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Amulets and Ostraca

Image: T2

 

In an attempt to put the magic back in the Kurzgefaßte Liste, the INTF will be resurrecting the talisman and ostracon numbers.

In the latest issue of JBL (142 no. 4 [2023]: 633–655), Brice Jones and I explore the usefulness of amulets and magical ostraca for New Testament textual criticism. We briefly define these objects and describe how New Testament text is recorded on them. We then survey which amulets and magical ostraca were used in 20th critical editions of the Greek New Testament and why these categories were added and then subsequently removed from the Kurzgefaßte Liste.

Although the essential research is based on Jones’ book, New Testament Texts on Greek Amulets from Late Antiquity, it was fun to dig further into the history of Kurzgefaßte Liste publications to see exactly what happened to these witnesses. Years ago, I saw an unknown symbol in NestleNovum Testamentum Graece. It was not until I read Jones’ book that I finally made the connection that it was an amulet, T3.

Image: Citations of T3 (highlighted) in the Nestle 13th edition (1927) at Matt 6:12–13

 

Our article, “Resurrecting Amulets and Ostraca in New Testament Textual Criticism,” seeks to explain why the “talisman” and “ostracon” categories have now been continued in the Kurzgefaßte Liste. It highlights the shift in New Testament textual criticism toward an increased appreciation of the social milieu of those who used the biblical text and how this new perspective on the value of amulets and magical ostraca justifies their inclusion in the ECM, CBGM, and the Kurzgefaßte Liste.

Amulets up to T39 and magical ostraca up to Os30 will be catalogued in the Kurzgefaßte Liste as an appendix and will not be included in the tally of Greek New Testament witnesses for now.[1] Readers can see how their inclusion affects already cataloged witnesses and how images and transcriptions of these new additions are already accessible in the NTVMR.

To find which amulets and magical ostraca have been added to the Liste, in the NTVMR, just type in “t” or “os” in the search field under “name” (or use the six-digit Doc IDs beginning with 51 and 52 for “ID” in the search field). Or, you can click here for amulets and here for magical ostraca.

The article explains how these witnesses will appear in the apparatus of ECM Matthew when it is published, as well as in the CBGM. Their inclusion in the CBGM is probably unexpected since they are non-continuous witnesses. From the article,

Amulets have two major disadvantages in the context of the CBGM: (1) they contain a small amount of text, and (2) their text is often an indirect witness; that is, they were not initially created with the primary intention of accurately transmitting the New Testament text. Their limited text poses the same problem as other fragmented texts (like the early papyri), and, on this basis alone, their inclusion in the CBGM would produce cautionary results at best. As indirect witnesses, they would be inappropriately taken as representing the same tradition as continuous text manuscripts or lectionaries that are in the CBGM. (p. 647)

Nevertheless, the Greek text of amulets can be assigned to Greek variants in the apparatus, unlike versions that would have to rely on a retro-translation. In the CBGM, amulets and ostraca, with only a small amount of text available, qualify as “fragmented” witnesses and their inclusion in the Coherence at Variant Passages diagrams can be turned on or off with the button labeled “Frag.” This way, users will have the option to see them or not. Their inclusion is largely exploratory, and a study is planned to appear on the results in the forthcoming edition of ECM Matthew.

Below is the full list of amulets and magical ostraca now recorded in the Liste. If there are any more we should be aware of, please let us know!

 

 

T1
=[0152]

Mt 6:11-13

IV

Pottery

Athens, National Historical Museum, 12227

T2

Mt 4:23-24

VI-VII

Pg

Allentown, PA, Muhlenberg College, Pap. 1077 (theol. 2)

T3

Mt 6:9-13

VI

Papyrus

Location unknown, Zuletzt: Germany, (früher: Berlin, Staatliche Museen P. 954)

T4

Mt 6:9; Jn 1:23; Gospel incipits

VI?

