Debate on the Resurrection of Jesus

An informal debate on the resurrection of Jesus, which began as a continuation of comments on my blog, “Can We Still Believe the Bible?” (https://danielbwallace.com/2014/03/24/can-we-still-believe-the-bible/), has turned into a formal debate. I think you’ll find it most interesting! Here’s the link:

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?7723-Debate-on-the-Resurrection-of-Jesus-Apologiaphoenix-vs-Gary

Gregory-Aland 1761: A Gospels Manuscript?

We have a team from CSNTM working at the National Library of Greece in Athens this summer. A big team—from seven to nine people at any given time. The work is both exhausting and exhilarating. Handling precious documents all day long, while trying to produce accurate, aesthetically-pleasing photographs, can be emotionally draining work. But every new day the teams are ready for more.

digitizing st NLG

Counting Quires

One of my tasks is to count quires. A quire is, medievally speaking, eight leaves or four double-leaves (bifolia) laid down, then folded vertically in the middle. These leaves then form a quire and they are sewn into the binding at the crease. Some scribes numbered their quires by writing, in very faint and small ink, the number of the quire on either first page (recto) or last page (verso) of a quire. Then, when it came time to stitch all the quires together they would know what order they would go in and assemble the book. But not all scribes wrote out these quire numbers, and even for many who did later book-owners trimmed the pages, inadvertently cutting off either the entirety or a portion of the quire number. And often, they wrote in red ink—the kind that fades so badly that it is now invisible.

There are three ways to identify the number of leaves in a quire quickly: (1) notice and document where the quire numbers are; (2) notice where the sewed strings are (always in the middle of the quire); and (3) feel the pressure of the leaves—if a leaf wants to go to the left, it belongs with the previous quire; if it wants to lay flat, it begins a new quire.

There are problems with each of these methods, but it’s essential that the quire counts are done while examining the manuscripts instead of via photographs since the latter approach eliminates the third method for determining quire counts. The binding may be tight, and the strings won’t show up in the photographs, which makes approach #2 difficult to accomplish. Frequently, a magnifying glass is used to determine if the strings are there, but this of course can only be done while examining the actual manuscript.

An Interesting Feature in GA 1761

Gregory-Aland 1761 posed an interesting problem. It’s a manuscript of Acts, the Catholic letters, and the corpus Paulinum (including Hebrews). The first quire reveals no number, but quire 2 has the number κε or 25. The numbers are then seen on every quire and they are in sequence without any gaps, going all the way through μθ or 49. Only one leaf is missing in this entire manuscript, which is unusual. Normally, at least a few leaves are missing from a manuscript, even one as late as the fourteenth century (the date of GA 1761).

Since the Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung in Münster, Germany is the de facto cataloguer of the Greek NT manuscripts, they list this manuscript as an “ap” document—that is, Acts and Catholic letters (a) and Paul (p). They do not indicate that anything is missing, although one leaf is absent. However, judging by the quire numbers far more than one leaf is missing—184 leaves to be exact! 184 leaves is the number for the first 23 quires (since the second quire in the extant manuscript begins with ‘25’).

What was originally in this manuscript? One’s immediate hunch would be all four Gospels, and that turns out to be correct. With an average of 360 words per leaf in the extant manuscript, 183 leaves would be required for the Gospels. Thus, this manuscript was originally an eap, with ‘e’ standing for evangelists or εὐαγγέλιον.

