Wednesday, May 12, 2021

C.H. Spurgeon on the Preservation of Scripture

[Note: I originally wrote this post over a year ago during UK lockdown but didn't post it at the time.]

It’s no secret that for many years now, I’ve had an unhealthy obsession a healthy respect for the Last of the Puritans. I was recently working on a side project, and I had left a note for myself to “find a way to put Spurgeon in.” It was really just a joke to myself. [Update: I found a way!] Nothing wrong with an occasional irrelevant reference to the man, even if it’s against an editor’s wishes!

I decided to follow my note up and search his sermons for references to manuscripts again, and after sorting away all the references to sermon manuscripts, I came across something I had not seen before.

C. H. Spurgeon (1834–1892),
looking amused
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892) preached his sermon no. 3303 “on behalf of the British and Foreign Bible Society” on Thursday evening, 14 May 1885. (By the way, the Bible Society has an amazing library in Cambridge.) The sermon wasn’t published right away. It was one of the posthumously-published sermons that finally came to print about twenty years after he died. Spurgeon’s text for the sermon, “A Very Early Bible Society,” is 2 Chron. 34:15, 18, 19—when Hilkiah finds the lost Book of the Law.

Spurgeon has a whole sermon point on “that Peculiar Preservation which God has extended to the Scriptures which he has inspired” (somewhat ironically, in light of the fact that he was preaching this from an instance in Scripture in which God’s Word appears to have been lost to his people for a time). I have shown elsewhere that Spurgeon spoke out at times in favor of textual criticism and even occasionally mentioned textual variants from the pulpit. Once, he even preached from a phrase that is in the Revised Version but not the King James Version because homoioteluton/visual similarity caused a phrase to be omitted in the majority of manuscripts (κληθῶμεν καὶ ἐσμέν, but κλη/και and θ/ε would be very similar in some hands as well). Spurgeon drank deeply from the wells of the Puritans and carried their intense respect of Scripture with him his whole life. He vehemently defended the reliability, truthfulness, and infallibility of the Scriptures, but he also understood that our access to God’s Word is not the same as what God’s Word is ontologically. Here, I stumbled upon a section in which Spurgeon defends the preservation of Scripture, but he also affirms that copies of Scripture have errors and can be corrected by comparing them to other copies. I quote a few sections below:
Now look you along through all the ages, and if you are a reverent believer in the Word, you will be filled with grateful wonder that the Sacred Roll has been preserved to us. Through what perils it has passed, and yet, as I believe, there is not a chapter of it lost; nay, nor a verse of any chapter. The misreadings of the copies are really so inconsiderable, and are so happily corrected by other manuscripts, that our Bible is a marvel in literature for the comparative ease with which the correct text is discoverable. It seems to me that God’s divine care has extended itself to the whole text, so that, with far less care than would be needed by any classic author, the very words of the Holy Spirit may be known. As the wings of cherubim overshadowed the mercy-seat, so do the wings of providence protect the Book of the Lord. As Michael guarded the body of Moses, so does a divine care secure the Books of Moses. I invite lovers of history and of famous books to look into the interesting story of the immortality of Scripture. Let us think of that special preservation with reverent gratitude.
Quickly, note here that Spurgeon does imply that the “correct text” does need to be discovered, but God’s preservation is evident in the “comparative ease with which” that is done: “with far less care than would be needed by any classical author.” In apologetics terms, Spurgeon is giving an early version of the comparison of the Bible/New Testament with classical literature, perhaps most famously made by F.F. Bruce and recently discussed by James B. Prothro.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Review of Falcetta’s Bio of J. Rendel Harris


The new issue of BBR has my review of Alessandro Falcetta’s The Daily Discoveries of a Bible Scholar and Manuscript Hunter: A Biography of James Rendel Harris. It’s an account thick with detail of a life marked by some remarkable adventures. The man survived not one but two German U-Boat attacks and “discovered” the Odes of Solomon in his own office!

One feature I wished for in the book was a bit more of Rendel’s own voice. Falcetta appears to have worked through all the personal correspondence and there were times I would have liked to hear them rather than Falcetta’s summary of them. One other thing I didn’t mention in the review is the extreme price. Thankfully, I noticed today that the publisher has put out a much more affordable paperback edition. It’s worth a read.

You can read the review here.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Cambridge Greek Lexicon 4 – Do We Need It?


This is the fourth and final post on my week with the Cambridge Greek Lexicon (first, second, third).

So do we (we, as in students of the Greek New Testament – and LXX [with different frustrations]) need the Cambridge Greek Lexicon?

No, we don’t. Not in the sense that we need it.

It is an informative lexicon, it is well set up, but it does not offer the depth of data needed for a ‘research lexicon’. Authors are referred to, but without a reference. Sometimes we get snippets of English translation but without the underlying Greek. Also, the corpus covered is not nearly wide enough to be satisfactory. So, no. I would not advise my students to use this lexicon for any in-depth work.

That being said, it is an original lexicographical work. It can help us see things we had not seen before (remember the example of δόξα in an earlier post). But in the end, this lexicon is what it is, an intermediate lexicon on the main body of literature that students would read when doing classics. And frankly, this is exactly what I will be using it for privately (and I will peek into it whenever working on the New Testament, just to see if there is something interesting in there).

Let me give you some examples.

The word ἁγνισμός receives both a definition ‘process of purifying’ and a translation / gloss, ‘purification’. The only author reference is NT, so I assume it doesn’t occur in the rest of the covered corpus. This is confirmed by BDAG, which gives a slightly better, but wordier definition as it adds a relevant adverb, ‘the process of making sthng cultically acceptable’, and adds the same gloss ‘purification’. This is the type of word where you will find nothing new in the Cambridge Greek Lexicon, and I would guess that even its fresh and independent reading will not come near to the intensity with which New Testament scholarship has pored itself over every word.

A word which is helpful to look up in the Cambridge Greek Lexicon is ἀγωγή. It is found in 2 Tim 3:10, so its NT reference is not covered by the CGL (it has only the Gospels and Acts). However, the range of senses for ἀγωγή gives a good feel for the word. In comparison, the entry in BDAG looks muddled and is in need of improvement. We all know that BDAG is far from perfect and I wish it was created using the same approach as the CGL. Instead BDAG is the result of repeatedly working over an existing lexicon, making some changes that happen to interest yet another editor, and, in its most recent outfit, adding definitions to the glosses. However, note that the entries were not rewritten or reimagined, it was simply that a definition was added which was based on the existing glosses. That leads to some toe-curling situations (see e.g. BDAG on ἀγαπάω). In that sense the CGL feels so much cleaner.

