My review of Johanna Brankaer's Coptic: A Learning Grammar (Sahidic) (SILO 1. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2010) has been published in Laval théologique et philosophique 69. You may find an electronic offprint here.
TC: The Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism has just published a short note by Dirk Jongkind titled "059 (0215) and Mark 15:28." This "note," however, packs a big punch. Jongkind demonstrates on the basis of a codicological analysis that this 4th century majuscule manuscript did not contain Mark 15:28. This is explainable due to the presence of the upper and lower margins on two consecutive folios. What is odd? The omission of this verse was never recorded in the apparatus of the Greek New Testament, yet there is a variation unit there for which 059 would add support for the omission. Jongkind states: "Since 059 is among the oldest witnesses that we have for this section of Mark, its omission from the witness list of our modern editions needs rectification" (p. 3).
This little note has much significance for NT textual criticism and critics in the guild owe a debt of gratitude to Jongkind for bringing this to our attention. Now, if we can only figure out the unidentified text on the conjoining leaf of G 39779!
Only recently did I become aware of a nice hardback facsimile edition of P.Bodmer II (P66; Gospel of John) titled L'évangile selon Jean: Introduction et traduction de Jean Zumstein (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2008).
This is an interesting publication for several reasons. First, the title is misleading. It is not merely a book on the Gospel of John. It is really, in fact, a full, colored photographic facsimile of P.Bodmer II, with a general introduction to the Gospel of John at the beginning (pp. 9-48) and a French translation of P.Bodmer II at the back (pp. 205-257). Second, it would appear that the photographs are digitally manipulated scans of the 1962 plates published by Victor Martin (Cologny-Genève, Bibliothèque Bodmer). Thus, the 1962 black and white images are slightly clearer, so hang onto those. (I have really, really high-res scans of these which have come in handy over the last couple years!) Nonetheless, the quality of this book is really nice. It has a red cloth spine, the binding is really solid, and the pages are quite thick and durable. Each codex page takes up an entire page of the book, and there is no additional text to the page. It would have been nice to have the pagination and content of each page listed at the top or bottom (cf. the 1962 plates), but at least the pagination can easily be read on the papyrus itself (where it is present). The introductory essay on the Fourth Gospel by Zumstein is also very good reading, although I feel that an introductory essay on P.Bodmer II would have been more appropriate given that this is a photographic facsimile. Anyway, be sure to check out this facsimile. It is a must-have for anyone working on ancient manuscripts. And the price is very reasonable (€28). Here are a few images:
The first volume of Manuel de critique textuelle du Nouveau Testament. Introduction générale (ed. C.-B. Amphoux; Safran) has just been published. A second volume treating variants is in preparation.
"La critique textuelle est l'étude des documents à partir desquels on établit le texte d'une œuvre transmise par des manuscrits.
Le Nouveau Testament nous est parvenu à travers de nombreux manuscrits entre lesquels il existe d'innombrables variantes. Certaines, les plus nombreuses, sont de simples fautes de copie ; mais des milliers d'autres sont les indices de l'évolution du texte des évangiles et des autres écrits du recueil. Le texte du Nouveau Testament a donc une histoire et, par cette histoire, une diversité dans sa transmission.
Le premier volume de ce manuel propose une introduction générale qui rassemble les informations principales concernant le matériau dont nous disposons (manuscrits grecs, versions anciennes et citations patristiques), la méthode de traitement de ce matériau et ce que nous savons de l'histoire du texte du Nouveau Testament, d'abord manuscrit, puis imprimé à partir du XVIe siècle."
See contents here.
Here is a fascinating video of Ludwig Koenen, one of the giants in the field of papyrology. He talks about his own training, his training of his own graduate students and the method thereof, his work on the Cologne Mani codex, and the future of papyrology. The video offers an excellent insight into the history of papyrology through the words of one of its doyens.
Thanks to Michigan for producing this. The Michigan collection and the faculty and staff there are simply the best. If I could move to Ann Arbor, I would!
"It is regrettable, therefore, to see the merest scrap of an ancient book treated as if it were something sacred—immediately published with notes and facsimile, even if it be a fragment of some forgotten scribbler who deserved his fate—while on the other hand the non-literary items are often not even printed in full." Diessmann, Light from the Ancient East (1910), 31.
My article "Three New Coptic Papyrus Fragments of 2 Timothy and Titus (P.Mich. inv. 3535b)" has just been published in the latest issue of the Journal of Biblical Literature. I have uploaded a PDF of the article in the publication section of this site (here).
