Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Turning Point for Mark 16:9-20

This year’s December edition of Schrift, which has just been released, is entirely devoted to the Gospel of Mark. The one article they offer as a free download, entitled “Hoe ‘Want ze waren bang’ het slot van Markus werd” (“How ‘For they were afraid’ became Mark’s ending”), is about the history of textcritical scholarship on Mark’s ending.

When I agreed to write about Mark’s ending, the first thing I wanted to know, if only for myself, was when scholars started to doubt the authenticity of the last twelve verses. In Kelhoffer’s Miracle and Mission (2000) I found an extensive overview of the history of scholarship on Mark’s ‘Longer Ending’. According to Kelhoffer, critical reflection on the Longer Ending in the age of the printed book started with Birch’s publication of Vaticanus readings at the end of the 18th century. Out of curiosity, however, I moved back into history, from Birch to Wettstein (1751) … Bengel (1734) … Mill (1707) … Simon (1689) … Erasmus (1516)… All these scholars appear to already discuss the problem of Mark’s ending!

Through the ages, New Testament textual critics became increasingly aware of the problem. They encountered several remarks by Church Fathers, as well as all kinds of ‘paratextual’ information in the many New Testament manuscripts they studied. However, none of these manuscripts, no matter how old they seemed to be (such as A, C and D, all dated to the 5th century today), actually had Mark ending at 16:8. Therefore, before the end of the 18th century, no scholar, to my knowledge, ventured to hold Mark’s description of the risen Christ’s appearances to be secondary.

Then came, as mentioned, Andreas Birch, the Danish theologian-philologian, who, from 1781 to 1783, collated dozens of Greek New Testament manuscripts in continental European libraries, mainly those in Italy. Tregelles says about Birch that he “probably did more than any other scholar in the collation of MSS. of the Greek Testament” (Account of the Printed Text, 1854, p. 88). One of the manuscripts Birch examined in the Vatican library was already famous for its presumed age (some held it to belong to the 4th century; this dating is commonly accepted today). Some of its peculiar readings had already been circulating among scholars from Erasmus onwards; Wettstein can refer frequently to the manuscript he labelled ‘B’ because of its age. The most remarkable variant of ‘Codex Vaticanus’, however, had remained hidden from the scholarly community. Birch must have had his finest hour when discovering that in this manuscript, today generally considered to be our best one, Mark ends with ἐφοβοῦντο γάρ—“for they were afraid” (16:8).

Well then, the article is about this story, the accumulation of evidence from Erasmus to Birch, additional evidence after Birch, and the paradigm shift in textcritical theory around 1800 that makes the evidence of a manuscript like Vaticanus so weighty.

A final note. When I handed in the final draft of my article last summer, there was one thing I unfortunately had not been able to check: Birch’s presentation of the Vaticanus evidence in his 1788 Quatuor Evangelia Graece. No Dutch library had this book, and, more importantly, it was not yet available digitally on the internet. did offer the 1801 revision under the title Variae Lectiones ad Textum IV Evangeliorum. Here I did find Birch discussing the absence of Mark 16:9-20 in Vaticanus as the most telling example of the quality of this manuscript. But I wanted to hear him say such a thing in the 1788 edition, looking at the actual pages that can be seen as the turning point in the history of scholarship on Mark’s ending. I spoke about this with my fellow PhD candidate Christian Holmgaerd, who is Danish. A few weeks ago, he came with a big surprise: at his request the Royal Library in Kopenhagen digitized Birch’s 1788 Quatuor Evangelia Graece, in beautiful sharp images, and put it online. This is the title page:

On p. xxi Birch shares his exciting find with the world:

“Now although I believe the things I have put forward above make clear how much value should be assigned to Codex Vaticanus; still, let me provide, out of many observations, one example through which this becomes very clear.
The final pericope of the Gospel of Mark, from 16:9 down to the end of the chapter, is entirely absent in our manuscript, so that below the words ἐφοβοῦντο γάρ the subscription κατὰ μάρκον is placed. …”

Thanks to Christian and Det Kongelige Bibliotek!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Satan in the Latin Freer Logion

