Saturday, December 31, 2005

Review of Bart Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus

Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus seeks to fill a market niche by being a book written for people who know nothing about textual criticism. Here it is reviewed under five headings: Synopsis, Praise, Critique, Conclusion, and Appendix.

1. Synopsis

Book cover Introduction (pp. 1-15). Ehrman explains why the subject of the text of the New Testament is one that has radically affected him both emotionally and intellectually. He was brought up in a ‘churchgoing but not particularly religious’ family (p. 1) but in teenage years felt a kind of loneliness (which he now thinks was just what all teenagers feel). After becoming involved in a Campus Life Youth for Christ club he had a ‘born-again’ experience aged 15 and some time after that was encouraged to attend the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, which he did in 1973. This institution held to biblical inerrancy and that the words of the autograph were inspired, but in an early class he encountered the fact that we do not possess the autographs, only ‘error-ridden copies of the autographs’ (p. 5). This got him interested in trying to learn about textual criticism. By the end of his three-year diploma at Moody he wanted to become ‘... an evangelical “voice” in secular circles, by getting degrees that would allow me to teach in secular settings while retaining my evangelical commitments’ (pp. 5-6). He went to Wheaton College, majoring in English and learning Greek, and there he experienced some doubts. After two years he went to Princeton Theological Seminary, where he studied with Bruce Metzger. He writes, ‘A turning point came in my second semester’ (p. 8), during a course on Mark when he had written a paper trying to justify the name ‘Abiathar’ in Mark 2:26 and his professor, Cullen Story, wrote thereon ‘Maybe Mark just made a mistake’. Once Ehrman had concluded that he did, ‘the floodgates opened’ to admitting other problems in scripture (p. 9) and then to having a radical rethink of his understanding of the Bible. He now writes a book which he believes is the first of its kind: a book ‘for people who know nothing about textual criticism’ (p. 15).

1. The Beginnings of Christian Scripture (pp. 17-43). Judaism was a religion of the book and writing became important within Christian churches through such things as Paul’s letters, pseudonymous letters, early gospels, acts, apocalypses, church orders, apologies, martyrologies, antiheretical tractates and early Christian commentaries. A canon began to form and people began to ascribe to New Testament writings the authority already ascribed to the Old Testament. In response to Marcion, the ‘Orthodox’ sought to delineate the canon’s boundaries. Despite the importance of writings for the churches, literacy was not common and there was consequently an emphasis on reading texts out publicly.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Final notes on Horton

Herewith comments on the remaining essays within Charles Horton, The Earliest Gospels and other reflections inspired thereby.

Martin McNamara, 'The Latin Gospels, with Special Reference to Irish Tradition', pp. 88-106, is a particularly useful introduction to the Irish Gospel tradition, or indeed to the Latin Gospel tradition in general. It deals with the nature of the mixed-text manuscripts, which contain both Vulgate and Old Latin elements. One methodological question that is raised by this essay is the question of what is Old Latin. McNamara explains that within the Irish scribal tradition there was a certain license in transmission of Vulgate texts and that this license is often found alongside genuine Old Latin elements. This of course raises the question as to how you actually recognise what is pre-Vulgate (i.e. Old Latin) and what is post-Vulgate license in transmission. Both might show similar features. This is where translation technique profiling will be absolutely vital. I note that we have a parallel situation in the Syriac tradition, where it has often been difficult to identify what is 'Old Syriac' because some scholars, esp. Arthur Vööbus, seemed to work on the basis that whatever was not Peshitta (or a later Syriac translation) was Old Syriac.

Barbara Aland, 'The Significance of the Chester Beatty Papyri in Early Church History', pp. 108-121, considers attitudes to textual transmission in the early Church and asks how the communities which commissioned early papyrus manuscripts might have viewed their errors. The communities may not have been so aware of the errors of an early papyrus 'because they have nothing to compare it with' or perhaps 'because the lector in the worship service can quietly smooth over any difficulties ...' (p. 118).

J. Keith Elliott, 'Singular Readings in the Gospel Text of P45', pp. 122-131, considers 'singular' and 'subsingular' readings, but also discusses the meaning of these terms. No readings should be dismissed as aberrant simply because they fall into one of these categories.

Larry W. Hurtado, 'P45 and the Textual History of the Gospel of Mark', pp. 132-148, focuses on scholarship since Westcott and Hort and especially the concept of the 'Caesarean' text: how P45 seemed at first to give support to this concept, but then led to its undermining.

The final essay is Charles Horton, 'The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri: A Find of the Greatest Importance', pp. 149-160. It surveys the history of the discovery and acquisition of these papyri, and brings together a number of sources to highlight various personal details about Beatty, his financial position and his method of acquiring manuscripts. However, it does not relate the origins of the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin.

Overall the volume is of a high quality (with some weaknesses of proofreading). A number of senior figures restate, précis, and develop material they have previously worked on. The essays have a wide relevance.

Issues which those interested in evangelical doctrine may wish to consider carefully relate to the general conclusions about scribal habit. A number of the authors conclude that the willingness of scribes to modify their Vorlage was not merely occasional. If this is true, what does it suggest about their attitude to verbal inspiration? Of course, someone who believes in verbal inspiration is not bound to maintain that early scribes generally believed in it. However, it would be somewhat surprising, at least to me, if none of the early scribes were concerned for full verbal accuracy in their product. (Those who do not share my convictions about verbal inspiration will have no occasion for surprise if indeed scribes were not concerned to produce full verbal accuracy in their manuscripts.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

James Robinson on The Gospel of the Egyptians

The next installment of highlights from essays of Charles Horton, The Earliest Gospels, is from James Robinson, 'The Nag Hammadi Gospels and the Fourfold Gospel', pp. 69-87. Robinson argues that the application of the term 'gospel' to The Gospel of Truth, The Gospel of Philip and The Gospel of the Egyptians is inappropriate, whereas it is appropriate for The Gospel of Thomas. His statements on The Gospel of the Egyptians are particularly striking:

'The editors [Böhlig and Wisse] conclude: "The title 'The Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit' should have been preferred but Doresse's title [i.e. The Gospel of the Egyptians] is now too well established to change it". Jean Doresse, the French graduate student and adventurer, was the first to prepare an inventory of the Nag Hammadi Codices. Hence our first information and first dis-information, stems from him. His reason for preferring the title "The Gospel of the Egyptians" is obvious, when one recalls that the leaf from the Nag Hammadi Codices that always hung in public display at the Coptic Museum in Old Cairo was Codex III, p. 69, with the reading "The Gospel of the Egyptians" in full view, as a vindication of Egypt's claim to have had a Gospel of its own. Doresse really knew how to endear himself to the staff of the Coptic Museum, and we have to live with the consequences.' (Robinson, p. 75)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Felix Dies Nativitatis

For some reason I won't be blogging tomorrow, but I want to wish everyone God's blessing for the day and to put up two carols for Christmas edification. (I also hope that these are edifying for those evangelicals who, like John Knox, don't celebrate Christmas.)

In these enlightened days when we no longer have to prove the general primacy of Greek over Latin, and when most evangelical publishing houses seem enamoured with the vernacular we may perhaps indulge in a post-Reformation Latin carol written as recently as about 1742 by John Francis Wade. 1742 was, of course, the year when Bengel brought out his Gnomon Novi Testamenti, which was translated into English by John Wesley, brother of Charles, who wrote 'Hark! The herald angels sing' (1739)—one of my favourite carols (full original-ish text below). Unfortunately, John did not translate it into Latin.

Here I give the longer recension of Wade's carol, only four of whose verses made it into the English version 'O come all ye faithful'.

If you teach this carol to your children then there is a greater likelihood that they will become textual critics.

Adeste, fideles, Laeti triumphantes,
Venite, venite in Bethlehem.
Natum videte Regem angelorum.

Venite adoremus (ter)

En grege relicto, Humiles ad cunas
Vocati pastores approperant.
Et nos ovanti gradu festinemus.

Stella duce, magi Christum adorantes
Aurum, tus, et myrrham dant munera.
Iesu infanti corda praebeamus.

Cantet nunc hymnos chorus angelorum;
Cantet nunc aula caelestium:
"Gloria, gloria in excelsis Deo!"

Deum de Deo, Lumen de Lumine,
Gestant puellae viscera,
Deum verum, genitum non factum.

Aeterni Parentis splendorem aeternum,
Velatum sub carne videbimus;
Deum infantem pannis involutem.

Pro nobis egenum et foeno cubantem,
Piis foveamus amplexibus.
Sic nos amantemquis non redamaret?

Ergo qui natus die hodierna
Iesu tibi sit gloria
Patris aeterni Verbum caro factum


According to the following is the original text of 'Hark! The herald angels sing'. Actually, although in the first line the word 'welkin' is somewhat obscure to most moderns, it is arguably no less intelligible than the more recent version, whose punctuation and sense are often misunderstood.

Hark, how all the welkin rings,
“Glory to the King of kings;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”

Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
Universal nature say,
“Christ the Lord is born to-day!”

Christ, by highest Heaven ador’d,
Christ, the everlasting Lord:
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb!

Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see,
Hail the incarnate deity!
Pleased as man with men to appear,
Jesus! Our Immanuel here!

Hail, the heavenly Prince of Peace!
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings.

Mild He lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of earth;
Born to give them second birth.

Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conquering seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head.

Now display thy saving power,
Ruined nature now restore;
Now in mystic union join
Thine to ours, and ours to thine.

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface;
Stamp Thy image in its place.
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in thy love.

Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the life, the inner Man:
O! to all thyself impart,
Form’d in each believing heart.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

More essays from Horton

I want to make brief comments on three more essays from Charles Horton, ed., The Earliest Gospels.

