# Tuesday, November 27, 2012

In the interest of ensuring someone can find this information if needed, I wanted to report a few more errata from Ehrman & Pleše’s The Apocryphal Gospels (amazon.com).

The first item is trivial. On p. 445, note 27, I’m guessing John 19:28-42 should be John 19:38-42.

The second item is less trivial.

In the introduction to the Gospel of Mary, p. 588, there is a statement about P.Oxy 3525: "Measuring 11.7 x 11.4 cm, it contains portions of 4:1–7:3 of the Coptic text."

However, I cannot determine the numbering system used in that statement; and it does not match with the numbering system used in either the Coptic or the English in Ehrman/Pleše. The material in P.Oxy 3525 is similar to that found in chapters/pages 9-10 as numbered in Ehrman/Pleše. I do not have the editions of Lührmann or Pasquier or Tuckett to hand, so I cannot check those; perhaps they would explain it.

Related to this, above that paragraph on p. 588, in a statement about P.Ryl. 463 (note, though, it is referred to as P.Ryl. 473 there), Ehrman/Pleše have: "This was a solitary papyrus leaf, written on both sides, measuring 8.7 x 10 cm, and containing portions of chapters 9-10 of the corresponding Coptic text, with some notable variants."

As numbered in Ehrman/Pleše, though, the material of P.Ryl. 463 aligns with the Coptic chapters/pages 17-19. So there is a disconnect in numbering systems somewhere here too.

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, November 27, 2012 5:53:29 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Sunday, November 18, 2012

Yes, believe it or not, Advent is coming upon us. I’ve written a short devotional for use in the advent season. It is based on the readings of the Revised Common Lectionary for Year C, which, I believe, is this year. (I wrote the devotional in 2009, which was also Year C.)

I’ve just revised all the quotations from the Bible to use the Lexham English Bible as the license is clear and the material can be used for these purposes.

It was originally written for my church, Grace Church Bellingham. But anyone can use it. There are two versions in PDF. One version is standard 8.5x11. The other is a landscape, 2 column 8.5x11 version of the same.

It is organized by the readings of the Revised Common Lectionary (Year C). Each week’s readings are broken into daily portions, and each day has a short series of questions along with short answers.

My purpose for doing this was to have something for my family to start to read through as a family devotional during the advent season. The questions and answers are hopefully appropriate for such a setting. In reality, the questions (and moreso the answers) are just guidelines — training wheels, if you’d like to think of them that way — the hope is just to stimulate some sort of advent-centered discussion around the day/week readings.

Post Author: rico
Sunday, November 18, 2012 10:11:22 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Monday, November 12, 2012

[Note: At times, publishers supply me with books for review. However, I actually purchased this book, it was not supplied for review. If you would like to supply me with a book for review, please feel free to email textgeek at gmail dot com.]

That’s the question Reverend Thomas J. Herron seeks to answer with Clement and the Early Church of Rome: On the Dating of Clement’s First Epistle to the Corinthians (amazon.com). Most folks in this post-J.B.-Lightfoot world consider the date of First Clement fairly well set at 95 or 96 AD. Thomas Herron says “not so fast!” and makes what is perhaps the best case for an early dating of First Clement, before 70 AD but after the deaths of Peter and Paul.

I will not comprehensively review Herron’s argument here. His book is short (just over 100 pages to the bibliography) and relatively cheap (12 bucks new, at least that’s what the Amazon widget said when I published this post). If you are interested in the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, I’d encourage you to get the book yourself and give it a read.

