Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lunn on the End of Mark. Part 3

For the introduction to this book and review series, see my previous posts: Part 1, Part 2.
N.P. Lunn, The Original Ending of Mark: A New Case for the Authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2014).

Ch. 2 External Evidence (1): Biblical Manuscripts

Broadly speaking, in this chapter, Lunn argues that the absence of 16.9-20 is ‘a fairly localized textual variant which had no earlier explicit witness before the fourth century’. Of course, the latter is true, but the question of localisation is rather more complicated and not adequately addressed. The impression throughout the whole chapter is that Lunn’s knowledge of the actual manuscripts is mediated almost totally through other secondary literature. On a couple of points this becomes very problematic. I am not going to be able to address every point in this chapter, but I will try to touch on the main points.

An initial problem is that although Lunn notes and lists five alternative ending forms for Mark (p. 22), he declines to address three of these (the Freer interpolation, the shorter ending on its own, the shorter ending with the longer ending) on the grounds that they are obviously not the original ending of Mark (p. 23). This is true, but they all are of value in illustrating the history of the textual tradition. Just to take one example, L 019 (image here from VMR), it is clear that no one could read this manuscript without thinking there were some problems here with the ending of Mark. And the manuscripts which preserve both the short ending and the long ending may plausibly be regarded as a witness to the shorter form of the text in the prior transmission history of these texts. But none of this is even mentioned - attempts to simplify a complex situation are not always reasonable. It is interesting that in the conclusion to the chapter Lunn writes ‘the textual issue relating to the end of Mark does not have the complexity which it is often claimed to have’ (p. 60), but this is because he has imposed a simplicity by not really listening to all the relevant data.

In relation to the external witnesses supporting the inclusion of 16.9-20 Lunn rightly notes, what everyone knows, that the numerical advantage is overwhelmingly with Greek manuscripts, versions, and Fathers attesting these verses (p. 24f).

In relation to Codex Vaticanus, Lunn barely notices the actual ending of Mark, urging that ‘the phenomenon most relevant regarding the ending of Mark in Vaticanus is the presence of a blank column following the close of this Gospel’ (p. 28). This is clearly wrong. The phenomenon most relevant regarding the ending of Mark in Vaticanus is the absolutely clear ending of the text at 16.8. Of course the blank column is interesting and unusual and intriguing, but the confidence with which a blank space is interpreted in the direction of the overall thesis, is unwarranted.We shall see throughout the book that ambiguities and absences are always interpreted, without sufficient rigour, in support of the overall thesis.

In relation to Codex Sinaiticus, Lunn suggests (following Williams) that the particular form of the wavy coronis at the end of Mark suggests that the since the scribe so definitely wanted to indicate that the gospel of Mark was finished that he must have known about the long ending. Here is a hermeneutic of suspicion indeed. It makes no sense to over-interpret blank spaces and scribal doodles.

So both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus should be taken as witnesses for ‘the prior existence of the longer ending’ (p. 33) - although why it should be 16.9-20 is not made clear. 

In relation to the numerous minuscule manuscripts which include either a marginal note, or a heading, or in some other way indicates that 16.9-20 are disputed or doubtful, Lunn takes the view that while these notes acknowledge the existence of earlier witnesses lacking 16.9-20, by and large they affirm the text, and so copy it. There is a place for a detailed study of these, but this isn’t it, and Lunn hasn’t done any first hand work on the manuscripts (Snapp is far better on this). I limit myself to two comments. Firstly, that Lunn does not, in my opinion, give a balanced presentation of the whole of the evidence, e.g. re ms 1: it is hardly fair to call its introduction to 16.9-20 ‘a marginal note’; nor can it be true that ‘nothing suggests spuriousness’, since it explicitly appeals to the support of Eusebius and to other manuscripts for the gospel as having ended at v8. For an image try here. Secondly, Lunn lacks nuance in interpreting the notes and signs that do exist (it is interesting to see him dispute the clarity of interpreting an obelus on the grounds of lack of explicit indication of what the sign meant - something that hadn’t hindered his interpretation of the end of Mark in Sinaiticus!). The larger point is that these manuscripts (and as well L PSI 099 0112 etc. which have the short and long ending) resist the conclusion that Lunn is aiming for - that the absence of 16.9-20 is an isolated and idiosyncratic textual tradition. They also show that simply to say that 16.9-20 is attested in a manuscript, is not the same thing as saying that 16.9-20 is presented as unambiguously the ending of Mark in continuity with 16.8.

