Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Watch Matthew’s Nativity (and More) in Koine


Ben Kantor and the team at koinegreek.com has produced another stellar video of the Gospels in koine. Before they did Mark and this time they’ve done all of Matthew with a twist—the dubbing is all from the text of Codex Vaticanus. Even the closed captions are in majuscule-ish! This means you can now watch and listen to the Christmas story in koine Greek! You can learn more here. Congrats to the entire team who did this. Their plan is to release these up until Easter, one chapter at a time.

In the spirit of Christmas time, KoineGreek.com is releasing Matthew Chapter 1 right now, so that students and scholars of Greek everywhere can appreciate the story of the nativity in the original language of the New Testament. Later this week—by Christmas Eve—KoineGreek.com plans to release Matthew Chapter 2. After this, the plan is to release one or two chapters per week until the week of Palm Sunday, Passover, and Resurrection Sunday (or Easter), during which the plan is to release more or less one chapter per day, beginning with Matthew 21 on Palm Sunday and concluding with Matthew 28 on Resurrection Sunday.

You can watch Matthew 1 here.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Call for Papers: The Pastoral Implications for Pseudepigraphy and Anonymity in the New Testament


At SBL this year, Randy Richards let me know about an upcoming conference from the The Ellis Foundation for Biblical Research and they have now given a call for papers. Note that their are awards, travel stipends, and graduate student scholarships. Here is the info from their website.

Does It Matter Who Wrote the Bible? The Pastoral Implications for Pseudepigraphy and Anonymity in the New Testament

May 19–21, 2022

Lanier Library chapel
It is a pleasure to invite you to the conference and to invite your participation in presenting a paper focused on our very specific conference topic: “Does It Matter Who Wrote the Bible? The Pastoral Implications for Pseudepigraphy and Anonymity in the New Testament.” The conference is sponsored by the Ellis Foundation for Biblical Research (EFBR). The Ellis Foundation for Biblical Research was established in 2005 to promote biblical scholarship and has hosted several conferences focused on the relevance of biblical scholarship to the laity. The conference will take place at the Lanier Theological Library in Houston, TX, from May 19-21, 2022. We begin at 4:00 pm on May 19 and conclude at 11.30 am on May 21, 2022.

This conference will consider the implications for practical ministry if certain New Testament books are considered pseudonymous. Over the past two centuries various scholars have questioned whether the named writers of some New Testament letters were in fact responsible for their content and composition, offering various theories of pseudepigraphical authorship. Often these discussions never leave the halls of the academy to consider how such views might impact parish or congregational life.

This conference will explore the pastoral and ecclesial implications of claims of pseudepigraphy and anonymity related to the New Testament.

When submitting your paper proposal, be sure you are addressing one of the subjects below. Papers that address merely an argument or the evidence for or against pseudepigraphy in the New Testament will not be considered. Again, the focus is on the effect on local church ministry if a particular New Testament book or letter is consider pseudonymous.

  • Pseudepigraphy, anonymity, and the authority of Scripture
  • Ethical considerations of pseudepigrapha
  • The impact of pseudepigraphy and anonymity on pulpit preaching and local church teaching
  • The relevance of pseudepigraphy and anonymity to church governance, beliefs and practices
  • The implications for training seminary students and university religion faculty
Unfortunately, this is the same weekend as CSNTM’s conference so I won’t be able to attend. But would if I could.

A New Lectionary Leaf (L1663) in Uppsala


Until recently, sixteen Greek New Testament manuscripts in Sweden were included in the official register of Greek NT manuscripts maintained by the Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung (INTF) in Münster, the Kurzgefasste Liste der griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments (Liste). Some years ago I published an article in Svensk Exegetisk Årsbok that describes these manuscripts, "Greek New Testament Manuscripts in Sweden (With an Excursus on the Jerusalem Colophon)" available here.

In 2011, Eva Nyström and Patrik Granholm initiated a project to digitise and catalogue all the Greek manuscripts in Sweden. A new website, www.manuscripta.se, was launched and the scope of the project was subsequently widened to include all medieval and early modern manuscripts kept in Swedish libraries. Currently, the database contains 379 manuscripts in seven languages, 221 of which have been digitised in full, including fifteen Greek New Testament manuscripts in Uppsala, Gothenburg and Linköping, but not the Gospel manuscript in the National Museum in Stockholm which I found there some years ago.

Last year, as I perused this database, I found to my surprise a parchment leaf from a Gospel lectionary (Uppsala University Library, Fragm. ms. graec. 1). The manuscript has now been identified and registered as a new leaf of Lectionary 1663 (L1663) in the Liste—this is the seventeenth Greek New Testament manuscript in Sweden. 