Even with simple words such as ἄγγος I thought the CGL did a better job than BDAG.

Many of the unique or just rarer words used in the letters of the New Testament will not show up in the dictionary, or only as used in the Gospels. An interesting example is γαμίζω, which is taken widely and correctly as ‘to give in marriage’, and as such also shows up in the CGL. However, the word is contested in 1 Cor 7:38, where many want to translate with ‘marry’. Because of the corpus limitation of the CGL one will not find a mention of that possibility (one will look also in vain for the variant reading ἐκγαμίζω).

 An issue where I think that the CGL is raising helpful questions is with the word ἀγενής, which in 1 Cor. 1:28 is taken as ‘not of noble birth’. This seems completely justified, also in light of its antonym εὐγενής. In the CGL ἀγενής has as its only gloss ‘not created’, because of its use in Plato. The word that covers our meaning found in 1 Corinthians is ἀγεννής. Did the first simply take the place of the second? There may be a story to tell.

 In the end, the Cambridge Greek Lexicon is a good lexicon for what it is. Do not judge it because it is not what you want it to be. And since we all ought to read lots of Greek, it is a great help. And, going full book lover again, I like the feel of the lexicon, the clarity of the lay-out. It is calling out to me to be used, it does not want to stay on the shelf. It is stirring up ζῆλος, perhaps more than φθόνος.


But should you tell your New Testament Greek students to get this? No, not really. The opportunity cost is considerable (money, shelf-space), and the immediate pay back relatively low.

There is a moral to the story, though. Despite many projects (most of which were never completed), promises, and false rumours, I am still waiting for a lexicon of the Greek Bible. A lexicon that covers the Greek Old and New Testament, that does a good job in using classical and koine literature, that mines the papyri and inscriptions, and - in an ideal world - gives some attention to Hebrew and Aramaic lexicography too. If this Cambridge Greek Lexicon took such an enormous effort over several decades and barely scraped through, I am not expecting that my lexicon will see the light of day in my life time. But wait, isn’t it about time we start talking about the Diccionario Griego–Español

Thursday, April 29, 2021

The Cambridge Greek Lexicon 3 – Scope and Use


 After the previousblog post it became clear that I needed to read the introductory material to get into the detail of this new lexicon. Apart from the lists of ‘Authors and Editions’ and ‘Abbreviations’, there are only 6 pages of prose as introduction.

The project was originally intended as a revision of the Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon but soon morphed into something bigger and independent. Aimed at ‘modern students’ but also of interest to scholars because of the fresh reading of the texts.

 Here it gets interesting. The coverage of the Lexicon extends from Homer to the early second century’ and ‘most of the major authors who fall within that period are included.’ This is a lexicon aimed at students, covering most of the major literature of said period. What does that mean from a New Testament perspective? The Gospels and Acts are covered, but not the remainder of the New Testament.


Also, there is no Greek Old Testament, no Philo, no Josephus.

It is a Lexicon of a certain body of Greek literature (and indeed an important body which New Testament scholars do well to read), but it is not a Lexicon of the Greek language as a whole. There are no papyri, there is no epigraphic material.

I had not realized this from the outset. The title ‘Cambridge Greek Lexicon’ and the phrasing ‘the coverage extends from Homer to the early second century’ had led me to expect that it covered all of this period. To be honest, I think this is a little bit of a downer. All that gargantuan effort to produce something that, in the end, is an intermediate lexicon, though possibly the best one around. I had hoped for more, because we need a lexicon that does more.

 Swallowing my disappointment (and this is directed at me, not at the editors) there is the explanation of how an entry works. By and large we got this right the first time around, though there is some interesting terminology used (and not used). The example ἀλάσσω works well and demonstrates how this lexicon is at its very best. The numbered sections are called sense-sections, a definition is indeed not in bold, but the glosses are. Here the term for gloss is ‘translation words’.

Having read the ‘Structure and Content of Entries’, most of my questions about the structure have been answered, even though the application in practice may not always been as lucid as in the demonstration example.

The lexicon claims to make a real contribution, ‘Entries are organized not primarily according to chronological or grammatical criteria, but according to meaning’. This is where skill comes in, and this is where we should be able to learn something. I admit upfront that a couple of years ago I read Lakoff’s Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things and picked up a lot about how meaning develops, flows, and re-emerges. So let’s put the Lexicon to the test and we return to the same page as the previous post.

How does the meaning of δόξα develop? From the New Testament I have a firm concept of ‘glory’. So how did we get there?

The birthing verb (my term) is δοκέω, as in ‘to think’ or ‘it seems to me’, etc. Looking at the sense-sections I can see indeed how the various senses are related. ‘Glory’ is close to ‘reputation’, is close to ‘opinion about someone’. I can indeed see how the same word can function in such a wide array. If I turn then to BDAG in comparison, I am confronted with a wordy mess, divided in senses, but with definitions that need the glosses to be understood (which is of course the wrong way around). In just 30 seconds, I learned more from the Cambridge Lexicon than from BDAG.

So we have here a positive, namely the organization around senses, and a negative, a rather underwhelming coverage.

In the final post, I will ponder the question if a student of the New Testament needs this lexicon.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Tyndale’s Use of ‘Jehovah’


William Tyndale (1491–1536) is known as the father of the English Bible because of the influence of his translation work. He is well known for giving to English Bible readers terms we now take for granted like anathema, godly, scapegoat, unbeliever, and zealous. He also gave us Jehovah for the divine name (spelled Iehouah or Iehoua). Tyndale was killed before he finished the OT, of course, but this translation of the divine name is found in his Pentateuch. 

What I didn’t realize until yesterday is that he does not use it in every case to translate יְהוָה. In fact, his use is quite sparing. A search of an online edition of Tyndale’s Pentateuch, turns up only seven results. Elsewhere, Tyndale treats the tetragrammaton the same way that Luther’s Bible did, by putting the first three letters in caps to mark it out. Thus, LORde akin to Luther’s HERr.

Tyndale’s 1530 Pentateuch at Gen 15.2f (source)

But if Tyndale did not use it always, how did he decide when to use it? Four of the seven cases are explainable because there is an explicit mention of יְהוָה as God’s name. The other five are all uses of הָאָדֹן יְהוָה (marked with an asterisk). He does seem to have missed Gen 15.8 though. Maybe he would have caught in revision had he lived to do so. 

