Thursday, April 24, 2014

Jesus had an ugly sister-in-law

recto, Jn 5:26-30
Through Gregg Schwendner and Malcom Choat, I have just become aware of something that I should have seen much earlier.  I read all of the Harvard Theological Review articles about the Gospel of Jesus's Wife, and assumed that the links on the Harvard dedicated GJW webpage essentially linked to the same.  However, the website contains a longer version of the Ink Results which contains pictures of the associated gospel of John fragment picture in this post.

verso, Jn 6:11-14
The shocker here is this.  The fragment contains exactly the same hand, exactly the same ink and has been written with the same writing instrument.  One would assume that it were part of the same writing event, be it modern or ancient.  In some sense, this is not a surprise, as the Ink Results indicated that the ink was very similar.  (The ink on both sides of GJohn was identical or similar to one another; the GJW had slightly different ink on both sides.  All of the inks were highly similar.)

Actually, if you are a Coptic nerd, there apparently is a bigger shocker...  The text is in Lycopolitan and apparently is a(n exact?) reproduction from the famous Cambridge Qau codex, edited by Herbert Thompson.  What is so shocking about that?  Essentially all specialists believe that Lycopolitan and the other minor dialects died out during or before the sixth century.  Indeed, the forger tried to offer two manuscripts both in Lycopolitan, but made two crucial mistakes.  First, the NHC gospel of Thomas is not a pure Lycopolitan text, but the Qau codex is.  That is we have two clearly different subdialect of Lycopolitan, which agree exactly with published texts.  Second, this GJohn fragment has been 14C dated to the seventh to ninth centuries, a period from whichLycopolitan is totally unknown.

These are my initial thoughts, and I will update this blog within the next hours.  My first assessment is that this a major blow to those arguing for the authenticity of GJW.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hans-Ulrich Laukamp and the GJW

Mark Goodacre has posted on a Livescience article which claims to have invalidated part of Karen´s King reconstruction of the modern history of the Gospel of Jesus´s Wife.  In particular, the article identifies the former owner of the papyrus, Hans-Ulrich Laukamp, as "a co-owner of the now-defunct ACMB-American Corporation for Milling and Boreworks in Venice, Fla."  According to King´s recent GJW article (p. 153):
The current owner of the papyrus states that he acquired the papyrus in 1999. Upon request for information about provenance, the owner provided me with a photocopy of a contract for the sale of “6 Coptic papyrus fragments, one believed to be a Gospel” from Hans-Ulrich Laukamp, dated November 12, 1999, and signed by both parties. A handwritten comment on the contract states: “Seller surrenders photocopies of correspondence in German. Papyri were acquired in 1963 by the seller in Potsdam (East Germany).” 
The Livescience article cites Laukamp's attorney (Rene Ernest) as claiming that Laukamp did not own papyri and was not a collector, although this was never claimed by King.  In fact, King cites the deed of sale as being an English-language document.  Furthermore, the Livescience report erroneously claims that because Laukamp lived in West Berlin in 1963 (when the deed of sale claims Laukamp bought the papyrus), he could not have travelled to Potsdam.  Potsdam is a separate town, immediately adjacent to West Berlin.  Although East Germans could not travel to West Berlin, West Berliners could travel into East Germany.  In fact, this fits perfectly with King's narrative which directly links the notes to the Freie Universität in 1982, located in West Berlin.  Thus, King's narrative seems to fit with the Livescience article, except for the claim from Rene Ernest, an estate attorney, that Laukamp was not a collector and did not own such a document.  Naturally, Laukamp would not have owned the document when he died in 2002, because he sold it in 1999 according to King's narrative.

" 'Gospel of Jesus's Wife': Doubts Raised About Ancient Text", Owen Jarus, Live Science

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Announcement from Leo Depuydt on Jesus's Wife

April 16, 2014
Bedtime story for the budding little grammarian (and for all those eternally young of spirit). Set in larger font to accommodate the unformed inquisitive mind. (PDF)

The Papyrus Fragment and the Crocodile: When Discerning a Blunder Is Itself a ... 

I recently published an analysis in the Harvard Theological Review (HTR) of what has widely come to be known as the Wife of Jesus Fragment (WJF).(1) My conclusion is that it is 100% certain that the fragment is a forgery. Grammatical blunders committed by the forger play a central role in my analysis.

