Monday, December 30, 2019

Fact-checking Versional Support for the ECM and the textus receptus

It’s no secret that sometimes patristic citations and versions are used to make claims they don’t really support. I came across this issue the other day when I was looking at 2 Peter 3:10.

Coptic and the ECM at 2 Peter 3:10

The ECM (and the NA28 following) famously has a conjecture at 2 Peter 3:10, οὐχ εὑρεθήσεται. This reading is not found in any Greek manuscript, but the ECM claims some versional support: manuscripts of the Philoxenian Syriac, and among Coptic witnesses, the Sahidic and “Dialect V” (but V is cited videtur, so there is some potential uncertainty there). “Dialect V” is not one of the more well-attested Coptic dialects, so this citation seemed like the kind of thing I should look at more closely before citing it as supporting the conjecture. Just how many manuscripts were we talking about here?

Only one, it turns out (for this passage). P. Mich. 3520. And it’s damaged precisely at this part of 2 Peter 3:10.

The editio princeps gives the following transcription:

Source: Schenke, Hans-Martin, ed. (with Rodolphe Kasser) Papyrus Michigan 3520 und 6868(a), Ecclesiastes, Erster Johannesbrief und Zweiter Petrusbrief im fayumischen Dialekt. TUGAL 151. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2003.
And in German translation:

Source: same as above
Unless my Coptic is too rusty to be useful anymore, it looks to me like the ‘support’ for the οὐχ is coming from a reconstructed Ν in the lacuna on the last line, and my guess is that it’s a conjecture based on the Sahidic. It’s a bit speculative, but it doesn’t take much to imagine that the editors of P.Mich. 3520 thought “well since the Sahidic supports an underlying Greek οὐχ here, it’s probably the case that this lone manuscript of 2 Peter 3:10 in a different Coptic dialect does to.” Can we be this sure about a single-letter difference in a lacuna like this?

Maybe the reconstruction is correct, but maybe it isn’t. It’s not completely clear to me on the basis of P. Mich. 3520 that Dialect V should be cited as evidence of the ECM conjecture, οὐχ εὑρεθήσεται. It’s simply not extant for that part of the text.

[After I wrote all of that above, I noticed that Bart L.F. Kamphuis also addressed Dialect V’s ‘support’ for οὐχ εὑρεθήσεται in his recent monograph on conjectural emendation. Kamphuis makes the same point I make above and mentions that Christian Blumenthal makes the same point as well in his monograph on 2 Peter 3:10. I guess the moral of the story is to look things up before wasting time writing blogs about them?]

Ethiopic and the textus receptus at Rev. 16:5

The need to fact-check things like this brings to mind Rev. 16:5 in the textus receptus. Some editions of the textus receptus have ὁ ἐσόμενος there, and the KJV follows this reading, though not a single Greek manuscript (that isn’t itself a copy of a printed textus receptus) has it. This TR reading is a conjecture by Theodore Beza, plain and simple. The Amsterdam Database of New Testament Conjectural Emendation mentions that there is Ethiopic support, and I’ve seen Ethiopic support pop up in defenses of the KJV and Beza’s text as well.

That being said, the Ethiopic citation here just seems suspicious, for lack of a better word. It’s like Coptic Dialect V—the more obscure the reference, the fewer people there are who have (or even could have) looked at it more closely to verify it. How many text critics know Ethiopic and could check this? A few, I’m sure, but I certainly don’t. The Ethiopic ‘support’ at Rev. 16:5 seems to me to be exactly the sort of thing that needs to be verified by someone who knows Ethiopic before anybody puts any weight on the Ethiopic here.

I find two sources for the reference, and admittedly, I haven’t searched too hard. Hoskier cites it, but Hoskier seems to be dependent on Brian Walton’s London Polyglot, and his use of Ethiopic has not been immune from criticism. In an appendix to his dissertation that was not published in his monograph on scribal habits, James Royse wrote,
The cause of some of Hoskier’s errors is that Hoskier could not, as it appears, control the Ethiopic itself. For, as far as can be judged from his comments on P46 and his remarks in his work on Revelation, he depends on the Latin rendering of [the edition printed in Walton’s London Polyglot] and on Horner’s notes (and translation into English) in his edition of [the Sahidic]. (Royse’s dissertation, p. 718, n. 15)
Curt Niccum also has some severe criticism for Hoskier’s use of Ethiopic in his chapter, “Hoskier and his (Per)Version of the Ethiopic” in The Future of Textual Scholarship, writing that it “offers a case study for how not to mine the Ge’ez version for evidence of Greek readings” (p. 279).

