Monday, November 30, 2015

New Papyrus (P134) of John: A Report from SBL

Here is a report from the session on Christian Apocrypha joint with Papyrology and Early Christian Backgrounds at SBL Atlanta on 21 November.

The first paper in this session was presented by Geoffrey Smith who always has very interesting presentations. Some years ago, he presented on a new amulet which contained Mark 1:1-2 (without "Son of God" to the great satisfaction of Peter Head who sat next to me; it was then I decided to write an article on that topic).

This time he presented a "Preliminary Report on the 'Willoughby Papyrus' of the Gospel of John and an unidentified Christian Text." Just before the SBL, the papyrus was featured in the New York Times (see blogpost here). We already knew that it was found in the possessions of the late Harold R. Willoughby, a well-known scholar and bibliophile (who was also involved in the purchase of Archaic Mark by the University of Chicago). Apparently, if I remember correctly,  a relative of Willoughby pulled out a drawer in a box on an attic, and the manuscript fell on the floor. There was also this small inventory list mentioning other MSS, which have not been found.

The fragment went up for sale on eBay as noted by Brice Jones who alerted the scholarly world via his blog. Smith contacted the seller and informed him about the MS with the result that the seller stopped the auction. Smith got permission to study and publish
the papyrus. He took images of the MS in March, which he showed in his presentation.

The fragment has now been registered as Gregory-Aland Papyrus 134. The MS was folded at least once in Antiquity, possibly it was folded twice. (However, as someone pointed out, the folds can simply be the result of the papyrus roll being pressed together.) The recto contains six fragmentary lines with text from John 1:49-2:1 (end of the calling of Nathanael, beginning of wedding in Cana). The lines are rather long (only about half of each line is extant, and in our reconstruction, we do not know to what extent lost letters came before or after the extant text). The verso is an unknown Christian text which is not reconstructable from any known text in the TLG database. There are nomina sacra on both sides. The same scribe seems to have copied both sides in an informal cursive hand. Smith dates it to 250-350.

In sum, there are notable (unusual) features with this MS: (1) God (θεος) in v. 49 is not abbreviated as a nomen sacrum; (2) The continuous text is written on the recto of a scroll; (3) The verso contains an apocryphal text.

In regard to nomina sacra, there are other examples of scribes who were inconsistent, e.g., πνευμα in P46 is not always abbreviated (as noted in a recent article in NTS). In regard to the unusual format, after John was copied, the MS was flipped and written on the other side. This text was written up-side-down, which is normal on a bookroll, if you want to read and unroll the second text after you have read the first text (as noted by Brent Nongbri in the Q/A; apparently, P. Oxy. 654 is an exception in this regard).

However, could the MS have been an amulet which was reused later? Both the dialouge with Natanael and the wedding at Cana hare texts attested in other amulets (P. Berlin 11710 and P. Vindob. G2312, respectively). But the presence of both texts in a continuous narrative makes Smith doubt this identification.  Could it be a hermeneia, or a writing exercice? We cannot know.

In the Q/A session, several things came up. For example, the fact that in the corpora we have from Oxyrhynchus of some 180 published ophistographs (reused rolls), a documentary roll is normally reused for a literary text, or, vice versa, a literary roll is used for documentary purpose. Only P. Oxy. 4667 (=P. Oxy. 657) is an exception with Livy in Latin and then reused for the Epistle to the Hebrews. What does it mean that the same hand seems to have copied both texts? Did it stay in the same context (library/household)?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

ETC Blog and GJW in the Boston Globe

The ETC Blog found its way onto the front page of the Boston Globe today as part of a surprisingly well-written article on the current state of doubt about the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. Speaking of Christian Askeland’s blog post on the John fragment (this one, I assume), the Globe writer says that “for many scholars who had been withholding judgment, Askeland’s insight tipped the balance in favor of forgery.”

As far as info about the fragment, I don’t see anything new. What was new—at least to me—was an admission from Karen King that it could be a forgery and an update from Malcolm Choat who seems to favor forgery now.
“I’m open that, in the end, it might be a modern production,” King said in an August interview. “But right now, the important thing is process.”
And this about Choat:
Finally, this month, Choat, the Australian papyrologist, returned to Cambridge to study the Harvard papyri on his way to a conference in Atlanta.
He spent more than eight hours inspecting the papryi at the Houghton Library, supervised by a member of the library’s staff.
In one spot on the John fragment, Choat detected ink where it shouldn’t be. In another area, ink was absent where it should have been present.
Wrong dialect, line breaks that exactly replicated another manuscript, and now, misplaced ink: To Choat, the most logical explanation was forgery.
The line that really stood out to me though was this one: “For now, though, it is hard to find anyone who will defend the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife as authentic.”