  1. Genesis 15:2*
    And Abram answered: LORde Iehouah what wilt thou geue me: I goo childlesse and the cater of myne housse this Eleasar of Damasco hath a sonne.
  2. Exodus 6:3 
    and I appeared vnto Abraham, Isaac and Iacob an allmightie God: but in my name Iehouah was I not knowne vnto them.
  3. Exodus 15:3 
    The Lorde is a ma off warre, Iehouah ys his name:
  4. Exodus 17:15
    And Moses made an alter ad called the name of it Iehouah Nissi,
  5. Exodus 23:17
    Thre tymes in a yere shall all thy men childern appere before the Lorde Iehouah.
  6. Exodus 33:19 
    And he sayde: I will make all my good goo before the, and I will be called in this name Iehouah before the, ad wil shewe mercy to whom I shew mercy, and will haue compassion on whom I haue compassion.
  7. Exodus 34:23*
    Thrise in a yere shall all youre men childern appeare before the Lorde Iehouah God of Israel:
  8. Deuteronomy 3:24*
    O lorde Iehoua, thou hast begonne to shewe thy servaunte thy greatnesse and thy mightie hande for there is no God in heauen nor in erth that can do after thy workes and after thy power:
  9. Deuteronomy 9:26*
    But I made intercession vnto the Lorde and sayed: O Lorde Iehoua, destroye not thy people and thyne enheritauce which thou hast delyuered thorow thi greatnesse and which thou hast brought out of Egipte with a mightie hand.
One of the reasons I bring this up is because some recent English translations have made a big deal of using “Yahweh” in the OT for the Tetragrammaton. The 2004 HCSB did this when it came out but reversed course with the revised CSB in 2017. The in-process LSB also says it will use Yahweh. Until I checked, I had thought this was essentially a return to Tyndale’s approach. But I now see that is not the case. These modern translations really are innovating rather than returning to precedent. (Someone correct me if that’s wrong.)

The Cambridge Greek Lexicon 2 - First Impressions



Going full reader-response on the new Cambridge Classical Lexicon, let me share my first impressions when opening my new purchase. Doing what anyone would do who knows people who have been involved in the project, I turn immediately to the title page. I am not particularly involved in the Classics faculty, but I know two of the six people mentioned personally. One is the lovely Anne Thompson. Always softly spoken, always considerate, and someone who has been a great influence by expertise, thoughtfulness, and character on me and many others. The other person is ‘P. James’, who is none other than the ‘Patrick James’ on the title page of the Tyndale House Greek New Testament. I am acquainted with perhaps two people who know classical Greek; he is one of them.

Opening the first volume at random, a number of things strike me immediately. The font is relatively small, but the use of bold headwords and ekthesis make the location of a new entry stand out. The margins are all rather narrow, so this book will not be the place in which I will make any notes. At best I can get a sign in that will refer me to a note I will have made elsewhere. 

But then the first ‘New Testament’ entry I spot on this page, which happens to be δοξάζω.

 And here I get a bit confused. I trust I will get over it, but the variety of font types is puzzling.

Bold Greek, italic, Bold English, dash, small capitals, sans serif font, plus sign, minus sign (correction, probably another dash). Upfront I trust that each variation in font type makes sense, so I expect that different kinds of information are given. At this point I am not interested in reading the introduction and learning what everything stands for. I want to know how intuitive each entry is. 

δοξάζω is subdivided into 5 numbered parts. I know a little bit about the lexical wars that are being fought about the relative merits of glossing versus defining words. I don’t have a strong conviction either way, and at first glance the Cambridge Classical Lexicon doesn’t seem to have either. Have a look at the list for δοξάζω:

1. think, imagine, suppose, expect;
(intr.) think, suppose (sthg.); 

2. think, form or hold an opinion;
holdw.cogn.acc. an opinion

3. make an inference, conjecture, guess

4. estimate, reckon oneself

5. honour, praise, glorify God, His word or name, Jesus

Each of the five parts have at least two glosses, in bold. I take it that the intended  meaning is to be found where these glosses overlap (prototypical for the sense?). The third entry on this list contains a definition, ‘make an inference’, but has two glosses in addition. I assume that the gloss ‘guess’ is qualified by what precedes and that it is closer to the use of ‘guess’ as in ‘I guess it will start to rain in a minute’ than guessing that happen for truly random events. 

I am not sure about the structure of (2) here. It is glossed as ‘hold an opinion’, but then later in this part as ‘hold’ with ‘an opinion’ as a complement (if I am correct in taking italics at this point as a complement, see next). The solution lies probably in the –w.cogn.acc

The final entry sounds the most ‘New Testament’, and indeed, the ‘author source’ is given as NT. ‘honour, praise, glorify’ is followed by a dash and the following in italics, which must mean complements or objects in this context, God, His word or name, Jesus. Interesting to see ‘His’ capitalized! I gather that that strictly speaking ‘or’ in His word or name should not be in italics.

So my first impressions are that I am not sure about the methodology behind the Cambridge Greek Lexicon or the more subtle points of how a lemma is subdivided. At the very least I know that the lexicon includes the New Testament corpus. 

 Next thing to do is to read the introductory material, and, as a cliff-hanger, it will show that first impressions can be mistaken.


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Cambridge Greek Lexicon (1) - Envy

EDIT: I got the name wrong! I called it initially the Cambridge Classical Lexicon, it is the Cambridge Greek Lexicon.

Many of us will have pricked up our ears when the news broke this month that the Cambridge Greek Lexicon is finally out. For many long years this project has been in the making, and I remember going to a day-conference in the Classics faculty on the topic when I was still a student.

So today I left a Covid-restricted Tyndale House early and cycled to the Cambridge University Press shop in the centre of town. The momentous nature of this new publication is not lost on the shop as they have devoted one of their window displays to both recent Greek publications, the Grammar and the Lexicon.

I am always impressed by the wide variety of books on display in this shop 😊

Clearly this lexicon is not for the faint-hearted as it is quite heavy. It may therefore well be that pound-for-pound this is not an expensive purchase; I got a lot of weight for my £51.99 (discount for University members).

 Anyway, in the coming days I will post a series of observations and random thoughts on this new lexicon solely and unashamedly from the standpoint of a student of the New Testament (I know, I am setting myself up for a fall by saying ‘in the coming days’).

I guess that you will have picked up the sole purpose of this post by now, to induce pure envy, nothing less.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

GA 1429, Looted in 1917, Is Returning Home


I didn’t want this to get lost in my last post about the MOTB, but, while we were there, Jeff Kloha told us about GA 1429 and the Museum’s recent work identifying it as part of a cache of manuscripts looted in 1917. The Museum now has a detailed account of the process and history of the manuscript on their website. It’s worth reading. 

Several other U.S. institutions also have manuscripts from this cache. The Museum and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago are repatriating theirs. As far as I know, Princeton and Duke have not said what they will do with theirs. 

