# Friday, October 26, 2012

Again, with profuse thanks to OUP Academic for the review copy.

I’ve blogged in the past (here, here and here) about Hill & Kruger’s The Early Text of the New Testament (amazon.com). I’ve finally made my way through the book, and it’s time to wrap up the series of posts.

I can’t say it enough: This book really is awesome; I only hope the publisher is able to release a more affordable paperback copy so more folks can use the book. It is that useful if you’re working through the text of a passage and want to take significant variants from early manuscripts (pre 5th century) into account.

I discussed Part I briefly in a previous post.

For this task, Part II, “The Manuscript Tradition” is really the gem within the book (TOC for Part II is given in a previous post).  While each article approaches the task differently, what you end up with is basically a focused discussion of the variations found in early manuscripts (mostly papyri) for a given NT book. If you are working with the text of the NT, this really is essential material to consult. If there are significant issues with the early witnesses for a section of text you’re working with, it will likely be discussed in this book.

I have not directly discussed Part III; that is where the rest of this post will focus. I did interact with one essay in Part III already; Porter’s essay on the relationship between Early Apocryphal Gospels and the New Testament. The TOC for this part is as follows:

III. Early Citation and 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 New Testament Text: Dieter T. Roth
17: Justin’s Text of the Gospels: Another Look at the Citations in 1Apol. 15.1–8: Joseph Verheyden
18: Tatian’s Diatesseron and the Greek Text of the Gospels: Tjitze Baarda
19: Early Apocryphal Gospels and the New Testament Text: Stanley E. Porter
20: Irenaeus’s Text of the Gospels in Adversus haereses: D. Jeffrey Bingham and Billy R. Todd, Jr.
21: Clement of Alexandria’s Gospel Citations: Carl P. Cosaert

Hill’s essay was excellent, as I’d anticipated. I felt bad for Foster, though, while reading his article. It was as good as it could be, but all he could basically say was “there is no direct textual relationship between the writings of the Apostolic Fathers and the New Testament” because there isn’t. There are a scant few direct citations; tons of allusions (which do not help for the establishing of the text of the NT, only for the verification of ideas), and still more less specific and indirect references to the NT (and the LXX, for that matter). Three cheers to him for writing the essay he had to, but too bad there wasn’t something more interesting there for him to do.

The articles on Maricon, Justin and Tatian were less interesting than the articles in Part II. To me, anyway, they are more interesting for their method than their results. I thought the article by Porter on Early Apocryphal Gospels was the best of the non-canonical lot (again, see the post about it). The article on Irenaeus seemed like more of a data dump than anything. The information is important to have, and if/when I get more into Irenaeus, I’m sure it’ll be awesome. But it was too dense to even approach, really. Too many lists and tables, not enough explanation as to why I’d want to commit the effort to work through it. I had similar thoughts about the article on Clement of Alexandria.

Here’s a hint: If your article/essay is primarily lists, tables, and discussion of percentages of things that you’ve counted … start over. This is all decent information, but the article is a data dump. It is appendix fodder. You need to explain your data to me. Tell me why it is significant. Tell me what old presuppositions you’re shattering. Don’t throw counts at me and say, “see?”.  The research is valuable, but scholarship isn’t in spouting counts of things, it is in distilling the hard work of doing all that tabulation, counting, and research into something that communicates new information to the user. This is why I appreciated Foster’s article, dull though the conclusions were: he didn’t data-dump. He showed me that he mastered the material and did the research by distilling it for me, with examples, to illustrate his conclusion. While the articles in this book have some distillation of research, the primary visual portion is overwhelming. I’d appreciate fewer tables (move them to an appendix; it’s still good data and research to have access to) and more distillation.

All of that said, I still think the book is awesome. And I still value even the articles that are heavy with tables, lists, and counting. And I still think you should head to your library and give this book a serious look so you can properly utilize it. And if you have a spare $150 or so, and really dig this stuff: Then yes, you need to buy it. But I can honestly say I wouldn’t spend $150 on this book (or, really, any newly published book from any publisher, I think). So I’m really thankful to OUP Academic for surprising me with a review copy.

Post Author: rico
Friday, October 26, 2012 5:10:52 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Sunday, September 16, 2012

I’ve been slowly working my way through Hill & Kruger’s The Early Text of the New Testament (amazon.com). (A review copy from Oxford University Press, see previous posts here and here). I say “slowly working” on purpose. This is not a book you read straight through, it is a book you work through and savor. There is much going on in the text, and careful attention will reap dividends.

