Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Q&A Highlight from Richard Hays/Joel Marcus Dialog

The New Testament Review podcast posted a dialog between Richard Hays and Joel Marcus on literary and historical approaches to the New Testament. It's a great conversation and you should take a listen. Find it here on iTunes or SoundCloud.

We omitted the Q&A because their discussion was already rather long and the questions were difficult to hear. There was one question, however, I wanted to highlight. Fady Mekhael, a newly minted MTS from Duke Divinity and a Research Fellow with the Bible Society of Egypt, made a particularly astute point.

I won't make any attempt at capturing Fady's wording but he asked Richard Hays (who was championing literary approaches to the New Testament) whether the literary shape/project/interests of an author aren't often ascertained (and sometimes I would suggest constituted — think Thucydides' Peloponnesian War or Tarantino's “Inglorious Bastards”) in the way that author misrepresents historical events. It’s one factor among many in understanding the author but you simply cannot discern what Philip K Dick was doing with “Man in the High Castle” if you don’t know that Nazi Germany in fact lost World War 2. Likewise, Mark for Jesus' relationship to the Law (Mk 7) or Acts for the relationship of Paul and James. Hays and Marcus both agreed that in the case of the gospels and the historical Jesus, historical and literary criticism were inextricably inter-dependent.

I’m not going to weigh down this post with a thousand worthy caveats (e.g. “meaning” is not co-terminus with authorial intent) but Fady’s question is an important reminder that literary and historical approaches (as Hays and Marcus were using the terms) ought not be divorced.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

"New Testament Review" Podcast

Laura Robinson (@LauraRbnsn) and I (@IanNelsonMills) have launched a new podcast on classic works of New Testament scholarship. We've already recorded about ten episodes and will be releasing them once a month for as long as we can afford to do so.

You can find us on iTunes here:

Or (for non-Apple folks) on Feedburner here:

You can also follow us on Twitter (@NEWTReview).

If you enjoy the podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes. Help us climb the rankings and dethrone all those CSNTM podcasts!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

New Witnesses to a Singular Reading in Codex Colbertinus

In my last post, I noted that the brand new Old Syriac Gospel in the Sinai New Finds Palimpsests supports the otherwise singular reading at Luke 23:9 in the Curetonian Old Syriac. The verse reads "and he [Pilate] questioned him [Jesus] at length, but he didn't answer" and then the two Old Syriac Gospels add ܗܘ ܕܠܐ ܗܘܐ ܬܡܢ ܗܘܐ = "as if he wasn't there". Here's a photo of the reading in Sinai NF 37 f. 2v.

This variant, I mentioned, might also be attested by the Old Latin Codex Colbertinus and therefore represent another mysterious Syrio-Latin reading. Codex Colbertinus concludes Luke 23:9 with, Ipse vero nihil ei respondit quasi non audiens = "He replied nothing to him as if he didn't hear". Here's a photo of the reading from Colbertinus (BnF Lat. 254 f. 65r). 

These two variant readings aren't identical but given the Old Syriac tendency to paraphrase (see Lyon 1994), this could plausibly* reflect two translations of a common Greek text not preserved in our manuscripts.

This Easter Sunday I discovered a new witness to this Syrio-Latin reading. In Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar, Pilate recounts his dream of Jesus' trial in the musical number "Pilate's Dream." The following lines are of particular interest (emphasis mine).

I asked him to say what had happened,
How it all began.
I asked again, he never said a word.
As if he hadn't heard.

The lyricist, Tim Rice**, working in 20th century Britain, is unlikely to have drawn upon Codex Colbertinus directly -- especially given how difficult the Bibliothèque nationale de France is to navigate. Although Rice is clearly a person of deep learning, his oeuvre does not evince knowledge of Latin. It seems, therefore, most probable that Rice (or his sources) are drawing this Jesus tradition from a rivulet of oral tradition trickling into 20th century England. More research into this "Superstar Source" is called for! Here's a video of the relevant portion of the consummate dramatization of this 20th century piece of gospel literature.***

*I think this is plausible but (barring more evidence) deserving of a blog post rather than a scholarly publication. 

**Thanks to Mark Goodacre for this clarification. 

***Superstars Ranked 1) 1973 2) 2018 3) 1999. This is the only part of the blogpost that I will defend with conviction. 


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Some Notable Readings from the new Old Syriac Gospel MS (Sinai NF 37 & 39) -- with pictures!

Since the announcement of a new (third) Old Syriac Gospel MS in the New Finds palimpsests at St. Catherine's (Brock, 2016), I have been desperately awaiting any information on the content of its text. While we will all be excited to get our hands on David Taylor's edition of the MS, the images uploaded by the Sinai Palimpsest Project (https://sinai.library.ucla.edu/) allow the impatient among us to try their hand at transcribing the palimpsest themselves.

Here are some interesting readings that I rushed to check. It's hardly a systematic survey but it gives one a sense of the split loyalties of the new gospel MS on intra-Syriac variants.

Mark 1:41 (Sinai NF 39 f.8r)

The New Finds Gospel agrees with the Peshitta and Sinaitic palimpsest in attesting a merciful = ܐܬܪܚܡ, rather than "angry" = ὀργισθεὶς Jesus with the Codex Bezae and the Old Latin.

Mark 2:14 (Sinai NF 39 f.8v)

Brock discussed this variant in his article but I wanted to include the picture. The New Finds Gospel names the publican in Mark 2 "James" = ܝܥܩܘܒ rather than "Levi" = ܠܠܘܝ with Codex Bezae and the Old Latin.

Luke 10:17 (Sinai NF 37 f.4r)

The New Finds Gospel agrees with the Curetonian Old Syriac and Peshitta against the Sinaitic Palimpsest, Codex Bezae, and Old Latin on the number "seventy" = ܫܒܥܝܢ (not seventy two) disciples sent out by Jesus.

Luke 23:9 (Sinai NF 37 f.2r)

The New Finds Gospel agrees with the Curetonian Syriac (and maybe the Old Latin Codex Colbertinus) in adding "like he wasn't there" = ܐܝܟ ܗܘ ܕܠܐ ܗܘܐ ܬܡܢ ܗܘܐ to the end of the verse. This reading is found nowhere else.

Luke 23:34 (Sinai NF 37 f.2v)

The New Finds Gospel agrees with the Sinaitic Palimpsest, Codex Bezae, and the Old Latin against the Curetonian and Peshitta in omitting Jesus' plea "Father, forgive them for they not what they do."

So, if you're keeping score, the New Finds gospel agrees with Sinaitic and Peshitta against Curetonian once, with Sinaitic against the Curetonian and Peshitta once, with the Curetonian and Peshitta against Sinaitic once, and with the Curetonian against the Sinaitic and Peshitta once. This is hardly a representative data set but the new Old Syriac manuscript doesn't seem to align with either of the Old Syriac gospels.



Sunday, May 1, 2016

Congratulations to Mark Goodacre -- Howard D Johnson Teaching Award

Duke New Testament's Mark Goodacre was honored with the "Howard D. Johnson Teaching Award" this week. Congrats Doctor Goodacre!

Read the article here: http://today.duke.edu/2016/04/trinityteach16

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Nathan Eubank's new blog

I've just started a new humble little website with a humble little blog.

Please drop by!