Monday, November 18, 2019

Talking Christianity Apologetics Podcast (Part 1)

           Yesterday I was interviewed by Joshua Gibbs at the Talking-Christianity Apologetics podcast, for a friendly discussion about New Testament textual criticism, the early history of the New Testament text, Equitable Eclecticism, the nature of the Byzantine Text, and some questions involving Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11.  Despite a few gaffes on my part – at one point, I repeatedly called Eusebius “Erasmus,” and said “Mark” a couple times when I meant to say “John,” and momentarily forgot where the Pentecost-lection begins, and somehow put Irenaeus in the 200s instead of the 100s  I am happy with the overall result.
            Here’s the video of the podcast, which lasts a little more than an hour and 41 minutes.  Hopefully Part 2 will commence early next year.


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

New Testament Manuscripts at Dumbarton Oaks

The beginning of Matthew
in Dumbarton Oaks MS 5
(GA 678)

            In Washington, D.C., just a 15-minute drive from the Museum of the Bible, there is a place called Dumbarton Oaks.  Besides having a beautiful garden and a very impressive collection of antiquities of all sorts (especially Byzantine objects, some of which are displayed in a gallery), Dumbarton Oaks – founded by Robert and Mildred Bliss, and now affiliated with Harvard University – is home to several Greek New Testament manuscripts:
            ● Dumbarton Oaks MS 1 (Gospel Lectionary) is also known as GA Lect 2139.  It contains readings from the Gospels as they were arranged for public reading in church-services throughout the year.  This manuscript can be dated precisely to a specific place and time, thanks to an inscription stating that it was presented by Empress Catherine Camnene to the Holy Trinity Monastery of Chalki in the year 6571 (i.e., 1063).  After the first 42 folios, the format of the text shifts to a cruciform shape.  In addition to this rare feature, the manuscript features many small illustrations, often related to the subject of the excerpts they accompany.  Page-by-page views of the entire manuscript can be downloaded for free, and can also be viewed online.  
           
            Dumbarton Oaks MS 2 is not one of the Greek manuscripts I mentioned.  It was written in Georgian sometime around the year 1000.  It is a Menaion, a liturgical book, providing the accounts of saints’ lives to read on their annual feast-days; this Menaeon includes the saints’ testimonies for December, January, and February.

            Dumbarton Oaks MS 3, also known as GA 1521, contains the Psalms (with Odes), the four Gospels, Acts, the General Epistles, the Epistles of Paul, and an assortment of prayers.  Like MS 1, this manuscript can be viewed online page-by-page, and it can be downloaded in its entirety.  The book of Psalms begins on fol. 6, with a headpiece picturing David composing songs.  Illustrations sporadically appear, and at about page 150 they begin to occur more frequently.  A portrait of Christ appears on fol. 39r.  Page 168 features an unusual illustration which combines the Annunciation with a picture of Mary contemplating the Scriptures, accompanying the text of the Magnificat.   Some pages feature cruciform text, such as 82r and 85r.  Eusebius’ letter Ad Carpianus begins on 88r, followed by simple red Canon-tables. 
            A rather full lectionary-apparatus accompanies the Gospels-text throughout (and continued through Acts and the Epistles).  Titloi appear in the upper margins, at the appropriate places, written in gold or gold-like pigment.
            The text of the Gospel of Matthew begins on page 197, with a large headpiece depicting the evangelist (framed in blue), an elaborate initial, and marginal illustrations. 
            Mark begins similarly, and with a similar format, on page 265.  Luke begins on page 309, and ends on fol. 186v.  The opening pages of John are not present; according to a digitally added note they are extant in the Tretjakov Gallery in Moscow as #2580.  The text of John begins on page 385 in John 1:26.  On 192r, John 5:4 is included in the text.  On 19v, John 7:53 follows 7:52, with a red “Jump ahead” symbol in between; the pericope adulterae is in the text; verses 3-11 are accompanied by red “>” marks in the outer margin.  A “Resume here” symbol appears in the margin beside 8:12.  John ends on 213v.  
            On 214r there is a list of the New Testament books in the rest of the manuscript:  Acts, the General Epistles, and the Epistles of Paul (Hebrews is listed between the letters to the Thessalonians and the letters to Timothy).  On 214v the summary of the book of Acts appears in a cruciform format.
            Acts begins on 215v; Luke and his readers are depicted in a headpiece, framed in blue.
            James begins on 250r; in the headpiece James sits below a canopy, or baldachin.
            On fol. 253v the summary of Peter’s epistles is formatted in cruciform text beginning with an initial E depicting Saint Luke; in the online images one can zoom in to see its artistic details.  A digital note then informs readers that the next folio of the manuscript resides at the Cleveland Museum of Art where it has accession number 50.154.
            On 255r the text resumes in First Peter 1:21.  Second Peter begins (after a book-summary) on 258r.  (Peter appears in the initial.)  First John begins on 261r, with John depicted in a headpiece (framed in green); John also appears within the initial.  (First John 4:7, without the Comma Johanneum, is in the text on 264r.)    Second John begins on 264v.  Third John begins and ends on 265v.  266r contains the summary of the Epistle of Jude, in cruciform format.  Jude begins on 266v; Jude is depicted in a headpiece, framed in leafy green.  Jesus Christ and Saint James make cameos in the margin.  A few pages are then used to introduce Paul and the book of Romans before the text of Romans begins on 269v.  The headpiece is exceptional; it features Paul in the act of writing while two companions (Phoebe and Timothy?) look on.  Each epistle is preface by its summary, each of which has its own title.
            First Corinthians begins on 282v.  As at the beginning of Romans, the initial “Π” has been turned into a picture of Jesus Christ teaching Paul; small red titles have survived to identify the figures.
In Dumbarton Oaks MS 3,
the initial "Pi" at the start of
each Pauline Epistle depicts
Jesus Christ and Saint Paul.
            Second Corinthians begins on 294v; again the initial is a depiction of Christ teaching Paul. 
            Galatians begins on 303r.
            Ephesians begins on 307r.
            Philippians begins on 311v.  The initial, which previous consisted of Jesus teaching Paul, is here a depiction of Jesus teaching Paul and Timothy.
            Colossians begins on 315r.
            First Thessalonians begins on 318r.
            Second Thessalonians begins on 321.
            First Timothy begins on 323r.  
            Second Timothy begins on 326v.
            Titus begins on 329r.
            Philemon begins on 330v.
            Hebrews begins on 331v.  At the center of the bottom of the page, a small group of individuals is pictured, representing the Hebrews.
            On 341r, there is a distinct change in the handwriting; a different scribe has written Hebrews 13:20b to the end of the book.
            After the conclusion of Hebrews, there are several pages of lectionary-related lists and other materials. 
            The Easter-tables in this manuscript begin with the year 1084, and it may be deduced that the manuscript was made around that time.