The marking of the woman caught in adultery in 1429 was key to identification

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Manuscripts in D.C. and Dinner in Dollyworld


A few weeks ago, Elijah and I were hosted by the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. to talk about Myths and Mistakes. Elijah and I are alumni of the original Green Scholars Initiative, a formative experience for both of us. So it was especially nice to feel like we could give something back. The Museum staff was beyond hospitable and generous with their time. I was able to tour one of the floors (on the Bible’s history) and really enjoyed it. The medieval and English Bible artifacts were the highlight for me. I saw a number of important Greek New Testaments for the first time with my own eyes. I had no idea how small Stephanus’s 1551 edition is.

We were also able to spend time with four of their earliest New Testament fragments: P39, 0313, 0206, and 0220. All of these were of interest, but we were most interested in 0220. This is the earliest copy of Rom 5.1 and its reading on ἔχομεν/ἔχωμεν is marked “vid” in NA28 and with underdots in THGNT. We were able to look at it twice, once with a Dino microscope camera. Our conclusion? 0220 most likely has the omicron.

A Dino cam image of ε[χο] in 0220

On the way home, I stopped over in East Tennessee, Hixson’s backyard and the sacred home of HRH Dolly Parton. Sadly, we did not see her majesty. But we were able to see another legend, one Maurice Robinson! I can’t be sure, but it may have been the largest gathering of ETC blog members in the last year. He did not have anything quite as old as 0220, but we were able to see the original edition of the Byzantine text-form and the very computer—still working!—that it was made with. We even acquired some rare KJV-only books with Pierpont’s (sometimes extensive) marginal criticisms.

All-in-all, it was a great trip and I am grateful to all my hosts.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Online Groningen Symposium on Palaeography and Hebrew/Aramaic Scribal Culture


Thanks to Drew Longacre for alerting me to the the 2021 International Online Groningen Symposium.


  • When: 6–8 April 2021 13:00–20:00 Central European Summer Time (UTC+2)
  • Hosts: Qumran Institute and Bernoulli Institute (University of Groningen)
  • Where: online, of course
  • Registration: email Drew Longacre at d.g.longacre[at] for the Zoom link
You can make this your Zoom background and pretend you’re in the Netherlands


Tuesday, 6 April

13:00 CET Jouke de Vries (President of the University of Groningen)


Mladen Popović (University of Groningen)


Session 1 — The Hands that Wrote the Bible: Digital Palaeography

Chair: Eibert Tigchelaar

13:15 Mladen Popović (University of Groningen)

Digital Palaeography for Identifying the Unknown Scribes and Dating the Undated Manuscripts from the Dead Sea Scrolls

13:45 Maruf Dhali (University of Groningen)

Artificial Intelligence and Pattern Recognition Techniques in Analyzing the Dead Sea Scrolls

14:15 Gemma Hayes (University of Groningen)

Digital Palaeography and the Scribes of the Dead Sea Scrolls

14:45 Drew Longacre (University of Groningen)

Data Mining for Writer Identification: The Test Case of the Dead Sea Psalm Scrolls

15:15 Discussion

15:30–16:15 Break

Session 2 — The Hands that Wrote the Bible: Radiocarbon Dating

Chair: Mladen Popović

16:15 Kaare Rasmussen (University of Southern Denmark)

The 14C Dating in the ERC project “The Hands that Wrote the Bible”: Chemical Aspects and the Cleaning of the Samples

16:45 Hans van der Plicht (University of Groningen)

The 14C Dating in the ERC project “The Hands that Wrote the Bible”: Physical Aspects and the Measurement of the 14C Content

17:15 Discussion

17:30–18:15 Break

Session 3 — Hebrew/Aramaic Palaeography

Chair: Drew Longacre

18:15 Michael Langlois (University of Strasbourg)

Deciphering Ancient Hebrew and Aramaic Inscriptions in a Digital World: Potential and Limitations

18:45 James Moore (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin)

Toward a Systematic Description of the Imperial Aramaic Script and its Meaning for Dating and Writer Identification


19:15 Bronson Brown-deVost (University of Göttingen)

Scripta Qumranica Electronica

19:30 Daniel Stoekl ben Ezra (École Pratique des Hautes Études)


19:45 Sarah Yardney and Miller Prosser (University of Chicago)


20:00 Conclusion

Wednesday, 7 April

13:00 CET Welcome

Session 4 — Digital Palaeography

Chair: Maruf Dhali

13:15 Lambert Schomaker (University of Groningen)


13:45 Peter Stokes (École Pratique des Hautes Études)

When is a Scribe Not a Scribe? Some Reflections on Writer Identification

14:15 Nachum Dershowitz (Tel Aviv University)

Computational Paleography

14:45 Discussion

15:00–15:45 Break

Session 5 — Digital Palaeography

Chair: Lambert Schomaker

15:45 Shira Faigenbaum-Golovin (Tel Aviv University)

Algorithmic Handwriting Analysis of Iron Age Documents and its Implications to the Composition of Biblical Texts

16:15 Hussein Mohammed (Universität Hamburg)

Pattern-Recognition Approaches for Handwriting-Style Analysis

16:45 Eythan Levy (Tel Aviv University) and Frédéric Pluquet (Haute École

Louvain en Hainaut [HELHa] - Tournai and Ecole Supérieure

d'Informatique [ESI] - Brussels)

New Developments in the Scrypt Software for Old Hebrew Epigraphy

17:15 Discussion

17:30–18:15 Break

Session 6 — Hebrew/Aramaic Palaeography

Chair: Gemma Hayes

18:15 Judith Olszowy-Schlanger (University of Oxford)

Hebrew Palaeography Album: A New Online Tool to Study Medieval Hebrew Manuscripts

18:45 Elvira Martín-Contreras (Spanish National Research Council)

Distinguishing Scribal Hands in the Masora of the Medieval Hebrew Bible Manuscripts


19:15 Joe Uziel (Israel Antiquities Authority)

IAA projects

19:30 Isabelle Marthot-Santaniello (University of Basel)


19:45 James Moore (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin)


20:00 Conclusion

Thursday, 8 April

13:00 CET Welcome

Session 7 — Hebrew/Aramaic Palaeography and Textual Communities

Chair: Mladen Popović

13:15 Eibert Tigchelaar (KU Leuven)

Scribal Culture, Palaeography, and the Scrolls

13:45 Ayhan Aksu (University of Groningen)

Leaving No Scroll Unturned: Opisthographs and Scribal Culture of the Dead Sea Scrolls

14:15 Hanneke van der Schoor (KU Leuven)

Assessing Palaeographic Variation in Informal Manuscripts: The Scribe(s) of the Testament of Qahat and Visions of Amrame