Harry Gamble, ‘Literacy, Liturgy, and the Shaping of the New Testament Canon’, pp. 27-39, argues that in early Christianity there was a paradox between the ‘bookishness’ of the religion and the very limited literacy of the Christian congregations. However, oral and literate cultures intersected at the point of Christian liturgy. The liturgical tradition in Christian congregations was established early and it was liturgical use that was decisive in debates about the canon in the fourth century.

‘Although from time to time the church appealed to various criteria of canonicity (e.g. authorship, derivation from the apostolic period, orthodoxy, etc.), the ultimate criterion for the canonical, authoritative status of a book was its reception by the church, and there could be no more certain or compelling indication of reception by the church than that such a book had over long years been publicly read in the service of worship.’ (p. 37)

Graham Stanton, ‘Early Christian Preference for the Codex’, pp. 40-49, argues that the evidence (e.g., of P.Petaus 30) does not suggest that Christians were responsible for the invention of the codex. He also suggests that the writing tablets from Vindolanda in Northumberland (England) make it ‘probable that some of the many literary references in first and second century writings to notebooks (pugillaria) may be to leaf tablets rather than to stylus tablets.’ (p. 45)

William L. Petersen, ‘The Diatessaron and the Fourfold Gospel’, pp. 50-68, reviews Diatessaronic issues and focuses on two passages that suggest that extra-canonical traditions were incorporated into the Diatessaron. This, he argues, must either mean that the Diatessaron involved material from more than the four Gospels, or that the text of the four Gospels was fluid enough to have contained this material.

He argues that the making of the Diatessaron was ‘a frontal assault on the four-gospel canon’ or ‘a rejection of the multiple-gospel canon’ (p. 67). Bill of course knows infinitely more about the Diatessaron than do I, but I do not see why an author who produces a harmony necessarily is rejecting their Vorlage. Loraine Boettner would not have been convinced!

The good thing about this book is that in it authors such as Hengel, Gamble, Stanton and Petersen summarize in a single article arguments that they have laid out previously in full monographs. These little essays are certainly good adverts for the books.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Hengel on TC

I'm working through the volume edited by Charles Horton on P45. The essay by Martin Hengel, 'The Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ', is basically a summary of his book bearing the same title (London: SCM, 2000). It is an exceptionally useful distillation. One sentence that stood out was this:

'The text of the Gospels is the best-transmitted text in antiquity.' (p. 15)

I actually think that the text of some of the epistles might have been a better choice and better still might have been texts from the OT: proto-Masoretic mss from Qumran show a higher level of agreement with mss from about a millennium later.

Hengel's statement did, however, make me wonder how much scholars have actually compared the NT and Classical transmission processes from the perspective of their fidelity (rather than just observing that there are usually vastly more witnesses for the NT text).

What are the main investigations of this area?

And the winner is ................

Here are the results of our first ever annual ETC achievement awards. Many thanks for all of you who nominated people for the various categories. Strangely many categories earnt no nominations. There is always next year (when all those 'forthcoming's arrive).
Thanks are due too to those within the academy who read the relevant books and articles and voted for us. Also thanks to Indiginata Theological Consultancy, Inc. for sponsorship, airfares and prizes.

So without further ado I'll hand over to Tammy and Johnny for the announcements:

Johnny: Hello, I'm Johnny Cash. I've always admired textual critics for their careful scholarship ("One Piece At A Time"), their discernment ("The One on the Right is on the Left"), and their consistent efforts to help those troubled by gender confusion ("A Boy Named Sue"). But, now, as they say, I've gotta "Walk the Line" through that "Ring of Fire" and find the "Man in Black".

Tammy: Well, thanks Johnny. I fell in love with a textual critic in my youth. That is why I wrote "He Loves Me All the Way [to the Bodleian]". I wrote several songs for him, although my producers changed some of the words: "Stand by your man[uscript]" and "The Ways to Love a Man[uscript]". Finding a new manuscript would make it a "Perfect Day". Anyway, it is my privilege to introduce the awards:

1. Best contribution to biblical textual criticism.
And the winner is: Frank Moore Cross et al., Qumran Cave 4 XII: 1-2 Samuel (Discoveries in the Judaean Desert 17; Oxford: Clarendon, 2005).

2. The Bruce Manning Metzger Evangelical Textual Criticism Hall of Fame / Life-time achievement Award.
And the OT winner is: David Gooding
And the NT winner is: Gordon Fee

Victory speeches transcript here: ETCVictory

Monday, December 19, 2005

Alain Martin on Matthew 1:16

In the 'note' on Matthew 1:16 mentioned earlier, Alain Martin considers a number of aspects of the variant in the Sinaitic manuscript of the Old Syriac version. As is well known, this version presents an account that says that 'Joseph begot Jesus'. I argued in 2004 that the Syriac reads as it does for linguistic reasons (Early Syriac Translation Technique, pp. 19, 39, 240-44, 289), but this article, completed by 2002 yet delayed in publication, does not consider such linguistic possibilities. Martin posits that the Sinaitic manuscript, which is probably an early form of Matthew, spoke both of human paternity by Joseph (1:16) and of a supernatural conception (1:18) but that this does not reflect a contradiction so much as a 'sensibilité théologique'.

Near the end of the article (p. 93) we are told the following:

La critique texuelle apprend au théologien à clairement distinguer entre l'essentiel et le secondaire (attitude bien calviniste!). Elle rappelle que la Parole de Dieu n'est pas figée dans un text ou dans un temps, mais que'lle est vivante et se développe dans l'histoire, ce que est le rôle du Saint-Esprit selon le Nouveau Testament.

It appears that theological discourse in textual criticism is alive an well. However, it is interesting that 'living' should be used as the opposite of 'fixed'.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

3 more difficult Byzantine readings

Here are a few more Byzantine readings that I suggest are difficult:

Acts 18:17: εμελλεν not εμελεν.

1 Peter 1:8: 'whom not knowing [ειδοτες] you love ...'

2 Peter 2:18: 'those who have really [οντως] fled ...'

Any thoughts?

More corrections to Robinson and Pierpont

I've added further corrections, mainly of accentuation, for Robinson and Pierpont's Greek New Testament to the original post.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

ETC Annual Achievement Awards: More Nominations?

Up-date: I'm just posting this again to keep it near the top. For earlier posts see here and here and the numerous comments.

As the end of the year approaches we invite our readers (yes, all three of you) to engage in a bout of critical reflection on the major text critical achievements of 2005.
We invite nominations for awards in the following categories:

1. Best contribution to biblical textual criticism.
2. Best discussion of an individual manuscript.
3. Worst treatment of textual criticism in a biblical commentary.
4. Best evangelical contribution to biblical textual criticism.
5. Most arcane detail published in any text critical discussion.
6. Funniest item connected to textual criticism of the Bible.
7. Evangelical Textual Criticism Hall of Fame / Life-time achievement Award.

Nominations can be submitted (over the next 4 days) as comments or by email.

Andrew Wilson's links

Andrew Wilson draws our attention to the following links:

Shorter Reading canon:
Harder Reading canon:
Harmonization canon:

Fee nominated for award

We have received the following nomination from Jim Leonard:

Perhaps the student can be forgiven for nominating, from his limited experiences, his own favorite professor to an award. Perhaps, despite the student's own experiential limitations, that professor really is deserving. Let me argue such on behalf of Gordon Fee in regard to the highly esteemed and world renowned Evangelical Textual Criticism Hall of Fame/Lifetime Achievement Award.

First, let me explain that as a student of Prof. Fee, amazingly, I actually never read a single textual critical work of his. I came to study with him well after he had established his reputation as text-critic-turned-exegete, and my work with him was exegetically oriented, with only sideward glances at tc. What I know of his tc work comes from informal readings after my graduate degree.

In this light, I was surprised to find in my first real tc research paper how often I resorted to citing Prof. Fee's various works. The variety and scope of his writings and their strategic importance necessitated such frequent citation.

With a few exceptions, scholarship in textual criticism is not so much reflected in tomes, but in shorter research articles (Colwell and Birdsall, for example, had but two tc books published between them). Prof. Fee has written two volumes on tc, but his research articles are of such importance that we recall them as quickly as we recall the names of the few larger, important books in the field. These works are often definitive, and future scholarship will not be able to avoid prefacing their work with reference to Prof. Fee's works.

One example of this is William L. Petersen's 2002 article, "The Genesis of the Gospel" (in A. Denaux's New Testament Textual Exegesis) wherein he argued for a closer look at the early Fathers to determine gospel texts which look quite different from our canonical gospels. Despite his recognition of the cautions expressed in Prof. Fee's article, "The Text of John in Origen and Cyril of Alexandria" (Bib 52 [1971], 357-394), one wonders if the phenomena Petersen observed in citations from Theophilus (40) and the Didache (51-53) may be explicable in terms proffered by Prof. Fee thirty years earlier. Prof. Fee's passionate cautions regarding Patristic evidence were such as to have spilled over even into his introductory courses. One suspects that the radical revision of the Patristic evidence in the apparatus of NA-27 had a portion of its impetus from Prof. Fee's own writings (see also "The Text of John in The Jerusalem Bible: A Critique of the Use of Patristic Ciations in New Textament Textual Criticism" and "The Use of Greek Patristic Citations in New Testament Textual Criticism: The State of the Question").
Prof. Fee has had a knack for publishing strategically important articles for the discipline. This was true of his debunking of the myth that the "Alexandrian" text form was a recension. To a large degree, this work confirmed the basic Hortian program of reconstructing the NT text largely on the basis of the strict text form behind B, at a time when such confidence was beginning to lag.

