Thursday, August 31, 2017

Seventy-seven Manuscripts from Jerusalem

The Mar Saba Monastery
            In the year 483, a monk named Sabbas founded a monastery about eight miles east of Bethlehem in the rugged Kidron ValleyThis monastery – the Holy Lavra of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified – gradually grew into a highly influential theological center.  John of Damascus worked there, and his tomb is there.  Although the premises were temporarily abandoned in the 1400’s due to constant raids by nearby nomadic tribes, it was reactivated, and in 1625 formally joined the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
            Much of the manuscript collection of the Saint Sabbas Monastery is presently housed in Jerusalem.  In 1949-1950, an expedition led by Kenneth W. Clark visited the collections overseen by the Jerusalem Patriarchate, and photographed almost all of their manuscripts.  The Library of Congress recently released the photographs of these images online, making them freely available.  Many of these manuscripts consist of copies of the Psalms, saints’ biographies, history books, patristic compositions, liturgical texts, and even an occasional work by an ancient Greek author, such as Aristotle.  The collections also include some New Testament manuscripts.
            The New Testament manuscripts from the Saint Sabbas Collection are listed here, with embedded links to images of each manuscript.  

The headpiece of Matthew
in GA 1335 (Sabas 248)
GA 1335:  Hagios Sabas 248 - Four Gospels (The Gospel of Matthew in this manuscript has one of the strangest headpieces I have ever seen.)
GA 2926:  Hagios Sabas 676 - Revelation and Praxapostolos (This was catalogued as a Praxapostolos manuscript, but it begins with the continuous text of Revelation; Acts begins after that.)

            In addition to those 23 continuous-text manuscripts, the collection from the Saint Sabbas Monastery includes the following lectionaries: 
The first and last page
of Revelation in GA 2926


Hagios Sabas 360 - Evangelion (Weird script in the preface – stylized Georgian?)

            Another collection held at the Jerusalem Patriarchate is categorized as the Panagios Taphu collection, and it, too, includes some New Testament manuscripts, listed here with embedded links:

GA 1318:  Panagios Taphu 46 - Four Gospels (Neatly written.  Merits closer study.)
GA 1321:  Panagios Taphu 49 - Four Gospels (Some pages from a lectionary at the beginning)
GA 1325:  Panagios Taphu 62 Four Gospels (Made in 1724 – Greek and Modern Turkish Greek)

            Besides the 15 continuous-text manuscripts listed above, the Panagios Taphu collection also includes the following nine lectionaries: 

Panagios Taphu 33 - Evangelion (900’s/1000’s) (Elaborately executed)
Panagios Taphu 43 - Praxapostolos (Damaged; text begins in Acts 12)
Panagios Taphu 530 - Evangelion (made in 1744 – Greek and modern Turkish Greek)

[A couple of manuscripts were in the Checklist of manuscripts in the Jerusalem Patriarchate’s holdings, but I could not find photographs of them:  Hagios Sabas 413 (GA 1344, a manuscript of the Gospels) and Hagios Sabas 154 (an Evangelion).]


Thanks to the Library of Congress for making these images available.  Thanks, too, to Peter Montero and Peter Gurry for sharing the news about their release. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Fortunatianus Speaks!

            Fortunatianus’ Latin commentary on the Gospels, written c. 350 – about the same time as the production of Codex Sinaiticus, “The world’s oldest Bible” – has been found, edited, and translated!  The announcement of its discovery by Dr. Lukas Dorfbauer in 2012 is old news to regular readers; that was mentioned here a couple of years ago, and Roger Pearse had spread the news about it before that.  But now its text has been thoroughly studied and edited, and it has been translated into English.  Dr. Hugh Houghton tells about what has been done with the commentary of Fortunatianus since its rediscovery in an article at The Birmingham Brief.
          
