# Monday, December 29, 2014

With thanks once again to Adriana Wright (@adriannawright) and IVP (@IVPAcademic) for the review copy. Please see my previous post for some background on the book itself.

This is in essence new commentary material from J.B. Lightfoot. And, as with Lightfoot's other known commentary material, this new material contains frequent reference to classical literature (Plutarch, Seneca, and scads of others). These factors alone make the material in the book worth consulting when one is working through material in Acts.

Reviewing a commentary is hard. Reading a commentary straight through, especially if you aren't already invested in the text itself, is a difficult proposition. Not impossible, but difficult. As such, this post is not a review. Instead, I'll mention a few things about one particular section of Acts with which I'm familiar (Acts 18:18–23, which I thoroughly in this paper presented at the 2007 ETS National Meeting and later published in the Global Journal of Classical Theology). This will be followed by some thoughts on the presentation of the volume as a whole.

Lightfoot on Acts 18:18–23

My particular take on this passage in the mentioned paper is an exploration based on one major plank of Richard Bauckham's argument in his 2006 book Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Bauckham, based on earlier work by C.H. Turner (work that Lightfoot had no access to as it was published after his death) on something Bauckham calls the "plural to singular narrative device." This is when a nonspecific plural reference ("They") shifts to a nonspecific singular reference ("he" or "she") in conjunction with a locational shift, as in Acts 18:19. Turner & Bauckham note this may be a marker indicating that eyewitness testimony follows. I'm not sure if it does or doesn't, but this spot in Acts 18 is the only non-gospel instance of something that can be considered to be an instance of the device. And that's what the paper is about. For the purposes of discussion here, it just means I've really looked at this passage in some depth.

First off, notes the text-critical issue in Acts 18:19. The verb in NA/UBS (and Westcott-Hort, which Lightfoot would've been using post-1881) is in the plural. But the TR has it in the singular. Lightfoot simply notes the plural is "The right reading" and further mentions that Luke "disposes of the movement of Priscilla and Aquila" in his move to singular with the next verb to "give his whole attention to" Paul. This is true, the attention is focused on Paul from this point, which helps resolve some referent ambiguity in the text later on.

At this point, one notices most of Lightfoot's comments on this portion of the text are text-critical in nature. He also handles issues in vocabulary (noting topographical terms and nautical terms in vv. 22–23). This leads me to think the material for this passage anyway is a bit more preliminary and note-like than Lightfoot's other published commentary material. It is a good reminder that we are likely catching Lightfoot in the middle of his work at many points in this new material, and not reading a finished work. Despite this, the material is still of great value.

Thoughts on Presentation

Most who read this blog know I love books, particularly older books. I have a soft spot for the older NT commentaries of, say, 1850–1950. You know, the old MacMillian commentaries with volumes not only by Lightfoot (Galatians, Philippians, Colossians & Philemon) but also by Westcott, Swete, Mayor, and others. One feature of these volumes was the inclusion of the Greek New Testament (usually Westcott & Hort's edition, but also as a version from the author or a modified WH with the author's readings) at the top of the page, with commentary as running notes. I realize it is a bit more difficult typographically, but with the royalty-free availability of Westcott and Hort's text today, I'd hoped to see the IVP volume formatted like the old MacMillian volumes. Lightfoot directly references the Greek of the passage with frequency as if it is laid in front of the reader. Including the text would make the book more useable, especially for those who do not have the text of Acts readily accessible.

There are some excursuses in the commentary. These are awesome. However, it is sometimes hard to tell where the excursus ends and the commentary begins again. Setting the excursuses off in some typographic manner (top and bottom borders?) would help.

There are two indexes, an Author Index and a Scripture Index. A further reference index of ancient references (Fathers and classical references) would be welcomed. There is gold in those references, and including indexes of the mentions would be helpful for those interested in pursuing such material.

A last quibble: I can't understand why the subtitle "A Newly Discovered Commentary" is used. It is a temporal reference that will not stand the test of time. I'm sure there are reasons, but every time I see the subtitle I wish it wasn't there, because it won't always be true. When I pick the book up off the shelf in five years, it will not have been "newly discovered." This is good stuff for marketing and jacket copy, but it gives me pause as part of the formal title of a book because it will appear worn in the not too distant future.

Summary and Conclusion

This is Lightfoot. If you're working in Acts, you need to consult this volume. Despite the things I've said of presentation, which are hopefully received as constructive criticism from a fan, this is a useful commentary that will be consulted with frequency, and I look forward to the following volumes of the Lightfoot Legacy Set.

Post Author: rico
Monday, December 29, 2014 6:38:45 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, November 06, 2014

A few years back, Ben Witherington III (BW3) was nosing around the archives of J.B. Lightfoot and came across a manuscript with an unpublished, virtually complete commentary (Lightfoot-style) of Acts. This is big. BW3 and Todd D. Still edited the manuscript, and now IVP has now published it. And for some reason, Adrianna Wright (@adriannawright) of IVP (@ivpress, @IVPAcademic) has seen fit to bestow a review copy upon me.

I have read a bunch of Lightfoot's stuff. His magnum opus is his two-volumes-in-five-books work on the writings of Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch (with Polycarp thrown in for good measure). His existing Biblical commentaries (Galatians, Philippians, and Colossians & Philemon) are still in heavy use today. Lightfoot is one of the best examples of scholarship in Biblical studies in the late 19th century. He was a polyglot. He knew classical literature like the back of his hand. This is good and bad: It means that he refers to a wide swathe of literature, but it also means he can be incredibly difficult to understand at times. But it is usually worth the work.

I've been looking forward to this commentary since I heard of its discovery, even though it is incomplete (through Acts 21). Lightfoot's text-critical ability, his grammatical and syntactic knowledge, and his exegetical mastery mean that this will likely be a go-to volume for Acts.

My plan is not to read the whole volume for review. Instead, I will focus on the front matter and on a few portions of Acts (perhaps Acts 18:19ff as I've done some detailed work there before).


Part I: Introduction to Commentating in General
Reflections on the Necessity of a Clear and Proper View of the Inspiration of Scripture as a Presupposition for Correctly Approaching the Bible

Part II: Introduction to Acts
Preliminary Matters

Part III: The Commentary on Acts
The Superscript
The Preface
Acts 1: Ascension, Judas’ Demise, the Filling Up of the Twelve
Excursus: On the Historical Problem of the Varying Accounts of Judas’ Demise
Acts 2: Pentecost and Its Aftermath
Acts 3—6: The Beginnings and Trials of the Church in Jerusalem
Excursus: The Sanhedrin and the High Priests
Excursus: The Primacy of Peter
Excursus: The Diaconate
Acts 7: The First Martyr for Christ
The Tabernacle
Excursus: The Authenticity of the Speech of St. Stephen
Acts 8: Simon, the Samaritans, and Philip
Excursus: Simon Magus
Conversion of the Ethiopian
Acts 9: The Conversion of Saul
Acts 10: The Surprising Story of Cornelius
Acts 11: Trouble in Zion—Peter Explains
Acts 12: The Persecuted Church and the Dawn of the Mission of the Persecutor
Acts 13—14: The First Missionary Journey
St. Paul’s Apostolic Journeys
Acts 15: The Apostolic Council and Its Aftermath
Acts 16: The Second Missionary Journey
Acts 17: Macedonia and On to Athens
The History of St. Paul’s Day at Thessalonike
Acts 18: And So to Corinth
Acts 19: Finally at Ephesus
Acts 19:21—21:39: The Third Missionary Journey
Timothy and Erastus
The Speech of St. Paul at Miletus
Conclusion on the Rest of Acts

Appendix A: Lightfoot’s Article On Acts For Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible
Appendix B: ‘Discoveries Illustrating the Acts of the Apostles’
Appendix C: St. Paul’s History After the Close of Acts
Appendix D: The Obituary/Homage to Lightfoot Which Appeared in the Contemporary Review in 1893, And Was Reprinted (in 1894) With A New Preface By B. F. Westcott And With Some Emendations From Others Author Index
Scripture Index

Post Author: rico
Thursday, November 06, 2014 6:19:18 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, December 27, 2012

In an earlier post on the NA28, I mentioned that I wanted to do a post on orthographic variation in NA28.

I might be weird, but when reading the front matter (p. 51*), I noticed the following change to the text in 1 Peter:

  • 1Pe 2.25, αλλʼ (ECM/NA28) <= αλλα (NA27).

I hadn’t noticed this change mentioned elsewhere, and I knew (based on lots of previous, boring, pedantic, obsessive-compulsive examination of all the αλλα in the NA27) that there were other spots outside of the Catholic Epistles where I’d noted an αλλα that, following most rules of orthography, should probably be αλλʼ instead.

So I thought I’d peek at the book of Mark, examining orthography between NA27 and NA28. What I found was interesting. Note I’m lazy, so I’m not typing accents/breathing marks.

  • Mk 1.27: NA27 πνευμασι => NA28 πνευμασιν
  • Mk 1.44: NA27 αλλα => NA28 αλλʼ
  • Mk 2.4: NA27 χαλωσι => NA28 χαλωσιν
  • Mk 2.17: NA27 αλλα => NA28 αλλʼ
  • Mk 2.22: NA27 αλλα => ΝΑ28 αλλʼ

After chapter 2, I got bored, so I didn’t check much further. My guess is that most changes are from αλλα to αλλʼ. I have not reviewed punctuation carefully, I was focused on a quick scan of words. But it is clear that the INTF paid a lot of attention to the upper-text as well as the apparatus. The text, even outside of the Catholic Epistles, has been extensively reviewed (as the front matter indicates) and the product is better, I think. Thanks and Kudos to them for this work — unmentioned and by most likely unnoticed — that improves the product.

For the record: I don’t think orthographic changes are actually changes to the text (which is why I was surprised the difference in 1Pe 2.25 was listed on p 51*). The text is no different, the units of meaning are the same, and it communicates the same thing. The words parse/decline the same. I just find this stuff interesting.

Anyone else find any other “undocumented” (at least in the front matter) variations?

Post Author: rico
Thursday, December 27, 2012 5:04:03 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Saturday, December 01, 2012

Thanks again to Hendrickson Publishers for providing a review copy.

There are so many places one could start with a review like this. I plan on starting at the beginning — with the front matter. This is where the edition itself lays out what it is, what it plans to do, and how it does it. I spent some time in the front matter again today, and wanted to run down some of the things mentioned in both the Foreword and the Introduction.

Revisions (not to the upper-text)

Of course we all know the upper-text of the Catholic Epistles is updated in accordance with the ECM (Edito Critica Maior); the apparatus for that material is significantly revised as well. But what else has been revised?

First, the marginal apparatus (cross references) have been revised and checked throughout. You would do well to pay attention to the introduction on these. Do you realize they mark quotations, allusions, and other items? To NT material, OT material, LXX material, and even pseudepigraphic material? There is a wealth in the cross-reference apparatus alone. If you use a print edition of NA28, then pay attention to the references in the outer edition of the page margin.

Second, the citations in the apparatus for Latin, Coptic and Syriac have all been checked.

Third, the patristic citations have all been checked as well, though the intro notes this “particularly” in the Catholic Epistles.

One strange note: There is a paragraph about how great the “digital Nestle-Aland” is going to be, but absolutely no information about it otherwise. No URL, no nothing. The facing page to this paragraph mentions the NTTranscripts web site (http://nttranscripts.uni-muenster.de/) but that is not the ‘digital Nestle Aland’; and according to the referenced page itself, it is only a prototype.

Moving on …

If you are one of the handful of people who ever read the NA27 Introduction, then you are at least familiar with the idea of Consistently Cited Witnesses of “the first order” and of “the second order.” Whether you understood it or not is a different question.

The good news is that you no longer need to understand (or wonder about understanding) the difference between the two. The difference is gone; with NA28, there are only “Consistently Cited Witnesses”. This is a good thing, it makes reading the apparatus a little easier, and makes things less ambiguous for a subset of manuscripts.

Further, thanks to the good work of the Free University in Amsterdam, conjectures are no longer cited in the apparatus! (yay!). There is a project at the Free University that is immensely interesting, focused on building a database of conjectures regarding the text of the NT. The team working on it there are top-notch, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it progresses and integrates into the NA.

In material that has its basis in the ECM, inscriptions and subscriptions will no longer be listed in the apparatus. There are (as the ECM points out) often too many variations of these things to track; in a hand-edition like the NA28, it just doesn’t make sense any more. So NA28 has no apparatus data for inscriptions and subscriptions of books.

Pages 50*–51* list the changes to the Catholic epistles. There are 34. One of them, 1Pt 2.25, is orthographic (NA27 αλλα to NA28 αλλʼ). I will talk about orthography in another post.

Page 55* introduces the ♦ sigla to the apparatus markers. This marks in the uppertext a spot where the editors consider there to be two equally likely options in the text; with the other option listed in the apparatus. This effectively replaces the [brackets] most folks didn’t like. Brackets only allow additions or positive options, they cannot represent an omission. The ♦, which is always used in concert with one of the standard apparatus markers, does this. At present, it is only used in the Catholic Epistles.

As well, in only the Catholic Epistles, the apparatus uses “Byz” instead of the script/gothic ‘M’.

The introduction spends some time interacting with how early versions are handled in the NA28. Citing an early version as evidence for or against a reading is tricky, so it is worth understanding the NA28’s philosophy. My takeaway is that for anything but the most simple/straightforward stuff with early versions, it is probably best to head to the ECM for the full details it provides.

Manuscripts, Manuscripts …

Has anything changed in the apparatus outside of the Catholic Epistles? Yes, but it is pretty subtle. I hope to find a good spot and do a worked example/comparison between NA27 and NA28 in a future post. Until then, here’s what I know.

1. Thanks to Stephen C. Carlson, MS 2427 is no longer cited in the apparatus of NA28. MS2427 used to also be referred to as “Archaic Mark” and it was thought to be a surprisingly good medieval edition of the gospel of Mark. Carlson proved that 2427 was actually a forgery, and the text used was that of Buttmann’s 1860 edition of the Greek NT.

2. Thanks to removing the difference between “first order” and “second order” consistently-cited witnesses, this means that variation listings will be rendered more fully than before. That is, some contexts would not list second-order witnesses because their presence/absence from the list was assumed by virtue of them being second-order witnesses. However, this could be ambiguous in some contexts; the reader was left to guess why particular manuscripts weren’t listed. So some listings will be larger because this ambiguity has been done away with.

Outside of all of this (and the Catholic Epistles), the “language” of the apparatus is largely the same. The same symbols are used, same types of differences/variations represented. If you were comfortable with the NA27 apparatus, you will be comfortable with the NA28.

Is Anything Missing?

From p. 50* of the Introduction, this sad news:

Appendix III in NA27, Editionum Differentiae, is not included in the 28th edition, because the effort of revising it would not have been in reasonable proportion to its prospective usefulness. Today an index of variants based on a comparison of modern editions should be linked to the texts themselves. It is planned that such a tool will become a component of the digital Nestle-Aland, as soon as the necessary funding is available.

My guess is that we will never see this. As long as the ECM remains to be completed, my guess is funding should (rightly, I’d say) be routed to the primary task. But the comparison of modern versions is, I’d argue, important. Not because you use it as primary evidence in making textual decisions, but because you can see the rough spots in the text much easier when you see where modern text-critics disagree, and what readings they take. This is the primary reason I like the apparatus in the SBLGNT (which is an apparatus of select editions), it tells you when text-critics of the past 150 years or so disagree, and what they thought. This, in turn, points out the rough spots that you should probably then hop to an NA or ECM to figure out. Editionum Differentiae, you will be missed.

What’s Next?

Above, I’ve hinted about at least two more posts I’d like to write. One has to do with orthographic variation between NA27 and NA28; the other has to do with a worked example or two, comparing apparatus entries in NA28 to NA27 to see what sorts of things are different. After that, who knows.

Post Author: rico
Saturday, December 01, 2012 9:23:19 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Friday, November 30, 2012

The good folks at Hendrickson provided me a review copy of NA28 (Novum Testamentum Graece, 28th Revised Edition). I’ve been focusing on the front matter, which spell out all of the differences in the edition.

I hope to write review material soon, hopefully starting this weekend. In the meantime, here are the bullet points from an ABS flyer advertising NA28:

  • Extensively revised
  • Simplified critical apparatus structure
  • Includes Papyri 117–127 readings
  • Revised Catholic Epistles (over 30 modifications in the main text)
  • Revised and supplemented cross-references

I think the first bullet is misleading. The INTF may have done extensive work in revising the text, the text itself is not extensively revised. The revisions themselves are rather minimal, as shown by “over 30 modifications” in the Catholic Epistles; that’s really not too many modifications in the scope of things. There has been lots of work; but that doesn’t translate into lots of revisions.

Those are the bullet points, but the real advance with NA28 is, of course the commencement of the process of introducing the text of the ECM into the hand-edition of the NA28, and the resultant changes in the apparatus for the Catholic Epistles. The front matter details all of this, and will be where I focus my attention in these review posts.

Lastly, a quick note on the cover. If you’re wondering (and unfamiliar with GBS publications), the yellow band is not part of the cover, it is paper wrapped around the cover and removable. There are different covers; the edition I was provided is the black imitation leather cover, “flexicover”. There are editions with a dictionary in back, but mine does not have the dictionary.

Post Author: rico
Friday, November 30, 2012 6:47:41 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Sunday, August 19, 2012

EarlyText-coverWith thanks to Oxford Academic for the review copy. I’ve been looking forward to this one for awhile and have not thus far been disappointed. A short disclaimer, though: Charles E. Hill taught me Greek as well as was the prof of my Johannine writings class at Northwestern College. That was 20 years ago, though (yes, I’m old), I don’t think it will color my review of his and Kruger’s (and the other authors’) work.

At this point, I’ve read the introduction, Porter’s article on the early text of the NT in the apocryphal gospels, and part of Gamble’s article on the book trade in the Roman empire. All very well written and presented. I might quibble with a few of Porter’s points, and the way he says it, but his is a solid article and great contribution to the field; I hope to blog about it in the next few days. I also plan to read some more of the articles over the next few weeks, and as I do I will blog about them.

The book’s page on Oxford’s web site lists the following information. Unfortunately, the book is priced for libraries (what, like they can afford these prices?) and at this point will be tough to find for under $150.00. Again, thanks to Oxford for sending the gratis review copy, I do greatly appreciate it.

Table of Contents

Introduction: In Search of the Earliest Text of the New Testament , Charles E. Hill and Michael J. Kruger
I. The Textual and Scribal Culture of Early Christianity
1. The Book Trade in the Roman Empire , Harry Y. Gamble
2. Indicators of Catholicity in Early Gospel Manuscripts , Scott Charlesworth
3. Towards a Sociology of Reading in Early Christianity , Larry Hurtado
4. Early Christian Attitudes towards the Reproduction of Texts , Michael J. Kruger
II. The Manuscript Tradition
5. The Early Text of Matthew , Tommy Wasserman
6. The Early Text of Mark , Peter Head
7. The Early Text of Luke , Juan Hernandez
8. The Early Text of John , Juan Chapa
9. The Early Text of Acts , Christopher Tuckett
10. The Early Text of Paul (and Hebrews) , James R. Royse
11. The Early Text of the Catholic Epistles , J. K. Elliott
12. The Early Text of Revelation , Tobias Nicklas
13. Where Two or Three Are Gathered Together: Evaluating Agreements between Two or More Early Versions , Peter Williams
III. Early Citation/Use of New Testament Writings
14. In These Very Words: Methods and Standards of Literary Borrowing in the Second Century , Charles E. Hill
15. The Text of the New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers , Paul Foster
16. Marcion and the Early Text of the New Testament , Dieter T. Roth
17. Justin's Text of the Gospels. Another Look at the Citations in 1 Apol. 15.1-8 , Joseph Verheyden
18. Tatian's Diatessaron and the Greek Text of the Gospels , Tjitze Baarda
19. Early Apocryphal Gospels and the New Testament Text , Stanley Porter
20. Irenaeus's Text of the Gospels in Adversus haereses , Jeffrey Bingham and Billy R. Todd, Jr.
21. Clement of Alexandria's Gospel Citations , Carl Cosaert

As you can see, the TOC lists a veritable “Who’s who” in the realm of NT textual criticism and NT studies in general.


The Early Text of the New Testament aims to examine and assess from our earliest extant sources the most primitive state of the New Testament text now known. What sort of changes did scribes make to the text? What is the quality of the text now at our disposal? What can we learn about the nature of textual transmission in the earliest centuries? In addition to exploring the textual and scribal culture of early Christianity, this volume explores the textual evidence for all the sections of the New Testament. It also examines the evidence from the earliest translations of New Testament writings and the citations or allusions to New Testament texts in other early Christian writers.


  • Seeks to determine the earliest forms of New Testament texts available, providing a clearer picture of how New Testament texts have changed or remained the same from their earliest forms
  • Takes advantage of the most recent papyrus discoveries, providing fresh, up-to-date assessments of all the important manuscript materials
  • Addresses important and debated historical questions about the transmission of New Testament texts
  • Examines evidence from patristic texts in relation to the manuscripts
  • Written by a team of international experts in the field

Product Details

384 pages, hardcover
ISBN13: 978-0-19-956636-5
ISBN10: 0-19-956636-4

About the Author(s)

Michael J. Kruger (Ph.D. University of Edinburgh) is Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC and is the author of the Gospel of the Savior: An Analysis of P.Oxy. 840 and its Place in the Gospel Traditions of Early Christianity (Brill, 2005) and co-author of Gospel Fragments (Oxford, 2009). [Note: Kruger’s online presence is here: michaeljkruger.com]
Charles E. Hill (Ph.D. Cambridge University) is Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. His other books include Regnum Caelorum: Patterns of Future Hope in Early Christianity and The Johannine Corpus in the Early Church, both published by Oxford University Press, and From the Lost Teaching of Polycarp: Identifying Irenaeus' Apostolic Presbyter and the Author of ad Diognetum published by J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck). [Note: Some details on Hill are available from his faculty page at RTS.]

Post Author: rico
Sunday, August 19, 2012 8:45:21 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Tuesday, May 01, 2012

If you hadn’t noticed, Bart Ehrman now has a blog, of sorts: ehrmanblog.org. He also has a new popular book, on “Did Jesus Exist?”

More importantly, in the past year he and Zlatko Plese released their diglot edition of the Apocryphal Gospels (amazon.com). It is awesome, you should get a copy. Really. And in December 2012 another scholarly-level book is slated, Forgery and Counter-Forgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics (amazon.com). It is already on my Amazon wishlist. I’m sure I won’t agree with parts of it, but I can’t wait to read what he’s got to say (any early review copies available? :-) )

Why mention all of this? I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Bart Ehrman’s books in the past. It reached its zenith at the point of the Gospel of Judas release where I wrote a post called “Bart Ehrman has Jumped the Shark.” I’ve calmed down a bit since then.

While I gratefully consume most of Ehrman’s scholar-level stuff (edition of the Apostolic Fathers, Apocryphal Gospels, translations and editions of other writings) his popular-level stuff gives me heartburn so I don’t plan on reading any of it. But not for the reason you’d think. It’s because he’s such a good writer, and I don’t like where he ends up.

Anyway, I think it was a smart move for Ehrman to start a blog. Yes, I realize he’s charging for it; but that’s OK, and the proceeds are for good causes. Still, it is a good idea. Why? Because it humanizes him. Without an online presence (beyond an author-based site to serve as marketing hub for his books), it is easy to think of him as far away and unattached to reality; he is easy to discount and write cheap shots (you know, like about him jumping a shark). But if he writes regularly (and makes stuff publicly available with some regularity) people will get a better idea of who he is, what he’s about, and why he does what he does. And that’s a good thing.

I’m looking forward to reading more from his blog (well, the publicly available stuff). And can’t wait for the book in December.

Side note: Long-time ricoblog readers know that a “Bart Ehrman” frequents the comments from time to time. If that really is Bart Ehrman, then my invitation to dinner here at my home in Bellingham (or heck, at SBL in Chicago, though I’m sure your schedule is booked) still stands.

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, May 01, 2012 10:01:05 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The toughest thing about the SBL annual meeting is the book exhibit. It is nearly impossible to not spend too much money on books, it seems. I only bought two books this year, which was my plan — but came home with four, plus an audio CD. Not bad, says me.

Books I bought at SBL

Peter H. Davids, II Peter and Jude: A Handbook on the Greek Text (amazon.com). Baylor University Press, 2011. This is the latest in the Baylor Handbook on the Greek New Testament series. I knew I was getting it before I left; there is something about these volumes I just love, so I try to get them at SBL the first year they’re out as the price is usually pretty good then.

Klaus Wachtel and Michael W. Holmes, eds., The Textual History of the Greek New Testament: Changing Views in Contemporary Research (amazon.com). Society of Biblical Literature, 2011. This is part of the “Text-Critical Studies” series. Essays from a 2008 colloquium; they look to be good and well worth reading.

Books I was given at SBL

These books were given to me by the publisher for review purposes, I will write about them in the future here on ricoblog.

Craig A. Evans, ed., The World of Jesus and the Early Church: Identity and Interpretation in Early Communities of Faith (amazon.com). Hendrickson Publishers, 2011. Essays from two related symposiums, and they look good. More info on the Hendrickson page, including PDF of the intro, TOC, and a list of contributors.

Gary Alan Chamberlain, The Greek of the Septuagint: A Supplemental Lexicon (amazon.com). Hendrickson Publishers, 2011. I’m deep in some Septuagint stuff at my day job (Logos) so I’m happy to give this one a look. I’ve read the preface and part of the intro. It will take some time to work through this, but I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen so far. The idea is to supplement BDAG for the one who is attempting/starting to read the LXX. Again, more info is on the Hendrickson page.

John D. Schwandt, The Audio Greek New Testament (amazon.com) (MP3s on a DVD). Hendrickson Publishers, 2011. My friend Randall Buth will give me grief for this one because Schwandt reads with the Erasmian pronunciation. Randall should be happy, however, because at least I’ll be listening to the GNT. I’d be happy to listen to Randall’s as soon as the whole GNT gets recorded (don’t think he has it yet, but could be wrong). Schwandt reads the UBS4 edition of the GNT. My guess is I’d be able to internalize Buth’s better, but listening to Schwandt will do more good than harm.