If Hoskier was not the best for Ethiopic and was dependent on Walton, then that shifts everything back to Walton. Thankfully, here at Tyndale House, we have a copy of Walton’s London Polyglot in amazing condition.

The Latin translation of the Ethiopic does clearly translate the reading as et eris, which, if correct, certainly supports ὁ ἐσόμενος against ὁ ὅσιος:

Image credit: I took it myself at Tyndale House.
The Latin translation seems to have been made by Dudley Loftus. But how accurate is this translation? When I look it up, it doesn’t seem like Loftus’ translation was acclaimed for its accuracy. In 1934, James A. Montgomery wrote,
This Ethiopic text of the New Testament was republished by Brian Walton in the London Polyglot, the New Testament volume in 1657, and it is this form of the Ethiopic Testament that is generally known to scholars. The text was accompanied with a Latin translation, the first for that part of the Bible. Walton had as editors of this text Dudley Loftus of Dublin (1619-1695) and the distinguished Orientalist Edmund Castell, the latter revising the former’s work and seeing it through the press. But the new print was a degradation of the first one, and its Latin translation has been excoriated by scholars since Ludolf.
Earlier, F.H.A. Scrivener (the guy who put together the edition of the textus receptus that the Trinitarian Bible Society sells) said this about the reliability of the Ethiopic in the London Polyglot:

Source: Scrivener’s Plain Introduction, 3rd ed., p. 410 (thanks to Royse’s dissertation for pointing me to it).
Can any Ethiopic scholars shed some light on this? Does the Ethiopic in Walton’s Polyglot really support ὁ ἐσόμενος at Rev. 16:5, or is this one of those examples of “an unusually bad Latin translation” that should not be followed?

Here is the Ethiopic, according to Walton:

Image credit: Definitely not CSNTM. I mean, look at how skewed the photo is. Terrible. Still, I did the best I could do with my phone, the lighting that I had, and my desire not to damage a book that’s older than the country that issued my passport.
I should add that due to the holiday closures of libraries, I don’t currently have access to Josef Hofmann’s edition of Revelation in Ethiopic (and even if I did, I don’t know that it would help. I don’t know Ethiopic myself, or I wouldn’t be writing this post asking for help!).

In conclusion, here are my questions, if we have any readers who are competent in Ethiopic:
  1. Does the Ethiopic text printed in Walton’s London Polyglot support ὁ ἐσόμενος at Rev. 16:5 or not?
  2. Is the accompanying Latin translation correct, or is it not?
  3. Is there anything in Hofmann’s edition that could indicate that the Ethiopic could be cited in support of ὁ ἐσόμενος at Rev. 16:5?

Now that the CUL is open again, I was able to check out Hofmann's edition. Below is his entry for Rev. 16:5. I'm very sorry it's awkwardly huge, but I wanted to make sure the resolution would be sufficient.

Source: Josef Hofmann, ed. Die Äthiopische Übersetzung der Johannes-Apokalypse. CSCO 281; Scriptores Aethiopici 55, pp. 116–117.

