Wednesday, July 29, 2009

SBL 2009 sessions announced

Access 2009 Program here.

NTTC, Saturday, 13:00–15:30

Peter M. Head: Vaticanus Distigmai
Matteo Grosso: Colossians 3:11
Gregory S. Paulson: Harmonizations in D in Matthew
Bill Warren: Spelling Tendencies of Scribes
James M. Leonard: Codex Schøyen, Alternative Gospel of Matthew


International Greek NT Project (John), Sunday, 9:00–11:30
Hugh Houghton: Chapter divisions in Old Latin John
Craig R. Koester: Use of Internal Criteria in Editing John
Rachel Kevern: Transcribing Manuscripts

TC of the Hebrew Bible (TC and Problems of Method and Interpretation), Sunday, 9:0011:30
Emanuel Tov: Latin, Aramaic, and Syriac Translations of Hebrew Scripture
Steve Delamarter: Textual History of the Ethiopic OT
Daniel O. McClellan: Anthropomorphisms and LXX Exodus
Andrew Teeter: TC and Legal Hermeneutics / Leviticus 17
Daniel Becerra: Ketib-Qere Readings and the Versions
John D. Barry: Digital Version of the BHS Apparatus

NTTC (Early Christian Literary Papyri), Sunday, 13:00–15:30
Thomas J. Kraus: Reconstructing Fragmentary Manuscripts
Dave Nielsen: Importance of New Testament Ostraca
Matthew V. Novenson: Marginal Annotation in the Papyri
Geoffrey Smith: Bodmer Miscellaneous Codex Community
Charles E. Hill: Diplai Sacra? [sic] / P.Oxy 3.405

Deuteronomistic History (TC of the Deuteronomistic History), Monday, 9:00–11:30
Eugene Ulrich: Composition, Redaction, and Textual Transmission
Martin Rösel: Deuteronomists in the LXX of the Historical Books?
Anneli Aejmelaeus: Textual Development in the MT of 1 Samuel 1 - 2
Julio Trebolle: MT and LXX in Kings

NTTC (The Two Bibles: The LXX and NTTC), Monday, 9:00–11:30
Leonard J. Greenspoon: “If I forget thee…: Remembering, and Forgetting, in ‘Scriptural Citations’ (20 min)
Martin Karrer: LXX Citations in their NT Versions
Kristin De Troyer: Quotations of "the Septuagint" in the NT
William Adler, Respondent

IOSCS, Monday, 13:00–16:00
Cameron Boyd-Taylor: Made from the Image
David Andrew Teeter: The LXX and Early Jewish Halakhah
Robert Hiebert: LXX Textual Research in the Early 21st century
John D. Barry: Using the Göttingen LXX Digital Version
Claude Cox: "Daughter Versions" of the Bible, Armenian Job

TC of Samuel – Kings, Monday, 13:00–16:00
Pablo Torijano: The Armenian Version of Kings
Elina Perttilä: Sahidic 1 Samuel
Tuukka Kauhanen: Early Church Fathers as Proto-Lucianic Witnesses
Julio Trebolle: Kings and LXX Grammar

NTTC (Textual Types of NT MSS: Emergence and Evaluation), Monday, 16:00–18:30
Holger Strutwolf: The Making of the Text-type Theory
J. L. H. Krans: Johann Jakob Wettstein
Dirk Jongkind: Samuel Prideaux Tregelles
Tommy Wasserman: Text-types and the Evaluation of Readings
Jared Anderson: Origen's Witness an Alexandrian Text
Klaus Wachtel: The Byzantine Text of the Gospels

TC of Samuel – Kings, Monday, 16:00–19:00
Christian Seppänen: David and Saul's Daughters
Dave Nielsen: Ketib-Qere Readings and the Versions
Philippe Hugo: The LXX of 2 Samuel

TC of the Hebrew Bible (Case Studies in Textual Criticism in the Prophets and Writings), Tuesday, 9:0011:30
Michael Langlois: Christian Palestinian Aramaic Version of Isaiah
Sunwoo Hwang: Intriguing Name-Changes in 2 Chron 13
Michael S. Heiser: LXX Enakim in Jer 47:5, 49:4
Eun Woo Lee: Textual and Literary History of Josh 3-4
Jean-Daniel Macchi: Why Haman became an Agagite?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Rewriting the Bible in Postmodern Parallel

The apologist James White on his blogsite has called attention to the controversial publicly funded exhibit in Glasgow, "encouraging people to deface the Bible in the name of art" -- an exhibit which features a copy of the Authorized Version, "a container of pens and a notice saying: 'If you feel you have been excluded from the Bible, please write your way back into it.'"

The results of course have been almost exclusively negative, as the Times Online reports (URL below). Supposedly the intent of the artists (if seriously to be believed) was "to reclaim the Bible as a sacred text"; however, the results have been quite the opposite. Those writing and altering the biblical text "have daubed its pages" with atheism and profanities. Even though the original artist said "“Any offensive things that have been written are not the point of the work,” the result was quite the opposite. As expected, the Christian community has reacted quite negatively to all the radical material that has been inserted and texts altered or torn out in the name of "art".

Leaving aside the socio-political agenda and demerits of the organizers (which are clearly stated in the Times Online article and need not be gone into here), what is interesting in all this is that the example provides a strong but negative postmodern parallel to concepts such as Parker's Living Text and Ehrman's Orthodox Corruption, with the difference being more a matter of kind and degree as opposed to the hypothesis itself.

When evaluating the numerous various readings that appear intentional in our sources -- especially those that might affect translation or exegesis -- one seriously should consider the possible motivations (whether positive or negative) that might underlie the changes so made by scribes of varying stripe, lest we fall into the trap of assuming someone's personal opinion to be more valuable than the text he or she chose to alter in the first place.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article6723980.ece

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Houghton Book Reviewed

Craig R. Koester has written a glowing review of Hugh Houghton's new book (here):


Book Highlights:

  • summary of Augustine's use of scripture
  • discussion of the Latin versions during Augustine's era
  • commentary on the Latin textual variants in John's gospel
H.A.G. Houghton, Augustine's Text of John: Patristic Citations and Latin Gospel Manuscripts (OUP, 2008)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Graham Stanton

