Thursday, November 29, 2007

SBL San Diego 2007 III - IGNTP

Over at ETC Tommy Wasserman already blogged about the IGNTP Presentation. It was fascinating to hear all the reports on the various aspects of the work in progress. The presentation, and the way it was scheduled, showed an organisation bristling with activity. These are good times for textual criticism...
I do have a few minor complaints on the session, however. There was almost too much information in such a short time; the room was far too small for the audience (this happened more often at SBL; the inverse occurred as well); and there was hardly any possibility to ask questions.
Something that also came by very fast was the schedule for ECM (Editio Critica Maior), Nestle-Aland and the UBS Greek New Testament. As Tommy noted, I took a picture of one of Wachtel's sheets, and was thus able to capture the research and publication schedule, preliminary as it may be, of course.
The grand idea is the following: ECM will be the central project, carried out by INTF (Münster) and IGNTP together. INTF will do Acts (scheduled for 2013), Mark (2018), Matthew (2024) and Luke (2030), and IGNTP will do John (2013), Pauline Epistles (2026) and Revelation (2030).
As for the hand editions, NA28 is planned for 2009, and it will follow the parts of ECM that have been published already (i.e. the Catholic Epistles), both in text and information in the apparatus. The same will be the case for all subsequent editions of NA and GNT (2014: NA29 and GNT5; 2019: NA30 and GNT6; 2025: NA31 and GNT7; 2031: NA32 and GNT8). Until the completion of ECM in 2031, there will thus be a certain unevenness in the editions, but that is inevitable.
One of the questions I would have asked if time had been given would be the following: the NA26/GNT3 text was accepted by the UBS as the standard text for bible translation worldwide, and it was established by an international and oecumenical committee. If ECM is to be followed, will the UBS automatically accept and adopt the new Greek text? Presumably most changes from the NA26 text will be minor, but nevertheless, changes there will be, as the Catholic Epistles already show.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

SBL San Diego 2007 II - Mark

Monday morning, I attended a session of the Mark group, if only because (1) it was to be focussed more on textual criticism than usual, and (2) we were supposed to assemble for the ETC lunch there.
The first paper was given by Peter Head, who guided us through the particularities of the presentation of Mark's gospel in Codex Sinaiticus. Though he admitted that his contribution contained more observations than conclusions/interpretations of the findings, I liked it very much, especially the way Peter uses PowerPoint to highlight the points he is making (you had to be there to know what I mean).
A nice example of an observation in search of a fitting explanation is the remarkable use of ekthesis in Mk 9: the many instances of καί with which the paragraphs start are pushed more to the left than usual. One can even observe this phenomenon in Tischendorf's pseudo-facsimile (here - enter "any"/"any" when prompted for a login), but why was it done?
After a short discussion, Nicholas Perrin discussed a well-known variant reading in Mk 1:41: should it read that Jesus was σπλαγχνισθείς ("moved with compassion") or ὀργισθείς ("angered") when a leper said to him; "If you choose, you can make me clean"? Against Ehrman (and others) he defended the first reading.
Vicki Cass Phillips took a different approach to the issue; if the two readings existed, and were scripture for some early communities, what meaning may they have had for these communities?
In my view, Perrin's paper was not really text-critical. The only thing he did was mounting a case for σπλαγχνισθείς as a reading that actually makes a lot of sense in the gospel of Mark. How strong his appeal to the "exodus motive" really is I am not able to judge, but no textual critic ever suggested that Jesus' being moved here would not make sense. The rub lies elsewhere.
Only in the discussion afterwards one of the important questions was raised: if the reading σπλαγχνισθείς is original, how can one explain the origin of the reading ὀργισθείς? There were some confused allusions to the tendency of either the Western text or the scribe of Codex Bezae, but really, this question should have been addressed in the paper. The lectio difficilior argument for ὀργισθείς is too important to be dealt with in a footnote.
The other important question was not even mentioned: part of Ehrman's case - if I remember correctly - is the observation that Luke and Matthew take over Mark's story, but each in a different way, as if they took offense to Mark presenting Jesus as "angered". Here too, thus, a kind of lectio difficilior reasoning: one can better explain the way Mark is used by the other evangelists if one assumes that they read ὀργισθείς. In order to counter Ehrman's case, Perrin should address this issue as well.
After the time for discussion, I quietly left the room, not for lack of interest in the other papers, but because I had to rehearse my own presentation with Geert van Oyen for the TC session in the afternoon (more on this session in a following posting).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

