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

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  • steve_huller
    Hi I have been following this post for a while and have a question. P52 keeps getting mentioned here and the assumption is that it HAS TO BE the earliest
    Message 1 of 88 , Aug 6, 2009
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      Hi I have been following this post for a while and have a question.

      P52 keeps getting mentioned here and the assumption is that it HAS TO BE the earliest record of the Gospel of John. I don't understand this claim and have been searching for answers for months. I noticed Ehrman responded to the post just now and he said in 1997 (The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research p. 77) "[i]n raw chronological terms, the Diatessaron antedates all MSS of the NT, save that tiny fragment of the Gospel of John known as P52."

      I know my understanding is inferior to everyone else in this forum but I can't fathom this statement. Why does it HAVE TO BE the Gospel of John?

      Here is a comparison of the contents of P52 with the Diatessaron:

      ΟΙ ΙΟΥΔΑΙΟΙ ΗΜΙΝ ΟΥΚ ΕΞΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΠΟΚΤΕΙΝΑΙ OYΔΕΝΑ ΙΝΑ Ο ΛΟΓΟΣ ΤΟΥ ΙΗΣΟΥ ΠΛΗΡΩΘΗ ΟΝ ΕΙΠΕΝ ΣΕΜΑΙΝΩΝ ΠΟΙΩ ΘΑΝΑΤΩ ΗΜΕΛΛΕΝ ΑΠΟ ΘΝΕΣΚΕΙΝ ΕΙΣΗΛΘΕΝ ΟΥΝ ΠΑΛΙΝ ΕΙΣ ΤΟ ΠΡΑΙΤΩΡΙΟΝ Ο ΠΙΛΑΤΟΣ ΚΑΙ ΕΦΩΝΗΣΕΝ ΤΟΝ ΙΗΣΟΥΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΙΠΕΝ ΑΥΤΩ ΣΥ ΕΙ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ ΤΩΝ ΙΟΥΔΑΙΩN …

      … said to him the Jews, "To us it is lawful to kill no one," so that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he said signifying by what sort of death he was about to die. He entered again into the Praetorium Pilate and called Jesus and said to him, "Are you king of the Jews? …

      Diatessaron XLIX (translated from a number of languages ultimately to Arabic) The Jews said unto him, We have no authority to put a man to death: that the word might be fulfilled, which Jesus spake, when he made known by what manner of death he was to die. And Pilate entered into the praetorium, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?

      ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ ΕΙΜΙ ΕΓΩ ΕΙΣ ΤΟΥΤΟ ΓΕΓΕΝΝΗΜΑΙ ΚΑΙ (ΕΙΣ ΤΟΥΤΟ) ΕΛΗΛΥΘΑ ΕΙΣ ΤΟΝ ΚΟΣΜΟΝ ΙΝΑ ΜΑΡΤΥΡΗΣΩ ΤΗ ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ ΠΑΣ Ο ΩΝ ΕΚ ΤΗΣ ΑΛΗΘΕIΑΣ ΑΚΟΥΕΙ ΜΟΥ ΤΗΣ ΦΩΝΗΣ ΛΕΓΕΙ ΑΥΤΩ Ο ΠΙΛΑΤΟΣ ΤΙ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ ΚΑΙ ΤΟΥΤΟ ΕΙΠΩΝ ΠΑΛΙΝ ΕΞΗΛΘΕΝ ΠΡΟΣ ΤΟΥΣ ΙΟΥΔΑΙΟΥΣ ΚΑΙ ΛΕΓΕΙ ΑΥΤΟΙΣ ΕΓΩ ΟΥΔΕΜΙΑΝ ΕΥΡΙΣΚΩ ΕΝ ΑΥΤΩ ΑΙΤΙΑΝ

      … a King I am. I for this have been born and (for this) I have come into the world so that I should testify to the truth. Everyone being of the truthhears my voice. Says to him Pilate, "What is truth?" and this saying, again he went out to the Jews and says to them, "I nothing find in him a case."

