Friday, February 24, 2017

Two Third-Century Papyri in John 1:34

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I am currently writing a chapter for an edited volume, where I treat a number of early scribal alterations relating to Christology. The following is an extract of the draft introduction of one of the examples in John 1:34:
One of Bart Ehrman's examples of possible "anti-adoptionistic" corruption  (treated on pp. 69-70 in the original edition of his Orthodox Corruption) is found in the baptism account in John 1:34. The main question here is whether John the Baptist calls Jesus ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, “the Son of God” (NRSV) or ὁ ἐκλεκτός τοῦ θεοῦ, “God’s Chosen One” (now adopted in the NIV). Ehrman prefers the latter assuming that later scribes modified the text in order to avoid an adoptionistic interpretation: “[H]ere again the idea of Jesus’ election is associated with his baptism, an association that the orthodox took some pains to eschew” (Orthodox Corruption, 70)

Certainly the variant reading ὁ ἐκλεκτός τοῦ θεοῦ deserves serious consideration, in particular in light of the external attestation, which is somewhat controversial. No papyrus witness is cited in support of the reading in the recent Nestle-Aland editions NA27-28 leaving the first hand of Codex Sinaiticus as its single Greek witness. On the other hand, 𝔓5vid is cited in its support in UBS4 but lacking in UBS5, whereas 𝔓106vid is cited in UBS5 but not in UBS4.
In the most recent Christian Oxyrhynchus: Texts, Documents, and Sources (edited by Blumell & Wayment [Baylor University Press, 2015]) both of these witnesses are reconstructed as reading ἐκλεκτός (p. 45, p. 62), although the notes to these readings are deficient (only citing evidence from NA27/28).

In the transcription of the IGNTP, the reconstruction of 𝔓5 has ἐκλεκτός

High res image of 𝔓5 here (CSNTM).

The IGNTP transcription of 𝔓106 also reconstructs ἐκλεκτός

High res image of 𝔓106 (look at the second line from the bottom).

This MS is discussed by co-blogger Peter Head in an article on NT papyri from Oxyrhynchus (Tyndale Bulletin 51.1 [2000]). In a note he says, "The reading is established, though not all the letters are visible (the edition has: ο [ε]κλεκ[τος, with dots under all of the visible letters except epsilon" (p. 12 n. 22).

Based on the IGNTP transcriptions, the forthcoming Editio Critica Maior edition of John will probably cite both papyri in support of ἐκλεκτός in John 1:34 (in which case I assume they will be cited thus in NA29).

This is a tough call, but In my opinion, both witnesses, dating to the third century, should be cited (ut videtur) in support of ἐκλεκτός. Do you agree with this judgement?

Another problem concerns the reading of the fourth-century papyrus 𝔓120. In the last line of the first page here, the editors reconstruct ο υιος ο, and the next page continues with του θ(εο)υ. Hence, a singular reading, ὁ υἱὸς ὁ τοῦ θεοῦ.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Historical Jesus Studies and Textual Criticism

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Historical Jesus studies and textual criticism are two subjects that one does not regularly think of together. But recently I was looking over my copy of Anthony Le Donne’s little book Historical Jesus: What Can We Know and How Can We Know It? (2011) and came across a section which does bring them together. The context is Le Donne’s discussion about the problem of arriving at historical certainty or objectivity (think Lessing’s “ugly ditch”). He writes:
Scholars determined to attain historical certainty will always be frustrated by the limits of modern presuppositions. Modern presuppositions have made skeptics out of a small (but boisterous) contingent of Jesus historians in every generation since Lessing. But the larger portion of historians have been no less guilty of a hunger for certainty. Historians who are more optimistic about historical certainty have tried to attain it through something akin to textual archaeology....
One of the central presuppositions of textual criticism is that priority should be given to the best reconstruction of the “original manuscripts” of the New Testament. Furthermore, textual criticism was founded on the notion that the closer we get to the original manuscripts, the closer we get to the original Jesus.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

New Website for the International Greek New Testament Project (IGNTP)

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A brand new website of the International Greek New Testament Project (IGNTP) was launched this morning – the web address is the same www.igntp.org.

The complete redesign was done by no other than our talented co-blogger Peter Gurry who is not only a textcritic but also a professional web designer.

