Thursday, January 31, 2019

Jewish and Christian Books in the First Millennium in Indiana

David Lincicum, Hildegund Müller, and Jeremiah Coogan are running a working group at Notre Dame on Jewish and Christian Books. Jeremiah tells me the group is open to all comers and that if you RSVP soon enough, you may even get free lunch! What’s not to love? (Except the polar vortex sweeping Indy right now.) Here’s the info:


Books do more than contain texts. They are objects, always implicated in economic, ritual, and readerly matrices of production, collection, and use. We never encounter texts disembodied, apart from the material constraints and paratextual interventions that enable their physical existence. Nor do books read themselves. They are manipulated by reading communities with specific reading practices.

This working group seeks to develop an ongoing conversation about material texts and reading practices in Judaism and Christianity of the first millennium CE. Christian and Jewish communities have often oriented themselves around books and reading. Attention to material texts thus enriches our understanding of both traditions and their interactions with one another.

The group is organized by David Lincicum, Hildegund Müller, and Jeremiah Coogan. For further information or to be included on the working group mailing list, please contact Jeremiah Coogan (jcoogan2[at]

Spring Schedule

  • 25 January | Book Discussion: Brent Nongbri, God’s Library: The Archaeology of the Earliest Christian Manuscripts (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018) | 12–1.30pm in 106 O’Shaughnessy 
  • 15 February | Andrew King (Notre Dame), “The Big Data of Intertextuality and the Book of Deuteronomy” | 12–1.30pm in 106 O’Shaughnessy 
  • 1 March | Hildegund Müller (Notre Dame), “The Early Transmission of Augustine’s Enarrationes in Psalmos” | 12– 1.30pm in 106 O’Shaughnessy 
  • 12 April | Paul Wheatley (Notre Dame), “Behind the Veil of Translation: Onomastics, Interpretation, and Revelation” | 12–1.30pm in 106 O’Shaughnessy 
  • 31 May | Conference: “The Material Gospel” (details forthcoming) Lunch will be provided for midday seminars; an opportunity to RSVP will be sent to the working group mailing list.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Source of Scott Carroll’s Mummy Masks?

Image source
Brent Nongbri has been writing some very good posts lately on his blog about Scott Carroll and the papyri he has been showing at various events. But today, Brent has followed that with an even more startling post exploring where Scott Carroll got all those infamous mummy masks from.

Readers of this blog will remember that Carroll claimed, in our comments section, that Dirk Obbink tried to sell him a “first-century Mark,” a claim the Egypt Exploration Society has strongly denied ever since. But many of us wondered why Carroll would make such a thing up. Well, now Nongbri has found Scott Carroll also claiming that Christ Church Oxford, where Obbink works, is a source of those mummy masks. Here is Brent’s conclusion:
In any event, the close association between Pattengale, Carroll, and Professor Obbink (as well as the Green Collection and Oxford) has long been known, and Professor Obbink appears to still be on the Museum of the Bible payroll. What was news to me was Carroll’s suggestion that Oxford was a source of the mummy masks that he was purchasing (his usual practice in describing provenance in these more recent videos is to say the material comes from “families” looking to sell things).
Scott Carroll has also suggested that Professor Obbink offered at least one artifact from the Egypt Exploration Society’s collection for sale (the Oxyrhynchus papyrus P.Oxy 83.5345, a fragment of the Gospel According to Mark). Professor Obbink and the Egypt Exploration Society have both denied Carroll’s claims in regard to that papyrus. Now we would seem to be in a similar situation with regard to the Green Collection mummy masks, in that all we really have connecting the Green Collection masks to Oxford is the word of Scott Carroll. And once again, it is the Green Collection and the Museum of the Bible that could shed light on these questions by offering some transparency in their acquisition records for these artifacts.
You can read the full post with what Brent has been able to piece together from videos and online matter. 

The ‘Anonymity’ of Hebrews in Minuscule 104

The NA27 has a helpful feature that was sadly removed from the NA28 and that is a selection of subscriptions to the NT books. These often contain information about authorship and even the location of writing. In preparing to teach Hebrews, I noticed this particular subscriptio cited for minuscule 104. According to NA27, the subscriptio for Hebrews reads: πρ[ος] Ε[βραιους] εγ[ραφη] Εβραιστι απο της Ιτ[αλιας] ανονυμως δ[ια] Τιμ[οθεου], or “to the Hebrews, written in Hebrew from Italy anonymously through Timothy” (cf. Clement acc. Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. 6.14.2–4).

