Richard S. Ascough, Philip A. Harland, John S. Kloppenborg (eds.). Associations in the Greco-Roman World: A Sourcebook. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2012. xxxviii + 394. Paperback. $39.95.
I would like to thank the kind folks at Baylor University Press for sending me a review copy of this book.
This book represents the first English-language sourcebook of Greco-Roman associations to-date. It is divided into three main sections: 1) Inscriptions and Papyri, 2) Buildings and Meeting Places, and 3) Literary References. There is a very brief introduction to the volume (just shy of 7 pages), an extensive annotated bibliography (82 pages), 31 illustrations (primarily images of inscriptions taken by one of the editors), and helpful indices. The editors note in the introduction that the book is not exhaustive; rather, the texts selected “are representative of a broad range of texts (e.g., decrees, dedications, regulations, graves), groups (e.g., occupational, ethnic, cultic), group memberships (e.g., citizen, noncitizen, male, female, mixed), and purposes (e.g., cultic, social, burial)” (3). The texts themselves were chosen primarily based “on areas where Christianity was present in the first and second centuries CE” (3), a result of the shared research interest in Christian origins between the editors. We learn in the acknowledgements that this sourcebook is related to but separate from the multivolume Greco-Roman Associations, to be published in the BZNW series by Walter de Gruyter. One of the main differences between the sourcebook being reviewed here and that larger work is comprehensiveness: the multivolume work will include texts in their original languages, full publication information, and comprehensive notes and commentary. However, the texts from Greco-Roman writers (section 3), descriptions of buildings and places (section 2), and the annotated bibliography are unique to the sourcebook.
The main section of the book (“Inscriptions and Papyri”) consists of English translations of 337 Greek and Latin inscriptions and papyri relating to some aspect of associations in the Greco-Roman world. The texts are listed according to geographic region (e.g., Southern and Central Greece, Macedonia, Thracia, etc.). Each entry is given a number followed by a brief description of the text, publication information, date, and a brief description, if available, of the material (e.g., type of marble, adornments, provenance). The editors have also employed the Packard Humanities Institute (PHI) internal numbering system, which will soon be implemented, thus making texts more easily accessible online. The translations of texts are clear, and frequent names for associations and associates are transliterated parenthetically (e.g., koinon, synodos, synergasia, eranistai, etc.) The figures (e.g., frescos, mosaics, reliefs, busts, graves and monuments) are also clear and provide historical depictions of associations or related themes as well as images of various repositories of texts.
Several spot checks using the Papyrological Navigator (www.papyri.info) and the PHI online epigraphy database (http://epigraphy.packhum.org) reveal that the editors have accurately translated the Greek texts (the predominant language of the materials). Unfortunately, however, the editors often translate substantial portions of reconstructed text from critical editions (i.e., text not preserved on the papyrus or inscription), yet they do not signify in the translation what is reconstructed. To take just one example, lines 5-7 of IG II2 1284 = GRA I 22 are transcribed as follows in the critical edition:
[ἄλλοις εὔχρηστον αὑτὸν παρασ]κευάζων
[καὶ ἀποδεικνύμενος ἣ]ν ἔχει εὔνοια-
[ν πρὸς ἅπαντας τοὺς ὀργ]εῶνας. ὅπως
The editors translate these lines on page 25 as “and in other matters he proved to be of service and displayed the good will which he held toward all of the sacrificing associates.” The editors, therefore, do not employ brackets in the translation to signify textual reconstruction—the common editorial practice for translations of lacunose papyri and inscriptions. As a rule, reconstructions of texts are only tentative, and so English translations that do not mark the reconstructed text are misleading, especially when we are dealing with more than one reconstructed word.
It should be noted that, although Section 1 is titled “Inscriptions and Papyri,” the majority of texts is inscriptions, as there are only a handful of papyri covered in the regional subsection of Egypt. Thus, there is not a very good balance between the sources presented. Most often, descriptions of monuments and papyri are given, but other times such descriptions are lacking (e.g., no. 24, no. 27, no. 34, etc.). Interestingly, no. 23 has the following description: “This text was found in a notebook of A. Boeckh, an epigrapher working in the area in the 1830s” (33)! A fuller introduction explaining what an association is, who was involved, what was practiced, etc., would have been convenient, although the editors do refer the reader to introductory works in the helpful annotated bibliography.
