Welcome to Biblaridion, or 'little scroll'. On this 'little scroll' will be written my various and sundry musings on myriad topics but especially on the Bible.

Location: Plano, Texas, United States


Traditions of the Rabbis from the Era of the New Testament

I just discovered a jewel of a book today on Rabbinic writings as background to the New Testament:

Traditions Of The Rabbis From The Era Of The New Testament: Prayer And Agriculture (Vol. 1 of 6).

It looks like the first volume in a new series that will eventually cover each of the 6 traditional topical divisions of Rabbinic literature:

Vol. 1 - Prayer & Agriculture (Zeraim)
Vol. 2 - Feasts & Sabbaths (Moed)
Vol. 3 - Women & Marriage (Nashim)
Vol. 4 - Crime & Punishment (Nezikin)
Vol. 5 - Offerings & Temple (Kodashim)
Vol. 6 - Clean & Unclean (Torahot)

The series will apparently deal with difficult dating issues (with degrees of certainty), meaning and significance for Second Temple Judaism, and significance for New Testament parallels.

If you want to give it a test read, Tyndale House has generously provided an online preview of what looks to be the entire book. It looks to be a wonderfully informative new series! Enjoy!


V For Vendetta

I saw V For Vendetta today. I am the inquisitive sort. Even though I knew what the film would be about, I wanted to see the world through the eyes of others. The film was entertaining and thought-provoking, but at the same time it was a thinly veiled yet obvious attack on the current Government, conservatives, and Christianity. As the suave protagonist by the name of "V" states: "Artists use lies to tell the truth; politicians use lies to cover it up."

Exiting the theatre, thoughts different from what the writers and producers probably had in mind flooded through mine. The movie greatly saddened me because of its strong portrayal of Christians and conservatives as "evil". This view, to me, seems so opposite of what I have known and seen as a Christian among Christians since childhood.

I know that Jesus said: "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved." (Matthew 10:22;13:13) What I did not realize is that "men" / "the world" would believe that I and my beliefs were "evil". It is a tough thing to realize that you and your faith are being portrayed by others as "evil".

When I got home, I looked up those verses spoken by Jesus and ran across the following in Luke 6:22: "Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and insult you and reject you as evil {πονηρον} on account of the Son of Man!"

It is unnerving to me to actually see this manifested in modern media. Their message is supposedly one of love and concern for our fellow man, but so was Jesus' message.

The only thing I can think after seeing such views expressed is to follow Jesus' injunction to the best of my very human abilities: "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." (Luke 6:27)



Papyri at SMU's Bridwell Library

About time I blogged again... Perhaps I'll begin with a little reminiscing. Some of my readers may recall one of my first posts entitled Manuscript P26...Found!. I particularly enjoyed writing that post because it focused on a New Testament manuscript that resides here in the city of Dallas. It is part of the SMU Bridwell Library's Special Collections.

In answer to an inquiry I made, they recently informed me that the Papyri Collection at Bridwell Library (including, but not limited to, P26) is now viewable on their website. Enjoy!

Most of these papyri are from Oxyrhynchus. More information can be found on them in The Oxyrhynchus papyri by Grenfell and Hunt.

Many thanks to Bridwell's Special Collections for bringing this to my attention.


Ancient Writing

Unfortunately, I am still feeling quite under the weather. It may be a week or two before I feel up to posting more of my manuscript walkthrough. My apologies.

In the meantime, have a look at a page I created quite a while back on ancient writing. I'm not sure all of the links still work, but I hope you will find it of interest.


Feelin' Better

Phew! Well, after a little over a week of battling illness, I think I'm finally feeling good enough to tackle life again. I hope to get back to the manuscript walkthrough sometime this week, for those who haven't given up on me yet. :-)

I just wanted to mention a couple of things I've seen that interested me and will perhaps interest others who haven't noticed them already.

First, I'd like to welcome Mark Goodacre to America. I hope that he is heartily welcomed into his new community and finds life here in the US to be at least agreeable and hopefully enjoyable.

Brandon Wason, of Novum Testamentum, mentioned a computer keyboard with keys that are like mini computer screens that can display images with decent resolution. I, too, find this keyboard of interest for the reason that you could have it display the character set you wish to work with, perhaps Greek and Hebrew for bibliophiles. Cool!

Next, David Black mentions in his blog that Bruce Metzger's Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament can now be found online. The website where this is found, Bible Centre, has many more good references in its online "library" as well.


