Spit & Touch

I try to read one page from the Greek New Testament in the mornings, and the last bit of my reading stood out to me today. Mark 7:31-37:

Καὶ πάλιν ἐξελθὼν ἐκ τῶν ὁρίων Τύρου ἦλθεν διὰ Σιδῶνος εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν τῆς Γαλιλαίας ἀνὰ μέσον τῶν ὁρίων Δεκαπόλεως. 32 καὶ φέρουσιν αὐτῷ κωφὸν καὶ μογιλάλον καὶ παρακαλοῦσιν αὐτὸν ἵνα ἐπιθῇ αὐτῷ τὴν χεῖρα. 33 καὶ ἀπολαβόμενος αὐτὸν ἀπὸ τοῦ ὄχλου κατ̓ ἰδίαν ἔβαλεν τοὺς δακτύλους αὐτοῦ εἰς τὰ ὦτα αὐτοῦ, καὶ πτύσας ἥψατο τῆς γλώσσης αὐτοῦ, 34 καὶ ἀναβλέψας εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν ἐστέναξεν καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· ἐφφαθά, ὅ ἐστιν διανοίχθητι. 35 καὶ ἠνοίγησαν αὐτοῦ αἱ ἀκοαί, καὶ ἐλύθη ὁ δεσμὸς τῆς γλώσσης αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἐλάλει ὀρθῶς. 36 καὶ διεστείλατο αὐτοῖς ἵνα μηδενὶ λέγωσιν· ὅσον δὲ αὐτοῖς διεστέλλετο, αὐτοὶ μᾶλλον περισσότερον ἐκήρυσσον. 37 καὶ ὑπερπερισσῶς ἐξεπλήσσοντο λέγοντες· καλῶς πάντα πεποίηκεν καὶ τοὺς κωφοὺς ποιεῖ ἀκούειν καὶ ἀλάλους λαλεῖν.

Imagine how appalled most of us Christians would be if they saw Christ healing in such a manner in 2020? And before you interject to defend yourself, the situation is not different and I urge you to grab your New Testament and read how many of Christ’s healings came through physical touch and what kinds of ill people he was touching.

ὦ γενεὰ ἄπιστος…

Mark 7:19

7:19 ὅτι οὐκ εἰσπορεύεται αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν καρδίαν, ἀλλ̓ εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν, καὶ εἰς τὸν ἀφεδρῶνα ἐκπορεύεται, καθαρίζον πάντα τὰ βρώματα.

καθαρίζον πάντα τὰ βρώματα. This is an interesting example of how the difference in grammatical gender can cause a different understanding and much confusion. In the Byzantine Text as seen in the Patriarchal Text above, καθαρίζον is present active participle nominative neuter singular of καθαρίζω, and due to it being neuter, we get the understanding of “purging/cleansing all foods” and is apart of what Jesus is explaining to the disciples. However, the non-Byzantine reading (I have seen it in the Alexandrian and Caesarian Text-types, which is not difficult to find) is καθαρίζων, being masculine rather than neuter, and thus referring back to Jesus in verse 18 (which begins, καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς·) and leads to the understanding that the words are not a part of what Jesus is explaining, but rather a comment by St. Mark, namely that Jesus in explaining the parable is “cleansing all foods” (the participle is present tense); and this is the reading Origen, St. Gregory The Wonder-Worker, and St. John Chrysostom have, καθαρίζων.

The Patristic witness leads me to conclude two textual options: 1. The Byzantine text has the wrong reading here, and it should be the masculine, or 2. The Byzantine text has the original reading here, and the Text that Origen and St. Gregory used had been corrupted. A problem that comes to mind is that if St. Chrysostom used the Byzantine Text (as most people say), then why does his Byzantine Text read καθαρίζων and our current Byzantine Text(s) read καθαρίζον? I need to find time to look through von Soden’s manuscripts (K, Kx, Kr etc.) to see the texts for myself to go further here; at any rate, the UBS5 apparatus does inform us that the Byzantine Text is divided on this reading whereas Byz2005 doesn’t (my Byz2018 is in a box in another Province, so I cannot check it at the moment). But also we could think of the wording as constructio ad sensum, which is what David Bentley Hart (who translated from the Critical Text, thus καθαρίζων) appears to have done: “purging away everything that has been eaten?” (UBS5 has a Greek question mark at the end, as Hart translated.)

