Monday, September 30, 2013

A Nice Video from Amsterdam

Nothing particularly sensational here (especially from a cinematographical perspective!), but fun to watch some friends here. A good brief intro and touches on some contemporary scholarly interests. I might have nuanced a few things differently (I would have tried to get the Lord's Prayer right!). But enjoy and offer critical reflections in the comments

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Synopsis of the Pauline Letters


J.P. Ware, Synopsis of the Pauline Letters in Greek and English (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2010).

This is not exactly a book review, just a blog post to say that I have found this book much more useful than I originally thought it would be when I got it a couple of years ago. I confess that when I first got a copy of this book I wasn't really convinced that it was going to be that helpful; but I have found myself turning to it very often in the last year or so.

So the other day I was reading 1 Thess 1.1 (as one does); and I noticed that in NA28 the full version of the 'grace and peace to you', i.e. the following bit 'from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ' is noted in the apparatus with the reference (2Th 1,2). I thought to myself (as one does), 'surely that addition doesn't come from 2 Thess 1.2 specifically, but from the fairly common usage throughout Paul's letters'. So I picked up the Synopsis and confirmed my suspicions - there is no particular reason for thinking of this as a scribal harmonisation to 2 Thess 1.2, once could as easily have said Rom 1.7; 1 Cor 1.3; 2 Cor 1.2; Eph 1.2; Phil 1.2 or Philm 3.

Then when I was reading 1 Thess 1.2 I noticed the NA text lacks UMWN. I thought to myself, 'well that is probably a harmonisation to Pauline usage elsewhere too, despite there being no hint in the apparatus'. Since the Synopsis was already there on my desk I checked and found the parallels(with UMWN) in Rom 1.9.

These two examples have to do with thinking through harmonisation type variants, but the book is more useful for finding parallel content in Pauline letters in the study of Paul's thought. E.g. all the greetings sections of Paul's letters, or all the times Tichycus appears, or all the signatures, or all the times Paul discusses a topic or theme.

I like the fact that the texts are given in Greek and English (in diglot format) - quick access with details here. I like that there is a critical apparatus to the Greek text. I like the fact that every bit of all thirteen letters is printed (and that some passages are printed many times in connection with each of the major themes). I also like that fact that relevant passages from Paul's preaching or activity in Acts are also included. I like the fact (once I got used to it) that the index comes at the start of the book. I like the fact that by and large interpretive and critical judgements don't intrude on the usefulness of the book.

A couple of design compromises should be mentioned: firstly, although it is called a Synopsis, the texts are not actually laid out synoptically (thinking of something like Aland's Synopsis), so wording parallels (or differences) don't leap out at the reader. Associated with that is that there is not much blank space. This book is more for reference than for colouring, underlining, note taking, and all the other fun things you can do with a gospel synopsis.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Forte Reviews NA28

A.J. Forte, 'Observations on the 28th Revised Edition of Nestle-Aland's Novum Testamentum Graece' Biblica 94 (2013), 268-292.

This is an interesting review or set of observations about the NA28, largely positive, and full of information. Among other points, he does suggest that the basis of the new parts of the text on the so-called coherence based genealogical method should have been explained better within the edition.
Without a proper understanding of the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method, the 28th revised edition of Nestle-Aland will remain enigmatic and even problematic. (p. 273)
He discusses James 1.20; 1 John 3.7 and Jude 5, comparing the text and apparatus of NA27 with that of NA28. This is a frustrating operation since there is nothing in the evidence cited in the apparatus which would explain the changes, it is all about a different method and a different way to evaluate witnesses: 'The textual choices of the editors can only be understood in light of the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method.' (p. 276) Indeed he suggests that the apparatus should include the abbreviation TP (for Transcriptional Probability) 'to indicate those instances where the lectio difficilior, although supported by fewer witnesses, is probably the original reading' (p. 278 n 15).