Manuscript Walkthrough 2

In the first post of our manuscript walkthrough, we had just finished looking at the first line of miniscule script in manuscript 1432 when the post became a bit unwieldy. Let's pick back up with the walkthrough on the second line of miniscule. Here, again, are the preparatory links for the analysis (refer to the first post for more information):

Beginning on the second line, the first word is ὡσ. You may recognize the sigma since it looks identical to sigmas found in the greek print of modern critical editions, but the miniscule omega is different and resembles the mathematical infinity sign (), or the number 8 laying on its side (refer to the letter chart link above). Incidentally, if you are following along in the Parallel Greek New Testament, you will notice that ὡσ is the Byzantine Majority reading, whereas καθὼς is the Alexandrian reading.

Next we come to another set of challenging ligatures in γέγραπται. The word begins with an uncial form of gamma (here's the mixing of the Vetusti period again) whose top bar is linked to έγ. Referring to the ligature chart, we see that έγ is a combination found in later miniscule manuscripts. In this ligature, the leftmost portion of the gamma forms part of the epsilon's cursive middle crossbar (though somewhat "loose" in this instance). The top bar of the second gamma is then linked to the following rho.

Next, you will notice a good example of the miniscule form of alpha whose tail, as I have previously mentioned, curves back up to the top line. The tail of the alpha is linked with the top bar of the following pi. The pure miniscule pi resembles the form of omega found in modern critical editions, only it is topped by a long horzontal stroke (refer to letter chart). This pi forms a ligature with the letter tau which shares the top bar of the pi and only reveals itself by the vertical stroke touching the right side of and extending below the pi. Following this is the final letter combination, αι. It simply consists of the miniscule alpha followed by a iota that falls vertically from the end of the alpha's tail.

Image hosted by

In the above image, I have highlighted some of the more difficult ligatures and attempted to blend the color of the shared portions of the letters.

Visiting the next word, ἐν, we see good examples of the miniscule forms of both epsilon and nu (refer to letter chart). Though the pure miniscule form of epsilon may look very odd if you are familiar with the uncial form, it may become more recognizable when you realize that it was formed by not lifting the pen at the bottom of the "c" portion of the uncial epsilon when looping back into the letter to create the crossbar. Was that clear as mud? Be aware that nu and mu look very similar (look back up at the mu of Mark in the decoration above) and can be easily confused.

In προφήταισ, note the phi with its extra top loop (vaguely resembling a reversed musical treble clef sign), the uncial eta, and the combination of αι (it is often difficult to see the iota if the tail of the alpha ascends almost vertically...look for a slight vertical protrusion at the bottom).

Again, if you are following along in the Parallel Greek New Testament, you will notice, here, that the phrase ἐν τοῖσ προφήταισ (in the prophets) is the Byzantine Majority reading, whereas ἐν τῷ Ἠσαΐᾳ τῷ προφήτῃ (in Isaiah the prophet) is the Alexandrian. The relatively late date of this manuscript means that its text, as we are already seeing, will more than likely follow the Byzantine Majority textual tradition.

In the third line, note the miniscule delta in ἰδοὺ. Its form should also be recognizable if you are familiar with the modern greek script in critical editions. The right-hand stroke, following the apex, usually flows into the next letter, in this case an omicron.

Next, we run across the now familiar ligature for ἐγ in the word ἐγὼ (found in the Byzantine but not the Alexandrian).

Stepping yet one more word, ἀποστέλλω contains a common and early ligature (refer to ligature chart) composed of sigma and tau.

Image hosted by

For review, you should be able to recognize the miniscule alpha, connected to the pi, connected to the omicron (connected to the hip-bone...sorry...). Note the slight criss-cross in the legs of the two consecutive lambdas. Finally, the miniscule omega should also now be recognizable.

Well, we're at the end of line three now and the post has become rather large again. I'll break here and pick up with the the next portion of the text hopefully sometime this week. Stay tuned... There are some interesting abbreviations coming up.

If you are finding this interesting or think I should stop wasting my time because nobody cares, please let me know. ;-) Or, if you have any comments, suggestions, or corrections, just drop me a comment or email. I'd love to hear if others find miniscule script as interesting, fun, and challenging to read as I do.


Miniscule Handwriting - Manuscript Walkthrough 1


As mentioned in a previous post, I would like to share a "walk-through" of the 12th century miniscule manuscript 1432, as found on the Münster Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung website. Starting at the beginning of the book of Mark, I intend to "walk through" a small portion of this manuscript, pointing out some of the more unique miniscule letter forms and common ligatures, abbreviations, and contractions.

Again, I am not an expert. I merely wish to share my own investigations into miniscule handwriting with others who might be interested. For those who know the material better than I do, please feel free to offer any observations or corrections.


The rest of this post may be nearly unintelligible without a little up-front preparation. You should be able to follow along using only online resources by opening the following links in separate tabs or windows (this can be done by "right-clicking" on the links and selecting the desired/available option):

First, take a few moment to familiarize yourself with each of the pages you have just opened so that you know what they contain. Next, you will want to expand the image of the manuscript to its normal size so that the text will be readable. This is done in Netscape and Firefox by simply clicking once on the image. In Internet explorer, there should be a square symbol in the lower right portion of the image that you can click.

