Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Codex Ravianus and 5 lost manuscripts, now found


after Unknown artist,
line engraving, 1645
NPG D29240
© National Portrait Gallery, CC
In addition to the manuscripts I described here, a lot of (especially older or KJV-preferred) works will refer to another manuscript with the Comma Johanneum: one Codex Ravianus (named for it's former owner, Christian Ravis). E.F. Hills is honest enough to qualify his mention of Codex Ravianus: "The Johannine comma is also found in Codex Ravianus, in the margin of 88, and in 629. The evidence of these three manuscripts, however, is not regarded as very weighty, since the first two are thought to have taken this disputed reading from early printed Greek texts and the latter (like 61) from the Vulgate" (The King James Version Defended [1973 ed.]), pp. 204–205).

Still, it's worth looking into. Given how little Greek manuscript support there is for the Comma Johanneum, we might as well try to track down what we can.

A quick Google of Codex Ravianus reveals that it was once numbered 110 by Wettstein (not to be confused with GA 110), but it was later excluded from the list of Greek NT manuscripts because it is considered to be a copy of the Complutensian Polyglot. A part of me wants to poke at that a bit more, but on this, Tregelles writes:

The Codex Ravianus at Berlin certainly contains this passage; but the MS. itself is nothing whatever but a modern transcript taken almost entirely from the Complutensian Polyglott with a few readings introduced from the text of Erasmus. The very handwriting is an imitation of the Complutensian Greek types. The real character of this MS., which some in the last century were so incautious as to quote as though it possessed authority, was very fully shown by Griesbach and Pappelbaum. This MS. is now preserved at Berlin simply as a literary forgery, and not as the precious monument of the sacred text which it was once described as being. It is uncertain who formed this MS., and whether Rav[is] himself took a part in the fraud, or whether he was himself the dupe of others. A learned man who had not made MSS. his study might be thus misled. 
(Horne, Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures [10th ed.], vol. 4: Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament; "the critical part re-written and the remainder revised and edited" by Tregelles, p. 218)

That last sentence is relevant for more than just Codex Ravianus; let the reader understand. Still, Codex Ravianus doesn't turn up easily in a quick search. What can we know about it?

As Wikipedia can be a decent place to start (if never a good place to finish), I checked the Wikipedia page for Codex Ravianus.  According to it, the manuscript is (was!) in Berlin (Berlin, Staatsbibliothek Gr. fol. 1, 2). It is a 2-volume manuscript.

From there, I checked the Répertoire des bibliothèques et des catalogues de manuscrits grecs de Marcel Richard, edited in its 3rd edition (1995) by Jean-Marie Olivier. Olivier writes [of the Cod. gr. fol. at the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin], "Les codd. 1. 2. 27. 36. 41. 42. 47. 53. 54 et 64 sont perdus" (p. 149). Cue the disappointment. I decided to look at the Staatsbibliothek website anyway, just to see if there were any notes on the lost manuscript.

To my surprise, there were! According to its entry at the Staatsbibliothek website, it was presumed to have been lost due to war until it was found in 2016. It is now in Poland at the Jagiellonian Library in Kraków. Poking around a bit more, I came to the Pinakes entry for Codex Ravianus, which lists a recent article as relevant to it: Antoine Pietrobelli, «Un manuscrit perdu de Galien retrouvé à Cracovie», Medicina nei secoli. Arte e Scienza 32 (2020): 295–310.

Pietrobelli gives a list of 20 manuscripts discovered, among them Codex Ravianus, which I reproduce here, except that I have added some notes and links:

  • Graec. fol. 1-2 (De Boor 242). (~1520–1691?) Codex Ravianus
  • Graec. fol. 21 (De Boor 259). 15th cent. Menaion for December
  • Graec. fol. 27 (De Boor 265). 14th cent. "Fragmente der Archaeologie des Josephus"
  • Graec. fol. 36 (De Boor 272). 13th cent. Euthymius Zigabenus, Psalms commentary
  • Graec. fol. 41 (De Boor 277). 12th cent. Chrysostom's homilies (Matthew?) and saints' lives.
  • Graec. fol. 42 (De Boor 278). 12th cent. Saints' lives.
  • Graec. fol. 53 (De Boor 289). 11th–12th cent. Lectionary (GA L377)
  • Graec. fol. 54 (De Boor 290). 13th cent. Canons of Councils and church fathers and Commentary of Zonaras.
  • Graec. fol. 64 (De Boor 299). 12th cent. Homilies of Gregory of Nazianzus.
  • Graec. quart. 20 (De Boor 318). 17th cent. Mix of things, it seems.
  • Graec. quart. 21 (De Boor 319). 16th cent. Galen
  • Graec. quart. 38 (De Boor 340). Mostly 11th cent. Theodoret's Psalms commentary.
  • Graec. quart. 40 (De Boor 342). 12th cent. (De Boor)/14th cent. (INTF) GA 255
  • Graec. quart. 43 (De Boor 345). 13th cent. (De Boor)/14th cent. (INTF) GA 257
  • Graec. quart. 47 (De Boor 349). 12th–13th cent. GA 658
  • Graec. quart. 55 (De Boor 357). 12th cent. GA 659
  • Graec. quart. 58 (De Boor 360). 12th cent. Psalter with commentary
  • Graec. quart. 83. 
  • Graec. oct. 2 (De Boor 378). 9th cent. (majuscule). Psalter
  • Graec. oct. 24. (papyrus fragments, according to Pietrobelli)

