Why Some Translations Include Acts 8:37 and Others Don’t

Textual Criticism Manuscript

You’re in church for worship, and your pastor is preaching through the book of Acts. The day’s text is Acts 8, the part about Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. Your pastor is reading from the ESV, and you’re following along in your NKJV.

The translations are a little different, but you can usually follow. The pastor reads:

36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. (Acts 8:36–38, ESV)

[Read more...]

Evaluating Textual Variation with Logos 6

textual-variants-tool-logos-6Most guides to exegesis include an important step in pursuing the exegesis of a given passage: establishing the text. This is the exegetical step where textual variation is taken into account, and one notes and weighs the variations in a passage to determine the text that will be exegeted.

In previous versions of Logos, the Exegetical Guide included a section called “Apparatuses,” which was the primary source of information to be used in establishing the text for exegesis.

In Logos 6, the Exegetical Guide’s Textual Variants section is a complete redesign of what used to be the Apparatuses section. The goal of the redesign is to make it easy to get to information in your library that may help with evaluating textual variation.

There are six parts to the Textual Variants section, each representing different types or classes of resources or data relevant to examining textual variation:

  • Textual commentaries
  • Apparatuses
  • Editions
  • Transcriptions
  • Ancient versions
  • Online manuscripts

Textual commentaries

These are specialized commentary resources that comment on units of textual variation instead of commenting with exegetical information. The most commonly known example of this type of resource is Bruce Metzger’s A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament.

Most textual commentaries have been focused on the variations found in the New Testament. For Logos 6, we’ve created a new textual commentary, targeted at the lay user with little Hebrew or Greek knowledge. It covers over 2,000 variation units throughout the Hebrew Bible and the Greek New Testament.

The textual-commentaries section extracts the first portion of the note for the verse under study. This helps you get an idea what the variation is about, and it might help determine if you need to research the variation in more depth.

Other textual commentaries (such as Metzger’s) are listed in the Textual Variants section; if you click the title in your software, it will open the resource to the appropriate entry.

Apparatuses

Apparatuses are those things at the bottom of the page of some editions of the Hebrew Bible and of the Greek New Testament. They are typically laden with abbreviations, cryptic to read, and difficult to understand. They are highly compressed forms of variation data. This section largely reproduces what Logos 4 and 5′s Apparatuses section did: provide appropriate links to apparatuses so that the textual evidence for a given variation can be further evaluated.

Editions

For the purposes of the Textual Variants section, an “edition” is a version of an original-language text produced in the modern era. The use of “modern era” is wide, so these are essentially editions (not transcriptions) produced after 1500.

This section lists editions of the Hebrew Bible and the Greek New Testament—such as the Lexham Hebrew Bible (LHB), the Biblica Hebraica Westmonasteriensis (BHW), the SBL Greek New Testament (SBLGNT), the Nestle-Aland 28th edition, and the like. Editions of the Septuagint are also included for references covered by that corpus.

Transcriptions

Different than an edition, a transcription is an attempt to transcribe the text as it occurs in a particular manuscript. These also often include the pagination and line breaks of the manuscripts in question. Items included in this section would be the Qumran Biblical Dead Sea Scrolls, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts, Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis, and others.

Ancient versions

We read our Bibles in our own language, as they have been translated by experts for those who do not know the original languages. This is not new; translations of the Bible have been made from ancient times. What we call the Septuagint is a translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek. There are other of these ancient or “early” versions, including versions in Aramaic (the Targums) and Latin (the Vulgate) as well as Coptic, Syriac, and all sorts of other languages. If you have access to any of these in your library of Logos resources, they will appear here for you to consult.

Online manuscripts

At present, this feature only works for New Testament references. It relies on information provided by the Institute for New Testament Textual Research (Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung, or INTF) which is the organization behind the critical editions of the Greek New Testament: the Editio Critica Maior, the Nestle-Aland family of texts, and the United Bible Societies editions of the Greek New Testament.

