Monday, June 18, 2018

Critique textuelle de l'ancien Testament for Free Download

Good news for Old Testament textual critics! The University of Zurich Library has made the volumes of CTAT available for free download as part of ZORA (Zurich Open Repository and Archive). I've been told (correct me if you know something more) that there will be no Pentateuch volume for this series. I want to thank Dougald Mclaurin and Brian Davidson for bringing this news to my attention. Enjoy!

Volume 1: Josué, Juges, Ruth, Samuel, Rois, Chroniques, Esdras, Néhémie, Esther

Volume 2: Isaïe, Jérémie, Lamentations

Volume 3: Ézéchiel, Daniel et les 12 Prophètes

Volume 4: Psaumes

Volume 5: Job, Proverbes, Qohélet et Cantique des Cantiques

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Textuality and Knowledge by Peter Shillingsburg

Jim Spinti of Penn State University Press notifies me of a new book that is out with collected essays by Peter Shillingsburg, Textuality and Knowledge, which may interest blogreaders.

With the discount code “NR18” our readers get a 30% discount (list price for paperback: $44.95, with code $31.47).

Publisher’s description

In literary investigation all evidence is textual, dependent on preservation in material copies. Copies, however, are vulnerable to inadvertent and purposeful change. In this volume, Peter Shillingsburg explores the implications of this central concept of textual scholarship.

Through thirteen essays, Shillingsburg argues that literary study depends on documents, the preservation of works, and textual replication, and he traces how this proposition affects understanding. He explains the consequences of textual knowledge (and ignorance) in teaching, reading, and research—and in the generous impulses behind the digitization of cultural documents. He also examines the ways in which facile assumptions about a text can lead one astray, discusses how differing international and cultural understandings of the importance of documents and their preservation shape both knowledge about and replication of works, and assesses the dissemination of information in the context of ethics and social justice. In bringing these wide-ranging pieces together, Shillingsburg reveals how and why meaning changes with each successive rendering of a work, the value in viewing each subsequent copy of a text as an original entity, and the relationship between textuality and knowledge.

Featuring case studies throughout, this erudite collection distills decades of Shillingsburg’s thought on literary history and criticism and appraises the place of textual studies and scholarly editing today.

Order page here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Latest Book Reviews from Keith Elliott

Keith Elliott’s reviews are always a highlight for me. His prose is a delight and his pen can be almost as sharp as his eye for detail. They always challenge me to improve my own book reviews.

In the latest NovT, he has reviewed at least four recent works on NT textual criticism: the Tyndale GNT, the ECM Acts, and two books on the CBGM by yours truly and Tommy (the latter of which is being given away right now, FYI). I was sent a digital copy, which was most welcome given my lack of digital access to NovT these days. Here is a taste of each:


The publication of a Greek New Testament is not usually a headline event for general readers but this Tyndale edition (under the editorship of its re- searchers, led by Dirk Jongkind and Peter Williams) is significant. It takes a proud place alongside other edited Greek testaments currently on the market. Significantly it appears c.500 years after Erasmus’ first printed and published Greek (and Latin) Novum Instrumentum and the anniversary of Luther’s initiating the Protestant Reformation and his German New Testament (of 1522). ... A Preface opens the book and contains a brief explanation of the editorial motives. (It ends with the evangelical slogan “Soli Deo Gloria” even though gratia is conveyed later—especially to financial donors—on pages 525–6). ... Fulsome acknowledgements conclude the volume. We reiterate the praise there for the researchers, editors and assistants who together have achieved their goal, against many commercial and scholarly odds. We must wait and see how influential this edition proves to be in the academic world of New Testament studies.

On ECM Acts

[See his much longer review in JTS 2018.] Many passages agree with the Byzantine text-type and therefore differ from “the established (sic) text” (i p. 19*). Among the 52 readings where ECM differs from NA28 (I pp. 34*-35*) thirty-six move towards Byz. Only three move away from Byz. ... This edition will be with us for many decades and its text will be used as the text in NA and UBS. We express our gratitude to the Münster Institut, its Direktor and Mitarbeiter. They have done themselves—and the scholarly world at large—proud, yet again.

On the CBGM books

[On my thesis:] At the viva voce at the University of Cambridge the examiners of Gurry’s thesis had no problem in recommending it as a worthy example of original thinking and a proper contribution to learning. Academic text-critics have known of—and pussyfooted around—CBGM for several years, suspicious of it because of its apparent lack of careful explication. Now Gurry has peered behind the veils of mystery and exposed the importance and significance of its methodology.
[On my book with Tommy:] This combined effort (although seemingly mainly Gurry’s work, if source criticism be applied) is a welcome introduction to the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (= CBGM) devised by Gert [sic] Mink at Münster for coping with the large number of Greek New Testament manuscripts extant. Several of us have been wary about extolling its apparent virtues, partly because it looks so complicated and Mink’s own published explanations seemed opaque. Now Wasserman and Gurry have explained its history, use and consequences. They also highlight its limitations—always an honest approach to such matters. However, they hope that those promulgating the methodology (hitherto restricted to a few dedicated scholars) may soon allow its rich databases to become freely available. Yet another theological disciplina arcani is highly undesirable. “Transparency” need not be a term currently (over)used in business and politics! 
I note that Elliott thinks the CBGM is a “suitable resource” for thoroughgoing eclectics. He writes, “From my own preferred text-critical principles, whereby I put great score by readings compatible with an author’s style, language and theology and by first-century Greek etc., CBGM seems to be a suitable resource for so-called thorough-going text-critics to apply.”

Put this way, it may be so. But I am intrigued that Elliott—both here and in my viva—says ne’re a word about my argument in the thesis that the CBGM’s results challenge the foundational premise of thoroughgoing eclecticism, that premise being that we simply do not know enough about textual relationships to think that some manuscripts could be consistently preferred over others.

In fact, the CBGM tells us enough about witness relations that we cannot deny that some manuscripts lie closer (statistically, at very least) to the initial text, whatever we take that be. In other words, if Elliott were to use the CBGM on the front end using his own preferred principles, he would have to conclude on the back end that some manuscripts deserve his attention more than others.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Deux minuscules et cent lectionnaires du Nouveau Testament à ajouter à la Liste de Gregory-Aland

Jean-Louis Simonet has been busy finding over 100 minuscule manuscripts and lectionaries containing portions of the Greek NT (which are not found in the Liste). Here is his report.

Deux minuscules et cent lectionnaires du Nouveau Testament à ajouter à la Liste de Gregory-Aland

Il y a quelques mois, nous considérions la Liste de Gregory-Aland à peu de chose près comme le Canon du Nouveau Testament : avec ses presque 5900 témoins du Nouveau Testament, elle nous semblait être une œuvre quasi achevée. On pouvait sans doute encore espérer la compléter par quelques découvertes nouvelles (des manuscrits pas encore enregistrés dans des catalogues de bibliothèques, ou des manuscrits dans d’autres manuscrits), mais nous pensions qu’il serait vain d’espérer l’enrichir considérablement. Pendant longtemps d’ailleurs, n’y avait-il pas eu en moyenne un seul manuscrit nouveau par année ? Seul le travail de recherche systématique de Dan Wallace et son équipe du CSNTM avait permis de hausser cette moyenne depuis quelques années. On savait certes aussi, grâce à des communications du CSPTM, que des monastères grecs peu connus contenaient au moins 42 manuscrits du Nouveau Testament (communiqué du 20-10-2012, qui ne figure plus sur le site actuel de cet organisme), et que les monastères de l’Athos ont aussi quelques manuscrits qui restent non enregistrés (communiqués du 24-12-2014, du 10-60 et du 20-11-2015), mais jusqu’à présent ces recherches restent sans écho visible au niveau de la Liste, et les images des manuscrits, s’ils ont été numérisés, sont encore inaccessibles au chercheur. De même un Praxapostolos de Kallimaki (Chypre) a été signalé par la revue Dodonè, sans autre suite.