In relation to the Versions Lunn obviously has to cope with the problem that the oldest Old Latin manuscript, the oldest Syriac manuscript, the oldest Sahidic manuscript, alongside the oldest Armenian and Georgian manuscripts all lack 16.9-20. His general view is simply to contrast in each case the one earliest witness with the many others, admit that there is a problem, and move on.

In general, throughout the chapter, the argument is basically a discussion of the way other secondary sources discuss the primary evidence. The conclusion, that Vaticanus and Sinaiticus stand isolated, is not sustained by the argument.

Accessing Elliott’s Bibliography (3rd ed.) Online

In a comment that, for some inexplicable reason, did not appear in the sidebar, Hugh Houghton has given details about how to access Elliott’s bibliography of GNT manuscripts online. Unfortunately the process is laborious, but it will save you a lot of cash (or quid).

Here are Hugh’s instructions (I’ve added the numbers):
  1. Go to
  2. Select the Recherche thésaurus tab [NB: there is an English option in the top right of the page]
  3. Click on the ‘+’ symbol next to Thésaurus BiBIL
  4. Click on the ‘+’ symbol next to Nouveau Testament (Problèmes d’Introduction)
  5. Click on the ‘+’ symbol next to Critique textuelle du Nouveau Testament
  6. Click on the ‘+’ symbol next to Textes grecs
  7. Click on the ‘+’ symbol next to Manuscrits
  8. Click on the ‘+’ symbol next to the category of manuscript (Papyrus, Majuscule, Minuscules, Lectionaries)
  9. Click on the ‘+’ symbol next to the range of Gregory-Aland numbers
  10. Click on the Gregory-Aland number of the manuscript itself, so that it is highlighted.
  11. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on ‘Rechercher’
  12. Below this will now appear a list of publications corresponding to those in the third edition of Elliott’s bibliography.
  13. Clicking on the title of any of these will open up the full entry, which sometimes includes links to online versions of these publications.
Hugh also adds:
Now, if a programmer could devise an interface which enables users simply to enter a Gregory-Aland number and be taken directly to the bibliography of that manuscript, they will spare textual critics from wearing out the mouse on their computers through constant clicking! I imagine it would also increase traffic to the site: at the minute, the bibliography on the online Kurzgefasste Liste is far easier to access.
I also found that searching from higher levels up the category tree gives you results as well. So you can select ‘Manuscrits’ and then click search and it will give you what I assume is everything in Elliott’s Bibliography. The system says there are 1,100 results when I do that. If you were really enterprising, you could then check all the boxes and download these into your bibliography software.

Speaking of Elliott, Hugh has alerted me to the pre-pub version of his NovT review of the book which you can download here. I’ll take the liberty of clipping the conclusion for you:
As it stands, this third edition serves as a reminder, if any is needed, that the transition from print to digital (and back again) is rarely smooth. Nevertheless, all involved should be congratulated on the accomplishment of this major change in format: with a few adjustments and regular updating, this Bibliography will continue to guide students and scholars through the ever-growing literature on Greek New Testament manuscripts.
Many thanks, Hugh!


Troy Griffitts sends good news that he has added links to Elliott’s bibliography in the NTVMR. You should find them in the bibliography section for each manuscript. Thanks, Troy!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Articles and Reviews in the TC Journal 20 (2015)

As one of the editors of TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism, it is my pleasure to announce that some articles and reviews have been published in the current issue, vol. 20 (2015), and that more is to come.


