Reviews of

A Bibliography of Greek New Testament Manuscripts: Third Edition

In Brill, Garrick V. Allen, James Keith ELLIOTT, Manuscripts, New Testament, Textual Criticism on October 21, 2015 at 10:28 am

garrick elliott

2015.10.21 | James Keith Elliott. A Bibliography of Greek New Testament Manuscripts: Third Edition. NovTSup 160. Leiden: Brill, 2015.

Review by Garrick V. Allen, Institut für Septuaginta und biblische Textforschung, Wuppertal.

Many thanks to Brill Publishers for providing a MyBook paperback inspection copy.

The third edition of J. K. Elliott’s continued work on corralling the vast and ever expanding secondary literature relating to the manuscripts of the New Testament represents a valuable tool for textual critics and material philologists, among many others. Although it is impossible to create a fully comprehensive bibliography, the nearly fifty pages of abbreviations demonstrates that this volume, produced with the assistance of the IRSB at the Université de Lausanne, is as close as they come. The new edition includes all the material from previous editions and supplements[1] and has added relevant studies published since 2000 and other publications that were erroneously omitted from previous editions. Elliott briefly lays out (pp. 2-5) new and important resources now included in the bibliography. And the introduction also includes a brief, yet clear articulation of the history of manuscript numbers and an overview of the recent scholarly developments in studying manuscripts (pp. 5-12).

The main body of the book is divided into four sections that provide resources on the papyri (pp. 13-50), majuscules (pp. 51-128), minuscules (pp. 129-328), and lectionaries (pp. 329-399). Each section is introduced by reference to relevant survey studies, studies of palaeography, and other relevant preliminary resources. Next, following the Gregory-Aland numbers, a manuscript number is given in bold in the left margin and the bibliographic information follows. Entries on particular manuscripts can range from the non-existent (e.g. many of the lectionaries do not have any bibliographic data) to the lengthy (e.g. the entry for Codex Bezae D05 is nearly ten pages [pp.64-73]). Entries are arranged chronologically from most recent to the earliest.

2351, a tenth-century manuscript that contains a unique scholia commentary on Rev 1.1-14.8, has received a relatively high level of attention lately for a minuscule. It serves as an ideal case to explore the usefulness and comprehensiveness of the bibliography. The entry for this manuscript appears thusly in the volume:

2351    Tzamalikos, P., An Ancient Commentary on the Book of Revelation: A Critical Edition of the Scholia in Apocalypsin, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2013.

I.MA.G.E.S. (403).

Hoskier, Text I (653–662)

Hoskier, H C., ‘Manuscripts of the Apocalypse – Recent Investigations II’, BJRL 7/2 (1923), p. 256–268 (256–267) [*].

Bees, N. A., ‘Die Kollation der Apokalypse Johannis mit dem Kodex 573 des Meteorenklosters’, ZNW 13 (1912), p. 260–266.

Turner, C. H., ‘The Text of the Newly Discovered Scholia of the Apocalypse’, JThS 13 (1912), p. 386–297.

Starting with the most recent, the bibliography cites P. Tzamalikos’ 2013 edition of the manuscript. This resource is cited in full since it is only elsewhere cited at 2329, a minuscule that is bound in the same codex with 2351. The next entry I.MA.G.E.S. (S.J. Voicu and S. D’Alisera, eds., Index in manuscriptorum Graecorum edita sepcimina, 1981), is an oft-cited index of facsimile editions of New Testament manuscripts that provides limited comments and bibliographic data on numerous manuscripts. Nothing is indexed in I.MA.G.E.S. that is not also cited in the entry above. Following this, there is a 52-year gap between publications, going back to Hoskier’s problematic, but magisterial work (1929) and another of Hoskier’s previous articles (1923). The [*] siglum indicates that the resource contains photographic plates. The final two manuscripts are two of the earliest pieces that address the manuscript following its discovery in 1911.

