Friday, December 28, 2007

TC Discussion List Inflation?

Recently I was invited to yet another "TC-list", i.e. a discussion list focusing on textual criticism of the OT and NT. Once upon a time there was one TC-list run by James Adair and Tim Finney. This list died out, and now there are three (to my knowledge):

Textual criticism, founded April 23, 2004
496 members; 23 messages in Dec 2007
Excerpts from the description: posts must be on-topic. contributors should be familiar with the contents of the web pages given in the Links section; moderated by Wieland Willker

TC-Alternate-list founded July 31, 2006
51 members; 51 messages in Dec 2007
Excerpt from the description: for people with a wider set of views; less formal atmosphere; "more freedom to discuss many related issues of interest (theology, doctrine, humour, politics); anonymity allowed; credentials not required or desired.

83 members; 90 messages in Dec 2007
Excerpt from the description: as little moderation as possible; discussion of the King James Version Only (or TR Only) viewpoint not tolerated; Each list member should be identified by given and last name

The first list, started by Wieland, filled the gap after the old TC-list. My guess is that the second list started because some people wanted to discuss Textus Receptus Only, KJV-only, or "wider issues" (e.g. doctrinal, etc). Perhaps some also felt surpressed because of lack of academic credentials (as judging from the list description). The third list, I suspect, also has to do with the moderation on the first list, but there is now an avoidance of KVJ-Only/TR-Onlyism and strict focus on academic discussion (which is good).

This is my highly subjective interpretation (full of guesses) of a development that is rather sad. Now we have three lists (and some seem to contribute to more than one). Time will tell if we have reached the peak.

Update: the second list, TC-Alternate-list, has been discussed on this blog here

Friday, December 21, 2007

New MS 4

New MS 3

I don't suppose it is worth calling it a quiz anymore, but there are certainly things here to discuss.

New Manuscripts in time for Christmas

"I bring you good news of great joy!"

Well, it is not as good as THAT news of course (Luke 2.10-11); but I thought you might like to know just the same.

The most recent volume of The Oxyrhynchus Papyri LXXI (2007) contains four new papyrus fragments of John's Gospel (edited by J. Chapa), although I haven't actually seen the published volume yet (thanks to Peter Rodgers for drawing my attention to these). The basic details are as follows:

P. Oxy 4803 (III) John 1.21-8, 38-44 [P119]

P.Oxy 4804 (IV) John 1.25-8, 33-8, 42-4 [P120]

P.Oxy 4805 (III) John 19.17-8, 25-6 [P121]

P.Oxy 4806 (IV or V?) John 21.11-14, 22-4 [P122]

Images are available on-line here. Two of these we are already discussing in previous posts.

Quiz time 2

And what about this one? There is not so much to it so I'll give you front and back (or is it back and front?).

Quiz time

So what do you make of this?

"Virtual Manuscript Room" – Call for Collaborative Thinking!

We have mentioned the "Virtual Manuscript Room" (VMR) previously on this blog, in our report from SBL (IGNTP presentation). Now Ulrich Schmid has asked me to post the call below, related to the VMR on our blog. In addition to responses sent directly to Ulrich and Martin (e-mailaddresses below), I also take the opportunity to encourage comments and discussion of the VMR on this blog.

Virtual Manuscript Room – call for collaborative thinking!

Since November 2007 Dr. Martin Faßnacht and Dr. Ulrich Schmid have
been working at the “Institut für neutestamentliche
Textforschung“ (Münster) on the “Virtual Manuscript Room“ (VMR), a web-
based service that integrates digital images of (Greek) New Testament
manuscripts with related information and electronic transcriptions.
The core tool to achieve that goal will be a database containing all
the relevant data pertaining to the items included.

The first and most important step when devising such a database is a
thorough and comprehensive definition of the tasks that the
application has to perform. An essential step towards that goal is to
know what potential users and contributors will require, and in
particular what searches they are likely to want to perform on the
assembled information. For example:

- For which mss are photographic reproductions on the internet

- Which mss, that have been found in Egypt, are currently housed in
the British Library?

- Which mss, dated up to the 5th century, are bilinguals, contain text
of Matthew and are not written on papyrus?

Feel free to add your own questions and return them to us, preferably
before 1 February 2008!

