Showing posts with label textual criticism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label textual criticism. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Coptic question

I know I'm supposed to be blogging about Jesus' wife. I'll try to get to that later today. But for now, can any of you access or guide me toward the Middle Egyptian Coptic reading of Acts 13.34? Theodore Petersen offers the following translation of vv. 33–34
. . . this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me and I will give thee the gentiles for they inheritance and for they possessions the ends of the earth. (And to show that) he has raised him up from the dead in such a way as never again to return to decay, that all the people may know and do penance (he has said thus) this namely is the way which is written in Isaias the prophet, I will give you the holy and everlasting covenant and sure (promises) mercies of David. (Theodore C. Petersen, "An Early Coptic Manuscript of Acts: An Unrevised Version of the Ancient So-called Western Text," CBQ 26/2 [1964], 240)

The italicized phrases represent the Coptic additions over the critical Greek text. But I'm especially interested in the italicized and bold phrase, "everlasting covenant." Any help?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

a first-century CE Markan manuscript?

Dan Wallace (Dallas Theological Seminary) has announced the discovery of a number of papyrus manuscripts of the New Testament. He says,
[S]even New Testament papyri had recently been discovered—six of them probably from the second century and one of them probably from the first. These fragments will be published in about a year.

The first-century manuscript is of the Gospel of Mark, he claims. The difficulty, of course, with identifying Mark in fragmentary texts is that so much of Mark appears in Matthew and Luke, too. So if Wallace is this confident that we have a copy of Mark (whatever the ms's date), it must be a text that only Mark has (e.g., Mark 4.26–29, 8.22–26, etc.), or it has some detail that Matthew and Luke lack (e.g., the mention of the cushion in Mark 4.38, or the "splitting" of the heavens in 1.10, etc.), or it lacks some detail that both Matthew and Luke have (e.g., the fuller narration of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness, or John the Baptist's teaching, etc.). As Wallace explains, our earliest manuscript of Mark comes from the third century CE (P45, c. 200–250 CE), so a new and early manuscript of Mark would indeed be exciting, even if it isn't as early as the first century.

But for now, we should emphasize, no physical evidence has been made public, and so we don't have any idea of what we have. In the quote I provided above, Wallace promises publication "in about a year." Unfortunately, that's hardly sufficient to give us any confidence. So, for now, we're better off to imagine ourselves sitting in a café waiting for a blind date to arrive. We've been told nice things, and we hope she's both attractive and engaging. But we sit near the rear entrance in case attractive-and-engaging's step-sister shows up instead. After all, we've been burned before.

See also comments on NT Blog, Exploring our Matrix, Evangelical Textual Criticism, Paleojudaica, and many, many others.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

even The Message got this one right

Codex Sinaiticus [א], Rom. 8.2 (NB the pronoun σε [se; "you"], circled)
There's a small but significant textual variant in Rom. 8.2. Both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, two of the more important manuscripts for NT textual criticism, read, "for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus set you free from the law of sin and of death." A number of other witnesses, including Alexandrinus, a whole host of miniscules, and many of the Fathers, read, " . . . set me free . . ." (A handful of witnesses read "us," but this is almost certainly an attempt to universalize Paul's point here.)

What I find especially interesting is the hermeneutical potential of both readings. In fact, I would adopt both readings (or, better, I would adopt either reading, depending on context). The "me" reading takes an autobiographical approach to Rom. 7.7–25, in which Paul finds himself under sin's sway and in need of being set free. The "you" reading fits better with the "speech-in-character" approach (which I'm adopting for my course); in 8.2 Paul resumes speaking in his authorial voice and addresses the character in whose voice he was speaking throughout 7.7–25. So, in my judgment, the best reading is, "the Spirit . . . set you free from the law of sin and of death."

But here's the point I've been wanting to make the whole time. provides a list of parallel translations of Rom. 8.2. If you follow the link, you'll see that The Message reads "you" here, but the NIV agrees with the King James family of translations in reading "me." Is it really too much to ask the NIV to get it right when even The Message can?!

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