The main body of the analysis was on purpose completely self-contained in that it consisted in its entirety of independent observations that made no reference to anything else that anyone else has had to say on the matter. In this specific case, I exceptionally saw no need for outside references or scientific tests to fully meet the paper’s design. And I still don’t.

However, my analysis is now no longer free-standing. The same issue of HTR contains a response to it.(2) Asked a couple of days after its publication what I thought of it, I had a look. It took me about sixty seconds to diagnose another you-call-it-what-you-want, but not one of the forger’s this time.

The response holds that I “incorrectly analyzed” the grammar of line →6 of WJF. What I had described as a “grammatical monstrosity” in that line is nothing but—thus the author of the response—an “error of analysis” on my part.(3)

It would be ironical that, after hurling the epithet “grammatical blunder” gingerly and repeatedly at a forger, my true opponent by the way, I would be guilty of one myself. That would be hubris. We haven’t had that recently. Or have we?

The author of the response relies mostly on experts for the evaluation of fine points of Coptic grammar. But no sooner did the same author just for once dip a toe into the strong Nile currents of Coptic grammar to embark on an independent foray than a crocodile lunged and grabbed it, dragging all attached down with it ☹. How so?

What is my alleged “incorrect analysis”? It is that I identified the Sahidic Coptic verbal auxiliary, or conjugation base (Polotsky), ⲙⲁⲣⲉ mare in the line in question as a negated aorist. In fact, no one has ever doubted that, in standard Sahidic Coptic, ⲙⲉⲣⲉ mere, not ⲙⲁⲣⲉ mare, is the conjugation base of the negated aorist. What is more, no one has ever doubted that ⲙⲁⲣⲉ mare is the verbal auxiliary of the affirmative jussive in all of Coptic. And that is how the author of the response under discussion identifies the instance of ⲙⲁⲣⲉ mare in question, as a jussive. So far so good.

Have I then, as the author implies, committed a blatant grammatical blunder by identifying ⲙⲁⲣⲉ mare as anything else but a jussive? In fact, I have not. How can this be?

It is a dirty little fact, as it were, of Coptic grammar not widely known even to Coptologists that—in the Gospel of Thomas (GT)—the form of the verbal auxiliary of the negated aorist is exceptionally not ⲙⲉⲣⲉ mere, as most everywhere else, but ⲙⲁⲣⲉ mare. I do note this striking fact somewhere in my initial report.

In other words, in GT, the negated aorist ⲙⲁⲣⲉ mare is written exactly like the affirmative jussive ⲙⲁⲣⲉ mare. Identifying instances of ⲙⲁⲣⲉ mare in GT as a negated aorist is therefore altogether a legitimate option. Disenfranchising the grammarian from exercising this option is a clear are-you-thinking-what-I’m-thinking.

And since Professor Francis Watson of Durham University and I both independently discovered that WJF is but a patchwork of phrases from GT—totally clueless and error-ridden, I venture to add—nothing comes more natural than identifying certain instances of ⲙⲁⲣⲉ mare in WJF as a negated aorist.

What is more, as I show in detail in the initial report, the instance of ⲙⲁⲣⲉ mare under discussion and certain phrases in its immediate context are clearly taken from a passage in GT in which ⲙⲁⲣⲉ mare is undoubtedly the negated aorist and not the affirmative jussive.

So, my little friend, sleep soundly and dream sweetly because there has been no “error of analysis.”

And in the end, the story even has a happy ending.♫ The crocodile happened to be of the rare herbivorous kind. ☺

(1) L. Depuydt, “The Alleged Gospel of Jesus’s Wife: Assessment andEvaluation of Authenticity,” Harvard Theological Review 107 (2014), pp.172–89.

(2) K. King, “Response to Leo Depuydt, ‘The Alleged Gospel of Jesus’s Wife: Assessment and Evaluation of Authenticity’,” Harvard Theological Review 107 (2014), pp. 190–93.