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, November 22, 2011 8:45:27 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Monday, January 03, 2011

Joseph Fitzmyer has more knowledge of textual criticism in Acts in his left pinkie-toe than I do altogether. But I’m doing some work on Tychicus and (after consulting Scrivener’s transcription of Bezae) noticed something wonky about Fitzmyer on Ac 20.4:

Tychicus and Trophimus from Asia. Tychikos may be the same person as the one mentioned in Col 4:7; Eph 6:21; Titus 3:12; 2 Tim 4:12. In MS D he is called rather Eutychos and so would not be the same. Trophimos is probably the same as the person so named in 21:29, where he is said to be from Ephesus; cf. 2 Tim 4:20. In MS D both Tychicus and Trophimus are said to be Ephesioi, "Ephesians," instead of Asianoi, "men from Asia," the reading of the Alexandrian text. The D reading may be owing to 21:29. In any case, one concludes from the latter passage that Trophimus was a Gentile Christian. Asianos is also attested in first-century Greek inscriptions (IGRR 4.1756:113, 116).
Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., The Acts of the Apostles: A New Translation With Introduction and Commentary (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2008), 666.

Do you see it? He makes two comments about the text of the passage in Codex Bezae, first noting that Bezae has Eutychus instead of Tychicus. He then mentions that Bezae calls “both Tychicus and Trophimus” Ephesians. I understand what he’s saying, but Bezae has Eutychus and Trophimus as Ephesians, it is silent on Tychicus: εφεσιοι δε ευτυχοσ και τροφιμοσ is the text.

The Lesson: Don’t just consider variation units as textual atoms to be analyzed; the variations in a passage must be considered together. In this case, the variation of name and the variation of place need to be considered together when making conclusions about what Bezae says. Sadly, I don’t know if I would’ve seen this had I not picked up my own hard-copy of Scrivener’s transcription of Bezae.

It’s easy to get myopic; I know I’ve done stuff similar to this in the past. Instances like this are the reason why Reuben Swanson’s presentation of the MSS evidence are better for this sort of thing than the NA27 presentation.

Post Author: rico
Monday, January 03, 2011 2:52:19 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, October 28, 2010

As has been hitting the blogs, Logos Bible Software and the Society of Biblical Literature partnered to create an edition of the Greek New Testament, named “The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition” (abbreviated SBLGNT, also known as the “SBL Greek New Testament”). Michael W. Holmes is the editor, and I had the great privilege of working with him on creating this text. He did everything text-critical, I worked to support him however I could, getting him all the information he needed to evaluate the variation units (nearly 7000).

Michael Holmes has written a post for the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog announcing the SBLGNT and describing it a bit. It is well worth the read, as is the comment section.

This project has been in the works for awhile, and when Holmes’ name was suggested as a possibility to be the editor, I was hoping beyond hope that he’d be able to. It was great to work with him and support him however I could in the project.

Mike writes of the basic process in the introduction. Using some existing data on orthographic variants I’d put together earlier, I prepared a special version of WH for him to work through, and he corrected (updated) the orthography (both items our existing data flagged, and items he isolated on his own) while so doing. This needed to be done anyway, and it had the side benefit of making the later comparison stage (which compared primarily to editions of texts that use similar “updated” orthography) a little easier. After this pass, I wrote a bunch of code to do comparisons of the four versions, to each other, to generate an initial set of units where there were discrepancies. Mike, again, diligently worked through this data, one book at a time. He made notes in the data as to the preferred reading in each instance, and he also maintained an updated form of the text itself. That text is what eventually became the SBLGNT in Logos, and which is being printed by the SBL.

The apparatus is a bit of a different story. We originally weren’t sure about the apparatus, but as Mike started work it became clear that an apparatus listing the edition evidence for each variation unit could be a handy thing. Based on his notes for the first book he did, I transcribed his notes (copy/paste with the Greek text, not typing) into something that could be an apparatus. I showed it to Mike, he had several great suggestions, and we went back and forth for awhile. It became clear the edition apparatus, while not listing primary MSS sources, could be helpful to show where the variation unit came from, and how different editions treated it. So Mike and I decided to pitch the idea and see if we could add the apparatus to the project. And we could! Mike was busy enough doing the real work (textual criticism), so I volunteered to do the work to create the apparatus from Mike’s notes. I’d dig into the apparatus for a book after he finished the draft. This served a secondary purpose of checking Mike’s work against the notes to ensure the text (and apparatus) actually represented what he intended.

All in all, it worked out very well. When Mike was done with the text, and I had a version of the apparatus together, we had a great platform for me to write some more code to check the text against the apparatus to find more subtle (and some not-so-subtle) issues. I can honestly say we found a decent amount of issues that we might not have found otherwise.

While we were careful, as Mike notes in a comment to the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog post, “I am more pessimistic than James; as a firm believer in the truth of Romans 3:23, I take it for granted that there will be typos, and only hope that none are too embarrassingly obvious.” With this I agree.

When the SBLGNT text was solid, and the apparatus was in good shape, it became apparent to me that my job had only started. We still had to get the text morphologically analyzed. And into a Logos resource. And … well, I had a lot more to do with derivative and associated projects. Like the Lexham English Bible English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament (go to bottom of the download page). And some other things. Keep your eyes on the Logos blog for upcoming announcements over the next few days.

I have learned a whole lot throughout this whole process. Yes, I learned a lot about the application of text-critical principles (Look, I just essentially took a course on applied textual criticism with the whole NT as the textbook and Michael Holmes as the instructor). But that’s not my primary take-away. I learned more about how to be precise in work. I learned more about how to be gracious in relationships both professional and personal. And I learned that a textual apparatus is much, much more than a simple or even a complex diff between two (or more) texts.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:57:50 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Thursday, September 16, 2010

Folks who have read ricoblog for a long time know I’m no fan of Bart Ehrman’s popular-level books.

But like him or hate him, I think Bart shines in translations and editions of ancient texts. I’m a fan of his Apostolic Fathers edition (though I do like Holmes’ better) and have said on the blog before he should stick to translations and critical editions.

So when I paged through my recently-received Oxford Press “Religion” catalog, I smiled when I saw Bart Erhman and Zlatko Plese, The Apocryphal Gospels: Texts and Translations (amazon.com). I’d heard rumors he was up to something along these lines, and I’m glad to see it’s in print (or, soon to be in print). This is on my must-have list (have I mentioned my birthday is in less than a month?). Amazon gives it a Feb 2011 date in spite of the 2010 the Oxford catalogue ascribes to it. If anyone out there wants to send along a review copy, I’d love to dig into it before then. I have hope beyond hope I can get a copy at ETS/SBL in Atlanta in November.

Here’s the blurb (from Amazon):

Bart Ehrman—the New York Times bestselling author of Misquoting Jesus and a recognized authority on the early Christian Church—and Zlatko Plese here offer a groundbreaking, multi-lingual edition of The Apocryphal Gospels (amazon.com), one that breathes new life into the non-canonical texts that were once nearly lost to history.

In The Apocryphal Gospels (amazon.com), Ehrman and Plese present a rare compilation of over 40 ancient gospel texts and textual fragments that do not appear in the New Testament. This essential collection contains Gospels describing Jesus's infancy, ministry, Passion, and resurrection, as well as the most controversial manuscript discoveries of modern times, including the most significant Gospel discovered in the 20th century—the Gospel of Thomas—and the most recently discovered Gospel, the Gospel of Judas Iscariot. For the first time ever, these sacred manuscripts are featured in the original Greek, Latin, and Coptic languages, accompanied by fresh English translations that appear next to the original texts, allowing for easy line by line comparison. Also, each translation begins with a thoughtful examination of key historical, literary, and textual issues that places each Gospel in its proper context. The end result is a resource that enables anyone interested in Christianity or the early Church to understand—better than ever before—the deeper meanings of these apocryphal Gospels.

The Apocryphal Gospels (amazon.com) is much more than an annotated guide to the Gospels. Through its authoritative use of both native text and engaging, accurate translations, it provides an unprecedented look at early Christianity and the New Testament. This is an indispensable volume for any reader interested in church history, antiquity, ancient languages, or the Christian faith.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, September 16, 2010 8:21:47 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Sunday, June 20, 2010

A friend of mine has asked me to help him out by teaching a 6-week course on “How We Got the New Testament”. It will be online, and will consist of assigned readings, podcasts, forum Q&A with me and with other students, some quizzes, perhaps webcasts and videos. It is presently not scheduled until sometime next year, but it never hurts to be ahead of the game.

So, the inevitable question: Which book to use?

Subject matter includes stuff like:

  • how canonization happened
  • ancient scribal tasks and practices
  • coping and transmission of the biblical text
  • ancient and modern translation of the biblical texts
  • history of the printed New Testament

Regarding NT textual criticism, the following will be hit upon:

  • types of errors in manuscript transmission
  • divergent readings in manuscripts (examples and their effect)
  • basic text-critical principles of evaluating errors and divergent readings

I’m expecting anywhere from five to 15 students, but would take more if they sign up. The target is somewhere between motivated layperson and focused undergrad. The students may take a similar OT class, which will use Wegner’s Journey from Texts to Translations (amazon.com), which also covers the NT. I haven’t read or used Wegner, but it does seem to cover those bases (simply by checking the TOC on Amazon.com). I’m planning on assigning around 50 pages a week for reading, a brief podcast overview of highlights to be on the lookout for with the reading, and an extended post-reading podcast to review the reading.

So, my questions:

1: Have you read or used Wegner (amazon.com)? What are the book’s strengths and weaknesses?

2: I’d like to prevent the necessity of having them buy another book. Even if Wegner isn’t the best, is it good enough? Any article or other book chapters to supplement?

3: What other book(s) would you recommend instead of Wegner?

Other books that have some overlap with these areas that I’m familiar with:

Metzger, Bruce M. The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance (amazon.com).

Metzger, Bruce M. and Bart D. Ehrman. The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration [4th ed] (amazon.com). Although I have only read the 3rd edition; the 4th came out soon after I’d read through the 3rd.

Metzger, Bruce M. The Early Versions of the New Testament (amazon.com). Excellent, but I actually like Vööbus better. There are some portions of Metzger that almost echo Vööbus, and it’s uncanny. And Oxford simply wants too much for this book. Buy a used version or buy Vööbus.

Bruce, F.F. The Canon of Scripture (amazon.com).

Aland, Kurt and Barbara Aland. The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism (amazon.com).

Vööbus, Arthur. Early Versions of the New Testament: Manuscript Studies (amazon.com). Dated, but for my money the best place to dig into the question of early versions.

There are also some chapters in other books and other essays/articles I’ve got frittered away that would be good supplementary references.

Once the class details solidify, I’ll post more info here. If you’re interested in such a course, email me at text geek at gmail dot com for more info.

Update: Thanks to all who have responded thus far. I appreciate it! Seems plain I'll have to get a copy of Wegner somewhere and get readin'. Brian, thanks for the suggestion on Metzger/Ehrman, but that plus Bruce seems a bit overkill for a six-week class where I'm trying to limit reading to 50-75 pgs per week. Esteban, I'd seen Patzia's book when searching but haven't looked at it. I'll have to give it a peek. Mike, on the Textual Criticism aspect, my guess is I can get enough out of whatever book I go with, and go with some supplementary articles to round that aspect out.

Weston, this will be more like a guided study for motivated laypeople than a traditional lecture-style undergraduate session, though I am thinking of some review-type podcasts to round out each week. I don't know that they'll be freely available online, though, as the class will be through Dr. Michael S. Heiser's newly-announced MEMRA Institute for Ancient and Biblical Studies. This particular class isn't scheduled until May 2011.

Update II: Hadn't realized it until now, but Patzia's The Making of the New Testament is available in Logos Bible Software, and it is available for the Logos iPhone app as well. And I've already got the book. Sweet.

Post Author: rico
Sunday, June 20, 2010 1:48:15 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Thursday, December 10, 2009

It’s funny when you notice things that scribes noticed as well.

I was reading through Acts and came across Acts 9.23-25:

23 When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.  (Acts 9:23–25, ESV)

I thought, “huh. Didn’t realize Saul had disciples.” Here’s the Greek of v. 25:

25 λαβόντες δὲ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ νυκτὸς διὰ τοῦ τείχους καθῆκαν αὐτὸν χαλάσαντες ἐν σπυρίδι. (Ac 9.25, NA27)

Then I looked at the NA27 apparatus to see if there were variants here. Other people have thought the same thing I did, and figured they needed to fix it.

Some MSS simply remove αὐτοῦ thus removing the issue with “his” (“and the disciples took him by night”). Others change οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ to αυτον οἱ μαθηταὶ, thus making explicit the formerly implicit object “him” in “took him by night” and removing the “his” from “his disciples”). Note that the text behind the KJV follows this latter option: “Then the disciples took him by night”.

Ain’t this fun?

Post Author: rico
Thursday, December 10, 2009 6:14:53 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Sunday, September 27, 2009

Text-critical wisdom from Gunther Zuntz, Text of the Epistles: A Disquisition upon the Corpus Paulinum (amazon.com):

Readings are either right or wrong. Their theoretical implications largely depend upon this elementary fact. Agreement in genuine readings is normal; possibly significant only where it is confined to few witnesses or where it recurs frequently in well-defined groups; agreement in error suggests some relationship. These theoretical implications apart, we want to know which readings are true. No statistics can tell that: we have got to use our critical faculties and methods. (Zuntz 59)

This is after some paragraphs on the dubious usefulness of “statistical methods” in evaluating and comparing texts/manuscripts where Zuntz has another memorable line:

Variant readings can fruitfully be compared and grouped on more than one principle, but they cannot reasonably be added up or reduced to percentages like the factors of an arithmetical sum. What is the sum total of, say, an egg plus a grape plus a unicorn? (Zuntz 58)

This isn’t a passive, read-before-you-go-to-bed book. Zuntz is a tough slog; you’ve gotta work your mind while reading him in order to get the most from him; consulting the text is necessary too. To grok him more fully I’ll have to read it a few more times (still working on my first slog). But there is a ton of useful stuff in here about the practical application of textual criticism to the real problems one runs into when evaluating variants. I don’t think Zuntz is right about everything, but I do think that if you’ve got any desire to do textual criticism, then Zuntz should be near the top of your list after intros like the Alands Text of the NT and Metzger’s Text of the NT and after you read (really read) the NA27 intro and do some scanning of the consistently-cited witnesses. Zuntz could come before or after Westcott & Hort’s intro (amazon.com) as well. <speaker voice=”yoda”>But read them all you must if textual criticism you desire to practice</speaker>.

Post Author: rico
Sunday, September 27, 2009 10:20:42 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, August 05, 2009

I’ve mentioned Armenian in passing before, usually in the context of textual criticism (see here and here).

If you’re interested in the Armenian NT, the Zohrab edition (which is the primary Armenian source the NA27 points to when it cites ‘arm’, as I recall*) is available as PDF from archive.org: New Testament in Classical Armenian.

I found the link on Robert Bedrossian’s site Internet Resources for the Study of Classical Armenian (Grabar), which I happened upon a few clicks down the road after reading one of Roger Pearse’s blog entries (which pointed to this cool site about Papias Fragments).

* Further digging leads me to the NA27 intro, p. 28*, which cites:

Yovhannes Zohrapean, Astuacasunc Matean Hin ew Nor Ktakaranac, IV, Venice 1805.

The date matches the date on the Zohrab NT above. The ECM volume on James (p. 15*) points to the same source as its Armenian basis, with translation of the title confirming that it is an Armenian OT and NT.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, August 05, 2009 6:01:26 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Tuesday, June 30, 2009

With thanks to the What’s New in Papyrology blog (here and here) for the notices.

First, from the “Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History” series, come Roger Bagnall’s (editor) The Oxford Handbook of Papyrology (amazon.com). Here’s the blurb from Amazon.com:

Thousands of texts, written over a period of three thousand years on papyri and potsherds, in Egyptian, Greek, Latin, Aramaic, Hebrew, Persian, and other languages, have transformed our knowledge of many aspects of life in the ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern worlds. The Oxford Handbook of Papyrology provides an introduction to the world of these ancient documents and literary texts, ranging from the raw materials of writing to the languages used, from the history of papyrology to its future, and from practical help in reading papyri to frank opinions about the nature of the work of papyrologists. This volume, the first major reference work on papyrology written in English, takes account of the important changes experienced by the discipline within especially the last thirty years.

Including new work by twenty-seven international experts and more than one hundred illustrations, The Oxford Handbook of Papyrology will serve as an invaluable guide to the subject.

Unfortunately, even at Amazon.com it’s $120 at the cheapest (as of this posting), so unless there is a swingin’ deal at SBL I won’t be getting this title (unless some kind soul would like to provide a review copy … but I don’t have my hopes high for that)

Next up is a title to be published in August by Princeton University Press, Early Christian Books in Egypt (amazon.com). This title is much more approachable at $29.95, but still … if anyone wants to zap a review copy my way … well, it’s always worth a shot. Here’s the blurb from Amazon.com:

For the past hundred years, much has been written about the early editions of Christian texts discovered in the region that was once Roman Egypt. Scholars have cited these papyrus manuscripts—containing the Bible and other Christian works—as evidence of Christianity's presence in that historic area during the first three centuries AD. In Early Christian Books in Egypt (amazon.com), distinguished papyrologist Roger Bagnall shows that a great deal of this discussion and scholarship has been misdirected, biased, and at odds with the realities of the ancient world. Providing a detailed picture of the social, economic, and intellectual climate in which these manuscripts were written and circulated, he reveals that the number of Christian books from this period is likely fewer than previously believed.

Bagnall explains why papyrus manuscripts have routinely been dated too early, how the role of Christians in the history of the codex has been misrepresented, and how the place of books in ancient society has been misunderstood. The author offers a realistic reappraisal of the number of Christians in Egypt during early Christianity, and provides a thorough picture of the economics of book production during the period in order to determine the number of Christian papyri likely to have existed. Supporting a more conservative approach to dating surviving papyri, Bagnall examines the dramatic consequences of these findings for the historical understanding of the Christian church in Egypt.

Sounds like fun. Hopefully I’ll remember to look for a copy at SBL.

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, June 30, 2009 8:38:22 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Sunday, May 24, 2009

The NA27 apparatus lists the following contents for P99 (dated as “ca. 400”, currently held in the Chester Beatty Library). I’ve given the references in an English-based system (though I still use “.” for a chapter/verse separator, instead of “:”, because I’m lazy and don’t like to hit the shift key unless I really have to), translated from the German system in the printed NA27 apparatus appendix.

Ro 1.1; 2Co 1.3-6; 1.6-17; 1.20-24; 2.1-9; 2.9-5.13; 5.13-6.3; 6.3-8.13; 8.14-22; 9.2-11.8; 11.9-23; 11.26-13.11; Gal 1.4-11; 1.18-6.15; 1.14-2.4; 2.5-3.19; 3.19-4.9; Eph 1.4-2.21; 1.22(?); 3.8-6.24

I have two questions, actually.

First, what’s up with Galatians? Why the large range covering most of the book (1.18-6.15) followed by subranges amounting to 1.14-4.9? Is this content duplicated in the papyrus? I’ve searched online for other contents listings of P99 only to see the same exact list duplicated in numerous locations. I’m confused as to what the duplication might be indicating—or if it is a typo of some sort (it feels like a book name is missing, but Galatians and Ephesians are in canonical order, so it can’t be that … I don’t think).

Second, what’s up with Ephesians? Why is “1.22(?)” appended? Is it that it occurs out of order after 2.21?

Just trying to get a handle on what’s listed in this particular entry and why. P99 is not in Comfort & Barrett (too late for them, apparently) so I can’t check there; it is also not in Tischendorf because, well, Tischendorf is just far too early. Other ranges in the NA27 appendix do not have overlapping ranges (well, not up through P99 nor through the uncials). Poking through the site for the Chester Beatty Library was a dead end as well (though I’d love to be proved wrong).

If you have any help for me, I’m all ears.

Post Author: rico
Sunday, May 24, 2009 2:25:22 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Sunday, March 15, 2009

J. Harold Greenlee, The Text of the New Testament (amazon.com). Hendrickson 2008. 130pp. ISBN 1598562401.

Thanks to Hendrickson Academic for sending along the review copy (amazon.com).

This is a slim volume (130 pp.) that gives a very basic, very general background to the practice of textual criticism as applied to the Greek New Testament.

First off, it is probably best to say what this book is not: It is not, from all I can tell, intended to compete with the similarly-named volumes from Metzger (now Ehrman/Holmes) or Aland & Aland (tr. Erroll Rhodes). Those are both more academic and comprehensive introductions to textual criticism. Greenlee is geared toward a completely different audience. In this, I think Greenlee’s book is unfortunately named because it will, I believe, be misjudged by textual critics. Actually, it already has been. It was reviewed by the Review of Biblical Literature by none other than Keith Elliott, and was not reviewed positively. After this, it was discussed on the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog (here for a comment by Greenlee on Elliott’s review, also here and here for Elliott’s response to Greenlee; check the comments of all posts too).

Despite all of that, to understand Greenlee’s book, one must understand the audience he intends to hit. He is not aiming at an academic audience. This much is obvious in the second paragraph of the book blurb (from Amazon.com, emphasis is mine):

Geared to the lay person who is uninformed or confused about textual criticism, Greenlee begins this volume by explaining the production of ancient manuscripts. He then traces the history of the development of the New Testament text. Readers are next introduced to the basic principles of textual criticism, the concept of variant readings, and how to determine which variant has the greatest likelihood of being the original reading. To illustrate the basic principles, several sample New Testament texts are examined. The book concludes by putting textual criticism in perspective as involving only a minute portion of the entire New Testament text, the bulk of which is indisputably attested by the manuscripts.

This is important to understanding what Greenlee is up to in this book. I’d highly recommend that any pastor/teacher keep Greenlee’s Text of the New Testament (amazon.com) on his short list (near the top, if not at the top) of books to recommend to parishioners who ask questions like: “Why is the KJV New Testament different in spots, and does it matter?” or “Why are there all of these footnotes about ‘other manuscripts’, and what do they mean?” Greenlee’s book is short, to the point, and is pretty much the anti-Ehrman. It will build up, not destroy, the faith of the one asking the questions. (For the record, I’d also put Comfort’s New Testament Text and Translation Commentary (amazon.com) on that pastor/teacher’s short list of books to recommend).

If Greenlee intended to write a book to make textual critics happy, to compete with standards like Metzger and Aland & Aland, then he surely failed, and Elliott’s review is spot-on. But Greenlee didn’t do that. He wrote a book for the average person, sitting in the pew, with some basic questions about the text. Greenlee paints in broad strokes and gives general answers to the questions, which is what his desired audience needs.

Academics and textual critics can continue to nitpick Greenlee’s book, but don’t pay attention to them. If you need something on textual criticism for a basic layperson audience, Greenlee is your go-to book.

A side note: Greenlee is no slouch; check out the range of topics he has authored on over the years.

Post Author: rico
Sunday, March 15, 2009 6:52:44 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Wednesday, March 11, 2009

In the “what have I been doing lately” column:

First, I’ve been doing a lot of blogging at PastoralEpistles.com. I’ve done a lot of work translating and evaluating 2Ti 1.1-2.7 (at present) and will continue to work on it until I’ve worked through the whole letter. You may want to check out the posts.

Second, I’ve been doing a lot of reading in Peter Lampe’s From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries (amazon.com). This is an awesome book, I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’ve learned more about the cultural milieu of early Christians, and more about Christians in early Rome, than I knew was possible. Just the few pages on Priscilla and Aquila are worth it.

Third, my friend Bobby Koduvalil at Hendrickson Academic set me up with a few books. First is J. Harold Greenlee’s The Text of the New Testament: From Manuscript to Modern Edition. This is a thin volume and from what I can tell is geared toward the guy who realizes that his NASB New Testament is inexplicably different from his KJV New Testament and wants to figure out why. It is most certainly not an academic introduction to textual criticism, it is an introduction geared toward the laity. As such, it will make most text-critics cringe. But that’s good. From what I’ve read so far, Greenlee hits his audience, and most of what he says is defensible in that context. Introduction, TOC and Sample Chapter are all online at Hendrickson’s web site, hit the book page and scroll to the bottom for links to those bad boys. Second is Steve Mason’s Josephus, Judea, and Christian Origins: Methods and Categories, which is a compilation of several other articles Mason has written over the years, organized and somewhat edited into a new volume. Mason is a top-notch scholar and a nice guy to boot, and I’m really looking forward to reading this one — though it’ll be after Lampe (amazon.com) & Greenlee. I’ll blog about both of these books as I read more.

Fourth, in the past month I’ve installed the following Logos Bible Software and have already received benefit from most of it:

Fifth, since it has been lighter later, I’ve been able to take a few walks with our nearly-two-year-old daughter Ella after getting home from work. It’s still cold, but we brave it for a little while. She like to pick up a rock right when we start, and hold onto it the whole way. She also likes to keep me informed of when she sees birds, dogs, cats, dirt, trucks, cars, and busses. All in all, a hoot of a time.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, March 11, 2009 7:19:32 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, February 12, 2009

In a previous post, I threatened to do some comparisons between Comfort, Metzger, Omanson's rewrite of Metzger and (where applicable) Westcott & Hort's "Notes on Selected Passages". First, the list of books:

In this post, I'll provide a list of readings covered in the book of First Timothy. I may expand upon some of the readings in subsquent posts. In this list, the following abbreviations are used: C = Comfort; O = Omanson; M = Metzger; NET = NET Bible TC notes; WH = Westcott & Hort

  • 1Ti 1.1: C O M NET
  • 1Ti 1.4a: C O M
  • 1Ti 1.4b: C O M NET WH
  • 1Ti 1.12: C
  • 1Ti 1.15: O M
  • 1Ti 1.17a: C O M
  • 1Ti 1.17b: C M NET
  • 1Ti 2.1: C O M
  • 1Ti 2.7a: C O M NET
  • 1Ti 2.7b: C
  • 1Ti 3.1 segmentation: O
  • 1Ti 3.1: C M WH
  • 1Ti 3.3: C M
  • 1Ti 3.16 segmentation: O
  • 1Ti 3.16: C O M NET WH
  • 1Ti 4.3: WH
  • 1Ti 4.10: C O M NET
  • 1Ti 4.12: C M
  • 1Ti 5.4: C
  • 1Ti 5.5: C
  • 1Ti 5.16: C O M NET
  • 1Ti 5.18: C O M
  • 1Ti 5.19: M WH
  • 1Ti 5.21: C
  • 1Ti 6.3: C M
  • 1Ti 6.5: C O M NET
  • 1Ti 6.7: C O M NET WH
  • 1Ti 6.9: C O M
  • 1Ti 6.13: C O M NET
  • 1Ti 6.17: C O M
  • 1Ti 6.19: C O M
  • 1Ti 6.21a: C O M NET
  • 1Ti 6.21b: C O M
  • 1Ti subscription: C M

Interesting standouts: First, Comfort's coverage is most thorough in number of variations handled. Outside of the "segmentation" issues only noted by Omanson, Comfort misses 1Ti 1.15; 4.3; 5.19. These are areas that are of some text-critical interest, but not necessarily where differences arise in translation. Items that Comfort alone handles include 1Ti 1.12; 2.7b; 5.4, 5, 21.

