Evangelical Textual Criticism

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

R.I.P. Harold Greenlee

On 21 March, Jacob Harold Greenlee passed away at the age of 96. The following is an obituary written by his son, David Greenlee:

May 12, 1918 – March 21, 2015

Αὐτὸς δὲ ὁ θεὸς τῆς εἰρήνης ἁγιάσαι ὑμᾶς ὁλοτελεῖς, καὶ ὁλόκληρον ὑμῶν τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ ἡ ψυχὴ καὶ τὸ σῶμα ἀμέμπτως ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τηρηθείη. πιστὸς ὁ καλῶν ὑμᾶς, ὃς καὶ ποιήσει. 

May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this. (1 Thessalonians 5: 23-24)

Jacob Harold Greenlee was born in Charleston, West Virginia, on May 12, 1918, the first child of Jacob Andrew and Ethel Edith Jarrett Greenlee. He graduated from Charleston High School in 1935. He holds the degrees of A.B., Asbury College, 1939; B.D., Asbury Theological Seminary, 1943; M.A., University of Kentucky, 1944; Ph.D. in Biblical and Patristic Greek, Harvard University, 1947. He was a Senior Fulbright Fellow, Oxford University, 1950–51, where his work on reading an ancient palimpsest—an erased Greek NT manuscript—led to further palimpsest studies and the publication of a book.

On December 10, 1949, he married Ruth Bernice Olney. He was professor of New Testament Greek at Asbury Theological Seminary, 1944–65, and at Oral Roberts University, 1965–69. He and Ruth have been missionaries of OMS International (now One Mission Society) since 1969, teaching in Bible schools and seminaries throughout the world. Through those years he was also an international translation consultant for Wycliffe Bible Translators, participating in Bible translation workshops in many lands, and contributing to the translation of the New Testament into more than 125 languges. They also served from time to time on the first three Operation Mobilization missionary ships with their son David.

Dr. Greenlee was an ordained United Methodist minister of the West Virginia Conference. He is the author with wife, Ruth, of a book about their ministry travels, and he has published 12 books dealing with the Greek language of the New Testament and more than 160 published articles. He is listed in more than twenty-five biographical volumes.

During his years as professor of New Testament Greek at Asbury Seminary, he wrote two books. His Concise Exegetical Grammar of NT Greek (1953) was on the market for 60 years, translated into six other languages, and is now offered on the Seminary’s First Fruits internet project. His Introduction to NT Textual Criticism (1963) is still on sale after 50 years and has recently been translated into Korean.

During his 21 years at the Shell Point Retirement Community, Fort Myers, Florida, he continued contributing in New Testament Greek studies, co-teaching a Village Church Sunday school class, assisting with the Wednesday morning Men’s Bible Study, and singing in the Shell Point Singers and the Village Church choir for over fifteen years. As a part of the Shell Point Academy, he co-led the Anatomy of a Word class until a month before his death.

Family members include his wife Ruth Bernice; daughters Dotty Morrison (husband Bill Morrison, deceased), Lois Stück (husband Dr. Jim Stück; children Philip, Michael, and David and wife Ellie), and son, Dr. David Harold Greenlee (wife Vreni; children Rebekka, Jonathan, and Sarah); and sisters Rayma Gene (husband Clarence Hutchens, deceased), and Catherine Mae (deceased, husband Reid Feather).

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be sent to One Mission Society (formerly OMS International), P.O. Box A, Greenwood, Indiana 46142-6599 designated for seminary student scholarship funds.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Art of Isopsephism in the Greco-Roman World

1 comment:
New publication: R. Ast & J. Lougovaya, 'The Art of Isopsephism in the Greco-Roman World' in Ägytische Magie und ihre Umwelt (ed. A. Jördens; Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2015), 82-98. Available here.

Since Greek letters are used to represent numbers, it is possible to assign numerical values to various words and names (as presumably in Rev 13.18), and to relate words representing equal numerical values to each other. This is isopsephism - assigning equal numerical value. Not only within the NT, but also some of the earliest Christian graffiti seems to feature an interest in this practice, see a much earlier post on a graffito in Smyrna. So this new publication will be of interest to people working on manuscripts, amulets, and numerical aspects of NT exegesis.

For an isopsephistic tool (which calculates the numerical value of whatever Greek words or phrases you enter), go here.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Greek Manuscripts of Robert Curzon

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Up-dated 28.3.15
There are two really good posts over at the BL blog on Greek manuscripts collected by Robert Curzon: Part One, and now Part Two. A couple of years ago I read Curzon’s very entertaining account of his travels and manuscript collecting in his Visits to the Monasteries of the Levant (London: Century, 1986; orig. 1849).
Since Curzon left detailed notes about the acquisition written in the manuscripts themselves, it is possible to connect the particular manuscript with both the narrative account and the monastic setting from which they were “acquired”. Most of the 42 Greek manuscripts have now been digitised by the British Library, and both posts introduce a large number of Greek Bible manuscripts.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Date of Majuscule 0305 - Suggestions?

Currently the Liste gives a wonderfully ironic date for majuscule 0305 (Matthew 20) of -100 to -1 (here).

The total absence of any discussion piqued my interest, and, thanks to the resources of the BnF I found an online image! The whole frame with multiple fragments contains mainly Coptic stuff, hence its listing under Copt. 133.2.

Our fragment is number 3 at the top right, showing the left hand margin of Mt 20:22-23. Note that the total column width is only about 8 letters.

I am not very good at dating this particular script, but I will kick off by stating that on first sight I would be happy with anything between the 6th and the 9th century, and more likely younger than older. So let’s do a little online, democratic, scholarship here. Suggestions? Parallels?

Surely we can get closer than somewhere in the first century BC.

New article on CBGM

1 comment:
Tommy Wasserman, 'The Coherence Based Genealogical Method as a Tool for Explaining Textual Changes in the Greek New Testament' Novum Testamentum 57 (2015) 206-218.

Abstract: This article discusses the advantages of the the Coherence Based Genealogical Method (CBGM), not only as a tool for reconstructing the text of the New Testament, but also for surveying the history of readings and for explaining textual changes. The CBGM promises to detect readings, which have emerged several times independently in the textual tradition. The method is applied to selected examples in 1 John 5:6 and Jude 4, which are relevant to the issue of “orthodox corruption,” as raised by Bart D. Ehrman. The results speak against deliberate textual changes as effects of early Christological controversies in these particular passages. Rather the textual changes reflect other typical behaviour on the part of the scribes throughout the history of transmission.

Congratulations Tommy