Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The $14,000,000 Manuscript

What sort of manuscript is worth $14,000,000? Apparently, a manuscript like the St. Cuthbert Gospel -- a Latin copy of the Gospel of John, made in the very late 600s (the tendency is to suspect that the MS was made to accompany St. Cuthbert's remains when his remains were transferred to Lindisfarne in 698).

What makes the St. Cuthbert Gospel (also known as the Stonyhurst Gospel, because it was previously housed at Stonyhurst College) valuable to book-value-assessors is... not its text; priceless though the message of the Gospel of John is. It is cherished as being arguably the oldest European-made book in very good condition.

A detailed profile of the St. Cuthbert Gospel's appearance, contents, and history, along with access to digital images of every page, can be found at . The British Library purchased it from its previous owners in 2011 for nine million pounds.

Additional information about the St. Cuthbert Gospel can be found in an essay by Dr. Claire Breay at . Dr. Breay is featured in the video about the St. Cuthbert Gospel at .

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Luke 17:9: Is the Shorter Reading Correct? I think not.

At the end of Luke 17:9, a textual variant presents a four-way contest between
(1) the Alexandrian Text, which ends with τα διαταχθέντα; (read by B L f1 28 157 and supported by ite and the Palestinian Syriac)
(2) the Western Text, which ends with τα διαταχθέντα αὐτῷ; οὐ δοκῶ (read by D f13, and a small group of minuscules, and supported by the Peshitta, the Gothic version)
(3) the Byzantine Text, which ends with τα διαταχθέντα; οὐ δοκῶ
(4) Codex X and 214, 765, and 1612, which read τα διαταχθέντα αὐτῷ; (supported by Cyprian (in Treatise 12, Book 3, chapter 51), ita (= Codex Vercellensis, produced c. 370), the Sinaitic Syriac, the Curetonian Syriac, the Sahidic version and the Bohairic version)

An anomalous reading appears in 214 and 2522; they have εκεινω in place of τα διαταχθέντα.
Additional details are in Willker’s Textual Commentary on the Greek Gospels, TVU 275 (page 414).

The Armenian and one layer of the Old Georgian support παντα τα διαταχθέντα (agreeing in part with Θ 69 124 1346 and a secondary corrector of À).

The Old Latin e (Codex Palatinus, produced c. 400) seems to agree with B.  
Except for Codex Vercellensis and Codex Palatinus, all the rest of the Old Latin evidence, as far as I can tell, agrees with the Byzantine Text in the inclusion of οὐ δοκῶ.  The Vulgate does, too, reading “Non puto” arranged as the beginning of v. 10.
Nine assorted manuscripts (17, 501, 554, 594, 740, 1208, 1416, and 2127) agree with B.

The George Grey Gospels (1263) is among the small group of (mainly) Byzantine MSS that agree with the Textus Receptus and with D, reading  τα διαταχθέντα αὐτῷ; οὐ δοκῶ.

Codex Sinaiticus isn’t much help, because the copyist accidentally skipped from the διαταχθέντα in verse 9 to the διαταχθέντα in verse 10.  The corrector – who drew his arrows without quite connecting the shaft to the arrowhead – corrected the copyist’s mistake by adding οὐτως και in the text (recycling the υ of υμεις) and placing υμεις οταν ποισηται τα διαταχθέντα υμιν at the foot of the page.  (The correction, except for the itacistic quirk, agrees with B.)  Another corrector “corrected” the correction by adding, above the line (centered over τα), παντα.

Earlier in the verse, the copyist of À omitted το δουλω, which is added in the right margin in small letters (the τ is formed using the last stroke of the preceding ν).

The apparatus in UBS2 listed À and 1010 as if they agreed exactly with B.  In UBS4, À’s parableptic mistake is noted, and 1010 is listed as a witness for διαταχθέντα οὐ δοκῶ.  The apparatus in UBS2 had a separate entry for διαταχθέντα αὐτῷ;.  Also in UBS2, Antiochus (a monk at the St. Saba monastery near Jerusalem in the early 600’s) was listed as a witness for διαταχθέντα οὐ δοκῶ.  In UBS4 Antiochus’ name does not appear as a witness.  In UBS2, the Ethiopic version is listed as a witness for διαταχθέντα αὐτῷ;.  In the apparatus-entry for this variant-unit in UBS4, the Ethiopic version does not appear.  The apparatus in Nestle-Aland 27 lists 2542 as a witness for διαταχθέντα.