Prof. Fee has been in the frontlines on issues which have been polemical. At a time when some Christian conservatives (Evangelicals and Fundamentalists) were being swayed by a revival of the Majority Text, Prof. Fee entered the arena and published several articles and debates on the issue. The same is true over the issue of eclecticism; his arguments for a reasoned eclecticism have seemed to have won the day against the rigorous eclecticism of Kilpatrick and Elliott.
Prof. Fee's work still speaks to current issues in tc. The last two decades have seen an increasing interest in the relationship between tc and gospel formation prior to 180 CE. Much of this scholarship would undermine our confidence in our critical text and in the "original text." Prof. Fee has probably written the definitive work looking at the implications of synoptic harmonization for the Synoptic Problem ("Modern Textual Criticism and the Synoptic Problem: On the Problem of harmonization in the Gospels"). Also, he himself has recognized the first 300 years as the "Period of Confusion," yet gives an analysis of this period which is far more sympathetic to Evangelicals and to the issue of biblical authority than is often given ("Textual Criticism of the New Testament;" cf. Koester, Petersen, Ehrman). In a short review of Ehrman's The Orthodox Corruption of the Text, Prof. Fee politely and with some subtlety shreds methods and conclusions so thoroughly that the book needs to be re-read with great reservation (Critical Review of Books and Religion, Aug 1995, 203-206).

I wonder if Prof. Fee has made his own contribution to the canons of criticism. He argues that "one criterion above all others superintends the scholar's choice at any point of textual variation: the variant that best explains the origin of all the others is most likely original." This probably is not original to Prof. Fee, but in my own limited experience, I have not seen the criterion stated so lucidly elsewhere.

A word should be said in regard to Prof. Fee's relationship to evangelicalism. As a Pentecostal, he admits to having some tensions within his evangelical world. One of these tensions is his emphasis on the Spirit's role in interpreting the text. He is more concerned with what, for example, Paul meant than what the text actually said. As such, he has been a little outside of the issue of inerrancy, and one wonders if maybe his emphasis on the Spirit has more in common with Prof. Parker and the living text approach than the earlier comment may suggest.
More importantly, however, Prof. Fee's evangelicalism can be seen in his far-reaching exegetical work. In an era when the Pastorals were considered not even deutero-Pauline, but trito-Pauline, Prof. Fee argued for their authenticity, and his tiny commentary on the Pastorals (New International Bible Commentary) rocked liberal scholarship way back on its heels. The same is true in regard to Paul's Trinitarianism; while it had become commonplace to dismiss orthodox Trinitarianism as a later Church development, Prof. Fee has boldly argued that the Trinitarianism of the later creeds is latent in Paul's writings, and largely assumed in his theology (God's Empowering Presence, 898).

One important exegetical insistence of Prof. Fee's has import for some recent developments in tc. In the attempt to reconstruct primitive forms of the gospels prior to 180 C.E., a number of scholars have argued that the early Fathers and texts seem uninformed in regard to Jesus' life and teaching. They point out that this is a feature of the earliest Christian writings, and surmise that the four canonical gospels must not have been widely received by the Church in the first two centuries. In so doing, they point to the Pauline writings which have little to say about Jesus' life and ministry, suggesting that Paul knew little of Jesus' life. Prof. Fee would cry foul to this line of reasoning, arguing first of all the ad hoc nature of the Pauline epistles, and that they were task oriented, not treatise of theology or ethics. Typically, Paul wrote to fix problems, and the situation rarely would have required Paul to cite sayings or deeds of Jesus. In this regard, Prof. Fee was fond of pointing out that overly skeptical scholars would assume that Paul knew nothing of the Lord's Supper, except that, quite incidentally, observance of the institution had become a problem in Corinth, requiring Paul to address the situation. Likewise, in our attempt to push the text beyond the 180 C.E. barrier, we should remember this admonition, and ask whether a writing or a writer really had the occasion to refer to Jesus' life and ministry.

But for Prof. Fee, the goal of exegesis is hermeneutics…how one applies what was said back then to our lives today. I think if this is not the essence of evangelicalism, it is very close to its core. For it is only the appropriation of the text into our lives that we are truly Christian. And this is clearly evident in Prof. Fee's life's work.

Prof. Fee's larger works:
The Text of the Fourth Gospel in the Writings of Origen (with Ehrman and Holmes)
Papyrus Bodmer II (P66): Its Textual Relationships and Scribal Tendencies
For a convenient collection of his essays see Studies in the Theory and Method of NTTC (with Epp) and New Testament Textual Criticism: Its Significance for Exegesis (with Epp).

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Up-date on a left-handed scribe .... not

In the comments to an earlier post (found here), there was some discussion about whether it was possible to distinguish left-handed from right-handed scribes, both in terms of their writing styles and characteristic 'scribal habits'. It was also suggested that there were no left-handed scribes depicted in manuscript illustrations etc.

During the course of the discussion PJW came up with an image of a left-handed scribe, but the picture didn't seem to match the description (click for details).

So I emailed the museum:

In the description given of the Manuscript Illumination with the Evangelist Luke, late 13th-early 14th century
Tempera and gold leaf on parchment; 5 13/16 x 4 1/16 in. (14.7 x 10.3 cm). Purchase, The Jaharis Family Foundation Inc. Gift, 2001 (2001.633) (
it is said:
"On a single page from a gospel book, the illumination shows the evangelist Luke seated on a backless chair, reaching with his right arm toward the open book on a pedestal before him. He wears a loose-fitting blue tunic and white himation, and sandals on his feet. He holds a quill pen in his left hand as he pauses to contemplate the text."
But not only is there no pen to be seen in his left hand, it is not his right hand that reaches to the open book. It looks to me more like a pen in his right hand, held in such a way that he may be about to write. [Most scribes were right-handed, so it would be nice to know if this really was a depiction of a left-handed evangelist.]

I wonder whether it is possible either to refer me to some published discussion of this piece, or to have someone take another close look at the picture and confirm (or alter) the description.

And today I received this reply:

Dear Peter, if I may,

Thank you very much for your email. You are quite right that the evangelist Luke reaches for the book with his left hand, and that he is a right-handed scribe. We very much appreciate your bringing this to our attention and we will correct the descriptive text as soon as possible.

Best wishes for a happy holiday,



Dr. Sarah T. Brooks
Research Associate
Department of Medieval Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10028-0198
Phone 212-650-2459
Fax 212-570-3866

So, if there were no left-handed scribes we shan't need to spend much time pondering their distinctive habits.

Up-date (to the up-date; 15.12.05): I am pleased to say that Dr Brooks has given permission for me to quote her email in full. I am sorry to say that I only asked for this permission retrospectively. At least we have advanced the cause of scholarship together.

Accents and Semitic words

My last message, musing on the accentuation of σαβαχθανι in Matthew 27:46, has caused me to reflect further and in fact brought me to a point of consternation in regard to the following question:

What is the rationale that editors of the Greek New Testament use to put accents on Semitic words?

In my folly I had previously assumed that editors placed accents on the stressed Semitic syllable, or, with Rahlfs, omitted accents on such words entirely. This works for a great many words, but there are many examples that do not fit this pattern. For instance Βηθλεεμ is given by many editors as accented on the last syllable, though in the Hebrew the stress is on the penultimate syllable.

Why does NA26 put the accent on the last syllable of Zerubabel in Matthew 1:13, but WH on the penultimate?

Why does Scholz (1830) put the accent on the first syllable of Αχαζ in Matthew 1:10 while NA25/26 put it on the final syllable? (Other editions could have been consulted.)

Are editors generally just copying from each other rather than thinking through the principles involved in accentuation or is there a pattern of treatment found within Greek mss?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Accents (etc.) in Robinson and Pierpont

I here post a list of corrections to Pierpont and Robinson. These pertain almost entirely to accents and breathings. In general I have not noted mistakes involving misuse of comma. Rather than type out every letter using the laborious system for Greek that we have I have started by just listing the verses in which the errors occur. I hope that this will be sufficient to enable those with interest to find them. Maurice has done us a valuable service by providing this text with all rights released and we ought to do what we can to enable it to represent the Byzantine tradition as closely as possible. Here are the verses where I have found errors. I have not systematically read through the apparatus.

Matthew 5:39; 6:4, 31; 10:37 (mistake either of accent or of comma); 13:55; 16:23; 19:29; 20:16, 26; 21:18 text and apparatus; 23:13, 28; 24:23; 25:1, 4, 7.

Mark 2:17; 7:26; 9:17, 22, 23; 10:47 breathing and Δαυιδ (and 10:47 apparatus); 11:3, 24; 14:9 margin; 15:34 (σαβαχθανι should be accented if the other Aramaic words are. See note below.)

Luke 1:21, 36; 3:23; 4:1 (2x), 11; 4:18, 22 (2x); 5:29 (lack of diaeresis inconsistent with 5:27), 33; 6:12, 17 (2x), 25, 38, 42, 45 (2x), 49; 7:1, 6, 15, 19, 27, 33 (2x), 36 (2x), 42 (2x), 44; 8:20 (2x), 27; 9:5, 9, 36, 52, 56 (breathing); 10:22 (5x), 30, 38 (2x); 11:2 (2x), 11, 26, 54; 12:22, 26; 13:4; 14:5 (use circumflex not grave on τη and add iota subscript), 12, 24 (3x), 26; 15:16 (breathing); 16:2, 26; 19:23; 20:2, 30; 21:8; 22:34 (2x), 47; 23:17, 42 (2x); 24:17.

John 5:14 (margin); 6:22; 7:52; 8:9 (first apparatus), 26; 9:29; 10:12; 11:32; 12:20; 14:28; 16:17, 23; 17:24; 18:16, 36, 37; 19:6, 35; 20:23.

Acts 1:19 (apostrophe); 2:12, 18, 33, 47 (iota subscript); 4:27 (capital required on Ποντιος; cf. Matthew 27:2); 5:40; 14:17 (breathing); 17:28; 19:41; 20:15; 25:5 (iota subscript); 26:26.

James 2:19 and 2:19 apparatus; 3:4, 12 and 3:12 apparatus; 4:14 [2x] (because of the enclitic it is necessary to show two words for the variant in the margin); 5:12 (2x) and 5:12 apparatus (2x).