Rebekka Schirner, Augustine’s Explicit References to Variant Readings of the New Testament Text: A Case Study
Abstract: This article analyzes a sample of passages where Augustine explicitly refers to different Latin versions of the New Testament text, and intends to expand Amy Donaldson’s list of patristic references to New Testament variants. It also takes into consideration the evidence available to us today (manuscripts and quotations of Latin church fathers). In doing so, it offers insights into Augustine’s way of dealing with variants and also provides a comparison between the material available to Augustine and the data extant today.
Charles Quarles, ΜΕΤΑ ΤΗΝ ΕΓΕΡΣΙΝ ΑΥΤΟΥ: A Scribal Interpolation in Matthew 27:53?
Abstract: Since the seminal work of Adalbert Merx, Willoughby C. Allen, and Erich Klostermann, a growing number of scholars have asserted that the prepositional phrase μετὰ τὴν ἔγερσιν αὐτοῦ in Matt 27:53 is an early scribal interpolation and an example of the orthodox corruption of Scripture. However, this claim is based on a misunderstanding of the internal evidence and exaggerated claims regarding the external evidence. This article provides a careful and detailed analysis of the internal and external evidence and concludes that the prepositional phrase was contained in the earliest text of Matthew that can be reconstructed from the currently available data.


P. Doble and J. Kloha (eds.), Texts and Traditions: Essays in Honour of J. Keith Elliott (Tobias Nicklas, reviewer)
Robert Hanhart (ed.), Septuaginta (Marcus Sigismund, reviewer)
AnneMarie Luijendijk, Forbidden Oracles? The Gospel of the Lots of Mary (Brice C. Jones, reviewer)
Eric F. Mason and Troy W. Martin (eds.) Reading 1-2 Peter and Jude: A Resource for Students (Thomas J. Kraus, reviewer)
Joseph E. Sanzo, Scriptural Incipits on Amulets from Late Antique Egypt (Thomas J. Kraus, reviewer)
Markus Vinzent, Marcion and the Dating of the Synoptic Gospels (Paul A. Himes, reviewer)

SNTS Meeting in Amsterdam

The SNTS is meeting in Amsterdam this week. Interesting papers include:

Main Paper IV (Aula) – Prof. Tobias Nicklas (Regensburg), “Neutestamentlicher Kanon, christliche Apokryphen und antik-christliche Erinnerungskulturen.”

Seminar 7 [room 0G-11] Christian Apocryphal Literature (Profs. T. Nicklas, C.M. Tuckett, and J. Verheyden). Terminates in 2015.
  • Wed: Gregor Wurst (Augsburg), “Towards a New Critical Edition of Codex Tchacos.”

Seminar 12 [room 0G-30] Papyrology, Epigraphy and the New Testament (Profs P. Arzt-Grabner and J.S. Kloppenborg). Terminates in 2018. 
  • Wed: Josephine K. Dru (Green Collection, USA; guest): “The Comparative Significance of Radiocarbon Results for Nine Internally Dated Documentary Papyri and P39.” Respondent : Klaus Wachtel (Münster).
  • Thu: AnneMarie Luijendijk (Princeton), “A Transitional Period: Religious Experts at Oxyrhynchus from Decius to Theodosius.” Respondent : Giovanni Bazzana (Harvard).
  • Fri: Christfried Böttrich (Greifswald), “Codex Sinaticus and the Use of Manuscripts in the Early Church.” Respondent : Christina M. Kreinecker (Salzburg). This session will be held jointly with Seminar 14 (New Testament Textual Criticism).

