Sunday, March 31, 2013

Birmingham Colloquium Report: The Leicester Codex (GA 69)

The 5th of March, 2013, the participants of the Eighth Birmingham Colloquium on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament visited the Leicester Record Office in order to take a look at the famous Leicester Codex, minuscule 69.
David Parker lecturing on the Leicester Codex

The manuscript is very interesting. As a member of family 13 (the so-called Ferrar group, or φ), it links Britain to Southern Italy in mysterious ways. The manuscript was studied by Erasmus during his stay in Cambridge (1510-1515), in the years that Erasmus’ New Testament project still consisted of hardly more than critically collating and annotating the text of the Latin Vulgate with whatever Greek sources he could find. Some of the particular readings of min. 69 subsequently found their way into Erasmus’ Annotationes.

During our visit, we were drawn into yet another interesting aspect of the manuscript’s history, namely a set of marginal notes to the word Ἀντιπᾶς in Revelation 2:13 (f. 203r).
First, an unknown annotator, in the decades before 1844, wrote the following (in ink!):
Originally written Αντειπας and the erasure and alteration of τιπ in blacker ink is obvious.
Tregelles, who studied the manuscript while preparing his own edition of the text of Revelation (published in 1844), reacted sharply:
There is no erasure or alteration. S.P. Tregelles.
One easily senses some irritation in the double underlining of “no”. In any case, O. T. Dobbin (did we already know that he studied this manuscript?) found the case important enough to add his own two cents:
Dr. Tregelles is certainly correct – O. T. Dobbin.
Scholarship in the margins?

After careful study of the passage, we (Tommy Wasserman and Jan Krans) could not but fully agree with Tregelles’ and Dobbin’s judgment. In fact, it is amazing to see with what ease people then and now cover the margins of manuscripts with such trifles. This post is published on both the Amsterdam New Testament Weblog and Evangelical Textual Criticism.

Monday, March 25, 2013

New Review of The Early Text of the New Testament (Kruger & Hill)

Over at his new website, Brice Jones has published a review of The Early Text of the New Testament (eds. Kruger & Hill).

I note with satisfaction that this reviewer "found the approach and format of Wasserman’s essay to be the most clear of all the essays." However, the most interesting aspect of the review is that Jones identifies a theological agenda behind two of the articles (Charlesworth and Kruger): "In sum, it seems apparent that there is a theological agenda behind both Kruger's and Charlesworth's articles. The conservative and apologetic undertones in their arguments are clear."

Kruger's co-editor C. E. Hill also gets his share in the summary:

Overall, this book is an important addition to our field and thus is to be recommended to anyone interested in the text of the New Testament, in spite of the apparent apologetic predispositions on the part of the editors. 

Go ahead and read the whole review here and welcome to comment!

Update: I just went through the typos that Brice Jones identified in my essay, and this makes me so disappointed with Oxford University Press – they are responsible for all the typos.

In any case, the most embarrasing thing is that OUP has managed to duplicate my chart for P77 and insert it under P70 (including a typo).

So, here is the correct chart for P70 (p. 97) which any owner of the book can print out and insert.

Textual analysis

Var.-units in NA27
Extra var.-units
Ratio of deviation
Type of deviation
Singular readings
2:13–16; 2:22–3:1; 11:26–27; 12:4–5; 24:3–6, 12–15
7/10 (70%)

1 x O
6 x SUB
3 x SUB

At some point someone made a mistake. Unfortunately, I did not read the proofs as I should have! (why don't I learn the lesson).

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bits and Pieces


Brice Jones has a new web-site with a blog and papyrological resources. On his blog he reviews the recent book The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Quaestionis (although he mostly comments on only two chapters); he also discusses P. Oxy. 1151 and the text of the NT (it cites John 1.1 and 3).

Steve Caruso posts a picture of an interesting transcription

James McGrath offers a helpful visual showing how useful the KJV is compared with the original autographs (he seems to think it is silly, but I agree with every point).

Josh Mann has an interesting discussion about pagination (which links to my long awaited paper on 'Turning the Page and its impact on the NT textual tradition').

Michael Kruger begins a review/interaction (possibly involving critique) with the very interesting A New New Testament (sic)

Michael Patton posts a list of the top selling Bibles in America in 2012.