J’avais déjà découvert, par hasard, les pages de garde en grec d’un manuscrit arménien de Bzommar, et un lectionnaire grec de Thessalonique. Puis, en constatant l’absence, sur le site du Vatican, du manuscrit Barberini grec 346 (qui est dans la liste), j’ai, par curiosité, jeté un coup d’œil à son potentiel voisin, le Barberini grec 345. Surprise : ce lectionnaire, inconnu de la liste, contenait des lectures du Nouveau Testament ! Mais alors, se pourrait-il qu’il y en ait d’autres dans son cas ? Ce soupçon m’a amené à vérifier systématiquement d’autres lectionnaires, d’abord dans le groupe des Barberini grecs, puis dans le reste de la Bibliothèque Vaticane, puis dans d’autres bibliothèques (généralement) accessibles sur Internet. Nous dressons ci-dessous une liste des résultats de cette recherche, qui ont bien sûr été dûment communiqués à l’Institut für neutestamentliche Forschung de Münster.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Update on P137 (P.Oxy. 83.5345)

[Note of explanation: I wrote most of this post over the weekend before Dan Wallace released a second statement. Thankfully, I delayed posting it long enough to work his statement into my post. If you haven’t read Wallace’s second statement, stop what you’re doing and go do that now.]

I haven’t been able to post updates to the saga of the Early Mark Fragment as often as I wanted. Peter Gurry and I have been busy making last-minute edits to a project we’ve been working on for over two years, but we have finally submitted it to IVP, so I have a bit more time now.

A quick summary, if you’re just now tuning in

In the most recent volume of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri (vol. 83), the Egypt Exploration Society (EES) published a fragment of Mark 1 (P.Oxy. 83.5345; P137), edited by Dirk Obbink and Daniela Colomo and dated to the late second/early third centuries. Scott Carroll and Dan Wallace both verified that P137 is the fragment that they had spoken of as “first-century Mark”; the earlier dating was simply incorrect.

The EES made a statement that the fragment had never been for sale and even made the edition available online. Most of the back and forth from that point centered on Scott Carroll’s insistence that Dirk Obbink had offered the fragment for sale and the EES’s insistence that the fragment was never up for sale. These are the unresolved questions that give this fragment its continuing intrigue: Did Dirk Obbink try to sell it (possibly without its owners’ knowledge or approval), and if not, why in the world would anyone lie about that?

All of these discussions were happening while Brent Nongbri was writing a series of excellent blog posts on the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, which you should definitely read.

James McGrath has a great roundup of posts about the fragment, here.

Developments since my last update on the other post

Larry Hurtado spoke out in defence of Dirk Obbink, writing “I personally have great confidence in Dirk Obbink as a scholar and a person of honor and integrity” and adding “But I trust Obbink, and that means that the claim that he offered the item for sale like some huckster I regard as false and mischievous.”

Bart Ehrman echoed Hurtado’s defence of Obbink, “I believe Obbink is completely honest and innocent in the whole affair” (see the comment section, here).

Do you have papyrological interests?

In case you have papyrological interests you may consider William Johnson’s announcement:
Dear colleagues,

If you have papyrological interests, I want to point out to you the great deal offered by the American Society of Papyrologists. An individual ASP membership costs $35, and for that you will an annual subscription to the Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists, almost 400 pages of high-quality papyrology spanning a wide range of subject matter, from editions to essays. Our new arrangement with Peeters Publishers allows us to offer this without shipping or other additional costs.

Where else can you subscribe to a papyrological journal for $35? (Or $16 if you are a student!)

To become a member, simply go to: and click on the membership button.

Memberships also go to support the Society’s other activities, for which see the blurb below.

With best wishes to you all,

William Johnson
Secretary-Treasurer, American Society of Papyrologists

Wednesday, June 06, 2018


Great news from CSNTM this last month. They have been working on raising funds for a multi-spectral imaging (MSI) camera and they have now acquired one. Just last week they posted photos of the team training on the new machine.
I have heard from staff there that they already planning to use it on trips planned for this summer. For those who don’t know, MSI is extremely helpful for reading palimpsests and was used extensively, for example, on the Sinai Palimpsest Project. I am sure this new tool will make CSNTM even more in demand. Do think about supporting them if you are able.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Differences between ECM Acts and NA28

I need some help from your collective wisdom ...

On pp. 34*-35* of ECM Acts we find a table of Textual Changes, listing differences between ECM and NA28. This is followed by a list of passages with a split guiding line. Many of the textual changes are straightforward, but there is a grey area, signaled by the presence of two distinct lists rather than one.

(1) The entry 2,33/43 says ECM -, NA28 [και].
This is a textual change. The text that is printed is different in the two editions, though the two are not miles apart. It is not that ECM has adopted a reading that was offered as an equal possibility in NA28, which mistakenly we might assume given the square brackets around και in NA28, but the omission of και is signaled in the text. It is good to remember that square brackets do not give a full alternative but rather 'reflect a great degree of difficulty in determining the text', and 'the reading given in the text shows the preference of the editors' (NA28, 54*).
This change is slightly 'bigger' than the change in the next example.

(2) The variant unit 1,11/16 is not given as a textual change:
ECM εμβλεποντες, ΝΑ28 [εμ]βλεποντες
Both ECM and NA28 show the - identical - preference of the editors, though NA28 signals that its editors had a great degree of difficulty. There are no square brackets in the ECM, but do we have a split guiding line? Not here. The difficulty of the past was not large enough to result in a split reading in the present. Technically this is not a textual change. Still, even though there is no difference in the printed text, there is certainly a perceived difference in confidence.

(3) Now take 2,7/5, also not given as a textual change in the ECM list, though here I think there is in fact a change:
ECM - ♦ παντες, NA28 -
To me this looks like a change. A split guiding line means that the editors 'could not determine one variant which most likely represents the initial text' (ECM, 18*), which is close but not identical to the NA28 definition of the square brackets. The split guidance line is a material change to the text of NA28.

(4) The final example is 5,28/4
ECM ου ♦ -, ΝΑ28 [ου]
Since the definitions of square brackets and split guiding line differ subtly, I think technically there is a change here too. The ECM split line signals that there is no reading that is 'most likely', whilst the bracketed [ου] still signals the preference of the editors of the NA28 for the printed reading. Of course, most of us would be tempted to read ECM and NA28 as telling us the same, but I do not think they do.

Example (1) is found in the listing of textual changes in the ECM, example (2) is not listed in the print edition, and (3) and (4) are found in the listing of passages with a split guiding line.

My question after all this is, what is more accurate, to say that ECM differs from NA28 in 52 places and presents a split reading in a further 155 places, or that the text of ECM differs in 207 places from NA28? [warning: I counted the list manually, so I may be a little off, but I hope you get the question.]

Hixson on Mark Fragment at Christianity Today

If you’re reading this blog, you’ve surely heard about the new Mark fragment which is now the earliest dated copy of this Gospel. You may also know there is some discussion about its publication and the claim that it was once up for sale. But, if you’re still wondering what all the hubbub is about, go read Elijah Hixson’s new article at Christianity Today. Elijah first broke the news that the fragment was being published here on this blog and he’s been closely tracking new developments ever since.