Despite these minor quibbles, this sourcebook is an invaluable tool for scholars and students working within a variety of research fields, such as Classics, Anthropology, Religion, and New Testament Studies. Many of these texts are interesting in their own right, where we learn, for example, of such matters as the expulsion of a person from a banquet by a bouncer as a result of having the "wand" of the god laid on him by the officer in charge of order (no. 7)! The editors are to be commended for their commitment to a project that, among other demands, required them to track down the editiones principes of nearly 340 texts! This book, along with its more complete, multivolume counterpart, will quickly become the most authoritative source for Greco-Roman associations in the English-language. I heartily welcome the publication of this book and look forward to using it.
Update: The editors of this book have created a website for searching the database of inscriptions and papyri from the book. This website complements nicely the printed edition.
I am excited to report that my article "What is a τρυσινον? A Fresh Look at P.Oxy. XIV 1674" has just been published in the Archiv für Papyrusforschung 58.2. I have uploaded the article on my website under the tab "Publications." To view it, click here. Here is the abstract:
"This article presents a new transcription of the word τρυϲινον in P.Oxy. XIV 1674.5 based on a recent autopsy, a word which Grenfell and Hunt left untranslated in their edition due to its being unattested in the Greek language. The word is most likely a misspelling of a common Greek word meaning “fire drill”, and would thus fit well within the agricultural context of the letter. An image of P.Oxy. XIV 1674 is published here for the first time."
Over at his website, Dr. Michael J. Kruger has responded to my review of his essay. I respond here with a few additional comments.
Dear Dr. Kruger, Thank you for your response and for clarifying some of the points raised in my review. In my view, the Galatians and Barnabas examples you provide (which are listed under the main section titled “Early Testimony Regarding the Reproduction of New Testament Texts”) do not prove (or even necessarily support) your thesis, which is that “early Christians, as a whole, valued their texts [=NT texts] as scripture and did not view unbridled textual changes as acceptable” (79). We simply cannot, in my opinion, cite only a few passages to prove that early Christians “as a whole” considered their texts (now part of the NT canon) to be scripture and to function as scripture. Indeed, you use appropriate caution on p. 71 when you say that “this all too brief survey of only a few selected sources is by no means definitive…Thus, it is difficult to know how representative the above sources are for Christianity as a whole (my emphasis).” I would argue, as most do, that we must use the same caution when assessing attitudes about NT textual reproduction.
As for the Barnabas reference I will quote you at length here (from p. 75):
“While exhorting Christians in the ‘path of light,’ Barnabas 19.11 declares, ‘Guard (φύλαξεις) the injunctions you have received, neither adding (προστιθεὶς) nor taking away (ἀφαιρῶν).’ The author—again drawing clear parallels to Deuteronomy 4:2 —continues to affirm that early Christians were concerned to pass along their tradition with care not to make alterations or changes. It is unclear whether Barnabas is referring to the preservation of oral or written tradition (or both), but, as argued above, the author likely cites from written Jesus tradition, ‘It is written, “Many are called, but few are chosen.’”’
I take your point that you are simply referring back to your previous discussion. That makes sense. However, based on the way you word this paragraph, I think many readers (like myself) will understand you as arguing that, since Barnabas cites from written Jesus tradition, the exhortation to “guard what you have received” refers to guarding received written Jesus tradition. My reference to Foster was only to show that he says something very similar in his essay.
On a positive note, I am glad to see that you have collected various texts that speak to the re-appropriation of the Deut. 4:2 principle within early Christian circles. These passages are interesting in and of themselves. The main difficulty that I find with your essay is your move from a few select passages that do not refer to attitudes toward reproduction of the NT text, to the conclusion that early Christians “as a whole” had a strict attitude to NT textual reproduction, and that only “some early Christians changed the NT text and altered its wording” (p. 79, emphasis mine). Christian "attitudes" toward textual reproduction is one thing, but what scribes did in actual practice is another. I would argue that the NT manuscripts themselves offer a completely different story, even if we do have a handful of statements to the contrary. That is, at the end of the day, there is more evidence suggesting that early Christian scribes changed their text at will, or, as Zuntz put it, “The common respect for the sacredness of the Word, with [Christians], was not an incentive to preserve the text in its original purity. On the contrary, [it]…did not prevent the Christians of that age from interfering with their transmitted utterances” (Text of the Epistles, 268-269).