I’m now over halfway through, and can report on the essays in the first two parts of the book. Part I is “The Textual and Scribal Culture of Early Christianity”; Part II is “The Manuscript Tradition”. This won’t be a blow-by-blow report of each essay, just some thoughts and highlights.

Harry Y. Gamble’s essay, “The Book Trade in the Roman Empire” was fascinating. We normally don’t stop to think about how books originated and were disseminated throughout early Christianity. We’re usually hunkered down in the variants themselves, getting lost in the details. Gamble’s essay was good to get some ideas out there about how books were written, published, and distributed; all things we know far too little about.

The other three articles in Part I (by Scott Charlesworth, Larry Hurtado, and Michael J. Kruger) were also good. The four articles together stimulate thinking about the culture in which the manuscripts that form the basis of modern editions of the Greek New Testament came about, and what we can learn about the people who made the manuscripts from the manuscripts themselves.

Part II is wholly about how the early manuscripts — and here “early” really means before the major uncials,  Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, come on the scene in the fourth century. The articles in this Part are as follows:

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 

There is no set method for the author; each are left to their own devices to work through and present the evidence. And these articles are again why I say I’m “slowly working” through the book. Most of these articles stop and examine points of difference between the text commonly accepted today, and the text of the early papyri. As such, they are fascinating. As a group, they are invaluable.

I’m working through Part III now, which is really where my main interest lies, and I love it. I’ll write more later. But I do want to say that I sincerely hope that Oxford will publish a reasonably-priced paperback edition of this title. While it does belong in libraries, at its present price that’s the only place it’ll end up (well, apart from review copies to lucky guys like me). The book really deserves a wider distribution; I hope some day it gets it.

Post Author: rico
Sunday, September 16, 2012 9:02:02 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Saturday, August 25, 2012

About a week ago, I blogged about receiving a review copy of Charles E. Hill and Michael J. Kruger’s The Early Text of the New Testament (amazon.com). At that time I mentioned I’d already read Stanley Porter’s article in the book:

Porter, Stanley E. “Early Apocryphal Gospels and the New Testament Text.” Pages 350–70 in The Early Text of the New Testament. Edited by Charles E. Hill and Michael J. Kruger. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Why did I read this article first? Well, it is Porter, and his stuff is solid and deserves to be interacted with. But in reality, I read it because with my own edition of the Greek Apocryphal Gospels under way, I have been living in the available Greek fragments of the noncanonical/apocryphal gospels for awhile now (see here and here (1/2) and here (2/2) and also here), so Porter’s article seemed just the place to start.

Porter focuses on “early” apocryphal gospels. His corpus includes various fragmentary papyri, including:

  • Gospel of Peter (P.Cair 10759, a parchment with 9 pages of GPeter, but with some reference to P.Oxy 2949)
  • P.Egerton 2
  • P.Vindob. G 2325. Some have suggested this may be part of the Gospel of Peter, but the claim lies on supposition and reconstructions. As Porter does, it should be treated separately from GPeter.
  • P.Merton 51
  • P.Oxy 1224
  • Greek Fragments of Gospel of Thomas: P.Oxy 1, 654 and 655.
  • Protevangelium of James

I was disappointed to not see Dura Parchment 24 included (dates to 257 CE at the latest); but as many consider this to be a portion of Tatian’s Diatesseron (instead of an unknown harmony) I can understand why it wasn’t included, and only hope it is included in Tjitze Baarda’s article on Tatian’s Diatesseron and the Gospels.

Porter’s method is to identify similarities between noncanonical material in his corpus and the Greek New Testament. Previous to his section on GPeter, He mentions, “I do not include allusive instances where the texts have one or two words in common.” This is a good thing, but he doesn’t really identify what he considers to be “allusive” as there are two-word parallels listed: GPeter 2.5, which is associated with Luke 23:54; and GPeter 5.19, associated with Mark 15:34.

From here, Porter isolates material in the remaining fragments that have at least topical similarity with canonical accounts; he then works each portion of similar material in comparison with the NT text, discussing variations between the two. It really is meticulous and difficult work, and, given the nature of it, Porter does well in conveying the similarities and differences of the apocryphal material with likely shared canonical material.

This is difficult stuff, though, and it is hard to simply read—especially if you are not familiar with the apocryphal gospel texts. If really interested, one should dig into the footnotes, locate the editions Porter bases his study on (typically Kraus, Kruger and Nicklas’ Gospel Fragments (amazon.com); though Prot. James is a different source), the GNT, and let Porter be the guide through the actual comparison of both texts.

