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Re: The Byzantine Text of the Gospels: Recension or Process?

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  • tom630965
    ... Arie An interesting speculation - although the example of P52 might suggest that the change from scroll to codex form for Christian texts preceded by some
    Message 1 of 88 , Aug 5, 2009
      > Is it possible to suppose that W or its ancestor was copied during the
      > change from scrolls to codices?
      > A normal scroll contains only one gospel. So the codex was written by
      > using several scrolls which each had its character.
      > If so, we have the proof that in early times there was a tendency to
      > "improve" the style of the gospels in different ways. Later on those
      > different ways were used by others more consequently and became the
      > origin of the later text types.
      > I know that in the Revelation textually "everything is different", but
      > if you look to the many times the first hand of the Sinaiticus is
      > standing alone with its reading, it is clear that the first writer of
      > the Sinaiticus made such "improvements" too.
      > Arie
      > A. Dirkzwager
      > Hoeselt, Belgium


      An interesting speculation - although the example of P52 might suggest that the change from scroll to codex form for Christian texts preceded by some decades the practice of collecting four gospels together. But it is certainly possible that the exemplar for W was created from a number of separate (and possibly partial) gospel texts.

      There is a lot about W in this collection, published by SBL and edited by Larry Hurtado in 2006


      Jean-Francois Racine suggests that the W text in Matthew is clearly Byzantine, and closely related to the text in Pi(041). He shows that there is no block-mixing within Matthew in W. He further suggests that the pattern of variation between W and B in Matthew indicates that their differences are due to sporadic modification over time rather than conscious redaction (which was Wieland's original question, I think).

      Dennis Haugh compares the unique intentional variants in the different Gospels in W, and show that they have differing characteristics. He concludes from this that the particular variants found in W are reproduce variants in it different exemplars, rather than being due to the particularities of the scribe of W.

      Ulrich Schmid challenges the paleographic date of W as late 4th/ealy 5th century, and suggests that a 6th century date may be more probable.

      All the papers seem to confirm that this is a most interesting manuscript, and undeservedly neglected in scholarship - especially in its Byzantine text sections (Matthew, later Luke).

      Personally I suspect this is because scholars with certain entrenched postions would prefer if such a manusript had not been found:

      - it might be suggested that the Byzantine text, and the Majority text, are not neccessarily the same thing (as for instance in Luke 22: 43-44, which is absent in W). If W is a pure representative of the Byzantine text, then perhaps it would be possible to reconsturct the earliest form of that text from a combination of W, Pi, K etc, rather than by counting noses.

      - it might be suggested that the supposition of Hort that the Alexandrian uncial witnesses are earlier than those of other text types may need to be modified, to acknowledge the Byzantine text as a possible contemporary, in Matthew at least.


      Tom Hennell
    • tom630965
      ... Tim the publishers have put the first chapter of Roger Bagnall s book on redating Egyptian papyri on the intenet
      Message 88 of 88 , Aug 18, 2009
        > Dear Listers,
        > I think that Arie's third point is worth noting.
        > There has been a recent tendency to redate Christian manuscripts later. There have been some attempts to redate things earlier, but usually these are forgotten about after a little while (e.g. Kim's redating of P46).
        > I'm not sure what is driving the general trend towards later dates. It could be the result of having more data at hand. One thing that may have been influential was Roger Bagnall's paper on Christian names in Egypt as derived from documentary papyri (e.g. tax records). He came to the conclusion that there were not many Christians in Egypt before about 300 AD based on the occurrence of Christian names in official records. Of course there is another explanation for the lack of Christian names which is that you would use your Egyptian name when talking to a tax official as, until 313 AD, being a Christian could be dangerous to your health if officialdom found out.
        > These books are a help when considering the possible date of a manuscript:
        > E. G. Turner, _Greek Manuscripts of the Ancient World_, 2d rev. ed. (ed. P. J. Parsons), Institute of Classical Studies Bulletin Supplement 46, London: Institute of Classical Studies, 1987.
        > G. Cavallo and H. Maehler, _Greek Bookhands of the Early Byzantine Period A.D. 300-800_, Institute of Classical Studies Bulletin Supplement 47, London: Institute of Classical Studies, 1987.
        > There is an alternative way to date manuscripts which is seldom if ever used, which is carbon dating. There is an associated margin of error, I'm not sure what, possibly +/- a century. The test destroys the part sampled. I seem to remember hearing that the labs are getting better at dating with quite small samples. So, if we really wanted to know the date of Sinaiticus, which by the way is probably much later than the date of its text, we could cut off a piece and date it.
        > The same could be done with some of our early papyri which have some blank spaces (e.g. margins) that no one would miss. If we did this with a few of them then we would have a better idea of their actual dates.
        > Best,
        > Tim Finney


        the publishers have put the first chapter of Roger Bagnall's book on redating Egyptian papyri on the intenet


        the argument here is not based on tax records, but on the absence of any clear examples of Christian correspondence earlier than the episcopate of Demetrios (189 - 231). He then argues that the apparent survival of earlier biblical (and apocryphal) papyri appears inconsistent with the observation that there are no Christian letters.

        He suggests that the proposed early Christian papyri largely form a group of their own - that are difficult to date with reference to non-christian dated comparitors, as book-hands changed very little from the 2nd to the late 3rd century.

        With reference to P52 he says:

        "The first of these is a small bit of the Gospel of John in the John Rylands Library in Manchester, of unknown provenance.28 It is the only fragment dated by Turner to the second century without qualification. More recently, however, one scholar has argued that it should be reassigned to the early third century, on the basis of a comparison with P.Chester Beatty X.29 That may be too definitive, but an exhaustive article by Brent Nongbi (2005) has brought forward a range of palaeographical parallels that undermine confidence in an early date, even if they do not fully establish one in the late second or early third century"

        (I am not sure that Bagnall's characterisation of Nongbi's conclusions here is correct; as I recall Nongbi saying that "I have not radically revised Roberts's work", which I take to mean that Nongbi accepts that the preponderance of comparitor hands does indeed indicate that P52 "may with some confidence be dated in the first half of the second century A.D.". Nongbi's expressed concerns relate to the margin of error, rather than to the central estimate of date).

        Not having the full text of Bagnall's book, I cannot offer a detailed critque of his approach - although I do note that he regards all the scriptural codices as being written in a book-hand; where Roberts specfically describes p52 as a ".. reformed documentary hand. (One advantage for the paleogapher in such hands is that with their close links to the documents they are somewhat less difficult to date than purely calligraphic hands)."

        I would be interested in the perspectives of anyone who knows Roger Bagnall's work rather better.


        Tom Hennell
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