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Re: [XTalk] Re: Jewish Christianity in Alexandria

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  • Bob Schacht
    ... Jack, Here s some ammo for your speculations. There are two keys: 1. The papyrus fragments -- if that ain t a characteristic medium for Egypt, what is?
    Message 1 of 5 , Mar 9 11:21 PM
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      At 12:31 PM 3/9/01 -0800, Jack Kilmon wrote:

      >...It appears to me that Alexandria or Egypt has connections to every one
      >of the early sects associated with Jewish AND Gentile Christianity. ...
      >I have a lot of questions and I often wonder if Egypt is not the real
      >"birthplace" of "Orthodox" Christianity as well as a breeding ground for
      >many forms of "heresies."


      Jack,
      Here's some ammo for your speculations. There are two keys:
      1. The papyrus fragments -- if that ain't a characteristic medium for
      Egypt, what is?
      They also represent the oldest fragments of the NT presently known.
      2. Text "families".

      Here's what I mean.

      Manuscripts of the NT tend to fall into a limited number of text families
      such that, regardless of the date of a particular text, each family
      contains distinctive readings shared by texts in that family that differ
      from readings in other text families.

      The earliest manuscripts, of course, are the Papyri-- of which hundreds
      have now been published (see the Early New Testament Manuscript Project at
      http://www.entmp.org Next come the uncials, including the famous text
      types that you know so well.

      E.J.Epp has published a series of very useful articles on textual
      criticism, including a review of the earliest manuscripts; see for example
      . 1989a. Textual Criticism. Pp. 75126 in The New Testament and Its Modern
      Interpreters, ed. E. J. Epp and G. W. MacRae. The Bible and Its Modern
      Interpreters 3. Philadelphia and Atlanta.
      . 1989b. The New Testament Papyrus Manuscripts in Historical Perspective.
      Pp. 26188 in “To Touch the Text”: Biblical and Related Studies in Honor of
      Joseph A. Fitzmyer, ed. M. P. Horgan and P. J. Kobelski. New York.
      . 1989c. The Significance of the Papyri for Determining the Nature of the
      New Testament Text in the Second Century: A Dynamic View of Textual
      Transmission. Pp. 71103 in Gospel Traditions in the Second Century:
      Origins, Recensions, Text and Transmission, ed. W. L. Petersen.
      Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity 2. Notre Dame.
      Epp, E. J., and Fee, G. D., eds. 1981. New Testament Textual Criticism.
      Oxford.

      Conveniently, a long article on Textual Criticism by Eldon Jay Epp, ca.
      1990 may be found on the web at
      http://wesleyclients.nnu.edu/gllyons/GK351/epp_tc_article.htm
      Most of what I summarize below is from his article, plus
      http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/papyrus/texts/manuscripts.html
      which contains an article on Dating the Oldest New Testament Manuscripts
      by Peter van Minnen.

      Basically, according to Epp, one of the most ancient mss. families is the
      one he calls Alexandrian:
      >(1) First, the clearest cluster can be identified in the P75-Codex B line
      >(with P66, Sinaiticus, and, e.g., the later L, 33, 1739), namely, an
      >Alexandrian kind of text, which might be called the B text group.

      "P66 has 104 pages of John’s gospel (1:16:11; 6:3514:15), plus fragments of
      46 other pages (14:2621:9, with lacunae)." It is one of the earliest
      papyrus codices (ca. 200).
      "P75 retains 102 of its original 144 pages and preserves chaps. 617 and
      2224 of Luke, as well as portions of chaps. 35 and 18; in addition, it has
      virtually all of John 112 and portions of 1315. P75 is the oldest known
      copy of Luke, and its text (of both Luke and John) is extraordinary for its
      close similarity to that of Vaticanus" (= Codex B.) It dates around 250.

      >(2) Second, three or four papyruses and one uncial prior to the 4th
      >century (P29, P48, P38, 0171, and perhaps P29) form a cluster that can be
      >related to Codex D (and later with 1739 in Acts, and 614, 383), namely,
      >what has long been called though incorrectly in the geographical sense the
      >Western kind of text, which might better be designated the D text group.

      Codex D is, of course, "Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis (D) [which] contains,
      on Greek and Latin facing pages, the four gospels (in the order Matthew,
      John, Luke, Mark), Acts nearly complete, and a small portion of 3 John. Its
      date is 5th century, or possibly late 4th. It is written in one column, but
      in sense lines rather than in the usual fashion of simply filling the
      lines. Bezae, with many striking additions to the text (and some
      omissions), is the major Greek representative of the so-called Western type
      of text, which some have considered the earliest form of the NT text, but
      which others have viewed as a later, derivative development."
      P29 and P48 date around 250, so this family has ancient roots in Egypt, too.

      >(3) Third, a cluster can be identified in P45 and Codex W (with, e.g.,
      >f13), which might be called the C text group because it stands midway
      >between the B and D text groups (but no longer to be called Caesarean).

      "P45 contains 30 leaves of an original codex containing the four gospels
      and Acts in perhaps 220 leaves. Now surviving are 61 verses of Matthew
      (20:24–30; 21:13–19; 25:41–26:39); about 6 chapters of Mark (4:36–9:31;
      11:27–12:28); more than 5 chapters of Luke (6:31–7:7; 9:26–14:33); most of
      John 10 and 11; and 13 chapters of Acts (4:27–17:17)." It dates about 250 C.E.

