Papias on Judas Iscariot, as reported by Apollinaris of Laodicea

Few will be aware that there is a passage in Cramer’s catena ascribed to Apollinaris of Laodicea which quotes from the fourth book of Papias on the fate of Judas.  Indeed there are two passages; one from the catena on Matthew (on ch. 27), and another from the catena on Acts (on ch. 1), although in fact it is the same passage quoted at different lengths.  The text of one can be found here

Judas did not die by hanging, but lived on, having been cut down before choking. And this the Acts of the Apostles makes clear, that falling headlong his middle burst and his bowels poured forth. And Papias the disciple of John records this most clearly, saying thus in the fourth of the Exegeses of the Words of the Lord:

and then one of two versions:

Judas walked about as an example of godlessness in this world, having been bloated so much in the flesh that he could not go through where a chariot goes easily, indeed not even his swollen head by itself. For the lids of his eyes, they say, were so puffed up that he could not see the light, and his own eyes could not be seen, not even by a physician with optics, such depth had they from the outer apparent surface. And his genitalia appeared more disgusting and greater than all formlessness, and he bore through them from his whole body flowing pus and worms, and to his shame these things alone were forced [out]. And after many tortures and torments, they say, when he had come to his end in his own place, from the place became deserted and uninhabited until now from the stench, but not even to this day can anyone go by that place unless they pinch their nostrils with their hands, so great did the outflow from his body spread out upon the earth.


Judas lived his career in this world as an enormous example of impiety. He was so swollen in the flesh that he could not pass where a wagon could easily pass. Having been crushed by a wagon, his entrails poured out.

The Greek of both may be found on pp.22-30 of Lake’s The Beginning of Christianity (thanks to Andrew Criddle for the reference).  Lake comments that further research in the catenas would probably allow the text to be improved; one may wonder whether anyone has done so since.  He continues:

It will be seen, however, that these versions differ in one very important point. In the catena on Acts the whole story is attributed to Papias; but in the catena on Matthew the quotation from Apollinarius  which contains the extract from Papias ends with the statement that Judas was crushed by a wagon, and a new extract from Apollinarius then begins and gives a more elaborate and gruesome account of the swelling up and death of Judas. These two versions do not agree;  in one the wagon is the cause of death, in the other it is part of the comparison and only mentioned to show the extent to which Judas was swollen. The question is whether the crushing by a wagon or the longer version ia really that of Papias.

The matter cannot be settled with certainty, but J. Rendel Harris has tried to bring the balance of probability to the side of the attribution of the longer version by pointing out in the American Journal of Theology, July 1900, p. 501, that Bar Salibi in his commentary on Acts quotes the passage about the [Greek], and definitely ascribes it to Papias. It is extremely improbable that Bar Salibi used the catena of Andreas, so that this is independent evidence that the passage was taken from Papias by Apollinarius.

If so, Papias described Judas as living after the betrayal, and dying from a disease so terrible that his estate remained unoccupied. Among the symptoms mentioned was extreme swelling, so that a place where a wagon could pass was too narrow for him. This comparison gave rise to  a secondary form of the story which represented Judas as crushed by a wagon. …

On  the other hand, general probability would perhaps suggest that the shorter version is likely to be original If so, the gruesome details and the changed form of the longer version is due to a desire to pile up horrors and to make the death of Judas similar to that of other notoriously evil men, such as Herod the Great or Nadan in the story of Ahikar. To me this seems somewhat the more probable hypothesis. Whichever view be taken, Papias clearly represents a tradition different both from Matthew and from Acts.

Lake continues, examining a lot of early and interesting witnesses on the various explanations of the death of Judas, and how these were harmonised.

It would be nice to know what Dionysius bar-Salibi says.  Note that here again we have a 12th century Syriac author being used as a witness to an ancient text!

Faulhaber on Roman mss of the catenas of the prophets

The translator for the Origen homilies is really doing an excellent job.  He ‘s been looking into the issue of why the excerpts from catenas printed by Baehrens in the GCS are shorter than those printed by Migne (reprinting the Delarue edition).