Of course, to minimize the tabs or windows, feel free to substitute any books available to you. For a critical Greek New Testament text, I prefer to have Reuben Swanson's New Testament Manuscripts edition of Mark open. For palaeographical references, I use Bruce Metzger's Manuscripts of the Greek Bible but especially Edward Maunde Thompson's Introduction to Greek and Latin Palaeography (because of its detail on abbreviations).

On the Handschriften page, manuscript 1432 is listed as a 12th century manuscript. As mentioned in my previous post, the miniscule handwriting of this period is commonly referred to as Vetusti. The palaeographical glossary tells us that this period is characterized by the mixing of uncial letter forms with the pure miniscule letter forms. As you look through this manuscript you will begin to notice this mixture of letter forms if you keep an eye on the pure miniscule column (col. 1) of the Greek Miniscule Letter Forms chart you have opened in another tab/window.

Finally, most miniscule manuscripts, including this one, are of the Byzantine Majority textual tradition. This is the reason that I provided the link to the Parallel Greek New Testament. It will allow you to follow along with the Greek of the manuscript by looking at the Byzantine Majority line and will allow you to also note its differences with the Alexandrian text (which many scholars believe to be closer to the original).

Let's Begin!

When you open the manuscript image, you'll notice that it has two pages. The left-hand page is the ending of the gospel of Matthew. The book of Mark begins on the right-hand page immediately beneath the large, square decoration. Inside this gilt, or illuminated, decoration is a circle in which is written "Gospel according to Mark" in red ink like this:
† εὐαγγέ
λιον κα
τα μάρ
κον >

In this brief phrase, I'd like to specifically point out the uncial forms of the epsilon, upsilon, gamma, nu, and kappa. Though the gammas are in an uncial form, they are linked in cursive fashion, the small one to the larger one. Note the miniscule forms of alpha (whose tail curves back up to the top line) and of mu (which should be familiar from modern lowercase Greek print). Already we see the mixing of uncial and pure miniscule forms common to the Vetusti period.

The large, decorated initial alpha begins the first word of the book of Mark, Ἀρχὴ. If you can read uncial script, the first three letters are easy to recognize, but the form of the eta (similar to an English 'h') may be new to you.

Jumping over the definite article we arrive at our first grouping of connected letters, the first six letters of εὐαγγελίου. Ligatures involving epsilon are common. Though they may seem difficult at first, you will see them so many times that it won't take long to recognize them. So, check out your ligature chart and find the ligatures for ευ and αγ. If you also refer to the miniscule letter chart, it may help you to recognize the pure miniscule letter parts within the ligatures.

Since pictures are worth a thousand words, let's look at an image of the word that I cropped and colored to bring out the letters and ligatures.

Image hosted by

Each color in the above image approximately represents a letter and will hopefully make it easier to pick out the portions of the letters forming the ligatures. The leftmost portion of the orange upsilon really also forms part of the cursive crossbar of the epsilon, and the rightmost portion forms part of the alpha.

The tail of the alpha (which curves back up to the top line in miniscule) combines with and shares part of the first gamma. The connected gammas appear, to me at least, to be a later, altered form of miniscule gamma that looks vaguely similar to the mathematical square root sign (refer to chart, col. 2). The top-bar of the second gamma is linked to an uncial epsilon.

Most of the letters following εὐαγγελίου in the first line will probably be easy to identify. I'll just point out that there are three Nomina Sacra, ίῦ (Jesus), χῦ (Christ), and θῦ (God). Interestingly, the nomen sacrum for υἱοῦ (son) is not used.

At this point, since this post is becoming a bit unwieldy, I'll break off and begin a new post in the next day or so. I will end with a question, however, for those who might be in the know. At the top of the page, above the decoration, there is a rubric that begins with four dots in a diamond configuration. It appears to say πρὸ τῶν φώτων (before the light), but the phrase really begins with a kappa (with a small stroke at the bottom of the right leg) and an upsilon with a bar over them. I thought this might be the Nomen Sacrum for Lord (...of [the] Lord before the light?), but the "foot" on the kappa makes me wonder. Can anyone shed some light on this and why it might be alone at the top of the page before the decoration?


Dave Black Online

I have no idea how I could have missed Dave Black's blog for so long! It appears to have been online since at least 2003. Looks like another link for my ever-expanding blog reading list.

Dr. Black is Professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and is the author of many excellent books, four of which I own and have had the pleasure of reading.