Graham Stanton died early on Saturday morning. Tommy suggested I write something for the blog, but I have struggled to know what to write. Graham was such a major influence on my professional life, and it has been a sad kind of blessing to recall some of our interactions and encounters over the last twenty years.
Graham was the editor of NTS who accepted one of my first published articles (on Mark 1.1 in 1989); he was Professor of NT at King's College London while I was at Oak Hill and welcomed my contributions to NT seminars there between 1990 and 1998 and encouraged me to do more work on the early papyri; he had moved to Cambridge to take up the Lady Margaret Chair when in 1999 he urged me to apply for a job in Cambridge and then became a senior colleague (and part boss).
If this sounds like the story is about me, then I'm sorry, that is what Graham was like. Even in the last few months a conversation with Graham would go along predictable lines: "don't worry about me - how are you getting on? how is Fiona?, how are the kids? how is the lecturing going? have you made any new discoveries recently?" He was not a self-important man. He was a humble one. A born teacher and an encourager of others - he looked out not for his own interests, but the interests of others.
One example which I always appreciated was in 2001, my second year of teaching in the faculty. Graham was planning a sabbatical and asked me if I would take on his (beloved!) Paul lectures. I really appreciated the trust he had in me, and not only that but after thinking about it for a week or two I mentioned that I was planning to structure the course completely differently (despite his 30 years of experience)! His reponse was pure encouragement - "fine, do what you think is best!"
Another example illustrates something of his character for me. I had long been interested in his classic essay (his 2006 SNTS presidential address: 'The Fourfold Gospel' NTS 43 (1997), 317-346), but discovered what I thought were some problems in the work of T.C. Skeat on which he depended in that article. I mentioned once that there seemed to be some problems with Skeat's calculations; Graham asked me to write up the issue for him to consider; he read it and said - 'hmmm, this seems pretty persuasive, you must send this to NTS straight away' - no bluster, nothing negative, just encouragement to press ahead (even if it undermined an argument he depended on). I was privileged to offer a paper in Graham's honour at a special study day in Cambridge last year. Afterwards he wrote me:
I am very grateful to you for your contribution to the NT conference last Saturday. Your presentation was superb both from a content as well as an IT point of view. It was good to have your Skeat / Stanton demolition set out so clearly.
As a NT scholar Graham had a prevailing scholarly interest in central issues relating to Jesus and the Gospels, reflected in his books (Jesus of Nazareth in New Testament Preaching (1973); The Gospels and Jesus (1989, 2002); A Gospel for a New People (1992) Gospel Truth?: New Light on Jesus and the Gospels (1995); Jesus and Gospel (2004) - it is true that some of his colleagues felt that he could have at least tried to think of a more distinctive title for this book!). This scholarly interest relates to his own Christian faith - Graham believed that 'in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God disclosed his purposes for his creation' (Gospel Truth?, 192); he believed (echoing 2 Cor 5) 'that in (or through) Christ crucified, God was reconciling the world to himself, no longer holding people's misdeeds against them. God has taken an initiative in love, forgiven our sins, reconciled us to himself, and thus transformed our lives. ' (500th anniversary sermon - notable for the appeal to P46 at 2 Cor 5.19!)

A full bibliography up to 2005 can be found in the Festschrift, edited by M. Bockmuehl and D. Hagner, The Written Gospel (Cambridge: CUP, 2005), 296-300. Some interesting autobiographical reflections can be read here.

There will be a Thanksgiving Service at 2.30 pm on Friday 24 July in Emmanuel United Reformed Church, Trumpington Street, Cambridge.

Up-date: Cambridge University posted a good obituary here. The Telegraph has also published an obituary [10th August] (the online version is unfortunately marked by at least three errors - which I have brought to their attention).
19th August: The Times has an excellent obituary today.
19th August: James D G Dunn wrote an obituary for SBL (HT: MG)
18th Sept: Richard Burridge wrote an obituary for Church Times (HT: MG)[It is true about the cricket.]
16th Oct: David Thompson wrote an obituary for the Independent (HT: MG) [This one also rings true]

Friday, July 17, 2009

Digital Criticism

In the 70's and 80's, the most brilliant scientists in the world taped over the original recordings of the 1969 Lunar landing. As a result, we have only fuzzy recordings of the original broadcast. Hollywood technicians are producing the equivalent to eclectic texts by reconstructing images from four different recordings. These videos are being released in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the landing. This makes an excellent analogy for what textual critics hope to accomplish, although the NASA situation is much more straightforward. An important parallel between the reconstruction of an image and a text lies in the fact that both are made of many different parts (pixels, colors / words, syntax) which form a larger whole. For the most part, the reconstruction does not change the picture, but only makes it clearer.

Associated Press article

View the restored images

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Coptic Manuscripts on Ebay

Every once in a while, I check what is being ripped to pieces and put on sale over at Ebay. I notice today that there are actually a number of whole manuscripts on sale, which is something of an improvement. In addition to the separation of manuscripts, I find the sales to be particularly duplicitous; Bohairic (Coptic) manuscripts are often advertised as 11th century which would be equivalent to finding a 6th century Greek uncial. Our earliest Classical Bohairic manuscripts come from the 11th century (although there is a catena from the 9th, and two continuous old Bohairic manuscripts from the 4th). It would be a wonder if this particular Turkish seller had found a treasure trove of 11th century manuscripts! Most Bohairic manuscripts date to the 18th and 19th centuries. If I knew how to report him, I would.

Caveat emptor!

In my opinion, ancient manuscripts should only be sold on Ebay under two conditions.
1) Each manuscript must be digitized.
2) Each manuscript must be classified by a designated scholar.

Scholars could volunteer their opinions. Buyer and seller would both be protected. Ebay's reputation would remain sound. It would not take a great deal of time on anyone's part, and would at least produce a (somewhat shoddy) image database of manuscripts which would otherwise be destroyed.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Williamson on the Oxford Hebrew Bible

Hugh Williamson has an interesting article on the Oxford Hebrew Bible - a proposal to produce an eclectic text of the Hebrew Bible (rather than the more customary diplomatic edition). It also offers a general update on other Hebrew Bible projects. His conclusion - a detailed textual commentary would be of more scholarly value and usefulness than a new edition.

H.G.M. Williamson, 'Do We Need A New Bible? Reflections on the Proposed Oxford Hebrew Bible' Biblica 90.2 (2009), 153-175

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dan Wallace on the Media and Codex Sinaiticus

Dan Wallace has usefully collated a whole heap of incorrrect information about Codex Sinaiticus reported in the media. It is an informative read, informative in the sense that it shows just how ill-informed some journalists are and how they make half-truths become "gospel truth". When I was at the University of Queensland, there was a chap there doing his Ph.D on the reception of the Bible in the media which was most interesting. The things he found people saying in newspapers about the DSS and the Bible were positively mind bending.

HT: Steve Runge

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Help CrossWire index CSNTM

[I've received the following announcement from Troy Griffitts - PJW]

Are you interested in ancient manuscripts of the NT?

Do you have the skills it takes to recognize what Greek text is on a manuscript page?

Are you looking for a wonderful project where you can volunteer your time for a very worthwhile cause?

If YES to all of the above, please read on.

CSNTM is an organization with a goal to photograph and make freely available images of all important NT manuscripts. Their website is here:
http://csntm.org

CrossWire has been working on a basic manuscript indexing tool that will help volunteers help CSNTM index all of their images.

