often Vaticanus will be on the side of the 'Christ Jesus' reading, but not always. In Gal 2:16 we find the collocation Jesus and Christ twice, in either order —and twice Vaticanus gets it wrong (I agree here with NA27). Anyway, all this is leading me to a rethink of quite a number of variants, because it seems to me that, strong though Vaticanus might be, we have hit a particular weakness here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

New from Brill: Textual Research on the Psalms and Gospels

A new publication from Brill has appeared:

Textual Research on the Psalms and Gospels / Recherches textuelles sur les psaumes et les évangiles: Papers from the Tbilisi Colloquium on the Editing and History of Biblical Manuscripts. / Actes du Colloque de Tbilisi, 19-20 septembre 2007.
Edited by Christian-B. Amphoux & J. Keith Elliott with Bernard Outtier.
Novum Testamentum, Supplements 142
ISBN13: 9789004209275
Pages, Illustrations: xxvi, 274 pp.
List price: €105.00 / $144.00

Publisher's description
"Recent research on the text of the Psalms and Gospels in Greek and in certain versions, principally Coptic, Georgian and Armenian, reveals common characteristics when attempting to separate later editions of a text from its earliest forms. The essays in this collection give concrete examples of the issues involved and suggested explanations for textual changes."

Table of Contents
Part I The Psalms/psaumes

Gilles Dorival, Titres hébreux et titres grecs des psaumes

Mzekala Shanidze, Old Georgian Psalter and the Titles of the Psalms

Florence Bouet, Pluralité et choix éditoriaux: étude des variants λόγος-νόμος au Ps 118, 105 et νόμου-ὀνόματος au Ps 129,5

Charles Renoux,Quelques psaumes dans les documents liturgiques anciens géorgiens et arméniens

Part II The Gospels/évangiles

Christian-Bernard Amphoux, Qu’est-ce que le type de texte “césaréen”?

Didier Lafleur, Le codex de Koridethi (Θ.038) et la famille 13: une nouvelle collation de l’évangile de Marc

J.Keith Elliott, The Endings of Mark’s Gospel and the Presentation of the Variants in the Marc multilingue Edition

Josep Rius-Camps, Le Codex de Bèze: Base indispensable pour une edition de l’évangile de Marc

Jenny Read-Heimerdinger, The Problem of Editing a Text with a Multiple Textual Tradition

Bernard Outtier, Les types de texte des évangiles en géorgien ancient
Appended: D.M. Lang, Recent Work on the Georgian New Testament

Darejan Tvaltvadze, The Manuscripts of Georgian Translations of the Gospels from the Black Mountain

Manana Machkhaneli, The Manuscript Anbandidi

Jost Gippert, Fragments of St John’s Gospel in the Language of the Causasian Albanians
Appended: Review, The Caucasian Albanian Palimpsests of Mount Sinai, Simon Crisp

Anne Boud’hors, Le caractère harmonisant des traditions de l’évangile de Marc en copte sahidique

Extract from the preface
(kindly shared by J. K. Elliott)

... As far as the Psalms are concerned, there are four essays here. Two concern the titles, the first by Gilles Dorival. He revisits a topic that he has made his own, namely the headings of the individual Psalms in Hebrew and Greek.


Mzekala Shanidze’s essay parallels Dorival’s, by looking at the titles of the Psalms in Georgian. As in other essays dealing with the Georgian versions, we are obligated to examine the Georgian ‘Vulgate’ as well as the earlier, often more fluid, pre-Athonite versions, and note any differences and changes between the texts.


Florence Bouet homes in on two highly significant variants in the Psalms, those at Ps. 118 (119):5 νόμος/λόγος and at Ps. 129 (130):5 νόμου/ ὀνόματος. ... Obviously here Christian and Jewish influences seem to be in evidence but the attestation as a whole cries out for explanation.


Inevitably and appropriately, because these essays originated at a conference in the Caucasus, there are also important examples from the Georgian and Armenian traditions concerning the history of the Psalms. Charles Renoux takes up the important liturgical uses of the Psalter in those languages. Obviously, the Psalms were used from their beginnings in liturgical contexts in the Temple and for particular Jewish festivals. Renoux’ essay explores how, where and when the Armenian and Georgian Christian communities made use of the Psalms. They seem to have originated from the Jerusalem liturgical practices of the 4th-5th centuries....

Moving to the New Testament and the Gospels there are eleven major contributions in this volume. The first, by Christian Amphoux, concerns itself with the Caesarean text-type. Amphoux’ own distinctive contribution to the history of the New Testament has been to locate the differing forms of text within the history of the fissiparous early church and his idiosyncratic and carefully-argued conclusions are to be found in the essay here. ... Amphoux is a keen defender of the Caesarean text-type and his paper here stresses the position of this form of the Gospels in relation to other text-types, ‘Western’, Alexandrian and Byzantine.


