Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Articles and Reviews in the TC Journal 20 (2015)

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As one of the editors of TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism, it is my pleasure to announce that some articles and reviews have been published in the current issue, vol. 20 (2015), and that more is to come.


Rebekka Schirner, Augustine’s Explicit References to Variant Readings of the New Testament Text: A Case Study
Abstract: This article analyzes a sample of passages where Augustine explicitly refers to different Latin versions of the New Testament text, and intends to expand Amy Donaldson’s list of patristic references to New Testament variants. It also takes into consideration the evidence available to us today (manuscripts and quotations of Latin church fathers). In doing so, it offers insights into Augustine’s way of dealing with variants and also provides a comparison between the material available to Augustine and the data extant today.
Charles Quarles, ΜΕΤΑ ΤΗΝ ΕΓΕΡΣΙΝ ΑΥΤΟΥ: A Scribal Interpolation in Matthew 27:53?
Abstract: Since the seminal work of Adalbert Merx, Willoughby C. Allen, and Erich Klostermann, a growing number of scholars have asserted that the prepositional phrase μετὰ τὴν ἔγερσιν αὐτοῦ in Matt 27:53 is an early scribal interpolation and an example of the orthodox corruption of Scripture. However, this claim is based on a misunderstanding of the internal evidence and exaggerated claims regarding the external evidence. This article provides a careful and detailed analysis of the internal and external evidence and concludes that the prepositional phrase was contained in the earliest text of Matthew that can be reconstructed from the currently available data.


P. Doble and J. Kloha (eds.), Texts and Traditions: Essays in Honour of J. Keith Elliott (Tobias Nicklas, reviewer)
Robert Hanhart (ed.), Septuaginta (Marcus Sigismund, reviewer)
AnneMarie Luijendijk, Forbidden Oracles? The Gospel of the Lots of Mary (Brice C. Jones, reviewer)
Eric F. Mason and Troy W. Martin (eds.) Reading 1-2 Peter and Jude: A Resource for Students (Thomas J. Kraus, reviewer)
Joseph E. Sanzo, Scriptural Incipits on Amulets from Late Antique Egypt (Thomas J. Kraus, reviewer)
Markus Vinzent, Marcion and the Dating of the Synoptic Gospels (Paul A. Himes, reviewer)

SNTS Meeting in Amsterdam

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The SNTS is meeting in Amsterdam this week. Interesting papers include:

Main Paper IV (Aula) – Prof. Tobias Nicklas (Regensburg), “Neutestamentlicher Kanon, christliche Apokryphen und antik-christliche Erinnerungskulturen.”

Seminar 7 [room 0G-11] Christian Apocryphal Literature (Profs. T. Nicklas, C.M. Tuckett, and J. Verheyden). Terminates in 2015.
  • Wed: Gregor Wurst (Augsburg), “Towards a New Critical Edition of Codex Tchacos.”

Seminar 12 [room 0G-30] Papyrology, Epigraphy and the New Testament (Profs P. Arzt-Grabner and J.S. Kloppenborg). Terminates in 2018. 
  • Wed: Josephine K. Dru (Green Collection, USA; guest): “The Comparative Significance of Radiocarbon Results for Nine Internally Dated Documentary Papyri and P39.” Respondent : Klaus Wachtel (Münster).
  • Thu: AnneMarie Luijendijk (Princeton), “A Transitional Period: Religious Experts at Oxyrhynchus from Decius to Theodosius.” Respondent : Giovanni Bazzana (Harvard).
  • Fri: Christfried Böttrich (Greifswald), “Codex Sinaticus and the Use of Manuscripts in the Early Church.” Respondent : Christina M. Kreinecker (Salzburg). This session will be held jointly with Seminar 14 (New Testament Textual Criticism).

Seminar 14 [room 1G-10] New Testament Textual Criticism (Profs. C. Clivaz, U. Schmid, and T. Wasserman). Terminates in 2018. 
  • Wed: Juan Chapa (Pamplona), “Book Format and Patterns of Reading: The Impact of the Codex.” Respondent : Claire Clivaz (Lausanne).
  • Thu: Jan Krans (Amsterdam; guest), “'Harmonization as Enemy of Textual Criticism’: Harmonization in Scribal and Critical Practice.” Respondent : Jennifer Knust (Boston; guest).
  • Fri: Christfried Böttrich (Greifswald), “Codex Sinaticus and the Use of Manuscripts in the Early Church.” Respondent : Christina M. Kreinecker (Salzburg). This session will be held jointly with Seminar 12 (Papyrology, Epigraphy and the New Testament).

Short Papers. Session II: Friday 14:15 – 15:00 hrs.