            This discovery is highly significant, because Fortunatianus quoted from the New Testament over and over.  A quick survey of the Scripture-index in Hugh Houghton’s translation of Fortunatianus’ Commentary on the Gospels indicates that he made over 300 utilizations of New Testament passages, especially from the Gospel of Matthew.  This abundance of Scripture-quotations allows analysts to get a pretty good idea of the kind of Latin text that was used by Fortunatianus.  Here are some passages in which Fortunatianus’ Scripture-citations involve passages in which textual variants occur:
            ● Mark 1:1 – Fortunatianus reads, “In Isaiah the prophet,” disagreeing with the reading in most Greek manuscripts, “in the prophets.”
            ● Matthew 1:25 – Fortunatianus reads “she gave birth to a son,” disagreeing with the reading in most Greek manuscripts, “she gave birth to her firstborn son.”
            ● Matthew 13:55 (or Mark 6:3) – Fortunatianus reads “Is this not the son of Joseph the craftsman [or, carpenter],” thus adding Joseph’s name.
            ● Matthew 2:18 – Fortunatianus reads “weeping and much wailing,” disagreeing with the reading in most manuscripts, “grieving and weeping and much wailing.”
            ● Matthew 8:28 – Fortunatianus reads “Gerasenes,” not “Gergasenes.”
            ● Matthew 9:13 – Fortunatianus reads “to repentance,” agreeing with the majority of manuscripts and disagreeing with the Alexandrian base-text of the ESV, NIV, NLT, etc.
            ● Matthew 10:8 – Fortunatianus includes the phrase “raise the dead.” 
            ● Matthew 10:10 – Fortunatianus reads “staff” instead of “staffs.”
            ● Matthew 16:2-3 – Fortunatianus confirms the inclusion of all of these two verses.
            ● Matthew 20:28 – Fortunatianus uses a text which, like Codex Bezae, contains a brief passage at this point resembling Luke 14:8-10.
            ● Matthew 21:31 – In the text cited by Fortunatianus, the answer to Jesus’ question is given as “The latter,” instead of “The first.”
            ● Matthew 24:26 – Fortunatianus’ Latin text had an apparently unique addition which referred to false claims of the Messiah’s appearance not only in the wilderness, and in inner rooms, but also “in the mountains.” 
            ● Matthew 24:36 – Fortunatianus’ text includes “or the Son,” and he expounds upon this reading in his commentary, proposing that this statement should not be taken literally.
John 1:18, quoted in Fortunatianus'
commentary, with "only-begotten Son."
            ● John 1:18 – Fortunatianus very clearly uses “only-begotten Son,” and not “only-begotten God.”
            ● John 1:28 – Fortunatianus reads “Bethany,” but – echoing Origen somewhat – he proposes that “Here, then, we find a mistake either of the Latin translator of the copyists.”  And he proceeds to mention that “Bethara” (rather than Bethabara) is the “house of preparation,” and is the name of the place where John began to baptize. 
            ● John 1:34 – Fortunatianus reads “the chosen one of God” instead of “the Son of God,” but then continues with something else:  “And I have seen and borne witness that this is the chosen one of God.  And this is the Son of the highest God, begotten of him.” 

Who Was Fortunatianus?

            How much is known about Fortunatianus?  Unfortunately, not much, except that he was a bishop in Aquileia in the mid-300’s.  Jerome mentions him in De Viris Illustribus, in chapter 97:  “Fortunatianus, an African by birth, bishop of Aquileia during the reign of Constantius [reigned 337-361], composed brief commentaries on the Gospels arranged by chapters, written in a rustic style.  And he is held in detestation because when Liberius, bishop of Rome, was driven into exile for the faith, he was induced by the urgency of Fortunatianus to subscribe to heresy.” 
            Depite giving such a negative appraisal of Fortunatianus’ theology, Jerome was willing to praise Fortunatianus’ commentary in Epistle X (To Paul of Concordia), as he requested a copy of it, stating, “You are asked to give me the pearl of the Gospel, the words of the Lord, pure words, even as the silver which from the earth is tried, and purified seven times in the fire; I mean the commentaries of Fortunatianus and – for its account of the persecutors – the History of Aurelius Victor, along with the Letters of Novatian, so that, learning the poison set forth by this schismatic, we may the more gladly drink of the antidote supplied by the holy martyr Cyprian.”  (This could be understood, I think, as a cautious compliment, as if to say that Fortunatianus’ commentary contains fine silver if one is willing to go through the trouble of refining it, or that it is a pearl, if one is willing to pick out the valuable part from the unclean material around it.)

Where Was Fortunatianus?

            Before describing the commentary, a brief description of Aquileia may be helpful.  During the time when Fortunatianus served as its bishop, the city of Aquileia, along the coast of the northeastern corner of Italy (on a modern map, northeast of Venice and northwest of Trieste), was one of the most prominent and prosperous cities of the Roman Empire.  An imperial palace was among its buildings, and Constantine himself visited there, and in 340, Constantine II was killed near the city.  It remained one of the empire’s finest cities until it was attacked and destroyed by the Huns in 452.

What Book Does Fortunatianus Comment on the Most?

            Fortunatianus focused mainly on the Gospel of Matthew.  His method of commenting is far from systematic or exhaustive.  Those who approach this Latin text – which is extant, mostly, in a manuscript which can be viewed page by page at the Codices Electronici Ecclesiae Coloniensis (CEEC) website – expecting a verse-by-verse analysis of all four Gospels will be disappointed.  Fortunatianus’ main focus is the Gospel of Matthew.  He spends hardly any time on the Gospel of Mark, and although he covers John chapter 1 very thoroughly, most of John’s Gospel receives only spotty attention.  The episodes in Luke which are not repeated in the Gospel of Matthew receive some attention from Fortunatianus; almost all the rest is set aside.  In addition, except for parenthetical uses, the chapters which one might assume would be a commentary’s zenith – those about Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection – do not receive close attention.

Does Fortunatianus Use John 7:53-8:11 or Mark 16:9-20?