Papyrus

Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, 13926

T5

Mt 6:9-13

VII-VIII

Wood

Heidelberg, Ägyptologisches Institut , 761

T6

Mt 6:9-13; Lk 9:37(?); 11:1b-2

V-VI

Papyrus

Giessen, Universitätsbibliothek, P. Iand. 14

T7

Mt 6:9; Mk 1:1-8; Lk 1:1-7; Jn 1:1-17

XII/XIII

Pg

Chicago, IL, University of Chicago Library, Ms. 125 (Goodspeed)

T8

Jn 2:1a-2; Rom 12:1-2

V-VI

Papyrus

Wien, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, G 2312

T9

Jn 1:1, 3

V

?

Glasgow, University Library, Ms. Gen. 1026/12

T10

Mt 28:19; Mt 4:23; Gospel incipits; Jn 1:1

V-VI

Pg

Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz, P. 6096

T11

Mt 4:23; 9:35; 8:15; Mk 1:31

V-VI

Papyrus

Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz, P. 21230

T12

Mt 6:9-11

IV-VI

Papyrus

Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Libraries, AM 8963

T13

Mt 6:9-13

VI-VII

Papyrus

Durham, NC, Duke University, David M. Rubenstein Library, P. Duk. Inv. 778

[T14]

= 0324

     

T15

Mt 6:9-13

VI-VIII

Papyrus

New Haven, CT, Yale University Library, P. CtYBR 4600

T16

Mt 6:9-13; 2 Cor 13:13(?)

IV-V

Papyrus

Oslo, University of Oslo Library , P. 1644, fol.;

Oslo/London, The Schøyen Collection, MS 244/4, fol.

T17

Mt 6:10-12

E III - A IV

Papyrus

Oxford, Sackler Library, P. Ant. 54

T18

Mt 6:11-13

VI

Papyrus

Köln, Institut für Altertumskunde, Inv. Nr. 3559 (recto), fol.; Inv. Nr. 3583 (recto), fol.

T19

Mt 6:12-13

V

Papyrus

Köln, Institut für Altertumskunde, Inv. Nr. 3302

T20
=[P105]

Mt 27,62-64; 28,2-5

V/VI

Papyrus

Oxford, Sackler Library, P. Oxy. 4406

T21

Mk 1:1-2

III-IV

Papyrus

Oxford, Sackler Library, 25 3B 58/E(c)

T22

Jn 1:1-11

V-VI

Papyrus

Köln, Institut für Altertumskunde, Inv. Nr. 649, fol.; Inv. Nr. 689, fol.

T23

Jn 1:5-6

VI-VII

Pg

Wien, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, G 29831

T24

Jn 1:29, 49

VI-VII

Papyrus

Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz, P. 11710

T25

2 Cor 10:4; 1 Thess 5:8; Eph 6:16

VI

Papyrus

Wien, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, G 26034, fol.; G 30453, fol.

T26
=[0262]

1 Tim 1:15-16

VII

Pg

Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz, P. 13977

T27
=[P78]

Jd 4.5.7.8

III/IV

Papyrus

Oxford, Sackler Library, P. Oxy. 2684

T28

Col 3:9-10

IV/V

Papyrus

London, University College, Petrie Museum, UC 32070

T29

Act 9:1

III/IV

Papyrus

Birmingham, University of Birmingham Cadbury Research Library, P.Harr. inv. 486

T30

Mt 1:20

VI-VIII

Papyrus

Ann Arbor, MI, University of Michigan Library, P. Mich. inv. 4944b

T31

Mt 1:1; Mk 1:1; Jn 1:1

V-VI

Papyrus

Alexandria, Bibliotheca Alexandrina Antiquities Museum, BAAM 0505

T32

Jn 1:1

 

Papyrus

Heidelberg, Institut für Papyrologie, P. Lat. 5

T33

Mt 1:1; Mk 1:1; Lk 1:1; Jn 1:1

VI-VII

Papyrus

Wien, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, G 348

T34

Mt 6:9-13

IV

Papyrus

Oxford, Sackler Library, P. Oxy. 4010

T35

Ps 21:19/Mt 27:35/Jn 19:24

VI

Papyrus

Wien, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, G 29418

T36

Mt 6:11-12

VI-VII

Papyrus

Wien, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, L 91

T37

Mt 6:9

VII?

