Remarks on Carlson, “A Bias at the Heart of the CBGM” (Guest post by Gerd Mink)

Just recently, Stephen Carlson’s article, “A Bias at the Heart of the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (CBGM),” appeared in Journal of Biblical Literature. While we at the INTF read this with great interest, we were soon disappointed by the number of misunderstandings contained therein. Criticisms of the CBGM are always welcomed, and we are eager to incorporate suggestions for improving it. Unfortunately we were not able to use Carlson’s publication as fodder for making improvements because his article evinces a general lack of understanding of the method.


The suggestion to integrate “a common-error criterion within the mechanisms of the CBGM” shows that Carlson has not understood how the CBGM approach is fundamentally different from Lachmannian stemmatology, particularly with regard to errors. In a recent publication, Klaus Wachtel targets this exact point:


For the CBGM, coherence is the pre-eminent feature of the New Testament manuscript tradition for which it was developed in the first place. In Lachmannian methodology, common errors are used to trace genealogical structures. [...]

          In the context of the CBGM, all grammatically sound, or at least tolerable textual differences, which are not merely orthographical, are considered variants. An indicative error would have to be a variant in this sense to be genealogically useful because, as a rule, clerical errors were corrected, not copied, by the scribes. The CBGM abstains from identifying variants as errors, a principle that offers two advantages over against the common-error method: (1) we do not have to know at the outset, relying only on our philological acumen, which variants are errors and which are true renderings of the text in a pristine exemplar; and (2) we are not immediately confronted with the problem of contamination which admittedly [...] is the biggest problem for Lachmannian genealogy.

          Instead, we can make use of quantitative data regarding similarities and differences between witnesses, i.e. pre-genealogical coherence, to get an impression of the consistency of attestations. [...]

          The most important innovation brought about by the CBGM compared to Lachmannian methodology is the perception and description of genealogical relations. According to [the neo-Lachmannian scholar] Trovato, the relationship between any two manuscripts A and B can be assigned to one of three types, A>B, B>A, or A<x>B. For the textual tradition of the Greek New Testament, it would not be a reasonable goal to describe the relationship between any two manuscripts following this pattern. For any two New Testament witnesses A and B, i.e. states of text preserved in manuscripts, there is textual flow of the type A>B, which stands side by side with flow in the opposite direction (B>A), as well as A<x>B, due to contamination

(Wachtel, “The Development of the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (CBGM),” 438-439, referring to Trovato, Lachmann’s Method, 57).


Gerd Mink, who first devised the CBGM, has been retired for some years now but has taken the opportunity to engage with the main points of Carlson’s discussion. Because he wanted to respond in a timely manner, he decided a blog post would be best. Therefore, below I present Mink’s remarks.


1. Invented Textual Genealogy: Carlson’s Scenario 2


In his article “A Bias at the Heart of the CBGM,” Carlson complains that the CBGM cannot figure out a simple scenario that he has invented himself. His scenario 2 has 18 variant passages with two variants each, which are assigned to five witnesses (including the initial text A); a simple case indeed. Carlson speaks of errors; I will use the term variants and assume that their agreements in the same place are not coincidental and rest upon high connectivity variants. Thus, both errors and variants are equally able to connect witnesses stemmatically.

Image: Figure 4. Carlson, 330


The stemma in fig. 4 shows Carlson's results, and it is not surprising that it corresponds exactly to the invented case. Carlson uses phylogenetic software to display such figures. The analysis behind them evaluates the agreement of the witnesses and their distance from each other, measured by the number of disagreements that separate them. To put it simply: agreements argue for belonging to the same branch; disagreements cause the branch to split.

Image: Chart of 18 Passages. Carlson, 330


The case seems well constructed to fit the resulting stemma. According to Carlson, the CBGM is not able to reconstruct this scenario and therefore must be rejected.


It is an unfortunate disadvantage for Carlson that his own scenario has such a small number of witnesses and variants because it gives the reader other options to come up with different stemmata than he did. A higher number would have been better since it would restrict the range of possible combinations in the global stemma. In the present simple case the 18 variant places correspond to 18 local stemmata of variants (‘a’ is the prior variant and ‘b’ is the posterior variant: a>b). These also allow for global stemmata of witnesses other than what are presented by Carlson in fig. 4 (see above). In addition to the four witnesses and the initial text A, Carlson invented two lost hypothetical witnesses, X and Y, that have left no traces in the local stemmata and are only visible to the inventor of the scenario.


Therefore, the text critic can proceed only from the variants at the 18 passages. It is not difficult to find stemmata that are compatible with all 18 local stemmata, for instance:

The stemmata have 5 nodes (= 4 witnesses and the reconstructed initial text A) and 6 edges (= arrows connecting stemmatic ancestors and descendants) each. These stemmata are more parsimonious than Carlson's fig. 4 because they do not require hypothetical witnesses.

It may be helpful to give an explanation about the left stemma. Here are what the arrows represent:

  • Arrow A > B: B agrees with A at the variant places 2-18. At place 1, the variant of B is derived from A. All 18 places are agreements or are prior variants in A.
  • Arrow A > E: E agrees with A at the variant places 1, 6-11, 13-16. E is derived from A at the variant places 2-5, 12, 17-18. All 18 places are agreements or are prior variants in A.
  • Arrows pointing to C: at variant place 1, C agrees with A and E. At variant places 2-5, C agrees with E. At variant places 6-11, C is derivable from A or E. At variant places 12, 17-18, C agrees with A. At variant places 13-16, C agrees with A and E. All 18 places are agreements or are prior variants in A and/or E.
  • Arrows pointing to D: at variant place 1, D agrees with A and E. At variant places 2-5, D agrees with E. At variant places 6-11, D agrees with A and E. At variant place 12, D agrees with E. At variant places 13-16, D is derivable from A or E. At variant places 17-18, D agrees with A. All 18 places are agreements or are prior variants in A and /or E.

It is a little irritating that Carlson always speaks of “witnesses”, but also calls his invented witnesses “manuscript copies” and uses the formulation “stemma codicum” (p. 326; p. 336 referring to real witnesses), which, however, he contradicts on the same page (cf. note 49). In fact, Carlson has developed two scenarios of manuscripts that are copied from each other and whose copyists make errors (on implications of the distinction between witness and manuscript cf. below and Mink, “Manuscripts, Texts, History, and the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method,” 281-283).


The CBGM deals with witnesses, not manuscripts. In Carlson's constructed case, manuscripts and witnesses are the same thing, a fact that cannot be deduced from the data. The data does not reveal anything about the completeness of the tradition, i.e. whether witnesses are directly or indirectly related. The latter is the normal case in the NT tradition and renders a stemma codicum impossible. In the CBGM, a global stemma displays a structure of the data according to specific rules; it does not immediately display the actual history of transmission—a phylogenetic stemma does nothing else, by the way.


The alternative stemmata above contain contamination. In a global CBGM stemma, which can show only the preserved tradition and does not include lost links, several arrows pointing to a witness do not mean that contamination has necessarily taken place in that witness. Still, it may appear there as a result of contamination in lost predecessor witnesses. (On contamination as a process and as a result of a loss of witnesses cf. Mink “Introductory Presentation,” 58-63; cf. also the section “How to Understand a Global Stemma” in Mink, “Manuscripts, Texts, History, and the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method,” 284-287.)


In other stemmatic methods, it may be that hyparchetypes represent lost predecessor witnesses. Let us take the left alternative stemma again. Arrows point from E and A to D. E and D show many agreements. At some places, however, we read in E an older variant, in other places vice versa. That is what the local stemmata indicate. The reason for this situation can be that the transmission is split or is contaminated. The data do not tell us anything about it. Maybe a lost hyparchetype caused the textual state in D. Therefore, the left alternative stemma could be compatible with Carlson's stemma. We cannot know how many hyparchetypes and where in the stemma they should be assumed, especially in a more complex situation. (On the needlessness of hyparchetypes, see Mink, “Manuscripts, Texts, History, and the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method,” 289; Mink, “Problems of a Highly Contaminated Tradition,” 48, 59-67; Paulson, “Improving the CBGM,” 301f.)


In his essay, Carlson takes scenario 1 (10 variant passages) as his starting point. The only difference in scenario 2 (18 variant passages) discussed here is that C and D have additional variants compared to scenario 1. Yet, according to Carlson's invented scenario, the stemma should remain the same—except for the greater distances of C and D from A. In order to test how the CBGM processes his hypothetical scenario, Carlson has chosen the completely wrong approach; he uses potential ancestors and textual flow diagrams instead of stemmatic coherence. The above mentioned alternative stemmatic possibilities, based on scenario 2, would also be compatible with scenario 1 since its data is only a subset of the data of scenario 2. Carlson's example does not demonstrate what he wanted it to demonstrate.


The essential point is: the CBGM does not claim to reconstruct the historical sequence of copying activities. Phylogenetic methods do not achieve this either (cf. Bordalejo, “Genealogy of Texts”). Also Carlson has not reconstructed but rather invented a copying scenario following what his method is able to represent. He must introduce hypothetical witnesses X and Y because his graphic (bifurcating and allowing terminal nodes only for non-hypothetical witnesses) requires this. Yet, X and Y left no definite traces in the data, so in a parsimonious graph there is no need to assume them. And what has left behind no traces, cannot be found. The data is not unambiguous.


As we see, we can invent still other copy scenarios for the same local stemmata. We can declare that one of them (including contamination) is the actual one, and—as it appears—Carlson's method used for fig. 4 would not find it, despite its simplicity. Would Carlson then make the same judgment about the method he applies as he did about the CBGM?


2. Epistemological Premises


Here is Carlson's verdict on the CBGM:


“If a method cannot handle this simple case correctly, it should be rejected or fixed so that it can” (p. 325).


“If a method is misled in the simplest of cases due to some bias, how confident can one be that it will work in the more complicated cases?” (p. 335).


We should bear in mind that no method, not even computer-aided, can reconstruct historical events in detail (see again Bordalejo). This is even more obvious when elements (here the hypothetical witnesses) are hidden, as is the case in Carlson’s chart of 18 passages.


In principle, where we have positive knowledge, we do not need hypotheses. If we know some details of the copying history, we must apply this knowledge in the CBGM or any other method. Normally, we know only the variants. As for the stemma, many possibilities may arise. The witnesses in Carlson's fig. 4 have their place due to the introduction of hypothetical witnesses and because Carlson knows the copying history, as he invented it himself. Again, it is easy to invent another copying history with the same texts, but it would not be represented by the method used for fig. 4.


3. Key Terms and Concepts of the CBGM Approach Misunderstood


The core problem of Carlson’s article is that he does not seem to understand the overall concept of the CBGM. Although he refers to CBGM terms, which are explained in almost all publications on the CBGM, he does not understand them according to their rigid and precise definitions; these definitions correspond to rules on how the associated values are obtained and the defined terms do not allow for connotative interpretations. Moreover, he does not observe the intentions and claims of modules contained in the Genealogical Queries.


3.1 Textual Flow Diagrams


One of Carlson’s key misunderstandings is that he reads textual flow diagrams as if they were genealogical representations of actual textual history. He does not follow the definitions of potential ancestor and textual flow diagram (even though he cites them!). The potential ancestors are, of course, hardly ever the actual ancestors of any manuscript. They are also not proxies for which there would be some text to reconstruct. They do not represent anything but themselves. The textual flow diagrams are not stemmata (Gurry wrote explicitly on this point in “The Harklean Syriac” p. 198). Nor does the coherence of an attestation determine whether a reading is the initial text.


It is crucial in the CBGM not to confuse genealogical coherence with stemmatical coherence nor potential ancestors with stemmatic ancestors (or even actual historical ancestors of manuscripts). Only a few of the potential ancestors have a chance to become stemmatic ancestors in a substemma of the descendant in question, even if they have the highest ranking numbers. On the other hand, witnesses which are not potential ancestors can become stemmatic ancestors in an optimal substemma.