               Fortunatianus gives no hint that he is aware of the pericope adulterae, but this should not be overplayed:  Fortunatianus only used a single verse from John 6, and a single verse from John 7, and four verses from John 8, none from John 9, and two from John 10, and none from John 11.  We do not therefore conclude that Fortunatianus was unaware of the healing of the man who was born blind, or of the resurrection of Lazarus.  Fortunatianus’ sequential, focused commentary on the Gospel of John stops after his description of Jesus’ first miracle.  After John 2:11, the rest of Fortunatianus’ utilizations of passages from the Gospel of John are fairly random and sporadic, not systematic. 
            Fortunatianus does not explicitly quote from Mark 16:9-20; however, in a passage which inexactly echoes the comments of Irenaeus about the symbols of the Evangelists, Fortunatianus states that “it is not inappropriate that he [that is, Mark] bears the image of an eagle, since he demonstrates that Christ flew to heaven.”  The only reference in the Gospel of Mark to Jesus’ ascent to heaven is, of course, 16:19.  And in another place, Fortunatianus writes, “Jesus showed that, after he had trampled down death, and risen from the dead, he himself would preach everywhere through his apostles” – which, while not a quotation of Mark 16:20, seems like a strong allusion to it.  And, near the start of his commentary, Fortunatianus mentions that the evangelist Mark “lists his [that is, Christ’s] Passion and Ascension and sitting at the right hand of the Father.”

How Does Fortunatianus Organize the Text?

            Fortunatianus begins his commentary with a summary of each Gospel’s thematic emphasis, metaphorically expressed as one of the faces of the cherubim (Matthew as a man, Luke as an ox, Mark as an eagle, and John as a lion) and as one of the rivers of Eden.  Fortunatianus proceeds to build an allegorical case for the inevitability that the apostolic gospel should be fourfold, arguing that a divine pattern, in which the gospel of the twelve apostles is displayed in four parts, is shown in the high priest’s breastplate (which had three rows of four gemstones) and in the shape of a walnut shell, and via various typologies in the Old Testament.    
            He then shifts directly into a interpretation of the first two chapters of Matthew, offering reasons why Matthew’s genealogy and Luke’s genealogy go in different chronological directions, and why Matthew mentions 42 generations but only names 41, and why Matthew 1:25 does not imply that Joseph and Mary were intimate, and so forth. 
            After finishing his comments on Matthew 1-2, Fortunatianus introduces a list of the sections of each Gospel which he proposes to interpret:  129 sections from Matthew (consisting of material from 1:17 to 27:51), thirteen sections from Luke (consisting of material from 2:1 to 5:12 (or 5:16, where the episode concludes)), and 18 sections from John (consisting of material from 1:1 to 2:11).  Fortunatianus mentions that he will also comment on a few things that the other Gospels do not cover.  Having this established the borders of the territory to be explored, he proceeds.

What Kind of Interpretation Does Fortunatianus Give?

            While Fortunatianus does not deny the historicity of the reports of events in the Gospels, he consistently interprets them so as to convey a spiritual, typological, or allegorical lesson; as he says in the course of commenting on Matthew 15:  “Even though we can see that these were fulfilled on a literal level, they also have a spiritual meaning” – and this spiritual meaning is his constant quarry. 

A few forms of
the quadrans.
           Two examples may illustrate the quality of Fortunatianus’ interpretive method.  Commenting on Matthew 5:26, he writes:  “The quadrans [the Roman coin that is called a “farthing” in the KJV] is the smallest sin.  It says that you will not come out from there except when the account of all your sins, even of the smallest, has been paid off.  For a quandrans has three dots on it. What do these three dots represent, if not the Trinity?  It is necessary that if anyone does not acknowledge wholeheartedly that the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is made of one substance, they are called to account for this.  For just as a quadrans consists of one, so the Trinity is of one substance.”
            Modern commentators of all theological persuasions may chuckle at the notion that the true lesson of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:26 is about the necessity of belief in the Trinity.  And yet, while we may prefer historically grounded commentaries, how many historically grounded commentaries have you read that mentioned the dots on a quadrans?  
            Occasionally Fortunatianus shares genuinely interesting data-nuggets, and makes some edifying connections.  However, most of what he sees requires some extreme squinting.  Commenting on Matthew 15:28, where Jesus addresses the foreign woman with the words, “O woman,” Fortunatianus perceives that Jesus’ answer began with the letter Ω (that is, in Greek, omega), and that because omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet, this signifies that it is in the last days that the church has believed in the Son of God, and given Him his due worship.

What Is Fortunatianus’ Canon?

             Fortunatianus described the Septuagint with approval; he quoted Habakkuk 3:2 with its distinct reading; he utilized passages from Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, and Susanna.  This shows that he recognized an Old Testament canon broader than the 39-book canon; yet it cannot be safely assumed that he regarded texts such as First and Second Macabees as authoritative. 
            Fortunatianus utilized passages from Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, First Corinthians, Second Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, First Thessalonians, Second Thessalonians, First Timothy, Second Timothy, Titus, First John, and Revelation.  It is plausible that he simply did not have an occasion to quote from Philemon, Second John, Third John, and Jude – but the lack of quotations from Hebrews is interesting.  Fortunatianus took for granted the authority of Revelation, citing its contents 14 times.

What Theology Does Fortunatianus Promote?