My recent post on miniscule handwriting received a brief mention on his blog the other day and prompts me to say that I hope to have the first post of my miniscule manuscript "walk-through" up in the next few days. Free time? What is that... ;-)


Biblioblogs Website

Jim West of Biblical Theology informs us, in a post today, of a new website called Biblioblogs that was created by Brandon Wason of Novum Testamentum. It is a repository for Biblioblogs of note and looks as if it may eventually include other useful features. Good idea, Brandon, and nice looking website. I'll be adding a link to it in my navigation bar to the left.


Greek Miniscule Script

Greek miniscule handwriting closely resembles modern cursive script where letters are joined together for speed of writing. Miniscule developed around the 9th century out of a form of cursive that had already been in use for a long time for private correspondence and business. Most New Testament manuscripts in existence today are written in miniscule script, though one is more likely to see images of manuscripts written in Uncial script because they are generally earlier in date.

Four types of miniscule handwriting are commonly acknowledged:

  • Codices Vetusissimi - 800-950 A.D.
  • Codices Vetusti - 950-1250 A.D.
  • Codices Recentiores - 1250-1456 A.D.
  • Codices Novelli - 1456 and onward

For more information about these four types of miniscule script, refer to Miniscule Chronology (Classics Palaeography course summary, Classics Department, University of Montanaa).

Miniscule handwriting can be quite beautiful and flowing, but it is notoriously difficult to read with its many ligatures (ie. joined letters) and abbreviations. Recently, I have been attempting to learn to read it and to find good sources to aid me in doing so.

The best book aids for learning to read miniscule that I have actually been able to get my hands on are:

  • Metzger, Bruce Manning, Manuscripts of the Greek Bible : an Introduction to Greek Palaeography, (New York : Oxford University Press, 1981).
  • Thompson, Edward Maunde, An Introduction to Greek and Latin Palaeography, (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1912), repr. New York, B. Franklin, 1965, 1973.
  • Gonzaga da Fonseca, L., S.J. Epitome introductionis in palaeographiam Graecam (Biblicam). Ed. altera. Romae, 1944.

Others references I have not yet found but would like to, include the following:

  • Gardthausen, V. Griechische Palaeographie. 1-2 Bd, 2te Aufl. Leipzig, 1911-13
  • van Groningen, B.A. Short Manual of Greek Palaeography. Leiden, 1940 (3rd ed, 1963).

What about online miniscule references? On ricoblog, way back on August 16, 2004, in a post titled Münster NT MSS images online, Rick Brannon asked "...if anyone knows of an online reference detailing ligatures and abbreviations used in miniscule script, I'd appreciate knowing about it...". He may have found his answer by now, but there don't appear to be many such online references. In fact, the only detailed information I am aware of online is on Paul Halsall's excellent Byzantine Palaeography website. Please, someone also let me know if they are aware of others.

In addition to a good bibliography, he also has tables of common miniscule letter forms, ligatures, and abbreviations.

After pointing out these online resources, I'd like to share a "walk" through one of the manuscripts that can be found on the Münster website that was pointed out by Rick. In subsequent posts, working in the book of Mark, I'd like to analyze the Vetusti type of miniscule script found in manuscript 1432, which dates to the 12th century. Caveat emptor...I am not an expert, so read with a grain of salt. And for those who know the material better than I, please feel free to offer any needed corrections. My simple hope is that perhaps someone will learn something new and enjoyable.

UPDATE (Sept. 1, 2005): It may be next week before I can find the time to begin this walk-through of manuscript 1432, but I hope to get to it as soon as possible.


Blogging Slow Down

Things have been busy on the homefront lately. There has been little time for posting or reading, although my wife and I did get a few hours to ourselves this past Saturday to take a jet ski out on Lake Lavon. It was such a blast! Those things will zip across the lake and can get up to 60MPH! Of course I took it a bit easier than that with my wife on board, but she hung on tight and didn't seem to have a problem with me doing tight circles and gassing it over a small wake here and there. Gotta do that again some day!

On the way out to the lake, I happened to notice that we drove right by the church of another blogger I happen to read, Eric Sowell of The Coding Humanist. I have really wanted to meet him and attend his Greek classes, but I just haven't been able to find the time. I could probably make some of the sessions, but consistent attendence was requested, and reasonably so. Perhaps he will hold some short, informal sessions on topics related to the Greek language some time.

Well, that's about it for now, as I still have quite a busy weekend ahead. I hope to find more time in the near future to get back to some interesting subjects. As one potential topic, I've been contemplating sharing my recent self-study of miniscule handwriting by walking through some online manuscript. Could be interesting if I can figure out how to make it so. We'll see. In the mean time, we'll see what other topics may pop into view.


