Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Duplicating a Passage: Scribes getting in the way of the Apparatus

Minuscule 1573 writes the section Mt 25:22-23 twice. Not good.

This is the relevant section (images available here and here at the NT.VMR):

I don’t know who is responsible for crossing out the duplicated words, it may be the scribe, it may be a later reader / corrector.

What makes this duplication interesting is that the first time round, 1573 reads προσελθων και ο τα δυο ταλαντα (without δε, and only with Sinaiticus and Vaticanus), but the second time προσελθων δε και κτλ. with the rest of the Greek tradition. Legg cites 1573 as siding with the minority reading, but this is only correct when we look at the first occurence, since the second, crossed out version has the ‘normal’ text.

I am not sure how this could be put in an apparatus. Perhaps something like 1573primus and 1573secundus? Or should we just label the duplicated bit 1573dupl.? I assume this problem has been addressed in textual criticism somewhere, but I shouldn’t know where.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Ad Fontes, Ad Futura: Erasmus’ Bible and the Impact of Scripture

The weather probably isn’t too bad in February.
Another conference ETC readers might be interested in.

February 25-27, 2016
Houston Baptist University

In celebration of upcoming 500th anniversary of Erasmus’ Greek text and the Reformation, the Department of Theology at HBU, in conjunction with the Dunham Bible Museum, is pleased to host the conference Ad Fontes, Ad Futura: Erasmus’ Bible and the Impact of Scripture. The conference will consider the textual and historical issues surrounding the development of the Bible, the Bible’s impact on human society across the centuries, and the future of Biblical translation and interpretation in the future. Our keynote speakers include Craig Evans (Houston Baptist University), Timothy George (Beeson Divinity School, Samford University), Herman Selderhuis (Theological University Apeldoorn) and Daniel Wallace (Dallas Theological Seminary). The plenary talks are free and open to the public.

We also invite proposals for short papers from scholars and graduate students from a wide array of disciplines and topics, including:
  • The historical context, and textual tradition, of the Biblical canon;
  • The history of the Greek text of the Bible;
  • The social and/or cultural impact of the Bible in any historical period or location;
  • The Bible and the history of the book;
  • Modern Bible translations and translation practice;
  • Textual and cultural issues concerning the Bible in the Digital Age.
Anyone who is interested should submit a 300 word abstract on any relevant topic. Papers should be 20 minutes long, and decisions will be announced before January 8, 2016. Send proposals to Jason Maston at jmaston@hbu.edu. [I can’t find a submission deadline. Submissions are due by Dec. 9.]

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Call for Papers: Digital Editions: Academia, Society, Cultural Heritage

The Cologne Center for eHumanities is organizing the second DiXiT convention, taking place 16-18 March 2015 in Cologne, Germany. The conference will be preceded by a day dedicated to workshops on:
  • Publishing Models for Digital Scholarly Editions
  • Aggregation of Digital Cultural Content and Metadata Mapping
  • XML-Free Scholarly Editing
The convention organizers invite contributions from everyone working in the field of scholarly editing and its neighbouring areas. Early career scholars are welcome.
  • While the convention is open to any research about digital scholarly editing, the focus will be on its relation to academia, society and cultural heritage. As such, topics for the sessions may especially include:
  • textual criticism and the future of the high standard critical edition
  • open/public knowledge: mutual benefit for academia & society
  • social editing, crowdsourcing, citizen science
  • issues of rights and ethics related to scholarly editions
  • scholarly curation and usage of cultural heritage data
  • museums, libraries & archives as data providers for the edition
  • dissemination, sustainability and addressability of digital heritage assets
  • publishing the edition and the role of publishers
  • editors and the job market: career prospects
  • and others
The deadline for submission is 16 October 2015. More info on submissions here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

ETC Interview with John Karavidopoulos

It is a pleasure for me to introduce our next interview. John (Ioannis) Karavidopoulos (1937–) is Emeritus Professor of the Theological School of Aristotle and is best known among English-speaking scholarship for his membership on the editorial committee of the UBS Greek New Testament. He has written numerous articles and books during his career and it is a real honor to interview him here.

Peter Gurry: Can you tell us about how you came to the academic study of the Bible and, in particular, what led you to textual criticism?

