Thursday, August 25, 2016

New Series: Texts and Versions of the Hebrew Bible

Jim West notes a new series on the texts and versions of the Old Testament edited by Jim Aitken:

Announcing a new sub-series of LHBOTS: Texts and Versions of the Hebrew Bible

Texts and Versions of the Hebrew Bible will publish high level studies on the Hebrew text and textual history of the Bible and on the ancient translations. It provides an avenue for discussions focused specifically on the text, language and textual history of the Hebrew Bible and it manuscript traditions. In addition, with the growth in interest in the ancient translations both as evidence of the text of the Bible and as versions of inherent interest in themselves, the series encourages studies of these ancient witnesses, including their textual history, translation technique, exegetical methods and setting.

Series Editor: Dr James K. Aitken, University of Cambridge, UK
publisher: Dominic Mattos

Monday, August 22, 2016

Upcoming Conference on Manuscript Forgeries in Kristiansand


On 14-16 September I will participate in a conference at the University of Agder in Kristiansand (Norway), Fragments of an Unbelievable Past? Constructions of Provenance, Narratives of Forgery – conference schedule below (not including coffee and meals).

I will present a paper on the famous 19th-century forgerer Constantine Simonides: “Simonides’ New Testament Papyri: Their Production and Purported Provenance.” Since the Friday is devoted to the Gospel of Jesus Wife saga, including the concluding conversation between Prof. Liv Ingeborg Lied (MF, Oslo) and Ariel Sabar about his his recent Atlantic Magazine investigation, I will also attempt to draw some parallels between Simonides and Walter Fritz – the owner of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife fragment (for our earlier post on Fritz, see here). I look forward to the conference very much.

Conference Schedule


Open lecture at Myren Gård:

18:00– Nina Burleigh (Newsweek), “Unholy Business: A True Tale of Faith, Greed and Forgery in the Holy Land”

Thursday (A7–006)

9:00 – 9:15 Årstein Justnes (University of Agder), “[An Unbelievable] Introduction”

Session I, chair: Årstein Justnes (University of Agder)

9:15 – 10:15 Nina Burleigh (Newsweek), “The Post-Factual Museum: Curating Ancient History to Influence Politics 101”

10:30 – 11:30 Roberta Mazza (University of Manchester), “Papyrology and Ethics: The Problem of Provenance”

11:30 – 12:30 Nils Hallvard Korsvoll (MF Norwegian School of Theology), “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil: How Is Authenticity Dealt with When Provenance Is Not an Issue?”

Session II, chair: Tor Vegge (University of Agder)

13:15 – 14:15 Nicola Denzey Lewis (Brown University), “Rethinking the Origins of the Nag Hammadi Library”

14:15 – 15:15 Eva Mroczek (University of California, Davis), “The Secret Lives of Texts: The Discovery Narrative as a Literary and Theological Tradition”

15:45 – 16:30 Torleif Elgvin (NLA University College), to be announced

16:30 – 17:30 Kipp Davis (Trinity Western University), “Gleanings from the Cave of Wonders? Patterns of Correspondence in the Post-2002 DSS Fragments”

Friday (A7-006)

Session III, chair: Torleif Elgvin (NLA University College)

9:00 – 10:00 Liv Ingeborg Lied (MF Norwegian School of Theology), “Media Dynamics and Academic Knowledge Production: Tracing the Role of the Media in the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife Saga”

10:00 – 11:00 Tommy Wasserman (Örebro School of Theology & Ansgar School of Theology), “Simonides’ New Testament Papyri: Their Production and Purported Provenance”

University Library, 2nd floor

11:30 – 13:00 “The Unbelievable Tale of Jesus’s Wife”: A conversation between journalist Ariel Sabar and professor Liv Ingeborg Lied about his Atlantic Magazine investigation into the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife

See more about the conference on the blog of the organizers, The Lying Pen of Scribes.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Colwell’s Reversal of Westcott and Hort on Singular Readings

E. C. Colwell (source)
Westcott and Hort and E. C. Colwell are often connected in discussions of singular readings as they should be. But it’s not often appreciated how Colwell inverted WH’s primary purpose for studying singular readings. 

