"The object of all good literature is to purge the soul of its petty troubles." ~ P.G. Wodehouse

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ciampa on 1 John 1:7 in Novum Testamentum

In Novum Testamentum 52 (2010) 267-271, Roy Ciampa (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) has a brief article on the reading of Codex Alexandrinus where the NA27 text has met' allelwn ('with one another'). The textual apparatus in NA27 indicates that Alexandrinus has evidence of the reading met' autou ('with him'). Ciampa points out that in actuality Alexandrinus has no evidence of anything following me. (See the manuscript here at the nttranscripts.uni-muenster.de site.) Most textual critics have assumed that allelwn will not fit on the line and thus autou be a better option. Ciampa contends that meta ths ('with God') should be another option listed among the possible readings of A at 1 John 1:7. These are clearly all options; however, I am not completely convinced that it is impossible for characters of allelwn to fit. The margins are clearly fluid as Ciampa notes, and in the preceding column, it is clear that the scribe is willing to squeeze the characters onto the end of a line. I will have to take a closer look at the manuscript before making a final judgment. This is one of those textual cases where there is not much to go on.

See the reconstruction by Wieland Willker in his comment at Evangelical Textual Criticism. Unfortunately, the reconstruction that he lists does not show the full page. Some of the lines toward the bottom of the page are longer.


  1. Hi Ben,
    Thanks for drawing attention to my article. Thanks also for acknowledging that I do note that the margins are not consistent. I just thought I would point out that my calculations do take into account the fact that the scribe does write smaller characters when he wants to squeeze in more characters at the end of a line. The number of characters (the range) that I estimate for the end of the line is based on counting characters (and looking at the stretching of the margin) in lines where such squeezing took place as well as in lines where it did not. Of course it is "possible" that the scribe wrote allelwn (or something longer that has not survived!), but it would have required writing more letters (and stretching the margin further) than in any nearby column. It is not a question of possible or impossible, but of probable or improbable and what would be appropriate to indicate in a critical apparatus.
    On another issue, perhaps Wieland is right that the article would have been better with images. It would also have been more complicated, esp. if I had included the various images I prepared. The key is not to draw a line down an imaginary margin (as Wieland does), since there is not a strict margin but a fluid one. The reconstruction would show a vertical line not at the imaginary margin but going down from where the MS is cut off on the first line and allowing the viewer to calculate how many letters go past that point for each of the other lines on that page (and then to show how that range of numbers relates to the range one finds on other nearby columns). But I did figure that those whose interest was piqued by the article could do what you and Wieland have done and check out the MS for themselves and decided that my verbal description would be sufficient to make my point.
    Of course, more problematic than NA27 is the presentation found in the Editio Critica Maior.
    Hope all is going well at Tyndale!
    All the best,

  2. Hi Roy,
    Thanks for commenting. You are the first comment on this experiment of mine. You are right about the difference between "possible" and "probable". The reconstruction I suggested does stretch the margin farther indicating what you argued.

    Things are going well.
    Best Wishes,