If you would like to help out and don't mind running a VERY early beta of our indexing tool, please follow these instructions:

1) Register an account on our community site at:
http://community.crosswire.org

2) After verifying your account and logging in, click on the [projects] tab, and then join the CSNTM MSS project, and then click the project link.

3) You will be presented with a status page showing for which documents CSNTM has images. Click the _View Info_ link to see the information CSNTM has for these images. Sometimes they will have a PDF document already containing Scriptural coverage of their images. You might want to find a document with a small number of images, to start. When you've found a document you are ready to index, click the _Claim Responsibility_ link.

4) A new document will be created in your personal library with this document. Fill in any meta information-- much of this can be found in the CSNTM information about this document--and click [Save].

5) Hit the [Load All Images At This URL] button and be patient while the images are slurped down and thumbnails are built.

6) Do some research on your document online, and using your Nestle-Aland GNT appendix. Click on the first thumbnail to popup the image viewer, zoom in, and using your research your keen Greek skills, determine and enter the Biblical coverage of this page, e.g., Rom.1.1-3.19. Be sure to hit the [Save] button for this image and move on to the next.

7) If you decide to NOT complete work on your document, please DELETE the document from your personal library, which will mark the document as available, once again, for another volunteer to claim.

PLEASE ENJOY YOURSELF AND SPREAD THE WORD TO WHOMEVER YOU FEEL MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN HELPING OUT.

The CSNTM guys are doing a wonderful work to collect these images and make them freely available. This indexing project will provide the means to manipulate these images usefully from our software and other projects, and will provide the world with the easily accessible evidence attesting to the reliability of the New Testament. I am really excited about this project and about collaborating together with you all and CSNTM on this work! May God make use of these efforts to draw people to Himself.

Serving together,
-Troy A. Griffitts

Ten Good or Bad Things with SBL International in Rome

Yesterday I arrived in Sweden after two weeks of conference hopping. During the first week in Rome I was able to report extensively from Rome. Here are some final thoughts in retrospect:

Five bad things about the meeting in no particular order:

1. The book exhibition closed already on Friday for some unknown reason (the meeting ended on Saturday).

2. Some of the rooms had very bad acoustics and there was construction work going on outside some of the rooms with a lot of noise (during some of the sessions).

3. This year SBL had not organized any AV equipment. However, for our sessions Bill Warren (hero) brought along his video projector.

4. The beer disappeared in 5 minutes at the reception.

5. When the publisher De Gruyter had invited to a reception at Biblioteca Casanatense (not our subsequent visit there to see MSS), they had apparently not anticipated that the Italian librarian would speak for half an hour about the library, in Italian (!) and no one dared to stop her.

Five good things about the meeting:

1. The whole setting, in the middle of the city of Rome! 200 meters from Fontana di Trevi.

2. A very nice reception on Tuesday evening with delicious Italian food and a fantastic cake.

3. The visit to Biblioteca Casanatense. Fabulous library, and always nice to see manuscripts.

4. Twelve papers in our sessions, most of which were excellent.

5. The very nice bar within the Gregorian university with nice folks, good service and very cheap prices. Outside the university everything cost at least the double.

On the whole, the week in Rome was fabulous!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Singular Readings in Versional Witnesses to the D-text: A Sampling from Codex Glazier

I've made available the tables depicting the singular readings from Acts 8:4-25 (my SBL Rome paper) available here .

Two New Book Reviews

We can thank J. K. Elliott for two new reviews in the Review of Biblical Literature. Elliott's first review is glowing:
Carl Cosaert, The Text of the Gospels in Clement of Alexandria (SBL, 2008)



His second review is also laudatory, although he notes that the monograph is better suited to a scholarly reader:
AnneMarie Luijendijk, Greetings in the Lord: Early Christians and the Oxyrhynchus Papyri (HUP, 2008)

Sinaiticus as a Commentary on John's Apocalyse?

Sinaiticus as a Commentary on John's Apocalyse?

That's the issue raised at the Sinaiticus conference by Juan Hernández Jr. (Bethel University, St. Paul). Juan has been educating us about the text of John's Revelation for 3 or 4 years now. In this paper, he writes, "[The Apocalypse in Codex Sinaiticus] exhibits dozens of differences at key points, reflecting the concerns...of its earliest copyists and readers. Taken as a whole, Sinaiticus' text of Revelation may constitute one of our earliest Christian commentaries on the book..., anticipating the later concerns of Oecumenius and Andrew of Caesarea." He qualifies this claim to an extent, but reinforces it by concluding "[W]e can discern a concerted effort to elucidate the Apocalypse's message by scores of changes throughout."

Juan states that Sinaiticus differs substantially from modern critical editions. It is difficult to evaluate this claim without seeing the differences relative to other manuscripts. Could we say the same about any witness to Revelation? Which mss come closer to NA27? Compared with NA27, Juan cites Sinaiticus as having 182 additions and 389 omissions, with 207 word losses. Juxtaposing this data with the same data of other mss would help ascertain how substantially different Sinaiticus is from NA27, and whether the scribe of Sinaiticus really did make a concerted effort to alter the text.

As part of his thesis that the scribe of Sinaiticus deliberately altered the text, Juan argues that there is a number of theologically motivated variants: Jesus is the beginning of the church, not the beginning of creation (Rev 3:14); Jesus does not vomit (avoidance of base bodily functions, 3:16); both God and the Lamb are ascribed the blessings, honor and "glory of the Almighty" (instead of "and the power," 5:13); Jesus summons Jezebel, rather than throwing her (2:22); Jesus himself opens the door rather than any man (3:20).

Someone remarked that it might be significant that the corrector fixed all these variants (except the last one, involving the mere change of an eta to an omega.). If the corrector corrected these before it left the scriptorium or some time while the Christological issues were raging, then perhaps the charge that scribes deliberately altered texts for theological reasons is somewhat mitigated.

One also must ask if theological motivation really is the cause of alteration; perhaps, as might be the case with 3:20, the change was accidental, rather than arising from "intelligent design" (P.J. Williams' terminology). Moreover, as Tommy Wasserman argued in his SBL Rome paper in regard to theologically motivated alteration, one should ask if a given scribe was consistent in altering texts before ascribing motivation; Tommy demonstrated that this was not the case with many of Bart Ehrman's passages, and one wonders the same for Sinaiticus in Revelation.

Less spectactorily, Juan gave a helpful list of orthographical variations, nonsense readings, grammatical and contextual alterations, dittographic and haplographic reeadings, singular readings, etc. There was also an interesting list of alterations, possibly from liturgical interference.

Lacking expertise in many of these issues, I withhold judgment, except to say that it is a rather spectacular claim that the text of Sinaiticus reflects a "concerted effort" in its transmission history to improve "the Apocalypse's message" by incorporating "scores of changes throughout."