I have just published an article and made it publicly available, "A New Leaf of Constantine Theologites the Reader’s Lectionary in Uppsala University Library (Fragm. ms. graec. 1 = Greg.-Aland L1663)" in the current volume of Svensk Exegetisk Årsbok in which I describe this new lectionary leaf its provenance and its place in the larger codex. As I mention in the article, this happens to be the leaf right next to one in Montreal which was described by Brice Jones on his blog in 2014. The main part of the codex is in the University of Chicago Library.


This is an image of the Uppsala leaf, fol. 1r (click on it for higher resolution), and in col. 1, line 2 you can see an example of the distinct μέν-distendu, which has given the style its name. It can be dated to the early thirteenth century (thus, I propose that the current fourteenth-century date in the Liste be changed). I take the opportunity to thank Georgi Parpulov who gave me good advice on palaeographical matters (he and other colleagues are acknowledged in my publication too).

CSNTM at Houston Baptist University

A couple weeks ago I was in Houston with a few others from CSNTM. We have some brand new equipment that we were using at the Dunham Bible Museum at Houston Baptist University. The museum's director, Dr. Diana Severance, graciously allowed us to come photograph some of the early printed editions of the Greek New Testament in their collection.

One interesting edition that caught my attention is a 1658 Elzevir edition edited by Étienne de Courcelles in which the Comma Johanneum was placed in brackets, indicating doubts to its authenticity. Here is a photo of that page—thankfully the images we took with our digitization equipment are of much better quality. Keep an eye out for images at CSNTM in the coming weeks.
1658 Elzevir text, edited by Étienne de Courcelles

Darlow and Moule's description of this edition is as follows:

Friday, December 17, 2021

New Book on Edgar Goodspeed


There is a new book just out on two important years in the life and work of Edgar J. Goodspeed.

Todd M. Hickey & James G. Keenan, Edgar J. Goodspeed, America's First Papyrologist (California Classical Studies 8, 2021). https://calclassicalstudies.org/?page_id=219

Blurb: This is a study whose main sources are archival, principally Edgar J. Goodspeed’s “Student Travel Letters” from 1899–1900. These letters home recount Goodspeed’s daily and sometimes hourly activities during nearly two years abroad, in continental Europe, England, Egypt, and the Holy Land, in pursuit of scholarly seasoning. The book’s focus is on his engagement with the newly emergent field of papyrology—the decipherment and study of the ancient Greek manuscripts then being discovered in Egypt. The letters allow for a tracking of this engagement in far greater depth than that allotted in his 1953 autobiography, As I Remember, or in his 90-page unpublished memoir, “Abroad in the Nineties,” filling in some apparently intentional gaps, casting doubt on some of his later self-assessments but putting much additional substance to the claim that he was indeed “America’s First Papyrologist.” The result, part biography, part travelogue, part diary, part academic history, is a description of Goodspeed’s progress, beginning with his enthusiastic commitment to the fledgling field in the late 1890s, ending with his abandonment of it in the early 1900s, possibly a result of his complicated dealings with Oxford papyrologist Bernard P. Grenfell in the fateful summer of 1900. Along the way the book introduces the reader to the world of papyrology in its early days, but it is mainly an account of one budding scholar’s experiences in pursuit of recognition in that subject, a story that has its own complications, narrative arc, and human interest.­­­

You can read the whole thing online (here: https://calclassicalstudies.org/?page_id=219). It is especially interesting for the history of papyrus purchasing, exporting, and distribution; and for seeing something of Oxford in the summer of 1900 where he worked on the Tebtunis papyri with Grenfell and Hunt. He was quite an aggressive networker (he called it “lion hunting”), so there is a large supporting cast of papyrologists and other manuscript scholars mentioned in his letters. There is also a collection of photos from his travels, especially from sites in Egypt. There is not a lot of direct connection with his later academic interests in the text and exegesis of the New Testament text, but it is an interesting exploration of some of his formative years, through the letters he sent home to his family.

Goodspeed visited Cambridge (where he met up with Mrs Lewis, Rendel Harris, Solomon Schechter, as well as some friendly girls!) and there, once he’d seen Schecter’s “Genizah stuff” he says ‘I got an attendant to shew me some leaves of “D” (Codex Bezae), which is a beautiful Manuscript’ (p. 111). This is a curious expression which suggests the manuscript may have been disbound at this point (6th August 1900).

Peter Rodgers’s New Novel The Pelican and the Phoenix


Wondering what to get the text critic in your life for Christmas? Peter Rodgers has your answer. The third novel in his scribes series has just been published. From Peter:

I am writing to ask if you would alert people on the ETC blogspot to the publication of my new novel, Volume 3 in the scribes series. It is called The Pelican and the Phoenix, and it features the differences between the European Latin and the African Latin texts of the gospels. It also gives a portrait of Tertullian, a young pagan lawyer in Carthage, thinking his way toward Christian faith in 187-88 AD. The book is published by Amazon and is available as an e-book or as a paperback.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

SCIO’s Workshop Logos 2022


SCIO's annual textual and Biblical studies' workshop Logos 2022 is now open for applications.