Seminar 14 [room 1G-10] New Testament Textual Criticism (Profs. C. Clivaz, U. Schmid, and T. Wasserman). Terminates in 2018. 
  • Wed: Juan Chapa (Pamplona), “Book Format and Patterns of Reading: The Impact of the Codex.” Respondent : Claire Clivaz (Lausanne).
  • Thu: Jan Krans (Amsterdam; guest), “'Harmonization as Enemy of Textual Criticism’: Harmonization in Scribal and Critical Practice.” Respondent : Jennifer Knust (Boston; guest).
  • Fri: Christfried Böttrich (Greifswald), “Codex Sinaticus and the Use of Manuscripts in the Early Church.” Respondent : Christina M. Kreinecker (Salzburg). This session will be held jointly with Seminar 12 (Papyrology, Epigraphy and the New Testament).

Short Papers. Session II: Friday 14:15 – 15:00 hrs.

2. Eberhard W. Güting, “Print Editions and Online Editions of the Novum Testamentum Graece Facing New Challenges.” [room 02-A33]

Monday, July 27, 2015

Book Review: The Gospel of Mark in the Syriac Harklean Version (2015)

Samer Soreshow Yohanna. The Gospel of Mark in the Syriac Harklean Version: An Edition Based upon the Earliest Witnesses. Biblica et Orientalia 52. Rome: Gregorian & Biblical Press, 2015. xi + 196. €48 (hardback); £5.75 (e-book)
“No other branch of the church has given so much effort to spread and to accurately transmit the Gospel. From the hills of Lebanon and Kurdistan, from the Mesopotamian plains and the coast of Malabar, even from faraway China, Syriac manuscripts that are valuable for textual criticism have come to the European libraries.” —Eberhard Nestle

1. Background

The Syriac speaking church has left us one of the richest traditions of Biblical translation. The translation of the New Testament starts with the Gospels as early as the second and third centuries with Tatian’s Diatessaron and the Old Syriac Gospels. The Peshitta came next and was to become the most prominent of all the Syriac translations. Even so, the heat of theological controversy led to a number of more exacting translations which were intended to help settle matters of exegetical dispute. The Philoxenian was completed in 508 and was the first to include the small Catholic Epistles and possibly Revelation, the former being all that survives to us today. The last of the major translations and the most literal was that of Thomas of Harkel who finished his work in 616, shortly after Paul of Tella’s completion of the Syro-hexepla.

Even with native Aramaic, Thomas gives
the Greek (e.g., μαραναθα in 1 Cor 16.22)
Although the youngest of the Syriac translations, the Harklean has proven to be one of the most fruitful for textual criticism. This is due to Thomas’s innovation as a translator. His colophon tells us that he based his work on the Philoxenian but revised it with the help of what he considered to be “well proven and accurate” (ܣܓܝ ܒܚܝܪܝܢ ܘܚܬܬܝܬܝܢ) Greek manuscripts. These he represents with an exacting translation style designed to give the Syriac reader as much access to the Greek as possible. To this end he adopted the text critical symbols made famous by Origen (the asterisk, metobelus, and obelus) to mark words not found in his Greek manuscripts but either required by Syriac idiom or found in his Philoxenian predecessor. In the margin he adds more detail, supplying textual variants, translation notes, word meanings, and often simply giving the Greek word itself. In short, Thomas holds the distinction of producing the very first critical edition of the Syriac New Testament.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Lunn on the End of Mark. Part 2

For the introduction to this book and review series, see my previous post.
N.P. Lunn, The Original Ending of Mark: A New Case for the Authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2014).

Ch. 1: Introduction
The introductory chapter opens up the issue of the authenticity of Mark 16.9-20. The general consensus against the authenticity of these verses has two forms, one in which 16.8 is the proper original ending of Mark (particularly depending on strands of reader-response, but with no consensus interpretation of why Mark ends so abruptly), and one in which it is thought that the original ending is lost. Lunn suggests that doubts about the ending at 16.8 are reasonable, since one might expect a clear affirmation of the resurrection of Jesus in view of the early kerygma, creedal formulations, the other gospels, the resurrection predictions in Mark (8.31; 9.9f; 9.31; 10.34), the implausibility of ending a work with GAR, and various other considerations, siding with a quite large number of English-language commentators to the effect that there was probably more of Mark (Witherington, Evans, France, Edwards, Wright, and Stein).