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Codex Sinaiticus Highlights II

I too enjoyed the Codex Sinaiticus Conference. Just a few highlights (I am sure that Tommy has full notes on many papers!):
Rene Larson's argument about the quality of the parchment production and the infrastructure that must have stood behind it (ready supplies of large numbers of domestic animals, esp. cows; and the continuous production of a large quantity of top quality parchment).
Helen Shenton's comment that the pricking and ruling patterns bear no observable relationship to scribal changes (with more info in essays to be uploaded to the web site on 20th July).
Tim Brown's argument that Scribe B could have been B1 and B2 (more on this perhaps later).
Rachel Kevern's presentation (and the comment that photos of several unidentified fragments have been placed on-line at Quire 0, folio 1R).
Klaus Wachtel's count of 23,000 corrections throughout the manuscript (at an average of 30 corrections per page). He made some interesting comments as well about the importance of Ca (who corrected the whole codex systematically) and Cb2 (who undid some of Ca's corrections!).
Archbishop Damianos' plea/prayer that people around the world might find spiritual renewal in the Word of God.
Prof Nikolopoulos' comment that the New Finds in total weighed 1.5 tonnes.
The three papers - Boetrich, Fyssas and Frame - on the history of the discovery of the manuscript, its transfer to Russia and its purchase by/for the British Museum were all very interesting.
My paper, on Scribe D in the NT, was prepared in time and seemed to go down well (and I received some helpful comments for the published essay).

Codex Sinaiticus Highlights

Tommy Wasserman has committed to writing more exhaustively on the conference highlights. I offer here some preliminary highlights. Almost every paper at the conference was excellent. My highlights ignore the many excellent overviews (e.g. by Gamble, Trobisch, Tov, Clarkson, Shenton, Parker, Epp, et al.) as well as the parallel sessions which I did not attend. This felt like a historic event.


Father Justin announced that a new fragment from Judges may have been located in the monastic library. He also described plans for the construction of a new library at St Catherine’s which will include conservation facilities. These new facilities take two or more years to complete.


Tim Brown explained the potential discovery of a new scribal hand in Sinaiticus. If he is correct, hand B will now need to be split into B1 and B2. Perhaps, (per Brown) one scribe was training the other. The hands differ in how they render Alpha and Lambda, among other characters.


The Danish scholar, René Larsen, who works with IDAP, described how one can determine the animals used to create a particular sheet of parchment. I may blog more on this in weeks to come. Additionally, he also described the potential to localize the provenance based on spectrographic analysis; impurities in the water and the type of substances used in preparation may suggest specific regions. If I remember correctly, Sinaiticus is mostly cow with a few sheep thrown in.


If you have the opportunity to visit the display at the British Library, you will be fully mortified by the video documenting the reception of the manuscript in 1934. One can watch the “conservators” take the manuscript out of the tin and accost it in every way possible. I also enjoyed the letter from a seven year old who sent in his 2/6’s for the £100,000 subscription. Apparently, the public contributed substantially to the purchase and received the manuscript with much fanfare.


Klaus Wachtel will henceforth be known as “Dr. Byz” thanks to a statement by David Parker. His presentation on the corrections demonstrated that the primary corrector was not as Byzantine as some have suggested. Wachtel offered two savory tidbits in the Q&A. First, he challenged the misconception that א and B had similar texts; in comparison to the agreement of the Byzantine tradition, this is far from true. Second, he stated that the closest text to the corrector under question was, in fact, the main text of Sinaiticus.


Ulrich Schmid analyzed a fascinating variant from Psalm 14:1–3 / Rom 3:10–18, questioning the presumption that deviant Septuagint references in the New Testament should be assumed as interpolations based upon (e.g.) christological agenda. Schmid noted in particular that Sinaiticus had the longer version passage (=Rom 3:13–18) in the Psalms, but a (Christian!) corrector marked it for deletion.


If you have not yet seen the digital edition, do so here.

Secret Gospel of Mark and Codex Bezae

Josep Rius-Camps (JRC) presented a paper in the Synoptic section entitled, "The Secret Gospel of Mark Authenticated by Codex Bezae." In a paper purporting to authenticate the notion of a Secret Gospel of Mark (SGM), I was struck by JRC's assumption of his thesis.

JRC begins his paper by noting that the majority of scholars regard the SGM as Morton Smith's "sophisticated hoax" in which he claimed to discover it. He then accentuates this fact with appropriate subjunctive terminology in the third paragraph: "According to Smith's manuscript...." But within the same paragraph, he moves away from the subjunctive to the indicative inferences: "Thus, Clement does not question its [i.e., SGM] existence." JRC should have written instead, "Thus, according to Smith's letter, Clement does not question SGM's existence."

From this point forward, JRC looses track of the fact that "the majority of scholars" view the letter as written by Smith. The rest of the paper is concerned to demonstrate that the SGM text, as found in Smith's letter, corresponds closely with Codex Bezae.

I don't understand how this authenticates SGM. After all, Morton Smith, if he composed the letter as an elaborate hoax, could just as easily have written the letter with D-text readings as he could have with NA25, etc. Nevertheless, JRC argues, "A forger would not have had recourse to a variant reading witnessed only by the Codex Bezae to give credibility to his alleged Secret Gospel." Well, Morton Smith, if he were the forger, would have had access to Codex Bezae! There seems to be a major disconnect here.

JRC ends his paper with five conclusions: 1)Canonical Mark is incomplete, suffering from the excision of passages which might invite moral laxity (he cites the Pericope Adulterae as a comparable example); 2) the gospel author himself produced two or more redactions; 3) historically, Jesus' journey to confront Temple authorities in Jerusalem can be accurately reconstructed, untangling the confusing data preserved in canonical Mark; 4) The text of Codex Bezae for Mark is better than other New Testament (Alexandrian and Byzantine) texts; 5) Mark himself was aware of a "mystical dimension" of the historical Jesus.

Codex Sinaiticus: The Servers Crashed

Yesterday, I heard from Juan Garces, curator of manuscripts at the British Library, that they had had 20 million hits on the Codex Sinaiticus website, after all the images of Codex Sinaiticus were released two days ago, before the website cracked down under the pressure, in spite of the fact that they had cloned it so as to redirect traffic at five or six different places (don't ask me how it works). Now it is apparently up and running again.

And I wondered yesterday when I looked at our blogstatistics why on Monday we had almost three times as many visitors as usual (and Tuesday too). Was it Bill Warren's post on pizza lacunae? Then I just realized that people are now searching for "Codex Sinaiticus" like crazy out there. Juan Garces told me he had very busy days during the conference with interviews from CNN, Reuters, etc, etc. No wonder there is now a huge interest in this treasure (but for how long). Anyway, I would prefer interest in Codex Sinaiticus over Codex Gigas, i.e., the Devil's Bible (which was the search term on this blog that drove most traffic from search engines a while ago).