3.2. Relatives Tables


To interpret textual flow diagrams correctly, it is important to know that they are only simplifying graphic representations of the data; they must be viewed with the Relatives table in the new interface for Acts, phase 4 (or in “Show Tables” option for the Catholic Letters) for a better understanding of the genealogical scenario.


For an example in a new interface which has not yet been transferred to the Catholic Letters, go to Coherence and Textual Flow in Genealogical Queries Acts (phase 4).

Image: Genealogical Queries for Acts


Next, click on any manuscript and see the result.



Example of Relatives Table for 03 in Acts


The column with the percentages shows pre-genealogical coherence, that is, the textual agreement between two witnesses which does not change no matter how many prior variants a witness has. The columns W1<W2 and W1>W2 show the results of the construction of the local stemmata between two witnesses: in the example above, 01 has 192 prior variants to 03, and 03 has 328 prior variants to 01. Using textual flow diagrams without consulting the data behind them (i.e. the Relatives tables) can be misleading. (See also Wachtel on this:; and on how to interpret the listings of potential ancestors, see especially Mink, “Introductory Presentation,” 255-297.)


3.3 Connectivity


Another fundamental problem is that Carlson does not seem to comprehend the purpose of the connectivity option in Genealogical Queries (cf. Carlson, 325, 334, and passim).

Image: Option to select connectivity in Genealogical Queries


This option enables users to test the stability of the resulting diagrams by setting different values. In many cases, the values of 10 (in the Catholic Letters) or 5 (in Acts) are only reasonable starting points. Instability will raise doubts if high connectivity has been assumed on internal grounds. No definitive statements about connectivity are made regarding textual flow diagrams. There is no right or wrong value. The inserted value is based on the user’s (preliminary) assessment. Different areas in a textual flow diagram may even require different connectivity assumptions (depending on closer or more distant relationship of witnesses in an area). Definitive statements are required during the construction of substemmata to decide on whether possible stemmatic connections are necessary. (Cf. Mink, “Introductory Presentation,” 529-537.)


4. Essential Methodological Procedures Neglected


In short: Carlson has used the tool “Coherence in Attestations” for something for which it was not designed. Instead, he should have dealt with stemmatic coherence, the formation of optimal substemmata, and the global stemma; only there do hypotheses about the stemmatic structure of the tradition develop. Carlson, however, neglects this and other major parts of the methodology he criticizes.


4.1 The Text Is the Witness, the Manuscript its Carrier


It is also unclear whether Carlson understands that in a contaminated tradition almost every witness, even a potential ancestor, has a proportion of both older and younger variants compared to any close relative. In his section that deals with 1 Jn 1:7 (scenario 3), Carlson writes (p. 336),

This situation not only resembles that of scenario 2, but it inspired it. In both cases, the potential ancestor bias manifests itself against witnesses that branched off early from the predominant textual flow but acquired a large number of secondary and singular readings of their own. The texts that correspond to scenario 2's C and D in the textual transmission of 1 John are 01 and 02.

Carlson correctly identifies the reasons that lead to greater distances from A than we see in 1739. His phylogenetic software displays these distances, too (for the place of 01 in light of CBGM data, see Mink, “Introductory Presentation,” 270-295, especially 290.). As for scenario 2, we do not know the kind of variants which produce the distances there.


To take 01, 02, and 1739, which are cited by Carlson, as examples: in the Catholic Letters. The text of 1739 does not have a genealogically older text than 01 or 02 in every place but in the majority of places, i.e. it has ancestor variants more often than vice versa. Only these places could offer a connection pointing from a stemmatic ancestor to a descendant in the global stemma (i.e. not the places where the ancestor reads text posterior to the descendant). And of course, there are places where 1739 has text posterior to 01 or 02. Carlson claims there is “a bias against texts on old lineages like 01 and 02, and a bias in favor of stemmatically later texts like 1739 whose copying is more strictly controlled. The net effect of this bias is to overvalue the witness of 1739 at the expense of 01 and 02” (p. 337).


On which basis are texts considered “stemmatically later”? Is an early textual error more valuable than textual accuracy documented in a later manuscript? It is neither bias nor contradiction to identify older variants in younger manuscripts. At the many variant places where the witness 01 reads a posterior variant, it cannot be an ancestor of the witness 1739. Carlson jettisons the important distinction between the age of a manuscript and the age of its text as represented in the majority of its variants. In this context again, it is of great significance not to confuse potential ancestors with stemmatic ancestors, nor textual flow diagrams with global stemmata, and a stemma of witnesses (=texts) must not be read in the same way as a stemma codicum.


4.2 The CBGM Is a Tool, not a Decision-Maker


At the end of his essay, we find the following curious statement: “The potential-ancestor formula favors certain witnesses at the expense of others in certain genealogical configurations that it cannot detect a priori” (p. 339). The role of potential ancestors is not to detect genealogical configurations. A potential ancestor is a witness with more prior variants than the witness being compared. Genealogical configurations are offered in optimal substemmata. The role a given potential ancestor will play there cannot be read from lists of potential ancestors or textual flow diagrams.


Carlson continues: “For 1 John, it appears that the CBGM favors 1739 at the expense of Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Alexandrinus, and the full extent of the bias is not apparent. It has probably made the omission of δέ in 1 John 1:7 more viable than it really is.” Apart from the fact that there is no bias, the textual non-decision (i.e. split primary line) in 1 Jn 1:7 is not required by the CBGM as such. The CBGM provides tools and does not make textual decisions. Text-critical decisions like the one in 1Jn 1:7/3 are never enforced by some algorithm or automatism of the CBGM. These decisions are made by the editors. Anyone who has familiarized themselves with a basic introduction like Wasserman and Gurry’s A New Approach to Textual Criticism would know this.


5. Conclusion


In closing, Carlson's assumption that there is bias in the CBGM is the result of misunderstandings and wrong application. Any method will have advantages and disadvantages as well. Proper understanding of its possibilities and limitations is crucial. Different methodological approaches to textual criticism are highly welcome as is informed and substantiated criticism. Overall, however, it appears that Carlson’s latest article has only very selectively grappled with literature which explains the CBGM and has not grasped the overall concept of the method and its key components. Wachtel's essay, The Development of the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (CBGM), its Place in Textual Scholarship, and Digital Editing, would serve here as a useful corrective to understanding that the CBGM is deliberately non-Lachmannian.

The problem is not that Carlson clearly favors a different method than the CBGM. In fact, Edmondson's 2018 Ph.D. thesis demonstrates that an analysis of the CBGM is also possible from a phylogenetic perspective (Edmondson, An Analysis of the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method Using Phylogenetics). In only selectively and superficially engaging with the relevant literature, Carlson’s article has unfortunately cultivated a new series of misunderstandings about the CBGM and its functionalities, most of which could have been avoided had he just made use of my entry level “Introductory Presentation.”

It is hoped that my blogpost encourages interested researchers to form their own opinion based on the relevant literature on the CBGM. The aforementioned “Introductory Presentation” may be a good start.


Works Cited


Bordalejo, Barbara. “The Genealogy of Texts: Manuscript Traditions and Textual Traditions.” Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, vol. 31, no. 3, 2016, pp. 563-577. Links to publisher and Academia


Carlson, Stephen C. “A Bias at the Heart of the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (CBGM).” Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 139, no. 2, 2020, pp. 319-340.


Edmondson, Andrew Charles. An Analysis of the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method Using Phylogenetics. 2019. University of Birmingham, PhD dissertation.


Gurry, Peter J. “The Harklean Syriac and the Development of the Byzantine Text: A Historical Test for the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (CBGM).” Novum Testamentum, vol. 60, 2020, pp. 183-200. Links to publisher and Academia


Mink, Gerd. “The Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (CBGM) – Introductory Presentation.” Release 1.0, 2009,


---. “Manuscripts, Texts, History, and the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (CBGM): Some Thoughts and Clarifications.” The New Testament in Antiquity and Byzantium: Traditional and Digital Approached to its Texts and Editing. A Festschrift for Klaus Wachtel, edited by H.A.G. Houghton, David C. Parker, and Holger Strutwolf, De Gruyter, 2019, pp. 281-293. Link to publisher


---. “Problems of a Highly Contaminated Tradition: the New Testament. Stemmata of Variants as a Source of a Genealogy for Witnesses.” Studies in Stemmatology II, edited by Pieter van Reenen, August den Hollander, and Margot van Mulken, John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2004, pp. 13-85. Limited Google Books preview


Paulson, Gregory S. “Improving the CBGM: Recent Interactions.” The New Testament in Antiquity and Byzantium: Traditional and Digital Approached to its Texts and Editing. A Festschrift for Klaus Wachtel, edited by H.A.G. Houghton, David C. Parker, and Holger Strutwolf, De Gruyter, 2019, pp. 295-307. Links to publisher and Academia


Trovato, Paolo. Everything you always Wanted to Know about Lachmann’s Method. 2nd ed.,, 2017.


Wachtel, Klaus. “The Development of the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (CBGM), its Place in Textual Scholarship, and Digital Editing.” The Future of New Testament Textual Scholarship, edited by Garrick Allen, Mohr-Siebeck, 2019, pp. 435-446. Links to publisher and Academia


---. “An Interactive Textual Commentary on Acts.” INTF Blog,


Wasserman, Tommy and Peter Gurry. A New Approach to Textual Criticism: An Introduction to the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method. SBL, 2017.


Gospel Lectionary for Sale

Update July 16, 2020: L1996 is no longer a private sale, but is now being auctioned:


One of the most challenging parts of keeping the Kurzgefasste Liste up to date is keeping track of the current locations of manuscripts. While many manuscripts remain at the same location for centuries, others have the tendency to be more elusive and have proven tricky to keep tabs on. Take, for example, the manuscripts in the Schøyen collection. In the last few years, we’ve discovered that a number of these have been auctioned:

  • 0220
  • 64
  • 1361 / L2383
  • L1995
  • L2404

These are now housed at the Museum of the Bible. Schøyen also had a lectionary, L1996 (MS 800), in his possession until it was sold it in 2010. Formerly part of the Sir Thomas Phillipps collection, L1996 is a 12th century Greek Gospel lectionary with 247 leaves. We didn’t have any information about its new location since 2010.


Pinakes noted that the Robert McCarthy Collection in London had a leaf of L1996, a miniature of the evangelist John.


As far as we were aware, the McCarthy Collection only had single pages of artwork (miniatures) from manuscripts rather than full manuscripts with text of the Greek New Testament. However, after inquiring with Georgi Parpulov, who contributed to The McCarthy Collection, vol. 1 Byzantine Miniatures (2018) catalogue, we learned that actually the whole L1996 manuscript was in the McCarthy collection (BM 2326), and Parpulov had personally examined it. He explained that a miniature was bound to the binding of L1996 but did not originally belong to it; in 2018, this miniature leaf was removed from L1996.


Microfilm of miniature from L1996 on NT.VMR

We updated the Liste with this new information and were happy to have found the new location for L1996 after having lost track of it for over 10 years.


Literally one hour later, we came across the sale of a 12th century Greek Gospel lectionary through Christie’s. After requesting more information about the private sale, we discovered this lectionary was, in fact, L1996! See here for the Christie’s private sale, although it takes a little scrolling to find it.


Screenshot of Christie's sale


At the time of writing, this manuscript is still available for purchase. We are hopeful we’ll receive a notification from the new owner when it is sold so we don’t lose track of it again. We are also lucky to have images of L1996 on the NT.VMR to help identify it in the future.


Keeping track of auctioned manuscripts is not an easy task. We are very grateful to the many scholars and researchers out there who continue to assist us with this endeavor.

To that end, we are still trying to trace down the location of these three Greek NT manuscripts, auctioned in the last few years (also mentioned here).


GA 2346: Sold on Sotheby’s in 2016, 11th century Gospels with commentary sold as part of the Charles Caldwell Ryrie collection.


GA 2805: Sold on Christie’s in 2013, 11th century, Acts and Letters of the Apostles, formerly in Athens.


GA 851: Sold on Sotheby’s in 2009, Gospels, illuminated Gospel manuscript on vellum, owner unknown for many years.