One quibble I have with Porter’s overall discussion, though, is his use of OpenText.org terminology* in his discussion of syntactic relations between the NT and the apocryphal gospel material. Specifically I’m thinking of terms like head term, complement, adjunct, modifier, subject, predicate, etc.; as well as combinations of these terms in component order discussions (e.g. “subject-predicator”, “predicator-subject”, “predicator-complement-subject” on p. 359). I understand it is Porter’s framework and he is heavily invested in it. However, it is in the minority when it comes to discussions of syntactic relations; the article would be better if more generic terminology was used or if the terminology was at least explained or cited in a footnote. While the terms are based on relatively standard linguistic terminology, Porter’s use is relatively specific to his own Systemic-Functional linguistic framework. Simply changing “predicator” to “verb” and, where appropriate, “complement” to “object” would’ve gone a long way to make such discussions more generically approachable.

With all of that said, the article is excellent. One would expect no less from Porter. If you’re dealing with the intersection of apocryphal/noncanonical gospels and the New Testament (and I am), then you’ve got to carefully work through this article (and I have, and I am).

* Regarding OpenText.org, I am abundantly familiar with it as back in 2005/2006, I implemented Porter/Reed/O’Donnell/Tan/Smith’s syntactic analysis of the Greek NT for Logos Bible Software. I learned a lot from doing it, and Porter’s use of the terminology in the article was no problem for me. But even though its terminology is much more approachable than that of the standard discussion of syntactic relations in the GNT, if one isn’t familiar with it (and many aren’t) it is a speed bump to understanding.

Post Author: rico
Saturday, August 25, 2012 11:59:28 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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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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# Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I blogged back in May about some errata I’d noticed in Ehrman and Pleše’s Apocryphal Gospels. I had been focusing on fragmentary gospels then.

I’ve been working through my list of agrapha, and in consulting Ehrman and Pleše, I note one more issue.

John 8:7; 10-11 in ms D and Later Greek Manuscripts p 356

The first is trivial; typical reference citation in English texts should use a comma to separate verse references, so the heading should be “John 8:7, 10–11”. (They use a comma for this purpose elsewhere, so this seems like an oversight.)

The second is not so trivial. Instead of the text of D (Bezae), they have printed the text of NA27. The text of D is as follows, from my facsimile of Scrivener’s transcription and checked against NA27 apparatus:

ως δε επεμενον ερωτωντες ανεκυψεν και ειπεν αυτοις· ο αναμαρτηετος υμων πρωτος επ αυτην βαλετω λιθον. … ανακυψας δε ο Ιη(σου)ς ειπεν τη γυναικει που εισιν ουδεις σε κατεκρεινεν κακεινη ειπεν αυτω ουδεις κ(υρι)ε ο δε ειπεν ουδε εγω σε κατακρεινω υπαγε απο του νυν μηκετι αμαρτανε.

It also appears the translation offered by Ehrman and Pleše may at least be influenced by the NA27 text. There are really slight changes in Bezae, so it is impossible to tell for sure; I’d recommend they review the translation as well before releasing a revised/second edition.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, June 27, 2012 7:16:20 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Tuesday, June 26, 2012

You may or may not have heard of a project that Logos (disclaimer: Logos Bible Software is my employer) has been working on for awhile. It is called the Faithlife Study Bible (FSB). But it is so much more than a study Bible.

Faithlife Study Bible Logo

[Note: I have details on how you can get a free copy of the Faithlife Study Bible using a coupon code available only to readers of this blog. It is at the bottom. Skip down there if that’s what you’re really interested in.]

Logos Bible Software is a library. It grows with you, at your pace, for your needs. Historically, however, folks who use Logos tend to be pastors, people studying to be pastors, people who teach studies in church groups, and people pursuing academic biblical studies.

We wanted to create something for the majority of folks who are not pastors or studying to be pastors, who attend groups as participants instead of teachers. We wanted it to work well on tablets and other mobile devices, so it is easy to take with you wherever you go. And we wanted a community to be able to work together. This is who the Faithlife Study Bible is for, and what the Faithlife Study Bible is. It is the study Bible that starts where you are and grows with you.

Cool stuff about Faithlife Study Bible:iPad 1

  • If word count is your measure, it is big.  1.4 million words big.
  • The study Bible is new and fresh. It is not recycled content. And it will not be static. It is designed from the start as a digital resource, and new media and content will be updated and expanded as time marches on.
  • Over 400 photos, videos, and infographics. Logos actually sent a team to Israel to take photos and shoot video footage for this. It is all brand new stuff.
  • It includes the Lexham Bible Dictionary. That’s gotta be good, because I wrote a few articles for it. It has 2700 articles and 1.5 million words, and over 200 different contributors.
  • Three layers of study notes. The basic notes form the core, but there are also indicators you can click on that lead to deeper content, more discussion, and links into other discussion in other books available for Logos Bible Software.
  • It is designed for groups to use. So set up your Bible study group, and you can all share your notes via Faithlife and also in Logos Bible Software.

