Tuesday, October 31, 2017

John 4:17 - Prefer the Shorter Reading, Unless . . .

John 4:16ff.
in Codex L.
          Today, let’s take a look at the text of John 4:17.  This verse is not exactly at the epicenter of text-critical debates, but the evidence pertaining to it is nevertheless interesting.  In all English versions, in a discussion between Jesus and a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, after Jesus tells the woman, “Go call your husband, and come here,” John 4:17 runs along the following lines:
            The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.”  Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband.’”  
            The Greek text: 
            Ἀπεκρίθη ἡ γυνὴ καὶ εἶπεν, Οὐκ ἔχω ἄνδρα.  Λέγει αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Καλῶς εἶπας ὅτι Ἄνδρα οῦκ ἔχω·
            That, at least, is the text that is found in the vast majority of Greek manuscripts of the Gospel of John, and in most editions of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece.  In the 26th, 27th, and 28th editions, though, the word αὐτῷ (“to him”) appears after εἶπεν (supported by Papyrus 66, Papyrus 75, and by B, C, N, et al).  Nevertheless several modern versions – including the CSB, NIV, NLT, and NASB – do not show any sign that αὐτῷ is in their base-text. 
            So, already, we have found something interesting in John 4:17:  although the Byzantine Text is often described as a text full of expansions, perpetuated by copyists who worked on the principle, “When in doubt, don’t leave it out,” in this case, the Nestle-Aland/UBS compilers must think that the Byzantine copyists did leave something out, because the Alexandrian form is longer.  One might get the impression that the compilers employed here the principle, “Prefer the shorter reading, unless it is Byzantine.” 
            Another interesting feature, with interesting implications, appears in the text of John 4:17 in Papyrus 75.  The copyist of P75, it is alleged, was meticulous and precise.  Yet in this verse the copyist wrote λεγει instead of εἶπεν – an arbitrary change, since both words mean the same thing.  This hurts the theory that the copyists of the early Alexandrian transmission-stream were immune from the temptation to attempt to “improve” the text. 
            The copyist of P75, however, was a model of discipline compared to the copyist or copyists responsible for the text that was written in Codex Sinaiticus (ﬡ).  In the text that was written by the main copyist in Codex Sinaiticus, the copyist apparently considered the words “καὶ εἶπεν” (“and said”) to be superfluous, and left them out.  Next, we see in ﬡ (and in Codices C*, D and L) a change in the order of the three words in the woman’s response:  Ἄνδρα οῦκ ἔχω rather than Οὐκ ἔχω ἄνδρα. 
            What elicited this change?  Probably not scribal piety, as if the copyists thought that the woman’s words should be conformed to Jesus’ response later in the verse, for in ﬡ and D, Jesus’ words are altered to Ἄνδρα οῦκ ἔχεις and thus there is no close conformity.  A more likely explanation is that this reading originated earlier in the Western transmission-stream, and was an attempt to simplify the Greek text for readers whose first language was Latin.
Jacob's well
(in a modern enclosure)
            A final observation may be made about the text of John 4:17 as it exists in the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece:  when we compare John 4:17 in Byzantine manuscripts to John 4:17 in Alexandrian manuscripts, the Byzantine transmission-line appears much more stable.  According to Reuben Swanson’s horizontal-line comparison, the uncials A Y K M S U Δ Λ Π Ψ Ω all read the same way.  Consider, in contrast, the fluctuation displayed among the “earliest and best” manuscripts: 
            Papyrus 75 reads λεγει instead of εἶπεν.          
            Codex B* reads εἶπες instead of εἶπας.
            Codex ﬡ* omits καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, reverses the word-order of the woman’s words to Ἄνδρα οῦκ ἔχω, reads εἶπες instead of εἶπας, and changes the last word of the verse to ἔχεις.
            Codex ﬡ’s corrector added καὶ εἶπεν (without αὐτῷ).  
            Codex C* changes the word-order of the woman’s words to Ἄνδρα οῦκ ἔχω.
            Codex D does not include αὐτῷ, changes the word-order of the woman’s words to Ἄνδρα οῦκ ἔχω, and changes the last word of the verse to ἔχεις. 
            Codex L does not include αὐτῷ, and changes the word-order of the woman’s words to Ἄνδρα οῦκ ἔχω.
            Codex W (in a supplemental portion) does not include αὐτῷ. 

            Thus, it appears that only one manuscript – Papyrus 66 – agrees with the Nestle-Aland compilation letter-for-letter throughout the entire verse, without corrections.  A question about probability seems appropriate:  how likely is it that in two short and uncomplicated sentences, only one extant manuscript would preserve the original text?      

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Equitable Eclecticism - Part 2

(Continuing the presentation of a slightly updated version of my 2010 essay Equitable Eclecticism:  The Future of New Testament Textual Criticism)

Competing Analytical Approaches

In the Byzantine Priority view, Greek manuscripts which display the Byzantine Text are considered superior witnesses on the grounds that their text has a plausible transmission-history.  Pick any series of readings in the Byzantine Text, and it can be shown to have considerable manuscript support.  The Nestle-Aland compilation, meanwhile, is considered a “test-tube text,” because it often combines readings in a series that is unattested in any Greek manuscript.  And although it has been argued that this is unavoidably what one gets when selecting variants from among different text-types, the point remains that a heavy burden of proof should be upon the compiler whose work implies a transmission-history in which no copyists have preserved the original combination of readings in hundreds of passages.
On the other end of the spectrum, the approach used by Hort may seem like something very different from Byzantine Priority, but in terms of methodology the two approaches are similar:  Hort regarded a specific set of manuscripts as superior to all others (in this case, Codex Vaticanus and whatever allies Hort could find for it), and he built a transmission-model that vindicated its readings.  Having established Vaticanus as the best overall witness in a relatively small series of contests, Hort gave it enormous weight, with the result that its text just kept getting better and better, as more and more contests were decided by “the weight of the witnesses” – to the point that long segments of Hort’s compilation resemble transcripts of Codex Vaticanus.      
Two other approaches were developed by textual critics in the 1900’s by scholars aspiring to produce an eclectic text (that is, a text obtained via the utilization of a variety of sources).
Thoroughgoing Eclecticism (also known as Rigorous Eclecticism) values the relative intrinsic qualities of rival variants as the best means to determine their relationships, effectively rejecting Hort’s axiom.  In this approach, even if a reading appears exclusively in late witnesses, if its intrinsic qualities are judged to be better than its rivals, it is adopted, on the premise that its young supporters echo an older text – the autograph – at that point. 
Building on the theory that text-types did not stabilize until the 200’s or later, thoroughgoing eclectics resort to the only sort of reconstruction which can be undertaken without appealing to the relationships of text-types:  the relationships of rival variants.  Advocates of this approach tend to be more willing to introduce conjectural emendations, if an emendation possesses superior intrinsic qualities to its rival extant variants. 
Reasoned Eclecticism (also known as Rational Eclecticism), in theory, considers the relative intrinsic qualities of rival variants, but also considers the quality of each variant’s sources, their date, and their scope.  The text of the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament was compiled using a form of reasoned eclecticism.  However, in its companion-volume, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Bruce Metzger’s comments show that the quality of sources tended to be measured according to Hort’s model of transmission-history.  In The Text of the New Testament, Metzger wrote, “Theoretically it is possible that the Koine text” – that is, the Byzantine Text – “may preserve an early reading which was lost from the other types of text, but such instances are extremely rare.”  This anti-Byzantine bias is pervasive.  It is no surprise, therefore, that the UBS text varies only slightly from Hort’s text, even though more evidence in favor of Byzantine readings is available to researchers than ever before.  (For more on this subject seem my four-part essay, The Text of Reasoned Eclecticism:  Is it Reasonable and Eclectic?)
An alternative is Equitable Eclecticism, in which the relative intrinsic qualities of rival variants are considered, and each variant’s sources, their date, and their scope are also considered.  Equitable Eclecticism begins by developing a generalized model of transmission-history, and estimates of the relative values of the readings of groups, through a five-step process:

