Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Three year postdoc at INTF, Münster

Postdoc, NT Textual History
The American Bible Society and the German Bible Society are awarding a post-doc research assistant at the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Münster, Germany. The fellowship covers a period of 36 months, a fixed three-year appointment, beginning 1 July 2014.  

Tasks and Responsibilities
‧Transcribing Manuscripts and Reconciling Multiple Transcriptions
‧Constructing the Critical Apparatus for NTTranscripts
‧Indexing Manuscript Images for NT.VMR
‧Participating with the Editorial Committee in Preparing the GNT6 and the NA29, including Redesigning the Apparatuses  

‧Advanced Knowledge of Greek and Latin, basic knowledge of Greek palaeography, ability to comprehend a complex critical apparatus, and knowledge of the principles of New Testament textual criticism.
‧Ph.D. in New Testament studies, focusing on or including text-criticism.
‧Reading knowledge of German is required, with an aptitude to acquire conversational usage. INTF staff speak English, but internal discussion is often conducted in German.  

Applicants should submit a cover letter, CV, and transcripts (official or unofficial), via email to INTFsearch@sbl-site.org, with the subject line INTF Fellowship Search. Three current letters of recommendation should be sent to the same email address, directly from those serving as references. Completed applications must be received by 15 February 2014. Interviews begin in late March at the Luce Center in Atlanta. Review of applications will continue until the position is filled.

[Abbreviated, see full posting @ AAR-SBL jobs]

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Old Testament in the New

There are a few PhDs waiting to be written on how New Testament manuscripts refer back to the Old Testament. At times they do a marvellous job. Have a look here at the margin of minuscule 1739 at Gal 3:12 (I was there because I had to check 3:13 οτι γεγραπται - γεγραπται γαρ).

Full image
The reference for ο ποιησας αυτα ανθρωπος ζησεται εν αυτοις is given as 'Deuteronomy and Ezekiel'. Of course this leaves out the exact citation as in Leviticus 18:5, but when it comes to Ezekiel, it is spot on. In this book the notion that 'someone will live' because he walks in the statutes is quite pervasive (chs 18, 20, 33). Well done, Ephraem!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

‘Recent Discussions of Dating New Testament Papyri: Some Observations’


Here is the bibliography/handout for my presentation at tomorrow's conference: Day Conference inPapyrology and Early Christianity/Biblical Studies (11.12.13)

C.P. Thiede, ‘Papyrus Magdalen Greek 17 (Gregory-Aland P64): A Reappraisal’ ZPE 105 (1995), 13-20. Republished in Tyndale Bulletin 46 (1995), 29-42.
Peter M. Head, ‘The Date of the Magdalen Papyrus of Matthew (P. Magd. Gr. 17 = P64): A Response to C. P. Thiede’ Tyndale Bulletin 46 (1995), 251-285.
P.M. Head, ‘Is P4, P64 and P67 the Oldest Manuscript of the Four Gospels? A Response to T.C. Skeat’ New Testament Studies 51 (2005) 450-457
P.M. Head, ‘Graham Stanton and the Four-Gospel Codex: Reconsidering the Manuscript Evidence’ Jesus, Matthew’s Gospel and Early Christianity: Studies in Memory of Graham N. Stanton (eds D.M. Gurtner; J. Willits, & R.A. Burridge, LNTS 435; London: T&T Clark, 2011), 93-101.

P.W. Comfort & D.P. Barrett, The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999).
P.W. Comfort & D.P. Barrett, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts: The complete text of the earliest New Testament manuscripts (2nd edn. corrected and enlarged; Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001).

Brent Nongbri, ‘The Use and Abuse of P52: Papyrological Pitfalls in the Dating of the Fourth Gospel’ Harvard Theological Review 98 (2005), 23-48.
B. Nongbri, ‘Grenfell and Hunt on the Dates of Early Christian Codices: Setting the Record Straight’ Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 48 (2011), 149-162.

