Monday, September 28, 2015

Religious Studies at BYU

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, former president of BYU, outlines the place of Religious Studies at BYU in a recently published interview:
I think we will want to keep asking hard questions: how much is practical, how much is needed, how many lines of communication do we need, and what books are good enough to carry our imprimatur. When we know which products those are, then we should do a world-class job with them. I would like this [the Religious Studies Center] to become known as the scholarly voice of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on matters that would normally be considered as "religious studies." When people think, "Where do I look to see the real heartbeat of intellectual life and academic contribution for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," I want them to think BYU, and at BYU when the issue is religious scholarship, I want them to think of the Religious Studies Center.
(Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Thomas Wayment, "The RSC Turns Forty: A Convesation with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland," Religious Educator 16/2 [2015]: 3.)
Later in the interview Elder Holland also gave kudos to BYU Studies for its work in that field.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Provenance of Greek New Testament Manuscripts

There are a number of lists of New Testament manuscripts available, most of them based on the one at the back of the Nestle-Aland edition of the Greek New Testament. A good list will tell you about where the manuscript is found now, what texts it contains, and when the manuscript is thought to be written. What the lists do not tell you is where the manuscript was found. So this list is to provide that information, to the extent it is known.

I am arranging the list chronologically as well as geographically. Many of the dates in the standard lists are wrong. I am adjusting the dates following the new ones given by Orsini and Clarysse (two papyrologists) rather than the standard ones given by theologians. Papyrologists can at best date business hands to the nearest half-century; literary hands can at best be dated to the nearest century. (So I think that even some of the Orsini and Clarysse dates are too precise.)

I have also included a number of other details about some of these manuscripts that are not well known. The contents only mention the book or books that show up in the manuscript and in most cases the entire book is not attested. I have added the Trismegistos number and links for those interested in more information.

Take the question marks seriously.

Oxyrhynchus (Bahnasa)
p104 (= TM 61782, Matthew)
p90 (= TM 61625, John)
P.Oxy. 50 3528 (= TM 59983, Shepherd of Hermas)
P.Oxy. 69 4706 (= TM 69384, Shepherd of Hermas)
p30 (= TM 61860, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians)
P.Oxy. 69 4705 (= TM 69383, Shepherd of Hermas)
p1 (= TM 61787, Mathew)
p5 (= TM 61630, John)
p18 (= TM 61636, Revelation)
p20 (= TM 61618, James)
p27 (= TM 61854, Romans)
p29 (= TM 61701, Acts)
p69 (= TM 61700, Luke)
p70 (= TM 61789, Matthew)
p100 (= TM 61619, James)
p101 (= TM 61786, Matthew)
p103 (= TM 61785, Matthew)
p106 (= TM 61631, John)
p107 (= TM 61632, John)
p108 (= TM 61633, John)
p109 (= TM 61634, John)
p111 (= TM 65894, Luke)
p113 (= TM 65896, Romans)
p114 (= TM 65897, Hebrews)
p119 (= TM 112358, John)
p121 (= TM 112360, John)
P.Oxy. 15 1828 (= TM 59987, Shepherd of Hermas)
P.Oxy. 50 3527 (= TM 59986, Shepherd of Hermas)
P.Oxy. 69 4707 (= TM 69385, Shepherd of Hermas)
P. Oxy 3 404 (= TM 59989, Shepherd of Hermas)
p22 (= TM 61629, John)
p23 (= TM 61620, James)
p77 (= TM 61784, Matthew)
p13 (= TM 61861, Hebrews)
p28 (= TM 61635, John)
p78 (= TM 61695, Jude)
p115 (= TM 65898, Revelation)
P. Oxy. 15 1783 (= TM 59991, Shepherd of Hermas)
p39 (= TM 61638, John)
p9 (= TM 61639, 1 John)
p125 (= TM 117814, 1 Peter)
p10 (= TM 61868, Romans)
p123 (= TM 113259, 1 Corinthians)
p15+16 (= TM 61859, 1 Corinthians, Philippians) p17 (= TM 61862, Hebrews)
p71 (= TM 61794, Matthew)
p102 (= TM 61790, Matthew)
p110 (= TM 65893, Matthew)
p120 (= TM 112359, John)
P.Oxy. 9 1172 (= TM 59993, Shepherd of Hermas)
P.Oxy. 13 1599 (= TM 59992, Shepherd of Hermas)
P.Oxy. 50 3526 (= TM 59993, Shepherd of Hermas)
p19 (= TM 61798, Matthew)
p21 (= TM 61796, Matthew)
p48 (= TM 61702, Acts)
p24 (= TM 61641, Revelation)
p51 (= TM 61869, Galatians)
p122 (= TM 112361, John)
p127 (= TM 119313, Acts)
p54 (= TM 61622, James)
p105 (= TM 61803, Matthew, amulet)
p35 (= TM 61802, Matthew)
p112 (= TM 65895, Acts)
p36 (= TM 61662, John)
p124 (= TM 113260, 2 Corinthians)
p26 (= TM 61898, Romans)
p52 (= TM 61624, John)

