Monday, May 23, 2022

Pen, Print, & Pixels 2022 - Report on Day One

The Plano Marriott at Legacy Town Center
           This past week, on May 19-20, specialists in New Testament from around the world – Britain, Germany, Australia, Amsterdam, Arizona – gathered at the Dallas/Plano Marriott at Legacy Town Center for the Pen, Print, & Pixels Text and Manuscript conference, hosted by the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts.

          Daniel Buck was there, and was able to attend about half of the sessions.  He had these takeaways from the first day of the conference:

          The speakers were generally in agreement that there is still much new ground to be turned in the field of New Testament textual criticism.

          l Hugh Houghton foresees much more to discover in palimpsests through Multi-Spectral Imaging, and much to be gained from the study of family relationships in catena manuscripts.

          l Timothy Mitchell envisions learning more about how published work made it into circulation, and especially how they were guarded against tampering once they passed out of the authors’ direct control, by studying numerous references to that process in Greco-Roman classical works.

          l Peter Montoro has only just started us off in tracking down more examples of back-eddies in the transmission stream where continuous text manuscripts textually feed off of patristic homilies, such as a singular reading in GA 104 at Romans 2:26 from Chrysostom's homilies (Jan Krans, a bit later in the day, cited John 1:28 in Origen as such a case).

          l Dirk Jongkind thinks that it’s time to turn a corner in our approach to singular readings (proposing that they should be weighed both before and after counting them), and may even be ready to remove the old but not-quite-yet-ancient landmark of the Gregory-Aland numbering scheme.

          l Ryan Griffin wants us to further change the modern critical text to align more closely with the “Western” readings of p46 at three places in Philippians.

          l Edgar Ebojo sees a lot of work to be done in using distinctive line endings, especially in reconstructing inextant text and in distinguishing the scribes by their idiosyncratic ways of writing them.

          l Jan Krans is not at all ready to declare the “folly and duty” of proposing new textual emendations to be complete.

          And that was all just from some of the first day’s sessions.

Zooming in on some specific details:

          Hugh Houghton explained how looking beyond the continuous text in the dozens of catena manuscripts allows us to classify them into families, and even to identify family readings which are a direct result of chopping the text into lemmas.  Frequently the beginning or ending content of a lemma is completely excised in the process, and for no other reason than ease in production; only that content worthy of commentary was thought essential for inclusion.

          Now we can directly identify the source of omission for which, in such cases, could be accounted for by no previously identified scribal habit. Houghton urges the special identification of catena manuscripts, suggesting that prefixes or superscripts to GA numbers could be used for this process. He foresees that a lot more about family relationships between manuscripts will emerge as we do this.

Dirk Jongkind
          Dirk Jongkind asked the question, “Is the use of singular readings on the way out?” He certainly hopes so, at least when it comes to studying scribal habits—because more recent research (such as the research conducted by himself and Elijah Hixson) shows that focusing on just singular readings overlooks a lot of the data – especially in MSS like 01 and 0319.  However, he’s not about to throw out the whole idea.  He finds singular readings to still be useful for studying individual MSS and scribes:  all scribes make similar errors, but they don’t make them all in the same way.  But when it comes to focusing on singular readings to cast light on the canons of criticism, he points out that the same data, once in the hands of different scholars, has led to opposite conclusions.  

          Jongkind pointed out that there are two categories of evidence:  singular readings, and changes made by a particular scribe as he copied his exemplar.  In an ideal world the first would be a subcategory of the second, maybe even completely overlapping, but this is far from the case in the five manuscripts for which it can reasonably assumed that we have both the exemplar and the copy.  Instead we have three possible categories:  

          (1) singular readings that are not scribal errors because they were actually copied from a lost exemplar,

          (2) singular readings that are scribal errors because they were committed first-hand, and

          (3) “undetected” scribal errors that are not singular readings, because they were easy mistakes to make and thus several unrelated manuscripts share them (thus causing the most common scribal errors to be excluded from being counted under such a scheme).

          He mentioned five manuscripts for which the figures for both of the latter categories have been tabulated (three of these actually being the purple codices for which Elijah Hixson argued that he had been able to reasonably reconstruct their common exemplar, wherever two of the three agreed).  These five vary considerably as to which proportion of their scribal errors are also singular readings, showing that the approach that only looks at singular readings is flawed, in that it excludes much of the available data from consideration.