You can read the whole article at the Boston Globes website.

King with GJW.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Major New Resource on the Text of the Old Testament: Brill's Textual History of the Bible

Textual History of the Bible PreviewWhile at SBL this last week I noticed that Brill has a major new resource in development called the Textual History of the Bible which is being published both in print and online. The preview describes the new series as follows:
As a new type of reference work, the Textual History of the Bible (THB) aims to bring together all available information regarding the textual history, textual character, translation techniques, manuscripts, and the importance of each textual witness for each book of the Hebrew Bible, including its deutero-canonical scriptures. In addition, it includes entries on the history of research, the editorial histories of the Hebrew Bible, as well as other aspects of text-critical research and its auxiliary fields, or Hilfswissenschaften, such as papyrology, codicology, and linguistics. 
The THB will be the first reference work of its kind.It brings information to the attention of textual critics in particular, and biblical scholars in general, which was previously only known to highly specialized experts. At the same time, it invites its readers to participate in the scholarly debate by giving voice to dissenting opinions in its entries. The treatment of each version could be considered a small monograph in its own right. The THB is groundbreaking in several respects. It pays special attention to the secondary readings in MT and is first to offer a systematic study of the textual character of the non-aligned Hebrew texts. The THB pioneers the study of many primary translations, for instance it features an analysis of the translation technique of the Vulgate. It is furthermore, the very first tool that devotes significant attention to the secondary translations. While the study of the Hebrew sources and the primary translations are usually based on editions, the secondary translations are usually studied from manuscripts. THB is a good starting point for text-critical analysis of all biblical versions and books because it offers the reader information about all the textual evidence for a specific biblical book and all the evidence for a specific textual source in one reference work. 
The four expected print volumes are:
  1. The Hebrew Bible, editors Armin Lange and Emanuel Tov.
  2. Deutero-Canonical Scriptures, editor: Matthias Henze
  3. A Companion to Textual Criticism, editor Russell E. Fuller
  4. Indices and Manuscript Catalogues
Also announced is a new supplement series: 
For many biblical versions and/or biblical books, the THB has sparked new research. With the publication of THB 1, Brill publishers will therefore launch a peer reviewed supplement series which will include monographic studies, scholarly tools, and collective volumes on the Textual History of the Hebrew Bible. All THB authors and readers are invited to contribute. 
As expected from Brill, the price is steep. Online access is  €2.700 / $3,250 with print pricing yet to be announced. You can get more detail on the four volumes and read several entries in the free online preview [PDF]. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Michael Holmes Festschrift
(Table of Contents)

Mike was presented with a Festschrift at SBL. Congratulations to him and the editors and all the contributors (see below). Dan Gurtner presenting the book to Mike (HT HH); the cover (HT JH); and the contents.

Foreword ix

Bart D. Ehrman

Contributors xx
Introduction 1
Daniel M. Gurtner, Juan Hernández Jr. and Paul Foster

Part 1

Text Criticism

1    The Late Constantin Tischendorf and Codex Sinaiticus: New Testament
Textual Criticism without Them—An Exercise in Erasure History 15
Eldon Jay Epp
2 Patristic Evidence in the Apparatus Criticus of a Greek New
Testament 55

J.K. Elliott

3    Nestle-Aland 28 and the Revision of the Apocalypse’s Textual
History 71
Juan Hernández Jr.
4    The Edition of the Greek New Testament: A Plea and a Challenge 82
      Jean-François Racine
5    Codex 2193 and Family 1 in Mark 100
      Amy Anderson
6    Water and Blood and Matthew 27:49: A Johannine Reading in the
Matthean Passion Narrative? 138

Daniel M. Gurtner

7   Of Fish and Men: Comparative, Text-Critical and Papyrological Remarks on Matthew 13:47–50 and the Gospel of Thomas 8 155