One of Herron’s more persuasive notions in the book is his appeal to the thought that Clement didn’t have to be pope when he wrote the letter attributed to him. The standard date of 95–96 AD, persuasively argued by Lightfoot and others, is built around testimony from Eusebius about the order and dating of the first popes and comments about the reigning emperors during each papacy. Herron doesn’t dispute that at all; instead he asks:

If this is so, that the author does not write as the single bishop of Rome, then the date of circa AD 95 is no longer tenable since that date rests on one simple piece of information, namely that Eusebius tells us that Clement of Rome was single bishop of Rome toward the end of the reign of Emperor Domitian, whose death, we know, was in AD 96. Take away the belief that Clement wrote the letter known as 1 Clement while he was bishop of Rome, and the dating of circa AD 95 is seriously undermined. The issue is not whether Eusebius is correct about Clement’s tenure as bishop, but whether that information has any possible relevance for the dating question. (Herron 3, italics his)

Herron exploits this apparent discrepancy between the authorship of First Clement (apparently from the church at Rome and not from a single bishop) with the dating of Clement’s papacy provided by Eusebius, when it is obvious that Clement is the bishop in power. Why, if Clement is bishop, doesn’t he write the letter as bishop — like both Ignatius and Polycarp do, to some degree?

Anyway, this is his entry to the argument, and it is enough to catch one’s attention. It makes it possible in the informed reader’s mind that perhaps Clement did write it earlier than 95-96 AD. Then the question arises, “when?” And Herron appeals largely to internal evidence he sees that would move the date to before 70 AD.

He progresses the argument to 1Cl 40-41, and discussion of the temple. If Herron can prove references contemporary with a temple in Jerusalem, then he’s almost all the way to a pre-70 AD date for the letter.

Unfortunately, he turns to the temporality of the Greek verb in an effort to prove that Clement’s mention of the temple in 1Cl 40-41, by using present tense verbs, must be contemporaneous with a pre-70 AD temple. How can Clement use present tense verbs discussing the temple if the temple is actually destroyed (as it would be in 95-96 AD)?

Here’s the relevant text, 1Cl 40.1–41.4:

40.1 Therefore since these things are evident to us, and we have looked into the depths of the divine knowledge, we ought to do in sequence everything whatever the Master commanded us to accomplish, at the times appointed. 2 Both the offerings and services should be accomplished, and he commanded them not to be done thoughtlessly or disorderly, but at appointed times and hours. 3 Both where and by whom he wants them to be accomplished, he himself has appointed by his most supreme will, that all things being done devoutly in good pleasure, may be acceptable to his will. 4 Therefore those who make their offerings at the appointed times are both acceptable and blessed, for following the lawful ways of the Master they do not sin.  5 For the proper services are given to the high priest, and the proper position has been appointed to the priests, and the proper ministries have been imposed upon the Levites. The lay  person is bound by the laity’s commands.

41.1 Each of us, brothers, in his own group, must be pleasing to God, being in good conscience,  not going beyond the appointed rule  of his ministry, with dignity. 2 Not everywhere, brothers, are the sacrifices continually offered,  or vows or ⌊sin-offerings and trespass-offerings⌋, but only in Jerusalem, and even there, offerings are made not in every place, but before the temple, at the altar, the offering being examined for blemishes by the high priest and those doing the previously mentioned service. 3 Therefore those who do anything contrary to ⌊the duty imposed⌋  by his will, they experience the death penalty. 4 You see, brothers, as we have been considered worthy of greater knowledge, so we will be exposed to more danger.

The Apostolic Fathers in English ( trans. Rick Brannan; (Logos Bible Software, 2012)).

Herron takes the emphasis on appointed times and hours and references to services and high priests/levites, and then references to the four types of offerings in 41.2 (sacrifices, vows, sin-offerings and trespass-offerings), and the use of present tense verbs throughout the passage, as possibly meaning two things. Either all the present tense verbs are historical presents, and this is a recollection; or the presents imply present-time references contemporaneous with the author, thus the temple must have been standing when Clement wrote it if sacrifices are being made in Jerusalem.

I don’t buy it. First, temporal reference with Greek verbs is never so neat. Language is flexible, and you can use presents for stuff like this, even if the events discussed are not contemporaneous with the speaker/author. Call it a historical present if you want (I leave that to the grammarians); my rough conception of the Greek verb is that it is not so neatly binary when temporal reference is at stake, or any other time for that matter.