            ● First, the witnesses are organized into groups which share distinctive variants.
            ● Second, variant-units involving variants distinct to each group are analyzed according to text-critical principles, or canons.   
            ● Third, a tentative model of transmission-history is developed, cumulatively explaining the relationships of the competing groups to one another by explaining the relationships of their component-parts where distinctive variants are involved.  This model of transmission-history utilizes the premise that the earliest stratum of the Byzantine Text of the Gospels (echoed by Family Π, the Peshitta, Codex A, part of Codex W, the Gothic version, and the Purple Codices N-O-Σ-Φ) arose without the involvement of witnesses that contained the Alexandrian, Western, or Caesarean texts.  Even readings supported by a higher stratum of the Byzantine Text and not by the lowest one are not rejected automatically. 
            ● Fourth, values are assigned to groups rather than to individual witnesses.  Less dependence by one group upon another group, as implied cumulatively by the relationship of its variants to the rival variants in other groups, yields a higher assigned value.
            ● Fifth, all reasonably significant variant-units (those which make a translatable difference) are analyzed according to text-critical canons, using all potentially helpful materials, including readings that are not characteristic of groups.  When internal considerations are finely balanced and a decision is difficult, special consideration is given to readings attested by whatever group appears to be the least dependent upon the others in the proximity of the difficult variant-unit.       
This will yield the archetype of all groups, albeit with some points of instability (at especially difficult variant-units) and with a degree of instability in regard to orthography.
Additional Principles

Equitable Eclecticism, besides rejecting the theory that the Byzantine Text was formed entirely via a consultation of manuscripts containing Alexandrian and Western readings, utilizes some additional principles which set it apart from the kinds of textual criticism which produced the revised text and its modern-day representatives:

1.  Textual criticism is a science, not an art.  It is an enterprise of reconstruction, not creation.
2.  The text of the New Testament should be reconstructed in its component-parts:  the Gospels, and Acts, and the General Epistles, and the Pauline Epistles, and Revelation. 
3.  Relationships shown by patterns of readings in one part of the New Testament should not be assumed to exist in the others.
4.  The genealogical descent of a group of manuscripts from an ancestor-manuscript other than the autograph is not assumed without actual evidence that establishes links among specific manuscripts (such as shared formats, shared marginalia, shared miniatures, or readings which conclusively show a historical connection).
5.  Variants involving nomina sacra are placed in a special class, and receive special attention.
6.  The assumption of preference for the shorter reading is rejected.
7.  If a variant has very sporadic support from witnesses greatly separated by age and textual character, this may indicate that the variant was liable to be spontaneously created by copyists, rather than that it was transmitted by distant transmission-streams.
8.  Exceptional intrinsic merit is required for the adoption of variants attested exclusively or nearly exclusively by bilingual manuscripts in which a Greek variant may have originated via retro-translation.
9.  Conjectural emendations are not to be placed in the text. 
Equitable Eclecticism also utilizes principles shared by other approaches.  These principles are all superseded by Principle Zero:  no principle should be applied mechanically.

1.  A variant which explains its rivals with greater elegance and force than it is explained by any of them is more likely to be original.
2.  A variant supported by witnesses representing two or more locales of early Christendom is more likely to be original than a variant supported by witnesses that represent only one locale.
3.  A variant which can be shown to have had, in the course of the transmission of the text, the appearance of difficulty (either real or imagined), and which is rivaled by variants without such difficulty, is more likely than its rivals to be original.
4.  A variant supported by early attestation is more likely to be original than a rival variant supported exclusively by late attestation.
5.  A variant which conforms a statement to the form of a similar statement in a similar document, or in the same document, is less likely to be original than a rival variant that does not exhibit conformity.
6.  A variant which involves a rare, obscure, or ambiguous term or expression is more likely to be original than a rival variant which involves an ordinary or specific term or expression.
7.  A variant which is consistent with the author's discernible style and vocabulary is more likely to be original than a rival variant which deviates from the author's usual style and vocabulary and the vocabulary which he may naturally be expected to have been capable of using.
8.  A variant which is fully explained as a liturgical adjustment is less likely to be original than a rival variant which cannot be thus explained.
9.  A variant which is capable of expressing anti-Judaic sentiment is less likely to be original than a rival variant which is less capable of such expression.
10.  A variant which can be explained as an easy transcriptional error is less likely to be original than a rival variant which cannot be explained as an easy transcriptional error or as one which would be less easily made.     
11.  A variant which can be explained as a deliberate alteration is less likely to be original than a rival variant which is less capable of originating in the same way.
12Ceteris paribus, in the Synoptic Gospels, a variant which does not result in a Minor Agreement is more likely to be original than a rival variant which results in a Minor Agreement.

Closing Thoughts

Christian readers may feel intimidated or exasperated at the realization that the original text of the New Testament can only be fully reconstructed by a careful analysis of the witnesses – a massive and intricate task which currently involves no less than 135 papyri, about 320 uncials, about 2,900 minuscules, and about 2,450 lectionaries, plus versional and patristic materials.  The feeling may be increased when one also realizes that even the most erudite textual critics have reached divergent conclusions, and that their conclusions must be subject to the implications of future discoveries.
This may lead some readers to decline to investigate the text, deciding instead to hopefully adhere to whatever text (or texts) they already use.  Such an expedient response is understandable, especially in light of the often-repeated (but false) claim that textual variants have no significant doctrinal impact.  Nevertheless, for those few who are not content to place their confidence in textual critics, or to posit providential favor upon a particular set of variants on account of its popularity or for other reasons, the best option is to become textual critics.
Becoming acquainted with the contents of the manuscripts and other witnesses gives additional responsibility, but also additional confidence, somewhat like the confidence of a traveler who knows his maps, as opposed to one who does not and must trust his guides.  
Knowing the message of the map that we have – and being aware of which parts are still questioned, and why, concerning how closely their form corresponds to the form of the original – makes one a confident traveler where one should be confident, and cautious where one should be cautious.  But after we have done our best to conduct research with scientific detachment, it will do us little good if we only possess the map.  Let us walk in the path that the Holy Spirit reveals to us through the Word.  With that thought I leave the reader to consider the words of J. A. Bengel, one of the pioneers of New Testament textual criticism:
Te totum applica ad textum:
rem totam applica ad te.