Now I have arrived safely in Birmingham and will soon attend the next conference. Today the VMR is officially launched (see Peter William's previous post) and there is a special conference to celebrate the Mingana collection, and tomorrow we will have a special day on one of the GNT MSS in the Mingana collection.

I will come back to reports from the Sinaiticus conference later. I can say that it was a very nice conference with ca 200 attendees and a lot of good papers that gave many new insights, treating the codex from all sorts of aspects. I did miss Dirk Jongkind who was one of the invited speakers, but caught the flu and had to stay in bed. I look forward to the publication of the papers and I hope to read Dirk's contribution there (although I of course have his excellent monograph).

These are busy days. Yesterday I got an e-mail from a journalist at Christianity Today wanting an interview on my blogpost, A Black Day for Theology in Sweden. I don't know how I will find time for this and it has to be done no later than Thursday.

13,000 new images online

Peter Robinson has announced the launch of 13,000 new images in the Virtual Manuscript Room. These are from the Mingana Collection in Birmingham. Mingana Islamic Arabic 1572 is one of the oldest known Qur'ans. Some of the images come with no further details so that you can play a good guessing game.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

NEWSFLASH FROM SINAITICUS CONFERENCE AT BRITISH LIBRARY: NEW LEAF FROM CODEX SINAITICUS

I am enjoying a terrific conference on Codex Sinaiticus at the British Library. There is little time to blog right now, but I thought I would mention the most interesting announcement. A scholar who is working on the bookbindings of St Catherine of Mt Sinai has found what is most probably a new leaf of Codex Sinaiticus within the binding of the book! This was announced today in Father Justin's fabulous presentations of the new finds of 1975 and further developments.

This evening I am heading for the next conference in Birmingham. Maybe I will have time to blog later in the week if there is some internet connection.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

A Pizza of a Puzzle


While we were enjoying a lunch together after the Saturday session at ISBL in Rome, a curious thing happened. One of those at lunch received what we dubbed a "Pizza Lacunae" as you can see in this picture.


The puzzle is to discern where the missing piece is at. We decided that it was not in Peter Head's office, although that was a quick suggestion. Last I heard, the missing piece was on its way to London, which is enough of a hint for now. Needless to say we had a great time of fellowship at ISBL! And special thanks go to Tommy for how he led the group and arranged for the viewing at the library.

In Christ,

Bill Warren

Saturday, July 04, 2009

SBL International Meeting in Rome: Day 5 / La grande finale

The SBL International Meeting is now over. On this last day we had at least three marvellous presentations, I will leave it to others to judge how mine was.

First Jan Krans presented on Codex Boreelianus F(09) from three aspects. First, the differences between Krans' fresh transcription from color images as compared to that of the IGNTP (transcribed from microfilm): Krans has found new corrections, and a new portion of text which had to be photographed in a special way. Moreover, it was clear that the recording of initial letters was not entirely satisfactory in the IGNTP transcription, especially not the letter Φ, which was rendered in a special way by the scribe when commencing a line (which has been taken as an initial letter, εκθεσις, by the IGNTP), whereas the proper initial Φ had a very long vertical stroke, such as you can see on the image here in the left column.

Secondly, Krans told us about how he indexed the codex in the Virtual Manuscript Room (VMR) as one of the first MSS to be indexed. See Krans' very exhaustive description on his on Amsterdam NT Weblog. This will become a fantastic resource, although he also hinted at some issues that will have to be resolved, e.g., how to index when there is a textual variant that introduces the page so the verse sequence is affected; or how to deal with matters of copyright with institutions that have put their manuscript images on the web, but perhaps require login, etc.

The third aspect was how his experience of setting up an exhibition of a manuscript, in this case Boreelianus in Unversiteitsmuseum Utrecht in the midst of the skeletons relating to natural history. He had had help from a designer and he showed us how the signs with informations were produced, and they were just marvellous, and very inviting, although somewhat sensational. Around one of those signs with facts about the codex they had put bottles of beer relating to the bible or Christianity, i.e., Devil's beer, Melchior's beer, etc (I don't remember the original Dutch). So Krans had to collect all these beerbottles, but he also got to drink them after the close of the exhibition. (I wonder whether the inclusion of "Devil's beer" in this post will increase the blog traffic, since the Devil's bible gave us "all time high" a while ago.)

Just before this presentation, we had great difficulties in getting Krans' computer presentation to connect with Bill Warren's videoprojector ("no input signal"). Just as a miracle, Bill's former student, Roland van der Bergh, University of Pretoria, who was present offered his computer and everything worked. We could see how relieved Krans was, and we all realized after the presentation what it would have been like without the images - somewhat like hearing the Wimbledon final on radio.

The next presenter was James Leonard from University of Cambridge (Tyndale House) who presented on "Singular Readings in Versional Witnesses in the D-text: A Sampling form Codex Glazier." By going through singular readings in a sample chapter (that he had read in his devotion), Acts 8, he demonstrated how it is necessary to first take into account the translation technique of the Coptic version. The hyphothesis of a Greek Vorlage that differed significantly from extant MSS is unnecessary. The translation hyphothesis is far more plausible.

Practically all of the eight singular readings were explicable as resulting from specific linguistic conditions in the target language. (Only one reading was difficult to explain in this way.) In fact, Leonard even drew our attention to several English versions that had practically the same expanations due not to the fact that they were translated from a Vorlage close to Glazier, but that it was a natural rendering in English. There was a most interesting discussion afterwards about weighing readings, and the significance and future of the notion of text-types. More about that in the up-coming SBL in New Orleans which will devote a special session on text-types.

The third paper after a much needed coffee break was my own on Orthodox Corruption. Below is the abstract. I might post what was read when I have edited my notes (a lot scribbled by hand):
"'Misquoting Manuscripts': The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture Revisited"
In his influential monograph, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, Bart Ehrman has proposed that the New Testament text was affected early on by scribes, "the orthodox corruptors of scripture," who, according to their theological persuasion, made conscious changes in the documents they reproduced, making them say what they already were thought to mean.

This paper demonstrates how Ehrman's interpretation of the textual evidence is seriously defective. Whenever there is a textual variation in a passage that somehow relates to Christology, one or more readings are too easily identifed as examples of "orthodox corruption," when there are often other equally, or even more viable reasons for corruption. The aim of the paper is not to prove that the textual tradition of the New Testament is unaffected by "orthodox corruption," although this factor seems to play a minor role, but to demonstrate that a sound text-critical method demands a sensitivity to the particular context and nature of the variation in the individual passage - every problem must be regarded as possibly unique. A balanced judgment will not seldom require knowledge of the pecularities of individual manuscripts and their scribe(s), the citation habits of church fathers, and a familiarity with the character of a particular version and its limitations in representing the Vorlage from which it was translated.