As a corollary to Amphoux’ paper, Didier Lafleur’s contribution happily meshes with it. He fortuitously writes about the text of a major Caesarean witness, namely Codex Koridethi (Θ, 038), a manuscript that happens to be housed in Tbilisi. Alongside that, his new collations of the manuscripts of family 13 in Mark confirm the homogeneous character of this family and he also shows the agreements of the family with not only Koridethi but also minuscules 28, 565, 700 and uncial W 032. He establishes that one of the family members, minuscule 788, stands closest to the archetype of that family and how frequently family 13 as a whole allies itself to Codex Koridethi. Consequently, he, like Amphoux, encourages the use of the Caesarean text-type (obviously not a geographically-centred ‘local’ text) as a serious and distinctive grouping and a legitimate textual form found not only in Mark but in the New Testament Gospels as a whole.

J. Keith Elliott’s essay focuses on two other early Greek manuscripts א 01 and Vaticanus B 03 particularly in that perennial textual crux, the ending of Mark which they conclude at 16:8. These two manuscripts are both accorded separate sections amid the seven differing manuscripts of Mark in Marc mutilingue as both demonstrate differing textual stages in the history of Mark. But they happen to agree in their form of the ending of Mark and are the only two ancient Greek witnesses to the shorter text. Among other supporters of the shorter reading are the two earliest Georgian witnesses. Elliott’s paper shows whatever Mark’s original intention may have been – and it is unlikely that anything he may have written beyond 16:8 has survived – his Gospel once circulated in the truncated form now exhibited by these two old Greek uncials. Inevitably, and within the second century, attempts were made to repair the damaged ending and Mark was duly provided with a ‘proper’ and satisfying conclusion that included references to the anticipated post-Easter appearances. The longer ending, commonly numbered Mark 16:9-20, represents a later editing of the text of Mark and, as such, belongs to a history of this Gospel that had an inevitable impact on a reader’s understanding of Mark as narrator and on his theology.


Rius-Camps’ paper advocates the use of this bilingual [Codex Bezae] in any establishing of an edition of Mark. Jenny Read-Heimerdinger looks at D in Luke. Based on her and Rius-Camps’ studies of D in Acts, she is prepared now to promote D in Luke as an early and coherent writing that must be taken into account because it represents the first volume of a comprehensive ‘demonstration’ of the claims of Christianity from a Jewish perspective.

Luke 24: 13-35 is taken as an example to show how Jesus in this work was interpreted in Jewish written and oral traditions.


As befits a contribution by the director of the Orioni project at Tbilisi State University responsible for examining the Georgian Gospels, Sophio Sarjveladze’s essay is an over-arching survey that may be seen as a worthy introduction to the other essays in this volume dealing with aspects of the Georgian version. But as is typical of most articles in this volume, broad principles and generalised summaries give rise to, and are indeed supported by, specific and well-chosen Biblical references. Sophio Sarjveladze’s examples reveal the complexity of her text-critical researches and the care with which her team’s efforts are rooted in close philological examination.

Following this is Bernard Outtier’s essay. With his long-established and wide-ranging expertise in Georgian studies he is well placed to proffer a general survey of current research in the area of the Georgian version of the Gospels and its text-types. He appends a valuable bibliography. Once more we are enabled to observe parallels between the materials and methodologies applied by Georgian scholarship and those relevant to other versions as well and also to the Greek New Testament manuscript tradition as well.

Attached to Outtier’s piece is an important but now inevitably outdated article by David M. Lang (1924-1991).


Darevan Tvaltvadze’s article narrows Outtier’s and Lang’s surveys to the Georgian manuscripts emanating from the Black Mountain where Georgian monks produced a distinctive form of the pre-Athonite Gospels that began a process of examining the Georgian against the Greek. Her analysis of certain of the Black Mountain manuscripts reveals where older readings still survive. These manuscripts thus form a median position between the oldest forms and Giorgi’s Athonite Vulgate.

Focussing even more narrowly, Manana Machkhaneli examines one Georgian manuscript under the microscope, namely the so-called Anbandini manuscript. Following her researches into its distinctive readings she reports here that she has been able to place it in the family tree of Georgian Gospel manuscripts as a ‘mixed’ type, comparable to the Ksani manuscript that shared some characteristics with the protovulgate text and with the Adish recension but which also has singular readings. Another building block in the multifaceted history of the Georgian Gospels now seems to have been placed.