Apply all of yourself to the text,
Apply it all to yourself.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Equitable Eclecticism - Part 1

            In 2010, I wrote an essay called Equitable Eclecticism:  The Future of New Testament Textual Criticism, and included it in the Kindle e-book Assorted Essays on New Testament Textual Criticism.  Since then, I have frequently been asked about how my text-critical approach differs from the Byzantine Priority approach and Reasoned Eclecticism.  So, as a convenient reference, here is the essay on Equitable Eclecticism, presented in two parts (with some improvements).

Equitable Eclecticism: 
The Future of New Testament Textual Criticism

Textual Criticism:  Its Goals and Risks 

The textual criticism of the Gospels is a scientific task which has two goals.  The primary goal is the reconstruction of the text of each Gospel in its original form, that is, the form in which it was initially received by the church.  The secondary goal is the reconstruction of the transmission-history of the text.  This involves both the evaluation of rival readings in specific variant-units, and the evaluation of the documents in which the readings are found.  Hort, in his 1881 Introduction, argued that if superior readings are consistently found in a particular document or set of documents, in cases that seem easy to decide, then the character of the documents should be a factor when considering harder cases. 
            Hort expressed this principle as an axiom:  “Knowledge of documents should precede final judgment upon readings.”  The consideration of individual variant-units should never be completely detached from the question of the relative quality of the witnesses, or from the question of how groups of variants became characteristic readings of text-types.  Accurate text-critical judgments will assist in the estimation of the relative values of witnesses, and in the reconstruction of the text’s transmission-history; simultaneously, accurate assignments of relative value to the witnesses, combined with accurate reconstructions of the text’s transmission-history, will assist specific text-critical decisions.     
The textual critic who engages this method should vigilantly avoid circularity; the adoption of a reading because “the best manuscripts support it ought to be a last resort.  After observing, on analytical grounds, that certain witnesses seem to consistently contain the best readings, a textual critic might then be tempted to abandon the initial approach which led to that premise, and proceed to use the premise itself to justify a tendency to adopt the readings of those witnesses.  Similarly, a textual critic who notices that a group of witnesses tends to contain the worst readings might be tempted to reject the remainder of the testimony of that group of witnesses.  If a textual critic proceeds to build on both such premises, the premises will virtually determine the results of the rest of the analysis. The “best manuscripts” will seemingly get better and better.  