So the introduction sets the scene for the presentation, but also something of the style and academic level of the book. Positively, it is very clear and well organised. Relevant material is collected from a wide variety of sources and presented in ways that support the case the author is making. Occasionally the style grated, with too many introductions like "famed professor of biblical exegesis F. F. Bruce ...". And there were a couple of minor related points of concern (referring to "Morner Hooker" rather than "Morna Hooker", introducing Philip Comfort alongside Bruce Metzger as "leading textual critics" - both of which may be slips, or may indicate a lack of broader scholarly perspective). Although reasonably full in making his nine points against Mark ending at 16.8, he dismisses the view that the author of Mark intended to end at 16.8 very briefly in view of a secondary summary of such arguments. Finally the discussion only concerns English language scholarship - Westcott and Hort are in view, not Tischendorf or Weiss or Nestle or anyone else (Griesbach and Lachmann get a mention via a secondary source - Croy on the Mutilation of Mark). A quick look at the author index confirms this (Mark commentaries by Cranfield, Edwards, France, Lane, Marcus are frequently cited, but not a single German or French commentator); Amphoux is absent even from the bibliography. Judging by the index the other main dialogue partners are Burgon, J.K. Elliott, W.R. Farmer, J.A. Kelhoffer, Metzger, J.E. Snapp, Jr., and Westcott & Hort.

The aim of the book is to argue that Mark 16.9-20 is precisely the ending that makes sense of Mark. So the following chapters address arguments against this and mount arguments in its favour.

Ch. 2 External Evidence (1): Biblical Manuscripts
Lunn will argue that the absence of 16.9-20 is 'a fairly localized textual variant which had no earlier explicit witness before the fourth century'.

Ch. 3 External Evidence (2): Patristic Citations
Lunn will argue that evidence of the knowledge of 16.9-20 reaches back into the second century, including 'some significant previously overlooked allusions to the Markan Ending in the Apostolic Fathers'.

Ch. 4 Linguistic Evidence (1): Vocabulary and Style
Lunn will argue against the wide-spread view that the style of 16.9-20 is distinctive and non-Markan, that the language of 16.9-20 'falls within the observable parameters of Markan usage'.

Ch. 5 Linguistic Evidence (2): Other Features
Lunn will argue that a range of 'deeper-level linguistic features' can be 'shown to actually provide evidence that supports Markan authorship'.

Ch. 6 Literary Evidence
Lunn will argue from various literary devices that 'the longer ending forms an integral element in the overall design of the Gospel'.

Ch. 7 Thematic Evidence
Lunn will argue that various Markan themes, including the new exodus motif, are 'strongly present in both the body of the Gospel and its ending'.

Ch. 8 The Longer Ending and the Gospels: The Question of Dependence
Lunn will argue that Luke 24 and the speeches in Acts demonstrate 'through unmistakable verbal resonances, acquaintance with a Gospel of Mark that included 16:9-20'.

Ch. 9 Miscellaneous Issues
Lunn will discuss remaining problems with the content of 16.9-20: its connection with 16.1-8, and the issues of baptism, snake handling, and poison drinking.

Ch. 10 The Cause of the Problem
Lunn will discuss whether 16.9-20 was accidentally or deliberately omitted.

Ch. 11 Summary and Conclusion

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Digitally Unrolling the Ein Gedi Scroll of Leviticus

Ein Gedi scroll. (photo credit)
Yesterday, various news outlets reported the recent identification of Leviticus 1.1-8 in a charred scroll from Ein Gedi. First discovered in the 1970, the contents have been a mystery ever since. But with technology developed at the University of Kentucky, scholars were able to read the text by digitally “unrolling” it. The scroll has been carbon dated to the 6th century A.D.

