# Thursday, May 15, 2014

Previous posts: Part I; Part II

Part I, the most substantive post of this series, is on Jefford’s introduction. Part II is on the Greek text, the apparatus, and the translation. This post is on the commentary proper, which takes up the last 60 pages of the book.

Here are the commentary sections and titles:

  • Title
  • 1.1–2: Introduction
  • 2.1–10: On Greeks
  • 3.1–4.6: On Jews
  • 5.1–6.10: On Christians
  • 7.1–9.6: About God’s Power
  • 10.1–8: First Conclusion: About God’s Plan
  • 11.1–12.9: Second Conclusion: The Witness of the Word

As with most commentaries, it doesn’t read very well from start to finish. You’ve got to have knowledge of the text of the section being discussed in order to track with the discussion on the page. But that is par for the course for commentaries.

The Greek text, where necessary, is referenced in the commentary. Typically the English is given, with the Greek in parentheses after. The discussion is routinely of lexical issues, related early Christian literature, structure/grammar/syntax, as well as historical and theological issues.

There’s not much more to say apart from: If you’re doing any halfway-serious work with the Epistle to Diognetus, then you need to look at this volume.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, May 15, 2014 6:04:41 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, May 14, 2014

There are scads of commentaries on and opinions about the book of Revelation. While I’m not an expert, I’m not sure how many books there are like this recent tome from Joel Watts. The best word I can use to describe it is “refreshing.”

Author: Joel L. Watts (blog, Twitter)
Title: Praying in God’s Theater: Meditations on the Book of Revelation (amazon.com) [Available in print or Kindle editions]

Praying in God’s Theater (amazon.com) isn’t a commentary. You won’t get into millennialism, supralapsarianism, or other eschatological quandaries and dogfights. You won’t have to answer the question, “Pre-, Post-, or A-?” to get past the first chapter. You won’t get into timelines, you won’t count days/weeks/years. You won’t worry about whether it is John the Apostle, John the Elder, or some other John who wrote it. You won’t get tangled in establishing the date, or with overwrought diatribes on the weirdness of the Greek found in the book, or whether a simple Galilean fisherman could’ve written it.

No, you won’t get any of that stuff. Instead, Praying in God’s Theater (amazon.com) is a practically oriented look at how the book of Revelation can be used in the prayer life of a Christian. You get to follow along with Watts as he treats the text liturgically and prays through the text of Revelation. In the process, the reader’s focus changes from the self-centered look — wanting to know more about the return of Jesus for personal planning and expectation — to a Jesus-focused look. Here’s a snip from the introduction:

Revelation is not about what will happen (futurist) or even what happened (historicist), but what is always happening above us. It is quite simply, a book envisioning Christ enthroned through suffering, something the Eucharist represents. (Watts 3)

Watts’ prayers are intended to be corporate and responsive in nature. But he does a better job of explaining than I would:

Like call and response prayers, you will find portions in bold. The bold sections of Scripture are based on (usually) Revelation, while the words in regular print are the literary sources for John’s writing. John used a tremendous amount of Scriptural allusions drawn from the New Testament and other works while drafting his work. I will make use of many of them to provide an answer to him. I have tried to arrange it so John’s words are met with similar words or thoughts from other writers of the faith. … Surrounding the prayers are mediations and devotions from saints throughout the ages. You will find familiar names like John Wesley and maybe a few unfamiliar ones like St. Bonaventure and a sixth century theologian by the name of Oecumenius. This is an ecumenical book, so you will hear Catholic and Orthodox voices as well as Protestant ones. (Watts 7–8)

The end product is a set of rich prayers focused on the text of Revelation with surrounding material setting the scene based on the testimony of the church through the ages. You’ve seen and read nothing like it on the book of Revelation. If you read it seriously, you’ll be better for it.

[Disclaimer: Joel Watts is my friend. He supplied me with a copy of Praying in God’s Theater (amazon.com), but I have examined it and would like to think I’d write the above about the book whether I knew him or not.]