Dr. Martin Faßnacht (
Dr. Ulrich B. Schmid (

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The 2008 Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum, Topic = The Textual Reliability of the NT

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) is having the 2008 Greer-Heard Forum on the topic of the Textual Reliability of the New Testament this coming April 4th-5th, with some extra meetings taking place on April 3rd as well. The main speakers are Bart Ehrman and Dan Wallace, with responses by David Parker, Mike Holmes, Dale Martin, and Bill Warren. The event will be on the campus of NOBTS and is jointly sponsored by the Center for New Testament Textual Studies. As you might surmise, Bart Ehrman's works on "Misquoting Jesus" and "The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture" will figure heavily in the discussions. The Evangelical Philosophical Society will be hosting a special event in connection with this forum with several well-known evangelical scholars present in conjunction with that event. Also, Martin Heide is the speaker on Thursday at two events hosted by the Center for New Testament Textual Studies and the Biblical Studies Division. His presentations relate to the NT text and canon. For more information or to register, go to the Greer-Heard website ( Housing is available at a modest cost on the seminary campus.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Codex Boreelianus conference

I'm not sure whether it has been mentioned on this blog, but at the SBL Congress, at their paper, Geert Van Oyen and Jan Krans distributed a Call For Papers:

Utrecht Conference, 6-7 March 2009
Codex Boreelianus (F 09) and New Testament Textual Criticism

Prof. Geert Van Oyen

Dr Jan Krans

You can also see reports on SBL on the Amsterdam NT Blog.

Friday, December 14, 2007

SBL International Meeting in Auckland: Call for Papers

This is a reminder that the call for papers to the SBL International Meeting to be held in Auckland 6-11 July 2008 is still open (until 1 February).

Since I chair the Working with Biblical Manuscript (Textual Criticism) section at the International Meeting, I would particularly like to invite papers to this section (note that you need to log in with your SBL membership number in order to submit a proposal).

Call For Papers: Papers concentrating on any aspect of the practical work with manuscripts of the Bible are welcome: managing variants, computer assisted tools, preservation techniques, evaluating the evidence of versions, papyrological insights, technical developments, social historical studies, scribal habits, producing critical editions, new projects, systematic-theological problems, teaching text-criticism in an academic setting, etc.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"A final touch of unpleasantness"

Obviously we're all gearing up for the end-of-year ETC Oscars. I nominate Hugh Evelyn-White for "Most endearing text-critico-autobiographical footnote". He's describing the room in which he transcribed the St Macarius Monastery texts. I particularly like the end.

"If another should ever have the opportunity of exploring this 'waste-paper room', he should be forewarned that it is entirely lightless and airless and that every movement raises choking clouds of fine dust which cannot be dispersed. Furthermore, the ancient timbers overhead swarm with voracious vermin which are roused to activity by the light or warmth of candles, and the proximity of a latrine adds a final touch of unpleasantness." (H.E.-W., Intro. to New Coptic Texts from the Monastery of St Macarius, xlii n. 3).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

SBL in San Diego VIII: New Testament Textual Criticism

On Monday afternoon at SBL we had a wonderful miscellany of papers. Others who who there may like to make some comments about this session, which followed the ETC Blog lunch. Unfortunately (you might think 'typically'), I had to rush from presenting to the Mark group in the morning, back to my hotel to run through my afternoon presentation, before rushing back for this session. I must also say that as I was the fourth presenter and was waiting patiently/nervously for my own time I wasn't able to pay as close attention to the first three presentations as I would have liked. Also most people used some form of projected material, but the presenters were lined up at the front where we couldn't see the screen.
  1. First off was our very own Tommy Wasserman (Örebro Theological Seminary) on 'Two Verses Plucked From the Fire: Jude 22-23' which was a closely argued treatment of the major problem here. And a very good job he did too.
  2. Second was Matti Myllykoski (University of Helsinki) on 'POxy 4009: Case Closed': this was marred by the fact that he couldn't get his laptop to project anything and had no real back up plan (except for a handout); so we had repeated references to what we could not see on the screen. Seemed to want to argue, using a different reconstruction from Luhrmann, that the back of this definitely was a part of the Gospel of Peter (but I could be wrong, as I was trying to think of what I could do if I couldn't get my laptop to project).
  3. Third was Gerald Donker (PhD student at Macquarie University-Sydney, Australia) on 'The Pauline Epistles in Athanasius: A Contribution to the Alexandrian Text Type': this was a preliminary report on his research on this subject with a lot of complicated statistical stuff which I couldn't understand. Seemed to think that Athanasius in Paul used an Alexandrian text (but only had 44 samples so far). Decent presentation, although too detailed on the statistical front for me (although not for everyone judging by the questions from the floor).
  4. Fourth was Peter M. Head (that is me) on 'Notes on P. Oxy 4497 (P113): The Smallest Portion of the New Testament Ever Identified'. Fortunately the laptop and the projector shook hands and behaved, so I was able to get on with the job at hand. Basically showed how this tiny fragment could be identified with confidence, drew some lessons from that which might be useful in disputed cases of identification and then speculated on what it may have been from (a large double columned Pauline corpus collection).
  5. Fifth was Geert van Oyen (University of Utrecht) and Jan Krans (Vrije Universiteit-Amsterdam) on 'Geert van Oyen, University of Utrecht and Jan Krans, Vrije Universiteit-AmsterdamCodex Boreelianus Revisited: A Fresh Look at Codex F (09) after 160 years '. I really enjoyed this presentation. Perhaps it was relief that mine was over; but they did a great (and occasionally hilarious) team job of their presentation. They had some of the most beautiful and detailed pictures I have ever seen projected. They conveyed a great deal of information in a very clear and entertaining way.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Harvard Papyri Online