Hermopolis (el-Ashmunein)
P.Iand. 1 4 (= TM 59982, Shepherd of Hermas)
P.Berl. 13272 (= TM 59990, Shepherd of Hermas)
Koptos (Qift)
p4+64+67 (= TM 61783, Matthew, Luke)
Aphroditopolis (Atfih) (?)/Panopolis (Akhmim) (?)/Arsinoites(?)
p46 (= TM 61855, Romans, Hebrews, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians)
p45 (= TM 61826, Matthew, John, Luke, Mark, Acts)
Aphroditopolis (Atfih) (?)
p47 (= TM 61628, Revelation)
Panopolis (Akhmim)
p66 (?) (= TM 61627, John)
p72 (= TM 61420, Protevangelium of Jacob, 3 Corinthians, Odes of Solomon, Jude, Melito of Sardis Peri Pascha, 1 Peter, 2 Peter)
P. Bodmer 38 (= TM 59994, Shepherd of Hermas, Dortheus Visio)
Hipponon (Qararo)
p40 (= TM 61846, Romans)
Egypt (further specification unknown)
p95 (= TM 61651, John)
p87 (= TM 61857, Philemon)
p98 (= TM 61626, Revelation)
p32 (= TM 61853, Titus)
p75 (= TM 61743, Luke, John)
p91 (= TM 61699, Acts)
p49 (= TM 61858, Ephesians)
p65 (= TM 61856, 1 Thessalonians)
p8 (= TM 61704, Acts)
p116 (= TM 66065, Hebrews)
p50 (= TM 61709, Acts)
p62 (= TM 61839, Matthew, Greek and Coptic [Akhmimic], Daniel)
p81 (= TM 61911, 1 Peter)
p82 (= TM 61706, Luke)
p86 (= TM 61793, Matthew)
p89 (= TM 61863, Hebrews)
p117 (= TM 68759, 2 Corinthians)
p126 (= TM 68735, Acts)
P.Hamburg 24/P.Iand. inv. 45 (= TM 59995, Shepherd of Hermas)
P.Prague I 1 (= TM 59996, Shepherd of Hermas)
p88 (= TM 61757, Mark)
p85 (= TM 61644, Revelation)
p118 (= TM 68810, Romans)
p6 (= TM 61656, John in Greek and Coptic [Akhmimic]; James in Coptic; 1 Clement in Coptic)
p93 (= TM 61650, John)
p99 (= TM 61873, Romans, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians)
p94 (= TM 61885, Romans)
p63 (= TM 61661, John)
P. Amherst 2 190 (= TM 59999, Shepherd of Hermas)
p25 (= TM 61823, Matthew)
p76 (= TM 61669, Matthew)
p96 (= TM 61810, Matthew, Greek and Coptic [Sahidic])
P.Berl. BKT 6 (= TM 60001, Shepherd of Hermas)
p31 (= TM 61901, Romans)
p73 (= TM 61814, Matthew)
p74 (= TM 61742, Acts, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude)
p80 (= TM 61645, John)
p42 (= TM 62320, Luke in Greek and Coptic)
P.Mich 2.2 130 (= TM 59984, Shepherd of Hermas)
P.Berl. 5513/BKT 6.2.1 (= TM 59988, Shepherd of Hermas)
p12 (= TM 62312, Hebrews 1:1 and Genesis 1:1-5 palimpsest amulet over a letter)
p37 (?) (= TM 61788, Matthew)
p38 (?) (= TM 61703, Acts)
p53 (= TM 61827, Matthew, Acts)
p57 (= TM 61707, Acts)
P.Berl. 5104 (= TM 59997, Shepherd of Hermas)
p56 (= TM 61721, Acts)
p33+58 (= TM 61731, Acts)
p3 (= TM 61732, Luke)
p55 (= TM 61671, John)
p34 (= TM 61903, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians)
p79 (= TM 61907, Hebrews)
200-500 (?)
p7 (= TM 61747, Luke)
p11 (= TM 61908, 1 Corinthians)
p14 (= TM 61886, 1 Corinthians)
p68 (?) (= TM 61902, 1 Corinthians)
Theadelphia (Batn el-Hatit)
P.Mich. 2.2 129 (= TM 59985, Shepherd of Hermas)
Narmouthis (Medinet Madi)
p92 (= TM 61852, Ephesians, 2 Thessalonians)
Djeme (Medinet Habu)
p2 (= TM 61744, John in Greek and Luke in Coptic)
p44 (= TM 61825, Matthew, John)
Khirbet Mird, Israel
p83 (= TM 61808, Matthew)
p84 (= TM 61775, Mark, John)
Wadi Sarga
p43 (= TM 61673, Revelation)
Aphrodito (Kom Ishqau) (?)
p97 (= TM 61698, Luke)
Nessana (Auja Hafir) Israel
p59 (= TM 61676, John)
p60 (= TM 61677, John)
p61 (= TM 61906, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, Titus, Philemon)
Krokodilopolis (Medinet el-Fayyum)
p41 (= TM 61739, Acts, in Greek and Coptic)
A few things stand out. First, we do not know the provenance of a large percentage of these manuscripts.