A few words about how we see this played out in Orthodox translations. First, we ignore The Orthodox Study Bible here because its New Testament is unfortunately translated from the Textus Receptus. Secondly, The Holy Apostles Convent Evangelistarion mistranslated this passage; they translated from the Patriarchal Text thus: this He said making all the foods clean. We read in the notes that the translator arrived at this translation probably under the influence of Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament or A.T. Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament and from misidentifying the neuter καθαρίζον for the masculine καθαρίζων. However, the translator does support their translation by appealing to St. John Chrysostom (as discussed above). And finally, the EOB New Testament has both readings, but the translator put the correct reading—καθαρίζον, according to the Greek of the Patriarchal Text—in the footnote, “thus purging all foods” and added a question mark in the main text, as found in the Critical Text(s).

Footnotes can be found here.

Update: Byzantine Textual Commenatry

Sorry for the long delay in posting, but I have an update regarding my last post. In May, I emailed Dr. Maurice Robinson, and in July, he got back to me:

Dear Dr. Robinson,

Χριστὸς Ἀνέστη!
 
I recently read an interview from 2016 where you said that you were two years into making a Textual Commentary. That sent me searching. I found an article from 2014 mentioning it, and then I found a blog post from 2019 that contains some of your Textual Commentary. Are you still working on that Critical Text and Commentary? Am I able to get a copy of those somehow? Thank you for your time.
 
Sincerely,
Fr. Thomas Sandberg
Dear Fr. Sandberg,

>I recently read an interview from 2016 where you said that you were two years into making a Textual Commentary.

That was during the periods 2014-2018 until I retired and relocated. It has been on hiatus since then while constructing a dedicated office space in my garage. I am now about to resume work on it shortly.

>That sent me searching. I found an article from 2014 mentioning it, and then I found a blog post from 2019 that contains some of your Textual Commentary.

That is all that is currently available. The remainder is reserved for publication by those who have supplied the research funds. Also, all that is completed at present are reassigns where the NA Greek text is supported only by 1, 2, or 3 named MSS.

>Are you still working on that Critical Text and Commentary?

As noted, yes, and probably for the next 10 years, assuming I live that long and remain healthy.

>Am I able to get a copy of those somehow?

Unfortunately, no, due to the restrictions relating to those who are funding the project.

MAR

Byzantine Textual Commenatry

Χριστὸς Ἀνέστη!

As many of my readers know, I am working on a commentary, or rather I am making notes on whatever I feel like as I read through the Septuagint and Greek New Testament. So, often I thought that there needs to be a Textual Commentary like Metzgers, but one for the Byzantine Text-type.

I keep hearing the editors of The Tyndale House Greek New Testament are working on a Textual Commentary for their work, and that recently got me searching again. First, I found an interview with Maurice Robinson from September 2016, where he mentions that he is already two years into the project of a Textual Commentary. Next, I found this article from 2014, where it details that Robinson is also making a Critical Text, and it says that his Critical Text and Textual Commentary will take five years to complete, so 2014 + five years brings us to 2019. And what do you know, the next thing I found was what appears to be a blog post from January 2019 that has around thirty pages of the Textual Commentary that I’m looking for.

I sent Dr. Robinson an email today, but if any of my readers know more about this, or where to find the Commentary, send me a message. Thanks.

How Has Orthodoxy Been Perverted?

Recently a good Orthodox friend of mine and I got into a discussion via text about various things not related to our original topic (you don’t say?). And as we proceeded down our mobile oblivion of fruitless conversation, he stated, “orthodoxy has been perverted too. those in the orthobox choose not to see.”

