Saturday, July 21, 2018

Mark 6:22 - Whose Daughter Danced?

             The first phrase in Mark 6:22 says different things depending on which version is read:  
Mark 6:22 (NET):  “When his daughter Herodias34 came in and danced . . .”
Mark 6:22 (NRSV):  “When his daughter Herodiasq came in and danced . . .”
Mark 6:22 (NIV):  “When the daughter ofa Herodias came in and danced . . .”
Mark 6:22 (CSB®):  “When Herodias’ own daughterp came in and danced . . .”
Mark 6:22 (ESV):  “For when Herodias’ daughter came in and danced . . .”
Mark 6:22 (KJV):  “And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced . . .”

Whose daughter danced for Herod?  Was it his own daughter, or the daughter of Herodias?  The first-century historian Josephus reports (in Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18)) that Herodias’ daughter was named Salome and that she was Herod’s grand-niece, not his daughter.  Matthew 14:6 affirms that she was Herodias’ daughter. 
          Not only was the dancer not Herod’s physical daughter; she was not Herod’s daughter under Mosaic Law, either:  her mother Herodias, after marrying Herod II (the son of Herod the Great and Mariamne II), had divorced him, and – against Jewish Law – married his brother, Herod Antipas.  As Josephus stated:  “Herodias took it upon herself to confound the laws of our country, and divorced herself from her husband while he was alive, and was married to Herod Antipas.”  It was because of this violation of Jewish law that John the Baptist, according to Matthew 14:3-4 and Mark 6:17-18, had spoken out against the unlawful marriage – with the result that Herod Antipas had John the Baptist imprisoned.

           With that background in mind, we come to the textual problem.  As the superscripted numbers and letters in the NET, NRSV, NIV, and CSB suggest, the difference in these translations’ rendering of Mark 6:22 is due to a difference in manuscripts.  The footnotes in the NRSV, the NIV, and CSB are (as usual) too vague to do much more than confuse their readers.  
            Quite a bit more data is found in the NET’s textual note, in which the annotator explains that the NET’s editors chose to have their translation say that the dancer was Herod’s daughter despite the “historical difficulties” that it involves.  Or to put it another way:  even though Matthew says that Herodias was the dancer’s mother, the NET’s editors chose to adopt the reading in which Mark says otherwise, because it is the most difficult reading – difficult, because it is erroneous – and thus the reading which copyists were most likely to alter.
          (By the way:  what are the odds that the similarity between Metzger’s references to “historical and contextual difficulties” and “external attestation” in his comment on this variant-unit, and the NET annotator’s references to “historical difficulties” and “external attestation,” rather than being sheer coincidence, is the result of the NET’s annotator attempting to summarize Metzger’s comments?  Rather high I think.)

          Let’s take a look at the rival variants that are found in Mark 6:22:

● τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτου Ἡρῳδιάδος – “his daughter Herodias” – is supported by À B D L Δ 238 and 565. 

● τῆς θυγατρὸς τῆς Ἡρῳδιάδος – “the daughter of Herodias” – is supported by family 1, 15 minuscules, and by four Old Latin manuscripts (aur, b, c, and f – that is, VL 15 (Codex Aureus Holmiensis, copied c. 775), VL 4 (Codex Veronensis, copied at the end of the 400s), VL 6 (Codex Colbertinus, copied in the 1100s), and VL 10 (Codex Brixianus, copied in the 500s)).  Allied with them, according to the textual apparatus in the fourth edition of the UBS Greek New Testament, are the Sinaitic Syriac manuscript, the Peshitta, the Palestinian Aramaic version, the Sahidic version, the Bohairic version, the Gothic version, the Armenian version, the Old Georgian version, and the Ethiopic version.    

● τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτῆς τῆς Ἡρῳδιάδος – “the daughter of Herodias herself” or “the daughter of this same Herodias” – is supported by about 99% of the Greek manuscripts of Mark, including Codices A C K M N U Γ Θ Π fam-13, 33, 157, 579, 700, 892, 1010, 1195, 1241, 1424, and 2474.  Allied with this mainly (but by no means exclusively) Byzantine army of witnesses are the Harklean Syriac (produced in 616), the Vulgate (produced in 383), and Old Latin manuscripts a, d, ff2, i, l, q, and r1 – that is, VL 3 (Codex Vercellensis, copied in the late 300s), VL 5 (the Latin section of Codex Bezae, copied in the 400s or 500s), VL 8 (Codex Corbeiensis Secundus, copied in the 400s), VL 17 (Codex Vindobonensis, copied in the late 400s), VL 11 (Codex Rehdigeranus, copied in the early 700s),  Codex Monacensis, copied in the 500s or 600s), and VL 14 (Codex Usserianus Primus, copied c. 600). 

● τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτῆς Ἡρῳδιάδος – “her daughter Herodias” – is supported by Codex W and a smattering of minuscules. 

The Byzantine reading, supported by a very wide
array of evidence, including hundreds of Greek MSS.
It should be noted that the second reading (“the daughter of Herodias”) and the third reading (“the daughter of Herodias herself”) mean basically the same thing.  Both refer to the dancer as the daughter of Herodias.  Only the first reading says that the dancer was the daughter of Herod – a claim that appears to contradict both Matthew 14:6 and Josephus’ statements.  In other words, by adopting this reading, the Nestle-Aland/UBS editors appear to have placed an erroneous statement into the text.
Why, then, did the editors of the current edition of the Nestle-Aland compilation adopt a reading which makes Mark appear to contradict his fellow-evangelist Matthew and the historical data from Josephus?  Because textual critics tend to accept the principle that the more difficult a reading is, the more likely it is to be original – which means in this case that the first reading is more likely to be original because it is the variant that copyists would be most likely to attempt to adjust.   That, at least, was the reasoning at the conclusion of the NET’s defense of the reading:  “It most likely gave rise to the other readings as scribes sought to correct it.”   (So much for the annotator’s “embarrassment of riches,” when he declares that at this point in the text, 99.9% of the coins in the treasury are most likely counterfeit!)
The "his daughter" variant in Codex 037.
Neverthless, Metzger, instead of promoting the reading with αὐτου on internal grounds, stated that the UBS Committee narrowly decided in its favor due to the external evidence, stating in his Textual Commentary, “A majority of the Committee decided, somewhat reluctantly, that the reading with αὐτου [i.e., the first reading], despite the historical and contextual difficulties, must be adopted on the strength of its external attestation.”  This illustrates that “reasoned eclectic” approach of the UBS editors is, to a very large extent, eclectic in name only, favoring the joint testimony of a very small team of manuscripts over virtually everything else.    
The Tyndale House edition of the Greek New Testament, however, reads τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτῆς τῆς Ἡρῳδιάδος (“the daughter of Herodias herself”), and its apparatus does not even include an entry to alert readers of the existence that a textual contest exists at this point.  Many other compilations of the Greek New Testament agree with the reading in the Tyndale House edition at this point, including not only the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform, but also the Greek New Testament compilations prepared by J. M. A. Scholz (1829), by Karl Lachmann (1831), by J. M. S. Baljon (1898), by Eberhard Nestle (1904), by Alexander Souter (1910), and the 1969 edition of the Nestle-Aland compilation.
In addition, when we compare the four rival readings side-by-side –

            ● τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτου Ἡρῳδιάδος
            ● τῆς θυγατρὸς τῆς Ἡρῳδιάδος
            ● τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτῆς τῆς Ἡρῳδιάδος
            ● τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτῆς Ἡρῳδιάδος

– it becomes clear that the second and fourth readings can be explained as the effects of momentary carelessness on the part of copyists whose exemplars contained the third reading:  the second reading was produced by a copyist who accidentally omitted αὐτῆς when his line of sight drifted from the ς at the end of θυγατρὸς, and the fourth reading was produced by a copyist who accidentally omitted τῆς when his line of sight drifted from the ς at the end of αὐτῆς to the ς at the end of τῆς.  Thus all of the witnesses for the second, third, and fourth reading may be considered allies which favor τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτῆς τῆς Ἡρῳδιάδος, directly or indirectly.
Yet the NET’s annotator claims that this is not adequate external support.  Whatever approach is reflected by such claims, it is not really eclecticism.

