Thursday, January 31, 2013

Submit Your Paper to the SBL International Meeting in St Andrews (Last Chance)

The SBL International Meeting in St. Andrews Scotland  July 7-11 is rapidly approaching. The program unit Working with Biblical Manuscripts has received a number of proposals and we know we will have almost a dozen papers on various very interesting topics such as Papyrus 4, OT citations in Bezae, Amulets with NT citations, miniature MSS, Coptic and Arabic MSS and discussion about text-critical problems in the Hebrew Bible as well as the Greek NT.

Unfortunately, we had no specific call for papers this year, but I cite the general scope of our unit, which can be seen as the call for papers too:

The unit seeks to foster the study and criticism of biblical and related texts — including examination of manuscripts and other sources, restoration of the text, and especially the investigation of the history of its transmission—in its Late Antique cultural context.

The call for papers closes tomorrow (1 February), so hurry up and go to the SBL website, log in and submit your paper for our unit here.

I strongly expect at least one British(-Australian) scholar – no names – to submit just before tomorrow midnight!

Update: SBL has extended the deadline for paper submissions until 11 February.  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New journal and new review of NA28

Today the online journal Marginalia is launched, and with it my review of Nestle-Aland 28. The journal seeks to set new standards for substantial reviews written for online media. The editor in chief is textual critic T. Michael Law.

In my review you will find out why, even though NA28 is better than NA27, you still shouldn't throw away the old edition.

Cambridge Online Journals: Free Access to 2012 Content

I am not sure how much textcritical or linguistic stuff there is of interest to this blog, but you can get free access till early March here.

You may want to branch out into fields such as the "Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy" or the "Journal of Smoking Cessation" or stay within the more familiar field of Classical Studies (see the Subject index).

Don't be too disheartened when there are some glitches in registration. This is comment posted this morning:

"Hello to all those receiving the Error Encountered message – this message is shown due to the very high levels of traffic to the form at the moment you are trying to register. I’m sorry for the problems this is causing. However, it can be rectified simply by retrying the registration process. For detailed instructions of how to do so, please see here: . Many thanks to you all for your patience and interest, Eleanor."

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Four Evangelists in Gospel Manuscripts

I need every bit of comfort I can get during these January days, so I tried to brighten the mood by looking at some manuscript pictures. I came along the following ones. The way in which Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are depicted is certainly not unique at all, but striking once you think about it:

Rather than as genuine authors listening to the divine whisper, why is each of them depicted as a copiist? I wonder where that comes from. It might be a precursor of some form of the 4 source hypothesis.

A nice detail is that Mark seems to have been caught sharpening his pen.

Anyone venture a guess from which Gospels manuscript these come?

Correction As Elijah pointed out correctly, Mark is the one at the bottom left, and Luke is sharpening his pen.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Agreement in Error and Common Origin

When two manuscripts share a rare characteristic our first reaction is to assume a common origin. This does not always work, but it is a better starting point than some others.

For instance, take co-blogger Michael Holmes's text of 1 Clemens ("To the Corinthians") in his Apostolic Fathers. On page 28 of my 1999 edition the text has a misspelling in the Greek text μελαγοπρεπες which should be μεγαλοπρεπες (the -λ- and -γ- have swapped places). Lightfoots's printed edition does not have this error, and neither has the TLG online, based on Jaubert's text.

For my Greek teaching I use the opening paragraphs of 1 Clemens. And at the time when I prepared my handout I was still working from the now defunct CD-ROM version of the TLG. When one of those clever students (yes, the same one as here) pointed out that μελαγοπρεπες in my handout looked like a misprint, I checked Holmes, found the same spelling, and initially thought that Holmes and me could not both be wrong. Till I realised that I had simply cut and pasted from the CD-ROM text, which might have been the same thing Michael had been doing. And rather than asking him (we are scholars after all, we don't talk), I checked the preface and found Holmes's acknowledgement of the technical assistance provided by the TLG, signed off in 1992, way before the online edition.

Agreement in error can point to common origin.