            Fortunatianus affirms orthodox beliefs.  He describes Trinitarian theology as apostolic, and Arianism as deviant.  For the most part, he is more interested in drawing out intellectually stimulating or spiritually edifying lessons from specific passages, one by one.  Although the paths he takes to his conclusions are twisted – any occurrence of the number three will serve as the basis for a lesson about the Trinity – the conclusions themselves are orthodox or, at least, benign.  He affirms that baptism is for the remission of sins; commenting on John 1:12-13 he states that the church bears children of God “through the baptismal font.”
            Fortunatianus seems like a complete stranger to the tradition about the dormition of Mary, expressing a belief that Mary was put to death with a sword, as suggested by the prophecy of Simeon in Luke 2:35.  Another unusual belief to which he subscribes is that the John, though included among the twelve apostles, was quite young during Jesus’ ministry – young enough to be the little child mentioned in Matthew 18:2-4.
            It should probably be noted, in response to some sensationalistic and inaccurate news-reports about Fortunatianus and how he interpreted the Gospels, that Fortunatianus did not deny the historicity of the Gospels’ accounts about Jesus; he simply emphasized the spiritual lessons that he saw in the typological aspect of things.  (Peter Williams has made some brief comments on this theme.)       
                
How Can Fortunatianus’ Commentary Be Accessed?
            DeGruyter has released Dr. Lukas Dorfbauer’s critical edition of Fortunatianus’ commentary on the Gospels as Volume 103 in the Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum series.  It is currently priced at $114.99 and is described as “of extraordinary significance for patristics.”  A most welcome item for academic libraries.  A volume containing analytical essays about Fortunatianus’ work is also available.

            Dr. Hugh Houghton has completed an English translation of Fortunatianus’ commentary.  The translation is also distributed by DeGruyter, and hardcover copies of it may be purchased for $68.99.  The English translation was part of a project funded by the European Research Council, and its funds also made possible the provision of digital versions of Dr. Houghton’s English translation of Fortunatianus’ commentary on the Gospels which are available to download for free in Open Access via a series of links at their website (just scroll down a bit on that page to see the links).  Thank you to all concerned, and congratulations to Dr. Dorfbauer and Dr. Houghton upon the completion of this important work!


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Codex Macedonianus

The first page of John in Codex Y.
            In 1901, twenty years had passed since the publication of Westcott and Hort’s groundbreaking compilation of the Greek New Testament.  The Textus Receptus and its primarily Byzantine readings had, for the most part, been pushed aside.  The compilation that stood in its place, and which formed the basis for the American Standard Version which was released in 1901, was essentially Alexandrian.
            Also in 1901, Codex Macedonianus was discovered – an important manuscript of the Gospels, also known as Codex Y or 034 – but hardly anyone seemed to notice.  Before the release of Codex Y, the Sinaitic Syriac and its numerous rare (but wrong) readings captured the imagination of scholars, and a few years after the existence of Codex Y was announced, Charles Freer obtained Codex Washingtoniensis, which is still famous for the interpolation between Mark 16:14 and 16:15 that bears the name of the manuscript’s purchaser, the Freer Logion
            In between the discoveries of those two manuscripts, it is not surprising that the discovery of Codex Y by J. Bevan Braithwaite, and its subsequent analysis by his brother, W. C. Braitwaite, did not capture the spotlight.  Codex Y is younger (its production-date is assigned to the 800’s) and its text is mainly Byzantine, which, in the early 1900’s, was understood by leading textual critics to mean that it was far less important than Alexandrian and Western texts.  Even though Bruce Metzger drew attention to Codex Y in 1963, stating that it deserved more attention than it had received up to that time, not much attention seems to have been given to it. 
             More recently, however, the stewards of Codex Y at Cambridge University have digitized the entire manuscript, indexed its entire text, and produced a detailed description of its physical features.  So this might be a good time to become acquainted with this impressive Gospels-manuscript.
            Codex Y measures approximately 18 centimeters tall and 13 centimeters wide.  Its uncial letters are neatly written.  Chapter-titles in large red uncial lettering appear at the top of the page on which chapters begins.  The text is divided into Eusebian sections, and the section-numbers are written in red (except in Luke 1:1-11:26) in the margins (365 for Matthew, 233 for Mark, 342 for Luke, and 232 for John).  Sections frequently begin with a red initial that protrudes into the left margin; where such an initial does not appear at the beginning of a section, an obelus (two dots, arranged like a colon, and separated by a small wavy horizontal line) appears in the text at the start of the section, and another obelus accompanies the section-number in the margin. 
            When the manuscript was in pristine condition, each Gospel (as far as can be discerned) was preceded by a brief introduction and a chapter-list.  In addition, artistically executed headpieces for Mark, Luke, and John are extant. 
            Codex Y possesses an interesting lectionary-apparatus.  Symbols for arche (start) and telos (stop) are written in red in the text; blank space was left so that they could be inserted without harming the aesthetics of the pages.  Lectionary-related notes and incipits (that is, the opening phrases with which the lector was to begin reading the assigned passage for the day) frequently appear at the foot of the page.   
            The copyist of Codex Y was relatively accurate; a few small omissions (at Matthew 24:6, Luke 2:25, Luke 10:38, Luke 11:7, and at John 6:43) are corrected in the margins, and each is accompanied by an asterisk; an asterisk also appears in the text where the omission occurred.  Margin-notes also supplement Matthew 22:14, Mark 15:28, and the last part of John 8:14 – although whether the initial non-inclusion of these passages was the fault of the copyist, or a reflection of his exemplar, may be an open question.  The phrase καὶ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ is also missing from the end of Matthew 9:19 – a parableptic error that went undetected by the proofreader.
At the end of Matthew 25:13, the words
"in which the Son of Man comes"
are added, in red, in a marginal note,
linked to the end of the verse (in line 2
of the text) by comet-like symbols
.
            The text of Codex Y is written in one column per page, and the number of lines on each page is strangely inconsistent:  at first, there are 16 lines per page; then the last page of the Gospel of Matthew has 17 lines (very probably so that the following page would not be occupied by a single line of text); the number of lines per page then returns to 16 when Mark’s text begins, until Mark 3:13, at which point the number of lines per page jumps to 19, and stays there until Mark 16:20.  The text of the Gospel of Luke is written with 16 lines per page, at first, but suddenly changes to 21 lines per page in chapter 11, and then back to 19 lines per page in chapter 13.  These shifts may indicate that the copyist worked on each Gospel (or two sections of a Gospel in the case of Luke) separately, using different batches of differently prepared parchment.