Christina M. Kreinecker

     8    The Son’s Ignorance in Matthew 24:36: An Exercise in Textual and
Redaction Criticism 182

Daniel B. Wallace

9            A Fresh Analysis of P.Oxyrhynchus 1228 (𝔓22) as Artifact 210
   Larry W. Hurtado
10        Rightly Dividing the Word: Uncovering an Early Template for Textual Division in John’s Gospel                            221

Charles E. Hill

11        Asterius ‘the Sophist’ of Cappadocia: Citations from the Gospel of John as Attested in the Theological Fragments                                                                              243
Roderic L. Mullen
12        A Text-Critical Examination of the Johannine Variation 262
James R. Royse
13        The Selection of Greek Manuscripts to be Included in the International Greek New Testament Project’s Edition of John in the Editio Critica Maior 291

David C. Parker, Klaus Wachtel, Bruce Morrill and Ulrich Schmid

     14   A Longer Text of Paul: Romans to Galatians in Codex
Wernigerodensis (VL 58) 333

H.A.G. Houghton

15        A Short Textual Commentary on Galatians 349
Tommy Wasserman
16        The Text of Galatians 4:25a 376
Christopher M. Tuckett
17        On the Marcionite Prologues to the Letters of Paul 393
Dirk Jongkind

Part 2

Early Christianity

18        Polycarp in the Writings of Ignatius 415
Paul Foster
19        The Devil’s in the Details: The Apocalyptic Adversary in the
Martyrdom of Polycarp and the Martyrs of Lyons 436

Paul Anthony Hartog

20        The Old Testament in the Apostolic Fathers 457
James Carleton Paget
21        “Witnesses between You and Us”: The Role of the Letter-Carriers in
1 Clement 481
Peter M. Head
22        Defining Exceptions in the Didache 498

Clayton N. Jefford

23  Space, Body, and Church in Ignatius of Antioch: Toward a Spatial
Treatment 521

Harry O. Maier

24        Living as a “Christian”: Christian Ethos According to the Writings of Ignatius of Antioch 541 Tobias Nicklas
25        Scripture and Christology in the Preaching of Peter

(Kerygma Petri)559 Wilhelm Pratscher

26 On “Rotten Stones” and a Couple of Other Marginalia in the
Shepherd of Hermas 582

Joseph Verheyden

27     Anima naturaliter Christiana – Beobachtungen zum philosophischen und theologischen Hintergrund der Seelenlehre Tertullians 598
Holger Strutwolf
Bibliography: Michael W. Holmes 619
Bibliography 623
Index of Modern Authors 671
Index of Subjects  679

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A New Papyrus of the Gospel of John

Today I will attend the Papyrology and Early Christian Backgrounds session at the SBL in Atlanta. The first paper by Geoff S. Smith, University of Texas at Austin, is of particular interest:
Preliminary Report on the “Willoughby Papyrus” of the Gospel of John and an Unidentified Christian Text
Formerly in the possession of Harold Willoughby of the University of Chicago, this unpublished fragment of the Gospel of John in Greek created a stir when it appeared briefly on a well-known auction site in January of 2015. Having obtained permission from the owner to edit and publish the manuscript, I will offer in this presentation the initial results of my analysis of the so-called “Willoughby Papyrus.” I will demonstrate that this fragment complies with the 1970 UNESCO convention on cultural property and discuss the circumstances of its discovery and rediscovery. On the basis of new images of the fragment, I will also provide a transcription of the text, discuss its apparent bookroll format, and assess its text-critical value. Finally, I will present the secondary text on the verso and entertain the possibility that it belongs to an otherwise unknown Christian apocryphal text.

The papyrus made it to the news in New York Times yesterday with an image of the verso with the secondary text (apparently up-side-down compared with the recto).

The first time I heard about the fragment of John was actually from Brice J. Jones blog in April this year, when he blogged about A Greek Papyrus of the Gospel of John for Sale on eBay. Jones posted an image of the papyrus and an accompanying note of Willoughby's inventory and the seller's description:
“Very rare ancient papyrus fragment in Greek, John I 50-51 in it’s original display glass and sleeve. This is part of the MS collection of Harold R. Willoughby, who did extensive research with Edgar Goodspeed. Mr. Willoughby was a world traveler, and well-known professor of Theology at the University of Chicago. At the time of his death, he had a library of over 3500 rare bibles. This case with fragment, literally fell out of a stack of letters. I'm sure it was tucked away for security. Mr. Willoughby was a relative, and I attest this info to be true. Good luck bidding on a very rare piece with no reserve.”
According to the description, the seller is a relative of Mr. Willoughby. We will see if Geoff Smith has more to say today. Brice Jones also mentioned the accompanying note which listed several other items in Willoughby's collection. According to the list, the papyrus was one of three Greek New Testament manuscripts which seemed to be unregistered and without Gregory-Aland numbers.