Really cool stuff about the Faithlife Study Bible:iPad 3

One of the really cool things is that the Faithlife Study Bible works with seven different translations. What does that mean? Well, print study Bibles are usually version-specific. In their notes, they reproduce phrases from the translation they are printed with. So they are limited to one translation (NIV, NASB, ESV, NKJV, whatever). With the Faithlife Study Bible, if you switch your preferred translation, the notes switch with you. Using the NIV? Great. Switch to ESV? the study Bible notes switch with you. The phrasing that quotes the Bible actually changes translation so your notes reflect your preferences.

One of the other really cool things is that it comes with the Lexham English Bible (LEB) for free. (Admission: I’m biased because I put a lot of sweat into this one.) The LEB is a new translation. It tends toward “literal” on the translation spectrum, but it is still readable. Logos released the NT in 2009 and the OT in 2012.

Need to know more? There are a host of videos available on the Faithlife Study Bible web site explaining all of the features.

Even more cool tech stuff about the Faithlife Study Bible:

Once you have the Faithlife Study Bible:Ipad 2

  • It has dedicated iOS and Android apps (iPhone, iPad, iPod, Kindle, and other Android devices)
  • It works in Logos Bible Software (Mac, PC, iOS, Android, Kindle Fire)
  • It works on Biblia.com (online)

I haven’t even begun to tell you about the growing community at Faithlife.com. Faithlife.com is the community where notes and questions are shared, groups are formed, prayers are prayed and life is lived. For lack of a better term, it is a social network. But it isn’t Facebook. It is group oriented, not self-oriented. It is built to be private with you in control of how much of anything is shared to any particular group you are in community with, so you’re not sharing everything with that creepy guy you knew in high school who friended you. Faithlife.com is designed to be a place where your church and the groups in your church can interact and grow and share what you’re learning — when you’re not together in person doing that already. I’ll probably blog more about Faithlife.com in a later post.

Getting the Faithlife Study Bible for FREE

The folks at Logos gave me a special coupon code for readers to use to license a copy of the Faithlife Study Bible. The license is good through March 2014. Here’s how to get it:

  1. Go to http://faithlifebible.com/free
  2. Enter your coupon code: RickBrannan
  3. Download the app
  4. Log in with your Logos.com/Faithlife.com account
  5. Enjoy the Bible!

Note that the “Logos.com/Faithlife.com account” are the same thing. Your Logos account. If you don’t have one, you can easily make one; and you will be prompted to do so. If you do have a Logos account, use it. And FSB will show up in your Logos Bible Software the next time you start it.

Do check it out, and do let me know what you think. And tell your friends. It is a great resource for folks who have a tablet or smart phone and are looking for a Bible app. Thanks!

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, June 26, 2012 7:39:38 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Sunday, June 03, 2012

There are so many things happening in so many departments at Logos Bible Software (my employer) that long ago I lost the ability to keep track of it all.

So I might be late in mentioning, but did you know that Logos has two (2) books by Hans-Josef Klauck on pre-pub? They are Ancient Letters and the New Testament: A Guide to Content and Exegesis and The Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles: An Introduction. Both are excellent, and both are worth reading.

Further, Logos already has two books by Klauck available, and these are great as well. The first is The Apocryphal Gospels: An Introduction. It is worth reading if you can get a deal on it, but was published by T&T Clark so is a little spendy. The second is The Religious Context of Early Christianity: A Guide to Graeco-Roman Religions and is a little more reasonable ($34 as I write this post).

The two books that are on pre-pub are published in print by Baylor University Press, and happily they provided me with review copies (thanks again) back when they were initially published. I devoured them and still consult them today. Here are the two on pre-pub with links to the posts I wrote about them when reviewing them:

Ancient Letters and the New Testament: A Guide to Content and Exegesis

The Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles: An Introduction

Bottom line: If you are interested in learning about early Christianity and its literature (outside of the NT) and generally about Graeco-Roman religions, Klauck is a good source to turn to. These books largely serve as textbooks and they are well written. I believe all four are translations and expansions from the original German editions. While I don’t agree with everything he writes (who agrees with everything they read?) these are solid introductory volumes that will ground you well in the subject matter. Ignore them at your peril.

Post Author: rico
Sunday, June 03, 2012 8:29:06 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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