New Qumran / Essene Studies Paper

New papers are abounding lately. Stephen Goranson has a new paper on "the history and identities of the 'Wicked Priest' and the 'Teacher of Righteousness' in the view of Essenes at Qumran and elsewhere" entitled Jannaeus, His Brother Absalom, and Judah the Essene.


A New Article On Acts

Chris Price has an excellent new article on Acts, titled Genre, Historicity, Date, and Authorship of Acts and hosted on Peter Kirby's Christian Origins blog, which appears to be active again after a brief hiatus.


"Classic." A book which people praise and don't read.

The title is a witty and, in my opinion, quite true aphorism by Mark Twain (it can be found as a "Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar" quote at the top of Chapter 25 of Following the Equator).

Well, I have been inspired by the recent "Buy 2 Get 1 Free!" Barnes & Noble classics series to make sure that Twain's quote does not apply to me. This, I suppose, is one of many reasons (or excuses, if you prefer) for the recent slowdown in my blog postings, as I have been spending much of my free time in my recliner absorbed in the complex and intriguing plots of one classic novel after another.

I always wonder what classic novels others have read, or are reading, and what it might say (or not say...) about them. Here is my own current, perhaps somewhat quirky, reading list:

  • A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens
  • The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoyevsky
  • The House of the Dead, Dostoyevsky
  • The Idiot, Dostoyevsky
  • Poor Folk, Dostoyevsky
  • The Possessed, Dostoyevsky
  • The Count of Monte Cristo, Dumas
  • Dead Souls, Gogol
  • The Metamorphosis, Kafka
  • The Prince, Machiavelli
  • Frankenstein, Shelley
  • Dracula, Stoker
  • Candide, Voltaire
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray, Wilde

    As you can see I have some affinity for the works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, perhaps mainly for what I consider to be his deep, or at least highly interesting, insights into atheism and religion. The others books just happened to strike my fancy for one reason or another. There are so many things I'd like to read in my life...and so seemingly little time.

    I have to admit that after my usual reading material, technical works on textual criticism and the Bible, I have been amazed at how fast I have been able to zoom through an 800 page fictional novel! And strangely enough, it has been quite a pleasant diversion!

  • 7.14.2005

    A New Introduction to Textual Criticism

    While searching through books on textual criticism at, I noticed that Paul D. Wegner has a new, 208-page introduction to textual criticism coming out October 30th, 2005, A Student's Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible: Its History, Methods and Results.

    If his previous book, The Journey from Texts to Translations: The Origin and Development of the Bible, is any indication, it should be a good and interesting text. "The Journey" is an introductory overview of the textual transmission of the Bible throughout history. Many useful charts and images are provided, which are great for those like myself who learn better through visuals (eg. a chart of textual families and their sources and legible images of important manuscripts).

    Unfortunately, there are few details on the new "Student's Guide to Textual Criticism" at the moment, so it is difficult to tell whether it might be an updated, paperback version of "The Journey". I will post more information on the book as it becomes available.


    Secret Mark and The Mystery of Mar Saba

    Cadre Comments has an interesting post by "Layman", a friend of mine, on the similarities between a 1940's fictional mystery novel, known as The Mystery of Mar Saba, and the actual discovery, at Mar Saba, of a manuscript known as the Secret Gospel of Mark.

    For those who might actually be interested in reading The Mystery of Mar Saba, it can likely be found in many places across the internet, but Alibris has a listing of reasonably priced copies.


    My Condolence to London and the UK

    It appears from most major news stations that terrorists have struck London today with a wave of four synchronized bombings on public transportation.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you.


    Happy Fourth of July!

    I salute those who serve and have served in the United States Armed Forces. Thank you for protecting our country and our freedom.


    Dallas Biblical Arts Museum Destroyed By Fire

    A raging fire broke out at the Dallas Biblical Arts Museum yesterday, and according to some reports it destroyed 80-90% of the museum's treasures. According to a report by NBC5i, "the building did not have a sprinkler system because of its age." As if all of this weren't bad enough, it appears that arson is suspected.

    The museum housed many beautiful works of biblical art (with a few that I think might have dated back to the 9th or 10th centuries - at least at one time) and featured exhibits from time to time. I particularly remember visiting exhibits there on rare bibles and on the Dead Sea Scrolls. What a loss for the community!


    Ancient Gall Ink

    When reading books on textual criticism and palaeography, I have often noted references to "gall ink" or "ink made from nut galls" in sections dealing with the making of ancient manuscripts. "What in the world is a nut gall?" I'd briefly wonder and then continue on with my reading. I never really thought to look it up until recently when I was reading one of the new sections in the fourth edition of The Text of the New Testament by Bruce Metzger and Bart Ehrman and stumbled across the following interesting information:
    An oak gall is a curious ball-like tumor, about the size of a small marble, that grows mainly on the leaves or twigs of oak trees. It is formed when the gall wasp lays its egg in the growing bud of the tree and a soft, pale green, apple-like sphere begins to form around the larva.