Anyone interested in the textual criticism of the New Testament knows about the so-called Freer Logion. This is a passage found in only one known New Testament manuscript, Codex Washingtonianus (ca. 400), also called the Freer Codex after the art collector who bought it in the beginning of the twentieth century. The Freer Logion can be found in Mark 16, in between vss 14 en 15. So we are talking about words that were inserted into the unauthentic 'longer ending'. The Freer Logion starts as follows:
And those ones excused themselves, saying, “This age of lawlessness and unbelief is under Satan (ὑπὸ τὸν σατανᾶν), who does not permit ... (transl. Craig Evans, WBC)
Although the Freer Logion became known as a manuscript reading only in the twentieth century, the first half of it was already known from the very beginning of the textual criticism in the age of the printed book. In the annotationes to his 1516 NT edition, Erasmus refers to Jeromes Dialogues against the Pelagians. Here (in section 15 of book 2) Jerome quotes, in Latin, an addition to the ending of Mark he says can be found especially in Greek copies.

Well then, while I was reading the Freer Logion in the text of Erasmus, I was surprised. Something was missing there, that is, Satan was dropped. The Freer Logion in the annotationes of Erasmus:
Et illi satisfaciebant dicentes: seculum istud iniquitatis et incredulitatis substantia est, quae non sinit ...
These words may be translated  as something like:
And they excused themselves, saying: this age 'consists of' (?) lawlessness and unbelief, which does not permit ...
I'm not sure whether the way 'substantia' (for which Lewis & Short offer, among others, the meaning 'that of which a thing consists') is used here, is awkward or not. But apparently, this is what Erasmus found in his manuscript or manuscripts of the Dialogues, and also what he prints in his edition of Jerome. Moreover, until the end of the twentieth century, this is printed as text in every edition of Jerome's Dialogues.

It is not so difficult to see what went wrong in the transmission of the Latin Freer Logion. SUBSATANA ('under Satan') was misread (or misheard) as SUBSTANTIA. The following relative pronoun, the masculine 'qui', was subsequently changed into the feminine 'quae' to make it correspond with 'substantia'.

In fact, Migne, who published Jerome's works in the second half of the nineteenth century, knew about a Vatican manuscript that had the reading 'sub Satana'. Migne acknowledges that this reading makes much more sense than 'substantia'. However, since he thought this manuscript continued with the wrong pronoun 'quae', he did not dare to adopt this reading, and to print, without manuscript evidence, the right pronoun 'qui'. In other words: he did not want to resort to conjectural criticism. Migne's reluctance is typical for a theological tradition of fear to go beyond the manuscripts.

Migne's remark ended up in the Nestle-editions. E.g. in the most recent 28th edition one finds in the apparatus at Mark 16, in the quotation of Jerome, 'substantia (= sub Satana?)'.

A final twist, then. Migne was mistaken. The Vatican manuscript from which he knew about the reading 'sub Satana' simply continues with the right pronoun: qui. In fact, the oldest manuscript of the Dialogues known today, a 6th/7th century codex in possession of the library of Lyon, also has 'sub Satana..., qui'. This is also the reading of the modern critical edition, the 1990 CCSL volume of Moreschini. Therefore, it no longer makes sense to refer to 'sub Satana' between brackets, like Nestle-Aland does. (I have been told that in the forthcomoning third print of NA28 'sub Satana ..., qui' will replace 'substantia ..., quae'.)

Moral from this story? I would say: strange things can happen in the transmission of ancient texts. And to this I would add, as a student of New Testament conjectural criticism, we should not reject a conjecture too quickly, simply because it is too brilliant to be true. Imagine we would not have Codex Washingtonianus, nor Latin manuscripts with 'sub Satana'. And then a clever scholar would conjecture 'sub Satana'. Probably we would smile, appreciate the creativity, but reject it as too far-fetched, and point at the pronoun that needs to be changed to show that the scenario of textual corruption is highly implausible.
Again, strange things happen.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Abbreviations in Greek minuscule manuscripts