The information behind online manuscripts is provided through a web service operated by the INTF, known as the New Testament Virtual Manuscript Room (NTVMR). This web service offers a public interface to much of the data that is used by the textual critics at the INTF in their work preparing editions of the Greek New Testament. In other words, where available, these are the transcriptions and the manuscript images being used to inform textual critics as they prepare critical editions of the Greek New Testament.

In Logos 6, whatever data is available to the public via the NTVMR is made available for your consultation. This may simply be indexing data that confirms a manuscript contains some portion of the specified passage, or it may be images or transcriptions of manuscript pages that contain that passage.

One example is Mark 13:8. The NTVMR contains data from many majuscule (uncial) and minuscule (cursive) manuscripts for this reference:

When a manuscript such as Sinaiticus or Bezae is available as a resource inside of Logos, the title of the manuscript is linked to the Logos resource. The links to transcriptions and images outside of Logos are available for consultation as well. Additional data entries about the manuscript (date, contents, page layout, and language) are also given.

In other words, for many major manuscripts (and several not-so-major manuscripts), you now have links straight to reputable, verified, and accurate manuscript transcriptions and images. For those who work though the text at this level, this is an incredible treasure trove of information.

Dig into valuable insights

If you’re only interested in short descriptions of variations, you can focus on the textual-commentaries section to see what variations, if any, have been noted by other studies and grow into the other sections as your studies require and skill grows. If you require more information on a given variation, you can dig straight into an apparatus, or into comparisons of modern editions you have access to in your Logos library. If you have transcriptions of material available such as the Qumran Dead Sea Scrolls, or ancient editions such as the Targums, Vulgate, Syriac, or Coptic versions, these are presented as well. Finally, transcriptions and images of several major and minor New Testament manuscripts are available through the interface to the New Testament Virtual Manuscript Room (NTVMR).

Logos 6′s Textual Variants section handles more data than previous versions of Logos Bible Software and presents it in a more meaningful and easier-to-use manner.

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Check out Textual Variants in action and see how to use this tool step by step.

Logos 6′s Textual Variants tool is available in Gold and higher: explore all of your base-package options, or see which package we recommend for you.

How to Incorporate Extrabiblical Texts into Your Exegesis

ancient-literature-example-featureGood exegesis starts with the text. But it doesn’t end there. You rightly examine lexicons, commentaries, and all sorts of other references as you wrestle with a text.

But what did the ancients say about the text you’re wrestling with? How was this verse used or understood by the Rabbis? By the Church Fathers? What about Philo and Josephus? Are there topics or ideas in this verse that were used in other ancient literature?

Standard secondary sources such as these have been available for Logos Bible Software for a while. But there are a lot of them (no, really, see the list at the end of this post!). And you have to know how to search, then you have to be able to evaluate the usages. And that doesn’t even take into account when commentaries refer to ancient literature (which happens frequently).

In Logos 6, it is as simple as looking in the Passage Guide report you probably already ran on the verse. The Passage Guide sports a brand-new section called Ancient Literature. The section provides information on how your passage is used in all sorts of ancient literature. Not only that, but it also classifies the relationship of the reference in ancient literature with the biblical reference you’re examining. It uses simple and general categories like citation, quotation, allusion, echo, topical, lexical, phrase, and historical.

An example—the one that actually prompted us to start assembling the extensive underlying dataset used by this tool—will probably help explain.

Isaiah 54: The Barren Woman

Here’s the text of Isaiah 54:1 from the Lexham English Bible (LEB):

“Sing for joy, barren woman; who has not borne!

Burst forth into rejoicing and rejoice, she who has not been in labor!

For the children of the desolate woman are more than the children of the married woman,” says Yahweh.

Why would a barren woman rejoice? Once you’ve done your initial work within the passage and within the canonical text, it might help to look at how the passage is understood and referred to in other ancient literature, and whether its relation is intertextual or topical in nature. Understanding how ancient literature interacts at either an intertextual or topical level with this passage can give us better insight into how the cultures contemporary with the Bible viewed barren women, their role in society, and why it would be strange for them to be rejoicing.