Here is Brice Jones' description of the recto (John 1:50-51) based on the image then provided on eBay: 

The fragmentary papyrus contains 6 partial lines of text written with the fibers (-->). There are several strips of adhesive (front and back) that are presumably keeping the fragment in place. The image also shows two smaller, isolated fragments bearing ink but their placement is uncertain. The fragments are framed in between glass along with a card of identification that reads “John I, 50-51.” Presumably, there is writing only on one side, since there is no image of the other side and the card identifies text only on the front. If it is indeed written only on on side, then this would be very odd for a Greek New Testament papyrus. Normally, literary texts that are written on one side of a sheet of papyrus means that it is probably from a roll and not a codex. But in fact, none of the extant Greek New Testament papyri come from a roll (P22 is a question mark here). Thus, while the papyrus does bear witness to the text of the New Testament, we cannot rule out the possibility that it may be a fragment of an amulet—again, assuming that there is no text on the other side. In fact, two amulets cite passages from the immediate context. P.Berl. inv. 11710 cites John 1:49 and P.Vindob. G 2312 cites John 2:1-2. But we must suspend judgment about this matter until we can confirm that the other side is indeed blank. [Update: The seller has uploaded (rather shoddy) images of the other side confirming that there is writing; nomen sacrum is visible.]

The image is sufficient enough to attempt an analysis of the handwriting. The letters slope slightly to the right, are separated, undecorated, and roughly bilinear. The middle element of ψ descends well below the line, the oblique of ν connects high up on the second hasta, ο is small, the saddle of μ low. There is little contrast between thick and thin strokes, and punctuation and tremata are absent. This is a good example of what C.H. Roberts described as a “reformed documentary” hand and it exhibits many features typical of papyri that have been dated palaeographically to the 3rd-4th centuries. P.Oxy. 1079 (P18, 3rd-4th century) is a good example of this type of hand (cf., in particular, ν, ο, ε). While all palaeographical dating is inevitably tentative, the general impression of the handwriting suggests a date of 3rd-4th century.

The text is from John 1:50-51. I have provided a provisional transcript below in both diplomatic and full forms. 
3: It is not clear whether the papyrus reads μείζω (NA28) or μείζων (P75 037 579 1424 l 2211).

4: ὑμῖν ὄψεσθε follows the text of NA28 along with P66 P75 01 03 020 032s over against the reading ἀπ' ἄρτι found in many manuscripts whose scribes harmonized to Matt. 26:64 (including 02 017 036 037 038 Maj et al.).

5: Oddly, the scribe wrote the nomen sacrum θεοῦ in scriptio plena; cf. l. 6.

6: There is a faint trace of a supralinear stroke above the ν of υἱόν. ἀνθρώπου is also abbreviated.

–: The text appears to read καί τῇ τρίτῃ [ἡμέρᾳ], which is attested in some manuscripts (03 038 f13) over against the wider tradition.
I will post a brief report on Geoff Smith's presentation today, here in Atlanta.  Six years ago, at another SBL meeting in New Orleans, Geoff Smith presented a paper on a “New Oxyrhyncus Papyrus of Mark 1:1–2," which I reported about here and here (an except from my larger article on Mark 1:1). The question is whether this might be another amulet.

Friday, November 20, 2015

SBL Blog Dinner 2015, Atlanta

This year’s annual blog dinner will be held at Pitty Pat’s Porch, an excellent Atlanta establishment whose ambiance and cuisine hearkens back to the classic novel and motion picture Gone with the Wind.  All who are interested in biblical textual criticism are welcome to join.  The reservation is for 7:30pm on Sunday night (22 Nov), which follows the Novum Testamentum Graecum session.

We have requested the group menu in order to expedite service, to insure competitive pricing and to secure private seating.  The two main meal options are fried chicken or BBQ ribs, with an extensive sideboard replete with copious traditional southern cuisine.  There is also a vegetarian option involving grilled vegetables.  The meal costs $38.40 all inclusive (drinks, meal, dessert, tax and gratuity) or $21.76 if you are a student.  Please RSVP via email or (preferred) by commenting to this post.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Eisenbrauns SBL Sale on Textual Criticism

Eisenbrauns is running a special sale on textual criticism starting today (when ASOR opens) which runs through the following Tuesday evening (when AAR/SBL closes).