SBL San Diego 2007 I - UBSGNT5

Already on my way back I finally find some time to write something about at least one of the sessions I attended, the first one actually. On saterday morning there was an extra session (not found in the program book) on the next edition of the UBS Greek New Testament. It will be the fifth edition.
As Tommy Wasserman already blogged on the session over at ETC, I will just add some personal points of view and some stunning announcements.
To commence with the latter, and with the most important point of all: the font will certainly be changed, and probably more towards the font of the third edition, but maybe a move towards the NA27 font (is that Hellenica?) will be considered. Please contact Florian Foss (German Bible Society) with all your brilliant ideas on the appearance of the book as a book.
I have always been puzzled about the lack of balance in the GNT editions: on the one hand, there are actually very few variant readings in the apparatus, but on the other, those that are included are treated with an amount of detail that seems way beyond the purpose of the edition. David Parker pointed out to me that there are - of course! - historical reasons for this oddness: for the first editions, the Committee could provide - at least for these variants - something far better that the Nestle-Aland editions. The point remains however that translators, for whom the editions is primarily intended, are not well served with large lists of minuscules and bracketed church fathers. And even more: the criteria for including a variant reading are (1) its importance for the meaning of the passage and (2) the variant having at least some possible claim to being original (that word should be between quotation marks nowadays); but should one then include variants that are certainly conflations or scribal corrections, or should one only mention the two or three competing variants? The issue goes deeper: should the apparatus allow competent textual critics with all the material for a complete local stemma and all the other niceties for a textcritical discussion? My take would be that the limited choice of variant readings eo ipso excludes this: one has to see what is going on in other verses with a similar problem, or what the manuscripts you are interested in do in cases that do not affect the meaning in present-day languages.
And what about the (in)famous rating system? Despite the customary reference to Griesbach, it still is in my view a non-sensical part of the edition. More interesting than my point of view, perhaps, is how it actually functions. As we were told, apparently the degrees of certainty expressed by A to D are "translated" thusly by translators in the field: A: if you diverge, be ready to split the church; B: only if a major language translation around you follows it you may choose the variant; C: there are diverging opinions: look around the major translations and do what suits you (i.e. what will probably upset the fewest number of people); D: the text is a mess, do whatever you like.
Just another point before my flight starts boarding: we were shown one of Klaus Wachtel's sheets (whose contribution was presented by Ulrich Schmid) with a time schedule of GNT, NA and ECM, and even more, on which I will hopefully blog later. Be prepared to buy your GNT5 in 2014, and GNT8 (yes, the eighth edition!) around 2031. NA and GNT will be closely following the Edition Critica Maior project, which will accelerate and be finished by then. Exciting times!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Off to SBL - San Diego

Tomorrow morning, I will be on my way to San Diego. I hope to attend as many sessions on (New Testament) Textual Criticism as possible, and even to blog about them if time and means permit.
In one of my previous posts, I ventured the idea that a presentation on the Codex Boreelianus might be given at the SBL. And so it will be: Geert Van Oyen and I spent quit some time looking closely at the manuscript in the past few months, and we will present our findings - as well as the riddles that remain. And we do have some announcements to make on the manuscript, so keep posted. For now, let me just quote the abstract of our contribution as found in the SBL Program Book:
Codex Boreelianus Revisited: A Fresh Look at Codex F (09) after 160 years
Codex Boreelianus is one of the rare examples of an uncial manuscript from around the turn of the first to the second millennium. Brought to the Netherlands around 1600 by Johannes Boreel, the codex which is kept since 1830 in the library of Utrecht University contains in its present state the four gospels starting with Matthew chapter nine. It has probably not been seen by anyone since that time and certainly no research has been done on it since 1845. A handout with a summary of some data about the codex and its trajectory will be distributed. Finally, through digital pictures the codex can now be made accessible to a larger public.