Some clarity about the reliability of the main witnesses for the reading with αὐτου (“his”) in 6:22 may be gained by considering some of their readings in nearby passages. 
■ In 6:17, the copyist of Codex Vaticanus did not include the words τὴν γυναῖκα (the words are added in the margin by a corrector). 
■ In 6:22b, À B C* L Δ and 33 and a smattering of minuscules read ἤρεσεν instead of καὶ ἀρεσάσης which is supported by all other Greek manuscripts.  The editors of the Nestle-Aland/UBS compilation preferred the Alexandrian reading here – and in doing so, they rejected the testimony of Papyrus 45, the earliest manuscript of this part of the Gospel of Mark.  Although P45 is extensively damaged in chapter 6, this reading is preserved.  This constitutes an agreement between the Byzantine Text and the earliest manuscript of this part of Mark.    
■ In 6:22c, the words in the opening phrase are transposed and slightly different in Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, C* L and Δ – ὁ δὲ βασιλεὺς εἶπεν – instead of the usual εἶπεν ὁ βασιλεὺς.  These manuscripts disagree with the word-order in the earliest manuscript, Papyrus 45, in which ν [the final surviving letter of εἶπεν] ὁ Ἡρώδης was written before Ἡρώδης was corrected (above the line) to βασιλεὺς.        
          In all three of these variant-units, the SBL-GNT, compiled by Michael Holmes, supports the Byzantine reading.  So does the Tyndale House GNT.  The SBLGNT also reads τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτῆς τῆς Ἡρῳδιάδος (the daughter of Herodias herself).   Clearly not everyone is convinced that the Alexandrian witnesses are especially reliable in this particular passage.
          Having established that the support for τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτου Ἡρῳδιάδος is extremely limited, and that the supportive manuscripts seem to be less reliable than usual elsewhere in the verse, let’s turn to a couple of issues concerning the internal evidence. 
First, how would copyists start with τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτῆς τῆς Ἡρῳδιάδος and end up with τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτου Ἡρῳδιάδος?  Such a transition is not difficult if an early copyist had an exemplar with the reading found in Codex W (τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτῆς Ἡρῳδιάδος), and, with Herod prominent in his mind as the focus of the previous verse, inattentively wrote αὐτου instead of αὐτῆς.  The few subsequent copyists who preserved the resultant reading τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτου Ἡρῳδιάδος rationalized that Mark must have used the term “daughter” to refer to a step-daughter, and that the dancer, like several members of Herod’s extended family, shared a name with another family-member. 
Second, is it plausible that Mark wrote τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτου Ἡρῳδιάδος?  The answer is firmly no.  Introducing the dancer as Herod’s daughter, fully aware that she was Herodias’ daughter (as Mark affirms in 6:24), immediately after explaining that Herod’s marriage to Herodias was not valid, would be like saying that a man and a woman were committing adultery, and then saying that the woman’s daughter was nevertheless the daughter of the adulterer – and that she happened to have the same name as the adulteress.  It is extremely unlikely that Mark would ever drop such a statement upon his readers without explanation; it is much more likely that an early copyist made a simple mistake, which a small number of disciplined copyists perpetuated.
Third, how would copyists be likely to adjust the text if they found τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτου Ἡρῳδιάδος in their exemplars and considered such a statement (that the dancer was Herod’s daughter, and that she was named Herodias) historically erroneous?  Their first resort would be to conform the Markan text to the parallel-passage in Matthew 14:6 – but such a conformation to ἡ θυγάτηρ τῆς Ἡρῳδιάδος does not seem to have been attempted by any copyists.  The only obvious scribal recklessness in Matthew 14:6 is displayed in Codex Bezae, where the text reads αὐτου (“his”) instead of τῆς, and Ἡρῳδιὰς instead of Ἡρῳδιάδος. 
          These three considerations in unison attest that the Byzantine reading at this point in Mark 6:22 is original, and that the Alexandrian reading is a mistake, albeit not quite so nonsensical that every copyist would recognize it as such.  (It might be worth mentioning the possibility, however speculative, that in an ancient exemplar, αὐτου was omitted from verse 21 after μεγιστᾶσιν (an omission attested by Codex Bezae and by MSS 1 and 1582), and after the missing word was supplied in the margin nearby, it was misinterpreted as if it was intended to replace the similar word in verse 22 rather than supplement verse 21.)            

Presently, readers of the CSB and NIV only encounter the English echo of a scribal mistake in Mark 6:22 in their Bible’s footnotes, and ESV-readers do not encounter it at all.  But as long as these three versions are subject to constant revision, there is a very real possibility that in a future edition of the ESV or CSB or NIV, the English text of Mark 6:22 may be changed to resemble the errant text found in the NET and NRSV, corresponding to the errant text in the Nestle-Aland compilation.                                                    

Quotations designated NET are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Quotations designated NIV are from the NIV New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®  Used by permission of Zondervan.  All rights reserved worldwide. 

Quotations designated NRSV are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Quotations designated ESV are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

Quotations designated CSB® are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Video: Mark 16:9-20 and the Parrot Problem

It’s not easy to make a high-quality slide-show video!  So, after several attempts, I settled for a low-quality, adequate slide-show video with music and birds.
            In three minutes, Mark 16:9-20 and the Parrot Problem explains some ways in which some commentators misrepresent the external evidence about to Mark 16:9-20. 
            You can view it on YouTube at .

Friday, July 13, 2018

What Darkened Sinaiticus?