(3) Ibid., p. 191.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Demotic Gospel of Thomas

On page 178 of his Gospel of Jesus’s Wife (GJW) rebuttal, Leo Depuydt informed the reader of a parallel incident from 1990, which never made headlines in North America. In this case, someone forged and disseminated the following proceedings chapter, which Leo Depuydt has kindly shared:
R. S. Walker, “Fragmentary inscriptions in an unknown script from a private collection” Proceedings of the New Orleans Academy of Sciences 1874–1875 (1875): 31–34.
The article and accompanying informal translation “preserve” a Demotic text with snippets from the gospel of Thomas. Depuydt has demonstrated that the Demotic text is a forgery by analyzing the Demotic grammar, showing that the Demotic text contains a prepositional phrase which is explained in the most compelling way by the faux pas of a modern translator relying on the known Coptic text. Whereas one would expect the Coptic text to use the form ⲙⲙⲟϥ with the Greek-Coptic loanword τηρέω, the indigenous Egyptian word (in Coptic and Demotic) requires ⲉⲣⲟϥ, not the equivalent of ⲙⲙⲟϥ (font).
ϩⲁⲣⲉϩ ⲉⲣⲟϥ
ḥrḥ r.r.f
ⲧⲏⲣⲉⲓ ⲙⲙⲟϥ
In her response article, Karen King fails to see how this is relevant to the parallel discussion. Depuydt’s argument, however, is fairly simple. He is demonstrating that the literary parallels in GJW (just as in the Demotic GThomas) are best explained by a modern forger, due to grammatical irregularities which only a modern forger would have produced. Whereas this was clear with the Demotic GThomas through the instance cited here, the case is even clearer with GJW, with its repeated errors and the shared error with Michael Grondin’s PDF.

18 May 1991 Financial Times "New Light on the Saying of Jesus"
25 May 1991 Financial Times "Batson comes out of the belfry: The history books may not have to be rewritten..."

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Jesus's Wife Resurrected from Dead

Eight of the eleven articles in the most recent issue of the Harvard Theological Review discuss the authenticity of the so-called Gospel of Jesus Wife (GJW), which Karen King publicized through a shrewdly-orchestrated media frenzy in September 2012. The core relevant articles include a survey of the papyrus scrap by King, a refutation of authenticity by Leo Depuydt and a response by King. Five supporting articles detail two spectroscopy examinations of the ink (Yardley and Hagadorn; Azzarelli, Goods, Swager), two radiocarbon datings of the papyrus (Hodgins; Tuross), and a paleographic evaluation (Choat). 

Karen King´s initial argument that this fragment demonstrates a fourth century literary manuscript of the “the Gospel of Jesus Wife” is now officially dead, by her own admission. We are left with a deflated seventh to ninth century semi-literary scrap ... or a fraud. We have no plausible direct literary evidence for a new non-canonical gospel. The question remains as to whether we should recognize this scrap as an ancient semi-literary document or a modern fraud. According to King, the arguments concerning fraud are highly problematic, and the scientific and linguistic evidence repeatedly affirm authenticity. 
 “The scientific testing completed thus far consistently provides positive evidence of the antiquity of the papyrus and ink, including radiocarbon, spectroscopic, and oxidation characteristics, with no evidence of modern fabrication.” (King, “Jesus said,” 2014, 154)
According to the results, the ink used is indeed the most obvious choice for a modern forger — carbon ink. The ink is composed of soot. “The inks used in this manuscript are primarily based on carbon black pigments such as ‘lamp black.’” (Yardley etal., 164) King attempts to paint the resultant test as proving the implausibility of fraud, arguing that “their research to date shows that details of the Raman spectra of carbon-based pigments in GJW match closely those of several manuscripts from the Columbia collection of papyri dated between 1 B.C.E. and 800 C.E., while they deviate significantly from modern commercial lamp black pigments.” (King, “Jesus said,” 2014, 135)   However, no one would suggest that this was forged with modern commercial pigments. Someone would have mixed soot with a solvent, producing the obviously low quality and uneven writing medium on the papyrus.

Using two labs, the GJW fragment and a Sahidic John fragment associated with the same papyri lot were carbon dated. The rounded 2-sigma ranges for the manuscripts are as follows:  

640–800 CE
650–870 CE
680–880 CE
410–200 BCE

The second test (14 March 2014) was apparently ordered after the extremely early date arrived from Arizona (June–July 2013). Whatever the case, if one of the two GJW 14C dates were to be accurate, it would probably be the Harvard range (650–870 CE), which is corroborated by the related GJohn manuscript (chart above). Having said this, the result remains somewhat inconclusive. (δ13C levels were also higher than expected, suggesting contamination in all samples.) 