Westcott and Hort don't intend to be comprehensive (they only have 140 pages for the whole NT), but it is interesting that in 2 of the 5 places they show up, Comfort is silent: 1Ti 4.3; 5.19. The discussion in 1Ti 5.19 is about how a phrase in the Greek text is not found in some extant Latin witnesses. In the case of 1Ti 4.3, it is simply difficult extant text. While these are issues, it is pretty obvious that these sorts of things don't really fit the target that Comfort (and Omanson) are trying to hit. W&H give text-critical information to text critics; Comfort and Omanson translate the text-critical information for a larger audience. Metzger sort of sits in the middle of both.

I may dig further into some of these, particularly those that have examples in every listed source (perhaps 1Ti 1.4b or 1Ti 6.7? 1Ti 3.16 is so well-known as to be over-analyzed), just to compare the level of discussion and style of notes each edition has. Let me know if you're interested in that sort of thing.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, February 12, 2009 9:28:54 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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Unbeknownst to many, Westcott and Hort published an Introduction (amazon.com) as a second volume to their epochal edition of the Greek New Testament. The Introduction (amazon.com) has a massively detailed description of their text-critical method (330 pages!). It is, essentially, them showing their work. (Oh that other editions ... you know which one(s) I'm talking about ... would follow their lead!)

Another component of the Introduction (amazon.com) is the first Appendix, "Notes on Select Readings", 142 pages of text-critical notes and discussion on problematic readings. Think of it as the precursor to Metzger's Textual Commentary (amazon.com).

I've never read the two (Metzger and WH) against each other. So imagine my surprise when I read the note for 1Ti 5.19 in both, I added the bold:


v 19 ἐκτὸς ... μαρτύρων ] < Latin MSS known to Hier; also apparently Cyp Ambst, who quote no further than παραδέχου; not D2 r nor (<ἐπὶ) G3.


5.19     ἐκτὸς εἰ μὴ ἐπὶ δύο ἢ τριῶν μαρτύρων
These words, found in all extant manuscripts of the passage, were absent from some Latin manuscripts known to Jerome, and perhaps also from the copies used by Cyprian and Ambrosiaster, who quote no farther than παραδέχου.

I'm not accusing anyone of plagiarism; I would be surprised if Metzger hadn't consulted WH in writing his volume. This just surprised me.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, February 12, 2009 10:12:18 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Monday, February 09, 2009

Got some new books in the mail today (with some Christmas fundage from Mom & Dad B; thanks!). I'll likely be blogging about them as I read them. One of them is Philip Comfort's new (and, upon initial review, very excellent) title New Testament Text Translation and Commentary (amazon.com). This is like Metzger's Textual Commentary (amazon.com) only with English New Testament readers in mind as primary readers, though detailed text-critical and Greek variation data is included.

Here's a paragraph from the introduction; this is in the "makes you go hmmmmm ..." department:

Nonetheless, the reader will see that he NU and WH editions often agree on matters of major textual significance. Where the WH and NU diverge, however, NU far more frequently concurs with TR than does WH. Furthermore, where WH and NU differ, I am inclined quite frequently to agree with WH on the basis of documentary evidence. (Comfort, xxvi, bold emphasis added)

Did you catch that? According to Comfort, when WH and Nestle/UBS ("NU" in Comfort's abbreviation) disagree, NU agrees with the TR far more frequently than WH does. I find that very interesting, particularly for the derision and scorn the Alands seem to have for the TR text (second only to their dislike of WH, which for whatever you want to say, seems to me to be the basis of their text).

Appendix D has further information about this, particularly a critique of the "local-geneaological" method which NA/UBS follows. This is interesting as I just read another critique of the local-geneaological method last night in Fee & Epp's NT Texts volume.

Also, I may do some comparisons between Metzger, Roger Omanson's rewrite of Metzger, and Comfort (and, perhaps, W&H's introduction for passages that include material) just to see how they all compare to and complement each other. If that sounds interesting, let me know.

Post Author: rico
Monday, February 09, 2009 5:09:11 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Sunday, February 08, 2009

Longtime ricoblog readers may remember two years ago when I posted some on what is known as "Thorough-going Eclecticism", which is the method described, applied and advocated by J.K. Elliott. (Yet another unfinished series ... oh well)

I have to admit some admiration for thorough-going eclecticism, if only as a corrective to the "cult of the best manuscript" phenomenon. It reminds that there are all sorts of reasons for variants, and each one must be studied carefully in light of all sorts of information. For that, I like it. For it's dismissal of all external evidence, I'm not so happy.

I've been reading some in Epp & Fee's* Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism (amazon.com). Chapter 7 in this volume is "Rigorous or Reasoned Eclecticism—Why"? In it, Gordon Fee responds strongly but charitably to the primary proponents of "Rigorous Eclecticism" (Kilpatrick and Elliott, one of his students). It is well worth the read. Here is Fee's final paragraph, with which I concur:

Rational eclecticism is indeed the currently reigning method, and it appears to be a valid one, for it takes seriously both internal questions and the manuscript evidence. Rather than search for a new method as some propose, or jettison historical study as rigorous eclecticism tends to, the present methodological task would seem to be the implementation and refinement of rational eclecticism. It is here that the labors of Professor Kilpatrick and Dr. Elliott should prove to be most useful. Their contributions as to various stylistic features of the NT authors as well as their isolation of the variants where Atticism might be a possible factor have not only increased our knowledge but also widened our perspective when asking the internal questions. For this we express unqualified appreciation.
Epp, E. J., & Fee, G. D. (1993). Studies in the theory and method of New Testament textual criticism (amazon.com) (140). Grand Rapids, MI.: Eerdmans.


* How often can you find a volume edited by two people, each with three-letter last names, one of which is vowel-consonant-consonant and the other which is consonant-vowel-vowel?

Post Author: rico
Sunday, February 08, 2009 3:57:55 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Saturday, January 10, 2009

From Epp and Fee's Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism (amazon.com), chapter 5, "The Twentieth Century Interlude in New Testament Textual Criticism", (emphasis mine):

One response to the fact that our popular critical texts are still so close to that of WH might be that the kind of text arrived at by them and supported so widely by subsequent criticism is in fact and without question the best attainable NT text; yet every textual critic knows that this similarity of text indicates, rather, that we have made little progress in textual theory since Westcott-Hort; that we simply do not know how to make a definitive determination as to what the best text is; that we do not have a clear picture of the transmission and alteration of the text in the first few centuries; and, accordingly, that the Westcott-Hort kind of text has maintained its dominant position largely by default. Günther Zuntz enforces the point in a slightly different way when he says that “the agreement between our modern editions does not mean that we have recovered the original text. It is due to the simple fact that their editors … follow one narrow section of the evidence, namely, the non-Western Old Uncials”.
Epp, E. J., & Fee, G. D. (1993). Studies in the theory and method of New Testament textual criticism (amazon.com) (87). Grand Rapids, MI.: Eerdmans.

The quote from Zuntz is from a book that's been on my Amazon.com wishlist for awhile, but I haven't yet obtained: The Text of the Epistles: A Disquisition Upon the Corpus Paulinum: The Schweich Lectures of the British Academy 1946 (amazon.com). Yet another reason to think about buying it, I guess (I've seen it in footnotes a couple times in the past weeks).

Post Author: rico
Saturday, January 10, 2009 2:46:04 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Click for more information

I just installed the New Testament Textual Criticism Collection (6 Volumes) available from my employer, Logos Bible Software.

I'm stoked about this collection. There are six books, two of which (the first two listed) I'm particularly looking forward to:

I've had my eye on the Eerdmans titles for a long time, just never ponied up the dough for them. It'll be good to finally read some of the essays in those books, as well as consider the others (particularly Goodacre's).

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, January 07, 2009 8:04:48 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just stumbled across this at Amazon.com (amazon.com). It has a release date of Nov 1 2008, so you can probably pick it up at ETS or SBL if you're going to be there.

Maurice Robinson, David Alan Black, Keith Elliott, Daniel Wallace and Darrell Bock, Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: Four Views (amazon.com). B&H Academic: Nashville. 2008.

It looks like a good one to check out on the perennial problem of the ending of the book of Mark. Here's the description from Amazon.com:

Because it is conspicuously absent from more than one early Greek manuscript, the final section of the gospel of Mark (16:9-20) that details Christ’s resurrection remains a constant source of debate among serious students of the New Testament.

Perspectives on the Ending of Mark (amazon.com) presents in counterpoint form the split opinions about this difficult passage with a goal of determining which is more likely. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary professors Maurice Robinson and David Alan Black argue for the verses’ authenticity. Keith Elliott (University of Leeds) and Daniel Wallace (Dallas Theological Seminary) contend that they are not original to Mark’s gospel. Darrell Bock (Dallas Theological Seminary) responds to each view and summarizes the state of current research on the entire issue.

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, October 28, 2008 7:00:52 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Friday, September 26, 2008

Yay, someone else has actually blogged about the Shepherd of Hermas!

Check out Peter Head's notes on available MSS of the Shepherd. Worth repeating is his closing remark:

In terms of manuscript attestation and patristic appreciation the evidence looks better than large parts of the New Testament.

Post Author: rico
Friday, September 26, 2008 7:15:07 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, August 11, 2008

Ran across some references to the Glagolitic script, so I have to post them, plus some others I knew of to round out the collection.

For those unaware, Glagolitic is the script developed by Cyril and Methodius in the 9th century so that they could translate stuff (i.e. the Bible) into Slavic languages. And it is a very cool script. If you're deep into textual criticism, it could pay off to have some familiarity with it.

If you're really interested, perhaps Horace Lunt's Old Church Slavonic grammar (amazon.com) might be a place to start. Note I've not seen this, it is just the most accessible/affordable English language OCS grammar I've seen to date.

So here are some links.


Post Author: rico
Monday, August 11, 2008 8:45:35 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Why? Because, if you take the time to read or at least peruse their 330 page Introduction to their NT (amazon.com) (published in a second volume with an appendix), you see that they fill in most if not all of the details of the how & why of their edition.

What sort of stuff? Well ... who'd've thunk that two pages on casing of κυριος, Χριστος and υψιστος would be appropriate? Sometimes on reading an upper-cased Κυριος or a lower-cased χριστος (In NA27, not WH) I've often wondered "why is that one upper-cased/lower-cased?"

WH show their work and tell you why, at least in their edition — and why, in four instances in Luke (Lu 1.32; Lu 1.35; Lu 1.75; Lu 6.35) they also upper-cased Υψιστος. They take two pages (pp. 316-318; §§414-416) to tell you. Here's §416, explaining their capitalization of Υψιστος:

416. An initial capital has likewise been used for Υψιστος in the four places, all in St Luke's Gospel, in which it stands in the singular without an article. In this shape it exactly represents the anarthrous Elion, a very ancient name not confined to the Jews, and is virtually itself a proper name. In the LXX the article is usually inserted: but in Ecclesiasticus, doubtless a better authority for Palestinian custom, Υψιστος occurs frequently, and has the article but once, except in combination with another title.

More than you ever wanted to know, but helpful nonetheless. If you're looking for a copy of WH's Intro/Appendix, then you want the 1896 edition which has corrections/updates.

Why do I like this so? Whether I agree or not, I can at least know what in the world they were thinking. You can't do that with any other print edition; none are nearly as transparent as WH were. We'd all do well to re-learn this lesson.

Wipf & Stock have done a recent photo-reprint, available in paperback (amazon.com).

Hendrickson did a reprint in the late 1980's, in hardcover (amazon.com). Some used copies of this are available via Amazon.

Which do I recommend? I don't know, I've not used any of the reprint editions. Years ago, I found a copy of the 1896 edition via abebooks from a seller in Australia and snapped it up quickly.

If you work with the Greek New Testament and do anything remotely pertaining to textual criticism (the appendix "Notes on Select Readings" is a mini-Metzger for WH's edition and their "Notes on Orthography" will tell you more than you wanted to know about spelling in their edition); or if you have interest in orthography, punctuation, and other particulars of producing and fully utilizing a printed edition of the Greek NT, then you need this book; whether the Hendrickson hardcover (amazon.com) or the Wipf & Stock softcover (amazon.com).

Update (2008-05-14): Thanks to Mark from the Bible and Tech blog for pointing out that WH's Intro/Appendix volume is available via Google Books. So grab it and absorb!

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, May 14, 2008 2:00:10 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Here's a nugget from the intro in the back of W&H's printed volume (so, not the Intro/Appendix volume, but the actual text volume):

A few hours spent in studying a series of the countless corrections which no one would think of accepting will shew the variety of instinct to be found among scribes, the frequent disagreement between their instincts and our own, and, above all, the conflicting effects of different instincts in the same passage. (W&H, 542)

So often we (or I should say "I", instead of transferring my guilt to others) study only the juicy variants, discounting variants that seem obviously wrong or misguided according to common text-critical guidelines. This is exceedingly easy to do with the NA27 apparatus as guide, which (rightly for a handbook edition) focuses on listing variants but doesn't really get you any further in associating variants with particular MSS or even with particular scribes. In other words, studying variants with NA27, you will get a very good sense of the variation units but you won't get any sense of the underlying MSS and variant types to which each are prone.

W&H's advice above runs counter to the presentation in NA27. They say study all of the variants, not just the juicy ones. They say to get a sense of "the variety of instinct among scribes", not just items meaningful to translation. Reuben Swanson's NT Manuscripts volumes are much more amenable to this approach; they let you study each MS as a whole so you can actually get a sense of the peculiarities of each MS and, to some degree, scribes.

Why is that important? Coming to such an understanding by working through several of the seemingly "little" issues clues you in to how to process the big, juicy, more "meaningful" variation units. Otherwise one will likely just think things like "the shorter reading is the best reading" or "the more difficult reading is more likely the correct reading" or even "the older witness/higher quality MS has the best reading". Balancing those sort of seemingly objective criteria might be good guidelines overall, but they're hardly 100% applicable rules; particularly when these guidelines conflict, as they often do. What about when the shortest reading is the easiest reading, but it's in the earlier/more reliable witness? Or when the longest reading is the hardest reading, but it is in an 8th-9th century MS that doesn't agree with the major uncials? In these sorts of cases, a "majority rules" approach has as much chance at being right as it does at being wrong.

So take W&H's advice sometime. Work through all the variants you can find for your passage, keeping track of source (which MS they come from) and nature of variant. Use that information when considering overall which readings you consider proper. Have fun!

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, May 07, 2008 9:35:44 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Sunday, April 27, 2008

From the What's New in Papyrology blog comes mention of a splendid sounding title, Greetings in the Lord: Early Christians in the Oxyrhynchus Papyri (amazon.com). The author is AnneMarie Luijendijk, the publisher is Harvard Divinity School. And the price for the 235 page book is $25. (Brill, Mohr-Siebeck, et. al., please take note of the price-per-page ratio).

It is apparently slated for release in August of 2008. I can't wait to read it once I scrape up the $25.

Here's the blurb from the publisher (text taken from Amazon's page):

This is the first book-length study on Christians in the ancient Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus, the site where some of the most important and oldest fragments of early Christian books were unearthed.

Bringing the people in dry papyrus letters and documents back to life, the book reveals how Christians lived in this city in different contexts and situations. In the first part, the image of the city's marketplace functions to address questions of Christian identity in the public sphere. The second part features a man called Sotas, bishop of Oxyrhynchus in the third century, as he is busy networking with other Christian communities, involved in teaching, book production, and fund-raising. The third part, focusing on evidence of the persecution of Christians, reveals the far-reaching power and pervasiveness of Roman bureaucracy. We learn that Christians negotiated their identity through small acts of resistance against the imperial decrees.

The papyrus letters and documents discussed in this book offer sometimes surprising insights into the everyday lives of Christians in the third and early fourth century and nuance our understanding of Christianity in this period. It is the mundane aspects of everyday life that make these papyrus documents so fascinating.

Post Author: rico
Sunday, April 27, 2008 6:18:52 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Thursday, January 17, 2008

A friend just pointed this out to me, sitting on an FTP server at National Geographic.

It's hi-res images of what appear to be all of the pages of Codex Tchacos, which contains the Coptic of the Gospel of Judas. My guess is that these images match the plates in the Critical Edition of the Gospel of Judas, but if anyone is doing serious work with the Coptic of Judas (or any of the other documents in Codex Tchacos) then you probably want these images instead.

And, while we're on manuscript stuff, have y'all seen the online edition of Codex Gigas? (hat tip: Mark @ Biblical Studies and Technological Tools blog) If not, you should. It is way cool! Have fun playing with the "Browse the Manuscript" feature. Also: I didn't know that Gigas had editions of Antiquities of the Jews and Wars of the Jews in Latin, amongst other stuff. How cool is that? Here all along I'd just thought it was a Latin Bible.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, January 17, 2008 2:23:27 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, October 25, 2007

... I'm still amazed at the differences between Greek editions of the NT in the areas of:

  • paragraphing
  • punctuation
  • orthography (e.g. νγ vs γγ, moveable nu)

and that there is no standard tome on these items, apart from Westcott & Hort's Introduction [mentioned here], as far as I can tell. And you have to dig to find W&H's intro. Are they the only ones to even try to tackle this?

I mean, even if you just compare Westcott & Hort to NA27 — where the text is almost exactly the same — check to see where one uses emdashes and the other uses colons, or where one punctuates a list with commas and the other doesn't, or where sentence and paragraph breaks are entirely different.

Am I making a bigger deal of this than is necessary? Do folks just think this aspect of an edition is interpretive, so editors do what they do and we just gloss over it?

Maybe. But my guess is that most users of the Greek NT are just using it to zero in on a particular word for a study of a particular verse. Like: "Oh, [english word] is a translation of [greek word]; so I'll look that one up in BDAG." Does anyone who actually reads the Greek NT pay attention to paragraphing, punctuation, flow of argumentation? Or are we layering our own translation over things when we examine the Greek (OK, I admit I'm guilty of this).

And I'm also guessing that much of the paragraphing and punctuation in Greek NTs has to do with how the editors would translate the text themselves, thus I'm guessing it is influenced largely by the punctuation practices of their native language* — and not necessarily based on what the Greek is communicating.**

Of course, I know, the written Greek MSS don't have punctuation like modern languages (though there are some indicators). But it still seems like there should at least be some attempts at this area of study primarily because it is so important to understanding the text as a whole.

Is this area doomed to languish?

Update (2007-10-25): Tommy Wasserman over at the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog links back here, noting what I said earlier about subparagraphs in the NA27. Thanks! I posted a comment on his post about subparagraphs in Westcott & Hort:

I subsequently 'discovered' that Westcott & Hort has subparagraph breaks too; but at least they tell you what they are in §419 of their introduction: "In the subdivision of sections we have found great convenience in adopting the French plan of breaking up the paragraphs into subparagraphs by means of a space of some length."

The same section goes on with some more information about W&H's edition that I didn't know either: "We have been glad at the same time to retain another grade of division in the familiar difference between capitals and small letters following a full stop. Groups of sentences introduced by a capital thus bear the same relation to subparagraphs as subparagraphs to paragraphs."

I'm beginning to wonder how much of this sort of stuff NA27 just carries over without disclosing.

* Pure speculation and likely irrelevant and misguided, but I'm wondering how the punctuation in NA27 compares with how one would punctuate a somewhat literal German translation — and how punctuation in UBS4 compares with how one would punctuate a somewhat literal English translation.

** You can really see this in Hodges & Farstad's The Greek New Testament According to the Majority Text where they go so far as to use “quote marks” to denote spoken text and, as I recall, OT quotations. It's pretty irritating to see quotation marks in the midst of diacritics and some text-critical note indicators.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, October 25, 2007 9:45:33 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Sunday, May 27, 2007

Yesterday I stumbled across PJ Hillery's The Georgian Language: An Outline Grammatical Summary. No, this page isn't about how y'all talk down there in Atlanta; it is about the language of the country of Georgia. Vööbus describes Georgia as "that rough mountain-district between the Black and Caspian Seas — known to the ancient world as Iberia" (Vööbus 173).

I'm always at least superficially interested in the languages of the early versions of the New Testament (Latin, Coptic, Syriac, Ethiopic, Armenian, Georgian, Gothic, etc.). This gave me a chance to re-read sections of Vööbus and Metzger on the Georgian Versions (see citations below). You could also check the wikipedia entry on Georgian Language for general background on the language.

What do we know (or at least, what do we think we know) about the Georgian version?

  • Christianity probably came to the region in the middle of the fourth century — that's like 350, y'all! (Metzger 184; see also Vööbus 176). For comparative purposes, that's around the same date that many ascribe to the copying of Codex Sinaiticus.
  • The Georgian version was probably in currency " ... in the second part of the fifth century. Its origin, then, seems to belong to the decades before the middle of the fifth century" (Vööbus 178; see also Metzger 184). For comparison, many date Codex Bezae in the fifth century.
  • Vööbus concludes the Georgian was likely originally translated from the Armenian and later subjected to editing against Greek exemplars (Vööbus 187-192). Metzger makes no conclusions, he just reports conclusions others have made (Metzger 190-196).

A quick search of the NA27 apparatus shows that it is only cited twice, in Mt 27.64 (supporting the omission of a pronoun) and Mk 10.25 (supporting the reading of a phonetically-similar word, καμηλον [NA27] vs. καμιλον). This makes sense because the Georgian is at least a translation of a translation (or perhaps a translation of a translation of a translation, depending on your view of the origin of the Armenian text). But Metzger, in his Textual Commentary, cites 'geo' almost 100 times. So it is of some value in the realm of NT textual criticism.

Wikipedia has some images from the Adysh Gospels (a canon table and an illumination) and also the Vani Gospels (an illumination), two early (10th century) Georgian codices. Here's the canon table from the Adysh Gospels, copied in 897 AD:


Works Cited

Metzger, Bruce M. The Early Versions of the New Testament. London: Oxford University Press, 1977, pp. 182-214.

Vööbus, Arthur. Early Versions of the New Testament: Manuscript Studies. Stockholm: Estonian Theological Society in Exile, 1954, pp. 173-209.

Post Author: rico
Sunday, May 27, 2007 4:13:19 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, May 23, 2007

This week RBL reviews New Testament Manuscripts: Their Texts and Their World (amazon.com), an unpurchasably-priced collection of essays from Brill ($181.00!). The review is here. It all sounds interesting, but why is it so blasted expensive?! I realize Brill's primary market for these sorts of things are libraries, but why not have some sort of option whereby regular joes can purchase such things as well?

Anyway, from what I can tell from the review, I'd guess that if it sounds interesting to you then you'd also enjoy looking at Larry Hurtado's recent and much more reasonably priced book, The Earliest Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins (amazon.com). One of the essays in the mondo expensivo Brill book is by Hurtado on the Staurogram. Hurtado revises and updates that work in his book on The Earliest Christian Artifacts (amazon.com) (cf. p. 135, footnote 1 where Hurtado notes that he "draws heavily upon" the essay in the Brill book).

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, May 23, 2007 1:41:11 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tony Chartrand-Burke, on his Apocryphicity blog, posts a 10-page how-to for manuscript collating called Collating for Dummies. It even takes on the page layout of that well-known series. (h/t Jim Davila). It's a good read, though I'd hoped he'd give a little more info on the physical process of collation and comparison. But it's only 10 pages, and the bibliography looks to have some promising sources to follow up on.

Tony gives some props to Bruce Metzger as a resource for decoding ligatures and abbreviations in Greek. Metzger's book on paleography, Manuscripts of the Greek Bible: An Introduction to Paleography (amazon.com) is good and the recommended introduction. But you may require more information on abbreviations and ligatures in Greek MSS. If so, I'd recommend Abbreviations in Greek: Inscriptions, Papyri, Manuscripts and Early Printed Books (amazon.com). I've blogged about this book previously (here and here). It contains four monographs (some short, some long, some with extensive catalogues and other such material) having to do with abbreviations in Greek. These monographs are:

  • "Abbreviations in Greek Inscriptions" by M. Avi-Yonah
  • "Abbreviations and Symbols in Greek Papyri" by F. G. Kenyon
  • "Abbreviations in Greek Manuscripts" by T. W. Allen
  • "Abbreviations in Early Greek Printed Books" by G. F. Ostermann and A. E. Giegengack.

If you're only interested in ligatures/abbreviations, skip Metzger (amazon.com) and get Oikonomides (amazon.com). You'll save $40 overall (based on Amazon prices current as of original composition of this article) and get more information specific to your interest.

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, May 22, 2007 8:56:02 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Friday, May 11, 2007

At the start of his discussion of "Similarly Spelled but Identically Pronounced Variants":

The contribution of commentaries on the following text-critical discussion is minimal, since commentators as a rule follow the text of the GNT [UBS4] or NA [NA27] without further ado. Where they do take up a variation unit for discussion, they normally accept the verdict of the editors and the explanation supplied by Metzger's commentary, which they express in their own words. (Caragounis, Development of Greek and the New Testament (amazon.com), 518)

And he's right, but his comparison is wrong. In the setting of a commentary, unless it is focused on being a textual commentary, it would be questionable to devote pages and pages to each text-critical complication. It is right to mention them, but one need not work them out in painstaking detail unless that is the raison d'etre for the commentary. In the setting of an article on a variant, however (which is what Caragounis has done) one would be irresponsible to not work things out in significant detail, as Caragounis does in the next section of his book (the one dealing with variants at 1Co 13.3, pp. 547-564). And even in the current section (pp. 517-546) Caragounis usually only presents enough information to show that the variants are spelled the same, they sound the same, and the evidence is split.

But overall, he's right. When *most* commentators bring up a variant, they typically defer to Metzger and move on.

Post Author: rico
Friday, May 11, 2007 10:49:31 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Saturday, April 21, 2007

Roger Pearse (who is always dabbling in very interesting things) reported on Thoughts on Antiquity his inability to find a reasonably priced general introduction to Armenian in English, and the inability to find an Armenian-English dictionary. I responded in the comments with a lead on a dictionary (Bedrossian's, which is mentioned in Thomson's intro as the Armenian-English dictionary to start with). I haven't looked for it in awhile, but I had never been able to find a decently-priced edition of Bedrossian's dictionary (maybe Wipf & Stock will do it someday?)