    These "tumors", or "galls", contain tannic acid. They were ground and mixed with iron sulfate, gum arabic, and liquid (eg. rainwater, beer, or wine) to form an indelible black ink.

    Though it is hard to determine when gall ink was first used, it is often mentioned that Pliny the Elder (23 -79 AD) recorded an experiment in which he noted the reaction of iron sulfate on a sheet of papyrus that had been soaked in tannic acid:

    The fraud may also be detected by using a leaf of papyrus, which has been steeped in an infusion of nut-galls; for it becomes black immediately upon the genuine verdigris being applied.

    Pliny the Elder, The Natural History, Book 34 Chapter 26

    However, in spite of this observation by Pliny, it appears that iron gall ink was not in use until centuries later. Martianus Capella, of the 5th century, records a recipe for a writing ink described as "gallarum gummeosque commixtio". The use of iron gall ink eventually became popular and wide-spread due to the fact that it does not easily rub off or erase.

    Iron gall ink turns light brown over time (as can be seen in this image of a fragment from Euclid's Elements of Geometry). The acidic properties of iron gall ink are corrosive and can destroy important historical documents as they age. The Ink Corrosion Website presents tons of interesting information on iron gall ink and on conservation efforts.

    Here are a few other related links that might be of interest:


    Purple Parchment

    I recently took a trip to a local seminary library hoping to find some good information on purple parchment manuscripts of the New Testament. Since many of the purple manuscripts are closely related textually and in time, I was hoping to find some detailed information about why they might have been created, where, and for whom. Unfortunately, my short trip was rather frustrating and I simply could not find the information I was looking for, so I'm afraid I don't have much to post on the subject, but I will provide a few links that might be of interest.

    There are quite a few manuscripts on purple parchment that were most likely dyed using purple secretions from a mollusk known as the Murex Trunculus. The most well known of these manuscripts of the New Testament are probably Codex Purpureus Petropolitanus (N), Codex Sinopensis (O), Codex Rossanensis (Σ), and Codex Beratinus (Φ), all written in the sixth century. In addition to their expensive purple dye, the manuscripts were also written in silver and/or gold ink and contained elaborate illustrations of Biblical scenes.

    In reaction to such extravagance, that was also apparently common in the 4th century, the church father Jerome stated in one of his epistles that "Parchments are dyed purple, gold is melted into lettering, manuscripts are decked with jewels, while Christ lies at the door naked and dying."

    I was able to find some excellent images of Codex Purpureus Rossanensis (just click on the numbers), though they are mostly illustrations. Codex Rossanensis is kept in the Museo Diocesano di Arte Sacra. (There is a link in the middle of the page, Codex Purpureus Rossanensis, that will take you to more information and some images of the codex. The information is in Italian, so you might make use of Babelfish if you are like me and do not know the language.) Ever wanted your own copy of the beatiful Codex Rossanensis? Well, now you can have one if you have some spare change lying around. The Skriptorium has a reproduction of Rossanensis for sale on their website.

    I was also able to find a few images of Codex Beratinus on the website of UNESCO. According to an interesting document about Codex Beratinus on the UNESCO website, the nomination form for Codex Beratinus for the "Memory of the World Register":

    In the 1970s, in accordance with an intergovernmental agreement, the “Codex Purpureus Beratinus Ф” was sent to China, where it was restored using the technique of hermetically sealing the pages in a vacuum between two sheets of glass. After being restored, the “Codex Purpureus Beratinus Ф” was divided into nine volumes, which are now kept at the Albanian National Archives in Tirana, in a strongroom financed by UNESCO.

    There are plenty of other purple manuscripts of both the Old and New Testament. Hopefully I'll find some more interesting information about them one of these days. If anyone knows of a good resource on purple manuscripts, please post a comment. Thanks.


    Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith

    I don't intend for my blog to become a movie review blog, but I finally saw the final Star Wars episode yesterday and had to share a few nit-picky, disconnected observations.

  • Why was a robot blown off a star fighter in space by what could only have been wind flowing over the wings?
  • Why did Obi-Wan tell Anakin that he must be lost to the dark side because only they would speak in absolutes, yet later Obi-Wan accuses the Chancelor of being "evil"?
  • Why does Yoda walk stooped over with a cane if he can twist, twirl, and fly through the air with a light-sabre to defeat his foe?

    It was interesting to notice that the buttons, lights, gadgets, and sets toward the end of the movie began to look more simple and 70's-like, probably to mesh with the next movie in the series (which was actually the first Star Wars). Ok, so maybe I think too deeply. It is only a movie, after all.