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, May 14, 2014 6:35:43 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Sunday, April 13, 2014

Previous post: Epistle to Diognetus (Part I)

The previous post was on the introduction, which takes over 120 pages of the book. This post is on the edition Jefford supplies of the Greek text, the apparatus, and the translation.

Suffice it to say, Jefford has the most extensive look at the Greek text for Diognetus that I’ve ever seen. We have only ever known one manuscript of the Epistle to Diognetus, dated to the 13th-14th centuries, and it is lost. There are some transcriptions that date back to the late 16th century, and Jefford has examined all of those. Further, it appears that he has evaluated and transcribed almost every edition ever printed — by my count 41 editions. Jefford’s lists these editions in his apparatus, which is extensive. If you want to know the textual history from the editio princeps to modern time, then you need to evaluate Jefford’s work. I mean really — take a look at the apparatus:



Each two-letter abbreviation represents a different edition. The apparatus brings out emendations suggested by editors over the years, and even notes where editors have a preferred reading (using <<notation>>) that is not found in the early transcriptions. The <single bracket> readings are where the early transcriptions prefer a reading not in agreement with the original exemplar.

This is an immense amount of work, both in the actual collation but also in the tracking down of all of these editions. In thanks and gratitude, we all should buy Jefford an adult beverage of his choice the next time we see him.

The translation is serviceable. The major attraction here is the Greek text and apparatus. The translation is what it is. On the literal-dynamic scale — which isn’t really fair for Diognetus because if you translate it word-for-word literal, you end up with yoda-speak on drugs — it tends toward the dynamic, but not nearly so much as Ehrman’s translation. That said, the translation is readable and adequately reflects his Greek text.

Next up: Thoughts on the commentary proper, if I can ever get the gumption to finish it.

Post Author: rico
Sunday, April 13, 2014 10:02:14 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Sunday, March 16, 2014

As I mentioned previously, providence supplied me with a copy of this book from Oxford University Press, so I have been reading it. I’m through the introductory material, the edition (with extensive editional apparatus) and translation, and the notes. It seemed like a good time to write a post about the material I’ve read thus far. This post will be about the introduction. A subsequent post will be about the text, apparatus, translation, and textual notes. I have the commentary proper left to read, and will have a final post on that at some point in the future.

Here is some information about the book:

  • Title: The Epistle to Diognetus (with the Fragment of Quadratus): Introduction, Text, and Commentary
  • Author/Editor: Clayton N. Jefford
  • Series: Oxford Apostolic Fathers
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Pages: ix, 281
  • Indices: Ancient Sources, pp. 265–278; Modern Authors Cited, pp. 279–281
  • Bibliography: pp. 257–264

The introduction is in eight parts and spans 120+ pages. The eight parts are as follows:

  1. General Background
  2. Authorship, Date, and Provenance
  3. Structural Elements
  4. Integrity and Purpose
  5. Theology and Themes
  6. Relationship to Scripture
  7. Analysis of Historical Trajectory
  8. Conclusions

1. General Background

Jefford sets the context for his discussion well. There has only ever been one manuscript that contained this material, and it was subsequently lost in a fire. Thus we are constrained to three early transcriptions of the text and subsequent editions based on that material. Further — and anyone who has spent time with the text of Epistle to Diognetus will agree — the Greek isn’t easy. Apparently the manuscript itself was even harder to read and decipher, and was more lacunose than notes in modern editions lead one to believe. Jefford tracks the publication history of transcriptions and editions of the text. This is valuable information that has not, to my knowledge, been so deeply delved to this date.

