SBL Review

Below, I have recorded my summaries and comments on the lectures I attended at the annual conference of the Society of Biblical Literature in New Orleans, LA. It was a pleasure to be an attender of both this conference and the ETS conference. Enjoy!

Peter M. Head

Sir Kirby Laing Senior Lecturer in New Testament (University of Cambridge)

The Marginalia of Codex Vaticanus: Putting the Distigmai (Formerly Know as ‘Umlauts’) in Their Place

Head’s paper was a response to Philip Payne who presented a lecture at last year’s annual meeting. Payne suggested that the distigmai (‘umlauts’ or ‘double-dots’) found in the margins of Codex Vaticanus were used by the original scribe as a method of noting textual variation. Head rejects Payne’s conclusion that the dots date back to the 4th century hand of the codex, rather he suggests that they were the last observable addition to the pages of the codex—having a 16th century origin, weakening their usefulness for NT TC. Head demonstrated that the distigmai consistently take a ‘back-seat’ to other marginal notations (eg, the diple which note OT citations, chapter markings, and others) throughout the codex. He also brought to light a connection between Juan Ginés de Sepulveda and Desiderius Erasmus. As a result, Head compared the Greek text of the Gospels in Codex Vaticanus with that of Erasmus, and 98% agreement was found between the two. Head concluded that the inferiority (as opposed to priority) of the distigmai to other marginal notation and the plausible setting with Erasmus (as well as the lack of any known distigmai system in antiquity) demonstrate that the distigmai are part of a unified system of notation completed during the 16th century.

Matteo Grosso

University of Torino

“Where There Is No Male and Female”: The D-Text of Colossians and Women

The textual insertion (ἄρσεν και θῆλυ) suggested by some D-type witnesses in Colossians 3:11 has often thought to have been influenced by the inclusion of the phrase in Galatians 3:28. Grosso challenged such an explanation and posits another: those behind the D-type tradition were influenced by an anti-female bias. Therefore, the insertion of ἄρσεν και θῆλυ in Colossians 3:11, to Grosso, expresses such a bias. Further, Grosso argued that the variant in 4:15 concerning the gender of Νύμφαν [αὐτῆς (txt) or αὐτοῦ (D-type) ἐκκλησίαν] supports his assertion.

Gregory S. Paulson

University of Edinburgh

Singular Readings: Harmonizations in Codex D in Matthew

Paulson argued that the scribe responsible for producing Codex Bezae (D) exercised a tendency of harmonizing the text of Matthew with that of Mark (especially, but also) Luke, and John. Paulson suggested stylistic rather than theological reasons for the harmonizations. The scribe “intended to make a smoother, more readable copy of Matthew.” He noted that the scribe did not habitually shorten the text, but consistently harmonizes, and in most cases, only a single word is the subject of alteration. I found Paulson’s suggestion that the scribe of D most often harmonized with Mark to be interesting; Ulrich Schmid (INTF) noted that the Lukan version in Bezae is also influenced by Mark. What is up with this scribe’s preference for Mark? Perhaps more research needs to be done here.

Bill Warren & Stephen Whatley

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Just Spell It Like It Sounds! Case Studies on the Spelling Tendencies of Scribes

Warren and Whatley presented the results of their statistical study on the orthographic (ie, spelling) shifts and their significance for TC and exegesis. The data used for their analysis included 1) 3rd–15th century mss witnesses from the New Testament Textual Apparatus created by the Center for New Testament Textual Studies; 2) non-biblical, non-Christian documentary data (1st­–8th centuries from Francis Gignac’s Phonology); and 3) non-biblical, non-Christian literary data (1st–6th centuries from collations of 70 mss). It was suggested that such a pool of data would be helpful in determining whether an NT scribe followed a literary or documentary tendency in relation to orthographic shifts. Nomina sacra, ellisions, and movable ν were not included in the study.