This is exactly what the Ancient Literature tool gives you. It points you to relevant portions of ancient literature, classifying the relationship so you can determine if the reference is something you’d like to examine further:

ancient-literature-example
Ancient Near Eastern literature

Literature in this category does not directly interact with the text of the Bible, but it is from the same milieu and can give us insight into how cultures contemporary with ancient Israel viewed similar concepts and topics.

One document, known as “Enki and Ninmah” (Context of Scripture 1.159) uses the concept of a barren woman. It also shows the cultural notion that a woman unable to give birth was deemed as somehow defective (the larger context of COS 1.159 is a contest between Enki and Ninmah, where Ninmah is creating defective humans and challenging Enki to somehow redeem them or make them useful):

Fifth—she fashioned from it a woman

who could not give birth.

Enki—upon seeing the woman

who could not give birth,

Decreed her fate, he assigned her

to do work in the Women’s Quarter.1

Here, all that Enki could do with the barren woman was to give her work in the women’s quarter. Understanding the cultural necessity of the ability to procreate and the following derision heaped upon those unable to do so is important for understanding the craziness of commanding Isaiah 54:1’s barren woman to rejoice. She has nothing to rejoice over and is well aware of it.

Apostolic Fathers

In Second Clement, one of the earliest available Christian sermons outside of the New Testament, typically dated AD 100–150, the homilist begins (§2.1–3) by quoting from Isaiah 54 and then explaining what he thinks it means. If you’re looking at Isaiah 54, this is good stuff:

2.1Rejoice, O barren woman who has not given birth, break forth and shout, you who has no birth pains, for many are the children of the deserted woman, more than she who has a husband.  The one who says, “Rejoice, O barren woman who has not given birth,” speaks to us, for our church was barren before children were given to her. 2 And the one who says “Shout you who has no birth pains,” means this: offer up our prayers sincerely to God, we should not grow weary like women in labor.  3 And the one who says, “For many are the children of the deserted woman, more than she who has a husband,” since our people seem to be deserted by God, but now we who have believed have become many more than those who seemed to have God.2

In Second Clement, the barren woman is identified as the church, and the growth of the church is identified as the children of the barren woman—pretty interesting.

Judiaca

In the Babylonian Talmud, b.Ber. I.8 mentions Isaiah 54:1. Beruriah is the wife of Rabbi Meir; here she is fielding a question about barren women, specifically referencing Isaiah 54:1:

I.8 A. A certain min said to Beruriah, “It is written, ‘Sing, O barren woman, who has not born . . .’ (Is. 54:1).

B.“Because the woman is barren, should she rejoice?”

      1. She said to him, “Idiot, look at the end of the same verse of Scripture, for it is written, ‘For the children of the desolate shall be more than the children of the married woman, says the Lord’ (Is. 54:1).
      2. “What then is the sense of, ‘Barren woman, who has not born’?

E.“Rejoice, O congregation of Israel, which is like a barren woman [that is,] who has not born children destined for Gehenna such as yourself.”3

Beruriah’s scorn for the lazy exegesis of the Isaiah passage by the one consulting her is evident in her response in ‘B’, labeling him an idiot for not reading the rest of the verse, and then in ‘E’ by her declaration that he is destined for Gehenna as well.

Other references

And there is so much more. Philo, On Rewards §§158–161 cites Isaiah 54:1 and then provides an allegorical interpretation of it. The Sectarian Dead Sea Scrolls (4Q265 Fragment 2) allude to it so we know the passage was used among the Qumran community. There are references in the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (2 Baruch 10.14; Apocalypse of Elijah 2.38; and more). There are several references in the writings of the Church Fathers.

Get started with Ancient Literature

In the past, users with all of these resources may not have found these references unless they were serious power users with serious search skills. Even then, the references would not have been classified.

Ancient Literature gives you an entry point into all sorts of ancient writings related to the Bible in one way or another. And it provides you with information relevant to the section of Scripture you are studying. It helps you to see how the ancients—rightly or wrongly—used the passage you’re studying. And that could be just the piece you need to better understand your text.

Literature areas and resources for exploration

As you study with the Ancient Literature tool, you can pull from several different resource categories in your library, including:

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Check out Ancient Literature in action and see how to use this tool step by step.