Last year, I wrote a three-part series of posts refuting a conspiracy-claim to the effect that the famous Codex Sinaiticus is a forgery made in the 1800s.  Alas, the conspiracy theorists – particularly David W. Daniels of Chick Publications, assisted by Steven Avery – have continued to promote their theory that a man named Constantine Simonides produced the manuscript in his youth. 
Lately their website has focused on a particular question about the difference between the photographs of the portion of Codex Sinaiticus that is housed at the University of Leipzig and the portions that are housed elsewhere (mainly at the British Library, and at Saint Catherine’s Monastery):  “Why,” they ask, “are the CFA pages in Leipzig University Library white, while the remainder of the pages, described in 1845 as “white”, are stained and yellowed with age?” – the insinuation being that Constantine Tischendorf (who took most of the manuscript from Saint Catherine’s monastery during visits to Saint Catherine’s monastery in 1844 and 1859) artificially colored the second batch of pages, in an attempt to make them look ancient.  “Sinaiticus is clearly a fake,” Daniels states about Codex Sinaiticus in his book, Is the World’s Oldest Bible a Fake?, and “It is not an ancient manuscript at all.”  
The real Bible, Daniels affirms, is the King James Bible.  Much of his book has nothing to do with Codex Sinaiticus and is a presentation of KJV-Onlyist propaganda, which I shall not address here.  Instead, I shall consider today a question which Daniels raised repeatedly:  why are the pages from the first collection of pages that Tischendorf obtained in 1844 (the “Codex Frederico-Augustanus” pages housed at the University of Leipzig, in Germany) lighter in color than the rest of the pages?
Jacob W. Peterson, with a book-cradle
for manuscript photography.
            This issue about the color of the parchment seems to have been a sort of spark to Daniels’ investigations.  In his book, he describes an experience he had:  “I prayed and asked God, ‘What question should I ask?” And I heard “What color is it?”  And that was the beginning of all that you are about to read.  Please, check the facts all you want.”
            Okay.  Let’s check the facts.  To test Daniels’ claim that “someone darkened Sinaiticus,” I’ve consulted Jacob W. Peterson, a photography-specialist at the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts who has worked with almost 500 New Testament manuscripts and prepared thousands of photographs of manuscripts for CSNTM.  Here’s the conversation we had about the differences in the photographs of the different portions of Codex Sinaiticus:

Q:  Jacob, the photographs of the pages of Codex Sinaiticus at Leipzig clearly have a lighter tone than the photographs of the pages of Codex Sinaiticus at the British Library.  How do you account for this?

Peterson:  There are two explanations for what is going on here between the parts of the manuscript in the two collections and their online presentation. As that sentence hints at, these differences are part actual and part visual effect. As to the actual difference, there are undoubtedly differences in the storage conditions of these two sections of the manuscripts that likely led to some of the color difference.
For instance, you can look at other portions of the Codex Sinaiticus that are currently housed at St. Catherine’s that share the same color qualities of the London leaves.  They are just as dark, if not slightly darker.  It should be obvious that the manner in which a manuscript is stored can, and does, have an effect on its color and condition. The visual effect on the images is immediately recognizable for anyone who has worked in digital reproduction and with manuscripts in particular.
We’ll get into some of the finer details in a bit, but as an introduction, the color balance for the images appears to be off and my suspicion is that the lighting in the room had adverse effects on the resulting images. What this means is that the photographs of the Leipzig portion are not entirely accurate representations of the real leaves. Storage has definitely played a role.  I’m not saying that the leaves are actually dirty brown, but rather that the leaves are not greyish-white.
Same page.  Different lighting.
Q:  Here you have supplied, as an example of the effect of subtle environmental factors, two photographs of the same manuscript page. One image looks darker than the other. Did you apply lemon juice or tea to the manuscript-page before you took the second photo, or is there some other explanation?

Peterson:  Haha, no. This is a great example of how digital photography is not as simple as pointing a camera at an object, pressing a button, and out pops a perfect reproduction of the object. These images were taken about 15 minutes apart. If I remember the day correctly, we had just bought new cameras and were trying them out. We were working in a room with yellowish walls and the color would not come out correctly no matter how hard we tried. We moved the manuscript over to another room, where the walls were white, and the image was much better. So we brought the manuscript back to the main room, turned off the overhead lights, and only used the lights on our digitization stand. The correctly colored image on the left was the result. The implication is that the overhead lights were causing enough reflection off the walls to affect the color-tones in the photograph. When possible, we now use only the lighting attached to our equipment, which is designed to emit both warm and cool tones to provide as neutral lighting as possible.

Q:  When you compared the colors of the photographs of different parts of Codex Sinaiticus, what did you observe, and what does that imply about the environments in which the photographs were taken?