Competing Models of Transmission-History

The model of transmission-history adopted by a textual critic has a strong effect upon the values which a textual critic assigns to the testimony of groups of witnesses, and therefore also upon the final evaluation of variants.  In this respect, the approach which I advocate – Equitable Eclecticism – resembles the approach used by Hort.  However, Equitable Eclecticism yields an archetype which is significantly different from the Revised Text produced by Westcott & Hort, and from the modern descendants of the Revised Text (such as the 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece).  This is because research and discoveries subsequent to Westcott & Hort have required the adoption of a transmission-model significantly different from the one used by Hort. 
Hort, building on premises developed by previous investigators, reasoned that the Byzantine Text was essentially the result of a recension that consisted of readings drawn from manuscripts with Alexandrian or Western readings; Byzantine variants were derived from the Alexandrian Text, or the Western Text, or both, or, in some cases, came into being during the recension.  Hort therefore rejected all distinctive Byzantine variants.  After dismissing the Western Text as the result of scribal creativity, embellishment, and a general lack of discipline (with the exception of a smattering of readings), Hort declared the Alexandrian Text (which he called the “Neutral” text) the only text-type which could possibly be regarded as the depository of the original text of the Gospels. 
Hort’s endorsement of the Alexandrian Text was not absolute, but it was so strong that he openly stated that variants shared by the Alexandrian Text’s two flagship codices (B and À) “should be accepted as the true readings until strong internal evidence is found to the contrary,” and “No readings of ÀB can safely be rejected absolutely,” while “All distinctively Syrian” – that is, Byzantine – “readings must be at once rejected.”
Thus, in the approach used by Hort, the degree of favor that was given to the Alexandrian Text was matched only by the degree of disregard that was given to the Byzantine Text.  The categorical rejection of Byzantine readings was a natural implications of Hort’s model of transmission-history in which the Western Text was derived from the Alexandrian Text, and the Byzantine Text was derived from both the Alexandrian Text and the Western Text. 
However, Hort acknowledged that such a clear-cut genealogical model would be out of place if a transmission-model persistently involved readings which all had some clearly ancient attestation.  [See Hort’s Introduction, page 286, § 373.]
This very thing, or something very close to it, was subsequently proposed by textual critics in the 1900s.  Eminent scholars such as E. C. Colwell, G. D. Kilpatrick, and Kurt and Barbara Aland maintained, respectively, that “The overwhelming majority of readings,” “almost all variants,” and “practically all the substantive variants in the text of the New Testament” existed before the year 200.  Nevertheless the Hortian text has not been overthrown.  Only slightly changed, it has become entrenched in NA-28 and UBS-5 as the primary, and nearly exclusive, Greek New Testament used in seminaries. 
With the discovery and publication of Egyptian New Testament papyri in the 1900s – beginning with Grenfell and Hunt’s work at Oxyrhynchus – Hort’s  claim that the Alexandrian readings have a demonstrably greater antiquity than their rivals has eroded.  Harry A. Sturz collected and categorized dozens of distinctive Byzantine variants which were supported by at least one early papyrus.  Sturz’s data does not vindicate the entire Byzantine Text (and we should not expect it to do so).  What it does do is demonstrate that Hort’s main reason for rejecting distinctive Byzantine readings was unsound.  According to Hort’s transmission-model, none of the early distinctive Byzantine readings listed by Sturz should exist.  The fact that they obviously did exist, even in papyri found in Egypt, demonstrates that the Byzantine Text may, at any given point, attest to an ancient distinctive reading.  Hort’s theory of the origin of distinct Byzantine readings was wrong.
In addition, discoveries about the texts in the papyri, in early versions, and in early parchment codices have contributed to the erosion of one of the building-blocks of Hort’s approach:  the proposal that conflations in the Byzantine Text demonstrate that it is later than the Alexandrian Text and the Western Text.  As Edward Miller objected in 1897, eight conflations cannot justify the rejection of the entire Byzantine Text.  They may be comparable to recently minted coins dropped in an ancient well. 
Dr. Wilbur Pickering, in Appendix D of his book The Identity of the New Testament Text, showed that an apparent conflation exists in Codex Sinaiticus at John 13:24 (where the Alexandrian Text has και λεγει αυτω ειπε τις εστιν, the Byzantine Text has πυθεσθαι τις αν ειη, and Sinaiticus reads πυθεσθαι τις αν ειη περι ου ελεγεν, και λεγει αυτω ειπε τις εστιν).  A conflation appears to occur in B at Ephesians 2:5 and at Colossians 1:12 (where the Western Text has καλεσαντι, the Byzantine Text has ικανωσαντι, and B has καλεσαντι και ικανωσαντι).  In D, a conflation appears to occur at Acts 10:48 and John 5:37 (where the Alexandrian Text – supported by P75 – has εκεινος μεμαρτυρηκεν, the Byzantine Text – supported by P66 - has αυτος μεμαρτυρηκεν, and D has εκεινος αυτος μεμαρτυρηκεν).                
In the world according to Hort,
this should not happen.
The papyri have supplied direct evidence against Hort’s belief that apparent conflations imply that the text in which they are found must be late.  In P53, the text of Matthew 26:36 seems to read ου αν, where the Byzantine text has ου and the Alexandrian Text and Western Text have αν.  Papyrus 66 reads σχισμα ουν παλιν at John 10:19 (agreeing with the Byzantine Text), where the Alexandrian Text has σχισμα παλιν and the Western Text has σχισμα ουν.  Similarly, P66 reads εβαστασαν ουν παλιν at John 10:31 (again agreeing with the Byzantine Text), where the Alexandrian Text has εβαστασαν παλιν and the Western Text has εβαστασαν ουν.  
The appearance of such readings in very early manuscripts forces the concession that they do not imply that the text in which they appear is late.  Instead, they prove that an early text can appear to include conflations.  Nevertheless some modern-day textual critics still appeal to Hort’s list of eight Byzantine conflations as if it demonstrated that the entire Byzantine Text was secondary. [See for example Dan Wallace’s treatment of the data in his online essay The Conspiracy Behind the New Bible Translations.]    
Ironically, as the papyri-discoveries took away the pedestal upon which Hort’s transmission-model had stood, they also tended to exonerate Hort’s favored text of the Gospels, the Alexandrian Text, by demonstrating the high antiquity of the Alexandrian text of Luke and John.  Papyrus 75, in particular, possesses a remarkably high rate of agreement with B.  This shows that the Alexandrian Text of Luke and John was carefully preserved in the 200s, and this has tended to alleviate the suspicions of some earlier scholars that the Alexandrian Text was the result of editorial activity in the 200s.
The correspondence between Papyrus 75 and Codex B was interpreted by some textual critics as a demonstration of the antiquity and superiority of the entire Alexandrian Text.  Kurt Aland compared the situation to sampling a jar of jelly or jam:  a mere spoonful is enough to show what is in the rest of the jar.  However, although the agreement between P75 and B proves that the Alexandrian Text of Luke and John is not the result of scribal editing conducted in the 200s, it did not prove that Alexandrian readings are not results of earlier scribal editing.  
Theoretically, if the Western Text could develop in the period prior to the production of P75, so could the Alexandrian Text.  Papyrus 75 proved that the Alexandrian Text of Luke and John is very early; it did not prove that Alexandrian readings are not the result of very early editorial activity.  (As late as 1992, Bruce Metzger maintained that most scholars “are still inclined to regard the Alexandrian text as on the whole the best ancient recension,” on page 216 of The Text of the New Testament, third edition (1992), emphasis added.)
Nor did Papyrus 75 prove that the Byzantine Text is less ancient than the Alexandrian Text.  It shows what kind of Gospels-text (or at least, major parts of the Gospels-text) was in use in Upper Egypt in the early 200s.  It does not constitute evidence about what form of text was used, or was not used, in other places.  
The most significant evidence for the absence of the Byzantine Text prior to the 300s is the lack of patristic testimony for its use, but this is largely an argument from silence.  The natural destructive effects of humidity upon papyrus-material, allied with Roman persecutors who sought to destroy Christian literature, silenced a large proportion of the Christian communities of the first three centuries of Christendom.  According to Hort’s theories, when these communities adopted the Byzantine Text in the 300s and 400s, they embraced a new, imported text of the Gospels, setting aside whatever they had used previously.  A more plausible alternative is that they simply continued to use their own local texts which consisted primarily of Byzantine readings.  (For additional thoughts on this subject see my post Byzantine Manuscripts:  Where Were They Before the 300s?.)         
The discovery of the papyri led some textual critics to advocate an undue emphasis upon the ages of witnesses, resulting in a lack of equity toward variants with no support in Egypt.  Because the Egyptian climate allowed the preservation of papyrus, the oldest copies will almost always be copies from Egypt.  To favor the variant with the oldest attestation is to tilt the playing-field, so to speak, in favor of whatever readings are found in whatever manuscripts were stored in the gentlest climate.  But this is no more reasonable than favoring the variants of a manuscript because it was found closer to the equator than other manuscripts.  Certainly when two rival variants are evaluated, and the first is uniformly attested in early witnesses, while the second is found exclusively in very late witnesses, the case for the first one is enhanced.  But to assign values to witnesses according to their ages without considering factors such as climate is to introduce a lack of equity into one’s analysis.  
The papyri-discoveries elicited another interesting development.  Before Hort, pioneering scholars such as Griesbach had organized witnesses into three main groups – Western, Byzantine, and Alexandrian.  Each group, characterized by consistent patterns of readings, was considered a text-type, and manuscripts sharing those special patterns of readings were viewed as relatives of one another.  Hort then divided the Alexandrian group into two text-types, calling its earlier stratum the “Neutral” text, supported by Sinaiticus and Vaticanus.  Then, following analysis by Kirsopp Lake, the Caesarean text of the Gospels was added.  But the evidence from the papyri indicates that even in a single locale (Egypt), the text existed in forms other than those four. 
Consider Papyrus 45, a fragmentary copy of the Gospels and Acts from the early 200s (or slightly earlier).  In Mark 7:25-37, when P45 disagrees with either B or the Byzantine Text or both, P45 agrees with B 22% of the time, it agrees with the Byzantine Text 30% of the time, and 48% of the time it disagrees with them both.  Such departures from the usual profiles of text-types has led some textual critics to reconsider the existence of early text-types, arguing instead that the text in the 100s and 200s was in a state of fluctuation.  A plausible alternative is that some of the papyri attest to the existence of localized text-forms which became extinct, without implying that the Western, Byzantine, and Caesarean forms did not exist prior to the 300s.

Competing Greek New Testaments

In the late 1800s, Westcott & Hort’s Greek text of the New Testament faced several obstacles.  First was the popularity of the Textus Receptus, which, as the base-text of the King James Version, had the status of an ancient landmark in English-speaking countries, regardless of how carefully attempts were made to demonstrate that its Reformation-era compilers, or some stealthy editors in ancient times, were the real landmark-movers.   
In 1898, the Würrtemburg Bible Society published the first edition of Novum Testamentum Graece, an inexpensive Greek New Testament which closely resembled the Westcott-Hort compilation, and which was designed to compete with the edition of the Textus Receptus which was being widely disseminated by the British and Foreign Bible Society.  (The leaders of BFBS apparently had not found Hort’s 1881 case for his compilation irresistible.)  
Eberhard Nestle wrote an enthusiastic recommendation of this handy Greek New Testament; his brief review appeared in the Expository Times in June of 1898.  He pointed out how “disgraceful” it would be to continue to circulate Erasmus’ errors in Rev. 17:8 and Rev. 22:19-21.  He invited the British and Foreign Bible Society to begin to circulate Novum Testamentum Graece instead of the Textus Receptus.  In 1904 the British and Foreign Bible Society began circulating the fourth edition of Novum Testamentum Graece.  Its editor:  Eberhard Nestle. 
While that was happening, a scholar named Hermann von Soden was in the process of compiling an edition of the Greek New Testament which textual scholars expected to become definitive, superseding all previous editions.  But when von Soden’s Greek New Testament was released in 1902-1911, it was found to be extremely cumbersome, and it was flawed in various ways.  Nestle’s Novum Testamentum Graece was on hand to meet the need of seminarians and other textual researchers, and it has done so ever since – and it eventually was adopted, in later editions, as the primary base-text for new translations.
But should that be the case?  According to Kurt and Barbara Aland, the 27th edition of NTG differs from the text compiled by Eberhard Nestle “in merely 700 passages.”  Considering the high number of variant-units involved, this implies that the text of the Gospels in NA-27 and UBS-4 is essentially the same text that was published by Eberhard Nestle in the early 1900s.  (See page 20 of The Text of the New Testament:  “In its 657 printed pages the early Nestle differs from the new text in merely seven hundred passages.”  Consider that in the Gospels alone, the 25th and 27th editions of NTG disagree at over 400 places.)
It is as if the papyri (and the research into early versions, and the revisions of patristic writings, and other significant discoveries and research undertaken in the 1900s) have scarcely had an impact, whereas in reality they cracked the transmission-model that was a large part of the foundation of the Westcott-Hort compilation.

