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% -