            ● Dumbarton Oaks MS 4, also known as GA 706, contains the Gospels of Luke and John, on 254 leaves.  Like Dumbarton Oaks MSS 1 and 3, this manuscript can be viewed online and the entire manuscript can be downloaded.  Compared to MS 3, the text of MS 4 is rather plainly presented.  There are full-page miniatures of Luke (on 4v) and John (on 150v), but these might be secondary.  There is no lectionary apparatus (other than some sporadic notes by a later hand); headpieces are in plain red; initials are also in red.  There are no titloi, even the Eusebian Canon-numbers and Section-numbers are absent.  John 5:4 is on 170v.  On 190v, John 7:53 follows 7:52 (και απηλθεν εκαστος . . .) and the rest of the pericope adulterae is included before 8:12.
           
          Dumbarton Oaks MS 5, known as GA 678, formerly known as Phillips MS 3886, is a well-executed Gospels-manuscript, written on single-column pages of 20 lines each.  In 2016, in Volume 70 of Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Nadezhda Kavrus-Hoffmann described this manuscript very thoroughly in the article A Newly Acquired Gospel Manuscript at Dumbarton Oaks (DO MS 5): Codicological and Paleographic Description and Analysis.  This article is available at Academia.edu .
            This manuscript from the 1000s has 327 leaves; each page contains 20 lines of text in single columns.  The decorations for the Eusebian Canons are so ornate that one might think an Armenian artist was involved in their production.  After ten pages of spectacularly embellished Canon-tables, Ad Carpianus, the kephalaia (chapters-list) for Matthew, followed by a full-page picture of Christ enthroned (somewhat damaged, perhaps by kisses), and a full-page picture of Matthew.
            The text of the Gospel of Matthew begins on 14r, with a sumptuously ornate headpiece.  Titloi appear at the tops of pages, and a lectionary-apparatus (in red) appears above that, supplemented by notes, symbols and other markings in the text and margins.  Occasionally the lectionary apparatus appears at the foot of the page.  Section-numbers and Canon-numbers appear in the side-margins (always on the left of the text).  There are a few corrections to the text.  On 99r, a lozenge-dot symbol () accompanies the beginning of Matthew 28:8 in the text, probably to signify the beginning of a Resurrection Morning reading.
            Mark’s text begins (with an elaborate headpiece) on 103r.  Another appears midway through Mark 1:13, denoting a lection-break, and again at 3:28.  On 126v, an asterisk-like mark (like but empty in the center) appears at the beginning of chapter 8; there appears to have been another asterisk to the left of the text too, but it has been smudged.  On 129r, the scribe somehow wrote και μετα παρρησια in Mark 8:21b; a later correction appears in the margin, introduced by the symbol which also appears in the text where the supplies words should be added. 
            The symbol appears at Mark 9:10 (on 130v), at Mark 9:28 (on 132r), in Mark 9:34 (on 132v), in 10:11 (on 134v), 10:31 (at the first line on 136v), in 12:44 (on 144r), at 12:40 (on 144v), in 14:1 (on 147v), in 14:27 (on 149v), in 14:38 (on 150v), at 14:43 and 14:44 (both on 151r; the second is accompanied by another in the left margin), at 14:57 (on 152r), in 15:1 (on the last line of 153r), at 15:2 (with another in the side-margin) and at 15:7 (both on 153v), at 15:12 and 15:14 (on 154r), in 15:20 and 15:23 and 15:24 (on 154v), etc., etc.  (I trust that future researchers will avoid assuming, if they see a before Mark 16:9, that this signifies anything other than a lection-break or the beginning of a chapter.)     
            After Luke’s kephalaia and full-page portrait, the text of Luke begins on 162r. On 210v, asterisk-like marks (like but empty in the center), one in the margin and one in the text, precede 12:16.  Luke 22:43-44 is in the text, on 244v.  The text of Luke ends on 254v.
            After John’s kephalaia and full-page portrait, the text of John begins on 257r.  On 282r, an asterisk-like mark (like ※ but empty in the center) precedes John 7:37, the lection for Pentecost-day.  On 283r, John 7:53 follows 7:52, with a “Jump ahead” symbol (ϒΠ) in between.  The pericope adulterae is in the text (και απηλθεν εκαστος . . . and with μη προσποιούμενος in verse 6 and προτος in verse 7 and κατακρινω in verse 11); in verse 11 απο του νυν (“from now on”) is added above the line. 
            A large asterisk-like mark (like but empty in the center) appears in the margin on 302r, and another such mark appears in the text, before 13:1.  This is the beginning of an Easter-time sequence of lections for Good Friday.  In 19:11, on 308v, the scribe did not write the word ουδεμιαν; it is supplied in the side-margin, accompanied by ⁒ which appears in the margin and in the text.  John’s text ends on 326r.
           