The INTF is still offering a small prize for anyone who can help us pin down the new location of these manuscripts!


Änderung der Transkripte: ΤΓ > ΤΤ


Änderung der Transkripte des Markusevangeliums für die Editio Critica Maior (ECM) aufgrund paläographischer Untersuchungen zu dem Wort κραβαττος.


Eines der schwierigsten Wörter sowohl für die frühen Kopisten als auch für die heutigen Transkribenten ist das Wort κραβαττος ("das Bett"), das in den neutestamentlichen Berichten von der Heilung gelähmter Menschen mehrfach verwendet wird (insgesamt 12x: Mk 2:4. 9. 11. 12; 6:55; Joh 5:8-11. 12v.l.; Act 5:15; 9:33).

Κραβαττος, so die lexikalischen Form, erscheint in den Handschriften (des Markusevangeliums) auf sehr unterschiedliche Weise und weist in den Transkripten eine ungewöhnlich hohe Fehlerquote auf; es findet sich kaum ein Transkript, dass den Text der Vorlage korrekt kopiert - auch nicht bei Transkribenten mit langjähriger Erfahrung. Dies liegt sicherlich nicht zuletzt in der Lesegewohnheit begründet, bei der das Auge hauptsächlich die ersten und die letzen Buchstaben eines Wortes erfasst, die dazwischen liegenden Buchstaben nur oberflächlich aufnimmt und aus der Erinnerung ergänzt bzw. beim Kollationieren dem vorgegebenen Basistext anpasst.

Zu den Orthographica gehören die Vertauschung der doppelt bzw. einfach gesetzten Konsonanten β und τ:

a. κραββατος 

b. κραβατος

c. κραββαττος

sowie die Lesart

d. κραβακτος (und das Neutrum το κραβακτον).

Als Fehlerlesarten sind zu werten:

a. κραμβατος

b. γραβαττος

c. κραβαντος

d. κραββαντος

e. κραβανττος

f. κρεβαττος

g. κρεβαντος

h. κραβαγτος

die sich jedoch z.T. erklären lassen: 

a. verschreibt das erste β durch μ, verursacht durch das vergleichbare Erscheinungsbild in der Minuskelschrift (wobei allerdings das Beta nicht nach links verbunden wird). Dies begegnet z.B. auch bei dem Wort ραββι/ραμβι (vgl. V. Gardthausen, Griechische Palaeographie, 2. Aufl., Leipzig 1978, II 213 f). (Link zu 1. Aufl.).

b. ähnelt der lateinischen Form grabatus. 

c.-e. verschreiben ττ durch ντ, vielleicht aus lautmalerischen Gründen.      

f.-g. Vokalvertauschung α/ε. Hierfür gibt es allerdings lediglich zwei Zeugen (GA 032 und 13; vgl. auch 872*), die allerdings nur in 6:55 κρεβαττος bzw. κρεβαντος schreiben, in der Geschichte der Heilung des Gelähmten in Kapharnaum (2:4. 9. 11. 12) jedoch übereinstimmend die korrekte Form κραβαττος bezeugen. Dies deutet auf ein Versehen hin.

h. Mit dieser Lesart begegnet eine Wortform, die - wenn sie nicht ähnlich wie c.-e. auf lautmalerische Gründe zurückgeht - eine Fehlerlesart ist, die ihren Urspung in einer paläographischen Besonderheit hat, die offenbar vom Schreiber nicht (mehr) erkannt wurde: Die Schreibung des Doppelkonsonanten ττ in der Minuskelschrift (s.u.).

Am weitesten verbreitet waren die Lesarten κραβαττος und κραββατος. Auffällig ist, dass die Schreibweise auch innerhalb einer Handschrift variieren kann, die Schreiber also an den verschiedenen Stellen unterschiedliche Wortformen genutzt haben, wie beispielsweise:

GA Mk 2:4 Mk 2:9 Mk 2:11 Mk 2:12 Mk 6:55
1216 κραββατον κραβαττον κραβαττον κραβαττον κραββατον
1579 κραβατον κραβαττον κραβαττον κραβαττον κραββατον


Insgesamt kann aber beobachtet werden, dass häufig bei textlicher Nähe (2:4-12) die gleiche Schreibweise verwendet wurde, an der späteren Stelle dagegen (6:55) eine andere.

Eine Besonderheit stellt in diesem Zusammenhang die Schreibweise des doppelten Tau (ττ) dar, die in den Handschiften oftmals wie eine Verbindung von Tau und Gamma  (τγ) erscheint und daher in den Transkripten - fälschlicherweise - bisher auch als solche transkribiert wurde (z.B. κραβατγον).

Hinter dieser Ligatur steht das Bestreben der Minuskelschrift, Buchstaben ohne Aufheben des Stiftes in einer Linie zu schreiben und die waagerechten und senkrechten Striche miteinander zu verbinden. Dies führte sowohl für das Gamma als auch für das Tau zu ähnlich erscheinenden offenen Formen: ⋎. Beide Buchstaben konnten nach rechts mit dem folgenden Buchstaben verbunden werden, so dass es zu einem nicht mehr unterscheidbaren Erscheingungsbild kam:

1243, Mk 6,55, Z.15   (κραβατ-τοις)

und ebd. 7,4, Z.27   (αγο-ρας).

Diese offene Form des Tau war vor allem in der frühen Kursive gebräuchlich. In den Handschriften wird sie jedoch nicht mehr für ein allein stehendes Tau verwendet; sie findet sich nur noch in den Ligaturen für das doppelte Tau (ττ = τγ) (vgl. Gardthausen [s.o.] ΙΙ 202. 215).

Ein Vergleich aller Schreibweisen dieses Wortes an den fünf Stellen im Markusevangelium zeigt, dass die Majuskelform ττ sowie die kursive Schreibweise in der Ligatur τγ unterschiedslos verwendet wurden:

GA 2,4 2,9 2,11 2,12 6,55


ττ τγ ττ ττ ττ
351 τγ τγ τγ τγ ττ
788 τγ τγ τγ τγ ττ
826 τγ τγ τγ τγ ττ
863 ττ ττ τγ ττ ττ
1029 ττ ττ τγ τγ ττ
1216 ττ τγ τγ τγ ττ
1243 τ τ τγ τγ τγ
1579 τ τγ τγ τγ τ
1675 τγ τγ τγ τ / ττ τ
2193 τγ τγ τγ τγ ττ
2411 ττ ττ ττ τγ τ


Dass die Schreibung τγ die offene Darstellungsform des ττ ist und nicht als Tau-Gamma gelesen werden darf, zeigt sich vor allem bei Worttrennungen zwischen diesen beiden Buchstaben, wie sie z.B. GA 261 bei Mk 2:4; GA 495. 543. 826 bei Mk 6:55 und GA 892 bei Mk 2:11 vorkommen: An (fast) allen genannten Stellen im Markusevangelium verwendet der jeweilige Schreiber die Ligatur in Form von τγ, nur an der Stelle der Worttrennung schreibt er: κραβατ-τον. Er versteht also die Ligatur korrekt, wohingegen in GA 124 an der ersten Selle Tau - Gamma getrennt und im weiteren Verlauf der Schrift einheitlich τγ verwendet wird; hier scheint der Schreiber das Wort κραβατγον gelesen zu haben, wohl in Unkenntnis dieses paläographischen Phänomens.

Die Verwendung der Ligatur für das doppelte Tau kommt neben κραβαττον auch in anderen Worten des Markusevangeliums vor:

GA 472: 7:37 εκπληττοντο

GA 863: 7:36 εκηρυττον

GA 1542: 1:22 εκπληττοντο

GA 2738: 1:27 επιταττω; 1:30 πυρεττουσα

Wir haben uns entschieden, die Ligatur des doppelten Tau in den Minuskeln - die ja vergleichbar ist mit der offenen Form des doppelten Sigma - auch als ττ zu transkribieren und nicht mehr - wie bisher - als Fehlerlesart τγ.

Die entsprechenden Korrekturen der im NT.VMR publizierten Transkripte des Markusevangeliums für die ECM wurden bereits abgeschlossen, für die übrigen Transkripte - besonders der Apostelgeschichte (ECM Bd. III) - wird sie folgen. 


New Developments in Text Type Theories

The latest issue of Biblische Notizen has just been published and should be useful for anyone interested in text types (see here). One of the articles, written by Holger Strutwolf, offers a historical foray into theories of the development of variants, suggesting that new methods and theories are needed to take into account the complexity of the New Testament manuscript tradition. Another article, written by Klaus Wachtel, describes how traditional theories of text types can be abandoned using the CBGM. His abstract states, “Dieser Neuansatz geht von der Beschreibung von Beziehungen zwischen individuellen Textzeugen aus, die als Elemente einer generellen Entwicklung gesehen werden, die in der spätbyzantinischen Textform ihren Abschluss findet.”
We hope everyone is staying safe and taking good care of yourself and your loved ones during this difficult time.

Studien zum Text der Apokalypse III

We are happy to announce the next volume of studies concerning the text and transmission of Revelation. It represents major research results from the ISBTF staff and associates in preparation of the ECM of Revelation. The essay collection “Studien III” edited by Marcus Sigismund and Darius Müller together with Matthias Geigenfeind is now available from De Gruyter and can be found at select bookstores. The volume consists of four parts: 1) Progress report of the Project, 2) Greek transmission, 3) Versions (Latin, Ethiopic, Georgian, Arabic, Slavonic), and 4) an edition of the marginal glosses of GA 2323 concerning the text of Revelation. We hope this offers a bit of easy reading amid the corona crisis and sweetens your time working from home. Have fun reading it! Positive reviews are welcome wink.

New Testament manuscripts from Mount Athos. Part II: Manuscripts on paper

Image: GA1591 ff. 3v-4r, from Mount Athos online repository


This is a follow up to my pervious post on parchment manuscripts from the Holy Community of Mount Athos online repository. The following is a list of Greek New Testament manuscripts on paper that have a Gregory-Aland number (clicking on them will redirect you to the Mount Athos website):










l 626

l 661

l 738

l 741

l 747

l 872

l 873

l 1054

l 1203

l 1689

l 2357

Links to the Athos repository are already being added in the NT.VMR for these manuscripts as well.

Here I also add to the previous list of “new” Greek New Testament manuscripts from the repository that are to be assigned Gregory-Aland numbers:

New Testament manuscripts from Mount Athos. Part I: Manuscripts on parchment


Mount Athos is digitizing their manuscripts. Their website reads,


“The Holy Community of Mount Athos, with commitment and respect to the millenary spiritual and cultural tradition of the Athonite Fathers, has decided to undertake new forms of action with the view to preserve and disseminate its cultural heritage. The main purpose of this effort is to exploit modern information and communication technologies by digitalizing, documenting and disseminating its cultural heritage.”


For the following Greek New Testament manuscripts on parchment, which have already been assigned a GA number, you can see new digital images on the recently published Mount Athos online repository:















l 688

l 689

l 691

l 709

l 710

l 729

l 731

l 735

l 744

l 745

l 746

l 2207

l 2462

Links to the Athos repository are already being added in the NT.VMR.


In addition, I've already found four "new" Greek New Testament manuscripts from Athos that will soon be added to the Liste:

“Frei” Numbers: 10 Newly Added Lectionaries

If you’ve ever looked through the Liste, you might have noticed that some numbers have the remark that they are “frei”, or free. There are various reasons for this designation depending on the manuscript, but the “frei” indication for lectionaries L1581-L1589 and L1596 was due to a simple oversight in the published installments of the (precursor) to the Kurzgefasste Liste.