I asked how Orthodoxy had been perverted but never got an answer, and we left it there, but it got me thinking. The other night, another friend of mine who is an atheist posted some straw man attack on Christianity on Instagram, and that got me thinking too…

I find it difficult living in 2019, people ask me something, I respond, and they’re upset or offended or both. It’s weird to me; I try to be Stoic, contemplative, and open to the possibility that I could be wrong. Especially over words, I believe in freedom of speech, so words, whether written or spoken, never offend me no matter what they convey. It interests me when people criticize the Church but offer no proof for their criticism; who will they call in their hour of need? Who will pray for them at the separation of the soul from the body? Who will bury them? A Rabbi? An Imam? An atheist will die alone like Donnie Darko informed us years ago. But Orthodox Christians—whether nominal, lapsed, lazy, or angry—like Israel in the Old Testament, will call upon the Lord after they see the rotten fruit their works have brought forth—they will call their Orthodox priest. They always do. Why is that?

Because those who criticize the Church (anti-Christian atheists included) for whatever petty reasons still believe what I believe: the Church is where Christ is, and Christ Himself said that the gates of hades will not prevail against Her. Those who criticize without being able to give a reason don’t need to be convinced: they already know. I don’t know much, but I know that there is no salvation outside the Church, and so I’ll stay in that so-called “orthobox.” One can know a tree by the fruit that it bears, and the fruit that Orthodoxy has given me speaks volumes for the mercy Christ has to offer those who accept it and in humility say “your will, Lord, and not mine.” Powerful words in a world that has accepted the Satanic dogma of self-will. If the Orthodox Church has been perverted, I’d love to know where, when, how, and by who, because I am more than willing to see it. Diagnosing a problem is the first step in healing the problem. I’d bet though this is more a pot calling the kettle black type of situation: it always is. But then again we know that hence the Eden story.

Hermann Freiherr von Soden’s Greek New Testament

On page ix in The New Testament in the Original Greek: Byzantine Textform 2005, we read thus “The primary source for establishing the readings of the Byzantine Textform remains the massive apparatus of Hermann Freiherr von Soden…” and are given the following footnote: “Hermann Freiherr von Soden, Die Schriften Des Neuen Testament in Ihrer Ältesten Erreichbaren Textgestalt, 2 vols. in 4 parts (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1911).”

There are three places I found this text. Two places on the internet and the third in Logos (pre-pub?). They can be found below, and if anyone knows where I can obtain a physical copy please contact me.

Internet Archive:
Die Schriften des Neuen Testaments in ihrer ältesten erreichbaren Textgestalt hergestellt auf Grund ihrer Textgeschichte (Vol. 1, Pt. 1)

Die Schriften des Neuen Testaments in ihrer ältesten erreichbaren Textgestalt hergestellt auf Grund ihrer Textgeschichte (Vol. 1, Pt. 2)

Die Schriften des Neuen Testaments in ihrer ältesten erreichbaren Textgestalt hergestellt auf Grund ihrer Textgeschichte (Vol. 1, Pt. 3)

Die Schriften des Neuen Testaments in ihrer ältesten erreichbaren Textgestalt hergestellt auf Grund ihrer Textgeschichte (Vol. 2)

CSNTM:
Die Schriften des neuen Testaments, vol. 1

Die Schriften des neuen Testaments, vol. 2

Die Schriften des neuen Testaments, vol. 3

Die Schriften des neuen Testaments, vol. 4

Logos:
Von Soden Greek New Testament (4 vols.)

Textual Criticism: Byzantine Text Proponents

I started this list off of searching a bunch of last names that Dr. Robinson wrote in a response to a blog post. The point is people who “paved the way” for the Byzantine Text, as opposed to the Textus Receptus. Any help in expanding and clarifying this list is greatly appreciated.