          Jan Krans gave a thorough history of conjectural emendations going back to 1453  showing that emendation of the New Testament text did not become a major practice until Erasmus and Beza, before tapering off quite a bit since the end of the 19th century (perhaps due in part to the lack of a classical education by today’s scholars).  He even did some textual criticism of the emendations, showing how confusing ellipsis marks for ditto signs in one listing of known emendations had a similar effect on subsequent lists.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Souter's GNT Preface

            In 1910, Scottish scholar Alexander Souter (1873-1949) released his Novum Testamentum Graece.  This was just 21 years after Westcott and Hort replaced the Textus Receptus with their own very heavily pro-Alexandrian compilation, and only nine years after Eberhard Nestle released the first edition of his Novum Testamentum Graece in 1898.  Souter’s Greek New Testament presented what he understood to have been the base-text of the 1881 Revised Version.  Souter’s GNT is not the text of Westcott and Hort, but of Westcott and Hort after it had been filtered through the minds of their fellow creators of the 1881 Revised Version.

            In 1912 Souter wrote The Text and Canon of the New Testament (revised in 1935).  He also produced a Pocket Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, which (unlike the UBS Greek-English Dictionary) includes some terms that are used in the text of Codex Bezae but which are not found in most other manuscripts.  Souter also edited The Earliest Latin Commentaries on the Epistles of St. Paul (1927).  His last major work was Glossary of Later Latin to 600 A.D.

            Souter’s GNT (copies of which can still be found at online markets such as eBay, etc.) has been superseded in the marketplace by the UBS and Nestle-Aland editions.  Those who seek it out will, however, find a tidy edition of the Greek New Testament very similar to what is in print today.  

            How did Souter introduce his work?  With two very short prefaces, written in Latin.  Since Latin is treated as a relic in many schools in America today, I thought it might be helpful to present here an English rendering of the Prefaces with which Souter introduced his GNT.   But beware:  my own skill at translating Latin is minimal; I hope that other will improve upon the translation given here.  Stay tuned for corrections/revisions:


The purpose of this edition of the Greek New Testament is to present the text which was the basis for the Revised Version in English published in 1881, which was produced by scholars at Oxford whose research into the text is necessary to gain an overview of its history. 

Regarding the selection of readings that I have noted in the apparatus:  although I devoted much time to this, I am unable to placate everyone, and it can scarcely be doubted that readers will reproach me for having omitted a particular variant somewhere.  But if I am going to please no one in this regard, at least it may be said that many of the apparatus-notes here are more complete and more accurate than can be found in any other edition.

I have consulted versions as they are represented in the most recent editions, which were not covered in Tischendorf’s Greek compilations:  Latin (Old Latin and Vulgate), Syriac (the Old Syriac, the Peshitta, the Philoxenian, the Palestinian), Coptic (Bohairic, Sahidic [from Horner]), and, in the Apocalypse, Armenian (as represented in both the ancient text and in ordinary editions).  I have also consulted the patristic evidence; I cannot say how many thousands of passages in the fathers’ works I have re-examined.  And finally, I have consulted the writings of the primarily Latin interpreters, such as Ambrosiaster, Tyconius, Pelagius, Pseudo-Jerome, Cassiodorus, and Bede, using in some cases editions which I have prepared and which, I am confident, will not be significantly altered in the future either by our scholars or by foreigners.  It should be noted that the elegant work of William Sanday was always on hand to guide me.  May that tireless patron of New Testament studies be given his due honor and commemoration, and may the same be done for the printers, who have exercised extraordinary diligence.

 Sent from Oxford, in the year of our salvation 1910. 


 After 33 years, within which a large number of copies of the previous edition were sold, I was fortunate to be approached by a very respectable publishing-house which insisted upon another edition.  As far as the text itself is concerned, the discoveries of the past few years are not of the sort, in my view, that would make it wise to make a fresh compilation of the text. 

For now it is clear that there are many more textual variations than previous generations imagined, and it is also clear that it is better to rely on the many minuscule copies than has been done previously.  See, for example, the research by Kirsopp and Silva Lake, and by Hermann C. Hoskier – the former chiefly in the Gospels, the latter in the Apocalypse.  Adolph Jülicher’s laborious collection of versions of the Gospels has been a valuable contribution to the study of the Latin Gospels, and has had an effect upon almost the entire New Testament. 

            In the following pages, I have taken precisely this approach, and shared some readings from recently-discovered papyri, like those in the Chester Beatty collection, and from Codex Washingtoniensis (W) and Codex Koridethi (Θ) and also from some small fragmentary sources.  I reviewed the versional data in accordance with the current editions, citing readings from the best editions of the fathers which I have on hand, such as the Venerable Bede in Acts of the Apostles by M.L.W. Laistner, and in the General Epistles by British Library curator C.H. Milne, which is not yet published. 