Second, I just spent a lot of time in the Pentateuch of the LXX; particularly Leviticus and Numbers. The way the sacrifices are discussed here in Clement is pretty standard fare in comparison. Clement aligns pretty well with the LXX. See Lev 7.18–28 (BHS/Eng 7.28–38) for starters. Herron makes a great deal about the specificity of Clement’s language regarding the sacrifices and the temple; I think Clement could’ve gotten all of it from the LXX if he’d read it. And, based on his citations of LXX elsewhere, I think that’s pretty likely.

Further, this talk of present tense in recollection of known/documented events makes me think of other things Clement discusses with present tense verbs. You know, like the sign of the phoenix in 1Cl 25. Are these all historical presents? Can we also make the argument that Clement must’ve believed (and perhaps actually witnessed?!) a 500-year-old phoenix entombing itself, dying, spontaneously generating  a worm which feeds on the carcass, grows wings, and then rises from its death cocoon and flies off carrying the remnants of the bones back to Heliopolis?

I didn’t think so. He was using the phoenix as an illustration of resurrection, likely because the legend was known to both him and his hearers. Whether he believed it or not is a different matter.

So, Clement’s references could be contemporaneous with a temple in Jerusalem, but I don’t think they have to be. Herron’s argument regarding present-tense verbs is non-determinative here. I don’t think it is as strong as he makes it out to be for reasons stated above. Clement doesn’t have to be talking about a real, existing temple to make his point regarding order here; he is appealing to the temple and its practices which he knows to be common knowledge between himself and his audience. And his information is, in my opinion, obtainable from the LXX.

Conclusion

I won’t go through all of Herron’s points. I think the most persuasive portion of the book was the introduction, clarifying that the question wasn’t about Clement’s papacy, but instead about when Clement wrote the letter. That’s genius because it leaves known things known (Clement as pope near end of Domitian’s reign) and clarifies that a 95-96 AD date means you’re saying Clement wrote it when he was pope, and there are some seemingly non-popish things about the letter you then have to deal with.

Reading the argument from that point, after the temple piece, was more like seeing circumstantial evidence that could be interpreted a few different ways piled up to the point of hoping it would tip the scales.

I think Herron probably makes the best possible case for an early date of First Clement. I think future work on First Clement will have to interact with Herron instead of simply blindly cite Lightfoot as authority for a 95/96 AD date. But I don’t think Herron’s work will or should cause the scholarly consensus on the date of First Clement to change. The book is inexpensive and accessible, so you do need to give it a look if you’re into this stuff.

Post Author: rico
Monday, November 12, 2012 9:40:23 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, November 01, 2012

As you probably know, I’m an ‘information architect’ at Logos Bible Software. We recently (today!) released Logos Bible Software 5. There are lots of bug fixes and new features and stuff, but the big deal with Logos 5 are the new data sets that allow for examination of the scripture like we’ve never done before. I think it is a huge step forward, though admittedly I might be biased.

This is data we’ve been working on for a long time (some of it before we even released Logos 4 in 2009, believe it or not). The data sets I’m most excited about include:

  • Biblical Referents: So, you’ve always been able to search for “Jesus” and “said” and find where Jesus says something. But that’s only where the word “Jesus” is explicitly used. What about when it is “he said”? Biblical Referents solve that problem. We’ve analyzed the Hebrew Bible and Greek New Testament and resolved these sorts of things. Because the data is annotated on the original languages, that means it bubbles up all over the place through our linking of the original languages to modern translations.
  • Bible Sense Lexicon: This is just the start of a massive project that will allow for incredible things. If you’re familiar with WordNet, then this is like WordNet for the Bible. We are analyzing every word (nouns, adjectives, verbs, , determining sense used, and annotating them. Further, we have a cross-linguistic approach that allows us to map from Hebrew to Greek, which means that we can find when a sense occurs in the Bible, not just in the NT or the OT. Right now we have an initial annotation of nouns in both Hebrew and Greek, and are starting work on verbs. It is very cool.
  • Clause Search: Clause search allows one to search for clauses and clause components. It integrates several data sets: Biblical People, Places and Things, Referents, Syntax data, morphological data, and makes it all searchable bounded to a clause. Search for “subject:Jesus verb-lemma:θεραπεύω” (the verb for “to heal”) and find everything. Even stuff like “he healed them” (Mt 4.24, ESV).
  • Reported Speech: Sometimes it is handy to know who or what is speaking. We have annotated “reported speech” through the whole of the Bible. One way this is viewable is through a visual filter for “Speaker Labels” in Bibles with reverse interlinears.
  • Roots in Greek NT and Hebrew Bible. Roots (both Greek and Hebrew) are integrated with original language texts and reverse interlinears. This has been a much-requested feature over the years, and we’re glad to finally make it available to users!

Here's a video from YouTube that describes many of these features.

On top of this, we have new resources. There are a few I am personally very happy to have see the light of day in that I either produced it myself or was the lead editor. Here they are.

LELXXThe Lexham English Septuagint. The Lexham English Septuagint (LES) is a new translation of the Septuagint (LXX, the Greek version of the Old Testament) based on Henry Barclay Swete's edition of the Septuagint, The Old Testament in Greek According to the Septuagint. Based on the work of the popular The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint, the LES provides a literal, readable and transparent English edition of the Greek Old Testament, which was the edition of the Old Testament writings most popularly used during New Testament times and in the early church.

There was a small but stellar group that did the primary editing of the translation, including myself, Ken M. Penner, Israel Loken, Michael Aubrey and Isaiah Hoogendyk.

One of the things I really like about the LES is the approach to proper nouns. Septuagint Lexicons typically do not handle proper nouns. Septuagint translations typically transliterate all but the most important (e.g. David, Jerusalem, Moses). What this means is that the names most English readers are familiar with (from translations of the Hebrew Bible) are not used in LXX translations. So it is hard to track who does what. Read something like First Chronicles, and you’re completely lost because the majority of the names are not familiar at all.

In the LES, we were able to use, where possible, names familiar to those who have only worked with English translations of the Hebrew Bible and the apocryphal books. So Reuben is Reuben, Manasseh is Manasseh. Cities use names you’re probably expecting (e.g. Gibeah, not Gabaa). However, because the differences in spelling/representation are sometimes insightful, we’ve footnoted the transliterated form of proper nouns — where the transliteration is different from the familiar representation — so the information is not lost.

TheApostolicFathersThe Apostolic Fathers in English (with reverse interlinear). This is a new translation of the writings of the Apostolic Fathers in English. It is a follow-up to my Apostolic Fathers Greek-English Interlinear. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

This translation is not meant to replace either Holmes' or Ehrman's editions in print. Instead, my goal in creating a new English translation was to create a tighter and more transparent relationship with the underlying Greek text. As this translation has its genesis with my Apostolic Fathers Greek-English Interlinear, it began with a direct relationship with every word and phrase of the underlying Greek. From here, the English translation was reviewed and edited to become more readable yet still retain its relationship with the Greek text. Finally, using tools provided by Logos Bible Software, the English text was completely re-aligned with the Greek text, word by word, phrase by phrase. When the English text is read with the reverse interlinearized Greek text displayed in Logos Bible Software, the result is an English translation that shows exactly where each word and phrase has its origin.

This level of alignment becomes more useful in reading and particularly when studing how words and structures found in the New Testament are used in contemporary literature. And this, to my mind, can help the writings of the Apostolic Fathers play a larger role in one's study of the New Testament and Septuagint, which is my larger goal.

I’m super-excited about this one too. It has been hard to not talk about as it has been complete for almost a year!

Anyway, to sum it up, I’m excited about Logos 5!

Post Author: rico
Thursday, November 01, 2012 6:21:28 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# 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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