James M. Leonard

University of Cambridge

Codex Schøyen as an Alternative Gospel of Matthew: A Consideration of Schenke’s Retroversion of Matthew 12:2-14

Codex Schøyen has a number of significant changes that do not appear in any other manuscript. Shenke has lobbied for Codex Schøyen to be included in the Nestle-Aland; however, up to this point, it has been rejected. Leonard demonstrated that the codex is not another version of Matthew, but rather it is the result of a strictly literal Coptic translation that, due to its literalness and crossover between languages, resembles another Matthew version different from its Vorlage. Leonard offered examples of the scribe’s literalistic-tendencies, one of which is found in Matthew 12:4: ἔφαγον is changed to ἔφαγεν so that the reference clearly points to Δαυίδ.

Paul Foster

University of Edinburgh

John S. Kloppenborg

University of Toronto

(Other panel members were unavailable)

Panel Discussion: James and Q

Foster delivered a fine review of positions taken on the source-critical relationship between James and Q. He concluded that James seems to have been influenced by Q; however, demonstrating this relationship is quite the conundrum. Kloppenborg made three observations and three conclusions. First, he observed that 1) James has numerous conceptual parallels to Matthew and Luke, and commentators have proposed an average of 18 conceptual parallels between James and Q, 2) relatively few verbal parallels exist (5:12 being the strongest), and 3) are Jesus’ sayings distinguished in James? He concluded that with some possibilities to consider: 1) Could James be a superficially Christianized document: a 2nd temple document that was Christianized? 2) Perhaps James was so familiar with Jesus speech that it naturally was incorporated (but this doesn’t answer some objections). 3) Out earliest manuscripts of James are 3rd century and then Origin in CE 230. A late James could have been familiar with the Matthew and Luke. One last thought mentioned by Kloppenborg was that maybe James didn’t cite Jesus because he had not yet attained the authoritative place held by the Jewish Scriptures.

Giovanni Battista Bazzana

University of Toronto

Knock and It Will Be Opened: The Contribution of Documentary Papyri to New Testament Exegesis

Bazzana attempted to demonstrate that the use of the Greek verb κρούω in select documentary papyri [PLond 7, 2009 (Philadelphia, BCE 245/244), UPZ 1, 79, 5–9 (Memphis, BCE 159), and BGU 3, 1007 (BCE 243/218)], in a literary papyri of Plato’s Protagoras (310b and 314d) and in LXX Judges 19:22 is accompanied with a sense of aggressive pounding, possibly with violent motives or as a result of annoyance. The verb is used in the NT in Matthew 7:7–8; Luke 11:9–10; 12:36; 13:25; Acts 12:13, 16; and Revelation 3:20. Certainly, the concept of urgency can accompany the sense of the verb in these texts, but aggression is questionable. Of note, the Plato text adds the adverb σφόδρα in order for the verb to have an aggressive or violent nuance—perhaps suggesting that the verb does not carry this sense on its own. Also, while one LXX reference was considered, the term is also used in Song of Songs 5:2, “φωνὴ ἀδελφιδοῦ μου, κρούει ἐπὶ τὴν θύραν.” It is also used in Judith 14:14 where κρούω seems to indicate a gentle, non-startling knock. Therefore, while the nuance of aggression or violence possibly accompanies κρούω in some instances, it isn’t required to accompany it. Knocking with passion or knocking with urgency is just as plausible.

Christina M. Kreinecker & Peter Arzt-Grabner

Universität Salzburg

Transferring Jesus: Papyrological Observations on the Passion Narratives

Arzt-Grabner began the lecture by noting that while there are no passion narratives in documentary papyri, could it be suggested that a study of juridical papyri may shed light on terminology used in the trial(s) of Jesus? Kreinecker noted that in chapter 23 of his Gospel, Luke uses the term ἀναπέμπω in verses 7, 11, and 15. She proceeded to investigate the use of the term in several juridical papyri. The discovery of a usage of the term in the Oxyrhyncus papyri (P. Oxy LX 4060) overturned the previously held notion that the term was restricted to regional usage. Further, Kreinecker concluded that the term is not a terminus technicus.

