Monday, August 13, 2018

The Text-Critical Seminar at SNTS in Athens 2018

Today I am flying home from Athens where I have participated in the 73rd SNTS meeting including three sessions in the text-critical seminar. This was the fifth and final year of the seminar, chaired by me, Claire Clivaz and Ulrich Schmid, and the theme of this year was NTTC in exegesis.

We had three wonderful presentations followed by responses and fruitful discussions by the sixteen or so participants and I think the presenters got some very useful feedback. 

Tommy Wassermans foto. Jennifer Knust kicked off on Wednesday with a brilliant paper on textual criticism as exegesis discussing Lachmann’s idea of recensere sine interpretatione, Origen on John 1:28 (Bethany/Bethabara) among other things followed by a stimulating response by Claire Clivaz, wherein she coined the term “Lachmannian utopia,” among other things.

Tommy Wassermans foto.
Next on Thursday, Klaus Wachtel gave an instructive presentation on the interactive commentary on ECM of Acts in the NT.VMR with an example in Acts 3:13, followed by a response by Mike Holmes, who also brought up the conjecture in Acts 13:33.

Tommy Wassermans foto.On the last day of the SNTS meeting in Athens (Fri), we had Juan Hernandez Jr. present on ”The Apocalypse in Light of Recent Advances: A Return to J. Schmid’s Studien to Contextualize Current Text-Critical Trends.” The paper presented and evaluated Josef Schmid’s work on Revelation which has now been translated into English by Juan, Garrick Allen and Darius Müller (Juan is holding the book in the picture), and concluded by briefly looking to the future.

This was followed by a response by myself where I posed several questions to the presenter about Schmid’s work in particular in light of recent advances in research on Revelation through Text und Textwert, monographs and articles by Juan himself, Darius Müller, Peter Malik, and many others.

Tommy Wassermans foto.A highlight was when Juan stood up and read out loud for us a paragraph from the new translation which answered one of the questions.

This session as the two others went great and I have had good feedback from many participants in the seminar who thought we had great sessions. The best thing with the meeting though is to meet wonderful colleagues (here I am with Jennifer Knust and Claire Clivaz).

And, now I can announce that our seminar was accepted for renewal for another five years with me, Claire Clivaz and Hugh Houghton as chairs.

These are the themes for the coming period:

1)    Significant manuscripts and scribal habits (2019) – joint session(s) with papyrology
We will begin with a focus on the physical manuscripts and their scribes. We have agreed with the papyrology seminar to arrange a joint seminar (or sessions) on significant New Testament MSS at the meeting in Marburg.

2)    The Latin Bible (2020)
This will coincide with the publication of the Oxford Handbook to the Latin Bible, and enable us to invite distinguished guests as well as contributions from existing members.

3)    New Testament editions (2021)
This topic is evolving so fast that there is no doubt that we will have new topics and novelties to discuss in 2021.

4)     Digital developments and challenges (2022)
The same remark can be made here, based on the successful seminar on this topic in 2017, which has led to new standards being adopted for digital data in this field. Moreover, we expect to see several new digital projects developed in NTTC in the next years.

5)    NTTC and Reception History (2023)
This topic acts as a link between the study of the text and its significance for those working in other areas of New Testament scholarship.

So, I hope I will see some of you colleagues out there in Marburg next year!


  1. Tommy, you were hilarious as MC! We all loved your injection of humor to these seminars. All the papers were exceptional. Great sessions.

  2. Thanks Dan, I am glad for your and Rob’s participation and contribution!

  3. Pardon my ignorance: Do the papers from these meetings get published anywhere?

    1. If they’re good enough :-). There is no particular venue of publication for the seminar papers. Juan’s presentation is largely an enhanced version of hos preface to the translation of Schmid’s study. Klaus presented on a digital tool and discussed passages in the online commentary. I don’t think it is meant for publication. Jennifer’s paper on the other hand, will likely be developed and published somewhere.

  4. One of the issues Tommy asked about during my paper was about the implications of P98 as a potential early "mixed text," for the textual history of Revelation as imagined by Schmid--a point that was made by Tobias Nicklas in his "Early Text of Revelation" article in the Hill & Kruger volume. Admittedly, I didn't recall the details of the article at that moment, so I went back for a look and this is my read. After reviewing six short readings in P98, Nicklas notes that the papyrus does not really fit into the overall picture Schmid draws. The implication appears to be that this may call Schmid's overall pattern of text types into question. I don't think, however, that the data reveals enough to change anything about Schmid's schematization (not that I don't think revisions aren't needed). First of all, MOST of the MSS that Schmid deals with don't fit neatly into the four major text types, so finding another one that doesn't isn't a game changer. Second, the fact that P98 "might be" an early mixed text (and we really don't have enough material to characterize the text) doesn't threaten Schmid's theory because the four main text types are dated to the fourth century. Indeed, the presumption is that things were messy between the Urtext and the development of text types, so it would be surprising if there weren't "mixed" texts before the fourth century. The Neutral text, for example, is regarded as a "corrected" text by Schmid. In other words, the Netural text is not automatically equated with the Urtext, though it does bear witness to it, but is a corrected form of it. Schmid differs from Hort here where the difference between the Urtext and the Neutral is nearly inconsequential compared to what Schmid finds for Revelation. Finally, the evidence of mixture Nicklas points to is present even in the major text types. So, for example, although P47-S are closely related for Schmid and he calls the a text type, S is also called a mixed text because it has readings that differ P47 and go with any one of the other three major text types. Bottom line: the fragment is too small to say anything meaningful about what its overall textual complexion might have looked like and certainly not enough to topple Schmid's framework, especially since the behavior of P98 appears to conform rather than depart from the characteristics of other MSS in Schmid's textual history.

  5. Juan Hernandez Jr.8/22/2018 7:39 pm

    By the way, although I doubt it's a mystery, that last comment was by "Juan Hernandez Jr." It came up as "Unknown". I'll have to figure out how to

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