I recently sat down with Dr. André Gagné, Professor of Early Christian History and Literature at Concordia University in Montreal, to talk with him about the Gospel of Thomas and his current research on this fascinating text. Dr. Gagné is currently (by invitation) in charge of the critical edition of Thomas (in French) for the Bibliothèque Copte de Nag Hammadi based out of Université Laval in Quebec City. He has also been invited to produce a translation of and short introductory commentary on Thomas (in English) for the Apocryphes series published by Brepols. You can learn more about Dr. Gagné by visiting his website or his faculty page. I have embedded the video interview below. Enjoy!
For all you Greek language enthusiasts out there, let me tell you about a modern newspaper that reports world news in Attic Greek. I accidentally stumbled across this newspaper and was wondering why in the world I could understand it. Then I realized, "Hey, this isn't Demotic!" The newspaper is called Akropolis World News (or AKWN is acronym) and it is managed by Dr. Juan Coderch, Senior Language Tutor in Greek and Latin at the University of St. Andrews. Coderch has also produced introductions to both Greek and Latin, which appear at first blush to be worthwhile. To find out more about his grammars, go here. The AKWN is a great way to practice one's reading skills and to learn about real world events in the process. Check it out!
Last week, I was reading through the Gospel of John’s story about the washing of the disciples’ feet in Greek (chapter 13) and came across a variant I thought I would check in the original manuscript. In John 13:5, the NA28 prints νιπτῆρα as the “basin” in which Jesus pours the water with which he will wash the disciples’ feet. There is a variant here that is read, apparently, only by P.Bodmer II (P66) and a few proto-Bohairic versions: ποδονιπτῆρα (“foot-basin”). I took a look at my facsimile of P.Bodmer II and realized that there is a curious little mark interrupting the letters of the word ποδονιπτῆρα. It is graphically represented as ποδονι > πτηρα. Here is what it looks like in the actual manuscript:
This looks exactly like a diple and I cannot help but wonder if the scribe is using it to signify that the reading is spurious, that there is a variant, etc. I looked a little more and realized that the scribe uses this diple-like sign several times. It became evident that the sign is most often employed where there is a variant. Here are a few examples:
1:38: αυτοις > τι variant τινα
2:7/8: ανα > και variant omit και
4:24: αλη>θια variant αληθειας
10:29: μου > ο variant omit μου
11:28: εφωνησεν > Μαριαμ variant Μαριαν
By no means is this an exhaustive list of the occurrences of this critical mark in P.Bodmer II; I have taken only a cursory glance at the facsimile. My question is this: are these diple an indication that the scribe knew of a variant reading? In a few places, the diple occurs besides words where there is no variant (e.g., 10:25 εργα > α), so the answer may be that it is not used in this manner. Moreover, the insertion of it within the text is odd. Normally, diplai are inserted in the margin and are used for a variety of purposes, such as to signify a quotation, refer to a commentary, etc. But if it is not being used to signal a variant, then what is its function? It is surely not a line-filler since the scribe consistently uses apostrophe-like marks for this purpose and line-fillers occur at the end of a line—they are not inserted in the middle of the text so as to interrupt a word. I have not looked at any of the literature on P.Bodmer II for this, but does anyone else know if R. Kasser, V. Martin, G. Fee, J. Royse or others say anything about these little diplai within the text of P.Bodmer II? Surely someone has said something about these diplai and offered a reasonable explanation. I would be grateful if someone could provide a reference to a discussion of these marks.