After Gregory inaugurated the modern list of Greek New Testament manuscripts, von Dobschütz took over responsibility and made several publications with updates and additions of new manuscripts. In his 1924 publication, von Dobschütz recorded lectionaries up to L1580. In his subsequent publication of 1926, von Dobschütz picked up with L1590, accidentally skipping nine numbers (a sort of homoeoteleuton). But this was not the only accidental jump. In his 1926 publication he ended with L1595, and in 1933 he began with L1597, skipping one number. Therefore, these numbers, L1581-L1589 and L1596 were never assigned to manuscripts. In the 1963 Liste, Aland says the numbers L1581-L1589 “were (mistakenly?) not used by E. v. Dobschütz,” but nevertheless the numbers remained free in the 1994 Liste, pictured below.

As we have been preparing the Liste for publication, we discussed what to do with these numbers. Since we could see no reason not to use them, we have now assigned ten “new” manuscripts to them. They are as follows, with links to the NT.VMR:

L1581 (XVI, Duke University) (images on the NT.VMR)

L1582 (XII, British Library)

L1583 (XVI, last known Sothebys)

L1584 (XV, University of Kansas) (images on the NT.VMR)

L1585 (XIII, Yale University)

L1586 (XII, Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale) (images on the NT.VMR)

L1587 (XII/XIII, New York Public Library)

L1588 (XVI, Cyprus, Paphos)

L1589 (XI, University of Pennsylvania)

L1596 (X-XI, Bucharest National Library) (images on the NT.VMR)

The Curious Case L1575: How One Greek-Coptic Lectionary Had Six Entries in the Liste

L1575 is a heavily fragmented 9th century manuscript. It is a Greek-Coptic majuscule lectionary that contains readings from the Apostolos (it can be viewed here on the NT.VMR). The manuscript is distributed among several holding institutions and has a rather long and confusing history of being registered in the Liste. In over a hundred years, five other Gregory-Aland numbers have been associated with L1575: 0129, 0203, 0205, 0310, and L1576.


The confusion started in 1924 when von Dobschütz first added L1575 and L1576 to the Liste as two separate manuscripts. The entries were as follows:



Von Dobschütz based his information on Wessely’s edition, but instead of citing the shelf numbers for the two lectionaries in Vienna, he only listed the publication where he got his information from. However, von Dobschütz made a mistake in referencing Wessely; the references should have been for Studien XI 59 and 60 (not 69 and 70 as pictured above). In Wessely’ editiones principes, we can discover the correct inventory numbers in Austria’s National Library in Vienna are Litt. theol. 16 is L1575 and Litt. theol. 17 is L1576:



It’s important to note that both of these lectionaries have Coptic contents. Walter Till examined hundreds of Coptic fragments in the National Library in Vienna trying to find ones from the same manuscript in order to piece them together.  In his 1939 article he published his findings, arguing that L1575 and L1576 were, in fact, part of the same manuscript, no. 180 as he numbered it:



After Till identified L1575 and L1576 as belonging together, other fragments have been identified as belonging to this one Greek-Coptic lectionary. Karlheinz Schüssler discovered that the two manuscripts catalogued as majuscules in the Liste, 0129 and 0203, were also part of L 1575. He also noticed that 0205 also had similar features as well (see p. 234 of his article).


In 1900, Gregory entered the manuscript now known as GA 0129 (housed in Paris) into the Liste and registered it as Tb paul. He later changed it to 0129 in Die griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testament (1908), 41.


In 1933 von Dobschütz added two more majuscules to the Liste: 0203, located in London at the British Museum and 0205 in London, under the name H. Thompson. By the time the 1963 Liste was printed, the current location of 0205 was unknown. It was subsequently acquired by Cambridge in 1980.


While preparing the 1994 Liste, you can see that Michael Welte (researcher at the INTF) had been penciled in his Liste work-copy that 0205 was in Cambridge:



Also in Welte’s work-copy, you can see in the left margin that 0129 and 0203 were now attributed to L1575.






By the time the 1994 Liste was printed, 0129, 0203, 0205, and L1576 were all attributed to L1575:



In 2001, the INTF received a notification that made matters even more tricky. A “new” Greek-Coptic majuscule manuscript was discovered in Cambridge with the shelf mark “Ms. Or. 16 1699 Πx” containing Titus chapters 2 and 3. Unfortunately, it went unnoticed that this was the same manuscript identified in the 1994 Liste as Cambridge Univ. Libr., Or. 1699 (GA 0205). Thus this “new” manuscript was given a new Gregory-Aland number, 0310, which appeared for the first time in the 2003 INTF publication, Bericht der Hermann Kunst-Stiftung zur Förderung der Neutestamentlichen Textforschung für die Jahre 1998 bis 2003, page 75:



Somehow, after the INTF began transferring data into the NT.VMR, the Cambridge shelf number for 0310 got confused. The Greek pi became a Roman P, and what should have been a Roman X became a Roman C, most likely because the X was entered as a Greek chi and the Unicode character became a Roman C.


Thus, the March 2017 supplement published online read:


This particular shelf mark in Cambridge (Or. 16 1699) is actually comprised of hundreds of fragments from many different manuscripts. We recently had all of it digitized (amounting to 110 images), which helped us solve the problem of determining exactly which portion was Greek New Testament. This enabled us to eliminate the duplicate 0205/0310 Liste entry. The only portion of Or. 16 1699 that is Greek New Testament is a bio-folium of Titus, page Πx, pictured below:



You can read more about Cambridge Or. 16 1699 Πx in J.K. Elliott’s 1994 publication. Elliott followed up in a 2010 publication saying that “0205 is not part of l 1576,” But more recently in his 2015 Bibliography, his article on 0205 appears under the bibliography for L1575, meaning that he now associates 0205 with L1575. Indeed, not only does the script and ornamentation look identical between the various parts of L1575, but the ostensibly unique feature of supplying a Greek pericope in between Coptic pericopes is found in other folia of L1575 not just in 0205.


Another confusing issue in the 1994 Liste was the placement of L1576 on the printed page. It is unclear which library L1576 actually belonged to:


It’s clear from looking at the 1994 Liste that two shelf marks in Vienna were conflated as “Pap. K. 16.17”, and resulted in L1576 floating at the bottom of the entry for L1575. This will be remedied the forthcoming new edition of the Liste to show more clearly what former numbers belonged to which shelf marks.


By illustrating the case of L1575, I hope to offer a glimpse into why maintaining the Liste can sometimes be a messy and perplexing task—and why it will, to some degree, always remain a work in progress as new scholarship and manuscript discoveries become available.

Updates to P129 and P131

There’s been a lot of discussion and speculation in the past few months about two new 2nd/3rd century papyrus fragments, first mentioned by Brent Nongbri as papyri being displayed by Scott Carroll in 2018. We were contacted earlier this year by Andrew Stimer, a private collector in California, who wanted to obtain G-A numbers for two papyrus fragments that he acquired in 2015. The fragments are of 1 Corinthians and Romans. Stimer provided us with unpublished scholar’s reports, which he received in 2016 and 2017: the report for 1 Corinthians was done by Dirk Obbink (who dates the fragment to mid-2nd cent.) and the report on Romans was done by Jeffery Fish (who dates the fragment to the first half of the 3rd cent.).


Through Nongbri’s blog, the INTF was already alerted to the possibility that the papyri in Stimer’s possession were parts of other papyri already registered in the Liste, P129 (1 Cor) and P131 (Romans), which are currently at the Museum of the Bible (MOTB). These numbers, P129 and P131, were assigned to the papyri at MOTB in 2015 so they could include this information in a planned publication with Brill, although this has not been published.


Over the past few months, we’ve been working to (a) verify the authenticity of Stimer's fragments and (b) decide whether they belong to P129 and P131. The MOTB kindly provided us with images of P129 and P131 so we could make comparisons. We shared images of Stimer's two fragments with Michael Holmes, and scholars at the Museum of the Bible Scholar’s Initiative were of the opinion that the fragments did indeed belong together. The pieces were analyzed by a number of INTF staff but we still had some lingering questions. We requested expert advice from papyrologist Panagiota Sarischouli at the University of Thessaloniki so we could get an external opinion.


A few weeks ago, Sarischouli graciously provided us with an extensive report confirming the authenticity of the fragments. She noted, “I can say that I have no reason to believe that Stimer’s fragments are fakes; if they are forgeries, they are masterly done!!!” Sarischouli stated, "There can be little doubt that the two fragments (Stimer’s 1 Cor. + P129) belong to the same codex page. Although there are some slight differences between the two handwritings, the hand is identical." She also agreed with the dates proposed by Obbink and Fish. We are very grateful to her for providing such extensive information about these fragments.


We have now assigned Stimer’s 1 Corinthians fragment to the already registered P129, and have assigned his Romans fragment to the already registered P131 fragment. We can now update the contents of these papyri:


Stimer's portion of P129 is: 1 Cor 7:32-37; 9:10-16

MOTB's portion of P129 is: 1 Cor 8:10-9:3, 27-10:6

Stimer's portion of P131 is: Rom 9:21-23; 10:3-4

MOTB's portion of P131 is: Rom 9:18-21, 33-10:2


With regard to provenance, Stimer provided us with the following report for his pieces:

I acquired both of the manuscripts in the summer of 2015 from Mr. M. Elder of Dearborn, Michigan. He bought them the previous year, in April 2014, via a private treaty sale executed by Christie’s London. The fragments were part of a collection of texts that had been in the Pruitt family since the 1950s. Dr. Rodman Pruitt was an industrialist and inventor in southern Indiana who was known as a collector of manuscripts, books and artifacts of various kinds. He acquired his papyri from Harold Maker, a well-known dealer in manuscripts who was based in Irvington, New Jersey. I am told that the Trismegistos database lists numerous published papyri originally sold by Harold Maker. [Coincidentally, I have another manuscript in my collection that also came through Harold Maker, and with it are copies of sales materials he issued in the early 1950s.] I contacted Christie’s London to confirm that they had indeed conducted the private treaty sale of manuscripts that had passed by descent through the Pruitt family. I communicated with Dr. Eugenio Donadoni, Director of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts. He confirmed that the consignor of the collection that was sold in April 2014 was a relative of Dr. Rodman Pruitt, though he was of course restricted in the amount of information he was at liberty to provide to me. The sale included various papyri, in Coptic, Greek and Syriac. I was satisfied that the information I had been given at the time of the acquisition was correct.


We recently learned, however, that the two fragments belonging to the MOTB previously belonged to the Egypt Exploration Society (EES), see here and were sold without their permission. While many questions still remain regarding Stimer’s papyri, it seems highly probable that his pieces were also once part of the EES collection and were sold without their permission (see here). We have notified Stimer of this and updated the Liste entries in the NT.VMR (P129 and P131) to reflect this. We hope to upload images of Stimer’s papyri and the MOTB papyri on the NT.VMR for public viewing after the issue of provenance has been resolved.


In light of this problematic provenance and so many open questions, we have debated whether to register these two papyri. We are aware that the designation of a G-A number may have the unfortunate side effect of inflating the value of a manuscript on the antiquities market. However, our primary focus when deciding whether to include a new manuscript in the Kurzgefasste Liste has been verifying its authenticity and collecting key data so these manuscripts can be made known to the wider scholarly community. Our hope is that registering these manuscripts in the Liste, where all information is made publically available on the NT.VMR, will enable any unprovenanced manuscripts to be located (or re-located) as effectively as possible.


Update: 21 Oct. 2019 from EES, Stimer to return 5 missing manuscripts:


Update: 5 May 2020: The portions of these manuscripts held by MOTB and Stimer have now been returned and are located in Sackler Library.

Job Vacancy for Syriac Specialist

(English summary: see below or here for original post in German)


Beginning January 1st, 2020, a position is available as a researcher (salary class 13 TV-L) at the Institute for New Testament Textual Research (INTF) at the WWU Münster.


The position is full-time and for a period of 6 years with the possibility of permanency. Regular work hours are 39 hours and 50 minutes per week. It would also be possible to fill the post with two part-time positions.


Areas of Responsibility

Coordination and research work on the Syriac tradition of the New Testament, both for the INTF's projects and for the institute's international collaborations.

Collaboration on the project Novum Testamentum Graecum: Editio Critica Maior (ECM) with a focus on the processing of the Syriac and Palestinian-Aramaic traditions and their citation in the critical apparatus.