A number of other manuscripts include the reference to Italy and to Timothy but, so far as the NA27 goes, only 104 adds that it was written in Hebrew and anonymously so. It’s that last part about anonymity that grabbed my attention and turned me to the manuscript. GA 104 is also known as BL Harley MS 5537 and, per the BL catalog, was copied by Ioannes Tzoutzounas (Ἰωάννης Τζουτζούσας), hieromonk of the Asekretis Monastery in Artanion, in May 1087. When I checked the images of the manuscript, however, I found to my surprise that Hebrews is anything but anonymous. On the first page of Hebrews, the book is clearly titled “Epistle to the Hebrews by the Apostle Paul (του αγιου Παυλου).” Turning to the end of the book, I found I wasn’t getting the whole story from the NA27 there either. Because the subscriptio also names Paul as the author.

If you zoom in, you can see the full subscriptio is του αγ(ιου) απο(στολου) Παυλ(ου) επιστολ(η) προς Εβραιους εγραφη Εβραιστι απο της Ιταλιας ανονυμως δια Τιμοθ(εου), or “by the holy apostle Paul, the Epistle to the Hebrews, written in Hebrew, from Italy anonymously through Timothy.”

The obvious problem here is how something can be called “anonymous” when we’re told who the author and the amanuensis (?) are! A check of the dictionary (in this case, Brill’s GE), offers a solution in that the adverb ἀνωνύμως simply means “without a name.” That definition would fit well with the book of Hebrews, which never names its author within the text. (There’s a side lesson here about the danger of “false friends.”)

A couple of observations. The first may be obvious, but it is that the scribe’s own subscriptio requires that we clearly distinguish between the text and paratext of Hebrews. The rubrication and accompanying decoration do that too, of course. But it’s surprising to see that the subscriptio itself doesn’t make sense unless we keep that distinction firm. The text of Hebrews is ἀνωνύμως (without a name) whereas the very paratext that tells us this, just as clearly isn’t. Here the paratext is secondary—and must be read as such—otherwise it becomes self-contradictory.

The second observation is that this description should expand our conception of “anonymity.” ἀνωνύμως does not mean here that the author of the book is unknown; it means only that his name is unstated in the book itself. I draw attention to this because when it comes to other books like the Gospels and their alleged anonymity, we should not conflate unnamed authorship (ἀνωνύμως) with unknown authorship. For more on that matter, see Simon Gathercole’s recent article in JTS.

Beyond these two observations, I mostly thought it was a fun subscriptio and shows the unexpected things you learn when you go beyond the Nestle-Aland apparatus.

Monday, January 28, 2019

New Text & Canon Institute at Phoenix Seminary

By now, some of our ETC readers may have heard about a new venture that John Meade and I are co-directing at Phoenix Seminary called the Text & Canon Institute.

A number of confessional institutions in the U.S. have professors doing research on the Old or New Testament text, or work on the Biblical canon. But Phoenix Seminary seems unique to me in that we are doing detailed work in all three areas. The desire to leverage this unique combination for the church and the academy has led to this new Institute. The mission is to
encourage research and publication of scholarly work on the history of the canon and the text of the Bible (1) by fostering and supporting scholarly research, academic colloquia, conferences, and professional presentations on biblical and related ancient texts, traditions, languages, methods of textual criticism, and the history of the canon and (2) by serving the church through publications and public events that illuminate the integrity of the Bible’s textual history and canonization.
There is more info about the Institute here along with the list of our advisory board members, among whom are several ETC contributors. We hope to have more to announce in the near future, but for now readers can sign up to get updates at the previous link.

Friday, January 25, 2019

2019 Gorgias Book Grant

Win $500 of Gorgias Press titles through the 2019 Gorgias Book Grant
The Gorgias Book Grant is an important part of our efforts to support young scholars in the humanities. Every year, Gorgias chooses two graduate students to receive an award of $500 worth of Gorgias titles (each) for demonstrating excellence in their fields.

2019 Grant Field: Any field within the scope of Gorgias Publications
Application Deadline: May 31, 2019


  1. Candidate must be enrolled in a graduate program (Master's or Ph.D.) in an accredited university or an institution of learning in the field of the grant.
  2. Candidate must be a student in good standing.