All that is required is to put the title(s) in the shopping cart. At check-out, one needs to indicate "ATL40" in the purchase order field. Customer service will apply the discount before the order is billed and ships.

My book, The Epistle of Jude: Its Text and Transmission (reviews here) is offered for $30

Titles on Sale

The Epistle of Jude: Its Text and Transmission (65%)

Scribes and Scripture (40%)

A Handbook on Isaiah (40%)

A Handbook on Jeremiah (40%)

Studies in the Text of the Old Testament (40%)

From Author to Copyist (40%)

The Text-Critical Use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research (40%)

The Text of 2 Chronicles 1-16 (40%)

The Lucianic Manuscripts of I Reigns, Volume 1 (30%)

Textual Studies in the Book of Joshua (30%)

Syriac Manuscripts (30%)

Recent Developments in Textual Criticism. New Testament, Other Early Christian and Jewish Literature (20%)

British Patristics Conference 2016

The call for papers and booking forms are now open for the Sixth British Patristics conference.

The conference will be held at the University of Birmingham from Monday 5th to Wednesday 7th September 2016.
Proposals are invited for papers on any aspect of patristic study. We are particularly keen to receive contributions on the reception of Pauline literature or commentaries more generally. As in previous years, we expect to organise two or three thematic sessions running in parallel. Proposals should be submitted with an abstract of up to 250 words through the conference website by 30th April 2016.

The website, with all details and forms, is available at:

(from an email from Hugh Houghton)

Monday, November 16, 2015

CSNTM Launches New Website

Today, the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) launched their new and vastly improved website at Here are some of the features that are announced on the vastly improved website now and in the coming weeks:

  • New Manuscripts – We will be adding 10-20 new manuscripts to our website weekly for the next few months. These will be from the National Library of Greece in Athens (our ongoing project for 2015–16), as well as previously unposted images from hundreds of manuscripts and rare books in our collection.
  • New Look – We have revamped our entire website to make it both simpler and richer in content. We have new content, which narrates how we go about digitizing and archiving manuscripts. We also explain what goes into our extensive training program that enables our teams to work quickly while capturing high-quality images.
  • New Viewing Environment – The website is equipped with a new viewer, which makes it easier than ever to navigate manuscripts and view our stunning new images.
  • New Usability – Our new site is also designed to work perfectly with mobile devices and tablets, enabling you to view manuscripts or to access other resources quickly, whenever you need them.
  • New Search Features – The website is now outfitted with an extensive search functionality. Searches can be performed at the manuscript level, allowing you to find manuscripts that meet certain criteria (e.g., date, contents, material, location). They can also be performed at the image level, which allows you to find specific features within a manuscript. For instance, we now have a Jump to Book option that allows you to find the beginning of each book that a manuscript contains. Also, one can search tagged manuscripts for verse references. Every place, for example, in which John 1.1 is tagged will automatically populate when the verse is searched.
  • New Search Database – The search database holds tags for each manuscript and individual image. As our team continues tagging our growing collection, the search function will become more comprehensive each week. But the task is daunting. We want your help for the tagging! If interested, you can reach us via our contact page.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Gospels: A Helpful Key

I found this the other day while tidying up old files, and thought it might offer a change from our more usual offerings on the blog. There will be a test at the SBL blog dinner.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thinking of doing a PhD in Germany?


The following came in an email from (emails which I now have to read avidly), and looks very useful. Peter Head.

Germany has over 140 doctorate awarding higher education institutions, many of which don’t charge tuition fees, and numerous prestigious and well-equipped research organisations.

To help you explore the opportunities in Germany, is holding a FREE 60-minute live video event via a Google+ Hangout on Air called ‘PhD Options: Doing a PhD in Germany’.


Event Details

Wednesday 25th November 2015
60 minutes
Online at the’s G+ Events Page

By attending this hangout you will learn:

What routes there are to doing a doctorate in Germany

How to find PhD opportunities and choose a supervisor

How to get access to a fully funded PhD

How to compose a good application

What the reality is like for PhD researchers in Germany including living costs, relocating tips and support networks