For some reason I'm fascinated by things Armenian though I have yet to do any serious reading or study on the language (outside of sections in Metzger's Early Versions and Vööbus' Early Versions). It's one of those things on my mental "stuff to study someday" list.

So imagine my surprise when Roger posted a follow-up to his original post pointing us all to the Leiden Armenian Lexical Database. This site has dictionaries (including Bedrossian) and, more importantly, some lexically analyzed texts, including Jonah and the Gospels of Luke and John (from Zohrab's edition) along with Cox's edition of Deuteronomy! Zounds! With a lemmatized John and a dictionary, and Thomson in print at my side, it makes working through the text to familiarize myself with the language that much more approachable!

Now, I just need about four more hours in each day ...

Post Author: rico
Saturday, April 21, 2007 8:50:32 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Thursday, April 19, 2007

I'll discuss Atticism in more detail later (likely in part 4 of my Thorough-going Eclecticism series) but I wanted to mention this now.

Just last night I was reviewing some areas that J.K. Elliott chalks up to atticism and was thinking, "so how do we know what an atticism is?" I mean, my one year of Greek at a formal learning institution was Attic (my autodidact efforts have focused largely on Koine/Hellenistic). I remember the biggies (e.g. Attic ττ shifts to Koine σσ, πραττω to πρασσω) but not much more.

Later in the evening I was reading Caragounis' The Development of Greek and the New Testament (amazon.com). Imagine my surprise when I ran across his section on Atticism, pp. 120-140 where he reproduces lists from Phrynichos (424 words!) and Moiris (less than 50 words) that could be helpful when reviewing variants for possible atticism.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, April 19, 2007 10:03:55 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, April 18, 2007

[This is part of a series of posts looking at "thorough-going eclecticism" as practiced by J.K. Elliott in his book The Greek Text of the Epistles to Timothy and Titus. See the introductory post for more information. --RWB]

As a part of Elliott's first principle, line omission is pretty much the same as homoiteleuton (though not necessarily with the same start/same end type thing) only on a grander scale. Instead of skipping letters or words of an exemplar, one or more lines are skipped. Elliott writes:

Another cause of omission is line-omission. Clark in his Acts of the Apostles (38) shows how the shorter text of Acts was frequently the result of line omission. ... This cause of omission is less demonstrable in the Pastoral epistles, (Elliott 6-7).

There are not many examples; I will list two here.

  • 1Ti 1.14. Elliott uses line omission to explain what happened in MS 1518 (a XIV/XV cent. MS in Jerusalem) at this verse. The NA27 has the following:

14 ὑπερεπλεόνασεν δὲ ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν μετὰ πίστεως καὶ ἀγάπης τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. (1Ti 1.14, NA27)

MS 1518, according to Elliott, has this:

14 ὑπερεπλεόνασεν δὲ ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ. (1Ti 1.14, MS 1518)

The difference is obvious; instead of being about "the over-abundant grace of our Lord with faith and love in Christ Jesus" it is now about "the over-abundant grace of our Lord Jesus Christ". Elliott posits the following:

The omission may represent one or two lines of an exemplar. The scribe's eye passed from του κυ ημων to the divine names, which he inverts and alters to ιυ χω to follow του κυ ημων.

That's one way to explain 1518's variant. I'm skeptical, though. If it is simple line omission, why would the further change in word order be made except to make sense of the verse with the omission? And wouldn't that imply knowledge of the omission by the scribe?

  • 1Ti 6.5. In this case Elliott accepts a longer text that has some decent testimony against the shorter text of Siniaticus and Alexandrinus. NA27 has the following:

5 διαπαρατριβαὶ διεφθαρμένων ἀνθρώπων τὸν νοῦν καὶ ἀπεστερημένων τῆς ἀληθείας, νομιζόντων πορισμὸν εἶναι τὴν εὐσέβειαν. (NA27)

5 διαπαρατριβαὶ διεφθαρμένων ἀνθρώπων τὸν νοῦν καὶ ἀπεστερημένων τῆς ἀληθείας, νομιζόντων πορισμὸν εἶναι τὴν εὐσέβειαν [αφιστασο απο των τοιουτων]. (Elliott's reading)

Elliott's longer text is the Byzantine reading (translated by the NKJV as "from such withdraw yourself"). He notes the following support: Dc K L Ψ P 061. T.R. and most minuscules. Lect. Byz. L (vg DLT). Arm. Goth. EthPP. L (vt mon. m.) and a host of Fathers to boot. He appeals to the validity of the omitted text on the basis of style and further posits its omission due to line omission.

If original, the omission could be accounted for, by the careless omission of one line of the exemplar. If secondary, the longer reading would be a gloss introduced to the text. In view of the above comments on the language [the previous paragraph discussed style] the former is more likely. Accept the longer reading. (Elliott 94)

So in this case Elliott uses line omission to explain the omission. He does this only after he has justified that the text is worthy of including on the basis of style.

So, line omission can be a way to argue for the inclusion of the longer text (yes, the rule of brevior lectio potior isn't always right; it is a guideline and not a rule) when the longer text makes sense based on author style or when the vast majority of quality witnesses include the text. At least, that's the way I'd apply it; I'd guess Elliott would not necessarily qualify the statement as I do.

Next up: Author's Style and Usage

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, April 18, 2007 8:29:51 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Sunday, April 15, 2007

I realize what I am about to write may be considered heresy by some. These are just thoughts rolling around in my head; I've come to no conclusions yet. When I think, I write. And I'm thinking. So I'm writing.

I'm re-reading the first few chapters of Aland & Aland's The Text of the New Testament (amazon.com). I didn't notice it last time I read this -- back when I was first imbibing in things text-critical -- but doggone this thing has an attitude, and the best word I can come up with to describe it is arrogance.

What Eberhard Nestle did was actually quite simple (a radical breakthrough is always simple in retrospect); he compare the texts of Tischedorf and of Westcott-Hort. Where the two differed, he consulted a third edition for a deciding vote. (Aland and Aland, 19)

It's the little parenthetical that doesn't need to be there but is. This sort of thing happens frequently (go ahead, give it a read). The only purpose this parenthetical serves is to puff up the first edition of Nestle as something special when it was just a majority-rules approach resting on the text-critical work that had gone before it. Nothing wrong with that, but here they make it sound like the practice was hugely radical. This is all the more strange for a comment 20 pages later:

Much in Tischendorf's apparatus may simply be ignored. For example, he regularly cites printed editions in support of variants, e.g., in verse 27 (third from last line) for the reading αυτου: ςe Gb Sz Ln Ti. This means that the Textus Receptus in Elzevir's edition (ςe) John Jakob Griesbach's editon of 1827 (Gb), Johannes Martin Augustinus Scholz in his edition of 1830-1836 (Sz), Karl Lachmann's edition of 1842-1850 (Ln) and Tischendorf in his edition of 1859 (Ti) read αυτου; such information is quite dated today and of no value. (Aland & Aland, 39)

So I'm confused. Nestle was a genius because he took as standard text where Tischendorf and W&H agreed (he used edition info to establish his text); but the editional information in Tischedorf's apparatus, which was published 20 years before Nestle's first edition, is useless? A&A go on to speak highly of other aspects of T's edition, but why heap scorn on this one? Especially when appendix 3 of NA27 shows differences of editions [including T!] for NA variants? Are they saying their own edition's appendix 3 is useless too, and may summarily be ignored? I just don't get it.

I won't even go into the disdain for the TR and anything associated with it; the examples are numerous and need not be recounted here. OK, one example will suffice:

... while one should beware of The Greek New Testament According to the Majority Text by Arthur L. Farstad and Zane C. Hodges (1982) as an anachronism in every respect (A&A, 25).

Now I'm not a fan of Hodges & Farstad's work in that volume (punctuating, formatting and typesetting the Greek as if it was English?), but c'mon. It seems as if it has somehow been tainted by the shadow of the TR and therefore isn't even worth consideration.

One more thing that confuses me is that these first chapters are spent building up to the UBS/NA (but particularly the NA) as being the glory of glories of all Greek editions. They heap some elitist scorn on W&H for their edition, primarily because W&H didn't examine actual manuscripts but relied on critical editions to inform their work (A&A 18). The "non-Western interpolations" are mentioned in derision at least three times, if I recall correctly. Yet the all-glorious Nestle text (the 25th edition), by the counts in this very book, differs from W&H in only 558 places outside of orthorgraphical differences. (NB: just about 8000 verses in the NT, NA27 has 138,020 words. You do the math and figure the percentages). I'm unsure of the differences between NA25 and NA27.

So, NA is the bees-knees. W&H were hacks who could only use critical editions of texts and manuscripts as they stumbled to put together their text. Yet NA is built on top of that foundation and shares it to a very large portion. And NA are the geniuses? Sure, there is a lot of work they've done in the apparatus, and that's groovy. And they do give W&H credit to some (small) degree. But can't they admit that all they've done is re-examine the evidence (comprehensively, systematically) and then ended up changing W&H in a few places?

It's that attitude I can't get past as I read the book this time. Although in a mostly polite way, they treat older pre-WH editions lightly because they largely follow the TR. But NA follows W&H with slight modifications and it's oh-so-better? And NA/UBS *isn't* similar to the TR even though many non-Nestle editions of the past, say, 75 years (Souter, Tasker, Zondervan's Reader's GNT to name a few) are at least as WH-like as NA/UBS? (at least in the Pastorals which, yes, I have examined and compared).

I don't mean to slight the technical achievement behind the NA27 and UBS4 editions. It's awesome. And the work going on with the Editio Critica Maior is mind-boggling. I'm thrilled they're doing the work. But I don't want to slight W&H either. It was -- and still is, to large degree, as the work of NA has proved -- a useful edition. So drop the arrogance and get with it.

Oh, and lastly -- are we really at the point where the status of the Greek of the NT is really only in tweak mode without new major MS discoveries? If so, then I say it is time to begin re-questioning methodology. We can't be that good. Or is 'reasoned eclecticism' really that perfect?

OK, I'm off my soap box. But I might come back, you never know.

Update (2007-04-17): (Responding particularly to Tom Reynolds in the comments). Perhaps I should clarify; I'm not interested in promoting a TR position. I think Maurice Robinson is doing interesting things and that he isn't starting with a KJV-only presupposition (though I could be wrong) but I think the NA/UBS text should be the first consulted (and I'd pick NA if I had to choose between NA and UBS). If you've listened to any of Klaus Wachtel's papers at the SBL the past few years, you've heard him bring up some isolated Byzantine readings as serious possibilities. Not the majority theories per se; just a few readings. But NA/UBS is where we start. It is the best available text.

No, what I was responding to here was the tone in A&A's first few chapters. For all their hullabaloo about the poorness of the TR and the slips of W&H, their text isn't that different from either. They've just spear-headed the detail-work of looking everything up and providing first-hand-accounted evidence (so it's second-hand for you & me) for the readings. They haven't come up with a stupendously fabulous text -- in the vast majority it is the same text everyone else comes up with when they attack the problem (the Byzantine priorists being at greatest variance). Simply examining other Greek NT editions published in the 20th century (like Tasker, Souter, RGNT and some others) shows that everyone is dipping in the same pool; they're simply justifying their readings differently. NA/UBS definitely do the best job of justifying their readings (though I think the data presented in Reuben Swanson's volumes easier to understand and more handy to reference and get an idea of MSS trends and content, not individual variance).

While reading those few chapters, one thing in my head was John Lee's book A History of New Testament Lexicography (amazon.com). Lee conclusively demonstrates that most NT lexicons today (including the hallowed BDAG and BAAR) are essentially translations of translations of translations of 16th century work. Expanded with evidence, yes, but the important parts folks look at -- the glosses and basic definitions -- can be traced directly back in most cases. Are we really that good at lexicography too? Or is it time for another approach to the problem building on what we've learned?

That's what I couldn't help pondering as I read A&A, knowing I'd done collations of the Pastorals against W&H for several 20th century Greek NT editions. And they're all basically the same, apart from Byzantine/TR stuff and what would likely be J.K. Elliott's text based on his Greek Text of the Epistles to Timothy and Titus. The stuff folks actually use is the same, basically, from edition to edition. (I think that's just fine, BTW) And I can't reconcile that knowledge against the arrogance teeming through A&A's intro chapters. Why is their text so much better if it is the same?

I've surely beat this into the ground now. I do think there is room for growth in methodology, though; and I think that growth can come from places other than Muenster.

Post Author: rico
Sunday, April 15, 2007 10:49:54 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, March 28, 2007

In the "best sentences I've read tonight" department, from J.B. Lightfoot's The Apostolic Fathers Part I: S. Clement of Rome. A Revised Text with Introductions, Notes, Dissertations and Translations (Volume I). Macmillan: London 1890.

On the whole this MS appears to give a good text. The shortcomings of the scribe are generally such that they can be easily corrected; for they arise from petty carelessness and ignorance, and not from perverse ingenuity. (p. 120)

Follow-up (2007-03-29): After discussing Alexandrinus' version of First Clement, Lightfoot moves on to the version recorded in the Constantinopolitan MS. On p. 123-124, he writes:

[Constantinopolitanus] is written with a fair amount of care throughout, so far as regards errors of transcription. In this respect it compares favourably with A, which constantly betrays evidence of great negligence on the part of the scribe. But, though far more free from mere clerical errors, yet in all points which vitally affect the trustworthiness of a MS, it must certainly yield the palm to the Alexandrian. The scribe of A may be careless, but he is guileless also. On the other hand the text of C shows manifest traces of critical revision, as will appear in the sequel.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, March 28, 2007 8:27:56 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Saturday, March 24, 2007

[This is part of a series of posts looking at "thorough-going eclecticism" as practiced by J.K. Elliott in his book The Greek Text of the Epistles to Timothy and Titus. See the introductory post for more information. --RWB]

NB: In this post, I abbreviate "homoioteleuton" with "hom." (as Elliott does in his book). I've also posted on homoioteleuton before.

The first basic principle Elliott lists is that of hom. In his introduction, he uses 1Ti 5.16 as an example, where a shorter text (πιστος η πιστη) is explained by an instance of hom. from the longer text (ΠΙCΤοςηΠΙCΤη). Elliott writes:

... the scribes eye has passed from the first ΠΙCΤ to the second, and he has omitted the intervening letters. Hom. seems to have been a frequent cause of error in the Pastoral Epistles ...

Elliott provides several examples from the first chapter of First Timothy where hom. may be appealed to to explain a variant and, therefore, argue for the longer text. These instances include:

  • 1Ti 1.9: MS 1874, 623, and 1836 omit καὶ μητρολῴαις from πατρολῴαις καὶ μητρολῴαις. This as well can be explained by hom.: παΤΡΟΛΩΑΙCιακμηΤΡΟΛΩΑΙC. After writing the first word, the scribe's eyes skipped to the same ending on the second word, and progressed from there.
  • 1Ti 1.10: MS 915 and 917 omit πόρνοις. The word that ends v. 9 has the same ending (ἀνδροφόνοις πόρνοις) , so hom. can be used to explain the omission: ανδροφοΝΟΙCπορΝΟΙC
  • 1Ti 1.14: MS 1908 and 489 have καὶ ἀγάπης ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ (omitting the article) while NA27 have καὶ ἀγάπης τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. Elliott notes that hom. may be a contributing factor to 1908 and 489 omitting τῆς: αγαΠΗCΤΗCεν
  • 1Ti 1.17: Uncials Sc Dbc K L P H along with TR (hence KJV) and most minuscules have μονῳ σοφῳ θῳ (only wise God) while UBS/NA have μόνῳ θεῷ (only God). Hom. can explain the longer reading as being shortened; the scribe's eyes wandered from omega to omega: μονΩσοφΩΘΩ. The scribe, I'd guess, would be less likely to omit θῳ; perhaps he could've even missed σοφῳ in his anxiousness to not miss θῳ. Metzger, in his Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament provides the flip side of the coin:
    After μόνῳ the Textus Receptus inserts σοφῷ, with אc Dc K L P most minuscules syrh goth. The word is no doubt a scribal gloss derived from Ro 16.27; the shorter reading is strongly supported by good representatives of both the Alexandrian and the Western types of text (א* A D* F G H* 33 1739 itd, g vg syrp copsa, bo arm eth arab).
    Metzger, B. M., & United Bible Societies. (1994). A textual commentary on the Greek New Testament, second edition a companion volume to the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament (4th rev. ed.) (572). London; New York: United Bible Societies.
    I'd never really considered hom. as responsible for the omission of σοφῷ; I'll have to think about this a little more.

You'll note that one consequence of a thorough-going eclecticism is that of disregarding documentary evidence. Surely one can't tell everything from textual provenance and the general quality of readings in a MS. It is possible for the better MSS to be wrong, and the less trustworthy MSS to be correct. But I'd think the better road is in the middle, not on the edges. Even so, there are some decent real-world examples above where hom. may be at play in the readings. Seeing these examples and working through them helps me know what to look for in the future when considering variants listed in various apparatuses.

Next up: Line omission.

Post Author: rico
Saturday, March 24, 2007 7:10:16 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Monday, March 12, 2007

I've recently been able to finally examine J.K. Elliott's The Greek Text of the Epistles to Timothy and Titus (vol. 36 in the Studies and Documents series published by the University of Utah Press, published in 1968). It is out of print and tough to come by. I'd link to Amazon, but there's only a stub there that says it isn't available. LibraryThing has no listing either. If you're interested in this book, get thee to a theological library!

In the volume, which forms some portion of Elliott's doctoral dissertation from Oxford, Elliott argues against Westcott & Hort's geneaological methodology. Here's what he has to say about the geneaological method:

But it is not only the disintegration of the theory of local text types which has made W. and H.'s (and Streeter's) genealogical method impractical. Mixture makes it impossible to confine a text to a certain geographical area or text grouping. Similarly, a full genealogical plan cannot be constructed to work back to an archetype. The genealogical method is possible in only a restricted way, such as in the building up of family 1, family 13, and family pi. F.H. Tinnefeld works back from D E F G to an archetype.  But such a genealogical method is limited, and even in these family groups, variants, corruption and conflate readings occur. They have to be explained, and as a result the term 'family' can be applied only in a loose way. (Elliott, 3-4).

This volume presents Elliott's application of "thoroughgoing eclecticism" to the Pastoral Epistles. The introduction necessarily defines this methodology, and does so rather succinctly. He derives five primary "principles for use in a thoroughgoing eclectic study of the N.T. text" (Elliott, 6). These are:

  • Homoioteleuton and line-omission
  • Author's style and usage
  • Atticism
  • Deliberate alterations
    • Theological or liturgical alterations
    • Grammatical and linguistic alterations
    • Assimilation or harmonization of parallel passages
  • Accidental errors

Notably absent in Elliott's principles are any mention as to manuscript quality or provenance. That is, no given MS is preferred over another. Indeed, Elliott takes some readings that by documentary evidence alone are incredibly weak—but Elliott's criteria render more appealing. What his methodology ends up requiring is thinking about each variant from a number of angles, doing research on variants, and—ultimately—really getting to know the text. It speaks volumes against the "cult of the best MS" (Elliott, 4):

The increase of Biblical and textual studies since the time of W. and H. has done much to dispel the 'cult of the best ms.' Some critics still try to clutch at the remnants of W. and H.'s methods. But, with the distrust of the superiority of any given ms. or text type, with the disintegration of closely-knit family units, and with the recognition that the genealogical method is impractical, it is difficult to justify the use of these methods. A more rational system of textual criticism is obviously necessary to replace the old, and it is possible using new knowledge. For example, there is much greater knowledge of Koine Greek due to papyrological studies, more grammars of N.T. Greek are available, the readings of fathers, versions and papyri are accessible. Past methods have been disproved, new knowledge is available: the way is clear for an eclectic study of the N.T. text. (Elliott, 4)

How easy is it for us to say, "yeah, that reading is in B and aleph, so it's gotta be the best"? Pretty easy. How easy is it to actually look at the variants and consider if some form Elliott's principles may have happened? That requires thought, it requires familiarity with the language and the manuscripts, it requires familiarity with syntax and grammar, it requires familiarity with author style. It requires a whole lot more than simply looking to see which MS are earliest and from a provenance we happen to like.

In a series of posts, I hope to go over these main principles of Elliott's methodology, provide examples from his work in the Pastorals, and discuss them just a bit. At least, that's what I hope to do. My intent is simply to sharpen my own understanding of textual criticism and specifically to see what I think of Elliott's methodology as applied here. We'll see if it actually happens.

Lastly, if I may be so bold, another angle that an eclectic methodology may profit from is an examination of prominence and word order along the lines of Stephen Levinsohn (amazon.com). A colleague of mine is doing some really fascinating work in this area, and Jenny Read-Hiemerdinger has done some good work (in JSNTSup volumes here (amazon.com) and here (amazon.com)) in applying this perspective to textual criticism; specifically in examining readings in Acts of codex Bezae. Fun stuff.

Update I (2007-03-24): The series has begun.

Post Author: rico
Monday, March 12, 2007 8:00:47 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Wednesday, February 14, 2007

PJ Williams at the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog was the first to note it; word came to him via Michael Holmes.

Bruce M. Metzger has passed.

Textual criticism is a strange field. It takes years—decades, even—to be comfortable with the variety of languages, witnesses, manuscripts, not to mention the paleography. Metzger had decades of information filed away in his head, along with recall of resources. It seems textual criticism is one field where the elder statesmen who retain critical faculties along the way become more valuable to the field, not less valuable.

He will be impossible to replace and sorely missed.

I couldn't locate a formal bibliography of his works (well, at least not quickly). Here, however, is his author page on LibraryThing. Take a look. The list is only books, so articles, monographs, fetschriften essays, conference papers and whatnot are not included, but the ground he covered is amazing.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, February 14, 2007 2:24:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A colleague and I were looking at Luke 6.4 in the NA27:

[ὡς] εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τοὺς ἄρτους τῆς προθέσεως λαβὼν ἔφαγεν καὶ ἔδωκεν τοῖς μετʼ αὐτοῦ, οὓς οὐκ ἔξεστιν φαγεῖν εἰ μὴ μόνους τοὺς ἱερεῖς;(Lk 6:4, NA27)

Specifically, the first word ὡς, which has a possible variant of πως. Here's the NA27 apparatus:

[replace] πως 012 L Θ f 1.13 33. 700. 1241. 1424 pc co | – P4 B D syp | txt 01* A C W Ψ M
Nestle, E., Nestle, E., Aland, K., Aland, B., & Universität Münster. Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung. (1993, c1979). Novum Testamentum Graece. At head of title: Nestle-Aland. (27. Aufl., rev.) (171). Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelstiftung.

Reading the apparatus, you really don't know what to think. The variant πως is likeable because it is cleaner and reads easier. But according to one of the so-called "canons" of textual criticism, we're to prefer the harder reading — which is just what the NA27 editors have done. But why?

In this case, we can view some of the original MSS, particularly Sinaiticus (01). As noted in the apparatus, both readings are witnessed in Sinaiticus. The original reading is ὡς, a corrector has revised to πως. So, what does it look like?

Luke 6.4 in Codex Sinaiticus. Click for larger image.
(kudos to zhubert.com and csntm.org for lookup and graphic)

So it's fairly easy to tell the π is slipped in by a corrector because the style is different (compare other π in same snippet, fifth letter on top line, fifth letter on second line) and because it is on the margin. So it wasn't in the original pass.

What does this prove? Not much. But the initially attractive variant (and still attractive depending on how you measure it) looks a little less attractive because we can see the nature of the addition. Perhaps a well-meaning scribe also appreciated that πως would be the easier read here and slipped the variant in. Either way, we've confirmed it wasn't done by the original scribe, whatever you may think of his work.

Of course, you should ask other questions at this point because perhaps the variant is a true correction. While the "rule" about preferring the more difficult reading makes sense at times, one has to account for grammatically incompetent or perhaps near-sighted scribes. Maybe even hard-of-hearing scribes.

For instance, the variant under discussion here (ὡς vs. πως) could be the result of a mispronunciation (was that an aspiration or a pi?) from a lector. Or perhaps the previous word ended with a closed syllable (particularly if closed on a labial plosive) and the following aspirated syllable was mis-heard and thus mis-copied. Or perhaps the scribe mis-read the original line for similar reasons when he copied it. But in this case that isn't likely, the previous syllable is open, which we've confirmed by examining the source.

Another reason why apparatuses are helpful, but examining the actual MSS can be more useful.

What did my colleague and I decide? I guess we like sticking with NA27 because of the 'harder reading' argument and also because the original hand of Sinaiticus wrote it that way; along with the confluence of other witnesses of the reading. C'est la vie.

Update (2007-01-09): Note Stephen C. Carlson's (Hypotyposeis) comment. Thanks, Stephen. I hadn't noted the possible harmonization to Mt 12.4 nor the previous variant in Lu 6.3; thanks for supplying the info. Much better info for evaluating the variant. Yet another thing that a bottom-of-the-page apparatus doesn't handle nicely (or at all).

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, January 10, 2007 4:37:55 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, November 30, 2006

If you've read Metzger's Early Versions, then you've heard of the Sogdian version of the NT. And likely that's all you've heard.

If you want to know more about the language called Sogdian, now you can! Check out the Sogdian Primer. The intro notes that most Christian texts found in the Sogdian language are translations from Syriac.

More intros to Iranian languages are available at http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~iranian/.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, November 30, 2006 11:23:03 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I've recently finished working through looking at variants (in the four Gospels) between Scrivener's 1881 Greek New Testament (ostensibly the Greek text behind the Authorised Version, with variants from the Greek text behind the Revised Version in bold) and the NA27.

In what will come as a surprise to no one who has read of variants between the various TR editions (loosely 'Byzantine') and the NA/UBS editions, I make note of the following sorts of general differences:

  • Scrivener's TR seems to be the more harmonizing of the two in accounts among the synoptics.
  • Scrivener's TR adds specificity where NA/UBS assumes things. For example, in Jn 20.29, Scrivener's TR explicitly adds Θωμᾶ (Thomas) while NA27 assumes it.
  • Also, when editions are different, Scrivener's TR will tend to make pronoun references explicit by including the name (likely with article) instead of the pronoun. This is seen when things like NA/UBS have "and he answered and said to them" where Scrivener will have "and Jesus [with article] answered and said to them" (sorry, no easy refs at hand).
  • When different, Scrivener's TR routinely adds an article to personal name (though not neccesarily place names) where NA/UBS lack the article.
  • John has far fewer differences (and they're far easier to reconcile) than the synoptics do.
  • Differences of case and number (but same word)
  • Differences of orthography
  • Bona-fide, different-word variants. Though likely to Bart Ehrman's dismay, they are not earth-shattering or of the nature to severely change the meaning of the text in the vast majority of instances. And where they are, they are well-documented in the apparatus and commentaries.

