We’ve seen lots of wonderful news in terms of free and easily accessible images of a number of manuscripts of classical, New Testament and early Christian texts in recent years.
But if I had to signal one manuscript that is not yet online but I wish would be made accessible, it would be Codex Hierosolymitanus 54 (H), sometimes also called Codex Constantinopolitanus or Ἁγίου Τάφου 54. This is the manuscript Bryennios discovered in the 1870s in the Jerusalem Greek Patriarchate, and it contains the only (nearly complete) text of the Didache, as well as important witnesses to 1-2 Clement and Barnabas, in addition to a long recension of the Ignatian letters and some other materials. J. Rendel Harris published some images of this manuscript for the Didache in 1887, and Lightfoot did so for the Clementine material in 1890, but photographs of the Barnabas material have never been published in full (except for a photograph in one of Harris’s essays in 1885).
The Library of Congress and the University of Regensberg, and perhaps other institutions, hold microfilms of the manuscript (it was microfilmed under Kenneth W. Clark in the mid-20th century), but it would be wonderful if someone were to fund high quality digital images of this manuscript, and make them freely available online. From the perspective of 2nd century Christian studies, this manuscript must be very high on the list of important manuscripts for which we want images.
A speculative question: in thinking about the ways in which 19th century concepts of history underlay some of the prominent exegetical disputes, might it be that, at least in terms of some general currents, the Tübingen school operated with a concept of history determined by the flow of the Spirit (Geist), while the British reaction – above all Lightfoot, Westcott and Hort – conceived of history with the fixed point of the Incarnation primarily in view? And so do these theological concepts shade out into their broader reconstructions of history as, in the former case, a long process of the Spirit’s self-realisation in history, marked by conflict and reconciliation, and in the latter case a more punctiliar moment which the witness of the NT writers unfolds and toward which it continually looks back? So is this a conflict, in part at least, between pneumatology and Christology?
I have a number of books to mention or review here, and hope to say more about these in coming months. But in the meantime I thought I’d call attention to a couple of notable recent titles by T&T Clark/Bloomsbury, which I received in exchange for writing a few blurbs.
The first is Thomas Wayment’s The Text of the New Testament Apocrypha (100-400 CE). This is a collection of editions and photographs of papyri of a range of early Christian texts for the first three or four Christian centuries. This is a rich resource, though almost every word in the title is open to misunderstanding. In a sense this volume is concerned more with manuscripts than texts, since this is a series of editions of papyri rather than a text-critical attempt to judge the value of these witnesses for the text they preserve. The designation ‘New Testament Apocrypha’ is conventional in some ways, but its problems are well known. Christoph Markschies has spelled these out in some detail in the 180pp introduction to the recent updated and retitled Antike christliche Apokryphen (a new version of Hennecke’s New Testament Apocrypha). A defined relationship to some body of texts already known as the ‘New Testament’ is a problematic assumption, as is the category of ‘apocrypha’ (only certain texts designate themselves as ἀπόκρυφος in antiquity; on which see H. Förster’s recent article in ZNW 104 (2013): 118-45). Moreover, not everything contained in this volume fits even in conventional understandings of those terms (the brief introduction to the volume [only 4pp!] does enough to signal that the author is aware of some of these problems). It is, nevertheless, highly useful to have in one volume the careful editions of these papyri, together especially with the beautiful photographs – the crowning glory of the book, to be sure. There are 47 manuscripts here in 10 categories: Acts of the apostles, Epistle of Barnabas, the Didache, the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Peter, the Infancy Gospel of James, the Shepherd of Hermas (by far the largest number, with 18 mss), Sayings Gospels, Narrative Gospels and Unidentified Fragments. There are no translations, but those interested in serious primary source work will be very grateful for this wonderful book.
The other isn’t really a new book, but worth noting nonetheless. Scholars of early Christianity and early Judaism have long relied on the ‘new Schürer’: the revision of Emil Schürer’s classic work, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, revised by a team of Oxford scholars in the 1970s and 80s, including Fergus Millar, Martin Goodman and the late Geza Vermes (together with others for individual sections). The revision – three volumes in four – was published only in hardback for a long time, making it difficult to afford for the individual scholar. At long last, however, it is now available in paperback, at a much more reasonable – if still not cheap – price. But even though there’s been a lot of water under the bridge in Jewish studies over the past 30-40 years, and a more thorough revision of these volumes might at some later stage be desirable, there is still a mass of useful information here that remains worth consultation.
Senior New Testament Seminar: Hilary Term 2014
Fridays at 2.30-4.00 p.m. in the Stafford Crane Room, Keble College.
Refreshments are provided after the seminar.
2nd Week – 31st January
Philip Esler (Gloucestershire)
God’s Heavenly Abode in 1 Enoch 1-36: A Proposal on the Underlying Model.