    Overall, I found the movie to be very entertaining though also rather dark and depressing. Watching someone who wants to be good turn bad is not very pleasant. However, all the incredibly intricate and detailed computer graphic eye-candy shown on the large screen by a Digital Light Projector (DLP) was fantastic and more than made up for any short-comings in my opinion.

  • 6.02.2005

    Stubborn Boy...

    The Way Home (2002)

    I enjoy watching the occasional movie, especially foreign films. Foreign films become, for me, a small window on the world from which I may glimpse far away places and snippets of lives that are lived differently than my own. At the same time, they always seem to contain universal life-truths with which we can all identify.

    A Korean film, The Way Home, was my most recent selection from the local video store. I'm not sure exactly what attracted me to it, but I'm wonderfully pleased to have discovered this little gem.

    It is the enchanting story of a very spoiled and stubborn young city boy who learns quite a lot about life and love during a stay with his elderly Grandmother in a remote mountain village. The Grandmother, who happens to be both deaf and mute, shows her grandson the true meaning of unconditional example. She seems a near perfect model of patience, humility, and loving-kindness. The example she sets is one I wish I and the world would follow.

    The performances were excellent. Many of the actors were locals, and the Grandmother, it is said, had never even seen a movie before acting in this one.

    There are so many interesting issues in this movie that each person may take away from it something just a little different. One might reflect on the Grandmother's saintly example of love and how they might find the will and the way to mirror it in their own life. Or, perhaps one might think upon the many differences between the young and old, or between city life and rural life. Then again, maybe others will simply enjoy it as it is, a film which plays on harp-strings of emotion and paints beautifully picturesque mountainside scenes.

    Bryan gives this film two thumbs way up! Apparently, so do a lot of other people!


    Another Online Greek New Testament

    I have frequented the Wesley Center Online in the past for its good collection of Non-Canonical Literature, but it had been a while since I looked to see what else was available on their website.

    It turns out that they have a nice Greek New Testament, which I had not noticed before. Books of the NT can be chosen from a sidebar. The text can be viewed either in Greek font or in ASCII "Greekcode". Options allow the user to view or hide verse numbers, parsing codes, and Strong's numbers. Clicking on a parsing code or Strong's number brings up information in another frame.

    It is a clean interface, and I like it. However, the buttons did not seem to function in Netscape or Firefox (for me at least), only in Internet Explorer.

    Regardless, here is yet another online Greek New Testament worth adding to my list.


    Manuscript P26....Found! maybe P26 was never really lost, but its image has been missing in action from some of the most up-to-date, exhaustive manuscript lists that I am aware of on the internet:

    Why do I care? Well, I care for two reasons really.

    One, I think those who are keeping the lists mentioned above are providing an invaluable resource for scholars and laymen alike, and I'd like to see those lists as complete as possible.

    Two, I happen to live in a suburb of Dallas, where P26 resides, and have had the opportunity to hold the 6th/7th century manuscript with my own hands (the manuscript being sandwiched between plates of glass, of course). So, I simply have an interest in it.

    It is kept in Special Collections at the Bridwell Library on the Southern Methodist University (SMU) campus and, on rare occasions, is placed in public view during an exhibition.

    P26, a.k.a. P.Oxy 1354, is one of the many papyri discovered at Oxyrhynchus and is discussed by Grenfell and Hunt in The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, Volume XI. It and 11 other Oxyrhynchus manuscripts, 2 classical (Homer and Sophocles) and 9 non-literary, were presented to SMU by the Egypt Exploration Society of London, through Dr. A.V. Lane. They were kept in the SMU museum until 1950 when they were transferred to the Bridwell Library.

    Verses 1-16 of the 1st chapter of Paul's epistle to the Romans are recorded on P26, though they are quite difficult to read today due to the ravages of time. The manuscript has a few points of interest, such as Nomina Sacra (ΙΥ, ΧΥ, ΔΑΔ, ΥΥ, ΘΥ, ΠΝΑ, and ΚΥ), a high stop in line 29 (verso), and a paragraphus below line 33 (verso). However, Grenfell and Hunt remarked that "Textually the fragment is of slight interest."

    Regardless, I hope this sparks at least a minor interest in the manuscript and leads to the inclusion of a link to its image in the above mentioned lists.

    And now, what you've been continuing to read for...

    Images of P26 (high-resolution images of recto and verso)
    More information on P26

    Click on the 'full image' button in the upper left corner to see larger views. Click on the 'other views' button to switch between recto and verso. The images are found in the Advanced Papyrological Information System, University of Michigan.

    It appears to me that the images are incorrectly labled. The recto should be the verso and vice versa. Is it just me?

