A new book devoted to early New Testament commentaries and their significance for the biblical text has been produced by members of the COMPAUL project at ITSEE and an international team of scholars.
Since 2011, the European Research Council-funded COMPAUL project at ITSEE, led by Dr Hugh Houghton, has been examining commentaries on the Pauline Epistles as sources for the early history of the biblical text. One of the major outputs from the project is a new volume of original research shedding new light on the composition, transmission and significance of these writings.
Even though one in ten surviving manuscripts of the Greek New Testament are commentaries in the format known as ‘catenae’, these have long suffered from neglect by scholars of the biblical text, due in part to the volume and complexity of the textual tradition as well as the presentation of the manuscripts themselves. This new book brings together many of the findings of the COMPAUL project, along with contributions from a distinguished group of European researchers also at work in this field.
The collection includes the first general introduction to Greek New Testament catenae and commentaries, as well as cutting-edge work on individual authors and linguistic traditions. Particular attention is paid to the layout of commentary manuscripts and the sources used by commentators, including the re-use of earlier works by later writers. In addition to the principal Greek and Latin commentators, such as Origen, John Chrysostom, Theodoret, Ambrose and Rufinus, there are also chapters on the Gothic commentary on the Gospel according to John, the re-use of Augustine’s commentaries by Florus of Lyons in the ninth century, and the first attempt to produce a systematic catalogue of Bohairic Coptic and Ethiopic catena manuscripts.
One of the highlights of the volume is its groundbreaking list of Greek New Testament catena manuscripts. In addition to the 526 catenae currently contained in the official Liste of manuscripts of the Greek New Testament, Professor David Parker has identified an additional 100 manuscripts not included in this index. In total, the fourteen chapters of this book refer to more than 800 manuscripts, extending from the great research libraries of northern Europe to private collections in Ethiopia. This extensive engagement with the surviving evidence lays the foundations for further scholarship.
Many of the chapters in the book were initially presented at the Ninth Birmingham Colloquium on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament in March 2015. Delegates from no fewer than twelve countries gathered in Birmingham to hear papers by project members, invited experts from across the world, and other scholars engaged in research across a broad spectrum of languages and centuries.
The book is published by Gorgias Press in the Texts and Studies series. The hardback edition is available for $95. In addition, through the generosity of the European Research Council, the full text of the volume is available free of charge in the Gorgias Press online repository.
Dr Houghton, who edited the volume, said:
“I am delighted that the COMPAUL project has borne fruit in this varied and stimulating collection of papers. My hope is that this book will inspire further work on commentaries and enable a better understanding of their complex traditions. I’m also particularly pleased that it has been possible to make the electronic version available as open access, so that anyone who is interested can download it for free.”
The list of chapters is as follows:
1. An Introduction to Greek New Testament Commentaries with a Preliminary Checklist of New Testament Catena Manuscripts (H.A.G. Houghton & D.C. Parker)
2. The Context of Commentary: Non-Biblical Commentary in the Early Christian Period (R.F. MacLachlan)
3. Biblical Catenae: Between Philology and History (Gilles Dorival)
4. Catenae and the Art of Memory (William Lamb)
5. Parsing Paul: Layout and Sampling Divisions in Pauline Commentaries (Bruce Morrill & John Gram)
6. Resurrection Appearences in the Pauline Catenae (Theodora Panella)
7. The Reception of Scripture and Exegetical Resources in the Scholia in Apocalypsin (GA 2351) (Garrick V. Allen)
8. Theodoret’s Text of Romans (Agnes Lorrain)
9. Bethania, Bethara, or Bethabara: Fortunatianus of Aquileia and Origen’s Commentary on John, with particular reference to John 1:28 (Lukas J. Dorfbauer)
10. Ambrose the Appropriator: Borrowed Texts in a New Context in the Commentary on Luke (Susan B. Griffith)
11. Rufinus’ Translation of Origen’s Commentary on Romans: Christina M. Kreinecker)
12. The Transmission of Florus of Lyon’s Expositio epistolarum beati Pauli apostoli. State of the Art and New Results (Shari Boodts & Gert Partoens)
13. Biblical Quotations in the Gothic Commentary on the Gospel of John (Skeireins) (Carla Falluomini)
14. An Overview of Research on Bohairic Catena Manuscripts on the Gospels with a Grouping of Arabic and Ethiopic (Ge’ez) Sources and a Checklist of Manuscripts (Matthias Schulz)