Translating some of the latter reveals that they contain material evidently not by Origen; indeed disagreeing with the Origen material that they quote.  Baehrens gives a reference to Faulhaber, Die Propheten-Catenen nach rom. Hss. (= Bibl.  Stud. 4, 2.3 [1899]) , which is actually online at Google books (for US readers).  Biblische Studien IV is here.

Faulhaber lists the 233 fragments by Origen on Ezekiel on pp. 153-5, and states that these are taken partly from the Homilies, and partly from Origen’s scholia on Ezechiel.  He also notes (p.154) that the material in Migne is often plainly from the Homilies, but needs further study.  It seems that Delarue had a catena manuscript rather different to the others.

Origen on Ezekiel – thinking about bible versions

Four chapters of the immense sixteen-chapter first sermon on Ezekiel by Origen have now been translated, with copious footnotes; and I have the first draft here.  The translator has also discovered that Migne prints fragments of the original Greek preserved in the catenas, and is using these as a control.  It’s going to be very good.

One issue with any patristic work is whether to use an existing English bible translation for the biblical quotations, in order to avoid unnecessary unfamiliarity.  At the moment we’re using the RSV, except where Origen departs from the normal text.  We’re also trying to preserve a balance between undue literalness in translation and undue freedom.

But it occurs to me that non-academic readers might like a freer rendition, which is slightly less faithful to the word-by-word approach, and somewhat easier to read and understand.  If so, one might use a different bible version for the quotes.

Which one would one use?  Perhaps if a version of the Homilies was made, directed at a popular Catholic audience, we’d use… well, whatever version most Catholic use.  I don’t know what that is.

On the other hand any book aimed at US Christians in general would have to use the NIV, I would have thought.  I suppose one would need to get permission from someone to do so.

Is there any real reason not to target all three audiences; an academic version, a Catholic popular version, and a Christian popular version?

Why do we write accents on our ancient Greek?

The most obvious omission to strike the eye [in his book] is the disappearance of accents.  We are indebted to D. F. Hudson’s Teach Yourself New Testament Greek for pioneering this revolution.  The accentual tradition is so deeply rooted in the minds of classical scholars and of reputable publishers that the sight of a naked unaccented text seems almost indecent.  Yet from the point of view of academic integrity, the case against their use is overwhelming.  The oldest literary texts regularly using accents of any sort date from the first century B.C.  The early uncial manuscripts of the New Testament had no accents at all.  The accentual system now in use dates only from the ninth century A.D. 

It is not suggested that the modern editor should slavishly copy first-century practices.  By all means let us use every possible device that will make the text easier and pleasanter to read; but the accentual system is emphatically not such a device.  Accurate accentuation is in fact difficult.  Most good scholars will admit that they sometimes have to look their accents up.  To learn them properly consumes a great deal of time and effort with no corresponding reward in the understanding of the language.  When ingrained prejudice has been overcome, the clear unaccented text becomes very pleasant to the eye. 

In Hellenistic Greek the value of accents is confined to the distinguishing of pairs of words otherwise the same.  In this whole book it means only four groups of words; EI) and EI=); the indefinite and interrogative pronouns; parts of the article and the relative pronoun; and parts of the present and future indicative active of liquid verbs.  I have adopted the practice of retaining the circumflex in MENW=, -EI=S, -EI=, -OU=SIN and in EI=); of always using a grave accent for the relatives (\H, (\O, O(\I, and A(\I, and an acute for the first syllable of the interrogative pronoun (TI/S, TI/NA, etc.).  These forms are then at once self-explanatory, and the complications of enclitics are avoided.  All other accents have been omitted.

I should dearly love to take the reform one stage further, by the omission of the useless smooth breathing.  Judging by the criterion of antiquity, breathings have no right to inclusion.   Judged by the criterion of utility, ) should be used as an indication of elision or crasis, and nothing else, and the rough breathing would then stand out clearly as the equivalent of h.  The fear that examinees might be penalised for the omission of the smooth breathing has alone deterred me from trying to effect this reform.  I should like to know if other examiners would support this proposal. — J. W. Wenham, Elements of New Testament Greek, pp. vii-viii.

As someone fairly new to Greek, I don’t quite know how to look at this.  If the accents really are largely useless, why have them?  But is it as simple as this?

