Thursday, August 27, 2015

New Article in the TC Journal on "The Earliest Corrections in Codex Sinaiticus"

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As one of the editors, I am delighted to announce that a new fine article has been published in the current volume of TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism.
 
Peter Malik, The Earliest Corrections in Codex Sinaiticus: Further Evidence from the Apocalypse

Abstract: Previous research into the scribal corrections of Codex Sinaiticus—also labelled as “S1”—has yielded fruitful results, especially regarding distribution of the scribal correcting activity and the textual affinities of corrections. The present article extends our knowledge of this aspect of Sinaiticus by examining scribal corrections in the book of Revelation, especially with regard to their nature, authorship, and textual affinities. It is argued that the palaeographical and textual evidence suggests that, unlike other previously studied portions of Sinaiticus, the text of Revelation was most likely never subjected to a secondary review in the scriptorium.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Gospel of Jesus Wife — the saga continues ...

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This is a synthesis of some breaking news developments on the Gospel of Jesus Wife forgery with a short comment by myself at the end.

Karen King, Harvard professor 

On pages 8–9 of the most recent BAR issue (Sept–Oct 2015), Karen King responded to prior comment, indicating that she still believed that the GJW could be an authentic ancient witness to a married-Jesus tradition in the Early Church or Islamic-era Egypt.
At this point, when discussions and research are ongoing, I think it is important, however difficult, to stay open regarding the possible dates of the inscription and other matters of interpretation, to consider the implications that scholars are operating with different methodological assumptions, and to take into account the enormity of the gaps in our knowledge of both ancient and modern contexts.

Owen Jarus, Live Science reporter

In terms of investigative journalism, Jarus was the first to openly call the GJW story into question, especially with regard to the person of Hans-Ulrich Laukamp, the purported former owner of the papyrus.  I was skeptical of his Laukamp arguments at first, but now it is clear that the entire modern history of the GJW is indeed a forgery.  In a recent Live Science article, Owen Jarus has produced handwriting samples from Laukamp which, he argues, could be used to authenticate or inauthenticate the accompanying documents.  Further, he reports that further tests may be used to revive the debate.
In addition, James Yardley, a senior research scientist at Columbia University, told Live Science that the new tests confirm that the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife holds different ink than the John papyrus. This could undercut Askeland’s argument that the two papyri were written by the same person.

Andrew Bernhard, independent scholar

Andrew played a crucial role in the beginning of the controversy, publishing a patchwork theory which amalgamated prior assessments by Gathercole, Lundhaug-Suciu, Watson and others, and which further linked the GJW to a particular modern source, a 2002 online PDF produced by Mike Grondin.  Bernhard has just renewed a call for King to release the documents related to the GJW controversy, with a summary stressing why such a release remains necessary (here).
Nonetheless, I have become convinced that identifying (or at least trying to identify) the forger may be the only way to bring an end to the strange saga of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. This will require that Professor King identify the owner (as she has said she can legally), make the three supporting documents cited in her article (p. 31) available for public inspection, and release the English translation given to her with the papyrus fragment. We need access to anyone who may have been involved with what now seems to be an obvious forgery, and we need all potentially pertinent evidence to be made available.

My own response

I have expressed my opinion that the GJW has been so exhaustively proved a forgery, that the matter could be laid to rest.  With regard to provenance documents and the identity of the present owner, I had surmised that King had legal or ethical reasons for withholding these.  After all, what more could be gained from identifying the forger when everyone knows that the GJW is a fake?  Her suggestion that the GJW could be authentic has caused me to reconsider.  I would suggest that, if she considers the debate “ongoing,” then she should without hesitation produce the relevant materials.  Furthermore, I would suggest that it would be disingenuous of King to conduct further Raman-spectroscopy testing (or the like) in highly-speculative support of authenticity and to simultaneously withhold documents which would almost certainly demonstrate forgery.

King cited the prior set of scientific tests and paleographic analysis infelicitously, suggesting that they supported authenticity.  Readers can reference my reaction, here.  I am concerned that Yardley’s tests will further murk up the waters, by exaggerating some minor differences between the ink of the GJW and the Harvard Lycopolitan John.  This would be an appeal to science for something that (1) is fairly plain to the naked eye and (2) was already covered with a prior test.  These two documents are remarkably similar in regard to their ink, writing instrument and character formation — and in their utter dissemblance from any known ancient parallel.  Even the prior Raman tests suggested only minor differences.  In the New Testament Studies response, Ira Rabin argued,
It is noteworthy that their own statistical analysis does not support the conclusion that the inks of the two sides of GJW are distinct from that of JnFragm offered in the executive summary. In Fig. 8.2 (top) of the report ID/IG, the intensity ratio of the disordered and ordered bands for both fragments clearly falls within the error bars. (363)
In other words, the prior study, when accurately interpreted, demonstrated that the two shared essentially the same ink.  I would suggest that we let the matter drop.  If Karen King would like to continue to the discussion, then she should produce the documents which will allow scholars to potentially identify the forger.

Name This Text Critic

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No hints. I will be posting an interview with this text critic next week.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Working Bibliography of ‘Scribal Habits’

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With the help of Pete Malik, I’ve put together the following bibliography of scribal habits. It is noticeably weighted toward the Greek New Testament, but I wouldn’t mind expanding it beyond that. I should add that Pete and I used slightly different formatting and I have not bothered to align them. Let me know what we’re missing either by email or in the comments and I’ll try to add them to the main list.