Metzger, in A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (p. 166), asserted, “There is no adequate reason which could account for the omission of αὐτῷ or οὐ δοκῶ, if either had been present originally.”  Let’s test that claim.  If οὐ δοκῶ was initially present between τα διαταχθέντα and οὕτως (the first word in v. 10), then a simple parableptic error elicited by homoeoteleuton accounts for the loss; when the copyist’s line of sight drifted from the οὐ in οὐ δοκῶ to the οὕ in οὕτως.  If αὐτῷ; οὐ δοκῶ was initially present between τα διαταχθέντα and οὕτως, there is no simple mechanism to account for the loss of all three words at once.  However, οὐ δοκῶ could be lost via a simple parableptic error, as a copyist’s line of sight drifted from the -ῷ οὐ in αὐτ; οὐ δοκῶ to the -ῶ οὕ- in δοκ οὕτως.  This would leave αὐτῷ by itself.  This reading has an unusual array of witnesses in its favor, including Cyprian (in Treatise 12, Book 3, chapter 51). 

Here is the English translation of the entire brief chapter from Cyprian, from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 5, page 547, in which Cyprian quotes Luke 17:7-10 –

“51 - That no one should be uplifted in his labour: 
In Solomon, in Ecclesiasticus: ‘Extol not thyself in doing thy work.’  Also in the Gospel according to Luke:  ‘Which of you, having a servant ploughing, or a shepherd, says to him when he cometh from the field, Pass forward and recline?  But he says to him, Make ready somewhat that I may sup, and gird thyself, and minister to me, until I eat and drink; and afterwards thou shall eat and drink?  Does he thank that servant because he has done what was commanded him?  So also ye, when ye shall have done that which is commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we had to do.’”

As mentioned previously, the reading supported by Cyprian (in which αὐτῷ is supported but not οὐ δοκῶ) is also found, according to the UBS4 apparatus, in ita, the Sinaitic Syriac, the Curetonian Syriac, the Sahidic version and the Bohairic version.  Thus the oldest Latin evidence – Cyprian and Codex Vercellensis – and the oldest Syriac evidence – the Sinaitic Syriac – agree. 

Codex a – Vercellensis – reads as follows, line by line (from Irici’s 1748 transcription):
“… Num- / quid aget gra- / tias servo / quoniam fe- / cit quae prae- / cepta sunt / ei    sic?  Et / vos cum fece- / ritis quae / praecepta / sunt dicitis / servi inuti- / les sumus / facere feci- / mus.”

The sixth line implies αὐτῷ but not οὐ δοκῶ.  The Latin may be rendered something like this:
“Because the servant has done things that are commanded to him, shall he [i.e., the master] act on his behalf this way? And as for you, when you have done the things which are commanded you, you also are to say, ‘We are unprofitable servants, we have done.’”

Codex e – Palatinus – reads as follows (from Belsheim’s 1896 transcription, page 77):
9numquid habet gratiam seruo illi quia fecit quae imperata sunt  10sic itaque et uos cum feceritis quae uobis fuerint imperata dicite serui superuacui sumus quod debuimus facere fecimus.
This clearly does not support οὐ δοκῶ.  But it does not absolutely rule out αὐτῷ from e’s base-text. 

So:  to defend the Alexandrian reading as the original text, one has to figure that a copyist added  “οὐ δοκῶ” to answer the rhetorical question of verse 9, and this reading was eventually adopted in the Byzantine text-stream, and meanwhile, in a transmission-stream, or transmission-streams, that affected the text of Cyprian and of the Sinaitic Syriac, another copyist added “αὐτῷ” on the grounds, alleged by Metzger, that τα διαταχθέντα “seemed to cry out for such a complement.”  In addition, at some point prior to the production of Codex D, the two expanded forms of the text met at one table and were both adopted, resulting in the conflated reading, τα διαταχθέντα αὐτῷ; οὐ δοκῶ.   