2. Authorship, Date, and Provenance

Perhaps more so with Diognetus, it is difficult to speak of authorship, date, and provenance. There is no manuscript anymore, there is little known about where it came from, and only qualified guessing can be done on any of these topics. There have been several possible authors suggested, all of them supposition. Intelligently argued, many of them, but all constrained to the incredibly small pool of names we actually know and settings we actually understand. Jefford does a good job navigating this tension and reviewing the options and the cases for and against them. I was happy to see some extended interaction with Hill’s thesis of authorship, which points to Polycarp, and which I’m sympathetic to. I think Hill provides some good insight on the setting from which the work may have come, though I’m hesitant to tie a specific name to the writing. Jefford, always cautious (at least in my reading of other books he’s written), seems to share this hesitancy to point to specific, named people as the author of this work.

3. Structural Elements

Jefford breaks the text of Diognetus into seven sections:

  • Prologue (1.1–2)
  • On Greeks (2.1–10)
  • On Jews (3.1–4.6)
  • On Christians (5.1–6.10)
  • About God’s Power (7.1–9.6)
  • About God’s Plan (10.1–8)
  • The Witness of the Word (11.1–12.9)

It is in this chapter that Jefford begins to lay the groundwork for his view of the development of Diognetus. It begins by isolating areas that seem too good to be normal prose, so must reflect existing tradition. These are poetic and confessional materials that add to the text but may not be strictly necessary. He will come back to these later in §8, where he establishes his view of the composition and development of the text.

4. Integrity and Purpose

The majority of scholars of early Christianity see Diognetus as two parts: §§1–10, and §§11–12. It is well known that the manuscript had a large lacuna with a marginal note from a scribe about this break. The lacuna has led several to argue that the latter sections were not written by the same author as the previous sections, that they were appended either through happenstance or through later editorial work. Hill has recently and somewhat persuasively argued that these two sections, despite the lacuna, are of the same author and they should be considered as a whole. Jefford upholds the consensus that the two parts are not directly related, using the standard sorts of arguments (genre, subject matter, and vocabulary, largely) that Hill has largely anticipated in his work asserting their unity. Regarding integrity, though, Jefford hints at the end again about his development theory, noting that while the latter portion is an edition, he does allow for extensive editorial action to conform the first section with the last section more seamlessly.

5. Theology and Themes

This was the least interesting section to me, personally. So, on to the next.

6. Relationship to Scripture

Jefford dutifully searches for and finds an amazing number of places where Diognetus may have some relationship to canonical material. I’m familiar with the text of Diognetus, and much of these possible ties (particularly to specific OT passages/authors) were news to me. Sometimes, depending on one’s criteria, you can find what you’re looking for. I applaud Jefford for the work he’s done here, but it is a bit over the top. Kudos to him for his interaction with Mike Bird’s material on the use of Paul in Diognetus in Paul and the Second Century. Also, the well-known reflection of Johannine language, particularly in §§11–12, is handled well by Jefford.

7. Analysis of Historical Trajectory

Because we only ever had one manuscript of Diognetus, and because we have no citations of it in the known historical record, this section is largely an examination of where other apologists said things that are similar to what Diognetus says. Further, it is a review of where others have posited conceptual or parallel relationships between Diognetus and other authors/historical works. As such, it is all very tenuous and built on little foundation — not out of any fault of Jefford, but simply because there is no foundation to put it on.

8. Conclusions

This is the part where Jefford moves from review of scholarship and development into positing his own ideas on Diognetus. Jefford posits an original ‘core’ to the material that was probably original and delivered in oral form, and then posits layers of editorial development to the text over time.

Jefford, though his examination of structure, development, integrity, and relation to Scripture in the introduction, identifies material that he sees as largely secondary and not necessary for the core of the work. He isolates and removes this material, leaving just the core, which he considers “the rough form of what may once have been oral performance” (117). That rough form includes:

  • 1.1a
  • 3.1–5.2, 4, 16–17
  • 6.1–2, 5–10
  • 7.1–2b, 2d–4a; 8.1–2a, 2c–9.4, 5b–6c
  • 10.1–2a, 4–8

Jefford has well defended his reasons for this, but I think suggestions like this prompt more questions than they solve. There are the obvious questions about any revision/edit and who might have made it (if, in fact, these things happened). If oral, did the original author expand the edition for written publication? When did these editorial expansions happen, and why? What source did they come from? The most poetic/prosaic of the material would be great for oral presentation, so why cut it? If we don’t know anything about the author, how can we conclude with any certainty what he would or wouldn’t have said? If this much revision and development took place over time, where is the manuscript evidence or citation evidence for it?