            ● GA 669, known as the Benton Gospels, now also known as Dumbarton Oaks MS 6, is assigned to the 900s.  It is missing almost all of the Gospel of Matthew, but most of Mark (which begins with an interesting illustration – the title of the Gospel of Mark sits like a king under a baldachin – serving as a headpiece), Luke, and John have survived.  Digital photographs of the pages of this manuscript can be accessed at the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts.  This manuscript has traveled quite far; after being brought to the United States in 1844, it eventually found a home in Texas in the collection of Charles C. Ryrie, until Dumbarton Oaks purchased it in 2016.

            It is not every day that one can come into the possession of a digital replica of a Greek New Testament manuscript – and the stewards of Dumbarton Oaks have provided us with the means to view and download four of them!  Thank you, Gudrun Bühl, James Carder, Jan Ziolkowski, Susan Boyd, John Duffy, and the many others who had a role in making these resources available.  May these resources reap a harvest of new and revived interest in the text of the New Testament on the part of everyone who studies them.   
            Here are some additional links to acquaint readers with the multi-faceted blessings a Dumbarton Oaks:
            The Byzantine Collection
            The Pre-Columbian Collection
            Byzantine Seals
            Museum
            The Riha Hoard
            Church of the Holy Apostles





Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection is the copyright holder for the manuscripts page-views and derivatives of them.

Readers are invited to double-check the data in this post.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Matthew 28:19 - Baptism In Whose Name?

Matthew 28:19-20a in Codex F,
beside part of the chapter-list for Mark
.

            “This is perhaps a case of late interpolation.”  That was liberal scholar Rudolph Bultmann’s opinion of the words “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” in Matthew 28:19.  
            Earlier, in 1902, Frederick C. Conybeare – who might be considered the Bart Ehrman of his day – claimed in a detailed essay in The Hibbert Journal (and in 1901 in Zeitschrift fur Neutestamentlich Wissenschaft, pp. 275-288) that he had found patristic evidence against the genuineness of this phrase “so weighty that in [the] future the most conservative of divines will shrink from resting on it any dogmatic fabric at all.” 
            At this very moment, there are some in the Oneness Pentecostal denomination who similarly regard the threefold formula “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” as an early scribal corruption.  The theological impetus for this position is not hard to find:  throughout the book of Acts, Luke reports that the early Christians baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ” (2:38), or “in the name of the Lord Jesus” (8:16), or “in the name of the Lord” (10:48); the use of a threefold declaration at baptism is never mentioned by Luke. 
            Some Oneness Pentecostals have attempted to resolve this apparent discrepancy by taking a theological step that is not far from – and perhaps indistinguishable from – the early heresy of modalism:  they baptize without such a threefold formula, and insist that the name “Jesus” is the name of the Father, and the name of the Son, and the name of the Holy Spirit.  Others, while theologically greatly distanced from Bultmann and Conybeare, share with them a rejection of the authority of Matthew 28:19 on the grounds that the phrase “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” is not authentic.  Some Islamic groups similarly reject the genuineness of this phrase.
            Usually when a reading has the support of every Greek manuscript in existence in which a passage is extant – as is the case here at the end of Matthew – there is no text-critical issue and it is accepted as genuine, as a matter of course.  Even Bart Ehrman – who has proposed (like Gordon Fee before him) that First Corinthians 14:34-35, despite having enormous manuscript support, contains a lengthy interpolation – recently wrote, “It is usually thought that Matt. 28:19-20 is referring to the practice in Matthew’s own community, some 50 years after Jesus’ death, not to the words Jesus himself actually spoke.”  (Readers of such comments should understand that when Ehrman employs phrases such as “It is usually thought,” he means, “It is usually thought among my colleagues who deny supernatural events in general.”)  Regarding those who, instead, claim to reject the phrase on text-critical grounds:  what are their grounds? 
            Their go-to source is Eusebius of Caesarea, the influential and not-entirely-orthodox historian of the early 300s, best-known for his composition Ecclesiastical History.  As Conybeare documented, Eusebius utilized Matthew 28:19 seventeen times in ways that indicate that his text of the verse read πορευθέντες μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου, that is, “As you go, make disciples of all nations in My name.”  Part of Conybeare’s argument that this reading should be given exceptional weight is that Eusebius was stationed in Caesarea, where in the previous generation Origen had enlarged the library with his own manuscripts; thus, it may be reasonably thought that among the manuscripts accessible to Eusebius in the early 300s were some copies from the early 200s, earlier than any existing copies of Matthew 28:19.
            Conybeare’s quotations from Eusebius may have initially appeared to justify his confident assertions, but he was quickly answered by J. R. Wilkinson in The Hibbert Journal in 1902, in the second part of an article titled, Mr. Conybeare’s Textual Theories (beginning on p. 96 of the journal issued in October of 1902, and on p. 571 of the digitally archived copy).  Wilkinson granted that Eusebius used a text in which “in My name” was in the first part of Matthew 28:19, referring to disciple-making, but he reasoned that this does not imply that “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” was absent from the second part of the verse, referring to baptism.     The textual critic Frederick Chase also wrote a response against Conybeare’s approach in 1905 in the Journal of Theological Studies (beginning on p. 481). 
            A comprehensive, and decisive, answer against Conybeare’s proposal appeared in 1923 in Bernard Henry Cuneo’s published dissertation, The Lord’s Command to Baptise:  An Historico-Critical Investigation With Special Reference to the Works of Eusebius of Caesarea.  Cuneo systematically scrutinized Conybeare’s quotations from Eusebius, one by one, along with other quotations, and showed that Eusebius, like some other patristic writers, tended to limit his quotations to the segments of Scripture that were relevant to the topic that he was discussing at a given point.  
            For example, Cuneo examples Eusebius’ statement in Ecclesiastical History 3:5 and considers the development of Eusebius’ argument in which the quotation occurs:  Eusebius quoted Matthew 28:19a, not to say something about baptism, but to confirm a parenthetical point; in the course of describing the Roman siege of Jerusalem, he writes:
            “. . . because the Jews continued to persecute His disciples, by stoning Stephen, beheading James the brother of John, and putting to death James the bishop of Jerusalem; and because they afflicted the other apostles so severely that they fled from Palestine and began to preach the Gospel to all the nations – imbued with the power of Christ who had said to them, “Going, make disciples of all the nations in my name” – and when all the Christians had left Jerusalem and fled to Pella, then the divine vengeance visited upon Jerusalem the crimes of which that city had been guilty against Christ and his disciples.”
            In Demonstration of the Gospel 1:6, Eusebius wrote, “Our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Son of God, said to His disciples after His resurrection, ‘Go and make disciples of all the nations,’ and added, ‘Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.’”  Here we do not see the middle of verse 19 because it is not pertinent to Eusebius’ present subject, whereas the beginning and end are pertinent. 
            Although this frugality may seem strange nowadays – that is, modern readers may understandably ask, “Why not just quote the whole verse?” – we ought to remember that nobody quoted from the New Testament in terms of chapter-and-verse divisions as we know them until the mid-1500s.  Quoting only what needed to be quoted in order to support a particular point was common in ancient times; Eusebius shows the same tendency toward brevity in his quotations of Matthew 11:27, 16:18, etc.
            Cuneo’s cumulative case is so effective that I recommend it to everyone who might encounter echoes of Conybeare’s argument; The Lord’s Command to Baptise is available online as a free download at Google Books.  Archive.org also has a copy.  Cuneo reminds readers about other patristic evidence in favor of the inclusion of the words “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  For example:

Didache, chapter 7 (early 100s):  “Concerning baptism, baptize thus:  having first rehearsed all these things, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, in running water.  But if you have no running water, baptize in other water, and if you cannot in cold, then in warm.  But if you have neither, pour water three times on the head ‘in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.’”

● Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 3, part 17 (c. 180):  concluding a series of proof-texts supporting his contention that it was not a Christ-persona, but the Holy Spirit, who descended upon Jesus:  “He said to them, Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

● Tertullian, De Baptismo, ch. 13 (c. 200):  “The law of baptism was enjoined and its ritual prescribed.  ‘Go,’ He says, ‘teach the nations, baptizing them in the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit.’  The addition to this law of the regulation: ‘Except one be born again of water and spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven,’ bound faith to the necessity of baptism.  Consequently from that time all believers were baptized.”

● Tertullian, De Praescriptione Haereticorum ch. 20 (c. 200):  He commanded the eleven others, on His departure to the Father, to go and teach all nations, who were to be baptized into the Father, and into the Son, and into the Holy Ghost.”  

● Hippolytus, Contra Noetum, ch. 14 (early 200s):  “The Father’s Word, therefore, knowing the economy (i.e., disposition) and the will of the Father, that is, that the Father seeks to be worshipped in no other way than this, gave this charge to the disciples after He rose from the dead:  ‘Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’  And by this He showed that whosoever omitted any one of these, failed in glorifying God perfectly.”

Acts of Thomas 9:4 (early 200s):  “And the apostle, having taken oil, and poured it over their head, and salved and anointed them, began to say, ‘Come, holy name of Christ, which is above every name; come, power of the Most High . . .  come, Holy Spirit, and purify their reins and heart, and seal them in the name of Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit.’” 

● Participants at the Seventh Council of Carthage (257), which was focused on the subject of baptism, included
            Lucius of Castra Galbae, who quoted Christ’s words from Matthew 28:18-19, including “Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”   
            Munnulus of Girba, who stated, “our Lord says, “Go ye and baptize the nations, in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
            Euchratius of Thence, who said that Jesus Christ, teaching the apostles with His own mouth, “has entirely completed our faith, and the grace of baptism, and the rule of the ecclesiastical law, saying, “Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
            Vincentius of Thibaris, who, in addition to alluding to Mark 16:15-18, said that the Lord said, in another place, “Go ye and teach the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

            Cuneo also spent several pages showing that Eusebius of Caesarea was indeed the author of Against Marcellus (336/337) and A Letter to the Caesareans Concerning the Council of Nicea.  In the second composition, Eusebius introduces and repeats his own creed, which, he says, was read at the Council of Nicea in the presence of Emperor Constantine:

            “As we have received from the bishops who preceded us, and in our first catechisms, and when we received the holy laver [i.e., at baptism], and as we have learned from the divine Scriptures, and as we believed and taught in the presbytery, and in the episcopate itself, so believing also at the time present, we report to you our faith, and it is this:
            “We believe in One God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of all things visible and invisible.  And in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, God from God, Light from Light, Life from Life, Son Only-begotten, first-born of every creature, before all the ages, begotten from the Father, by Whom also all things were made; Who for our salvation was made flesh, and lived among men, and suffered, and rose again the third day, and ascended to the Father, and will come again in glory to judge the quick and dead. And we believe also in One Holy Ghost.”
            This is followed by an addition affirmation: 
            “Believing each of these to be and to exist, the Father truly Father, and the Son truly Son, and the Holy Ghost truly Holy Ghost, as also our Lord, sending forth His disciples for the preaching, said, ‘Go teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’  Concerning whom we confidently affirm that so we hold, and so we think, and so we have held previously, and we maintain this faith unto the death, condemning every  godless heresy.”    

            In another composition, the rarely cited Syriac Theophania, Eusebius of Caesarea made a full quotation of Matthew 28:17-20 in Book IV, chapter 8:     After His resurrection from the dead, all of them [i.e., the eleven apostles], being together as they had been commanded, went to Galilee, as He had said to them. But, when they saw Him, some worshipped Him, but others doubted.  But He drew near to them, spoke with them, and said, ‘All power in heaven and earth, is given to me of my Father.  Go ye and make disciples of all nations, and baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. And teach them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And, behold!  I am with you always even to the end of the world.’  Observe now, in these things, the consideration and caution evinced by the disciples . . . .”     
            (In the same composition, which its translator, Samuel Lee, translated from a Syriac manuscript which had been obtained by Henry Tattam at the Monastery of the Blessed Virgin in the Nitrian Desert – a manuscript which Lee assigned to a period no later than the 400s – Eusebius explicitly quotes Matthew 28:19a with “in My name” as part of the text, saying in Book 5 chapter 46, “It was not that He commanded them, simply and indiscriminately, to go and make disciples of all nations, but with this excellent addition which He delivered, specifically, ‘in My name.’”)

            In addition to demolishing Conybeare’s case against the phrase “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” Cuneo offered an explanation for the presence of the words “in My name” in Eusebius’ text of Matthew 28:19a:  it is a simple harmonization drawn from Luke 24:47.
            This introduces a fresh subject:  the abundance of alterations, harmonistic or otherwise, that are clustered in the Gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances.  These passages were among the most-used parts of the Gospels in early church-services, and were thus especially vulnerable to early liturgical influence.  Here are a few examples:
            ● In the Peshitta version of Matthew, Matthew 28:18 features an insertion drawn from John 20:21; after the usual words of the verse, the Peshitta adds, “As the Father sent Me, so also I send you.”  (Codex Θ also has this feature.)
            ● In the Alexandrian text of Luke 24:42, there is no mention of honeycomb.  The words και απο μελσσίου κηριου could have been accidentally skipped due to early scribal inattentiveness; και follows κηριου in the next sentence.  But another possibility is that these words – supported by Tertullian, the vast majority of Greek manuscripts, the Vulgate, the Armenian version, etc.  – were removed intentionally to avoid incorporating honey into annual Easter-time worship-services. 
 
Extra words appear in the text of
Luke 24:43 in Codex K.
          
● In Luke 24:43, after the usual statement that Jesus “took and ate in their presence,” several significant manuscripts – including K, Θ, Π*, and members of f13, as well as the Vulgate and, according to Tregelles, the Curetonian Syriac and the Armenian and Ethiopic versions, also say, “and gave the rest to them.”  (Θ does not include “and.”)  This phrase may have been added when and where the passage had been interpreted somewhat mystically – the fish in the narrative being seen as congruent to the presence of Christ, ΙΧΘΥΣ – and when this point was reached in the Scripture-reading in the worship-service, the celebration of the Lord’s Supper commenced.    
            ● In Luke 24:36, after Jesus’ appearance in the midst of the disciples, He says to them, “Peace to you!”  In a small number of Greek manuscripts (including uncials G and P), and in the Vulgate, Jesus says a bit more; He goes on to say, “It is I; do not be afraid.”  These extra words – drawn from John 6:20 – are supported, according to the UBS apparatus, by the Vulgate, the Peshitta, the Harklean Syriac, the Armenian version, and by Ambrose and Augustine (in Contra Felicem Manichaeum).   In addition, in Codex W, “It is I; do not be afraid” appears before “Peace to you.”   
            All these witnesses may echo early Easter-time liturgical arrangements of the blended-together Gospel-accounts.  An early attempt to remove the intruding words appears to have gone too far; in several Old Latin manuscripts and in Codex Bezae, the entire phrase – “and said to them, “Peace to you” – is missing.  (This is one of the “Western Non-interpolations” which appear in Luke 24.)  Another possibility is that the phrase was skipped by accident.
            The worship-services of the early churches had a detectable impact upon the text of the New Testament.  But the impact of the text of the New Testament upon the early churches was far greater.  As far as the use of the words, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” are concerned, there was one reason for the early Christians to use these words:  they were attributed to Christ in every copy of the Gospel of Matthew.



Readers are invited to double-check the data in this post.