Preparation of critical editions of the Syriac tradition.

Collaboration on the revision of hand editions (Nestle-Aland, Greek New Testament) for the Syriac and Palestinian-Aramaic traditions.

Presentation of research results at meetings and conferences in Germany and abroad.



Doctorate in Eastern Christianity or Oriental/Near Eastern Studies (Dr. phil. or Dr. theol.).

Good command of Syriac, good knowledge of Greek, and familiarity with at least one other language of Eastern Christianity.

Knowledge of the philology of editions and experience with digital editing.

Experience working with databases.

Ability to work in a team.

Willingness to travel (in Germany and abroad).


The University of Münster is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to increasing the proportion of women academics. Female applicants are encouraged to apply and those with equivalent qualifications and academic achievements will be preferentially considered within the framework of the legal possibilities. Applications from candidates with severe disabilities are also welcome. Disabled candidates with equivalent qualifications will be preferentially considered.

Please send applications via email including relevant documents (curriculum vitae, certificates etc.) no later than October 11, 2019 to Prof. Dr. Holger Strutwolf (email:




Im Fachbereich 01, Evangelische Fakultät, Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung der Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität Münster ist ab dem 01.01.2020 eine Stelle der regelmäßigen Arbeitszeit

einer wissenschaftlichen Mitarbeiterin/
eines wissenschaftlichen Mitarbeiters
Entgeltgruppe 13 TV-L

für die Dauer von sechs Jahren mit der Möglichkeit der Entfristung zu besetzen.

Die regelmäßige Arbeitszeit beträgt bei Vollbeschäftigung zurzeit 39 Stunden 50 Minuten wöchentlich.

Stellenbesetzungen werden grundsätzlich auch in Teilzeit vorgenommen, sofern nicht im Einzelfall zwingende dienstliche Gründe entgegenstehen.


  • Koordinierungs- und Forschungsarbeit im Bereich der syrischen Überlieferung des Neuen Testaments sowohl für die Projekte des INTF als auch für die internationalen Forschungskooperationen des Instituts.
  • Mitarbeit im Projekt Novum Testamentum Graecum: Editio Critica Maior (ECM) mit dem Schwerpunkt der Bearbeitung der syrischen und der palästinisch-aramäischen Überlieferung und der Verzeichnung relevanter Lesarten im kritischen Apparat.
  • Vorbereitung von Spezialeditionen zur syrischen Überlieferung.
  • Mitarbeit bei der Revision der Handausgaben (Nestle-Aland, Greek New Testament) für die syrische und die palästinisch-aramäische Überlieferung.
  • Präsentation von Forschungsergebnissen auf Kongressen und Tagungen im In- und Ausland.


  • Promotion in den Gebieten christlicher Orient oder Orientalistik (Dr. phil. oder Dr. theol.).
  • Sichere Beherrschung des Syrischen und gute Griechischkenntnisse sowie die Vertrautheit mit mindestens einer anderen Sprache des christlichen Orients.
  • Kenntnis der Editionsphilologie und Erfahrung mit digitaler Editionstechnik.
  • Erfahrung in der Arbeit mit Datenbanken.
  • Fähigkeit zu teamorientiertem Arbeiten.
  • Reisebereitschaft (In- und Ausland).

Die WWU tritt für die Geschlechtergerechtigkeit ein und strebt eine Erhöhung des Anteils von Frauen in Forschung und Lehre an. Bewerbungen von Frauen sind daher ausdrücklich erwünscht; Frauen werden bei gleicher Eignung, Befähigung und fachlicher Leistung bevorzugt berücksichtigt, sofern nicht in der Person eines Mitbewerbers liegende Gründe überwiegen.

Schwerbehinderte werden bei gleicher Qualifikation bevorzugt eingestellt.

Ihre Bewerbung mit den üblichen Unterlagen richten Sie bitte bis zum 11.10.2019 an:

Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung
zu Hd. Prof. Dr. Holger Strutwolf
Pferdegasse 1
48143 Münster


Fellowship for a Research Assistant

The German Bible Society (GBS) is seeking candidates for a post-doc research assistant at the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Münster, Germany. The fellowship covers a period of 36 months, a fixed three-year appointment, beginning 1 April 2020.

About the INTF

The central task of the Institute for New Testament Textual Research (Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung, INTF) is to research the textual history of the New Testament and to edit its text on the basis of the manuscript tradition, the early translations, and patristic citations. Foremost among our editions is the Editio Critica Maior – Novum Testamentum Graecum (ECM). The scholarly outcome of INTF’s work is also made available to the broad community of commentators, philologists, translators and students in two printed concise editions: the Nestle-Aland (NA) and the UBS Greek New Testament (UBSGNT). Moreover, digital editing is gaining more importance for our work.

Job Description

The INTF Research Assistant will prepare NA29 and UBSGNT6 at INTF supervised by the director, Holger Strutwolf. This will be a continuation of the work of two previous fellows Greg Paulson (2014-2017) and Dora Panella (2017-2020).

The research assistant will take part in the meetings of the editorial committee for NA and UBSGNT which has been appointed by the UBS Global Board in 2011. The assistant will re-design the apparatuses according to the decisions of the committee.

For both concise editions, the task consists in implementing the findings of the ECM relating to the reconstruction of the initial text and the choice of textual witnesses, and making them available beyond the relatively limited circle of the ECM’s recipients. Furthermore, the advantageous features of the two concise editions are to be further developed. For UBSGNT6 a completely new design is currently being developed in close collaboration with Florian Voss of the German Bible Society and a consortium of Global Translation Advisors of UBS. The goal is to streamline the edition more forcefully for the use of translators, academic teachers and students. The main task of the research assistant will be to execute this major revision.


  • Advanced knowledge of Greek and Latin, basic knowledge of Greek palaeography, ability to comprehend a complex critical apparatus, and knowledge of the principles of New Testament textual criticism.
  • Ph.D. in New Testament studies, focusing on or including text-criticism.
  • Reading knowledge of German is required, with an aptitude to acquire conversational usage. INTF staff speaks English, but internal discussion is often conducted in German.


Applicants should submit a cover letter, CV, and transcripts (official or unofficial), via email to, with the subject line INTF Fellowship Search. Three current letters of recommendation should be sent to the same email address, directly from those serving as references. Completed applications must be received by 15 November 2019.  Applicants invited to interview will be contacted mid-December. Interviews will begin in January via teleconference. Review of applications will continue until the position is filled.

Employment Details

The research assistant will be employed by the Hermann-Kunst-Stiftung in Münster (HKS), which has close connections to the INTF and the German Bible Society, which is the publisher of the text editions of the INTF. The research assistant will work under the supervision of the INTF’s director, Holger Strutwolf. The salary will be commensurate with experience and will be suitable for relocation to Germany.

All inquiries and applications should be directed to:

See the original post here under AAR and SBL Employment Listings.


New Digital Humanities Position at INTF

(English summary—see below for the original post in German):


Job Vacancy


Beginning November 1st, 2019, a position is available as a researcher (salary class 13 TV-L) at the Institute for New Testament Textual Criticism (INTF). The post is part of the Excellence Cluster “Religion and Politics: Dynamics of Tradition and Innovation” at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster.


The position is full-time and for a period of 6 years and 3 months. Regular work hours are 39 hours and 50 minutes per week. It would also be possible to fill the post with two people at 50% of the work hours.


Areas of Responsibility:

  • Participation in the project "Theory of Variant Development" (under project leader Prof. Dr. Holger Strutwolf)
  • Further development of the open digital edition platform, the NT.VMR



  • Doctoral degree (Dr. phil. or Dr. theol.)
  • Extensive experience in New Testament textual criticism
  • Experience with Digital Humanities, including digital philology and philological study of editions
  • Experience in the development and administration of portal platforms with content management systems, preferably Liferay
  • Good knowledge of biblical Greek


The University of Münster is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to increasing the proportion of women academics. Female applicants are encouraged to apply and those with equivalent qualifications and academic achievements will be preferentially considered within the framework of the legal possibilities. Applications from candidates with severe disabilities are also welcome. Disabled candidates with equivalent qualifications will be preferentially considered.


Please send applications via email including relevant documents (curriculum vitae, certificates etc.) no later than 12 August 2019 to Prof. Dr. Holger Strutwolf (email:




Im Exzellenzcluster „Religion und Politik. Dynamiken von Tradition und Innovation“ an der Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität Münster ist im Teilprojekt C3-21 unter Leitung von Prof. Dr. Holger Strutwolf ab dem 01.11.2019 eine Stelle als


wissenschaftliche*r Mitarbeiter*in

Entgeltgruppe 13 TV-L


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Am Exzellenzcluster „Religion und Politik“ sind die Fächer Geschichte, Politikwissenschaft, Soziologie, Katholische und Evangelische Theologie und die Rechtswissenschaften beteiligt; Vertreter der Islamwissenschaft, der Islamischen Theologie, der Judaistik, der Ägyptologie, der Archäologie, der Philosophie, der Philologien, der Kunstgeschichte sowie der Ethnologie ergänzen das interdisziplinäre Spektrum. Nähere Informationen zu den beteiligten Fachbereichen und allgemein zum Forschungsprofil des Exzellenzclusters finden Sie unter


Der Aufgabenbereich umfasst:

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  • Promotion (Dr. phil. oder Dr. theol.)
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Die WWU Münster tritt für die Geschlechtergerechtigkeit ein und strebt eine Erhöhung des Anteils von Frauen in Forschung und Lehre an. Bewerbungen von Frauen sind daher ausdrücklich erwünscht; Frauen werden bei gleicher Eignung, Befähigung und fachlicher Leistung bevorzugt berücksichtigt, sofern nicht in der Person eines Mitbewerbers liegende Gründe überwiegen. Schwerbehinderte werden bei gleicher Qualifikation bevorzugt eingestellt.


Bewerbungen richten Sie bitte möglichst per E-Mail mit den üblichen Unterlagen (Lebenslauf, Zeugnisse) bis zum 12. August 2019 an die Projektleitung:


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48143 Münster


Versio Coptica online

As is well-known, the ECM of the Acts of the Apostles is available online in the New Testament Virtual Manuscript Room of the INTF since 2017. (The text-critical commentary is also online.)


Alongside the main text of the edition, all Greek variants are presented. After entering a verse in the “Quick Lookup”, the ECM apparatus appears in a window below the main text. See for example Acts 1:8.


In the apparatus there is now a link to “VC” – meaning Versio Coptica.


Clicking on VC will open a new window, which presents the full Coptic transcriptions that were used for the citations in the Greek apparatus.


The top of this window includes a link to the “Introduction” which leads to primary information about the edition created by S.G. Richter, K.D. Schröder and M.H.O. Schulz. Furthermore, a list of all cited witnesses as well as an apparatus with notes on the manuscripts is provided. Next to the link to the introduction, the button “SMR online” will take you to the SMR Database of Coptic New Testament Manuscripts with plenty information on all manuscripts.


The line-by-line layout of VC shows all Sahidic and Fayyumic pieces used in the edition, as well as the manuscript mae 3 which is the famous Codex Glazier, the only Middle Egyptian witness of Acts. The Bohairic siglum “bo 00” is the main text of G. Horner’s edition of Acts. A printed version of this edition of “Versio Coptica: Die Apostelgeschichte in koptischer Überlieferung” is in preparation.


Keep in mind that versional evidence is not used as a consistent witness in the apparatus of Acts, but only cited at selected passages which are of special importance to the Greek text or its history (cf. Novum Testamentum Graecum. Editio Critica Maior III. The Acts of the Apostles, ed. by H. Strutwolf et al. Part 1.1, Stuttgart 2017, p. 20*).


This new “VC” feature online enables all interested users not only to test the citations of Coptic witnesses in the Greek apparatus, but allows them to form their own opinions about citations at passages where the Coptic version had not been recorded in the apparatus of the ECM.


Any corrections can be sent to me here, s.g.richter at, and would be much appreciated!