[This is the relevant word in Codex Alexandrinus, difficult to read, but in the correct spelling]

Monday, January 21, 2013

PhD Opportunity at ITSEE (Birmingham)

Hugh Houghton of the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing (ITSEE), University of Birmingham, is principal investigator of the COMPAUL project on "The Earliest Commentaries on Paul as Sources for the Biblical Text." Houghton announces the following opportunity for a student doing a PhD. in the project he is leading:
There is an opportunity for a student to undertake doctoral research at the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing in the University of Birmingham. As part of the COMPAUL project on "The Earliest Commentaries on Paul as Sources for the Biblical Text", a bursary is available for a student to work on the Greek catenae tradition of the Pauline epistles. Candidates should have excellent language skills in biblical Greek: experience of working with manuscripts would be beneficial, as would prior research experience and a Master's degree in a related area.Potential applicants should contact Dr Hugh Houghton, the project's principal investigator, by 2nd February 2013. Please give details of linguistic ability and research experience and attach a brief CV.
Additional information on the project; on ITSEE, and on the PhD advertisement.

For a general introduction by Houghton to the work at the ITSEE you can look at the following videoclip (NB: that it is from April 2012, and does not reflect the latest developments):


Friday, January 18, 2013

A Tricky Variant in Acts and Some Musings on NA28/27


Working on a variant in Acts 17, I was faced with a whole set of issues, and was glad that this was in some sense also true for the editors of NA27/28.

Here is the text from Acts 17:3:

ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ χριστὸς [ὁ] Ἰησοῦς ὃν ἐγὼ καταγγέλλω ὑμῖν.

First problem, how are the variants of ο χριστος ο ιησους best listed? This is what the apparatus of NA28 and NA27 do:

ο χριστος [ο] ιησους
1 2 4 L Ψ 323. 945. 1175. 1241. 1739 Maj
2 4 P74 A D 33. 81 gig vgst
4 2 Alef 614. 1505 vgcl
4 3 2 E 453. 2818
txt B

ο χριστος [ο] ιησους
1 2 4 Ψ 1739 Maj
2 4 P74 A D 33vid. 81 pc gig vgst ([reverse order] Alef 614. 1505 pc vgcl)

4 3 2 E 36. 453 pc
txt B

(Maj stands for Gothic M; [reverse order] for the superscript floating s-shaped wiggle; Alef for the Hebrew letter)

The main difference between the two editions regarding the grouping of manuscripts is that the variant 4 2 ιησους χριστος is no longer given as a subvariation of 2 4 χριστος ιησους. Consistent and clear.
However, I was puzzling over the representation of the last variant 4 3 2 ιησους ο χριστος, simply because there is an alternative way of indicating the same words, 4 1 2. This is of course because the first and third word of the printed text are identical. And though I might be nitpicking here, I would chose for 4 1 2 over 4 3 2, simply because I think that this variant is derived from the first variant (1 2 4) rather than from the third (4 2) or from the text reading (1 2 3 4) or an untestified 2 3 4. Actually (see below) I don't think the 3 appeared anywhere except in Vaticanus. Yet, since this is open to debate, I don't think 4 3 2 for ιησους ο χριστος is 'wrong', it is simply based on a different local stemma.

Second problem, what to do with the differences in listed manuscripts? I appreciate it that the witnesses added in NA28 are there. Most of these manuscripts are very interesting.
In NA28 the videtur with minuscule 33 has disappeared, and as far as I can tell this is an error since the transcription of this manuscript on the NT.VMR indicates that there is the possibility of ο χς ις (reading 1 2 4, not 2 4). The image on the same website is unclear.
It is good to know that minuscule 2818 used to be minuscule 36aK, which explains the difference in the last variant.
The disappearance of the pauci siglum in three of the listed variants is a real loss, I like to know that there is more to know, even when I don't know what that is. The presence of pc also helps to emphasize that the text reading is found only in Vaticanus.