At the moment I’m working on software to automatically look up Greek words.  In the inscription we were looking at yesterday, the words mostly are found in the dictionaries, including Ares; but not “Aphrodite”.  I don’t really believe that the goddess isn’t in the dictionary.  Rather, I suspect, that some faulty accentuation means that X\ is not equalling X, or the like.  Most bits of code that I have seen for use with ancient Greek involve reams of code to try to overcome this sort of thing; all more or less inept.

Perhaps when I am searching for a word, I should first strip off all its accents, and all smooth breathings except one at the end of a word — e.g. A)LL) would become ALL) — and search using that?  Would I get a load of spurious matches?

And why do we have this complicated thing, if it is such a burden?  Is perhaps the accentuation thing just a bit of snobbery?  A way to keep the hoi polloi out?  No doubt there is snobbery around, as in all things to do with men and their deeds.  But is that all there is?  Or is there more to it than this?

Old hoaxes; Notovitch, Jacolliot, Jesus and India

The internet has given new life to some old hoaxes.  The idea that Jesus visited India and left otherwise unknown gospels there was advanced by a certain Notovitch in the 19th century.  I have just seen it appear again, all innocent and oblivious of criticism, in a crank discussion forum here.  Long ago I scanned some articles from Nineteenth Century magazine, in which the efficient British administrators of India went and interviewed the Tibetan lamas, with whom he supposedly communicated.

Rereading that article, I found references to other hoaxes in Max Muller’s comments. 

Be that as it may, M. Notovitch is not the first traveller in the East to whom Brâhmans or Buddhists have supplied, for a consideration, the information and even the manuscripts which they were in search of. Wilford’s case ought to have served as a warning, but we know it did not serve as a warning to M. Jacolliot when he published his Bible dans l’Inde from Sanskrit originals, supplied to him by learned Pandits at Chandranagor.

 Thanks to Google books, Mr Jacolliot’s book is available to read here, in the 1875 English translation.  The table of contents alone raises suspicions: long chapters on subjects like “Christian morality”, of no evident relevance, pad out the volume.  For as we know, most of these hoaxes are published for money, and a long book can be sold for more.  Sadly, after reading some 50 pages, I was unable to induce myself to read more.  The animosity of the author against the Christians was only equal to the vagueness of his rhetoric.  We must congratulate Dr Muller, that he managed to find something of substance in all this.

Other items in the Sothebys sale

Four leaves from mss here; including a leaf from a 12th century Vergil. A bunch of illuminated initials, courtesy of someone with scissors.

More interesting are fragments of 10 leaves of a large Coptic ms of sermons in the Sahidic dialect, here.

[Upper Egypt (most probably the White Monastery, in the province of Akhmim), ninth century AD.]

10 fragments of varying sizes: (1) a near complete leaf, 335mm. by 261mm.; (2) (3) & (7) substantial fragments of leaves approximately 240mm. wide, (4) & (6) large sections of single columns; the remainder small pieces approximately 60mm. across; written space of (1) 255mm. by 165mm, double column, with 31 lines in black ink, capitals within the text touched in red, those beginning significant sections with clubs at the end of their terminals, dots within their bodies and outlined in red, vellum dry and brittle in places, many tears to outer edges of leaves, but in good and presentable condition

These leaves contains parts of a number of Christian sermons which mention Jesus, Moses, Aaron, the apostles, and the Trinity; the largest of them contains a discussion of the relationship of man to the figures of the Old Testament, and ultimately to God. They are in the Sahidic dialect of Coptic, which the Christian inhabitants of Egypt translated the Bible into in the fourth century. By the ninth century it had become the official dialect of the Coptic Church.

The present fragments are most probably from the White Monastery (or the Monastery of St. Shenouda), a Coptic Orthodox monastery near the Upper Egyptian city of Sohag. It was founded by St. Pigol in 442, but only became renowned after his nephew St. Shenouda the Archimandrite (d. 466) took over in 385. He was a gifted administrator and during his abaccy the monastery grew in size from 30 monks to 2,200 monks and 1,800 nuns. He was also a prolific writer, and launched a literacy campaign within the monastery, which produced a large library, growing over the centuries to be arguably the most important in the Coptic Church. He is principally remembered as a writer of sermons, and these here may well prove to be further examples of his work.