I post this anecdotal list not to present some new, gasp-inducing information; rather it is simply to record it for myself. Writing helps me remember things, which is why you've no doubt noticed that when I discuss things like this, many times I simply restate the obvious or conventional wisdom in different words.

I will say, however, that working through each and every variation (thinking about which parts of the two editions are the same, and which parts are different) underscored the sorts of variations one finds in the Gospels of these two editions. And that, of course, will help me in the future when examining variants of all stripes. "Oh yeah, like the diffs we find in the gospels of NA and TR editions". Note that most Bible Software support textual comparisons for this sort of purpose. Logos has a video showing the feature used with English versions (go to around 1:14 for the specific feature), but it works with any language.

At least for me, it's one thing to read an abstract, digested version of information (such as you'd find in an a book on textual criticism or the Byz/NA debate) and quite another thing to actually work through primary data and come to my own conclusions. The above anecdotal notes are nothing different than an introductory tome on the matter would make note of; but for me, it sticks in my head better (with examples more readily in mind) because I actually worked thorugh it.

I will also say that as I go through Acts, at least at present, the variations are of a different character than the gospels.

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, October 10, 2006 3:29:49 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Thursday, September 14, 2006

I notice that TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism has a review of the NA27 edition, with apparatus, that is contained in the Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible (SESB). If you're a user of the NA27 in SESB, then you want to read this article. Do it now.

Here's the abstract of the review article, which is a 26 page PDF.

Abstract: The Stuttgart Elecronic Study Bible is a groundbreaking electronic publication. It contains the most widely used scholarly biblical texts, BHS and NA, as well as their critical apparatuses. In this extensive review article, Krans focuses on NA27, especially its critical apparatus, though he frequently draws BHS and its apparatus into the discussion as well. He asks this question: What are the possibilities, surprises, limitations, and future prospects of the implementation of NA27 in SESB 1.0?

Post Author: rico
Thursday, September 14, 2006 8:55:25 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Over on PaleoJudaica, Jim Davila notes that there will be a Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit in Seattle, over at the Pacific Science Center.

I'm really looking forward to it. Actually, one Saturday while the scrolls are in town (not sure which one, though), my employer (Logos Bible Software) is taking the whole company to see the show! So after I've seen what's there I'll be sure to report back.

Here's the exhibit web site, if you're interested: Discovering the Dead Sea Scrolls. They have some background on featured scrolls. They sound mostly fragmentary, though some interesting passages are represented. There are also some lectures associated with the scroll exhibit, though I don't know that I'll be getting down to Seattle for those.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, September 06, 2006 9:02:19 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, August 21, 2006

So, after lunch with my sweet, darling wife last Friday, we went for a walk around downtown Bellingham. We passed by the most awesome used book store in Bellingham, Henderson's Books. Amy had a book to look for, and I just hadn't been in there for ages so I needed to spend some time in my favorite aisles.

Digging around, I found two books, both by the same author. These are translations of the French originals:

They were both written by one Jean-Yves Leloup. The translations are published by Inner Traditions, which appears to publish "spiritual" sorts of things.

That said, the books were cheap (eight bucks apiece!) and they contain Coptic editions of both gospels as well as translation. The edition on Thomas has some commentary as well. But ... I consider them suspect based on the publisher and jacket-blurb content. Laloup's work may be just fine, but stuff added by the publisher of the English translation raises some flags.

So we all know where the book is coming from, the back-cover blurb sensationalises GPhilip Logion 55, positing that GPhilip is "best known for its portrayal of the physical relationship shared by Jesus and his most beloved disciple, Mary Magdalene". The blurb then takes an Ehrman-ian turn and blathers on about suppression of such ideas by those heterodoxy-bashing party-poopers, the orthodox.

Now, here is GPhilip logion 55, according to Leloup's translation:

The Wisdom [Sophia] thought to be sterile [steira] is the mother of angels
The companion [koinonos] of the Son is Miriam of Magdala
The teacher loved her more than all the disciples;
he often kissed her on the mouth
When the disciples saw how he loved Miriam, they asked him:
"Why do you love her more than us?"
The teacher answered
"How can it be that I do not love you as much as I love her?"

Compare this with Schenke's translation in Schneemelcher's NT Apocrypha:

55a: The Sophia who is called barren is the mother of the [angels] and [the] companion of the S[aviour].
55b: The S[aviour lov]ed [Ma]ry Mag[da]lene more than [all] the disciples,{footnote} and kissed on her [mouth] often. The other [disciples] (p. 64) [    ]. They said to him: 'Why do you love her more than all of us?' The Saviour answered and said to them {}: 'Why do I not love you like her?'

Translational differences are apparent when comparing Laloup's first two lines with Schenke's translation of the same content. Go back and reread them an you'll see what I'm talking about. Now just who is the Son/Saviour's companion?

A few typographical differences are also apparent. First, Schenke gives us brackets, so we know what is there and what is supplied in the translation. We don't have that luxury with Leloup's work ... unless we have facility with Coptic. In this instance, we see that Schenke notes "mouth" is supplied, while with Laloup we need to go back to the Coptic to work this out (yes, the Coptic does have brackets).

I'm pretty sure this is the spot where the back-jacket-sensationalised "physical relationship" between Jesus and Mary Magdalene comes from, but we see it is no big deal. Offhand, I'd guess there is more to seeing Mary Magdalene as the "most beloved" disciple in contrast to John as the "beloved" disciple; and there could be more to the kiss in comparison with Judas Iscariot's kiss of betrayal. And, if I recall correctly, kissing on the mouth carried somewhat different meaning (certainly not what we think of today). Positing some sort of physical (sexual) relationship based on this reconstruction/conjecture is a massive stretch.

So ... if you need the Coptic of these works quick and cheap, then check them out. But be sure to check the translation against trustworthy sources before doing too much with it.

Post Author: rico
Monday, August 21, 2006 8:38:49 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Thursday, April 06, 2006

I've blogged a few times in the past about a Manuscript Copying Project whereby a small group of folks each copy out, by hand, editions of Second Timothy in Greek from a common source. Here are the relevant links to previous articles:

To those who are out there who have committed to doing a copy, I apologize for being silent on this for so long. I've realized that I've committed to too many side projects. I'm still very interested in doing this, but I also need to postpone it. I will likely begin thinking about this one again in the fall (so, September/October).

If you've committed to this project in the past, could you just drop me an email confirming that you're still interested if you haven't sent me something yet?

With the wedding coming up (July 22!), a paper for SBL in the pipeline, and my dabblings in the Pastoral Epistles still consuming mental bandwith (and all that on top of my work at Logos), something has to give. This is the easiest to postpone and remove from my immediate thoughts, so ...

Don't worry, I'll be back on it around the time I get into Second Timothy in my work on the Pastoral Epistles.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, April 06, 2006 9:08:31 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Stop what you're doing and head to the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog and read the interview with Dan Wallace. And read the comments too.

There's even a section in there on the faith/scholarship issue.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, March 22, 2006 3:46:17 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Chris Weimer of the Thoughts on Antiquity blog notes that a facsimile of A (02) is online. These are scans of the British Library edition from the late 1800's.

Cheers and kudos to the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts for hosting it.

The scans reflect Alexandrinus for the New Testament and also the Clementine epistles, which is awesome.

Now ... can someone come up with a reference-to-graphic index so it's easy to find passages? All I can tell at this point is that the Clementine epistles start with 137a since 136b looks to be the end of John's apocalypse.

On that last page of the Apocalypse (see it here) if you zoom and look at the text in the line beginning with ΜΑΡΤΥΡΩ, you'll see an example of a variant inserted interlinearly. Alexandrinus has ΟΘΣ (with lunate sigma and abbreviation overline on the last two letters, of course) and then has ἐπ’ αὐτὸν (at least that's how NA27 renders the hard-to-read minuscule addition, it looks like it might be in the dative in the MS?) above and to the right, an obvious later (much later) insertion.

The NA27 text has ὁ θεὸς ἐπ’ αὐτὸν with start and end variant markers around the whole phrase, indicating that different MSS have different things here. Since we can actually see Alexandrinus, that means we can now examine the apparatus and see how the apparatus works and renders the information that Alexandrinus conveys.

The NA27 apparatus has the following; note I'm using '01' for aleph/Sinaiticus:

3 4 1 2 01 051s. 2030. (2050). 2377 MA; Ambr Apr | 1 2 A*
Nestle, E., Nestle, E., Aland, K., Aland, B., & Universität Münster. Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung. (1993, c1979). Novum Testamentum Graece. At head of title: Nestle-Aland. (27. Aufl., rev.) (680). Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelstiftung.

The apparatus is here communicating that uncials 01 and 051, along with some minuscules, the Byzantine 'A' tradition in Revelation, along with patristic evidence from Ambrose and Apringius Pacensis witness a reading of the same four words in a different order: ἐπ’ αὐτὸν ὁ θεὸς. Alternately, Alexandrinus is alone among MSS cited in Revelation in its reading of just the first two words, ὁ θεὸς. The asterisk after the A notes that the text does have an addition by a corrector, but the addition is not represented. Because we've seen the MS itself, we know the addition largely conforms to the text of NA27.

Fun stuff, no?

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, March 21, 2006 9:22:53 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, February 16, 2006

Filología Neotestamentaria vol 15 (from 2002) is online. One article is The Marc Multilingue Project, from J.K. Elliot, Christian Amphoux and Jean-Claude Haelewyck. Interesting stuff, though the tables are unfortunately unreadable.

There are some other interesting-sounding articles that could be worth checking out, e.g. Ruis-Camps and Read-Heimerdinger on variant readings in Bezae Acts; Caragounis on Parainesis on 'ἈΓΙΑΣΜΌΣ'.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, February 16, 2006 10:44:41 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The ESV Bible Blog had notice of the MS copying project today. The focus was on Eli's way-cool stuff, though mention of Suzanne's efforts was made as well. They even mentioned me!

To those interested, participation in the project is open. You don't have to have a blog, and you don't have to blog about your experience. I'm just interested in getting copies to collate from folks relatively familiar with Greek (or the script, or who are experienced in scribal type stuff).

If you're interested in helping, send an email to [text geek] at [gmail] dot com for more details.


Update (2006-02-15): Thanks to the publicity from the ESV Bible Blog, the project has picked up four more copyists! That's awesome. Thanks again for your interest, y'all!

I think that puts it at 10 participants (including myself); I may have to put participation on hold until after collation. So if you're interested it is better to act sooner rather than later ...

Update II (2006-02-16): The project has picked up two more participants. The total is now over 10, which means I'll have a lot of Second Timothy to read and collate here in a few weeks. For that reason, I think I need to cut off participation. I have some further ideas (copies of copies of copies to see how families develop?). Also, please check out Suzanne McCarthy's further post on some of her manuscript copying experiences.

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, February 14, 2006 10:59:25 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Sunday, February 12, 2006

I've mentioned my little Manuscript Copying Project before.

In the past week, two folks have mailed me handwritten copies of 2 Timothy based on the text I sent them. In short: The stuff is awesome. Big-time thanks to Suzanne McCarthy (details on her very cool stuff here) and Eli Evans. I've posted a pic of Eli's gorgeous MS (smaller version below). Eli has indicated to me he may blog some notes on his experience, so I'll post a link when he does.

(Update: Eli has two posts with more on the way: Post A (an intro); Post B; Post C; Eli discusses the MS he produced in Post B. Eli discusses his setup and even has a pic of a diglot he slammed out in Post C.)

There's still time to help out. If you have a hankerin' to copy some Greek, send me an email (address on sidebar) and I'll send you the details. I'm not planning on starting collation until spring (late March at the earliest).

Me? I'm still playing around, though I did copy about the first half of 2 Timothy on Saturday morning (sample below).

This sample is a little different. I'm using a sharpie ultra-fine tip; I think that'll be the one I use for my final effort. This one went much better than the last one. Yes, I'm playing with nomina sacra type stuff and I'd intended to do that before seeing Eli's MS. I may or may not do that in the final MS; it sure does make things flow easier -- I can see why abbreviating things or combining strokes was something to consider. I've thought through the mechanics of zeta and xi and even though they don't look that good, they were easier to write this time. You can still see that words that are unfamiliar are spread out a bit longer than words that are familiar. No paragraph starts on this page so no cap stuff, though my plan is to save space for that on the MS and go back and do larger letters later, perhaps adding color, perhaps not.

Post Author: rico
Sunday, February 12, 2006 11:01:03 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Friday, February 10, 2006

Ligatures in minuscule text confuse me. I do not understand their squiggles and coalescing of letters. Their strange forms frighten me with their letter-like shapes and unfamiliar conglomerations.

Now, I may just be a simple caveman, unfrozen from my chilled stupor by your "modern science"; I may be simple in my approach to things text-critical.

But one thing I do know: If a critic is confused by abbreviations in Greek inscriptions/papyri/etc., said critic should consider purchase of Abbreviations in Greek Inscriptions: Papyri, Manuscripts, and Early Printed Books by Al. N. Oikonomides for enlightenment (at least according to the bottom of this page from Gary Dykes). I have done this; I will report back on its utility once I am in receipt of said tome.

[for those who don't get the joke — google "Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer" for enlightenment]

Post Author: rico
Friday, February 10, 2006 10:33:22 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Wednesday, February 01, 2006

PJ Williams of the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog writes about Why spelling matters.

He's not discussing English, he is discussing the practice of consolidating spellings (mostly) for words within editions of the Greek NT. And he thinks the practice is suspect.

I think this makes sense. We're dealing with lemmatised and morphologically analysed texts now, for the most part. That is, we can find specific forms despite different spellings if the text itself has different spellings where MS evidence is convincing. We don't need consolidated spellings to find the same form of the same word for concording/searching purposes.

Make sure to read PJ Williams' post; he goes into much more detail than I do here. It would be a big task, though. It makes me wonder — what does Reuben Swanson do in his NT Manuscripts project? If he charts the variants in differing MSS against Vaticanus, wouldn't his volumes reflect this data?

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, February 01, 2006 4:57:29 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Saturday, January 28, 2006

I've mentioned my little manuscript transmission experiment in the past. I've begun practicing copying Greek text from an exemplar. I've noticed a few things as I've been practicing.

1. I copy Greek word by word as an exercise, I don't stop to read and comprehend the text. That is, I don't read the Greek, translate it, understand it, then write it out. I read the word in my head, then I write it down.

2. Larger or unfamiliar words take longer to process. This stands to reason but I hadn't thought of it before. It also means these words end up written more stretched out because I devolve into letter-by-letter copying instead of word-by-word copying.

3. Smaller and common words are easy to copy. Again, this stands to reason. But it bears mentioning.

4. The letters zeta and xi are hard to write. At least for me they are. But I'm thinking through the mechanics and, at least for my handwriting style, I think I have an easier way to write them. But because they occur relatively infrequently I just don't get practice with them in words.

5. Upsilon and nu end up looking the same when I write quickly. That is, I tend to not point the bottom of my nu when I'm writing quickly; this makes my nu look like an upsilon at times. And that could be confusing to read (e.g. του and τον).

6. It is easy to mis-copy similar sounding words. Since I read the words and hear them in my head then write the word I hear, I find myself making mistakes (itacism, typically) because I mis-copy the word phonetically.

There's more, to be sure, but I need not go into it here. I will, however, swallow my pride and put up a couple of graphics that show my horrible, horrible penmanship. I will say that I'm just writing, not worrying too much about shape or form of the letters (as is evident, to be sure). The first effort was done a few days ago with a fine-tipped roller-ball style pen (a uni-ball Signo).

On my second attempt I used a wider pen (a Bic Mark-it fine point permanent marker) and played around with color. I realized that it will be easier to mark things I'd like to color (e.g., names of God/Jesus in red in this example) on the exemplar than to try and catch it mentally as I copy.

The other brain-dead thing I realize is that a wider nib means I need to write bigger and, likely, less hurriedly. Also: Can you spot the variant inadvertently introduced in the second graphic? The exemplar is Second Timothy in Westcott/Hort without accents and punctuation. I know there is at least one spelling variant and one casing variant, though there are likely more things I've introduced that I haven't stopped to notice yet.

I'll likely play around with a few more copies of things before starting on the copy I'll make for the project.

Update (2006-01-28): Suzanne notes a link with a sample of her handwriting along with further commentary. Sounds like we're running into the same things. That's encouraging. Also, I realized I have another handwriting sample I can link to -- that of P.N. Harrison's Problem of the Pastoral Epistles, which has a handwritten edition of the Pastorals in an appendix. (See 2Ti 1.1-2.1 here) Two years or so ago I scanned the pages and put them online. Check 'em out.

Post Author: rico
Saturday, January 28, 2006 1:13:30 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Since Murray left a comment on the original post asking about the status, I thought I'd take a minute to blog an update.

The experiment is a go. Three people have contacted me with interest and I've sent them some materials to get started. At least one has started. I fully intend to do some copying, but haven't had a spare moment to get going yet. I figure four samples is enough to at least look at. As samples come in, and as I collate them, I'll keep y'all informed as to what's happening.

If you're interested in copying out, by hand, Second Timothy please let me know. More details here.

Update (2006-01-24): Just took a spare moment to get started and whipped out most of chapter 1. Hoo-boy is my MS hand bad. Well, my handwriting in my native language is bad, so I guess it is no surprise my Greek handwriting isn't the most legible. Collation should be a hoot!

Update II (2006-01-25): Wow, just got two more folks interested in playing the scribe. Sweet! Anybody else? Feel free to email me.

Update III (2006-01-26): Suzanne, one of this experiment's most enthusiastic participants, leaves a comment below with an update to her status. I appreciate Suzanne's contribution and I appreciate her blogging. Yep, she blogs for the Better Bibles Blog but also has her own unique corner of blogdom in Abecedaria (which I've recently listed in the blogroll at the right). If you like ancient language and are generally interested in writing systems, check out Abecedaria! And ... if I get my act together and swallow my pride, I may actually take a digital photo of a practice page I copied of the start of 2 Timothy and post it on the blog! So stay tuned.

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, January 24, 2006 9:59:22 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Others have posted, but to make sure Google indexes this baby high, I figure it's my duty to post a link to Michael Bird's email interview/chat with Stanley Porter. Be sure to read the comments, and also to read Michael Turton's reaction.

If I'm reading Porter's comments correctly, I'd guess he thinks Reuben Swanson, with his New Testament Greek Manuscripts (more on that here), is on to something. Michael Bird dabbled a post (actually, two posts) on the topic of commentaries based on NT Manuscripts; I interacted a bit with the idea as well.

Lastly, to Michael Bird, congrats on the book!

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, January 18, 2006 10:16:00 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Friday, December 23, 2005

I posted last week about Comparing Text Editions to Determine Common Errors. At the end of that post, I was brainstorming/blathering (the line is fine; I cross it often) about a project/experiment to start with a known text and have a group of folks copy it. Folks would return their copies to me. Then I'd examine the copies to see what sorts of errors cropped up.

I realize some folks have done this sort of thing in classroom settings; others have approached the problem backwards — starting with an intentionally corrupted text and attempting to reconstruct the textual basis.

I'm thinking of something a little different. I have a general interest in manuscript transmission and scribal habits (hence the title of the post). I've read some about this — various articles as well as the standards from Metzger and Aland/Aland — but know that I learn best when I dive in and do stuff.

So, I'd like to think seriously about a project that starts with a known vorlage and copies it. And then it collates the copies against the original. If participation warrants, further generations of copies can be made and then even more fun can be had (MS reconstruction, anyone?); but that would not be part of the original project.

I'd like to offer these general thoughts and guidelines.

First: Only folks with some knowledge of the Greek language are candidates. I'd like to set the bare minimum at one year of instruction in the Greek language and relatively active use. That is, if I took one year of Greek ten years ago and haven't used it since, I'd be ineligible. But if I took a year of Greek ten years ago and still refer to the Greek NT when studying, I'd be eligible. If I've used Greek a lot but typically through Strongs numbers ... well, I wouldn't be eligible. If my only experience is with interlinears ... well, I wouldn't be eligible. I'm willing to make exceptions to those who plead their case, however, so if this interests you please be sure to inquire (see Eighth point below).

Second: The text copied will be an entire epistle as I'd like a large chunk with plenty of opportunity for error. I have to admit alternative motives for the epistle I've chosen. I hope to next year begin an in-depth examination of Second Timothy. Since I will be reading (and re-reading, and re-reading) the copied passage, it makes sense to select Second Timothy so that I will get intimately familiar with the Greek of the letter in the process.

Third: The text copied will not have verse breaks, chapter breaks, accents, breathing marks or punctuation. It will use the characters we're all familiar with, however. I won't be up-casing the text and removing spaces. I'll supply the canonical PDF copy (which will be the Westcott-Hort edition with accents/etc. removed) to those interested.

Fourth: I'll be copying too, don't worry. But I should say that participants will be expected to copy the text; no fair playing scribal tricks on Rico and emending the text. If a text is deemed sufficiently corrupt as to have been submitted in bad faith, I'll simply exclude it from the sample.

Fifth: All copying is to be done by hand (no typing) on clean unruled paper. Ink (any color) is required. Paper size is at your discretion. If you are familiar with scribal habits, you are free to employ such as you see fit (e.g. adding light margins and/or rules in pencil to your paper to assist with the copying process). Manuscript illuminations are optional. Also optional: Make a palimpsest by copying something in pencil first, erasing it, and then writing the Second Timothy passage in ink over the erased portion. Or vice-versa: Second Timothy in pencil, erase, and copy something in ink over the top. (I'm only half joking).

Sixth: All original copies are to be sent to me. I'll provide further information on the expectations and process as well as my mailing address to those who express interest.

Seventh: By returning a copy you are giving me your work. You'll be credited, of course, but I will be free to publish images or excerpts thereof online, in print or wherever I see fit. Conference papers, books, articles, or blathering along on the internet somewhere. If this project commences, I can fairly much guarantee that anonymous images of your copies will be put on the internet. Your name will likely be cited in associated material but not directly with a given MS copy so as to keep the copies themselves somewhat anonymous.

Eighth: If you're interested in taking part, contact me at text geek at g mail dot com. The address is also in the sidebar to the right if you are unable to munge the above into an address. If there are ten (10) respondants willing to take part in this project, then I'll consider it a go and get materials together for distribution.

I'll post more on the project status if there is sufficient interest. If you've made it this far and have a suggestion for the project name, please leave a comment with your suggestion.


Post Author: rico
Friday, December 23, 2005 11:39:01 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, December 22, 2005

Eli pointed me to the Wulfila project after he saw a blog post on Abecedaria. We'd looked at Wulfila a few years back, but they've been doing a lot of work in the interim.

Most interesting to me is the encoding and analysis of the available Bible fragments, from Argentus and Ambrosianus to other smaller fragments. The upshot is relatively decent coverage of the New Testament.

Check it out. Click around. You can get into dictionaries from the text rather easily. The text itself is transliterated and aligned with English and Greek versions at the verse level. There is preliminary morphological analysis and even some lexical form tagging. Links are to a dictionary that is image-only, so you jump to a page that you need to scan to find the article (and the Greek sigmas are lunate in the dictionary, so make sure to take that into account). But still — it makes rudimentary work with the Gothic early version much easier than it would otherwise be.

This brings to mind a quote from Charles Ellicott (c. 1860), from the preface to his commentary on the Pastoral Epistles:

"I have at last been enabled to carry out, though to a very limited extent, the long cherished wish of using some of the best versions of antiquity for exegetical purposes. ... The Latin, the Syriac, and the Gothic, have been somewhat carefully compared throughout these Epistles. ...

"In thus breaking ground in the Ancient Versions, I would here very earnestly invite fellow-labourers into the same field. It is not easy to imagine a greater service than might be rendered to Scriptural exegesis if scholars would devote themselves to the hearty study of one or more of these Versions. ...

" ... the study of the ancient Versions for exegetical purposes may be very earnestly recommended. The amount of labour will not be very formidable, and in some cases we have fair, if not good, literary appliances. There seems good reason for not going beyond the Syriac, the Old Latin, the Vulgate, the Gothic, the Coptic, and the Ethiopic. ... For the present, at any rate, the Syriac, Old Latin, Vulgate, Gothic, Coptic, and Ethiopic are all that need demand attention."

Update (2005-12-22): I forgot to mention that Eli made his own groovy Gothic font called Gotisch a few years back. Of the font, Eli says:

Gotisch is a Gothic font, and by that, I mean a font representing the Gothic alphabet, as written by Wulfila and presumably as used by the Goths. I do not mean “Gothic” as in sans-serif typefaces or black-letter or fraktur typefaces, nor as in architectural forms with tall, skinny windows, nor as in painting your face up all circus-like and wearing tatted leather clothes.

Check it out

Post Author: rico
Thursday, December 22, 2005 10:37:14 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Friday, December 16, 2005

Out of curiousity —

Does anyone know of any studies done where the same Greek MS (or MS portion) has been copied by several different people of varying Greek abilities?

It seems to me that if there was a common source text that was copied in controlled environments by "scribes" of varying skill (both skill in Greek and scribal ability) with the goal of creating an accurate copy; comparing the output to the known source to track the sorts of errors encountered might be a valuable thing.

I'm not talking about examining known ancient MSS. I'm talking about getting a group of friends together and simply saying, "Hey, let's hand-copy First John* and see what sorts of errors crop up". Heck, make it easy and skip accents/breathing, just copy the letters.

Anybody know of any analysis done like this? It seems that such an approach — while it wouldn't utilize actual, bona-fide scribes unless you run in such circles — could be valuable in thinking about the sorts of transcription errors and their frequency.

For fun, one could take the experiment a few generations down the way and even have someone "consolidate" MS editions five and six generations removed from original source and then compare the accuracy of the text-critical work.

If this hasn't been done, I'd be interested in thinking further about it. Any suggestions as to source to copy or if you'd like to volunteer to be a test scribe should this experiment occur;** please leave a comment in the thread or email me using the address on the sidebar.


