Research Webinar on Greek Papyri in the British Library
Rodney Ast (Heidelberg University) and Lajos Berkes (Humboldt University - Berlin), in partnership with Peter Toth at the British Library, are offering in Summer Semester 2018 an online seminar on Greek papyri housed in the BL. The aim of the class is to study and describe Greek documents and literature preserved on papyrus. Each participant will be assigned a group of papyri and the resulting descriptions will contribute to the BL’s freely accessible online catalogue. The texts will include published and unpublished documents (mainly letters and receipts), as well as a small number of published literary texts.
The course, which is free of charge, is open to participants of all levels and will be conducted online Tuesdays, 16:15 - 17:45, Central European Time. The first meeting is scheduled for April 17th and the last for July 10th. The language of instruction is English, and good knowledge of Ancient Greek is required. Certificates will be issued upon successful completion of the class.
Those interested in taking part should send a brief statement of interest and CV to Rodney Ast at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for applications is March 30, 2018.
The course is sponsored by the Ministry for Science, Research and Art in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, as part of Heidelberg University’s "Webinars in Specialized Disciplines" initiative.
From Pagan to Christian: Papyrology, Epigraphy, and the Divine – Colloquium
Baylor University, March 16 and 17
Friday, March 16th: Cox Lecture Hall, lower floor of Armstrong Browning Library.
Very exciting news came out of a session at the 2017 annual Society of Biblical Literature conference in Boston: Geoff Smith and Brent Landau announced their discovery of the first known Greek fragments of the First Apocalypse of James, a Coptic text known from a Nag Hammadi codex (Codex V) and the famous Codex Tchacos. This early Christian text consists of a dialogue between Jesus and James the brother of Jesus. Scholars have argued that this Coptic text was probably translated from Greek, but until now, no Greek witnesses have been known to exist.
The papyrus codex fragments are housed in the Sackler Library at Oxford University and were found during the dig season of 1904/05. The two fragments have different inventory numbers but are written in the same hand and belong to the same codex. The papyri are fragmentary but offer a decent amount of text. I noted from the photos shown in the session generous margins and a letter in the top corner of one page, which may be a quire number (so Smith). Smith and Landau offer a tentative dating of fifth-sixth century, offering a preliminary comparison with the so-called “Gospel of the Lots of Mary,” a fifth-sixth century miniature Coptic parchment codex housed at Harvard University, published recently by AnneMarie Luijendijk. The Nag Hammadi Codex and the Tchacos Codex are typically dated to around the fourth century so the Oxyrhynchus fragments are probably at least a century removed from them.
There are some variants in the text (only one was discussed in the session), but Smith and Landau note that the text of their fragments aligns more closely with Codex Tchacos than the Nag Hammadi tractate. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this papyrus is that the scribe employed middle dots to separate syllables. This is rare in literary texts, but it does appear in school texts, which prompts the question as to how this document was used. Was it a school text? The editors suggest the papyri are fragments of a larger codex that probably contained the entire text of the First Apocalypse of James. Could the middle dots have served a liturgical function, facilitating easier reading on the part of the anaginoskon? The raison d’être of the codex is thus still being considered by the editors.
The editors announced that the edition of the Greek fragments is likely to appear in a forthcoming Oxyrhynchus Papyri volume, which we all look forward to.
I am happy to say that I have accepted a job as Acquisitions Editor for Early Christianity and Patristics at Gorgias Press. I will be acquiring scholarly books for the following three series:
For those who may be interested, Bloomsbury is currently offering a 30% discount on my book, New Testament Texts on Greek Amulets From Late Antiquity — a $36.60 discount. You can order the book here.