I couldn’t find the full Hebrew text online, but there is a short write-up on the technology used to decipher the text. They also put together some videos of the process which are nicely done (see below).


Here’s the photo released by the IAA.

(photo credit)


Monday, July 20, 2015

Calhoun: Acts 17.27 in Bezae as a Reader’s Note

The latest issue of Early Christianity (6.2) has an interesting short article from Robert M. Calhoun on the reading of Codex Bezea at Acts 17.27. Instead of reading that every nation has been made “to seek God” (ζητεῖν τὸν θεόν), Bezae says that it was “especially to seek the divine” (μάλιστα ζητεῖν τὸ θεῖόν ἐστίν). Several other witnesses attest τὸ θεῖον as well (gig, Clement, Irenaeus), but all of them, in one way or another, smooth the awkward syntax introduced by ἐστίν. As Metzger says, the text of Bezae “cannot be construed with the rest of the sentence” and must be emended either by removing ἐστίν or changing τό to something like ὅ (Commentary, p. 405).

Calhoun, however, points out that if Bezae’s text is taken as a complete sentence, it reads quite naturally as a reader’s note: μάλιστα “ζητεῖν τὸ θεῖόν” ἐστιν = “certainly [the correct reading] is ‘to seek the divine.’” At some point, the comment was misread so that instead of just replacing θεόν with θεῖον, the entire sentence was placed in the main text. Calhoun further suggests that this may give us a (small) clue about the editorial process behind the text of Bezae.

While this isn’t the kind of scenario one can definitively prove, and while I would like to see some uses of μάλιστα in similar contexts, it looks to me like a convincing solution and comes with the distinct advantage of not resorting to emendation.

Here is the relevant page in Bezae (line 2) courtesy of Cambridge’s nifty manuscript viewer:

Robert Matthew Calhoun, “The D-Text of Acts 17:27 (μάλιστα ζητεῖν τὸ θεῖόν ἐστιν),” Early Christianity 6.2 (2015): 230-234.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Lunn on the End of Mark

The other day I received in the mail the following book: N.P. Lunn, The Original Ending of Mark: A New Case for the Authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2014).

When it came out I got a copy on my Kindle, but I liked it so much I thought I should get a proper book for my library (who knows how long my Kindle will last and whether I’ll be able to find it). So the publishers have sent me a review copy, and I’ll tackle that in sections over the next couple of weeks. To begin with I would say it makes a good initial impression for four reasons:
  1. The title is straightforward. It tells you exactly what the book is about. I like that. It is an advocacy book - everything is slanted to persuade you that 16.9-20 is the original ending of Mark.
  2. The book is big enough. Sometimes you get books and you can tell in an instant that even the author hasn’t taken the subject sufficiently seriously - the book is too small. But here we get a large size book (i.e. large pages) and with 378 pages. Big enough to mount the necessary argument (without being an NT Wright sized over-production). 
  3. The layout is pleasing. Obviously Wipf and Stock must be doing something right at the moment. The paper, font, page layout etc. is just simple, clear and the sort of book an author could be proud of.
  4. The price is right. Obviously I got my print copy for free (although I did pay for my Kindle copy). In exchange for a critical review. But the price for this book is listed as US $34.40. If Wipf and Stock are going to be doing textual criticism then we are going to have a very marketable outlet for good scholarship and affordable prices. 
But one shouldn’t only judge a book by its cover. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Conference Announcement

Call for Papers

Altertumswissenschaften in a Digital Age: Egyptology, Papyrology and Beyond

Workshop, Leipzig, November 4-6, 2015
Felix-Klein-Hörsaal, Paulinum, Augustusplatz 10, 4th Floor
Hashtag: #DHEgypt15

Call for Papers for Junior Scholars – English Version [Deutsche Version siehe unten]