2. Eberhard W. Güting, “Print Editions and Online Editions of the Novum Testamentum Graece Facing New Challenges.” [room 02-A33]

Monday, July 27, 2015

Book Review: The Gospel of Mark in the Syriac Harklean Version (2015)

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Samer Soreshow Yohanna. The Gospel of Mark in the Syriac Harklean Version: An Edition Based upon the Earliest Witnesses. Biblica et Orientalia 52. Rome: Gregorian & Biblical Press, 2015. xi + 196. €48 (hardback); £5.75 (e-book)
“No other branch of the church has given so much effort to spread and to accurately transmit the Gospel. From the hills of Lebanon and Kurdistan, from the Mesopotamian plains and the coast of Malabar, even from faraway China, Syriac manuscripts that are valuable for textual criticism have come to the European libraries.” —Eberhard Nestle

1. Background

The Syriac speaking church has left us one of the richest traditions of Biblical translation. The translation of the New Testament starts with the Gospels as early as the second and third centuries with Tatian’s Diatessaron and the Old Syriac Gospels. The Peshitta came next and was to become the most prominent of all the Syriac translations. Even so, the heat of theological controversy led to a number of more exacting translations which were intended to help settle matters of exegetical dispute. The Philoxenian was completed in 508 and was the first to include the small Catholic Epistles and possibly Revelation, the former being all that survives to us today. The last of the major translations and the most literal was that of Thomas of Harkel who finished his work in 616, shortly after Paul of Tella’s completion of the Syro-hexepla.

Even with native Aramaic, Thomas gives
the Greek (e.g., μαραναθα in 1 Cor 16.22)
Although the youngest of the Syriac translations, the Harklean has proven to be one of the most fruitful for textual criticism. This is due to Thomas’s innovation as a translator. His colophon tells us that he based his work on the Philoxenian but revised it with the help of what he considered to be “well proven and accurate” (ܣܓܝ ܒܚܝܪܝܢ ܘܚܬܬܝܬܝܢ) Greek manuscripts. These he represents with an exacting translation style designed to give the Syriac reader as much access to the Greek as possible. To this end he adopted the text critical symbols made famous by Origen (the asterisk, metobelus, and obelus) to mark words not found in his Greek manuscripts but either required by Syriac idiom or found in his Philoxenian predecessor. In the margin he adds more detail, supplying textual variants, translation notes, word meanings, and often simply giving the Greek word itself. In short, Thomas holds the distinction of producing the very first critical edition of the Syriac New Testament.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Lunn on the End of Mark. Part 2

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For the introduction to this book and review series, see my previous post.
N.P. Lunn, The Original Ending of Mark: A New Case for the Authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2014).

Ch. 1: Introduction
The introductory chapter opens up the issue of the authenticity of Mark 16.9-20. The general consensus against the authenticity of these verses has two forms, one in which 16.8 is the proper original ending of Mark (particularly depending on strands of reader-response, but with no consensus interpretation of why Mark ends so abruptly), and one in which it is thought that the original ending is lost. Lunn suggests that doubts about the ending at 16.8 are reasonable, since one might expect a clear affirmation of the resurrection of Jesus in view of the early kerygma, creedal formulations, the other gospels, the resurrection predictions in Mark (8.31; 9.9f; 9.31; 10.34), the implausibility of ending a work with GAR, and various other considerations, siding with a quite large number of English-language commentators to the effect that there was probably more of Mark (Witherington, Evans, France, Edwards, Wright, and Stein).

So the introduction sets the scene for the presentation, but also something of the style and academic level of the book. Positively, it is very clear and well organised. Relevant material is collected from a wide variety of sources and presented in ways that support the case the author is making. Occasionally the style grated, with too many introductions like "famed professor of biblical exegesis F. F. Bruce ...". And there were a couple of minor related points of concern (referring to "Morner Hooker" rather than "Morna Hooker", introducing Philip Comfort alongside Bruce Metzger as "leading textual critics" - both of which may be slips, or may indicate a lack of broader scholarly perspective). Although reasonably full in making his nine points against Mark ending at 16.8, he dismisses the view that the author of Mark intended to end at 16.8 very briefly in view of a secondary summary of such arguments. Finally the discussion only concerns English language scholarship - Westcott and Hort are in view, not Tischendorf or Weiss or Nestle or anyone else (Griesbach and Lachmann get a mention via a secondary source - Croy on the Mutilation of Mark). A quick look at the author index confirms this (Mark commentaries by Cranfield, Edwards, France, Lane, Marcus are frequently cited, but not a single German or French commentator); Amphoux is absent even from the bibliography. Judging by the index the other main dialogue partners are Burgon, J.K. Elliott, W.R. Farmer, J.A. Kelhoffer, Metzger, J.E. Snapp, Jr., and Westcott & Hort.

The aim of the book is to argue that Mark 16.9-20 is precisely the ending that makes sense of Mark. So the following chapters address arguments against this and mount arguments in its favour.

Ch. 2 External Evidence (1): Biblical Manuscripts
Lunn will argue that the absence of 16.9-20 is 'a fairly localized textual variant which had no earlier explicit witness before the fourth century'.

Ch. 3 External Evidence (2): Patristic Citations
Lunn will argue that evidence of the knowledge of 16.9-20 reaches back into the second century, including 'some significant previously overlooked allusions to the Markan Ending in the Apostolic Fathers'.