If, however, τα διαταχθέντα; οὐ δοκῶ is original, then the Alexandrian reading is explained as the result of a parableptic accident, and the reading with αὐτῷ, but not οὐ δοκῶ, is explained as the combination of a Western expansion followed by a parableptic omission.

If τα διαταχθέντα αὐτῷ; οὐ δοκῶ is original, then the reading τα διαταχθέντα αὐτῷ is explained as the result of a parableptic accident in which οὐ δοκῶ was lost.  But there is no obvious mechanism to account for the loss of αὐτῷ in the Alexandrian Text.

Some thoughts:

● Part of Metzger’s claim is not true.  There is an adequate mechanism which could account for the omission of οὐ δοκῶ, namely, simply parableptic error from ΟΥ to ΟΥ-.  Metzger’s theory that οὐ δοκῶ first existed as a “marginal comment that found its way into the Western Text” has no real-life basis.  No copy in any language, as far as I know, has these words in the margin.  
● If τα διαταχθέντα αὐτῷ; οὐ δοκῶ is not original, then it is a conflation of two earlier variants, one reading (with Cyprian) αὐτῷ and one reading (with Byz) οὐ δοκῶ.

● The words οὐ δοκῶ do not seem like something that a copyist would casually put into the mouth of Jesus Christ.    

● Inasmuch τα διαταχθέντα αὐτῷ may proceed from τα διαταχθέντα αὐτῷ; οὐ δοκῶ if οὐ δοκῶ is omitted via parablepsis, the apparatus in UBS4 needs to be modified.   The variant διαταχθέντα αὐτῷ; should be given its own listing (as it was in UBS2) instead of being listed as if it exclusively supports διαταχθέντα.  If one assumes that αὐτῷ was deliberately added, then the witnesses that support διαταχθέντα αὐτῷ indirectly support διαταχθέντα, but if one assumes that οὐ δοκῶ was accidentally omitted, then the witnesses that support διαταχθέντα αὐτῷ indirectly support διαταχθέντα αὐτῷ; οὐ δοκῶ.

● If the witnesses for τα διαταχθέντα αὐτῷ are combined with the witnesses for τα διαταχθέντα; οὐ δοκῶ, and with the witnesses for διαταχθέντα αὐτῷ; οὐ δοκῶ, the array of support is very impressive:  A D W Ψ 579 700 892 1010 1071 Byzf13, almost all Old Latin copies including Codex Vercellensis, Cyprian, Vulgate, Peshitta, Sinaitic Syriac, Curetonian Syriac, the Sahidic version, the Bohairic version, and Augustine.   

● Unless MSS 17, 501, 554, 594, 740, 1208, 1416, and 2127 are supposed to echo a text more ancient that Codices A and D, parableptic losses must have occurred somewhere in their ancestry.

● The Greek support for τα διαταχθέντα is narrow. 

Texts with οὐ δοκῶ or αὐτῷ; οὐ δοκῶ had very wide support in multiple locales.  It looks like the original text read διαταχθέντα; οὐ δοκῶ.  In the Alexandrian text-stream, οὐ δοκῶ was lost via parablepsis (from οὐ to οὕτως in v. 10).  Meanwhile, early in the Western text-stream, αὐτῷ was added, following which οὐ δοκῶ was lost, via a different parableptic error in which a copyist’s line of sight drifted from -ωου to -ωου.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Bible Secrets Revealed: Five Video-Reviews, Episode by Episode

In December 2013, the History Channel released a series called Bible Secrets Revealed.  It was produced by Prometheus Entertainment, under the oversight of Kevin Burns, who has also produced the series Ancient Aliens.  Robert Cargill was a major contributor.  Other contributors included Reza Aslan, Bart Ehrman, Kathleen McGowan, Candida Moss, Chris Keith, Mark Goodacre, Dale Martin, and Jennifer Wright Knust.  Gary Burge was in it, too.  Only the first five episodes have been released in the USA so far, as far as I know.  I’ve prepared video-reviews of episodes 1-5.  Here are links to the video-reviews:
In my response to "Lost in Translation"
I point out some misleading manipulations
of the graphics

4 - The Real Jesus
5 - Mysterious Prophecies