Are you an Egyptologist or a Papyrologist? Do you conduct or plan research (master thesis, dissertation, etc.) in the field of Digital Humanities? How do you manage your data? Are you involved into new forms of teaching? Do you want to bring along your field into society and could talk about innovative methods? Our mission is to bring people together who envision a future for “Altertumswissenschaften” in times of transition in what is often called the “Digital Turn”. From November 4 to 6, 2015 we would like to gather especially Egyptologists and Papyrologists for two days of presentations and one day for a workshop. This call for papers has four key research areas:

Day 1:
1) How to structure, organize and represent data? Workflow
2) Which Fields of Research are relevant? Established and Emerging Use Cases Day 2:
3) How to train the next generations? Teaching
4) How to impact society? Citizen Science and Public Engagement

The workshop on day 3 will be reserved for discussion in small groups, touching the issues of Disruptive Technologies, Annotated Corpora, and leaves room for general discussions.

If you are interested in presenting a paper (20 minutes plus 10 minutes discussion or 30 minutes plus 15 minutes of discussion), please send us a title, duration, an abstract (max. one page) and a short CV. Let us also know if you would like to attend the workshop on day 3. Please send all the required information to Monica Berti and Franziska Naether until September 15, 2015. We look forward to your submissions and to see you in Leipzig!

There is no conference fee. Participants have to make their own hotel and travel arrangements under the usual travel regulations (economy class airfare, 2nd class train, up to 70 EUR per night for hotel, 70 EUR per day spending money).

Dr. Monica Berti
Alexander von Humboldt-Lehrstuhl für Digital Humanities Institut für Informatik Augustusplatz 10, 04109 Leipzig, Germany
E-Mail: monica.berti( - at - )

Dr. Franziska Naether
Ägyptologisches Institut/Ägyptisches Museum – Georg Steindorff – Goethestraße 2, 04109 Leipzig, Germany Telefon 0341 97-37146 Telefax 0341 97-37029
E-Mail: naether( - at - )
September 1, 2015 - August 31, 2016
Volkswagen Visiting Research Fellow
Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW), New York

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Conjecturing the Initial Text Where the Original Text Is Extant

While pondering the relationship of the initial text and the original text (as one does), a thought experiment occurred to me. I shared it with a friend who was asking about the difference between the initial text and the original text. This caused my friend to groan—whether at my scenario or the distinction itself I’m not sure. See what you think.

First, definitions: (1) the “initial text” is that text which is the starting point for the extant textual tradition; and (2) the “original text” is that text which was written by the author. Given these definitions, it is possible that the initial text may need conjectural emendation at a point where the original text itself is extant.*

Let’s give a concrete example. It is possible that at 2 Peter 3.10, the conjecture† οὐχ εὑρεθήσεται is the best candidate for explaining the witnesses of the extant readings and that εὑρεθήσεται is the original text. This would require something like the following scenario, where O = the original text and A = the initial text:

Filled circles = extant witnesses; hollow circles = non-extant witnesses.

Now I readily admit that I can’t imagine how to convincingly argue for such a scenario. But I also can’t imagine any way to argue against it. And this makes me wonder whether there is any sense in distinguishing the initial text from the original text, at least in places where the initial text is conjectured.

*Perhaps one caveat is necessary here. The thought experiment may only work in the context of a method like the CBGM where the relationships of entire witnesses are used to help judge the relationships of particular readings in those same witnesses.

†For the sake of argument we’ll define a “conjecture” as a reading with no Greek support.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Who Said It?

A little fun for your Friday. See if you can guess the source of the following quote. (Remember, it’s no fun if you ask Google.)
If the primary purpose of this discipline is to get back to the original text, we may as well admit either defeat or victory, depending on how one chooses to look at it, because we’re not going to get much closer to the original text than we already are. Barring some fantastic manuscript discoveries (like the autographs) or some earth-shattering alterations in text-critical method, the basic physiognomy of our texts is never going to change.”
Update: That may have been too easy. But Bart Ehrman it is, in his review of the first fascicle of the ECM (delivered at SBL, I think). 