Logos 6′s Ancient Literature tool is available in Silver and higher: explore all of your base-package options, or see which package we recommend for you.

  1. William W. Hallo and K. Lawson Younger, The Context of Scripture (Leiden: Brill, 1997–), 518. []
  2. Rick Brannan, trans., The Apostolic Fathers in English (Logos Bible Software, 2012). []
  3. Jacob Neusner, The Babylonian Talmud: A Translation and Commentary (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2011), 56–57. []

Updates to the SBLGNT Apparatus

When Logos released The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition (SBLGNT) in 2010, we included an apparatus that provided information on which editions of the Greek New Testament differ from the reading found in the SBLGNT. The apparatus included readings from four editions: Westcott and Hort (WH), Tregelles (Treg), Robinson-Pierpont (RP), and the Greek behind the 1984 NIV. Where the NA27 edition differed from the NIV Greek text, the NA was cited explicitly.

The Greek behind the 1984 NIV, published by Zondervan in print in 2003 as A Reader’s Greek New Testament, provided a modern edition of the Greek New Testament that could be used for comparisons. However, it’s clear that most users of the SBLGNT and its apparatus would rather have the Nestle-Aland family of editions represented in the apparatus.

So that’s what we did. If you haven’t already received these updates, you should receive them soon.

With the release of the 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament (NA28)  in 2012, we had a great excuse to revisit the SBLGNT apparatus and update it to cite readings from NA28 instead of NIV.

Please note: the text of the SBLGNT has not changed; only the apparatus has changed. [Read more...]

Shipping Soon: Greek Apocryphal Gospels, Fragments, and Agrapha

Order the 2-vol. Greek Apocryphal GospelsI’m really excited about the upcoming release of the Greek Apocryphal Gospels, Fragments, and Agrapha collection, which was announced 11 months ago on the Logos blog.

While this was originally intended to be a collection of morphologically analyzed Greek texts, it now includes a separate volume of English translations.

And there are introductions to each translation, geared toward the Christian reader new to this material. That was one of my primary goals while working through the material and writing the introductions.

It looks like I was able to meet that goal. We sent out some pre-release review copies, and here’s what the early readers are reporting. Check out the full reviews for more on how these documents are necessary and useful in the study of the early church.

The Apocryphal Gospels are significant for what they tell us about the Gospel tradition and Christian origins. These two books on Apocryphal Gospels by Rick Brannan are a great pair of resources for anyone who wants immediate access to reliable texts, translations, and introductions on their PC or tablet of non-canonical Jesus literature.
— Michael F. Bird, lecturer in theology and New Testament at Crossway College in Brisbane, Australia (full review)

This work is a very valuable contribution that goes beyond previous lists of sayings and publications of only the English gospels. Rick’s brief but insightful comments about each of the sayings, variants, and gospels round out his work in a way that makes it accessible to both lay readers and scholars.
—William C. Varner, professor of Bible and Greek, The Master’s College (full review)

Rick Brannan’s edition of the Greek Apocryphal Gospels, Fragments, and Agrapha for Logos offers an important new resource that anyone interested in the early history of Christianity will want to have. . . . I expect this exciting resource will play an important role not only in providing more convenient access for scholars and students already in the habit of studying these texts, but in introducing a wider audience to them as well. Many thanks to Rick Brannan and Logos for their role in not merely providing a useful tool for the already-interested, but also helping to highlight these important texts and make them accessible to others who might not otherwise encounter them or realize their importance for our understanding of the ancient church!
— James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language & Literature, Butler University (full review)

Rick Brannan has taken the concept so brilliantly executed by Jeremias and improved it. High praise indeed I realize but completely justifiable—for in the soon to be released Logos edition titled Greek Apocryphal Gospels, Fragments, and Agrapha, Brannan offers the Greek texts of the ‘sayings of Jesus’ which are found outside the Gospels (in the letters of Paul and other New Testament texts along with extracanonical early Christian literature) along with introductions and translations. He also provides the more important ‘gospels’ which didn’t make the canonical cut, again in both the original Greek editions and in translation.
—Jim West, adjunct professor of biblical studies, Quartz Hill School of Theology (full review)