1 Peter 2:12, 3:15, 16 and 3:16 apparatus.

2 Peter 2:22; 3:9.

1 John 2:20 [accentuation of χρισμα inconsistent with accentuation of 2:27 (2x)—though the choice between circumflex and acute is difficult], 28; 5:13 (comma and breathing), 16, 18.

2 John 7.

3 John 9.

Jude 1, 4.

Romans 8:15 (Αββα needs an accent because one occurs in Galatians 4:6), 34; 11:13, 23 (2x); 13:12.

1 Corinthians 1:20; 3:2; 5:12, 13; 7:13, 38, 39; 14:38.

2 Corinthians 1:17 (2x); 6:16, 17; 11:18; 12:20.

Galatians 2:9 (accentuation of Barnabas is inconsistent with accentuation in 2:1); 3:7; 5:15.

Ephesians 2:15 (3x); 4:28; 5:5, 23, 30 (2x), 32.

Philippians 2:8; 3:8, 10, 21; 4:23.

Colassians [sic] 3:20 (2x), 23.

1 Thessalonians 2:6, 9, 11, 18.

2 Thessalonians 3:12.

Hebrews 1:9, 12; 2:14; 3:9 (2x); 7:24; 8:5, 13; 10:8, 9, 12; 11:3; 12:2, 7, 9.

1 Timothy 1:17 (iota subscript); 5:5, 23; 6:19.

2 Timothy 4:8.

Titus 1:16 (capitalization).

Philemon 11.

Revelation 1:3 (margin), 4, 13; 2:20; 3:7; 5:6, 13 (margin); 13:4; 16:21 (margin); 17:10, 18; 20:5, 11; 22:5, 8 (margin).

The edition is inconsistent on whether to use the circumflex or acute with στυλος. Future editions will use the acute.

Note 1: In Matthew 27:46 an acute accent appears on the final iota of σαβαχθανι. No accent appears on the same word in Mark 15:34. Despite the fact that learned editors of Greek New Testaments have put the acute accent on the final vowel it should be placed on the final alpha, not on final iota, if we are to follow documented Aramaic stress patterns.

Note 2: A few of the errors now listed have been pointed out to me by Prof. Robinson himself, some having been spotted by Dr Louis Tyler.

Appendix: Iota Subscript
I have been supplied by Prof. Robinson with the following list of forms where the current printing lacks iota subscript, but where it will be included in the future.

λαθρα: Mt 1:19; 2:7; Jn 11:28; Ac 16:37

εικη: Mt 5:22; Ro 13:4; Ga 4:11; Col 2:18 (already correct in 1 Co 15:2; Ga 3:4 [2x])

σωζ-: Mk 6:56; Ac 2:47; 27:20; Heb 7:25; 1 Pe 3:21 (already correct in Lk 13:23; 1 Co 1:18; 15:2; 2 Co 2:15; Heb 5:7; 1 Pe 4:18; Jude 1:23)

ζω-: Jn 5:21 (2x); 6:63; Ac 7:19; Rom 4:17; 8:11; Gal 3:21; 1 Ti 6:13; 1Pe 3:18 (already correct in Lk 17:33; 1 Co 15:22, 36, 45; 2 Co 3:6)

πρω-: Ac 27:30, 41

κρυφη: Eph 5:12

αθωο-: Mt 27:4 (already correct Mt 27:24)

συνεζωο-: Eph 2:5; Col 2:13

Per Dr Louis Tyler:

Mk 5:34, main text: capitalize Θυγατερ; apparatus: capitalize both Θυγατερ and Θυγατηρ.

Per Jussi Ala-Konni in Finland:

Mk 10:43: remove extraneous high point between υμων and διακονος

In the closing phrase of Rev 19:17, το δειπνον ... θεου, leaving off accents, etc., the main text should have marked with angle brackets the phrase το μεγα του instead of only το μεγα. The marginal reading at that point should show the two alternatives as του μεγαλου = τον μεγαν του.

Marc Multilingue

I've just been reading J.K. Elliott, Christian Amphoux and J.-C. Haelewjck, 'The Marc Multilingue Project', in Fil Neot 29-30 (2002) 3-17. It describes a significant collaborative project to produce ten volumes on the Gospel of Mark, with each version provided with its own volume. Languages covered are Greek, Latin, Gothic, Coptic, Georgian, Armenian, Arabic, Christian Palestinian Aramaic, Syriac and Slavic. It will attempt to present text forms diplomatically, while also showing the relationship between them.

The edition will set out texts in their relative sequence, starting with D followed by W, since it is believed (by Amphoux) that D may represent the earliest form of the text of Mark we have (I would have preferred P45).

This is clearly a massive and important project, though not one without eccentricity. I love the sentence (co-authored by Amphoux) which says that Amphoux 'has his own, often idiosyncratic theories about this history [i.e. the history of text forms]' (p. 8).

It talks about the research of Didier Lafleur on family 13. A quick Google revealed the fact that Monsieur Lafleur had his doctoral viva a week or so ago. Is there no privacy?

Apparently the Marc multilingue project is officially undertaken by the Société d'histoire du texte du Nouveau Testament about which the WWW knows next to nothing.

Rather strange that the article twice explicitly identifies the Majority Text with the TR, even to the point of calling Hodges and Farstad's edition one of the TR (pp. 4-5). I should have thought that a glance at the end of Romans would have shown that a distinction needs to be drawn here.

At the same time the more that is done to produce critical editions of the versions the merrier.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Christmas variants (3)

In Matthew 1:20 should we read Μαριαμ or Μαριαν? Is it possible to explain the form with ν as an assimilation to the declension of the genitive in 1:18? NA27 records inconsistency of spelling for the name of Mary Magdalene between 27:56 and 27:61/28:1. Luke 1:41, contrasted with Luke 1:30, 34, 38, 39, 46, etc. allows us to assume that the first declension genitive can be used suppletively alongside the Semitic nominative and accusative (Luke 2:16). What should we make of the first declension variant in Luke 2:19?

The Goodspeed Manuscript Collection (on-line)

Today I found another very good resource, The Goodspeed Manuscript Collection, hosted by the Chicago University Library. This collection includes many New Testament MSS and the plan is to make them all electronically available. Very user friendly system, and high quality of the images.

There are already two complete MSS online, Greg. Aland 2400, and 2427. I examined the Epistle of Jude in MS 2400, and was actually helped by these images which are clearer than the photographic material I had used earlier for my transcription of this MS.

There is also a catalogue (without sample plates) available with basic bibliographic information of the MSS. This catalogue is from an exhibition in 1973 and exists also in print (probably with plates) and can be ordered from the library.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Christmas variants (2)

NA27 records that in Matthew 1:21 the Curetonian Syriac supports κοσμον ‘world’ as opposed to λαον ‘people’ plus the possessive. The Curetonian Syriac indeed reads ܥܠܡܐ ‘world’ rather than ܥܡܐ ‘people’. However, since the two Syriac words look very similar (even more so in the script of many manuscripts) is it not far more likely that the Syriac reading ‘world’ arose as an inner-Syriac development? In this case there is no basis for the retroversion into Greek. Consequently, there is no support for a universalistic reading of this part of the Christmas narrative.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Christmas variants

As we are in Advent it seems rather appropriate to consider variants from some of the famous Christmas passages. IMHO the earliest text of Matthew 1:16 is not in significant doubt (so the Nativity plays can go on). Yet there is an interesting variant in Θ f13 it (the peculiarities of the Old Syriac recorded in NA27 do not reflect any real Greek Vorlage). Would anyone like to make suggestions as to how and when this variant arose?

Another 'Byzantine' reading (Luke 18:14)

I'm still working through Robinson and Pierpont. I'll post a list of accentual mistakes when I've finished the whole. One reading that struck me in the Byzantine text they print (also shared by A Ψ) is the expression η γαρ εκεινος in Luke 18:14. What is the function of γαρ in this context?

Friday, December 09, 2005

ETC Annual Achievement Awards: Nominations

Up-date: I'm just posting this again to keep it near the top. (There may be some sensible way of doing this, I'm just going to try to give it a date about three days in advance and see if that works).

As the end of the year approaches we invite our readers (yes, all three of you) to engage in a bout of critical reflection on the major text critical achievements of 2005. We invite nominations for awards in the following categories:

1. Best contribution to biblical textual criticism.

2. Best discussion of an individual manuscript.

3. Worst treatment of textual criticism in a biblical commentary.

4. Best evangelical contribution to biblical textual criticism.

5. Most arcane detail published in any text critical discussion.

6. Funniest item connected to textual criticism of the Bible.

7. Evangelical Textual Criticism Hall of Fame / Life-time achievement Award.

Nominations can be submitted (over the next 8 days) as comments or by email.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Barthélemy on Psalms

Apparently the posthumous fourth volume of Dominique Barthélemy's Critique textuelle de l'Ancien Testament is available now at a modest $239. It may have been out for some time, though I have not seen it.

Byzantine Palaeography

I've added the excellent site recommended by Peter Head on Byzantine Palaeography (aka Paleography) to the sidebar.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Housman, The Application of Thought to Textual Criticism

Since we have been blogging and commenting a fair bit on conjectural emendations (most recently More on Conjectures); I thought it would be good to link to the interesting, entertaining and otherwise-adjectivally-stimulating essay by A.E. Housman on "The Application of Thought to Textual Criticism" (originally given in Cambridge on the morning of Thursday 4th August 1921). See the text here.

Monday, December 05, 2005

A palaeontologist's view of manuscripts

Can a palaeontologist really work out how many copies of a work there have been? Has anyone looked at Cisne's work?