He shows how the fuller apparatus of the NA28 is generally much more easily understood than the more compact apparatus of NA27. This expansion comes at a cost though, in a hundred more pages (p. 282), and a much higher proportion of each page given over to the apparatus and less to the actual text (I have noticed this a lot recently).

He closes with three suggestions for future revisions: i) discontinue single square brackets (p. 288). [I doubt whether this will happen immediately, I think they will be discontinued as the ECM is produced, uncertainties in ECM sections can be signalled with black diamonds.]; ii) use VL instead of Itala; and iii) include the umlaut/distigmai from Vaticanus in the apparatus. [This would be radical, especially in the supposed [but nonsensical] compound form of the distigme-obelos previously known as the bar-umlaut. But it is interesting that he thinks there is 'a consensus among textual critics and codicologists that text-critical signs can be dated to the time of the writing of Codex Vaticanus' (p. 289).  I'm not sure whether it is a consensus or not; I would regard the suggestion of Payne and Canart as interesting and flawed. They are most likely from the sixteenth century.]

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Observing the Scribe at Work

Some time ago we posted the call for papers for a Conference on Scribal Practice in the Ancient and Antique Mediterranean World at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. The conference is this weekend and the abstracts (HT: What's New in Papyrology?) include some interesting papers:
Macquarie University, Sydney
27th-29th September 2013
Rodney Ast (University of Heidelberg), 'Lectional Signs in Greek Documents as Indicators of Scribal Practice and Training'
Aside from a couple well-attested diacritical marks (the trema and apostrophe), lectional signs and punctuation are not common in Greek documentary papyri. Where they do occur, however, they can be as instructive about scribal practice and training as the better-known benchmarks of, e.g., palaeography, orthography, and grammar. They can, in short, tell us something about the habits and education of scribes. My aim in this paper is to investigate scribal behaviour by examining the types of lectional signs and punctuation marks (accents, middots, etc.) employed in a variety of types of documents, from private letters to petitions to receipts. I will consider factors that might have dictated their use in specific cases, such as the perceived need for formality on the writer’s part or the desire to avoid ambiguity. Furthermore, I will evaluate, to the extent allowed by the evidence, the broader historical and cultural contexts of the documents, including the archives to which they belong, the archaeological sites that produced them, and the periods in which they were composed.
Marie-Pierre Chaufray (University of Bordeaux 3), 'Scribal Practice in Dime'
The village of Dime in the Fayyum has yielded a great number of literary and documentary papyri dating from Roman times, both in Egyptian and Greek. The texts written in Egyptian come mostly from the temple of Soknopaios, the main temple of the village. Thus, scribal practice can be studied at different levels: in the comparison and the relationship between literary and administrative texts written by the same scribes; in the question of professionalism through the redaction of contracts, for which one can witness a certain continuity with the Late Ptolemaic period; in the persistence of scribal practice in Demotic for the internal administration of the main temple of the village (receipts, agreements and accounts). My paper will focus mainly on this last point by studying the way internal administrative papers and records were written and kept in the temple of Soknopaios. It will deal with the material aspect of writing (use and reuse of papyrus, handwritings, marks of control, costs of writing) to observe priestly scribes at work within the temple from the 1st to the 3rd century AD.
Malcolm Choat (Macquarie University, Sydney) and Korshi Dosoo (Macquarie University, Sydney), 'The Use of Abbreviations in Duplicate Documents from Roman Egypt'
The use of abbreviations is a common phenomenon in administrative and official documents (either those written by the administration, or destined for official eyes). This is too easily dismissed as the unremarkable result of random variation: a closer look at the evidence suggests that both the use and the form of abbreviation may be highly revealing, varying between classes of words (common administrative formulae or more informationally dense personal details), the physical environment in which the word occurs (line initial, medial or final) and in the type of abbreviation used (e.g. raised final letter, supralinear stroke).  The case of duplicate documents is particularly revealing, providing not only a corpus within which the abbreviational tendencies of individual scribes can be observed, but sources within which the scribe’s consistent or inconsistent treatment of identical words in identical texts is clearly visible, highlighting professional or individual scribal preferences, and the ways in which abbreviations contrary to these preferences may originate in earlier iterations of the document. The latter tendency may help us to discern the priority of duplicates. As test cases for this approach, we will examine a range of document types which cover a wide temporal and geographic range, and which contain both highly standardised formulae and extremely open-ended information specific to each declarant.