When the first European visitors reached the monastery, the library was housed in a room to the north of the central apse called the ‘Secret Chamber’, which could be entered only through a hidden passage. It seems likely that the first such visitor allowed into the library was J. Maspero, who arrived in 1883 and who documented his visit (as well as his acquisitions there) in 1892 (‘Fragments de manuscrits Coptes-Thébains’, Mémoires publiés par les membres de la mission archéologiques française 16). Others followed, and so many leaves flooded out of the monastery that when Canon Oldfield visited in 1903 the ‘Secret Chamber’ was completely empty (W.E. Crum, ‘Inscriptions from Shenoute’s Monastery’, Journal of Theological Studies 5, 1904). Some were no doubt legitimately bought from the monks, and the British Museum acquired a large collection through their agent Wallace Budge, and the BnF a vast hoard of 4000 leaves through Maspero and an antiquities dealer named Freney. However, records exist of more nefarious acquisition methods, including that of Charles Wilbour who came to the region in 1890 on a buying trip for the Brooklyn Museum, and reports that “Mr. Frenay told us Abbé Amélineau tried to burgle the White Monastery … after drugging the monks” (Travels in Egypt, 1936, p. 561).

In recent years the scholar Tito Orlandi has undertaken the task of reconstructing the contents of the library, and fragments have come to light in an array of institutions in Europe, America and Russia as well as Egypt. The present fragments are, to the best of our knowledge, hitherto unknown to scholarship.

Yet another Greek gospel ms, 12th century, is here

K. Aland, Kurzgefasste Liste der Greichischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments, Berlin, 1994, p. 97, no. 851, as formerly Quaritch (also as no. 2602, a duplicate number).

A 17th century Armenian gospel ms. is here.

A 12th century Latin copy of the gospel of Luke, from St. Augustine’s Canterbury, is here.

A 12th century ms. of Cassiodorus, Historia Tripartita, from North Yorkshire, is here.  This once belonged to Chester Beatty.

A 12th century glossed copy of Paul’s letters in Latin, here.

I wasn’t able to find a page with all the lots listed, but there are 118.  Most are of minature images.  Quite a lot of books of hours are listed too.

Greek NT manuscript for sale

To be sold at Sothebys in London, here, on the 7th July 2009. 

There are zoomable pictures of four of the illuminated pages, but none of the text.  The nearest we get is a picture of one of the Eusebian canon tables. These are in Adobe Flashplayer so that they can’t be downloaded (shame).  Here’s most of the catalogue description:

LOT 16   GOSPELS, IN GREEK, WITH CANON TABLES AND PROLOGUES, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM [eastern Mediterranean (perhaps Constantinople), early twelfth century]

327 leaves, 263 mm. by 197 mm., complete, collation: i6, ii4+1 [fol. 9 apparently a single sheet], iii2 [full-page miniatures], iv-xiv8, xv8+1 [full-page miniature a single sheet, fol. 102], xvi-xxi8, xxii2+1 [full-page miniature a single sheet, fol. 161], xxiii8, xxiv6 [complete], xxv8, xxvi6 [complete], xxvii-xxxiv8, xxxv2, xxxvi2 [including full-page miniature], xxxvii-xxxviii8, xxxix6 [complete], xl-xlv8, with signatures in Greek letters in upper outer corners of rectos, modern pencil foliation (followed here) repeats ‘208’, single column, 20 lines, ruled in blind, written-space 180 mm. by 120 mm., written in dark brown ink in a large and calligraphic Greek minuscule, subject headings in upper margins in red or gold, chapter initials and numbers throughout in liquid gold, some liturgical directions added in red, nine illuminated headpieces or panels in burnished gold or colours and gold, usually with large illuminated initials and lines of script entirely in gold, nine full-page illuminated canon tables including very elaborate (almost half-page) illuminated panel pediments including flowers and birds, usually all surmounted by birds or animals, five full-page miniatures on burnished gold grounds within decorative frames, some signs of use, traces of coloured silk coverings once over the miniatures, many pages rubbed, all miniatures with at least some significant rubbing and flaking (sometimes affecting the faces), some staining and worming at ends, some cockling and thumbing, many pages in good condition and overall in very reasonable state for a Greek manuscript of such antiquity, medieval Greek binding, thick wooden boards flush with the edges of the text block, outer edges grooved, sewn gathering to gathering in the Greek style, spine raised at top and bottom “alla greca”, covered with dark red silk with some traces of silver metalwork threads, metal fittings in corners of the upper cover with symbols of the four evangelists, central metal fitting of a cross enclosing seven scenes from the Passion of Christ, two clasps of triple plaited red leather thongs emerging from edge of lower cover and terminating in metal rings which fit over metal pins on the edge of the upper cover (one defective), binding very worn, skilfully rebacked with spine laid on, nineteenth-century paper endleaves