So does this confirm the authenticity of the GJW? Such a late dating bulldozes King’s first appraisal of the manuscript as a fourth century witness. The GJW fragment under question is broken on all sides except the top, where apparently the modern forger cut the empty section off of a larger fragment which was in fact ancient. Carbon dating has no value for authenticating such a manuscript, although if the Ptolemaic date (410–200 BCE) offered by the Arizona AMS lab were accurate (of which I am not convinced), fraud would be certain.

Choat’s assessment of the scribal hand is hardly an enthusiastic endorsement of its authenticity:
“Overall, if the general appearance of the papyrus prompts some suspicion, it is difficult to falsify by a strictly paleographical examination. This should not be taken as proof that the papyrus is genuine, simply that its handwriting and the manner in which it has been written do not provide definitive grounds for proving otherwise.” (162) 
 His article surveys the oddities of the scribal hand, noting the lack of clear literary or documentary parallels. Choat states, “[w]hile I cannot adduce an exact parallel, I am inclined to compare paraliterary productions such as magical or educational texts.” (Choat, 161) 

Leo Depuydt presents the argument which is accepted by most specialists who are familiar with the GJW. The modern forger (1) created the text by rearranging several sentences from the Gospel of Thomas and (2) unintentionally left evidence of the fraud through two grammatical infelicities ("blunders"). The first is the omission of the object marker ⲙ- in line one (ⲧⲁⲙⲁⲁⲩ ⲁⲥϯ ⲛⲁⲉⲓ ⲡⲱ̣[ⲛϩ]). The second is the awkward construction ⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲉⲑⲟⲟⲩ (more correctly ⲡⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲉⲑⲟⲟⲩ or ⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲉϥϩⲟⲟⲩ). Depuydt also mentioned a third serious error, which I believe to be the most damning evidence against authenticity (186); in line 6, the forger has combined a positive habitual from GThomas with a negative habitual to create the nonsense chimera verbal phrase ⲙⲁⲣⲉⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲉⲑⲟⲟⲩ ϣⲁϥⲉ{ⲓ}ⲛⲉ (“Evil man habitually does not he does habitually bring” sic). Notably, Francis Watson, Alin Suciu-Hugo Lundhaug, and Andrew Bernhard have popularized many of these arguments, detailing how Depuydt’s first "blunder" seems to derive from a typo in Michael Grondin’s 2002 online PDF of the Gospel of Thomas.

In Karen King’s mind, if one can not exhaustively prove the inauthenticity of the GJW fragment, then it must be accepted as authentic. The results from spectography, radiometric dating and Choat’s paleographic analysis all leave the door open, therefore the fragment is undeniably authentic. Karen King maintains the problematic infinitive form ϣⲁϥⲉ “swell,” and ignores the persuasive reasoning behind the reconstruction of the damning error above. I encountered no serious discussion of this in her original article. In my opinion, this argument alone inauthenticates the GJW fragment, yet King is unconcerned, instead positing an unattested verbal form. I could imagine why someone might differ with me on various issues here, I can not identify with the stiff-necked concluding statement of King: “In conclusion, Depuydt’s essay does not offer any substantial evidence or persuasive argument, let alone unequivocal surety, that the GJW fragment is a modern fabrication (forgery).”

If a husband were to genetically test his children to determine whether his wife had been faithful, and the tests returned indicating that the children could not conclusively be proven to not be his, would this assure him of his wife’s fidelity? Could he then, based upon these tests, be confident that he had indeed fathered the children? Karen King has produced no new evidence to authenticate this fragment.  On the contrary, her prior contentions that the GJW fragment was (1) part of a literary codex and (2) was fourth century are now indefensible.  Her method of argumentation was not self-critical or objective, but will doubtlessly be sufficient for those who already want to believe.