            Some pages are missing:  all of the pages that contained Matthew 1:1-9:11 and Matthew 10:35-11:4, Luke 1:26-36, Luke 15:25-16:5, Luke 23:22-34, and John 20:37-21:17.      

At the online presentation of Codex Y (034, catalogued at Cambridge as MS Add. 6594) at the Digital Library of Cambridge University, a chapter-by-chapter guide (using the ancient kephalaion-list as the chapters) is accessible in the Contents menu at the site.  Here is a basic index:
            Matthew 10:11 (first extant page of Matthew) 
            Mark 1:1 
            Luke 1:1 (Lk. 22:43-44 included
            John 1:1

            Page-view 528 shows that the pericope adulterae is not included in the text of Codex Y; John 7:52 ends on the same line in which 8:12 begins.  There is, however, more to the story:  in the outer margin, and in between the end of 7:52 and the beginning of 8:12, the lectionary-apparatus instructs the lector to jump ahead (υπ, that is, υπερβαλε).  Within the text, immediately following the υπ-symbol, the lector is instructed to resume (αρξαι).  Also, in the margin alongside the line in which 7:52 ends and 8:12 begins, there is an asterisk, and the letters λιθ.  This did not go unnoticed by W. C. Braithwaite, who wrote the following in the course of a brief article that appeared in the Journal of Theological Studies in 1905:
John 8:12 follows 7:52 in the text of Codex Y,
but the lectionary-apparatus implies
the existence of the PA in an earlier copy
.
            “The rubrics for the Pentecost lesson John 7:37-52,8:12, include rubrics at the end of v. 52 and at beginning of v. 12, although the text of a omits the intervening verses (Pericope adulterae) and the rubrics accordingly come together on the same line.  The rubricator must have known of the verses and indeed puts λιθ. in the margin, that is, perhaps, περὶ τοῦ λιθάζειν or some similar phrase.  Dr. C. R. Gregory, however, suggests to me that the marginal note stands for λήθη ‘an omission’, the rubricator noting in this way the discrepancy between the text which he was rubricating and the copy of the Gospels out of which the rubrics were taken, which must have contained the Pericope.”  
         
                       
            Braithwaite’s description of Codex Macedoniensis in the 1901 Expository Times (beginning on page 114) includes a list of some of its interesting readings, which include the following:
            ● Mt. 16:2-3 – Y does not include most of the passage, agreeing with the Alexandrian Text.
            Mt. 22:14 – Y does not include this verse; it is added in the margin.
            Mt. 24:18 – Y has το ιματιον (garment) rather than τὰ ιμάτια (garments).  
            Mt. 24:36 – Y does not have μου.
            Mt. 25:13 – Y does not have the final phrase “in which the Son of Man comes.”  The phrase has been added in the margin, apparently by the rubricator (in red ink). 
            ● Mk. 4:30 – Y reads υπο την λυχνιαν επιτεθη, which, with υπο instead of επι, means, “set in place under the lampstand,” rather than “set in place upon the lampstand.”  It is tempting to suppose that some copyist pictured lampstands as something like simple chandeliers underneath which lamps were suspended.
            ● Mk. 10:20-21 – Y adds τι ετι ὑστερω (“What am I missing?”) at the end of the man’s question, and adds ει θελης τέλειος ειναι (“If you want to be perfect”) at the beginning of Jesus’ answer.  Both harmonizations are supported by Codices K, M, N, W (which transposes the first part), and Π.
            ● Mk. 14:65 – Y reads ελαβον instead of εβαλλον.  (This makes a difference in translation; with εβαλλον or εβαλον the soldiers strike Jesus, whereas with ελαβον – a reversal of letters – the soldiers receive, or welcome, Jesus.)           
            ● Luke 14:5 – Y reads ονος (“donkey”), not υιος (“son”).  Codex Y thus adds to the array of witnesses which favor this reading, which is neither Alexandrian nor Byzantine (both support υιος, and so do P45 and P75) but which was adopted in the Textus Receptus, and has strong intrinsic appeal (as well as a diverse array of external support which includes ﬡ, K, L, Ψ, 33, family-1, the Palestinian Aramaic version, various Old Latin copies, and the Vulgate).
            ● Luke 18:24 – Y reads των ουρανων (“of heaven”) instead of του Θεου (“of God”).  Again Y finds allies in Codices K, M, and Π. 
              