(1) To judge from the richness and quality of the illumination and the extent of the writing in gold script, the manuscript is likely to have been made in Constantinople itself.

(2) Frederick North, fifth earl of Guilford (1766-1827), probably, like most of his Greek manuscripts, collected during his period of residence in Corfu; bequeathed by him to the Ionian University, Corfu, of which he was founder and first chancellor, but the bequest was contested by his nephew Lord Sheffield and the collection was dispersed in London instead (perhaps for the best, since the library of the Ionian University was totally destroyed by enemy action in 1941); Guilford sale, Evans, 28 February 1829, lot 644, 98 guineas to Payne.

(3) Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872), his MS 3886, bought from Payne, the first of Phillipps’ many acquisitions from the various Guilford sales; his stencilled crest on the flyleaf.

(4) Dudley M. Colman (d. 1958), of Hove, one of nineteen first-class manuscripts bought by him from the Robinsons in 1946 almost immediately after their acquisition of the residue of the Phillipps library, before any catalogue was issued; many of them were resold through C. A. Stonehill to the Beinecke Library at Yale University in 1954.

(5) Recorded by Aland as formerly owned by Robert J. Barry, bookseller in New Haven (and a partner in Stonehill’s); sold to a private collector, and by descent to the present owner.

H. C. Hoskier, A Full Account and Collation of the Greek Cursive Codex Evangelium 604 (with two facsimiles) [Egerton 2610 in the British Museum], together with Ten Appendices, London, 1890, Appendix E, pp. 2-3 (“the writing is decided and handsome”).

F. H. A. Scrivener, A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament, for the Use of Biblical Students, 4 ed., London, 1894, p. 251, no. 529 (“a beautiful copy”).

K. Aland, Kurzgefasste Liste der Greichischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments, Berlin, 1994, p. 87, no. 678.

The manuscript is illustrated with five miniatures and ornamented with many illuminated pages. The style is close to that of a loosely associated group of illuminators working in Constantinople around the middle of the first half of the twelfth century, known as the ‘Kokkinobaphos’ manuscripts, after two volumes of homilies written in the monastery of that name. The artists were patronised by the imperial family and others. Related manuscripts include J. Paul Getty Museum MS Ludwig II,4, dated 1133 (most probably with a miniature removed), and the Gospels of the illuminator Theophanes, c. 1125-50, in the National Gallery of Victoria, MS Felton 710-5 (with only one remaining miniature), bought in the Dyson Perrins sale in these rooms, 9 December 1958, lot 2 (cf. M. Manion, The Felton Illuminated Manuscripts in the National Gallery of Victoria, 2005, pp. 25-97, and others described by A. Weyl Carr in Byzantium, 330-1453, ed. R. Cormack and M. Vassiliki, 2008, pp. 395 and 431, nos. 59 and 204). Romanesque Greek manuscripts with pictures, rather than mere ornament, are now very rare on the market. The Guilford catalogue of 1829, the last occasion when the present manuscript was offered in public, noted of it, “This is believed to be the most ancient, valuable, and splendid manuscript of the Gospels in Greek, ever submitted to Public Sale in this country … This venerable manuscript of the Greek Gospels would be an invaluable acquisition to the Collector, and form one of the brightest ornaments in any library, public or private, in this Kingdom.” It is undoubtedly the most important and richly illuminated Greek Gospel Book to come to auction in Britain since the sale of the thirteenth-century Phillipps MS 3887, its immediately adjacent companion at Middle Hill, which was lot 8 in the Phillipps sale in these rooms, 30 November 1965, afterwards H. P. Kraus, Monumenta, 1973, no. 51, and now J. Paul Getty Museum, MS Ludwig II.5.

