24 April 2014

Good News and Changes

It's been a while (okay, a long while) since I last utilised this blog, and I think it's time for bit of an update:

First off, I've changed the color of the site to better reflect some great news: I have accepted an offer to join Rice University's PhD program in Early Christianity--part of their "Bible and Beyond" concentration. I'm very excited to start this next chapter in my life. I will be working under April DeConick, focusing on various aspects of second century "religiosity" in the Roman Imperial world (Pagan, Jewish, and Christian), while paying special attention to Graeco-Roman philosophy, medicine, and ideologies of salvation.

Second, I have recently sent off drafts of entries on the topics of Marcion and Acts of Pilate for the latest edition of the Lexham Bible Dictionary. For those who would like to know more about LBD, please see here and here. I would like to thank my MA advisor Mark Goodacre of Duke University for getting me in touch with the project.

Third, I intend on posting brief booknotes or reviews on various monographs which I shall be reading between now and the start of classes in the Fall. After that, I'm sure I'll be switching things up a bit and posting more about my seminars, term papers, and other activities in TX. I've just started reading Karen King's What is Gnosticism, so I plan to have another post out soon.

24 February 2012

Review of Günther Zuntz's "The Text of the Epistles"

This past week, I gave a presentation in my Textual Criticism class on Günther Zuntz's important work, The Text of the Epistles: A Disquisition upon the Corpus Paulinum. What follows is the summary and review of the book that was the basis for my presentation.

Günther Zuntz. The Text of the Epistles: A Disquisition upon the Corpus Paulinum. London: Oxford U
Press, 1953. xi, 295 pp

Zuntz thinks the majority of textual critics are plagued by excessive skepticism when it comes the ability to recover the original readings of the NT. He believes it is possible to determine genuine readings more often than is generally assumed. In order to demonstrate this point, Zuntz selects the Corpus Paulinum and begins with the oldest extant MS, the Chester Beatty papyrus (P
46), of which he focuses primarily upon the texts of 1 Corinthians and Hebrews.

After demonstrating the high quality of P
46, Zuntz compares the papyrus to B, D, the Byzantine text, and other late MSS, all whilst making text critical judgments regarding the authenticity of readings in order to establish textual relationships. He concludes that there is a close relationship between B and P46 due to their shared singular erroneous readings. None of the unique readings of D find support in P46, thereby suggesting that no special connection exists between the two MSS. The Byzantine text, however, has many readings supported by P46 against all other Greek MSS. Zuntz considers many of these to be genuine. Building on this observation, Zuntz argues that the editorial method of the Byzantine scribes was one of selection of readings from amongst textual witnesses rather than making conjectures. After further comparison between P46, the Byzantine, and other ‘Western’ and ‘Alexandrian’ texts, Zuntz concludes that the combination of P46 B 1739 sah boh Clem Orig all comprise what he calls the ‘proto Alexandrian’ group, for these MSS appear to preserve the most original collection of readings based upon the analysis of 1 Corinthians and Hebrews.

The “outstanding feature” of this group (highlighted by P
46) is the presence of what are typically referred to as ‘Western’ readings (156). These so-called ‘Western’ readings are present in the ‘proto-Alexandrians’ but have “disappeared from the later ‘Alexandrian manuscripts (and often also from other Eastern witnesses)” but recur in some Western MSS as well as select Byzantine texts (156-57). This comparison, according to Zuntz, leads to the conclusion that all three of the textual traditions are like “streams,” each running out of a common second century “reservoir” of variant readings—there is in fact no ‘Neutral’ text (265). In light of this conclusion, and the demonstrable fact that ‘the text’ of the second century contained a sea of variant readings, Zuntz suspects that these ‘pure’ readings found in the ‘proto-Alexandrians’ were purposefully preserved and defended against competing corruptions.