In a 1735 book I found a nice page with a listing of abbreviations in Greek manuscripts. The book is Johannes Alberti, Glossarium Graecum in sacros Novi Foederis libros. Ex MSS. primus edidit, notisque inlustravit ... Accedunt eiusdem miscellanea critica in glossas nomicas, Suidam, Hesychium et index auctorum ex Photii lexico inedito (Leiden: Luchtmans, 1735).
It was really the time that critics such as Wettstein and Alberti started to carefully study minuscule NT manuscripts, and also the additional information found therein, such as scholia and lists, etc..
Of course those scholars had to learn how to read the handwriting. The image below, in a way, records how Alberti did just that.
It is a folded sheet, between the preliminary matter and the first page of the Glossarium proper. I found the book at Google Books (just try "inauthor:alberti intitle:glossarium"), but the table was only partly visible, because the GB operators more often than not do not bother folding out such pages. Luckily, the book is available in various copies, with different ways of folding the page, so that it was possible to reconstruct the complete page.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

... is in the details

Recently I took a closer look at the title pages of Tischendorf’s seventh and eighth major Greek New Testament edition. As often, the small differences are the most interesting. To name just one: in 1859, Tischendorf edited the text afresh “ad antiquos testes”, “according to old witnesses”; in 1869, the witnesses have become “antiquissimos”, ”the oldest” or ”very old”.
Tischendorf, Title page 1859 and 1869
While it is not difficult to guess what prompted the change, it is nice to observe its traces even on the respective title pages.

Another example? Another example:
Griesbach, Title pages 1777 and 1796
Griesbach’s first and second editions of 1777 and 1796, respectively (the dates are for the first volume only).
The change that caught my eye was between “emendavit” in 1777 and “recensuit” in 1796. Would it be too far-fetched to see the latter as an indication of things to come in the 19th century?
In any case, it is the term used by Tischendorf as well.

There is also a nice parallel in another change: it would seem that the less a scholar's name is established, the more important it is to include any marks of distinction that may apply ...

[For Tischendorf: HT Bart Kamphuis]

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The Case of the Extra Verse in John 1

The verse numbering of John 1 may differ according to the edition one uses. The description of the problem is straightforward: in a number of older editions, the current verse 38 is divided over two verses, making it into verses 38 and 39, and then of course the rest of the chapter has verse numbers one higher than today. Hence those older editions have 52 verses in John 1, one more than the 51 in others, including present-day editions and translations. It is the most striking example of diverging verse numbers in the New Testament,[1] though still nothing compared to the variation in chapter (= Psalm) numbers observed in the Old Testament Psalms.

Two simple questions arise: (1) who decided to put the two verses together? and (2) why was this done?

The second question turns out to be more easy than the first: compared to those older editions, the verses would actually seem to have been put back together. The very first edition with the still current system of New Testament verse numbers, Robertus Stephanus’s 1551 diglot, had 51 verses in John 1, just as today, and John 1:38-51 exactly divided as it is now.[2]

This observation raises two additional questions: (3) when was verse 38 first split in two? and (4) why was this done?

To start with the third question: Stephanus’s 1555 Latin Bible, and Beza’s first major New Testament edition of 1556/1557 did not split the verse. The first edition with 52 verses in John 1 that I was able to find is Beza’s second major edition of 1565. It is hard to say whether the change reflects a decision by the typesetters or by Beza. In any case, the split verse on p. 362 (of part 1) is not an error or accident. Indeed, just as all the other verses, verses 38 and 39 are formatted as separate paragraphs; moreover, Beza’s annotations to John 1:34-44, printed on the same page, follow the new numbering.

It is very likely that this 1565 edition was indeed the first with the split verse, for surprisingly enough the remaining portion of John 1 on its next page (p. 363) is still numbered as verses 44 to 51, instead of 45 to 52, and the annotations again follow suit.
Beza’s 1565 minor edition[3] has the new numbering of John 1, but now without flaws or hesitations, and so it remains in Beza’s editions, albeit with some oddities here and there.[4] The fact that Greek New Testaments such as the famous Elzevir editions follow Beza’s numbering may be an additional indication that these editions are closer to Beza than to Stephanus.

A reason for Beza or his typesetters to change the numbering, my fourth question, is not easily found. The old verse 38 may seem rather long, but its length is not excessive. In any case, names can now be attached to the two systems: a version of John 1 with 51 verses follows Stephanic numbering, whereas it having 52 verses points to Bezan numbering.