Third problem, is the correct text printed? I doubt it. It seems to me that the text of Vaticanus is produced by intervention and, given the affinities of its text, comes straight from the 2 4 variant (2 4 to 1 2 3 4). Whether 1 2 4 or 2 4 is original is hard to tell. The former might be the result of influence of 9:22 (ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ χριστός.), the latter of attraction of χς to the following anarthrous ις.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Conference on Scribal Practice in the Ancient and Antique Mediterranean World


Call for papers (HT: Jennifer Cromwell, Papy-L):

Observing the Scribe at Work: Knowledge Transfer and Scribal
Professionalism in Pre-Typographic Societies
Macquarie University, Sydney
27-28 September 2013

Prior to the typographic revolution of the 15th century, the figure of the scribe was one of the keys by which civilisations were able to disseminate their power, culture and beliefs beyond their geographic, temporal, and even linguistic limits. Our access to the pre-modern world is mediated by the material and technological remains of scribal activity, the manuscript as an artefact of culture and administration. Every text preserved prior to the advent of printing bears witness to the activities of scribes. Yet
as a social and professional group they are frequently elusive, obscured by other professional titles, reduced to mention in a colophon, or existing within a private sphere into which our sources do not reach. While much attention has been given to the scribe as a literary figure, the manuscripts offer a unique point of access to
this group without the distortions of the literary tradition. This perspective, however, has frequently been restricted to a catalogue of errors, reducing the scribe to the transmission of an acceptable text, without recourse to the physical characteristics of the manuscript itself.

This workshop is built around the Australian Research Council funded project ‘Knowledge Transfer and Administrative Professionalism in a Pre-Typographic Society: Observing the Scribe at work in Roman and Early Islamic Egypt’. The project sets aside the often futile search for the historical figures of the scribe in favour of a focus on observable
phenomena: the evidence of their activity in the texts themselves. Recognizing that the act of writing can be a quotidian and vernacular practice, it explicitly includes the documents of everyday life as well as the realms of the copying of literature, seeking paths back to an improved understanding of the role and place of scribes in pre-modern

‘Observing the Scribe at Work’ will bring together specialists in pre-modern societies of the Mediterranean world and adjoining cultures, from the ancient Near East, through the Egyptian and Classical worlds to Byzantium and Renaissance Europe. The papers will contribute to a deeper understanding of the processes that drive
the operation of pre-printing cultures, and transmit knowledge and traditions forward in human societies.

The workshop will be held at Macquarie University on 27-28 September 2013. Macquarie University cannot offer full funding for all participants traveling to Australia from overseas, but partial financial assistance will be awarded to select abstracts which closely address the themes of the workshop. Decisions to this
effect will be made by the end of April.
We call for abstracts of up to 300 words that address the objectives of this workshop. These should be sent to by 31 March 2013.

Inquiries: Malcolm Choat (; Jennifer Cromwell (

Organising Committee
Malcolm Choat, Jennifer Cromwell, Korshi Dosoo, Rachel Yuen-Collingridge

Australian Research Council
Macquarie University
Faculty of Arts, Macquarie University
Macquarie University Ancient Cultures Research Centre

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

19-century old Torah scroll--really?

There is a report here of a 'thrilling' scoop by police on Christmas day on a 19-century old "Torah scroll", which was being smuggled. Of course the date would make it rival DSS, but from the image the manuscript looks all wrong. The letter size is too big; the number of lines too few. Further comments on PaleoJudaica. Can anyone make out any letters?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Thursday, January 10, 2013

René Kieffer (1930-2013) R.I.P.

René Kieffer, Professor emeritus of Uppsala University, has passed away on 8 January at the age of 82. He was born in Aumetz in France and raised in Luxembourg. After studies in Paris and Germany he felt a call to become a priest and theologian in the Dominican order in Paris. This process started with eight years of studies in philosophy and theology. Because of his interest in the Bible, Kieffer was sent to the École Biblique in Jerusalem for two years of special education in order to become a professor there, but he felt isolated in this environment and longed for a pastoral work.

Eventually he came to Sweden in 1965 where he settled down. After further studies in exegesis he received a doctoral degree at Uppsala University in 1968 for his thesis Au delà des recensions?: l'évolution de la tradition textuelle dans Jean VI, 52-71 (Coniectanea Biblica New Testament Series 3; Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1968) in which he used Colwell's quantitative analysis and other qualitative methods to test received hypotheses on different text-groups (recensions).