Jennifer Cromwell (Macquarie University, Sydney), 'Tax, Palaeography, and Coptic Scribes in the Early Islamic Administration'
In the first century after the Islamic conquest of Egypt in 641 AD, the country underwent major administrative changes. For the first time, administrative texts were written in Coptic and many of these involve taxes, especially the religious poll tax introduced by the new rulers. One striking aspect of this change is seen in the similarities witnessed in Coptic scribal practice in the corpus of bilingual Coptic-Greek tax documents written between the 690s and 720s in the area from Hermopolis to Hermonthis. This paper will examine the formulaic and palaeographic similarities found in one particular group of texts—tax demands issued from the office of Arabic officials—in order to examine the role of Coptic scribes in the administration during this period.
Hans Förster + Ulrike Swoboda (University of Vienna), 'Copying Translated Texts: The Example of the Sahidic Version of the Gospel of John'
A current research project (Austrian Science Fund/FWF project P24649-G15) is dedicated to the question of translational tendencies and mistakes in two early translations of the Gospel of John: The Latin and the Coptic version. The paper will focus on selected Sahidic manuscripts in order to address the following questions: Is it possible to deduct from the evidence of the manuscripts which training the scribes had? Is it further possible to come to a conclusion as to the actual act of copying? The question would be whether this was the task of one scribe comparing his work to the manuscript that was copied or whether it was the task of two people: In this case one would read the manuscript to be copied aloud and the other would write his copy from this dictation. These two questions will be addressed, focussing mainly on statistical factors of allographs of carefully chosen words from selected manuscripts. It is obvious that the ability to act as a scribe for a dictated text presupposes a different training from the act of copying a text visually.
Didier Lafleur (CNRS, Paris), 'Scribal Habits and Ancient Textual Tradition: The Case of Family 13 Greek New Testament Manuscripts'
During the Middle Ages, through all parts of the Mediterranean area, numerous monasteries were renown for their scribal activity. In these monasteries, scribes transmitted in Greek language numerous corpus of all works – literary, scientific, religious – especially the texts of the New Testament. Monasteries of Southern Italy remain today the place where were copied a special group of Greek New Testament manuscripts, known as “Family 13”. All these manuscripts – about a dozen – were copied in the same area, mostly Calabria, between the 10th and the 13th centuries AD. On one hand, they present a similar scribal practice, especially on palaeographical grounds. On the other hand, they are considered by biblical scholars as a first order witness of the Greek New Testament: that means that this group is always quoted in all critical editions. According to textual critics, the readings of these manuscripts are highly valuable because they agree with a text used by Origen in the middle of the 3rd century AD, in Caesarea Palaestina, a thousand kilometers away from Southern Italy.
On the basis of observable phenomena, this paper will emphasize the two sides of scribal knowledge transfer: the physical practice of writing and the evidence of the text tradition. After a short presentation of the documents, we will first consider the daily scribal activity, including the process of writing and the daily use of these manuscripts. We will then focus on the preservation process of a singular textual tradition: How very ancient readings used during the third century by the first Christian communities were still in use in Southern Italy centuries after?
Considered as Christian artefacts, manuscripts reveal quantitative data about knowledge transfer across centuries. The case of the Family 13 manuscripts is an interesting example of the role of scribes in pre-modern societies.
Delphine Nachtergaele (Ghent University), 'Scribes in the Greek Private Papyrus Letters'