Ch. 4 Linguistic Evidence (1): Vocabulary and Style
Lunn will argue against the wide-spread view that the style of 16.9-20 is distinctive and non-Markan, that the language of 16.9-20 'falls within the observable parameters of Markan usage'.

Ch. 5 Linguistic Evidence (2): Other Features
Lunn will argue that a range of 'deeper-level linguistic features' can be 'shown to actually provide evidence that supports Markan authorship'.

Ch. 6 Literary Evidence
Lunn will argue from various literary devices that 'the longer ending forms an integral element in the overall design of the Gospel'.

Ch. 7 Thematic Evidence
Lunn will argue that various Markan themes, including the new exodus motif, are 'strongly present in both the body of the Gospel and its ending'.

Ch. 8 The Longer Ending and the Gospels: The Question of Dependence
Lunn will argue that Luke 24 and the speeches in Acts demonstrate 'through unmistakable verbal resonances, acquaintance with a Gospel of Mark that included 16:9-20'.

Ch. 9 Miscellaneous Issues
Lunn will discuss remaining problems with the content of 16.9-20: its connection with 16.1-8, and the issues of baptism, snake handling, and poison drinking.

Ch. 10 The Cause of the Problem
Lunn will discuss whether 16.9-20 was accidentally or deliberately omitted.

Ch. 11 Summary and Conclusion

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Digitally Unrolling the Ein Gedi Scroll of Leviticus

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Ein Gedi scroll. (photo credit)
Yesterday, various news outlets reported the recent identification of Leviticus 1.1-8 in a charred scroll from Ein Gedi. First discovered in the 1970, the contents have been a mystery ever since. But with technology developed at the University of Kentucky, scholars were able to read the text by digitally “unrolling” it. The scroll has been carbon dated to the 6th century A.D.

I couldn’t find the full Hebrew text online, but there is a short write-up on the technology used to decipher the text. They also put together some videos of the process which are nicely done (see below).


Here’s the photo released by the IAA.

(photo credit)


Monday, July 20, 2015

Calhoun: Acts 17.27 in Bezae as a Reader’s Note

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The latest issue of Early Christianity (6.2) has an interesting short article from Robert M. Calhoun on the reading of Codex Bezea at Acts 17.27. Instead of reading that every nation has been made “to seek God” (ζητεῖν τὸν θεόν), Bezae says that it was “especially to seek the divine” (μάλιστα ζητεῖν τὸ θεῖόν ἐστίν). Several other witnesses attest τὸ θεῖον as well (gig, Clement, Irenaeus), but all of them, in one way or another, smooth the awkward syntax introduced by ἐστίν. As Metzger says, the text of Bezae “cannot be construed with the rest of the sentence” and must be emended either by removing ἐστίν or changing τό to something like ὅ (Commentary, p. 405).

Calhoun, however, points out that if Bezae’s text is taken as a complete sentence, it reads quite naturally as a reader’s note: μάλιστα “ζητεῖν τὸ θεῖόν” ἐστιν = “certainly [the correct reading] is ‘to seek the divine.’” At some point, the comment was misread so that instead of just replacing θεόν with θεῖον, the entire sentence was placed in the main text. Calhoun further suggests that this may give us a (small) clue about the editorial process behind the text of Bezae.

While this isn’t the kind of scenario one can definitively prove, and while I would like to see some uses of μάλιστα in similar contexts, it looks to me like a convincing solution and comes with the distinct advantage of not resorting to emendation.

Here is the relevant page in Bezae (line 2) courtesy of Cambridge’s nifty manuscript viewer:

Robert Matthew Calhoun, “The D-Text of Acts 17:27 (μάλιστα ζητεῖν τὸ θεῖόν ἐστιν),” Early Christianity 6.2 (2015): 230-234.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Lunn on the End of Mark

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The other day I received in the mail the following book: N.P. Lunn, The Original Ending of Mark: A New Case for the Authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2014).

When it came out I got a copy on my Kindle, but I liked it so much I thought I should get a proper book for my library (who knows how long my Kindle will last and whether I’ll be able to find it). So the publishers have sent me a review copy, and I’ll tackle that in sections over the next couple of weeks. To begin with I would say it makes a good initial impression for four reasons:
  1. The title is straightforward. It tells you exactly what the book is about. I like that. It is an advocacy book - everything is slanted to persuade you that 16.9-20 is the original ending of Mark.
  2. The book is big enough. Sometimes you get books and you can tell in an instant that even the author hasn’t taken the subject sufficiently seriously - the book is too small. But here we get a large size book (i.e. large pages) and with 378 pages. Big enough to mount the necessary argument (without being an NT Wright sized over-production). 
  3. The layout is pleasing. Obviously Wipf and Stock must be doing something right at the moment. The paper, font, page layout etc. is just simple, clear and the sort of book an author could be proud of.
  4. The price is right. Obviously I got my print copy for free (although I did pay for my Kindle copy). In exchange for a critical review. But the price for this book is listed as US $34.40. If Wipf and Stock are going to be doing textual criticism then we are going to have a very marketable outlet for good scholarship and affordable prices. 
But one shouldn’t only judge a book by its cover.