Ryan Wettlaufer's 2010 PhD has been published as No Longer Written: The Use of Conjectural Emendation in the Restoration of the Text of the New Testament, the Epistle of James as a Case Study

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Birmingham Postgrad call for papers


Drew Longacre has a call for papers for the 3rd University of Birmingham Biblical Studies Postgraduate Day Conference Call for Papers on his blog. Given the location (Birmingham, UK, not Alabama) and the theme "Unity and Diversity in Text and Tradition", papers on TC will be very appropriate.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

CSNTM: New Manuscripts On-line

News from the Centre for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (Robert D. Marcello):
In November of 2011 CSNTM traveled to the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (BML) in Florence Italy. This is a phenomenal library founded by the Medici family. Here, the old library, which was designed by none other than Michelangelo himself, can be seen in all of its glory. It now holds over 2500 papyri, 11,000 manuscripts, and 128,000 printed texts. Because of this trip, CSNTM is proud to announce the addition of new images of 28 manuscripts from the BML. This excellent collection contains papyri, majuscules, minuscules, and lectionaries. Among the many treasures we digitized was an eleventh-century lectionary, written entirely in gold letters (GA Lect 117). Another manuscript had Paul’s epistles after the book of Revelation—a very rare phenomenon GA 620). And we photographed a complete Greek New Testament manuscript—one of only sixty known to exist (GA 367). We thank the library and their staff for their graciousness and willingness to digitally preserve these manuscripts. The following manuscripts may now be found HERE.
P35, P36, P48, P89, P95, 0171, 0172, 0173, 0175, 0176, 0207, 198, 199, 200, 362, 365, 366, 367, 619, 620, 1979, L112, L117, L118, L291, L510, L604, L2210.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Who did what?

Sometimes it is a pain to get your head around what a manuscript actually reads, especially when there are corrections involved. The image below is from the Codex Ephraemi rescriptus 'C', though it is only 'rescriptus' here in Acts 23:6 because of the erasure.

The question is on νεκρων [εγω] κρινομαι.

A clear erasure is visible under the rewritten letters εγω κριν, and possibly also under the following ο. The next two letters -με (itacism for -μαι) seem to me written on virgin material.

1) The erased area is long enough to contain κρινομαι, but we don't know this for sure.
2) Initially I thought that this must have been a correction in scribendo, but this is not clear at all - the space after the original reading is likely to have been blank anyway, leaving room for the corrector to rewrite as εγω κρινομαι.
3) The letters -με may not have been written by the original scribe. I do not know the hands in this manuscript well enough, but there seems to me enough difference to assume this. (Knowing the spelling patterns of the scribe and correctors would help).
4) That the original scribe wrote κρινομαι instead of εγω κρινομαι, is a likely guess (since there are few alternatives), but this is not visible enough to make this a Cvid reading.
5) NA27 had Ephaemi supporting εγω κρινομαι as follows C(*), while NA28 has C2. The latter does not give us an idea what C* wrote, and this is probably correct. How to represent this in a full critical apparatus, is a tricky problem, I don't think you can avoid putting in a note that the erased area matches the length needed for just κρινομαι. And that might help Vaticanus 'B' (the only Greek witness that justifies the square brackets in the NA texts) getting out of its isolation at this point - Ephraemi might have read simply κρινομαι, with Vaticanus.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Shape-Shifting Jesus

M 610
Owen Jarus of Live Science begins his article, "A newly deciphered Egyptian text, dating back almost 1,200 years, tells part of the crucifixion story of Jesus with apocryphal plot twists, some of which have never been seen before." (full article)  Surveying the newly published book by Roelof van den Broek (Utrecht), the journalist mentions references in the sermons of Pseudo-Cyril in which shape-shifting abilities are attributed to Jesus and Pilate has Jesus over for a pre-crucifixion dinner.

In my opinion, the article is well-written with clear caveats from van den Broek concerning the historical value of the stories.  One significant fact, however, is ignored.  These texts have been known since 1922, when Henry Hyvernat published the facsimile editions of the Archangel Michael Coptic codices.  Likewise, I am not sure that the book is actually publishing one Pierpont Morgan Coptic manuscript (i.e. M 610), but rather various manuscripts from the Archangel Michael find. (Cf. prior post on the Hamuli find here.)

I should mention that some of the wild-eyed scholars with the International Greek New Testament Project are publishing gospel fragments which suggest that Jesus miraculously changed water into wine, healed the blind, walked on water and resurrected someone from the dead. ; )

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

PapPal: New Resource for Ancient Paleography

In a comment to the previous post on a reassessment of the date of the early NT papyri, Christian Askeland mentioned a new resource for the study of ancient paleography, PapPal, which certainly deserves to be mentioned in a main post. 