            The staff of the Cambridge Digital Library (which includes in its diverse collection Codex Bezae and a first-edition Gutenberg Bible) is to be congratulated for its high-quality presentation of this manuscript.  Not only are the photographs first-rate, but so is their magnification-method.  Visitors will learn much from an exploration of the “About,” “Contents,” Item Metadata” and other sub-sections of the site.  Codex Sinaiticus may still have the most thorough online presentation of any Greek New Testament manuscript (though the flaws in its on-site “translation” have not been addressed), but the presentation of Codex Macedonianus is not far behind.


Monday, August 14, 2017

eZooMS: Making Paleography Obsolete?

The York Gospels, shown here
(the beginning of Matthew),
has been sampled via eZooMS,
and so has 
The Hornby Bible.
PROBLEM:  One of the most frustrating aspects of manuscript-studies involves estimates.  Very often, unless a copyist has left a colophon that mentions the date when the manuscript was produced, the production-date of the manuscript can only be estimated via analysis of the handwriting-style.  Paleographers – analysts of ancient handwriting – may not always agree, however, and occasionally their estimates vary widely, not just by decades but by centuries. 
            Even worse is the variation in theories about the location where manuscripts were made.  Scholars have proposed that Codex Vaticanus, for instance, was made in Alexandria – or in Caesarea – or in RomeCodex Bezae has been thought to have been made in Italy in the 600’s – or in Beirut around 400.  Sometimes colophons mention the place where a manuscript was made, and sometimes illustrations, decorations, and other meta-textual features in the manuscripts provide clues – but all too often, determining the location where a manuscript was made is a matter of calculated guesswork.

SOLUTION:  Timothy Stinson, Associate Professor of English at North Carolina State University, realized in 2009 that with developing technology, scientists could analyze the DNA in the processed animal skins – that is, parchment – out of which most ancient manuscripts are made.  By 2015, a non-destructive method was developed to obtain genetic samples of parchment – enough to allow genetic analysis so detailed that it identifies the species of animal whose skin was used, and whether it was a male or a female.     
            Parchment is sometimes not the only DNA-source in a manuscript.  Beetles and other destructive pests sometimes left their DNA behind.  When venerated manuscripts were kissed, a DNA-sample left by the the kisser may survived to the present day.        
            A team of researchers consisting mainly of Matthew D. Teasdale, Sarah Fiddyment, Jiří Vnouček, Valeria Mattiangeli, Camilla Speller, Annelise Binois, Martin Carver, Catherine Dand, Timothy P. Newfield, Christopher C. Webb, Daniel G. Bradley and Matthew J. Collins recently refined a sample-gathering technique called electrostatic Zooarchacheology by Mass Spectrometry – conveniently known as ZooMS (or eZooMS with the electrostatic factor included).  EZooms involves “triboelectric extraction of protein” from the parchment’s surface (via the gentle application of an eraser),   
            The team applied this analysis-technique to a historically significant Latin Gospels manuscript, the York Gospels, which is kept at York Minster, in the city of York (the same place that was captured in 866 by Ivar the Boneless, the famous Viking). 

            For some idea of the usefulness of the data that can be gathered via the eZooMS sampling-technique, see the following articles and essays:



             Nowadays, New Testament textual critics group manuscripts according to their readings.  Theoretically, in the future it may be possible to group manuscripts according to parchment-sources distinct to specific areas.  It may be possible to identify locales of New Testament manuscripts, not just in theory by showing that the textual variants in a manuscript are shared with a patristic writer whose locale is known,  but by isolating organic abnormalities (from pollen, beetles, wax, etc.) of each manuscript and determining what other manuscripts, if any, share the same or similar abnormalities.
            For example, suppose that eZooMS shows that a particular group of manuscripts shares a special kind of parchment (parchment made from aurochs-skin, for example).  This could point researchers toward the next logical step:  studying those manuscripts’ texts to look for relationships among them.
            Or, suppose that different groups of Gospels-manuscripts, or different groups of lectionaries, are someday shown to be made of parchment from the skins of animals that lived only in particular places, or that a particular group of manuscripts consists of parchment which was prepared in a unique way, and which was as result either particularly resistant to, or vulnerable to, beetles.  Having that sort of data could help define the parameters for particular manuscript-groupings, along with data such as manuscripts’ page-size and rulings.   
            In addition, although I did not notice anything in the descriptions of eZooMS that would suggest that it can reveal the age of parchment, it seems to have the potential to reveal details about where a manuscript was made and what happened to it afterwards, and it does not seem unlikely that thoughtful analysis of that data (combined, perhaps, with ink-analysis) may be able to narrow down a manuscript’s provenance and production-date more precisely that what is possible via paleography.  
           The Ethiopic Garima Gospels, when subjected to radiocarbon tests of its parchment, was found to be about 500 years earlier than paleographers had thought.  Perhaps future applications of sampling-techniques such as eZooMS will yield many more such surprises in the future.  

  

Friday, August 11, 2017

Michael Brown and the Elephant in the Room

[Note for newcomers:  I am most definitely NOT a KJV-Onlyist.]
  