John Karavidopoulos: As you know the Bible is the basis of Christian belief and life. All the other disciplines of Christian theology are based on the Bible. So the academic study of the Bible gives you the opportunity to get into the heart of theology. Personally, as a Greek theologian, I was attracted to textual criticism because I think that the different readings of the manuscripts prove the richness of Christian tradition.

[PG] What is the academic study of the New Testament like in Greek Universities both in your experience and now in view of the current financial situation?

[JK] In both Greek university theological faculties (in Athens and Thessaloniki) as well as in all the ecclesiastical high schools, the academic study of the Bible is a fundamental discipline in which the support of the Orthodox Tradition (Fathers of the Church, liturgical life etc). And, of course, with the knowledge of modern international Biblical scholarship, Greek biblical scholars can be in contact and in dialogue with their colleagues all over the World. Especially in the current difficult financial situation, the Bible gives comfort and support to the Greek people.

Do you have a favorite edition of the Greek New Testament? Do you use a critical text in your study and an ecclesiastical text in church and in prayer? How does that work out?

The academic teaching and the scholarly work are based, of course, on the critical editions of the New Testament (NA28/UBS5) although in the Church and in prayer we use the patriarchal edition of the byzantine text. This causes no problem at all. All modern Greek translations of the New Testament are based on the Byzantine Text because people are familiar with this type of text. The Greek people know the byzantine text type and cite it from memory in everyday speech.

If I’m not mistaken, you joined the UBS editorial committee in 1981 along with Barbara Aland. How did you come to join the committee?

I was invited by the late professor Kurt Aland to join the committee because he and the rest of the editorial committee wanted an Orthodox member. So I accepted, not without some hesitation. In the end, I do think that I contributed to the enrichment of the critical apparatus with many byzantine reading which, in limited cases, were also adopted in the text.

Greek Lecture on Jesus

Dr. Karavidopoulos speaking at the 2nd General Pastoral Assembly of the Holy Metropolis of Demetrias on “What can we really know about the earthly presence of Jesus Christ historically?”

Can you give us any sense for what the committee meetings were like? How long they lasted, how frequently they met, the personalities involved, particular passages you fought over, etc.?

This is a difficult question to answer. The committee did not meet very frequently, but I was given the financial possibility to set up a group of collaborators in the University of Thessaloniki with the purpose of collating a select number of byzantine manuscripts. I fought especially for New Testament verses which are very familiar to the Greek Orthodox audience because of their liturgical use (e.g., Mark 9.29: “This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting”). But I did not succeed in many cases.

A few years ago, you met with a team from CSNTM digitizing manuscripts in Zagora, Greece. How do you think such easy access to so many manuscript images will change the discipline of NT textual criticism?

I appreciate very much the work of CSNTM and of professor Dan Wallace and I helped as much as I could to facilitate their task in photographing manuscripts in Greece in spite of the understandable negation of some Greek institutions. I hope that their work will contribute to the discipline of New Testament textual criticism.

Last year, a new UBS committee was announced. Having been part of the previous committee, is there any advice you would give the new members as they begin their work?

The only thing I can say is that some short byzantine Readings could be adopted by the committee of which I am no longer a member.

From your vantage point, what aspects of the NT’s transmission are most in need of serious investigation?

The byzantine text type must be more seriously investigated.

Many thanks to Dr. Karavidopoulos for his time!

Friday, September 18, 2015

A note on Richard Hays, Reading Backwards

While reading Richard Hays’ book, Reading Backwards, I became fascinated with this symbol:

It occurs fifteen times in the book, bringing a sense of unity and coherence to the otherwise narrativally disparate elements (cover, table of contents, chapters, indices etc.). Figurally we could say that it unites the book like the fifteen days of conversation united Paul and Peter (Galatians 1.18), or that it covers the whole book like the fifteen cubits of water cover the whole earth (Genesis 7.20). Of course fifteen in Greek letters is “IE”, which also means “Jesus” - calling out to the one who brings Genesis and Galatians into intertextual figural conversation. 

Of course the most significant feature is the revision of the old ALPHA and OMEGA motif (reflected in Revelation 1.8; 21.6; 22.13) in favour of the more unusual PI and OMEGA motif. New Testament critics have looked only for the obvious all these years in emphasising Jesus as the ALPHA and the OMEGA (based on a merely superficial reading of the text). In a more subtle analysis Hays introduces Jesus as the PI and the OMEGA. Clearly with such a carefully produced book only the most old-fashioned critics would take this as a failure of narrative communication or mis-print. We should take seriously the final narrative form of the text, presume the competence of the narrator, and take this as an opportunity to detect those intertextual echoes beloved of the author.