The marketplace for Greek New Testaments in the early 1900s rapidly became crowded:  Bernard Weiss, Alexander Souter, and J. M. S. Baljon made compilations which rivaled Nestle’s.  F. H. A. Scrivener’s editions of the Textus Receptus remained in circulation. Thomas Newberry’s 1870 Englishman’s Greek New Testament – an interlinear edition of the Textus Receptus which featured a presentation of variants adopted by textual critics prior to Westcott & Hort (Griesbach, Lachmann, Tregelles, Tischendorf, Alford, and Wordsworth) – also remained in print.  The public generally had to choose between either a Greek text similar to the 1881 revision of Westcott & Hort, or the Textus Receptus.  
That changed in 1982, when Zane Hodges and Arthur Farstad published a compilation called The Greek New Testament According to the Majority Text.  As its name implies, this text was intended to consist of the readings shared by the majority of Greek manuscripts.  Hodges and Farstad proposed that the Alexandrian Text is a heavily edited, pruned form of the text, and that the Majority Text is much better, inasmuch as “In any tradition where there are not major disruptions in the transmissional history, the individual reading which has the earliest beginning is the one most likely to survive in a majority of documents.”  The work of Hodges and Farstad was the basis for many text-critical footnotes in the New Testament in the New King James Version, which was published around the same time under Dr. Farstad’s supervision. 
A similar work was released in 1991 by Maurice Robinson and William Pierpont, called The New Testament in the Original Greek According to the Byzantine/Majority Textform.  A second edition was published in 2005.  Rejecting any notion of defending the Textus Receptus (which differs from the Byzantine Text at over 1,800 points, about 1,000 of which are translatable), Robinson and Pierpont regarded the Byzantine Text as virtually congruent to the original text.  The Byzantine Textform consists of a series of majority readings, wherever majority readings clearly exist.  Outside the pericope adulterae (John 7:53-8:11) and the book of Revelation, almost no analytical attempts to reconstruct the relationships of variants within the Byzantine tradition seems evident, since the question is usually settled by a numerical count (or, by a consultation of representative manuscripts, using data from von Soden’s work).
In some respects, Hodges & Farstad and Robinson & Pierpont have paved a trail that was blazed in the 1800s by John Burgon, who opposed the theories of Westcott & Hort.  Burgon’s aggressive writing-style sometimes overshadowed his argumentation; nevertheless some of his views have been vindicated by subsequent research.  
For example, Hort asserted that “even among the numerous unquestionably spurious readings of the New Testament there are no signs of deliberate falsification of the text for dogmatic purposes,” but Burgon insisted that the opposite was true.  Burgon’s posthumously published Causes of Corruption (1896) even included a sub-chapter titled “Corruption by the Orthodox.”  Almost a century later in 1993, a variation on Burgon’s theme was upheld by Bart Ehrman in the similarly titled book The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture.  As a result, although Ehrman exaggerated his case in many respects, no textual critics now consider Hort’s assertion to be correct. 
Many scholars and interested bystanders, noticing that the weaknesses of several of Hort’s key premises and assertions have been exposed, have been willing to consider the model of transmission-history proposed by the supporters of the Byzantine Textform.  Others have irresponsibly attempted to associate it with the fundamentalist doctrine of King James Onlyism.  
Others have rejected it because, despite detailed lists of principles of internal and external evidence in Dr. Robinson’s essay The Case for Byzantine Priority, the factor that usually determines the adoption of a variant in the approach advocated by Robinson is its attestation in over 80% of the Greek manuscripts.  Patristic evidence and the testimony of early versions are not included in the equation of what constitutes the majority reading.  Distinctive Alexandrian variants, Western variants, Caesarean variants, and even minority readings attested by the oldest Byzantine witnesses (such as parts of Codices A and W) have no chance of being adopted; generally, if a variant is supported by over 80% of the Greek manuscripts, it is adopted.  

The validity of such an approach depends upon the validity of the premise that the transmission of the text of the Gospels was free from “major disruptions.”  However, major disruptions have had enormous impacts upon the transmission of the text.  Roman persecutions – followed by Roman sponsorship  wartime and peacetime, dark ages and golden ages – all these things, plus innovations and inventions related to the copying of manuscripts, drastically changed the circumstances in which the text was transmitted, and while all text-types were affected by them, they were not all affected to the same extent.  It is no more scientifically valid to adopt a reading because it was favored in Byzantine scriptoriums than it is to adopt a reading because the manuscripts that support it were kept in an area with low humidity (namely Egypt) and thus lasted longer than the manuscripts in other places.        

[Continued in Part 2]

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Papyrus 4 and the Mystery at Coptos

            First century Matthew!  In 1994, that was how papyrologist Carsten Peter Thiede described Papyrus 64, three fragments written on papyrus, containing Greek text from Matthew 26 (to be precise, Matthew 26:7-8, 10, 14-15, 22-23, and 31-33).  The fragments are housed at Magdalen College in Oxford, England, and they are for this reason called “The Magdalen Papyri.”  Thiede’s case was a cumulative one, involving subtle factors such as the similarity of the lettering in Papyrus 64 and some of the lettering in the Dead Sea Scroll 4QLXXLev (4Q119). 
            Papyrus 64 is indeed early, but subsequent researchers have responded to Thiede’s claim with strong arguments for assigning a later production-date to P64, around the beginning of the 200s. 

            This is from the same manuscript as Papyrus 64!  That was the verdict of Colin H. Roberts when he described Papyrus 67, a Greek fragment (presently housed at the Abby of Montserrat, west of Barcelona, Spain) with text from Matthew 3:9, 3:15, 5:20-22, and 5:25-28.  Other researchers, after comparing the two manuscripts, have reached the same conclusion:  although P64 and P67 were published separately and were assigned separate identification-numbers, they are really only one manuscript. 

