Plenary Presenters

Prof. H.A.G. Houghton Director of Research, Department of Theology and Religion University of Birmingham “The Importance of Catena Manuscripts of the Greek New Testament” Thursday 9:30 AM in the Main Room

A significant proportion of manuscripts of the Greek New Testament include a commentary known as a catena, consisting of extracts from early Christian writers. Nevertheless, the presence of this commentary often goes unremarked in biblical scholarship, and such manuscripts are rarely identified as a distinctive group in critical editions.

This presentation will consider the individual and collective importance of catena manuscripts. It draws on a new comprehensive catalogue of Greek New Testament catena manuscripts, the first complete digital edition of possibly the earliest surviving catena manuscript (Codex Zacynthius), and work on the major ongoing project of the Editio Critica Maior. It will examine the position of the New Testament texts in catena manuscripts in the light of the rest of the surviving tradition, the nature and influence of biblical quotations in these commentaries, and the textual relationships between the witnesses. Its aims are to increase the awareness of this particular class of biblical manuscript by those studying the history and transmission of the New Testament, and to determine whether or not its members should be more clearly signalled in textual scholarship and editions of the New Testament text.


Dr. Dirk Jongkind Vice Principal (Academic) Tyndale House “On Singular Readings and Knowing When the Time Has Come for Better Tools” Thursday 1:20 PM in the Main Room

For the best part of the previous 90 years scholars have used the ‘method’ of studying singular readings not only to learn about individual manuscripts but also about scribal behavior. The rationale was that textual criticism will only make progress if the causes of corruption are better understood. Ideally, we wanted to look over the shoulder of the scribes when they were doing their work.

Yet, selecting singular readings as a data pool was always a pragmatic rather than a principled decision. If anything, our ability to handle large amount of data has only increased over the previous decades with the result that the choice of studying ‘only’ singular readings becomes less and less defensible.

Still it is worthwhile to take stock of what we have learned. What are the specific questions that have been answered by the study of singular readings, what have been the results of the various tests applied to the method, and where do we go next? With the growing availability of large quantity of data text critics have new opportunities to push the boundaries of what we know.


Dr. Jan Krans Assistant Professor New Testament Studies Protestantse Theologische Universiteit, Amsterdam “New Testament Conjectural Emendation: Folly or Duty?” Thursday 3:55 PM in the Main Room Over the centuries hundreds of scholars have been engaged in New Testament conjectural emendation. Together they proposed more than 6.000 conjectures, that is, on average almost one for every verse. Yet to most New Testament textual critics, today and in the past, the Greek New Testament does not need conjectures at all, or at best as a last resort for a very small number of complex cases. Moreover, until recently, the few conjectures more commonly known were only those that happened to be listed in the apparatus of former Nestle editions. Since it can be presumed, on the one hand, that the conjectural critics were not foolish but acting out of a sense of duty, the question arises why their work has been so marginalised. But since, on the other hand, the vast majority of conjectures will still fail to convince anyone except their authors, the question also arises what value can possibly lay in the painstaking collection and study of conjectures and their authors.
Prof. Holger Strutwolf Director of the Institute for New Testament Text Research and the Bible Museum Institute for New Testament Text Research “The ECM of Mark: Philology in the Digital Era” Friday 9:30 AM in the Main Room
Dr. Kathleen Maxwell Professor, Department of Art and Art History Santa Clara University “From the Coronis to the Blütenblattstil: The Decoration of the Greek Gospel Book” Friday 1:20 PM in the Main Room This presentation covers Greek Gospel manuscripts from the fourth through the late tenth centuries, acknowledging the hiatus caused by two periods of Iconoclasm (726–787; 815–843). The non-figural decoration of the Gospel book, unlike its evangelist portraits and narrative scenes, was often executed by the same individual responsible for the text: the scribe. Focusing on titles, end titles, headpieces, bands, initials, and canon tables, we will discern which motifs can be traced back to late antiquity and which are new creations associated with the rich post-Iconoclastic production of the late ninth and tenth centuries.