Ketiv-Qere in Ps 100: 3 & Christian allusions

הוּא-עָשָׂנוּ וְלֹא אֲנַחְנוּ is the Masoretic Ketiv text of Ps. 100: 3, while the Qere text is הוּא-עָשָׂנוּ וְלוֹ אֲנַחְנוּ. The Ketiv text (which is difficilior, it seems) is supported by the LXX: αυτος εποιησεν ημας και ουχ ημεις·
I want to draw your attention to two possible allusions to the verse in Christian writings. One of them to the Ketiv text, the other to Qere. Interesting enough both seem to address the relationship between Father and Son.
Qere: 1 Cor. 8:6 αλλ ημιν εις Θεος ο πατηρ, εξ ου τα παντα και ημεις εις αυτον ( וְלוֹ אֲנַחְנוּ), και εις Κυριος Ιησους Χριστος, δι ου τα παντα και ημεις δι αυτου.
Ketiv: Odes of Solomon 7: 12 (Translation of Charlesworth) "He has allowed Him to appear to them that are His own; in order that they may recognize Him that made them, and not suppose that they came of themselves (וְלֹא אֲנַחְנוּ )."
I was tempted to read in the Odes passage an allusion to both Ketiv ("they came [not] of themselves") and Qere ("that are His own"), but this second phrase may represent עַמּוֹ rather than וְלוֹ אֲנַחְנוּ.
Sorry I couldn't find a Syriac font to get the transmitted text of the Odes on the screen. (PJW may know a solution?)

Filología Neotestamentaria 29-30

Filología Neotestamentaria tends to run a little late, but I have now received Vol. XV of their journal (May to November, 2002), which counts as issues 29-30.

The most pertinent contents are as follows:

J.K. Elliott, C. Amphoux and J.-C. Haelewjck, 'The Marc Multilingue Project...', pp. 3-17.

A. Martin, 'Matthieu 1:16 dans le Palimpseste Syriaque du Sinaï', pp. 87-94.
J. Rius-Camps and J. Read-Heimerdinger, 'The Variant Readings of the Western Text of the Acts of the Apostles (XIII): Acts 8:1b-40)', pp. 111-132 [strange that a note can be longer than the article by Elliott et al.].

There are also bibliographical notes on various articles, which obviously only cover up to 2001. Most will be well known, but I will just draw attention to a few that may not be known due to their language of publication.

There is a 1999 Gregorian University dissertation by T. Abrahà entitled, Testo e commentari etiopici della Lettera ai Romani: Traduzione annotata. Analisi della storia, stile, metodo interpretativo e teologia dei commentari. I don't know whether this has been subsequently published.

J. Rius-Camps has an article that I presume is in Catalan entitled 'Les variants de la recensió occidental de l'evangeli de Marc (IV) (Mc 1,40-2,17)' in RCatalT 23 (1998) 401-419. I guess that the journal title is something like the Catalan Review of Theology, but quick Googling has not helped me identify the full title.

There is reference to an article in Polish on the Secret Gospel of Mark by M. Wojciechowski. I now see that this is online. I don't know whether its contents are available in any other language.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

To what extent is the Byzantine text smooth?

I'm working my way through the revised edition of Robinson and Pierpont (I'll give a full report when I get to the end) and am coming across cases where arguably what is printed is less smooth than what is found outside the Byzantine tradition. In Mark 13:31 Robinson and Pierpont print Ο ουρανος και η γη παρελευσεται using a singular verb for a compound object. They note marginally the Byzantine variant παρελευσονται, which is of course the reading of enough of the textual tradition for NA27 not even to note the variant.

I have two questions: (a) is what Robinson and Pierpont print indeed less smooth? (b) if so, are there other cases where less smooth readings within the Byzantine tradition are not noted in critical editions?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Codex Sinaiticus in the News

Jim Davila of paleojudaica has a good discussion of a poorly researched article about Codex Sinaiticus and St Catherine's Monastery (here).

One point might be worth adding to Jim's discussion; he wrote: "The discovery of Marcan priority had nothing to do with Tischendorf and progress on the Synoptic problem was not based on study of Sinaiticus or Syriacus." This is basically true, although could do with a little careful nuancing: progress on the Synoptic Problem (assuming for the moment that Markan priority was a 'discovery' and 'progress') was related to advances in textual criticism, which were in turn related to manuscript discoveries (including Sinaiticus). For example Sinaiticus lacks Mark 16.9-20 and so helped support the view that this long ending (which looks like it draws upon Matthew and Luke and thus supports the Griesbach hypothesis) was not original to Mark.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Summer School in Coptic Papyrology

Forwarded from Papy-List for interested text critics:

International Summer School in Coptic Papyrology
23rd July - 30th of July 2006, Austrian National Library, Vienna

This summer school, organized by the Austrian National Library, will provide an introduction to Coptic papyrology in within its larger context in the fields of Egyptology, Classics, Ancient History, Early Christianity, and Archaeology. Classes will be taught on the decipherment of literary as well as documentary hands, on the Sitz im Leben of both kinds of manuscripts, and their relationship to other forms of textual and archaeological evidence. Each student will be given an unpublished papyrus to work on as a practice exercise. The intention is to offer a mixture of taught classes and workshops in which students can learn to appreciate the manifold information which the different kinds of papyri provide, as well as to getting acquainted with a wide range of questions raised by the papyrological material. The programme will offer insights into the culture of late antique and early Christian culture of Egypt. The programmme will also include visits to the Papyrus Museum of the Austrian National Library, and to the Egyptological holdings of the Kunsthistorisches Museum.

Students with an interest in Coptic papyrology are invited to participate, whether they already have experience in the subject or not. The main teachers of the course will be: Stephen Emmel (Münster), Monika Hasitzka (Vienna), Sebastian Richter (Leipzig) and Helmut Satzinger (Vienna). Speakers will include Andrea Donau (Vienna), Hans Förster (Vienna), Harald Froschauer (Vienna), Ulrich Luft (Budapest), Fritz Mitthof(Vienna), Federico Morelli (Vienna), Bernhard Palme (Vienna), Amphilochious Papathomas (Athens) and Cornelia Römer (Vienna).

The course will begin on Sunday, 23rd July, and will end on Sunday,the 30th of July, 2006.
A fee of Euros 250 includes accommodation in a university Hall of Residence and one warm meal per day.The number of places is restricted to 15. Classes will be taught in English. A solid knowledge of the Coptic language will be required.

Applications should contain
1. Curriculum Vitae; and
2. two references from teachers, who should also comment on the applicant´s Coptic language-skills.
The deadline for the submission of final applications will be the end of February, 2006.
Successful applicants will be informed by the end of March, 2006.

Please send applications to Univ.-Prof. Dr. Cornelia Römer
Direktorin der Papyrussammlung und des Papyrusmuseums
Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
Josefsplatz 1A-1015
Wientel.: + 43 1 53 410 323
fax: + 43 1 53 410 395

More on Conjectures

D.A. Black (dbo) emailed in to report that his article on conjectures (refered to here in relation to the general discussion here - don't forget to read the comments!) was 'Conjectural Emendations in the Gospel of Matthew' in NovT 31 (1) 1989, pp. 1-15.

It is a useful paper and a good resource for what the title says (no mystery here): it discusses seventeen conjectural emendations to Matthew which have been proposed by a number of different contemporary scholars. He argues that only one is at all plausible and that generally we'd be better off looking more closely at the 'transmitted Greek text'.

Perhaps it is inevitable with conjectures that the one Dave Black regarded as 'viable' but not certain, seems a non-starter to me. For 19.4 Sahlin proposed that Matthew originally wrote ARSEN KAI QHLU EPOIHSEN A. This alpha was meant to represent the numeral 1: HEN; but scribes misunderstood this and harmonised it to the LXX.

Christians as Useful People: Textual Criticism and Wirkungsgeschichte

On Tuesday we had an interesting paper at the NT Seminar from David Horrell (Exeter) on 1 Peter 4.16. I won't go into the paper in general (except to say that it was generally convincing - in the sense that it defended a view of this verse that I already held - usually the reason for recognising the most convincing papers!), nor into the major textual criticism raised regarding the choice between ONOMATI and MEREI in 4.16b.

In the course of the discussion the reading of Sinaiticus at Acts 11.26; 26.28 & 1 Pet 4.16 was raised. Sinaiticus uses the spelling: XRHSTIANOS. Dirk suggested it was a real variant not a mere spelling error. I proposed that the term was itself a deliberate statement that Christians were 'useful people' (XRHSTOS means useful; cf. 1 Peter 2.3 where it is used in 1 Peter from Ps 33LXX [although not without interesting variants there too]), which might be taken as a mark of the impact of 1 Peter as a whole: that those who have tasted the benevolence/usefulness/kindness of God would be a people themselves marked by kindness/usefulness/benevolence towards others (e.g. 2.12 etc.).

So the variant reading might be a window into the reception- or impact- history of 1 Peter.

Crazy theory I know, but I thought I should share it here first.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Free Codex Vaticanus (amended)

On Wieland Willker's excellent list there is discussion of a PDF facsimile of Vaticanus that can be downloaded free. Earlier the URL for this download was posted on this blog, but it has been deleted since the legal position of the facsimile is unclear.

I would strongly encourage those experienced in TC who are not members of Wieland's list to consider joining it.

Internal evidence in a text-critical edition of the GNT

Quote: "I think the aim of the NA28 in deleting such notes [i.e. on conjectural emendations - GV] would be that it is a text based on the documentary evidence for the NT text, not for the history of the study of the NT." (Peter Head, under "Conjectural emendation")

Should the printed text (including text in apparatus) of a text-critical edition be based solely on the documentary evidence (= external) or on internal evidence (intrinsic + transcriptional) as well? If internal evidence is to be excluded, references to parallel passages (as in the NA app. with Col. 1:14) should also be left out.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Earliest Gospels

Just arrived on my desk: Charles Horton, ed., The Earliest Gospels: The Origins and Transmission of the Earliest Christian Gospels - The Contribution of the Chester Beatty Gospel Codex P45 (JSNTSS 258; T & T Clark, London, 2004). Essays by Sean Freyne, Martin Hengel, Harry Gamble, Graham Stanton, William Petersen, James Robinson, Martin McNamara, Barbara Aland, Keith Elliott, Larry Hurtado, Charles Horton.