Friday, June 22, 2007

A riddle

Textual critics have an unhealthy relation with the phenomenon ‘error’. They find errors in texts just as easily as other people breathe, and consider it their main task to explain the origin of the errors they spot. Nothing brings greater frustration to them than an error they fail to understand.
Here is a nice one. Just take a look at your Nestle-Aland (27th ed.) at Romans 4:20.

It is rather obvious what happened to the word ἐπαγγελίαν here: there are some ink spatters above the ί, even extending to the word τὴν in the line above.
Such errors (of the press) just happen, and there is nothing much to explain about them. My surprise, however, came with SESB, the Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible. SESB is the only electronic edition of NA27 with the apparatus. One would suppose that the SESB publishers/editors received and used an electronic text of the edition. But what does SESB read here? Believe it or not, it is ἐπαγγελῒαν.
Or take 3 John 14. On the printed page, something went wrong just above the word λαλήσομεν.

Just a loose spot, definitely not an accent or a breathing. Still, in SESB, this becomes λἁλήσομεν. Hence my question: how on earth is this possible?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Live Search Books (again)

Here in Amsterdam, Live Search Books was not working, so I initially thought that the service was down (after all, it is still Beta). Then I found some rumours on it being "US only", but using (US) proxy servers did not work. I finally discovered the obvious reason: when Live Search is displaying in Dutch (or in any language other than (A)English), no book search is available. Let me skip any musings on cultural imperialism and give the solution: tell Firefox (or whatever browser you are using) to prefer pages in English.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

La bibliothèque du Cerf

At his blog Observatório Bíblico, Airton José da Silva notes a new resource for those who read French: ‘La bibliothèque du Cerf’. The site contains a few electronic editions of interest. The books are accessible through a table of contents menu, but they cannot be searched. The format adopted is Macromedia FlashPaper.

One finds, as far as biblical studies are concerned:
La Traduction oecuménique de la Bible (TOB).
La Bible de Jérusalem (BJ).
Marguerite Harl, Gilles Dorival and Olivier Munnich, La Bible grecque des Septante, 2nd edition 1994.
Dominique Bertrand (intr.), Les écrits des Pères apostoliques, 1993.

In Bible Programs such as BibleWorks, one only finds the translation of TOB and (F)BJ, not the full editions with all the notes and other elements of ‘paratext’.

It is clear that the list is rather small. Perhaps Les éditions du Cerf will extend the number of books made accessible this way, but I did not find any information on the background or future plans of the site.

Yet another review

Something you may want to check out (in order to convince your library that the book should be available for everybody): Arie Zwiep's Judas and the Choice of Matthias: A Study on Context and Concern of Acts 1:15–26 (WUNT 2/187) has been reviewed by Loveday Alexander in RBL.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

The canon of Dutch history

Or the Dutch canon of history, of course. Anyway, there is large effort going on to educate the Dutch people and give them (back?) a feeling for their own history. An idea of what this means can be seen at

I also found a nice cartoon for textual critics there. Fokke and Sukke, quite famous in the Netherlands, comment on the invention of printing (around 1450).

Fokke & Sukke have been doing it for forty years already: "Printing ... is not here to stay!" "People will always want to read hand-written books!"

The cartoon can also be found in a nice booklet, De historische canon van Fokke en Sukke (2007).