UPDATE: Kruger offers a final response here.
Charles E. Hill and Michael J. Kruger (eds.), The Early Text of the New Testament (Oxford: OUP, 2012), xiv + 483 pp. $175.
According to the Introduction (“In Search of the Earliest Text of the New Testament”), the editors state that the main goal of this volume is “to provide an inventory and some analysis of the evidence available for understanding the pre-fourth-century period of the transmission of the NT materials” (p. 2). The book is divided into three main sections: 1) “The Textual and Scribal Culture of Early Christianity”; 2) “The Manuscript Tradition”; 3) “Early Citation and Use of New Testament Writings.”
The essays in the first section are devoted to various topics concerning the literary culture of early Christianity, with essays on “The Book Trade in the Roman Empire” (Harry Y. Gamble), “Indicators of ‘Catholicity’ in Early Gospel Manuscripts” (Scott Charlesworth), “Manuscripts and the Sociology of Early Christian Reading” (Larry Hurtado), and “Early Christian Attitudes toward the Reproduction of Texts” (Michael J. Kruger). The second section is comprised of essays that are more specifically focused on the evaluation of individual manuscripts of the early papyri (and a few early parchments) of the Gospels (Tommy Wasserman, Peter M. Head, Juan Hernández Jr., Juan Chapa), Acts (Christopher Tuckett), Paul (James R. Royse), the Catholic Epistles (J. K. Elliott), and Revelation (Tobias Nicklas), as well as one final chapter on the early versions (Peter Williams). The essays in the final section examine the text of the New Testament in early Christian writings, such as the Apostolic Fathers (Paul Foster), Marcion (Dieter T. Roth), Justin (Joseph Verheyden), Tatian’s Diatessaron (Tjitze Baarda), Apocryphal literature (Stanley E. Porter), Irenaeus (D. Jeffrey Bingham and Billy R. Todd, Jr.), and Clement (Carl P. Cosaert), with one essay devoted to citation techniques in the second century (Charles E. Hill).
If there is one term that keeps resurfacing in this book it is “early.” Not only do we find the term in the title of the book, it is also present in the titles of fourteen of the twenty-one essays. The agenda of the volume seems to be reflected in the title of the Introduction: “In Search of the Earliest Text of the New Testament.” While the individual authors express different views concerning concepts such as the “early text,” “original text,” “initial text,” or Ausgangstext, the editors in the Introduction state clearly that the traditional goal of New Testament textual criticism, namely, seeking the “original text,” should be upheld (p. 4). This thinking goes against the grain of the “new textual criticism” (a phrase used by J.K. Elliott elsewhere) where working toward an original text has been generally subordinated (though not completely abandoned) to other objectives that focus on plotting out the history of the text. The book’s emphasis on the “early” manuscripts of the New Testament, i.e., manuscripts dated before around 350 CE, is problematic, since an early date is not necessarily determinative of textual quality. As Elliott rightly states in his chapter, “to emphasize their [i.e., the papyri] early dates is deceptive. The age of a manuscript is of no significance when assessing textual variation, unless we know how many stages there were between the autograph and that copy and also what changes were made at each of the intervening stages. No one has such information” (p. 223). I am still waiting for the day that textual critics give as much attention to the many later majuscule manuscripts as they do the papyri, which continue to take the spotlight, but I will not hold my breath.