As a disclaimer, I’m much more of an analyze-what-we-have kind of guy. The rest is guesswork, particularly with no manuscripts at all to deal with. So I’m predisposed to not like proposals like this. Again I’ll say that I understand how Jeffords gets here and appreciate the discussion his notions of its development of the text from the oral stage into the written stage. And he does well to say that this proposal is not a certainty, and that he is largely more convinced of the generalities of it than any specifics he may elucidate in the discussion. But that sort of language is my problem. It seems more like a thought exercise than anything that could be certainly posited and used to help understand more definitely the text itself — an interesting aside, but not overly or directly helpful for understanding the text we actually have.

Next: At some future point I’ll have a post where I look at Jefford’s edition of the text of Diognetus, the apparatus he provides, his translation, and his textual notes.

Post Author: rico
Sunday, March 16, 2014 1:44:15 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Friday, February 21, 2014

Someone is watching out for me. Indirectly, someone who had received a review copy of this book from Oxford contacted me and asked if I would instead review the book on my blog. I am only too happy to do so. You know who you are, and I am grateful for your generosity.

This book is one of three volumes published thus far in the Oxford Apostolic Fathers series, the other two volumes being Second Clement and Polycarp to the Philippians with the Martrydom of Polycarp. I have read and devoured the volume on Second Clement, and it is impressive. I have not yet had the opportunity of reading the volume on Polycarp’s works.

I have read a large portion of the introduction already, and it is stellar. Jefford provides a detailed history of the single (now lost) manuscript and its transcriptions and editions. I don’t know how many posts I’ll write on this one; it may only be one post. But the edition is stellar (thus far, anyway) and will be the volume to consult for those who work with the text of Diognetus in the future.

Here is some information about the book:

  • Title: The Epistle to Diognetus (with the Fragment of Quadratus): Introduction, Text, and Commentary
  • Author/Editor: Clayton N. Jefford
  • Series: Oxford Apostolic Fathers
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Pages: ix, 281
  • Indices: Ancient Sources, pp. 265–278; Modern Authors Cited, pp. 279–281
  • Bibliography: pp. 257–264

Here’s the blurb from the publisher:

This volume is the first major English-language commentary on the Epistle to Diognetus since that of Henry G. Meecham in 1949. Its purpose is twofold: to provide careful consideration to the essential introductory issues of authorship and setting, structure and integrity, theology, relationship to scripture, and historical trajectory as they apply to the transmission of the text; and to offer commentary focused on the movement of the author's argument and objectives in construction of the narrative, taking advantage of critical considerations of the apology within recent scholarship. In the final analysis the volume arrives at the premise that the core materials of Diognetus were likely delivered first in an oral context whose setting remains unknown and were thereafter recorded by a later hand as the framework of chapters 1-10. A subsequent editor (perhaps Clement of Alexandria) added the concluding materials of chapters 11-12 together with the insertion of numerous hymnic segments and theological phrases throughout chapters 1-10. These additions were inspired by Johannine tradition and reflect the setting of a living faith community. The text of Diognetus thus reflects an evolutionary process that moves from oral performance to literary record, from moral teaching to theological homily. The format of the volume is designed to welcome the non-specialist to the text of Diognetus while exposing the reader to the best of both earlier and more recent critical comments on the writing and its tradition.