Open Theology: Digital Humanities in Biblical Studies and Theology

The latest issue of Open Theology journal is entitled “Digital Humanities in Biblical Studies and Theology” and was edited by Claire Clivaz and Garrick Allen. You can find the articles listed below online here.
  • The Digital Humanities in Biblical Studies and Theology (editorial)
    Clivaz, Claire / Allen, Garrick V.Defining Digital Theology: Digital 
  • Humanities, Digital Religion and the Particular Work of the CODEC Research Centre and Network
    Phillips, Peter / Schiefelbein-Guerrero, Kyle / Kurlberg, Jonas
  • Embedded, not Plugged-In: Digital Humanities and Fair Participation in Systematic Theological Research
    Robinson, Matthew Ryan
  • Truth Communication in Times of Digital Abundance: A Practical Theological Perspective
    Schlag, Thomas
  • New Digital Tools for a New Critical Edition of the Hebrew Bible
    Yardney, Sarah / Schloen, Sandra R. / Prosser, Miller
  • Digital Tools for Working with New Testament Manuscripts
    Allen, Garrick V.
  • The Impact of Digital Research: Thinking about the MARK16 Project
    Clivaz, Claire
  • Digital Palimpsests: Mark in Trinity College Cambridge MS. O.9.27
    Batovici, Dan
  • The Bible in Arabic: Digital Resources and Future Challenges
    Schulthess, Sara
  • Structural Visualization of Manuscripts (StruViMan): Principles, Methods, Prospects
    Dirkse, Saskia / Andrist, Patrick / Wallraff, Martin
  • Spatial Analysis of New Testament Textual Emendations Utilizing Confusion Distances
    van Altena, Vincent / Krans, Jan / Bakker, Henk / Dukai, Balázs / Stoter, Jantien
  • Presentation of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts: Bridging the Gap between Ancient Manuscripts and Modern Technology
    Ladewig, Stratton L. / Marcello, Robert D.

Friday, December 27, 2019

A New Grammar of Ancient Greek for NT Students

Over at the Zürich New Testament Blog, Christoph Heilig has a nice interview with Heinrich von Siebenthal. Sibenthal’s Greek grammar has just been translated into English and published by Peter Lang. Christoph also gives a nice overview of recent Greek grammars and says we are living (for a few more days!) in the year of Greek grammars. I have been using the new Cambridge Grammar of Classical Greek (CGCG) all semester and it has been great. It’s even affordable!

Back to Siebenthal’s new grammar, here is how he explains its contribution to the field:
I think, there are three major distinctives that set the “Ancient Greek Grammar for the Study of the New Testament” apart more or less clearly from other grammars:
  1. It is not a text-book, but a reference grammar that systematically covers all areas relevant to well-founded text interpretation including textgrammar and word formation.
  2. The information it provides is based on the best of traditional and more recent research in the study of Ancient Greek and linguistic communication.
  3. The mode of presentation is largely shaped by the needs of prospective users, typically unacquainted with the details of linguistic research or with classical philology:
    1. Every Greek, Latin or other non-English expression is translated into English.
    2. Knowledge of Classical Greek is not presupposed (as it is in Blass-Debrunner-Funk); differences between classical and non-classical usage, however, are regularly indicated.
    3. It is primarily about the grammatical phenomena of Ancient Greek (mainly those of New Testament Greek, but also about many of the ones attested in the Septuagint and extra-biblical texts, especially classical ones). At the same time great care has been taken to point out what linguistic phenomena of English correspond to these phenomena functionally and what may be considered adequate translational equivalents.
In summary, this grammar is meant to be 1) more comprehensive, 2) more up-to-date, 3) more accessible than some, perhaps than most of its alternatives.

Aiming at both professional quality of content and user-friendly presentation a tool was produced that would hopefully be of service to beginning students and more experienced exegetes alike.
Here’s the full interview

Friday, December 20, 2019

Bernard Ramm on Textual Criticism (1957)

For Christmas, Christianity Today, the flagship magazine of American evangelicals founded by Billy Graham, has opened its full archives. These go back to 1956 and make for educational reading on the history of American evangelicalism.

Pertinent to this blog is an article from CT’s second year by Bernard Ramm. Ramm was a key figure in the neo-evangelical movement of the mid-20th century. He was, according to CT’s obituary, “best known for drawing evangelical theology into dialogue with science and culture.” Given the importance of both Ramm and CT in evangelicalism, I note here a brief comment from a 1957 article that Ramm wrote titled “Are We Obscurantists?” In it, he touches briefly on textual criticism.
The evangelical has no means of settling the text of the Scripture outside the usual methods of scholarship. There is no official copy of either the Hebrew or Greek Testaments. There are only copies of them. There is only one conceivable method of settling the text of Scripture and that is by the employment of the general science of textual criticism modified to fit the peculiarities presented by the biblical texts. When Calvin treated the text of Scripture, he employed the methodology he learned as a humanist and attempted scientifically to determine the true readings (cf. B. B. Warfield, Calvin and Augustine, p. 58). Warfield himself affirmed in another place that “processes that are valid for the ascertainment of a secular are equally valid for the ascertainment of a sacred text” (Critical Reviews, p. 81).