PI is the 16th letter in the Greek alphabet, and OMEGA is the 24th. At one level we thus have 2/3rds and 3/3rds, a trinitarian musterion. Further, reading backwards, we get that 24 -16 = 8, clearly an echo of the eight days tradition in Luke’s Gospel - the gospel from which the church can most learn about intertextual figural interpretation - a tradition which focuses our attention on Jesus (his circumcision and transfiguration - Luke 2.21; 9.28).

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Marcion Smackdown in Atlanta (SBL)

At the last annual SBL meeting in San Diego, my Swedish colleague Mikael Winninge, who chairs the Formation of Luke and Acts program unit, mentioned the idea to have a joint session with New Testament textual criticism to discuss Marcion’s Evangelion, the “Western Non-Interpolations,” and the transmission of Luke. I thought this was a very good idea, and so put him in contact with the chairs of the NTTC session, and proposed a few potential contributors to such a session, not least Dieter Roth who has just published his monograph on Marcion’s text of the Gospels.

Consider what Judith Lieu says in her review mentioned in the last post:
In the cautious conservatism of its conclusions it is also unlikely to attract the popular attention through publicity and . . . gained by other more assertively daring reconstructions, whose conclusions may be swiftly adopted and used to rewrite the history of the past with as much confidence as have been applied to the more conventional hypotheses of New Testament origins.

So, some of the “other” scholars who are not mentioned by name in Lieu’s review, but have made “more assertively daring reconstructions” of Marcion’s text than Roth (right photo) will be present at the session, e.g., Markus Vinzent (left photo) as will Lieu herself. I expect an interesting and fruitful debate. Followers of this blog who are attending the meeting would not want to miss it. 

Personally I changed my travel plan so that I do not need to head to the airport in panic after Tuesday breakfast. I will stay an extra day and enjoy the best wine saved for the last.

Formation of Luke and Acts; New Testament Textual Criticism
Joint Session With: New Testament Textual Criticism, Formation of Luke and Acts
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM

Room: Courtland (Atlanta Conference Level) - Hyatt
This session with the Formation of Luke and Acts Section addresses Marcion’s Evangelion, the “Western Non-Interpolations,” and the transmission of Luke. Patricia Walters, Rockford University, Presiding

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Judith Lieu on Roth’s Text of Marcion & the Value of Patient Reading

Judith Lieu, whose own book on Marcion was published earlier this year, has a good review of Dieter Roth’s recently published The Text of Marcion’s Gospel (Brill). The whole review is worth reading, but here is the conclusion in which she extols the virtue of patiently listening to even “recalcitrant and often unhelpful” textual witnesses:
Roth concludes his analysis of the sources with a reconstruction of Marcion’s Gospel... Some will feel disappointed by Roth’s resolute refusal to indulge in imaginative reconstruction or speculation, or even to do more than hint at what conclusions he thinks might be drawn regarding the history of Marcion’s Gospel. They would, however, do well also to take note that he makes no claim to recover Marcion’s Gospel as the latter produced it, but only the earliest recoverable form of its text — a mantra now familiar more generally in studies of the New Testament text.
This is a book for specialists: readers will have to be able to follow Roth as he works directly and meticulously through his Greek and Latin sources, avoiding explanation of the implications of variations in word order or tense, and as he discusses the textual history and variants of specific verses. In the cautious conservatism of its conclusions it is also unlikely to attract the popular attention through publicity and blogs [except the really good ones, of course. —Ed.] gained by other more assertively daring reconstructions, whose conclusions may be swiftly adopted and used to rewrite the history of the past with as much confidence as have been applied to the more conventional hypotheses of New Testament origins. Yet in age which favors the rewriting of past master-narratives and embraces imaginative reconstruction, it is important that the call to heed the recalcitrant and often unhelpful witness of the textual sources be heard, and that we be reminded that hearing demands time, close attention, and linguistic skills that are too quickly being lost or dismissed as irrelevant. Few readers of Marginalia may go on to read The Text of Marcion’s Gospel, but hopefully they will recognize and defend the sort of scholarship which it represents. [Read the rest here.]
I have only read the beginning and end of Roth’s book, but it looks like all that Lieu says it is.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Digital New Testament Workshop in Sydney

Tim Finney has written a summary of the inaugural “Digital New Testament” pre-conference workshop, held at DH2015 in Sydney earlier this year:


Wednesday, September 09, 2015

ETC Interview with Maurice Robinson: Part 2

Posted below is the second part of my interview with Maurice Robinson. You can read part one here.