Breakout Presenters

Pat F. Sanders Lecturer Samford University "Following the Evidence: Modeling Manuscript Domains for Objective Dating" Thursday 10:30 AM in the Main Room The paleographical dating of Greek manuscripts has been subject to criticisms of subjectivity, including bias and circularity, and even fraud. An omnitextual model of manuscripts can provide needed objectivity to produce plausible date claims secured by evidence. For this research, decision tree ensembling has been used for the modeling and analysis of Greek miniscule literary manuscripts. The graphical presentation of decision trees makes this type of analysis user-friendly. In this presentation the methodology will be explained, followed by a demonstration using an undated manuscript.
Timothy N. Mitchell PhD Student University of Birmingham, UK “Exposing Textual Corruption in the Wider Circulation of the New Testament Writings During the Greco-Roman Era” Thursday 10:30 AM in Breakout Room 1 In a recent publication I argued that the primary means by which books were circulated was through social networks. A natural consequence of this was that macro-level changes (to use the terminology of Michael W. Holmes) to a text within circulation would become known within that same community. In this paper I will present further evidence that the avenues for exposing textual corruption were present even when a writing circulated more broadly. In the wider Greco-Roman culture, literature would often be circulated through booksellers allowing the work to be accessed by more extensive reading communities farther removed from the author(s) and their followers. References from Cicero, Pliny the Younger, and Galen will be explored. In the case of the New Testament writings, evidence for those outside of the Christian community having contact with and reading scriptural books will be examined. Figures such as Justin Martyr, Tatian, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen and many others will be explored. I will be arguing from this evidence that these wider pathways of book distribution also presented opportunities for exposing the macro-level corruption of texts in circulation, specifically with regard to the New Testament writings.
Pastor Peter Montoro / Dr. Robert Turnbull PhD Candidate/Preaching Pastor / Research Data Specialist The University of Birmingham (ITSEE)/Westside Baptist Church / The University of Melbourne “Two Way Traffic on the Transmissional Highway?: Considering Chrysostom’s Exegesis as an Explanation for the Reading of GA 104 in Romans 2:26” Thursday 11:15 AM in the Main Room In the last clause of Romans 2.26, GA 104 has a surprising substitution. Instead of λογισθήσεται (will be regarded or counted), along with most manuscripts and all printed editions, it reads μετατραπήσεται (will be changed or turned). There is no obvious contextual explanation for this substitution. Furthermore, the rarity of μετατρέπω in the NT (in the NA28 only in James 4:9, and that in a very different context) renders harmonization unlikely. Intriguingly, in some manuscripts of Chrysostom’s Homilies on Romans we find an explicit comment on this clause—καὶ οὐκ εἶπε, λογισθήσεται, ἀλλὰ, μετατραπήσεται, ὅπερ ἐμφαντικώτερον ἦν (and he did not say, “it will be regarded,” but “it will be changed,” which was more emphatic). In this paper, we will search the text of Romans in 104 for further parallels with Chrysostom’s exegesis of Romans, conduct a thorough search of the continuous-text manuscript tradition of Romans for additional witnesses that share the reading(s) of 104 in these location(s), and conclude by assessing the likelihood that Chrysostom’s exegesis has directly influenced the text of 104. While the influence of New Testament manuscripts on the transmission of patristic works is well established, this paper considers the possibility that traffic on the textual influence highway could sometimes go both ways.
Anna Persig Postdoctoral Researcher, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies KU Leuven ‘To render sense for sense and not word for word’: errors and misunderstandings in the Latin Catholic Epistles Thursday 11:15 AM in Breakout Room 1 In letter 57 to Pammachius on the best method of translating, Jerome sets out his translation theory: the sense and not the order of the words should be rendered, except for the Bible, in which even the word order is a mystery and should be kept unchanged in the translation. However, this rule is not always followed in the Vulgate, especially in the books of the New Testament not revised by Jerome. Examples from the Vulgate and Vetus Latina Catholic Epistles will be presented to outline the different principles of translation and revision followed in the Latin versions of the New Testament. Misunderstandings derived from a word-for-word translation of Greek, unfocused renderings and agrammatical forms will be identified and their implications for the interpretation of the text will be discussed. It will be argued that not only the Vetus Latina but also the Vulgate attest word-for-word renderings which were made to remain as close as possible to the Greek text but were hard to understand for Latin native speakers who did not know Greek.
Christian Askeland Senior Researcher Museum of the Bible “Digital Images, Ancient Manuscripts, and Intellectual Property” Thursday 11:15 AM in Breakout Room 2 The establishment of intellectual property requires at its core some degree of creativity and originality, some novel design or expression. The era of digital images offers unprecedented challenges with respect to protecting ownership of digital property and likewise from profiting from the dissemination of various media. New Testament textual critics have enjoyed increased access not only to more images but to better images of the artefacts which feature in their research. The present paper considers the principal issues facing scholars and scholarly institutions as they interact with ancient manuscripts in the twenty-first century.
Ryan Kristopher Giffin Archives Manager Nazarene Archives “Philippians in P46: Interesting Departures from the Standard Critical Text” Thursday 2:20 PM in the Main Room Paul’s Letter to the Philippians is not famous for containing major text-critical conundrums. However, as Markus Bockmuehl rightly recognizes, “it is precisely in Philippians that P46 supports several of the more interesting departures from the standard critical text and leaves us with difficult text-critical decisions in one or two cases.” Philippians in P46 is fascinating in many respects. This presentation spotlights some of the interesting departures and difficult text-critical issues related to this earliest reasonably complete surviving witness to Philippians. Special attention will be given to considering the interesting messages a reader of Philippians might receive if they knew only the version of it attested in P46. Additional attention will be devoted to what (if any) claims the interesting readings of Philippians in P46 might have to a place in the initial text of the epistle.
Dr. Armine Melkonyan Senior Researcher, Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts and Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, University of Florence - ERC Project ArmEn Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts and the University of Florence “Biblical themes in an Armenian Homiliary written in 1401 and its Colophon” Thursday 2:20 PM in Breakout Room 1