Sunday, November 3, 2019

A Surprise in Athens


            In 2015-2016, a team of researchers from the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts visited the National Library of Greece and brought to light 21 manuscripts in the collection there in Athens.  One of them – Lectionary 2012 – has not gotten very much attention,  That is unfortunate, considering that of all the manuscripts that CSNTM’s research has brought to the attention of the Institute for New Testament Research, this is one of the oldest.
            This sheet of parchment, glued to the cover of another, later lectionary, is from an uncial Gospels-lectionary that was probably produced in the 900s.  The reverse side cannot presently be viewed, since it is glued down.  On the side that is viewable, portions of two pages (on a single parchment sheet) with text can be seen.  
            If we look at the manuscript and begin to read the third column (to the right of where the sheet was once vertically folded), we encounter text from Matthew 27:6, beginning with εξεστιν at the end of the first tattered line, followed by βαλειν αυτὰ on the next line.  The text of this column continues to the beginning of Matthew 27:9, where διὰ Ιερεμίου is the last line of the column. 
            Shifting our focus to the first column of the manuscript (first, that is, in its present glued-down state), we see text from Matthew 27:53, beginning with –λθον at the end of the tattered upper edge of the parchment.  The text continues to the end of Matthew 27:54, and then – in the same line on which Mt. 27:54 ends – the text switches immediately to the beginning of John 19:31 with οι ουν Ιουδαιοι, continuing to the words τω σαβββάτῳ which constitute the last line of the column.  At the top of the second column, the first extant line is Πιλάτον ινα.  The middle of John 19:31 occupied the non-extant portion of the column (the descender of the ρ in ηρώτησαν has survived).  The text continues to the first part of John 19:34; the last line is αλλ’ εις των στρα–.    
            Thus, in this single-sheet manuscript fragment, we have (1) Matthew’s account of the purchase of the Field of Blood, (2) Matthew’s account of the centurion’s confession, “Truly this was the Son of God,” and (3) John’s report that when the soldiers came to Jesus to break His legs, they found Him already dead.  
            Here is a complete transcript, column by column, along with a more or less line-by-line English translation.  Bracketed letters in the transcription are not visible in the photographs.  Red letters are variations from the text of the passage as found in the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform.  Red crosses are features of the manuscript.

Lectionary 2012, in English.
Matthew 27:6-9a:
            [ε]ξεστ[ιν]
  βαλ[ε]ιν αυτα ·
  εις τον κορβαν[αν]
  επει τιμη αί
  ματος εστιν +
συμβούλιον δ[ε]
  λαβόντες η[γό]
  ρασαν εξ αυτ[ων]
  τον αγρον του
  κεραμέως · εις τα
  φην τοις ξένοι[ς]
  διο εκλήθη · ο α
  γρος εκεινος · α
  γρος αιματος ·
  εως της σήμερ[ον]
  τοτε επληρώ
  θη τω ρηθεν
  δια Ϊερεμίου

Matthew 27:53b-54 + John 19:31a:

                    –ηλθον
  εις τὴν αγίαν πό
  λην καὶ ενεφα
  νησθησαν πολλοις +
Ο δε εκατόνταρ
  χος και οι μετ’ αυ
  του · τηρουντες
  τον Ιν · ϊδοντες 
  τον σεισμον και
  τα γενόμενα ·
  εφοβήθησαν σφό
  δρα + λέγοντες ·  
  αληθως Θυ Υς ην
  ουτος + οι ουν Ϊου
  δαιοι · ϊνα μὴ μεί
  νη επι του στρου ·
  τα σώματα εν
  τω σαββάτω ·

John 19:31c-34a:

  Πιλάτον ίνα
  κατεαγωσιν αυ
  των τὰ σκέλει
  και αρθωσιν +
  ηλθον ουν οι στρα
  τιωται + και του
  μεν πρώτου
  κατέαξαν τὰ
  σκέλει καὶ του
  αλλου του συσταυ
  ρωθέν τος αυ
  τω + επι δε τὸν
  Ιν ελθόντες ως
  ειδον αυτον η
  δη τεθνηκότα
  ου κατέαξαν αυ
  του τὰ σκέλη +
  αλλ’ εις των στρα

         
            The extant text of this fragment differs from the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform only in matters of spelling; for all practical purposes, the two are identical.  This leads me to suspect that the writers who are responsible for spreading the claim that “No two New Testament manuscripts have the same text” have not examined very many fragmentary lectionaries.
            It would be interesting to examine this fragment with Multi-Spectral Imaging at the National Library of Greece (where it is kept as Collection-item 2460 ) to see the text on the other side.  It is interesting to see how this lection combined text from Matthew and John; perhaps a closer analysis of this kind of Good Friday lectionary-cycle could explain why the Alexandrian Text (in some of what are often called the “oldest and best” manuscripts) has a reading that resembles John 19:34 after  Matthew 27:49. 



Readers are invited to double-check the data in this post.


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

A Halloween Special: Textual Diversity in the 300s


            A few days ago, a video by Jonathan A. Sheffield appeared on YouTube entitled, “A James White Halloween Special:  The Textual Frankenstein of Modern Critical Text Theory.”   Since this 21-minute animated video has a text-critical focus, I thought it might be a good idea to offer a few observations about it.  I recommend watching the video (which can be viewed here) but for those who would rather have it summarized, here is a summary:   
____________________ 