The decoration comprises:

Folio 1v. First canon table, full-page, supported by double gold columns, decoration including flowers on either side, two rams in a meadow at the top facing inwards, and two birds flying towards a nest of chicks in a tree.

Folio 2r. Second canon table, full-page, supported by double gold columns, decoration including flowers on either side, two rams in a meadow at the top facing outwards, and a cruciform fountain.

Folio 2v. Third canon table, full-page, supported by red marble columns, decoration including flowers, suspended jewelled crowns, and two birds on either side of a vase.

Folio 3r. Third canon table, full-page, supported by red marble columns, decoration including flowers, suspended jewelled crowns, and four birds around a vase at the top.

Folio 3v. Fourth canon table, full-page, supported by green marble and gold columns, the headpiece including five birds, decoration including flowers on either side and two peacocks facing a vase at the top.

Folio 4r. Fifth canon table, full-page, supported by green marble and gold columns, the headpiece including five birds, decoration including flowers on either side and two peacocks drinking from a fountain at the top.

Folio 4v. Sixth canon table, full-page, supported by gold columns, decoration including flowers on either side and two ducks drinking water flowing from a fountain at the top.

Folio 5r. Seventh canon table, full-page, supported by gold columns, decoration including flowers on either side and two ducks quacking beside a fountain at the top.

Folio 5v. Eighth canon table, full-page, supported by gold and pink marble columns, decoration including four candlesticks at the sides and two birds facing outwards and pecking at plants beside flowers in a vase at the top.

Folio 6r. Ninth canon table, full-page, supported by gold and pink marble columns, decoration including four candlesticks at the sides and two birds towards a vase of flowers at the top.

Folio 7v. The letter of Eusebius to Carpianus, explaining the use of the canon tables; illuminated headpiece, 20 mm. by 115 mm., four-line heading in burnished gold, and large floral illuminated initial.

Folio 10r. Kephalaia (or chapter headings) for Matthew’s Gospel; 2-line heading and illuminated panel in burnished gold.

Folio 12v. Christ in majesty, full-page miniature, 191 mm. by 130 mm., Christ seated on a red and gold cushion on an elaborate gold throne, facing forwards, his feet on a green and yellow carpet, one hand raised in benediction, the other holding a Gospel Book bound in gold ornamented with pearls and red and green jewels; gold ground inscribed in Greek letters in red “IS. CHS.”

Folio 13v. Saint Matthew, full-page miniature, 175 mm. by 125 mm., the evangelist in blue and mauve robes seated on the left in a tall ornamental chair, his feet on a low footstool, an open book held on his lap, reaching forward with his right hand to a pencase on a desk with little cupboards, an open book on a stand above (showing the first words of his Gospel, “bíblo[s] genéseos Iu. Xu”), an ink pot in the foreground; gold ground inscribed in Greek letters in red “O ágios Mattheios”.

Folio 14r. Opening of the Gospel of Matthew; very large illuminated headpiece, 112 mm. by 114 mm., enclosing a title in gold capitals; two birds at the top among flowers beside a fountain; large illuminated initial.

Folio 100v. Kaphalaia (or chapter headings) for Mark’s Gospel; 3-line heading and illuminated panel in burnished gold.

Folio 102v. Saint Mark, full-page miniature, 173 mm. by 125 mm., the evangelist in red and blue robes seated on the left in a tall chair, his feet on a low footstool, an open book held on his lap, reaching forward with his right hand to touch a book on an adjustable stand above a desk inscribed with the opening words of his Gospel “arche t[ou] evangelíon Iu. Xu. u[io]u”, the desk laid with writing implements; gold ground inscribed in Greek letters in red “O ágios Markos”.

Folio 103r. Opening of the Gospel of Mark; large illuminated frame, 64 mm. by 127 mm., enclosing a title in gold capitals; flowers in the corners; large illuminated initial.

Folio 159r. Kaphalaia (or chapter headings) for Luke’s Gospel; 3-line heading and illuminated panel in burnished gold.