K. Jaroš (ed.), Das Neue Testament nach den ältesten griechischen Handschriften: Die handschriftliche Überlieferung des Neuen Testaments vor Codex Sinaiticus und Codex Vaticanus  (Ruhpolding & Mainz: Verlag Franz Philipp Rutzen; Vienna & Würzburg: Echter, 2006): CD with 5163 pages (pdf).
K. Jaroš, ‘Ein Fragment des Lukasevangeliums aus der Privatsammlung De Hamel in Cambridge: Gk MS 386’ Aegyptus 88 (2008), 19-23.
P.M. Head, ‘A Newly Discovered Manuscript of Luke’s Gospel (de Hamel MS 386; Gregory-Aland 0312)’ in New Testament Manuscripts: Their Texts and Their World (eds Thomas J. Kraus & Tobias Nicklas; Texts and Editions for New Testament Study 2; Leiden: E.J. Brill; 2006), 105-120.
P.M. Head, Five New Testament Manuscripts: Recently Discovered Fragments in a Private Collection in CambridgeJournal of Theological Studies 59 (2008), 520-545.

Roger S. Bagnall, Early Christian Books in Egypt (Princeton: PUP, 2009).
R.S. Bagnall (ed), The Oxford Handbook of Papyrology (Oxford: OUP, 2009).

Don Barker, ‘The Dating of New Testament Papyri’ New Testament Studies 57 (2011), 571-582.
D.[C.] Barker, ‘Codex, Roll, and Libraries in Oxyrhynchus’ Tyndale Bulletin 57 (2006), 131-148.

Pasquale Orsini & Willy Clarysse, ‘Early New Testament Manuscripts and Their Dates:  A Critique of Theological Palaeography’ Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses 88 (2012), 443-74. 

Monday, December 09, 2013

Polonsky Foundation Digitization Project – (Vatican and Bodleian Libraries)

Three years ago (March, 2010), we reported on this blog about a major project to digitize 80000 Vatican MSS.  Although the announced project was divided into various phases, there seems to have been some delay. And in 2012 the Vatican began to co-operate with the Oxford University Bodleian Library in a four-year project – Polonsky Foundation Digitization Project – "to digitize some of the most important works in their collections of Hebrew manuscripts, Greek manuscripts and early printed books." As the name implies, the project, which aims to democratize access to information, is funded by the Polonsky Foundation.

A few days ago NBC News (AP) could report that the first MSS were now put on-line, among which are "the two-volume Gutenberg Bibles from each of the libraries, an illustrated 11th century Greek bible [LXX] and a beautiful 15th-century German bible, hand-colored and illustrated by woodcuts." (HT: Jac Perrin)

Of special interest among the digitized items are MS. Laud Gr. 35 (Greg.-Aland E 08) – the "Laudian Acts" accessible here.

Friday, December 06, 2013

SBL S25-324: Papyrology and Early Christian Backgrounds

This session took place on Monday afternoon (I am working backwards through my "notes"). I think it had some problems at the outset. Firstly, although there is some allowable, necessary and fertile overlap between the fields, three out of five of the papers were very clearly related more closely to NT textual criticism and history than to anything that could be called papyrology (which should have the study of the actual papyrological evidence as something of a foundational expectation). Secondly, no visuals! Only Don Barker provided images. Of the four later presenters one had a handout and one other had a powerpoint but mostly in presentational terms they were pretty pedestrian. Of course all can be forgiven if the content is good. Thirdly, as far as I could tell, four of the five were students.

