Reviews of

Studien zum Text der Apokalypse II

In Darius MÜLLER, De Gruyter, Juan Hernández Jr., Manuscript Studies, Manuscripts, Marcus SIGISMUND, Revelation, Textual Criticism on July 18, 2019 at 10:13 pm


2019.7.7 | Marcus Sigismund and Darius Müller, eds. Studien zum Text der Apokalypse II. Arbeiten zur Neutestamentlichen Textforschung 50. Berlin and Boston, De Gruyter: 2017.

Review by Juan Hernández Jr., Bethel University.

For the student of the Apocalypse’s textual history, there is no current peer to Studien zum Text der Apokalypse II. An extraordinary achievement, the collection of studies emerges as a paragon of dogged industry, perseverance, and unforgiving tenacity. The individual studies were years in the making and will require as many to grasp their full weight. A juggernaut of captivating data, the volume discloses the procedures and investigative forays behind the reconstruction of the Apocalypse’s Greek Ausgangstext for the Editio Critica Maior Project. The essays are further—and commendably—grounded in the work of their predecessors, and, in a many cases, surpass them. A new foundation for the Apocalypse’s textual reconstruction straddles the horizon.


Four discrete sections structure the work. Marcus Sigismund and Darius Müller offer reports on the state of ongoing research in the first section—“A Status Report.” Sigismund, for his part, retraces the ground covered during the second research phase of the ECM Project (2014–2017; the first was 2011–2014) and offers a sketch of the volume’s contributions. The Text und Textwert volume—we also learn—was to appear during the beginning of the second research phase and provide statistical support for data of Studien II. The volume, however, faced production delays due to the Apocalypse’s complex textual tradition. The structure and traditional categories of the final TuT volume were thus overhauled to fit the Apocalypse’s idiosyncratic textual tradition. Both appeared in 2017 and reinforce their respective conclusions.

Müller then discloses the procedures for generating electronic transcriptions of the Apocalypse’s manuscripts—the foundation for the ECM’s reconstructed text. The advantages, technical steps, and current state of the work’s electronic transcriptions are chronicled in detail. The Transcription Editor of the New Testament Virtual Manuscript Room emerges as the tool of choice. Digital transcription—it appears—is not simply the foundation of the current project, but also a database to be expanded, improved upon, and deployed for multiple and cross-disciplinary purposes. Proficiency is required in its multiple applications. Readers are thus guided through the Editor’s menus, accompanied by a series of examples. Paleography is no longer the sole prerequisite for manuscript transcription. Competency in the Digital Humanities is also necessary.

Aus den Versionen

The volume’s second major section, “Versions,” targets a select number of early translations of Apocalypse. Christian Askeland and Martin Heide each produce respective editions of the Sahidic Coptic and Harklensian Syriac texts. Askeland, for his part, reconstructs the first complete eclectic edition of the Sahidic text since its obsolescence in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The edition standardizes spelling, avoids conjectural emendations, and incorporates textual oddities—where reasonable—into the Ausgangstext. Heide then produces a critical edition of the Harklensian text, effectively replacing I. R. Beacham’s landmark edition. The reconstructed text is also supported by a three-tiered apparatus that segregates major textual variants from minor ones, offers a new Harklensian critical apparatus, and corrects collation errors in Beacham’s edition.

The remaining studies of this section target the Sahidic, Ethiopic and Latin versions. Matthias Schulz examines the text-critical value of the Antiphonary Manuscript (MS M.575) for the reconstruction of the Sahidic text of the Apocalypse. Curt Niccum delivers a report on the status quaestionis of the study of the Ethiopic version fifty years after Hofmann. And Matthias Geigenfeind compares the Latin texts of the Apocalypse preserved in the Vulgata Sixtina (1590) and Sixto-Clementina (1592). The conclusions clear the way for further study: The Sahidic Antiphonary Manuscript is a useful witness to the Sahidic tradition and can support readings of individual manuscripts. Hofmann’s Ethiopic version of the Apocalypse remains insufficient for determining the Greek Vorlage behind the Ethiopian version. And textual variation between the Vulgata Sixtina and Sixto Clementina remains a complex matter; each, it appears, preserve variants supported by well-represented witnesses. Further—and interestingly—Vulgata Sixtina readings that deviate from the Sixto Clementina tend to coincide with the older Vulgate, a phenomenon that merits further study.

