Thursday, March 09, 2017

TC Articles in the Latest Issue of NTS

From the latest issue of New Testament Studies, three articles on topics of interest to ETC readers.

P45 and the Problem of the ‘Seventy(-two)’:
A Case for the Longer Reading in Luke 10.1 and 17

Zachary J. Cole 

At Luke 10.17, most modern critical editions incorrectly cite the wording of P45 as ἑβδομήκοντα δύο (72) instead of ἑβδομήκοντα (70). As this is one of the two oldest witnesses to the verse, this revision of external evidence calls for a fresh examination of the textual problem as a whole. Previous discussions have focused almost exclusively on the perceived symbolic values of ἑβδομήκοντα (+ δύο) to identify the ‘more Lukan’ wording, but this essay argues on the basis of new transcriptional evidence that the earlier reading is more likely ἑβδομήκοντα δύο.

Postscript: A Final Note about the Origin of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife

Andrew Bernhard

The owner of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife provided Karen King with an interlinear translation of the text. Like the Coptic of the papyrus fragment, the English of this interlinear translation appears dependent on ‘Grondin’s Interlinear Coptic/English Translation of the Gospel of Thomas’. It shares a series of distinctive textual features with Grondin’s work and even appears to translate two Coptic words found in the Gospel of Thomas but not in the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. Consequently, the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife seems undeniably to be a ‘patchwork’ of brief excerpts from the Gospel of Thomas created after November 2002.

Anger Issues: Mark 1.41 in Ephrem the Syrian,
the Old Latin Gospels and Codex Bezae

Nathan C. Johnson

While the vast majority of manuscripts portray Jesus in Mark 1.41 as ‘moved to compassion’ (σπλαγχνισθείς) before healing a leper, five putative witnesses in three languages depict him ‘becoming angry’ (ὀργισθείς/iratus). Following Hort’s dictum that ‘knowledge of documents should precede final judgments on readings’, this article offers the first thorough examination of the witnesses to ‘anger’, with the result that the sole putative Syriac witness is dismissed, the Old Latin witnesses are geographically isolated, and the sole Greek witness linked to the Old Latin as a Greek–Latin diglot. Since the final grounds for Jesus’ ‘anger’, that it is the lectio difficilior, also prove insubstantial, σπλαγχνισθείς is concluded to be original, with ‘anger’ originating in the Old Latin manuscript tradition.


  1. The one on Mark 1.1 seems similar to the recent one in the Tyndale Bulletin:
    Counting Witnesses for the Angry Jesus in Mark 1:41: Interdependence and Insularity in the Latin Tradition
    Peter E. Lorenz (Universität Münster)

    A survey of recent literature on the remarkable reading in Mark 1:41, depicting Jesus's anger at a leper who approaches him to be healed ­ supported by just Codex Bezae, a segment of the Old Latin version, and perhaps the Syriac Commentary on the Diatessaron, attributed to Ephrem ­ reveals a tendency to ascribe the acceptance of the alternative reading depicting Jesus's compassion to the overwhelming preponderance of its support. It is clear though that the UBS3 and UBS4 committee preferred this reading on the basis of the 'diversity and character' of its evidence. The present article examines the implications of the predominantly Latin support for the reading that depicts Jesus's anger in light of the question of textual diversity, considering palaeographical, codicological, and textual evidence of a northern-Italian provenance for its manuscripts and text forms, while arguing that the insular character of the tradition raises serious doubts regarding the independence of its testimony when it differs distinctively in relation to the Greek tradition.

    1. In the beginning of your comment I have faith that "Mark 1.1" is a scribal error for "Mark 1.41". Regarding Johnson's article I have no compassion for his conclusion that "anger" is not The Difficult Reading (for the ancients). His related argument is Origen's discussion of Marcion. Whaaa? He concludes that "anger" was the more likely change to regarding The Difficult Reading Principle but this would be an intentional change. On the other hand the key to his dismissal of the External evidence for "anger" is supposed dependence and accidental change.

      With him telling us that Jesus having compassion is The Difficult Reading I can't help thinking of that snarky Frenchman in the castle in England who smirks behind the wall and says "I told them we have a grail."

    2. Thanks, Pete. Also of interest from that issue is

      The Masora Magna of Two Biblical Fragments from the Cairo Genizah, and the Unusual Practice of the Scribe behind the Leningrad Codex
      Kim Phillips (Tyndale House, Cambridge)

      As a rule, no two Tiberian Bibles are alike when it comes to their masoretic notes. Indeed, the masora magna notes can be thought of as part of the unique fingerprint of each individual manuscript. Notwithstanding, this study presents the first evidence of two Pentateuch codices containing identical masora magna, and explores how these codices relate to one another. Both these codices were the work of Samuel b. Jacob, the scribe who wrote the Leningrad Codex. Thus this study contributes to our understanding of the scribal habits of this important figure.

  2. Linguistically σπλαγχνισθεις would clearly be the more difficult reading for anyone not brought up on a diet of NT Greek. It's a difficult word to digest. Plato and Aristotle wouldn't have had a clue what it meant. Not sure what Joe Koine would have thought. οργισθεις is more difficult if you're thinking about the meaning of the text. So both readings are difficult and might have proved difficult for copyists, but in different ways. Since we don't know much about the copyists it is hard to be sure what any particular copyist working before our earliest exemplars would have found difficult. So in this case the lectio difficilior argument doesn't really hold much weight.

    1. Thanks Dr. Williams for this insight. With that being the case, it would seem that the overwhelming external evidence for the 'compassionate Jesus' would under the normal tenets of TC be the reading that was considered original. The article by Johnson referenced here and the one by Pete Lorenz just make the argument for an 'angry Jesus' even weaker.