Logos is designed to equip graduate and advanced undergraduate students in the fields of textual studies, Biblical studies, or a related discipline with the linguistic, textual, and critical thinking skills necessary for success in academia. The workshop also explores themes of public memory and Christian vocation.

Logos will be held in Washington DC from 1-15 June 2022. Participants receive a generous stipend, and all costs will be paid for. 

For more information and application form, see SCIO´s homepage here

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Obbink loses $7m lawsuit and is hiding from authorities


Two reports have recently come out detailing the latest turn in the story of Dirk Obbink and First-Century Mark. According to Die Zeit and Christianity Today, Obbink is living in a houseboat south of Oxford where he has been avoiding the authorities. From CT:

Obbink with the famed pool table. (source)

Obbink was arrested in 2020 and then sued in 2021. Shortly after that, court records show, he moved to a houseboat named the James Brindley and started hiding from the private investigators attempting to serve him summons. 

A neighbor signed an affidavit that she saw Obbink on the boat a little before 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 11, and the summons had been removed from the houseboat door. 

“The main cabin door was open,” the affidavit says. “Mr. Obbink would have had to remove the envelop to open the door.” 

The British woman helpfully photographed Obbink for the investigators, who presented it to the US federal court as evidence and asked for a default judgment. 

Obbink is also facing criminal charges in England. The investigation is ongoing.

Given that Obbink hasn’t responded , the federal court has “certified a default judgment” against him. Apparently that means he now owes Hobby Lobby $7m. Perhaps most striking is that there are still some 80 papyri unaccounted for! Someone should check that houseboat.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

ECM of Mark Cites the Letter to Theodore (Secret Mark Stuff)


Yesterday, as I was consulting the recently published ECM of Mark, I came across some patristic citations by Clem (= Clemens of Alexandria) in several variation-units in the critical apparatus: Mark 10:32/2–40 (and related in /2–4, /6–10, /15); 10:34/26–30, 32; and 10:35/4, and 6. As I turned to part 2 Supplementary Material to find the particular references, it turned out that they were to EpTheod, (Morton) Smith 61,1; 61,2 and 63,2 (see image below from the Patristic Citations database online).


So, basically, these citations are from the controversial Letter to Theodore, which was discovered by Morton Smith in the Mar Saba monastery in the Judean Desert in 1958 in the back of a 1646–edition of Ignatius' Letters, copied by hand on the endpages. Smith took photographs of the pages and published his edition of the letter in 1973 (Greek text and Smith's photos here; English translation here). The implied author, Clemens of Alexandria, makes several references to both the (canonical) Mark and the infamous Secret Gospel of Mark (Theodore had posed questions about the latter; he apparently did not have a copy).  

There is an ongoing debate (though it has been a bit quiet lately) about whether this letter is genuine or a forgery (by Smith). For an introduction and negative assessment, see Stephen C. Carlson, The Gospel Hoax: Morton Smith's Invention of Secret Mark (Waco, TX: Baylor, 2005). For debate, see Tony Burke, ed., Ancient Gospel or Modern Forgery? The Secret Gospel of Mark in Debate (Eugene: Cascade Books, 2013).

I have heard that Geoffrey Smith and Brent Landau are currently working on a new book, The Secret Gospel of Mark: A Rogue Scholar, A Controversial Gospel of Jesus, and the Fierce Debate Over Its Authenticity (Yale University Press, 2022?). Does someone know what they will argue? We will see whether they will put an end to the debate.

In any case, these patristic citations are not included in Nestle-Aland 28, but will they be included in Nestle-Aland 29? I hope not, perhaps it was just a mistake. In my opinion, these citations should be treated with great caution and not on a par with Clement's other writings. What is your opinion?

If you are all fed up with this topic, you can always listen to and sing along with us at the ETC blogdinner in San Diego here.

Update: Greg Paulson of the INTF informs us in a comment to the original post that, in light of this information, the editors have decided to add question marks to the references to EpTheod in the database (see image below), and "until a better scholarly consensus is reached" (of its genuineness), it will not be included in future Nestle-Aland editions. I am glad we caught this one.

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

CSNTM 2022 Text & Manuscript Conference


Readers may have heard that CSNTM is hosting its inaugural Text & Manuscript Conference May 19-20, 2022. The theme is Pen, Print, & Pixels and will feature plenary presentations throughout each day with optional breakout sessions. Full schedule and registration are at conference.csntm.org.