[PG] In a previous interview you said that, within a normal transmission process, we should expect to find the autographic text preserved “within a single dominant branch of the transmissional tradition.” What makes a branch “dominant” in your view and does this risk counting what should be weighed?

[MAR] Probably no greater conceptual misuse exists concerning the phrase “manuscripts should be weighed rather than counted” than when applied repeatedly to critique a presumed “majority text” type position, the obvious intent being to disparage such by a reductionist caricature of mere “nose-counting”. In reality, one first must define what constitutes “weight” and then determine the procedure for measurement and evaluation of such in the accompanying “weighing process”. Only then can one inquire as to what extent the constituent elements of such determined weight have actually been applied to each of the various MSS under consideration.

Byzantines and the Bible, Belgrade, 22-27 August 2016

Call for papers: Byzantines and the Bible; DEADLINE 30 September 2015

23rd International Congress of Byzantine Studies, Belgrade, 22-27 August 2016

Recent scholarship has turned its attention to the role of the Bible in the Byzantine world, notably with two recent Dumbarton Oaks Colloquia on the Old and New Testaments respectively, but much remains to be done in bridging the gap between mainstream Byzantine studies and the activities surrounding the reading, studying and copying of the principal sacred text in Christianity. Following a successful and stimulating paper session organized within the European Association of Biblical Studies meeting in Cordoba (July 2015), we would like to continue to open a dialogue between Byzantinists and biblical scholars by proposing a broader thematic session at the International Conference.

Papers can address any period of Byzantine history but must focus on the impact and reception of the biblical text on the work of known (or unknown) scholars, writers and readers in the Greek language. Papers can be manuscript-based (e.g. work on annotations to biblical mss or their illumination), author-based (e.g. focus on a particular author’s use of the Bible), text-based (e.g. work on citations from the Bible in different authors) or period-based (e.g. intersecting the significance between a certain historical period and biblical themes). We welcome comparative contributions with respect to other languages (Latin, Hebrew, Syriac, Armenian, Arabic) and other cultures in relation to the concept of a sacred text: does its normative status encourage or impede philological study? What is the role of interpretation and what forms did it take in Byzantium? Was the Greek Bible a uniting force, or the first place of attrition between different readers, cultures and theologies?

Please send a title and short abstract (max. 3600 characters incl. spaces; no footnotes) of your proposed presentation to: barbara.crostini@gmail.com. Papers will be max. 15 mins long. We plan to publish the papers in a collected volume after peer-review. A financial contribution towards your attendance at the conference may become available.

The Organizers
Reinhart Ceulemans (Leuven), Barbara Crostini (Stockholm), Mariachiara Fincati (Milan)

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

World's Largest Private Manuscript Collection to be sold

A collection described as the world’s largest private collection of rare books and manuscripts is due to be liquidated. The collection, amounting to 135,000 documents from 54 manuscript collections, was acquired by Aristophil, a French company run by Gérard Lhéritier, which has been shut down by French prosecutors. The company was supposedly an investment vehicle, but is accused of fraud and running a ponzi-pyramid-style scheme. Among other interesting features manuscripts would be bought at auction and then revalued as worth more than ten times the purchase price. The manuscripts include “fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls , medieval illuminated manuscripts and the Marquis de Sade’s 120 days of Sodom (1785)”. See here for the most recent report (and here and here for earlier reports).

Monday, September 07, 2015

Reading in the Wren Library

I spent three wonderfully quiet hours this morning in the Wren Library, under the gaze of Richard Bentley (and other luminaries) checking out some leads for my research on Hort’s relationship with Tregelles.