Shortly before the Tbilisi colloquium in 2007 we became aware that a publication was about to emerge that concerned Biblical writings in a hitherto virtually unknown language, Caucasian Albanian. It was entirely appropriate that one of that publication’s editors, Jost Gippert of Frankfurt am Main, should introduce that version and its importance, especially in its relation to the Georgian and Armenian versions. In the time between the conference and the present book the publication appeared. As a consequence, Gippert’s paper here is a revision of his original text which describes the recently deciphered manuscripts. As well as having this insider’s contribution, it seemed worthwhile to append to it a review of it by Simon Crisp of the United Bible Societies. His review was commissioned as an article for Novum Testamentum and is reproduced here to emphasise the significance of this new version.


In the present volume Anne Boud’hors looks at the situation of the Coptic, a version as early as the Latin and Syriac. Here, after a comprehensive tour d’horizon concerning the current state of Coptic study of the Gospels, she zooms in on five textual variation units in Mark to demonstrate what may be learned from the Sahidic Coptic manuscripts. She observes a harmonising tendency not only in relation to its revised version but also in the earliest redactions. Her conclusions are preliminary and tentative as work is still underway and to a certain extent pioneering in its attempt to trace and track the history of the early Coptic version. As in other essays, this article also flags up potentially profitable methodologies that consider variants not only within one particular tradition but in connexion with other versions. The approach again is interdisciplinary and cross-cultural.

UPDATE: Order page from Eisenbrauns

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ba(si)leia as nomen sacrum?

Perhaps lots of other people have, but I haven't seen basileia written as a nomen sacrum. (I mentioned this to Larry Hurtado and he hadn't either.) I think there is one in POxy 5072. Richard Goode has discussed the Egerton Papyrus's use of basileus as a nomen sacrum (in the 2007 Birmingham conference volume), and I looked at the nice photo in Bell and Skeat, and interestingly the supralinear stroke starts in almost exactly the same place there as it does in POxy 5072 - at the very end of the beta, almost at the beginning of the alpha. The abbreviation is - mutatis mutandis - in the same form as well (BALEUSI in P.Eg. and BALEIA in the text below).
Check out line 9 of POxy 5072:
(It's one of the images posted by oxy.ac when they publicised the open access of the papyri images. It'll be the first in the next POxy vol.)

New Article in TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism

A new article has appeared in TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism vol. 16 (2011).

"The Diversification of Colossians’ Text and Women’s Status in the Early Church" by Matteo Grosso.

In the Epistle to the Colossians, the family of 06 and other documents traditionally labeled as “Western” display notable variant readings in passages concerning women and their status in the Christian community. In this note the author examines these readings with the purpose of detecting what pictures they provide over against the other branches of the tradition. He also evaluates to what degree, if any, an ideologically oriented scribal tendency is at work.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ending the Year on a High: The Euthalian Apparatus

It is quickly running to the end of this year, and it started to look like as if no exciting books were going to appear this year at all. However, when I came in Tyndale House this morning, I found an unexpected but most pleasant surprise waiting for me. Vemund Blomkvist had sent me his dissertation on the Euthalian apparatus.

Vemund Blomkvist,The Euthalian Apparatus: Text, Translation, Commentary Series of Dissertations Submitted to the Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo / Acta Theologica 39 (Oslo: Unipub, 2011).

So far I have had tremendous fun with this study, which does exactly what the title says (with the limitation that it concentrates on the chapter titles (κεφαλαια - τιτλοι), the introductions to the big divisions (προλογοι), and the υποθεσεις to the individual letters. Blomkvist's interest is not text-critical but that of reception history - which is totally legitimate, especially when one puts so much work into translating and bringing together all this material that is also of interest for people with different questions. Truly original work, and research that will spark off other research.

Just the translation of and commentary on Euthalius would have been tremendous, but Blomkvist also throws in the 'Marcionite' prologues (which I actually hold to be originally Marcionite - pace Dahl and Ulrich Schmid), the Priscillan edition (from the Latin), the υποθεσεις on Paul of Theodoret, and the same by Theophylact.

I hope to come back later with some further thoughts, but one of the fascinating gems is worth sharing straightaway. Since the author had worked with and has access to the notes of the late Nils Dahl, he mentions a discovery made by Dahl in four Latin mediaeval manuscripts of Monte Cassino where the Euthalian prologue to Paul is fused with the Muratorian canon. Harnack had discussed the Muratorian part back in 1898, but did not mention the importance of finding Euthalian material in Latin.

Congratulations to Vemund with this excellent dissertation!