I would like to review briefly two essays which I found to be highly problematic. Co-editor Michael Kruger’s essay attempts to combat the view that the early text was unstable and corrupt by showing that “this is not necessarily how early Christians viewed these texts or how they approached their transmission” (p. 65). Kruger provides several examples from early Christian writings as evidence, such as the Didache, Revelation, Irenaeus, Dionysius, etc.; however, not all of the examples he provides are as “express” as he claims. For example, in Gal 3:15, Paul’s reference to the annulment of a covenant does not refer in any way to the text of the New Testament, yet Kruger lists it in his “select examples” (p. 73) that are said to reflect the attitude toward the reproduction of the New Testament. He also cites (p. 75) as another example a passage from the Epistle of Barnabas (19.11), which states “You shall guard what you have received, nor add or take away.” Kruger then argues that that which is received “likely” signifies written traditions about Jesus; Kruger alludes to Barn. 4:14 as an example of written Gospel tradition in Barnabas (cf. the discussion of Barnabas in Foster's essay at 294-296). However, it is not at all clear that the phrase “what you have received” is referring to a New Testament text. It could just as well (and more likely does) refer to some kind of catechetical teaching, extant or otherwise, written or oral. We simply do not know to what the phrase is referring. So, to say that these examples serve as evidence that “early Christians, as a whole, valued their texts as scripture and did not view unbridled textual changes as acceptable” (p. 79; italics mine) is both dubious and reductionistic.
In his essay, Scott Charlesworth takes two indicators of “catholicity,” the codex and nomina sacra, to be a corrective to Walter Bauer’s thesis that second century Christianity consisted solely of Christian diversity or heterodoxy without any form of centralized theological uniformity. His two scribal “indicators,” however, are not valid criteria for arguing for “catholicity” (on his definition) over against Bauer’s thesis. Bauer was mainly concerned with ideological/theological diversities, and while I agree with Charlesworth that his two indicators do seem to reflect some systematic uniformity early on, early Christian collaboration on issues related to text-production (=Charlesworth’s two indicators) does not necessarily imply collaboration and consensus on matters theological. It is true that some scholars have argued that the codex and nomina sacra carry certain theological implications (e.g., the “Four Gospel codex,” nomina sacra as expressions of Christian piety), but scribal conventions generally do not tell us anything about theological unity or diversity in early Christianity. Christians could have agreed on certain scribal methods and practices related to text-production early on without agreeing on the larger theological issues, practices, and beliefs. In sum, it seems apparent that there is a theological agenda behind both Kruger's and Charlesworth's articles. The conservative and apologetic undertones in their arguments are clear.
Apart from these articles, I must state that the volume as a whole is excellent. The essays in section two provide detailed analyses of each of the pre-fourth century papyri for every book of the New Testament, which can be used as a kind of reference for the early papyri of the New Testament. The approach and layout of each chapter in this section were apparently left up to the authors (other than the discussions of the Alands’ judgments about the freedom or strictness of each text, which every contributor was asked to include [p. 18]), since there are various points of focus, such as textual analysis, scribal habits, variants, etc. Elliott’s evaluation of the papyri containing the Catholic Epistles stands out from other chapters in terms of approach, in that it examines how the text of the papyri relate to the text established by the Editio Critica Maior. In his evaluation of the text of Matthew’s Gospel, Wasserman adopts the method of Kyoung Shik Min, which maps the correspondence between the text of the papyri and that of the NA27. Here I should say that I found the approach and format of Wasserman’s essay to be the most clear of all the essays.
Overall, this book is an important addition to our field and thus is to be recommended to anyone interested in the text of the New Testament, in spite of the apparent apologetic predispositions on the part of the editors. It should be noted that there are several typographical errors, which I list here: “Papryi” (p. 9); “P.Papyrus inv. 2” (p. 47); “διαθήκη-γ῎ρ” (p. 73); “δεκαπντε” (p. 92); incorrect chart on p. 97; “7/1” should be 7/12 in chart on p. 98; “Manuscript” (p. 105); “suggests that were” (p.109 n.2); “edition.” (p. 114); P in “P45” is without Unicode (p. 115); “ι<ει” (p. 127); “Jesus affirmation” (p. 149); “identity” should be “identical” (p. 164); “Leonidas” should be “Leonides” (p. 187 n.49); Coptic conjunction “AYO” should be “AYW” (p. 243); “collection of come kind” (p. 267); “what he though” (p. 274); last word of Did. 3b in Table 15.1 is ὑμᾶς but should be ὑμῶν (p. 286); “κριθῆτε.ε᾽ν” in Matt 7:1 in Table 15.2 (p. 289).