But back to Codex Ravianus. I couldn't find images of it (though to be honest, I didn't look too hard). Nor are there any microfilm images of any of the five other manuscripts of the Greek NT (almost certainly because these manuscripts were still lost when the INTF microfilms were made). It would be great to be able to check Codex Ravianus against the Complutensian Polyglot. Not just the text itself; I would be interested to see what a copy of the edition looks like. Apparently, even the shapes of the letters themselves resembles the type used in the Complutensian Polyglot (see Tregelles above; additionally, Markus Lembke writes: "Wie Pappelbaum 1785 nachgewiesen hat, ist er eine komplette Abschrift des gedruckten NT der Complutensis, sogar mit Nachahmung ihrer Buchstabenformen und Akzentuierung," in "Der Apokalypsetext der Complutensischen Polyglotte und sein Verhältnis zur handschriftlichen Überlieferung," in Studien zum Text der Apokalypse, ed. Sigismund, Karrer, Schmid. ANTF 47 [Berlin: de Gruyter, 2015]: 50–51). The unusual accenting in the Complutensian Polyglot is interesting in itself, so it would be well worth knowing how it was copied over into Codex Ravianus. Is any formatting from the Complutensian Polyglot copied as well? Is there anything we could tell about the purpose of the manuscript from such similarities or differences?

A few remarks about why Codex Ravianus doesn't 'count' as a NT manuscript may be relevant. If the goal is to get back to something earlier (regardless of what you want to call it or what nuance you with to make about it), it's important to see manuscripts for where they fall in that history of transmission. In addition to the way we cite Family 1 and Family 13 as groups when their members agree, a great example of this is Maurice Robinson's comments on how manuscripts of Theophylact's commentary feature into evidence for/against John 7:53–8:11.

Robinson wrote over 20 years ago, "79 Theophylact MSS omit the PA altogether, yet these reflect only the original archetype penned by Theophylact and are of no more value than a single witness," ("Preliminary Observations Regarding the Pericope Adulterae based upon Fresh Collations of Nearly All Continuous-Text Manuscripts and All Lectionary Manuscripts Containing the Passage," in Filología Neotestamentaria 13 [2000]: 57).

That is why Codex Ravianus doesn't count when it comes to the Comma Johanneum: we already know that the CJ was in its exemplar, the Complutensian Polyglot. On the other hand, if a copy of the Complutensian Polyglot omitted the CJ, that would be worth knowing—the rejection of a reading of that size that can't be explained as homoioteleuton* is very likely intentional.

At any rate, there are several undigitized manuscripts in Poland, and they include some papyrus fragments (though I don't know what kind of text, if any, they have), five Greek New Testament manuscripts that are already on the Kurzgefasste-Liste, and Codex Ravianus. It would be great to get these manuscripts digitized.

*Note: homoioteleuton leaping from/to τρεῖς εἰσὶν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες would still leave the words ἐν τῇ γῇ in the text, and no manuscripts have this transitional reading. Hills, presuming that the CJ "must be regarded as possibly genuine" [KJV Defended, p. 204]—a degree of uncertainty that Hills' followers would likely never tolerate if it came from a textual critic!—claims that after the 'homoioteleuton omission' of most of the CJ, the words ἐν τῇ γῇ "might easily have been dropped" (KJV Defended, p. 207). The problem with that hypothesis is that there are ~500 surviving Greek NT manuscripts without the CJ, and not a single one of them has this half-way reading. When combined with other factors like the derivative quality of the manuscripts that attest it or the fact that 500 Greek scribes didn't seem to have a problem with the grammatical solecism that some have alleged to occur without the CJ, the lack of the reading that lacks most of the CJ but still has the words ἐν τῇ γῇ in the text makes the homoioteleuton explanation unlikely in my estimation.]

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