You are on page 1of 22

Text transmission

The languages of the Bible


OT : (almost everything) : Hebrew Heb. lost, Gr. available : 1 Mac ; Ben Sirac Aram. lost, Gr. available : Tobias Orig. lost, Gr. available : Judith, Daniel (Suz) Greek : Wisdom, 2 Mac Aramaic : passages from Daniel and Ezra

Languages of the New Testament


NT : everything in Greek (save original of Mt, lost). Biblical Greek : semiticized Koine Greek Hebrews, 1 Pt, James, passages from Luke ; Gospel of Jn : Beautiful, at times wonderful Greek Pauls rhetoric, sometimes high [Phil, Philmon], sometimes moving. Greek Texts : no word separation, no punctuation.

Greek frame of mind


Knowledge: logical truth : light, sun Senses : sight, abstraction, World : an eternal ordered kosmos that can be described Time : History of the present time, no insight on the future; past : no archives Myths allow us to explain the world, not the past No redemption : Prometheus and Sysiphus

Semitic frame of mind


Knowledge : truth in life experience: rock Senses: listening, concrete : shma Israel World: created, set in order and blessed by God Time : History of a past in which God acts, memory of a people. The present is a seed of the future Memory (importance of genealogies) and hope (messianism)

The manuscripts Development of Writing


Around 3250 BC: writing comes about in Egypt (ivory tablets and then papyrus) and in Sumer (clay tablets)
From 2nd century BC : pergamenus, parchment & calamus, reed stalk with a split at the top

From scroll (cf. synagogue) to codex Pages sewn four by four : quaternion > cuaderno (notebook) ever since Antiquity Task of christians in spreading over the use of codex

Some consequences I
Books are fragile and disappear quickly save in exceptional conditions (Egypt, Dead Sea, Herculanum) No strong material for the book before codex No many copies before print Antiquity originals have all disappeared Homer : Venetus A, 10th c (1800 years gap).

Some consequences II
Electra of Sophocles : not a single verse has been lost (Irigoin) : 10th c (1400 years gap). Quality of copying in Antiquity: books are valuable. Revision by a diorthts

Date of OT manuscripts
Till 1947, most ancient manuscript of the OT : Aleppo Codex, incomplete, 10th c ; Leningrad Codex, complete, 1008.
1896 : qaraite geniza from Cairo : 6th / 7th c AD, 2/3 of Hebrew B Sirac

Qumran manuscripts
1947 : Qumran: mss from 1st c BC, sometimes 3rd c BC Complete text : Isaiah Large sections of books : Psalms, Habakuk, Jeremiah.... Fragments of all Hebrew Bible books save Esther. Most deuterocanonical missing (Judith, Mac 1 et 2, Wisdom, Baruch).

Substantially the same text Some texts are chronologically very close to the original: Ps 1 : 100 BC

NT Manuscripts I
5,000 NT Greek manuscripts
A) Most ancient papyrus Papyrus Ryland, 150 ou avant : some Jn verses P66: between 150 and 175 : Jn complete P75 : between 175 and 200 : Lc complete, Jn almost complete.

P66 Beginning of Jn

P75 End Lk beginning Jn

P 46 Saint Paul 200 AD

NT Manuscripts II
B) Capital letters or uncial Codex B : 4th c, Vatican (OT + NT): Vatican library Codex S : 4th c, Sinaiticus (OT + NT) : British Museum Codex A : 5th c, Alexandrinus (OT + NT) : British Museum Codex C : 5th c, Ephrem Codex (OT+ NT) : Paris, BN. C) Small letters

Codex Alexandrinus

Codex Sinaiticus

Codex Vaticanus

History of the OT Hebrew text I


1 Text evolution : till 1st c. BC 2nd-1rst c. BC, OT text more or less definitive, save exceptions (Jeremiah : long and short version ; Ps : variations in Psalms order) Septuagint (IIIrd-IInd c) : some books have a slightly different text (shorter) : Jeremiah, I and II Samuel

History of the OT Hebrew text II


2 Definitive consonantal text : State almost reached at Qumran. After the 1rst c AD, the Hebrew text is almost identical to MT

History of the OT Hebrew text III


3 Definitive stabilization of vowels : massoretic work, 6th-8th c AD From 10th c on, MT is always written according to the rules of the critical notes made by Massoretes After the beginning of print (1445), MT is published according to the state it had reached by then

History of NT text
First written on papyrus, then on parchment Quick overspreading of codex (2nd c). Direct transmission of Greek text Indirect transmission through versions (more than 10,000 mss) and commentaries of the Fathers of the Church Variant readings : minor points (although at times important) not relevant for the faith Most variants before definitive canonization of texts (around 4th c)