1794-1852 – Johann Martin Augustin Scholz

1813-1891 – Frederick Henry Ambrose Scrivener

1886 – Edward Miller – A Guide to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament

1893 – Rev. S. W. Whitney – The Revisers’ Greek Text Volume 1 & Volume 2

2005-2018 – Dr. Maurice Robinson

How Are You Still Not Doing This?

From today’s Daily Stoic email:

Saint Athanasius of Alexandria wrote in Vita Antonii that the reason he did his journaling–his confessing, as the genre was called by the Christians–was that it was a safeguard against sinning. By observing and then writing about his own behavior, he was able to hold himself accountable and make himself better.

“Let us each note and write down our actions and impulses of the soul,” he wrote, “as though we were to report them to each other; and you may rest assured that from utter shame of becoming known we shall stop sinning and entertaining sinful thoughts altogether…Just as we would not give ourselves to lust within sight of each other so if we were to write down our thoughts as if telling them to each other, we shall so much the more guard ourselves against foul thoughts for shame of being known. Now, then, let the written account stand for the eyes of our fellow ascetics, so that blushing at writing the same as if we were actually seen, we may never ponder evil.”

The Stoics journaled for much the same reason. Seneca said the key was to put the day up for review so that one could see their faults and find a way to mend them. Epictetus said that by writing, reading and speaking our philosophical journal, we keep the teachings top of mind and are better able to follow them. Marcus, of course,said less on the subject of journaling, but left us the greatest lesson of all: his example.

When you pick up Meditations, what you see is a man confessing, debating, considering, and struggling with all of what it means to be human. Marcus said in one of his notes that he should “fight to be the person philosophy made you.” His journal is the play by play of that fight–it’s his battles with his temper, with his urges, with his fears, even with his mortality. It took a lot of work, but from what we know, he won most of those battles. Through his writing and his philosophy, light prevailed over darkness.

It’s a grand tradition and an inspiring example that each of us is called to follow. The Daily Stoic Journal is one way to do that. It prompts you to prepare for the day ahead and review the day just past. It gives you big questions to consider and standards to guide yourself towards. A blank notebook can work too. So can a letter or an email to a friend. So can a silent conversation with yourself on a long walk.

The point is, you have to do the work. You have to put up the safeguards. You have to actively fight to be the person philosophy wants you to be…in the pages of your journal.

David Bentley Hart’s “The New Testament: A Translation” & The Tyndale House Greek New Testament

Of the four most interesting books published in 2017, three of them are Christian, and of those three two are in Modern English, and one is in Koine Greek. Furthermore, of those three Christian books, two of them are the New Testament. In Greek, we have The Tyndale House Greek New Testament, and in English David Bentley Hart’s The New Testament: A Translation published by Yale. (For those interested, the other books of the four are The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher, and Discipline Equals Freedom by Jocko Willink.)

One would think that a new edition of the Greek New Testament would be of real interest and impact for Greek nerds, but the months following the release of both have seen unfold a unique situation. Outside of Evangelical Textual Criticism, Exegetical Tools, B-Greek, Textkit, and Nerdy Language Majors it would appear that the scholars, critics, and the rest of the world are either silent about it, don’t care about it, or don’t know about it. Indeed, no Orthodox Christian—clergy, laity, or scholar—has even mentioned it to my knowledge.

On the other hand, DBH’s translation has been addressed by all the groups mentioned or alluded to: clergy, laity, scholars, many of the internet groups and websites previously mentioned—both Orthodox and heterodox—have been talking about this translation. And with everything I’ve been reading, the discussion over this translation has brought out a fantastic amount of discussion concerning Koine Greek, exegesis, hermeneutics, textual criticism, dogma κ.τ.λ.