Don Barker, Macquarie University: Dating P. Ant 12: What Your Mother Never Told You (30 min)
I am not sure what the sub-title was about, I guess it was connected to Don's attempted joke about "dating". Notwithstanding that this was a helpful presentation by Don Barker, with typically good visuals, of the date of P.Ant.1.12 - something that has been contested over the years. It was interesting to hear Don argue for an earlier date (III/IV with Turner [PMH up-date]) than Mike Kruger's recent NTS article; but the palaeographical basis seemed slim, and Don's attempt to distinguish the core 'graphic stream' from the actual writing practice (although it helped to clarify what he seems to be arguing in his recent NTS article) struck me as fundamentally wrong-headed (as I pointed out in my gentle questions). At one point he made the interesting observation that the lack of parallels to this style may suggest it was produced outside of Egypt.

Benjamin Laird, University of Aberdeen: The Emergence of the Codex and the Formation of the Pauline Corpus (30 min)
I am sorry that I can't recall much about this paper. I don't recall much new in it, most of it seemed a reasonably plausible discussion along the lines of Gamble on the codex and the Pauline Corpus, without actually presenting much in the way of actual evidence (certainly nothing papyrological was involved).

Joel D. Estes, Princeton Theological Seminary: Reading for the Spirit of the Text: Nomina Sacra and Pneuma Language in P46 (30 min)
This presentation was based on a usefully thorough study of every reference to pneuma in P46 and whether or not it was contracted as a nomen sacrum. The handout was helpfully full and the basis data looked OK. It seemed to me that the data was rather over-interpreted, firstly through presuming that one could easily distinguish when Paul meant to signify the divine Spirit and when he didn't; and then by over-interpreting the scribal inconsistency as reflecting "a wider ambiguity in early Christian communities about the person and work of the Holy Spirit"; and then by mis-understanding where scribal practice eventually gravitated to in relation to pneuma.

Timothy J. Christian, Asbury Theological Seminary: P46 Tendencies in 2 Corinthians: A Critical Examination of the Oldest and Most Inconsistent Extant Papyrus of the Pauline Corpus (30 min)
This was a confident presentation which turned out to be over-confident where a bit of humility was called for. The so-called critical examination turned out to be a study of P46 in NA27 and its apparatus. Claiming not to have read the relevant secondary literature on the subject (one part of the presentation I could agree with) Mr Christian proceeded to analyse singular readings in P46 which agreed with two, three, four or even five other witnesses (his chart of the agreements in singular readings between P46 and other witnesses brought gasps of disbelief from the audience). He critiqued Kenyon's analysis because it was based on a comparison with such an old and out-dated work as Tischendorf's 1869 edition (not to mention that Kenyon had based his discussion on actually studying the old papyrus rather than simply seeing what one could find in NA27). Basically a bit of a disaster. One hopes he learns from the experience ...

David I. Yoon, McMaster Divinity College: Letters of Recommendation: A Literary Analysis of the Documentary Papyri and Its Relation to the Corinthians (30 min)
This is an interesting topic (indeed the only paper I could find in the whole SBL conference on epistolary issues related to the epistolary practices of the ancient world), but the argument didn't really get very far and the delivery was a bit too monotone. After an overly long introduction (addressing the rather self-evident notion that we should not start from contemporary letters of recommendation in academic contexts) Mr Yoon had only time to read a single ancient letter of recommendation (he didn't give us a reference); he then read out a letter of recommendation from Christ that he had composed as a way of illustrating 2 Cor 3.1-2. But the analysis of the ancient letter of recommendation was not too strong and in question-time he didn't seem to have given enough thought to what is actually said in 2 Cor 3.1-3. A missed opportunity.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Day Conference at Tyndale House next week


Day Conference in Papyrology and Early Christianity/Biblical Studies

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tyndale House is pleased to host a second day conference featuring research papers on a variety of topics connecting papyrology and Biblical studies and reading seminars for those who want to learn more about reading Greek texts on papyrus. All are welcome (some knowledge of Greek is recommended!), for the whole day or particular sessions.