How Patristic Citations are Treated in the ECM

From the beginning of critical work on the text of the Greek New Testament citations by early Christian writers have played a prominent role in research on textual history.

Nestle/Aland, Novum Testamentum Graece28, 78*.


Establishing the New Testament text of the Church Fathers has a strategic importance for textual history and criticism. It shows us how the text appeared at particular times and in particular places: this is information we can find nowhere else.

K. Aland/B. Aland, The Text of the New Testament, 168.


Patristic citations are witnesses to the text of the manuscripts that the Church Fathers used. Their witness is highly significant for textual criticism and for the reconstruction of the initial form of the New Testament text. An advantage of citations for textual criticism is that we can more or less ascertain the date and location of Church Fathers. If the text of a certain author is recoverable, conclusions can be drawn regarding the biblical text circulating in his day.


When examining citations of a Church Father, it is important to observe his specific approach to citation because some of the variants found in patristic literature trace back to the way the author treated his source text. Therefore, it is crucial to determine whether the Father has quoted the biblical text literally or imprecisely, if he just alludes to it or only paraphrases it.


Contrary to an exegete, not every patristic reference is reliable or usable for a textual critic. Most of the “citations” listed in the Biblia Patristica, for example, do not conform to the actual wording of the biblical text and thus have no text-critical value at all.


In our database of citations of Acts there are three main categories under “citations”:

•           Citation

•           Varying Citation/Adaptation

•           Allusions (paraphrases are to be treated like allusions)



According to D.A. Koch, a citation is a “the conscious adoption of external written (or rarely oral) wording, which is reproduced by an author in his own writing and is recognizable as such.”[1]


Varying Citations

For our purposes in the ECM, varying citations are generally treated like citations wherever their wording is adjusted to the context of the Church Father's text. Particularly small changes regarding the original biblical text can be identified. The following definition of an adaptation by Carroll D. Osburn fits our definition of a varying citation: “A quotation from a recognizable text, often without an introductory formula, in which much of the lexical and syntactical structure of the text is preserved and woven unobtrusively into the patristic context and/or syntax in less important portions of the text.”[2]



According to Osburn, allusions are defined as “A reference to the content of a certain biblical passage in which some verbal or motif correspondence is present, but reflecting intent to give only the gist of the text rather than to cite.”[3]


A citation fulfills its function when the reader can identify it as a citation. In order to ensure that the citation is obvious, the author can use a citation marker. That way he shows his intent to actually cite a text, for example, ὡς ἐν ταῖς Πράξεσι τῶν ἀποστόλων γέγραπται and ἐν δὲ ταῖς Πράξεσιν ὁ Λουκᾶς γράφει.


When a longer passage is being cited in accordance with the manuscript tradition, it is very likely a citation. On the contrary, a paraphrase consists of a free or loose reproduction of a foreign text.[4] A vague allusion can be seen where the author uses “a single traditional formulation, which, however, is fully integrated into its own presentation”.[5]


Generally, a citation can be distinguished from an allusion by its more precise reproduction of the original wording, which matches the wording of one or more Greek manuscripts.


Often, the Church Fathers use a citation to support a certain interpretive approach, showing they are not afraid to adjust a passage for their own grammatical or textual context. As opposed to a copyist, whose only goal is (or should be) the exact reproduction of a manuscript, patristic authors might have a certain theological agenda in mind and try to match a citation to their purposes. In order to achieve this, citations and connectives like δέ, γάρ, καί, etc. are often substituted, omitted or changed, especially at the beginning. Also relevant to the accuracy of the citations is the way a Father handles his source material: Does he cite carefully or rather freely from memory? We also find citations being loosely cited in the beginning and cited precisely soon afterwards or vice versa.


The transition between a varying citation and an allusion is often fluid. This means that one part of a patristic reference can be an allusion while the other one can be treated as a direct citation.


Has the author altered the New Testament passage for the sake of style or to fit his theological position? Some important factors are necessary to assess the text-critical relevance of the citation:


The length of the cited passage: The most simple rule for distinguishing between genuine citations and allusive references or from memory (memoriter) citations is the length of the passage in question.[6]


Introductory formulas or citation markers: The general context is very important to assess the accuracy of the citation.


Stylistic Tendencies: All adaptations, alterations, additions, omissions and transpositions of the text, which go back to a Father’s stylistic tendencies, are excluded from the attestation of the textual tradition. Only a patristic citation with a high probability of being derived from a manuscript can be considered for our purposes. Allusions or reminiscences can also be recorded so long as they can be traced back to a certain manuscript text. Sometimes, a Church Father can witness to different forms of text, noted in the Nestle-Aland as “partim” (e.g. Orpt). This can mean that the Father knew both texts from different manuscripts, as is often observed in Origen's works. This should not be seen as a flaw in the reliability of the patristic author. Rather, from the early testimony of a single Church Father to more than one text form, you can see that “important” variants emerged and circulated at the very beginning of the textual tradition.


Regarding Origen, it is also remarkable that he employed scribes, often dictating his thoughts to them and instructing them to add biblical references later on. His scribes then drew their biblical citation out of a manuscript that was not necessarily the same as the one Origen used. This can often be seen in Origen’s Commentary on John.


All in all, each Church Father has to be observed individually in order to evaluate his habits of citation; this also involves considering the respective genre of his work.[7] Evaluating citations from different kinds of works like commentaries, polemical treatises, homilies, letters, or theological tractates can lead to different results. In a commentary, for instance, you might expect the author to have used a manuscript and commented on it continuously. In a homily, though, we have to consider the homiletic implications that could have affected the use of biblical texts.


It is possible that not all variants of the Greek transmission that we have in known manuscripts are attested. Therefore, patristic citations may include some new variants.[8]


It is also possible that a Church Father may have randomly changed his text and thus created a new variant, which is also attested to in other manuscripts. In order to recognize such intentional changes to the text, it is important to observe the context of the citation, whether the author prefers certain terms or expressions and thus enters these in his own biblical text.


In essence, the criteria for patristic citation must be strictly employed. For New Testament textual criticism, the definition of a citation and of an allusion in the ECM is essential. In the ECM of the Catholic Letters, we have included citations based on the following principles:


“Variants are excluded from the apparatus if they may be ascribed to a Father’s stylistic tendencies and are unlikely to have been in his manuscript source.”[9]


 “A true quotation is one where the wording of the Father’s text is identical with a reading found in the manuscript tradition.”[10]


“Allusions are considered only if they clearly reflect a known reading.”[11]


I hope this short foray into how the ECM uses Patristic sources has helped to guide some readers who are new to this area in textual criticism.


[1] D.-A. Koch, Die Schrift als Zeuge des Evangeliums, 11 (English translation mine).

[2] C. D. Osburn, Methodology in Identifying Patristic Citations in NT Textual Criticism, In: Novum Testamentum XLVII,4 (2005), 318.

[3] C. D. Osburn, Methodology in Identifying Patristic Citations in NT Textual Criticism, In: Novum Testamentum XLVII,4 (2005), 318.

[4] Cf. D.-A. Koch, Die Schrift als Zeuge des Evangeliums, 15: A paraphrase is a “freie Wiedergabe eines fremden Textes”.

[5] D.-A. Koch, Die Schrift als Zeuge des Evangeliums, 17 (English translation mine).

[6] M. J. Suggs, The Use of Patristic Evidence in the Search for a Primitive New Testament Text, In: New Testament Studies 4 (1957/1958), 142.

[7] See M. J. Suggs, The Use of Patristic Evidence in the Search for a Primitive New Testament Text, In: New Testament Studies 4 (1957/1958), 143: “If the ancient writer’s habits were good, then it becomes important to record and evaluate all his testimony – including his unique readings.”

[8] See further N. Kiel, “Neue” Varianten in den Kirchenväterzitaten, In: Novum Testamentum Graecum – Editio Critica Maior. Die Apostelgeschichte/The Acts of the Apostles. 3 Teilbde. Hrsg. v. H. Strutwolf, G. Gäbel, A. Hüffmeier, G. Mink u. K. Wachtel. Teilbd. 3: Studien/Studies. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft 2017, 39-67.

[9] Novum Testamentum Graecum. Editio Critica Maior Bd. IV. Die Katholischen Briefe. Teil 1, 2. revidierte Auflage, 23*.

[10] Novum Testamentum Graecum. Editio Critica Maior Bd. IV. Die Katholischen Briefe. Teil 1, 2. revidierte Auflage, 23*.

[11] Novum Testamentum Graecum. Editio Critica Maior Bd. IV. Die Katholischen Briefe. Teil 1, 2. revidierte Auflage, 23*.


A New Printing of the Kurzgefasste Liste is in the Works

Update April 10, 2019: We've been notified that 0313 and 2813 are part of the Museum of the Bible collection in Washington, D.C.

The INTF is in the process of thoroughly updating the Kurzgefasste Liste in preparation for publication. We hope to have a new edition ready next year.

For nearly a decade, we have had a digital version of the Liste available on the Virtual Manuscript Room, which has been continually updated based on new information and manuscript discoveries. However, the last printed edition of the Liste was in 1994. Since then, the Liste has undergone extensive changes including the addition of a number of new manuscripts.

There have been 207 new numbers assigned to manuscripts since 1994:

Papyri: 40

Majuscules: 15

Minuscules: 72

Lectionaries: 80


Many of these have been highlighted throughout the years in our online supplements (e.g here) and blog posts (e.g. here and here).

We will also be adding some categories of manuscripts as new appendices in the printed edition and modifying some existing categories. We’ll share more about these exciting developments in the coming weeks and months.

The Hermann Kunst-Stiftung has generously funded a short-term position at the INTF solely focused on preparing the Liste for publication. This has enabled a new concerted effort to verify the data in the VMR and update incorrect or outdated information in preparation for publication. The Liste will always be a work in progress. While it may not be possible to double-check every detail about every manuscript that is already in the Liste, our goal is to carefully and thoroughly verify as much information as possible based on the resources available to us.

These resources include printed catalogues, recent scholarship, and notifications from individuals. Through the VMR Forum we have been alerted to a number of location changes and new digital images available. We’ve also been making many direct inquiries to holding institutions to stay up to date with manuscript location changes, inquire about manuscript details, and request images to help us check our information in the VMR.

While the INTF has been the so-called keeper of the Liste since it was founded in 1959, the Liste has always been the product of a communal endeavour; it is the result of hundreds of valuable contributions from scholars, researchers, and enthusiasts of Greek New Testament manuscripts around the world.

With that said, we would like to publically appeal for your help in putting together the most accurate draft possible of the next printed edtion. Many individuals have already been offering their help, and for this we are very grateful. If you come across any information in the VMR about a manuscript that you believe is incorrect or outdated, please let us know so we can look into it. It is often the case that manuscripts change locations or are given a new shelf number as institutions merge or are reorganized. If anyone has any first-hand knowledge of new manuscript locations/shelf numbers, this information would also be much appreciated. If you are aware of any new manuscripts that should be under consideration for inclusion in the Liste, we would be very grateful for a notification. Information can be shared through the VMR Forum under a newly created category called “The Liste” (click here) or if you prefer, email me (Greg Paulson): paulson at

One particular challenge is keeping up with manuscripts that have changed locations. Currently there are 137 manuscripts in the Liste where the owner/institution is unknown (listed as “besitzer unbekannt”). In addition, a number of manuscripts have been auctioned on Sotheby’s, Christies, Heritage Auctions, etc. While we have been able to ascertain the new locations of many of these auctioned manuscripts, we are asking for your help in tracking down the current location of five manuscripts in particular. Each of the following is hyperlinked to its auction:


1. GA 2813 UPDATE: This is now part of the collection at the Museum of the Bible, Washington, D.C.

13th Gospel of Luke and John, sold on Sotheby’s in 2016 as part of the Charles Caldwell Ryrie collection, Dallas, TX.


2. GA 2346

Sold on Sotheby’s in 2016, 11th century Gospels with commentary sold as part of the Charles Caldwell Ryrie collection.


