Tuesday, November 28, 2006

P75 goes to the Vatican

P75 the remarkable C2/C3 manuscript of Luke and John was apparently sold to the Vatican a few weeks ago amid great protest by international representatives of the academic community. This is a great loss for Cologny and a great gain for the Vatican.

Monday, November 27, 2006

NA27 Sahidic mistake at Matthew 2:21

The view of NA27 that the Sahidic supports επανηλθεν in Matthew 2:21 appears mistaken since the Sahidic appears to use the same rendering for απηλθεν in Matthew 9:7; Mark 6:46; 7:24; Luke 1:23; for ανεβη in Luke 9:28; Acts 2:34; 10:9; Ephesians 4:9 (cf. 4:10); for ανηλθεν in John 6:3; and for πορευθεις in 1 Peter 3:22. The last text is particularly interesting since it uses an unmarked verb of motion (one which does not state 'up' or 'down', etc.). In the nearest parallel to the context, namely Matthew 2:14, the same Sahidic phrase appears to render ανεχωρησεν.

Conclusion: the Sahidic phrase in question could probably represent ηλθεν or εισηλθεν.

Has Sahidica disappeared?

Sahidica—the free online Sahidic New Testament used to be here. Has it disappeared? Does anyone know of its whereabouts?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Kloha on the silence of the women

One rather interesting paper at SBL was by Jeffrey Kloha of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. I can't remember whether Kloha has recently finished his PhD with Keith Elliott (Leeds), or whether he is nearing the end of it. Anyway, he presented an intriguing study entitled 'The Displacement of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 in D F G and the Latin Tradition'.

The background to the discussion is, of course, the view, strongly articulated inter alios by Gordon Fee (The First Epistle to the Corinthians, 699-708) that these verses are inauthentic. Though they appear in all known Greek or versional manuscripts, the Greek-Latin bilingual manuscripts (D F G) and a number of Latin manuscripts place them after v. 40. They are rejected by Fee on 'transcriptional' and 'intrinsic' probability. One of the points in Fee's argument was that it is unlikely that the verses were 'displaced' from after v. 33 to after v. 40 since 'displacements of this kind do not occur elsewhere in the NT' (First Epistle, p. 700).

Enter Kloha.

Kloha claims to have been able to identify a series of displacements of exactly this sort in basically the same witnesses that have the verses after 1 Cor. 14:40.

The relevant examples are:

'and the church in their house' (Rom. 16:5 --> 16:3)
'and all the churches of Christ' (Rom. 16:16 --> 16:21)
'The grace of our Lord [Jesus Christ] be with you [all. Amen]' (Rom. 16:20 --> 16:24)
'With whom I am staying' (1 Cor. 16:19 from Acts 18:3)
'Be zealous for the better gifts' (Galatians 4:17 from 1 Cor. 12:31)
1 Cor. 14:34-35 --> after 1 Cor. 14:40

He observes certain features in common between some of these texts:
1) all the transpositions are triggered by 'key words'
2) church/churches (Rom. 16:3, 16; 1 Cor. 14:34)
3) interest in the role of Priscilla and her activity within the church (Rom. 16:3; 1 Cor. 16:19)

The possibility of a series of related transpositions is indeed intriguing and we will await eagerly the publication of Kloha's work. Two areas where clarification is needed are: 1) The overall explanation of how these are related. This is a point on which Larry Hurtado pressed Kloha; 2) The degree to which there are other transpositions that do not fit the pattern or explanation that Kloha has advanced.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Gender balance in TC

I conducted a head count at one textual criticism session at SBL: 61 men; 4 women. Would anyone care to interpret these data?

Studia Antiqua Australiensia

A new monograph series, which rejoices under the title Studia Antiqua Australiensia, has recently been launched by the publisher Brepols. The first book in the series is Malcolm Choat, Belief and Cult in Fourth Century Papyri.

Here is the publisher's blurb:

'This study examines the terms and features in the Greek and Coptic documentary papyri from fourth-century CE Egypt which bear on the religious beliefs of their scribes, composers, senders, and recipients. These include onomastics, formulaic expressions, invocations of particular deities, the way the name of God is written, titles of officials, and linguistic choice. Where previous studies have often found predicative criteria and clear-cut boundaries, here a new narrative of the development of late-antique religious vocabulary and scribal practice is found in the ambiguity and the confluence of religious traditions which the papyri reveal.'

Copies from Sinaiticus?