Here’s the conclusion:
Many people—including Carroll himself—believed that the Greens had at some point purchased the manuscript until it appeared in an Oxyrhynchus volume. Obbink recently denied attempting to sell the manuscript to the Greens, according to Candida Moss and Joel Baden, writing for The Daily Beast. When I contacted Carroll and Obbink for statements, Carroll replied that he had nothing to add to or subtract from his story, and Obbink did not respond.

This new publication is only the first word on the manuscript. There is surely much more to come. Manuscript dates are often disputed, though I expect the question will be whether P137 could be later, not whether it could be earlier. Multi-spectral imaging and digital image processing open new doors to deciphering and understanding manuscripts, and P137 might benefit from such types of analysis.

Rather than disappointment that P137 is not quite as early as once thought, the publication of P137 is a cause to celebrate. We have another significant find, and it is the earliest manuscript of Mark 1! The excavations of Oxyrhynchus continue to yield valuable artifacts of antiquity including new biblical manuscripts after over a century of publishing. We can happily look forward to more unknown treasures yet to come.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Dirk at Southern Seminary on Tyndale Edition

We interrupt your regularly scheduled updates on the Mark fragment for this message from Rob Plummer:
I would like to invite you to a free lecture on the Tyndale House Edition of the Greek New Testament by the lead editor of this recent publication, Dr. Dirk Jongkind. Wednesday, June 20th, 1pm (Eastern Standard Time), in the basement of the Southern Seminary library.

After Dr. Jongkind’s presentation and following discussion, I will be giving a private tour of the seminary archives. Some of the Greek treasures there include a 1522 Erasmus 3rd edition Greek New Testament and the original handwritten manuscripts of A.T. Robertson’s magisterial grammar. I hope you can join us!

Title and description of the lecture:

Treasuring Detail in Untraditional Ways: The Tyndale House Edition of the Greek New Testament 
Since the early 18th century the approach to the textual criticism of the GNT has been dominated by a received set of ‘canons of textual criticism’. This set of guidelines determines the categories with which individual textual variants are discussed. A lot has happened over the last 300 years. One of the most important developments for textual criticism has been a growing appreciation of the actual way in which scribes copy a text. This notion, together with the wealth of manuscript material that is easily available, led scholars at Tyndale House to produce a new critical edition of the Greek New Testament. Regardless of how one thinks about the employed method, the project has provided a new impetus to be attentive to the detail of the Scriptures of the New Testament.
Sound like fun. May I recommend Skyline Chili for lunch, Dirk?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Dan Wallace responds on (formerly) ‘First-century Mark’

Over on his blog, Dan Wallace has just written a post about his involvement with the fragment formerly known as “First-century Mark.” We now know, thanks in part to this post by Dan, that P. Oxy. 5345 is the fragment formerly known as “first-century Mark” and that it is not, therefore, first-century. Instead, the editors, Dirk Obbink and Daniela Colomo, date it to the 2nd/3rd century (see Elijah’s post). This is important because we have known for quite some time that the first-century date was based on the expertise of Dirk Obbink. Apparently he changed his mind before Dan even made the initial announcement, but Dan didn’t know. So, why was it ever dated first century? I don’t know.

In any case, here is the first part of Dan’s post.
There has been a flurry of announcements and comments on the internet about the “First-Century Mark Fragment” (FCM) ever since Elijah Hixson posted a blog on Evangelical Textual Criticism this morning. As many know, I signed a non-disclosure agreement about this manuscript in 2012 sometime after I made an announcement about it in my third debate with Bart Ehrman at North Carolina, Chapel Hill (February 1, 2012). I was told in the non-disclosure agreement not to speak about when it would be published or whether it even exists. The termination of this agreement would come when it was published. Consequently, I am now free to speak about it.

The first thing to mention is that yes, Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 5345, published in The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, vol. 83 (2018), is the same manuscript that I spoke about in the debate and blogged about afterward. In that volume the editors date it to the second or third century. And this now is what has created quite a stir.

In my debate with Bart, I mentioned that I had it on good authority that this was definitely a first-century fragment of Mark. A representative for who I understood was the owner of FCM urged me to make the announcement at the debate, which they realized would make this go viral. However, the information I received and was assured to have been vetted was incorrect. It was my fault for being naïve enough to trust that the data I got was unquestionable, as it was presented to me. So, I must first apologize to Bart Ehrman, and to everyone else, for giving misleading information about this discovery. While I am sorry for publicly announcing inaccurate facts, at no time in the public statements (either in the debate or on my blogsite) did I knowingly do this. But I should have been more careful about trusting any sources without my personal verification, a lesson I have since learned.
 Do read the rest of his post for his personal history with the fragment. 

“First-Century Mark,” Published at Last? [Updated]

It looks like we are finally getting that First-Century Mark (henceforth, FCM) fragment everyone has been talking about for years. (By the designation “FCM” I am not implying that it actually dates to the first century. I don’t know the date yet. I only mean that “FCM” is probably the actual papyrus that has been reported to be the first-century Mark fragment.)

I have not yet seen the latest volume of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. The Egypt Exploration Society’s website shows vol. LXXXII as the most current volume, at least as of today. However, Amazon informs me that volume LXXXIII was published last month. When I first saw it, there was only one copy available. It has since been sold. The description begins:
Volume LXXXIII of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri continues our publication of biblical texts, including what is only the second Egyptian witness to the Epistle of Philemon as well as further early witnesses to the text of Mark and Luke, and an amateur copy of excerpts from Ezekiel’s Exagoge.
Though it is also exciting for NT textual criticism that we will see fragments of Luke and Philemon, the key thing to notice here is that the description mentions an early fragment of Mark.

We can get a bit more information from the Oxford Faculty of Classics publications page:

Both the Mark (P.Oxy. LXXXIII 5345) and the Luke (P.Oxy. LXXXIII 5346) fragments are being edited by Daniela Colomo and Dirk Obbink. The reported publication date of 2017 is probably just a delay in publication, which would not be the first time we’ve encountered such a delay with this fragment. I can’t see a date assigned to the papyri yet (UPDATE: see below), but we can piece together a trail of breadcrumbs and arrive at the conclusion that P.Oxy. LXXXIII 5345 is probably the infamous First-Century Mark—even if the date is not given as first-century. Here is the trail:

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Siker’s Liquid Scripture

A recent book from Jeffrey Siker may interest readers here. It’s called Liquid Scripture: The Bible in a Digital World (Fortress, 2017). Claire Clivaz has recently given it a nice review in RBL and she ends with this:
Lastly, it is worth considering an important point enlightened by Siker: “the ready availability of so many translations in digital form results in a certain destabilizing of the biblical text” (5). In each chapter Siker tries to figure out what will become of the Bible online; for example, “The unbound Bible on a screen does not lend itself to an immediate awareness of any particular shape of the Bible, canonical or otherwise. From this perspective skimming the Bible on screens would necessarily seem to undermine understanding the Bible in its canonical frame” (69). This situation could still be strengthened by the audio Bible (171–74). In this “Fast Times and Slow Times” situation (242), a last chapter could have been added on the growing diversification of the Greek editions of the New Testament, with the newest one, the Tyndale House Greek New Testament. The flexibility of the Greek New Testament text itself is surely one of the clearer features of the digital Bible era.
One thing I’d like to see is a study that compares people who read the Bible primarily or exclusively digitally and those whose digital reading is used only to supplement their reading of a physical book. Maybe that’s in Siker’s book. But I didn’t catch it in Clivaz’s review.