3. GA 2805

Sold on Christie’s in 2013, 11th century, Acts and Letters of the Apostles, formerly in Athens.


4. GA 851

Sold on Sotheby’s in 2009, Gospels, illuminated Gospel manuscript on vellum, owner unknown for many years.


5. GA 0313 (fragment) UPDATE: This is now part of the collection at the Museum of the Bible, Washington, D.C.

Sold on Sotheby’s in 2013, Gospel of Mark fragment, 5th century, previously in the De Hamel Collection.


If anyone has any information about the current whereabouts of these five manuscripts we would be very grateful. For those who can help us pin down the new owners, we can offer you a small surprise, compliments of the INTF! Please let us know in the Forum, by email, or simply leave a comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!

New entries to the "Liste"

Since June 2018, when the most recent supplement to the Liste was circulated, we have added 11 new manuscripts to the Liste. They are as follows:

Gospels with commentary
10th century
263 leaves
1 column, 35 lines
Size: 24 x 20
Location: Alexandria, Greek Patriarchate, 122

John 2:14-24
10th/11th century
1 folio
1 column, 19 lines
Size: 20.9 x 15.9
Location: Waltham, MA, Tufts University, Welch Collection, AC.40.17

Gospels (incomplete)
11th century
Parchment and paper
199 leaves
1 column, 23-24 lines
Size: 17.5 x 14.5
Location: Weimar, Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek, Q 743

Mt 28:1-20
11th/12th century
2 folios
1 column, 18 lines
Size: 22.9/23.3 x 15.1/9
Location: Athens, National Library, 4189, fol. 184-185

Greek-Arabic Gospel lectionary
277 leaves
Column and lines are unknown
Size: 27 x 18
Location: Alexandria, Greek Patriarchate, 290

John 6:42-44, 48-54; 15:17-16:2, from a majuscule lectionary
10th century
2 leaves, used as flyleaves for l797
2 columns, 17 lines
Size: 27.9 x 20.7
Location: Alexandria, Greek Patriarchate, 56 (flyleaves of l797)

Gospel lectionary
13th century
271 leaves
2 columns, 25-27 lines
Size: 30 x 21.8
Location: Alexandria, Greek Patriarchate, 108

Majuscule Gospel lectionary (esk) (incomplete)
10th century
48 leaves
2 columns, 25-26 lines
Size: 25.5/8 x 19/19.3
Location: Weimar, Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek, Fol. 531

Gospel lectionary
11th/12th century
1 leaf
2 columns, 17(?) lines
Size: 18 x 24.5
Location: Weimar, Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek, Q 738

Gospel lectionary (e)
11th/12th century
220 leaves
2 columns, 21 lines
Size: 27.5 x 21/22
Location: Weimar, Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek, Fol. 532

Gospels and Apostolos lectionary (select readings)
16th/17th century
60 leaves
1 column, 24-25 lines
Size: 20.2/3 x 14.5/6
Location: Athens, National Library, 4174, fol. 104-163

Thanks to Hugh Houghton for pointing out GA numbers 2937, L2477, L2478, and L2479. These new manuscripts were discovered through the European Research Council-funded CATENA project. New shelf numbers for 904, 1302, 2206, and L1310 have also been updated, thanks to Hugh. These will be further described in his forthcoming article with Mina Monier “Greek Manuscripts in Alexandria.”

Thanks to Dan Wallace and CSNTM for pointing out GA numbers 2940 and L2483. They also identified portions of other manuscripts that are supplements. Accordingly, notes in the Liste have been added for 763, 897, and 2528.

How to Index Manuscripts on the VMR


This post will briefly explain indexing in the Virtual Manuscript Room (VMR) and why it is important. Simply put, indexing is recording the biblical contents of each page of a manuscript in the VMR. After a manuscript has been indexed, it is possible to scroll through its pages and see what the contents of each page are; thus indexing is an essential first step in being able to transcribe a manuscript and provides an important service for users of the VMR around the world.


The gadget on the VMR homepage displays the progress of indexing, as well as image uploading and transcribing.

According to this gadget, the percentages of manuscript pages already indexed are:

Papyri: 95.15%

Majuscules: 79.31%

Minuscules: 17.70%

Lectionaries: 1.30%

Total: 12.42%

A total of 265,711 pages of manuscripts have been indexed, but this is only 12.42% of the total number of pages (this is an approximation of the total number of pages of Greek New Testament manuscripts). As you can see, much more work remains to be done! Indexing is open to everyone. Before you can start you must sign up for a VMR account. Signing up is free and will enable your work to be saved.


How to Index

Let’s say, for example, a manuscript begins with the Gospel of Matthew. The first page of this manuscript could start with Matthew chapter one, verse one, and the first page may end with verse seven. We would then index this page as “Matt 1:1-7.”


The next page of this manuscript would continue either with the rest of verse seven or begin with verse eight and it might also contain, say, seven verses. If so, we would index this page as either “Matt 1:7-13” or “Matt 1:8-14.”


Now, let’s move on to a real example!


To begin indexing, go to the VMR homepage and then click on “Indexing.”


Here you are prompted to enter the Document ID of the manuscript you want to work on. (See here for an explanation of “Document ID” and how to view manuscripts in the VMR).



If you don’t know the Document ID, you can type in the GA number, wait for a drop down list of manuscripts that match the number, and then click on the manuscript you want.


If you type in 20001, for example, and click on it, it brings you to the indexing page of Codex Sinaiticus. If you look at PageID 40 (which is folio 200r of the manuscript), you can see in the Index Coverage field that the contents have already been recorded, which is the inscriptio for Matthew as well as the entire first chapter and the first five verses of chapter two.


The next page picks up where the previous one left off, with Matthew 2:6.


Standard abbreviations for biblical books should be used here (e.g. Rom, Gal, Eph, Phil), and books with a number in the name like 1 Corinthians have no space in their abbreviation: 1Cor. Here is a list of books with their abbreviations:



Book Name

Abbreviation in VMR













1 Corinthians


2 Corinthians










1 Thessalonians


2 Thessalonians


1 Timothy


2 Timothy










1 Peter


2 Peter


1 John


2 John


3 John







After the book name comes a space, then chapter number, colon, and the verse spread with a hyphen, e.g. Rom 1:20-25. Each new image must always have the book name and chapter; you cannot just add the next set of verses. If the image contains text from two chapters, you will need to repeat the book name, for example, you can see here that the next chapter of Matthew has repeated information after a semi-colon, Matt 2:6-23; Matt 3:1-7. If a verse spans two pages, index it on both images.


To save the information you have added, click on the Save button . Then move onto the next image, and so on.


Now let’s view a manuscript that has not yet been completely indexed, for example, GA 2884. Go to the indexing page of 2884 and then click on an image. After clicking on an image, your web browser should have opened a new window with the image. If no new window opened, check your browser’s settings so that it allows pop-ups (at least for the VMR site).


To index the page that popped-up, look at the first several words to see where it begins and the last several words to see where it ends. For example, with GA 2884, PageID 40, the first words are αραμ αραμ δε εγεννησε.

The first instance of αραμ here is the last word of Matt 1:3, and the second αραμ is the first word of Matt 1:4. So, we know the indexing of this page begins with Matt 1:3. Now we need to determine what verse the page ends with. The last few words are οζιας δε εγε. This is the beginning of Matt 1:9 (the rest of the final word “εγεννησε” continues on to the next page). Therefore, we can index this page as Matt 1:3-9.


While indexing, the next page automatically picks up where the previous one left off. Check carefully whether the next page continues with the rest of the verse (e.g. verse 9) or begins with the next one (e.g. verse 10) and change the indexing accordingly.


If a page has inscription (e.g. "The Gospel according to Matthew") or subscription, index it as "Matt inscriptio" or "Matt subscriptio." Make sure that the inscriptio stands before the first verse 1:1, and the subcriptio after the last verse of the text.


If there are text of several wrintings of the New Testament on one page, e.g. John then Mark, index them in the order that they appear on the page.


Searching for Text

Admittedly, it is not always easy to determine the contents of a page. For example, manuscripts that are incomplete may begin with the middle of a book. So how can you index a page if you don’t (yet) have the entire Greek New Testament memorized?


The tool “Bible Viewer” on the right-hand column of the Indexing page can assist with this. There are two options here: (1) “Chapter” where you can type in any verse (e.g. Rom 10:3) and see the Greek text of the NA28; and (2) “Search” where you can type in words to try and find a verse that matches.


Using “Search,” you can type (in Unicode Greek) a word (or more) from the page you want to index and see what the results are. Using the above example, if you type αραμ δε εγεννησε, the results are Matt 1:3 and Matt 1:4.


If you type just δε, for example, you will get too many results to find the right verse, and the “Search” feature will not display more than 100 results. This can be especially tricky when you are trying to index a manuscript that is difficult to read and perhaps only such common words are easily visible.


Try to select less frequently used words, if possible, but also keep in mind that you might be typing in an orthographic spelling or a variant that is not in the main text of the NA28. In this case, you might not get any results at all and you will need to find other words to use as a marking place.


If you are indexing a commentary manuscript, first make sure to ascertain what part is the biblical text. Searching for words of the commentary will not give you the correct results.


If you are proceeding page by page in a continuous text manuscript, there will be no need to keep using the “Chapter” or “Search” tool. You will already know at the end of one page where the next begins.


Correcting Indexing

If you make a mistake and need to correct a page that you’ve indexed, simply enter in the correct information on the Indexing page. If you come across an indexed page of a manuscript that you didn’t index yourself (see image below), you cannot change this.



If you notice incorrect indexing, please write a message in the forum (see image below) and provide the correct indexing in your comment. Someone will correct it.



Adding Folio Numbers

While indexing the biblical contents for each page, you should also enter the corresponding folio numbers. After the folio number, add an "r" (for recto, on the right) or a "v" (for verso, on the left, the reverse of the page). Occasionally manuscripts are numbered sequentially with a page number for each side. In this case, these should be numbered sequentially to match. It can often be helpful to browse through the manuscript to look at any other pages that have already been indexed to see how these page numbers have been indexed and try to match them. Some manuscripts have two sets of numbering, so again, check what has already been indexed and try to follow the numbering already being used. If you are still unsure how to count folios with recto and verso, just leave the field blank.


Identifying Features

You also have the option to mark certain features found on the page, for example, if a manuscript is illuminated, has a colophon or a commentary text. These are found by clicking on the black triangle in the image below. You can hover your curser over each box to see what the abbreviations stand for. In the example below, folio 105r of GA 1253 has been marked as having a headpiece (i.e. illustration at the beginning of the book) and a commentary text.


Any blank pages and pages that have no biblical content to index should be marked as "NoIdx" even if the page also has another feature, such as "CaTa" (canon tables) or "KeLi" (kephalaia list). It may be necessary to tick more than one feature for some pages.


If you checkmark "ComTx" (i.e. a commentary text marker for commentary manuscripts), this will also automatically tick the "NoIdx" box, which will then need to be unticked if any entry is made in the Index Coverage box. Here is an indexed paged of a commentary manuscript, GA 1253, as an example of what the indexing could look like when viewed in Manuscript Workspace when a commentary page has no biblical content (i.e. folio 104r) and when it has both biblical content and commentary (i.e. 105r):


You may come across an animated dancing cow when you are on the Indexing page. This means there is no content to index, as seen here for the Latin pages of Codex Bezae (GA 05).


Which Manuscripts Need to Be Indexed?

If you are working on one of the ECM projects, you should be given a list of manuscripts to work on for your project. If you are working on your own project, however, the choice of manuscripts is up to you! Whatever you index will be available for everyone to see, and what others have indexed is available for you to see.


In Indexing Status, you can find a list of all manuscripts that have not been completely indexed yet. You may claim responsibility for indexing a manuscript if you want.


We hope you enjoy contributing to indexing and that you also benefit from the work others have done. Have fun and don’t hesitate to ask questions in the VMR forum if you get stuck!


Thank you to Amy Myshrall (ITSEE Birmingham) and the staff at the INTF for their helpful suggestions and additions to this post!