Apparently then, these two numbering systems happily (?) coexisted for some centuries. It seems a case of England against the continent, but not entirely so.[5] Their coexistence finally leads to the answers to my first question: why is the Stephanic numbering of John 1 the only one used today? It turns out it was chosen by Eberhard Nestle for his important 1898 edition, which he based on those of Westcott-Hort, Weymouth, Tischendorf, and Weiss. Confronted with the divergences in numbering, he opted expressly for the oldest, original one:
Verses … are numbered as found in Westcott-Hort and Weymouth, according to the 1550 [sic] Stephanus edition in which they were first introduced; from which regrettably later editions, among which Tischendorf and Weiss, sometimes diverge.[6]
Indeed, a large amount of confusion, as well as this small contribution, would have been unnecessary, had not Beza’s 1565 edition introduced an extra verse in John’s first chapter.[7]

In sum: (a) in 1565 Beza introduced an extra verse in John 1, by splitting verse 38 in two; (b) for centuries, two differently numbered versions of John 1 coexisted; (c) in 1898 Eberhard Nestle took the influential decision to adopt the original, Stephanic numbering.

[1] See below for Acts 20. There must be many more cases, isolated to a few editions only. E.g. the Dutch 1562 Deux-Aes Bible, followed by the 1637 Statenvertaling, splits Rom 7:25 in two; Whittingham NT 1557 and GB 1560, followed by KJV 1611, split Acts 19:40 in two. KJV 1611 splits 2 Cor 13:12 and thus has a verse 14 in this chapter (I guess because the split coincides with the beginning of a new column).
[2] There is however an error in verse numbering on p. 280v: verses 26-30 are numbered 27-31, and there is no verse 26; the first verse on the following page is again 31. Of course this error has no bearing on the rest of the chapter.
[3] The 1565 minor edition is later than the 1565 major edition: the former’s dedicatory letter to Louis I de Bourbon is dated “x. Calendas Martias” (February 20th) of 1565 (p. ¶¶ iiiiv), whereas the latter’s dedicatory letter to Queen Elizabeth is dated earlier, namely December 19th, 1564 (p. * vv).
[4] Such as a missing verse number for the annotation on verse 40 in the 1582 major edition; or, in the same edition, verse 52 suddenly numbered as 51.
[5] Stephanic (51) numbering of John 1 is found in (just a selection): Stephanus NT 1551; Beza NT 1556; Whittingham NT 1557; Geneva Bible 1560; Bieskensbijbel 1560; Deux-Aesbijbel 1562; Bishop’s Bible 1568; Rheims NT 1582; Hutter NT 1559 and 1602; KJV 1611; Amelote NT 1686; Simon NT 1702; Tregelles GNT; Westcott-Hort NT 11881; Nestle NTG 11898.
Bezan (52) numbering is found in (again just a selection): Beza NT 21565 31582 41589 51598; Elzevir NTG 11624 21633; Statenvertaling 1637; Whittaker GNT 1633; Curcellaeus NT 1658; Schmidt Versio 1658 (though John 1:38-39 is printed as a single paragraph); Fell GNT 1675; Mill NTG 1707; Wettstein NTG 1751; Harwood NT 1768; Griesbach NTG 11777; Lachmann NTG 11831; Tischendorf NTG 81869; Baljon NTG 1898.
[6] “Versus … Numerantur ut apud HR [Westcott-Hort and Weymouth] secundum editionem Stephanicam anni 1550 [sic], i. e. primam, in quam introducti sunt; dolendum, posteriores, TW [Tischendorf and Weiss] quoque, interdum ab illa recessisse” (p. 660; my translation).
[7] Or to put it differently: … had the entire world adopted Beza’s numbering. Indeed, in Acts 24, the same 1565 edition takes verse 18 and 19 together, thus producing a chapter with 27 verses instead of the 28 verses found in Stephanus’s 1551 edition and Beza’s own 1556/1557 edition. In this case, the Bezan numbering won the day and the Stephanic numbering quickly disappeared from the scene. It is perhaps a matter of luck that Nestle was not aware of the Stephanic numbering at this point …