Aland, Barbara. “Das Zeugnis der frühen Papyri für den Text der Evangelien: diskutiert am Matthäusevangelium.” In The Four Gospels 1992, edited by F. van Segbroeck, C. M. Tuckett, G. van Belle, and J. Verheyden, 325–335. BETL 100. Leuven: Leuven University Press and Peeters, 1992.
———. “Kriterien zur Beurteilung kleinerer Papyrusfragmente des Neuen Testaments.” In New Testament Textual Criticism and Exegesis: Festschrift J. Delobel, edited by A. Denaux, 1–13. BETL 161. Leuven: Leuven University Press and Peeters, 2002.
———. “Neutestamentliche Handschriften als Interpreten des Textes? P75 und seine Vorlagen in Joh 10.” In Jesu Rede von Gott und ihre Nachgeschichte im frühen Christentum, edited by Dietrich-Alex Koch, Gerhard Sellin, and Andreas Lindemann, 379–397. Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus Gerd Mohn, 1989.
———. “Sind Schreiber früher neutestamentlicher Handschriften Interpreten des Textes?” In Transmission and Reception: New Testament Text-critical and Exegetical Studies, edited by Jeff W. Childers and D.C. Parker, 114–122. TS 3.4. Piscataway: Gorgias Press, 2006.
———. “Was heißt Abschreiben? Neue Entwicklungen in der Textkritik und ihre Konsequenzen fur die Überlieferungsgeschichte der frühesten christlichen Verkündigung.” In Mark and Matthew I: Comparative Readings: Understanding the Earliest Gospels in their First Century Settings, edited by Eve-Marie Becker and Anders Runesson, 55–76. WUNT 1.271. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011.
———. “Welche Rolle spielen Textkritik und Textgeschichte für das Verständnis des Neuen Testaments? Frühe Leserperspektiven.” NTS 52 (2006): 303–318.
Ashton, June. Scribal Habits in the Ancient Near East: C. 3000 BCE to the Emergence of the Codex. Mandelbaum Studies in Judaica 13. Sydney: Mandelbaum Publishing, 2008.
Burleson, Douglas Y. “Case Studies in Closely Related Manuscripts for Determining Scribal Traits.” PhD diss. New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, 2012.
Colwell, E. C. “Hort Redivivus: A Plea and a Program.” Pages 148–71 in Studies in the Methodology in Textual Criticism of the New Testament. NTTS 9. Leiden: Brill, 1969.
———. “Method in Evaluating Scribal Habits: A Study of P45, P66, P75.” Pages 106–24 in Studies in Methodology in Textual Criticism of the New Testament. NTTS 9. Leiden: Brill, 1969.
Dain, Alphonse. Les manuscrits. Collection d’études anciennes. Paris: Belles Lettres, 1949.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Manuscripts of the Lord's Prayer (Bible Odyssey)

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My new article on "Manuscripts of the Lord's Prayer" has just been published on the Bible Odyssey, a website developed and maintained by Society of Biblical Literature. On the Bible Odyssey, biblical scholars "share the latest historical and literary research on key people, places, and passages of the Bible."

This was my second entry – I have written a piece on the "Alexandrian Text" last year. You can find a fuller report on the Odyssey project in that blogpost.

 There are various other entries related to textual criticism, and, under "tools" you can find a special timeline on the history of the text of the New Testament. Go on and explore!

Friday, August 14, 2015

What are the moral qualities of an editor?

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In closing his work on the final part of S.P. Tregelles’ Greek New Testament, F.J.A. Hort said the following about Tregelles’ work:
His services to the exact knowledge of the New Testament are already better and more widely understood than they were a few years ago, and cannot fail as time goes on to obtain all due recognition. The moral qualities of his work as an editor, singleness of eye, unflagging care, and the persistence of faithful toil which never relaxed under discouragement, bodily weakness, or any other burden, may be left with equal confidence to sympathetic discernment.
I wonder about these moral qualities (my italics). What are the moral qualities of a good editor? What difference do they make?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

New Book on Christian Oxyrhynchus Texts

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Releasing this week is what looks like a substantial new book on Christian texts from Oxyrhynchus titled Christian Oxyrhynchus: Texts, Documents, and Sources by Lincoln H. Blumell and Thomas A. Wayment.

Hardcover: 752 pages
Publisher: Baylor University Press
ISBN: 1602585393

From the publisher’s blurb:
Blumell and Wayment present a thorough compendium of all published papyri, parchments, and patristic sources that relate to Christianity at Oxyrhynchus before the fifth century CE.Christian Oxyrhynchus provides new and expanded editions of Christian literary and documentary texts that include updated readings, English translations—some of which represent the first English translation of a text—and comprehensive notes. 
The volume features New Testament texts carefully collated against other textual witnesses and a succinct introduction for each Oxyrhynchus text that provides information about the date of the papyrus, its unique characteristics, and textual variants. Documentary texts are grouped both by genre and date, giving readers access to the Decian Libelli, references to Christians in third- and fourth-century texts, and letters written by Christians. A compelling resource for researchers, teachers, and students, Christian Oxyrhynchus enables broad access to these crucial primary documents beyond specialists in papyrology, Greek, Latin, and Coptic.
We asked the publishers for a review copy so that we could report as to whether the book was any good or not, but they said, “Due to the size and cost of this book, we are not able to mail physical copies for review in Britain.” So we don’t know at this point of time whether this book is any good or not. Hence: caveat emptor.