Update (2005-12-16): Whoa, two comments within an hour of posting! That is some sort of ricoblog record, I think. I should expand a bit since I've thought about this some after the initial post. I'm thinking that larger samples than a classroom setting, wider range of skills for copyists (I talked to one guy who said he'd do it, and he's have his kids do it too), wider geographic participation (potentially worldwide, I'd guess) and no time constraints for copying. I'm less interested in an exercise for students and more interested in gathering a decent amount of somewhat real data from folks of all different skill levels copying Greek text that can be used as base for analysis. Interested? Continue using the comments to post your thoughts or send me an email. I'll likely be digesting this over the weekend, so please make your thoughts known!

* First John chosen semi-randomly. I'm curious on thoughts as to whether familiar or unfamiliar text would be appropriate for such a test. I'm also curious about how long of a text to select. It seems a shorter (but not one chapter) epistle such as 2 Thessalonians, 2 Peter, Titus or Colossians might be fun. Or perhaps Mt 5-7 (Sermon on the Mount)?

** If the experiment does occur, I would plan on posting (anonymously) photos/scans of all copied text for others to examine along with some rudimentary analysis. If anyone else produced similar analysis of materials, I'd of course link to it or offer to host it.

Post Author: rico
Friday, December 16, 2005 9:49:11 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Monday, December 12, 2005

From a veritable flurry of posts on Evangelical Textual Criticism, the following are of note:

I have in my mind a paper by a well-known scholar on a certain Latin writer, half of which was concerned with grammar and half with criticism. The grammatical part was excellent; it showed wide reading and accurate observation, and contributed matter which was both new and valuable. In the textual part the author was like nothing so much as an ill-bred child interrupting the conversation of grown men. If it was possible to mistake the question at issue, he mistook it. If an opponent's arguments were contained in some book which was not at hand, he did not try to find the book, but he tried to guess the arguments; and he never succeeded. If the book was at hand, and he had read the arguments, he did not understand them; and represented his opponents as saying the opposite of what they had said. If another scholar had already removed a corruption by slightly altering the text, he proposed to remove it by altering the text violently. So possible is it to be a learned man, and admirable in other departments, and yet to have in you not even the makings of a critic.

Drop by Evangelical Textual Criticism and give the rest of the recent posts a read too.

Update (2005-12-12): More from the A.E. Houseman article. This is an awesome read. Below are some more quotes from the paper.

"The human senses have had a much longer history than the human intellect, and have been brought much nearer to perfection: they are far more acute, far less easy to deceive. The difference between an icicle and a red-hot poker is really much slighter than the difference between truth and falsehood or sense and nonsense; yet it is much more immediately noticeable and much more universally noticed, because the body is more sensitive than the mind. I find therefore that a good way of exposing the falsehood of a statement or the absurdity of an argument in textual criticism is to transpose it into sensuous terms and see what it looks like then. If the nouns which we use are the names of things which can be handled or tasted, differing from one another in being hot or cold, sweet or sour, then we realise what we are saying and take care what we say. But the terms of textual criticism are deplorably intellectual; and probably in no other field do men tell so many falsehoods in the idle hope that they are telling the truth, or talk so much nonsense in the vague belief that they are talking sense." (pp. 72-73)

"This is thoughtlessness in the sphere of recension: come now to the sphere of emendation. There is one foolish sort of conjecture which seems to be commoner in the British Isles than anywhere else, though it is also practiced abroad, and of late years especially at Munich. The practice is, if you have persuaded yourself that a text is corrupt, to alter a letter or two and see what happens. If what happens is anything which the warmest good-will can mistake for sense and grammar, you call it an emendation; and you call this silly game the palaeographical method." (p. 77)

I'm tempted to paste in the conclusion to the paper, but you really need to go read the whole thing yourself and simply enjoy the end. It really isn't that long; the original printing ran from pp. 67-84; and even those pages don't appear to be too big. It is a quick and enjoyable read.

Post Author: rico
Monday, December 12, 2005 8:00:37 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Friday, November 11, 2005

I can't believe I forgot to mention this, but it's finally here.

Comfort & Barrett's The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts is available for Logos Bible Software. It's not a pre-pub, it is a bona-fide product. I think it will be back from replication shortly; I know I'll have it installed soon and that we'll be able to demonstrate it at the ETS and SBL conferences.

How cool is that? I mean, check this out. P46 and NA27 scrolling side by side?


Post Author: rico
Friday, November 11, 2005 9:17:05 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Monday, November 07, 2005

Yes, I'm a little late to the game here, but I thought I'd blog regarding Michael F. Bird's post on Euangelion about commentaries based on particular NT manuscripts.

For background, here are a few posts:

I read Michael's first post on the day it was written and even commented on it, but it's been mulling in my mind ever since (BTW, kudos to Stephen C. Carlson [Hypotyposeis] for pointing out that I was wrong in my comment on Euangelion and that Reuben Swanson's stuff uses Vaticanus, not Alexandrinus -- Can't believe I messed that up).

I'm still intruiged by this idea of doing exegesis/commentary on particular manuscripts. I don't know how much value it would have directly for exegetical or homiletical purposes, but I think rigorous work on individual manuscripts (particularly larger manuscripts) could be quite useful in other contexts.

I'm thinking particularly of the areas of MS provenance and history. The NA27/UBS4 MS table in the back (or in the tri-fold insert) may tell me wher an MS is housed today, but that's not much. Because an MS was found or is housed at a particular location doesn't mean it has always been at that location (e.g. monastry or library or museum). The MS history could be (was, in most cases) quite different. Doing detailed studies and even exegesis of MS as written could help in establishing provenance, couldn't it? To develop theories about unique aspects of particular MS and align those with other data that helps us understand the distinctives of what was being taught in a particular area at a particular time?

Ever since reading an article by Eldon Jay Epp in the Spring 2004 JBL, “The Oxyrhynchus New Testament Papryi: 'Not Without Honor Except in Their Hometown'?” (watch out, link is to a PDF file) I've thought it would be cool to have access to these sorts of systematic MS studies, all done with a particular goal: To establish the provenance of a particular MS, to determine what elements of the MS lead one toward particular conclusions regarding provenance. To be useful as a group, the same basic template and/or methodology would have to be followed. But I can see something like:

  • Transcription of the papyrus, or rights to use existing transcription (e.g. Comfort & Douglas')
  • Critical apparatus listing variants in NA/UBS, Byz, and perhaps major uncials or other MS (e.g. Sinaticus, A, B, D, etc.)
  • Translation of the MS itself.
  • If there could be an evaluation of the MS against quotations in the church fathers, that would be most excellent -- particularly for readings unique to the MS or minority readings the MS contains.
  • Same thing, only comparing against early versions. Does the Latin, Syriac, Coptic or Ethiopic seem to prefer a reading espoused by this particular MS?
  • Exegetical commentary of the MS itself focusing on the unique spots (as compared to NA/UBS) and on how exegesis based on these areas leads to conclusions that might be different from exegesis based on the critical text.

Can you imagine a series that would focus on this sort of thing? It would need to focus on some of the larger MSS. Perhaps focus on MSS that cover a given proportion (let's say more than half?) of a single book of the Bible. These 'commentaries' would therefore cover the length of the MS, not necessarily single books (though perhaps they could?)

Anyway, I think it would need to be clear that such volumes would not be written with the intent of providing source material for homiletical purposes, or for foundation of doctrine (particularly the variants that are way out there). But from a text-critical perspective, wouldn't it be valuable to have access to studies on provenance, text history, textual distinctives and resulting effect on exegesis, as well as areas where minority variants have been potentially cited? Couldn't that, in turn, have a beneficial effect on textual criticism as practiced today, particularly as applied in the continued development of the eclectic critical text?

Update (2005-11-08): Michael Pahl has a response and further discusssion. I say: bring it on! I'd hate to think I could define a whole series in five minutes of banging out a bulleted list in a blog post.

Also, in the comments below Michael Bird (Euangelion) wonders aloud if publishers would be willing to print such a beast. Of that, I have no idea whatsoever. But some academic publishers (e.g. Brill, Eisenbrauns, etc.) publish some narrowly focused material.

Update II (2005-11-08): Danny Zacharias (Deinde) adds his views to the conversation. He's right too; "commentaries" along the lines discussed in all of these posts would have limited appeal and those using them would need to realize they are commenting on a particular manuscript (and therefore on a particular era or community of believers) and not necessarily advocating new practice or doctrine when dealing with theologically significant variants.

Post Author: rico
Monday, November 07, 2005 10:28:57 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Sunday, October 30, 2005

It's been almost a week since I've blogged. I can sense busy-ness between now and the ETS and AAR/SBL meetings, so blogging will be sporadic.

That said, I do have a question.

I was looking at Mk 1.14-15 this morning. The pastor at the church I attend has commenced a series on Mark, and this was the text for this morning. So it made sense to look at it prior to going to church.

Here's the text in the ESV:

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." (Mk 1:14-15)

Here's the text in the NA27:

Μετὰ δὲ τὸ παραδοθῆναι τὸν Ἰωάννην ἦλθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν * κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ λέγων ὅτι πεπλήρωται ὁ καιρὸς καὶ ἤγγικεν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ· μετανοεῖτε καὶ πιστεύετε ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ. (Mk 1:14-15)

I read the text, understood it, and even diagrammed it! Cool stuff is going on here. So I thought I'd check variants. Byzantine editions of v. 14 have a variant that makes "preaching the gospel of God" read as "preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God". This is also represented in Codex Bezae (D).

However, Codex Bezae (D) has another (potential) variant that isn't listed in either the NA27 apparatus or in Tischendorf. Here's the Greek of Codex Bezae (from Scrivener's transcription, which I picked up rather reasonably priced from Amazon):

                         και μετα το παραδοθηναι
τον ιωαννην· ηλθεν ο ΙΗΣ εις την γαλαλαιαν
κηρυσσων το ευαγγελιον της βασιλιεας του ΘΥ
λεγων οτι πεπληρωνται οι καιροι
και ηγγικεν η βαβασιλεια του ΘΥ
μετανοειτε και πιστευεται εν τω ευαγγελιω

Upper-case letters mark nomina sacra; Scrivener's transcription uses overlines for these.

If you compare this to NA27 above, you'll see several variants. But the one that isn't attested anywhere is βαβασιλεια (D) vs. βασιλεία (NA27). Curious, and knowing that a photographic facsimile of Bezae (D) was on the web, I looked it up. Here are the verses (line breaking is the same as above, starting in the middle of line two, if you're interested in tracking):

The sixth line is the line in question. This is really blurry, but there is something down there, illegible though it may be. But βαβασιλεια makes no sense to me. Please enlighten me if it is some attic reduplication or something else going on that I'm just not catching.

Would the actual Bezae be more legible than this photo? I'm guessing so, but how much more, really? The second blurry letter does appear to be consistent with the other alphas in proximity. The first blurry letter may really be a beta, but that only makes sense to me after considering Scrivener, not before. Are there any other possibilities here? Or is βαβασιλεια it? And if so, what does the prepended βα indicate? Or is it just a mistake in transcription (homoioarcton)?

Update (2005-10-31): Jim West responds with a note that he sees the area in question as (from what I can tell) as simply a smudge that shouldn't be read, and that Scrivener's transcription is therefore mistaken. I'm not so sure it's that easy; Scrivener is reconciling the smudge the best he can.

This also would bring up a question regarding transcription: Shouldn't the transcriber try to transcribe the document as best reflects the document, not what may or may not make sense? That is, if you look at the graphic again, you'll see lots of stuff of uneven quality (in the photo, anyway) that could be written off as difficult to read but that obviously represents real content. Shouldn't the transcriber try to encode that in the transcription instead of writing it off as a smudge, even if the smudge doesn't make sense?

For now I'm writing the variant off as homoioarcton of the first two letters of the word. If there are other options (in addition to smudge/error and homoioarcton) please comment, drop an email, or post on your own blog and let me know.

Update II (2005-11-01): Pete responds in the comments with more helpful info. You need to read the comment, but Pete's tentative conclusion is:

OK. Definitely BABASILEIA. Whole page does exhibit damage, so not quite confident that it is a correction by erasure, although that would be my hunch

I'll take Pete's word for it. So, I'm guessing error by homoioarcton (errant duplication of the first two letters of the word) with potential correction by erasure, thus resulting in smudgieness. The bottom line seems to be that this is an error and not witness to the underlying Bezan source; thus βασιλεία should be read here.

Thanks for the help, Pete!

Post Author: rico
Sunday, October 30, 2005 10:29:22 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, October 20, 2005

I was looking into the word τιμάω (because I am working on 1Ti 5.3) and came across 2Cl 3.5:

For he also says in Isaiah, "This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far removed from me."

This, of course, is a quote of Is 23.19. I thought to myself, "Gee, it would be cool to compare that to the LXX of Is 23.19". So let's do it.

Note: It's late, and I'm doing this on the fly. Mistakes are very possible, if you catch something please leave a comment or drop me an email.

LXX 1Cl Notes
ὁ λαὸς οὗτος τοῖς χείλεσιν αὐτῶν Ὁ λαὸς οὗτος τοῖς χείλεσίν The LXX has a demonstrative pronoun (plural genitive) where First Clement has none.
τιμῶσίν με με τιμᾷ Word order different. LXX has a plural where First Clement has a singular.
ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν No difference
πόρρω ἀπέχει πόρρω ἄπεστιν The adverb is the same, but the verb is different; LXX "is far from" (NETS) vs. 1Cl "far removed" (Ehrman). They both parse the same way.
ἀπ ̓ ἐμοῦ ἀπ ̓ ἐμοῦ No difference

So, not a whole lot of difference. The LXX's plural demonstrative pronoun plus plural verb make sense and Second Clement's singular subject and verb each make sense in their particular context. The difference in verb in the fourth section, however, isn't easy to explain. No variants are listed in Ehrman. So, I checked Lightfoot's massive edition of Clement. He writes,

From Is 29.13, modified by the form in which it is quoted in the Gospels; see the note on the genuine Epistle of Clement section 15 [1Cl 15], where again it is quoted in almost exactly the same form as here.

The reference is 1Cl 15.2, which is as follows:

[{Οὗτος ὁ λαὸς} τοῖς χείλεσίν] [με τιμᾷ,] [ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν] [πόρρω ἄπεστιν] [ἀπ ̓ ἐμοῦ]

Almost the same, except for the italic portion in curved braces has a different word order in 2Cl 3.5. Of this citation, Lightfoot writes:

From Is 29.13, which is quoted also in Mt 15.8, Mk 7.6. Clement follows the Evangelists rather than the original text. ... Both Evangelists have ἀπέχει with the LXX, where Clement has ἄπεστιν. Clem. Alex. follows our Clement, modifying the form however to suit his context. (Lightfoot, Clement, vol. II p. 55)

Again, not much difference at all. Realizing that the MSS that 1 & 2 Clement is primarily based on dates to 1056 AD, and that we've got Gospel MSS that are far earlier than that whatever your perspective on MSS dating is. I'd guess the form of those MSS is better attestation of the LXX than a 10th century Clement MSS. I'd check the LXX but don't have the edition with the apparatus handy.

NA27 has a very short note on Mt 15.8 that seems somewhat misleading, noting that Bezae, 1424 all the Latin and Cl (Clement of Alexandria) have εστιν instead of ἀπέχει. That changes the saying, but I'm guessing that's why they're minority readings. So I checked Bezae, and that's what it has. Sounds like that's what Clement of Alexandria has to (cf. Lightfoot's note that Clem. Alex. modifies the form). I say "somewhat misleading" because the NA27 apparatus traditionally lists the MSS that support the text's reading; though I guess in this instance the support is so overwhelming it wasn't necessary.

On the whole, looking from Second Clement back to the LXX, the transmission of at least this verse didn't seem to get too messed up.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, October 20, 2005 11:48:42 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Thursday, September 01, 2005

Mark Goodacre (NT Gateway Weblog) posted a link to the homepage for the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing (ITSEE) a few days back.

Since it sounds like my kind of place, I poked around the website. Boy howdy! It sure does sound like my kind of place.

Poking around the site, I found this paper. It is a proposed paper for SNTS in Halle:

The Joint IGNTP/INTF Edito Critica Maior of the Gospel of John: its goals and their significance for New Testament Scholarship

There is some decent background of the project as well as a very nice worked example of the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (CBGM) that uses James 4.12 as a basis. If you're into textual criticism, you'll probably want to read it.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, September 01, 2005 4:01:35 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Sunday, August 28, 2005

Over on Biblaridion, Bryan Cox has a post about paleography and minuscule script. Since I asked a question about this just over a year ago (in my first week of posting!) you know I'm interested.

It's well worth the read, so hop on over and check it out. Particularly interesting are the tables of minuscule characters, ligatures and abbreviations that he links to.

Post Author: rico
Sunday, August 28, 2005 10:37:31 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Sunday, July 31, 2005

As everyone should do time to time, I've been thinking about 1Co 13. I'm in the process of reading through the Pauline epistles in larger chunks (a couple of chapters at a time, though I repeat sections frequently) and this past week I was in the middle of First Corinthians. On Thursday, I found myself in chapter 13, and I just had to camp out there for awhile.

The first thing I learned is that one really needs to read chapters 12 and 13 together. The end of chapter 12 leads right into chapter 13. And when you hit chapter 13, here's what you find in the first three verses in the ESV:

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels
but have not love
I am a noisy gong or clanging cymbal

And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and knowledge
and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains
but have not love
I am nothing

If I give away all I have
and if I deliver my body up to be burned
but have not love
I gain nothing

Now that's poetry. Let's check it out in the Greek (UBS4), and work with that:

Ἐὰν ταῖς γλώσσαις τῶν ἀνθρώπων λαλῶ καὶ τῶν ἀγγέλων,
ἀγάπην δὲ μὴ ἔχω,
γέγονα χαλκὸς ἠχῶν ἢ κύμβαλον ἀλαλάζον.

καὶ ἐὰν ἔχω προφητείαν καὶ εἰδῶ τὰ μυστήρια πάντα καὶ πᾶσαν τὴν γνῶσιν
καὶ ἐὰν ἔχω πᾶσαν τὴν πίστιν ὥστε ὄρη μεθιστάναι,
ἀγάπην δὲ μὴ ἔχω,
οὐθέν εἰμι.

κἂν ψωμίσω πάντα τὰ ὑπάρχοντά μου
καὶ ἐὰν παραδῶ τὸ σῶμά μου ἵνα καυχήσωμαι,
ἀγάπην δὲ μὴ ἔχω,
οὐδὲν ὠφελοῦμαι.

You can start to see the structure a bit better now. Each verse (or 'stanza', that they match the NT versification is a happy coincidence) has three elements: The "If ... ", the "but ... " and the result. I'm sure that English Lit majors and poetry buffs have the terminology for such things down, but I really don't. I can spot it when it is obvious (like here, at least to me), but my terminology is surely incorrect. That's why I use the simple labels of "If ... ", "but ... " and result -- because even I can understand them.

The first verse only has one "If", regarding the use of the gift of tongues. In the other verses, the pattern is more evident: Two "ifs", one "but" and the result. The effect of all three verses is to consider one's actions and motives to arrive at a result. The pattern is basically:

If I do stuff
but have not love
I am [negative result]

In Greek, the pattern could be:

Ἐὰν / καὶ ἐὰν / κἂν [do stuff]
ἀγάπην δὲ μὴ ἔχω,
[negative result]

[For a few text-critical questions on this structure, see below]

What is the overall theme of 1Co 13.1-3? If my actions aren't fueled by love, then I am doing nothing. My actions have no effect and are useless.

And "love" here isn't some soft, touchy-feely warmness or goodwill that we feel toward others. It isn't the quality that situation ethicists proclaim to have as a motive when they're really justifying sin. It isn't love like that old Coca-Cola commercial, you know, where the "whole world" is singing in perfect harmony, running around on a grassy hill on a perfectly sunny day, with everyone all smiles and happy.

This love is the love of Christ and it is defined in 1Co 13.4-7. We are to practice the love that Jesus practiced when he offered himself up for us -- Sovereign God for sinful man. Paul is saying that we are to do the same here. He's just finished talking about the Lord's Supper (1Co 11.17-34), how we have fellowship with the body of Christ. He's just finished talking about spiritual gifts and how the church is like a body, a single unit, that works together with each part exercising different gifts in obedience and to the glory of God. 

Paul's point? I think it has something to do with keeping our focus on God. When we exercise the gifts we have been given (and we all have gifts so we need to exercise them regularly and frequently, cf. Ro 12 and 1Co 12) we must do so with our focus off of ourselves. For me, that means when I teach, or when I write, I can't be thinking or focusing on the benefits I receive from the preparation or the teaching. I need to focus on acting with the love of Christ to glorify God. God will use it for his purposes, not mine. And I need to be about his purposes, not mine.

Now, a few observations that didn't fit up above. These are questions I don't really have answers to, if you have thoughts please feel free to email me,  or comment on your own blog (with a trackback or notify me so I can add a link) or simply comment on this thread. Note that NA27 has no variants listed in either instance mentioned below. Where Tischendorf has variants, I've listed them below.

1. Why does the text have κἂν (crasis for καὶ ἐὰν) in the first line of the third verse? I understand that these are equivalent in meaning, but what would be the reason for having the crasis only once and the expanded form elsewhere? Wouldn't καὶ ἐὰν make more sense? Tischendorf (if I'm reading it correctly) notes that uncials A B and C each support the crasis, but Sinaiticus along with D E F G K and L (and some citations from the Fathers) support καὶ ἐὰν. Tischendorf actually goes with Sinaiticus, so he is at variance with UBS/NA. I'll grant that agreement between A and B is meaningful, but the variant doesn't make sense to me. It may be insightful to see where the word occurs on the line in each of the MSS -- could the MSS that support the crasis have had a scribe who used the crasis because the line was running short? Any thoughts?

2. Why does the text have οὐθέν εἰμι at the end of v. 2, but οὐδὲν ὠφελοῦμαι at the end of v. 3? Again, I understand that these are equivalent, but is there a good reason for the different orthography? Does it have to do with the verbs the word occurs with? The two letters in question (theta and delta) sound very much alike and I'd think they could be easily confused, either in a scribe's head as he was copying the exemplar, or mis-heard if a text was copied based on an oral reading. Any ideas? FWIW, Tischendorf cites D* F G and Ksem as supporting οὐδὲν in v. 2. Sinaticus, along with A B C Dc and L support the NA27 reading; I can see why on uncial evidence one would agree with the NA/UBS reading. But does it make sense that a (seemingly needless) orthography difference would take place in text like this?

Update (2005-08-01): Cheers to Stephen C. Carlson (Hypotyposeis) for yet another very insightful answer via blog comment. Stephen, I can't thank you enough for putting up with my questions and giving a concise and informative response. I hadn't thought to examine the consistency of MSS as reported by Tischendorf for the other instances of καὶ ἐὰν. Someday, when I get my junior text-critic merit badge, you'll be one among others that I'll have to thank.

Update II (2005-08-02): I completely forgot, but I have a copy of Reuben Swanson's New Testament Greek Manuscripts for First Corinthians on my desk. Talk about the perfect resource to fully examine the problem. It addresses the have κἂν / καὶ ἐὰν issue and the οὐθέν οὐδὲν issue. Short answer: Manuscripts are all over the place here. Some consolidate, some split. I don't have time to post more now, but perhaps I'll get to that tomorrow. 

Post Author: Rico
Sunday, July 31, 2005 9:35:24 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, July 27, 2005

In this week's Religion Bookline from Publishers Weekly (scroll down, look for pink text) they've got a preview of an upcoming review of a new title by Bart D. Ehrman. The book is titled Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the New Testament and Why. The title is scheduled for release in November.

The "sneak peek" is:

In the absence of any original manuscripts of the books of the New Testament, how can we be sure that we're getting the intended words and meaning? Ehrman, professor of religion at UNC-Chapel Hill, has devoted his life to the study of such questions and here offers an engaging and fascinating look at the way scholars try to answer them. Part memoir, part history, and part critical study, he traces the development of the academic discipline called textual criticism, which uses external and internal evidence to evaluate and compare ancient manuscripts in order to find the best readings. Ehrman points out that scribes altered almost all of the manuscripts we now have. His absorbing story, fresh and lively prose, and seasoned insights into the challenges of recreating the texts of the New Testament ensure that readers might never read the Gospels or Paul's letters the same way again. (Nov.)

Sounds like fun reading, no? I'm curious to know what is meant by " ... scribes altered almost all of the manuscripts we now have." Surely scribes didn't copy perfectly, they made numerous inadvertent (and mostly inconsequential) errors. But is the contention that scribes willfully and purposely altered just about anything they produced?

Update (2006-01-12): I've been meaning to get back to this for awhile. Thanks to Pat for the comment below. I've since read comments (sorry, don't recall from where) that Ehrman wanted a different title for the book. Apparently the title sensationalizes a bit, though Ehrman seems to be staking out for himself a position of more frequent and intentional MS changes. Other textual critics I've read don't seem to take a similar line on the frequency of intentional changes. Or is my (admittedly unresearched) conception of Ehrman's position a result of the ensationalism and marketing hype and not reflective of his actual position?


Post Author: rico
Wednesday, July 27, 2005 10:27:56 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Hi folks.

It's been a few days since I've blogged. Don't worry, I'm still here. I've just been sucked up by an incredibly interesting (and complex) project for Logos that you're bound to hear (and see!) more about at the SBL annual meeting in Philadelphia. When I get sucked into projects like this, things tend to go quiet. I've also been spending more time outside of Logos with a special certain someone (yes, I'm talking about Amy). And there's also that paper for the SBL CARG Biblioblogger session that's just about 'in the can'. That all amounts to less bloggin' time for Rico.

But I have been reading a bit. Most of it has to do with scribal practices, as I've discussed in earlier posts (here and here). Here are some citations if you're interested.

The Bible in Modern Scholarship: Papers read at the 100th meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. Abingdon Press, 1965. Articles read include:

  • Aland, Kurt. The Significance of the Papyri for Progress in New Testament Research. pp. 325-346.
  • Metzger, Bruce M. Recent Contributions to the Study of the Ancient Versions of the New Testament. pp. 347-369.
  • Colwell, Ernest Cadman. Scribal Habits in Early Papyri: A Study in the Corruption of the Text. pp. 370-389.