Evangelicals may believe that God has remarkably preserved the text of the Old and New Testaments, but to determine the precise text of Scripture is a problem for scientific criticism. This is the essence of the evangelical position, and there is, therefore, no place for obscurantism here.
Since the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversies in the 1930s, American evangelicals have sometimes suffered a nagging inferiority complex when it comes to academics. (It certainly doesn’t help when our finest historian says we have no mind!) All that makes for interesting background to Ramm’s appeal to textual criticism as one way to say we’re not, in fact, backwoods idiots. I suspect if Ramm were alive today, he would still agree with his assessment from 1956.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Pagan Readers of Christian Scripture

New Article: Ian N. Mills, ‘Pagan Readers of Christian Scripture: the Role of Books in Early Autobiographical Conversion Narratives’ Vigiliae Christianae 73 (2019), 481–506.
Abstract: Most scholars agree that “pagans” did not read Christian scripture. This critical consensus, however, places inordinate weight on a decontextualized quotation from Tertullian and neglects a body of evidence to the contrary. In particular, the role of books in early autobiographical conversion narratives suggests that early Christian authors and copyists could sometimes work with a reasonable expectation of pagan readership. Against traditional notions of the restricted appeal and circulation of Christian literature, pagan and Christian sources alike indicate that Christian writings found an audience among philo-barbarian thinkers and that certain Christians promoted their books in pagan circles.
Brief thoughts: an interesting argument, works through six autobiographical conversion reports (Justin, Tatian, Theophilus of Antioch, Clement of Alexandria, Commodian, and Dionysius of Alexandria), finds four of them (Tatian, Theophilus, Commodian, Dionysius) to have been influenced by their encounter with books (and the other two reflect an encounter with a bookish Christian). There is (frustratingly, PMH) little detail about the nature of the books in the sources (most of the testimonies would suggest Jewish books of law and prophecy, Mills shifts these towards including Christian texts and gospel traditions, not always on convincing grounds - it is interesting how little is specified in these testimonies). Concluding sentence: ‘the pronounced role of scripture in early autobiographical conversion narratives indicates that pagans—sympathetic and hostile—occasionally encountered Christian books.’ (p. 506). Also shows that “pagan” sources spoke about Christian propagandising with literature and public reading.

Interesting information. Not directly interested in textual criticism, but interesting as the other side of arguments such as those in W. C. Kannaday, Apologetic Discourse and the Scribal Tradition (Atlanta, GA, 2004).

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Myths and Mistakes on Sale

Elijah and I were pleased to hear last week that, not only was Myths and Mistakes the publisher’s bestselling book at both conferences in San Diego this year, but the first print run has already sold out. One seller that has not run out is Westminster Seminary Bookstore (now out too; see for 28% off), which is running a special on the book for $23.38 (42% off). That’s the cheapest I’ve seen it.

Here are some recent reactions and reviews from readers:
  • Sean McDowell: “Elijah Hixson and Peter J. Gurry have provided the church with an indispensable resource with the release of their recent book Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism. In my opinion, every pastor, Bible teacher, speaker, and apologist needs to read this book.”
  • James Snapp: “In general, each chapter of Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism has something worthwhile to offer to the reader. This book does not address all the text-critical myths that need to be addressed.  Truckloads of misinformation in KJV-Onlyist materials have been avoided. ... But one has to start somewhere. Myths and Mistakes is a good start.”
  • Justin Taylor (with excerpts from the book): “a remarkably careful and learned book that will step on some toes but serve the church and the cause of truth ... We all have a lot to learn from these rising stars of textual criticism who care about the truth and the witness of our apologetics.”
  • Andy Naselli: “Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism is kind of like Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies for text crit. (I’m sure I’m not the only NT prof who was relieved to not get quoted and refuted!) Impressive book. The authors know their stuff.”