Plenary Speakers

  • Hugh Houghton, “The Importance of Catena Manuscripts of the Greek New Testament”
  • Dirk Jongkind, “On Singular Readings and Knowing When the Time Has Come for Better Tools”
  • Jan Krans, “New Testament Conjectural Emendation: Folly or Duty?”
  • Holger Strutwolf, “The ECM of Mark: Philology in the Digital Era”
  • Kathleen Maxwell, “From the Coronis to the Blütenblattstil: The Decoration of the Greek Gospel Book”


  • Juan Hernández, “The Significance of the Corrections of the Apocalypse in Codex Sinaiticus”
  • Timothy Mitchell, “Exposing Textual Corruption in the Wider Circulation of the New Testament Writings During the Greco-Roman Era”
  • Peter Montoro, “Two Way Traffic on the Transmissional Highway? Considering Chrysostom’s Exegesis as an Explanation for the Reading of GA 104 in Romans 2:26”
  • Ryan Giffin, “Philippians in P46: Interesting Departures from the Standard Critical Text”
  • Craig Evans, “How Long did the NT Autographs Survive? A Review of the Evidence”
  • Christian Askeland, “Digital Images, Ancient Manuscripts, and Intellectual Property”
  • Jeremiah Coogan, “Marginal Matthew: τὸ ἰουδαϊκόν in Medieval Manuscripts and Modern Editions”
  • Edgar Ebojo, “‘Now the end is near’: Pen and Phenomena at the Line-ends of P46”
  • Keith Elliott, “The Editio Critica Maior of Mark: Translation from German into English”
  • William Warren, “From Ink to Exegesis: The Importance of Non-original Variant Readings”
  • Grant Edwards, “Between Codex and Colophon: Ancient Book Format and the Limitations of Paleography”
  • James Prothro, “A Theology of Textual Criticism? Searching for a Framework”
  • Georgi Parpulov, “Levels of Style in Byzantine Calligraphy”
  • Peter Gurry, “Textual Criticism in Early Protestant Bibles”

Monday, December 06, 2021

Last Two Videos on NT Textual Criticism and Askeland on GJW


I’ve now uploaded the last two guest lectures from my Fall TC course. The first is from James Snapp on Mark 16 and the second is Richard Brash on whether Cornelius Van Til’s theology leads to KJV-onlyism or its kin.

By way of commentary, I should note that James and I had a good Q&A after his talk but Zoom was unfortunately a bit out of sync. Personally, I was surprised to hear James say that he does not think Mark 16.9–20 is Mark’s originally intended ending. In other words, both he and I agree that we do not have Mark’s intended ending. Where we differ is that he thinks that vv. 9–20 are still from Mark and were in the first published copy. By his definition, then, they are original. I’m guessing that if that was news to me, it may be news to some of James’s followers too. But James can chime in if he wants to clarify/correct me here.

Finally, apologies to Christian Askeland whose video on Coptic translations I forgot to download in time from Zoom and is now gone forever. As a consolation, you can go read Christian’s new article on lessons from the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife at the TCI website.

Thanks to all my guests this semester!

Thursday, December 02, 2021

God rest ye merry Gentlemen


I should think that some textual critics will enjoy this short musical interlude.

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

On the Comma Johanneum in printed editions, “Which TR?” and working from inaccurate data


A long-ish post, but only because I care about data and getting it right.

One of the criticisms of Textus Receptus (henceforth, TR) advocacy is the question, “Which Textus Receptus?” (See the article by Mark Ward here). Instead of dealing with that question seriously, some TR defenders seem to brush it off as irrelevant.

For example, one TR advocate recently claimed that even though there are ‘minor’ differences between editions of the TR, all of them have the Pericope Adulterae (John 7:53–8:11), all of them have the Longer Ending of Mark (Mark 16:9–20), all of them have the doxology on the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:13), all of them have the Comma Johanneum (1 John 5:7–8), and all of them have the Ethiopian’s confession at Acts 8:37.

Unfortunately, that statement is simply not true. Familiarity with the editions of the Textus Receptus themselves demonstrates as much.

I have seen I think at least one TR advocate respond with the No True Scotsman argument, redefining “Textus Receptus” to include only the editions that do have these passages (thus excluding Erasmus’ first two editions). That objection doesn’t work for three reasons:

1. Martin Luther himself used Erasmus’ second edition for his German translation of the New Testament, which lacked the Comma Johanneum. Even though later Lutherans added it after his death, Luther himself still rejected it. Additionally, the 1537 Matthew’s Bible places it in brackets in smaller type, which does indicate textual uncertainty.

Source: my own copy of the 1537 Matthew's Bible facsimile.

2. By my count there are not two but (at least) six editions of the TR that lack the Comma Johanneum (and if you argue that ‘canon’ extends to the very form of the text, an argument could be made for more editions that have a form of the Comma Johanneum but with a number of variations from the form of the Comma Johanneum in Scrivener’s TR as republished by the Trinitarian Bible Society, which seems to be the standard TR now).