One has to ask why Karen King has not published the notorious handwritten note. A typed 1982 note signed by Peter Munro accompanied the fragments which indicated that a Coptic John fragment was among the manuscript group (cf. King, “Jesus said,” 2012, 2). The second notorious handwritten note reads as follows: 
 “Professor Fecht believes that the small fragment, approximately 8 cm in size, is the sole example of a text in which Jesus uses direct speech with reference to having a wife. Fecht is of the opinion that this could be evidence for a possible marriage.” (King, “Jesus said,” 2014, 153) 
Odd, is it not, that Munro mentioned a dime-a-dozen Sahidic manuscript in the typed note, but detailed the GJW in a handwritten note separately?! This handwritten note potentially bears the hand of the forger, who cut the papyrus, falsified the text, and aided its journey with the convenient handwritten note. King’s failure to publish this handwritten note conveniently eliminates a clear avenue for identifying the perpetrator.

Larry Hurtado's Announcement
Harvard Gospel of Jesus' Wife website
Harvard Theological Review Issue
Antinoou Coptic font to view Coptic text on this page
Francis Watson maintains inauthenticity (via NT Blog)

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Ebojo on P46: When Nonsense Makes Sense

New Article:

E.B. Ebojo, 'When Nonsense Makes Sense: Scribal Habits in the Space-intervals, Sense-pauses, and Other Visual Features in P46' The Bible Translator 64 (2013), 128-150.

This article explores the visual and paratextual features embedded in P46 and assesses how these reflect a microcosm of ancient book production enterprise as well as its eventual construal by the reading community that used it. Accordingly, it also suggests ways in which the copying habits of the scribe who produced this manuscript may be similarly unveiled through these features. 
Edgar completed his PhD on P46 in Birmingham and this is, I think, the first published fruits of his research (I am hoping there will be much more). This article offers a helpful introduction to P46 and also takes up the challenge which I issued on this blog in 2009: 'I think it would be a good study to look at the use of space for 'pauses in sense' in P46, but there would be quite a few method issues to think through.' (see here:; referenced on p. 131). This whole issue (along with the previous one) of The Bible Translator is in honour of Roger Omanson, and includes other essays of interest (see here and here).

Monday, March 31, 2014

Wallace reviews Elliott

From the SBL Review of Biblical Literature 26 March 2014

J. K. Elliott
New Testament Textual Criticism: The Application of Thoroughgoing Principles
Reviewed by Daniel B. Wallace

 This is an interesting and helpful review of Elliott's collected essays. That is really a daunting book to review and Dan has done a good job of summarising. Dan says he has been persuaded to come over to the correct view of Hebrews 2.9 through reading this book. He also offers some general comments on thoroughgoing eclecticism and some critical reflections. Only on one point did I think he missed a trick. Dan mentions that he found a lot of typos in the book, stating: "I counted over 150". I would have thought that in the spirit of Keith Elliott we deserved the entire list!!!

Between Constantinople and Rome. An Illuminated Byzantine Gospel Book (Paris gr. 54)

Between Constantinople and RomeKathleen Maxwell, Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Art History, Santa Clara University, wrote her dissertation on "Paris, Bibliothéque Nationale, Codex Grec 54: An Analysis of the Text and Miniatures" under the supervision of Robert S. Nelson and now her monograph on the manuscript has been published by Ashgate as Between Constantinople and Rome. An Illuminated Byzantine Gospel Book (Paris gr. 54) and the Union of Churches. Table of contents here.

In 2006 at the SBL International Meeting in Edinburgh I met Kathleen Maxwell for the first time. There I heard her present a fascinating paper on “Paris 54 and Garrett 3” and I had the opportunity to chat to her afterwards and offer some small advice on textual criticism. Since then we have met several times at various conferences through the years and today we are both members of the IGNTP committee.

In her Edinburgh presentation Maxwell had mainly approached these MSS – Paris 54 (16) and Princeton, Garrett 3 (1528) – as an art historian, and had found a remarkable link in regard to the illuminations. In Garrett's texts there were curious red crosses which, as it turned out, indicated the exact places of the illuminations in Paris 54, and she demonstrated that they were textually related too (by using a few examples from the Text und Textwert-volumes). In fact it turned out that another MS, Athos, Iviron 5 (990) was connected to the group. A comparative study of these three MSS is now included in her monograph as a special appendix (Appendix C).

