Thursday, October 21, 2021

Rodenbiker on the Canon List in Claromontanus


Kelsie Rodenbiker has a helpful article clarifying some issues about the odd canon list in Codex Claromontanus (the so-called Catalogus Claromontanus). The pre-pub was uploaded back in March and is available here but it looks like the JSNT version isn’t out yet.

For context, here is the NT list of books with stichometry (copied from here).

Evangelia .IIII.Four Gospels:
Mattheum ver.ĪĪDCMatthew2600
Iohannes ver.ĪĪJohn2000
Marcus ver.ĪDCMark1600
Lucam ver.ĪĪDCCCCLuke2900
Epistulas PauliEpistles of Paul:
ad Romanos ver.ĪXLTo Romans1040
ad Chorintios .I. ver.ĪLXTo Corinthians 11060
ad Chorintios .II. ver.LXXTo Corinthians 270
ad Galatas ver.CCCLTo Galatians350
ad Efesios ver.CCCLXVTo Ephesians365
ad Timotheum .I. ver.CCVIIITo Timothy 1209
ad Timotheum .II. ver.CCLXXXVIIIITo Timothy 2289
ad Titum ver.CXLTo Titus140
ad Colosenses ver.CCLITo Colossians251
ad Filimonem ver.LTo Philemon50
—ad Petrum primaCC—To Peter 1200
ad Petrum .II. ver.CXLTo Peter 2140
Jacobi ver.CCXXOf James220
Pr. Iohanni Epist.CCXXOf John220
Iohanni Epistula .II.XXOf John 220
Iohanni Epistula .III.XXOf John 320
Iudae Epistula ver.LXOf Jude60
—Barnabae Epist. ver.DCCCL—Of Barnabas850
Iohannis RevelatioĪCCRevelation of John1200
Actus ApostolorumĪĪDCActs of the Apostles2600
—Pastoris versiĪĪĪĪ—Shepherd4000
—Actus Pauli ver.ĪĪĪDLX—Acts of Paul3560
—Revelatio PetriCCLXX—Revelation of Peter270

And here are images from the BnF.

She clarifies a few things that seem to have been missed or forgotten thanks, in part, to Tischendorf’s original transcription. In particular, she argues that (1) the lines (obeli?) before the four NT books (there is also one before Judith too that is often missed) are probably later than the original hand; (2) the line before 1 Peter is not a paragraphos (contra Metzger) but marks the odd title to 1 Peter which she (rightly in my view) accounts for as a scribe’s mistake due to the repetition of ad in the Pauline letters just before; (3) following Metzger, the omission of Philippians, 1–2 Thessalonians, and Hebrews is best explained by homoioteleuton from Ephesians (εφεσιους) to Hebrews (εβραιους) if the list was originally in Greek.

From this she concludes that we shouldn’t see the original list as equivalent to our current NT. Instead, it’s a witness to “the continuing elasticity of the New Testament canon” in the 6th century. Of course, we don’t know how much later the lines (obeli?) are from the original scribe and the fact that the NT list doesn’t match the very books in Claromontanus raises questions for me about the purpose (and weight) of the list in its current form. 

In any case, Rodenbiker’s main contribution is to remind us of the line at Judith, to argue that the lines are later, and to offer a better explanation for the line at 1 Peter. On all three points, I think she’s right.

Update: Meade reminds me that he covered some of this ground in his Myths and Mistakes chapter.


  1. I defer to the professionals here, but ... is this actually a canon at all? Or something much simpler?

    Looking at the page images, it looks awfully like a copy of a list of the contents to be found in some physical book, together with the number of lines each of them had in that same book.

    As we know, a manuscript is more like a loose-leaf binder than a modern book, and often contains extra texts at the back, or turns into a codex miscellaneus. To produce this list by counting the lines would bean easy mechanical task.

    Maybe we overcomplicate things?

    1. A good point, Roger. And to Rodenbiker’s credit she calls it the Claromontanus stichometry not the canon list. And we should note the title: versus scribturarum sanctarum.

  2. We probably need to look at those lines with an electron microscrope.