To Ephesus?

The first verse of Ephesians reads:
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus...”
(NIV, italics mine)

The phrase εν Εφεσωι is excluded from the earliest manuscripts:
P46 א* B* 6. 1739; (McionT,E cf Inscr.)
versus א2 A B‎2 D F G Ψ 0278. 33. 1881 Majority Text latt sy co which have εν Εφεσωι.

Without this reference there is nothing in Ephesians to address the letter. In fact, it would seem to be one of the least personal and more theological of the letters as it does not address problems.

Romans 1:7, 2 Corinthians 1:1 and Philippians 1:1 all use the same grammatical construction (ousin en ...) which suggests that it is a Pauline construction... or the type of construction that a scribe would insert thinking that it had been left out. (Note Romans 1:7 is also textually suspect, albeit much less so than Eph. 1)

The irony is that the stronger the argument which a scholar makes for the construction εν Εφεσωι being Pauline, the stronger the argument is for another scholar who argues that it was inserted and then preserved in later documents because of its Pauline nature.

Did they include this solely on the ground of church tradition? Should it be included?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

1 Peter 1:1

I asked a while ago about the title to 1 Peter. It's time now to start going through the text.

The first variant in NA27 is the addition of και, but the Peshitta does not support this variant as claimed. The Peshitta necessarily introduces 'and' in rendering certain types of appositional construction.

The second variant allegedly omits και. Can Augustine (in Latin) really be cited for such a detail?

To what extent is there a genetic connection between the various witnesses cited for each variant in verse 1?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Timpanaro on Lachmann

Sebastiano Timpanaro, La genesi del metodo del Lachmann, (Florence, 1963), translated into German as Die Entstehung der Lachmannschen Methode (Hamburg, 1971) should be available in February 2006 as The Genesis of Lachmann's Method (University of Chicago Press). Further details available here.

More wisdom from the past?

"It will not be necessary endlessly to make the point that readings which we judge to be superior taken by themselves are only to be preferred to others if they are supported by at least a few ancient witnesses. I pay no attention to readings which are supported by no adequate witness, but only by late and worthless ones. However, the more internal indications of its excellence a reading displays, the fewer the witnesses necessary to establish it. In practice, therefore, it can happen that a reading exhibits so many and such obvious indications of its worth that two witnesses, provided that they belong to different types and families, or even a single witness, are enough to support it."

This seems sensible in general, don't you think?
What are the most compelling readings supported by only a single witness?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Jongkind on Sinaiticus

A report on Dirk Jongkind's Cambridge PhD thesis, 'Studies in the Scribal Habits of Codex Sinaiticus' is in the Tyndale Bulletin 56.2 (2005) pp. 153-56. Jongkind has developed innovative ways of distinguishing between what the three scribes of Sinaiticus had in their exemplar and the habits of the scribes themselves.

Conjectural emendation

In TC some of the insurmountable gaps between scholars have to do with a very different appreciation for some of the witnesses to the text of the NT (Codex B, the Majority text, vg, quotations in church fathers etc.). Transcriptional reasoning seems much less problematic, at first glance. The purest form of transcriptional reasoning is done by those who suggest conjectural emendations (cj) to the text.
I have noticed Evangelical scholarship tends to be quite reluctant to allow for cj.
Let me raise a question here: is cj compatible with a high view of Scripture? Personally I cannot see why not. In my article “Paul’s Use of Scripture in 1 Corinthians 1-4 and Conjectural Emendation in 4:6.” (Analecta Bruxellensia 9 (2004): 102-122) p. 108-115 I have suggested 10 criteria for evaluation of a conjectural emendation. I would appreciate your response. Here they are:
  1. The emendation does justice to the style or the idiom of the author, or at least more justice than the traditional reading.
  2. The emendation solves the problem in the text.
  3. The emendation does not introduce new difficulties or riddles.
  4. The extant readings are – either directly or indirectly – explicable as corruptions of the emended reading.
  5. Few early witnesses are available for the passage.
  6. The reconstruction of the original text has been contested in an early stage.
  7. The development from the conjectured original of at least one of the extant readings could have taken place in an early stage.
  8. The emendation requires only a minor intervention.
  9. Textual critics are not removing or softening elements in the traditional text that offend their logic, culture or ideology.
  10. The derivation of the traditional reading from the emended one may not require procedures that were not current in the earliest formative stage of the NT text.

Gie Vleugels

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Eph 1:1 update

D.A. Black (dbo) links to a paper of his on Eph 1:1 (found here) which discusses the textual problem (including conjectural readings, see page 61, note 5). He also refers to a paper of his on conjectures in Matthew (no reference yet).

Further Reflection on Ehrman

I've been thinking a little bit more about the Wright vs. Ehrman exchange at SBL. I think that it is probably worth observing that Ehrman was in fact the only person who maintained that there was a logical link between any doctrine of inspiration and the need to have particular words from God for such a doctrine to work. Thus, though in other respects he may seem the furthest from the classic evangelical position, in this respect he was the closest.

I'm now a third of the way through his book Misquoting Jesus. He has had to suffer what many an author has experienced, which is to find that the publisher has managed to put the Hebrew on the cover upside down. Fortunately, it is only the background and so it does not stand out too badly. The Hebrew is obviously a Dead Sea Scroll (CD?), but, unusually, nothing is said about the cover design.

I disagree with much of the general picture that Ehrman is painting, in particular the quantity of change that he suggests went on in the text early on (e.g. suggestions that there may have once been versions of John that lacked 1:1-18 or ch. 21). However, there is good coverage of much material. He emphasises the importance of written scripture for early Christians (even if they couldn't all read it) and affirms that 1 Tim. 5:18 does cite Luke 10:7 as scripture (p. 31).

Strangely he seems to think that since Galatians was written to a number of churches Paul must have made multiple copies so that there was no single autograph (pp. 58-60). I find it rather unlikely that the letter carrier would actually carry multiple copies when the letter could be reproduced locally. Do we have any evidence of multiple copies of letters being carried by a single individual?

[Addition on 3 Jan 2006: my review of Misquoting Jesus is available here.]

SBL Final Report

The last SBL session on NT TC was on Monday 21 November. It featured Holger Strutwolf, who has replaced Barbara Aland as director of the INTF in Münster. His paper 'The Transmission of the New Testament between Christian Philosophical School and Scriptoria: Some Observations concerning the "Sitz im Leben" of Christian Textual Traditions' argued that in the second century there were two styles of copying the text, a looser and a tighter style, and that the looser style was to be connected with Christian philosophical schools, which were prepared to emend the text, because these schools were modelled on pagan philosophical schools which did such things to secular texts. During the question time he also expressed support for Trobisch's theory that there was a single canonical edition of the NT made during the second century.

The next paper was by William L. Petersen (Penn State - world expert on the Diatessaron) arguing that Second Clement shows that the text of parts of the NT that it cites were not verbally fixed during the second century.

The third paper, by Thomas J. Kraus, treated 'manuscripts' of the Lord's prayer. Apparently there are a number of texts of this that are not usually listed in manuscript lists: early versions of the Lord's prayer on amulets, pieces of wood, pottery, papyrus, parchment, and even inscribed on stone. These show considerable variety amongst themselves (and are not strict textual witnesses). A number of the texts show some of the Lord's prayer alongside parts of Psalm 90.

I had to leave before Juan Hernández, Jr, spoke on 'Scribal Tendencies in the Apocalypse: Starting the Conversation'.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Diatessaron book

I'd like particularly to draw attention to Ulrich Schmid, Unum ex quattuor: Eine Geschichte der lateinischen Tatianueberlieferung (Herder, 2005). Entitled 'One out of four: A history of the Latin tradition of Tatian', this work explains the history of running harmonies of the four Gospels in the West. Tatian had originally rolled the four Gospels into one account in the second half of the second century, but his harmony no longer survives. Textual critics argued that daughter versions in Western languages (e.g. Middle English, Old High German), when they agreed with daughter versions in Eastern languages (e.g. Arabic, Persian), could give us important information about the text of the second century. In a meticulous study Schmid shows that all of the Western harmonies could go back to a single Latin manuscript. All of their 'agreements' with Eastern witnesses would then become coincidental. From initial reading it seems a brilliant demolition job on a whole load of previous scholarship. The whole textbook story about reconstruction of the Tatian's harmony (the Diatessaron) being essential for study of the early Gospel text is shown to have elements of the mythic about it.

Text-Critical Software?

Do any of you have any handy software for doing textual critical research? Perhaps some of you have some novel uses for word or excel in tracking textual phenomena.

I have enjoyed using the Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible ( It is less expensive to buy in the US and Canada than on the other side of the ditch. The SESB is the only electronic Bible software that currently has the critical apparatus in it, if I am correct. Logos is working on one, though. It also has the LXX and Vulgate as well as the major Bible versions in French, German, Dutch, and English, rather than the lesser known ones you tend to get with the other software.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Live (and Late) from SBL

Here's a belated report on yesterday's panel discussion with Bart Ehrman, Tom Wright, Dominic Crossan and Dale Martin on the authority of the Bible. The panel was reviewing Ehrman's and Wright's latest books. Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus is (it is said) the first ever layperson's introduction to textual criticism. It begins, unusually, with Ehrman's 'testimony' of how he was brought up in a church-going, but not very religious family, got 'born again', went to the Moody Bible Institute, then Wheaton (where doubts began), then Princeton (where he was finally flipped by the difficulty of Abiathar in Mark 2:26). Nothing so personal has yet appeared from Ehrman in print to my knowledge. I'd say that Wright and Ehrman came off about equal. Tom has brilliant verbal skills; Crossan came across as weak; Martin tried to pursue the line that Bart and Tom were making category errors by connecting history and theology too closely.