During his life Tregelles had very cordial relations with Hort and supplied Hort with lots of information and early proof sheets of his NT edition (indeed one reason why Westcott and Hort’s edition was so delayed was their dependence on Tregelles’ edition). After Tregelles’ death in 1875 his wife corresponded with Hort since Hort had agreed to edit Tregelles’ Prolegomena (from his published work). After Mrs Tregelles death in 1882 her sister Augusta Prideaux wrote to Hort saying that both Dr and Mrs Tregelles had expressed their wish that all of Tregelles’ notes and collations should be given to Hort. Anyway, today  I found the letter from Augusta Prideaux to Hort along with Hort’s list of all the items she sent. Some of these I already knew about (and may even have blogged about), but others I didn’t. So with only a couple of exceptions I think we can locate almost all of Tregelles primary working transcriptions and collations (not his general papers and correspondence though).

Along the way it was fascinating to read letters from Lightfoot, Westcott, Mrs Tregelles and others. Two letters struck me. The first was from Mrs Tregelles writing to A.A. Vansittart in 1870 - a Fellow at Trinity College who was helping get the text of the Apocalypse ready for publication after Tregelles’ health had broken down:

S.A.T. to AAV (14 Nov 1870): “Dear Mr. Vansittart, Dr Tregelles wishes me to tell you how very satisfactory to him is your most kind letter received yesterday, and he also requests me to say that he does not believe that you will find anything queried that it will puzzle you to answer. They are merely questions which if he was well enough to use the books in his study, he could get through in a couple of hours. It has not been without some struggles of feeling that he has relinquished the hope of finishing the work himself, but he knows that all that is withheld as well as granted is ordered for him by a wise and loving Heavenly Father. With his kind regards, believe me, yours very truly, S.A. Tregelles.”
[Augustus Arthur Vansittart, by the way, was very interested in the text of the Greek New Testament, and his notes are full of mostly blank note books containing careful transcriptions of NT mss that do not seem to have been finished. He created a fascinating textual presentation of some books (notably Hebrews and 1 Corinthians) with the main text at the top and all the readings of the different manuscripts below (a kind of pre-Swanson type of presentation). But he published practically nothing. Except for his famous and clever Latin translation of Jabberwocky.]

A very similar tone is evident in a letter from Ezra Abbott to Mrs Tregelles after he had heard news of S.P. Tregelles’ death (July 22 1875):
“Rather would we thank God for all that he was to those who knew him best, and for all that he was permitted to do, as a faithful disciple of Christ for the good of his fellowman; and say, in humble resignation and trust, “The Lord gave; the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!”

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Unstable Text in James 3:8

The word ακαταστατον (‘unstable’) in James 3:8 invites textual variation by its very meaning, and the alternative ακατασχετον is, as far as I am concerned, a full alternative (there is a case to have it in the margin, at the very least).

The ECM2 lists the important minuscule 1739 as one of the few minuscules supporting ακαταστατον, though also noting that it reads ακατασχετον as an additional reading (that is, not clear whether it is a correction or not).

This is the screengrab from the NTVMR site (and what would we do without it?):

The interlinear alternative is formed by writing the syllable -σχε- over -στα-.

But there is something more going on, as there is a clear irregularity in the normal running text. Not only is there too much of a horizontal line connecting the -α- of -στα- to the following -τ-, there are also signs of an erased -χ-. Thus, originally 1739 did not read ακαταστατον but something like ακατασταχτ(ον). Of course, this is a nonsense form and most likely the product of the misreading of an exemplar that presented both readings already.

If this is correct, the ECM could do a variety of things to improve its representation of the reading of 1739:
  1. It could add an ‘error’ sign to 1739T, ‘1739Tf’, within the evidence for ακαταστατον, and list the form ακατασταχτον under 2.4 of the Supplementary Material(s?). But this would not indicate that the nonsense form had been corrected, so it should probably be ‘1739CTf’ or perhaps better ‘1739CT(*f)’.
  2. It could insert a ‘bf’ reading ‘ακατασταχτον’ 1739*T (I think the T should be there), and move the other variants a letter down, and have 1739CT as support for ‘ακαταστατον’.
  3. It is probably too much of a stretch to argue that the ακατασταχτον of 1739* is too unclear to determine whether its supports either of the main alternatives. That would result in listing 1739*T under ‘↔ a/b’ and otherwise as in (2).
Oh the subtleties of the apparatus!