The Homiliary kept at the Matenadaran-Mashtots Institute of the ancient manuscripts under the number 4670 is one of the largest Armenian manuscripts - (815 folios, 50X34 ). It was written and illuminated in 1401 in the city of Vostan (Vaspurakan) by the famous artist and scribe Tserun, who left his self-portrait in a Gospel Manuscript. In his colophons Tserun often mentions his wife Arghun, who worked to polish the paper.

The focus of this paper is to trace how the Bible and biblical apocrypha are incorporated in the text of the colophon(s) of Ms 4670. The scribe (perhaps with the patron Stepannos the monk) composed an interesting 'abstract' of the Bible - from the Creation to the Ascension of Christ. I will analyze this colophon and its retelling of the biblical narrative, comparing with other similar Armenian Manuscript colophons.

Based on the contents of Ms 4670 I will also briefly touch upon biblical themes in Medieval Armenian Homiliaries in general. These often contain excerpts from biblical commentaries, apocrypha, lives of saints, martyrologies, sermons, encomiums by the Church fathers and medieval Armenian authors.


Elizabeth Schrader Ph.D. Candidate in Early Christianity Duke University "Apocryphal Literature as a Potential Influence on the New Testament's Text Transmission" Thursday 3:10 PM in the Main Room In Joseph Fitzmyer's scathing 1980 review of Elaine Pagels' The Gnostic Gospels, he writes: "It has been mystifying, indeed, why serious scholars continue to talk about the pertinence of this material to the study of the New Testament." Yet such a perspective does not fully take into account the fact that apocryphal literature circulated simultaneously with the books of the New Testament in the earliest centuries of Christianity. Could early copyists have been influenced by such texts when copying the New Testament Gospels? This paper provides several examples of possible apocryphal influence on the New Testament text transmission, based on textual variants found in some of our best-known New Testament manuscripts (including Papyrus 66, Codex Vercellensis, Codex Sinaiticus, and Codex Bezae).
Dr. Edgar Ebojo Global Translation Adviser United Bible Societies “‘Now the end is near’: Pen and Phenomena at the Line-ends of P46” Thursday 3:10 PM in Breakout Room 1 In manuscript studies, especially with the intention of reconstructing the earliest text of the New Testament, every extant letter counts; every surviving page counts; every discovered manuscript counts; every minute information derivable from that discovered manuscript counts. To this, I’d like to add: every end of the line counts, too! Admittedly, line-ends offer no immediate direct implications for NT text-editing except possibly in cases of line-end haplographies that help establish scribal habits. But line-ends are an intricate battleground of many phenomena—textual, linguistic, para-textual, orthographical, and theological—competing for the scribe’s attention. These line-end phenomena have important implications for appreciating the visual transmission of the New Testament and its variegated textforms during the earlier stages of its transmission history. This paper highlights these phenomena through P46—one of the most earliest surviving manuscripts of the NT at our disposal—and aims to show what could be learnt from these interesting phenomena and how they can further our knowledge of ancient book production industry, before the “sacred text” was committed to printing and pixels where the human face of Scripture transmission seems to have been perfected away and therefore no longer observable in the pages of our modern critical text editions.
W. Andrew Smith, PhD Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity Shepherds Theological Seminary Data Democratization in Biblical Manuscript Studies: A Caution for the Age of Access Thursday 3:10 PM in Breakout Room 2 As manuscript transcriptions, images, and metadata become more widely available to the public through digital media, (nearly) gone are the days when a Richard Bentley would have to send a Johann Wettstein to a far-off library to acquire collations for his research. The modern Bentley can sit at his or her laptop and immediately access much of what was unavailable prior to the 1990s. While this remains a remarkable boon to scholarship and draws back the veil for the non-expert, this paper explores the problems attending data democratization at a time when authority and expertise are devalued.
Prof. J.K. Elliott Emeritus Professor of New Testament Textual Criticism The University of Leeds “The Editio Critica Maior of Mark: Translation from German into English” Friday 10:30 AM in the Main Room
Bill Warren Director of The Center for New Testament Textual Studies, Professor of NT and Greek in the Landrum P. Leavell, II, Chair of NT Studies New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary / The Center for New Testament Textual Studies “From Ink to Exegesis: The Importance of Non-original Variant Readings” Friday 10:30 AM in Breakout Room 1 While much of the efforts in the field of New Testament textual criticism have rightly focused on the task of seeking the earliest attainable text of the New Testament, the “non-original” or non-selected variant readings are often simply tossed aside with no further use made of them. They still, however, supply very important data even if they were not printed in the text of the Greek NT. This paper will highlight the importance of these variant readings in the task of exegesis and for our understanding of some of the practices and beliefs of the early church. A select number of such readings will be evaluated to ascertain their importance for: 1) the history of the development of the NT; 2) the understandings of the church about the meaning of the text; and 3) the understandings of the church about the practices to be associated with the content of the text. Some general guidelines will be given for such studies, with these being derived primarily from a current project at the CNTTS on a textual commentary on the significance of the non-original variant readings.