    It's exciting that more and more images of ancient New and Old Testament manuscripts are coming online all the time. I have to wonder how many other manuscript images might already be out there somewhere on the web just waiting for interested viewers.

    Update (May 26, 2005): Wieland Willker's website now has a link to P26. That was fast! If you've never visited Wieland's Bible pages and are interested in textual criticism, then go take a peek. You won't regret it.


    Greetings to Rick Brannan of ricoblog and Eric Sowell of The Coding Humanist. Rick and Eric both noted my occupation and interests as being similar to their own.

    Rick said:
    ...his profile says he's a programmer who's into Greek stuff. I sense synergy. Too bad he's in Plano, or maybe he, Zack Hubert and I could get together for coffee somewhere and really "geek out".

    Sounds fun to "geek out" over coffee somewhere. It's the oddest thing...I find that most times people will just glaze over if one tries to talk about Greek, Hebrew, or textual criticism. They just don't know what they're missing.

    Eric said:
    ...a new blog called Biblaridion, which is run by someone who is interested in the field of biblical studies and is also a software engineer. Cool. So far I've seen two on textual criticism. Is that his focus? I, of course, have no clue.

    I am probably most interested in textual criticism and palaeography, both Greek and Hebrew, so I suppose these topics will figure prominently in my blog. In fact, the next few posts that I am comtemplating will probably also have to do with ancient manuscripts. However, I do hope to post on other topics as well.

    Thanks for the mentions!


    Introduction to P46

    The University of Michigan Papyrus Collection has produced a wonderful introduction to "P46, the oldest surviving copy of the Pauline Epistles."

    The introduction begins with general information about the discovery of the manuscript, its age, and its contents. At the bottom of the section entitled The State of P46, is a link to high quality digital images of the 30 leaves of P46 in their possession (the other 56 leaves are part of the Cheaster Beatty Collection in Dublin, Ireland).

    After you have had a chance to peruse the manuscript images, the next section of the introduction, Features of the Codex, displays a leaf of the manuscript with highlightable boxes that surround special features. Click on one of these features, such as "Stichometric Notes" or "Nomina Sacra", and you get a detailed explanation of that feature as it appears in the manuscript leaf.

    In the next section, one is provided the opportunity to learn the palaeography of P46 by reading a leaf of the manuscript line by line. An image of one line is presented at a time. If you find it hard to read the faded letters, just click on the "Highlight Text" button, and Presto! the letters are traced over in bright colors, a different color for each word. If you still find this hard to read, then just click on the "Show Transliteration" button, and you will be presented with a more readable, modern Greek font just below the image.

    Finally, the presentation ends with explanations and examples of a few variant readings found in P46.

    For those interested, P46 is not the only manuscript for which such an attention grabbing presentation was created. There are also two examples of Latin manuscripts, Seneca's Medea and a private document, that can be found on their Reading the Papyri page.

    I believe this is truly an incredible presentation and teaching tool that deserves much attention and praise. I hope you enjoy looking it over as much as I did.


    I just wanted to say a quick thank you to Stephen Carlson for mentioning Biblaridion on his own blog, Hypotyposeis, and for the subsequent mentions on Jim West's Biblical Theology and Mark Goodacre's NT Gateway Weblog. These are blogs that I have enjoyed very much, and it is great to be welcomed by them.


    The Text of the New Testament

    I recently received the new, fourth edition of Bruce Metzger's The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, revised with the help of Bart Ehrman.

    Much of the text is the same, but there are several excellent expansions (and some minor deletions). According to the book's preface, "important bibliographical items" were added, information was expanded "on the making and copying of books in antiquity and on the history of the transmission of the text of the New Testament", and "translations of passages of the Greek text, given previously in the Revised Standard Version of 1952, have been adjusted to the wording of the New Revised Standard Version of 1990." New information on modern methods and the use of computer technology in research is also provided. Illustrations are now near the text that refers to them rather than being collected together at the center of the book as in the previous version.

    The cover is a beautiful and much appreciated improvement over the previous edition. The title is in papyrus/parchment tan on a burgundy background with a picture of a gorgeous, multicolored (stained-glass-like) frontispiece of the Gospel of John from the Latin Lindisfarne Gospels.

    The new edition is, in my humble opinion, well worth purchasing, especially if you are interested and have never read the work but also if you have read the previous editions many times before.


    Welcome to Biblaridion!

    I'm glad you have stumbled across my blog, and I hope you find something interesting and thought provoking to read. I am a Software Engineer by occupation who enjoys studying various aspects of the Bible, especially the study of the surviving ancient manuscripts that underlie our English Bible.

    Biblaridion will be my own 'little scroll' where I jot down my thoughts on many topics but especially the Bible.

    Again, welcome!