During 1972-1989 he was Professor at Lund University, and from 1990-1995 at Uppsala University. After his retirement he moved back to Lund and continued with research and was very active in the New Testament research seminar in Lund.

His major publications include:
  • Essais de méthodologie néo-testamentaire. ConBNTS 4; Lund: Berling 1972.
  • Le primat de l'amour: commentaire épistémologique de 1 Corinthiens 13. Paris: Cerf 1975.
  • Nytestamentlig teologi. Lund: Verbum 1977.
  • Foi et justification à Antioche : interprétation dʹun conflit (Ga 2, 14-21). Paris: Cerf 1982.
  • Existence païenne au début du christianisme : présentation de textes grecs et romains (with Lars Rydbeck). Paris: Cerf 1983.
  • Die Bibel deuten - das Leben deuten : Einführung in die Theologie des Neuen Testaments. Regensburg: Pustet 1987.
  • Le monde symbolique de Saint Jean. Paris: Cerf 1989.
  • Jésus raconté: théologie et spiritualité dans les évangiles. Paris: Éd. du Cerf 1996.
  • La main de Dieu: Die Hand Gottes (with Jan Bergman). Tübingen: Mohr 1997.

Kieffer has also published several works in Swedish including the following bible commentaries:

  • Johannesevangeliet 1-10. KNT 4a. Stockholm: EFS-förlaget 1987.
  • Johannesevangeliet 11-20. KNT 4b. Stockholm: EFS-förlaget 1988.
  • Filemonbrevet, Judasbrevet och Andra Petrusbrevet. KNT 18. Stockholm: Verbum 2001.

The first chapter of his Evangeliernas Jesus: myt och verklighet (Örebro: Libris 2001) is self-biographical. Kieffer provides a shorter biographical and bibliographical account in English in the first part of his article "From Linguistic Methodology to the Discovery of a World of Metaphors," Semeia 81 (1988): 77-93.

I first contacted Kieffer when I became interested in New Testament textual criticism around 2000. We had a long conversation and he encouraged me to pursue doctoral studies, although he declined to be my supervisor, since by then he had already retired. However, he wrote a letter of recommendation and continued to give me his support through the writing process and provided helpful comments in the research seminar at Lund University. Further, he was on the board of examiners for my thesis and subsequently wrote a very favorable review of it in Journal of Theological Studies.

Apart from being a first rate scholar, René Kieffer was a gentle and warm friend. I miss him very much.

The funeral will be held in Sankt Thomas kyrka, Lund, on Thursday 24 January, 1PM.

Elliott Reviews Parker, Textual Scholarship

J. K. Elliott has reviewed David Parker's, Textual Scholarship and the Making of the New Testament (Oxford: OUP, 2012) in Times Literary Supplement, 14 Dec, 2012. Here is an extract of the review:
In 2011, the Lyell Lectures in Bibliography at Oxford were given by David Parker. His five public addresses offer an insight into a twenty-first-century approach to New Testament textual criticism. Parker surveys the varied manuscript heritage of the New Testament, the interrelationships of the witnesses, and the shape of a future, electronicaly created critical edition of the text based on the earliest recoverable text of each book, an authorial original being a chimera. ... Much of what David Parker has to say about the New Testament in this enthusiastically written book is applicable to other literatures, especially those that also have such a rich but fluid manuscript and literary heritage.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Is there really a ‘Wife-Beater’s Bible’?

An e-mail correspondent recently sent me a list of famous Bible misprints and mistranslations of which the Wicked Bible probably contains the most famous.

This list informed me of the existence of the ‘Wife-Beater’s Bible’ in these words:

“Wife-Beaters’ Bible” (Matthew’s Bible, 1537): A footnote to I Peter 3:7 is rendered “And if she be not obedient and healpeful unto him, endevoureth to beat the fear of God into her head, that thereby she may be compelled to learn her duty and do it.”