            Where did it come from?  Probably somewhere in Upper (i.e., southern) Egypt – and therein lies a tale which implies that several important New Testament papyri come from the same place.  The acquisition of P64 is no secret; it was purchased by Charles E. Huleatt in 1901 in Luxor, Egypt.  North of Luxor, in the area of Naqada, are various monasteries.  Northwest of Luxor is Nag Hammadi, where a collection of Gnostic texts were excavated.  And northeast of Nag Hammadi is the town of Dishna – which is, as far as anyone seems to be able to tell, where a large collection of papyri were recovered – papyri which eventually ended up in the collections of Chester Beatty and Martin Bodmer.  As specialist Dr. James Robinson has pointed out, the whole collection probably constitutes the remains of a Pachomian monastery’s library, hidden near Dishna in the 600s, along with a variety of Old Testament manuscripts and other documents (some in Greek, some in Coptic), including copies of some letters composed by Pachomius
            This means that when textual scholars rely upon Papyrus 66 (Bodmer MS 50), Papyrus 72 (Bodmer MSS 7-8), and Papyrus 75 (previously Bodmer MSS 14-15, but now housed at the Vatican Library and renamed the Hanna Papyrus), they are relying on manuscripts from Upper Egypt.  A variant shared by P66 and P75 represents one, not two, locales.        
            Papyrus 64 and Papyrus 67 were not part of the large collection found near Dishna; they probably came from a location east of there:  the city of Coptos (now called Qift), which, after its citizens rebelled against the government, was destroyed by Roman forces acting on orders from the Emperor Diocletian in 292 (or later in his reign).  What justifies this idea?  Enter Papyrus 4.          
Part of Papyrus 4
(enhanced pseudo-replica)
             Papyrus 4 is a manuscript that consists mainly of substantial fragments from the opening chapters of the Gospel of Luke (1:58-59, 1:62-2:1, 2:6-7, 3:8-4:2, 4:29-32, 4:34-35, 5:3-8, NS 5:30-6:16), written in two columns per page.  P4 also includes a heavily damaged page which appears to have been blank when produced, except for the book-title “Ευαγγελιον Κα[τ]α Μαθ’θαιον.”  Papyrus 4 has been assigned to the late 100s or early 200s – the same era to which P64 and P67 have been assigned.  The handwriting in P64, P67, and P4 is so similar that Colin H. Roberts (the researcher who identified and dated Papyrus 52 as a fragment of the Gospel of John from the first half of the 100s) believed that all three manuscripts were actually parts of a single manuscript.  Philip W. Comfort concurs with Roberts in this view.  So did T. C. Skeat, who developed a theory that these fragments are from one early codex which, when pristine, contained the four Gospels.  Scott D. Charlesworth, however, disagrees with Skeat’s theory, and has offered a nuanced case that at the very least, P64/67, and P4 could not be parts of the same single-quire codex.      
            It is generally not denied, though, that the handwriting in all three fragments is very similar, which implies that these fragments share the same production-center or even the same copyist.  If this is granted, then if one fragment’s source can be found, it is very likely that the source of the other two is the same.
            The source of Papyrus 4 is a known quantity, more or less.  In 1889 (not 1880), someone found Papyrus 4 in the ruins of the city of Coptos, and within two years it was obtained by Vincent Scheil at nearby Luxor, along with a leather satchel-like cover and another papyrus manuscript.
            The other manuscript’s text, written on eighty-nine pages, consisted of two compositions – Quis Rerum Divinarum Heres (Who is the Heir of Divine Things?) and De Sacrificiis Abelis et Cainis (The Sacrifices of Abel and Cain) – two parts of a series of treatises by Philo, containing his allegorical interpretations of passages in Genesis.  The manuscript, it seems, had been found inside the wall which was part of the ruins of a house.  According to James R. Royse in his essay The Biblical Quotations in the Coptos Papyrus of Philo, the text of Philo’s two treatises is written on eighty-nine pages:  “the two sides of forty-four folios and one final page that is attached to the inside back cover of the binding.”
            An account of the discovery of both these manuscripts (and their leather container) was provided by Jean Merell in an article in the 1938 Revue Biblique.  Here are Merell’s prefatory comments about the discovery of P4, translated from French: 

            In the course of working on the New Testament papyri, I had the opportunity to study the originals very closely.  I have thus found interesting details, and I had even the good fortune to make some small discoveries; one of them will be the subject of this article.
            This is the papyrus P4, published for the first time in 1892, and later in Memoirs of the French Archaeological Mission at Cairo by Father Scheil. It is now in the National Library [of France], under no. 1120, suppl. 2.
            After careful study of this document, I have found that some fragments have not yet been – as far as I know – deciphered and published. They constitute a larger part than the part already published, and their publication will not be without interest, especially since I can accompany it with photographic reproductions previously unpublished.
            I will give the entire text, for the parts already known call for some adjustments.

History of the manuscript.

            Father Scheil pointed out to me last June that having bought a codex containing two treatises of Philo of Alexandria in 1891, he had the good fortune to find fragments of our biblical papyrus.
            The papyrus was found in Coptos, Upper Egypt, in 1889. [“1880” was a printing error.]  Considered undoubtedly in ancient times as a very precious thing, it had been enclosed and walled up in a niche. The hollow sound of the wall in this place aroused its discoverers’ attention. After opening up the wall, they drew from this hiding place two treatises of Philo of Alexandria.
            The whole thing is in a known format, almost eight inches square, like the Arabic books.  It was contained in a leather cover, with a tongue and a cord of leather falling on the cover.  The book must have been squashed in its hiding place; the mortar was as if it were inlaid on the outside; the pages adhered strongly together in a mass, and were, in addition, fastened to one another by a quantity of small grains of salt [or sand], produced over the ages by a condensation-process in the vegetable tissue.
            Following the forty-fourth leaf [i.e., sheet, consisting of the front and back of a page], in the form of padding [“en guise de bourre”], I think, and to fill the capacity of the cover, there were several fragments of sheets stuck together.  One of them contained κατα Μαθθιον, and the others, fragments of Saint Luke.
            Of the fourteen columns which compose the total, Father Scheil has published four of them. Father Lagrange has reproduced them in his Textual Critique (pp. 118-124).
            Father Scheil gave the papyrus to the National Library [of France].
            I have not been able to ascertain, in spite of much research, the details of the conservation of this papyrus. A paper of April 24, 1913, written by Gregory, however, indicates that the restorer should be Doctor Ibscher of Berlin.

            In Philip W. Comfort’s The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts (page 27), the phrase “en guise de bourre” is translated as “in the form of a wad.”  However, I think “padding” is a better rendering.  What is meant by “to fill the capacity of the cover” is that the pages that consisted of Papyrus 4 were placed alongside the manuscript of the two treatises of Philo so that the treatises of Philo would be secure and snug within the leather satchel-cover.  This could be done by flat pages better than by a “wad.” 