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Codex Boreelianus Rheno-Trajectinus

Yesterday (March 21st, 2007) we (Arie Zwiep and I) attended a delightful lecture at the Utrecht University, given by David Trobisch. The initiative was taken by Annette Merz, who has just become professor of New Testament at the same University.

The subject of the lecture was Codex Boreelianus, one of the few manuscripts of the New Testament that can be found in the Netherlands. Its siglum as a New Testament manuscript is F (09). This ‘F’ was already given by Wettstein in the first half of the eighteenth century, though the manuscript was lost at that time, and only known to him in the form of a collation. It was found again in 1830 by the Utrecht professor Jodocus Heringa, and has been in Utrecht since then. Using Wettstein’s edition, Heringa could easily identify the manuscript as the Boreelianus; he could find an especially clear sign in the words Χριστῷ τελείω χάρις (cf. ‘pfff’) at the end of Luke’s gospel. These words were cited by Wettstein and are indeed found in the manuscript.

Scrivener (in his Plain Introduction) states that ‘Tischendorf had looked through it in 1841’, but in Utrecht rumour has it that he was actually denied access to the manuscript, not so much because of what he had done with Codex Ephraemi rescriptus, but simply because he arrived in Utrecht at the wrong time of the year, in summer. Gregory writes that Tischendorf could not work on the manuscript because Heringa was preparing his collation, but this is a mistake. Tischendorf did admire (and use) Heringa’s work on the manuscript, though.

The codex is named after Johannes Boreel (1577-1629). In the 1840s there was an effort in Holland to rename the manuscript after its present location (as in ‘Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis’), but the new name ‘Codex Rheno-Traiectinus’ did not hold. In the literature Boreel is above all named as the Dutch ambassador to James I, but his office as Pensionary of Middelburg and later the whole of Zeeland may be more important. Moreover, an ambassador (or ‘Envoy’) then was not the same as today. In Dutch sources, it is mentioned that Boreel was sent on diplomatic missions to England (three times), and that he was knighted by the King. Sir John Boreel, then, presents us with one of those sad cases of talented youngsters who opt for a political career and are thus lost for real scholarship.

The manuscript is not very important for its text, but it is a relatively early representative of the Byzantine text of the Gospels, and, more importantly, it is a very late uncial manuscript. It was probably used for worship, as the Ammonian section numbers are there (but the Eusebian canon numbers are not found in the margins), and the beginnings and endings of lections are often indicated in a special way.

The image (courtesy of the Universiteitsbibliotheek Utrecht) shows the beginning of Mark. As usual, one chooses the most remarkable or beautiful pages for an image. Only the starting pages of the gospels have these kinds of decoration, and from the four candidates, the one of Matthew is missing, the one of Luke is interesting but mutilated, and the one of John is rather faded.

Prof. Trobisch made us take a good look at some of the pages and asked for our observations, which he then took as the starting point for a more general lecture on NT textual criticism. After the lecture, we were taken to the reading room in the Library itself, where we could see the manuscript itself in all its splendour and with all the traces of its life in church, private hands and the university library. The manuscript is not bound, many pages are missing, and at some locations it has been mutilated. Scrivener even writes that ‘few manuscripts have fallen into such unworthy hands’. This may be true for part of its history, but the manuscript is now in able hands, and the Utrecht staff is even thinking about a digital edition. Perhaps there will be an occasion at the next SBL meeting for a presentation on the manuscript.

Update March 27: Dr. Trobisch’s travel journal mentions his visit to Utrecht; his site also contains the original invitation to the lecture.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Live Search Books results

Over at ETC, Christian Askeland draws attention to TC reprints from Scholarly Reprints. It may be worthwhile to point out that several titles mentioned by him are already available online as part of Microsoft’s Live Books Search. It is (still?) a bit tricky to find these titles there, for the search engine only allows a query on keywords. Using quotation marks around several words is very useful.

The following list is not comprehensive, but gives a good idea of what can be found (NB.: pdf downloads can be rather large):

Friday, January 12, 2007