9:00 Arrive and Coffee

9:25 -10:15: Jim Aitken (Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge), ‘Translated Greek papyri’

10:20-11:10: Patrick James (Faculty of Classics, Cambridge), ‘Re-editing P. Oxy 528: A cautionary tale


11:40-12:30: Peter M. Head (Tyndale House & St Edmund’s College, Cambridge), ‘Recent Discussions of Dating New Testament Papyri: Some Observations’

LUNCH (provided – free if RSVP)

2:00-3:20: Reading seminar in documentary texts


3:40 – 5:00: Reading seminar in literary texts

If you want lunch please RSVP to Peter Head (pmh15@cam.ac.uk)

Tyndale House, 36 Selwyn Gardens, Cambridge, CB3 9BA
Location link here: http://www.tyndale.cam.ac.uk/index.php?page=travel

Hill and Kruger Respond to Parker's Review of The Early Text of the NT

Recently I responded in a blogpost (here) to a review by David Parker in JTS of the volume The Early Text of the New Testament (eds. Hill and Kruger; OUP, 2012). In the review I expressed the assumption that the editors Charles E. Hill and Michael J. Kruger would respond somewhere else, and speak for the whole volume and for their introductory chapter.
Now inedeed the editors have written a long response on Kruger's blog. I will only cite their conclusion:
In sum, we appreciate Parker’s prompt engagement with ETNT so soon after its publication.  While no book is beyond criticism, many of Parker’s specific criticisms stem from a misunderstanding of the scope of this project and its purpose.  It is our hope that the clarifications we have offered here will help address some of these misunderstandings and allow for more productive dialogue on these important issues.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

SBL: The Public Reading of Texts in Early Christianity

I will start my posts about SBL with the last day. After a visit to the hotel gym I was at the door of the bookroom for the 8AM rush. I managed to snag the display copy of New Documents 10 and picked up some other books before heading over to room 347 (via my secret short cut) for the joint session between NT Textual Criticism and the Bible in Ancient and Modern Media. The line up was as follows:

Dan Nässelqvist, Lund University: Public Reading from Early Christian Manuscripts (25 min)
This was a useful general overview of some features in early Christian manuscripts (e.g. codex format, staurogram, nomina sacra, handwriting, and lectional signs). He didn't think these were really "readers' aids" but more to facilitate private study, partly since it would have been very difficult to give a public reading. For public reading a "trained lector" would be necessary. Larry Hurtado pointed out that the distinction between private study and public reading may not be that significant since we should probably think of the lector first engaging in preparatory private study so as to give a competent public reading. 

Michael Holmes, Bethel University (Minnesota): Creation, Transmission, Collection: Reflections on the Textual History of the Pauline Corpus (25 min)
This was a useful presentation of different views of the formation of the Pauline corpus (O'Neil, Zuntz, Porter), showing how on any view we need to factor in issues of creation, transmission, and collection rather than treat them in isolation. It didn't really make an argument for one of the views (unless I misunderstood!). 

Scott Charlesworth, Pacific Adventist University: The 'Public' Features of Second- and Second/Third-Century Canonical Gospel Papyri (25 min)
Along with a massive useful handout (and with reference to his still forthcoming monograph) this paper made the argument that we could identify those gospel manuscripts that were produced with a view to public reading by shared common characteristics in terms of size (of page), type of hand, and the presence of text division (and/or punctuation). By contrast manuscripts lacking more or less uniform size, written in informal hands and lacking text division should be regarded as produced for private reading. On the positive point I found it quite convincing, although I made the point that it might be better to categorise this as a spectrum rather than a binary division.

David Trobisch, American Bible Society: Is There a Text of the New Testament? (25 min)
This began with a "performance" of the passage about the woman caught in adultery, followed by a parallel interpretive performance about two gay men caught in their adultery (after which not they but the audience was told to go and sin to more). Then it was suggested that this could be applied to priests caught having sex with minors. Surely the most striking opening to any presentation at SBL, brave and blatantly manipulative at the same time. Anyway, this was an illustration of the idea that there isn't really an original text (illustrated with a characteristically excellent powerpoint type presentation showing some of the complexities involved in edition the Greek NT). I guess it was helpful in showing some of the issues at stake in the idea of the original text (and how ethical relativism can be connected with textual criticism of a certain sort), and where the American Bible Society seems to be heading. 