4th Week – 14th February
Michael Lakey (Ripon/St Stephen’s House)
The Ritual World of Paul the Apostle: A Position Paper
6th Week – 28th February
Richard Ounsworth (Blackfriars)
When Jesus was apart from God: why the more difficult
reading of Hebrews 2.9 is not more difficult at all
Week 8 – 14th March
Joan Taylor (KCL)
Mary Magdalene and Missing Magdala
Enquiries to mary [dot] marshall [at] theology [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk
A bit of fun here. Students of the NT will be aware of the discussion about the origin of the siglum ‘Q’ to describe the putative source (Quelle) of the double tradition in the synoptic gospels, the material common to Matthew and Luke but not shared with Mark. Mark Goodacre has a nice post briefly summarising Frans Neirynck’s conclusions that the term Q originated in Eduard Simons’s 1880 book, Hat der dritte Evangelist den kanonischen Matthäus benutzt (Bonn: Universitäts-Buchdruckerei von Carl Georgi), who used ‘Q.’ as an abbreviation for Quelle. Then from the 1890s onward it was used without the dot.
But the use of Q as an abbreviation for Quelle is common in the decades before the 1880s, even though it does not appear to have been applied to the double tradition in this way. Rather, it occurs especially in geography books as an abbreviation for a well, spring or source (Quelle).
A few examples:
Carl Kreil, Magnetische und geographische Ortsbestimmungen im österreichischen Kaiserstaate, vol. 3 (1850), p. 26:
Friedrich Wilhelm Walther, Topische Geographie von Bayern (1844), p. xxiii:
Johann Georg Heinrich Hassel, Geographisch-statistisches Handwörterbuch, vol. 1 (1817), p. 461:
Christian Gottfried Daniel Stein and Ferdinand Hörschelmann, Handbuch der Geographie und Statistik für die gebildeten Stände, vol. 1 (1833), p. ii:
L. Wilhelm Meineke, Allgemeines Lehrbuch der Geographie von Europa (1824), p. 2:
And on it goes. So might it be the case that Simons is actually borrowing a well-established abbreviation from the field of geography and applying it to the synoptic gospels?
One of my colleagues here in Oxford, Johannes Zachhuber, has recently published an important book, entitled Theology as Science in Nineteenth Century Germany, on the ways in which theology was conceptualised as an academic discipline in 19th century German circles, above all in the thought of Ferdinand Christian Baur and Albrecht Ritschl. The book is remarkably lucid, insightful, tightly argued and displays a close and sensitive reading of an impressive number of difficult texts. The results cohere well in a unified thesis chronicling the rise and fall of scientific theology in a fusion of historical and idealist programmes. A book well worth reading and pondering, whose results are important not least for the changing fortunes of the New Testament in academic study.
But don’t just take my word for it. Last month a panel in Oxford, comprised of Graham Ward, Michael Bentley, Sondra Hausner and I discussed the book, with a response from Johannes, hosted by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities. You can listen to that exchange here.
Here’s an idea for an edited volume on the reception of Mark. I’m trying to get away from editing for a while, but that doesn’t stop me from doing a bit of dreaming. Someone could certainly take this up and do something with it!
The Early Reception of the Gospel of Mark
An authoritative collection of studies by leading scholars offering a comprehensive assessment of the reception of the Gospel of Mark from its origins to the earliest extant commentaries in the fifth century.
With the uproar occasioned by the recent claim to have discovered a potentially first century manuscript of Mark and the ongoing discussion of the so-called ‘Secret Gospel of Mark’, together with the booming interest in the history of interpretation, the time has come to reconsider the early reception of the earliest canonical gospel. While New Testament specialists are aware that the reception of Mark is slender in some ways in comparison to Matthew and John, that Mark was received into the four-gospel canon suggests that its impact was never negligible. Major studies of the reception of Mark certainly have not exhausted the question, and though there are some good studies of individual aspects of Mark’s history of impact, many of these are now dated and would bear revisiting in light of recent scholarship. This proposed group of specialized essays bridges the fields of New Testament and early Christian studies by examining the intra-canonical impact of Mark first of all (Part I), before then moving on to consider the way in which significant early Christian authors interpreted the gospel (Part II) and the influence it exerted in a variety of early Christian contexts, including the scribal, liturgical and artistic practices of early Christian communities (Part III).
1. Looking for Mark in the Early Centuries: Methodological Reflections.
Part I: Canonical Reception
2. Matthew as reader of Mark.
3. Luke as reader of Mark.
4. John as reader of Mark.
5. The Reception of Mark in the Longer Ending.
Part II: Early Christian Authors
6. Mark in Papias and the Apostolic Fathers.
7. Mark and the Apocryphal Gospels.
8. Justin Martyr.
9. Clement of Alexandria.
Part III: Early Christian Contexts
16. The Early Manuscripts.
17. The Early Versions.
18. Early Gospel Harmonies.
19. Commentaries and the Catena in Marcum.
20. Early Christian Liturgical traditions.
21. Early Christian art.
 Sean P. Kealy, Mark’s Gospel: A History of Interpretation (Ramsey, NJ: Paulist, 1982); C. Clifton Black, Mark: Images of an Apostolic Interpreter (Columbia/Edinburgh: University of South Carolina Press/T&T Clark, 1994); Brenda Deen Schildgen, Power and Prejudice: The Reception of the Gospel of Mark (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1999).
 E.g., F. Neirynck, “The Apocryphal Gospels and the Gospel of Mark,” in J.-M. Severin, ed., New Testament in Early Christianity: la réception des écrits néotestamentaires dans le christianisme primitif (Leuven: Leuven Univsity Press/Peeters, 1989), 123-75.