      "Codex Washingtonianus (W), also known as the Freer Gospels (for C. L.
      Freer of Detroit, who acquired it in 1906), has the four gospels virtually
      complete (though in the order of Matthew, John, Luke, and Mark) and dates
      from the early 5th century. Its text is of mixed character, with various
      sections of varying length representing rather different textual types:
      Byzantine in Matthew and most of Luke; Alexandrian in the rest of Luke and
      most of John; and so-called Western in Mark 1:15:30, but like the text of
      P45 in 5:3116:20. It may be best known for the material it inserts into the
      already longer ending to Mark (16:920) that it shares with other witnesses:
      it adds at 16:14 a paragraph that includes an excuse by the disciples in
      response to the risen Christ’s chiding of them for unbelief. "

      These three text families (or 2 families and a hybrid thereof) have
      Egyptian roots and are older than the Majority (Byzantine) text family, the
      earliest exemplar of which is Codex A (Alexandrinus):

      >(4) In addition, though not among the early clusters and therefore with no
      >early papyrus representatives, there is the later Majority or Byzantine
      >text group, whose earliest major witness is Codex A (though only in the
      >Gospels). Therefore, this might be called the A text group in recognition
      >of Codex Alexandrinus. This cluster does have supporting witnesses among
      >the papyruses, but only from the 6th (P84), 7th (P68, perhaps P74), and
      >7th/8th centuries (P42).

      So essentially all of the earliest text traditions had their roots in Egypt.

      Bob



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    • Karel Hanhart
      ... Sakari, I have no problem with the term Ebionites - the [Aramaic] term is clear enough. Moreover, I have not studied the matter sufficiently to decide
      Message 2 of 5 , Mar 12 1:48 AM
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        Sakari Häkkinen wrote:

        > Karel,
        >
        > > I believe the terms "Jewish Christianity" and "Jewish Christians" are quite confusing. for the first century. I myself prefer to designate Jews of the first century with the help of a Grecism "Judean" [ioudaios], not because I have a better idea of the various and diverse movements within the Judaism of that
        > > period, but precisely because historically we know so very little, even less then the average Greek, Roman or Egyptian citizen of that period.
        >
        > So far I agree with you. It is an anachronism to call most of the "Jesus' movements" Christians. However, when a scholar wants to understand the phenomena of those groups that belong to Judaism and at the same time count on Jesus as some special sent by God, one needs such a definition like "Jewish Christianity" or "Judaic-Christianity". This is a complex issue.
        >
        > > How about designating the Ebionites as 'Aramaic speaking Christian Judeans'
        >
        > No way. The language of the Ebionites we have evidence of is Greek. They were not Judeans, if you mean by "Judeans" those living in Judaea. And most probably they did not call themselves Christians (nor did anyone else, since they were heretics).
        >
        > >and the leading majority among the readers of Mark and Matthew as 'Greek speaking Christian
        > > Judeans'?
        >
        > Again, why "Judeans"? I disagree.
        >
        > I prefer calling Ebionites just Ebionites. If you want to label them as belonging to a larger group, let it be Jewish Christians or Judaic Christians, although that designation is an anachronism. However, I wouldn't call (all) Jewish Christians "Ebionites".
        >
        > best wishes,
        >
        > Sakari
        >

        Sakari,

        I have no problem with the term Ebionites - the [Aramaic] term is clear enough. Moreover, I have not studied the matter sufficiently to decide whether or not they were Greek speaking or Aramaic speaking Jews. Of course, many Jews of that period were bi-lingual. I simply thought that we do have Greek sources of the Ebionites but that originally their writings were
        in Aramaic.
        I am pleading ti introduce the term 'Judean' [ioudaios] to designate all Jews of the first century, simply because we know so little about that period, even less than a Greek reading Gentile in say Lugdunum (Lyon). Modern people know much about Jews, of course, and we soon make the error of filling out the term "Jewish Christians" with such modern notions. Thus we
        achieve academic distance, I think, if we say that Simon [Cephas] was a Christian Judean rather than a Jewish Christian.
        Karel

        >
        > Sakari Hakkinen, PhD
        > University of Helsinki
        > Department of Biblical Studies
        > sakari.hakkinen@...
        >
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      • Bob Schacht
        ... Karel, The problem with your proposal is that Judean carries a double meaning, one of which is geographical and political. It does not help your case
        Message 3 of 5 , Mar 12 6:12 AM
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          At 10:48 AM 3/12/01 +0100, Karel Hanhart wrote:


          >...I am pleading ti introduce the term 'Judean' [ioudaios] to designate
          >all Jews of the first century, simply because we know so little about that
          >period, even less than a Greek reading Gentile in say Lugdunum (Lyon).
          >Modern people know much about Jews, of course, and we soon make the error
          >of filling out the term "Jewish Christians" with such modern notions. Thus
          >we achieve academic distance, I think, if we say that Simon [Cephas] was a
          >Christian Judean rather than a Jewish Christian.
          >Karel

          Karel,
          The problem with your proposal is that "Judean" carries a double meaning,
          one of which is geographical and political. It does not help your case that
          Judea and Galilee fell into two different Roman administrative areas. It
          certainly sounds strange to my ear to hear the Galilean Peter described as
          a Judean! So I don't think your proposal is going to help much.

          Bob
          Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
          Northern Arizona University
          Flagstaff, AZ


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