      Diatessaron ibid:50 – L:1 I am a king. And for this was I born, and for this came I into the world, that I should bear witness of the truth. And every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate said unto him, And what is the truth? And when he said that, he went out again unto the Jews. And Pilate said unto the chief priests and the multitude, I have not found against this man anything

      Again I recognize your intellectual superiority as well as your superior knowledge of the subject matter. But I still ask - what about P52 disqualifies it from being yet another Diatessaron MSS?

      The claim that Tatian `invented' the Diatessaron isn't found in Irenaeus. It was developed later so that early dating does not necessarily disqualify that a pre-Tatian Diatessaronic manuscript could have included Johannine material. In fact, the evidence from Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians suggests just such a 'Johannine Diatessaron' I think.

      Can anyone show me why P52 HAS TO BE the earliest witness to the Gospel of John rather than YET ANOTHER Diatessaron witness ...

      Stephan

      --- In textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com, "Bart Ehrman" <behrman@...> wrote:
      >
      > Dan,
      >
      > I'm slow getting to my email; been out of the country (still am). But a
      > question: did Ralston ever publish the diss? If not, why not? Seems like
      > it would be worthwhile.
      >
      > -- Bart
      >
      > Bart D. Ehrman
      > James A. Gray Professor
      > Department of Religious Studies
      > University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
      >
      >
      > _____
      >
      > From: textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com
      > [mailto:textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Daniel B. Wallace
      > Sent: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 4:19 PM
      > To: textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com
      > Cc: textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: Re: [textualcriticism] The Byzantine Text of the Gospels: Recension
      > or Process?
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Timothy Ralston wrote a PhD dissertation on this general topic that is worth
      > seeing:
      >
      > T. J. Ralston, "The Majority Text and Byzantine Texttype Development: The
      > Significance of a Non-Parametric Method of Data Analysis for the Exploration
      > of Manuscript Traditions" (Ph.D. dissertation, Dallas Seminary, 1994)
      >
      > Daniel B. Wallace, PhD
      > Executive Director
      > Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts
      > www.csntm.org
      >
      > ----- Start Original Message -----
      > Sent: Wed, 29 Jul 2009 13:01:20 +0200
      > From: "Wieland Willker" <wie@uni-bremen. <mailto:wie%40uni-bremen.de> de>
      > To: <textualcriticism@ <mailto:textualcriticism%40yahoogroups.com>
      > yahoogroups.com>
      > Subject: RE: [textualcriticism] The Byzantine Text of the Gospels: Recension
      > or Process?
      >
      > >
      > > Mitch Larramore wrote:
      > > In essence, I'm suggesting that the harder contention you are
      > > putting forth is that there exists some clear differences between a
      > > Recension and a Process.
      >
      > First let me say that we know very little about all this and I am only
      > asking questions, too.
      >
      > The question is:
      > Can the text of e.g. A and W in Lk 8-24, where both are Byzantine, be the
      > result of a process?
      > W and A are both about 90% Byzantine here and agree on about 90% of all
      > the
      > major Byzantine readings in this part of the text.
      > The question is, what process can create this text within about 1-2
      > centuries (from 2nd CE to 4th CE)?
      > Note that many of those variants are *major, deliberate changes* in the
      > text. Such a variant may happen once or twice with the normal pious,
      > orthodox scribe, but 100 or 200 times?
      > To me this looks like someone went through the text to deliberately
      > change/"correct" it.
      >
      > Best wishes
      > Wieland
      > <><
      > --------------------------
      > Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
      > mailto:wie@uni-bremen. <mailto:wie%40uni-bremen.de> de
      > http://www.uni- <http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie> bremen.de/~wie
      > Textcritical commentary:
      > http://www.uni- <http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie/TCG/> bremen.de/~wie/TCG/
      >
      > ----- End Original Message -----
      >
    • 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
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        >
        > 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


        Tim

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

        http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9059.pdf

        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.

        regards

        Tom Hennell
        Manchester
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