Edwin Judge & Rachel Yuen-Collingridge

with the PCE Team: Don Barker, Malcolm Choat, & Alanna Nobbs

Macquarie University

The Lord’s Prayer in the Workbook of an Early Fourth-Century Christian Public Official

The first 31 pages of the codex were used for business. On pages 51–52, the first line of the Lord’s Prayer is written at the top and across the fold! Later, the codex was turned upside down and further used for business documentation (CE 311­–314). When the scribe/recorder came to the page(s) containing the first line of the Lord’s Prayer, the space under it (ie, on top of it) was left blank. Thus, the documentary codex is a 4th century witness to the Lord’s Prayer and evidence of Christians in social context.

Thomas J. Kraus

Willibald Gluck Gymnasium

Reconstructing Fragmentary Manuscripts: Chances and Limitations

This lecture was profitable for those just “getting their feet wet” in the field of Papyrology. Kraus began by urging listeners to ascribe to a uniform method and to remember liabilities and limits. He proceeded to give case studies of reconstructions; most notable was that of C. H. Roberts on P52. He concluded with a note to remember that reconstructing is a snapshot—others should and will participate in the process—and a note to refrain from reconstructing too fragmentary of a text.

A Lady Who’s Identity Escapes Me (She replaced Dave Nielson)

Princeton Theological University/Princeton University (?)

A New Isaiah Papyrus

The Library of Congress possesses a fragment which contains Isaiah 23:4–7 and 23:10–13.  The speaker presented a Princeton papyrus containing Isaiah 23:8–10 and 14–15. One particular letter in the papyrus appears to have Coptic influence, and the handwriting closely resembles P. Oxy. LXIX 4705. With the addition of this second fragment to the manuscript, codicological features are able to be more precise: 1) page dimensions of 12.4 cm x 16.4­–17.2 cm; 2) single column; 3) verso column is 8.6 cm wide, 18 lines, 23 letters per line; 4) recto column is 9.5 cm wide, and 5) ^ precedes >, but the data doesn’t allow a precise decision on quire formation. Perhaps, it fell close to the middle of the quire. If so, then it contained roughly 320 pages (but caution should be exercised here, as the speaker noted). The nomina sacra form of κύριος is employed; thus, projections were made that this codex may have been written by a Christian hand. Other features include the writing out of the number 70 and a peculiar apostrophe over the term for σαβαωθ.

Geoffrey Smith

Princeton University

New Oxyrhyncus Papyrus of Mark 1:1–2 (This was different than his proposed paper)

I found this lecture to be the most exciting! This new papyrus will be published (most likely by Smith) in P. Oxy vol. 76. In English, the text of the papyrus reads, “Read the beginning of the gospel and see ‘The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ: As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before you, who will prepare…”’” The papyrus omits “Son of God in verse 1, but Χριστοῦ is accompanied by the article, which is a singular reading. It is thought to be a 3rd century witness; however, Smith proposed that the papyrus is an amulet. If this is the case, it will not be included in the Nestle-Aland list. It should be noted that not everyone listening was convinced of such identification. It will be interesting to see what becomes of this little fragment!

Charles Hill

Reformed Theological Seminary

Diplai Sacra? The Scribal “Quotation Marks” in P. Oxy 3.405

Hill noted that P. Oxy 3.405 contains a quotation from Irenaeus that includes the text of Matthew 3:16–17, “You (not “This”) are my beloved Son” (parentheses mine). C. H. Roberts commented that it was written with a “handsome, professional hand” in the late 2nd century. Peculiar to the text is that the marginal notation known as diple is found next to the Matthew citation. Hill thoroughly documented the use of the diple in several codices (and might I add that photos taken by the CSNTM served his presentation well). He proposed a question (in my mind) that causes thoughtful ramifications: do the diplai mark any quotation or only what was considered to be Scripture (ie, diplai sacra)? Hill wrapped things up by adding that he found no conclusive evidence that the diplai marked anything other than what was considered to be Scripture; therefore, Irenaeus himself or a scribe in proximity to him accompanied the Matthew citation with the diple because it was considered to be Scripture.

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