Application Process

To apply, please email the following to Gemma Tully (
  1. A letter indicating your interests in your field and plans for the future.
  2. A two-page description of your thesis, or a one-page description of your course work in the case of course-based programs.
    Send the following items by mail to: Gorgias Press LLC, Book Grants Program, 954 River Rd., Piscataway, NJ 08854.
  3. Official transcripts of the previous 2 years of university education. If the institutions you come from do not give out transcripts, please contact us to make alternative arrangements to satisfy this requirement.
  4. Two letters of recommendations from professors familiar with your work (one must be your current supervisor in the field of the grant).
Please bear in mind that all documents, except for official transcripts, should be in English.

In order to be considered for the grant, please submit all documents by May 31, 2019 (snail-mail documents should be postmarked by the due date). We’ll announce the lucky winners in July 2019.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Coherence at 1 John 4.19

To follow up from yesterday’s post, here is the textual flow diagram and local stemma for 1 John 4.19/5 in INTF’s CBGM. Reading a = omit; b = αυτον; c = τον θεον; d = τον κυριον

In this diagram, none of the readings have perfect coherence as all show at least one witness needing a source outside its own attestation. In particular, reading a leads to b once and vice versa. But still, not bad coherence as a whole. Reading c has quite bad coherence, developing from b multiple times and maybe from a a few times as well. Reading d develops from b which is no surprise. Witness 6 is noteworthy in that it has close ancestors with reading b and c, suggesting that either could lead to the shorter reading as I said before. But 617 with reading b is closer and so more likely as a whole.

If we keep the same CBGM dataset but set the initial text (A) at this point to reading b instead of a, the coherence gets worse for a and becomes perfect for b. In short, more support for b and less for a.
To make things more interesting, here is the same attestation and local stemma but now from my custom version of the CBGM where the initial text (A) is defined as the Byzantine text across the entire Catholic Letters. Here we get perfect coherence for reading b and see it leading to the other three.
As with other types of evidence, the evidence from coherence is a balance of probabilities, but here it does give more support to reading b as the initial text than I expected it to. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s enough to overturn other evidence for reading a, but it’s at least enough to make me reconsider it. It would be most ironic if this were a place where the CBGM supports Maurice Robinson’s Byzantine Priority position!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The All-or-Nothing Problem with Byzantine Priority

The most noteworthy feature of the Byzantine priority position to me is not that it seriously values the Byzantine text (I think that’s generally good); it’s that it always prefers a Byzantine text. It’s that “always” that I’ve never been able to fully stomach. I find it incredible that the text found in any one manuscript or subset of manuscripts is always right.

This is for reasons both logical (could one scribe or series of them really get it right every time?) and empirical (I haven’t actually found a manuscript or group that always convinces me it’s right).

In the case of the empirical reasons, I primarily have in mind internal evidence, evidence that I don’t see how a Byzantine prioritist can use consistently. I’ve written about this before and today I want to look at another example of the same problem. Here is the text of 1 John 4.19 in the RP2005 edition of the Byzantine text and in NA28:
  • RP2005: Ἡμεῖς ἀγαπῶμεν αὐτόν, ὅτι αὐτὸς πρῶτος ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς. 
  • NA28: ἡμεῖς ἀγαπῶμεν, ὅτι αὐτὸς πρῶτος ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς
The only difference is the minor one of the direct object of the verb ἀγαπῶμεν (RP2005 note no differences within the Byz tradition itself). Now, how would someone who thinks the original reading is always found in the Byzantine manuscripts explain the omission of αὐτόν here? The simple answer is homoioteleuton. The -ν ending led some scribes to omit αὐτόν by accident and the scribes of the Byzantine manuscripts preserved the longer form faithfully for us.

The problem with this explanation arises when we consider the other readings at this point. Here is the data from the ECM:
  1. omit 02. 03. 5. 6. 323. 424C. 623. 945. 1241. 1243. 1739. 1852. 1881. 2464. L:V. K:S. G:A1. Sl:E 
  2. αυτον 044. 88. 94. 104. 181. 254. 307. 321. 398. 453. 459. 467. 720. 915. 918. 1523. 1524.1678. 1836. 1838. 1844. 1846. 1875. 2186. 2298. 2492. 2544. 2818. Byz [424*]. G:G-D. Sl:ChMSiS 
  3. τον θεον 01. 048. 33. 61. 81. 206. 218. 326. 378. 429. 436. 442. 522. 614. 621. 630. 642. 808. 876. 1067. 1127. 1292. 1359. 1409. 1448. 1490. 1505. 1563. 1611. 1718. 1735. 1799. 1831. 1832. 1837. 1890. 2138. 2147. 2200. 2243. 2344. 2374. 2412. 2541. 2652. 2805. L:T. K:BVV. S:PH. A. Ä
  4. τον κυριον 629
  5. lacunose P9. P74. 04. 025. 0245. 0296. L60. L590. L596. L1126. Pr
Since all three of the longer readings end in ν, how does a Byzantine prioritist decide which of them is original? He might reason, easily enough, that readings three and four are natural expansions of the simple pronoun αυτον. And so I would agree. The problem, however, is in giving a convincing reason why that same argument doesn’t also apply to reading two. If scribes wanted to make the implicit explicit here as all must agree they did (why else would we have these particular variants here?), then why shouldn’t reading two be rejected for that very reason? I can’t see a way around this except to accept reading one as the best explanation for the origin of the other three readings. (Side note: this is why using a small apparatus can be misleading.)

This, it seems, exposes a flaw in the Byzantine priority scheme. If it cannot use the same internal argument consistently within the same variation, what grounds does it have for claiming that “transmissional considerations coupled with internal principles point to the Byzantine Textform as a leading force in the history of transmission” (RP2005, p. 564)? Here it seems that internal considerations point away from it. It’s true that John’s writings usually have a direct object with ἀγαπάω (though cf. 1 Jn 3.14b; 4.8, 20), but that could also be a further argument for preferring the shorter reading as the harder one.

I confess I would find the Byzantine Priority position more consistent if it said that “transmission considerations” (i.e., external evidence) is decisive and that internal evidence is only needed secondarily for large splits in the Byzantine witnesses. At that point, we would still have to discuss the logical objection I mentioned, but that would be a post for another day. As it is, the internal evidence is a key reason why I find any all-or-nothing approach to the Byzantine text (or any other text) unconvincing. As Tommy et al. have put it: “no single manuscript, manuscript family, or larger group of manuscripts (a text type) can be accepted uncritically as representing the original version of a biblical passage or book...” (Dictionary of the Bible and Ancient Media, p. 414).

Yes, Byzantine manuscripts are very good overall. But that doesn’t mean they’re always right.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Septuagint Summer Course at Trinity Western

Please see the flyer below announcing the Septuagint Summer School course, June 24–28, 2019, 8:30 am – 12:30 pm (Pacific Daylight Time), to be taught by Dr. John Screnock, Research Fellow in Hebrew Bible, University of Oxford.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Leander Keck on Textual Criticism and Inerrancy

I once had the pleasure of meeting Leander Keck in Cambridge where he used to attend the NT seminars when he was in town. Since then I have tried, from time to time, to read some of his work.

Here is a bit from one of his very early books on his theological approach to the Bible called Taking the Bible Seriously. It is basically an attempt to maintain some authority for the Bible while giving full reign to historical criticism. Here is what he says in a brief aside on textual criticism:
It is amazing how fundamentalism* talks so confidently about the inerrant, perfect, infallible character of the original Autographs of the Bible when no one has seen one for more than eighteen centuries! Moreover, it is clear that originally no one thought the wording was perfect since copyists, translators, and authors had little fear of changing it. This is one reason the text critic’s task is so complex. He aims to unravel these changes in order to provide a text which is reasonably reliable. He has no perfect text to offer (pp. 56–57).
I don’t have much to say on this since we’ve discussed inerrancy plenty on the blog and Keck isn’t saying anything that Warfield hadn’t addressed in his day (see here). I quote it here as just another example of the objection.

*In a footnote, he explains: “In this essay, the term ‘fundamentalism’ is used loosely to characterize right-wing Protestantism in general. The term has a checkered history.” From there he goes on short description of the history of the Fundamentals and mentions “more sophisticated” fundamentalists who are fleeing the term. He mentions those involved with Christianity Today and Inter-Varsity Fellowship and concludes, “Recently, conversation has been resumed between sophisticated fundamentalists and the other wings of Protestantism; this is clearly a good omen.” (He doesn’t say who or what it is a good omen for.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Dr. Will Kynes to Lecture at Phoenix Seminary Next Month

I am excited to announce that Will Kynes will be giving a lecture in the Chapel at Phoenix Seminary on his latest OUP monograph: An Obituary for “Wisdom Literature”: The Birth, Death, and Intertextual Reintegration of a Biblical Corpus. Students and the general public in and around the Phoenix area are invited to attend the lecture on February 4th at 10:00. I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

P. J. Williams to Give Cooley Lecture at Gordon-Conwell

At the end of this month, Peter Williams is set to give the Cooley Lecture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Charlotte) on a topic that will be of interest to our readers. Here is the info from the brochure.

Can We Know the Exact Words of God? 

Peter J. Williams
Principal of Tyndale House in Cambridge
January 24–25, 2019

About the Event 

These lectures engage with some of the most common questions asked by those seeking a solid grasp of an evangelical doctrine of Scripture. They argue that God can be correctly described as having given us books, which are made up of specific verbal sequences, which are in turn made up of specific words.

Schedule and Location 

Patrons’ Reception: Thursday, January 24, 2019 - 6:00 PM – Room 122A
Lecture: 7:00 PM each evening – Room 219

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
14542 Choate Circle
Charlotte, NC 28273-9103

For any questions concerning the lecture events, please contact Mark Poe at or 704-435-6408.

Lecture 1 (January 24) 

Can we know the exact words of Scripture? Evangelical Christians hold Scripture to be their supreme authority. Evangelicals often identify their supreme authority as the ‘original text’ of the Bible. But haven’t the originals been lost? Isn’t it problematic to adhere to a non-existent authority? And how are we to decide which text to follow when manuscripts disagree? What are we to do when a New Testament quotation seems to differ radically from the Old Testament text it is quoting? This lecture will argue that the classic evangelical understanding of Scripture is robust today and is able to deal with the data of the manuscripts. However, one of the main risks to evangelicals comes through widespread misunderstanding of what they believe. Lazy thinking and confused use of terminology represent major threats to the spread of evangelical approaches today.

Lecture 2 (January 25) 

Can we know the exact words of Jesus? For Christians the teachings of Jesus hold a key place within their supreme authority. But if he taught in Aramaic and we have his words only in Greek, aren’t Christians cut off from their supreme source? Haven’t Jesus’s words been corrupted during transmission to us? Has the church been corrupted by Greek culture and ideas away from its original Semitic identity? This lecture explores various contemporary claims which stress the distance between us and the teaching of Jesus and argues that we can have reliable knowledge of the teaching of Jesus today

For a list of past Cooley lectures from speakers that include Dan Wallace and Mike Holmes, see here.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Anthony Ferguson on Texts Preserving Psalms from Qumran

Last week, guest blogger, Anthony Ferguson, described his recently defended and completed dissertation on the ‘Non-Aligned’ Texts of Qumran and reported on its major conclusions. I asked Anthony to write another post on the texts preserving Psalms at Qumran, and he kindly obliged. Thank you, Anthony, for your labors, and we look forward to reading more of your work in these areas in the future.

11QPs-a (XX-XXIV; Image from Leon Levy Library)
The texts preserving Psalms from Qumran classified by scholars as biblical texts are significant for the fluid/standard text debate because they preserve large-scale differences that designate them in the mind of many scholars as an alternative tradition or edition of the Psalter (e.g., Sanders, Ulrich, and Flint). Contrary to these scholars, many others understand these texts to be secondary to the MT, and not strictly biblical texts at all but liturgical texts (e.g., Talmon, Gottstein, Skehan, and Tov). Despite Tov viewing many of these texts as non-biblical, he still labels them non-aligned. I understand these texts to be based on a Masoretic like text and secondary to the Masoretic Psalter. Thus, I label many of these texts as texts belonging to the Masoretic tradition that contain liturgical alterations.

Types of Differences found among the Texts Preserving Psalms

11Q5 (11QPs-a) generally represents the types of differences preserved in the texts preserving Psalms from Qumran. The major differences preserved in 11Q5 include a different sequence of Psalms, the inclusion of Psalms not found in the Masoretic Psalter, and large-scale additions.

Sanders, the editor of 11Q5 in DJD, argued that 11Q5 represented a genuine Psalter. Sanders’ reasons included the following: his belief that David was the author of the Psalter, the nature of the non-Masoretic Psalms, the presence of large-scale additions such as superscriptions and interjections, and the fact that 11Q6 (11QPs-b) appears to be another copy of the text preserved in 11Q5 (whether 4Q87 represents this same text is debated).

11Q5 as secondary and dependent on the Masoretic Psalter

Contrary to Sanders, I argued that 11Q5 is secondary to and dependent on the Masoretic Psalter. First, I believe that the major differences that distinguish 11Q5 from the MT can reasonably be explained as liturgical adjustments. For example, the different sequence of Psalms can be attributed to liturgical traditions that recognize a stable Masoretic Psalter (see m. Tamid 7:4). Moreover, the inclusion of non-canonical psalms is a phenomenon found in texts that preserve the Masoretic Psalter. The LXX superscription to Psalm 151 demarcates this text as non-canonical, and thus, shows that ancient Jews did not have a fundamental problem with combining canonical and non-canonical psalms together in the same scroll. Last, one should note that there are analogies in later Jewish liturgical texts to many of the large-scale additions preserved in 11Q5. Space permits only a few examples. The liturgical function of the Hallel Psalms (Pss 113-118) during the feast of Booths led to additions in the liturgy. For example, if a slave, woman, or minor answers the reader of the Psalms, they were to repeat what was said. If an adult male answered the reader, he was only obligated to respond halleluyah (m. Sukk. 3:10). Local customs then permit further types of repetition. Moreover, as the Levites walked around the altar, it was known that they would repeat portions of Psalm 118:25: אָנָא ייי הוֹשִׁיעָה נָּא אָנָּא והוֹשִׁיעָה נָּא, “Save now, we beseech thee, O Lord! We beseech thee, O Lord” (m. Sukk. 4:5). Thus, there appears some precedent for dissecting and reworking Masoretic Psalms for liturgical purposes in liturgical traditions that clearly recognized a stable Masoretic Psalter. Overall, it seems that the major differences that distinguish 11Q5 from the MT are liturgically motivated.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Logos in Oxford, 29 May–12 June 2019

Our friends at SCIO are planning another Logos conference in Oxford this summer:

Logos in Oxford

A summer workshop on biblical texts, vocation, and the Christian mind

Offered by SCIO with funding provided by Steve and Jackie Green

To be held at St Hugh’s College, University of Oxford
Programme dates: 29 May–12 June 2019

This workshop is primarily intended for graduate students (including graduating seniors who will begin advanced studies in Autumn 2019) working in Biblical-related studies with a special focus on ancient texts and manuscripts, history of the Bible, reception history, ancient languages (with a Biblical focus), and related disciplines. Working on Museum of the Bible Scholars Initiative projects is no longer a prerequisite, though students working on Scholars Initiative Projects are particularly encouraged to apply.

Logos in Oxford offers an opportunity to be taught by academic experts in the fields of history, theology, and textual studies.

The award of a place at Logos in Oxford 2019 will cover travel to and from Oxford (including air travel), as well as board and lodging during the workshop. In addition, participants will receive a generous stipend. Up to thirty places are available in 2019.

Fore more information and application forms click here:  Logos Conference

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Important Series for New Testament Textual Criticism

I’m slowly working on a syllabus for a new ThM-level course in NT textual criticism and that means putting together a student-friendly bibliography. I thought it might be helpful to students to have a list of the most important text-critical series. Here’s what I have so far. See what you think. Anything I should add or change?

ANTF = Arbeiten zur neutestamentlichen Textforschung (transl. Works on New Testament textual research). Published by de Grutyer and edited by the director of INTF (formerly Kurt Aland and now Holger Strutwolf). Includes the extremely important Text und Textwert series as well as a number of other very important works. 50 volumes. Full list at
(N)CHB = (New) Cambridge History of the Bible. Organized chronologically and covering a full range of issues, the series was recently updated in a completely new edition, but the original volumes are still worth consulting. Orig. 3 volumes; now 4 volumes. Full list at
NTGF = New Testament in the Greek Fathers. A series started, I believe, by Gordon Fee to study the text used by the Greek Fathers and now published by SBL. It was founded with special attention to methodological refinements and that remains a hallmark. 9 volumes. Full list at
NTTSD = New Testament Studies, Tools, and Documents. Arguably the premier series for text-critical research. This series combines and continues two older series: New Testament Tools and Studies (NTTS), founded in 1965 and Studies and Documents (SD), founded in 1935. 60 volumes. Full list at
Swanson = New Testament Greek Manuscripts: Variant Readings Arranged in Horizontal Lines Against Codex Vaticanus by Reuben J. Swanson. The subtitle tells you what you need to know. This novel format led to a quite useful series which gives an immediate sense of variation in the select manuscripts and is often the quickest route to full collations of important manuscripts. Dogged only by its regular lists of errata, Swanson died before finishing the series and it is now in the hands of Kent Clarke. 9 volumes. Full list with lots of background on Swanson’s work at
T&S = Texts and Studies. Another good series, this one now published as a “third series” by Gorgias. Noteworthy for, among other things, publishing papers from the biennial Birmingham Colloquium on New Testament Textual Criticism. 18 volumes. Full list at For reprints of the older, “first series,” see
TCS = Text-Critical Studies. A series published by SBL Press and currently edited by Michael W. Holmes. Covering both testaments, this series has not been as significant as the others but may be more notable for being the only affordable one! Under the direction of Holmes, it is once again publishing new volumes after a hiatus. 11 volumes. Full list at
Important text critical works are sometimes published in other major series such as LNTS, SNTSSup, NovTSup, etc. and as individual volumes by the major publishers.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

A Greek Witness to the Lord’s Prayer, Written in Latin Letters, without the Doxology

Yesterday, I wrote that I would devote a full post to what was one of my favourite items in the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition at the British Library.

The catalogue entry gives it the title “The earliest Durham gospel-book”, not to be confused with the Durham Gospels (also on display, by the way).

The manuscript, of which only thirteen folios survive, contains bits of Matthew and Mark in Latin written in the mid-seventh century. Folios are spread across three volumes in the Durham Cathedral Library, but the one on display is MS A.II.10. The text is mostly Vulgate, but Mark 2:12–6:5 are Old Latin (VL 19A). Hugh Houghton writes that its text there corresponds “to the text of the Gallo-Irish subgroup seen in VL 14” (Latin New Testament, p. 221).

Source: Wikipedia
What makes this manuscript so interesting to me, however, is that it contains the Lord’s Prayer written in Greek but in Latin characters. It is difficult to see, but it’s there in the two lower D-shaped panels.

Now this raises the question to me: should the INTF give it a GA number?

It’s clearly not an amulet or an ostracon, and it’s not written on wood, wax or anything like that. Although it is not strictly a continuous-text manuscript, it does occur between Matthew and Mark in a continuous-text manuscript. It isn’t really analogous to a liturgical manuscript because this bit of text is not located within the context of its place in the liturgy; it’s just there.

If P42 can be P42 though it is a Greek-Coptic book of the Odes, then why can’t this manuscript have its own GA number? It is a Greek-Latin continuous-text manuscript of the Gospels, even if the Greek bit lacks an accompanying Latin parallel, is limited to this one selection and is written in Latin characters rather than in Greek.

Perhaps of greater interest to readers is that, unless I’m mistaken (the text is admittedly difficult to see and my complete inexperience reading Greek in 7th-century Latin transliteration), it appears to lack the doxology of Matt. 6:13. In the second-to-last line, I see puniro (πονηροῦ) followed by what look like a couple of nomina sacra. I also see curion (κύριον) in that last line. Thus, not only is there not room for the doxology, the text that is there seems to be a different kind of ending to the prayer than the traditional doxology (I will happily let any readers spend more time than I did trying to decipher the full text).

What can we make of this? It is a Greek witness to the Lord’s Prayer without the doxology from either Iona or Northumbria in the mid-seventh century. Should it have a GA number? Should it be considered among textual witnesses for that variant?

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Cats, Bibles and More at the British Library

Over the weekend, I made a trip to the British Library and got to see an amazing exhibit: Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War. This exhibition is open until 19 February 2019 and features some amazing manuscripts:
Treasures from the British Library’s own collection, including the beautifully illuminated Lindisfarne Gospels, Beowulf and Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, sit alongside stunning finds from Sutton Hoo and the Staffordshire Hoard. The world-famous Domesday Book offers its unrivalled depiction of the landscape of late Anglo-Saxon England while Codex Amiatinus, a giant Northumbrian Bible taken to Italy in 716, returns to England for the first time in 1300 years.
Here is a 30-second promo for the exhibition:

As exciting as that exhibition is, I am sure that all of our readers would be interested in another exhibition, Cats on the Page, because who doesn’t love cats? This one is free, and best of all, if you are coming to the UK for the Birmingham Colloquium on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (4–6 March 2019), you can make it to this exhibition. It is open until 17 March 2019.