Update: Blomqvist will defend his thesis publicly tomorrow (15 December). English summary is found here.[TW]

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Notes on Luke 22: P75, NA27 & Sinaiticus

Yesterday we had some fun with P75 in an MPhil seminar. The basic assignment was to read page 53 (containing Luke 22.38-56). Among the many things we noticed were the following:
  1. For the last word of v41 P75 reads PROSEUXATO (not PROSHUXATO as NA27 app. suggests) - a reminder that the NA apparatus is somewhat an approximation and can't be guaranteed to present sufficient evidence to reconstruct readings of manuscripts in detail. We wondered whether it would be better to place P75 in parentheses in the apparatus (I think it probably would be better).
  2. For the omission of 22.43f NA27 app. refers to the first corrector of Sinaiticus - from NA27 one would think that the original of Sinaiticus has the verses, the first corrector (in the scriptorium) deletes; and a later corrector restores them. But the Sinaiticus project web page now attributes the deletion to the Ca corrector, and the restoration to the Cb2 corrector - which places the action much later than the first corrector. I guess/hope that the next revision of NA (NA28) will incorporate the results of the Sinaiticus Project in the apparatus.
  3. For the same variant NA27 cites for the addition (among other things): Ju[stin] Ir[enaeus] Hipp Eus Hier. Immediately one wants to know the reference in Justin so as to assess whether Justin knows the text as part of Luke or (possibly) as an independent floater. This is such a general problem with patristic references in our small editions that I began to wonder about how big an appendix - which provided a reference for each patristic citation in the apparatus - would actually be, especially for second and third century writers. In my imagination it would be about as long as the appendices for minor variants and differences between the editions, and would be just as valuable than either of those. What do you think?
  4. In 22.47 P75 reads PROSHRCETO (NA27 txt: PROHRCETO). Here it is a helpful outcome of reading the manuscript that one realises it is more than a simple one letter variant, since the reading of P75 suggests a different referent for the following AUTOUS - it would refer to the disciples and Jesus (v45); whereas for the NA27 reading it presumably refers to the OCLOS mentioned earlier in the verse (but pluralised). Just an example of how textual criticism helps close reading of the text.
  5. We noted that NA27 doesn't offer any evidence in support of the txt reading for 22.19b-20, which would suggest that the editors were completely (IMO overly) satisfied with the originality of the longer reading here. Or is it more a by-product of the decision to take such a large unit as v17-20 for the variants - for such a long unit listing support for the txt reading would involve a lot of parentheses no doubt.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Pics from SBL Annual Meeting San Francisco 2011

Edgar Ebojo, PhD student at Birmingham University (working on P46) is also an excellent photographer. He generously shares with us his pics from the recent annual meeting in San Francisco. They are uploaded to this folder.

Since I noticed that Edgar was everywhere with his camera, I never got out to get new batteries for my own camera, which I brought to San Francisco. I just used my mobile phone whenever I felt I had to capture a moment, e.g., Peter Head still fervently revising his presentation during a session ...

... a few minutes before delivery. For further reference, see his famous six steps for a successful paper. Unfortunately, this year, Peter had omitted his famous red circles and arrows from the presentation (something I have started to use to great success myself).

Thursday, December 01, 2011

BASP 48 (2011) – Lots of Interesting Stuff


The Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologist 48 (2011) has just been published (HT: Papy-L). The following articles and reviews are of particular interest:

"Two More Pages of Crosby-Schøyen Codex MS 193: A Pachomian Easter
Lectionary?" by Albert Pietersma and Susan Comstock (pp. 27-46)

See recent discussion about this codex on this blog here.

"Grenfell and Hunt on the Dates of Early Christian Codices: Setting the
Record Straight" by Brent Nongbri (pp. 149-162)

Brent Nongbri presented an interesting paper on the subject of dating with focus on P66 at this year's SBL in San Fransisco.

"Greek Amulets and Formularies from Egypt Containing Christian Elements:
A Checklist of Papyri, Parchments, Ostraka, and Tablets" by Theodore S. de Bruyn and Jitse H.F. Dijkstra (pp. 163-216)

See here and here for background and criteria. De Bruyn has also published an essay on the subject in a Brill volume on Early Christian Manuscripts edited by Kraus & Nicklas (see here).

Review of Stanley E. und Wendy J. Porter, New Testament Greek Papyri and Parchments: New Editions. Mitteilungen aus der Papyrussammlung der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek, N.S. 29 (Text) und 30 (Tafeln) by Amphilochios Papathomas (pp. 255-258)

There are also reviews of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri volumes 73 and 75. By the way, the new book review editor of the journal is AnneMarie Luijendijk (Princeton University), also chair of the SBL Annual Meeting program unit of New Testament Textual Criticism.

I take this oppurtunity to mention that the electronic archives of this journal are maintained by the University of Michigan who has made available volumes 1-46 (1963-2009) on-line. Here you have articles and reviews that could keep you busy for days.