14:45 Discussion

15:00–15:45 Break

Session 8 — Hebrew/Aramaic Palaeography

Chair: Ayhan Aksu

15:45 Nadia Vidro (University College London)

Calendars from the Cairo Genizah as a Dating Tool for Palaeography

16:15 Estara J Arrant (University of Cambridge)

From Scholastic to Scribal: A Developmental Analysis of “Unprofessional” Square Hebrew Script from Cairo Genizah Bible Fragments

16:45 Elihu Shannon (Sofer STaM)

Why My Script is Different from My Teacher's

17:15 Discussion

17:30–18:15 Break

Session 9 — Final Discussion Panels

Chairs: Drew Longacre and Maruf Dhali

18:15 Digital Palaeography Panel Discussion

18:45 Hebrew/Aramaic Palaeography and Scribal Culture Panel Discussion

19:15 Final Open Discussion

20:00 Conclusion

Thursday, March 18, 2021

New Book: Reception of the Bible in Byzantium


 This new book Receptions of the Bible in Byzantium: Texts, Manuscripts, and their Readers is available free on open access (HT: Dan Batovici on Twitter). It has over twenty essays under the broad headings of:

Politics of Interpretation


Rewritten Bible

Visual Exegesis

Technical Exegesis

It has interesting essays on a very wide range of topics, including (things I thought were interesting) on Julian the Apostate as Biblical Literalist, Armenian colophons, dating of Gospel manuscripts, illustrations used in Greek gospel books, Arabic Gospel books, classifying Catena manuscripts of Galatians, annotations in Codex Marchalianus, etc. It also has some lovely photos. Check it out.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

New Nahal Hever LXX Fragments of the Minor Prophets


The major media outlets are abuzz today with the news that Israel has announced additional fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Specifically, these are new fragments of the Nahal Hever Minor Prophets scroll (8HevXII gr). They also discovered a very old basket, arrow heads and spear tips, and the remains of a child. Readers may know the Nahal Hever scroll because it has a nice example of the Tetragrammaton in paleo-Hebrew script. There are lots more pictures of the finds at the Times of Israel story.

The new fragments (image from Times of Israel)

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Cardinal Bellarmine, Trent’s Major Apologist, on Important Variants


I’ve been doing some reading on the Council of Trent and its aftermath the last few weeks and would like to share some interesting finds. First, some context. Robert Bellarmine (1542–1621) was an important Roman Catholic theologian and a major apologist for Trent. More than a few leading Protestant polemicists recognized Bellarmine as their main target. As Cardinal Dulles explains:

When recalled by superiors to teach at the Roman College, Bellarmine produced his magnum opus, the Disputationes de Controversiis Fidei Catholicae adversus huius temporis haereticos, published in three large folios in 1586, 1588, and 1593. Although never translated as a whole into vernacular languages, this work remained for centuries the standard Catholic response to the Reformation.

Dulles wrote that in 1994. Happily, there is now an effort to translate Bellarmine’s opus into English and put it online. It is well worth reading, not least because Bellarmine represents his positions so clearly and succinctly. He is also not afraid to criticize excesses on his own side of the debate.

One of the debates at the time was which version of the Bible was “authentic” and thus authoritative (see here). Hebrew, Greek, or Latin? The Protestants, of course, affirmed the original languages of Hebrew and Greek over against the Latin. Trent asserted the “authenticity” of the Latin, and said no one “dare, or presume to reject it under any pretext whatever.” (The role of Greek and Hebrew went unmentioned but the council did call—with varying success—for new editions of them.) It is Trent’s position that Bellarmine defends.

In the course of doing so, he comments on an argument, made by some Catholics, that the Greek New Testament had been so corrupted that the (purer) Vulgate has supreme authority. On this point, Bellarmine demurs, writing that 

there can be no doubt but that the Apostolic edition [Greek] is of supreme authority unless it be clear it has been corrupted. On this matter I judge one should think as we said above about the Hebrew editions, namely that the Greek codices are not generally corrupted; however the sources are not so very pure that necessarily whatever differs from them should be corrected, as Calvin, Major, Chemnitz, and the rest of the heretics of this age falsely think.

Disputationes (source)
He goes on to give some examples of where he thinks the Greek has been corrupted, before adding this concluding section on several variants that still get a lot of press today:

Finally it is clear that in many Greek codices there are missing many parts of the true Scripture, as the story of the adulteress John ch.8. The last chapter of Mark, the very beautiful testimony to the Trinity, I John, and others that we discussed above. It is also clear that certain things are found in all the Greek codices that are not parts of divine Scripture, as in Matthew ch.6 is added to the Lord’s prayer, “for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever.” That these words are not in the text but were added by the Greeks can be understood from two things.

First from the fact that Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine expound the Lord’s prayer and yet make no mention of these words, although all the Greeks know them well. Second from the fact that the Greeks in their liturgy recite these words indeed, but they are not continuous with the Lord’s prayer.

It’s probably no coincidence that the Reformed Scholastic Francis Turretin (1623–1687), writing a generation after Bellarmine, mentions all three of these “missing parts” in his discussion of “authenticity.” In each case, he finds the contested passage “in all the Greek copies” of his day (Institutes, vol. 1, Q.XI.X). This serves as proof, for him, against any notion that the Greek copies must cede authenticity to the Vulgate because of textual corruption.

One last observation about Bellarmine’s discussion. I notice a similarity, mutatis mutandis, between Trent’s view of the Vulgate and some present-day Protestant defenses of the TR. Both believe that usage has a key role in confirming authority. For Trent, the Vulgate’s authority is confirmed “by the lengthened usage of so many years.” For TR proponents, the TR’s authority is confirmed by the usage of such great theologians (the Reformers). Neither view convinces me, but it remains instructive to see how Bellarmine argues for his case.

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

A Myth/Mistake about the ESV

The ESV was not translated from the NA28, and the reading at Jude 5 is not an example of the ESV adopting the reading of the NA28.

(That’s the correct version, not the myth—just to be clear.)

I’ve seen this one several times before and was once even accused of bearing false witness against the ESV Translation Committee for saying that they did not translate the ESV from the NA28. The text-critical question is who saved the people out of Egypt? The UBS5/NA28/ECM/THGNT have “Jesus” (Ἰησοῦς), and the UBS4/NA27/Tommy Wasserman have “Lord” (κύριος). There is more to the variation unit than just that substitution, but that is the part I want to focus on here.

Before I get to why that is a myth, I’d like to acknowledge why I think I’ve seen it so much.