Perttu Nikander, University of Helsinki: Orality, Writing, and Textual History of the Didache (25 min)
This looked interesting, but I was only able to grab a handout before heading out, via the bookroom, to lunch with a friend. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Bay Psalm Book

A copy of the first book known to have been printed in America - an English translation of the Psalms published in 1640) was sold at auction for $12,500,000 (plus extras). Highlights of the auction and a report here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

First impressions of David Trobisch's User's Guide to Nestle-Aland 28

There is something about 'first impressions'. The first pages will determine how critically and sympathetically I will read the remainder of the book, how prepared I am to take the author on trust, and to what extent I am prepared to recommend the book to others. Before I say anything else (and I will say quite a lot of 'else'), Trobisch is a great educator and has wonderful pedagogical skills (and in addition he is very likeable, but that may be a general characteristic of manuscript folk). However, I am a little concerned about this User's Guide (great idea, by the way), well mainly about section 1.1, the very first section. And it almost puts me off recommending the book.


Because first impressions matter—a lot.
Perhaps you remember that picture of that Scandinavian social scientist swimming in a lake with a gaggle of little goslings following him. What he had done (if my memory serves me well), was to make sure that the poor creatures saw his face as the very first thing in their life once they had hatched and were imprinted accordingly to regard him as their parent.
The first couple of pages someone will read on textual criticism may function in much the same way, getting an impression of some of the basic issues which will then subsequently take a life time to get rid of. And the first couple of pages of this book are a problem.

So, let's start with a slightly flippant remark on the first sentence of the first paragraph.
'Between 5,500 and 6,000 handwritten copies with text from the New Testament are known today ...'
As it stands, this sentence is of course plain wrong as the number of handwritten copies with text from the NT is much, much higher. There are documents with text from the NT in Greek, Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Georgian, and, more recently, in Dutch, English, German, Swahili, Cantonese, and hundreds of other tongues. In all these languages there are handwritten documents with text from the New Testament in the form of citations in a letter, a manuscript sent to a publisher, a wish-you-well card to a sick granny, etc. etc. So this can't be the meaning of the sentence.
I am quite sure that, as willing and cooperative readers, we are supposed to read this in light of the section heading 'The History of Transmission of the Greek New Testament'. But let's continue and see whether there is any systemic sloppiness.

Sentence 2:
'There is hardly a sentence of the New Testament that has the exact same wording in each of these exemplars.'

Here the real problems start. Firstly, 'hardly a sentence'. This is of course not true. It should be 'not a single sentence'. Why? Because almost all of these 5,500 to 6,000 copies contain only a part of the New Testament - different parts of the New Testament. Regardless of any amount of textual variation (or number of issued editions; see below for this awkward term), it is simply impossible for a single sentence to appear in 'each of these' copies. There is not even a single book of the New Testament that appears in 'each of these' manuscripts. It is impossible that a sentence can have the same wording in each of these manuscripts because the content of these documents do not overlap.

Which brings us to the second problem in this sentence. What does Trobisch mean with 'exemplar'? The normal meaning of this term in the field of textual criticism is something like the source from which another manuscript is copied. But let's face it, many of the 6,000 or so manuscripts have never functioned as exemplar within the chain of transmission (or so it seems, at least). Unnecessarily awkward use of terminology.