How to View Greek New Testament Manuscripts in the VMR

For those who are new to the VMR or just getting started, there are several ways to find a Greek New Testament manuscript in the VMR.

Option 1: Liste


A first option would be to click on the VMR Homepage. From the Homepage, click on “Liste” in the left-hand column.



The first field here is called “Manuscript Num.”



There are two options: search by “Name” or by “ID”.



If you are familiar with the Gregory-Aland (GA) numbers and know the GA number of the manuscript you are looking for, simply type that number under “Name” and then hit enter (or scroll down to the “Search” button).


The label is called “Name” instead of “Gregory-Aland number” because many manuscripts in the VMR, such as Coptic or Latin manuscripts, do not have a GA number but instead have their own unique identification system. We intend for the label “Name” to be generic enough to include all manuscripts, no matter the cataloguing system.


Lists of GA numbers can be found in the Kurzgefasste Liste, the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, and the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament, among other places.


If you want to look at images of Codex Sinaiticus, for example, type “01” as the “Name” (typing “Sinaiticus” as the name will not pull up the manuscript).


Each manuscript is given a unique ID number in the VMR. Codex Sinaiticus, for example, has the ID 20001. The ID number is primarily for use within the VMR program, and we do not advocate using it to identify these manuscripts outside of the VMR. That said, if you wanted to locate a manuscript by its ID number in the VMR, you would enter a 5-digit number, entering 1 for a papyrus, 2 for a majuscule, 3 for a minuscule, or 4 for a lectionary, and then zeros if space allows, then its Gregory-Aland number. So, papyrus P52 would be entered as 10052. Minuscule 2926 would be entered as 32926. Lectionary L844 would be entered as 40844.


After you’ve entered a number and hit enter (or scrolled down and clicked “Search”), the left-hand column displays the ID, then its corresponding Name—or GA number if available. The origin date and number of pages are also shown. Clicking on any one manuscript will display further information about it in the right-hand column.


Finally, to view images, click on the Document ID at the top of the right-hand column.



This will open a new tab where you can scroll through images.


If you don’t see any images, don’t worry—unfortunately, not every manuscript has images on the VMR yet, but we are working on uploading more. Some manuscripts are even indexed and transcribed (blog posts on these features will follow).


Option 2: Location


If you are not familiar with GA numbers, you can alternatively find a manuscript by its current (or last known) location.



Let’s start by clicking on the Liste page again. You make your search by selecting the “Current Country”, and/or “Place”, and/or “Institute.” After an institute is selected, you can browse its Greek New Testament manuscripts in the field “Shelf Num.”


For example, select Germany, Münster, and Bibelmuseum. The fields will look like this.



After you scroll down and click on “Search”, the results will look like this.



You can see there were 22 results. You can scroll through the selection and find the manuscript you are interested in. Click on a manuscript, and then click on the Document ID at the top of the right-hand column to view images (if there are images), as explained above.


You can also limit your search results to only manuscripts that have images available online by checking the box for “Images”.



You can also select all manuscripts that have “Transcriptions”.


Option 3: Manuscript Workspace


There is another option for finding images of manuscripts on the VMR. Instead of starting on the “Liste” page, start on the “Manuscript Workspace” page.



This will bring you to a new window where you are given the option to find manuscripts by their “Name” or “ID,” as described above. Type in the manuscript you want, then either hit enter or click the round search icon.



Option 4: Browse


One last way to find a manuscript is simply to browse through the different categories of manuscripts. From “Manuscript Workspace there is an option that says “Browse. Clicking on “Browse will reveal a menu with further options to click on. As you can see, you are given options for other manuscripts besides just Greek.



That’s all there is to it.


Further Information and Expert Access


As mentioned above, not only are images of manuscripts available through the VMR but also basic information about them such as the date, holding institute, physical size, material of the manuscript, and what the contents are. The VMR offers many other ways to do specialized searches, such as finding all manuscripts of the Gospel of John or all manuscripts from the 4th century. We are also compiling bibliographies for each manuscript to assist researchers with the latest information.


We are privileged to have been given permission to host images from many universities and libraries around the world. However, due to agreements with certain holding institutions, we may not be allowed to display images of manuscripts from certain collections, or we may only be given restricted access. Some images will prompt you to send an email to make a request for Expert Access. This request system is not automated for us, and several staff members receive these emails and must review them before permission can be granted. Sometimes this can be done on the same day but sometimes not. If we haven’t answered your request within a few days, please feel free to follow up.


Our goal with the VMR is to provide access to images of New Testament manuscripts in one convenient location to researchers around the world. We hope you will play around with the VMR to see what else it can do! There will be more introductory posts in the future about working with manuscripts on the VMR.

How to Index Lectionaries on the NT.VMR

There are many useful features on the VMR that some users may not know about. One feature, which was added about a year ago, is lectionary indexing. While the complex structure of lectionaries makes them inherently difficult to index, this new feature hopes to facilitate this process.

In the VMR, manuscripts are indexed page by page, which makes sense for continuous text manuscripts. Because lectionaries are organized by lections, this can make indexing less than straightforward. Ideally, it would be feasible to index the contents of the page as well as the lection(s) on each page—even when they fall on more than one page.

Let’s take L547 as an example. In the NT.VMR, f. 9v suppl. (Page Id 210) of L547 contains Mark 16:5-8 and John 4:46-52, which encompass the end of one lection and the beginning of another. The middle of the page contains information that signals the beginning of a new lection.



In the image above, the reading that begins in the middle of the page is for the 2nd day (τη Β) of the 3rd week (της Γ) and is from John (Ιω). The reading begins with a typical incipit (which often replaces words), τω καιρω εκεινω, and then continues with Jn 4:46: ην τις βασιλικος. This lection falls in what is called synaxarion period 1, which contains readings from Easter to Pentacost. (For more on the calendar system in lectionaries, see the works listed below.)

The lection continues to the next page of the manuscript and ends with verse 54. Therefore, we have identified the lection for synaxarion period 1 (S1), week 3 (W3), the 2nd day of the week (WD2), as John 4:46-54. After this information is entered in the VMR (explained below), it is displayed in red on the page where the lection begins.


How to record lection headings

The lection details are recorded as a manuscript feature in the VMR. To do this, hover your curser at the bottom of the window and a tab will pop up with the option to “Add Feature”.

Here, select “Lection Identifier” under the heading “Liturgical”.

In general, Greek New Testament lectionaries are comprised of two sections: the synaxarion (the moveable church calendar) and the menologion (the fixed annual calendar beginning with September). Whereas the synaxarion is organized by periods, weeks, and days of the week, the menologion is organized by months and days of the month.

After clicking on "Liturgical Identifier", the VMR offers two main options for lectionary indexing under “Lection Type”. The default is “Synaxarion” but changing it to “Menologion” will offer a different set of fields.

The most important information to enter for the synaxarion is the period (S), week (W), and day (WD), as well as the “Biblical Content” for the lection. Taking the example above from L547, you can see that there is no explicit indication on that folio for which synaxarion period this lection is. But we do know what the biblical contents are and that the day is “2” and the week is “3”. In light of this information, we can check a lection guide (more on this below) and easily ascertain that this is period “1”. In the “Biblical Content” field, we simply type “Jn 4:46-54”.

The most crucial information to enter for indexing the menologion is the month (M) and day (D), as well as the “Biblical Content” for the lection. (There is no synaxarion period in the menologion.)

Remember, you must refresh the page in order for the lection identifier to appear!

That's it. These are the basics of lectionary indexing on the VMR.

For those wishing to delve deeper, it is possible to record even more information than what we’ve discussed so far. Concerning the use of lectionaries in church, you can select which service a lection was read in (e.g. vespers, liturgy, hours), which reading of the day (reading: 1st, 2nd, etc.), the reading type (Gospels, Apostolos, prokeimenon, alleluia), and which tone it was sung in (e.g. tone 1, tone 1 plagal). The Menologia in particular are often read in remembrance of a saint, for festivals, dedications, or other special occasions. If this information can be gathered from the manuscript, it can be typed in the “Commemoration” field.

There is also the option to record the pericope number, but this may be more commonly found in continuous text manuscripts that have liturgical headings. For example, in GA 35 f. 26v (Page Id 640) you can see the numbers λ (30) and λα (31) in the margin.

While pericopes are numbered sequentially in continuous text manuscripts, the two lections on the image above are designed to be read weeks apart. (Not to mention that pericope 31 is read prior to 30!) When the same type of information appears more than once on a single page, such as with two lections, you can select the same feature again after you have entered the information in the first time. After this is recorded for this page of GA 35, the lection identifiers are displayed in the indexing column, as described above.

As you can see here, the pericope numbers are not displayed but are found rather with the full indexing information in the pop up menu at the bottom of the page.

The VMR is versatile and is capable of capturing practically any information from manuscripts so long as the parameters of the information can be provided. If you have not looked into “Add Features” yet, you might be surprised at the options there.

You can also get search results for manuscripts that have information recorded for certain features. When you are in the online Liste, simply select a feature from the “Has Feature” field and see what you find. For example, select “Purple Parchment” under “Physical Attributes” and then click search. The results will display all manuscripts in the Liste that are written on purple parchment. Keep in mind, though, that not all manuscripts have had all of their features recorded. We are only in the infancy stages of capturing this information.

In closing, lectionaries are an oft neglected witness to the Greek New Testament with great potential to shine new light on the New Testament text and its transmission. We hope to offer a promising platform on the NT.VMR for recording and organizing basic information about lectionaries so we can obtain a better understanding of these important books used by Christians throughout the centuries.


For More Information

If you are new to lectionaries and want to learn more, a great place to begin is:

Carroll Osburn, “The Greek Lectionaries of the New Testament,” in The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Quaestionis, ed. Bart D. Ehrman and Michael Holmes (2nd edn; Leiden: Brill, 2013), 93–113.


For more detail about the lection system see:

Sergei Ovsiannikov, “The paschal spiral and different types of Byzantine and Slavonic lectionaries,” in A Catalogue of Byzantine Manuscripts in Their Liturgical Context: Challenges and Perspectives: Collected Papers Resulting from the Expert Meeting of the Catalogue of Byzantine Manuscripts Programme Held at the PThU in Kampen, the Netherlands on 6th-7th November 2009, ed. Klaas Spronk, Gerard Rouwhorst, and Stefan Royé (Brepols: Turnhout, Belgium, 2013), 117–152.


For a more in-depth discussion of the importance of researching the synaxarion and menologion systems, see:

Gregory S. Paulson, “A Proposal for a Critical Edition of the Greek New Testament Lectionary,” in Liturgy and the Living Text of the New Testament: Papers from the Tenth Birmingham Colloquium on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, ed. Hugh Houghton (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2018), 121–150.


Guides for Lectionary Indexing

Lists of Gospel and Apostolos lections from both the synaxarion and menologion can be found on pages 343–386 in the first volume of:

Caspar René Gregory, Textkritik des Neuen Testamentes (Leipzig: J.C. Hinrichs, 1900–1909).


For easy-to-use charts of Gospel lections from the synaxarion and menologion, see:

Pinakes of the Byzantine Synaxarion & Menologion Anagnosmata. Liturgical substrata of Biblical and Patristic anagnosmata as found in Evangelion, Apostolos, Prophetologion, Panegyrikon and other Byzantine codices, Part I: Evangelion Anagnosmata, by the Editors of the Catalogue of Byzantine Manuscripts Programme (Kampen: Brepols, 2009).


There is also the IGNTP guide that has synaxarion and menologion readings for the Gospels:

Full Lectionary Index

See here for other IGNTP documents.


For Apostolos readings in the synaxarion, see:

Samuel Gibson, The Apostolos: The Acts And Epistles In Byzantine Liturgical Manuscripts, TS 18 (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2018)

Gibson’s lection charts can be downloaded here.


The official lectionaries from the Greek Orthodox Church (published by Apostoliki Diakonia) are also helpful to use as guides:

Evangelion lectionary

Apostolos lectionary

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