Zuntz believes, after examining the scribe and correctors of P
46, that one can detect the effects of an early and conscious effort at keeping the text free from corruption. He considers this deliberate attempt to eliminate second century corruptions as evidence of “the existence and the effects of a Christian critical philology as early as c. A.D. 200” (262). This, according to Zuntz, is an effect of a Greek appreciation for the original wording of the text that must have spurred the preservation of pure readings. For Zuntz, the term ‘Alexandrian text’ suggests an answer for the location of such efforts. P46 Clement, Origen, and the Coptic versions strongly favor Alexandria as the likeliest location for a late second century Christian philological tradition.

While Zuntz is to be praised for his carefully crafted argument, his book is not without its faults. Zuntz often appears too confident in his conclusions regarding the authenticity of variant readings. Sometimes he provides thorough arguments in favor of a particular reading and against a competing variant; other times he provides only one-sided arguments or very little explanation for his choice at all. One gets the occasional suspicion that the solutions are not as simple as Zuntz suggests. (There are numerous instances where Zuntz and the text of NA
27 depart from one another.) Moreover, it remains unclear as to why Zuntz specifically chose these two epistles from P46, especially Hebrews, for his study. While he is most certainly correct that any effort to broaden the scope of the study to include the remaining texts preserved in P46 would become unruly, the possibility remains that one of the other epistles could have become incorporated at a later time or from a less ‘pure’ textual tradition, thus tarnishing the exceptional quality of P46. Perhaps more work has been done on the remaining epistles to confirm Zuntz’s conclusions. And finally, Zuntz claims P46 supports the majority of ‘Alexandrian’ witnesses for a variant reading in 1 Cor 6.10 (ου), when in fact the papyrus reads “ουδε” (65; cf. NA27, 741).

Nevertheless, Zuntz’s book is an exceptional contribution to textual criticism and the study of the Corpus Paulinum. He forcefully demonstrates the quality of many of the readings found in P
46 and B along with the existence of a proto-Alexandrian group. While some may differ with Zuntz on judgments regarding select variant readings, the strength of Zuntz’s study is in its detailed and close reading of the textual evidence and subsequent testing of MSS. Although this book is indeed, as Zuntz himself describes it, a “hard cake to digest,” his thorough methodology and insight into the earliest attainable text of the Pauline corpus is a recipe that students and scholars alike will do well to follow.

26 September 2011

Digital Dead Sea Scrolls

This morning, tech-blog Gizmodo announced that the Israel Museum of Jerusalem and Google have uploaded five scrolls from the large cache found in the caves of Qumran between 1947 and 1956. Included are the Great Isaiah Scroll, War Scroll, Temple Scroll, Community Rule and the Commentary on Habakkuk.

Check out the link here.

30 August 2011

Fall 2011 at Duke

This Fall I begin my second year in the MA Program in Religion at Duke University. I am taking Theorizing Religion with David Morgan, Greek Exegesis of Mark with Joel Marcus and sitting in on Bart Ehrman's Apostolic Fathers at UNC. This term has a bit of everything: an exploration into different ways of conceptualizing and thinking about the phenomenon of religion; a detailed reading of the Gospel of Mark; and gaining wide exposure to a rich collection of primary (and secondary) sources for the study of Christianity in the late first and early second centuries.

The Fall is also the semester for language work. In addition to the above, I am auditing Intro to Biblical Hebrew and German for Academic Reading so I can get those languages on par with my Greek.

Oh yeah, and all this while working here and there on my PhD applications.

I wish all my classmates and professors a happy, productive and successful start to the new school year. Let the fun begin!

13 June 2011

Know the Rulz!

Thanks to Maria Doerfler and Shaily Patel, I have found this wonderful site, Grad Skool Rulz, which offers useful advice on many important topics for those of us making our way through graduate school.

06 June 2011

I Just Couldn't Resist

It's been a long time since my last post. I've been quite busy since Spring term wrapped up, but I'm nearly half way through my Summer course load.

