Tuesday, March 31, 2020

“Text-Critical Thursdays” On-line (IGNTP)

Today Hugh Houghton on behalf of the IGNTP Committee announces Text-Critical Thursdays here (pasted below). This is an online seminar series that will take place in May and June on the Zoom platform with academic papers on New Testament textual criticism from conferences cancelled because of coronavirus. Sign up to the mailing list moderated by Hugh and myself; there are also a few places for further submissions.

The International Greek New Testament Project has set up an online seminar for New Testament textual criticism

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a number of cInternational Greek New Testament Project is establishing a series of online seminars for those who had papers accepted at such conferences to present their work online to a global audience.
onferences on the New Testament due to take place in the next few months have been cancelled. In order for scholars of the text of the New Testament still to benefit from sharing news of current research, the the International Greek New Testament Project is establishing a series of online seminars for those who had papers accepted at such conferences to present their work online to a global audience.
The series of seminars, entitled “Text-Critical Thursdays” is planned to run throughout May and June. Each session will last one hour on the Zoom platform, and will include one or two papers and time for discussion. The time will normally be from 1500 to 1600 UTC, but may vary according to the location of the presenters. Subject to the agreement of presenters, each session will be recorded and made available online for those who are not able to participate in the live session.
A dedicated mailing list has been set up for the seminar through the UK’s JISCmail service. Details of the seminar timetable, links to join the presentations and accompanying material will be disseminated on this ‘NTTC’ list. In addition it may be used for discussion of the paper and news of publications in the field (which would normally be displayed at such conferences). This is an openly accessible, public list on which individuals manage their own subscriptions and all posts will be moderated.
Those interested in presenting work at the seminar should contact Professor Hugh Houghton at the University of Birmingham, who is co-ordinating this initiative on behalf of the IGNTP. Participants have already signed up from the USA, Switzerland, the UK and Australia.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Sacred Words Videos Online

The videos from our recent Sacred Words conference are now online at the TCI YouTube channel. We filmed all the speakers in the main auditorium. This included Peter Gentry on the text of the OT, ETC’s own Anthony Ferguson on DSS, Stephen Dempster on OT canon, and Dan Wallace on NT text. (We didn’t have the equipment to film the other breakout speakers.) It was really a great conference and we were pleased with how it turned out, especially for our first such event. Thanks to all our speakers!





Wednesday, March 25, 2020

A Tendency with Word Order Variants

One of the cutest illustrations of transmission tendencies as to word order is found with the conjunction γαρ.

Have a look at the following clauses:

Luke 6:23 (and 6:26, almost identically) κατὰ τὰ αὐτὰ γὰρ ἐποίουν τοῖς προφήταις οἱ πατέρες αὐτῶν.

2 Cor 1:19 ὁ τοῦ θεοῦ γὰρ υἱὸς Ἰησοῦς χριστὸς ὁ ἐν ὑμῖν δι᾿ ἡμῶν κηρυχθείς, δι᾿ ἐμοῦ καὶ Σιλουανοῦ καὶ Τιμοθέου, οὐκ ἐγένετο ναὶ καὶ οὔ

You will notice that γαρ in both examples comes as the fourth word of the clause; uncomfortably far from its customary place. In each of the instances above part of the tradition has remedied the felt anomaly (and some other witnesses have partial solutions):

Luke 6:23 κατὰ ταῦτα γὰρ ἐποίουν …

2 Cor 1:19 Ὁ γὰρ τοῦ θεοῦ υἱὸς Ἰησοῦς / Ὁ τοῦ γὰρ θεοῦ υἱὸς Ἰησοῦς [P46]

In the first instance τα αυτα has become ταυτα, with the loss of one of the accented units. The second shows simple relocation, with P46 doing its own thing.

I don’t know of any other examples in the New Testament where γαρ occurs this far to the right. However, I have noted a number of other cases where γαρ was moved from third to second position in the clause, though not with the same consistency as our examples.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Festschrift for Maurice A. Robinson On-line

In 2014, Mark Billington and Peter Streitenberger edited a volume of essays, Digging for the Truth: Collected Essays Regarding the Byzantine Text of the Greek New Testament, to honor Maurice A. Robinson, Professor Emeritus of New Testament at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS).

One of the contributors to the volume, Abidan Paul Shah, former PhD student of Robinson, introduced the Festschrift at SEBTS and made available this videoclip of the presentation. At 4.20 you can see the honoree enter the stage to receive his book.

Since the book is now out of print, one of the editors, Peter Streitenberger, has now made it freely available here.

As readers will notice, the volume is written mainly from a pro-Byzantine text perspective, which is understandable since Robinson, in my opinion, is the most respected proponent of this school, which represent a very small minority of scholars in the discipline today. Read more about this perspective in Robinson’s own article, “The Case for Byzantine Priority,” in TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism.

Neverthelesss, it is a pity that there has not been another Festschrift for our co-blogger Maurice reflecting a wider perspective. I would have liked to contribute to that. On the other hand, I did participate in a symposium at SEBTS in 2014, invited by Maurice, to discuss the pericope adulterae, the text to which he has devoted much of his career (read my reports here and here with more links to summaries). The result of this consultation was published in The Pericope of the Adulteress in Contemporary Research, LNTS 551, ed. by D. A. Black and J. N. Cerone (London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2016). See my announcement here.