Examining quires and counting the number of leaves in them is largely neglected by institutes that own manuscripts as well as by New Testament scholars. But it is the fastest way to determine if a manuscript is complete or is missing leaves—and where they are missing. Now, with digital images, many of the quire numbers are visible. When CSNTM prepares a manuscript, we routinely list the quires by number, Greek letter (if visible), and number of leaves. Below is what this information looks like in CSNTM’s ‘prep doc’ for GA 1761:

Quires:

1.1–8, 2[κε].9–16, 3[κς].17–24, 4[κζ].25–32, 5[κη].33–39 [short quire], 6[κθ].40–47, 7[λ].48–55, 8[λα].56–63, 9[λβ].64–71, 10[λγ].72–79, 11[λδ].80–87, 12[λε].88–95, 13[λς].96–103, 14[λζ].104–111, 15[λη].112–119, 16[λθ].120–127, 17[μ].128–135, 18[μα].136–143, 19[μβ].144–151, 20[μγ].152–159, 21[μδ].160–167, 22[με].168–175, 23[μς].176–183, 24[μζ].184–191, 25[μη].192–199, 26[μθ].200–207. Rest is paper MS added later.

We are documenting a number of features in these manuscripts, as we have traditionally done, which will help those who study them get some help in reading the texts. For example, for all continuous texts manuscripts, we provide a scripture index showing on what pages each book of the NT are to be found. Some of the incidental material is idiosyncratic, but the scripture indexes especially should be useful for researchers. For this particular manuscript, below is what is provided:

1a–52b: Acts
52b–53b: information about Luke and Acts
54a: hypothesis for James
54a–59a: James
60a: hypothesis for 1 Peter
60a–65b: 1 Peter
65b–66a: hypothesis for 2 Peter
66a–69b: 2 Peter
69b–70b: hypothesis for 1 John
71a–76a: 1 John
76ab: hypothesis for 2 John
76b–77a: 2 John
77ab: hypothesis for 3 John
77b–78a: 3 John
78ab: hypothesis for Jude
78b–80a: Jude
81a–82b: hypothesis for Romans
82b–102a: Romans
102a: subscription: written from Corinth through Phoebe; stichoi mentioned.
102b–103a: hypothesis for 1 Corinthians
103a–120b: 1 Corinthians
121ab: hypothesis for 2 Corinthians
121b–134a: 2 Corinthians
134a: subscriptio: written from Philippi through Titus, Barnabas, and Luke
134b: hypothesis for Galatians
135a–141a: Galatians
141a–142a: hypothesis for Ephesians
142b–149a: Ephesians
149ab: hypothesis for Philippians
149b–154a: Philippians
154ab: hypothesis for Colossians
154b–159a: Colossians
159ab: hypothesis for 1 Thessalonians
160a–164a: 1 Thessalonians
164b–165a: hypothesis for 2 Thessalonians
165a–167b: 2 Thessalonians
167b–168a: hypothesis for 1 Timothy
168a–173b: 1 Timothy
173b–174a: hypothesis for 2 Timothy
174a–178a: 2 Timothy
178ab: hypothesis for Titus
178b–181a: Titus
181ab: hypothesis for Philemon
181b–182b: Philemon
182b–183b: hypothesis for Hebrews
183b–: Hebrews
183b–199b: title: “the letter to the Hebrews” (Paul not mentioned as author)
200a–207a: abbreviations
208a–219a: non-biblical text, paper, later hand
220a–243b: third hand, paper text, later hand, non-biblical
244a–250b: fourth hand, paper text, non-biblical

The work at the National Library progresses well; we will soon wrap up our first of two summers here. And in the end, we will provide approximately 150,000 high-resolution images of c. 300 manuscripts and over 700 pages of documentation. When all the manuscripts we are digitizing at the National Library are photographed, we will post them on csntm.org, along with all the prep docs. This has been our custom since the beginning, though CSNTM continues to refine its digitizing standards and prep doc information.

A New Gospel Manuscript in Athens?

In my last post I mentioned a newly discovered apostolos manuscript, found glued to the inside of the front and back covers of a codex (NLG 2676). This blog is about another manuscript inside another codex. This time the codex is Lectionary 1816, a 12th century parchment manuscript of the Gospels with 154 leaves. The National Library of Greece in Athens assigns it the shelf number 2711.

The new discovery, however, is not a couple of leaves glued to inside of the covers; rather, it is several reinforcing strips glued to the inner margin of bifolia (double-leaves) near the beginning of the codex.

