Saturday, April 29, 2017

Preserving the Cairo Geniza: Video

As part of its new exhibition on the Cairo Genizah, the Cambridge University Library has put together a nice video on the process of conserving this extensive collection of Medieval Hebraica. More info here.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Greek New Testament Produced at Tyndale House: First Steps

Where do you start when preparing a Greek New Testament? Of course you can start absolutely from scratch, by typing in each and every letter and accent manually, with all the associated risks, but somehow this did not appeal very much. So we needed an existing text that we could adjust towards the desired wording of our edition.

What we did was to settle on the text as prepared by Samuel Prideaux Tregelles as our point of departure. The actual procedure was that we started with an electronic edition of the Nestle-Aland 26 / UBS3 text and adapted every paragraph, word, punctuation, and accent to match the print edition of Tregelles. We even asked permission to start out with the Nestle-Aland / UBS text as we wanted to avoid any shade of doubt as to existing copyright arrangements, yet in reply we were told that no permission was needed to create a new text in this way.

Interestingly, when Tregelles prepared his text, he started off with a Textus Receptus and adapted this text so that it matched his own. Especially in cases where Tregelles did not make an explicit decision or weighed the evidence, his text still reflects the TR. I assume that changing the TR to Tregelles included more changes than the NA26 / UBS3 to Tregelles.

It is surprisingly difficult, though, to get everything right. Even though two people worked independently on creating the digital Tregelles, and every difference between the two versions was resolved by reference to the printed Tregelles, a considerable number of errors remained. The whole exercise was a valuable lesson in the psychology of textual work. When starting from the same base text two transcribers of a second text may make at times the same error.
It is our digital Tregelles that functioned as a point of comparison for the SBL Greek New Testament project, and its editor, Mike Holmes, notified us of a good few errors in our transcription that came up in comparing Tregelles with a number of other editions. It is often impossible to see if you have typed a Greek 'ο' or a Latin script 'o'.

There are a number of reasons why Tregelles was chosen as our starting text. One is that by starting from Tregelles we go back beyond Westcott-Hort and their influential and lucid textual theories, but not as far back as the Textus Receptus. We could have opted for the text of Lachmann too, but I think that Tregelles is more explicit, and certainly more accessible, in justifying his methodology and theoretical approach. Another reason is that Tregelles is the most recent critical text that was not included in the triad of texts used to create Nestle's first edition (Westcott-Hort; Tischendorf 8th; Weymouth [in itself the result of a comparison of editions]) or fourth (Weymouth replaced with Weiss).

Whilst working on the digital Tregelles, we were hoping / expecting that this would lead to a full-scale, fresh edition of the GNT, and this is reflected this in the abbreviations used for the Tregelles New Testament: TNT1 for the text that reflects the print as accurately as possible, TNT2 for the text in which obvious print errors are corrected. The next edition could then be TNT3 (Tyndale New Testament), which gives an instant 'editional' pedigree, but it turned out this name was never going to work. Regardless, there is some history behind our text.

For Tregelles see:

S.P. Tregelles, An Account of the Printed Text of the Greek New Testament: with Remarks on its Revision upon Critical Principles. Together with a Collation of the Critical Texts of Griesbach, Scholz, Lachmann, and Tischendorf, with that in Common Use (London: S. Bagster and Sons, 1854).

———. The Greek New Testament, edited from ancient authorities, with their various readings in full, and the Latin version of Jerome (London: S. Bagster & Sons, 1857-79).

———. Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament. Vol. 4 of An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, edited by Thomas Hartwell Horne and John Ayre, 12th ed. (Longmans, Green, and Co., 1856 [1869]).

Congrats to Mike Holmes on His Retirement!

Thanks to Juan Hernandez, news has reached the interwebs that Mike Holmes is retiring from his position at Bethel University. Mike’s work hardly needs an introduction at this blog so I will instead say how much I have appreciated the time Mike has given to me over the years. I remember him sitting with me for about an hour when I was in grad school to talk about the divorce passages which I was working on for my masters thesis (see photo). Ever since, he has generously given his time to talk to and encourage me along the way. Last year at SBL, Tommy Wasserman and I had a great lunch with Mike and got to hear the story of how he went from rural farm life to accomplished academic life. It was quite a story.

Many congrats, Mike, on your well-deserved retirement. I hope this does not mean we will be seeing less of you in the years to come. Don’t miss the “be like Mike” video shared by Juan Hernandez (HT: Chris Keith).

Michael W. Holmes and Peter J. Gurry
Discussing the divorce passages with ECM in hand.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

ETC Interview with Thomas Hudgins

I’m happy to present another installment of our ETC interview series. Today’s interview is with Thomas W. Hudgins who is Assistant Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Capital Seminary and Graduate School. I first spoke with Thomas a little over a year go when he had just completed his doctoral thesis on the Complutensian polyglot and I thought readers here would be interested in that work. His most recent publication is a Festschrift for David Alan Black which includes a number of essays on text criticism from our own Tommy Wasserman and Maurice Robinson and others. You can learn more about Thomas at his blog or read his list of publications.