In this paper I investigate the role of scribes in Greek private papyrus letters. When an individual decided to write a letter, he had two options: writing the letter himself or paying a scribe and having the letter written. Many papyrus letters were the result of the work of a scribe. Outsourcing the task of writing was the only possibility when one was illiterate. But when the sender could write and read, he could pen the letter himself. The first research question in this study is whether the choice to use a scribe or not can be considered a conscious decision. In P.Mich. VIII 469, preserved in the archive of Claudius Tiberianus, the decision not to hire a scribe seems to be taken deliberately: the fact that the letter was written by the sender himself, bears in itself a message to the addressee.
The second and main query is whether the intervention of a scribe has an effect on the language used in the letters. At first sight, the influence of the scribe seems rather limited. However, the investigation of letters preserved in archives can shed more light on this matter: in different case studies, I compare the language of one single sender in autographical letters and in letters written by a scribe. The archive of Asklepiades shows the effect scribes can have on the epistolary language: in the letters from Isidora to her brother Asklepiades there is a marked linguistic difference between the autographs and the letters she dictated to a scribe. In other collections of texts, such as the letters from Eudaimonis in the archive of Apollonios strategos, there is no such difference: the personality of the sender is apparent in all letters, autograph or dictated.
This paper has a double conclusion: firstly, we observe that letter writers make deliberate choices when writing letters: these choices are situated at the level of using a scribe or not, and at a linguistic level. Of course, these findings cannot be generalized, but this paper provides nevertheless an important insight: although the authors of documentary letters cannot be compared to authors of literary works, we should not underestimate the creative capacities of the senders of papyrus letters. Secondly, the influence of scribes on the language of the papyrus letters is rather limited. Mostly, the scribes just penned down what the sender dictated. The language of the papyrus letters can thus safely be assumed to be the language of the letter writer.
Andrew Pleffer (Macquarie University, Sydney), 'Signs, Signatories and Scribes: The Function of Scribal Markings in the Fourth Century Aramaic ostraca'
The ongoing publication of the fourth century Aramaic ostraca that have surfaced from the region of southern Levant is incredibly important for understanding socio-economic processes and conditions in the western provincial regions of the Persian empire. The study presented here will be subject to the final publication of the remaining ostraca, but hopes to probe and test methodologies that could be applied to the corpus in understanding the function of its individual pieces.
Since the initial publication of the Aramaic ostraca, their function has remained an important and contended issue. For the most part, the Aramaic ostraca are inscribed sherds of pottery that appear to detail, in short-formulaic phrases, the movement and quantities of commodities. Some of the ostraca bear markings that appear in enlarged script and easily distinguishable forms usually positioned at the end of the body of the text and occasionally alongside a signatory.
It is a widely held view that ostraca found in Greece, Egypt, and the Levant functioned as drafts or scrap paper of a scribal bureaucracy. However, the scribal markings in these ostraca have been used to support the suggestion that the ostraca had a wider circulation beyond that of being drafts for papyri record lists. This paper presents a detailed analysis of the scribal markings published thus far. It tracks the physical characteristics of the markings, aspects of scribal identity and the syntactic features of the ostraca, probing possible explanations for their function.
Lucian Reinfandt (University of Vienna), 'Scribal Traditions, Social Change, and the Emergence of a Caliphal Administration (642-800 AD)'
The activities of scribes in original documents highlight their own cultural and ethnic backgrounds. By this, an identification is possible of members of this important group of social actors, in my case: the personnel of early Islamic chanceries, that are otherwise elusive in the literary sources. Their traces in the documents serve as a basis for a prosopography of these largely anonymous scribes. The following phenomena are useful for my analysis: (a) palaeography and layout; (b) phraseology and style; (c) grammar and orthography. Of peculiar importance for the analysis is the multilingual character of early Islamic chanceries with their parallel production of official documents in Arabic, Coptic, and Greek in the western parts of the caliphal empire and Iranian languages in the East. In my paper, I will present a ‘mapping’ of chancery scribes in Egypt after