            Readers, both known and unknown, have corrected a few mistakes of the first edition, for which I am grateful.  This edition was prepared with proof-reading by Frederick Fyvie Bruce, A.M. (a former student of mine), who is now a lecturer at Leeds University.  His learning and diligence made important contributions, to the great advantage of my readers. 

 Sent from Oxford, in September, in the year of our salvation 1944.

Here is Souter’s Latin text, for those who would like to correct my no-doubt flawed renderings:


Huius editionis Novi Testamenti Graecu lex haec constituta eat, ut is textus, qui Anglae recensioni anno 1881 editae subesse uidetur quique Oxoniensium manibus teritur, denuo actum agere uideamur, breuem ad paratum criticum addidimus, quo adiutus multa inuenias quae sine ad uerum textum enucieandum siue ad historiam eius inlustrandam neglegi non possint.   In elegendis uero lectionibus quas adnotarem etsi multam operam impendi, omnibus scilicet satis facere nequeo et uix dubium est quin praetermissum hoc additum illud exprobraturi sint mihi lectores.

Quod si in illa re nemini sum placiturus, fortasse non siaplicebunt adnotatiunculae ipsae, quas diligentius interdumque plenius quam in ulla alia editione conscriptas reperias,   nammpraeter quam in ulla alia editiones codicum Graecorum Tischendorfio ignotorum quoas fieri poterat adhibui, uersiones laudaui secundum editiones criticas recentissimas : Latinas (et antiquioris et uulgatam), Suras (ueterem, uulgatam, Philoxenianam. Palaestinensem), Aegyptiacas (Bohairicam, Sahidicam), in Apocalypsi Aemeniacas (ueterem et uulgatam),  idem quoque de testimonio sanctorum patrum feci, nec possum dicere quot milia locorum denuo inspexerim.   Quod denique in libellostudiosis nostris maxima ex parte destinato ἐξηγητὰς Latinos, in quibus iam diu lucubro, Ambrosiastrum, Tyconium, Pelagium, Pseudo-Hieronymum, Cassiodorum, Bedam, secundum codicun conlationes a me ipso factas citaui, id doctis et nostris et alienigenis haudingratum fore confido.

Concinnanti opus numquam deerat mihi consilium sagacissimum Guilelmi Sanday S.T.P.  studiorum talium patroni indefessi, neque taceda est typographorum eximia diligentia.

Dabam Oxonii mense Septembri

Anno Salutis MCMX.


Feliciter mihi contigit ut post XXXIII annos, intra quos permulta exemplaria editionis prioris sunt diuendita, bibliopola honestissimus alteram poposcerit.  Quantum quidem ad textum ipsum pertinet, recentuirum annorum reperta eius generis sunt ut praesenti tempore imprudentis me iudice esset textus editionem nouam refingere.  Nunc enim luce clarius est antiquissimis temporibus multo plures fuisse uarias letiones quam maiores nostri putarant et codices uetustos non necessario semper omnium optimos quia sint uetusti, neque recentiores minoris momenti esse quod antiquitate scriptionis non gaudeant.   Codices quoque multos qui ‘minusculi’ dicuntur, melius e diligentius quam adhuc factum est innitescere oportet, exemplo Kirsopp et Siluae Lake, Hermanni C. Hoskier, illorum praecipue in Euangelio, huius in Apocalypsi.   Uersionum quidem quas uocant Sahidicae editio a G. W. Horner curata totum fere Nouum Testamentum inlustrauit, Adolphi Jülicher collectio laboriosa adiumentum pretiosissimum ad studium Latinarum euangeliorum uersionum antiquarum contulit, nec praetermittendae sunt editiones aliarum uersionum qualis Roberti P. Blake Georgicae.   In paginis sequentibus id solum egi ut communicem papyraceorum recns repertorum aliquot lectiones, uelut Chester Beatty, pergamenorum uelut Washingtoniensis (W), Koridethi (Θ), minusculorum denique quorundam ; uersoinum indicia ad normam hodiernam recenseam ; patrum lectiones ad optimas quas ad manum habeo editiones citem, ut Bedae Venerabilis in Actus Apostolorum a M. L. W. Laistner, in Epistulas Canonicas a C. H. Milne curatam, quae nondum sub prelo est.

Editionis prioris pauca errata correxerunt lectores noti ignotique, quibus maximam habeo gratiam.  Fridericus Fyuiee Bruce, A.M., olim discipulus meus, Universitatis Leodiensis nunc praelector, plagulas huius editionis, qua est summa doctrina diligentiaque, perlegit, magno emolumento meo et lectorum.