Peterson:  The portion of the manuscript housed in London features the typical slight variations one would expect in a manuscript. Some pages are slightly lighter, and some are darker. This is due to which side of the parchment you’re looking at (hair or flesh) and several other factors, like different kinds of animals used as sources of parchment.
The leaves at Leipzig, on the other hand, are a consistent off-white, which I would describe as having a cool-grey tone. There are a couple of problems with this:  (1) Leaves should have a little more variation than we see here due to the factors just mentioned, and (2) Manuscripts typically don’t have a cool-grey tone. Most manuscripts I’ve seen shade toward warm-yellow tones since this is more or less the default starting tone for parchment. If I were of the conspiracy mindset and knew that the images were accurate, I would actually be more inclined to think the Leipzig leaves were bleached to make them look newer. The situation would be comparable to the guys who polish the patina off of old guns to make them appear to be in better condition, but in doing so ruin their value. But I digress.

Q:  When you compare the color-charts that accompany the pages at Leipzig to the color-charts that accompany the pages at London, do you notice any difference?

Peterson:  There are immediately recognizable differences. The color chart in the London images is visually much closer to what I would expect. The color variations between the patches are clear and sharp. There’s no mistaking the magenta for a slightly different red. Similarly, the gradient of the greyscale proceeds nicely and evenly with differences between the sections noticeable at every point.
The Leipzig color charts unfortunately have some problems. The magenta and the purple patches are clearly not correct. At times the magenta is barely distinguishable from the red and the purple almost looks black. The grey and black patches are also barely distinguishable. Similarly, the greyscale portion of the chart has barely distinguishable sections on the black end and the middle grey color ends up being in the upper third of the chart rather than in the middle. To these color differences can also be added the background color for the images. I do not know for certain that they used the same board or material, but it looks that way and would be a sensible protocol. Yet, the background color does not match in the images across locations.

Q:  Does this mean that someone has been darkening the color-charts, along with the parchment, using lemon-juice or some special chemical agent?

Peterson:  Definitely not.

Q:  What, then, does it mean?

Peterson:  There are perfectly normal explanations for everything involved. Again, I think the storage conditions make up a significant portion of the differences, but the imaging has really altered our perception of the manuscript’s color.  At the NT Textual Criticism discussion-group on Facebook, I offered the possible explanation that the Leipzig portion was photographed under particularly cool lights (in the 6500K range). This would have given everything a cool-grey appearance so that what the photographers were seeing in the images was accurate to what they were seeing with their eyes. It would be like the difference between seeing things by the light of old yellow-tinted headlights versus new blue-tinted halogen headlights. The tone of the light you are using drastically influences your perception of the objects you’re looking at.
In such a scenario, the Leipzig crew did nothing blameworthy, and unfortunately their photographs were negatively affected by the lights of the room they were given to work in. Photographing manuscripts is not an easy task and there are so many variables, often out of your control, that can really affect the end product. My job is to critique photographs of manuscripts and you can ask teams working under me how much of a stickler I can be about getting things right. We have a shooting standard called “practical perfection” because we know that perfection is unattainable and sometimes there’s just nothing you can do or the equipment just won’t adjust quite right. At the end of the day, the Sinaiticus images are perfectly usable and I’d never advocate for re-imaging them because the minimal returns that would result would not be worth the risk of damaging the manuscript.

Q:  So, which possibility seems more likely to you: that Constantine Tischendorf deliberately darkened 347 pages of parchment, or that the photographs taken of the pages at Leipzig were taken under conditions that caused the parchment to look lighter than it actually is?

Peterson:  I definitely think the Leipzig leaves are artificially lighter in the images than in reality.  I made a technical measurement of the lightness value of the white square in the color target in one of the images at Leipzig, and it was 99, which is impossible given the type of target used and in comparison to the 95 value seen in the images at London.  This means that the image from Leipzig is washed out.  At minimum, it has what is technically called a Δ4 change.

Q:  Could you explain in a little more detail what is wrong with the approach being used by David Daniels?

Peterson:  The individuals who are claiming that Sinaiticus is a forgery are focusing on the HCL color values that were assigned to the images.  There is, no doubt, some objectivity and subjectivity to the process of assigning HCL color values when this is done without a spectrometer and averaging software.  Nevertheless, they provide a much better picture of the real color since they were done with the actual manuscript at hand. The conspiracy theorists have said the following about the color of the pages at Leipzig: 
“The colour of the CFA pages housed in Leipzig are consistently characterized by the CSP as S 1005-Y20R, while the leaves housed at the British Library are more variable.  They tend toward a NCS number of S 1010-Y or S1010-Y10R but vary all the way from S 1005-Y20R to S 1515-Y10R.”
They then offer this image [shown to right] as a sample of these NCS values.  You would have to be imbibing severe amounts of alcohol to think three of those colors even remotely describe Codex Sinaiticus. The GitHub generator they’ve used to convert the NCS code into RGB has serious deficiencies. If I had to guess, the code has inverted the yellow-red values. The S 1515-Y10R looks rather like actual NCS color S 1515-Y90R (As an aside, not recognizing such an issue casts strong doubt on SART’s description of Mark Michie as a “colour engineer expert”). Rather than using a second-hand generator, you are free to use the generator provided by the organization that came up with the NCS.
            Regarding the claims about supposedly radical differences in page color, let’s just say I am less than impressed.  I don’t have an explanation for why in Leipzig they seemed to have gone with a single descriptor code.  Perhaps they wanted to be a bit more specific with the larger sample size of leaves in London. Perhaps the Leipzig leaves are more uniform. Again, storage conditions perfectly explain the latter option if that’s the case.  Regardless of which of these is true, it is demonstrably untrue that the leaves in Leipzig are the cool-grey color that is shown in the digital images.  It is demonstrably untrue that those leaves are drastically different from those in London. The Leipzig leaves in actuality have a slight yellow tint that is exactly the same as, or very near to, the tint of some leaves in London.