The Houghton Library at Harvard have begun putting digital images of their papyri online (front page here). (HT PapyL also What's New in Papyrology?)
They haven't finished yet, but there are two of interest to NT scholars (and two more to come):

P10 (Rom 1.1-7; POxy 209 = Harvard MS Gr SM2218)

Gospel of Thomas (POxy 655 = Harvard MS Gr SM4367)

071 (Matt 1.21-24; 1.25-2.2; POxy 401 = Harvard MS Gr SM3735)
P9 (1 John 4.11-12, 14-17; POxy 402 = Harvard MS Gr SM3736)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Lecture on "Christology and Textual Transmission" in Norway

Yesterday evening I arrived here in Kristiansand in Norway. I am here as a guestlecturer as part of the Erasmus "Lifelong learning program" for exchange of teachers, staff and students and I will be teaching for two days at Ansgarskolen.

Today I taught on Paul's theology in the Bachelor program. Tomorrow I will lecture for three hours on "Christology and Textual Transmission" in their Masterprogram for Biblical Studies, and among the texts I have read by way of preparation there is a particular article, "Christology and Textual Transmission: Reverential Alterations in the Synoptic Gospels" published in Novum Testamentum XXXV, 2 (1993) by a certain Peter M. Head (then London). Interestingly, this article came out the same year as Ehrman's "Orthodox Corruption."

I think the article is balanced and well-writen (some minor details need revision, e.g. the date for P72, on p. 113 "ca 200" which should rather be ca. 300).

In the conclusion of the article (pp. 128-29) the author says:

"It is noteworthy that in the scribal tradition this 'adaptation' [as observed in the article] is much more conservative than in the production of apocryphal gospels. The scribes were interested in 'transmission' of texts, rather than in the creation of new texts. Nevertheless the transmission of gospel texts should not be seen as a neutral activity. The scribe of the NT was a participant in the life of the church, and this life and faith clearly influenced the processs of transmission. . . . It is to their [the early scribes] credit that, with some exceptions, most of them withstood the temptation to 'improve' the Gospel texts. The 'improvements' examined here have not affected the general reliability of the transmission of the text in any significant matter; they do, however, point to the scribe's involvement in his work as an act of devotion to the divine Christ."

Now, it would of course be interesting for me (and the readers) if the author could comment very briefly on how he regards this subject in general and his article in particular in retrospect after almost 15 years. Is there something he would modify, etc?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

New Manuscripts at the CSNTM

Over at the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscript, images of 12 manuscripts have been added, one of which is an unregistered manuscript in Yale. Read more at the manuscript section at CSNTM here.

In San Diego I met director of the CSNTM, Dan Wallace and a lot of other friends. Below is a picture of us having coffee in the exhibition hall. From the left Rick Bennett (from Accordance), Peter Head, Jan Krans, Tommy Wasserman, Dan Wallace and Bruce Prior.

Volume XVII (2004) of Filologia Neotestamentaria, on-line

Volume XVII (2004) of the Filologia Neotestamentaria journal was recently made available on-line here.

The following items may be of particular interest for readers of this blog:

Christian-B. Amphoux, «La grande lacune du Codex de Bèze.» , Vol.17(2004) 3-26.