For WH, their main interest in singular readings was that their two prized manuscripts (01 and 03) often stood alone from the rest of the textual tradition as they knew it. Singular readings did give them access to the proclivities of 01 and 03 (a la Colwell), but this was not then aimed at elucidating transcriptional probability like it was for Colwell. Instead, this exercise was aimed squarely at determining which of 01 and 03’s singular readings had “a better title to consideration,” i.e., of being original (Intro, p. 233).

For Colwell, the study of singular readings is not only to “increase skill in the evaluation of that manuscript” (a la WH), but also “to gain knowledge of the habits of a scribe in general ... and thus to increase skill in the evaluation of readings.”* For Colwell, such a study was not aimed at identifying which singulars may claim originality. Rather, it was to give us access to those readings that we can be sure are the scribe’s rather than the author’s. 

Thus, unlike WH, Colwell’s interest in singulars hinges entirely “on the assumption that these readings are the creation of the scribe.” As such, they give us access to the work of the scribe as opposed to the author. In this, Colwell has reversed WH for whom the study of singular readings was aimed precisely at identifying those singulars that are the work of the author rather than the scribe. 

In other words, both recognize that singular readings can attune us to the scribe’s habits, but each uses this fact to focus on opposite sides of the scribe/author divide. WH are ultimately interested in authorial readings whereas Colwell is really interested in scribal readings. Obviously, this has to do with whether each thinks that singulars may be original. But the difference is still important especially as it comes to “skill in the evaluation of readings.” WH have their own view of how to best attain that and it has nothing to do with singular readings. But more on that another time.

*E. C. Colwell, “Method in Evaluating Scribal Habits: A Study of P45, P66, P75,” in Studies in Methodology in Textual Criticism of the New Testament, NTTS 9 (Leiden: Brill, 1969), 108.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

It’s Time to Stop Using Gothic Letters in Textual Criticism

A week or so ago my carrel-mate here at Tyndale was stumped for who knows how long by a Gothic letter “C” that looked a whole lot like Gothic letter “T” for “targum.”

What finally gave it away was the superscript “Sa” which I thought had to be for “Sahidic.” That meant, of course, that the “T” must actually be a “C.” Sure enough it was. But comparing this “C” in the Hermeneia volume on Ezekiel to BHS’s “T,” you can see the obvious problem. All of this would be avoided if simple Roman letters had been used.

The offending Gothic “C” (left) and “T” (right)
Now, look, I enjoy the wonderful Gothic “P” for papyri as much as anybody. It looks cool and it adds gravitas to what are often scrappy manuscripts. But I say it’s time to banish all Gothic letters from our writing and apparatuses for good. They’re bad for electronic searches, they don’t exist in most fonts, and whatever value they once had is gone. They only create confusion. So let’s get rid of them. Who’s with me?

Show your support:

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

First Museum of the Bible Volume Released with 13 Previously Unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls

Pete Williams sent word yesterday that the first volume of the Publications of Museum of the Bible was published this week. Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments in the Museum Collection is edited by Emanuel Tov, Kipp Davis, and Robert Duke and features 13 previously unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls fragments. A number of introductory essays help explain the Museum’s collection and the program that led to this volume.

That program, known as the Scholars Initiative, is one of the book’s unique features. The program involves dozens of undergraduate and graduate students who are given the opportunity to help with fresh research on the museum’s artifacts. As someone who has been through this program, I can say that the opportunity it affords to young students is unparalleled. It is a fantastic way to mentor and train students interested in Biblical research.

The risks of involving students in this level of research are (hopefully) mitigated by the tiered structure of the program where students are overseen by scholar-mentors who are, in turn, overseen by the editors of the volumes (here Emanuel Tov). A special shout-out to Michael Johnson who was in the first “class” of the Scholars Initiative with me and who became one of the “principal investigators” in the volume (see p. xiii n. 15).

It is exciting to see this work coming to fruition. Hopefully the Greek volume will follow in the next year or two. (The press release says it “will be published soon.”)