The satchel in which P4 was found,
along with two treatises by Philo.
            Although T. C. Skeat described Scheil’s discovery as “A papyrus codex, containing two works of Philo, in a leather binding which had been reinforced by leaves from a Gospel manuscript glued together,” some adjustments should be made to that description.  First, the cover being described is not a binding (like a book-binding); it is a leather satchel – basically a rectangular purse made to hold a manuscript slightly smaller than itself. 
            Second, inasmuch as a page of the second treatise by Philo is stuck to the satchel – meaning that P4 was inserted between this page and the rest of the pages of Philo’s treatises – this means, it seems to me, that the pages containing text from Luke were not added merely as padding-material.  It is easy to see how a person could slide a second manuscript alongside the first one, and not notice that a page of the first manuscript had been caught behind the second manuscript, if the purpose was merely to store them both in the satchel.  But it is much more difficult to imagine that anyone would insert discarded pages into the satchel, as permanent padding, without noticing that a page of the Philo-volume was intervening between the padding-material and the leather satchel itself. 
            When Vincent Scheil first analyzed Papyrus 4, he assigned it a production-date in the 500s.  This does not interlock well with the premise that the wall from which P4 was taken collapsed (with P4 and the two treatises of Philo within a leather satchel-cover inside it) in 292 or shortly thereafter.  Scheil did not explain the basis for dating P4 so late; perhaps he thought that the wall’s collapse did not occur until the 500s.  In any event, practically everyone else has assigned a much earlier production-date to the manuscript, usually a period around 200.
            However, a substantial part of the argument for that date depends on the premise that P4, when it was placed in the leather satchel with the two treatises of Philo, was used as padding – the idea being that only decayed or damaged pages would be recycled as padding-material, and that some time would need to be posited between the production of P4 and the time when it was considered suitable only for use as padding-material. 
The page in P4 with
"The Gospel
According to Matthew"
(See Novum Testamentum,
2012, p. 216) 
            If that is the case, and if Roberts, Skeat, and Comfort are correct in their view that P4, P64, and P67 are parts of the same manuscript, then it implies that either (a) P64 and P67 were part of the initial find in 1889, and were taken away from the rest, before P4 was obtained by Scheil in 1891, or (b) the manuscript was indeed in a state of disrepair when part of it (the P4 part) was recycled as padding, and the rest of it (of which P64 and P67 are the surviving representatives) was set aside elsewhere.
            Another possibility – somewhat imaginative, I grant – is that a group of Gospels-readers at Coptos in the 200s had a single unbound Gospels-codex to share among themselves, and they divided it into parts, one of which was eventually hidden with the Philo-treatises when the city was under siege in 292, one which survived elsewhere (barely) as P64+67, and the rest of which is lost.   
              I suspect that P64+P67 constitute part of an unbound codex (not a single-quire codex) that contained the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke together.  The page with “Ευαγγελιον Κα[τ]α Μαθ’θαιον” written on it is, in this case, the final page of the Gospel of Matthew – that is, we see here the closing-title of the Gospel of Matthew, not a flyleaf or opening title-page.  P4 was probably produced by the same copyist, but not necessarily at the same time as the volume of which P64 and P67 are the surviving parts.
            Not every question about P4, P64, and P67 has been answered, but at least we may draw the following conclusions:
            (1)  Even before the establishment of Pachomian monasteries in the region, there was a Gospel-reading community in Upper Egypt, and its Gospels-text is represented by P4, P64, and P67.
            (2)  The Alexandrian text of Matthew and Luke was in use in Upper Egypt in the mid-200s. 
            (3)  The arrangement of the text in a format of two columns per page is not a sign of lateness; it was used in the 200s.
            (4)  Reckoning that P4 was not used as binding-material, but was kept in the leather satchel alongside the two treatises of Philo (and also reckoning that P4 is a separate manuscript from P64/67), there is no impetus for the assumption that its pages had worn out prior to being placed in the leather satchel, and this may justify a production-date closer to the mid-200s rather than around 200. 

            Here are a few online resources that one may consult for more information about P4 and/or P64 and P67:
            ● A Comparative Textual Analysis of P4 and P64+67, by Tommy Wasserman, from the 2010 TC Journal.  Wasserman concludes that all three fragments share the same kind of text, correcting an earlier assessment by Kurt Aland, who made a distinction between them.  (At every point of disagreement between Wasserman’s transcription and the one provided by P. W. Comfort, Wasserman’s should be favored.)
            ● The Earliest Manuscript Title of Matthew’s Gospel (BnF Suppl. gr. 1120 ii 3/P4, by Simon Gathercole (downloadable at, for which membership, needed to download documents, is free), published in Novum Testamentum in 2012.  Gathercole provides a clear photograph of the page of P4 which has the title of the Gospel of Matthew written on it.  He transcribes the title (correcting earlier editors’ mistakes) and describes the page insightfully.  Yet I disagree with his view that this page is a “flyleaf.”  It seems more likely that it is a page from a codex in which the text of the Gospel of Matthew ended neatly at the end of the preceding page, and what we see on this page is the closing-title.   
            ● The Oldest Manuscript of the Four Gospels?, by T. C. Skeat, is a chapter in The Collected Biblical Writings of T. C. Skeat, beginning on page 158.  This volume was edited by J. K. Elliott and most of the essay is accessible at Google Books.  Skeat maintained that P64, P67, and P4 are all parts of the same manuscript.  He provided plenty of interesting information about small but significant aspects of the manuscript, such as the similarities between its section-divisions and the section-divisions in Codex Vaticanus.
Some Nag Hammadi codices,
with their satchels.
            ● T. C. Skeat and the Problem of Fiber Orientation in Codicological Reconstruction, by Scott Charlesworth, is a somewhat technical essay in which the author presents obstacles against Skeat’s view that P4 is part of the same manuscript as P64 and P67.
            ● Papyrus Magdalen Greek 17 (Gregory-Aland P64) – A Reappraisal, by Peter Carsten Thiede, features his proposal, in 1995, that P64/67 is a manuscript from the first century.  Thiede provides a transcription and photographs.
            ● The Date of the Magdalen Papyrus of Matthew (P. Magd. Greek 17 = P64):  A Response to C. P. Thiede, by Peter Head (initially published in Tyndale Bulletin in 1995)  tests and effectively refutes Thiede’s dating of P64 and P67 to the first century.
            ● Fragmentary Papyri, by Wieland Willker, in which P4’s Alexandrian text is described and several of its readings are listed (for example, καὶ ἀμφότεροι συντηροῦνται (“and both are preserved”) is not included in P4 at the end of Luke 5:38.)             
The satchel of the
Fadden More Psalter.
          In closing:  the discoveries of P64, P67, and P4 raise some questions which are yet to be fully answered:   
            ● Prior to the introduction of Pachomian monasticism, were the New Testament manuscripts in Upper Egypt made by orthodox Christians, or by groups such as the Gnostics in nearby Nag Hammadi?  Even the discovery of a manuscript in the collection of a monastery is no guarantee of the orthodoxy of its text, for many a monk may have studied his theological opponents’ writings so as make a knowledgeable reply against them. 
            ● Is there a connection between the codex-production methods used in Upper Egypt, and the methods used in Ireland?  A link between Upper Egypt and Ireland may seem unlikely, until one notices the popular use of leather satchels in both regions, a persistent tradition about seven Egyptian monks who worked in western Ireland, similarities in some Irish and Egyptian book-illustrations, the papyrus-padded cover of the Fadden More Psalter, and occasional rare readings shared between Egyptian Greek and Irish Latin manuscripts. 
            ● Can manuscripts’ texts be grouped according to the methods used to divide the text into sections?  The ways in which scribes divided the text into paragraphs may shine some light on historical connections between manuscripts.  Perhaps the text-divisions in manuscripts should be handled the same way textual variants are treated.