This isn’t to fault the people behind the THGNT. I own a physical copy and a copy in Accordance too and was reading St. James’ Epistle from the physical Bible on my flight back to Toronto from Winnipeg after Christmas. So I think its great (even though I am a Byzantine Textform proponent). But I think what most people are really looking forward to is the textual commentary that will accompany it, and the audio version read aloud by monks from the Orthodox Christian Monastery of the Transfiguration, Nafpaktos, in proper Greek pronunciation via BibleMesh (well, at least I am looking forward to both).

So due to the amount of relevant Greek material DBH’s translation has brought about I figured I would list here all the reviews, articles, and podcasts I have read and listened to. If any of my readers have found any that I don’t have listed here, please feel free to mention them in the comments or email me the link, and I will post new reviews as I finish reading them.

As for my own thoughts on the translation, which  have been asked, I relayed them on Instagram and other than a couple grammatical errors, my thoughts remain the same (so far):

“I think it is incredibly interesting, especially once one really understands what he is and is not attempting to do with his translation. Most reviewers fail to understand, and it shows. I had pre-ordered it on Amazon after reading an excerpt from the preface or intro that appealed to my love of Greek, and at first, as I read it I thought the translation was only of any real value if you know Koine Greek. As I read more, the vividness and oddity of the Greek were really brought forth in the English, so much so I bought my wife a copy for Xmas. It is definitely not for Liturgical use, but that wasn’t his intent. My only criticism so far is that he used the NA28/UBS5 as his Greek text, though he does note Majority Text differences.”

To elaborate, the most disappointing thing about reading the reviews and articles is that they mostly fail to understand what Hart is doing and devise straw man attacks against him due to their misunderstanding. And Hart’s Orthodox opponents sadden me the most, especially when they call his translation into question and then resort to non-Orthodox scholars, translations, and commentaries to support their point—the same point from the same non-Orthodox scholars, translations, and commentaries which were the cause for the translation effort in the first place!

The most depressing thing, however, indeed must be that the Orthodox and heterodox alike seem to take a major issue, not with ἀποκατάστασις, but instead push back against him when it comes to moneyThe lady doth protest too much, methinks… It reminds me of a story my Bishop told us seminarians during breakfast one morning. A priest and a doctor were out for a walk one day, talking about this and that, lost in conversation when they neared the edge of a cliff. The priest fell and was holding onto the crumbling edge, fingers slowly losing their grip. The doctor yelled to the priest, “Give me your hand, Father!” The priest, unfortuantely, lost his grip and fell to his death. The doctor ran to the priest’s home to tell the presvytera the awful news. She answered the door and broke down in tears as the story was retold, the doctor recounting to her “I said to him, “Give me your hand!”” The presvytera looked up and said to the poor doctor, “Oh, you should’ve said “Take my hand,” instead.”

In case it escapes you, the moral of the story is that priests want to take and not give, they love money. And if the reviews of Hart’s translation are anything to go by, it appears money and the defence of having and acquiring it is one issue that Protestants and Orthodox are united on, amongst the laity, and sadly even more so among the clergy.

******

23/31 October 2017 – The Tears and Laughter of the New Testament: Why David Bentley Hart’s Translation is a Glorious Failure By Wesley Hill

November 2017 – The Gospel According to David Bentley – Paul V. Mankowski, S.J.

29 December 2017 – The Hart Idiosyncratic Version – Fr. John Whiteford

January/February 2018 – A Mind-Bending Translation of the New Testament – James Parker

15 January 2018 – The New Testament in the strange words of David Bentley Hart – N.T. Wright

24 January 2018 – Translating the N. T. Wright and David Bentley Hart Tussle

8 February 2018 – A Wild and Indecent Book – Garry Wills

11 February 2018 – Anent Gary Wills and the “DBH” Version by David Bentley Hart

11 October 2018 – The Vale of Abraham by David Bentley Hart

David Bentley Hart is an Eastern Orthodox scholar of religion, and a philosopher, writer and cultural commentator. He is an fellow/associate at the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study, and has held positions at the University of Virginia, Duke University, and Providence College. He lives in South Bend, Indiana and attends a Greek Orthodox parish.