One of the papers presented at SBL was by Robert J. Littman, University of Hawaii: 'Sinai 1 and Sinai 2: Their Place in Biblical Manuscript Tradition'. Littman adopted a 15th century date for Sinai 1 and a 12th century date for Sinai 2 and claimed on the basis of readings shared between these manuscripts and the famous Codex Sinaiticus that these were both copied from Sinaiticus. Now this conclusion, if true, would obviously be rather important since parts of the OT of Sinaiticus are missing and these manuscripts cover OT portions no longer extant in Sinaiticus. If they were indeed copied from Sinaiticus then they would instantly become rather important, despite their late date. At present the sample of readings does not appear to be conclusive evidence. One of the reasons for this is that so little work has been done with LXX manuscripts that we are not in any sort of position to declare any reading a 'unique agreement' with Sinaiticus.

Anyway, here is the preliminary conclusion for Genesis 23:19-24:46:

'Sinai 2 and Sinai 1 have both copied Sinaiticus. All three agree in a few key variations from A.'

In addition to further work on the readings of these manuscripts it would also be interesting to have further opinion as to their date.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Live from SBL in Washington

It's now SBL in Washington. The conference begins in earnest tomorrow morning, but already there has been much of interest to textual critics. The display of manuscripts in the Freer Gallery is phenomenal. Quite the richest display I've seen together in one place. I'm sure that there will be much discussion of it after the conference.

The 5 hour session on the Freer Biblical Manuscripts happened today. Larry Hurtado spoke about the significance of the collection. Kent Clarke spoke about the biography of Charles Lang Freer and produced evidence that some of the manuscripts may have come from Dimai (Soknopaei Nesou) in the Fayoum. David Trobisch explained how to read a page of the Freer Gospels and spoke about various details on the page. Timothy Brown gave a live demonstration of how he cuts high quality images of the facing page of a manuscript, flips them horizontally, makes them see-through and then superimposes them on the page they face and thereby tests hypotheses of transfer of ink across facing pages (he did various other things too). Thomas Wayment spoke about multispectral imaging. Just as an aside he mentioned the loss to water of 32 boxes of ca. 1000 manuscript fragments each of the Oxyrhynchus Collection in the Ashmolean in Oxford (!). Malcolm Choat spoke about the Minor Prophets scroll in the Freer Collection and specifically about the text that follows it. Leonard Greenspoon was not able to give his paper about the Freer Joshua. Jean-Francois Racine compared the textual smoothness of W with B, comparing the changing tastes of textual critics to the changing fashions of taste in wine. James Royse talked about the various types of corrections in the Freer Gospels and Ulrich Schmid rounded off the day with a provocative paper addressing the question of the date of the Freer Gospels. The IV/V century date seems to have no secure basis and a later date (e.g. VI century or later) is entirely possible. The papers were all so good that 5 hours non-stop still kept the interest of someone with jet-lag. That's a good sign.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sacred Leaves: The Book between Manuscript & Print



First Annual Sacred Leaves Graduate Symposium, University of South Florida, Tampa Library, Tampa, Florida

February 22-23, 2007

Keynote Speaker: Mark Dimunation, Chief of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress. Thursday, February 22, 7:00pm.

The Special Collections Department of the Tampa Library, University of South Florida seeks papers from graduate students and recent MA or PhD recipients for its First Annual Graduate Symposium, Sacred Leaves. This year's theme is The Book Between Manuscript & Print. We encourage interdisciplinary topics considering the history of the book, with particular emphasis on the shift from script to print. Subjects for
proposals may include, but are not limited to:

* Readership

* Production techniques

* Word and image relations

* The book as art

* Methodologies in the history of the book

This symposium will coincide with the University of South Florida Tampa Library's 4th Sacred Leaves exhibition: Beyond the Quill... Books Printed Between 1450-1500. This exhibit will feature twenty individual leaves and four full books printed before 1500. These incunabula offer physical evidence of the transition between script and print, an evolution not unlike the twenty-first century shift from print to electronic media. This exhibit explores the dependence of early printed books on their manuscript predecessors by addressing the overlap in production and presentation that took place during this transitional and experimental period.

Deadline: January 5th, 2007.

Please email abstracts of no more than 250 words to Curator of Medieval Manuscripts Collections and Symposium Coordinator, Lesley T. Stone lstone@lib.usf.edu (813) 974-4774.

Notification of acceptances will be emailed by January 15, 2007. Please include the title of your paper, name, affiliation, and email address. Each paper selected will be allotted 15 minutes for presentation. Papers will be presented in small group sessions and audience response will be encouraged.