the Muslim conquest. This will be held against two major developments: the successive Arabisation of the chanceries in the wake of reforms initiated by the caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwān in the course of the first half of the 8th century AD; and the ‘takeover’ of the offices by scribes with Iranian background during the late 8th and early 9th centuries AD. Such an approach of ‘observing the scribe at work’ is significant for the historian of Islamicate societies. Processes of Arabisation and Islamisation, i.e. the migration of social groups, the exchange of administrative personnel in the chanceries, and the phenomenon of religious conversion, become visible that seem otherwise undetectable. These had deep impact on the development of Muslim rule and administration and contributed to the dissemination of a common imperial culture in peripheries of disparate conditions.
Francesca Schironi (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), 'Saving the Ivory Tower from Oblivion: The Role of Scribes in Preserving Alexandrian Scholarship'
In this paper I will analyse the crucial role that scribes from the Ptolemaic to the Byzantine periods played in disseminating the philological work of the Alexandrian scholars on Homer in Egypt and beyond. I will review the scribal evidence from the Ptolemaic period to the Byzantine era and show that the format of the Homeric editions changed in the centuries after the work of the Alexandrians: scribes were embracing the innovations introduced by the Alexandrians both in the book layout (divisions into books, end-titles) and in the most technical aspects of Alexandrian philology (variant readings,exegetical comments, critical signs added in the margins). Manuscript evidence thus shows that scribes from the 2nd century BC to the 10th century AD had two distinct and fundamental roles in the Homeric tradition: they preserved the most technical aspects of Alexandrian scholarship and they also disseminated its more popular innovations (like the book division). The activity of the scribes therefore ensured that Alexandrian scholarship did not remain a dry intellectual product locked into the Library with no future, but on the contrary permeated book production and literary discourse in the following centuries, and ultimately informed our own reception of the Homeric texts.
Valeria Tezzon (Humboldt University, Berlin), 'How many scribes in P.Berol.13270? New considerations about the handwriting'
One of the problematic aspects of P.Berol. 13270 is the identification of two supposed scribes involved in the text redaction: in 1924 Ulrich Wilcken observed that the text must have been written by two writers and recognized two different kinds of handwriting: one “strong and plain” and the other “slighter and more delicate”; moreover he added that each scribe might have used his own calamos, which also influenced the ductus. This proposal has been largely accepted. Recently, Bendetto Bravo has carefully described the alternation of the supposed two writers, suggesting also a possible change of calamos between the writers. The differences recognized in the handwriting will be examined in order to verify a possible different explanation for the highly problematic presence of two writers.
Marja Vierros (University of Helsinki), 'Scribes and Other Writers in the Petra Papyri'
The carbonized papyrus dossier from Petra, metropolis of the Roman province Palaestina Salutaris/Tertia, presents a group of documentary texts all written in Greek in the sixth century AD, and all found from the same small side room in the Church of Virgin Mary. Most of the texts were written in Petra, and some in nearby villages. The documents are mainly contracts, tax receipts, donations, settlements of disputes, etc., all somehow relating to the possessions of an ecclesiastical family belonging to the uppermost stratum of society. They also seem to represent high standard Byzantine Greek language and notarial practices. In this paper, I will collect together all the information on the writers appearing in these documents. These were the notaries (symbolaiografoi), who drew up the lengthy legal texts. Some of them we know by name, some only by their handwriting, spelling and perhaps other linguistic features. The people whose matters the documents dealt with usually signed the contracts themselves or used signatories; the signatures were long because it was necessary to repeat the contents of the contract. The signatures present various levels of literacy. The documents also included short signatures of witnesses. Some less important documents were not written by notaries, but by the people themselves. Now that almost all the texts from the dossier are published or very near to being published, it will be possible to draw conclusions about the writing skills and scribal practices in Petra.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Re-rolling a papyrus roll and Revelation 6:14