Here’s the publisher’s description.
The electronic Bible is here to stay‒‒packaged in software on personal computers, available as apps on tablets and cell phones. Increasingly, students look at glowing screens to consult the Bible in class, and congregants do the same in Bible study and worship. Jeffrey S. Siker asks, what difference does it make to our experience of Scripture if we no longer hold a book in our hands, if we again “scroll” through Scripture? How does the “flow” of electronic Scripture change our perception of the Bible’s authority and significance? Siker discusses the difference made when early Christians adopted the codex rather than the scroll and Gutenberg began the mass production of printed Bibles. He also reviews the latest research on how the reading brain processes digital texts and how churches use digital Bibles, including American Bible Society research and his own surveys of church leaders. Siker asks, does the proliferation of electronic translations reduce the perceived seriousness of Scripture? Does it promote an individualistic response to the Bible? How does the change from a physical Bible affect liturgical practice? His synthesis of the advantages and risks of the digitized Bible merit serious reflection in classrooms and churches alike.
Remember our recent discussion about how present technology affects our view of past technology. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Meade on Canon on Camera

My sources tell me that John Meade is currently hiding out in the outer banks, camping or some such thing. Lucky for you, he was recently captured on camera talking about all things canon with several faculty from Southeastern. Take a watch.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

4th Annual Textual Criticism Summer School in Italy

Ferrara in 2016
Paolo Trovato is once again putting on his Summer School in Textual Criticism in Ferrara, Italy. The dates are July 2nd–July 7th. I attended a few years ago and can recommend it as a great opportunity. And this year there appears to be an online option.

Particularly for those doing Biblical textual criticism, the chance to learn from people working deeply in the textual criticism of other texts can be particularly stimulating. Some of my most helpful conversations during my PhD were had with text critics who didn’t work on the Bible. Their outside perspective can be invaluable. I still try to read beyond Biblical textual criticism to see how scholars in other fields approach similar problems. And did I mention this is in Italy?
The Department of Humanities at the University of Ferrara will offer an intensive six-day summer school in Textual Criticism. The course is designed for both graduate and PhD students (max. 20 people) from different disciplines who would like to improve their knowledge in the field of Textual Criticism and discuss their research topics with instructors and colleagues. An introduction to current theories as well as the presentation of individual research subjects will be covered in the first 3 days. The final days will be spent delving more deeply into particular aspects of Textual Criticism, both in modern and classical languages, featuring more recent developments, and discussing individual research. A free guided visit to Ferrara medieval and Renaissance Art Collections is scheduled.

Online option. The classroom meetings are live streamed for registered students ( ). They will receive an email with the link and a personalized username and pw to login.

Among the programme instructors you will find Dàniel Kiss (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest), Federico Marchetti (Ferrara), Roberto Rosselli Del Turco (Pisa), Francesco Stella (Siena), Elisabetta Tonello (e.Campus), Luciano Formisano (Bologna) and Paolo Trovato (Ferrara). The enrolment dead-line is on 11th June.

For further information and application forms see our website: or contact the Director of the Summer School: Professor Paolo Trovato, Department of Humanities, University of Ferrara, Italy, with the subject line: SUMMER SCHOOL
The full program is available here

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Lectures: A material history of the Bible in England 1200–1600

If you happen to be in Cambridge for the summer, Cambridge University Library is hosting a series on the Bible in England that looks good.

From the rise of mass-produced Vulgates in the thirteenth century to the proliferation of innovative vernacular prints in the sixteenth, five lectures will chart the history of the Bible in England across print and reform. Manuscript and early printed bibles from the collections of Cambridge University Library will support a new history of the Bible in England, one which blurs the boundaries between reform and conservatism, and between the Church and heresy. Among their pages we will encounter a hidden portrait of Jane Seymour, the marks of scholars, children and crooks, and the discovery of America.

Each lecture will be accompanied by a display of manuscripts and books from the Library’s collections and will be followed by a discussion led by a respondent.
  • 22 May — The Late Medieval Bible: Beyond Innovation
  • 29 May — Wycliffite Bibles and the Limits of Orthodoxy
  • 5 June — 1535 and the First Two English Bibles
  • 12 June — The Great Bible as a Useless Book
  • 19 June — The Bibles of Edward VI and Beyond: Moving Fast Forward
Each lecture will take place at 5:30pm in the Milstein Room at Cambridge University Library. Lectures are free and open to everyone.

HT: CUL Special Collections 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Where did the Byzantine text come from?

In my occasional interactions with Byzantine-text-preferring folks, I have been puzzled by how many of them are unaware of modern research on the Byzantine text and its development. Some of these folks sincerely seem to think that Westcott and Hort’s views of the matter are still what modern textual critics believe. This is not the case. I know of no text critic today who would argue that the Byzantine text as we find it promulgated in the minuscules is the result of a concerted fourth-century recension.  

So, what do scholars think? The most serious work on the Byzantine text’s development has been done by Klaus Wachtel, especially in his 1995 dissertation. But few Byzantine advocates seem aware of it, probably because it remains untranslated into English (sadly).

Fortunately, a number of Wachtel’s papers from over the years are easily accessible online—and in English. So, I thought I would point out just one of the places where he has explained his view. This is in the hope that those who hold to a Byzantine priority position, a Majority text position, or an Ecclesiastical text position (I realize there are differences in these views) will see that modern eclecticism has developed since 1881 on the question of the Byzantine text. In fact, Wachtel’s animating goal in his dissertation was refuting the view of a fourth-century recension.

In any case, here is Wachtel talking about the Gospels:
The term “text-type”, however, still carries along relics of the old division of the New Testament manuscript tradition into three or four “recensions”. If we take the whole evidence into account, a picture emerges that is far more complex. The external criteria applied when variants are assessed have to be re-defined accordingly. To this end we have to focus on individual manuscripts and explore their relationships with other manuscripts. Assigning them to text-types has become obsolete.

You may ask, why then I am still referring to the “Byzantine text” myself. I am doing so, because the term aptly denominates the mainstream text form in the Byzantine empire. This mainstream has its headwaters in pre-Byzantine times, in fact in the very first phase of our manuscript tradition, and it underwent a long process of development and standardization. The final phase began with the introduction of the minuscule script in the 9th century and ended up in a largely uniform text characterized by readings attested by the majority of all Greek manuscripts from the 13th - 15th centuries counted by hundreds and thousands.

Standardization means editorial activity, and in fact, a text form so similar to the late majority text as represented by Codex Alexandrinus cannot have emerged from a linear copying process without conscious editing. It is indeed likely that the text in Codex Alexandrinus is the result of editorial activity which may have been carried out in one or, more likely, several steps. Likewise, the text of the 6th century purple codices N 022 and Σ 042 certainly was not just copied from some manuscript picked at random. Diorthosis, correction, was an integral part of the copying process. Yet the assumption that a recension stood at the beginning of the formation of the Byzantine text and then penetrated the whole manuscript tradition reflects a categorically different view of the transmission history. I am going to focus on the differences between five manuscript texts to show that despite intense editorial activity the Byzantine majority text is the result of a process of reconciliation between different strands of transmission.*
I myself have found this view persuasive at least as far as the Catholic Letters are concerned (though I have tweaked it just slightly). You, of course, may or may not agree with this view, but it is the most detailed and substantiated view of the Byzantine text’s origin on offer. And it is now cited as such in both the major introductions to the field (Metzger-Ehrman’s, and Parker’s).

Kirsopp Lake’s diagram of WH’s view of textual history. He rejected this too.

No major textual critic, to my knowledge, holds to Westcott and Hort’s fourth-century revision view anymore though it may well linger among those in the wider NT guild. My point here is only to say that Byzantine prioritists (of whatever stripe) need to address Wachtel’s arguments not Westcott and Hort’s.

Here ends my public service announcement.