In his latest contribution to the study of early Christian literature, Greek Apocryphal Gospels, Fragments and Agrapha, Rick Brannan places pseudepigraphal gospels, agrapha, and fragments in their due place, allowing the scholar quick access to a world that could reshape some of our understanding of early Christian theological and literary development.
—Joel L. Watts, author, Mimetic Criticism and the Gospel of Mark: An Introduction and Commentary (full review)

The apocryphal Gospels are crucial for a thorough comprehension of Christian origins, especially historical and theological trajectories into the second century and beyond. Brannan assembles an impressive collection of apocryphal Jesus tradition in Greek and English which not only provides us with new editions of the usual suspects, but also spans significant fragmentary papyrological documents as well. Unique search capabilities enable linguistic analysis for some of the literarily closest material we have to the canonical Gospels due to the digital format of these texts. Highly recommended for anyone interested in serious study of early Christianity and its literature.
— Andrew W. Pitts, Bethel Seminary, San Diego

Pre-Pub pricing for Greek Apocryphal Gospels, Fragments, and Agrapha is only available for a short time. Once it ships, the price will go up. Ensure you get the lowest price by signing up for the Pre-Pub today!

Available in Logos 5: Lexham English Septuagint, Alternate Texts

Base Packages II

One of the new resources released with Logos 5 (and available in collections from Bronze up, and also in the Minimal Crossgrade) is the Lexham English Septuagint. And now we’re happy to inform you that an associated resource, the Lexham English Septuagint: Alternate Texts, is ready.

The Lexham English Septuagint (LES) is a new English translation of the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Jewish Scriptures). It uses the Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint as a starting point, creating a literal but readable translation.

Now, one of the things we’ve learned about translations of the Bible over, say, the past 40 years is that, well, there are a lot of translations. We have the KJV, the NASB, the NIV, the NRSV, the LEB, the CEB, and all sorts of other translations in English.

There were also a lot of translations back in the days when the Septuagint originated, and we have knowledge of some of these different translations. One of them, known as the Theodotion edition, evidences itself in a different edition of the book of Daniel. Theodotion’s Daniel, while having much the same content as what is known as the “Old Greek” edition of Daniel, simply says it in different ways. So much so that we know that these aren’t really transmission variations, but translation variations. Sort of like how the NIV and NASB both have different English words for Daniel (in most places) but are translating the same material.

The Lexham English Septuagint: Alternate Texts (LES:AT) resource includes Theodotion’s version of Daniel, as well as the additions to Daniel: Susanna, Bel, and the Dragon (yep, dragon!), the Prayer of Azariah, and the Song of Three Youths. The Prayer of Azariah and Song of Three Youths are traditionally inserted in Daniel 3, making the Septuagint version of Daniel 3 exactly 100 verses long in the LES!

The LES:AT also includes an alternative version of Tobit, which is found in Codex Sinaiticus. Again, it is largely the same story, just a different translation.

The work on these books was not complete when Logos 5 and the LES were initially released. It has since been completed. Folks who have upgraded to Logos 5 packages that include the LES are already licensed for the Additional Texts volume. You should receive it soon, if not already, as an automatic download.

For a limited time, you can still save at least 15% on a base package. With the addition of Lexham English Septuagint: Alternate Texts, this is the ideal time to upgrade to Logos 5.

Joseph in the Matrix

Are you familiar with the movie The Matrix? I’m not so worried about the plot of the movie here; instead, I’m wondering about a particular effect created in the film: time essentially stopped or slowed incredibly, but the main character (“Neo,” played by Keanu Reeves) appeared conscious in the midst of the slowdown. Do you think this was a new technique? I remember watching it, thinking that it wasn’t just cool, it was innovative.

What if I told you about a noncanonical story of Jesus’ mother, Mary, circulated among early Christians—one that used a similar technique? And what if I told you it happened right at the point when Jesus was born? Well, it did, and that story is also known as the Protevangelium (or “Proto-Gospel”) of James (though in all likelihood, James, Jesus’ brother, had nothing to do with it). It tells a story of Mary’s parents, her birth, how she was raised, how Joseph came into the picture, and—of course—the birth of Jesus.