If you check the preface to the ESV, the “Textual Basis and Resources” section says the following:
The ESV is based on the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible as found in Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (5th ed., 1997), and on the Greek text in the 2014 editions of the Greek New Testament (5th corrected ed.), published by the United Bible Societies (UBS), and Novum Testamentum Graece (28th ed., 2012), edited by Nestle and Aland. ... Similarly, in a few difficult cases in the New Testament, the ESV has followed a Greek text different from the text given preference in the UBS/Nestle-Aland 28th edition. Throughout, the translation team has benefited greatly from the massive textual resources that have become readily available recently, from new insights into biblical laws and culture, and from current advances in Hebrew and Greek lexicography and grammatical understanding.
That is both in the online version and in recent (at least since 2016) print versions.

Furthermore, if you check Jude 5 in the ESV, we see that it translates the reading adopted in the NA28 and the Tyndale House GNT:


Those two things are enough to make someone think that the ESV is simply following the NA28 here.

However, there is more to the story.

I attach below images from my own copy of the 2001 ESV, which I’ve had since college. Here are pictures of the copyright page (to show that it is the 2001 edition), the “Textual Basis” section from the preface, the text of Jude 5 and the text-critical footnote for Jude 5.

ESV 2001 Copyright page

ESV 2001 Textual Basis

ESV 2001 Jude 5

ESV 2001 Jude 5 text-critical footnote

Now, assuming I’m not bearing false witness with these photos (I promise I am not, but of course, that’s exactly what someone who was bearing false witness would say, so please do find an ESV 2001 and check it yourself rather than take my word for it), here we have the reading adopted by the NA28, Ἰησοῦς (against κύριος in the NA27 and in Tommy Wasserman’s Epistle of Jude: Its Text and Transmission).

The thing to remember here is that Ἰησοῦς was adopted by the ESV Committee eleven years before the NA28 was published. The 2001 ESV was also published four years before the publication of Installment 4 of the text (2–3 John, Jude) of the ECM1 Catholic Epistles (2005), which also adopted Ἰησοῦς before the NA28 (2012) or the ECM2 of the Catholic Epistles (2013). Unless Wayne Grudem is a Time Lord, this demonstrates that the ESV did not get the Ἰησοῦς reading from the NA28. Instead, the ESV Committee broke from the NA27’s main text at Jude 5 and adopted the Ἰησοῦς reading from the NA27 apparatus—just like they said they occasionally did in the preface—and coincidentally Ἰησοῦς was also adopted (a few years later) as the main text in the ECM/NA28.

That leaves one important question though: Why does the current ESV say that it was translated from the NA28/UBS5? From here, I can only speculate. I did ask this question to someone who is on the ESV translation committee (back when I was accused of bearing false witness—I do try to check myself believe it or not, because I’ve been wrong before), and unfortunately he said he was not on the committee in the beginning when it was first translated. If I remember his answer correctly, he said the process was something like “ok we’re going to meet to translate” and everyone brought whichever editions of the original languages he used. My suspicion is that when the ESV was updated, someone simply updated the ‘editions used’ to whatever was current—which became the NA28 and the UBS5. The textual difference is not huge, and given that the ESV never stuck slavishly to the NA27/UBS4 in the first place, it probably seemed reasonable at the time. Indeed, I imagine when the committee has met since, committee members probably brought their copies of the NA28/UBS5.

As a final thought: there is something to the notion that fundamentally textual critics are not in control of what’s in people’s Bibles—translation committees are. We can rave about/rail against the CBGM all day long, but the only way it will ever change the text of a Bible translation is if a translation committee follows the textual decisions that the CBGM was used to make.

Friday, March 05, 2021

Twelfth Birmingham Colloquium Videos


For those not aware, the presentations for this year’s Birmingham Colloquium on NT Textual Criticism have been online and are being put on YouTube here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Luther’s Marginalia on Erasmus’s NT Annotationes


For those interested in such things, the University of Groningen has a very nice digital version of Martin Luther’s personal copy of Erasmus’s Annotationes. Elsewhere, Luther says, “At first it was a good book, although he [Erasmus] is often devious in it.” That gives you a flavor for the marginalia too. The online edition nicely catalogues the marginal comments and gives transcriptions by Arnoud Visser. For helpful context, see Visser’s chapter in the FS for Anthony Grafton.

Luther’s marginal response to Erasmus’s hope that his reader is kind to him: “I am not a kind reader and you are a not a kind writer”

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Hernandez on Chapa’s New Introduction to TC


Over on the FB NTTC group, Juan Hernandez shares his thoughts on the new introduction from Juan Chapa which I have copied here with permission.

Fresh off the press! Juan Chapa’s new book on textual criticism: La Transmisión Textual del Nuevo Testamento: Manuscritos, Variantes y Autoridad. Having read the pre-published version I can tell you that the book is a real treat, especially having such a careful, thorough discussion of textual criticism not simply from the perspective of an experienced papyrologist (editor of several Oxyrhynchus papyri), who is current in today’s text-critical trends, but also from the perspective of a priest from the order of Opus Dei. The discussion of textual authority was particularly fascinating, nuanced, historically grounded, and theologically sophisticated. There was also a good amount of textual criticism on the Latin text toward the end as well. There will be a lot to learn here, and it will have a slightly different tone from the multitude of Protestant voices in the discipline today since Chapa stands squarely in the Catholic tradition. I have included a picture of the book with the table of contents. Even if one doesn’t read Spanish, the contents will be easy to discern.

Here’s the table of contents:

Thursday, February 18, 2021

New Articles and Reviews in TC 25 (2020)


 I am delighted to announce that the delayed second installment of TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism 25 (2020) has just been published which completes vol. 25, packed with 163 pages of textual criticism. The new installment contains a number of articles in honor of Eldon Epp who turned 90 years old in 2020 and four new reviews. Note also the new section on digital tools.

Here below is all the new contents:

Volume 25 (2020)


Special Section in Honor of Eldon Jay Epp

Jennifer Wright Knust and Tommy Wasserman, “In Honor of Eldon Jay Epp: Nonagenarian and Doyen of New Testament Textual Criticism” (pp. 85–88)

Abstract: The editors Knust and Wasserman introduce five articles in the current volume written in honor of Eldon J. Epp, now a nonagenarian, and at the same time express their own appreciation and personal gratitude for Epp’s tremendous contribution to the field.

Bart D. Ehrman, The Theological Tendency of Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis at Age Forty-Four. In Commemoration of Eldon Epp’s Eightieth Birthday” (pp. 89–95)

Abstract: Not many years after Eldon Epp composed a “Requiem for the Discipline” of New Testament textual criticism in America, the field experienced a birth to new life. Ironically, in many ways Epp himself was the progenitor. His best-known publication The Theological Tendency of Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis in Acts had earlier raised issues now central to the discussions: textual variants as historically significant data rather than mere chaff to be discarded; the importance of “scribal tendencies”; and the fraught question of an “original” text. This essay looks back on Epp’s early achievement and its long-term effect on what is now a vibrant and thriving discipline.