PG: I understand you have two doctorates, the first one in education (EdD) and the second in New Testament (PhD). Most people who teach New Testament in U.S. seminaries only have the second, so what led you to do both?

TH: Explaining the PhD at the Complutense is a little easier since the PhD is the norm. I love the New Testament and wanted to study it for the rest of my life and help others do so as well. But why an EdD and a PhD? The easy answer is I am a glutton for punishment—or so people often say when they hear I did two. But there’s actually a better answer. An opportunity arose for me to enter the EdD program at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and at the same time assist a seminary start-up in Central America. I had taken plenty of classes on the biblical languages, book studies (e.g., Isaiah, Mark), and theology, but despite having an undergrad degree in biblical studies and an MDiv, I had never taken a single course on education (and homiletics courses don’t count). That’s pretty remarkable if you ask me, especially considering the church is in part an educational institution (“teaching them...” Matt. 28:20).

I don’t know how many hours the average PhD program (for biblical studies) requires of instruction in the field of education, but I know it’s not a lot. The opportunity to study in the education department at Southeastern really changed my life—personally and professionally. It was the first time I was ever challenged to think about education. Even though I entered the Doctor of Education program, I was able to work with a faculty member outside of the department. I knew I wanted to do something different from what you would generally find with an EdD dissertation. I wanted to study the New Testament and education. So, I applied to study with David Alan Black (yes, Dave has a separate application to work with him). Working with him was one of the best experiences of my life.

A few months after I started teaching New Testament and Greek full-time at Capital Seminary, another opportunity arose for me to study in the PhD program at the Complutense University in Madrid, Spain and work with another world-renowned New Testament scholar, Antonio Piñero, on a topic that few had engaged in recent years (even though the subject’s quincentennial was rapidly approaching). Who could resist, right?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Blogging the Tyndale House Edition of the Greek New Testament

Over at the Tyndale House website, we are now hosting a blog dedicated to the Greek New Testament we have been preparing. This blog will be devoted to that project only, but rest assured, with the exception of the first introductory post, we will cross-post everything to our beloved ETC Blog, which will also be the place where comments are welcomed (there is a direct link between the two). Rather than asking you to check (or subscribe to) an additional address, it seems better to keep things centralised. The blog at the Tyndale House address functions to give the posts a sense of thematic continuity and visibility and catch some of the search traffic that is targeted at our edition.

And for the purists - one might notice the hand of Peter Gurry in its design.

Attempted Attack on St. Catherine’s Monastery

Christianity Today reports of an attempted attack on the monastery of St. Catherine on Tuesday. ISIS has reportedly claimed responsibility. St. Catherine’s is, of course, the original home of Codex Sinaiticus and still houses a number of leaves. Its library is one of the richest in the world in terms of ancient Christian manuscripts.

Here is the description of the attack:
One policeman was killed and four injured during an exchange of gunfire at a checkpoint about half a mile from the monastery entrance. Police were eventually able to gain control and force the militants to flee, according to the Ministry of Interior as reported by Ahram Online.

ISIS claimed responsibility in a terse statement via their official news agency, Amaq. However, local speculation suggested it may have been a result of skirmishes between disgruntled tribes and the government.
If anyone has any additional information on the state of the monastery, please post it in the comments. And do pray for the safety of the monks and others who live near or frequent the site.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

3rd Summer School in Textual Criticism in Ferrara, Italy

(photo credit)
Paolo Trovato sends word about his 3rd summer school in textual criticism. I attended part of last year’s school and can say it was a great experience. One of my favorite aspects is that it attracts students who are working on a range of textual traditions. I find that I learn the most about textual criticism from those not working on NTTC. So do not be put off by lectures on Catullus and Dante; NT students will be most welcome.

The Department of Humanities at the University of Ferrara will offer an intensive seven-day summer school in Textual Criticism. The course is designed for both graduate and PhD students (max. 20 people) from diverse disciplines who would like to improve their knowledge in the field of Textual Criticism and discuss their research topics with instructors and colleagues. An introduction to current theories as well as the presentation of individual research subjects will be covered in the first four days. The final days will be spent delving more deeply into particular aspects of Textual Criticism, both in modern and classical languages, with particular attention to more recent developments, and discussing individual research.

On Saturday and some weekday afternoons free guided visits and tours in medieval and Renaissance Ferrara are scheduled.

Among the programme instructors you will find Dario Bullitta (University of Venice), Dàniel Kiss (Universitat de Barcelona), Nicola Morato (Université de Liège), Roberto Rosselli Del Turco (Università di Pisa), Elisabetta Tonello (University e.Campus) Paolo Trovato (Università di Ferrara), and Giorgio Ziffer (Università di Udine).
See here for complete details.

One tip for those attending: book a room with A/C. You will thank me later.