At one point in Maxwell's presentation she told us the story of how she had phoned Bart Ehrman and asked him if he had seen similar red crosses with this function elsewhere. Ehrman had not, but told her to phone Metzger, which she did ("it was almost like calling God" - she said), and Metzger kindly replied that he had not seen anything of the like either.

The Paris Codex Grec 54 is curious for many reasons. The bilingual diglot from the 13th Cent. (=Greg.-Aland 16) was dubbed by Gregory "the rainbow manuscript" (Canon and Text, 372) since it uses a range of different colour to indicate different speakers:
  • bright red ink: simple narrative text
  • darker red/crimson ink: the genealogy of Christ, the words of angels, the words of Jesus
  • blue ink: OT passages, words of disciples, Zachariah, Mary, Elizabeth, Simeon, John the Baptist
  • dark brown ink: words of Pharisees, people from crowd, Judas Iscariot, the devil, shepherds, scribes, the Centurion
(More on this aspect here.)

The conclusion to Maxwell's  introduction is worth citing:
This study affirms the importance of a multidisciplinary approach in the study of a complex manuscript such as Paris 54. While nothing specific is known about the origins of Paris 54, a very plausible explanation can be posited for virtually every aspect of this manuscript, including its unfinished status.
Information from the publisher
Imprint: Ashgate
Illustrations: Includes 33 colour and 54 b&w illustrations
Published: March 2014
Format: 244 x 172 mm Extent: 390 pages
Binding: Hardback
ISBN: 978-1-4094-5744-2 
ISBN Short: 9781409457442

This is a study of the artistic and political context that led to the production of a truly exceptional Byzantine illustrated manuscript. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, codex grec 54 is one of the most ambitious and complex manuscripts produced during the Byzantine era. This thirteenth-century Greek and Latin Gospel book features full-page evangelist portraits, an extensive narrative cycle, and unique polychromatic texts. However, it has never been the subject of a comprehensive study and the circumstances of its commission are unknown. In this book Kathleen Maxwell addresses the following questions: what circumstances led to the creation of Paris 54? Who commissioned it and for what purpose? How was a deluxe manuscript such as this produced? Why was it left unfinished? How does it relate to other Byzantine illustrated Gospel books?

Paris 54’s innovations are a testament to the extraordinary circumstances of its commission. Maxwell’s multi-disciplinary approach includes codicological and paleographical evidence together with New Testament textual criticism, artistic and historical analysis. She concludes that Paris 54 was never intended to copy any other manuscript. Rather, it was designed to eclipse its contemporaries and to physically embody a new relationship between Constantinople and the Latin West, as envisioned by its patron. Analysis of Paris 54’s texts and miniature cycle indicates that it was created at the behest of a Byzantine emperor as a gift to a pope, in conjunction with imperial efforts to unify the Latin and Orthodox churches. As such, Paris 54 is a unique witness to early Palaeologan attempts to achieve church union with Rome.

Contents: Introduction; Paris 54: codicological and paleographical considerations; Paris 54: modus operandi of scribes and artists; The Greek Gospel text of Paris 54 and New Testament textual criticism; The three artists responsible for the narrative miniatures and evangelist portraits of Paris 54; Imitation and innovation: a comparative study of the narrative cycles and evangelist portraits of Paris 54 and Athos, Iviron 5; Paris 54’s place in thirteenth-century Constantinopolitan book illumination; Art and diplomacy in late thirteenth-century Constantinople: Paris 54 and the union of churches; Epilogue: from Constantinople to Catherine de Medici; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.

Reviews: 'Based on extensive new research, this ground-breaking study places a richly illuminated Byzantine Gospel Book between East and West at a crucial time.'
John Lowden, Courtauld Institute of Art, UK

‘With its bilingual text, polychrome script, and extensive Gospel cycle, Paris, gr. 54 is the most intricately planned and opulently produced manuscript of late thirteenth-century Byzantium; it is also among the most enigmatic, an unfinished effort devoid of testimony to its patron or intended purpose. Professor Maxwell offers a compelling theory about its conception in a Constantinople torn by tension over the union of the Churches. But her meticulous examination yields something yet more fundamental. Her keen visual analysis of the processes of Paris 54’s production and the codex from which its miniatures were copied is matched here by a comparably detailed analysis of its Greek Gospel text and the manuscript from which it was copied. Her demonstration that Paris 54’s text has a genealogy as independent and revealing as its codicology and illumination is a signal achievement, and it opens a challenging new chapter in the study of illuminated books.’
Annemarie Weyl Carr, Southern Methodist University, USA