J. Keith Elliott, “Eldon Jay Epp’s Exegesis. A Paper Honoring the Exegetical Work of Eldon Jay Epp” (pp. 97–101)

Abstract: Since the 1960s I have been reading with interest all that Eldon Epp has been publishing on New Testament Textual Criticism. He is clearly the doyen of the trade and his many papers (now carefully gathered together into two separate volumes) have been expertly and professionally reprinted and updated. Those articles, together with his two main books, have provided us with a splendid summary of his work. In this article I offer a brief review of his most important contributions including appreciative comments on what he has done more generally for our discipline.

See also Larry W. Hurtado, “Going for the Bigger Picture: Eldon Epp as Textual Critic” (TC 15 [2010])

Abstract: Eldon Jay Epp, who turned 80 in 2010, has made numerous contributions to NT textual criticism. In this essay, the focus is on his repeated efforts to promote greater efforts toward framing a fully-informed theory and history of the early textual transmission of NT writings. At various points over the last several decades, he has drawn upon his appreciable knowledge of the history of the discipline to criticize the slow pace in these matters. He has also promoted and demonstrated study of the earliest NT papyri as key evidence for any such theory and history of the NT texts. Moreover, he has urged that study of NT papyri be done with attention to the larger Roman-era environment of textual transmission.

Yii-Jan Lin, “The Multivalence of the Ethiopian Eunuch and Acts 8:37” (pp. 103–110)

Abstract: Modern textual critics have concluded that the Christological confession at Acts 8:37 is a later addition to the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. It is therefore neglected by most contemporary exegetes. As Epp has argued, however, such “discarded snippets” open up new interpretive possibilities, inviting further reflection on the multiplicity of meaning and the changing role of texts in actual human lives. Building on Epp’s insight, this article reclaims Acts 8:37 as a site for the creative use of textual criticism.

An-Ting Yi, Jan Krans, and Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte, “A New Descriptive Inventory of Bentley’s Unfinished New Testament Project” (pp. 111–128)

Abstract: One of Eldon J. Epp’s areas of expertise is the scholarly history of New Testament textual criticism. He offers an excellent overview of its different stages, including Bentley’s unfinished New Testament project. Yet, many aspects can be refined by studying the materials left by Bentley, preserved at Wren Library of Trinity College (TCL), Cambridge. This contribution offers an up-to-date descriptive inventory of all the remaining archive entries, containing bibliographical information, precise descriptions, relevant secondary literature, and parts of the reception history.

Section on Digital Tools

Sarah Yardney, Miller Prosser, and Sandra R. Schloen, “Digital Tools for Paleography in the OCHRE Database Platform” (pp. 129–143)
Tuukka Kauhanen and Hannu Kalavainen, “Automated Semantic Tagging of the Göttingen Septuagint Apparatus” (pp. 145–147)



Diane Apostolos-Cappadona, ed., Biblical Women and the Arts (Michael Sommer, reviewer) (pp. 149–151)
Alan Taylor Farnes, Simply Come Copying: Direct Copies as Test Cases in the Quest for Scribal Habits (Zachary Skarka, reviewer) (pp. 153–156)
AnneMarie Luijendijk and William E. Klingshirn, eds., My Lots Are in Thy Hands: Sortilege and Its Practitioners in Late Antiquity (Anna Oracz, reviewer) (pp. 157–159)
Paul Trebilco, Outsider Designations and Boundary Construction in the New Testament (Michael Sommer, reviewer) (pp. 161–163)

Friday, February 12, 2021

Best board imaginable!?


Ravi fell, but he had help.

“It is with deep gratitude to God, joined by the best board anyone can imagine and affirmed by the rest of our senior leadership, that these two appointments have been made.”

These are Ravi Zacharias’s words as he celebrates the appointment of two executives of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, namely his daughter Sarah Zacharias Davis as CEO and Michael Ramsden, a Christian apologist as president. Ravi Zacharias remained as the chairman of the board. It’s difficult to say who’s currently on the board, because I can’t find an annual report on the website and RZIM seems to have used a religious exemption to avoid filing a public 990 for several years. The 2014 statement has Ravi and his wife earning a total of $523,926 ($190,565 + 174,750 & 143,690 + 14,921). His daughter, Sarah Davis earned $208,995 plus $7,042 in other compensation. Naomi Zacharias, who oversaw poverty relief internationally, was subsisting on $129,679. 

If you serve on the board of a non-profit, you are responsible for oversight. When the poop hits the fan, it’s your fault. Why was the fan there? Why is poop being flung around the room? It is your fault; you should have been asking these questions! Family members of executive staff should not occupy a board seat. Contractors or employees of other organizations should never have a board seat or an executive position. Rarely do academics or public speakers possess any gifting with management or strategic planning. No matter how much prestige their name may carry, they should not manage or lead unless they have demonstrated ability.

Every board should review and publish an annual report and is responsible for setting the executive salary through its own research or consultants. Likewise, the board should ensure that compliance officers (HR and finance) have reporting mechanisms to catch ethical and legal violations when they are small.  In other words, the board should be interacting discretely with these staff to address problems.  A ministry the size of RZIM should undergo an external audit annually and should have published this audit on or its own website. Problems are normal; cover-up allows gangrene to spread. 

From the 2014 990, the RZIM board seems to have had about twenty members, including Ravi, Ravi’s wife and his daughter. That’s too big and the lack of a board-approved annual report causes one to wonder whether any of the members of the board had assigned annual responsibilities. The founder and/or CEO can never be the chairman of the board, unless s/he owns the company. If the president/CEO is also chairman of the board, you have no oversight. Zero. 


Centrality of Christ. Christian charities should be based on a gospel mission which itself focuses on Jesus Christ. Naming a charity after yourself is unacceptable. Serving as chairman of your own oversight committee reflects nothing more than narcissism. Put Christ at the center. "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1 Cor 2:2)

Compliance and transparency. Compliance means knowing and following the legal and ethics mandates of your business. Transparency is speaking truth, telling people what they need to hear when or before they need to hear it. “Let God be true and every man a liar.” (Romans 3:4.) 