The reinforcing strips are from a parchment manuscript which was a two-column text. It was probably written in the 12th or 13th century. The strips are found on bifolio 2a–5b, leaves 2b–3a, leaf 4a, leaves 4b–5a, and leaf 6a.

Some of the strips have only one or two letters of material per line, while others have as many as six letters per line. One of the strips is at the beginning of the line, revealing the initial letters on each line of the column.

So far, sections from Luke 1 have been identified. One section is apparently from Luke 1.57–61. The image is below.

NLG 2711_new MS strip_Luke 1

Binding strip in NLG 2711

(iPhone picture)

The text of this strip is as follows:

γει

ννη

σαν

ηση

τι ε

ελ

κα

κα

δοη

πε

ον

τω

το

ρι

σα

οὐ

ιω

αυ

εν

κα

Reconstructed with the surrounding text (with the number of letters in brackets), we get:

1) πλησθη ο χρονος του τε- [18]                                    Luke 1.57

γειν αυτην, και εγε- [15]

ννησεν υιον. Και ηκου- [17]

σαν οι περιοικοι και [17]                                            Luke 1.58

5) ηση [??]………….ο-

τι εμεγαλυνεν κς το [16]

ελεος αυτου μετ αυτης, [18]

και συνεχαιρον αυτη. [17]

και εγενετο εν τη ογ- [16]                                          Luke 1.59

10) δοη ημερα, ηλθον [13?]

περιτεμειν το παιδι- [17]

ον· και εκαλουν αυτο επι [19]

τω ονοματι του πρς αυ- [17]

του Ζαχα- [7??]

15) ριαν. και αποκριθει- [16]                                            Luke 1.60

σα η μηρ αυτου ειπεν [16]

οὐχι αλλα κληθησεται [18]

ιωαννης. και ειπον προς [19]                                     Luke 1.61

αυτην οτι ουδεις εστιν [19]

20) εν τη συγγενεια σου ος [18]

καλειται τω ονοματι του- [—]

Please excuse the formatting of the above reconstruction. I think you can get the idea though, especially since these letters are at the beginning of a new line.

For 17 of the 21 lines, the text is clearly from Luke 1.57–61. And there is no other text that even comes close. It surely must be that this is that passage throughout the strip. The average line (not counting lines 5, 14, or 21 since their quantities are unknown) is 17 letters long, running between as low as possibly 13 up to 19 letters. But four lines are a puzzle.

Problems for Identification

First, line 2 has γειν for κειν(?)—in τεκειν, an unattested reading.

Second, line 5 begins with ἠση. Whether this is one word or two is not known, but either way it does not fit in with Luke 1.58 at all. What should be on this line is οι συγγενεις αυτης ο-. The smooth breathing (ἠ) indicates the beginning of a word, which eliminates the possibility (remote as it was anyway) that the scribe’s eye skipped over a column or two of the manuscript of his exemplar and wrote ηση (the end of κληθηση in Luke 1.76). Further, whatever he is doing, he seems to pick back up with the οτι of 1.58, since it is split over two lines with the τι beginning line 6. Another possibility that should be ruled out is a spelling change: although οι and η sounded alike in this era, as did υ and η, it would be both completely unattested and not in character with the rest of this strip for the scribe to have written ἠ σηγγενεις instead of οἱ συγγενεις—a double misspelling! This solution simply looks too convenient to be convincing. The breathing, however, is not a problem since medieval scribes routinely mixed up the smooth and rough breathings.

Third, line 10 is unusually short, with only 13 letters. Now, it is just possible that the scribe wrote εν τη ογδοη τη ημερα over the two lines. This is both unattested and a nonsense reading, but the repetition of eta in four words successively might have caused a kind of dittography. This would bring the line to 15 letters. Alternatively, the scribe might have added εις το before the infinitive on this line, thus creating an 18-letter line. But this, too, is unattested.