Textgruppen und Handschriften

The most penetrating studies for understanding particular aspects of the Greek textual tradition—with repercussions for Nestle-Aland 28—surface in the volume’s third major section, “Textual Groupings and Manuscripts.” The first study, that of Markus Lembke, offers a detailed comparison of the wording of the Koine Tradition with NA28’s text and apparatus. The goal: to arrive at the dominant wording of the Koine Tradition. Accordingly, TuT’s statistical data, supplemented by further collations, are deployed to that end. In particular, the differences between TuT’s percentages for specific and Αν readings and their status as MK/Mreadings in NA28 are documented; variations between the known Koine Text and that of NA28’s Ausgangstext are identified; and splits in the K-Tradition are also noted.

The results are measurable: a number of potential corrections to the Koine readings of NA28’s apparatus emerge. Further, the K-Text does not appear to be much longer than NA28’s Ausgangstext, a difference of only a few dozen words! Above all, the Koine text as imagined by Josef Schmid undergoes improvement and expansion. The implications of the study are, of course, far-reaching for understanding the putative K-archetype. Despite the fact that a reconstruction of the archetype is eschewed at this point, Lembke asserts that where the K-Text is consistently read, it corresponds to the K-archetype. Most remarkable is the claim that the construction of manuscript stemmata may be possible. The use of manuscript stemmata is considered problematic today for understanding a contaminated textual tradition; Josef Schmid, however, regarded its use for the Koine Tradition possible over sixty years ago. The CBGM—in this case—is an “alternative method” that does not preclude the attempt.

Darius Müller, for his part, offers fresh text-critical analyses of GA2329 and GA2351—two of NA28’s consistently cited witnesses for the Apocalypse, one of which (GA2351) is renowned for its preservation of the “Origen Scholia.” The two manuscripts, originally bound together in a single codex, do not belong to the same textual tradition—or even a particular one. The TuT data confirm it. Codex 2351, despite a large layer of readings, features four additional layers that preclude its classification under a dominant text form. Similarly, GA2329, is a multilayered text with its highest correspondence to the Andreas tradition. Codex 2329 is also more useful for the reconstruction of the Ausgangstext with its well-established layer of old readings. Both, however, contribute to our understanding of the Apocalypse’s textual history and—as Müller indicates—fail to conform to Schmid’s conception of text types.

Marcus Sigismund, on the other hand, investigates the Arethas tradition—a fraught tradition beset by considerable uncertainties. J.A. Cramer’s edition of the Arethas commentary, it turns out, is unreliable for critical information for its text and commentary, especially after 20:1 (20:2ff is a supplement). Sigismund thus targets a handful of auxiliary sources for analysis—GA2066, GA2075S, an OT citation, and the Moscow Scholia. The result: Fresh collations of GA2066 (with 22:8 and 22:11ff) confirm the deficiencies of Cramer’s edition of Arethas. The citation of Isa 1:14LXX (preserved in part of the Arethas tradition for 19:21) may be original to the tradition. The text of 2075(with 22:3–21; 14:9–11; 15:3–7) belongs to the Andreas tradition, rather than the Arethas tradition of 2075. And the Moscow Scholia, thought to preserve excerpts of Aretha’s commentary, is a summary—not a scholia—and contain, at most, free paraphrases of limited value. Overall, Sigismund demonstrates that the Arethas tradition was in far greater use than previously thought.

Sprachlichen und Spezielles

The final section, “Linguistic and Special Studies,” spotlights the use of the paratextual features for understanding a manuscript’s reception history. Three manuscripts are targeted—GA2028, GA627, and GA2351. Garrick Allen undertakes a “visual” exegesis of images in GA2028. The manuscript’s stylized letters, it turns out, may reflect an intertextual awareness of the Apocalypse’s content. Further, GA2028’s interrelated cycle of images appears to draw attention to what is implied in the text. Marcus Sigismund investigates the neglected (and misunderstood) Greek and Latin marginalia of GA627. The Greek marginalia alone are of theological and text-critical value and may—should the hand of the Latin be that of the Greek—offer a glimpse into a bilingual culture in Southern Italy. Lastly, Edmund Gerke and Darius Müller deliver an updated introduction and German translation of the so-called “Origen Scholia” of GA2351, clarifying and correcting questions of authorship, and providing fresh codicological paleographical observations for textual scholars.


The collected essays of Studien zum Text der Apocalypse II are—without a doubt—a matchless cache of cutting-edge textual scholarship. The volume is a bellwether of text-critical advances. To read it is an education. The contributions are innovative, informative, and—most importantly—transparent. Time and patient review will, of course (and as is always the case), disclose the accuracy of data, the degree to which Schmid’s textual groupings are passé, and whether the close and mutually reinforcing relationship of the TuT to the Studien II runs the risk of circularity. Irrespective, the current collection constitutes the undisputed high water mark of such studies. And it will be some time before readers realize how far the textual ground has shifted.

Juan Hernández Jr.
Bethel University
j-hernandez [at]



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