Table of Contents

  • I: Introduction
    • 1. General Background
    • 2. Authorship, Date, and Provenance
    • 3. Structural Elements
    • 4. Integrity and Purpose
    • 5. Theology and Themes
    • 6. Relationship to Scripture
    • 7. Analysis of Historical Trajectory
    • 8. Conclusions
  • II: Texts and Translations
    • 9. Introduction
    • 10. Epistle to Diognetus
    • 11. Fragment of Quadratus
  • III: Commentary

Other material: A few years back, I worked through the Epistle to Diognetus on the blog. You can find links to the necessary posts here:

When I worked through the text, I was more likely to think that Diog 11-12 were a separate document. After reading Hill’s defense of their unity, however, I’m not so sure.

Also note, I have read the previous critical edition of Diognetus in English, the work of H.G. Meecham. I blogged about the story behind how I acquired that volume, nearly 10 years ago now. 

Post Author: rico
Friday, February 21, 2014 8:51:42 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Wednesday, February 19, 2014

[Note: I tweeted summaries of all the pseudepigrapha in this book (using the #MoreOTP hashtag) while reading it. To see them all, check the posts here and here. When I received the book from Eerdmans (thanks again for the review copy), I mentioned it here with a short introduction.]

As a reader of Jim Davila’s blog PaleoJudaica for years, I’ve known of this book as he’s mentioned it frequently during its development. And I have been itching to read it. I was not disappointed. What Bauckham, Davila, and Panayotov have accomplished is no small feat: Modern, readable translations of some important yet difficult to find works that have some relation to the Bible. Further, each of these works have introductions that provide the proper context and setting for reading the material. As the pseudepigrapha themselves are diverse, this short review will focus instead on the introductions and the indexes.

Each work is capably introduced. The plan of the volumes includes discussion of standard material where possible — some pseudepigrapha are small and therefore, where appropriate, sections are skipped.

Introduction sections include:

  • Content
  • Manuscripts, Versions, Editions, etc.
  • Relation to Other/Earlier Literature
  • Genre, Structure, Prosody, etc.
  • Date and Provenance
  • Literary Context
  • Bibliography

The above listing is not comprehensive, but covers most major sections. Authors were free to provide any other material they felt relevant to the subject matter.

The pseudepigrapha themselves are, of course, valuable; but without a good introduction to set the proper context for evaluating the material, they are of dubious value. The introductions interact with the latest literature, but they often dig into older sources to trace the development of scholarship around the pseudepigraphon. In many cases, the most recent literature is one hundred years old, or older — proving yet again the need for a volume like this.

The indexes to this volume are also valuable, spanning nearly 60 pages. At around 750 pages of main body text, with 60 pages of index, that’s around 12.5 pages for each index page — not bad. There are two indices:

  • Index of Modern Authors
  • Index of Scripture and Other Ancient Texts

If you’re like me, it is that last index that will get the most mileage. Indexes are the unsung heroes of volumes like this. Tedious to put together, hugely difficult to error check, and the necessary point of entry for most folks to actually use the work. While many will no doubt read through the material, this is a reference work. Without an index, it would be useless in the long run. With a poor index, it would be frustrating to use. But a well-assembled index is a thing of beauty, and this volume appears to deliver in this regard.

I can’t recommend this volume enough. Buy it and use it, and you should find it useful for years to come.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 8:23:42 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, January 30, 2014

Things are hopping at Logos Bible Software. The other day I announced on the Twitter and on Facebook that I’m looking for a few interns this summer to help with analysis of Greek texts:

Then this morning Steve Runge blogged that he’s looking for summer interns as well, to help him with some Greek Discourse Grammar projects.

We have a lot of higher-than-word-level analysis to do on Greek texts, and need some help. My projects will focus on the Greek of the Septuagint, starting with the deuterocanonical/apocryphal texts. Seriously — how much fun is this? And you could get paid for it? And a great item to list on your CV?

I’m still working on getting something official on the Logos jobs page about the summer internships on my team. Until then, here is some more information on them. If this sounds at all interesting to you, and you’re willing to spend the summer in Bellingham, then …

  1. Email me (rick at logos dot com) a CV and tell me about yourself and your experience with Greek
  2. Do it by March 15, 2014. The earlier the better.