As I said, I will leave the evaluation to others, but it felt good to speak from a subjective standpoint. One interesting issue that came up in the time for questions, relating to what Ehrman really claims and what he does not claim, which I do not have time or energy to write about now, but which I will devote some more time to explain in the future. (And thanks to Rick Bennett for this photo of me.)

I must now tell of two strange coincidences that happened today. The first has to do with my paper. In the afternoon I went out in Rome, and went into several churches. In the last church I bumped into James Kelhoffer who had bumped into two other people, Mark Given and his wife, whom I had not met before. When I introduced myself and what was my area he suddenly remembered that he was the one who had sent the abstract of my paper to his Doktorvater, Bart Ehrman.

The other even stranger coincidence was when we went out for lunch. We chatted about all sorts of things and we came to talk about thefts of MSS, and, conversely, when scholars tried to save artefacts or MSS from being destroyed or otherwise disappearing from the scholarly horizon. I began to talk about Israel, and suddenly I heard from the other table that on guy there (who was apparently also an SBL participant) simultaneously said Israel. Funny I though. Then I mentioned the example of Hanan Eshel. What happens? Someone at the other table says "Hanan Eshel." I can assure you that they did not hear what we were talking about.

Anyway, back to the last session and the fourth and final presenter, Timothy Sailors who gave a good paper but probably with the longest title I have ever heard in modern time:
"The 'New' Work of Early Christian Literature Preserved in P. Berolinensis 22220, the 'Strasbourg Coptic' and after the Coptic 'Stauros-Text': Observations on the Initial Proposals and Suggestions for Further Research"

In sum, Sailors said that when it comes to this text "we need to cast our net more widely than has been done." I think you can understand that I did not listen very carefully to this paper just after I had delivered my own, and was still thinking about the issues that came up.

In the afternoon I was able to pick up presents for the family (although I can say nothing here since my wife reads this blog occasionally, especially when I am conference blogging). I also had time for a Café Latte and an Italian newspaper at Piazza del popolo, before I headed home to the Swedish Institute here in Rome. Early in the morning 4.30AM comes a cab (hopefully) to pick me up and take me to the airport, and I am off to London and the next conference on Codex Sinaiticus.

I will come back with some final remarks on a few good and a few bad things about the SBL Int. Meeting in retrospect, although I can say already now that I enjoyed most of the papers as well as the company! Finally, on Antonio Lombatti's blog you can see what the Pontificial Biblical Institute, where the meeting was held, looks like and read his thoughts (if you read Italian).

Friday, July 03, 2009

SBL International Meeting in Rome: Day 4

Today we had some good papers again, especially that of Rick Bennett who also had prepared a nice slideshow. He presented results of extensive investigations of the use of nomina sacra in early papyri and his nice tables of data supplanted that of O' Callaghan. His presentation also aptly demonstrated how the use of computer software (Accordance) offers a strong tool to gather and analyse this data. Right now Rick and Accordance are working on a new and updated version of the digitial Comfort & Barrett volume The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts which includes corrections and more newly discovered MSS. This will hopefully be released before the SBL in New Orleans (I think he said...).

Matteo Grosso from University of Turin presented a thoughtful paper on Col 3:11 where he preferred the variant with the insertion of the words “male and female." I had two major problems with that: (a) the variant has weak attestation, only "Western" witnesses; (2) the reading may represent an influence from Gal 3:28, and the "Western" text in particular is known to be harmonistic. (However, Grosso does have a point that the sequence is different in Col 3:11.) Moreover, I advised him to look at some other variants in the immediate context which may be related in broader terms, especially the variant in v. 14 where basically the same Western witnesses read συνδεσμος της ενοτητα for συνδεσμος της τελειοτητος.

Besides our own papers in the Working with Biblical Manuscript session I attended only three other papers, two of which were on Christian art. It was a pity that the scholar who read a paper on the depiction of Paul in Christian art as it relates to the description of him in the Acts of Paul and Thecla 3 did not refer to the latest finding in the catacombs (Jim Snapp mentioned this in a comment yesterday) of what is the earliest known depiction of Paul and which actually differs from the description in the Acts of Paul and Thecla since he is semibald and without meeting eyebrowses. This came up only in the time for questions. Apart from those I attended on on Hebrews and whether the heavenly sanctuary was understood by the author as real or as a metaphor. He concluded that the author must have taken it as real. Jesus as actually sitting on the fathers right hand is a starting point, although the author at the same time has used some platonic/philosophical language to elaborate on some related ideas. I agreed with most of what he said.

The highlight of the day was the visit to Biblioteca Casanatense (see previous post). The librarian Simona Peruggia welcomed us (we were nine in the group), and first led us in to the marvellous library which all except me had not seen before (I was there two days ago). She told us (in English) about the library and the collection.

I will just share a few details, in the front you can see the statue of Cardinal Casanatense who was the man behind the library (see previous post). And in this front of the library is the heart, where the most precious books are kept, namely the bibles. Far back in the hall, in the old entrance are secular literature (history, geography), and then comes theology, canonical law, etc all the way to biblical science and, finally, the bibles themselves in the centre at the front. Another funny detail was the leather curtains that protected books from dust, and made them look even so that their differeing hight would not distract the visitors (sic). Apart from being sorted according to subject the books were also sorted according to their hight, the smaller volumes at the top, the largest at the bottom.

After the presentation in the library we were led to the manuscript room where the four Greek New Testament MSS were brought out. The most interesting one was MS 165 (GA 395) a parchment palimpsest (the other three were written on paper).

We attempted to identify the underwriting. Simona brought us a UV-lamp. (Below Rick Bennett and Dave Nielsen have a go.)

We cannot say at this point which text it is, but we gathered enough text to be able to exclude that it is the New Testament. However, I observed one nomen sacrum which shows it is a Christian text (or several texts). I will get back if I am able to identify where the text comes from.
As every day I went out with good friends to eat and drink! Now I have walked so much that I have soar feet. In London next week I will probably sit still nearby Codex Sinaiticus as much as I can.

Thanks to Rick Bennett who sent me these images on e-mail so I could include them in my report. Now it is bedtime, and tomorrow I will deliver my own paper.

Martin Hengel 1926-2009

I have just been informed that the great New Testament scholar Martin Hengel has died. Hengel was a towering figure in New Testament studies and had an awesome and authoritative grasp on the primary sources. He will be greatly missed. I'm sure more details will become available shortly.