MOTB.SCR.003172 Jeremiah. Showing image manipulation used to read the texts. Images by Bruce and Kenneth Zuckerman and Marilyn Lundberg, West Semitic Research

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction, Text Editions, the Collection of the Museum of the Bible, Textual and Orthographic Character, Relation to Other Fragments from the Judaean Desert Emanuel Tov
  2. Paleographical and Physical Features of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Museum of the Bible Collection: A Synopsis Kipp Davis
  3. A Methodology for the Digital Reconstruction of Dead Sea Scroll Fragmentary Remains Bruce Zuckerman, Asher Levy and Marilyn Lundberg
  4. 4 The Process and Goal of Research Robert Duke
  5. 5 Procedure Followed by the MOTB Scholars Teams: Manuscript Research as Pedagogy Lisa M. Wolfe
  6. Genesis 31:23–25?, 32:3–6 (Inv. motb.scr.000124) Elaine Bernius et al.
  7. Exodus 17:4–7 (Inv. motb.scr.000120) Karl Kutz et al.
  8. Leviticus 23:24–28 (Inv. ncf.scr.004742) Karl Kutz et al.
  9. A Fragment of Leviticus? (Inv. motb.scr.000122) Marty Alan Michelson et al.
  10. Numbers 8:3–5 (Inv. motb.scr.003173) Timothy D. Finlay et al.
  11. Jeremiah 23:6–9 (Inv. motb.scr.003172) Karl Kutz et al.
  12. Ezekiel 28:22 (Inv. motb.scr.003174) Ishwaran Mudliar
  13. Jonah 4:2–5 (Inv. motb.scr.003171) Catherine McDowell and Thomas Hill
  14. Micah 1:4–6 (Inv. motb.scr.003183) Peter W. Flint and David R. Herbison
  15. Psalm 11:1–4 (Inv. motb.scr.000121) Lisa M. Wolfe et al.
  16. Daniel 10:18–20 (Inv. motb.scr.003170) Robert Duke et al.
  17. Nehemiah 2:13–16 (Inv. motb.scr.003175) Martin G. Abegg Jr. et al.
  18. A Fragment of Instruction (Inv. motb.scr.000123) Michael Brooks Johnson

Friday, August 05, 2016

Three Interesting Variants at Rev. 2.13 Not in Nestle

While doing some sermon prep last week I came across some interesting variants in Rev. 2.13. The NA28 reads:
οἶδα ποῦ κατοικεῖς, ὅπου ὁ θρόνος τοῦ σατανᾶ, καὶ κρατεῖς τὸ ὄνομά μου καὶ οὐκ ἠρνήσω τὴν πίστιν μου καὶ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις Ἀντιπᾶς ὁ μάρτυς μου ὁ πιστός μου, ὃς ἀπεκτάνθη παρʼ ὑμῖν, ὅπου ὁ σατανᾶς κατοικεῖ. 
I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. (ESV)
The trickiest part here is grammatical—what should we do with the nominative after ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις when we expect genitives? The commentators will tell you that scribes tried to smooth this by adding αἷς before Ἀντιπᾶς and that’s what we find in the Byzantine text. The syntax still isn’t great since we’re left with a verbless clause, but some have suggested that it is implied.

Others have followed Lachmann’s conjecture of Ἀντιπᾶ (the “proper” genitive of the name) suggesting that the sigma arose from dittography involving the article: αντιπα ο μαρτυϲ → αντιπαο ο μαρτυϲ → αντιπαϲ ο μαρτυϲ. That is one too many steps for my liking though.