Dabam Oxonii mense Septembri


Saturday, May 14, 2022

Lessons in Ligatures from GA 260

Minuscule 260 is a Greek manuscript of the Gospels produced in the 1200s.  Though not particularly old, it displays the oldest form of the Byzantine text (Kx), very accurately written. The copyist of 260 had very clear handwriting which allows aspiring Greek manuscript-readers to get a good idea of how some medieval copyists blended together letters (and contracted and stacked them).  Let’s tour some features in GA 260 which collective give some lessons in ligatures.

Mt 4:22-24 – Notice here the initial in the left margin in verse 23.  The initials in 260 before Mt. 7:11 are written rather sloppily in black; after this the initials are neatly written in red.  The Eusebian section-numbers are also missing until #54 (ΝΔ) at Mt. 7:12.  Also notice the nu at the end of therapeuon in v. 23 and the stacked upsilon at the end of autou in verse 24.


Mt. 6:18 – Here is another stacked upsilon.  One can also see a stacked omega at the end of kruptō in v. 19.  This is not a textual variant; it was simply the copyist's way of conserving space at the end of a line (the same word, without letter-stacking, appears one line later.


Mt 7:1-2 – Here (underlined in yellow) we see the true text, not the Textus Receptusαντιμετρηθησεται.  Also notice how the copyist used a minimum of strokes to write -ete and -et-


Mt 7:4-5 – Here we see the word kai ("and") contracted as a kai-compendium.  We also see the word sou written in stacked letters.


Mt. 10:8b-10 – Besides the lack of any mention about raising the dead, notice how mh is written with the eta forming a downward swoosh.  Also notice how eta is only implied (by a diacritical mark) in the  word τροφῆς

Mt 12:11-12 – Notice how the copyist has written the final syllables of sabbasin and kalos.


Mt 12:24-25 – Notice the outos followed by ouk (with stacked ou) in v. 24.


Mt 13:3 – Notice how idou is written.


Mt 13:37-38 – The copyist of 260 did not contract huios ("son") into a sacred name very often.  Also notice the stacked letters at the end of ponerou.


Mt 19:19 – Besides noticing that there is no sou after the contracted patera, notice the variant involving haplography in the last word on the page (os eauton rather than os seauton) and how its final syllable has been written.


Mt 28:19-20  Even in the triune baptismal formula, huiou is not contracted.  Also notice how the letters in v. 20 are written in a centered vortex.  And notice how the nu is written in Amen at the very end of verse 20.


Mark 2:18  Here we see one of the copyist's rare parableptic mistakes.  A secondary hand has supplied the missing words in the margin.  Also notable:  how the copyist has written dunantai in v. 19.


Lk 6:48 – Notice the stacked letters of tē and the lettering of the final syllable of petran


Lk 8:6 Kai is written in a different compendium-form here.  Also notice that the copyist has written around a small hole, which must have been in the parchment before the copyist wrote.


Lk 9:49  Notice the stacked letter at the end of epistata, and the appearance of ἡμῶν at the end of the last line.


Lk 12:42-43  Although the copyist often wrote kurios as a contracted sacred name (as seen here twice, he also wrote kurios uncontracted in a context in which the referred-to lord is not necessarily the Lord.  Also notice the stacked omega in kairo.


Luke 17:35-37 – GA 260, like the  Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform and like manuscripts mentioned in a footnote in the 1611 KJV, does not have verse 36. 


Jn 6:24 – Notice how estin is written.  Also, the word autoi, which one would expect to find between the last word of the first page  and the first word of the second page, is absent.  GA 260 is not the only manuscript in which this autoi is missing; it's also missing in Codex Sinaiticus (though a later corrector has added autoi above the line) and Codex S (028).  


Jn 19:37 – Notice how the copyist has written meta at the beginning of v. 38.  Also notice the lectionary-rubric in the lower margin, added by another hand, informing the lector that he has reached the end of the reading for the ninth hour at Eastertime.

          All in all, GA 260 is a very good Byzantine Gospels-manuscript, and its copyist's script is a good example of medieval handwriting.   There are many examples of handwriting in GA 260 worth looking at that are not covered here.  Full-color digital page-views of the entire manuscript can be downloaded from Gallica (as BNF Cat. MS Grec 51), and the entire manuscript is indexed (allowing viewers to search by chapter-and-verse) at CSNTM, which has black-and-white as well as full-color page views of GA 260.