Let me conclude this blogpost by citing from the preface of my recent book To Cast the First Stone (co-authored with Jennifer Knust) where I express my gratitude to Maurice as he reached out to a Swedish new-comer to the field:
Tommy would first like to thank Maurice Robinson, who was willing to suggest a topic for his bachelor’s thesis at Örebro School of Theology on a particularly interesting variant in the pericope adulterae, which led to his first research visit to the INTF in Münster and eventually resulted in his first academic publication [here]. In spite of different views regarding the history of the New Testament text, Maurice has always been gracious and helpful to both of us.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Interview at Ian Paul’s Blog

Over at his award winning blog (it’s true), Ian Paul has interviewed me about Myths & Mistakes, why skepticism sells, and whether textual criticism is the geekiest of the NT subdisciplines. Thanks to Ian for having me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

On Using Majuscule Numbers instead of Letters

Along with my principled resistance to using Gothic letters in textual criticism, I have for a while also been personally opposed to using letters for the majuscules. Instead, I have tried to restrict myself to the Gregory-Aland numbers. The reason for this is that the numbers are never duplicated and so avoid the confusion my students regularly experience between D in the Gospels and D in Paul, for example. My preference is, no doubt, influenced by my frequent use of the ECM, which only uses the numerical designations in the text volumes. Once I got used to the numbers, the letter designations began to fade.

However, this week, I have realized one (and only one?) benefit of using letters. What’s lost in restricting myself to the numbers alone is the connection between the Greek and Latin diglots. D F G often agree and are thought to have a shared ancestor. But, if the apparatus only lists them as 06 010 012 then it’s easy to miss the evidence of their Latin counterparts designated as the lower case d f g.

The easiest solution is to use both the numerical and letter designations (e.g., D/06). But that still gets a bit cumbersome.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Rob Turnbull on Arabic Manuscripts and New Testament Textual Criticism

Rob talking about something important
Over at Biblia Arabica, Rob Turnbull has written a post about Arabic manuscripts, titled “Do Arabic Gospel manuscripts matter for Textual Criticism?” The article is an abridged version of a longer paper Rob presented at the 11th Birmingham Colloquium last year, and the full version is forthcoming in a volume of the papers from the Colloquium. I’ve always found Rob to be an engaging speaker and an even better person. I have vivid memories of looking around the room a couple of SBLs ago to see other people’s minds blown as much as mine was when Rob presented on some of the amazing software he had developed.

Arabic manuscripts can be classified into families, and Rob’s post is about the text-critical value of one of them, Family B. This family is composed of three manuscripts from the New Finds of St. Catherine’s Monastery: Sinai ar. Parch. N.F. 24, Sinai ar. Parch. N.F. 44, and Sinai ar. Parch. N.F. 8+28 (which are two parts of the same codex). Sinai ar. Parch. N.F. 8+28 has been written about here (but unfortunately, the downloadable pdf does not at present match what the content should be; it looks like this article was skipped in the digitisation of this issue of NovT).

Rob begins by mentioning that Arabic manuscripts are often overlooked because they are assumed to be more or less Byzantine. However, as he demonstrates, Family B is surprisingly non-Byzantine. Rob worked with the Text und Textwert volumes and took into consideration the way Greek was translated into Arabic and arrived at some nice graphs that show how Family B compares to Greek witnesses to the New Testament. One in particular is this chart of agreement with the majority text over time, where Family B is represented by the big red star in the middle:
[Caption quoted from the article:] Fig. 2. The similarity of manuscripts with the Majority Text over time. Data are combined across all the test locations used in the Four Gospels. Manuscripts are labeled with the category assigned to them by the Alands. [link removed] The approximate dates of Greek manuscripts are taken from the Kurzgefasste Liste.[link removed] For clarity, the only credible interval (expressing the uncertainty of the calculation) shown is for arb. This graph combines data from all four Gospels. The equivalent graphs broken down for all four Gospels are found on my Github page.
With Rob’s permission, I quote his conclusion here in full:
In conclusion, probing the character of Family B of the Arabic Gospels using Text und Textwert gives similar results to Kashouh’s earlier study from Luke. Family B is consistently non-Byzantine throughout the four Gospels and with high credibility would rank together the top 25 manuscripts of the Greek tradition in terms of dissimilarity with the Majority Text. The text of arb in Luke and the latter half of Matthew shows a high proportion of similarity with the ‘Ancient’ (UBS) Text though more test passages are necessary to demonstrate this with greater certainty. In particular, there are a very high number of ‘special’ readings which disagree with both the Majority and Ancient texts. This potentially makes arb of great value in explaining poorly understood branches of the transmission of the Gospels. This Arabic version is of high significance and it would be appropriate for it to be cited in the apparatus of future critical editions of the Gospels. It is hoped that through further study of this version, it can be precisely related to other manuscripts in the Greek tradition to illuminate the history of transmission of the Gospels.
Do be sure to check out the article here for a fuller argument and more charts and data: “Do Arabic Gospel manuscripts matter for Textual Criticism?