Where things get more interesting is in the Syriac. Here is what we find in the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) edition which is also the basis for the recent Gorgias edition. I’ve highlighted the main differences with the Greek:
ܝܳܕ݂ܰܥ ܐ̱ܢܳܐ ܐܱܝܟܴ݁ܐ ܥܳܡܰܪܬ݁ ܂ ܐܱܬ݂ܱܪ ܕ݁ܟ݂ܽܘܪܣܝܶܗ ܕ݁ܣܳܛܴܢܳܐ ܂ ܘܰܐܚܺܝܕ݂ ܐܱܢ̄ܬ݁ ܒ݁ܫܶܡܝ ܂ ܘܰܒ݂ܗܰܝܡܳܢܽܘܬ݂ܝ ܠܴܐ ܟ݁ܦ݂ܰܪܬ݁ ܂ ܘܰܒ݂ܝܱ̈ܘܡܳܬ݂ܴܐ ܐܷܬ݂ܚܪܻܝܬ݁ ܘܣܳܗܕܴ݁ܐ ܕܻ݁ܝܠܝ ܂ ܡܗܰܝܡܢܳܐ ܂ ܡܶܛܾܠ ܕ݁ܟ݂ܽܠ ܣܳܗܕܴ݁ܐ ܕܻ݁ܝܠܝ ܡܗܰܝܡܢܳܐ ܂ ܐܱܝܢܳܐ ܕ݁ܡܶܢܟ݂ܽܘܢ ܐܷܬ݂ܩܛܷܠ ܂
I know where you dwell, the place of Satan’s throne, and you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days when you contended, even my faithful witness, because every witness of mine is faithful, the one who was killed among you [omit].
So we have (1) the verb “you contended” substituted for the name “Antipas,” (2) the long addition of the phrase “because every witness of mine is faithful,” and (3) the omission of the final clause “where Satan dwells”—none of which you will find in the NA/UBS editions. You have to go to all the way to Hoskier (or at least a footnote in Beale) to find the addition.

The first variant has a good explanation in that Ἀντιπᾶς is sometimes spelled αντειπας and this could be read as an Aorist form of ἀντιλέγω. Hence we get ܚܪܐ in Syriac which means “resist, dispute, contend,” etc. in the ethpeal. Tischendorf tries to explain the Syriac as a translator’s failed attempt to render the name. But explaining it as a different way to read the Greek is much more viable especially because Hoskier lists several Greek minuscules that seem to accent it as the verb (ἀντεἶπας rather than ἀντειππᾶς).

The third variant, the omission of the last phrase, is a bit easier to explain in Syriac than in Greek. In Syriac, it looks like a case of homoioteleuton involving ܐܠܐ at the beginning of v. 14. The phrase is included in the Harklean Syriac manuscripts, so, apparently, it didn’t last long. It’s only attested by two minuscules in Greek perhaps just by accident.

The second variant, the addition, is the most surprising of the three. It is also not unique to the Syriac, being found in over a dozen Greek minuscules. This suggests that the Syriac is not innovating but rather reflecting its Greek Vorlage. In his edition, Gwynn argues the same but still calls the longer reading an “interpolation.” What he doesn’t mention but should have is that its omission has an obvious explanation by way of homoioteleution, the scribe’s eye jumping from πιστός to πιστός (cf. GA 2028).

Rev 2.13 in GA 2028 (15th cent.) showing the longer reading.
What’s important is that the Syriac shows that this reading has much earlier support than the Greek evidence alone would suggest. It goes back at least to AD 616 when the Harklean Syriac was completed and probably earlier since the Crawford MS (the basis for the BFBS and Gorgias editions) likely predates the Harklean. This is thus a good example of late Greek manuscripts preserving much earlier readings. It also illustrates the benefit of keeping an eye on the versions.

None of this made it into the sermon, you’ll be relieved to know. But I wonder if some of these readings shouldn’t make it into the Nestle apparatus. The longer reading in particular belongs there not only for its exegetical significance, but because, at least transcriptionally, it can explain the shorter reading.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Kurt Aland against Voting in the ECM

This is from Aland’s 1970 article “Novi Testamenti Graeci Editio Maior Critica: Der gegenwärtige Stand der Arbeit an einer neuen grossen kritischen Ausgabe des Neuen Testamentes,” NTS 16 (1970): 163–77 which layed out the rationale for the ECM:
It is one of the editors—K. Aland—who is responsible for the editing of this text. Of course, all major issues will be advised by the circle of editors and co-editors. But it seemed impossible to determine the text in a voting system by majority decision. This is indeed fashionable [modern] (and in the hand editions of the Bible Societies even understandable), but such a procedure contradicts not only all philological principles but it also leads in all experiences to an average text. (p. 166)
If I have my chronology right, this was written when Aland was already part of the UBS committee. Unfortunately, he doesn’t explain what makes the difference between a hand-edition and a major critical edition such that a committee is good for one and not the other. It seems a bit inconsistent.

Aland (second from right) with the UBS committee.