The inimitable T.C. Skeat wrote this in 1990:

"In Scritti in Onore di Orsolina Montevecchi, Bologna 1978, pp. 373-376, I published a note entitled "Was re-rolling a papyrus roll an irksome and time-consuming task ?", in which I described experiments with rolls cut from rolls of wall-paper, on the basis of which I concluded that re-rolling a roll was much easier and quicker than had been supposed, and that the secret lay in letting the roll do the work of rolling through its natural tendency to roll up. I assumed that a roll of papyrus, having been rolled up at the time of manufacture and kept constantly rolled up except when opened for the purposes of writing and reading, would have possessed the same tendency to roll up, but of course I had no means of proving it. Now the proof has come to light in a surprising way. Among the great find of papyri at Dishna, not far from the better-known Nag Hammadi, were a number of papyrus rolls. The owner of one of these rolls tried to unroll it, but found that the papyrus began to break. He thereupon immersed the roll in warm water, after which he found that he could unroll it without damage either to the roll or the writing. He left it unrolled, and five minutes later the roll had rolled itself up. It is surely remarkable that 1500 years or so after its manufacture a papyrus roll should still retain its capacity to roll itself up and thus completely confirm the results of my experiments."

T.C. Skeat, "Roll versus Codex - A New Approach?" Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 84 (1990): 297.

When working through some textual variants in Revelation, I was reminded of such rolling up. The correct text in 6:14 reads:

καὶ ὁ οὐρανὸς ἀπεχωρίσθη ὡς βιβλίον ἑλισσόμενον
'and the heaven vanished like a scroll being rolled up'

[The variant reading ἑλισσόμενος would mean that the heaven is rolled up.]

The wall-paper illustration of Skeat is telling - the rolling up happens quickly, which is partly why the metaphor is used by John in the first place.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Lincoln College Summer School of Greek Palaeography

Highly Recommended (don’t let the fact that it is in Oxford put you off):

The fifth Lincoln College International Summer School in Greek Palaeography will be held on 28 July-2 August 2014. The school offers a five-day introduction to the study of Greek manuscripts through ten reading classes, four library visits and five thematic lectures.

More details here. For a report from an earlier summer school see here.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Best Commentaries for Textual Criticism

I thought it would be a good idea to draw up a list of the best commentaries for textual criticism. And to keep this on top occasionally until we finish it!!! Which commentaries show real independent thought about the text of the text they are treating? (We won't bother here with those which may be excellent in other respects but which merely rehearse Metzger)
I'm looking for help here from the studio audience, which I will update regularly:






Romans Robert Jewett (Hermeneia, 2007) [also Gamble's monograph]

1 Corinthians Gordon D. Fee (NICNT, 1987)

2 Corinthians Murray J. Harris (NIGTC, 2004)

Galatians Richard N. Longenecker (WBC, 1990)




1&2 Thessalonians

Pastoral Epistles



1 Peter Paul J. Achtemeier (Hermeneia, )

2 Peter

Johannine Epistles


Revelation D.E. Aune (Word, 3 vols, 1997-1998)

Supporting Evidence is in the comments

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Chester Beatty Papyri Photographed by CSNTM


Press Release from the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM):

17 September 2013

The Chester Beatty papyri, published in the 1930s and 1950s, are some of the oldest and most important biblical manuscripts known to exist. Housed at the Chester Beatty Library (CBL) in Dublin, they have attracted countless visitors every year. It is safe to say that the only Greek biblical manuscripts that might receive more visitors are Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Alexandrinus, both on display at the British Library.

The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) is pleased to announce that a six-person team, in a four-week expedition during July–August 2013, digitized all the Greek biblical papyri at the Chester Beatty Library.The CBL has granted permission to CSNTM to post the images on their website (, which will happen before the end of the year.

The New Testament papyri at the CBL include the oldest manuscript of Paul’s letters (dated c. AD 200), the oldest manuscript of Mark’s Gospel and portions of the other Gospels and Acts (third century), and the oldest manuscript of Revelation (third century). One or two of the Old Testament papyri are as old as the second century AD.

Using state-of-the-art digital equipment, CSNTM photographed each manuscript against white and black backgrounds. The result was stunning. Each image is over 120 megabytes. The photographs reveal some text that has not been seen before.

Besides the papyri, CSNTM also digitized all of the Greek New Testament manuscripts at the CBL as well as several others, including some early apocryphal texts. The total number of images came to more than 5100.