Sacred Leaves: The Book Between Manuscript & Print is organized by the Special Collections Department of the Tampa Library, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Getting ready for SBL

Pete is right to suggest that some of us are busy finishing off papers for SBL.* Mark Goodacre has some interesting and humorous advice about using technology in places like the SBL.

* "finishing off" in this context is generally a polite way to describe anything from doing the fundamental research up to photocopying the handouts.

Monday, November 13, 2006

NT Transcripts

For anyone who has not used them I would highly recommend the NT Transcripts available through the Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung in Münster. They appear very reliable—in a league well above Swanson in this regard. However, their transcription of Sinaiticus in John 1:35 reads ιστηκει where it should offer ιστηκι. I would be interested if anyone has any other errata for this excellent resource, which is, I believe, constantly under review.

An Arabic Perspective on Orthodox Corruption

After I worked for several years on Arabic manuscripts - not of the New Testament, but of Arabic horsemanship (Edition and Translation of ibn ahi Hizam al-Khuttali’s works) - I thought it might be helpful to draw some parallels to NT Textual Criticism. I employed about ten mss of the middle ages, two later recensions, and two (not very careful prepared) printed editions.

1. The quality of the transmission differs widely from ms to ms. Some have only half of the stuff, some have a hiatus of a large number of paragraphs, some totally mixed up the paragraph-order (there are 170 paragraphs - aetiologies and treatments, each of them subdivided, sometimes up to 15 times).

2. There are manuscript families. Families have a certain amount of common readings and of common misreadings, but that does not mean that they always behave like a family: Sometimes you find in a ms which belongs definitely to a certain family - let’s say family I - a reading from family II. That suggests that a lot of these variants may either a) be influenced by a text-critical endeavour of the scribe, or b) have come in by chance - the same situation (e.g. a seemingly missing subject / object / personal pronoun / preposition) brought about the same changes.

3. The best mss are not reliable in every reading. Better trained scribes seem to be more prone to homoioteleuta than their less trained colleagues. Even the worst ms helps sometimes to restore a difficult reading.

4. When each paragraph is considered separately, changes are on a moderate scale. Usually, you have what you always had in textual criticism: substitution of pronouns for nouns or proper nouns, changes of the 2nd person to 3rd person and vice versa, addition of clarifying attributes or short sentences, homoioteleuta/arcta, dittographies, abridgements of long lists, smoothing out of grammar and meaning, etc.

5. Nonsense readings emerge when a scribe did not understand what he had before him (there are often pharmacological expressions of Greek, Latin or Persian origin in these texts), and the scribe created either (in an effort to keep the original) the best he could make out of the reading, or (when he did not much care) a new reading adapted to the meaning of the context, but totally different from what was in the original. On rare occasions only are these corruptions irreparable.

6. A large part of the variants that came into being look similar to the original, but mean something quite different, even if they seldom damage the context. This is especially true of Arabic, where only small diacritical dots differentiate between letters. To speak in terms of NT textual criticism: If you have the famous reading 1Tim 3:16, every one muses on the possibility that ΟΣ was changed to ΘΣ by only (accidentally) dropping the horizontal nomen-sacrum-stroke, and perhaps adding the middle bar in the ΟΣ. Others say that the change in the one or the other direction was made by intention.
Coming from my own experience with these Arabic mss, I would now pose a different or third solution: Scribes of antiquity obviously introduced changes into the text when a) the context and the outward appearance of the letters etc. granted permission and/or suggested/triggered a change of the text, b) the text - in their estimation - needed an improvement to keep its meaning from becoming misused. When these two conditions meet each other, you are on the best hunting ground for variants. We have the same in Mt 1:7-8; 1:10; John 1:18; 1 Thess 2:7; we have it in the numerous changes brought about through itacism; etc. That does not mean that there are not also a lot of accidents (misreadings, examples of carelessness etc.). This is not orthodox corruption - it is something different: The concept of orthodox corruption does not consider the outward appearance of the text, it focusses on the meaning, and suggests a corruption of the meaning. What I think is worth investigating are those variants where the similarity of the letters / of the word(s) “allowed” to a certain extent to bring in a similarity of the meaning. These variants did not change or even damage the meaning of the text; usually, they only underlined it; they “improved” the meaning.
As far as I know, we can observe similar phenomena in the LXX translation of the OT. The LXX reflects quite often an only slightly different reading of the Hebrew original (letters dalet-resh, sin/shin, similarity of sound in ‘ayin / ghayn / aleph etc.), or knowledge of a different Semitic reading/root of the very same letters (James Barr has a lot of examples in his “Comparative Philology and the Text of the OT”). Here also, some cases may be accidental, but I wonder whether it might not have happened that a lot of cases came into being by the process mentioned above: outward similarity (letters, sound) suggested / allowed / triggered / provoked a change of the text to improve its meaning. These ancient scribes were not dumb fools who carelessly brought about changes of the text whenever it suited their taste ...