The Protevangelium of James is found in a group of writings usually called “apocryphal gospels” or “New Testament apocrypha” or sometimes even simply “noncanonical gospels.” I’ve been working on a version of the apocryphal gospel material available in Greek. We recently expanded it to a two-volume collection. One volume includes “Texts and Transcriptions”; this is the Greek material with morphological analysis. The second volume includes “Introductions and Translations”—newly written introductions to each document, fragment, or excerpt, as well as newly compiled bibliographies, and translations of all the material. It’s pretty cool (at least I think so); check it out if you’re interested. Most of the work is done, and we hope to release it early in 2013.

Anyway, back to Joseph in the Matrix. Here’s the setting: Joseph and Mary are traveling to Bethlehem for the census. Mary is at pretty much full-term pregnancy. On the way, though, Mary says to Joseph, “Take me down from the donkey, for that which is within me presses hard to come out.” (Prot. James 17.3) Now, any father-to-be can identify with Joseph here. His task is to find a place for Mary, and quick. So, according to this version of the story, Joseph finds a cave, drops Mary off there, and immediately goes to find a Hebrew midwife to assist with the birth.

And here is where the shift happens. The story was in the third person, but in Prot. James 18.2, it shifts to the first person singular, with Joseph as speaker.

“Now I, Joseph, was walking, yet I did not walk. And I looked up to the air and saw that the air was astonished. And I looked up unto the vault of heaven and saw it standing still, and the birds of the sky at rest. And I looked upon the earth and saw a dish laid out, and workmen lying by it, and their hands were in the dish. And they that were chewing did not chew, and they that were lifting food did not lift it, and they that put it to their mouth had not put it there. And behold, there were sheep being driven, and they did not go forward but stood still; and the shepherd lifted his hand to strike them with his staff, yet his hand remained up. And I looked upon the stream of the river and saw the mouths of the goats upon the water, yet they did not drink. And suddenly all things were restored to their course.”

Joseph notes, “I was walking, yet I did not walk.” Other people and objects are described in a similar state of being, but not moving; essentially stuck: “there were sheep being driven, and they did not go forward but stood still; and the shepherd lifted his hand to strike them with his staff, yet his hand remained up.” The picture is of a moment, frozen in time. Joseph is caught in that moment, similarly frozen, but consciously aware of it. And then, as suddenly as the moment comes, it leaves: “And suddenly all things were restored to their course.”

After this experience, Joseph conveniently and immediately locates a Hebrew midwife, and returns to the cave with her. Joseph and the midwife then find out that Jesus had already been born.

So why even mention this story at Christmastime? Not because it is canonical (it isn’t) or because it accurately supplements the story of Jesus’ birth (it probably doesn’t). But this is another way that some early Christians—particularly those who were struggling with the concept of the virgin birth—told that story. They told it in a way that allowed them to believe the virgin birth actually happened.

Not only that, it’s a good story, though I do like Luke’s version better.

Pick up your copy of Greek Apocryphal Gospels, Fragments, and Agrapha today.

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Greek Apocryphal Gospels: Full English Translations!

I know. I can hear the groaning already.

Greek Apocryphal Gospels? Rick, I thought we were done hearing about that. Really, why keep bringing it up? This stuff isn’t in the Bible, so why mention it so often?”

True, it isn’t in the Bible. But that doesn’t mean it has nothing to do with biblical studies. These are some of the earliest evidences we have of how folks were using (what we consider to be) the canonical New Testament text. They were harmonizing it, using it for sermons, expanding upon it, and sometimes even adding their own stories (or stories that had been handed down outside of the NT). This is cool stuff, and it’s important for really getting a grip on how early Christians viewed and used the New Testament text!

That, and I wanted to give an update to those who have already pre-ordered the Pre-Pub because the scope of the project has expanded—but the pricing hasn’t gone up (yet).

So, what’s changed? Of course, you would know all of this if you joined or followed my Greek Apocryphal Gospels group* on Faithlife.com, but for those of you who haven’t done that yet, here’s the list.