Bart clearly came across as the only one who knew about textual criticism and his premises were not challenged. The audience was about 500 and there was a lively debate in which various people were involved from the floor, including David Parker (against Tom) and Voelz (against Bart). Tom was the only one who defended anything like a traditional Christian approach to the Bible, though he explicitly distanced himself from speaking about 'God's words' as a designation of Scripture. The whole panel seemed agreed that verbal inspiration was moribund and only a belief maintained by the 'ultra-conservative'. Historically, of course, it is mainstream.

Overall I think that it is a pity that some of the premises of the discussion were not challenged, but I think that classic evangelicals have to do a bit more work on honing arguments before such a public debate would be at its most profitable.

[Update 3 Jan 2006: my review of Misquoting Jesus is now available here.]

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Live from SBL Philadelphia 2005

Opening day of SBL:

I had the privilege of giving the opening paper at the SBL textual criticism section. No one came up with a 'show stopper' question to my paper 'A re-evaluation of the role of the Early Versions in New Testament Textual criticism', but obviously it's hard for me to come up with an objective evaluation of what I said.

The following paper was by Luc Herren, Muenster, on the new digital Nestle-Aland (28th edition). It sounds like they will have a complete edition out in about 2 years. The digital edition will also offer links to a dictionary and allow access to detail such as spelling and the original layout of the page in the manuscripts.

Thereafter Klaus Wachtel, Muenster, explained what had made him change his mind on the Byzantine text. Essentially he thinks there are some early elements in it. He also argued for the abolition of the category of 'text-type' (though he had to compress his paper and so this bit wasn't explained fully).

Robert Shedinger was ill, so Amy Anderson read his paper 'Silencing the Syriac Tradition: Evidence and Rhetoric in the Early Versions of Bruce Metzger and Arthur Voeoebus.' I didn't come across many people who agreed with the paper.

I made it to the paper anounced earlier on Barth's take on the transmission of Scripture, but arrived slightly late. The material didn't seem very relevant and, at least for me, was on the incomprehensible side.

Let's hope that Bart is more worth listening to than Barth.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Robinson and Pierpont 2005

I picked up some bargains on the bookstalls at the Evangelical Theological Society in Philadelphia today. Wipf & Stock are doing a particularly good range, e.g. Crum's Coptic Dictionary for 81 USD. One thing I picked up from a bookstall whose name I've forgotten was M.A. Robinson and W.G. Pierpont's The New Testament in the Original Greek: Byzantine Textform, 2005. It differs slightly from previous editions and has more textual information. Books are given in the order: Gospels, Acts, Catholic Epistles, Paulines (with Hebrews after 2 Thessalonians), Revelation. 'The Case for Byzantine Priority' is relegated to an appendix. A second version of the pericope adulterae is given in a slightly different form of print from the rest (italic and smaller). The front pages are fun, esp. the non-copyright notice 'All rights to this text are released to everyone'. I might report more on this once I've checked it over more carefully.

Before the preface is an extensive quotation from Tregelles, Account of the Printed Text, 186, which I quote for edification:

'Let it never be forgotten, that just as it is the place of a Christian to look to God in prayer for his guidance and blessing in all his undertakings, so may he especially do this as to labours connected with the text of Scripture. The object sought in such prayer is not that the critic may be rendered infallible, or that he may discriminate genuine readings by miracle, but that he may be guided rightly and wisely to act on the evidence which the providence of God has preserved, and that he may ever bear in mind what Scripture is, even the testimony of the Holy Ghost to the grace of God in the gift of Christ, and that thus he may be kept from rashness and temerity in giving forth its text. As God in his providence has preserved Holy Scripture to us, so can He sic vouchsafe the needed wisdom to judge of its text simply on grounds of evidence...'

The strong appeal to preservation by Tregelles is interesting, particularly the way preservation is related to evidence.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Luke 22.19b-20

Here is an interesting reading and one that has been much discussed in Cambridge recently, since Luke - Acts is our first year text and an essay on Luke's view (or non-view) of the atonement is a popular one, which hinges, in part at least, on a text-critical decision about what Jesus said at the Last Supper in Luke. Here one can't get away with ridiculous generalisations ("textual criticism never affects theology").

Some years ago I wrote briefly on this, but I remain troubled by the lack of a decent explanation for the shorter reading:

Luke clearly presents the last supper (22.14-22) as a passover meal (vv. 7, 15), and describes traditional passover rituals (including two separate cups: vv. 17, 20). The interpretation of the bread and wine (in 19b, 20) is as follows:
‘This is my body which is given for you.’
‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’ This whole passage is omitted in some manuscripts (Codex Bezae, the Old Latin and the early Syriac versions), and thus by some English translations (notably REB). As a consequence, differences of opinion concerning the authenticity of this text have resulted in different views of Luke’s theology (note to Ehrman). In this case, however, the omission is limited to only one branch of Western texts, and the vast majority of manuscripts (both early and of diverse provenance, including P75 and the major uncials) include the long version, and thus recent commentators have regarded its overwhelming attestation as ‘the decisive argument in favour of the Long Text.’[2]

[2] Jeremias, Eucharistic Words, 159. The commentaries by Marshall and Fitzmyer support this; the remaining problem is to explain why the text was omitted: Jeremias suggested that the text was abbreviated in the interests of secrecy, since being a liturgical text the rest would have been well known; Metzger suggests that confusion caused by the mention of two cups led to the omission (A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (London: UBS, 1975) 174).

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Barth on Textual Criticism

From the SBL programme book there is news of a session that could be interesting for those looking for interaction between systematics and textual studies:

1.30 p.m., 19 November 2005, Room 103-C, Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia

Katherine Sonderegger, Virginia Theological Seminary, 'The doctrine of Inspiration and the Reliability of the Text in Barth'.

Germany, here we come!

There are only four NT mansucripts in Australia: minuscule 662 in Melbourne at the National Gallery of Victoria; and P91 and lectionaries l1968 and l2378 at Macquarie University.
So Australian text-critics will be pleased to hear that Australia beat Uruguay 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out to earn a place at the World Cup Finals next year in Germany (the first time since 1974), where there are many more NT mansucripts of all types.

BBC Report:

Let's hope we are drawn in the same group as Ingerland.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Wettstein on the Shorter Reading

if it was far more often the case (because there were many more compelling factors) that something was added than that something was omitted, then it follows that it is much more plausible that something has been added in one ms than that something has been omitted in the other. I can see really only two reasons for omission: carelessness, which occurs particularly in cases of homoioteleuton; and ignorance, when the scribe, because he did not understand an unfamiliar word, believed that it could be completely omitted without even bothering to weigh up arguments on either side. And it ought to be the case that the effects of both of these factors are restricted to a few mss and to a few passages. For additions, on the other hand, there were far more frequent opportunities: seeing that marginal glosses were at a later stage introduced into the text; that certain words which according to the usage of the church lectionary stood at the beginning or end of the reading in order to express the meaning more fully were added to the text; seeing that (this is by far the most common tendency) one Gospel was supplemented from another Gospel which described the same event a little more fully, or that one passage of Paul was supplemented by the addition of material from a parallel passage.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Brevior lectio - history of the concept

Griesbach wrote in his first canon:
Brevior lectio, nisi testium vetustorum et gravium auctoritate penitus destituatur, praeferenda est verbosiori. Librarii enim multo proniores ad addendum fuerunt, quam ad omittendum.

'A shorter reading, unless it stands completely without the support of ancient and important witnesses, is to be preferred to a more verbose one. Copyists were much more inclined to add than to omit.'

My question is this: what was the basis on which Griesbach maintained that copyists were far more likely to add than to omit? Was it simply his impression, and if so on the basis of how many manuscripts and variant readings? Had there been work on scribal habits within the editing of Classical texts at the time? Or is it rather simply a statement of what Griesbach thought to be intrinsically more likely?

Friday, November 11, 2005


There's a vacancy for someone technologically literate who would be interested in helping with web-design aspects of this site. Co-bloggers were chosen on grounds of scholarship, not familiarity with HTML. Remuneration καιροις ιδιοις, i.e. in the age to come. Write straight to me at the address at the bottom of the blog.

The Authority of the Bible at SBL

There is an SBL NT Textual Criticism session entirely devoted to the theme of 'The Authority of the Bible': 11/19/2005; 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM; Room 114 (Audium) - Pennsylvania Convention Center
This involves a panel review of Bart D. Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus (HarperCollins, 2005) and N.T. Wright's The Last Word (HarperCollins, 2005)
Kim Haines-Eitzen, Cornell University, Presiding. Panelists: John Dominic Crossan, Dale Martin, N. T. Wright, Bart Ehrman

I wonder how much textual criticism we will get from Crossan, Martin and Wright?

We ought to get some reports from this session on this blog. Any volunteers?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Bloggers at SBL

If anyone who reads this blog and is interested in promoting evangelical engagement in TC is going to the SBL meeting in Philadelphia then it would be good to meet up. Can I suggest 13.oo on 21 Nov 2005 at the Oxford University Press bookstall? Let me know if you'll be there. Adios.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


We've been noticed by other bloggers. Does this mean we can increase our blog-salaries? Stephen Carlson has even read my article in the recent NTS on P4, 64, 67 so that is enthusiasm for you.