This has already been reported on Rightly Dividing and Ecce Homo.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

SBL International Meeting in Rome: Day 3

No one could guess where I was on the nice photo on the SBL site yesterday (highlighting the big cake for Kent Richards). I was in the left corner in a yellow shirt. Incidentally, a new photo is on the SBL-website, but I am on this as well. This time it will be much easier to see me, so I hope someone will have a guess (you can see that I am thinking hard). Mark Goodacre, by the way, who is also reporting from the SBL, is clearly the most relaxed person in the panel as you can see - this photo was taken yesterday, after he had delivered his paper on the "lower regions."

Anyway, today the Working with Biblical Manuscript unit had its first session. I came in a bit late to be the presider (I guess I am supposed to be there first), but was able to welcome everyone (perhaps 10-20 people). First, our co-blogger Martin Heide from the University of Marburg delivered a very interesting paper on "The Semitic Background of Some Variants in the Greek New Testament." He demonstrated how variation relating to some personal names could be explained by the fact that their meaning arose in a Semitic setting and was not sufficiently understood by the later Byzantine scribes. For example the name Ασα in the Matthean genealogy attested by most MSS is a shortform of Ασαφ that found its way into the LXX-tradition, i.e., Ασαφ is not a mix-up with the psalmwriter or anything, but it is the older form of the name. Heide presented compelling evidence through various examples and analogies (cf. Ιωση for Ιωσηφ, etc.). Several other examples related to the LXX-tradition.

The next paper was on an unusual but highly interesting subject, Keith Small from London School of Theology delivered a paper titled "A Quranic Window onto New Testament Textual History" and demonstrated how the Qur’an, in relative contrast to the NT manuscript tradition, underwent a formal process of textual standardisation which started in its first century and continued to its completion within four centuries resulting in one uniform standard text. The Qur’an MS tradition, Small stated, shows strong evidence of a centralized process of editing of the text done for a combination of political, dogmatic, and liturgical reasons.


The third paper by Dave Nielsen, now Duke, "The Reception of Sense-Units in Versions of the Greek New Testament", explored the sense-units - a small gap in the scriptio continua - observable already in the earliest NT MSS, which demarcates sentences, verses and other divisions in the text. In John 2, Nielsen explained, P66 and P75 had by and large the same textual segmentations. These are what you could call "narrative focused", they demarcate the narrative, whereas in an OL MS like Codex Vercellensis there are signficantly more segmentations demarcating e.g., words and deeds of Jesus. Nielsen could not see any direct dependence in the Latin and Syriac versions he had studied on the early Greek papyri. It seems the transmission of this phenomena was characterized by greater freedom.

Co-blogger Bill Warren from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, who was kind to bring along both computer and videoprojector for anyone to use during our sessions (the SBL did not provide AV this meeting), presented his paper "When is a Textual Variant an Error?: Case Studies for Determining Scribal Errors" with several examples of how certain features in individual MSS can be very important to record and note. For example the segmentation of the text in 1 Cor 14:33-34 and its surrounding text in various MSS can perhaps help us to better understand why vv. 33-34 have been omitted or transposed in some MSS, or certain features like the ligature τγ which stands for ττ which has actually been misunderstood even by a Greek scribe so that he accidently divided a word starting a new line (and word) with the gamma. In the time for comments I suggested that one important reason to record this is when these kind of mistakes become an intermediate stage for the creation of another reading that may make good sense. I am of the opinion that as many details as is possible should be recorded in collations, but not everything can be represented in an apparatus for pragmatic reasons - it will become to heavy. There is always a possibility to have some appendix.

The last paper was Molly Zahn, University of Kansas, speaking on "The Samaritan Pentateuch and its Qumranic Forebears in Light of the 4QReworked Pentateuch Texts." The SP has often been characterized as harmonistic. However, that is not an accurate description. The rewritings, not seldom additions, are often attempts to create coherency. If a command is given, but a fulfilment is then lacking, the editor often takes already existing material from elsewhere in the Pentateuch and inserts it. Or conversely, when a fulfilment is there, then a previous command is also added. However, Zahn did provide a few examples of completely new material being added. This was a very good paper, by a scholar who had researched her texts very well. Indeed, that was confirmed when Emanuel Tov, who was present, said "I have learnt a lot from this paper." (Although he added that he had to look some stuff up for himself.) Molly has actually lived in Sweden, she told me, and she talks Swedish very well. Her parents-in-law live in Västerås, a town very near Örebro, so I hope to be able to invite her to my seminary in the future, when she is here in Sweden.

After those presentations I had a lunch with Dave Nielsen, Keith Small and Jan Krans. No one wanted to follow with me on a tour to the catacombs, so I went there myself and I did not have to regret it! I did not go on an organized (and expensive) tour, which stopped at some churches first. No, I jumped on a bus (the bus- and metrotickets which are combined cost 1 EUR here, and is valid for 75 minutes, which is unbelievably cheap, whereas a pizza costs 11 EUR - the one I ate tonight at least). Anyway, after some travelling I went off the bus and stepped on the ancient stones ofVia Appia (Antica). I wish I could post a photo but Wikipedia will have to do.

Then I arrived, after a few hundred meters of walking, with a diet Coke in my hand, to the catacombs of San Sebastiano. I will leave it for you to read about on the website but all I can say was that it was a fantastic experience, and, literally cool, which was much needed in this warmth. The guided tour cost 6 EUR and it was a learned woman from India who showed us around for half an hour. It was prohibited to take photos within the actual catacombs. I am glad I did not get lost, these particular were 12 kilometers (with 100.000 graves)! WOW.

What happened more? I went out to a fantastic dinner with Jan Krans, Keith Small and Rick Bennett, and had a Pizza Quattro Stagioni, a beer and gelato for desert. We chated for hours about this and that and manuscripts. Speaking of manuscripts, earlier in the day I sent an e-mail to the librarian at the Biblioteca Casanatense where I was yesterday at the de Gruyter reception (see previous report), and asked if I could take a group with me to see their GNT MSS tomorrow. Yes, they replied. Tomorrow I hope we will be able to look at MSS 165 (GA 395), 715 (GA 853), 1298 (GA 1987), and 1295 (GA 1840). As Ulrich Schmid pointed out in the comment section to my earlier report, MS 165 will be most interesting since it is a palimpsest. I hope to be able to report more on this tomorrow if I have the time and energy. On Saturday I will have to deliver my own paper, and that requires some more preparation, although today I got the handout done and copied.

Entering text-critical signs

Erwin Ochsenmeier, with help from Luc Herren, has informed us how to enter text-critical signs in texts here.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A Very Naughty Eight Year Old

I am currently working through 1 Esdras in Codex Vaticanus (more on the text of 1 Esdras some other time). One amusing textual variant caught my eye:

In 1 Esdr. 1.41 reads in 'B': "and his son Ioakeim [= Joachin in English versions] reigned in his place; for when he was appointed king he was eight years old (eton ekto)". Yet 'A' puts his age at "eighteen years old" (eton deka ekto). This is all the more interesting because the next verse in 1 Esdr. 1.42 states: " Now he reigned for three months and ten days in Jerusalem; and he did what was evil before the Lord."