In Book 17 of Homer’s Odyssey, when Penelope and Eumaeus are speaking in private about Odysseus while the suitors feast in the halls of the king's palace, Telemachus sneezes and Penelope laughs:
“At the queen’s last words, Telemachus sneezed aloud [μέγ᾽ ἔπταρεν], and the noise went thundering round the hall. Penelope laughed.” (Od. 17.541-542)
Why does Penelope laugh? Because she was convinced that Telemachus’ sneeze was a prophetic sign that her words concerning the demise of the suitors would come true: "Did you not see how my son sneezed as I finished then? So death for the suitors may still not be unachieved" (17.544-545). Sneezing was widely recognized in the ancient world as a divine omen. In Xenophon’s Anabasis, there is a good description of this:
“As he was saying this a man sneezed [πτάρνυταί], and when the soldiers heard it, they all with one impulse made obeisance to the god; And Xenophon said, ‘I move, gentlemaen, since at the moment when we were talking about deliverance, an omen [οἰωνὸς] from Zeus the Saviour was revealed to us....’” (Anab. 3.2.9)
The idea behind this is that the Greeks and Romans believed that the gods governed all things. So Plutarch can say that “For proof of this I may call Homer for my witness, who affirms that there is nothing done or brought to perfection of which a god is not the cause” (De Pythiae oraculis 22). In the case of sneezing, it was something that could not be controlled and so it was understood as a supernatural cause or influence. Sometimes the omen was not always positive, and the significance and interpretations of sneezes varied depending on a variety of factors. There are many references to sneezing as an omen in both Greek and Roman literature, and I should like to point my readers to the fascinating articles by Pieter W. van der Horst and Arthur Stanley Pease (citations below), in which there is to be found numerous references to the literature. According to van der Horst, "sneezing as a manifestation of a divine power played a much more important part in ancient divinatory speculation than we are often inclined to assume."
So, next time you sneeze, ponder what the gods may be brewing up for you!
1. Pieter W. van der Horst, “The Omen of Sneezing in Pagan Antiquity,” Ancient Society 43 (2013): 213-221.
2. Arthur Stanley Pease, "The Omen of Sneezing," Classical Philology 6 (1911): 429-443. [Online here.]
Below are the text and image of P.Hibeh I 54 (3rd cent. B.C.E.), a fascinating letter from Demophon to Ptolemaios, extracted from mummy cartonnage. It was edited by Grenfell and Hunt in the first part of the Hibeh Papyri. The recipient is asked to provide a list of goods and musicians for a women's festival.
"Demophon to Ptolemaios, greetings. By all means send us the flute-player Petous with both the Phrygian and other flutes; and if any expenditure is necessary, pay it and you will be reimbursed by us. Send us also Zenobius the effeminate dancer with the drum and cymbals and castanets, for the women want him for the festival; and let him be dressed as well as possible. Get the kid from Aristion and send it to us. And if you have arrested the slave, hand him over to Semphtheus to bring to us. Send us also as many cheeses as you can, empty jars, vegetables of every sort, and whatever delicacies you have. Farewell. Put them on board with the policemen who will help to bring the boat along."
Δημοφῶν Πτολεμαίωι χαίρειν. ἀπό[σ-]τειλον ἡμῖν ἐκ παντὸς τρόπου τὸν αὐλητὴν Πετωῦν ἔχοντ[α] τούς τε Φρυγίους αὐλ[ο]ὺς καὶ τοὺς λοιπούς, κ[αὶ] ἐάν τι δέηι ἀνηλῶσαι δός, παρὰ δὲ ἡμ[ῶ]ν κ̣ομι̣ε̣ῖ̣. ἀπόστειλον δὲ ἡμῖν καὶ Ζηνόβιον τὸν μαλακὸν ἔχοντα τύμπανον καὶ κύμβαλα καὶ κρόταλα, χρεία γάρ ἐστι ταῖς γυναιξὶν πρὸς τὴν θυσίαν· ἐχέτω δὲ καὶ ἱματισμὸν ὡς ἀστειότατον. κόμισαι δὲ καὶ τὸν ἔριφον παρὰ Ἀριστίωνος καὶ πέμψον ἡμῖν. καὶ τὸ σῶμα δὲ εἰ συνείληφας παράδος ⟦αυτο⟧ Σεμφθεῖ ὅπως αὐτὸ διακομίσηι ἡμῖν. ἀπόστειλον δὲ ἡμῖν καὶ τύρους ὅσους ἂν δύνηι καὶ κέραμον κα̣[ι]νὸν καὶ λάχανα π[αντ]ο̣δαπὰ καὶ ἐὰν ὄψον τι ἔχ̣η̣ι̣[ς̣(?)] ἔρρ[ωσο.] ἐμβαλοῦ δὲ αὐ̣τ̣ὰ̣ καὶ φυλακίτας οἳ συνδιακομιοῦσιν ⟦α̣⟧ τὸ πλοῖο[ν.]