            
After a few minutes of amusing cameos (by Bart Ehrman, Dan Wallace, and others) the stage is set for James White to go on a Halloween-themed time-traveling journey with Family Guy character Stewie, in a role comparable to Doc Brown (from Back to the Future, complete with a DeLorean time machine).  Stewie – Sheffield’s proxy throughout the video – tells White that past events have created “a mess” where the text of the New Testament is concerned. 
            Stewie points out that White, on his program Dividing Line, has tended to overlook the real problem with the modern critical text:  the weakness of Hort’s reasons for rejecting the Byzantine Text.  After the DeLorean time machine lands, Stewie summarizes Hort’s theory that Chrysostom used an essentially Byzantine text that had been created around A.D. 300 by an editor – perhaps Lucian of Antioch – who selected readings from older texts.    Hort, Stewie explains – as Hort is represented onscreen by a wizard – reduced the weight of all Byzantine manuscripts – “thousands of independent witnesses” – down to one.
            Stewie then says that Hort’s theory implies that for 1,500 years after Chrysostom, Greek, Syriac, and Latin-speaking churches throughout the Byzantine Empire used “the wrong type of text.”  White objects, stating that no bona fide textual scholar still subscribes to Hort’s theory – except maybe Dan Wallace.  Stewie replies that although White rejects Hort’s theory about the Lucianic Recension (called the “Lucan Recession” in the video), White still promotes Hort’s conclusion that the Byzantine text ought to be rejected. 
            About nine minutes into the video, Stewie explains that Hort, guided by principles of “German rationalism,” replaced the text of Antioch with a text “of unknown provenance.”  Earlier textual critics – Jerome, who produced the Latin Vulgate, Thomas of Harkel (who produced the Harklean Syriac version) and Ximenes (who oversaw the production of the Complutensian Polyglot) – used ecclesiastical texts, but Hort did not.  By preferring readings from manuscripts of unknown provenance, Hort created a “textual Frankenstein” which cannot be shown to have been used by any apostolic church before 1881. 
            Twelve minutes into the video, the subject turns to the Coherence Based Genealogical Method.  Dr. Peter Gurry confirms that there was no Lucan (i.e., Lucianic) recension.  A little later, after Stewie summarizes the concept of text-types (Alexandrian, Byzantine, Western, and Caesarean) and their importance in the argumentation of the late Bruce Metzger in his defense of the heavily Alexandrian UBS compilation, Gurry offers an important pronouncement:  the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method implies that “text-types are unhelpful for making textual decisions.” 
            This gives the impression of invalidating the basic text-critical approach that has guided the field of New Testament textual criticism for over a century, and Stewie runs with this statement; the basic premises that drove pro-Alexandrian textual criticism throughout the 1900s, Stewie says, have been a “phony baloney sandwich from the start.”
            Around 17 minutes into the video, James White is pictured on the floor with his arms curled around his legs, in a state of shock at how thoroughly the foundation of his position has been destroyed.   Then Stewie, Igor (Dr. Gurry’s assistant), and White undertake an examination of the “oldest and best manuscripts” upon which the Nestle-Aland text is based.  James White briefly takes on the persona of Gollum as he looks at Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, saying, “My precious.” 
            A little later, White objects to treating Vaticanus and Sinaiticus as if they have no provenance, stating that they were clearly used by the churches.   In response, Dr. Tommy Wasserman steps out of the background and affirms that the origins of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are “elusive.”  Stewie proceeds to contrast the elusiveness of the origins of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus with the known provenance of the text that was in use in apostolic churches in Antioch, North Africa, and Rome in the fourth century.  The Vulgate, Stewie explains, opposes the critical text promoted by James White. 
            Stewie then asks why the CBGM’s promoters and the editors of the Nestle-Aland text continue to use unprovenanced manuscripts as the primary basis for their compilations.  Onscreen, there is a picture of two individuals:  one has a hat on which “Nestle Aland” is written, sitting on a pile of money; the other one, holding money, wears a suit with a tag that says “UBS.”  Stewie then raises a question:  why do these editors continue to spread the Nestle-Aland/UBS compilation even though all the premises supporting it have been falsified?  He then says, “Is it because when you move off these mixed texts, and have to resolve the differences between the Vulgate,  the Byzantium, and the Peshitta, it leads us back to the TR?”
            James White finally speaks:  “That is heresy, Stewie!”  But Stewie resumes, and proposes that since the Textus Receptus is in the public domain, the primary reason why the scholars and publishers responsible for the NA/UBS text continue to make new editions is financial.  White protests that he does not want to hear this, but Stewie continues, mentioning that without new critical editions, White could not make new Halloween costumes modeled after the latest edition of the critical text.  White screams in frustration. 
____________________

            Stewie – that is, Sheffield – thus makes five proposals:
(1)    Preference for Alexandrian readings began with Hort and his German rationalism.
(2)    Since Hort’s theory that the Byzantine Text originated as a recension is incorrect, there is no reason to adopt non-Byzantine readings.
(3)    The very use of the Alexandrian Text is problematic because we don’t know where it came from, unlike the texts used by Jerome in the late 300s, by Thomas of Harkel in the early 600s, and by Ximenes in the early 1500s.
(4)    If researchers were to compile a text on the basis of the Byzantine Text, the Vulgate, and the Peshitta, the result would be the Textus Receptus.    
(5)    The researchers involved in the production of the Nestle-Aland and United Bible Societies’ Greek compilations are primarily motivated by financial gain.

            All five of Sheffield’s proposals are wrong, and his whole approach seems like an excuse for maintaining 100% of the Textus Receptus.  Let’s consider these points one by one.

DID DIVERGENCE FROM THE TEXTUS RECEPTUS BEGIN WITH HORT?

            No.  Researchers before Hort, such as Bengel, Griesbach, Scholz, Lachmann, and Tischendorf (and, even earlier, Walton) saw the advantage of collecting readings from all areas where Christianity spread in its early centuries.