* Klaus Wachtel, “The Byzantine Text of the Gospels: Recension or Process?” paper delivered at SBL in 2009, online here.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Preferring a Longer Reading in Ephesians 5.22

Yesterday at church, I happened to be reading Eph 5.22 and thinking again about the relationship between Eph 5.21 and Eph 5.22. My NA26, which I had with me at the time, notes the possibility of punctuating v. 21 with v. 22 or separately from it. The NA28 punctuates it with v. 22 and the paragraphing follows suit. One of the reasons for doing this is because v. 22 doesn’t have a main verb but one that is implied from the participle ὑποτασσόμενοι (“being in submission to”) from v. 21. In this, v. 21 is set apart from the other similar participles in 5.16–20 that unpack what it means to “walk worthy” (5.15).

However, the apparatus of NA also notes that most manuscripts have an explicit imperative in 5.22 which would make 5.22 line up naturally with the other second person imperatives in the rest of Eph 5.22–6.20 (see 5.25, 6.1, 6.5, 6.10). Each of these starts its own paragraph in NA.

There are two alternate readings in 5.22. The first is ὑποτάσσεσθε (“y’all be in submission to”) found in K L 630 Byz syr. The other is ὑποτασσέσθωσαν (“they should be in submission”) found in 01 A I P 0278 6 33 1505 1739 lat syh co etc. What I realized yesterday in thinking about this is that the second reading has a really good claim to originality; in fact, I now think it may have the best claim to that.

Variant and paragraph break at Eph 5.22 in 01
Not only is it attested early and well, but it can easily explain both the alternate readings while alternatively not being well explained by either. It explains the shorter reading (found only in P46 B Clem Hier) by simple homoioteleuton, the word being omitted because of the repeated ν on ἀνδράσιν just before it. On the other hand, it explains the Byzantine reading which is the obvious way to assimilate this verse to the rest of this section, the other imperatives being 2nd person rather than 3rd person as we have with ὑποτασσέσθωσαν. I think this latter point is also good grounds against preferring the shorter reading; if a scribe were going to add a verb here (as, I readily admit, would be natural), it  would most likely have taken the form of the 2nd person imperative to fit with the others. In other words, it would take the form of the dominant Byzantine reading.

There is, then, a strong case to be made for ὑποτασσέσθωσαν as the original reading. And, if so, then v. 21 should be read more with what precedes and v. 22, more with what follows. The paragraph break thus belongs after v. 21 not before it.

The question I had at church was whether or not anyone else had taken this view. Sure enough, Tregelles prefers ὑποτασσέσθωσαν and he is followed by the editors of the new THGNT. The latter also has a paragraph break at v. 22. [Update: Lachmann has it and WH give ὑποτασσέσθωσαν as a marginal reading.] So, I am at least in good company.

Whatever your view, this is certainly not an insignificant decision. Given the debates about vv. 21 and 22, the choice of variant and its effect on where to break the text, affects how you read and apply the text. Let no one say that textual criticism doesn’t influence interpretation and application. The other lesson from this example is: always take your GNT to church! You never know what you’ll discover.

Friday, May 04, 2018

The Curious Case of P44

In my NA28, P44 is listed as a sixth/seventh-century manuscript containing Matt 17.1–3, 6–7; 18.15–17, 19; 25. 8–10 and Jn 9.3–4; 10.8–14; 12.16–18. It seems then to be a lectionary, which is how LDAB and the Met’s website list it. My co-blogger, Elijah Hixson, however, pointed out to me yesterday that P44 has been split in two since the printing of my NA28 so that it is now P44 and P128. The sections containing Jn 9.3–4; 12.16–18 are P128 and the other sections are now P44. That means that P44 still contains Matt and John materials and still seems to be a lectionary.

It’s the remaining bit of John in P44, however, that seems strange to me and I would like to hear from others about it. I pinged another one of my co-bloggers, Pete Malik, on this and all three of us get the impression that text of John that is still listed as part of P44 looks to be from a different hand. My library is limited at the moment and none of my own books gave me any help. So, I’m wondering if any of our readers know more about what’s going on here.

In this image, I’ve highlighted P44 in blue, P128 in orange, and the remaining John material of P44 in purple. It’s this last part I’m curious about.

P44 (in blue) and P128 (in orange). John 10.8–14 is in purple.
Update: Brent Nongbri emails this photo from the IGNTP volume of John, showing how they split it into A and B. In this case, their P44B is now P128 and they naturally don’t include the portions of Matt from what they’re calling P44A. But I’d like to know if they say anything more about their P44A and its relation to the rest of P44.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

PhD Funding in Dublin

Garrick Allen shares news of funding at Dublin City University for PhDs in Biblical Studies (among other things). He says this could certainly include TC. And since you’d be so close to the Chester Beatty papyri, why not?


PhD in Theology
Dublin City University - School of Theology, Philosophy, and Music
  • Qualification type: PhD
  • Location: Dublin
  • Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
  • Funding amount: €16,000; £14,182.06 converted salary* £13,401 converted
  • Hours: Full Time
  • Placed on: 3rd May 2018
  • Closes: 8th June 2018
The School of Theology, Philosophy, and Music is a dynamic and creative learning and research environment with a strong commitment to social and cultural engagement, and world-class research. The academic study of religion in DCU takes place within a pluralist, multi-religious, secular, and interdisciplinary context, with internationally-recognised staff who have distinguished records in research and teaching. We place an emphasis on ecumenical perspectives on theological themes and questions, on the study of sacred texts and languages, and on interreligious dialogue, particularly the dialogue between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We are offering Doctoral Scholarships in Theology. Applications are welcome in the areas of Biblical Studies, Interreligious Theology, Systematic Theology, and Theological Ethics.


Applicants must have an undergraduate degree at first-class honours level or at least 2.1 level in Theology, Religious Studies, or a related discipline, and a Master’s Degree in Theology, Religious Studies, or a related discipline. Candidates who are currently completing a Master’s qualification are welcome to apply.


The School of Theology, Philosophy, and Music is particularly interested in receiving research proposals in the following areas:
  • Biblical Studies
  • Interreligious Theology
  • Systematic Theology
  • Theological Ethics

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

How Present Technology Changes Our View of Past Technology

I’ve been thinking more recently about the significance we attach to technological developments. Think, for instance of the shift from scroll to codex or the change from handwritten books to books printed with movable type. Most readers here will be familiar with some of the significance found in these changes. Did the codex form reinforce the canon for instance? Was it a way that early Christians distinguished their sacred from non-sacred writings? Did Christians become more concerned with textual accuracy with the invention of the printing press? Etc.

These are good questions and it is worth reflecting on the ways new technologies affect or, alternatively, reflect Christian beliefs and practice. But I confess that I sometimes feel skeptical about how much significance is ascribed to them. One reason is because of something Alan Jacobs has written about, which he calls the tendency to “fetishize” past technologies. Here he is in 2015 reflecting on this tendency in Books & Culture (sadly defunct now):
Any given technology changes its meaning when alternatives to it arise: candles began to mean something different when gas lighting appeared; gas lighting began to mean something different when electrical light appeared. Associations form in the public mind with particular times, places, social groups—mental links that would have been impossible to forge without the clarifying power of contrast. This is not to say that technologies have no meaning until alternatives turn up: but the more universal they are, the less likely we are to reflect on them. The comment (I have heard it attributed to Huston Smith) that the only thing the world’s religions have in common is that they all use candles is something that no one would have thought of before the advent of other forms of lighting.

Thus when digital technologies of reading and writing arose, soon thereafter people became intensely reflective about what had preceded them: books, paper, pens and pencils. E-readers make the distinctive features, the characteristic conformation, of books stand forth vividly; a world in which everyone types becomes a world in which pens can be fetishized.

