Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Court Rules that Obbink Owes Hobby Lobby $7m


The news is out that the civil case between Hobby Lobby and Dirk Obbink has been decided. The ruling is a “default judgment” in favor of Hobby Lobby for an incredible $7,085,100 plus interest. (A default judgment means that the defendant never showed up to court.) Keep in mind, this is a civil case not a criminal case. Over at the Art Crime blog, Lynda Albertson gives this list of transactions between Hobby Lobby and Obbink.

  • Purchase #1 - February 6, 2010: Papyri fragments for $80,000
  • Purchase #2 - February 15, 2011: Papyri fragments and other antiquities for $500,000
  • Purchase #3 - July 22, 2010: Papyri fragments and other antiquities for $350,000
  • Purchase #4 - November 20, 2010: Papyri fragments and other antiquities for $2,400,000
  • Purchase #5 - July 20, 2011: Papyri fragments and other antiquities for $1,345,500
  • Purchase #6 - March 7, 2012: Papyri fragments and other antiquities for $609,600
  • Purchase #7 - February 5, 2013: Papyri fragments and other antiquities for $1,810,000
As she says, “Obbink had represented to Hobby Lobby that the 32 items he was selling came from private collectors.” I do not know which of these seven purchases was supposed to include the best-known papyrus, the first-century Mark fragment. Maybe one of our readers does?

The most unfathomable thing to me about this whole mess is still how Obbink thought he could get away with it. How does one expect to steal 32 papyri from one’s employer, sell them for millions of dollars to a very in-the-spotlight organization, and expect no one to notice? It boggles the mind.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Doctoral and Post-doctoral Opportunities in Leuven


Good news out of Belgium: 

KU Leuven, Belgium, offers 2 full-time post-doctoral and 3 PhD positions for suitably qualified candidates to form part of the research team of the Leuven Multilingual Manuscript Research Centre (LEMMA).

Further information about each position and application details can be obtained through the following links. The deadline for applications is 7th May 2024.

3 positions on the European Research Council (Horizon Europe) funded ERC-2021-COG BICROSS project (www.bicross.eu) to investigate the significance of bilingual manuscripts for detecting cross-language interaction in the New Testament Tradition. The interdisciplinary project studies bilingual New Testament manuscripts from the 4th century to the 15th century.

2 positions on the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) funded Odysseus (Type I) 1COR project (www.1cor.netto investigate the text, transmission and translation of 1 Corinthians in the first millennium. The project’s main goal is to produce full scholarly editions and textual analyses of 1 Corinthians with a multilingual perspective.

Please feel free to circulate this information widely and to alert colleagues and students who you think may be interested and suited. Informal enquiries may be addressed to christina.kreinecker@kuleuven.be

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Guest Post by Timothy Decker: A Critical Apparatus of the Textus Receptus Tradition


The following is a guest post by Timothy L. Decker. He received his Ph.D. from Capital Seminary and Graduate School in 2021. He is a professor of Biblical Languages and New Testament at Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary and an adjunct professor of New Testament with International Reformed Baptist Seminary. He is also one of the pastors of Trinity Reformed Baptist Church near Roanoke, VA. His most recent publication is A Revolutionary Reading of Romans 13.

His edition of the Sermon on the Mount (which provides the data behind this post) is available here.

Thursday, March 07, 2024

SBL Presentation on the Future of Text-Types


At SBL last fall I gave a paper on the future of text-types for the session on the IGNTP anniversary. Hugh Houghton kindly asked if I would record it for the IGNTP YouTube channel and the videographers at my school kindly lent their time and talents to record it. (If it looks like I had the paper memorized, I did not. It’s just a camera trick and a teleprompter.) The outline of the paper is as follows:

  1. Intro
  2. Text-types as a solution (2:00)
  3. Text-types as a problem (5:25)
  4. Suggestions for progress (13:50)
    1. Define “texts” (14:02)
    2. Clarify their purpose (16:02)
    3. Specify their relationship (17:08)
  5. Conclusion (18:12)
  6. Postscript (19:30)
Besides giving an overview of where I think the discussion on text-types is (and needs to go), this video explains why we are centering our TCI colloquium this summer on this question.

Wednesday, March 06, 2024

Review of the Statistical Restoration Greek New Testament


I'm always excited when a new Greek New Testament comes out. It gives another opportunity to look carefully at the subtle differences between editions. This is a review of the hard copy of the Statistical Restoration Greek New Testament (SRGNT), edited by Alan Bunning (GlossaHouse, 2023), based mainly on a careful consideration of the text of Matthew.

The SRGNT is different from other editions because it is 'the first computer-generated text derived directly from the earliest manuscript witnesses using an algorithmic statistical model to simulate a reasoned-eclecticism approach' (back cover).

Bunning has done a great job entering primary data at www.GreekCNTR.org, a site which I used almost daily for two years when I was evaluating early orthographic information for the Tyndale House Greek New Testament.