English Translations of Fragments and Agrapha

I’ve translated (or included existing translations) of all the fragments and agrapha. This means—at least for the fragments and agrapha and some of the fragmentary and known gospels (Gospel of Peter and Gospel of Mary fragments, as well as the Greek fragments of the Gospel of Thomas)—English translations will be available. So you will be able to use this resource even if you can’t read or work through the Greek text.

Expanded Fragment Coverage

In addition to providing translations, I’ve also expanded the list of fragments that are included. The initial Pre-Pub listed the following fragments:

  • P.Egerton 2
  • P.Oxy 840
  • P.Oxy 1224
  • P.Cairo 10735
  • P.Merton 51
  • Fayum Gospel Fragment (a.k.a. P.Vindob.G 2325)

In researching the fragments and writing the introduction to the fragments, however, it became clear that some more fragments really should be added. Some of these were not included initially because transcriptions were not in the public domain, and also because images of the fragments were not available for transcription. I’ve since located clear, readable images of certain fragments, so the list is longer. Here are the added fragments:

  • Dura Parchment 24
  • P.Berol. 11710
  • P.Köln 255, which is the bottom corner of fragment 1 of P.Egerton 2
  • P.Oxy 210
  • P.Oxy 5072

Lots of new stuff, all of it interesting.

When will it be done?

That’s a great question. And the answer is: I don’t really know. The Greek text of the longer Gospel material (Infancy and Passion gospels) is still being worked on (initial capture); the morphological analysis will come after that. I have the bibliography together, though I have occasionally added  new entries as the introductions have been written. I’ve written drafts of introductions to the agrapha and fragmentary material (over 40 pages of single-spaced text thus far, with footnotes), and I’m moving into the Gospel of Peter next.

Convinced yet? Check out the Pre-Pub page for the list of stuff included. That, and check out some of the previous posts I’ve written about the Greek Apocryphal Gospels, Fragments, and Agrapha:

 

*Make sure you have a Faithlife user account—you can sign in with your Logos.com account. Then simply join the Greek Apocryphal Gospels group (button to the right of the group name) to get involved with the discussion!

Using Greek Apocryphal Gospels in your Study (Part 2)

Greek Apocryphal Gospels

As the Greek Apocryphal Gospels, Fragments and Agrapha project is now in the “Under Development” stage of the pre-pub process, and since I’ve done some work on it, I thought it would be fun to write about some of the material.

Most folks aren’t familiar with this stuff, but it is very interesting and can even be helpful when looking at the events recorded in the New Testament.

In Part 1 of this two-part post, we talked about P.Vindob. 2325, an apocryphal fragment which has similarities with the gospel accounts of Jesus predicting Peter’s betrayal (Mt 26:30–35; Mk 14:26–30) .

There are also fragments of things that expand or add to canonical material, like P.Berol. 11710, two small fragments dating back to the sixth century that share a short interaction between Nathanael and Jesus, which perhaps expands a bit on Jn 1:47–51. One snippet from those small fragments: “The Rabbi also said, ‘Nathanael, walk in the sun.’ Nathanael answered him and said, ‘Rabbi Lord, you are the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.’”

These additions should not be considered canonical. But the influence of the Johannine themes (the light/darkness motif via “walk in the sun”; Nathanael calling Jesus “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” see Jn 1:29) are notable. For whatever reason, the author of this expansion thought these things were important enough to frame in this manner.

Some fragments give accounts of things altogether unknown. P.Oxy 840, dated to the fourth century, tells the story of a Pharisee and high priest (named Levi?) talking with Jesus and his disciples in the temple complex about purity. This one even has Jesus giving this Levi a “woe” statement:

“Woe to you, blind ones who do not see. You have washed in these running waters in which dogs and pigs have been cast night and day, and have cleansed the outsides of your skin, which also the prostitutes and the flute-girls anoint and wash and scrub and beautify for the lust of men.”

Yikes! There are elements that the gospels use in railing against Pharisees (a “woe” statement, talking about cleansing the outside and neglecting the inside, see Mt 23:25-37) but the substance is altogether unknown outside of this fragment. We can see, perhaps, how a segment of early Christianity continued portray the Pharisees in a derogatory manner.