Monday, November 07, 2005

Heading of 1 Peter in Vaticanus

NA27 gives the heading of 1 Peter is ΠΕΤΡΟΥ Α' and says that this is supported only by '(B)'. Why are the parentheses on B in this instance? For an image click here. One could ask similar questions about the headings of other books, e.g. 2 Peter, James. What am I missing?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Competition: the best TC links

Our side panel is looking a little bit unelaborate in comparison with that of other blogs. Nominations are therefore invited for the competition of the Top Five TC Links. Please send in your favourites. It would also be appropriate for for the ETC blog (I didn't make this acronym up) to highlight any TC links of merit with an evangelical hue.

One of my own favourites is Wieland Willker's Bible pages.

Friday, November 04, 2005

TC Heresy?

In another blog - - Michael Bird (who seems to be a kind of Australian-Scottish reformed baptist braveheart - you know the type) firstly linked to this blog (thus proving that there are at least 2 blogs in the world wide blogosphere) and then asked a question:

I have this insane idea for biblical studies. Why is it when scholars write a commentary on a NT book that they inevitably use either UBS4 or NA27? The fact is that no extant manuscript conforms to the text of UBS4 or NA27 so they are writing a commentary on a manuscript that does not physically exist.

Let me qualify that: (1) I believe that it is worthwhile to comb the various witnesses and try to establish what is probably the original autographs; (2) I'm not advocating the superiority of any one particular textual witness like the Western Text or anything like that. But why doesn't someone take, say, the earliest manuscript on Galatians (p46, ca. 200 I think) and write a commentary on that manuscript and argue in the footnotes passages where they think other readings are to be preferred.

I put this forward because, although I believe in the eclectic approach, at the end of the day there will always be an element of doubt as to our ability to reconstruct the original autographs with any certainty. Alternatively, p46 is a real manuscript not an imagined one, and the question that can be asked is to what degree does p.46 legitimately represent the original autograph. Is using a real manuscript (as opposed to a hypothetical one) as a template for the text of a commentary an act of textual critical heresy; or am I onto something?

It seems to me that the answer is a) that we don't like using the word 'heresy' since W. Bauer ... blah blah blah ...; b) that it is being done with respect to LXX at the moment; c) that we did have commentaries based on a single manuscript tradition for three hundred years (and most of them aren't very interesting on the detailed exegetical material); d) that it would be very interesting to have a series of textual commentaries on important manuscripts - treating them seriously as an artifact and representation of the text in its/their own time; BUT that e) if you want to comment on Paul you need to comment on the text you think Paul originally wrote. You might take P46 as your starting point and then vary from it, but effectively then you are still commenting on an eclectic text. The more disciplined you were in commenting on the manuscript itself, the less sure you would be that you are commenting on Paul.

The great commentaries of the past, thinking of say Lightfoot on Galatians (probably the greatest commentary in the history of NT scholarship), understood that an important part of the commentator's job is to establish (and publish) a critical text alongside the commentary. NT scholars today generally relinquish this job to NA27 and Metzger's Commentary (perhaps thinking that by-and-large the text critical task is complete, or else that the whole field is a bit too complicated) and invest their time and energy in different aspects of the commentators task.

So I'd be all in favour of a series of textual commentaries. Publishers would love it; RAE points for everyone; they would be permanent contributions to scholarship (if done well); helpful for Wirkungsgeschichte; honouring to the memory of the scribes; full of detailed pictures and charts. But I think they would be a lot of work. Sign me up for a little fragment.

What do the rest of you silent co-bloggers think?


The Original Text and the Harder Reading Canon

[This message is posted on behalf of Andrew Wilson. Members of the blog may occasionally post messages from non-members as a means of generating discussion. Nothing is to be infered about the position of the blogger from this.]

Evangelical text critics believe that the Original Text of the NT was without errors due to a belief in the inspiration of Scripture. Many non-evangelical text critics do not hold to such a position, but not simply because of unbelief in the doctrine of inspiration.

The reason such people hold to the idea that the 'original NT text' may have contained errors is that they have become increasingly disappointed by efforts to satisfactorily ascertain what the original NT text was.
The fault largely lies, I believe, at the feet of the lectio difficilior canon. Because of the lectio difficilior canon, the text critic is frequently confronted with a situation of textual stalemate. On the one hand, s/he is told to prefer the reading that makes better sense in terms of the author's intent, theology and context - the superior reading. On the other hand, the lectio difficilior canon dictates that s/he should prefer the inferior reading. The result - unless other factors decide the matter - is textual gridlock.

I believe that the lectio difficilior canon is the real cause of the problem here. Most standard proofs of lectio difficilior involve 'cherry picking' an instance or two where scribes tried to relieve the NT of a difficulty or improve its sense. Others appeal to 'common sense' ("a scribe would be assumed to have removed difficulties rather than to make them") which is really begging the question, isn't it? (See Scrivener for these two approaches, vol. 2, p. 247; read the entire page).

Can anyone think of a way in which it would be possible to put the lectio difficilior canon to the test?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Influence of Warfield

In the comments to an earlier post on Heroes of NT Textual Criticism (no, you haven't missed the rest of the series, they are still, as they say 'in preparation') the question was raised as to whether B.B. Warfield should be regarded as an influential evangelical NT textual critic.

"Peter" was rather dismissive:

Well in my view, Warfield did nothing significant in the field of textual
criticism. Perhaps he did clarify some points of evangelical theology in
relation to the original text, but that was nothing new.

P.J. Williams was rather more positive:

I would agree that Warfield did little by way of research within textual criticism. However, he has had a profound effect on attitudes to textual criticism in the current evangelical constituency. ... If we look at effect on church constituency then Bengel, Warfield and Burgon seem to me to have had the biggest effect ...

Challenged to provide more evidence on this he wrote:

Measuring Warfield's effect is very difficult, since even if he had published nothing on textual criticism it is certain that many within his constituency would have reached the same conclusions that he did. However, Warfield was the premier theologian of the early twentieth century among the Reformed evangelical constituency, and his favourable, though qualified, acceptance of the scholarly consensus of his day as far as textual criticism was concerned undoubtedly would have persuaded many minds against a more reactionary stance. There is discussion about the relationship between Warfield and the popularity of the doctrinal qualification of the scriptures as 'inspired as originally given' (or similar formulations). I haven't done my homework to see how much is in this.

Well, all that is interesting background to my discovery today of A.T. Robertson's book, An Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (London: H&S, 1925).

Robertson dedicates his book 'To the Memory of B.B. Warfield' and describes the great help he had received from Warfield's book (of the same title) until it went out of print. He tried to get Warfield to revise it, but Warfield refused on the basis that he was teaching Dogmatic Theology. 'No one else outside of Hort ... had so clearly and fully set forth the principles of textual criticism that the student could readily grasp the science and apply it.' Then he says that Warfield had urged him (i.e. Robertson) to revise the book. Which eventually he did, although in the end he had to write a new book.

So there is some evidence of the influence of Warfield on someone holding a similar position on Scripture (not presumably on other subjects since Robertson was a Southern Baptist, so no dancing), and who was a rare example of an evangelical scholar engaging in the scholarly endeavour.

PS. There is a rather interesting comment in the preface:

My task would have been greatly simplified if Gregory had carried out his purpose of preparing a new edition of Tischendorf's Novum Testamentum Graece (1869) instead of going to the front and losing his life.

He continues:

That was a fine exhibition of patriotism for his adopted country (Germany) on the part of a man of seventy, but not the least of the tragedies of the world war.

He later says that he cherishes the hope

'that some one who reads these words may take up the task that Gregory dropped and carry it on to completion.'

Enough already


The prayers of an evangelical textual critic...

I guess that evangelical textual critics pray, and that some of them pray about their work. Are there any examples of good things to pray for/about if you are an evangelical textual critic?

Monday, October 31, 2005

"a very important discovery, equal to the Naga Hammadi scrolls"

This find went public in February.

I have seen two sets of dates for these new documents ... the 3rd/4th and 6th centuries. These dates stem from the presumption that they were hidden during persecutions which would have happened at those times.

I think the picture on this page is from Nag Hammadi.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Itacism again

Following on from my last note: the Greek accentual system distinguishes final αι as long from final αι as short. Is there a greater frequency of ε for αι when the latter is short?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Vowels in Voelz

Peter mentioned the following article on another thread: James W. Voelz, 'The Greek of Codex Vaticanus in the Second Gospel and Marcan Greek', Novum Testamentum 47 (2005) 209-249. What caught my attention about this article was nothing to do with its main point, but rather its list of itacisms within Vaticanus for Mark on p. 211. What do Γαλειλαιας (1:16), θλειψεως (4:17), ατειμος (6:4), μεικρων (9:42) and all the other examples he gives have in common? They have in common the fact that the ει is used where etymologically there is a long i. He gives twelve examples of this, though he does not mention vowel quantity. Is it the case generally that this type of itacism in manuscripts correlates with the presence of etymologically long vowels? If so, this could tell us interesting information. One thing that fascinates me is the high incidence of the ει spelling for Semitic names (David, Pharisees, Galilee, etc.). Either the scribes were familiar with the vowel quantity of Semitic names (through knowing Hebrew/Aramaic or through hearing the names clearly enunciated in public Scripture reading) or the presence of ει comes from the authors themselves. Possible counter examples could be λειαν (6:51), which could apparently have short or long quantity, ανακλειθηναι (6:39), for a verb whose vowel quantity changes between various tenses, and εξεισταντο (6:51), whose vowel quantity I would have to do more work to discover. Does anyone out there know its quantity?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Every frame, every sound, every word ...

There is an interesting post on about cartoons and music which has special resonance for textual criticism and exegesis.

"I think you must learn -- If you're in any filmmaking, you must respect the single frame, and there are 24 of those per second. And in my opinion, if you don't respect that single frame, you're in the same boat with a musician who does not respect an eighth note or a sixteenth. . . . You have to find the smallest unit and you have to love it and believe that that one will make a difference. One frame, to me, will make the difference whether anything's funny or not."

Loving the smallest unit is something that characterises evangelical textual criticism!