New Dimensions in New Testament Study. Zondervan, 1974. Articles read include:

  • Fee, Gordon. P75, P66 and Origen: The Myth of Early Textual Recension in Alexandria. pp. 19-45.
  • There are other articles in here I'd like to read but haven't read yet. These include:
    • Longenecker, Richard N. Ancient Amanuenses and the Pauline Epistles. pp. 281-297.
    • Burdic, Donald W. Οἰδα and Γινώσκω in the Pauline Epistles. pp. 344-356.
  • On a side note: the copy of the book that I procured via AbeBooks.com had the name "Daniel B. Wallace" handwritten on the inside, no purchase date. Stuff like that makes a guy wonder ...

These are all cool essays, but they're dense -- I need to read through them again to really grok the content. In short, I'm learning a lot about inadvertent scribal errors, but not a whole lot about the psychology or process behind intentional changes to the text. Colwell and Fee both treat P75 and P66, so one can see how two different people examined the same papryi. Read Colwell first as Fee cites him directly in spots.

I've also read sizeable chunks of Arthur Vööbus' Early Versions of the New Testament: Manuscript Studies. Are there reasons (beyond lack of publisher interest) that this book isn't more widely available? The reading really isn't too technical and I find it quite readable and informative.

I'm also re-reading C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia (in the proper as-published order, not the new-fangled 'chronological' order). Those are quick reads, though. I'm through The Lion, The Witch and thd Wardrobe and Prince Caspian. I'll dig into Voyage of the Dawn Treader a little later tonight.

Post Author: Rico
Tuesday, July 26, 2005 9:38:21 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, July 13, 2005

In a recent blog entry where I asked questions about scribal habits, Wieland Willker pointed me to an article by Peter Head. The article is short (10 pages) and easy to read -- I should know, I read it tonight, and it got me thinking. That's why I have to blog this now, otherwise my mind will be racing and I won't get much sleep tonight.

One of the papyri that Head discusses is P.Oxy XV.1781,* which has some content from Jn 16.14-30. One of his conclusions (sorry to ruin it for those of you who haven't read the article) is that in papyri of this era (2nd-3rd centuries) omission is a more common scribal blunder (intentional or not) than addition.** So I thought P.Oxy XV.1781 would be good to discuss because it has a notable omission in Jn 16.23-24. It was also good for me to look into further because I have access to a copy of Oxyrhynchus Papyri XV and could look further into what was going on. Note I'm using a pseudo-uncial (that is, all-caps) style here; Greenfell & Hunt are all lower-case. Brackets are from Greenfell & Hunt:

[P.Oxy XV.1781 lines 34-36, Jn 16.23-24]

Now, P.Oxy XV.1781 is corrected at the foot of the page. So someone recognized the issue and offered a correction on the bottom of the page. Here's that, which is slightly different (word-order wise) from NA27. Note that I can't assume the actual lines of the papyrus here, the line breaks are my own.

[P.Oxy XV.1781 Jn 16.23-24 (correction inline, bold text is added)]


For comparison, the NA27 has the following. Note that text omitted from P.Oxy XV.1781 is bold in the below text.

[NA27, Jn 16.23-24]

I should offer a disclaimer: I'm not a text critic, but I play on on the internet.*** I have zero training apart from reading the basics (Metzger, Aland & Aland, and some other stuff). But I understand the basic lingo.

Of this particular situation in P.Oxy XV.1781, Head writes:

This is most plausibly attributed to confusion caused by the repetition of ΕΝ ΤΩ ΟΝΟΜΑΤΙ ΜΟΥ at either the beginning of successive lines in his exemplar (homoioarcton) or at the end of successive lines (homoeoteleuton). (Head, 404).

Head is a little more cautious than Greenfell & Hunt, who describe the error as:

The first sentence of verse 24, εως αρτι ... ονοματι μου, was originally omitted owing to homoeoteleuton. This mistake has been corrected at the foot of the page, where l. 35 has been rewritten in a smaller and probably different hand with the missing words incorporated. A symbol calling attention to the correction was presumably entered in the right-hand margin. (Greenfell and Hunt, 12)

So, the question I asked myself: Assuming the corrected version of P.Oxy XV.1781 reflects the exemplar, how could the scribe have made this mistake? Should be easy to find out. Let's make the second assumption that the error is due to homoeoteleuton (same ending of line), as Greenfell & Hunt suggest.

[P.Oxy XV.1781 Jn 16.23-24 (assumed exemplar w/homoeoteleuton)]

Here, the thought is that while the scribe was copying the end of the first line, his attention wandered to the identical text beneath it (which would line up better in the MS), and continued from there. Here is the same text, this time assuming homoioarcton (same beginning of line):

[P.Oxy XV.1781 Jn 16.23-24 (assumed exemplar w/homoioarcton)]

And here, the thought is that as the scribe began the new line, his attention wandered down to the identical text below and he continued from there.

But isn't it also possible the scribe skipped the line on purpose? Here's the text in the ESV with the omitted part in bold:

23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (Jn 16.23-24)

To answer that question, I'd guess one would have to examine the rest of the omissions and see what their character was. As this is a fragment, that's hard to do. The other omissions and differences mentioned are nothing of that sort; this is the only significant textual issue. The most logical explanation for the missing text is the obvious one: the scribe accidentally skipped a line.

Well? Which one was it? Homoeoteleuton or Homoioarcton? Both are possible. I don't know which one it was; but that doesn't really matter now, does it? The cool thing is seeing how an inadvertent error such as this one happened. It also appears to represent the problem(s) of homoioarcton and homoeoteleuton fairly clearly, so if you didn't know those words before, now you can use them in conversation sometime today. (really, try it!) And it was fun to think through to boot.

Update (2005-07-13): In the comments, Dr. Carl Conrad points out that in talking about scribal errors, I've unwittingly committed one. A common blunder for those who type in Greek Beta Code, I had 'ΞΑΡΑ' instead of 'ΧΑΡΑ'. The above has been corrected. Thanks to Dr. Conrad for bringing it to my attention. That particular error is common enough that we really need to come up with a fancy Latin name for it.

Update II (2005-07-13): Eli Evans leaves a comment with a good point. I was imprecise in my language when questioning whether the omission was intentional. So, I've changed "the scribe skipped a line" to "the scribe accidentally skipped a line" to remove ambiguity.

* P.Oxy XV.1781. Let me demystify the abbreviations. 'P.Oxy' is the standard abbreviation denoting "Oxyrhynchus Papyri". The roman numerals represent a volume number. In this case, it's vol. XV, which was published in 1922. The '1781' is the papyrus number. This citation informs one to look up papyrus 1781 in volume 15 of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri volumes. Please be aware that, unfortunately, this one isn't on the Oxyrhynchus site. To confuse matters, this particular papyrus is also known as P5 in the context of New Testament textual criticism. So, in textual apparatuses like the NA27 or UBS4 editions, you'll see P5, not P.Oxy XV.1781.

** Significant because one of the basic rules of textual critics is, as I understand it, to "prefer the shorter reading". That is, many think scribes were more apt to add text to smooth things over, so the shorter reading (when a variant occurs) may therefore make more sense to consider. Head is saying that in papyri of this era, one cannot make that jump to the shorter reading; or at least not that easily. A preference for a shorter reading, if appropriate, must be justified on other grounds.

*** Flashbacks to American TV commercials in the 1980s (?). Scene: Guy staring into bathroom mirror, we see him waist-up from the back. Voiceover: "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV ... " He then goes on to give medical advice, schlepping some pharmaceutical. That's how it went, as I recall. My recollection in such things has proven wrong in the past, however.

Post Author: Rico
Wednesday, July 13, 2005 12:25:21 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Sunday, July 10, 2005

I've just read Michael Wade Martin's Summer 2005 JBL article Defending the "Western Non-Interpolations": The Case for an Anti-Separationist Tendenz in the Longer Alexandrian Readings. Don't worry, I'm not going to comment on the article.

But reading the article did bring up a question in my mind: What were copyists/scribes thinking? We've got manuscripts that are mostly the same, but have differences. Some differences can be ascribed to error (e.g. dittography). Other differences have to be intentional. And here, I'm thinking of the intentional differences.

I'm curious of the mechanics of interpolation or omission. Let's say there is a scribe in the middle of the second century. He's copying a gospel manuscript. What sorts of things cause him to make the decision to add or omit content? And then how does he go about actually adding or removing such content?

If he's adding content, does he just make it up as he goes along, adding bits here and there as he sees fit? Does he mark up his exemplar and then copy from the marked-up version? (and could such marking-up be one of the sources of marginal or inter-linear scribal 'correction' we see on extant manuscripts?) Could he simply be integrating 'corrections' made by a previous scribe or scribes into the text flow?

I'm sure the answer to all of the above questions something like, "yes, sometimes". If anyone has any references (online or print) to share on how scribes/copyists of NT manuscripts did their thing* -- the mechanics of the process -- please feel free to post a comment with a pointer or send me an email. Thanks!

Another question, perhaps more difficult to answer: If scribes made changes to early manuscripts to address particular controversies (as some claim) this sort of action seems to implicitly acknowledge that the NT documents were appealed to as authoritative in such circumstances/contexts. Yet scribes/copyists still (apparently) felt some freedom to enhance the authority to which both sides of the argument appealed. Why is that? How could the documents that would become the New Testament be at the same time authoritative yet in need of enhancement?

OK, I'm done for now. Move along, nothing to see here.

Update (2005-07-12): Wieland Willker responds with some citations from a Maurice Robinson article:

  • James R. Royse, "The Treatment of Scribal Leaps in Metzger's Textual Commentary," NTSt 29 (1983) 539-551.
  • ———, "Scribal Tendencies in the Transmission of the Text of the New Testament," in Ehrman and Holmes, Text of the NT, 239-252.
  • ———, "Scribal Habits in the Transmission of New Testament Texts," in Wendy D. O'Flaherty, ed., The Critical Study of Sacred Texts (Berkeley: Graduate Theological Union, 1979) 139-161.
  • Peter M. Head, "Observations on Early Papyri of the Synoptic Gospels, especially on the 'Scribal Habits,'" Biblica 71 (1990) 240-243.
  • ———, "Re-Inking the Pen: Evidence from P. Oxy. 657 (P13) concerning Unintentional Scribal Errors," NTSt 43 (1997) 466-73.
  • Maurice A. Robinson, "Scribal Habits among Manuscripts of the Apocalypse" (PhD Diss., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1982).

Next I'll have to locate some of them. The Royse essays sound most interesting (based solely on title). If anyone else has read these and can make recommendations, please feel free to do so.

Wieland also pointed me to an article in Biblica (which I didn't know was online, but that's my fault) by Peter M. Head: The Habits of New Testament Copyists: Singular Readings in the Early Fragmentary Papyri of John. This is available as HTML and PDF.

Thanks for the info, Wieland!

* I'm already on the hunt for Ernest Cadman Colwell's essay "Scribal Habits in Early Papyri: A Study in the Corruption of the Text" (from Bible in Modern Scholarship: Papers read at the 100th meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, 1965). Abebooks (how could I live without them!) has several copies priced at $15 and under.

Post Author: Rico
Sunday, July 10, 2005 5:19:44 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Old books are cool. I came across a copy of the Companion to the Greek Testament published by Cambridge in 1867. The author is A.C. Barrett. I think editions were published as late as 1887.

I've only looked over the (short) chapter on the text of the New Testament. It is short, concise and quite helpful as an introduction. The brief intros describing different uncial codices are interesting. Here's what they say about Claromontanus:

The Codex Claromontanus (D in the Pauline Epistles) was found in the monastery of Clermont, and is now in the Imperial Library at Paris. It is a Greek-Latin MS containing St. Paul's Epistles, and belongs to the sixth century. Bishop Marsh thought that the Epistle to the Hebrews was added by another transcriber; but Tischendorf, after a careful examination of the MS, has decided that it was written by the same person as the rest of the MS. Dr. Mill supposed it to be the second part of the Codex Bezae, but Wetstein and Bp. Marsh have proved that his opinion is erroneous. It was published by Tischendorf in 1852.

That's it. Short and sweet. Although in later portions of the book, Hebrews is grouped with the Paulines instead of the catholic/general epistles.

Post Author: Rico
Tuesday, June 07, 2005 6:24:36 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Thursday, May 19, 2005

Mark Goodacre provides a link to a story about how Reuben Swanson is passing along his collection of MS facsimiles (microfiche, print editions, etc.) to Kent Clarke, professor of religious studies at Trinity Western University (about an hour from Bellingham ... yippee!).

I've written about Dr. Swanson's work on ricoblog before. His stuff is impressive and helpful; I'm looking forward to seeing Dr. Clarke take up the baton and run with it. And if he needs any help with the Pastoral Epistles ... I'm just an hour away (ha, ha, only half-joking!)

But in reading the story posted on Newswise, I came across the following paragraph. In a Jim-Davila-inspired moment,* I decided I needed to post about it. Here's the paragraph in question:

One notable collation scrutinized by Swanson’s critical edition is Constantine Von Tischendorff’s eighth edition of the Greek New Testament. This book is generally regarded as the most accurate edition of the Greek Bible, and it’s critical editions such as this that most modern English translations—such as the New International Version (NIV)—are based upon.

First, they've misspelled Tischendorf's name. And there's the phrase "... and it's critical editions such as this ..." that needs to be rewritten. But I'll leave issues of spelling and grammar aside and get on with the textual stuff.

I'm willing to be wrong, but I've never heard that Tischendorf's eighth major edition is "generally regarded as the most accurate edition of the Greek Bible". Seems like there's some confusion between Tischendorf's eighth major edition and Codex Sinaiticus.

I'll grant that Sinaiticus is one of the oldest, most complete manuscripts available and that it is relied upon heavily in textual criticism. And one major aspect of Swanson's approach is to use Vaticanus as the primary text in contrast to Sinaiticus. But the claim of "most accurate" seems difficult to substantiate.

Also, the NIV isn't based on Tischendorf's text. I don't know of a single modern translation based on Tischendorf's text. To be fair, the paragraph doesn't explicitly say that, but they sure leave it ambiguous.  The NA/UBS text (which is at least the text most textual scholars agree to use as the basis for translated editions) differs from Tischendorf's in numerous places. I don't have the counts handy or distributable, but yes, I've done the raw comparisons.

I'm guessing that numerous facts are conflated in the paragraph excerpted from the article. I'm guessing they're trying to note the following:

  • Tischendorf was a stud. I've said this before, it bears mentioning again.
  • Tischendorf found Sinaiticus, and much of his eighth edition was influenced by that great and valuable find.
  • Sinaiticus is way old. Fourth century old.
  • Sinaiticus contains a complete NT and much of the OT, as well as some other stuff (Barnabas, Hermas, etc.)
  • Textual critics love Sinaiticus because of its antiquity and completeness, and because the story of the discovery is so cool. (ok, I added the bit about the cool discovery).
  • Tischendorf's Sinaiticus-flavored eighth major edition was eclectic; he considered variant readings where variants existed and went with what made most sense to him according to his method of text criticism.
  • Tischendorf's eighth major edition was a massive work and its scholarship is still valuable today.** His representation of the textual variants is still the most complete listing of variants in one place (though Deustche Bibelgesellschaft's Editio Critica Maior may very well displace it, whenever it gets finished).
  • Modern translations of the NT are typically based on these eclectic editions of the Greek NT, not on particular manuscripts (e.g. Sinaiticus or Vaticanus).
  • Swanson uses Vaticanus (another fourth-century MS) as his primary text and lists variants to Vaticanus aligned beneath the Vaticanus line. This is how Swanson "scrutinizes" Sinaiticus.  

Ok, I'm done. I'm still stoked about that collection only being about an hour away from where I live. Anyone with a TWU library pass want to take me to the library for a visit?

Update (2005-05-19): Thanks to Mark Goodacre for the note and link from NT Gateway Weblog. And thanks to Stephen C. Carlson (Hypotyposeis) for his comment below (despite his busy schedule wrapping up his forthcoming book) and his clarification that Tischendorf is highly regarded due to his critical apparatus, not the text of his edition. Note that I've also made a few edits above and swapped some things around.

Update (2005-05-23): Thanks to Jim Davila for linking from PaleoJudaica. It's always a compliment to have a link from PaleoJudaica.com. I just had no idea I was so quotable. Be sure to check PaleoJudaica for, as Dr. Davila puts it, another example of "cool ancient manuscripts and creative technoligies for reading them".

* Dr. Davila's CARG Biblioblogger abstract notes:

I will also discuss some of the uses to which I and other bibliobloggers have put our blogs, such as commenting on and supplementing media stories in our areas of expertise; noting errors (which frequently are rife) in such stories; reporting on scholarly conferences we've attended; sharing our preliminary thoughts on our research; and sometimes providing advance summaries of scholarly work we are publishing.

** I've written a recent blog post that compares Tischendorf's apparatus to the NA27 apparatus.

Post Author: Rico
Thursday, May 19, 2005 9:14:59 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Friday, April 29, 2005

In a recent post on the Logos Bible Software newsgroups (the news://news.logos.com/greek newsgroup), someone asked about using Tischendorf's apparatus.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention where you could purchase these tools. There are two primary tools discussed below. The first is the Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible (SESB), available from my employer, Logos Bible Software, in the US. The second is the Novum Testamentum Graece Apparatum Criticum, also available from my employer. A third helpful tool (not discussed below) is Bruce Metzger's Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament.

I also need to state that I'm not a text critic, simply an interested amateur. I may very well misinterpret (particularly if it requires translating Latin); if you have corrections for the below please drop a comment or an email to let me know what to fix.

The first thing one needs to realize when beginning to consult an apparatus to determine textual evidence is that these things have their own language, and until you take the time to learn that language, you'll wonder how anyone ever uses the things. The LDLS edition helps out because the wacky symbols are all self-defining via popup or context, and of course the MS sigla (and abbreviations) are defined via popup as well.

Anyway, I thought it might be helpful to look at one entry in both Tischendorf (hereafter simply 'T' unless context demands otherwise) and NA27 and see how they both say the same thing (yet, in this case, draw different conclusions). The verse in question is 1Ti 3.14. The verse is:

Ταῦτά σοι γράφω ἐλπίζων ἐλθεῖν πρὸς σὲ ἐν τάχει·

In T's text, the verse is:

Ταῦτά σοι γράφω ἐλπίζων ἐλθεῖν πρὸς σὲ ἐν τάχιον·

The NA27, of course, displays the text with apparatus sigla in red in the graphic below. Note that we're only discussing the variant for ἐν τάχει, not any of the other sigla.


You can see the replacement containment indicators around ἐν τάχει. If you hovered your mouse cursor over these in the LDLS edition, the variant content (see below) would show in a popup. And here's the text in T:


Tischendorf's text does not have any indicators around the variant. In order to know if there is a variant, you must scan the apparatus to see if there are any readings that T lists variant readings for. But before we get to T's apparatus, let's check out the NA27 apparatus. In the LDLS, the below green text would hover the MS information (content, century, location of MS).


There's so much going on here it isn't even funny. The degree to which the apparatus packs data is something that one just needs to get used to. First is the replacement indicator itself, reminding the user that this variant replaces the text under discussion. After that is a dagger, which indicates that the following variant was actually the primary reading in the NA25 edition. So we also know that for some reason the editors changed their minds on this one in the past 40 years or so.

So, "ταχιον" replaces "ἐν τάχει" for uncials Aleph, D (hand of the second corrector), F, G. Minuscules 1739 and 1881 also support the variant reading, as does the "Majority text".

NA27 lists the variants first, and at the end (the 'txt' reading) lists the MSS that support the reading that the NA27 editors agree with. In this case, they go with uncials A, C, D (original hand), P and Psi. Minuscules 33 and 81 as well as a "paucity" (small number) of other MSS support the NA27 preferred reading.

Where this gets interesting is to go back and track the dates of the MSS, to research their provenance, and to get familiar with their content and their reliability. There is no easy guide to this (wait ... check both Metzger The Text of the New Testament and Early Versions of the New Testament as well as Aland & Aland's Text of the New Testament), it just takes time and interest. But I'm guessing that the NA27 editors went with ἐν τάχει because they would rather rely on A C and D (original hand) instead of Aleph and D's second corrector.

Tischendorf surveys largely the same information but comes to a different conclusion (of course, he is somewhat partial to Sinaiticus (Aleph), and who could blame him?) Here's T's apparatus entry.


The first difference to note is that T lists his preferred reading (and support) first, and lists the variants after that. This actually makes T a little easier to use outside of his NT (that is, as a scrolling resource in the LDLS next to a non-Tischendorf Greek NT, like the NA/UBS text). For uncial support, he lists Aleph, D (corrected, no corrector number noted), F, G, K and L. So he's listed two uncials that NA27 didn't list. He also notes that uncials F, G and K have an orthographic variant (difference in spelling, not in meaning). They have ταχειον instead of ταχιον. Tischendorf also cites some supporting evidence from citations of the Church Fathers (Chrysostom, Euthalius, Theodoret and John Damascene (sorry, don't quite know that English translation).

For evidence against his reading, T lists the uncials A, C and D (original hand) just like NA27 does. He also adds P. Then a few miniscules. Note that 17 is equivalent with NA27's 33 (this information is available in the descriptive popup in the LDLS edition). 71 and 73 are other MSS that NA27 does not cite.

More interesting, T also cites other Greek editions. You can get this information in the print NA27 in the Editonem Differentiae appendix, but that's not in the electronic edition offered by the SESB. And it's a pain to look up in the print. But T informs us that both Greisbach and Lachmann use ἐν τάχει, the same reading that NA27 prefers. Of course, these two editions were pre-Sinaiticus so they didn't have that evidence to consider. My guess is that T went with ταχιον because he weighed the Sinaiticus (Aleph) readings as more reliable/important than successive editors (NA27) did; perhaps also the citations from the Fathers carried some weight in his mind. 

So, there you have it. Two different critical editions, two different apparatuses. They weigh much the same information (for this particular variant, anyway) and come to different conclusions. But, importantly, they've listed their evidence and allowed the reader to consider the same basic information that they had to hand. We don't have easy access to facsimiles of the actual MS to consult (though some are available and Comfort & Barrett's The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts is coming), but we can see at large what evidence the editor weighed and the decisions made.

Post Author: Rico
Friday, April 29, 2005 12:17:05 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Friday, April 15, 2005

I'm like a boy with new toys. What are those new toys? They're PDF versions of way-old editions the Greek New Testament, of course (editions available here; watch out, the downloads are sizeable).

In light of my previous post on the coolness of the Complutensian Polyglot, it makes sense to me to check out the competition: Erasmus' 1516 edition. So here we go.

First, look at this awesome frontispiece from the Gospel of Matthew. It's a little much for my tastes, but it's typical for the style of the day (from the little reading I've done on typesetting from this period). Note that you can click on any of these images to see them in a seperate window, some of them will be larger than they are inline below.

The drop-caps are the coolest part. The artistic stuff around the edges, while interesting, just doesn't do it for me. Another nice aspect of this edition are the introductions to the books. However ... they're in Greek; Erasmus didn't provide the Latin translation. (note: His 1522 edition does have parallel Greek and Latin of this content).

But what about the Bible text proper? Here's the beginning of First Timothy. Again, the drop-caps are prominent. Also interesting (to me, anyway) is the all-cap presentation of the name of Christ in the Greek, but not in the Latin.

But how does this compare to the Complutensian? Well, here's 1Ti 2.3-6, which I also provided for the Complutensian? (image here). 

I see a few differences immediately. First, the Complutensian is much more readable, at least for my minuscule-challenged eyes. If I know the text (as I do in this case) I can figure out that the first two blobs really do represent τουτο γαρ, but I couldn't prove it to you. Second, remember that the Complutensian is aligned at the word level through the use of superscript letters previous to lexical units. No such innovation in the Erasmian text. But Erasmus does have the name of Christ in all-caps, which is an interesting practice, especially in light of the manner in which the tetragrammaton is treated in Hebrew texts.

I do like Erasmus' Latin font better than the font used in the Complutensian. But that's not enough to sway me to Erasmus. My vote is still for the Complutensian. Now that's typesetting.

Lastly, there is the famous historical matter to check into. What did Erasmus really do with 1Jn 5.7-8? (NKJV: For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.) You know what I'm talking about. The legend as I've heard it is that Erasmus didn't put this text into his first edition, but he was beat up by the Vulgate readers such that he made his famous promise: "If you can find a Greek manuscript with that content, I'll publish it". Well, what does Erasmus have in his first edition?

No sign of the explicit mention of the members of the Godhead in Trinity there. So the first part of the legend has merit. What about the second part? I haven't downloaded Erasmus' 1518 edition yet (though it is available, it is 200+ megs) but I did grab his 1522 edition. Check it out:

Do you see that? Yep, it's longer. Through the magic of modern technology, let's get a better look at what's going on in there:

Sure enough. The text is added. And it's been in pretty much every Textus Receptus-based edition since. The Greek MSS with this reading, by the way, are 61 (16th century), 629 (14th century) and 918 (16th century). There are others that have the above as a varia lectio, but who knows when those readings were added to the original MS, or where they came from (most likely a retroversion from Latin back into the Greek, I'd think). I'd guess 629 might be the actual MS that prompted Erasmus to make the change, though that is pure speculation by someone (that's me) with no right to speculate on such text-critical issues.

Post Author: Rico
Friday, April 15, 2005 6:49:06 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, April 11, 2005

Folks --

Just a few notes on things I've come across over the past few days.

1. zhubert.com's "Book Detail" page, with cool graphs and a new "Improbable Phrases" feature. The improbable phrases are three-word combos that are statistically improbable based on Zack's number-crunching prowess. It would be nice to have chapter/verse links next to the phrases generated to head to the full context of the phrase, but it's cool that Zack is doing stuff like this. Thanks, Zack! (Disclaimer: I've been doing some stuff with three-word phrases too, as most of you no doubt know, so my opinion toward the coolness of this type of thing is a little biased.)

2. I stumbled across some cool music on Rhapsody. The band is the Fareed Haque Group, and they simply jam. Fareed can play the guitar (several styles -- jazz, classical, etc.) and everyone else just seems to follow along. These aren't studio recordings, they're recordings of live events. The only one I've listened to in full is the 02-22-02 Tommy Nevin's - Evanston IL [Rhapsody link]. If you need some background stuff with no lyrics but a good guitar groove (and some organ too), this is your stuff.

3. At long last, Tischendorf's full apparatus is now shipping in LDLS format. This is T-dog's eighth major edition. ("Tischendorf" is too much to type, so as Logos was working on this edition, I started using the label 'T-dog' for "Tischendorf"). His full Greek NT, with Eusebian Canon references embedded in the text. The apparatus is the full three-volume edition. The apparatus will scroll with any Greek New Testament. Rather than use cryptic sigla like the NA27, T-dog simply listed the word from his text first, then the support for/against the reading. The LDLS uses bold text to distinguish that first word, so you know the word/phrase under discussion. Associated text is mostly in Latin (apart from MS numbers/sigla) but it is quite usable (though the prolegomena volume takes some work to get through, especially if you don't know Latin). Scroll along and check for variants. Very cool. Check out the screen shot at the bottom of the Logos product detail web page.