Accountability. Things will go wrong, because even the best people are selfish and depraved. Will your organization nip it in the bud or let the cancer spread? Recognize that the easiest way to solve a problem is to deny its existence. Acknowledge, however, that the easy solution is a lie. “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” (Prov 12:1) 

Greed. “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” (1 Tim 6:10) 

Victims. RZIM must be shut down and its assets designated toward the victims. Ravi’s family can’t earn money from his name and the employees need to move on. The board members as well as Ravi’s family are people of integrity who fell short on compliance, but the current organization’s continued existence under any name will only continue Ravi’s now-inexcusable legacy. The “Executrix” should release all parties from the Non-Disclosure Agreements and likewise release the documents related to the earlier investigation of RZ which found him innocent. “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.” (1 Tim 5:20) 


This blog post responds to the Evangelical readers will have watched this scandal unfold through our niche media and may not realize that former-evangelical, now atheist skeptic, Steve Baugman played a central early role in building support for the victims. In other words, RZIM affiliated lawyers seem to have quashed the story and Christian media outlets pursued it with reticence. Baugman’s original discoveries entailed Zacharias’s extensive lies about academic credentials. Baugman himself was not shocked by the evangelical inability to hold its own accountable, saying, “This is exactly what my atheist worldview would have predicted.” 

RZIM has released a twelve-page commissioned report, which largely relies on interviews with women and some of Ravi’s cell phones. While most of the 200 images of women on his phone were clothed selfies, he requested nude images from at least two women and received nude images from at least one woman.  According to the report, another woman who purportedly sent nude images later requested “$5 million in exchange for a release of claims against him and the ministry.” Christian leaders would do well to consider the following summary paragraph:

[Ravi Zacharias] further claimed, “In my 45 years of marriage to Margie, I have never engaged in any inappropriate behavior of any kind.” Much of the inappropriate massage therapy behavior discussed above occurred prior to the Thompson matter, and Mr. Zacharias’s lengthy text and email communication with the massage therapist from Bangkok whose culinary schooling he arranged for through RZIM and whom he called the “love of his life” occurred in 2014. His claim that he had long made it his practice “not to be alone with a woman other than Margie and our daughters” was similarly false. As reported above, Mr. Zacharias’s inappropriate conduct often occurred when he was alone with massage therapists. Because his need for massage treatments was well known and accepted, he was able to hide his misconduct in plain sight. He further stated that, after reflection, he learned that the “physical safeguards” he had “long practiced to protect my integrity should have extended to include digital communications safeguards.” As the architect of those “physical safeguards,” Mr. Zacharias well knew how to elude them.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Predicting Scribal Glosses in Acts 17.26


I recently bought a new book on the Bible in the American Civil War. Among other things, the author does some great work detailing the most quoted Bible verses in sermons, newspapers, pamphlets, books, and the like in both North and South. 

The most quoted verse by the North was Acts 17.26: “And [God] hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.” The first half of v. 26 was regularly used to attack slavery by Northern pastors and writers. Ironically (and sadly), the second half was later used to defend segregation

The reception of this verse, however, isn’t my interest here. Rather, it’s the variant. The problem is that our earliest witnesses do not have the word “blood” (αιματος). The two main readings, from the ECM, are:

  1. εποιησεν τε εξ ενος    P74V. 01. 02. 03. 33. 35*. 81. 181. 323. 629. 630. 1739. 1875. 1891. 2200. 2718. L1178. Clem. CosmIn. L:V. 54. 58. 189.
  2. εποιησεν τε εξ ενος αιματος    (05). (08). 014. 020. 025. 049. 0142. 1. 5. 18. 35C. 43. 61. 88. 93. 94. 103. 104. 180. 206. 254. 307. 319. 321. 326. 330. 365. 378. 383. 398. 424. 429. 431. 436. 441. 453. 459. 467. 468. 522. 607. 610. 614. 617. 621. 623. 636. 642. 665. 808. 876. 915. 945. 1127. 1241. 1243. 1251. 1292. 1359. 1448. 1490. 1501. 1505. 1509. 1563. 1609. 1611. 1642. 1678. 1704. 1718. 1729. 1735. 1751. 1827. 1831. 1832. 1837. 1838. 1842. 1852. 1874. 1890. 2138. 2147. 2243. 2298. 2344. 2374. 2412. 2495. 2652. 2774. 2805. 2818. L23. L60. L156. L587. L809. L1825. L2010. Chrys. IrLat. NilAnc(V). Thdrt. L:51. 61.
In his textual commentary, Metzger concedes that the shorter reading could easily be explained by accidental omission aided by the repetition of -ος. But the committee finally settled on the shorter reading on the strength of the external evidence. In his discussion, Metzger also notes what a factor that deserves more weight when he writes, “Likewise, there is some force in the consideration that αἵματος is not a very natural gloss on ἑνός—for that one would have expected ἀνθρώπου or something similar.”

This is indeed what we find scribes doing in John 18.39 where 1820, 2129, 2786, 1819 have δεσμιον after ενα (per Morrill’s apparatus). Also worth considering is that in John 11.50, 18.14 the original text has a form of ἄνθρωπος with the adjective (and we find the same in Rom 5.12, 15, 19). The only biblical texts I know that even have εἷς and αἷμα in the same verse are Lev 7.14, Ps 13.3, and 1 Jn 5.8 and in none of these are they grammatically related. All this adds weight to Metzger’s observation that αἵματος is not the obvious gloss here.

In the end, it’s a tough call and I still lean toward the shorter reading. But I might give it a C rating rather than the UBS’s B.

I’d love to hear what our readers might think.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Grinfield Lectures on the Septuagint

The famous and learned James K. Aitken, Reader in Hebrew and Early Jewish Studies in the University of Cambridge, is presenting this year’s Grinfield Lectures on the Septuagint and the History of the Book (in the University of Oxford):

The Material World of the Septuagint (2020–2021)

The schedule is as follows, and are open to anyone interested (sign up by clicking on the embedded zoom link):

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

New Spanish Intro to NTTC by Juan Chapa

I have just learnt that my friend and colleague Juan Chapa Prado, professor of New Testament at the Facultad de Teología (Universidad de Navarra) and one of the editors of The Oxyrrhynchus Papyri has just published a new introduction to New Testament textual criticism in Spanish: La transmisión textual del Nuevo Testamento Manuscritos, variantes y autoridad, Biblioteca de Estudios Bíblicos, 163 (Salamanca: Ediciones Sigueme, 2021).

Since Chapa is a skilled papyrologist, there is excellent coverage of the material aspects and the earliest manuscripts on papyrus. Apart from the traditional topics in introductions to the field, Chapa discusses concepts like "initial text," "living text," "narrative textual criticism," canon, authority of scripture, regula fidei, the relationship to oral tradition and many other interesting topics.

Table of contents and introduction is available here.