Monday, July 06, 2015

New Book on Codex Sinaiticus

Codex Sinaiticus: New Perspectives on the Ancient Biblical Manuscript 
The volume arising from the major conference on Codex Sinaiticus in the summer of 2009 (see blogs here for the programme and here and here for “highlights”), is advertised in the most recent British Library catalogue for publication in June 2015, as follows:

There is an interesting mix of papers and contributions on both LXX and NT (including two papers on Hermas), with four papers on the modern history of the various portions, including archival work in Sinai and in the British Library and a first-hand report on the New Finds, and five papers on various aspects of the Codex Sinaiticus Project: conservation, photography, transcription etc.

Up-date: My copy arrived today, so the book is now available. Here is a table of contents:

Section 1: Historical Setting 1
1 Codex Sinaiticus in Its Fourth Century Setting
Harry Gamble

Section 2: The Septuagint
2 The Septuagint in Codex Sinaiticus Compared with Other Sources
Emanuel Tov
3 Reconstructing Quire 17 Folio 1: Joshua 12:214:4
Rachel Kevern
4 Codex Sinaiticus and the Book of Psalms
Albert Pietersma

Section 3: Early Christian Writings
5 Codex Sinaiticus: Its Entrance into the Mid-Nineteenth Century Text-Critical Environment and Its Impact on the New Testament Text
Eldon Jay Epp
6 Codex Sinaiticus and the Formation of the Christian Bible
David Trobisch
7 The Corrected New Testament Text of Codex Sinaiticus
Klaus Wachtel
8 Codex Sinaiticus: An Early Christian Commentary on the Apocalypse?
Juan Hernández Jr
9 Some Observations on Various Features of Scribe D in the New Testament of Codex Sinaiticus
Peter M. Head
10 The Presence of a Fourth Scribe?
Amy Myshrall
11 The Appearance of Hermas’s Text in Codex Sinaiticus
Dan Batovici
12 The Shepherd of Hermas and Its Inclusion in Codex Sinaiticus: Almost Scripture
Archbishop Damianos of Sinai
Translated by George S. M. Foskolos

Section 4: Modern Histories of Codex Sinaiticus
13 One Story – Different Perspectives: The Discovery of Codex Sinaiticus
Christfried Böttrich
14 The Recent History of Codex Sinaiticus: Insights from the Sinai Archives
Nicholas Fyssas
15 The British Museum Purchase of the Codex Sinaiticus
William Frame
16 The Recovery of the New Finds at Sinai: A First-hand Report
Panayotis G. Nikolopoulos
Translation from the Greek original by George S. M. Foskolos

Section 5: Codex Sinaiticus Today
17 A Physical Perspective of Codex Sinaiticus: An overview from British Library Folios
Gavin Moorhead, Sara Mazzarino,
Flavio Marzo, Barry Knight
18 The Conservation and Photography of the Codex Sinaiticus at Saint Catherine’s Monastery: Not Quite Finished
Hieromonk Justin of Sinai and Nikolas Sarris
19 The Digital Sinaiticus Transcription: Process and Discovery
T. A. E. Brown
20 The Making of the Codex Sinaiticus Electronic Book
Peter Robinson
21 The Transcription and Reconstruction of Codex Sinaiticus
David Parker
22 Codex Sinaiticus and its Importance for Contemporary Christianity
Steve Walton


Yale Library Website on Medieval Bookbinding

Yale University Library has a helpful website called the Traveling Scriptorium that’s meant to serve as a teaching aid for the study of the medieval and early modern book. It’s run by by the library’s conservators and curators and, although updates appear infrequent, what’s online is really helpful and well presented. I expect the material would work great in a classroom and their photos would look great in a presentation. Here are the PDFs that are online:

Here are samples from the Medieval Manuscripts PDF:

HT: @roger_pearse