Brian Wilson's 2NH
I have just read your 2NH hypothesis on your web-site.
First, can I say how clear and interesting it was - I am not a synoptic
specialist, and am not, unfortunately, going to spend the time analysing it
in detail but for what it is worth I very much enjoyed reading it, and will
suggest students look at it.
I was wondering if you could explain one point though. How is it that you
reckon that the 2DH 'fits' the evidence of the Nomina Sacra, Codex Form,
Papias and Thomas, but the GH and MWQH does not. I can see your argument for
how your 2NH fits these four items, but it isn't obvious to me what it is
which makes the 2DH also fit and the GH and MWQH not fit. Could you briefly
run through the relationship of these three hypotheses to the four pieces of
Junior Research Fellow (elect), St Cross College, Oxford
Tutor, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.
- Jeremy Duff wrote:
>I have just read your 2NH hypothesis on your web-site. First, can I sayThank you for the question. If "Q" existed, it could have been a set of
>how clear and interesting it was - I am not a synoptic specialist, and
>am not, unfortunately, going to spend the time analysing it in detail
>but for what it is worth I very much enjoyed reading it, and will
>suggest students look at it.
>I was wondering if you could explain one point though. How is it that
>you reckon that the 2DH 'fits' the evidence of the Nomina Sacra, Codex
>Form, Papias and Thomas, but the GH and MWQH does not. I can see your
>argument for how your 2NH fits these four items, but it isn't obvious
>to me what it is which makes the 2DH also fit and the GH and MWQH not
>fit. Could you briefly run through the relationship of these three
>hypotheses to the four pieces of evidence ?
teaching notes, and it just might have been a translation into Greek of
the Logia written by a person named Matthew according to the Papias
tradition. (Some scholars think it was.) By positing "Q", therefore, the
2DH is compatible with the Nomina Sacra, the introduction of the codex
format of the book, the Papias tradition concerning a person named
Matthew, and the disjointed state of the Gospel of Thomas, in the same
way that the 2NH, by positing Notebook 1, is compatible with these four
phenomena. The 2DH therefore 'fits' these four items in the same way as
does the 2NH.
The GH and MWQH ("Mark-without-Q Hypothesis" - alias Farrer Hypothesis),
on the other hand, do not posit any document prior to what they see as
the earliest gospel. They are helpless to give any explanation of the
four pieces of "external evidence", as I call them, and therefore do not
fit them. I suppose one could say that the 2DH is closer than the GH or
the MWQH to the 2NH because the 2DH posits a pre-synoptic source whereas
the GH and MWQH do not.
The main thrust of the exposition of the 2NH on the web is that the Two
Notebook Hypothesis is compatible with the internal evidence of all the
observed patterns in the synoptic gospels themselves. The 2NH can be
shown to be compatible with the Minor Agreements, the "Mark-Q Overlaps"
(including the "Mark-Q Overlap double doublets"), the doublets unique to
each synoptic gospel, and over a dozen other synoptic patterns which I
find. If anyone could point to an observable pattern in the synoptic
gospels which appears not to be compatible with the 2NH, please let me
know. I have not been able to find such a pattern myself.
Since writing the talk at present on the homepage, I have come to the
view that the occurrence of the Nomina Sacra in all early Christian
writing in Greek, and the codex format of all Greek manuscripts of the
synoptic gospels, are just two out of four characteristics of early
Christian writing in Greek. The other two characteristics are (1) that
about half the numbers in early Christian writing in Greek are in cipher
form, and (2) that, apart from cipher numbers, none of the usual
abbreviations frequently used in non-Christian documentary manuscripts
in Greek in the first century CE are found in the Christian manuscripts.
The four phenomena, Nomina Sacra, codex format, cipher numbers and non-
use of other usual abbreviations in Greek, can be described as
characterisitics of early Christian writing in Greek. All of these can
be explained on the 2NH. I am writing an article on this at the moment.
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- Brian, thank you once again for the further clarifications.
As far as the positing of pre-Matthean written sources on the GH, I
understand what you are saying but still think that most people would not
see the GH and the 'GH with a pre-Matthean written source used only by
Matthew' as substantially different, since they are interested in synoptic
relations, not sources. The fact that you address sources and synoptic
relations at the same time is different, but also why I found your 2NH so
>>I don't understand (1) - looking say at the photographs of P75 I don't seeNow I understand - cipher *numbers*. Yes, they occur. I have never thought
>Fascinating! It was actually as a result of carefully taking two sheets
>of P75 in my hands (one at a time) at the Bodmer Library at the tiny
>village of Cologny near Geneva in Switzerland, last July, that my
>attention was first drawn to the occurrence of cipher numbers in early
>Christian writing in Greek!
of them as having particular significance, but if in your forthcoming
article you can show they did that would be fascinating.
>(Jeremy Duff continued - )Thanks for the explanation. I've missed this one somehow - perhaps I am used
>>I don't really understand (2) - which abbreviations are you meaning?
to literary texts and these are more in documentary (though obviously the
Aristotle is literary). Perhaps I'm just loosing it.
>(Jeremy also commented - )<SNIP>
>>Finally, I am sure that you must be aware of the hypthesis that the codex
>>form arose from the use of it by Paul (cf. 2 Tim 4.13; Skeat and others).
>>Does your hypothesis connect with this?
>I am aware of C. H. Roberts' hypothesis in his very famous lecture to
>the British Academy given in 1954. He does not maintain that Paul
>originated or spread the use of the parchment/papyrus codex for books.
>Roberts' 1954 hypothesis is actually summarized in C. H. Roberts and T.
>C. Skeat, "The Birth of the Codex" (Oxford, 1983) pages 54-55. This
>summary runs to over 400 words, but does not even mention Paul.
My recollection of this part of the 'birth of the codex' is that something
is made of 2 Tim 4.13 as verisimilitude on the grounds that Paul's usage of
codices was a disctintive feature of either him, or perhaps the early
However, you are right - I was confusing different writers. Skeat went on to
suggest other things. I was thinking of Gambe (both in Gamble H., Books and
Readers in the Early Church (1995) and an earlier essay in a book on the
legecies of Paul). Gamble reviews various options, including Skeat and
Robinson's suggestion about a proto-gospel (which Gamble rejects). Gamble
ties the codex form into the collection of Pauline letters. I think a
similar argument it used in Trobisch, D., Die Entstehung der
Paulusbriefsammlung (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1989).
>For the time being, I would rather hold on to the rest of my ideas,Of course. Thanks for the explanations. I hope it is published and look
>especially dates, concerning the origin of the codex book and what I see
>as the other three characteristics of early Christian writing in Greek.
>I hope the article will be finished soon, and perhaps accepted for
forward to reading it.
Junior Research Fellow, St Cross College, Oxford
Tutor, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.