Q:  So, how – with a minimum of jargon – would you answer David Daniels’ question, “Who darkened Sinaiticus?”

Peterson:  The natural passage of time, with possibly a little help from the British climate.  The options are to trust either (1) color science as demonstrated by L*A*B* and NCS color schemes, the physical assessment of the manuscript by a team of scholars, and my experience digitizing manuscripts or (2) A theologically motivated group who have never, to my knowledge, photographed, handled, worked with, or seen a manuscript except for perhaps in a museum display.

TTotG:  Thanks, Jacob.  I remind our readers that in addition to this explanation of the color-differences as basically a phantom-difference caused by different cameras’ environments, 20 more reasons why Codex Sinaiticus is not a forgery are listed in my earlier posts Ten Reasons Why Sinaiticus Was Not Made by Simonides and Ten More Reasons Why Sinaiticus Was Not Made by Simonides.  I would also like to draw reader’s attention to a 21st reason:   a newspaper report (mentioned by Dr. Tommy Wasserman in a comment in 2017) announcing that a fragment from Codex Sinaiticus (with text from Joshua 1) was discovered by researcher Nicholas Sarris in a book-binding from the 1700s.   

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Resurrecting the Dead with MSI

Georgian NF 19, 57v.
One of the New Finds manuscripts
at St. Catherine's monastery

As news of the contents of the Sinai Palimpsests Project spreads, more and more people are bound to wonder about what multi-spectral imaging is and how it works.  Just how can researchers read a text after a copyist has erased it and written another composition on top of it?  To answer that question, here are some resources – a few of which are related to the Archimedes Palimpsest (an ancient document which, after it was purchased in 1998 for $2,000,000, sparked new developments in the science of palimpsest-reading) that explain multi-spectral imaging and its usefulness in the recovery of the text of ancient manuscripts.   

● At the Sinai Palimpsests Project website, this page describes the basics of MSI, and this page shows what MSI can do with digital images of otherwise difficult-to-read texts.

● In this video from 2016, Dr. Gregory Heyworth of the University of Rochester describes the potential of MSI for recovering lost texts.  Dr. Heyworth directs The Lazarus Project.
● In this video from 2008, Dr. Bill Christens-Barry describes the usefulness of MSI in the recovery of the text of the Archimedes Palimpsest.

Georgian NF 19, 57v
processed via MSI to emphasize
the lower writing
● In this video from 2012, Dr. William Noel describes the usefulness of MSI in the recovery of the text of the Archimedes Palimpsest.

  In this video from 2012, Dr. Fenella France presides at lectures by Justin Sinaites and Mike Toth, sponsored by the Library of Congress.  The three lectures, approximately 30 minutes each, are followed by a Question-and-Answer session.  Images of some of the manuscripts among the Sinai Palimpsests Project are featured especially in the third lecture. 

At the British Library’s website, Christina Duffy briefly describes palimpsests and how they can be read more easily using MSI. 
This video from 2012 features information on how MSI is being used on the Dead Sea Scrolls.

● This post from earlier this year reports the purchase of an MSI-camera by the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, to be used in future manuscript-photographing projects.

Georgian NF 19, 57v -
the reconstructed lower writing
(Luke 8:21b-16a)
The name of The Lazarus Project is very fitting, for in a way, MSI technology is bringing dead documents – documents that were previously either unreadable or only readable with great difficulty – back to life.  Our ability to read the lower writing on recycled manuscripts via MSI may provoke many a curator to take a new look at later manuscripts – antiphonaries, New Testament minuscules, patristic compositions, lectionaries, and more – to see if their parchment might contain older texts.    

All images courtesy St. Catherine's Monastery of the Sinai.  
Used with permission. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

News: Ancient Byzantine Gospels at Mount Sinai!