Does this stuff interest you at all? Then you should check out the Greek Apocryphal Gospels, Fragments and Agrapha. It will include the Greek of these fragments and other documents. The fragmentary papyri and agrapha will also have translations. The larger apocryphal gospels will have newly-written introductions along with bibliographies. Each fragment will also have a short introduction; the agrapha will probably have an introduction for each source of agrapha. These introductions will also discuss parallels/relationships with the New Testament.

All of these things add to the understanding we have of how scripture was used and even how it was mis-used in the early days of the development of Christianity. We learn more about what sorts of stories they told, what sorts of sermons they preached, and how they tried to understand the gospel and tell it to others. By understanding even a little more about the cultural milieu of those early days of the development of Christianity, we end up with more insight to the gospel itself and how it was received by those who heard it.

Using Greek Apocryphal Gospels in Your Study (Part 1)

Greek Apocryphal Gospels

Since the Greek Apocryphal Gospels, Fragments and Agrapha project made it to the “Under Development” stage of the Pre-Pub process, I’ve been spending part of my time working on it.

Specifically, I’ve been working on getting transcriptions of all of the fragmentary stuff and the agrapha together. It’s been fun, and I’ve been able to acquaint myself with these valuable fragments at a deeper level.

[Short aside: As I've worked on the transcriptions, I also translated them because I found it helpful for reference. So the resource will also include translations of the fragments and agrapha, which is new — not even mentioned on the Pre-Pub page yet!]

But, really, can this stuff be helpful and useful as you study the Bible? I think it can be, and that’s one reason why I wanted so much to start this project.

Let’s take a small fragment, P.Vindob. 2325 (aka “The Fayûm Fragment”) as an example.

This little guy, probably part of a larger scroll, was located in Vienna in 1885 among some papyri that Archduke Rainier had ferreted away. It probably dates to the early/middle third century (so, 200–250).

As you read it, it will sound very familiar. But the wording itself is different from other synoptic accounts of the same event. Here’s my provisional translation:

… and he brought out, as he said, that “In this night you will all fall away, as it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.’” Peter said, “Even if everyone else does, I will not.” Jesus said, “Before the rooster crows twice, today you will deny me three times.”

Sound familiar? Yup. Sounds like the same thing which is mentioned in Mt. 26:30–35; Mk. 14:26–30; see also Lk. 22:34 and Jn. 13:38. But, at the same time, it is a bit different. Jesus isn’t explicitly referred to at the beginning, at least in the portion of the text we have. It makes you wonder what happened before this event. The quote of Zech 13:7 is introduced slightly differently ([κατα] το γραφεν vs. γεγραπται γαρ), but the substance of the quote is pretty much the same. It is missing Mk 14:28/Mt 26:32, the part about the disciples meeting in Galilee after Jesus is raised. The dialogue between Peter and Jesus is a bit shorter and simpler. And the text agrees with the Markan reading, that the rooster will crow twice (Mt./Lk. just say “crow”), but says it will be “today” without Mark’s further “this night” clarification.

There are enough differences between the Greek of P.Vindob. 2325 and Mark 14:26–30 that we can pretty safely assume P.Vindob. 2325 is not directly related to the Gospel of Mark. A minority view is that it could be from the Gospel of Peter, but that relies on shaky ground (reading “Peter said” as “I, Peter, said” through an alternate reconstruction).

What P.Vindob. 2325 does tell is us that people were telling the story of Christ’s crucifixion (and resurrection) in all sorts of ways and that, at least in this instance, it sounds pretty much like what we’re familiar with. One common thought today is that P.Vindob. 2325 was a re-working and abridgment of the synoptic accounts.

There are all sorts of fragments like this, witnessing some portion found in the gospels—but not in completely the same way. While definitely not canonical, they are very interesting and enlightening.

There are also fragments that expand upon canonical material and fragments that give us completely new material. They  help us understand more about the sorts of tales and influences that were floating about in the early, early church. We’ll talk about these sorts of fragments next week!