Monday, December 09, 2019

Review Article of A Critical Examination of the CBGM

The latest issue of TC is chock full of good-looking articles—none of which I’ve been able to read yet. This issue also has a lengthy review article from Andrew Smith dealing with my published dissertation on the CBGM. Andrew was very kind to send me a pre-pub copy. It’s a real honor to have something you worked so long and hard on taken seriously in a venue like this. So, my thanks to TC for publishing it and especially to Andrew for his detailed and careful interaction. Once I emerge from end-of-semester-and-new-baby fog, I might offer some response. In the meantime, let me again thank Andrew and commend the article to you. Here’s the conclusion.
In conclusion, the CBGM deserves the serious scrutiny of the scholarly community outside the INTF, and Gurry’s examination of the method is the first major published work to start the conversation. The strengths of this book include the introduction to the history and reception of the method, the descriptions of the method’s process, and the straightforward examples of using the method found in the first two-thirds of the book. Additionally, Gurry’s clarifications regarding the referent of Ausgangstext in the process of editing the ECM serve as a good reminder that the text-critical community needs to clearly state presuppositions when producing a critical text of the Greek New Testament. The testing of the method’s parameters in chapter four begins a welcome exploration that could have had a more meaningful impact if supported by statistical analysis; this is a general weakness in the humanities when analyzing data such as these. The final third of the book raises some good questions about the use and future of the method, though Gurry’s answers are not always satisfying. His analysis of the method draws attention to the differing opinions of scholars regarding the CBGM and history, especially what is meant by history in each context. Finally, looking to the future, Gurry provides some helpful recommendations for moving forward with the CBGM. Some of his suggestions are fundamentally at odds with the method itself but discussing these in detail will also move the discussion forward.
Update: the book can be purchased here in time for your white elephant parties. 

Thursday, December 05, 2019

A positive use of patristic evidence

Elsewhere, I’ve written about some limits of patristic evidence, but in this post, I want to give a positive example of how it can be used.

At James 5:4, the vast majority of manuscripts have ἀπεστερημένος (defraud, deprive of), but the earliest extant manuscripts (Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus) have ἀφυστερημένος (withhold). In context, there is not much difference, and the two readings differ only with regard to two letters, -πε- or -φυ-. Still, there are only three Greek New Testament manuscripts extant for this part of James before the 9th century, and they are divided. Codex Alexandrinus supports ἀπεστερημένος, and this is the reading adopted by the Tyndale House Greek New Testament.

As it happens, Didymus the Blind cites James 5:4 in his Commentary on Genesis, and in his citation, he has ἀπεστερημένος (with the majority of manuscripts). I came across the quote when looking at Mike Arcieri’s McGill PhD dissertation on Didymus. That would be early support for ἀπεστερημένος, roughly contemporary with the earliest Greek manuscripts of James, but even if this was not Didymus’ text, this particular citation is still valuable.

When I checked the SC edition of Didymus, I noticed that it was edited from one of the Tura Papyri (Brent Nongbri has some helpful information on the Tura Papyri here). Specifically, Codex IV of the Tura Papyri contains Didymus’ Commentary on Genesis, and it dates to the 6th or 7th century.

The significance here is that regardless of what Didymus’ text of James 5:4 actually was (that is, even if we take a hyper-skeptical position that the Tura Papyrus does not give us Didymus’ text of James 5:4), we still have a witness to ἀπεστερημένος in James 5:4 from the 6th or 7th century, because that is the age of the manuscript of Didymus’ Commentary on Genesis that has the citation of James 5:4. This witness pre-dates the vast majority of Greek manuscripts of James from the 9th century and later. Admittedly, not by much, and admittedly, Codex Alexandrinus is still the earliest support for ἀπεστερημένος, but we no longer have a gap between the 5th and 9th centuries in which there are no witnesses to James 5:4.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Larry W. Hurtado (29 Dec. 1943–25 Nov. 2019): A Guest Post by Eldon Jay Epp

The following guest post is written by Larry Hurtado’s Doktorvater, Eldon Jay Epp. We invite readers to share their favourite memories of Larry in the comments.

To hear that Larry W. Hurtado is no longer with us is an occasion of great loss and profound sorrow, for he will be missed and long remembered by family, of course, but also by numerous colleagues, students, and friends. Larry was a scholars’ scholar, presenting significant publications replete with data for the scholarly grist mills of New Testament experts, but also publishing thorough and complete studies ready for consideration at the highest academic levels.