            Recently, Dr. Michael Brown, on The Line of Fire radio show, made an episode which, at first, targeted King-James-Onlyism, but which quickly shifted so as to target the King James Version itself.  His primary objection against the KJV was that its language is unfamiliar to people nowadays.  He stated, “What may have been an accurate translation then will not convey the same thing today.”  Of course that is true, where archaic terms and obsolete grammar is concerned – but that is an effect of the natural development of the English language in the past 400 years; it does not reflect upon the quality of the translation itself. 
            To illustrate:  if someone were to read about dissolving political bands in the Declaration of Independence and conclude that U2 was breaking up, the Declaration of Independence would not be to blame.  When readers approach a 400-year old text, it is their responsibility to take its age into consideration when interpreting it.  The chronological distance between 1611 and 2017 makes the King James Version more difficult to understand, but it does not necessarily make it erroneous.
            The accuracy of the KJV can only be measured fairly when it is measured in light of the meaning of words in 1611, and in light of the text upon which it was based.  Dr. Brown seemed to grant this when he provided two examples of terms in the KJV that meant one thing in 1611, but which mean something else in 2017:  the term “meat” – which could refer to food in general, including grains and fruits – and the term “study,” which was intended, just as Dr. Brown said, to mean, “Do your best,” or to exercise diligence when pursuing a particular goal. 
            So, when someone interprets the term “meat offerings” as if the cooked flesh of an animal must be involved, and when someone interprets “study” as if the word necessarily involves peering into a book, the error does not emanate from the KJV.  The error emanates from the reader’s failure to perceive what those particular words meant in 1611.  A simple glossary of the KJV’s archaic terms can greatly lower the risk of this sort of misimpression. 
            When Dr. Brown turned to the King James Version’s use of the word “Easter” in Acts 12:4, he called it an error.  However, a careful investigation shows that the term “Easter,” in the early 1600’s, was synonymous with “Passover.”  Dr. Brown said, “The Greek does not say ‘Easter.’  The Greek says ‘The Passover.’” 

            The term “Passover” was an invention of William Tyndale.  If you were to take in hand Tyndale’s translation of the New Testament, you would see that he freely interchanged the term “Easter” and his own new word “Passover.”  One example should suffice:  in Matthew 26:18-19, in Tyndale’s translation, Jesus tells His disciples to go into the city and deliver the message “I will kepe Myne ester at thy housse with my disciples,” – “and the disciples did as Iesus had apoynted them, and made redy the ester-lambe.” [Bold print added to make the reference super effective.] 
       
            So it should be plain as day that the KJV’s “Easter” in Acts 12:4 is not an error; it means the same thing that the versions which refer to the end of the Passover-feast mean:  that Herod intended to wait until after the last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread before having Peter executed.  Dr. Brown said, “To say ‘Easter’ is 100% inaccurate and misleading.  It’s a mistake.”  However, what he has perceived as an error is really just another case of obsolete language.
            Likewise, Dr. Brown charged the KJV with error because the term didaskalos” is translated in the KJV as “Master,” rather than as “Teacher,” apparently unaware that in 1611, the term “master” was entirely capable of referring to a teacher.  (An echo of this usage is still retained in the term “schoolmaster.”)
            What were the other prime examples of errors in the KJV?  Dr. Brown said that instead of referring to “devils,” the KJV should refer to “demons.”  But does anyone imagine that the KJV’s use of the word “devils” is really confusing?  As confusing as using four English Bibles translated from four base-texts using four different translation-techniques?    
            A few of Dr. Brown’s other examples are more convincing:
            ● Readers could be spared some confusion if the King James Version’s translators had not used the term “unicorn.”  However, the KJV’s preface (The Translators to the Reader) specifically cautions readers against putting too much weight on their renderings of rare terms for animals, plants, and minerals.  Plus, the precise meaning of the Hebrew term re’em that is often translated as “wild ox” is still a matter of debate – it might be a wild ox, or the extinct buffalo-like animal known as the aurochs, or the rhinoceros.  From before the time of Christ, this term has been translated as if it refers to a one-horned animal (a real one, not a mythical bearded goat-horse thing), and the KJV’s translators deferred to the traditional understanding of the term, cautioning their readers not to treat this rendering dogmatically.
            ● Dr. Brown’s objection against the KJV’s artificially plural term “cherubims” seems entirely valid. 
            ● The text of First Kings 18:37 in the KJV could be made more literal by reading “Answer me” rather than “Hear me.” 
            ● Another inaccuracy in the KJV, Dr. Brown said, is found in Psalm 84:  “Psalm 84:  one of the verses that I grew up loving was, ‘Blessed be the Lord our God, who daily loadeth us with benefits’ in the King James.”  Dr. Brown was recollecting Psalm 68:19, not anything in Psalm 84.  His point (minus the mistaken reference) seems valid; more recent versions render the Hebrew phrase as “who bears our burdens,” or “who bears us up.”

            Dr. Brown put a microscope to the text, symbolically speaking, and found an error in how the KJV treats the Greek word exousian in Luke 10:19.  He also objected against translating the word ekklesia as “church.”  Another “major example” of errors he has found in the KJV is its use of two different words (“weakness” and “infirmities”) to represent the same Greek word in Second Corinthians 12:9.  
            In these cases, he may have a technical point, but it’s like watching an archer hit the bullseye, and having a referee say that the arrow didn’t hit the very center of the bullseye, so it’s not close enough and the archer might as well have missed the whole target.   If one were to put such a yardstick alongside the NASB, NIV, ESV, etc., then one could identify hundreds of such “errors,” every time there is no distinction between the singular and plural pronouns, and every time the word και (and) is not represented, and every time a proper name is put in place of a pronoun, and so forth.
            Dr. Brown also proposed that if a team of the King James version’s scholars had been able to sit down to improve the translation 20 years after its initial publication, they would have changed passages such as Acts 12:4 and Luke 10:19.  History stands in the way of Dr. Brown’s theory:  in 1638, some scholars who had served on the KJV’s translation-committees (John Bois and Samuel Warddid tidy up the text of the KJV – and they did not change those passages. 
            And then . . . 

