Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Codex Climaci Rescriptus contains Aratus and Eratosthenes

We've partially cracked the previously undeciphered 20 sides of Codex Climaci Rescriptus. They contain astronomical texts by Aratus and Eratosthenes. In the case of the latter this is the earliest known manuscript.

See further DeMoss press release.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ancient Textual Scholarship: Pseudo Aelius Herodianus

The Partitiones contains orthographical and inflectional observations on Greek. A number of these words appear to come from the Greek Bible, both Old and New Testament, though the work in itself does not betray any ecclesiastical Christian connection. Under the initial syllable /i/, for example, the entry ιησους is glossed rather simplistically, as ο θεος. The work is ascribed to Aelius Herodianus (II AD), but apparently falsely so, according to the Neue Pauly. The Pinakes website lists his work under Herodianus Alexandrinus (also II AD), but I haven't seen any justification for this. A date of this work with its New Testament terms somewhere in the second century AD would be nice, but it is inherently unlikely that the writings of the New Testament (including Mark - Boanerges is mentioned) already had drawn attention from any grammarian. My own rule of thumb for dating anything is that if I don't have a clue it is likely to be fourth of fifth century AD.

Secondary literature on authorship, date or nature of the work seems absent (or at least I haven't found it; any help appreciated).

The Partitiones are potentially interesting because of some of the glosses and particular spellings, though these may have been influenced by liturgical influences or Byzantine linguistic updating. The explanation for Moses, μωσης is that it derives from μως (88.6), an explanation that would not work with the spelling μωυσης:
μῶς, τὸ ὕδωρ, ὅθεν καὶ Μωσῆς, κύριον.

There is clearly a relation with what Micheal Psellus (XI AD) writes:
53, 255-256
παρ' Αἰγυπτίοις γὰρ τὸ ‘μῶς’ ὕδωρ ἐστὶ σημαῖνον,
ὁ δὲ ληφθεὶς ἐξ ὕδατος Μωσῆς αὐτοῖς καλεῖται.

And possibly also with this passage from Joannes Zonaras (XII AD):
ἡ δέ “κάλεσον” ἔφη. καὶ παρήγαγε τὴν μητέρα, καὶ ἡ Θέρμουθις τὴν τοῦ παιδὸς τροφὴν ἔμμισθον αὐτῇ ἀνατίθησι, καὶ ἐκ τοῦ συμβεβηκότος ὀνομάζει αὐτό. τὸ γὰρ ὕδωρ μῶς καλοῦσιν Αἰγύπτιοι, ὑσῆς δὲ τοὺς σωθέντας ἐξ ὕδατος· ἄμφω γοῦν συνθεῖσα τὰ ῥήματα εἰς κλῆσιν αὐτοῖς τοῦ βρέφους ἐχρήσατο.

See also the spelling of Bethphage (accentuation as in TLG):
Πᾶσα λέξις ἀπὸ τῆς βη συλλαβῆς ἀρχομένη διὰ τοῦ η γράφεται· οἷον· Βηθλεὲμ, καὶ Βηθανία, Βηθεσδὰ, Βηθσαϊδὰ, καὶ Βηθσφαγὴ, ὀνόματα τόπων ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις·

The spelling Bethsphage is interesting and common in the later manuscript tradition. But is this an adaption, is there variation within the tradition of the Partitiones, or what? It seems that without a critical edition of the Partitiones and a good study on the contents there is little we can do as yet.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Review of The Story of the Bodmer Papyri

My review of James M. Robinson, The Story of the Bodmer Papyri: From the First Monastery's Library in Upper Egypt to Geneva and Dublin (Cambridge: James Clarke, 2013; ISBN 9780227172780) has been published in Review of Biblical Literature:

The conclusion of the review:
Stories of manuscript discoveries are always exciting, and this account of one of the most valuable treasure troves of biblical and other manuscripts is no exception. In my opinion, Robinson convincingly establishes the connection between manuscripts in the Bodmer and Chester Beatty libraries as well as a number of other collections, primarily Mississippi, Cologne, and Barcelona. Although Robinson’s investigations in Egypt are likely to be influenced by rumors and exaggeration and the exact extent of the “Dishnā Papers” is impossible to establish, his main proposal of a common discovery is thoroughly backed up with documentation and hard evidence from the manuscripts themselves.

On the other hand, the book is poorly edited and betrays many traces of several layers of revision and scattered updates, not only by Robinson, who “composed the book two decades ago” from several earlier publications and new material, but, more recently, also by K. C. Hanson, who edited and published the book (vii). The resulting unevenness is all the more annoying in a book that presents the reader with many names, dates, and details about the manuscripts, which are repeated back and forth, sometimes with variation, which creates confusion.

For example, we are told in the introduction (6) that the Vatican Library was given P. Bodmer XIV–XV (P75) in 2007, a piece of information that may give the reader a sense that the book is brought up to date. In the next sentence, another manuscript is mentioned, “the Savery Codex (then the Crosby Codex of the University of Mississippi),”
 Read the whole review here.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

An Amulet Referring to the Last Supper in John Rylands Library

The Daily Mail reports today (September 3rd, 2014) that Dr. Roberta Mazza, Research Fellow of the John Rylands Research Institute at the University of Manchester, recently made a significant re-discovery in the vaults of John Rylands Library. She found a papyrus amulet from Egypt dated to the sixth century. The apotropaic text was written on re-cycled papyrus (traces of a grain tax receipt have been identified on the reverse side with multispectral imaging). The amulet contains biblical passages from Psalm 78:23-24 and Matthew 26:28-30 and others. The text includes:
Our God prepared a sacred table in the desert for the people and gave manna of the new covenant to eat, the Lord’s immortal body and the blood of Christ poured for us in remission of sins.
The news story claims that this is the first example of an amulet referring to the Christian Eucharist in the context of (apotropaic) magic, which I assume is correct. However, several other statements are erroneous (as usual when things get in the media), for example:
The papyrus contains some of the earliest documented references to The Last Supper.
It is also one of the first recorded documents to use magic in the Christian context.
Some Christians still use passages from the Bible as protective charms, so the amulet marks the beginning of a trend in Christianity [my italics].
An image of the amulet is available here.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

A variant unique to cited text

When a substantial chunk of the Bible is cited in some ancient work and within the manuscript tradition of this work new variants happen, do they count for anything? Well, at the very least they give us another fresh set of stuff to study.
Take this example from Kosmas Indikopleustes, citing Acts 17:26, εποιησεν τε εξ ενος παν εθνος ανθρωπων (He made out of one the whole human race):

The last word on line 2 is εποιησε, line 3 continues with τε εξ αιωνος παν εθνος αν̅ων (He made from eternity the whole human race). ενος (of one) and αιωνος (of eternity) differ phonetically only in the added syllable /o/ in the latter. Phonetics made the error easier, context did as well: the whole of the context is devoted to arguing that heaven is 'eternal'.

Image is from Plut. IX.28, but there is also another Kosmas manuscript with the identical error. Until we find a Greek biblical manuscript with this variant, most of us will never see this one again (except for the poor student who is going to study the text of Kosmas's bible - any takers?)

Monday, September 01, 2014

Doodling in New Testament manuscripts: 0189

Whilst preparing the slides for my paper at the BNTC conference for this coming Friday, I was delighted to find the oldest manuscript of Acts GA 0189 online. Normally I have some inkling of what is happening on a manuscript page, but what is happening in the upper margin on the recto (left of the page number) stumps me.

My best guess so far is that it is a dog with sunglasses.

Is there anyone with a more reasonable suggestion?