While preparing for my move to a new apartment, translating Plato (Crito, and eventually, Ion), taking a crash course on the German language and preparing for another stab at the GRE, I've been trying to get as much reading done as humanly possible whenever I have the time. Needless to say, it's been a bit of a disappointment. So far, I've only managed to get through C. Kavin Rowe's World Upside Down (which was quite enjoyable) while currently making my way through three others works (Sanders' Paul and Palestinian Judaism, Joel Marcus' The Way of the Lord, and Hurtado's How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God?). Hopefully things slow down enough after the move to where I can finish each of them and move on to the rest of my ambitious "Summer reading" list. Only time will tell.

I realise this is more of a journal entry than the typical blog post. But I figure popping back on here will prompt more posts from me in the near future--at least that's the idea.

Oh, and if you're asking yourself, What's with the picture?, I've recently re-discovered the X-Files (thanks to BBC America, oddly enough) and I couldn't resist the temptation after the idea came to me earlier today. Those familiar with the show will no doubt recognise this is based on the poster hanging on Mulder's office wall--only his has a flying saucer on it.

20 March 2011

Towards a Theory of Gospel Succession: Two Avenues for Advancing the Farrer Theory

When one looks at works dealing with the Farrer Theory (FT) -- the argument that Matthew was used by Luke; thus dispensing with the hypothetical Q source -- one quickly notices that they are almost exclusively confined to articles and monographs attempting to argue for its validity and viability. When the NT student goes in search of works outside of the Synoptic Problem (SP) that utilize a working assumption of the FT, they are met with disappointment. It seems that the FT has failed to branch out beyond the specialization of studies on the Synoptic Problem. This conclusion could be faulty due to my limited exposure to the secondary literature, but this has been my observation.

In light of this observation, I notice two things the Two-Source Theory (2ST) has in its favor which the FT lacks: (1) a proliferation of works which assume the viability of a particular solution to the SP; and (2) to borrow the phrase from a comment on the NT Blog, the 2ST has a "sexier" title in 'Q' as opposed to the 'Farrer Theory'.

Now I must clarify what I mean when I say "advancing" the FT. By "advancing" I neither imply attempts at 'proving' nor the proposal of new arguments. Rather, what I mean is expanding the exposure of the FT beyond discussions confined primarily within Synoptic Problem circles and the meager (if any) reference to it in introductory textbooks.

Personally, I find theories and hypotheses which are named after their founders to be more than a touch trite. Theories such as the Theory of Gravitation or the Theory of Relativity seem, to me, to have more impact and stronger meme-potential than, say, if they were simply named Newton's Theory or Einstein's Theory. While in some cases the two examples are conflated (i.e.; Einstein's Theory of Relativity), for me it is the 'descriptive' part of the name that stands out and proves more memorable.

So what, then, is this all leading up to? I suggest that that (1) scholars who ascribe to the FT need to begin re-writing the story of Christian origins under the new paradigm that Luke knew and copied from Matthew. In short, to set the story of early Christianity in a world where Q never existed; and (2) I think -- with no disrespect to Austin Farrer -- the theory of Markan Priority without Q (aka the Farrer Theory) should be renamed, and that the new name should reflect what the theory is describing.

I read David Sim's article* in the latest NTS yesterday, which convincingly argues that Matthew intended to supplant Mark's Gospel with his own. Taking this as a point of departure, I think that there are a number of places where we can extend the argument to Luke on the FT. In this case we would see each successive gospel as a reworking and replacement of its predecessor(s). In light of this, I think proposing a "Theory of Gospel Succession" adequately describes what the theory attempts to explain (Matthew used Mark, and Luke used Mark and Matthew), as well as my developing view of the overall growth/evolution of the gospel tradition in the Synoptics (Mark wrote the first gospel --> Matthew wrote to expand, edit and replace Mark --> Luke wrote to edit and replace both Mark and Matthew).

Any thoughts?

*Sim, David C. "Matthew's Use of Mark: Did Matthew Intend to Supplant or to Replace His Primary Source?" New Testament Studies 57.2; 176-192.