The attention vector of any particular technology goes something like this: from ubiquitous and largely unreflective use to the subject of specialized scholarly research to the topic of personal and idiosyncratic reflections. So the history of the book became a serious scholarly subdiscipline starting in the second half of the 20th century, and emerged onto the general public scene near the end of that century: Alberto Manguel’s A History of Reading (1996) marked, more clearly than any other single book, that emergence... [the rest is pay-walled, sadly.]
I think Jacobs is right and the point is important because we may be tempted to see more in the shifts mentioned above than is deserved. In the case of early Christians and their “bookishness,” for example, I would like to know whether or not they thought of this as distinguishing them from other contemporary groups. If not, then might this be something we are reading into the past because of what Jacobs calls a fetishizing of previous technologies?

Well, I need to keep thinking about it. But it’s something to be aware of at least.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Matthew 24:36 and Rapture Predictions

In case you missed, it there was another end-times prediction for yesterday.

A ‘biblical numerologist’ who goes by ‘David Meade’—no relation to John—predicted that a rogue planet would appear, the rapture would happen, and the world as we know it would generally come to an end.

And yet, here we are.

Today, then, seems to be a great opportunity to look at the variant in Matthew 24:36:

Περὶ δὲ τῆς ἡμέρας ἐκείνης καὶ ὥρας οὐδεὶς οἶδεν, οὐδὲ οἱ ἄγγελοι τῶν οὐρανῶν οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός, εἰ μὴ ὁ πατὴρ μόνος.

But concerning that day and hour, no one knows. Neither the angels of the heavens, nor the Son, except the Father alone.

The variant in question is the presence or absence of οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός.

According to the NA28:

Absent in: 01^2a K L W Γ Δ f1 22 565 579 700 892 1241 1424 g^1 l vg sy co; Hier^mss and the Majority text
Present in: 01* 01^2b B D Θ f13 l2211 it vg^mss Ir^lat Hier^mss

Bart Ehrman calls this variant “one of the clearest examples of an orthodox change effected to prevent its heretical ‘misuse’” (Orthodox Corruption, p. 91). Ehrman accepts οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός as the earlier reading that scribes then omitted. Dan Wallace, on the other hand, argues that the phrase οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός is indeed original—to Mark’s Gospel. Its absence in Matthew is because Matthew removed it, only for it to be added back in by later scribes.

Ehrman summarises the theological argument for ‘Orthodox Corruption’: “it suggests that the Son of God is not all-knowing and could be used therefore by adoptionists to argue that Jesus was not himself divine” (p. 92). Wallace has a series of responses to the theological argument in his article. I would like to point out that Ehrman does acknowledge that the same phrase is nearly always present at Mark 13:32 (though just a handful of manuscripts do omit it there).

If one reads Matthew and Mark together canonically, neither the presence nor the absence of οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός changes any core doctrines of Christianity. Whether Matthew included the phrase or not, it is clear that Mark did.

Finally, regardless of how one interprets Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32, and regardless of which reading one accepts as original at Matthew 24:36, one thing is clear: Only the Father knows the day and the hour. Not the angels in the heavens, nor the televangelist end-times ‘prophets’.

If you really want to read a book on biblical numerology, I recommend this one.

For the editions of the works I cited here, see:

Ehrman, Bart D. The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Wallace, Daniel B. “The Son’s Ignorance in Matthew 24:36: An Exercise in Textual and Redaction Criticism.” In Studies on the Text of the New Testament and Early Christianity: Essays in Honor of Michael W. Holmes On the Occasion of His 65th Birthday, edited by Daniel M. Gurtner, Juan Hernández Jr., and Paul Foster, 178–205. NTTSD 50. Leiden; Boston, 2015.

EDIT (24 April): I corrected a typo that a reader caught, in which I mistakenly referred to Matthew 24:26 (not 24:36) in the final instance.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Paul’s Bible Version in 1 Corinthians 15:54?

I continue my series on what version of the OT is the NT using? Given the discussion of Theodotion or ‘Proto-Theodotion’ last week, it is time to address Paul’s bible version of Isaiah 25:8 in 1 Corinthians 15:54. Once again, we need to remember that when Paul uses the OT or Greek scriptures, he mostly uses them in the version we know as the LXX or ‘the Seventy’ or the Septuagint even if Paul may not have thought about the matter in that category unless he was referring to the Law or the Torah. Furthermore, it is unclear what Paul would have called the revisions of these Old Greek translations. Scholars refer to the ‘kaige tradition’ or ‘proto-Theodotion’ or even ‘kaige-Theodotion’ when referring to these texts. Late second-century Christians refer to the versions/editions of Theodotion, Aquila, and Symmachus, and we can reasonably date the latter two to the early-middle of the second century. Historical Theodotion could be dated to near the end of the second century based on some patristic statements, but internal evidence and some patristic testimony could locate him in the first century. Scholars continue to work on this pressing question.

Paul’s Text in 1 Corinthians 15:54

Whatever we call this Jewish tradition or movement from around the turn of the era, its work does appear within the NT. In 1 Corinthians 15:54, Paul writes: τότε γενήσεται ὁ λόγος ὁ γεγραμμένος· κατεπόθη ὁ θάνατος εἰς νῖκος (then the word which is written will happen, “Death is swallowed up in victory.”).

The question before us is what text of Isaiah 25:8 does Paul cite? And it just so happens that for this passage we have all of the relevant editions of the Jewish revisers that Origen included in his Hexapla: Theodotion, Aquila, and Symmachus in addition to the LXX and the Hebrew text.

Relevant Versions

HT: בִּלַּע הַמָּוֶת לָנֶצַח
He swallowed up death forever

OG-Isa: κατέπιεν ὁ θάνατος ἰσχύσας 
Death, strengthened, swallowed [them i.e. nations] up

Theodotion: κατεπόθη ὁ θάνατος εἰς νῖκος 
Death is swallowed up in victory

Aquila: καταποντίσει τὸν θάνατον εἰς νῖκος 
He will swallow up death in victory

Symmachus: καταποθῆναι ποιήσει τὸν θάνατον εἰς τέλος 
He will make death to be swallowed up forever

These versions probably reflect different vocalizations of the same consonantal proto-MT, but I won’t delve into the details here. The main point is that Paul’s short citation reflects exactly the version of Theodotion Isaiah (“Death is swallowed up in victory”), not OG-Isa, and this version does not reflect the vocalization of the MT. Given the contrasts with HT and OG and the exact wording of Theodotion, Paul has used this Jewish Greek version of Isa 25:8 in 1 Cor 15:54.

This instance and others like it raise the question over access to these Greek versions. How does the NT author access these other versions? Regional texts? Memory? But that’s another question for another day.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Who said it?

It’s time for another round of everyone’s favorite game: “who said it?” Now, the invention of Google books has significantly diminished the challenge of this game, but it is best not to spoil it that way.
The point is that we have so many manuscripts of the NT and that these manuscripts contain so many variant readings that surely the original reading in every case is somewhere present in our vast store of material. ... We have, therefore, a genuine embarrassment of riches in the quantity of manuscripts that we possess, and this accounts, on the one hand, for the optimism in the discipline and for the promise of solid results.
So, who said it? 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Two important, shorter Byzantine readings in 1 John

In reading through 1 John with my Greek students this semester, I noticed two unexpected variants. They are both places where the Byzantine majority preserves a shorter reading that is easily explained as an accidental omission.