Post Author: Rico
Monday, April 11, 2005 11:15:22 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Going through 1 Clement, I noticed the extended citation of Psalm 51 [LXX 50] in 1Cl 18.2-17. I decided to peek at the Greek and compare it to the Greek of the LXX, just to see if they were that different.

It was almost a let-down. Here I was prepared to get all text-critical with y'all, but these two excerpts are really very similar. The differences below are in bold. Please note that I pasted this in from MSWord; if your browser is doing something funky with the table, I apologize for it.

I Clement 18.2-17

Psalm 50.3-19 (English Ps 51)

2 […] Ἐλέησόν με, ὁ θεός, κατὰ τὸ μέγα ἔλεός σου, καὶ κατὰ τὸ πλῆθος τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν σου ἐξάλειψον τὸ ἀνόμημά μου.

3 Ἐλέησόν με, ὁ θεός, κατὰ τὸ μέγα ἔλεός σου καὶ κατὰ τὸ πλῆθος τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν σου ἐξάλειψον τὸ ἀνόμημά μου,

3 ἐπὶ πλεῖον πλῦνόν με ἀπὸ τῆς ἀνομίας μου, καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας μου καθάρισόν με· ὅτι τὴν ἀνομίαν μου ἐγὼ γινώσκω, καὶ ἡ ἁμαρτία μου ἐνώπιόν μου ἐστὶν διαπαντός.

4 ἐπὶ πλεῖον πλῦνόν με ἀπὸ τῆς ἀνομίας μου καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας μου καθάρισόν με. 5 ὅτι τὴν ἀνομίαν μου ἐγὼ γινώσκω, καὶ ἡ ἁμαρτία μου ἐνώπιόν μού ἐστιν διὰ παντός.

4 σοὶ μόνῳ ἥμαρτον, καὶ τὸ πονηρὸν ἐνώπιόν σου ἐποίησα, ὅπως ἂν δικαιωθῇς ἐν τοῖς λόγοις σου, καὶ νικήσῃς ἐν τῷ κρίνεσθαί σε,

6 σοὶ μόνῳ ἥμαρτον καὶ τὸ πονηρὸν ἐνώπιόν σου ἐποίησα, ὅπως ἂν δικαιωθῇς ἐν τοῖς λόγοις σου καὶ νικήσῃς ἐν τῷ κρίνεσθαί σε.

5 ἰδοὺ γὰρ ἐν ἀνομίαις συνελήμφθην, καὶ ἐν ἁμαρτίαις ἐκίσσησέν με ἡ μήτηρ μου.

7 ἰδοὺ γὰρ ἐν ἀνομίαις συνελήμφθην, καὶ ἐν ἁμαρτίαις ἐκίσσησέν με ἡ μήτηρ μου.

6 ἰδοὺ γὰρ ἀλήθειαν ἠγάπησας· τὰ ἄδηλα καὶ τὰ κρύφια τῆς σοφίας σου ἐδήλωσάς μοι.

8 ἰδοὺ γὰρ ἀλήθειαν ἠγάπησας, τὰ ἄδηλα καὶ τὰ κρύφια τῆς σοφίας σου ἐδήλωσάς μοι.

7 ῥαντιεῖς με ὑσσώπῳ, καὶ καθαρισθήσομαι· πλυνεῖς με, καὶ ὑπὲρ χιόνα λευκανθήσομαι.

9 ῥαντιεῖς με ὑσσώπῳ, καὶ καθαρισθήσομαι, πλυνεῖς με, καὶ ὑπὲρ χιόνα λευκανθήσομαι.

8 ἀκουτιεῖς με ἀγαλλίασιν καὶ εὐφροσύνην. ἀγαλλιάσονται ὀστᾶ τεταπεινωμένα.

10 ἀκουτιεῖς με ἀγαλλίασιν καὶ εὐφροσύνην, ἀγαλλιάσονται ὀστᾶ τεταπεινωμένα.

9 ἀπόστρεψον τὸ πρόσωπόν σου ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν μου, καὶ πάσας τὰς ἀνομίας μου ἐξάλειψον.

11 ἀπόστρεψον τὸ πρόσωπόν σου ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν μου καὶ πάσας τὰς ἀνομίας μου ἐξάλειψον.

10 καρδίαν καθαρὰν κτίσον ἐν ἐμοί, ὁ θεός, καὶ πνεῦμα εὐθὲς ἐγκαίνισον ἐν τοῖς ἐγκάτοις μου.

12 καρδίαν καθαρὰν κτίσον ἐν ἐμοί, ὁ θεός, καὶ πνεῦμα εὐθὲς ἐγκαίνισον ἐν τοῖς ἐγκάτοις μου.

11 μὴ ἀπορίψῃς με ἀπὸ τοῦ προσώπου σου, καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιόν σου μὴ ἀντανέλῃς ἀπ᾽ ἐμοῦ.

13 μὴ ἀπορρίψῃς με ἀπὸ τοῦ προσώπου σου καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιόν σου μὴ ἀντανέλῃς ἀπ̓ ἐμοῦ.

12 ἀπόδος μοι τὴν ἀγαλλίασιν τοῦ σωτηρίου σου, καὶ πνεύματι ἡγεμονικῷ στήρισόν με.

14 ἀπόδος μοι τὴν ἀγαλλίασιν τοῦ σωτηρίου σου καὶ πνεύματι ἡγεμονικῷ στήρισόν με.

13 διδάξω ἀνόμους τὰς ὁδούς σου, καὶ ἀσεβεῖς ἐπιστρέψουσιν ἐπὶ σέ.

15 διδάξω ἀνόμους τὰς ὁδούς σου, καὶ ἀσεβεῖς ἐπὶ σὲ ἐπιστρέψουσιν.

14 ῥῦσαί με ἐξ αἱμάτων, ὁ θεός, ὁ θεὸς τῆς σωτηρίας μου.

16 ῥῦσαί με ἐξ αἱμάτων, ὁ θεὸς ὁ θεὸς τῆς σωτηρίας μου,

15 ἀγαλλιάσεται ἡ γλῶσσά μου τὴν δικαιοσύνην σου. κύριε, τὸ στόμα μου ἀνοίξεις, καὶ τὰ χείλη μου ἀναγγελεῖ τὴν αἴνεσίν σου.

ἀγαλλιάσεται ἡ γλῶσσά μου τὴν δικαιοσύνην σου. 17 κύριε, τὰ χείλη μου ἀνοίξεις, καὶ τὸ στόμα μου ἀναγγελεῖ τὴν αἴνεσίν σου.

16 ὅτι εἰ ἠθέλησας θυσίαν, ἔδωκα ἂν ὁλοκαυτώματα οὐκ εὐδοκήσεις.

18 ὅτι εἰ ἠθέλησας θυσίαν, ἔδωκα ἄν, ὁλοκαυτώματα οὐκ εὐδοκήσεις.

17 θυσία τῷ θεῷ πνεῦμα συντετριμμένον· καρδίαν συντετριμμένην καὶ τεταπεινωμένην ὁ θεὸς οὐκ ἐξουθενώσει.

19 θυσία τῷ θεῷ πνεῦμα συντετριμμένον, καρδίαν συντετριμμένην καὶ τεταπεινωμένην ὁ θεὸς οὐκ ἐξουθενώσει.

Apart from punctuation differences, the only major differences (that I located on two quick skims through the parallel text) are:

  • a word broken by a space (διαπαντός vs. διὰ παντός)
  • a trivial orthographic variant (ἀπορίψῃς vs. ἀπορρίψῃς)
  • word switching (στόμα ... χείλη vs. χείλη ... στόμα) that doesn't make much difference (mouth ... lips vs. lips ... mouth).

I checked Lightfoot's edition of Clement, he says that these differences are trivial and inconsequential. Rahlfs doesn't list any variants for this section of text. I don't have access to the Göttingen edition, so I can't check that.

Post Author: Rico
Tuesday, March 15, 2005 5:54:55 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Sunday, January 23, 2005

I'm sure there's an easy explanation to this.

Uncial 05 (Codex Bezae) and Uncial 06 (Codex Claromontanus) both have the letter 'D' assigned to them in the NA27 MS listing (pp. 691).

The texts are similar in that they are both Greek/Latin diglots, though Bezae is dated in the fifth century and Claromontanus in the sixth. (Metzger, Text of the New Testament 49-51) They do not have overlapping content; Bezae with Gospels/Acts (and a snippet of 3Jn) and Claromontanus with content from the Paulines.

Were these at one point considered to be the same MS? If not, why the same letter designator?

Quick checks of both Metzger and Aland didn't help with answering this question, apart from mentioning in passing that both MSS were in possession of Theodore Beza (though not stating if both texts were possessed by Beza at the same time).

Update: Thanks to James Tauber for the comment. It got me thinking — didn't the numbers come about with Caspar Rene Gregory's re-working of the whole system in the early 1900's, after his work on updating/completing Tischendorf's Edito Octava Maior? If so, the answer may be in Gregory's book (if it's in English ... ). Or is the uncial numbering an innovation of the Alands'?

Update II: And thanks as well to Stephen C. Carlson of Hypotyposeis for further clarification. I never realized that they re-used the uncial letters if there was no overlap between MS content.

Post Author: Rico
Sunday, January 23, 2005 4:00:10 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Wednesday, December 08, 2004

(pardon me while I wipe the drool off of my keyboard)

Ok. I'm ready now.

I was browsing around earlier today, and I checked up on a project I hadn't checked into for awhile. It is the Biblical Manuscripts Project. Here's a brief description from the site:

The Biblical Manuscripts Project (http://purl.org/BibleMSS) is making high quality images and transcriptions of important Bible manuscripts and early printed editions freely available through the Internet. Development is conducted by biblical scholars at the Religion and Technology Center.

If you're into textual criticism (particularly of the New Testament) then get out your drool-wiping towel, you'll need to wipe the drool off of your keyboard too after visiting this site. Need to see an image of Sinaticus? They've got page images of Tischendorf's pseudo-facsimile. How 'bout Codex Bezae? You know, images of the actual manuscript? No problem.

But those resources have been there for awhile. Since the last time I visited the site, it appears that someone has gone through the Duke Papyrus archive and also the “Pinax Project” at Oxford and made an index of some of the NT papyri at each site. Now that's cool.

For the stuff at Oxford, you'll go to the main site. Click on The Papyri. Click on the ill-conceived Click here link to pull up the search menu. Now, see the ID on the Religion and Technology site (left column of the table)? Use that to search for the “Papyrus ID” at Pinax. The tough work has been done for you.

Remember folks, browse safely. Keep the drool to a minimum, and clean up frequently to avoid electric shock. The life you save may be your own.

Post Author: Rico
Wednesday, December 08, 2004 10:59:01 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Sunday, October 31, 2004

I have an above-average interest in textual criticism of the New Testament. I haven't done any graduate work in the area, but I've become familiar with the NA27 apparatus and with Tischendorf. I find Metzger's Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament one of the most helpful volumes in my library when it comes to applying textual criticism. I've even read the forwards to the NA27 and UBS3/4 editions to better understand their respective apparatuses. I've studied a little Coptic on my own (Sahidic, though I have a Bohairic grammar I've poked through as well) and have grammars for classical Ethiopic (Ge'ez) and classical Armenian that I want to examine in greater detail, if only to understand the writing systems a bit better. I've read two of the three books that make up what I call Metzger's “trifecta” (Text of the New Testament, Canon of the New Testament, still need to read Early Versions of the New Testament). I've read Aland & Aland's Text of the New Testament. I've read most of Westcott & Hort's Introduction to their 1881 edition of the Greek New Testament. In short, I'm into this stuff.

Lately, I've been spending some time poking at Dr. Swanson's very impressive work, New Testament Greek Manuscripts. He describes this as “variant readings arranged in horizontal lines against Codex Vaticanus”.

Most of my time has been spent examining the preface/apology* for his work, in order to understand both what Dr. Swanson is doing and why he is doing it. It is obvious that Dr. Swanson, while appreciating the work done on the NA/UBS critical editions of the Greek New Testament, doesn't find such information too helpful.

The critical text, of course, is eclectic in that it seeks to provide the most reputable reading in every instance. This results in a text that is essentially a pastiche of manuscript readings that has no real evidence or meaning for the text as a whole; but it also results in a text that has reputable readings at almost every point.

And this seems to be Dr. Swanson's beef with the eclectic texts in their critical editions: While variants are ostensibly cited, gaining a clear picture of these variants and the MSS that contain them is nigh upon impossible.

Much better, says Dr. Swanson, to begin with an early text of high repute (Codex Vaticanus), and show all of the variants in a horizontal view. This gives a better idea of the differences across whole passages instead of selected bits and chunks in selected locations. As well, this has the advantage of showing us how different MSS of different eras witnessed the New Testament to their respective communities of faith.

After all, writes Dr. Swanson, “ ... each manuscript was scripture for a believing and worshipping community.”

I was with him right up to that last part.

I don't think that one must decide which is best between the standard NA27 critical apparatus or Dr. Swanson's presentation. It seems to me they're both geared toward different uses with different goals.

For a standard edition of the Greek New Testament, with evidence inserted for various different witnesses throughout the Greek New Testament, NA27/UBS4 (and their respective apparatuses) do just fine. These are handbooks; they do not claim to be exhaustive. They select the most valuable witnesses for each NT book (as determined by the editors) and consistently reproduce where they vary (or confirm) the eclectic text chosen by the editors. These are items offered in defense for the readings chosen by the editors. They are not (nor do they claim to be) whole presentations of variants across the entire text. This is immensely helpful for study of the Greek New Testament in that it provides a reliable edition that all can use and reference with ease.

Dr. Swanson's work, on the other hand, is different. It is good and useful; but it seems to me that its purpose and use is altogether different than that of the NA27 critical text.

Perhaps a restatement of what I see as the purposes of each edition will help me make my point.

The NA27 is the culmination of textual criticism applied to solve a particular problem: What is the ‘best’ text that can be assembled, based on currently known MS evidence? The NA27 attempts to answer this question, and does so admirably. In all likelihood it answers this question as well as it can be answered, barring new MS discoveries. The work on the Editio Critica Maior proves this. Through massive textual examination and sifting, the text produced for this work (that has thus far been released) is virtually the same text as the NA27.

Dr. Swanson's work, however, is different. He simply presents the text of all MSS, important and unimportant, that he can get his hands on. He arranges them such that the agreements and differences can be easily seen and tracked from MS to MS. Rather than answering the same question answered by the NA27, I see Dr. Swanson's work instead providing a foundation for future questions to be examined. Information that was hard to obtain (e.g., “I'm working on an exegesis of 1 Corinthians. Where do I get my hands on Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and the major papyri and minuscules so I can really establish the text?”) is now available in one spot, and it is even aligned at the word level with variants helpfully distinguished.


I recall an article by Eldon Jay Epp (sorry, don't remember where) where he posited that the next great thrust of textual criticism will be in establishing the provenance of the different papyri, uncials, minuscules and early versions that much of New Testament textual criticism is based on today; and in establishing local and regional sorts of critical texts for each of these communities.

This, in turn, will help establish what each text these respective communities used to establish doctrine and practice amongst the fellowships in these regions. In other words, getting at what Dr. Swanson notes in his introduction — that “each manuscript was scripture” for these communities. So, how was scripture transmitted to these different communities, what did it say, and how did they put faith into practice as a result of it? Establishing provenance and tracking distribution helps get at answers to these sorts of questions.

(I'm going to veer off track here for a moment, but it is appropriate. Stick with me, you'll see why.)

In 1948, a group of scholars of the Greek New Testament met at the University of Chicago. This group included luminaries such as Bruce Metzger and Allen Wikgren, among others. The purpose of this meeting was twofold: To honor Edgar J. Goodspeed, and to discuss how to go about preparing a new critical apparatus of the Greek New Testament.

One result of this meeting was an excellent set of essays (delivered at the 1948 meeting) entitled New Testament Manuscript Studies: The Materials and the Making of a Critical Apparatus. If you're into textual criticism, you must find a copy of this book. Head to your local library and request it via interlibrary loan, if necessary. Metzger's essay alone is worth it.

Why do I bring this up? One of the essays (“The Manuscripts of the Greek New Testament” by Kenneth W. Clark) made a very interesting point. One thing he saw as needed was for people to step into the shoes of F.H.A. Scrivener, who did tremendous amounts of work collating and publishing different NT MSS. Such work (and its widespread availability) would provide the foundation for the next generation of text-critical work. Clark writes:

We need many ‘Scriveners.’ Probably no single scholar has collated as many Greek New Testament manuscripts as this man whose labors were curtailed by ‘dimness of sight.’ Three of his volumes offer the witness of eighty separate manuscripts. ... The need for such collations has never been as great as now, since the complex problems of various textual types require far more data than we have at hand.

I think one could make a very strong case that Dr. Swanson's work starts to fill this void.** In presenting NT MSS in the way he has, he has provided the evidence of scads of MSS aligned word-by-word so that consistencies and variants are easy to see. Dr. Swanson's work, widely available, helps disseminate this information and can thus be used by folks who wouldn't have access to facsimiles or collations of the MSS in question.

Dr. Swanson's work alone won't do the job; but it is a valiant thrust in the right direction. Textual criticism has been focused on the question of supplying a reliable, early text of the New Testament. The NA27 is about as good as it's going to get for the forseeable future.

So, what problems will be pursued by textual critics next? Whatever they are, Dr. Swanson's work will surely be a valuable tool in the textual critic's toolbox as he approaches these problems.

* That's "apology" in the classic sense, meaning "a formal justification", according to Merriam-Webster.

** Comfort & Barrett's The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts, now in its second edition, provides transcriptions of most of the available papyri, and also is a tremendous help in this respect.


Post Author: Rico
Sunday, October 31, 2004 6:32:04 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Monday, October 18, 2004

Thanks to Hypotyposes for the pointer.

Codex W, a fifth century MS (so, 400's) is one that is important for textual critics to have access to. Thanks to Beloit College, who placed scans (photos?) of Facsimile of the Washington Manuscript of The Four Gospels in the Freer Collection, the book of Mark from W is now online.

The images are of superb size and quality. The uncials are readable with some work. This should be very helpful for those interested in such things.

Also note that Codex W apparently has the longer ending of Mark.

Post Author: Rico
Monday, October 18, 2004 7:57:13 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Tuesday, September 14, 2004

I had a posting on this earlier. More info online from the good folks at Bible.org.

I received my copy yesterday. And it is quite nice. I hadn't paid much attention to dimensions of the print on the web site and anticipated it would be the same size of the NA27/RSV diglot; which is the same size as the UBS4 (only thicker). The NA27/NET is larger. It is using, essentially, a large-print page for the NA27 and then regular size type for the NET and its critical notes.

Overall, it looks very nice and looks like it'll be a helpful book. I may soon be retiring my trusty UBS3 to the sidelines and begin taking the diglot to church and studies.

If you're looking for something to help you get back into the Greek (that is, you've taken some Greek in the past but haven't kept up) this could be a good way to be diligent about getting into the Greek, especially if you're in a context away from a computer. Like church on Sunday mornings, at least for most people.

Update: If you've just hopped in from the Bible Software Review (thanks, Rubén!), here's some info on ricoblog.

Post Author: Rico
Tuesday, September 14, 2004 7:51:24 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Saturday, September 11, 2004

Rubén Gómez' post on NT Papyri reminded me of something I wrote almost a year ago on my internal-to-the-office blog (which preceded this public blog). So, without further adieu ...

Just got back from a Bible study. We're studying James. Tonight was on James 2.14-26, the passage dealing with faith and works.

One of the participants in the study is Dr. Cal Hansen who used to be the president of Trinity Western. He also taught Greek exegesis for a number of years. It's kind of cool that he's in the study. Anyway, he assigned me homework. He wants me to look into James 2.21. This says (ESV):

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?

He asked the question, "what if that wasn't a question mark at the end of this verse? After all, the original Greek text(s) didn't have punctuation, that has only been inserted later."

Now, I say all of this under the guise of "the internet is cool" because I happen to know that many of the papyri are on the internet as images. So, I opened my trusty The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts (second edition, 2001) and learn more about P20 (P.Oxy 1171), which is the earliest witness (3rd century! That's in the 200's, folks!) for this portion of scripture. Then I went to the Oxyrhynchus site at Cambridge, but the don't have all of the images online. Drats.

So, Google to the rescue. I searched for 'Oxyrhynchus 1171' and ended up at Princeton, where the manuscript is housed (duh). From there, I could follow the link to NT Epistle of James (first one). Note they've got an error -- the manuscript fragment actually contains portions from James 2.19, not James 2.26 as the link states. So, anyway, I clicked on the link to get more info. Small pictures of recto & verso plus some bibliographic information. Cool. But they've got high-quality pics of each side of the manuscript! So ... I looked at the recto. As Tiny Elvis would say, "man .... that sucker's huuuuge!". If you look on the sixth line from the top, you'll see ]USIASTHRIONBLE[. James 2.21 ends after USIASTHRION (the full Greek word is QUSIASTHRION).

Thus, I've confirmed that (at least as of the 3rd century) there was no punctuation in the Greek text. All from the comfort of my kitchen table.

QED: The internet is cool. I mean, I knew that punctuation marks wouldn't be in the papyri, and that they were added by later editors of later MSS ... but, in a single night, to get to the actual papyrus? And the quality of the images? That is cool!

Part II of the assignment involves sifting through journal articles in Logos using Galaxie's Theological Journal Library. I found an article from January 2002 in BibSac that argues that while the same word is used in both instances (James 2 & Romans 4), each author was using a semantically different meaning of the verb. Paul was speaking of a formal act of justification, that of God declaring one righteous (as he did in the Abrahamic covenant in Ge 15). James was instead speaking of justification in the sense of "proving", that is, one proves he has faith through works — which is more along the lines of Ge 22, which is what James was citing.

This is a tough text, and while one may interpret the two passages differently, the difficulty of the same word meaning different things — and statements that indicate seemingly opposite ideas — makes it challenging. It seems the theory of semantic domains is one way to deal with difficulties of this particular sort, and the method is particularly attractive in this instance as we're dealing with two different authors.

No, I didn't arrive at any further conclusions than the one mentioned above. And I still think the internet is cool; the availability of papyri, if you do some diligent searching, is way cool. Check out the Duke Databank of Documentary Papyri and, of course, Oxyrhynchus Online (watch out — the interface is horrid).

And ... curiously ... I've been reading the same book that Mr. Gómez mentions, McKnight & Osborne's The Face of New Testament Studies. If you're into that sort of stuff, I'd recommend it. I'd also recommend Eldon Jay Epp's article in the Spring 2004 JBL, “The Oxyrhynchus New Testament Papryi: 'Not Without Honor Except in Their Hometown'?” (watch out, link is to a PDF file).

Post Author: Rico
Saturday, September 11, 2004 1:26:31 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Codex Argentus is a sixth-century Gothic MSS. It is unique in that the vellum(?) is purple, and the lettering is silver and gold.

There's a facsimile online. There are a few pages representative of the actual color of the MSS; but the facsimile edition has its contrast such that the letters can actually be read ... well, if you know Gothic.

Kudos to Hypotyposes for the link to the Codex Argentus page at Uppsala University.

While we're on the topic of Gothic, my colleague Eli Evans has designed a Gothic font called Gotisch (bottom of the page). If you're at all interested in Gothic you may be interested in the font.

Post Author: Rico
Tuesday, September 07, 2004 7:49:43 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Thursday, August 26, 2004

Yesterday I picked up a post on B-Greek about the new NA27/NET Diglot from The Biblical Studies Foundation. Check out the photo. This looks exactly like the classic NA27/RSV English diglot, only instead of the RSV it has the NET translation, and instead of the English apparatus it has the oh-so-useful NET text-critical notes.

Thinking about this (yeah, I'm gonna buy one) I was thinking about the usefulness of the NA27 apparatus to the average Greek dude (or dudette, as the case may be). The apparatus is unapproachable for most because it is hopelessly cryptic unless one has diligently taught himself the language of the apparatus. If one desires to use the apparatus, he dooms himself to looking up MSS in the table in the back. And even then, not much info on the MSS are given. The date/century is helpful, but do I really care about what library the MSS is in currently? I'd rather know more about the provenance, not the current location.

Anyway, there are two primary classes of cited MSS for each major portion of the NT (gospels, acts, paulines, catholic epistles, and the apocalypse). These are the “Consistently Cited Witnesses” and the “Frequently Cited Witnesses”. The primary and most important are the “Consistently Cited Witnesses” as all variants of these MSS are cited for the given range (book/portion). No citation means the MSS either agrees or is missing the reading in question. These consitently cited witnesses are, for larger sections, selected on a book-by-book basis.

I think the most useful and innovative thing that the GBS could do with the NA27 would be to devise a running footer for each two-page spread that lists the consistently cited uncial witnesses for the current book with a short bit of info about each. Not much info — there isn't much room left on the page. But they may be able to squeeze the sigla and century/date if they stretch the list in one or two lines across the two-page spread. It would be great if the uncial data from the witness/abbreviation pamphlet could be used. This way folks would at least get familiar with the sigla for the consistently cited witnesses. Some may object because this focuses on the date, which may or may not be misleading text-critical information. I say it's better than the bupkes that's there now, and it sure beats flipping to the back to look things up. It gets people actually starting to use the information in the apparatus on a regular basis because the barrier to entry is much lower.

Or, one could just use the electronic version ... :)

Post Author: Rico
Thursday, August 26, 2004 7:56:10 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, August 16, 2004

How cool is this? Hypotyposes posts a note announcing that the NT MSS owned by the Bibelmuseum Muenster have been photographed and the images are now available online.

The images are of miniscules (cursives) and lectionaries dating from the 10th-14th centuries, and they appear to be complete representations of the MSS, not samples. It took a little for this non-German speaker to figure out the interface, but it's easy to navigate after giving it a little thought.

Check it out. This is so very cool.

BTW, if anyone knows of an online reference detailing ligatures and abbreviations used in miniscule script, I'd appreciate knowing about it, or a link, or something.

Post Author: rico
Monday, August 16, 2004 8:33:46 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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