Another is that a number of the Greek manuscripts are actually bilingual Greek-Coptic manuscripts and they start appearing in the fourth century. The language switch helps explain why there are comparatively fewer copies of the Greek New Testament from Egypt after about 500.

A large percentage of our Greek New Testament manuscripts come from Oxyrhynchus. Most of those come from the third century. All the Oxyrhynchus manuscripts were found in the garbage dump. They were discarded manuscripts.

Half the manuscripts (5 of 10) from Arsinoites contain the book of Acts. Three quarters of the Sinai manuscripts contain 1 Corinthians.

Our second century manuscripts are all gospels (Matthew, John, and Luke) and the Shepherd of Hermas. The Revelation of John and James are also early popular works.

The early attestations at Coptos come as something of a surprise since Coptos is not really on  the radar of scholars in early Christianity. Arsinoites is another place that does not show up as a site of importance to those studying early Christianity but it has produced the second greatest number of papyri from a known site. Hermopolis is also not noted for its early Christian community and perhaps should be.

A number of the papyri come from the land of Israel rather than Egypt, though they figure in somewhat later.

The presence of Barnabas, 1 Clement, and the Shepherd of Hermas probably surprise some people but Barnabas and Shepherd of Hermas are included in the canon of scripture of Codex Sinaiticus, 1 Clement is included in Codex Alexandrinus. Note that the attestations are almost all early. After these books were excluded from the canon, they fell out of favor and generally stopped being copied.

Shepherd of Hermas is much more popular than the Gospel of Thomas and yet it figures much less prominently in the scholarship about early Christianity.

The lists in Nestle-Aland are very good at telling you which verses are actually attested but they are not good at telling you if works outside the Protestant New Testament are part of the manuscript or if there are languages other than Greek.