If it all sounds interesting, but you’re still not sure, then read the bottom of Steve’s blog post again, the paragraph after “Application Process.”

Greek Data Curation Intern

Logos Bible Software is looking for people who know their Greek and want to use it in an environment focused on creating data-oriented products for professors, teachers, students, and laypeople. As a Greek Data Curation Intern, you will work with the Logos Content Innovation team to provide the linguistic foundation for the next generation of tools to help people infuse the Greek of the Bible in their everyday studies and research.

For more information on the kind of stuff we work on, see this recent overview of Greek Linguistic Databases that have been developed and implemented by Logos Bible Software.


  • Analysis of Greek text at multiple levels (syntactic, referential, morphological, etc.)


  • Summer relocation to Bellingham
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Ability to make quick, informed decisions about analysis
  • Two Years of Greek or demonstrated ability and aptitude
  • Desire to stretch your Greek muscles to the limit, and get paid for it

The ideal candidate

  • Is familiar with Logos Bible Software and existing Greek linguistic databases
  • Has some familiarity with Greek outside of the New Testament
  • Unknowingly chunks Greek into clauses and clause components while reading and studying
Post Author: rico
Thursday, January 30, 2014 9:15:58 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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At the end of December, I posted a summary of Bauckham/Davila/Panayotov’s Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures (amazon.com). Using the Twitter (@RickBrannan) I posted a short summary of each pseudepigraphon after I read the intro and the document.

I’ve finished reading the book, so now it’s time to finish the summaries. In the I hope to write a review later; it will likely focus more on the introductions in general and not the content of each pseudepigraphon. In the meantime, do check out Jim West’s review.

So, on with the summaries!

  • Hebrew Visions of Hell and Paradise: Medieval traditions of Moses, Hell, Eden, &c. Some strikingly like Christian apocrypha #MoreOTP
  • Quotations from Lost Books in the Hebrew Bible: Ever notice how that book of books quotes some books we don't have anymore? #MoreOTP
  • Palaea Historica: More rewritten Bible, like Jubilees. Only with lots of extra traditions thrown in. #MoreOTP
  • Cave of Treasures: Adam stashes swag from Paradise, Magi present it to the baby Christ. Post-500 Syrian-flavored Christian History? #MoreOTP
  • Latin Vision of Ezra: Ezra descends to Tartarus then ascends to the Seventh Heaven. Then he literally refuses to give up the ghost. #MoreOTP
  • Public Service Announcement: 2 Esdras = 5 Ezra + 4 Ezra + 6 Ezra. In that order, in case you were wondering. #MoreOTP
  • Sixth Ezra: More prophecies of the end. Catastrophe. Tribulation. Judgment. Hope for the elect. #MoreOTP
  • Fifth Ezra: Ezra the scribe denounces Israel for sin, announces a new people — Christians — will take their place. #MoreOTP
  • Sefer Zerubbabel, Prophetic Vision of Zerubbabel ben Shealtiel: Eschatology, Messiah (not Jesus), and Michael = Metatron. Whoa. #MoreOTP
  • Relics of Zechariah & Boy Buried at His Feet: Divine revelation reveals Z's burial but why the boy? Research points to Joash's son. #MoreOTP
  • Danielic Pseudepigraphon Paraphrased by Papias: Wait, the Watchers were Michael's warriors, & they helped humans? Daniel said this? #MoreOTP
  • Seventh Vision of Daniel: An apocalyptic vision against Rome, warning of Antichrist, with OT & NT allusions. #MoreOTP
  • Treatise of the Vessels (Massekhet Kelim): Free prize inside: One Temple Rebuilding Kit — Messiah not included. #MoreOTP
  • Apocryphon of Ezekiel: Lots of folks through history attribute Bibleish Ezekiely-type stuff to Ezekiel. Here it is, collected. #MoreOTP
Post Author: rico
Thursday, January 30, 2014 8:37:58 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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