Here is the announcement by one of the developers, Rodney Ast of the Unveristy of Heidelberg: 

We are pleased to announce the launch of PapPal (, an online resource for the study of ancient paleography.  The site currently gathers thumbnail images of over 2500 dated Greek documentary papyri from collections around the world, which can be displayed either in gallery or slideshow mode.  Links direct users to full images and further information at the host sites and to metadata and transcriptions at   At the moment, there are only a handful of ostraka included.  In the coming months we will be adding more of them, as well as dated Latin documents.   I hope that you will take some time to explore the site and send me your comments.
Work on this project has been made possible by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft in the context of the University of Heidelberg's Cultural Research Center 933.  Material Text Cultures: Materiality and the Presence of Writing in Non-Typographic Societies, with further support from the Institute for Papyrology. 
Kind regards,
Rodney Ast

Monday, March 11, 2013

“Theological Palaeography”? Reassessment of the Dating of NT Papyri

A very controversial issue is the date of the early papyri of the NT. On his blog, Larry Hurtado summarizes a very important recent article on the subject of “theological palaeography”:

Pasquale Orsini & Willy Clarysse, “Early New Testament Manuscripts and Their Dates: A Critique of Theological Palaeography,” Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses 88 (2012): 443-74.
Abstract :The date of the earliest New Testament papyri is nearly always based on palaeographical criteria. A consensus among papyrologists, palaeographers and New Testament scholars is presented in the edition of Nestle-Aland, 1994. In the last twenty years several New Testament scholars (Thiede, Comfort-Barrett, 1999, 2001 and Jaroš, 2006) have argued for an earlier date of most of these texts. The present article analyzes the date of the earliest New Testament papyri on the basis of comparative palaeography and a clear distinction between different types of literary scripts. There are no first-century New Testament papyri and only very few papyri can be attributed to the (second half of the) second century. It is only in the third and fourth centuries that New Testament manuscripts become more common, but here too the dates proposed by Comfort-Barrett, 1999, 2001, and Jaroš, 2006 are often too early.
I have compiled a small table demonstrating that the critique for a general tendency to date early in “theological palaeography” is not applicable to the Nestle-Aland edition. In spite of some significant differences, we see that seven papyri or uncials are still dated potentially to the second century (P30, P52, P4+64+67, P90, P104, 0171, 0212) . However, now three papyri in the second-century range in NA, are dated to the third century by Orsini and Claryssee (P77, P98 and P103), one uncial in the second-century date in NA is assigned to the fourth century (0189). Conversely, Orsini and Claryssee assign two papyri and two uncials in the second-century range (P30, P4+64+67, 0171, and 0212) which NA has dated later. Perhaps the most significant difference here is 0171 which Orsini and Claryssee think is 125 years earlier!

GA no. P30 P52 P4+64+67 P77 P90 P98 P103 P104 0171 0189 0212
N-A date 200–300 100–150 200–250 150–250 100–200 100–200 (?) 150–250 100–200 300–350 150–250 200–300
O-C date 175–225 125–175 175–200 250–300 150–200 200–250 200–300 100–200 175–225 300–400 175–225

Friday, March 08, 2013

Resources for Patristic Citations in New Testament Textual Criticism

Some seven years ago, Peter Head compiled a useful blogpost with advice on how to check patristic citations (link in the right margin).

However, in this post I would like to mention two additional resources:

1. International Greek New Testament Project: Bibliography on work on the NT text of Greek authors

Recently, IGNTP committee members Rod Mullen and Mike Holmes, both involved in the SBL series The New Testament in the Greek Fathers, took the initiative to compile a bibliography of work on the New Testament text of Greek authors.

The list "keeps track of recent work on establishing the biblical text in patristic writers. It includes the volumes published in the SBL New Testament in the Greek Fathers series, as well as a list of work in progress."

2. Biblindex

The Biblindex = Index of Biblical Quotations and Allusions in Early Christian Literature is maintained by Laurence Mellerin et al. of the Institut des Sources Chrétiennes. It includes all the 270.000 references in the published Biblia Patristica volumes, and an additional ca. 130.000 references on Athanasius of Alexandria, John Chrysostom, Theodoret of Cyrus, Procopius of Gaza, Jerome and more. Access to data is free, after registration. This is a real treasure trove.  

I will update Peter's original blogpost with this information.