While the entry for 2351 provides the requisite secondary research that would allow a researcher initial access to the existing critical discussion, there are some holes in the data. Some of these lacunae are somewhat obvious, including the initial edition of the manuscript published by C. Diobouniotis and A. Harnack (Der Scholien-Kommentar des Origenes zur Apokalypse Johannis: Nebst einem Stück aus Irenaeus, Lib.V, Graecae. TUAL 3.8; Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs’sche, 1911). In fact, the initial (and likely mistaken) association with the commentary in 2351 with Origenic traditions seems to have caused some confusion in the bibliography, since a 1984 article by E. Junod (“À propos des soi-disant scolies sur l’Apocalypse d’Origène,” Rivista di storiae letteratura religiosa 20, 1984) and a 1911 article by J. A. Robinson (“Origen’s Comments on the Apocalypse,” JTS 13, 1911) that examine the manuscript in the context of Origen traditions were also excluded.

Other examples of omission include C. H. Turner’s follow-up article (“Origen Scholia in Apocalypsin,” JTS 25, 1923), a 1936 article by E. Skard (“Zum Scholien-Kommentar des Origenes zur Apokalypse Johannis,” Symbolae Osloenses 15-16), the insightful early response to the hypothesis of Harnack offered by G. Wohlenberg (“Ein neuaufgefundener Kodex der Offenbarung Johannis nebst alten Erläuterungen,” Theologisches Literaturblatt 33, 1912), and another early report by O. Stählin (“Der Scholien-Kommentar des Origenes,” Philologische Wochenschrift, 1912). Although the entry for 2351 provides an adequate introduction to critical discussions of the manuscript, it is far from exhaustive—more resources have been omitted than included in this instance as a result of Elliott and his team’s apparent unfamiliarity with the manuscript’s association with Origen. This situation does not necessarily reflect on other entries, especially the more “important” early papyri and majuscules, but the issues associated with 2351 cautions users against assuming that the bibliography is close to infallible. These omitted articles address sundry issues related to the manuscript, but they examine concerns (textual, historical, philological, etc.) that would have been helpful to include in the bibliography. Even though the bibliography is not designed to be comprehensive, many users may (mistakenly) assume that it is so. Nevertheless, as this example has shown, the volume is a tool that greatly assists in encountering select secondary literature at a baseline level. The value of the audacious scope of the volume far outweighs the issues associated with its potential lack of comprehensiveness. Elliott and his cohorts can hardly be held responsible for the omission of a few relatively unimportant articles (with the exception of the oversight of the edition by Diobouniotis and Harnack) pertaining to a partially preserved tenth-century commentary manuscript. As Bruce Metzger states in the foreword to the second edition, “Chi no falla non fa.”

The appendix to the volume provides an introductory list of resources that are useful for discussion of text types, as well as introductions to textual criticism, libraries with large manuscript collection, important works on particular manuscripts, guides to approaches to transcriptional probability, collected essay volumes, important websites, and a note on the lack unregistered manuscripts in this edition (pp. 400-408).

Overall, the volume is an unmitigated success: it collects thousands of disparate resources under one roof (or between two covers), providing a helpful snapshot of research. For those who work with the material culture of the Greek New Testament or text critical issues, access to this volume is a necessity. The scope of secondary sources, examining palaeography, codicology, scribal habits, collations, plates, textual issues, and illustrations/artwork is impressive. Also, for those who work with the book of Revelation, of special interest to myself, Elliott has now included references to Josef Schmid’s two-volume work Studien zur Geschichte des griechischen Apokalypse-Textes (omitting reference to Schmid’s third volume that contains an edition of the Andrew of Caesarea commentary).

Although the bibliography is an important volume, I am not convinced that it is the type of work that one should purchase at the list price of 115€ ($149 USD), even if one is able to access Brill’s more affordable, but less aesthetically pleasing print-on-demand MyBook Paperbacks (25€/$25). Not only is the bibliography already out of date since its publication earlier this year, but it is also freely accessible in electronic form through the website of the Institut romand des science bibliques (instructions here). An electronic bibliography would seem to be more easily updatable and to be the path of the future. Regardless of how users access this resource, much gratitude should be given to Prof. Elliott and the team at Lausanne for their important work on this project.

[1] Previous editions: SNTSMS 62. Cambridge University Press, 1989 and SNTSMS 109. Cambridge University Press, 2000. See also three supplements published in Novum Testamentum: 46 (2004): 376-400; 49 (2007): 370-401; 52 (2010): 272-97.

Garrick V. Allen
Institut für Septuaginta und biblische Textforschung
Kirchliche Hochschule Wuppertal/Bethel
allen [ at ] isbtf.de

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