The old website has served since 2007, receiving thousands of visits from across the world, according to Hugh Houghton, the IGNTP officer who maintains the website on a regular basis.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

The Septuagint Song

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Yesterday was the 11th International Septuagint Day, see here and here. One of our readers, Brent Niedergall therefore wrote “The Septuagint Song” together with his music pastor Mac Lynch which he would like to share with the world, so here it is (click on the images to magnify):









Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Tyndale House Workshop in Greek Prepositions

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From Will Ross and Steve Runge, a conference modeled after the well-done Greek verb conference from a few years back:
Students and scholars of Greek have long wrestled with understanding the meaning of prepositions. This challenge is partly the result of the centuries-old tradition in Greek lexicography of providing glosses (or translation equivalents) in the target language that fail to capture the meaning of a lexical item. 
Moreover, the semantics of Greek and English prepositions do not isometrically overlap, giving the misleading appearance of polysemy. In an effort to address these challenges, this Workshop aims to approach semantic description of Koine prepositions from the perspective of cognitive linguistics and prototype theory.  
Following the work of Silvia Luraghi (2003) and Pietro Bortone (2010) on Greek prepositions, there is growing consensus among scholars of Greek that the cognitive linguistic approach to meaning is the most promising way forward.  
Yet to date no concerted effort has been made towards applying this cognitive approach in a form that is accessible to non-specialists, which provides the occasion and motivation for our Workshop.  
This Workshop will be cross-disciplinary, bringing together classicists, biblical scholars, linguists, and theologians.
Speakers include
  • Dirk Geeraerts, University of Leuven
  • Richard A. Rhodes, U.C. Berkeley
  • Jonathan A. Pennington, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Patrick James, University of Cambridge
  • Steven Runge, Logos Bible Software
  • Randall Buth, Biblical Language Center
June 30-July 1, 2017. Registration opens March 1. No call for papers is forthcoming. More info at greekprepositionworkshop.org. Background on the conference at Will’s blog. It sounds fun. I wish I could be there for it.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

2017 HBU Theology Conference

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This year’s Houston Baptist University Theology Conference is March 2–4 on the topic “How the Bible Came into Being.”

From the website:
The Department of Theology at HBU, in conjunction with Lanier Theological Library, is please to host the conference How the Bible Came into Being. The conference will consider the formation of the biblical canon, the literature included and excluded, and its theological significance. Our keynote speakers are James Charlesworth (Princeton Theological Seminary) and Lee McDonald (formerly of Acadia Divinity College). The plenary talks are free and open to the public.
The plenaries are:

James Charlesworth
“New Ways of Looking at Sacred Texts Regarded as ‘Apocryphal’ or ‘Pseudepigraphical’”
“The Theological Value of the ‘Rejected Texts’ and Dead Sea Scrolls for Understanding Jesus”

Lee M. McDonald 
“Why and When Was Scripture Written? Looking at the Old Testament Writings”
“Why and When Was Scripture Written? Looking at the New Testament Writings”

The ETC blog’s own John Meade will be presenting on “‘Canon’ Terminology of Epiphanius of Salamis” on Mar 3.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Vaticanus’s ‘least doubtful’ Byzantine impurity

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The familiar text of Rom 11.6 as read in NA/UBS is found in P46 01* A C D F G P 1739 1881 lat co as follows:
εἰ δὲ χάριτι, οὐκέτι ἐξ ἔργων, ἐπεὶ ἡ χάρις οὐκέτι γίνεται χάρις
and if by grace, then it [election] is no longer of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace
However, 01c (B) 33vid Byz vg(ms) (sy) add the corollary to Paul’s axiom which is
ει δε εξ εργων, ουκετι εστιν χαρις, επει το εργον ουκετι εστιν εργον
and if it is from works, then it is no longer grace, otherwise the work is no longer work
Sanday and Hedlam say of this longer reading that “there need be no doubt that it is a gloss” (Romans, p. 313). I think they are right in this.

Rom 11.6 in Vaticanus (photo link).
Note the marginal dots.
What is surprising is to see B line up with Byz here against P46 01* etc. The agreement is not perfect, however, because B lacks the first εστιν and has χαρις instead of the final εργον. It would be worthwhile to consider whether Byz preserves a reading earlier than B here. B’s text could explain the shorter reading as a case of parablepsis (χαρις ... χαρις), but B’s reading doesn’t make much sense in the context.

Either way, B shows a striking agreement with Byz and one that receives a special mention from Westcott and Hort. They refer to this reading on p. 150 of their Introduction where they admit that it may be the one exception to B’s consistent purity from “Syrian” (= Byz) influence. They write:
...B is found to hold a unique position. Its text is throughout Pre-Syrian, perhaps purely Pre-Syrian, at all events with hardly any, if any, quite clear exceptions, of which the least doubtful is the curious interpolation in Rom. xi.6.
Did you notice the tortured circumlocution there? They don’t say that Rom 11.6 is a possible case of B’s Syrian corruption. Instead, they say it is “the least doubtful” of possibly clear exceptions to B’s pre-Syrian purity. It’s as if they can’t quite bring themselves to say that B might, even in this one case, be corrupted by the Syrian text-type. So a “possible impurity” becomes “the least doubtful exception to B’s purity.” I suppose this is akin to their infamous phrase “Western non-interpolations” which are just as easily termed “Alexandrian additions.” Which, of course, brings us back to the importance of rhetoric in textual criticism.