7. In general, the text of the mss, even of mutilated mss (a lot of pages missing / mixed up) has not lost its original meaning. Even those scribes who were careless did not dare to change the text ad libitum. The original meaning was either transmitted, or, if lost via transmission, can be restored via textual criticism.

8. There is one modern Arabic edition which used only one manuscript. That edition has, of course, certain shortcomings, and a lot of questionable readings (and this reminds us of Richard Bentley’s truism: If there had been but one manuscript of the Greek Testament, at the restoration of learning about two centuries ago; then we had had no various readings at all. And would the text be in a better condition then, than now we have 30 000? So far from that; that in the best single copy extant we should have had hundreds of faults, and some omissions irreparable. Besides that the suspicions of fraud and foul play would have been increas’d immensely).

With five mss, I reached already a point were it was clear that new mss would not change the text very much. Ibn Khuttali’s text must have been transmitted in hundreds of mss, and goes back to a Greek tradition, which was later compiled into the Corpus hippiatricorum graecorum. There is even an Arabic translation made from an Armenian Vorlage. With more mss at hand, and some compilations which were made by different authors, the text now as a solid basis - but can, of course, be slightly improved with every new ms which may be unearthed.

“Not only do variants not damage the study of Holy Writ, they are rather useful, according to Augustine.” (Erasmus of Rotterdam, Letter EE 860: 61-64).

Saturday, November 11, 2006

What's on at SBL?

'Why has it gone all quiet on the blog?' you ask. The answer is obviously that eight of the bloggers are busy preparing material for the Society of Biblical Literature Congress in Washington DC starting next weekend. There will doubtless be much to report after the Congress.

There are, however, a few things worth advertising beforehand. As mentioned earlier on this blog there will be a special feature on the Freer Biblical Manuscripts for their centenary (see what Larry Hurtado has to say here). Don't miss the papers on 17 November. We've mentioned the book here. On 19 November 1-3.30 p.m. there will be a special panel discussion of Larry's new book The Earliest Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins. On 20 November 1-3.30 p.m. the normally arcane and mysterious area of Masoretic studies is going to be popularised as the International Organization for Masoretic Studies has a series of 'user-friendly' introductions to this area. There are, of course, masses of other papers of text-critical interest, but that will have to be all for now.

Friday, November 10, 2006

BIOSCS bulletin for 2005

James Aitken informs me that the latest Bulletin of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies (i.e. 2005) has been issued in recent months. See here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Minuscule Manuscript Seminar 3

This is the third in our series of minuscule manuscript seminar posts. The first seminar featured minuscule 461 (from AD 835); the second featured 1582 (from AD 948). But what can we make of this offering?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Coptic Bible blog

A blog on the Coptic Bible has been started by someone who sees themselves as a student of the subject. To judge by the links and the interest in the Coptic indefinite article in John 1:1 (which is necessary) there appear to be some JW sympathies.

Frankfurt exhibition 'Alles echt'

The Frankfurt Bible Society is putting on a display relating to biblical mss entitled 'Alles echt' [all true]. Jim West's announcement here.

Friday, November 03, 2006

How Many Photographs?

How many scanned photographs from a single book can you post on a blog without violating copyright? Does anybody have any idea of the law on this? In minuscule-manuscript-seminar-2 I posted three photos scanned from one book and one scan from each of two other books. That seems reasonable use for teaching and research from my point of view, but are there are standards?

How many manuscripts?

We are pretty well placed to estimate the number of Greek NT manuscripts that there are. The Kurzgefasste (Kurt-gefasste!) Liste and supplements give accurate information. Of course we don't know what to expect from ongoing Oxyrhynchus publications, and Dan Wallace estimates there are about 200 more to find in libraries. Perhaps the number may in a few decades hit 6,000.

As far as I know there is no official list of LXX manuscripts, though I understand that a chap in Sydney was preparing one (anyone know any more?). How many mss are there?

What guestimates would people make for the following?

Vulgate mss
Hebrew Bible mss
Qur'anic mss