My first conversation with him was an interview for his admission to Ph.D. studies in the newly invigorated Ph.D. program at Case Western Reserve University. I recall little about that meeting, though now I noticed in an old file that his score on the Graduate Record Examination was in the 97th percentile. Moreover, our graduate faculty members and I were highly impressed by the written material in his application and especially by his obvious brilliance and commitment to advanced degree studies. Both characteristics, enhanced by serious-mindedness and enthusiasm, were borne out as he began his course-work in 1969 and put on a doctoral gown in 1973. We have had a close relationship as Doktorvater and student, but much longer and deeper as colleagues and friends. The brief comments that follow will be devoted to an appreciation of both his significant scholarship and contributions to manuscript studies and textual criticism, but also to his remarkable personal characteristics – though any assessment, I am sure, will fall far short of the full story of his life and accomplishments.

Larry’s revised and augmented dissertation, with its Preface dated 1979, appeared in 1981 due to the publisher’s unexplained delay. Regardless of how textual critics now view “text-types,” I feel fully justified in stating that Larry’s slight volume made text-critical history because he demonstrated that no “Caesarean” text existed as held up to that time, namely, a “Pre-Caesarean text” (P45 W f1 f13 etc.) followed by the “Caesarean proper” (Θ 500 700 Origen(part) Eusebius Cyril-Jerusalem).” Rather, he made a strong case that the manuscripts in these two presumed stages had no significant relationship – that there was no continuity of the P45-W line of text with the Θ-line of text. The effect of Larry’s scholarship can be seen dramatically by comparing Bruce Metzger’s two editions of his Textual Commentary of the Greek New Testament. The 1971 edition dutifully lists the four standard “types of text”: Alexandrian, Western, Caesarean, Byzantine, but, behold!, in the 1994 edition there are only three: Alexandrian, Western, Byzantine – the Caesarean has disappeared! Was Metzger referring to Larry’s work concerning this disappearance? Clearly, for on p. 7*, where Metzger discusses – in a mere nine lines – the “formerly called” Caesarean text, he references a three-page summary of Larry’s view in a 1974 JBL article of mine as evidence.

Larry was one of those rare graduate students for whom a mentor simply opens the door to scholarship and the student does the rest. He never asked what might be a worthy dissertation topic. Rather, as I advised my doctoral students, he found an inviting one on his own. As his distinguished career attests, his inquiring mind and critical skills hastened his development into a highly productive and distinguished scholar of serious purpose and, above all, of intellectual integrity. Few pleasures are more satisfying than following one’s student on such a path of accomplishment and lasting contribution.

Larry’s own doctoral students present another story of high quality works like his own, which is of special interest to me. First, Bart Ehrman and I have had the pleasure of publishing six revised University of Edinburgh dissertations in our series, New Testament Tools, Studies and Documents, for three of which Larry was the primary Ph.D. supervisor and secondary supervisor for the other three. These and additional doctoral students of his, who, I may say, are my “academic grandchildren,” have enhanced Larry’s legacy of careful, worthy, and pertinent scholarship.

Where does one begin to describe another’s personal character and characteristics? The paragraphs above offer much in general terms, but permit me to be more specific. In his innumerable appearances in panels, meetings, and conferences, frequently when a presenter opened a question period, Larry was the first to rise with a comment or question. Always his approach was mature and civil, never demeaning, but rather calmly, yet passionately constructive, seeking to engage the speaker in a productive dialogue. More important, all would agree, were his qualities of high moral character, led by his honesty, personal integrity, fairness, and respect for others – traits these days in the United States, if I may say so, that are disintegrating at the highest levels.