Sunday, March 31, 2013

New Marginalia to Minuscule 69

The 5th of March, 2013, the participants of the Eighth Birmingham Colloquium on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament visited the Leicester Record Office in order to take a look at the famous Leicester Codex, minuscule 69.
David Parker lecturing on the Leicester Codex

The manuscript is very interesting. As a member of family 13 (the so-called Ferrar group, or φ), it links Britain to Southern Italy in mysterious ways. The manuscript was studied by Erasmus during his stay in Cambridge (1510-1515), in the years that Erasmus’ New Testament project still consisted of hardly more than critically collating and annotating the text of the Latin Vulgate with whatever Greek sources he could find. Some of the particular readings of min. 69 subsequently found their way into Erasmus’ Annotationes.

During our visit, we were drawn into yet another interesting aspect of the manuscript’s history, namely a set of marginal notes to the word Ἀντιπᾶς in Revelation 2:13 (f. 203r).
First, an unknown annotator, in the decades before 1844, wrote the following (in ink!):
Originally written Αντειπας and the erasure and alteration of τιπ in blacker ink is obvious.
Tregelles, who studied the manuscript while preparing his own edition of the text of Revelation (published in 1844), reacted sharply:
There is no erasure or alteration. S.P. Tregelles.
One easily senses some irritation in the double underlining of “no”. In any case, O. T. Dobbin (did we already know that he studied this manuscript?) found the case important enough to add his own two cents:
Dr. Tregelles is certainly correct – O. T. Dobbin.
Scholarship in the margins?

After careful study of the passage, we (Tommy Wasserman and Jan Krans) could not but fully agree with Tregelles’ and Dobbin’s judgment. In fact, it is amazing to see with what ease people then and now cover the margins of manuscripts with such trifles

NB: This post is published on both the Amsterdam New Testament Weblog and Evangelical Textual Criticism.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Paul, John, and Apocalypic Eschatology

Last Friday (February 15th, 2013), our Professor of New Testament Studies, Martin de Boer, retired from his academic duties. We, as his colleagues, took up the good academic tradition of offering him a Festschrift. And in just as good an academic tradition, he was indeed surprised and honoured when Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte, his successor, presented the book:
We managed, as the title shows, a certain degree of thematic unity, which is a Good Thing, not only according to the publisher. The book contains <blurb>important contributions by leading New Testament scholars</blurb>, which were at least for us as editors a pleasure to read and see through publication.

My own small article, which closes the book, is admittedly rather loosely connected to the theme, as it deals with the Pauline commentator "Ambrosiaster", and then only with the question who coined the name "Ambrosiaster". (If you think you already knew the answer, you will have to read the article.)

The book can be previewed at Google Books. It is available from Brill, both in electronic and old-fashioned format; the latter, fittingly, is not yet listed in the series Supplements to Novum Testamentum. But it exists, for <eyewitness testimony>it was offered to Martin de Boer last Friday</eyewitness testimony>. Ad multos annos!

Jesus Traditions and the Construction of Masculinities in World Christianity

"Jesus traditions" have an afterlife as well. This also applies to the use of Jesus tradition in the construction of (ideal) masculinities around the globe. With Dr. Adriaan van Klinken (Leeds University), Dr. Peter-Ben Smit co-edited a special volume of the journal Exchange dedicated to this subject. Its contents can be found here:

Thursday, January 31, 2013

SBL International Meeting

Today was to be the last day for paper proposals for the upcoming Meeting of SBL International, to be held in St. Andrews (July 7-11, 2013), but I just received notice that the deadline has been extended to February 11th. (Lucky you ...)
There is a program unit on (Biblical) Textual Criticism called ”Working With Biblical Manuscripts”, which already has quite some interesting papers coming, but which can of course use some more ...
[JK; updated 31 January 2013 (also changing “Aberdeen” to “St. Andrews” (lucky me)]

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Plagiarism in 1880

Those old German journals can be fascinating, once you are used to the language and the script. What about this one:
Literarisches Centralblatt 1881

Source: Literarisches Centralblatt für Deutschland 32 (1881), cols. 811-812 (via GB; two parts put together in Photoshop).

The nice sentence is, of course, “Besonders der letzte Umstand veranlaßt uns zu folgender Erklärung ...” It would seem to me that the plagiarism was not done very intelligently.