The full Greek data for 1 John 2.23 are in Text und Textwert, but the evidence from ECM is:
  1. πᾶς ὁ ἀρνούμενος τὸν υἱὸν οὐδὲ τὸν πατέρα ἔχει, ὁ ὁμολογῶν τὸν υἱὸν καὶ τὸν πατέρα ἔχει.
    01. 02. 03. 04. 025. 044. 5. 33. 61. 94. 104. 206. 218. 252. 254. 307. 321. 323. 326. 378C. 398. 429. 436. 442. 453. 459. 467C. 468. 522. 614. 621. 623. 630. 720. 808. 918. 996. 1067. 1127. 1243. 1292. 1359. 1409. 1448. 1490. 1505. 1523. 1524. 1563. 1611. 1661. 1678. 1718. 1735. 1739. 1751. 1799. 1831. 18372. 18382. 1842. 1844f. 1852. 1881. 2138. 2147. 2200. 2298. 2344. 2374. 2412. 2464. 2541. 2544. 2652. 2805. 2818. L596. L1281. Ath. Cyr. CyrH. Or. K:S>BV>. S:P>H. A. G:A1. Sl.Si. Ä
  2. πᾶς ὁ ἀρνούμενος τὸν υἱὸν οὐδὲ τὸν πατέρα ἔχει.
    6. 81. 88. 181. 378*. 467*. 629. 642. 915. 945. 1241. 1875. 2186. 2243. 2492. Byz [424*. 424C2]. PsOec. K:Bms. Sl:ChMS
While the minuscules are not unified here, there is still a clear Byz text identified by the ECM. Because of this unity, you will not find this variant in Robinson-Pierpont as a Byzantine variant though it is in the apparatus as an NA27 reading. The obvious explanation for the second reading is, of course, homoiteleuton (ἔχει ... ἔχει).

By way of illustration, here is the correction of the text in 424 adding the text back in followed by a second correction expunging it.

The double correction in 424. See in VMR
The second such omission is just a few verses later in 1 John 3.1. There the main evidence is
  1. Ἴδετε ποταπὴν ἀγάπην δέδωκεν ἡμῖν ὁ πατήρ, ἵνα τέκνα θεοῦ κληθῶμεν, καὶ ἐσμέν.
    01. 02. 03. 04. 025. 044. 5. 6. 33. 81. 94. 104. 206. 307. 321. 323. 378. 398. 4242. 429. 436. 442. 453. 459. 467. 522. 614. 621. 623. 629. 630. 918. 945. 996. 1067. 1127. 1243. 1292. 1409. 1490. 1505. 1523. 1524. 1611. 1735. 1739. 1799. 1831. 1838. 1842. 1844. 1852. 1881. 2138. 2147. 2200. 2298. 2344. 2374. 2412. 2464. 2541. 2652. 2805. 2818. L596. L:VT. A. G:A1. Sl:ChMSi
  2. Ἴδετε ποταπὴν ἀγάπην δέδωκεν ἡμῖν ὁ πατήρ, ἵνα τέκνα θεοῦ κληθῶμεν.
    61. 88. 181 . 218. 254. 326. 642. 808. 915. 1359. 1448. 1563. 1718. 1837. 1875. 2186. 2243. 2492. Byz [424T]. PSOeC. L:Vms. K:Sms>. Sl:S
Once again, we have the earliest evidence, several dozen minuscules, and most of the versions in favor of the longer reading and the Byzantine manuscripts in favor of the shorter. This variant won’t show up in the RP as an intra-Byzantine variant either. Again, the simplest explanation for the Byzantine reading is homoioteleuton, the eye skipping from -μεν to -μεν.

Klaus Wachtel (Der Bzyantinische Text, 302–303) also suggests that the shorter reading would be preferable because it removes the abrupt shift from subjunctive (κληθῶμεν) to indicative (ἐσμέν) following ἵνα. Confirming this as a possible motive is the fact that we find the subjunctive ὦμεν in 2544 and this appears to be what is translated by the Harklean Syriac and some Coptic witnesses. 

Here is this variant again in 424 showing another correction.

1 John 3.1 in 424. See in VMR
Both variants are pretty easy to deal with for reasoned and thoroughgoing eclectics and pretty difficult for Byzantine prioritists. It may be surprising to see the Byzantine tradition preserve such obvious mistakes, but in this, it also shows how careful the Byzantine scribes often were. It also suggests that, in some cases, the Byzantine text goes back to a single exemplar that is not the autograph and not one of our earliest extant Greek witnesses. These two cases also illustrate well the reality that no single text-type or manuscript has a corner on the original text all the time.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Congratulations to Troy Griffitts!

Good news out of Birmingham today.
ITSEE extends its warmest congratulations to Troy Griffitts, one of its most longstanding doctoral students, on qualifying for the award of PhD.

Troy began his studies in Birmingham in September 2010, researching the development of collaborative online frameworks for volunteer contributions to scholarly datasets, with a particular focus on the New Testament. A year later, however, the opportunity arose for him to move to ITSEE’s collaborator, the Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung in Münster, to become lead developer of the New Testament Virtual Manuscript Room (NT.VMR). Troy continued to work on his doctorate as a part-time, split-site and latterly distance-learning student. His thesis describes the development of NTVMR 2.0, and the independent scholarly editing environment to which it has led, the freely-available Virtual Manuscript Room Collaborative Research Environment (VMR CRE).

Troy’s thesis, entitled Software for the Collaborative Editing of the Greek New Testament, was examined by Dr Dirk Jongkind of the University of Cambridge and Dr Andrew Davies, Director of the Edward Cadbury Centre at Birmingham. His supervisors were Dr Hugh Houghton and Professor David Parker. Following the successful completion of his doctorate, Troy continues to be active in supporting the New Testament Virtual Manuscript Room, as well as the Museum of the Bible Greek Paul Project in the USA, the Coptic-Sahidic Old Testament Project in Göttingen and other teams using his software. He also remains a director of the CrossWire Bible Society.
Congratulations, Troy! Thank you for all the hard work you put into these digital tools.

Monday, April 16, 2018

New Light on ‘Proto-Theodotion’

8ḤevXII Col 31
Jan Joosten has posted an intriguing paper to to be published in a congress volume, “New light on Proto-Theodotion. The Psalms of Solomon and the Milieu of the Kaige Recension.” It is worth reporting on some of the salient points in this piece.

Joosten begins by surveying scholarship on the questions of Theodotion, proto-Theodotion, and the kaige-group (mainly the work of D. Barthélemy) and he isolates three open questions: (1) the first century CE date of this revisional activity, (2) the location of the revision in Palestine, and (3) the revision’s relationship to proto-Rabbinic exegesis.

He then turns in an “unexepected” direction to the Psalms of Solomon. Most scholars believe that the Psalms of Solomon were originally composed in Hebrew, but Joosten and E. Bons believe that the work could have been composed originally in Greek. He locates the composition in Judea, freshly after the Roman invasion around the middle of the first century BCE.

What are the connections between the kaige group and the Psalms of Solomon? First, Joosten discerns a unique, common vocabulary between Ps. Sol. and members of the kaige group. Second, Ps. Sol. often employs and alludes to the Old Greek of biblical books, but on occasion the allusions veer away from the Old Greek and align with the Theodotionic and Aquilinic revisions of the Old Greek or at least align with their translation equivalents of the proto-MT elsewhere. For example (on p. 9):
Ps. Sol. 17:3 ἡμεῖς δὲ ἐλπιοῦμεν ἐπὶ τὸν θεὸν σωτῆρα ἡμῶν
      But we will hope in God our savior
Mic 7:7 Εγὼ δὲ… ὑπομενῶ ἐπὶ τῷ θεῷ τῷ σωτῆρί μου
      But as for me… I will wait for God my savior
MT אוֹחִילָה “I will await”
Note יחל – ἐλπίζειν in θ´ Job 14:14; Isa 42:4; Mic 5:6; α´ Job 14:14; Isa 42:4. The expression ὁ θεὸς σωτήρ is found in the Greek Bible only in these passages. This makes it very likely that the Ps. Sol. passage alludes to Mic 7:7. The constellation is the same as in the previous one, except that the revised reading is not extant for this precise verse in Micah. The equivalence יחל – ἐλπίζειν is attested elsewhere in Theodotion and Aquila, however. In Job 14:14, ὑπομένειν in the LXX was changed to ἐλπίζειν in θ´α´.
Here, we do not have extant evidence of the revisers for Mic 7:7, but Joosten has probably detected correctly that Ps. Sol. has adopted their approach (as members of the kaige-group) to the translation of scripture rather than the OG’s.