Sentence 3:

A sentence of just three letters, raising the expectation that we are going to get an answer on why there are hardly any manuscripts (not 'exemplars'; I am including my own improvements of the argument as we go along) that have the exact same wording in a single sentence. Well, the answer is not given in the next sentence, which comes across as the accidental remainder of an unfinished editorial process ('Most writings of the Greek Old Testament are based on old translations from Hebrew.') But what comes across in the next three paragraphs, and is confirmed by the first sentence of paragraph 5 (on page 2) is that Trobisch's first explanation for textual variation is this, 'Editorial changes are not the only explanation for the wealth of text variations.' Come on, David. I know you like the word 'edition' and its cognates in your scholarly work (and have used them to raise excellent points), but now you are pushing it a bit too far. You cannot seriously mean that editorial changes are the first or main reason why 'there is hardly a sentence ... that has the same wording'.

First impressions matter ...

Oops, I am on 700 words already and should stop by now. But I was interested to learn in the fourth paragraph that several distinct Byzantine editions from between the eighth and fifteenth centuries had been identified. Since this is a user's guide to Nestle-Aland 28 (you see, I do try to read things in context), it would be nice to find these referred to in that edition. Well, this proves to be tricky. Admittedly, in Revelation we find two Byzantine 'editions' (M-koine and M-Andrew), and with a stretch of the imagination we might force families 1 and 13 in the gospels into this category, but that is where the range of possibilities is exhausted. Perhaps I should not read this information about Byzantine editions in context then.

Finally, in the part intended for scholars, Trobisch introduces us to the Coherence Based Genealogical Method - and gets it quite wrong. [Edited: There is actually not that much shame in getting it wrong; I am struggling myself all the time. DJ] On page 53, we are informed that 'a basic insight of the CBGM is that the initial text is best understood as a virtual text'. I would say that this is no different than any eclectic would claim, but here it comes: 'Consequently, a stemma of manuscripts must occasionally allow room for postulated manuscripts that have been lost and that have influenced other manuscripts. These virtual witnesses should be treated with the same validity as existing manuscripts.' Ouch, the CBGM actually wants to do away with hypothetical postulated nodes in a manuscript tree, unlike the classical approach.[Edited: Initially I was unreasonably harsh; DJ]. Tommy thinks he understands how and why David Trobisch has misread the CBGM. Maybe he can explain in the comments.

All in all, in the first few pages contain some fundamental flaws. But things get better after that. If you are going to use this in class, make sure that you won't let your students read the first pages as their first intro ever to the Greek text and burden them with a wrong impression for the rest of their life. First impressions matter.
But in true Trobisch terminology, perhaps we will get a new version, a next edition. Because the first impression of this work is misleading. The book is actually better than the first impression suggests, much better.

Friday, November 22, 2013

SBL Supersale on The Epistle of Jude: Its Text and Transmission

The Epistle of JudeThe SBL Annual Meeting is at hand. I will fly to Baltimore today. At the meeting (only) Andrew Knapp of Eisenbrauns will run a special sale on my monograph, The Epistle of Jude: Its Text and Transmission. My book is on display and sells for $20 (list price $83). I will gladly sign a copy if you run into me.

The Epistle of Jude
Its Text and Transmission
Coniectanea Biblica New Testament Series - CBNTS 43
by Tommy Wasserman
Almqvist and Wiksell, 2006
xv + 368 pages + XVI plates, English
ISBN: 9789122021599
List Price: $83..35
Your Price at SBL: $20.00

Extract from Paul Foster's review in ExpT:

"Very few doctoral studies can claim to be magisterial, however, Wasserman’s study rightly deserves such a title. He presents an exhaustive study of the manuscript tradition of the Epistle of Jude. What this means in practice is assembling and collating the readings from 560 Greek manuscripts of this letter. The evidence is drawn from familiar papyrus and uncial texts, but the ground-breaking aspect is the integration of evidence from hundreds of minuscule manuscripts and lectionaries."—Paul Foster, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh in Expository Times, (2007) 118.

For a full description and extract from more reviews, see here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pericope Adulterae Symposium at SEBTS

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) will host a Pericope Adulterae Symposium in honor of Maurice Robinson in April 25-26 2014 and I am one of the invited speakers. Here is the announcement from the conference webpage: