Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Brief Update on the UBS6 from Florian Voss

Over on Twitter, Florian Voss gives a short update on updates being made for the UBS6.

Readers may remember that last year at SBL Holger Strutwolf gave 2022 as a possible date for the NA29 with the UBS6 following after that.

Monday, September 28, 2020

A Brief Guide to Good Typography


Good communication is clear. It’s more than that, but never less. To be clear, the language we use matters. All of us know that. 

But, if typography is what language looks like (according to Ellen Lupton), then the type we use also matters. Maybe you know that too, but you don’t know what to do about it. 

If so, you may be interested in my “Brief Guide to Good Typography.” It’s designed for busy students, so it’s brief. It’s not designed for professional designers, so it only covers the basics. I try to cover those elements of good typography that are the easiest to use and make the most improvement. If you find it  helpful, I’m very happy for you to share it far and wide.

A brief guide to good typography

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Some notes from fun reading: Erasmus, Original Text, Shorter Reading, Spurgeon, Al Capone(!)


I’ve been trying to read a few works that have been around for a few years that, for some reason, I haven’t read until now. What follows are some thoughts that are probably old hat to everyone else. It’s a longish post with some tangents and random thoughts.

I. Rethinking New Testament Textual Criticism, ed. David Alan Black

Book coverA solid little book. The essays are certainly valuable in themselves, but I wanted to point out a couple of things from Moisés Silva’s response at the end. Silva describes himself as “an unrepentant and unshaken Hortian” (p. 142), but makes the helpful observation that Hort was really not doing anything new. Silva writes (p. 142):

“Keep in mind that what Hort did—in collaboration with Westcott and, less directly, Lightfoot—was primarily to synthesize and logically articulate nineteenth-century text-critical scholarship, which was itself the culmination of intensive work tracing its lineage back to Bengel in the eighteenth century, Bentley in the seventeenth century, and Erasmus in the sixteenth century. Yes, Erasmus, because even the creator of what would later be known as the textus receptus was absolutely committed to the very principles that lie at the foundations of WH’s accomplishments.” 

Silva’s words here stuck out to me because it’s something I’ve been saying for a little while. Was Erasmus doing the exact same thing as text critics today? Well, not exactly the same thing. However, the more I read his annotations, and assuming I have at least a working understanding of how textual criticism is done today (a premise to which I am sure somebody somewhere might object), the more difficult it is for me to escape the conclusion that Erasmus was very much in the same trajectory of what we are doing today. One difference is that it is clear from Erasmus' annotations that it was not always his intention to give the original text [see note at the end of this post]. Some might claim that this is not a goal today [Warning: tangent coming], but 1. it certainly is for some of us, and 2. Even some scholars who might not affirm the importance of the original text still function as if that is something we’re after and also something that basically can be obtained. On this point, Silva points to Ehrman’s Orthodox Corruption of Scripture to demonstrate this point (p. 149):

Although [Orthodox Corruption of Scripture] is appealed to in support of blurring the notion of an original text, there is hardly a page in that book that does not in fact mention such a text or assume its accessibility. ‘Why is such-and-such a reading in Mark a later corruption and not original? Because Mark (authorial intent!) would not likely have said such a thing.’ Indeed, Ehrman’s book is unimaginable unless he can identify an initial form of the text that can be differentiated from a later alteration.

Monday, September 14, 2020

New Open Access Handbook of Stemmatology


De Gruyter has just published a major new handbook on stemmatology, i.e., the study of textual relations. The full title is Handbook of Stemmatology: History, Methodology, Digital Approaches. I sampled a few chapters over the weekend and I am looking forward to reading further. The format recalls another major open access introduction, Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies: An Introduction. Like that volume, this one is organized by subject areas that each have their own subeditor and contributors. Many of the names I recognize as leaders in the field. As with most handbooks, the goal is not to break new ground so much as to give the lay of the land. 

Here is the publisher’s description:

Stemmatology studies aspects of textual criticism that use genealogical methods to analyse a set of copies of a text whose autograph has been lost. This handbook is the first to cover the entire field, encompassing both theoretical and practical aspects of traditional as well as modern digital methods and their history. As an art (ars), stemmatology’s main goal is editing and thus presenting to the reader a historical text in the most satisfactory way. As a more abstract discipline (scientia), it is interested in the general principles of how texts change in the process of being copied. Thirty eight experts from all of the fields involved have joined forces to write this handbook, whose eight chapters cover material aspects of text traditions, the genesis and methods of traditional “Lachmannian” textual criticism and the objections raised against it, as well as modern digital methods used in the field. The two concluding chapters take a closer look at how this approach towards texts and textual criticism has developed in some disciplines of textual scholarship and compare methods used in other fields that deal with “descent with modification”. The handbook thus serves as an introduction to this interdisciplinary field.

– First systematic coverage of stemmatology as a field within textual criticism.
– Written by 38 experts in fields from various philologies to biology and information theory.
– Illustrations and many practical examples from a wide range of disciplines are provided to render the content more accessible.

H/T: Georgi Parpulov 

Monday, September 07, 2020

Shao on the Codicology of GA 2860


Last week in my textual criticism course we had a nice lecture from Jessica Shao on GA 2860. It’s a manuscript she worked on through the Green Scholars Initiative with Amy Anderson and her students at North Central University. They had multiple leaves from 2860 which turned out to match those at the Holy Land Experience in Florida.

Thursday, September 03, 2020

Gorgias Open Repository, Including Codex Zacynthius


Gorgias Press has just posted about their Open Repository. It looks to be a collection of all their open access books. There are a number of books of interest to text critics, a few of which have been known about for some time. But I wanted especially to highlight the inclusion of Kiraz’s great book on the Syriac dot and the two new volumes in the Text and Studies series on Codex Zacynthius edited by Hugh Houghton et al. Here are the descriptions of the latter two:

This book consists of a series of studies of Codex Zacynthius (Cambridge, University Library MS Add. 10062), the earliest surviving New Testament commentary manuscript in catena format. A research project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council has produced new multispectral images of the palimpsest undertext in order to enable a thorough investigation of the manuscript and the creation of a complete electronic edition. This volume, co-authored by the members of the project, will provide a full account of the research undertaken by the project. Many advances have resulted from this research, which will be presented here for the first time in print.

This book is the first-ever edition of the complete palimpsest undertext of Codex Zacynthius (Cambridge, University Library MS Add. 10062), the earliest surviving New Testament commentary manuscript in catena format. It relies on new multispectral images produced by a research project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council in 2018.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Reviews of Sabar’s New Book on the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife

Ariel Sabar’s new book on the saga of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife releases tomorrow and already there have been a slate of glowing book reviews. My copy is on pre-order so I have not read it. But all accounts so far are that it is a page-turner with important lessons for those of us who ply the scholarly trade. Here are some excerpts for you from the reviews I’ve read so far.
Veritas book cover

Lucas Wittmamn at Time Magazine
In our moment of truthiness, to borrow a term from Stephen Colbert, Veritas offers a vital lesson less about Christianity than about what happens when a scholar decides that the story is more important than the truth. King had spent her career presenting an important scholarly narrative about the need to re-evaluate and reinterpret the canonical story of Christianity, to allow for women to play a central role and to question some of the central tenets of how established churches told the world’s most famous story. But in Sabar’s convincing and damning assessment, when it came to Jesus’ wife, she bypassed the facts, ignored peers who warned her something was amiss and failed to thoroughly interrogate how Fritz came to possess this stunning artifact.
Katherine A. Powers at the Minneapolis Star Tribune
You could not find a better demonstration of the central truth about forgeries: that historical verisimilitude does not lie in reflecting the sensibility of the past but rather in fulfilling the persuasions and aspirations of the present. But there is more to this story than wishful thinking. Why did King suddenly change her mind about the authenticity of the scrap of papyrus and decide to accept it? Why did she move so quickly in presenting it to the world?

It would be unfair to tell you, for, in truth, the book is as good as a detective novel, possessing plot, subplots, hidden motives, bees in eccentric bonnets and startling revelations.
Alex Beam at the Wall St. Journal (paywalled)
‘Hotwife’ Pornographer Gulls Harvard Prof With ‘Wife of Jesus’ Hoax.” The headlines could have been worse for Karen King, the Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard University. But not much worse.
David Mikis in Tablet
Veritas is a gripping thriller, and a perfect beach read. I don’t want to spoil it, so I won’t reveal the possible involvement of Harvard’s administrators in the Jesus’ Wife fiasco. Suffice it to say that Harvard, not just King, fell for Fritz’s tantalizing papyrus. Sabar’s book adds to one’s sense that the ivory tower is tottering, with professors peddling wishful thinking that masquerades as scholarship, and letting their progressive values freely rewrite history.
Candida Moss in The Daily Beast
The negative reviews raise questions as to why King went ahead with her announcement and why the editors of HTR would allow publication to proceed. Under ordinary circumstances, it would have been rejected. HTR had been spooked, Sabar reveals, but published it in 2014 and without peer-reviewing the scientific data supplied in her article. (The editors at the time have recently been replaced.) Sabar adds that King refused to allow a (negative) response to be published alongside her article in HTR and that when she released her story to the press she did so on the condition that they only speak to pre-approved scholars. Had King not been a senior figure in the field, and had the editors of the journal not been her immediate colleagues, the outcome might have been different.

Monday, August 03, 2020

GA 2965 and the Nicetas Manuscript Cluster: Guest Post by Post II

The following is a guest post by Darrell Post, graduate of Virginia Beach Theological Seminar (for an earlier guest post by Darrell on minuscule 2957 and its allies, see here – that post also includes an introduction of the guestblogger).

Gregory-Aland 2965 and the Nicetas Manuscript Cluster

Sometimes things hide in plain sight. Such was the situation with the manuscript cluster of Nicetas’ catena on John’s gospel. These individual manuscripts, 249, 317, 333, 423, 430, 743, and 869 have been known to exist for years, but this group was largely ignored until Brill published an article in 2016 by Michael A. Clark, Nicetas of Heraclea’s Catena on John’s Gospel: How Many Manuscripts are There?This helpful article established with certainty which mss should truly be cataloged as a catenae of Nicetas.  Clark later completed his dissertation, The Catena of Nicetas of Heraclea and its Johannine Text, which included a reconstructed text of John’s gospel as penned by Nicetas, complete with an apparatus showing variations between the Nicetas text, the Byzantine text, and the NA text. 

A contributing factor to the historical ignorance of this cluster involves the damaged and tattered nature of each of the manuscripts (see table below). Furthermore, none of them include the synoptic gospels, meaning these were avoided during the profile studies that identified other minuscule clusters.

Bruce Morrill’s dissertation on John 18 found 317, 333, and 423 as closely related, but 249, 430, and 869 lacked chapter 18. 743 changed dramatically somewhere between chapter 11 and chapter 18, where Morrill found it to have different relatives.

Recently, the INTF assigned a new GA number, 2965, to a previously unknown copy of Nicetas’ catena on John. This find is significant for two reasons. First, the text of 2965 seems complete and undamaged, and second, the Greek text strongly matches the cluster. The readings from this cluster’s text are mixed, retaining many of the readings found primarily in the Alexandrian mss—more so than Family 1 or Family 13. 

The table below shows the contents and location of each member of this cluster:

GA# John Content MS Content Date Location
249 3:22-13:20 JN 12th Moscow, Historical Museum V. 90
317 10:9-end JN 12th Paris, National Library Greek 212
333 1:1-20:23 MT, JN 1214 Turin National University Library, B. I. 9
397* 1:1-21:18 JN 10/11th Rome, Vallicelliana Library, ms.E. 40
423 1:1-19:16 MT, JN 1556 Munich, Bavarian State Library, Cod.graec. 36, 37
430 1:1-8:14 JN 11th Munich, Bavarian State Library, Cod.graec. 437
743 1:1-21:21 JN, 1-3 JN, RV 14th Paris, National Library, Suppl. Grec 159, fol. 2-7.12-406
869 6:20-11:57 JN 12th Vatican Library,
2965 Complete JN 1360-80 Mikulov, Regional Museum, MIK 6370

*397 is included here because in portions of John’s gospel, chapter 11 for instance, it presents the same Greek text as found in the Nicetas cluster.

In John 11 there are 50 instances where the NA text varies from the 2005 R-P MT. 249, 317, 333, 423, 430, 869 and 2965 include 40% of these readings, while 397 includes 42% of them and 743 just 22%. By comparison, Family 1 has as many as 33% of these readings and Family 13 just 20% of them. Other frequently cited minuscules rank as follows: 33 – 58%, 579 – 52%, 213 – 50%, 1241 – 45%

Notable variations in John 11 supported by this Nicetas catena cluster include ηδη ημερασ rather than ημερασ ηδη in 11:17; την instead of τασ περι in 11:19; inclusion of δε, ηγερθη instead of εγειρεται and ηρχετο for ερχεται in 11:29; the inclusion of ετι in 11:30; προσ instead of εισ in 11:32; τετελευτηκοτοσ rather than τεθνηκοτοσ in 11:39; the omission of ο τεθνηκωσ κειμενοσ in 11:41, and εμεινεν for διετριβεν in 11:54. This last one is particularly rare, given the only other witnesses found to support this reading include P66, P75, 01, 03, 019, 032, 579, 597, 1241 and 1654.

The first table below shows the percentage of agreement in John 11 each member of the Nicetas cluster has with the MT. The second table shows the agreement between the mss, again from John 11.

Agreement with MT in John 11
249 (892/953) 93.6%
317 (891/953) 93.5%
333 (889/953) 93.3%
397 (895/953) 93.9%
423 (888/953) 93.2%
743 (912/953) 95.7%
869 (802/857) 93.6%
2965 (887/953) 93.1%

249 317 333 397 423 743 869 2965
249 - 99.4% 99.5% 98.7% 99.4% 96.3% 98.9% 99.2%
317 99.4% - 98.8% 99.0% 98.7% 96.3% 99.1% 99.8%
333 99.5% 98.8% - 98.2% 99.9% 96.0% 98.6% 98.6%
397 98.7% 99.0% 98.2% - 98.1% 96.5% 98.6% 98.7%
423 99.4% 98.7% 99.9% 98.1% - 95.9% 98.6% 98.5%
743 96.3% 96.3% 96.0% 96.5% 95.9% - 96.0% 96.1%
869 98.9% 99.1% 98.6% 98.6% 98.6% 96.0% - 98.8%
2965 99.2% 99.8% 98.6% 98.7% 98.5% 96.1% 98.8% -

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

4QGenk: A Normalized Manuscript

4QGenk (4Q10) is a poorly preserved manuscript that contains 70 partial words. Among these partial words, there exist three variants (I am not counting differences of plene/defective spelling here). Each of these variants all function to replace an uncommon grammatical form of the MT with the more common form. This common denominator suggests to me that scribe of 4QGenk has taken liberties with his exemplar, or perhaps the scribe has copied from a manuscript that has taken these liberties, to normalize the grammar of the MT. 
Variants between MT and 4QGenk
Fragment, Line, and Verse
F1:L1 (Gen 1:9)
And let it appear
And let it appear
F2:L3 (Gen 1:14)
ולש֯[נים.  ]
and fory[ears]
and years
F5:L2 (Gen 3:1)

The difference persevered at Genesis 1:14 concerns a preposition, but the difference is minor since the scribe is simply making the grammar of the MT explicit. In the MT, one preposition governs two nouns – “days and years.” Although a preposition can govern more than one noun in a sequence in biblical Hebrew (the reading of the MT), the more typical form is to repeat the preposition after each noun (see GKC §119hh). The scribe has replaced the uncommon form of the MT with the more common form.

The same explanation applies to the addition of the interrogative heh in 4QGenk at F5:L2 (Gen 3:1). Interrogative statements can be expressed in Hebrew by an added particle (4QGenk) or by intonation (MT [See GKC, §150a]). Although both forms are possible, interrogative statements are most often marked with an interrogative particle (see GKC, §150c). 

Finally, the fragmentary nature of this manuscript complicates a certain understanding of the last difference. What is certain at F1:L1 (Gen 1:9) is that 4QGenk reads ותרא while Leningrad reads וְתֵרָאֶה. 4QGenhas omitted the final heh of the verb ראה. The form of the MT is a jussive (a tense of volition), but the form is uncommon. The typical jussive of a third yod/vav is an apocopated form: that is, the final heh is lost. It is not surprising given the other two variants in this manuscript that the scribe of 4QGenk provides this form: the more common form.

Tov labels this manuscript as non-aligned, and this categorization may give the impression that this manuscript provides positive evidence that the OT text existed in a state of diversity without any unity. This impression would be wrong. Rather, this manuscript suggests, in my mind, the presence of a stable text existing alongside a diversity of texts. Moreover, this manuscript demonstrates that some of the textual diversity preserved in the non-align category is the result of scribes normalizing uncommon forms. This tendency does not suggest the absence of an authoritative text in the Second Temple period; rather it supports its existence. 

*For more information about this manuscript, see my dissertation, A Comparison of the Non-Aligned Texts of Qumran to the Masoretic Text. It can be accessed on ProQuest. You may also view the presentation that I gave at the Sacred Words Conference.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Video from SIL Textual Criticism and Translation Webinar

Meade and I recently participated in a live webinar with Drew Maust of SIL on the importance and role of textual criticism for Bible translation. It was a good time with great questions from Drew and the participants. You can now watch the video on Vimeo here.

Screenshot of textual criticism webinar

Friday, July 24, 2020

New Book: Stunt on Tregelles

Timothy C.F. Stunt, The Life and Times of Samuel Prideaux Tregelles: A Forgotten Scholar (Christianities in the Trans-Atlantic World; Palgrave Macmillan, 2020). ISBN: 978-3-030-32265-6

With this biography of Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, a great evangelical textual critic of the nineteenth century, Timothy C.F. Stunt has completed a work for which he has collected information for some sixty years. We are all in his debt for the clarity and well-documented supply of information about the life and times of Tregelles which I enjoyed reading earlier this week. I especially learnt a lot about Tregelles’ early life, his work in the Iron Foundry, and his contributions to various Concordances and lexical tools in his early years. Although Tregelles’ work on the text of the Greek New Testament has an ongoing and important role in the story, we are also introduced to his early life, his relationship with the early Plymouth Brethren, and his views on and relationships with others, his theology – with chapters on his views of Roman Catholicism and his doctrine of Scripture. Some of these relationships were tense and strained, for example his relationship with Tischendorf, strained by a spirit of competition, or his relationship with Samuel Davidson, strained by divergent theological convictions – both of these are well described here (although not exhaustively in either case). Other relationships were a constant support, especially that of his wife, Sarah Anna, but also his patron B.W. Newton, and scholarly friends in Cambridge (especially Hort, but also Westcott and others). We get a feel for the range of Stunt’s interests in Tregelles in the blurb on the back:
This book sheds light on the career of Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, and in doing so touches on numerous aspects of nineteenth-century British and European religious history. Several recent scholars have celebrated the 200th anniversary of the German textual critic Tischendorf but Tregelles, his contemporary English rival, has been neglected, despite his achievements being comparable. In addition to his decisive contribution to Biblical textual scholarship, this study of Tregelles’ career sheds light on developments among Quakers in the period, and Tregelles’s enthusiastic involvement with the early nineteenth-century Welsh literary renaissance usefully supplements recent studies on Iolo Morganwg. The early career of Tregelles also gives valuable fresh detail to the origins of the Plymouth Brethren, (in both England and Italy) the study of whose early history has become more extensive over the last twenty years. The whole of Tregelles’s career therefore illuminates neglected aspects of Victorian religious life. [Publisher website]
The picture which emerges is one of a pious and careful scholar, more-or-less a self-educated man excluded from the intellectual life of the English Universities of Oxford and Cambridge because of his religious convictions (and his family’s financial situation), and determined to do his own careful academic work despite disdain from some of his Christian brethren who didn’t see the need for such careful work with manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. As Stunt writes in the preface ‘the principle concern in Tregelles’ life was the original Greek text of the New Testament (p. x). Stunt’s own strengths are in the history of the brethren, and the primary sources for the life and letters of Tregelles, not, as he himself is clear, in the textual transmission of the Greek New Testament. So occasionally I was craving a bit more in the way of the intellectual history of Tregelles’ edition (composition, distribution, subscriptions, reception, etc.) – there is more work which could profitably build on this framework. I also was a bit surprised not to hear anything about Tregelles as a hymn writer (see here). We are also introduced to some of the features of his eschatological views, but the overall shape and distinctiveness is not made clear.

The Tyndale House Greek New Testament gets a brief look in as built upon the starting point of Tregelles’ text (cf. also Dirk’s contribution here), as does one of our current writer’s contributions to this blog on some discoveries in the Wren Library. Something has gone a little awry in the type-setting of the final chapter, the Epilogue.

The book concludes with the publication of a good number of unpublished letters, a list of archival material consulted, a bibliography (including 48 books and articles authored by S.P. Tregelles), and a full index to chase up particular points.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Some forthcoming works

I list below some new/forthcoming books on/possibly relevant to NT textual criticism I noticed recently. The summaries are copied from the linked pages. Not listed here is the ECM of Mark, which is allegedly going to be published in "late 2020 or early 2021". Also not listed here is anything I didn't come across in my not-remotely-exhaustive search.

Castelli, Silvia. Johann Jakob Wettstein’s Principles for New Testament Textual Criticism: A Fight for Scholarly Freedom. NTTSD. Leiden: Brill, 22 October 2020.
In Johann Jakob Wettstein's Principles for New Testament Textual Criticism Silvia Castelli investigates the genesis, development, and legacy of Wettstein’s criteria for evaluating New Testament variant readings. Wettstein’s guidelines, the Animadversiones et cautiones, are the first well-organized essay on New Testament text-critical methodology, first published in the Prolegomena to his New Testament in 1730 and republished with some changes in 1752. In his essay, Wettstein presents a new text-critical method based on the manuscripts’ evidence and on the critic’s judgment. Moving away from the authority invested in established printed editions, Wettstein’s methodology thus effectively promotes and enhances intellectual freedom. The second part of this volume offers a critical text and an annotated English translation of Wettstein’s text-critical principles.

Epp, Eldon Jay. Perspectives on New Testament Textual Criticism, Volume 2: Collected Essays, 2006–2017. NovTSupp. Leiden: Brill, 23 December 2020.
Eldon Jay Epp’s second volume of collected essays consists of articles previously published during 2006-2017. All treat aspects of the New Testament textual criticism, but focus on historical and methodological issues relevant to constructing the earliest attainable text of the New Testament writings.

More specific emphasis falls upon the nature of textual transmission and the text-critical process, and heavily on the criteria employed in establishing that earliest available text. Moreover, textual grouping is examined at length, and prominent is the current approach to textual variants not approved for the constructed text, for they have stories tell regarding theological, ethical, and real-life issues as the early Christian churches sought to work out their own status, practices, and destiny.

Erasmus, Desiderius. The Correspondence of Erasmus: Letters 2803 to 2939. Edited by James M. Estes. Translated by Clarence Miller. Collected Works of Erasmus. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 23 June 2020 (but apparently not yet available at least through institutional e-access).
The thirteen months covered in this volume reveal the decline of Erasmus' health and the creation of his most famous work, On Preparing for Death.

Fee, Gordon. Bodmer Papyri, Scribal Culture, and Textual Transmission: Collected Works on New Testament Textual Criticism. Edited by Eldon Jay Epp. NTTSD. Leiden: Brill, 23 December 2020.
Bodmer Papyri, Scribal Culture, and Textual Transmission presents a collection of Gordon Fee’s seminal works on New Testament textual criticism. His meticulous and thorough examination of New Testament papyrus Bodmer P66 (1968) insightfully describes its textual character and significant relationship to P75 and other early manuscripts. P66 and P75, among our most important and earliest papyri, were published only a half-dozen years before Fee’s volume, which has been heavily used and influential ever since. Prominent is his discovery of scribal activity in P66 that tended to correct its text toward the Byzantine. Fee’s ten successive, often quoted articles contribute substantially to our understanding of textual transmission and text-critical methodology, with an emphasis also on patristic citations. Completed with ample bibliographical resources, this volume is an indispensable resource for future research.

Distinguished book reviewers wrote about Fee (1968): “full scale study” (Kilpatrick); “definitive analysis” (Metzger); “a most valuable work, ... which greatly advances the discipline of textual criticism in knowledge and method” (Birdsall).

Karrer, Martin, ed. Der Codex Reuchlins zur Apokalypse: Byzanz – Basler Konzil – Erasmus. Manuscripta Biblica. Berlin: De Gruyter, 30 September 2020.
Seldom does a manuscript provide such insight to the apocalypse as the Reuchlin Codex. It was written in the 12th century, prior to the fall of Byzantium, it was adorned with very detailed marginalia. Around 1435, the manuscript was purchased for the Council of Basel. Since that time, Latin annotators, including Reuchlin, have added their comments. A team led by Erasmus used it as the basis for the Greek text of the Apocalypse in the modern era.

Also, just published:

Stevens, Chris S. History of the Pauline Corpus in Texts, Transmissions and Trajectories: A Textual Analysis of Manuscripts from the Second to the Fifth Century. TENTS. Leiden: Brill, 2020.
In History of the Pauline Corpus in Texts, Transmissions, and Trajectories, Chris S. Stevens examines the Greek manuscripts of the Pauline texts from P46 to Claromontanus. Previous research is often hindered by the lack of a systematic analysis and an indelicate linguistic methodology. This book offers an entirely new analysis of the early life of the Pauline corpus. Departing from traditional approaches, this text-critical work is the first to use Systemic Functional Linguistics, which enables both the comparison and ranking of textual differences across multiple manuscripts. Furthermore, the analysis is synchronically oriented, so it is non-evaluative. The results indicate a highly uniform textual transmission during the early centuries. The systematic analysis challenges previous research regarding text types, Christological scribal alterations, and textual trajectories.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Is There a Unity amid this Diversity?

Currently, there is debate about the state of the Old Testament text before the second century AD. While many argue that the OT text existed in a state of fluidity – that is, the OT text had not yet reached its final form – some others believe that a stable text existed alongside a diversity of texts. I hold to this latter view, and I identify this stable text as an MT-like text.

Now, Old Testament textual critics cite a variety of evidence when discussing this important topic. Perhaps the strongest evidence of this debate is the Hebrew/Aramaic biblical manuscripts discovered in the Judean Desert. At least two reasons make these manuscripts unique among the other evidence: 1) they are the oldest biblical texts available to scholars, and 2) they are written in the OT’s original languages. These two details compel us, then, to take seriously two further details: nearly half of these manuscripts align closely with the MT while the other half do not. Emanuel Tov labels these latter manuscripts non-aligned texts.
First four columns of 1QIsaa
Thus, in a series of blogs, I am going to discuss the non-aligned manuscripts. I hope to show that these manuscripts are largely secondary and dependent on an MT-like text. This analysis suggests to me that the stable text that existed alongside the diversity of the non-aligned texts is an MT-like text. I hope this creates some intriguing dialogue for the glory of the great God whom these manuscripts bear witness!

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Notes from my afternoon

Sometimes there are those days that you find little imprecisions in someone else’s work (and these make me feel slightly better about my own failings). So this afternoon I found the following two.

I got a question asking whether Metzger or the ECM got it wrong on Acts 11:23, the presence or absence of the article after τὴν χάριν. In his Commentary Metzger writes that the article ‘is absent from ℵ A B 927', whilst the ECM says that these are the witnesses that have it.. This is clearly one of those moments where you write the exact opposite of what you know is correct. Because it is only a little later that Metzger says ‘it can be argued that τήν is a pedantic insertion made by Alexandrian scribes’ by which he cannot mean anything else than the scribe behind ℵ A B.
Just for your peace of mind:

The second imprecision I found in NA28 in the apparatus to John 13:26. The question is here whether or not the article stands before Ἰησοῦς. Amongst others 579 is cited as probably reading a text without ὁ (579vid).

Here is a screenshot (full page here):

There is a nasty fold running through the relevant letters, the first word of the last line is visible till the final upstroke of the alpha/iota of ἀποκρίνεται. Then the next visible letters are the ις  of the nomen sacrum Ἰησοῦς. Is there space for an article? I think there is, or at least there should be. I think the rough breathing of the article is pretty clear. And Elijah Hixson pointed out that also on the line above an omicron is missing in the fold. Being the digital humanist he is, he suggested to measure the width of the fold also on the other side of the page, but I think by now I knew enough. Instead of citing 579vid for the absence of the article, perhaps it should be cited as 579vid for its presence.

EDIT: Solved! See the reply from Jean Putmans below.

Enjoy the rest of your day.