At the end of the article, Joosten returns to the open questions with which he began, quite cautiously drawing conclusions. First, if Ps. Sol. is dated to the second half of the first century BCE and there is a connection to kaige, then the kaige activity is more probably dated to the first century BCE, thus a minor correction to Barthélemy’s first century CE date. Second, Joosten notes that Ps. Sol. might now present new evidence for the kaige activity occurring in Palestine. Third, and most intriguing, Ps. Sol. expressed opinion that appears to be consonant with the Pharisees (e.g. resurrection of righteous in 3:11-12; 13:11), which might then link it—and now the kaige group—with the proto-Rabbinic movement.

There is much to consider in this piece, and generally, it seems right to me. The same tradition or group that revised its sacred scriptures and made new translations of some of them could have also generated new psalms and collections. Probably, the major challenge to this argument would be that Jews in Judea composed Ps. Sol. in Greek, not Hebrew, a challenge that Joosten himself notes. Another aspect of Joosten’s discussion that’s worth revisiting is the language of “Theodotion.” His article depends only on Ps. Sol. originating with the kaige tradition not necessarily “Theodotion” or proto-Theodotion. It may be best to remove the reference to Theodotion and continue to use kaige tradition or group. But this is a minor point, and I don’t want it to detract from Joosten’s overall intriguing piece.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Larry Hurtado on P52

I recently came across this short video of Craig Evans interviewing Larry Hurtado. It appears to be made during the production of Evans’ new documentary, Fragments of Truth (see Peter Gurry’s review here). The date of P52 comes up, and Hurtado briefly explains why he thinks it is “among the earliest New Testament manuscripts” but not necessarily the earliest New Testament manuscript.

Hurtado’s position isn’t new or unusual, but I find it helpful to draw attention to another voice among those who reject specifically early or narrow dates for P52. He has gone on the record before about what he thinks of the date of P52 (on his blog here, or in various articles, some of which are in his recent collection of essays, Texts and Artefacts).

Friday, April 13, 2018

Festschrift for Geoffrey Khan freely available

The full text of the Festschrift for Geoffrey Khan, one of the world’s leading Semitists, is now freely available here. In the opening essay of the volume I write about Semitic long /i/ vowels in Vaticanus NT, making the case that the spellings with epsilon-iota for the long /i/ in Vaticanus are a mixture of early readings and learned innovation.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Greg Lanier: Locating the Inspired ‘Original’ Amid Textual Complexity

Greg Lanier is an assistant professor and dean of students at Reformed Theological Seminary and a good friend of mine from Cambridge. Recently, he published a long article in JETS about a particularly knotty textual problem that spans both OT and NT. It also raises questions for Evangelicals about the goal of textual criticism and its relationship to our bibliology. I would like to see more discussion about these issues and so I asked Greg if he would introduce us to his article and pose some of the issues it raises. So, here is Greg.

The most recent volume of JETS (61.1) includes my analysis of the textual tradition of the murder (M), adultery (A), and steal (S) commandments of the Decalogue—traditionally 6th–8th in the Protestant numbering. The full article can be downloaded here.

The bulk of the article is an inventory of the various sequences found in extant sources (including the versions) for both OT and NT occurrences of these commandments. For instance, the order M-A-S is read in the MT for both Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5; A-M-S in the Nash Papyrus and B-Deuteronomy; A-S-M in B-Exodus; and a variety of sequences appear in the NT references to these commandments (and the resulting textual traditions). The full set of results can, of course, be found in the article.

While tracing the minutiae of these passages as far as possible was interesting in its own right, I eventually realized that the project served as a well-contained case study that surfaces and helps crystallize a bigger-picture issue of significance in the study of the textual tradition of Scripture. Namely, what does it mean to speak of an authorial/original/initial form of a Scriptural writing when faced with tremendous complexity in the actual data itself?

In conversations with various OT and NT peers—particularly those who have a “high” doctrine of Scripture (of the American or British varieties)—I’ve found that this topic has struck a chord, as others have been thinking on it as well.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Review of ‘Fragments of Truth’

The folks at Faithlife kindly sent me a review version of their new documentary Fragments of Truth that comes out two weeks from today. The movie itself lasts 115 minutes followed by about 30 minutes of Q&A with Craig Evans and others. Evans also serves as tour guide (think Mary Beard style) and the rest of the narration is filled in by John Rhys-Davies, better known as the amazing Gimli in Lord of the Rings.

The basic point of the movie is to show that the text of the New Testament is reliable and that the variants that do exist pose no threat to Christian confidence in the New Testament. The closing words go further in saying that when you read your Bible, you “really are reading the Word of God.” Probably many Christians won’t even notice the leap from “textually reliable” to “inspired by God,” but skeptics might.

Evans takes us on a tour to locations across Europe that hold some of our most famous Greek New Testament manuscripts in places like Cambridge, Dublin, Vatican City, and Oxford. One nice feature about this is that they interview the curators at most of these stops. I like this because curators often get overlooked. But not here.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Christian Biblical Canon Defined by Central Authority?

Timothy Lim has recently written a post for the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins blog (University of Edinburgh) entitled The Canonical Process Reconsidered (the post is a summary of a recent essay which I have not seen yet). Lim is commenting on the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament canon in this post/article, specifically, questioning the role of "Criterial Logic" for tracing the canon process and promoting what he calls "Indicative Logic" instead. I won't engage those ideas here. However, Lim makes a curious statement in the very first paragraph, which I will engage. He states:
The canon of the Hebrew Bible was defined, if not yet finally closed, by the end of the first century CE. The Pharisaic canon became the canon of Rabbinic Judaism, because the majority of those who re-founded the Jewish religion after the destruction of the Temple by the Romans were Pharisees. The process that led to this canonization needs to be explored. How should we think about the books that were eventually included in the canon? Unlike the early church, ancient Jewish communities did not have a central authority that defined the books of the canon. The formation of the Jewish canon was not prescribed by the priests of the Temple of Jerusalem, it emerged from the bottom-up with each community holding to its own collection of authoritative texts (emphasis added).
Lim does not explain this analogy further, but surely, he is alluding to the all-too-common picture of a fourth-century council (usually Nicaea) that defined the books of the biblical canon once and for all. The problem with this view? No evidence. In fact, if you look through my and Ed Gallagher's recent The Biblical Canon Lists from Early Christianity, perhaps the first thing you will notice is that there is no list from the Council of Nicaea or similar council from this early period. In fact, we wanted to ensure that even the gathering at Laodicea in the 360's and the one at Hippo in the early 390's were not mistaken for the big councils of the same century. We translated the relevant terms with "synod" to try to convey that these assemblies were more regional and smaller than what the term "council" typically conveys in these discussions.

If there was a canon list that came from a central, authoritative council, we do not possess it today. Rather, our lists show that there was almost certainly no such ruling on the canon, since, although the lists share much agreement, they also evince ongoing disputes and discussions over various books after the Council of Nicaea (325 CE). Therefore, both Judaism and Christianity cannot claim that their lists of books go back to some central authority. Both must trace the process of canonization according to the various sources we possess today.