At the very least such a computer-generated text, by differing little from the editions produced by human judgement, gives us assurance about the many parts of the Greek New Testament about which there is no dispute.

The edition aims to replace 'the subjective theological bias of human editors with the use of objective statistical and computational methods' (Introduction, p. i). However, computers also do stupid things when humans ask them to, which is why this edition contains hundreds of accentual mistakes and misplaced commas, most of which would have been caught by any careful human editor.

Admittedly wrong accents and commas aren't the most important aspects of a Greek New Testament, but they can be annoying.

In Matthew 5:39 we get this nonsensical comma:

ἀλλʼ ὅστις σε ῥαπίζει εἰς τὴν δεξιὰν σιαγόνα, σου στρέψον αὐτῷ καὶ τὴν ἄλλην·

Or γάρ beginning a clause in Matthew 10:23:

ἀμὴν, γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν

Or δέ beginning a clause in Matthew 15:14:

ὁδηγοί εἰσιν τυφλοί τυφλὸς, δὲ τυφλὸν ἐὰν ὁδηγῇ, ἀμφότεροι εἰς βόθυνον πεσοῦνται.

There's an interrupting comma after the article in Matthew 25:20:

Καὶ προσελθὼν ὁ, τὰ πέντε τάλαντα λαβὼν, προσήνεγκεν ἄλλα πέντε τάλαντα 

The good news is that such mistakes can all be corrected in a subsequent edition. This is a first edition and can be built upon. As it says in the Introduction (p. ii) 'The SR can be regenerated in less than a minute reflecting all of the latest evidence'.

However, the algorithms are also capable of churning out nonsense readings in more substantial matters. In double square brackets, Matthew 16:2 ends thus: Εὐδία πυῤῥαζει γͅͅὰρ ὁ. The last word of the verse is the definite article and it has no accompanying noun. Good luck translating that!

Again, this is nothing that can't be fixed. But I would argue that this edition overvalues the goal of "scientific objectivity". That's not a problem if it's just an edition within a market place of editions. It can happily be used as a control on other more subjectively produced editions. But it is a problem if you remain convinced that a computer-generated text will give you the best edition.

Here are two examples of where the computer-generated text has produced something inferior to what humans would produce:

1) In Matthew 6:5 the SRGNT produces a switch from the 2nd person singular to the 2nd person plural:

Καὶ ὅταν προσεύχῃ, οὐκ ἔσεσθε ὡς οἱ ὑποκριταί

This unlikely reading may arise because the external attestation for the two verb forms has been treated as unconnected.

2) For Christ's dereliction cry the SRGNT has Ἐλωί, Ἐλωί, λεμὰ σαβαχθάνι in Matthew 27:46 and Ἐλωῒ, Ἐλωῒ, λεμὰ σαβαχθάνι in Mark 15:34. Literally the only differences arise through editorial inconsistency about diaeresis and accents. However, the deeper problem is having the same spelling of the Semitic expression for 'my God' in Matthew and Mark, which does nothing to explain the underlying manuscript differences.

But more positively the work of this edition can definitely help improve other editions. Despite taking great care in considering the orthography of the New Testament, here's a variation I had previously missed, and now know through the SRGNT:

Luke 10:13 Οὐαί σοι, Βηθσαϊδά

but Matthew 11:21 Οὐαί σοι, Βηθσαϊδάν.

The THGNT has Βηθσαϊδά in both cases. Arguably it's a detail we missed and the final nu should be there in Matthew.

So I want to thank Alan Bunning and his collaborators and cheer them on in their task, even as I remain firmly persuaded of the value of the human element in making good editorial decisions.

#SRGNT, #AlanBunning, #THGNT

Tuesday, March 05, 2024

Further Arguments for the Verb in Eph 5.22


I’ve blogged a fair bit about Eph 5.22 over the years, culminating in my argument for one of the longer readings in NTS back in 2021. Today, Joey McCollum of Australian Catholic University has a new article out in JSNT extending my argument. He gives much more attention than I could to the internal evidence and concludes in favor of the third person plural imperative. It’s especially helpful to have his thoughts on the function of the third person imperative, a question I only barely touched on in my essay but one that commentators especially need to consider.

Here’s the abstract:

This study revisits a contested textual variant concerning the presence, placement, and person of an imperative directed at wives in Eph. 5.22. Most previous treatments of this variant have decided the matter (typically in favor of the reading without an imperative) on the basis of manuscript support and transcriptional arguments about how readers and copyists of the text would have changed it, but the intrinsic probabilities of what the author would have written based on his argument and style have generally been neglected. This study fills this gap by assessing the intrinsic probabilities of the variant readings in Eph. 5.22 using discourse and information structure, the pragmatics of the Greek imperative, and stylistic observations in Ephesians. As a result of this analysis, the reading with the highest intrinsic probability is shown to be τοῖς ἰδίοις ἀνδράσιν ὑποτασσέσθωσαν, which bolsters the recent case made by Gurry (2021) for the same reading.

Thankfully, the article is open access too. Read it here.