Abstract: "One of the most important NT manuscripts, the codex Bezae, included between the Gospels and the Book of Acts several writings that are nowadays lost. The present article corrects the author’s former views, published in 1996, concerning the contents of this lacuna: the 66 missing pages may very well have included a seven letters corpus, in fact a forerunner of the Catholic Epistles corpus, including Hb but not yet Jd. The analysis of these letters allows us both to understand better the period of redaction of NT writings and to bring this enterprise in connection with the writing process of the Old Testament."

Matthew D. McDill, « A Textual and Structural Analysis of Mark 16:9-20.» , Vol.17(2004) 27-44.

Abstract: "The purpose of this study is to address two questions: 1) Should Mark 16:9-20 be included in biblical exegesis and 2) If so, what are the structural features of this passage that might aid in its interpretation? In order to answer the first question, the external and internal evidence concerning this passage as a textual variant and the question of its canonicity will be explored. The second question will be answered by presenting a diagram of the passage’s syntactical and semantic structure and by making observations concerning the unit’s overall structure and development."

Josep Rius-Camps and Jenny Read-Heimerdinger, «The Variant Readings of the Western Text of the Acts of the Apostels (XVI) (Acts 9:31–11:18).» , Vol.17(2004) 45-88.

Abstract: "The present section deals with the events concerning the conversion of Peter (Acts 9:31–11:18) whereby he at last comes to understand that the good news of Jesus is for Jews and Gentiles alike. Since the Greek pages of Codex Bezae are missing from 8:29 to 10:14 and the Latin ones from 8:20b to 10:4, we have noted in the Critical Apparatus the variants of other witnesses that differ from the Alexandrian text. From 10:4b (fol. 455a), the Latin text of Codex Bezae is available. The Greek text starts at 10:14b (fol. 455b)."

Christopher M. Hays, «A Fresh Look at Boso&r: Textual Criticism in 2 Peter 2:15.» , Vol.17(2004) 105-110.

Abstract: "Commentators have often been stymied by the idiosyncratic patronymic Bosor assigned to Balaam of Beor by the best textual witnesses of 2 Peter 2:15. However, detailed investigation of the development of the Balaam traditions in tandem with the Edomite king-lists of Gen 36:32, 1 Chr 1:43, and Job 42:17d (LXX only) reveals a tightly intertwined history that paved the way for the unintentional replacement of Bewr with Bosor. The confusion of numerous other names and places associated with the two titles in the Septuagint and Targums witnesses to a trajectory which culminated in the textual variants of 2 Peter 2.15."

The next volume, Volume XVIII (2005) will be available in the next couple of days.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Holmes' 3rd edition Apostolic Fathers debuts at SBL

The third edition of the Apostolic Fathers by fellow blogger Michael Holmes was on display at both ETS and SBL at the Baker Academic bookstall.

It is a beautiful piece of bookmaking, so nice that the many on this blog who already own an earlier edition will want to get a copy of this one. I noticed that a very large consignment was brought in at the beginning of SBL and on Baker's table. It rapidly dwindled and the whole consignment seemed to be gone before the end of the conference.

The book is a small, green hardback, and approximately the same size as the small NA27. The paper has good opacity yet is so thin that the 800 pages are only slightly thicker than the NA27's 800 pages. The paper is also whiter than the creamy NA27. Most pleasant of all for reading is the font and generous leading (whitespace between lines). One's impression while reading is that this is delightfully 'clean' and 'clear'. They chose the GentiumAlt font with its lunate (should we say 'selenic'?) perispomenos tonos. A stiched, gold-ribbon place marker allows one to restrain the English side of the book and to comfortably read with one hand.

The Apostolic Fathers, Greek Texts and English Translations, 3rd edition, edited and translated by Machael W. Holmes, after the earlier work of J. B. Lightfoot and J. R. Harmer. Baker Academic, 2007. ISBN 978-0-8010-3468-8.

For those interested, 'the dove' περιστερά, is now included in Martyrdom of Polycarp 16.1, and the textual apparatus in general has been "significantly expanded". At the same time, references in the text to the apparatus have been simplified so as not to distract from smooth reading.

Incidently, Michael dedicated the edition to his father William Holmes and to Bruce Metzger (doktorvater), both of whom passed away in 2007.

Michael is deservedly happy with the outcome of this edition and we on the blog will want to extend a sincere 'Congratulations'. I know that he worked hard with the publisher in producing this.

εὖ ἐποίησας, Μιχαήλ.