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.