Georgian NF 19, 57v -
reconstructed lower writing.
       Last month, I briefly described many of the manuscripts in a collection of palimpsests (recycled manuscripts) that are being studied by the Sinai Palimpsests Project – including 15 Greek manuscripts of New Testament books.  Today, let’s take a closer look at parts of two specific manuscripts in the collection:  Georgian NF 19 and Georgian 49.  (NF = New Finds.) 
            The upper (i.e., most recent) writing in Georgian NF 19 is a copy of a book of hymns, or chants, in the Georgian language – the Iadgari of Mikael Modrekili.  It was produced in 980.  The parchment on which this copy of the Iadgari was written previously held text from at least 13 other compositions.
            Eight of those compositions are in the Palestinian Aramaic language.  The remaining seven are in Greek – including (1) a leaf from the Gospel of Matthew (containing Matthew 21:32-41), (2) a leaf from the Gospel of John (containing John 9:17-26), and (3) a leaf from the Gospel of Luke (containing Luke 8:12-20).
           These pages are clustered together and probably came from the same manuscript of the four Gospels, which has been assigned to the 500s.  All three are written in uncial script, formatted in two narrow columns per page, with 22 lines per column.  At the Sinai Palimpsests Project website, in the lower writing of Georgian NF 19, the text from Matthew is on fol. 56, the text from Luke is on fol. 57, and the text from John is on fol. 54.
            The text of the Gospels-manuscript that was recycled to provide parchment for the Georgian chant-book was essentially Byzantine.  Taking a close look at the text from Luke, for example, the only deviations from the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform are minor variants such as ακουοντες instead of ακουσαντες and συνπνιγονται instead of συμπνιγονται in verse 14. 
            The same textual character is present in Matthew:  in Matthew 21:35-41, the text of this manuscript is practically identical to the Byzantine Text.  Its text of John 9:17-31 is also very strongly Byzantine.
            Initial letters are enlarged and reverse-indented at the beginnings of verses 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19.  The Eusebian section-number ΠΒ (82) stands in the margin near the beginning of Luke 8:19, showing that these pages were once part of a manuscript that contained all four Gospels.
            Another manuscript in the collection, Georgian 49, contains five leaves that were recycled from a Greek copy of the Gospel of Mark (fol. 25, 26, 28, 29, and 30), and a leaf that was recycled from a Greek copy of the Gospel of John – but not the same Gospels-codex that was recycled to provide writing-material for Georgian NF 19.
            The text of Mark that appears in the lower writing of Georgian 49 was also formatted in two columns per page, but in columns of 25 lines, rather than 22.  A comparison of its text of Mark 10:46-47 and 10:49-51 reveals the following readings:

The Gospels-text in the lower writing
of Georgian NF 19 is unmistakably
● v. 46:  the non-inclusion of ὁ after ἱκανοῦ.
● v. 46:  the Byzantine word-order and wording in the second half of the verse.
● v. 47:  the non-inclusion of ΙΥ (the customary contraction of Jesus’ name, Ἰησοῦ) after ΔΑΔ (the customary contraction of David’s name).  This might be the earliest Greek manuscript with this reading.  (Notice, however, the dots above ΔΑΔ which may represent a proof-reader’s expression of the detection of a scribal error; a correction may have been in the left margin.)
● v. 50:  αναστας (agreeing with Byz) instead of αναπηδήσας (the reading of B À L D).
● v. 51:  the Alexandrian non-inclusion of λέγει and inclusion of ειπεν.
● v. 51:  the Alexandrian word-order Τί σοι θέλεις ποιήσω.

            It would appear that the manuscript of Mark that was recycled to make Georgian 49 had a much higher amount of Alexandrian readings than the Gospels-manuscript that was used to make Georgian NF 19.  The text of John 11:29b-31a on fol. 54r in Georgian 49, however, contains only one significant variant-unit; it agrees with the Byzantine Text, and disagrees with the Alexandrian Text, via the non-inclusion of ετι in verse 30.