Friday, March 28, 2014

Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School 2014: Registration Open

Some readers may be interested in this:

The Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School (DHOxSS) is an annual training event taking place on 14 - 18 July 2014 at the University of Oxford for researchers, project managers, research assistants, students, and anyone interested in Digital Humanities.
The main information concerning the Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School 2014 is located at Including pages for:
  • About: About the DHOxSS 2014, basic information and our stakeholders, partners, and DHOxSS Organisational Committee
  • Schedule: The latest overview we have on the DHOxSS 2014 programme of lectures, workshops and events
  • Workshops: The most detailed information concerning the content and timetables to help you choose which one of our week-long workshops you want to take
  • Lectures: Each morning features a keynote or 3 parallel lecture slots for you to choose from
  • Registration: All the information you'll need to know to register
  • Accommodation: Details of our accommodation at Wolfson College, you can book it when registering
  • Poster Session: Information on our peer-reviewed poster session
  • Social Events: DHOxSS is not just about learning: find out about our receptions, tours, dinners, lectures and more
  • Bursaries: Any information we have concerning bursaries will be posted here: if we can publicise it, it is here
  • Sponsorship: DHOxSS is a great place to advertise your institution / product / service
  • Venues and Travel: Some basic information about our venues and how to get here
  • Contact: Contact details including emergency numbers
All enquiries concerning DHOxSS 2014 should go to



Thursday, March 27, 2014

Wallace on Blomberg's new book

Dan Wallace has a helpful interaction with Craig Blomberg's new book on believing the Bible, especially in relation to the chapter on textual criticism of the NT (which mostly seems to focus on Bart Ehrman). Dan is positive about the book, but the nine errors he notices in chapter one are unfortunate, and they are also suggest that Craig B. is a bit out of his comfort zone with this material. I sometimes wonder how much thorough accuracy really matters in apologetics?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Off to Oklahoma for a conference

Tomorrow I am heading for Oklahoma City for a conference on Dating Early Papyri and Manuscripts with the Green Scholars Initiative. In addition to my academic paper on some obscure subject connected with the palaeography of the early papyri and meeting up with some old academic friends (and making new ones), and speaking in a church for the father of one of my students; I shall also be checking some things for our Codex Climaci Rescriptus project. While I'm there I'm hoping to get to the Banjo Museum, the Cowboy Museum, and I'll be looking for Route 66 and the way to Amarillo. Here is clip from the previous conference:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A guest post

Ed Andrew Edmondson, working on a PhD in beautiful Birmingham, sent in the following:

John 12:15 quotes Zechariah 9:9: “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt!”. Most of the manuscripts read ο βασιλευς σου (your king), but a small number read ο βασιλευ σου - or is that ο βασιλευς ου since there are no word boundaries?
Surely it isn't intended to read “the king is not coming” (ο βασιλευς ου) - so is “ο βασιλευ σου” a legitimate alternative?

Consider John 12:15 in manuscript 1014, for example, which seems a clear case of a single sigma:

Perhaps the scribe missed out one sigma, either by design or error. Or perhaps this could be an unexpected use of the vocative... Now consider Matthew 21:5 in the same manuscript, which contains the same quote from Zechariah:

That has two sigmas... so it doesn't seem that this scribe would habitually miss one out. So was it just a mistake in his copying of John?

Interestingly, considering the same two places in manuscript 382 we find only one sigma in each place. So perhaps that scribe did deliberately write this with only one sigma. A few words earlier in John 12 he did write ο βασιλευσ του ιηλ (the king of Israel) – so he wasn't against the form βασιλευσ.

So why do we find this reading? Is it merely phonetic and/or just a different way of writing the same variant? Or is it a genuine variant using the vocative (or even the negative)?

And so should it be regularised away, or left in the critical apparatus? We were trying to answer this question in ITSEE today...

Witnesses to this variant: 036, 295, 382, 579, 732, 1014, 1029, 1344, 1546, 2411, 2585, 2615, L425, L1075