Source: I took this photo
(no photography permitted in the exhibit)
To be clear, Cats on the Page did not feature any manuscripts with paw prints on them, but the British Library’s Medieval Manuscripts Blog has a recent post about those manuscripts, with several images. There is also this book, if you need more cats and manuscripts. The exhibition did feature an anti-witchcraft pamphlet from around 1579 with something about a cat in it. There were also a few bizarre recordings that you could listen to, including one of a musical duet featuring two singers meowing at each other, and another that was just sounds of a cat hissing. Fun for children though, for sure.

Does anyone know if there are any manuscripts of the Bible with cat prints on them? Has CSNTM digitised any?

I went to the Cats on the Page exhibit mainly because we had to wait a little while before we could go to the Anglo-Saxon exhibit (and also because cats). If you only have time for one—as much as I’m sure you would be tempted to see the cat exhibit, you should definitely skip it in order to see Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War.

We booked our tickets to Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms on the train on the way down, and it had sold out by the time we arrived at the British Library. It truly is an amazing exhibit. If you are remotely in the area, it is absolutely worth a trip. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It took me over an hour to get through, and that was because I had to rush through a lot of it due to having two small children with us. I could have easily spent two hours or longer there.

The exhibition has some of the “greatest hits” of manuscripts connected to the British Isles from way back when. You are met in the first room with The St. Augustine Gospels, one of the books Augustine of Canterbury brought with him on his mission to the English in 597. Other famous Bibles on exhibit include the Lindisfarne Gospels, the St. Cuthbert Gospel, the Harley Golden Gospels, the Coronation Gospels, the Utrecht Psalter, and its copy, the Harley Psalter, the **massive** Codex Amiatinus. There are even a couple of folios of purple parchment from the Stockholm Codex Aureus. You can imagine how I was about as excited as a 4-year-old in a candy store when I turned the corner to see purple parchment. The mood was somewhat dampered when my actual 4-year-old decided to argue with me on the grounds that it was more reddish than purple. In the end, I conceded her point.

Codex Amiatinus (good stuff from the BL here) is especially significant. It was produced at Wearmouth-Jarrow (up near Newcastle) in the early 8th-century—one of three massive single-volume Bibles. It is the only one that has survived, and this is the first time it’s been back to Britain in 1300 years, having been excellently cared-for in Italy through the centuries. What I was shocked to see, however, was that in the middle of the room a few feet from Codex Amiatinus was a less-imposing display of a few pages. These were the Middleton leaves (BL, Add Ms 45025)—some of the few folios that remain of one of the other two volumes made with Codex Amiatinus. Not only do we have Codex Amiatinus in Britiain for the first time in 1300 years, but we have it on display next to the remains of one of its two siblings.

St. Cuthbert Gospel;
source: Wikipedia (but I saw it with
my own eyes 
and this is really it)
There is also an element of shock to see the tiny St. Cuthbert Gospel and the massive Codex Amiatinus next to each other. Two copies of the Scriptures made near to each other in time and location, yet their outward appearances look nothing alike.

The exhibition features not just biblical manuscripts, either. You can also see the only copy of Beowulf, the earliest copy of the Rule of St. Benedict, and the Great Domesday Book (as well as the Exon Domesday). A number of non-book items are of interest as well, but again, I had to rush through parts of it.

Perhaps one my unexpected favourites of the exhibition was another manuscript. I will post more on it tomorrow morning as it deserves its own discussion.

My only criticism (and I feel guilty for having any criticism at all for this excellent exhibit) is that I would have liked to see f. 1 of BL, Cotton MS Titus C XV. The other four folios are from the 6th-century purple codex N022, but f. 1 has a papyrus fragment of Gregory the Great’s Forty Homilies on the Gospels in Latin that dates right to around the time of the composition of the work itself. Robert Babcock wrote a delightful article a few years ago in which he identified the fragment and speculated (reasonably in my opinion) that it might have been one of the other books Augustine of Canterbury brought with him to Britain in 597. It would have been nice to see it next to the St. Augustine Gospels (though there is a nice image of the fragment on p. 21 of the exhibition catalogue).

It is also always a treat to see some of the treasures of the British Library that are on permanent display, like Codex Sinaiticus, the earliest complete copy of the New Testament.

In summary, drop what you’re doing and go see this amazing exhibit, but be sure to book in advance.

More to come tomorrow.