Provenance has not figured into discussions of New Testament manuscripts and perhaps it should.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Edwin C. (Ted) Brock

I just received new that Edwin C. (Ted) Brock passed away yesterday. This comes as something of a shock since I just saw Ted last month in Florence. I have known Ted for a number of years. He was very knowledgeable and very kind. My condolences to his wife, Lyla. I will miss him.

Friday, September 18, 2015

A Brief History of Religious Studies

This brief history of Religious Studies comes from George Marsden, who previously had written a history of how the American university system had gone from Protestant establishment to establish non-belief:
The rise of religion departments in many universities during the mid-twentieth century originally had as part of its rationale the promotions of . . . broadly Christian or Judeo-Christian ideals. Religion could be viewed as a special field of scientific study, but also as a source of inspiration going beyond science. Usually the religion taught was broadly ecumenical and interfaith, allowing little room for more traditional versions of Protestantism, Catholicism, or Orthodox Judaism.

During the 1960s and the 1970s the field of religion continued to grow, but in order to establish its academic credibility, it was increasingly marked by an emphasis on the scientific study of religion and decreasingly seen as a haven in the universities, or even in mainstream church-related colleges, for religious perspectives. The leaders in the field of religious studies now more often presented it as analogous to the social sciences rather than to the uplifting humanities, such as literature. The transformation in religious studies since the early 1960s had some parallels in the field of literature. Literature was no longer regarded first of all as uplifting, as it had been in the 1950s, but rather became a field whose academic status was legitimated by technical methodologies, often evidenced by esoteric terminology. Segments of religious studies followed similar paths, transforming themselves into cultural study and the comparative studies of the history of religions.

The new religious studies raised the academic credibility of the field and brought fresh insights on many religious phenomena. From the point of view of our own inquiry, however, they must be seen as part of the wider trend of insistence that the only place for religion in the mainstream academy is as an object of study.
(George M. Marsden, The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 21-22.)
In Religious Studies, as in most of academia, you are supposed to check your religion at the door.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Does Anyone Actually Believe This?

Recently a government website launched making comparisons between the cost of going to various universities. Looking at their data, something does not pass the smell test. Here are a number of universities and the government claims about how much it costs to go to each school for a year (arranged highest to lowest):
Catholic University of America $34,086
Emory University $28,463
Duke University $28,058
University of Notre Dame $27,845
University of Chicago $25,335
Columbia University $22,672
Yale University $16,743
Stanford University $15,713
University of Utah $14,114
Harvard University $14,049
University of California-Berkeley $13,769
Brigham Young University $13,070
University of Wyoming $11,292
Utah Valley University $9,642
I do not believe these numbers. Who seriously thinks that it is cheaper to go to Harvard or UC Berkeley than the University of Utah? Emory, Harvard, and Yale have roughly comparable tuition (in the $45,000 range). Something very strange is going on here.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Arthur Brooks at BYU

The intelligent and thoughtful Arthur Brooks visited BYU on Tuesday and talked to the Wheatley Institute. Mostly he talked to the students. I took notes and was going to post something on it, but you can read a good summary here.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Effect of Jewish Studies on Judaism

A friend of mine sent me a link to this older article where the inimitable Jacob Neusner, who taught Jewish Studies for years at a secular university, discusses how Jewish Studies has tended to undercut Judaism.

One very important point he makes in the essay is this:
When believing and practicing Jews decide who will teach what to whom, they take for granted that some things are more important than others. They affirm the cogency of the subject and know how things fit together. The Judaic system governs the things that are learned. To teachers and students, the classical texts convey truth. What follows? The Talmud is more important than a cookbook. The Jewish sponsors of Jewish learning derive the scale of values from the received canon and tradition.

Universities, by contrast, have no stake in according to Scripture or Midrash and Talmud a superior position in the curriculum. Learning in every topic and discipline defines its own priorities, and reason is not governed by revelation. So the curriculum is a mishmash of this and that — discrete details of a main point that does not register. Anything that is Jewish is as worthy of study as anything else that is Jewish. At my own college, the history of the bagel and the status of women in Jewish law have served equally well as topics of graduation essays.
Substitute "Mormon" for "Jewish" and "General Conference" for the "Talmud" and you probably have an apt description of Mormon Studies.