Folio 161v. Saint Luke, full-page miniature, 175 mm. by 126 mm., the evangelist in blue and pale green robes seated on a stool on the left with his feet on a footstool, writing the opening words of his Gospel into an open book held on his lap (“Epideieper po[llo]i epexei[e]san”), a writing desk and reading stand on the right draped with a long scroll also inscribed in Greek, a cupboard in the front of the desk open to reveal a manuscript in a jewelled cover; gold ground inscribed in Greek letters in red “O ágios Lukas”.

Folio 162r. Opening of the Gospel of Luke; large illuminated frame, 65 mm. by 128 mm., enclosing a title in gold capitals; flowers in the corners; large illuminated initial.

Folio 255v. Kaphalaia (or chapter headings) for John’s Gospel; 2-line heading and illuminated panel in burnished gold.

Folio 256v. Saint John, full-page miniature, 173 mm. by 128 mm., the evangelist in white and blue robes seated on the left in a tall chair apparently made of basketwork , his feet on a low footstool, writing into an open book held on his lap, a writing desk on the right with an open book on a reading stand, inscribed with the opening words of his Gospel (“+ En arche en o logos kai o logos”); gold ground inscribed in Greek letters in red “O ágios Io. o theologos”.

Folio 257r. Opening of the Gospel of John; large illuminated frame, 69 mm. by 132 mm., enclosing a title in gold capitals; flowers in the corners; large illuminated initial; all ending on fol. 326r, “… graphómena biblia, amen”.

So, the obvious question: has it been photographed?

May 2009 Bloodsucker Award – the German Bible Society

I am pleased to announce a winner for the Bloodsucker Award this month — the German Bible Society! 

Their successful entry was their emails demanding that various open-source projects which use the 10-year old morphologised Greek New Testament be abandoned, on the grounds that they “own” the text of the Greek New Testament.

When I announced this award, I described the criterion as follows:

I will award it, ad hoc, to institutions in receipt of state funding which in order to make money violate their primary directive; to make books available and promote learning.

I don’t know whether the GBS receives state money, although in Germany religious bodies often do.  But it does enjoy charitable status in order to promote learning and study of the scriptures, and so falls within the general area — abuse of public funding in order to make money instead of doing its job.

Flame the German Bible Society

These greedy bastards are claiming that they own the text of Greek New Testament, and anyone who wants to use it must pay them. In the meantime they’re forcing MorphGNT and offline. So why not tell them politely but firmly what you think of their evil scheme? Make sure that they know that they are injuring thousands of people, in their greed? Email addresses are here

After all — the same claim would affect every classical text online.

Isn’t it typical that it’s a German business who tries to screw us all over?  They contribute almost nothing to the web, yet here they are, trying to seize the work of others for their own profit?

A Byzantine exegesis of Paul in the “depth of the sea”

The following interesting passage can be found in a work by the Venerable Bede 1:

The same apostle (Paul) said, “a night and a day I was in the depth of the sea’ (2 Cor. 11:25).  I have heard certain men assert that Theodore of blessed memory, a very learned man and once archbishop of the English people, expounded the saying thus: that there was in Cyzicus a certain very deep pit, dug for the punishment of criminals, which on account of its immense depth was called the depth of the sea.  It was the filth and darkness of this which Paul bore, amongst other things, for Christ.

Theodore was a Greek from Tarsus, who happened to be in Rome in 667 AD at the moment when a Saxon archbishop-elect of Canterbury had died while in Rome to get his pallium. Pope Vitalian was open to eastern influence, and promptly appointed this 67-year old man (d. 690) as archbishop.  His episcopate was a considerable success, he increased the status of the clergy, reorganised the diocese, and Bede says of him that he was the first archbishop whom the whole English church willingly obeyed.  This in turn helped to foster English political and cultural unity.  He brought knowledge of Latin and Greek to Dark Ages England, and interesting snippets like this from a part of the ancient world where the darkness had yet to fall.

1. Liber Quaestionum, Patrologia Latina 93, cols. 456D-457A.  The reference comes to me from Henry Mayr-Harting, The coming of Christianity to anglo-saxon England (1972), repr. 1977, p.207, n. 58 (on p.312).