Dr. Grant Edwards Research and Operations Director City Leadership “Between Codex and Colophon: Ancient Book Format and the Limitations of Paleography” Friday 11:15 AM in the Main Room The number of datable Greek literary manuscripts is sparse between the rise of the codex in the 4th century and the proliferation of datable colophons in the 9th century. Most of the datable specimens from the first millennium occur on reused rolls from before the 4th century. This state of affairs has significant implications for dating New Testament papyri. Given the paucity of data after the third century, how can we be sure handwriting styles from the third century did not persist into the fourth century as well? And how many NT papyri previously dated “III” in NA28, should be dated more cautiously as “III-IV”? This paper will present summary data relevant to this issue from the Collaborative Database of Datable Greek Bookhands (CDDGB) and other sources. It will also identify which New Testament papyri can be dated before the fourth century with confidence.
James B. Prothro, PhD Assistant Professor of Scripture and Theology Augustine Institute Graduate School of Theology “A Theology of Textual Criticism? Searching for a Framework” Friday 11:15 AM in Breakout Room 1 Theologies of Scripture often do not attend to the material reality of the Bible, and those that do often express overconfidence in current text-critical conclusions. One expects theology to be more abstract in offering an “account” of Scripture’s ontology and function, but if “Scripture” is a text and not a Platonic Ideal then any account of what Scripture “is” must earnestly consider its material reality and historical multiformity. This paper uses frameworks used to account for the historical character of the NT’s words—certain accounts of inspiration, Trinitiarian models, the Christological analogy, and Scripture as uniquely authoritative tradition—to consider the historical character of the texts, their actual multiformity, and their hoped-for restoration for the good of the people of God. Ultimately, the paper presents an account that affirms the Word of God’s accessibility in multiple text-forms while also affirming the goal of restoring the earliest and ideally authorial text in order to hear more clearly the human communication that God initially inspired in them.
Dr. Peter Gurry Assistant Professor of New Testament, Codirector of Text & Canon Institute Phoenix Seminary “Textual Criticism in Early Protestant Bibles” Friday 2:20 PM in the Main Room The invention of movable type printing revolutionized European access to the Bible. Within 150 years of Gutenberg, the English language boasted multiple translations of the Bible. Beyond questions of translation, the printers of these earliest Bibles had to make a host of new decisions about formatting, layout, order of books, front matter, illustrations, versification, marginalia, and other helps for the reader. This paper will survey how these early Protestant Bibles handled textual variants in the New Testament. Taking account of which variants were well known at the time, it will survey how these early Bible producers decided when to alert the reader about textual problems and how best to do so—two questions that persist for Bible translators today.
Dr. Gregory S. Paulson Research Associate University of Münster, Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung (INTF) “The Pre-History of the Editio Critica Maior” Friday 2:20 PM in Breakout Room 1 In August 1967, Kurt Aland, Jean Duplacy, and Bonifatius Fischer, formalized their intention to edit a major critical edition of the Greek New Testament called the Novi Testamenti Graeci Editio Maior Critica. The first published installment of this edition, however, did not appear until 1997 under a slightly different but more familiar title, Novum Testamentum Graecum Editio Critica Maior, and Duplacy and Fischer were no longer listed as editors. In the intervening 30 years, between announcement and publication, work on the edition was left relatively undocumented. We are left with several unanswered questions, foremost, what were the initial plans of the project, why did Duplacy and Fischer relinquish their roles as editors of the edition, and what work was actually carried out in those 30 years? To answer these questions and to discover more about the pre-history of the Editio Critica Maior, I draw upon scattered publications that mention the project and investigate archives in Germany that hold correspondence between the editors, which reveal their plans and setbacks. These resources paint a surprisingly vivid picture of the behind the scenes work on editing a major critical edition and exhibit a rare look into the interpersonal relationships between renowned biblical scholars of the 20th century. From their work, we can learn about the importance they placed on collaboration between colleagues and institutes and the need to develop and work with digital tools.