Neusner's point, of course, is one of the frustrating things about studying ancient Egyptian religion. Any inscription or text is taken as equally important with any other inscription or text. No system governs what is learned or studied and we do not know how things fit together. What is valuable and what is not? How are we to know? I have made the argument that the things that the Egyptians endlessly repeated to the point that modern scholars see them as "banal" are probably the most important things. Without an ancient Egyptian informant, that is an educated guess. One has to wonder if all the outpouring of writings of Egyptian religion is as valid as the outpouring of writings in Mormon Studies.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

We're Number Two (or is it Number One?)

According to this article, BYU is the number two least expensive ranked private university in America. But according to this article, BYU has the least expensive ranked law school in America.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

From the Mormon Odditoriurm

It is of no benefit in this world for men to preach such false doctrine. And now, every little while, I hear of some one of the Elders, who wishes to be considered smart, trying to teach something he knows nothing about. There is enough revealed to fill the whole earth as long as you live. Preach the truth as you understand it. Do not speculate on things you know nothing about, for it will benefit no one. (Wilford Woodruff, 6 April 1890)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Mesopotamian Joke

Many jokes about ancient Mesopotamia flounder because either the person telling the joke or the audience does not know enough about Mesopotamia to pull it off (usually the former). Sometimes, however, it works: I thought this was funny.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The "Real" Reasons Youth Drop Out of Church?

I recently stumbled across this article by Ed Stetzer about why youth drop out of church. It came out about the same time as my own series of blog posts on the subject, but is from a Pentecostal perspective and uses a different set of research data. According to this source, for Pentecostals:
About 70 percent of young adults ages 18 to 22 stopped attending church regularly for at least one year.
And it should be noted that we found almost two-thirds of those who left in our Protestant study were back in church by the end of the study.
So they kept 30% of their youth and 70% went missing but almost two-thirds of those (which would be 46% of the original) come back. This would be something under 76%. The NSYR classifies Pentecostals with Conservative Protestants. According to the NSYR, Conservative Protestants retain about 64% of their youth through college. Perhaps Pentecostals have slightly better retention than Conservative Protestants; perhaps the NSYR caught more of their people before they returned.

The article also reported:
We also asked young adults why they dropped out of church. Of those who dropped out, about 97 percent stated it was because of life changes or situations.
This is partly in line with what the NSYR reported although it is broken down a bit differently.

Stetzer also reported a break-down of the reasons that youth gave for leaving:
  • They simply wanted a break from church (27 percent).
  • They had moved to college (25 percent).
  • Their work made it impossible or difficult to attend (23 percent).
About 58 percent of young adults indicated they dropped out because of their church or pastor. When we probed further, they said:
  • Church members seemed judgmental or hypocritical (26 percent).
  • They didn't feel connected to the people at their church (20 percent).
  • Church members were unfriendly and unwelcoming (15 percent).
Fifty-two percent indicated some sort of religious, ethical or political beliefs as the reason they dropped out. In other words, about 52 percent changed their Christian views. Maybe they didn't believe what the church taught, or they didn't believe what they perceived others in the church to believe.

Firsthand faith leads to life change and life-long commitment. More specifically, 18 percent disagreed with the church's stance on political or social issues, 17 percent said they were only going to church to please others anyway, and 16 percent said they no longer wanted to identify with church or organized religion.
One of the things to notice is that reasons overlapped. Respondents gave multiple reasons for dropping out. The Pentecostal study has different aims and categories of analysis than the NSYR. I would categorize the responses as falling into one of the following categories:
  • A major change in their life broke their routine (48%)
  • They were offended (58%)
Only a small percentage (18%) left for what might be categorized as intellectual issues, but the survey categorized them as political or social reasons. That strikes me as a more useful assessment. The survey apparently did not question whether sin or the desire to sin played a role in the decision to leave.

What we see again is that there are multiple reasons for leaving and that intellectual issues are not a very big reason for youth leaving.