I know that A is obviously correct with its reading of "eighteen," but an eight year old ruling a kingdom and doing evil before the Lord does have a certain ring of plausibility to it if you've ever been at an eight year old's birthday party with his or her friends.

SBL International Meeting in Rome: Day 1-2

This is my second report from SBL in Rome. I will offer only scattered and personal impressions at this point since I have not bothered to take any extensive notes on my computer. The first day there was the opening session highlighting the centenary of the Pontificial Biblical Institute that hosts this year's conference. Maurice Gilbert read his paper.

Unfortunately, the hall was too small so some people like myself had to sit in the stairs. Moreover, the sound was not very good, and, to be frank, the paper contained too many dates and persons to keep up the interest. Things got better as time went on. The last two respondents had more interesting reflections, one of them had been a student there, and the other reflected on the significance of the PBI for Catholic theology. It is clear that the PBI has meant tremendously much for the Catholic Church, not least during the era of the 2nd Vatican Council, when the Church began to turn away from its previous anti-modernist perspective.

After the opening session there was a great reception with cake. You find a big picture of this event on the SBL site. The quiz for today is to find me on that picture (probably impossible unless I give you a clue: I had a yellow shirt).

On the SBL-site webmaster Sharon Johnson, by the way, has linked to this blog and Mark Goodacre's who is also here reporting from the conference. Mark delivered a paper today on testicles in 1 Cor 11:15. Five years ago Troy Martin suggested in an article in JBL 123/1 (2004):75-84 that περιβολαιον in 1 Cor 11:15 means "testicle." Mark, however, argues that the lexical base for Martin's case is not strong enough to justify this interpretation. Did I wet your appetite? Go to Mark's blog where you find abstract and handout here. Make sure to also follow his travel diary!.

Today (the second day) I stayed home in the morning preparing my own handout for Saturday. I arrived at the PBI at about 10 AM and went to listen to Julio Trebolle in a session on textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible. Unfortunately it was a very bad room with a lot of noise from on-going construction, so I went after his presentation. Then I came to the Pauline section and this room was perfect. Unfortunately I had just missed Mark's paper on the testicles, but three of the subsequent papers on various other topics related to 1 Corinthians were very interesting:

"Kuriakon Deipnon: When Utopia Becomes Real" by Soham Al-Suadi, University of Basel; "The Story of the Lord's Supper in Corinth: A Narrative-critical Reading of 1 Corinthians 11:17-34" by Marilou S. Ibita, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven; "No Cursing in the Church: Anathema in the Corinthian Congregation (1 Corinthians 12:3) and the Letters of Paul" by Kenneth L. Waters, Azusa Pacific University. I was convinced by the two former, but the latter was completely unconvincing, i.e., that αναθεμα in 1 Cor 12:3 means “a placating sacrifice offered to a god or gods" and not "a curse." Afterwards I pointed out to Waters that it is clearly an oral performance standing in stark contrast to the confessional formula, "Jesus is Lord" in the context. (Cf. also Gal 1:8). I also pointed out that he should at least mention, and preferably discuss, the textual variation; the Western and Byzantine text has Ιησουν αναθεμα.

In the afternoon I went to a paper by Daniel Johansson who is actually from my hometown but is now a PhD student under Larry Hurtado in Edinburgh (I met him there recently when I was lecturing). Daniel's paper, "The Application of the Title 'God' to the Lamb in the Book of Revelation" was the best I heard today. He made a persuasive argument that the title “God” is used for Christ in Revelation, both implicitly and explicitly. The crucial evidence for his thesis is Rev 7:10. In contrast to the traditional understanding of this verse he argued that it should be translated: “Salvation is to our God, the One sitting on the throne and the Lamb,” that is, the entire phrase “the One sitting on the throne and the Lamb” is in apposition to “God.”

Then I also picked up a few books at the book exhibit. The one I am most pleased with is Carlo M. Martini's dissertation on P75 and B from 1966 which was published by the PBI. This book from 1966 was unused and uncut and I bought it very cheaply. Later in the evening Walter de Gruyter (the publisher) hosted a reception at the Biblioteca Casanatense celebrating the publication of the two first volumes of The Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception (EBR). As I went up the stairs I saw a poster and realized that this important library holding many old MSS had just had an exhibition on the topic from the roll to book, which ended a few days ago (sob).

Anyway, the main hall of the library was completely breathtaking. The library opened in 1701 and the collection of Cardinal Casanate (1620-1700) of 25.000 volumes became the first nucleus of the library. Today I think the library has some 600.000 volumes, and many old MSS. I don't have the Kurzgefasste Liste with me but I suspect there are also GNT MSS here (I know that there used to be in any case). The whole event this evening in fact started with a librarian giving an introduction to the library, but in Italian! I think maybe a handful of people (out of hundreds) could actually understand what she was saying, but she seemed unaware and the organizers (de Gruyter) did nothing to intervene and ask if someone could translate. She spoke for 30 minutes, and it was not even easy to hear what she was saying in the large room although I understand a lot of Italian.

In any case, I appreciated Stephen Pisano's response most. He had been asked to give a review from outside. The other panelists were editors. De Gruyter had also produced an offprint with sample articles and to my surprise I found not only articles on the reception of the Bible but also of biographical nature, other with archaeological focus, yet other common in Biblical encyclopedias in general. For example, an article on Kurt Aland was there, written by Eduard Lohse. However, the one in BBKL on-line is far more superior. From my perspective it was just interesting to read what Lohse had to say about Aland.

On the other hand, the articles in the encyclopedia that are really focused on the reception of the Bible are all the more useful. For example, the article on Abraham, cols. 16-72 divided into subsections like Hebrew Bible/OT, NT, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Ecumenical Discussion, Other Religions and Current Religious Movements, Literature, Visual Arts, Music, Film, is quite impressive, written by a number of different experts in respective fields. So, the first impression of this work is mixed. On the one hand there is indiosyncracy and embarrassing lacunae (for example the Genesis Apocryphon is not mentioned in the article on Adam, as Pisano pointed out). On the other hand, there are some very thorough and important articles that will have to be consulted in the future.

Finally, I am sorry to announce that two papers in the Working with Biblical Manuscript session on Friday have been cancelled, those by John Flanagan and our own Peter Head. On the other hand, one additional paper has been inserted in one of our sessions, so we still have twelve. Hopefully there will be no more cancellations, but I am a bit worried since I have not yet seen some of the presenters, Heide, Leonard, Small...

Now it is time to take a shower before bedtime ... I don't have time to tell about my visit to St Peter yesterday, but it was very nice to go there again.