Wood

Paris, Musée du Louvre, D 552B

T38

James 1:14-17

E V?

Papyrus

Genova, Biblioteca Universitaria, 1160 Vo

 

 

Os1-20
=[0153]

Matt 27:31–32; Mark 5:40–41; 9:17, 18, 22; 15:21; Luke 12:13–15, 15– 16; 22:40–45, 45–49, 49–53, 53–54, 55–59, 59–60, 61, 61–64, 65–69, 70–71; John 1:1–9, 14–17; 18:19–25; 19:15–17

V-VI

Pottery

Location unknown

Os21

Lk 1:42, 28

IV-VIII

Pottery

London, British Museum, EA 33101

Os22

John 2:1

VII

Pottery

London, British Museum, EA 55805

Os23

Act 2:22-24 (UC 62598), 2:25-29, 32-36; 3:1-2 (UC 62568); 15:38-16:1, 7-9 (UC 62540+62547); 16:18; 19:1, 8-9 (UC 62567); Rom 13:3-6, 7-11 (UC 62600); Gal 1:8-11 (UC 62732), 15-18; 2:3-8 (UC 62583); James 2:2-3, 8-9 (UC 62719); 4:11-13 (UC 62592); 1Jn 2:12-14, 19-22 (UC 31897); 3:17-22; 4:1-3 (UC 62566), 19-14, 18-21 (UC 62584); Jude 1-3, 4 (UC 62573).

V

Pottery

London, University College, Petrie Museum, UC 31897, fol.; UC 62598, fol.; UC 62568, fol.; UC 62540, fol.; UC 62547, fol.; UC 62567, fol.; UC 62600, fol.; UC 62732, fol.; UC 62583, fol.; UC 62719, fol.; UC 62592, fol.; UC 62573, fol.; UC 62566, fol.; UC 62584, fol.

Os24

Rom 8:31

IV-VI

Stone

Cambridge, Cambridge University Library, Ostraka inv. 129

Os25

Lk 1:28

V-VII

Pottery

London, British Museum, EA 32966

Os26

Mt 1:19-20

V-VI

Pottery

Turin, Museo Egizio, Cat. Fab. 2136

Os27

Mt 7:18-20, 29-8:4

VI-VII

Pottery

Cairo, Coptic Museum, Naqlun 53/88, fol.; Naqlun 64/86, fol.

Os28

Mt 16:18-19; Heb 5:6

VI-VII

Pottery

New York, NY, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Acc. no. 14.1.202

Os29

Jn 9:1-12; Act 3:11

VII-VIII

Pottery

London, British Museum, Eg. Dept. (?)

Os30

Heb 2

VI-VIII

Pottery

Anonymous owner, Anonymous owner, Milan Private Owner

 

We are still in the process of acquiring images, but many images are already included in the NTVMR, especially ones with text from Matthew, such as T34:

 

Some ostraca also have images in the NTVMR, for example Os25:

 

I end with a quote from the article:

While there is little doubt that amulets and magical ostraca provide an important window into early Christian faith and practices, as many have convincingly argued, the precise textual worth of each of these witnesses remains to be determined. Magical ostraca in particular warrant further research, and scholars now have new resources at their fingertips to gain insights into and to research the rich textual history of the New Testament. It is hoped that recording these witnesses in the Liste (and their images in the NTVMR whenever possible), and including them in the ECM and CBGM, will make way for more productive and nuanced research on their worth for textual criticism and the role they play in the exploration of the social history of early Christianity. (p. 655)

[1] Peter Head’s essay, “Additional Greek Witnesses,” in The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research, ed. Ehrman and Holmes, 2nd ed (2013), was especially helpful for bringing the list of ostraca up to date. Correspondence with Theodore De Bruyn was very helpful when I first began to research amulets. I have Joseph Sanzo to thank for bringing to my attention, among other things, that the term “ostraca” really should be “magical ostraca” since we are talking about apotropaic artifacts, not mere citations from the Bible.

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