CSNTM is grateful to the CBL for the privilege of digitizing these priceless treasures. Their staff were extremely competent and a joy to work with. Kudos to Dr. Fionnuala Croke, Director of CBL, for such a superb staff! This kind of collaboration is needed both for the preservation of biblical manuscripts and their accessibility by scholars.
Perhaps it is needless to say that this very prestigious enterprise will be important for the CSNTM and its professional reputation. Hopefully this success can open up many doors in the future so that the scholarly community and everyone interested in New Testament manuscripts can have access to state-of-the-art images of these ancient Christian artefacts and the text they carry.

Since I happened to know about this expedition beforehand, I managed with short notice to organize for a student to go along on the expedition for a few days in the summer and study one of the papyri on site for his thesis work.  He will do a guest blogpost about his wonderful experiences in the Chester Beatty Library – stay tuned.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

New Images Online from BL manuscripts

On the 3rd of September the British Library announced eleven new manuscripts had been digitised and the images placed on-line.

These include six Greek Gospel manuscripts:
Burney MS 19 (G-A 481; 10th Cent.)
Burney MS 20 (G-A 482, AD 1285)
Additional MS 26103 (G-A 697, 13th Cent.)
Additional MS 35030 (G-A 2099, 13th Cent.)
Additional MS 37002 (G-A 2278, AD 1314-1315)
Additional MS 39591 (G-A 548, 11th Cent.)
One lectionary (cruciform): Additional MS 39603 (formerly Parham MS 21) (G-A L233, 12th Cent.)

A Greek psalter Additional MS 28819 (Rhalfs 1656, 16th Cent.)

For more details on the manuscripts see the CSPMT blog here.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Manichaean fragments from bindings

The University Library in Cambridge has acquired some interesting fragments of a Manichaean text written in Syriac (Camb., UL. MS. Or. 2552). More details are here:
A lecture by Professor Nils Arne Pedersen on ‘The Syriac-Manichaean “Allberry fragments”: how they were rediscovered, and what they can tell us’ will be held at 11 am on Saturday 14th September in the Milstein Seminar Rooms at Cambridge University Library.
The lecture is to celebrate the Library’s acquisition of a set of small manuscript fragments written on vellum which date from around the 4th century CE and originated in Middle Egypt.

I won't be able to get to this lecture (due to the opening of the under 12s football season in Cambridgeshire); but they look interesting, because in shape and size and provenance they are very similar to some texts of the NT I worked with some years ago (0311, 0312, 0313, 0314, 0315); for more info see my article here (or here) (this image from CSNTM).

Being Pedantic

If there is one occupational hazard that threatens a good number of the text-critical guild, it is that of being pedantic. Squabbling over commas, dots in the margin, spelling, and one another's work (or lack thereof), we have seen it all.

I caught myself out when looking at these words in Rev 18:18 (as in the current Nestle Aland edition):
ἀστραπαὶ καὶ φωναὶ καὶ βρονταί
[lightning and sounds and thunder]

Regardless of the question of the correct word order (and I thing P47 and the koine Byzantine branch have a strong shout here), I noticed how the word order variants are listed in the apparatus of NA28:

1 4 5 2 3
5 4 1–3
1 4 5

And I thought, Is this tendentious? Why is the first one not listed as 1 2 5 4 3, with just the final two nouns swapped? Or the second as 5 2 1 4 3? Actually, the possibilities are quite numerous. Perhaps the last one should be 1 4 3? And by then I caught myself sinking down in the morass of pedanticism and tried to repent immediately ...

Jac Perrin's Thesis on F13 in John Online

Jac Perrin has agreed to share his recently defended thesis "Family 13 in Saint John's Gospel," which we reported on here. The remark by Perrin that we discussed on this blog that "the PA of several other witnesses was in Luke, but their textual content was much closer to the TR than to any F13 member" (p. 277) has been removed since it proved to be wrong.

