Tag Archives: Manuscripts & Texts

Chester Beatty Papyri: New and Fully Photographed

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I’m delighted to be able now to release news of a truly important project completed:  The completion of the digital photographing of the remarkable cache of ancient papyri housed in the Chester Beatty Library (Dublin).  These papyri include portions of biblical manuscripts that are among the earliest extant, both OT and NT writings, and many other extra-canonical texts as well.

I approached the CBL earlier this year about this, and the CBL Director, Dr. Fionnuala Croke, enthusiastically agreed to take the project forward.  On my recommendation, it was given to Dr. Daniel Wallace and his team in the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (Dallas, Texas).  You can read his press-release on the CSNTSM here.

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“New Documents” Vol 10

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I’ve just received my copy of Volume 10 of the valuable series, New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity, eds. S. R. Llewelyn and J. R. Harrison (Eerdmans, 2012).  For those who don’t know the series, each volume reviews publications of texts and inscriptions from a preceding period of years.  This latest volume covers 1988-1992.

The original publications (typically journal articles) are cited, but the editors/contributors in fact make their own analysis and offer their own comments on the items addressed.  The work represented in these volumes is also invested toward the larger/long-term project of a massive database (with extensive annotations) on all ancient papyri from Egypt pertaining to early Christianity.

The latter project has been the dream of Prof. Edwin Judge, whose energy and vision early on guided the emergence of the Ancient History Documentary Research Centre in Macquarie University (Australia), and the “New Documents” series is based in that Centre (which now forms part of the Ancient Cultures Research Centre in Macquarie).

As with previous volumes in the series, this one covers a wide spectrum of genres and topics, citing recent publications of texts on philosophy, magic, “cult and oracle”, public life, household, “Judaica” and “Christianity,” some 29 component-articles in all, plus indexes of subjects, words (Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic), ancient authors & works cited, inscriptions, papyri, and texts cited from the Bible, Qumran and Rabbinic works.

For those of us who are not professional epigraphers or palaeographers, but who would like to harvest relevant information on new publications in these fields, this series is a valuable (even unique) tool.    Thanks to all involved!

“The Gendered Palimpsest”

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(Larry Hurtado): Kim Haines-Eitzen is already known as a talented and innovative scholar in the study of early Christian manuscripts, especially through her earlier book, Guardians of Letters: Literacy, Power, and the Transmitters of Early Christian Literature (Oxford University Press,2000). (For contrasting assessments, see the reviews by David Parker and Ulrich Schmid in TC: http://rosetta.reltech.org/TC/v07/index.html.) Her new book comprises another interesting contribution to questions about literacy, reading, and gender in early Christianity (albeit more of the late Roman period): The Gendered Palimpsest: Women, Writing, and Representation in Early Christianity (OUP, 2012).

This isn’t the place for a full assessment, but my own reading of the book leads me to commend it to anyone interested in early Christianity. There are some controversial assertions (a few that raised my eyebrows too), but that’s what scholars do! Here’s a brief overview of contents.
1. Women Writers, Writing for Women: Authors, Scribes, Book-Lenders, and Patrons. (The various roles that women played in the production, dissemination and use of texts in early Christianity)
2. Reading, Not Eating: Women Readers in Late Ancient Christian Asceticism.
3. Women’s Literature? The Case of the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles. (Querying the notion that these texts were particularly directed at women readers.)
4. Sinners and Saints, Silent and Submissive? The Textual/Sexual Transformation of Female Characters in the New Testament and Beyond. (Case studies from various texts.)
5. “First among All Women”: The Story of Thecla in Textual Transmission and Iconographic Remains.
6. Contesting the Ascetic Language of Eros: Textual Fluidity in the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles. (Interesting study of how textual variants in these texts seem to reflect varying ideas about female sexuality.)