DOES THE REJECTION OF HORT’S THEORY OF A LUCIANIC RECENSION JUSTIFY THE REJECTION OF ALL READINGS THAT DIVERGE FROM THE TEXTUS RECEPTUS?

            No, for two reasons:  first, the Textus Receptus has hundreds of translatable differences from the Byzantine Text.  Even if we were to say, “Let’s just reconstruct the text that Chrysostom used,” this would generally yield something like the Byzantine Textform, rather than the Textus Receptus.  Second, Chrysostom’s text does not represent the only ecclesiastically utilized form of the text from the 300s.  (Nor is it a purely Byzantine text:  in Stephen Carlson’s edition of the text of Galatians (2015) he records non-Byzantine readings supported by Chrysostom in Galatians 1:3, 1:4, 1:11, 1:12, 2:6, 2:16, 3:7, 5:17, 6:13, and 6:17.  And – to give just one more example – according to UBS4, in John 20:23, Chrysostom supports ἀφέωνται where the Byzantine Text (and the TR), the Vulgate, and the Peshitta support ἀφίενται.)
            Other forms of the text were used in other places.  Eusebius’ text of Matthew, at Caesarea, for instance, was mainly Alexandrian; Augustine’s Latin text in North Africa contained many non-Byzantine readings.  The Old Latin translation(s) also contained many non-Byzantine readings.  It would be arbitrary to ignore these other ancient local texts.
            Without Hort’s Lucianic Recension in the picture, the Byzantine Text deserves to stand as an essentially independent local text, but that does not mean that its exact form is always correct, or that the effects of mixture (i.e., mixture with other local texts) and liturgically motivated adjustments cannot be detected in it. 

DOES THE PROVENANCE OF THE ALEXANDRIAN TEXT POSE A SPECIAL DIFFICULTY? 

            No.  We do not know the specific origins of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus but this is true of practically every single parchment codex of New Testament books that has survived from before the 500s, whether Greek or Latin or Syriac or whatever.  The area in which the Alexandrian Text was used is no mystery:  it was used in Egypt, as can be seen by the consistent similarly of Vaticanus’ text with the Sahidic version.  And many non-Byzantine readings were in the manuscripts utilized by patristic authors in Chrysostom’s time and earlier, in other locales.  Granting that we do not know the names and exact locations of the individuals who perpetuated the New Testament text in Egypt, this is also true of the individuals who made Athanasius’ manuscripts, and Jerome’s manuscripts, and Augustine’s manuscripts, and Ambrose’s manuscripts, and Chrysostom’s manuscripts.  Noticing where a manuscript was used is not the same as knowing where its readings originated.     
            Sheffield asserts that ancient scholars such as Jerome and Thomas of Harkel used only “ecclesiastical” texts.  But when we examine the actual contents of the Vulgate and the Harklean Syriac, we don’t see exclusively Byzantine readings; both the Vulgate and the Harklean Syriac have many non-Byzantine readings, as anyone can verify by comparing the Byzantine Text, the Vulgate, and the Harklean Syriac side-by-side-by-side in the General Epistles.  If one grants that the Vulgate and the Harklean Syriac were based exclusively on ecclesiastical sources, it follows irresistibly that the Byzantine Text was not the only ecclesiastical source available.   

WOULD A COMPILATION BASED ON THE BYZANTINE TEXT, THE VULGATE, AND THE PESHITTA PRODUCE THE TEXTUS RECEPTUS?

            No.  The Peshitta, as initially issued, did not contain the books of Second Peter, Second John, Third John, Jude, and Revelation, and at many points the Peshitta disagrees with the Textus Receptus (and with the Byzantine text).  The Vulgate also has many disagreements with the Textus Receptus (and with the Byzantine text).  And the Byzantine Text itself, as presented in the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform, has many disagreements with the Textus Receptus. 
            Certainly in many textual contests the Vulgate, the Peshitta, and the Byzantine Text all point in the same direction, uniformly disagreeing with the Alexandrian Text, as we see in Matthew 1:25 and Matthew 20:16 and Mark 15:28 and Mark 16:9-20 and Luke 22:43-44 and John 3:13, etc., etc.  But most of the minority-readings of the Textus Receptus would not be vindicated by such a compilation; in addition, the Byzantine reading is sometimes opposed by both the Vulgate and Peshitta (in Ephesians 5:9 and James 4:4, for example).  Sheffield’s picture of a world in the fourth century where there was one uniform text used in the churches is not realistic; even less realistic is the idea that this uniform ecclesiastical fourth-century text was the Textus Receptus.                

IS FINANCIAL GAIN THE MOTIVE FOR THE PUBLICATION OF NEW EDITIONS OF THE NESTLE-ALAND COMPILATION OF THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT? 

            Sheffield is not the first person to wonder about the motives of liberal scholars such as David Trobisch.  But if anyone wants to see the text of the 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland compilation, it is free online, as are many other editions of the critical text.  And not only is the 2005 Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform also free online, but it is a public domain text, prefaced by a statement that “Anyone is permitted to copy and distribute this text or any portion of this text.” 

            In short:  Sheffield’s criticism of researchers who reject the theory of the Lucianic recension, and yet continue to treat the Byzantine Text as if almost all of its distinct readings are secondary, is applauded.  However, if Sheffield’s assumptions about the text of Chrysostom were valid, they would tend to favor the Byzantine Text rather than the minority-readings embedded in the Textus Receptus.  An awareness of the variety of local texts in the fourth century renders Sheffield’s whole approach, undertaken to maintain the Textus Receptus, untenable at every turn.



Readers are invited to double-check the data in this post.