Fourth, the 14th line seems to have had only του Ζαχα- on it, for the ρι that begins line 15 has the acute accent, indicating that it is part of Ζαχαρίαν rather than αποκριθεισα—which in any event is unlikely both because of the disruption this would cause to the surrounding lines and because of the very unnatural word break. But if line 14 only has του Ζαχα-, it is a seven-letter line. Why so short? One could understand line 14 ending with Ζαχαριαν, since the next verse could begin a new section. But why break the last word of v. 59 over two lines?

For these four problems, I have no ready solution. I hope that one or two of the readers of this blog will be able to offer an explanation to these conundrums.

Conclusion

There are 29 extant double-column Greek New Testament manuscripts from the 12th to the 14th century with Luke in them, only five of which are lectionaries. Most likely, this is the 30th such manuscript and probably a minuscule rather than a lectionary (based strictly on statistical probability). When all the photographs of the strips in NLG 2711 are made available, surely more text will come to light. Perhaps the other strips will also resolve some of the issues we have already mentioned, and help us come to firmer conclusions about what, exactly, this manuscript is, and why especially it deviates from Luke 1.58 so radically at one point.

Pro-Life: The Right Side of History

Guest blog by Dr. Justin Bass

“One of the chief features of the state of Peace we now enjoy is the killing of a considerable number of harmless human beings.” —GK Chesterton, The Well and the Shallows

When it comes to the controversial issue of gay marriage, we regularly hear the statement from gay marriage advocates, ‘You’re on the wrong side of history.’ They mean by this that those who believe that marriage has been definitively defined by God (Gen 2:24) and Christ (Mark 10:5-9) as the union of one man and one woman are behind the times, draconian, and need to join with the rest of humanity progressing towards a marriage defined by the culture trends of the moment. The fickle winds of the culture do happen to be blowing towards gay marriage at the moment and if the Supreme Court redefines marriage later this year, we will in coming years witness the cultural winds blowing towards polyamorous marriages and same-sex ‘thruple’ marriages and even new ideas for ‘marriage’ our culture’s imagination has yet to invent. This is the slippery slope that even the Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito asked about because if there is no limiting principle by which we define marriage, then there is no legal reason to deny polygamous, polyamorous and even couples in various forms of incest the right to marry.

The situation in the early 1970s is very instructive here in the case of abortion. Soon after the case of Roe vs. Wade, the culture was also saying in so many words to those who were pro-life ‘You’re on the wrong side of history.’ And yet over 40 years later, we see that the pro-life movement is stronger than ever and the majority of the people you will find at 40 Days for Life or praying outside of abortion clinics are millennials. In fact, Gallup recently found that the number of Americans who identify as pro-choice is at a record low (41%). Wendy Davis led a campaign last year with the mantra she was fighting for Texas women’s reproductive rights, but when Texas women went to the polls, they voted overwhelmingly against her. Texas women did have a choice and they chose Life.

Moreover, just as Ryan T. Anderson, in his early 30s, is one of the leading voices defending traditional marriage, so too are the leading voices rescuing babies from destruction; young men and women using their gifts, talents, backgrounds and influence to stop our modern day holocaust (around 55 million babies murdered and counting since Roe). Lila Rose, in her late 20s, is the president of Live Action devoted to ending abortion and building a culture of life. Lila was inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s call for more “creative extremists.” She is definitely a creative extremist as she has gone undercover to many abortion clinics and Planned Parenthood organizations exposing sexual abuse, racism, assistance to sex traffickers, sex-selective abortion, and infanticide. She has even been responsible for a number of workers being fired, clinics shutting down, and countless women choosing Life.

In addition, we have seen abortion clinic after abortion clinic close down over the last decade all across America. In 1991, there were 2,176 surgical abortion clinics in America which is the highest number of clinics since Roe. As of 2014, there are only 582 left! 87 clinics closed in 2013 alone and I have personally witnessed since 2011 the abortion clinics in Texas drop from 42 to less than 20! In the states Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming — just one clinic remains. The abortion rate even hit an all-time low in 2011 since Roe. Every state that has seen this significant decrease in abortion clinics has seen a corresponding decrease in the number of abortions annually.