[Readers are encouraged to use the embedded links in this post to explore additional resources.]

Monday, October 16, 2017

ARTMYN's Digital Presentation of Papyrus 66

Papyrus 66 (text shown:  John 1:48-2:3).
This seems so old-fashioned now.
          I hope to soon present a post about Papyrus 64 and Papyrus 67, but in the course of looking into those fragments, I found an outstanding resource on a much more substantial manuscript:  Papyrus 66, an early an important manuscript of the Gospel of John.  Papyrus 66 is generally assigned to the early 200s, although some researchers have thought that it was even earlier.
            There is plenty of information about the text of Papyrus 66 online, so here I will just provide a link to the new resource which has been produced by ARTMYN.  This format is the Rolls Royce of digitalized manuscript-views.  Not only are the images zoomable, but they can be tilted and rotated, and even the light-angle can be adjusted.  There is even a guided tour.
            Only direct experience with this format can convey its elegance.  Only the first page of the manuscript can be viewed at present, as far as I can tell, but even with just one page you can see the value of the viewing-tool.  Here is the link:
            The site includes a tutorial on how to view the manuscript.  A brief video-guide to the use of ARTMYN on tablets is also available at the Sothebys website.
            The Chrome browser is recommended when using this resource, and so is the strongest internet signal you can get.
            Other manuscripts and antiquities that have been prepared for the ARTMYN viewing-tool can be accessed at .

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Codex Laudianus, GA 45, GA 46, GA 57, and Friends

The Gatehouse at the
Bodleian Library.
            Sir Thomas Bodley (1535-1613) was the namesake of the second-largest library in Great Britain:  the Bodleian Library, on the campus of Oxford University.  This is the Hotel California of libraries; once a book enters the Bodleian Library, it can never leave.  The library currently contains over 12 million books, plus hundreds of pictures, sculptures, coins, and one stuffed crocodile. 
            It is also home to many Greek manuscripts – mostly ancient classical works – including some Greek New Testament manuscripts.

            Codex Laudianus (Ea, 08) is the most important Greek New Testament manuscript in the Bodleian Library.  It is a manuscript of the book of Acts, probably from the 500s, written in matching columns of Latin and Greek on each page.  This manuscript was donated by Archbishop William Laud.  It was used in Sardinia (where someone wrote a note on it, mentioning the location), and later, after being taken to England, it was used in the early 700s by the notable historian, theologian, and translator known as the Venerable Bede, who mentioned many of its unusual readings, including downright unique readings in Acts 4:10, 5:30, and 7:16. 
            Codex Laudianus is the earliest extant Greek manuscript that contains Acts 8:37, on fol. 70v, (although the verse was used in the 180’s by Irenaeus in Against Heresies 3:12:8, by Cyprian in the mid-200s in Testimonies 3:12:43, by Augustine in Sermon 49:11, and by some other patristic writers, and is found in the Coptic Glazier Codex (G67)).  Textual critic David C. Parker has commented on some corrections in this manuscript.

Two other Greek manuscripts housed at the Bodleian Library are online:
            MS Barocci 31 is GA 45, a fairly ornate manuscript of the Gospels (with portraits of the Evangelists) from the late 1200s.
            Matthew (Image 21, fol 7r)
            Mark (Image 245, fol. 119r)
            Luke (Image 389, fol. 191r)
            John (Image 635, fol. 314r)

            MS Barocci 29 is GA 46, which has been assigned to a wide variety of production-dates; the current guess is to the early 1300s. 
            Matthew (Image 63, fol. 31r)
            Mark (Image 239, fol. 118r)
            Luke (Image 359, fol. 177r)
            John (Image 563, fol. 277r)

            The Bodleian Library houses several New Testament uncials – including Codex Γ (036), known as Codex Tischendorfianus IV, and Codex Λ (039), known as Codex Tischendorfianus III, and 0134 (Selden Supra 2, fol. 177-178) (text from Mark 3 and 5) – and over thirty minuscules (including GA 47, 557, and 558).  A lectionary is also online at the Bodleian’s website:  MS Barocci 197, a palimpsest.

            Some important versional manuscripts are also kept at the Bodleian Library, including the MacRegol Gospels, also called the Book of Birr (A replica of this manuscript is in the library of Birr, Ireland).
             Nearby at Magdalen College, Magdalen College MS 9 is GA 57, a Greek manuscript from the late 1100s which contains every book of the New Testament except Revelation.  Here is a basic index of GA 57:   
            Matthew (Image 10, fol. 3r)
            Mark 1:11 (Image 74, fol. 35r)  (The first page of Mark is missing, but you can see traces of the imprint left by the initial “A” of Mark 1:1 in the margin on this page.  Ultraviolet light might reveal more.)
            Luke (Image 116, fol. 56r ) 
            John (Image 187, fol. 91v)
            Acts (Image 236, fol. 116r)
            James (Image 303, fol. 149v)
            First Peter (Image 310, fol. 153r)
            Second Peter (Image 317, fol. 156v)
            First John (Image 322, fol. 159r)
            Second John (Image 329, fol. 162v)
            Third John (Image 331, fol. 163v)
            Jude (Image 333, fol. 164v) 
            Romans (Image 335, fol. 165v)
            First Corinthians (Image 359, fol. 177v)
            Second Corinthians (Image 382, fol. 188r)
            Galatians (Image 398, fol. 196r)
            Ephesians (Image 406, fol. 200r)
            Philippians (Image 414, fol. 204r)
            Colossians (Image 420, fol. 207r)
            First Thessalonians (Image 426, fol. 210r)
            Second Thessalonians (Image 432, fol. 213r)
            First Timothy (Image 436, fol. 215r)
            Second Timothy (Image 442, fol. 218r)
            Titus (Image 447, fol. 220v)
            Philemon (Image 450, fol. 222r)
            Hebrews (Image 452, fol. 223r)
            Psalms (Image 470, fol. 232r)

            This manuscript received some attention from Orlando Dobbin in his 1854 book about Codex Montfortianus on page 29; Dobbin noted that it supports “Lord and God” in Acts 20:28, “God was manifested” in First Timothy 3:16, and the non-inclusion of the Comma Johanneum in First John 5:7.  Another presentation of GA 57 is online, with thumbnail-pageviews.
            Magdalen College is also home to Magdalen College MS Greek 7 (part of GA 1907) – a copy of Romans and First Corinthians.

            Perhaps the most famous New Testament manuscript on the premises of Magdalen College is Magdalen College MS Greek 17, better known as Papyrus 64, which consists of small fragments with text from Matthew 26.  The late Carsten Peter Thiede proposed that these fragments were extremely early – from the first century!  He also claimed that a few manuscript-fragments found among the Dead Sea Scrolls were the remains of New Testament texts.  The evidence for his position has been called into question by other researchers; nevertheless Papyrus 64 is unquestionably the earliest Greek manuscript of the text that it contains.  Stay tuned for a post focused on Papyrus 64, Papyrus 67, and Papyrus 4.

            Earlier this year, A Catalogue of Greek Manuscripts of Magdalen College, Oxford was released.  Readers who are curious about the diverse Greek manuscripts housed at Magdalen College may wish to obtain a copy.