Since I have the Hendrickson facsimile of the Matthew’s Bible I turned to it, and found no such reference. There are, however, references to this Bible at various points on the web, e.g.  Paul Gardner, Parchment and Pen Blog, Marcus Tutt, and (currently) Wikipedia.

I am sceptical as to whether there ever was such a Bible, but am asking all you sapientes out on the Web whether you can find hard textual evidence to rid me of my doubts.

My reasons for scepticism include, but are not limited to, the following:

1) The various pages referencing this all appear to use very similar wording, sometimes including context, which is a feature of internet myths, and suggests a single online textual source.

2) Use of the word ‘footnote’ for a time when notes were marginal suggests a lack of familiarity with the period.

3) The syntax ‘endevoureth’ (3rd person for 2nd), spelling (probably confusing devour and endeavour), and idiom ‘to beat the fear of God into her head’ suggest a modern, relatively uneducated, origin for the wording.
4) What would it mean for a footnote to be ‘rendered’?

5) It would require significantly different printings of the Matthews Bible in 1537.

6) It’s the sort of drivel our age likes to invent and believe about the Bad Olde Dayes.

So, friends, is there any evidence for the existence of such a version? Can anyone trace the origin of the hoax?


Based on the Metzger reference in Ryan’s comment I’m now convinced that some such thing existed, though it is rather different from what is found in the various sources I noted above. The spelling above is not original. The reference to a ‘footnote’ is an anachronism. It did not occur in a 1537 Bible and is not a Matthews Bible, but what it is is less clear. Metzger says it’s closer to Tyndale than Taverner and his mention of Coverdale doesn’t make it clear that Coverdale was actually a textual source. So it’s not a hoax as I first thought, but just a very corrupt version of a historical core.

Next question: where can I see a copy?

Here is what Metzger has to say:

“Edmund Becke’s Bibles (1549; 1551)In the short reign of Edward VI, the open Bible came once again into favor, and some fourteen Bibles and thirty-five New Testaments were printed. These were reprints of Tyndale,Matthew, and Taverner, some of them of interest only for the light they throw on the liberties that publishers felt free to take with books and parts of books in producing a “hybrid” edition. One such printer/publisher was Edmund Becke, who also tried his hand at some desultory revising. Occasionally called “Bishop Becke’s Bibles,” these comprise essentially Taverner’s Old Testament and Tyndale’s New Testament, compiled by John Daye and revised and edited by Becke.

The edition of 1549 is printed in a rather peculiar black-letter type in double columns. The majority of the notes are gathered together after the chapter to which they pertain. Present also are Tyndale’s prologues, including the long prologues to Jonah and Romans (eleven pages)and that to the New Testament.

The edition of 1551 includes 3 Maccabees in the Apocrypha. A cut of the Evangelist appears before each Gospel, and at the beginning of the dedication stands a woodcut initial,representing Becke offering his book to the young king, Edward VI, and instructing him in the duties of his high station.

Becke’s alterations in this edition of the New Testament are deplorable. By reverting in nearly every instance to Tyndale’s version, he has done injustice to Taverner by perpetuating mistakes that the latter had corrected.

Both editions contain the notorious “wife-beater” note on 1 Peter 3:7, where men are exhorted to live with their wives “according to knowledge.” Becke explains this to mean

that taketh her as a necessary helper, and not as a bond servaunt or bonde slave. And if she be not obedient and healpeful unto hym: endeavoureth to beate the feare of God into her heade, that therby she maye be compelled to learne her dutye and do it. But chiefely he must beware that he halte not inanye parte of hys dutye to her warde. For hys evyll example shall destroye more than all entruccion she can give shall edifye.”

UPDATE 2 -  Here it is:

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Review of Karlheinz Schüssler's 2011 volume of Biblia Coptica

A quirky RBL review of Schüssler's 2011 volume of his long-term project of cataloging Coptical biblical manuscripts. The project is prelude to a much needed critical edition of the Coptic Bible.

Schüssler Review ( )

This latest review may be compared with Stephan Witetschek's review of an earlier volume discussed and posted here: Witetschek's Review (