THE ELEPHANT ENTERS THE ROOM

            About 21 minutes into his presentation, Dr. Brown brought up manuscript-related issues, even though initially he had said that he would set that sort of thing aside.  
            In the fourth segment of the presentation, the manuscript-base of the KJV’s New Testament text came up again when Charles from Tennessee called the show and pointed out that “The bigger issue is actually the textual issue,” and that modern translations treat Mark 16:9-20 in ways that call it into question.  Charles also alluded to the enormous amount of manuscript-evidence in favor of Mark 16:9-20, and to the features in Vaticanus and Sinaiticus which indicate that their copyists were aware of Mark 16:9-20 “and willingly omitted it.”  Finally, Charles asked Dr. Brown, “Would you recommend any version that brackets or negates the ending of a Gospel, that basically removes the resurrection-account of Christ?”
            In reply, Dr. Brown first said that if one feels a certain way about the manuscripts, one should use the NKJV or MEV – but then he said (referring to Mark 16:9-20), “We know that that was not the original ending of Mark.  The vocabulary is totally different.”
            Charles responded that he had read Burgon’s book on the last 12 verses of Mark.
            Dr. Brown responded that Burgon’s book “has been refuted many times over.”  Yet he failed to name any specific refutation of Burgon’s book; instead, he recommended reading D. A. Carson’s book (The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism) and James White’s book (The King James Only Controversy), too – “They’ll help you there.”  Those who have read Carson’s book may wonder what Brown was talking about, since Carson specifically says in A Plea for Realism, on page 65, “I am not here arguing for or against the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20.”  White’s book is also remarkably unhelpful for people looking for accurate information about the external evidence pertinent to the ending of Mark – and concludes its discussion of Mark 16:9-20 with the affirmation that “Every translation should provide the passage” as well as mention “that there is good reason to doubt the authenticity of the passage as well.”  Well, that clears things up, eh.  (I contend in my book Authentic:  The Case for Mark 16:9-20 that with patristic support for Mark 16:9-20 from the 100’s, and with over 99.9% of the Greek manuscript-evidence supporting the inclusion of the passage, across all text-types and across many locales, such a definite maybe is not the best we can do.)  
           
            Dr. Brown then reaffirmed, “We don’t have the original ending to Mark’s Gospel.”  But he added that Mark 16:9-20 was “received by the church, and I personally am happy to use it.”
            Wait, WHAT?!  Dr. Brown just said that Mark 16:9-20 is not part of the original text, but he is happy to use it.  Happy to use it as what?  As if it is Scripture, or as if it is the work of some non-inspired person in the second century? 

            Dr. Brown recommended reading good commentaries on Mark to get the details about the ending; unfortunately he did not name any specific commentaries.  Then, after mentioning First John 5:7 again, he reminded himself that he had said that he wouldn’t be debating about the manuscripts – and again told his listeners that if they are at home with the Textus Receptus, “then by all means use the New King James, or the Modern English Version.”  (This seems a little inconsistent, since the NKJV has some of the same features – in Psalm 68:19 and Second Corinthians 12:9, for example – that Dr. Brown called errors.)
            Thirty-four minutes into the show’s video, Dr. Brown tried to reframe the narrative after Charles’ lively contribution to the discussion – but manuscripts were clearly still on his mind:  at one point he started a sentence with “Putting the manuscript debate aside” but continued, “don’t we want a translation . . . that has better manuscript evidence?”. 
           
            I don’t think that there is much of a chance that Dr. Brown will persuade any King-James-Onlyists that they are on the wrong track, as long as he pretends that the textual matters do not matter.  Most people who are willing to learn the archaic language of the KJV are not the sort of people who are going to be satisfied knowing that they have acquired the basic doctrinal message of the Bible; they want the full counsel of God, with no adulteration.  Few and far between are those individuals who would abandon the status of the KJV, the textual stability of the KJV, and the familiarity of the KJV, in order to be rid of the trivial inaccuracies listed by Dr. Brown.  One might as well invite people to kill their Cocker Spaniel in order to get rid of a few fleas.
            There are still some KJV-Onlyists who insist that the KJV’s translators themselves were as inspired as the apostles and prophets, but that is not where the momentum of the KJV-Only movement is going.  Increasingly, KJV-Onlyists (such as Samuel Gipp and David Sorenson) are making textual issues the centerpiece of their case.  To insist that all the essential doctrine is still there in the Alexandrian base-text of the NIV, ESV, NLT, etc., and that that makes it okay to select either the Textus Receptus or the Nestle-Aland compilation with as much consideration as one uses to select ice cream flavors, while it is spectacularly obvious that the differences between the two yield dozens of interpretive differences, is to insult the intelligence of one’s listeners.