Larry and I never discussed theology, which was not relevant for my view of him as a highly accomplished scholar in the main-line academic world of biblical studies and early Christianity, and I think he viewed me in the same manner. Interestingly, when asked in 1988 for a letter of recommendation, I found this elegant statement in his résumé:
Like many others in Biblical Studies, my religious origins and initial studies were in a conservative Protestant setting, but a much wider spectrum of thought has shaped me as a scholar and my Christian faith has been enriched by other influences as well... I have always sought to learn from all quarters and to develop an independent critical judgment that is neither in reaction against nor bound by my religious and educational origins. It is obviously for others to decide the merit of my work over the years and my success in combining Christian faith with academic rigor.
I must leave it to those “others” to assess his widely recognized work in Christology and related areas, for I have been devoted exclusively to manuscript studies and textual criticism during the past two decades of my retirement. It is in these disciplines that I have kept up with his work, sharing publications and maintaining our career-long friendship. Larry’s loss is difficult to comprehend, for how can one accommodate the sudden disappearance of all of his knowledge, his academic rigor, his insightful inquiry, and his wisdom, leadership, and camaraderie? There has never been an answer except to express our gratitude to have known him, worked with him, and enjoyed his presence – and to acknowledge that his life has been a blessing to us and many others, obligating us, in turn, to carry on his endeavors and emulate his abundantly admirable qualities.

In my case, I have lost an “academic son,” and, as said in actual family relationships, a parent should not lose a child – it should be the other way around. My loss, therefore, is all the greater.

Eldon Jay Epp

Sunday, December 01, 2019

NYT article on Thesaurus Linguae Latinae Project

"MUNICH — When German researchers began working on a new Latin dictionary in the 1890s, they thought they might finish in 15 or 20 years. In the 125 years since, the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae (T.L.L.) has seen the fall of an empire, two world wars and the division and reunification of Germany. In the meantime, they are up to the letter R."

Friday, November 29, 2019

Scribal Harmonisation as clue to Religious Identity?

Back in 2008 I noted the following:
elsewhere in this conference we have debated the question as to whether the scribes of early Christian manuscripts were Christians or not. The singular readings and scribal habits could contribute to this debate. Royse, for example, argues that the scribe of P66 is certainly a Christian (J.R. Royse, Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri (NTTSD 36; Leiden: Brill, 2008, 501); on the basis of the harmonisations to parallel passages elsewhere in the NT (as well as the use of nomina sacra and the staurogram). This could be extended similarly to the other papyri discussed here: P45 has harmonisations to parallels in other (canonical) gospels 8 times in the singular readings; P46 has harmonisations to the LXX (2X), and from 1 Cor 11.24a to the parallel gospel text of the words of institution (Matt 26.26); P47 has a harmonization to Luke 4.33 at Rev 14.15; P72 has 7 harmonisations to remote parallels (in Col, Heb, Rev etc.); P75 has 5 singular readings which harmonise the text to remote (NT) parallels. This data suggests that the scribes have a general awareness of other NT texts, which suggests they were probably active participants in the life of the church.
(From Juan Hernández Jr, Peter M. Head, Dirk Jongkind, and James R. Royse, Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri: Papers from the 2008 SBL Panel Review Session)

Has anyone been thinking about this?

Thursday, November 28, 2019

RIP Lars Hartman (1930-2019)

Bildresultat för lars hartman uppsala Today I received the sad news that professor emeritus Lars Hartman (1930–2019) passed away yesterday at the age of 89. Hartman will be remembered as one of Sweden's finest exegetes. His many scholarly contributions, especially on early Christian baptism and the Gospel of Mark, are well known. He was also a kind and generous mentor to many. Despite his declining health in recent years, he found joy in attending the New Testament research seminar in Uppsala on occasion.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

RIP Larry W. Hurtado (1943–2019)


The sad news has reached me that my dear friend and colleague, Larry W. Hurtado, has deceased. A very fine person and a giant scholar in New Testament studies including textual criticism has left us. I lack words to express my deep appreciation for his friendship and scholarship.
I post here below a picture of one of the many memories together with Larry that I treasure – when we, former students and other friends and colleagues, had the pleasure to present him with a well-deserved Festschrift in his honor during a previous SBL five years ago in San Diego (where I am writing these lines).

Update: There is a fine obituary in Christianity Today, "Remembering Larry Hurtado, Leading Researcher of Early Christian Worship"  written by Holly J. Carey, one of his former students.

Update 2: Helen Bond, Edinburgh University, remembers her friend and colleague Larry Hurtado.

Update 3: Chris Keith, St Mary's Twickenham, remembers his Doktorvater.