You find the thesis here and in the right sidebar (TC Files for download).

Thursday, September 12, 2013

P32 as a Multi-text Codex

In the most recent New Testament Studies:

Emily Gathergood, 'Papyrus 32 (Titus) as a Multi-text Codex: A New Reconstruction' New
Testament Studies
59 (2013), 588-606.

 Following the recent emphasis on studying early Christian manuscripts as historical artefacts, whose text and meta-textual aspects comprise important embodiments of reception and interpretation, this article re-examines the early Titus fragment P32 (P.Ryl. Gr. 1.5) with respect to its physical situation within the manuscript. I expand the scope of current reconstructions to consider in detail the lost beginning of the epistle, and argue that Titus was not the first document in the codex: at least one other preceded. Although the identity of the accompanying material cannot be deduced codicologically, patristic evidence suggests that Titus was normally transmitted in a collection of thirteen or fourteen Pauline epistles when the P32 codex was produced, rendering these the prime candidates.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How many books in the New Testament?

Not a trick question: 27. And there is more (that I learnt from Bart Ehrman): this is trinitarian, since the NT is about the Christian God, and therefore specifically about the Trinity.  And what is 27?  3 to the 3rd power (3 x 3 x 3).  
(Also there are 3 letters in New and 9 in Testament so 3×9 = 27)

Monday, September 09, 2013

Holy Infographics


The Guardian (oddly enough) has an interesting collection of attempts to present aspects of the Bible in visual form (here). My favourite is the picture above of biblical cross-references. Here is the description:

This is about how the bible speaks to itself - or the textual cross-references within it. The bar graph that runs along the bottom represents all of the chapters in the Bible. Books alternate between white and light gray and the length of each bar denotes the number of verses in the chapter. Each of the 63,779 cross references found in the Bible is depicted by a single arc - the color corresponds to the distance between the two chapters, creating a rainbow-like effect.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Another TC Discussion List ...

Today, as I received an invitation to join another discussion group for New Testament textual criticism, I was reminded about an old blogpost I wrote here six years ago (how long have I been blogging here?; the years go by) about the many discussion lists for NT textual criticism, "TC Discussion List Inflation?"

I then listed three TC discussion lists started after the original TC list (founded by Jimmy Adair and Tim Finney) had died out:

Textual criticism, founded April 23, 2004
496 members; 23 messages in Dec 2007
Excerpts from the description: posts must be on-topic. contributors should be familiar with the contents of the web pages given in the Links section; moderated by Wieland Willker

This list is still operating and I subscribe to it. There are 742 members. I note that many renowned scholars post here from time to time. However, mostly I don't read the many endless discussions over various topics.

TC-Alternate-list founded July 31, 2006
51 members; 51 messages in Dec 2007
Excerpt from the description: for people with a wider set of views; less formal atmosphere; "more freedom to discuss many related issues of interest (theology, doctrine, humour, politics); anonymity allowed; credentials not required or desired.

This group is still operating and it has 130 members. I am not one of them.

83 members; 90 messages in Dec 2007
Excerpt from the description: as little moderation as possible; discussion of the King James Version Only (or TR Only) viewpoint not tolerated; Each list member should be identified by given and last name

This group is also operating (low activity) and has 142 members.

And, today I received an invitation to yet another discussion group:
You are invited to join the discussion-group NewTestamentTextualCriticism. The Yahoo groups Textualcriticism and TC-Alternate have been rendered difficult to use, thanks to a recent redesign of Yahoo Groups' format. This Google Groups discussion-forum will promote well-organized discussions, as well as the sharing of news (related to the main subject), files, links, and images. James Snapp, Jr. is the moderator of this group.

About this group:
A forum dedicated mainly to the analysis of textual variants in witnesses to the text of the New Testament, with the goals of reconstructing the original text, increasing the confidence of such reconstruction, and tracing the history of the text's transmission.
 I will not join this group – participation in one discussion group is quite enough for me. Further, I assume that to a large extent there is an overlap so that some folks are members of several such groups.