            This is just a sample of the harvest of textual data that is yet to come from the Sinai Palimpsests Project.  A guide to navigating the website is planned; in the meantime, allow me to walk you through it in the course of the next few paragraphs.
Byzantine readings continue
to dominate in the text of John
in Georgian NF 19.
            The manuscripts can be viewed, once one has been admitted entrance to the image-gallery by the stewards of the Sinai Palimpsests Project website.  Viewers should agree to the Terms of Use.  Once in the gallery, visitors will have the ability to browse through a list of the manuscripts, complete with descriptions of the texts in the lower writing and their locations.  You might want to have a pen and paper handy to jot down which compositions are in the lower writing of which pages of which manuscripts.
            When a specific page-view is accessed, some basic imaging-tools are available:  visitors have the ability to zoom in on details (in a no-nonsense, intuitive method), and to adjust the brightness, contrast, and color-saturation of the photograph; there are also options to rotate the page-view, to switch from full-color to grayscale, and to invert colors.  There is also a digital ruler; if you do not feel like measuring any of the letters in the manuscripts you can use the menu in the upper right corner to select “Hide ruler” and it will hide.
            In the same sub-menu in the upper right corner of each page-view, readers are given the option of switching from page view mode (which displays a single page in the main window but allows page-selection via a virtual rolodex below the main image) to gallery view mode (in which all of the manuscript’s pages are displayed in a grid of thumbnail-views).  (In page view mode, you might need to move the whole window north a bit to access the virtual rolodex’s controls.)
            More useful than all of these remarkable features, however, are the multi-spectral images of the pages, which can be accessed by selecting the three horizontal lines which appear in the menu in the upper left corner:  “Toggle the side panel,” a pop-up note will say when you do so.  (A special page is dedicated to explaining the use of different wavelengths and other technological aspects of multi-spectral imaging, including the special book cradle at Saint Catherine’s monastery.)

            After the side-menu appears and gobbles up the far-left fifth of your screen, another menu will appear which gives you the options of “Index” and “Layers.”  “Index” does nothing, as far as I can tell (no doubt something awesome is planned to go there eventually), so select “Layers.”  A series of images – all multi-spectral images of the same page, each one at a different wavelength – will appear.

            Viewers will need to check a little box to select specific wavelengths.  Some experimenting has shown that the most useful wavelengths for reading the lower writing in the palimpsests are toward the top (above the “raking light” setting); the ones toward the bottom are useful for getting an idea of what the page would look like without any writing on it.  Once a wavelength or multiple wavelengths are selected, the enhanced view can be digitally manipulated (by changing the contrast, brightness, etc.) so as to allow – though usually still requiring some effort – a much clearer look at the lower writing than would otherwise be possible.

            To the people of Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, and to the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library, gratitude and congratulations are offered for making possible these exciting new discoveries about the text of the Bible, patristic compositions, the Byzantine liturgy, and other historically significant writings! is a publication of St. Catherine’s Monastery of the Sinai in collaboration with EMEL and UCLA.

All images courtesy St. Catherine's Monastery of the Sinai.  
Used with permission. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

The Sinaitic Syriac: Now in Color!

The old black and white photos of the pages of the Sinaitic Syriac
show that there is writing (including much of the Gospels)
underneath the more recent writing. 
In the new MSI-enhanced images,
the older text can be not only detected, but read.
          The Sinaitic Syriac manuscript, one of the most important non-Greek manuscripts of the Gospels, is online at the Sinai Palimpsests Project website.
            This fifth-century manuscript has already been online for a while, in black and white photos at the website of the Library of Congress.  Those old photos, however, mainly show only the upper, most recent layer of writing.  While that may be quite interesting for people who can read Syriac and have an interest in the lives of various female saints and martyrs, it’s not as interesting as the Syriac Gospels-text which (along with the texts of a few other compositions) was on the parchment that was recycled in the 700s to provide writing-material for a collection of biographies of female saints and martyrs.  
            Many other Syriac manuscripts are at Saint Catherines monastery but this one is the earliest and most important one.  It was brought to the attention of Western researchers in the 1890s by Agnes Smith Lewis, who edited and published its contents; her English translation of the text, with an informative introduction, was published in 1894.  (This was one of several important contributions made to New Testament research by Agnes Smith Lewis and her sister Margaret Dunlop Gibson.)  It has been prominently cited in compilations of the Greek New Testament ever since.  
               Now it is online, in full-color digital page-views, with multi-spectral imaging enhancement tools that allow Syriac-readers to read the ancient Syriac Gospels-text in the lower writing.  The text of some recycled pages from an ancient Greek Gospels-codex (with text from the Gospel of John) can also be read in the lower writing (just look for the slanted uncial Greek lettering on fol. 142, 144, 147, and 149).
               The Sinaitic Syriac manuscript is somewhat famous (or infamous) for being the only Syriac manuscript that ends the Gospel of Mark at the end of 16:8.  The last page of Mark in the Sinaitic Syriac manuscript (in the lower writing) is 23v; after you have applied for and received admittance to the images-gallery at the Sinai Palimpsests Project, you will need to find manuscript Syriac 30, explore its page-views, and rotate the page-view for 23r until it is upside down, and then use the MRI-selection tools to see the lower writing (in two columns).
             Before you explore the images, it is highly recommended that you thoroughly explore the manuscript-description and the sub-menus, especially the  Undertexts descriptions, to get some idea of what texts in what languages are on what pages.
            Hopefully in a few days, I shall post more about the Sinai Palimpsests Project and share some details about a few of the Greek New Testament manuscripts that are lurking in the lower writing of the palimpsests, along with some tips on how to navigate the site.