Why has the majority of our culture, especially the younger generation (who are no doubt moving more in favor of gay marriage), been moving more towards a culture of Life and against abortion? Here are some contributing factors.

Technology

The Ultrasound and even 3D/4D imaging has allowed an entire generation of mothers (and fathers) to watch their baby grow within their womb even to the point of seeing them smile and even clap! Just hearing that strong, on average 150bpm, heartbeat has saved many lives. A famous example is Governor (running for president) Chris Christie who converted from Pro-choice to Pro-life after hearing his daughter’s heartbeat. Despite all the debates about personhood, it is an undeniable fact that all 327,653 abortions Planned Parenthood performed in 2014 stopped a strong, healthy beating heart.

Education

The more our culture is educated on the science of embryology and what actually happens during an abortion procedure the more likely they will be pro-life. Even the late great atheist Christopher Hitchens said: “I do, as a humanist, believe that the concept ‘unborn child’ is a real one and I think the concept is underlined by all the recent findings of embryology about the early viability of a well-conceived human baby, one that isn’t going to be critically deformed (or even some that are) will be able to survive outside the womb earlier and earlier and earlier, and I see that date only being pushed back. I feel the responsibility to consider the occupant of the womb as a candidate member of society in the future, and thus to say that it cannot be only the responsibility of the woman to decide upon it, that it’s a social question and an ethical and a moral one.”

And as far as the brutal nature of the procedure, read how a former abortion doctor testifying before congress described a late term abortion. “The toughest part of a D&E abortion is extracting the baby’s head. The head of a baby that age is about the size of a large plum and is now free floating inside the uterine cavity. You can be pretty sure you have hold of it if the Sopher clamp is spread about as far as your fingers will allow. You will know you have it right when you crush down on the clamp and see white gelatinous material coming through the cervix. That was the baby’s brains. You can then extract the skull pieces. Many times a little face will come out and stare back at you.” 55 million little faces are staring back at all of us.

When is the Baby a Baby?

In 2007, the Supreme Court upheld a ban on partial birth abortion that involved cutting the baby’s head in two, sucking his or her brains out and now in 2015 at least one state has stopped the procedure that dismembers a baby inside the womb during a second trimester abortion. You’d think all 50 states would be against dismembering babies wouldn’t you? Apparently only one is.

79% of pro-choice advocates believe abortions during the third trimester should be illegal.

But why? Why is it nothing but a medical procedure (even “women’s health”) to abort a baby at 15 weeks, but it is murder that should be illegal at 30 weeks? What is different about a baby at 15 weeks vs. a baby at 30 weeks? If viability is the dividing line then all abortion should be illegal after 20 weeks as we have record of babies surviving even at 21 weeks outside the womb. But the vast majority of pro-choice advocates still want abortion legal during the second trimester (13-28 weeks). The fact is there is no clear dividing line (like conception) for the pro-choice advocate and so they inevitably have to argue that the women’s choice must trump the baby’s right to life.

This irrational line was made even more abundantly clear in the case of Kermit Gosnell, an abortion doctor, who put babies to death minutes after they exited the womb. Gosnell was found guilty of 3 counts of first degree murder as he snipped the spines of 3 babies minutes after they were born. Gosnell also performed numerous third trimester abortions and parts of those babies were found all over his clinic. But in all these cases the law said he did nothing but perform “a medical procedure on fetuses” because they were still inside the womb. Madness!

A young atheist mother named Jennifer Fulwiler was staring at her newborn baby one day and realized in that moment the bankruptcy of the atheistic worldview, and gave her life to Christ. We need the culture to see these babies’ faces. Sometimes they do need to see dead faces looking back at them like the former abortion doctor mentioned that still haunts him, but we must constantly be putting the beautiful living, smiling faces before them as well. Being for Life, especially for the lives of precious children, is always the right side of history.

May God give us more “Creative extremists” to fight for them.