Selective Reading and Unsubstantiated Criticism

A Response to David Pastorelli: La mise en oeuvre de la cohérence prégénéalogique dans le cadre de la Coherence-Based Genealogical Method: évaluation critique. BABELAO 10-11 (2022) 169-188

David Pastorelli claims to have detected a major flaw in the CBGM: a bias in favor of the Byzantine witnesses due to a “dysfunction of pre-genealogical coherence” (p. 187). He considers pre-genealogical coherence to be “paramount in the implementation of the method”,[1] while genealogical and stemmatic coherence are only mentioned in passing. The claim of the philologists using the CBGM, the editors of the ECM in the first place, who assure that philological assessment of variants is at least as important as the coherence-related calculations, is disregarded altogether. Having thus reduced the object of his criticism to a handy format Pastorelli tries to show pre-genealogical coherence to be a “fallacious employment of percentages and averages”.[2] Instead of using the CBGM, he recommends a return to the text-type theories of the 20th century which he considers to represent facts that need no further discussion.

The CBGM is a computer-aided philological method that in a fair scientific debate must not be reduced to one of its elements. Had Pastorelli read Mink’s introductions to the CBGM more carefully, he could not put forth a sentence like this:

Pre-genealogical coherence is the type of coherence most important for establishing the initial text.[3]

Moreover, he would not confuse the terms “substemma” with “local stemma” or textual flow diagrams with the global stemma.[4] Nevertheless, let us see whether Pastorelli’s criticism of pre-genealogical coherence as such is valid.

For the main part of his critical review Pastorelli refers to the chapter on pre-genealogical coherence in an introduction to the CBGM by Wasserman and Gurry.[5] In this chapter Wasserman and Gurry demonstrate how pre-genealogical coherence could be applied to two variant passages:

Mark 1:1 om. υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ

Matthew 16:27

Using data available at <> Wasserman and Gurry show that the pre-genealogical coherence of the attestations of Mk 1:1b and Mt 16:27b and c is weak. This means that for several or all of the respective witnesses their close relatives do not share the same variant. This is correctly interpreted as a symptom of multiple emergence of these variants.

Pastorelli criticizes this method in three points.

1) The calculation of pre-genealogical coherence

Pastorelli constructs an example of two witnesses x and y differing from each other in two passages. The agreement rate of these two would be zero for the variant passages comprised by the sample. Then a third witness z would be added. This witness would differ from x and y at 98 passages. On this basis the agreement rate for x and y would rise to 98%. Concerned by this result Pastorelli asks, “What should the proportion of witnesses and variant passages be?”[6] – The answer is simple. As Mink has repeatedly emphasized, all relevant evidence has to be taken into account, and that is, in the case of the Greek New Testament, the total of variants yielded by a full collation of all Greek witnesses included in the critical apparatus of a writing.[7] The CBGM does not claim to produce useful results for a selection of two or three manuscripts. Pre-genealogical coherence is not about extrapolating on the basis of samples.

2) The delimitation of the variant passages

Pastorelli criticizes the delimitation of variant passages in the ECM apparatus as arbitrary without substantiating this proposition with a single example. Instead, he refers to an unsubstantiated statement of Bengt Alexanderson: “This is all arbitrary, a ‘place of variation’, a reading, a variant, a passage can be anything.”[8]

The terms “reading” and “variant” are well defined for the ECM:

“A reading is the generic term for the wording of a textual unit in which a manuscript is distinguished from one or more or from all other manuscripts. A variant refers to one of at least two readings of the same textual unit which is grammatically correct and logically possible in its context. Errors are readings which do not fulfil these criteria. [...] Alternative and orthographically possible forms of the same variants are classed as orthographica.”[9]

The delimitation of variant passages and, correspondingly, the segmentation of a critical apparatus is a complex editorial task. Mink says,

“Places of variation are places in the text where variants appear. At least two different variants occur in a place of variation [...]. A place of variation may comprise more than one word, but it can also be the space between two words. Ideally, it covers a logical unit of variation. This means that mutually interdependent changes to a text should belong to one unit of variation (e.g. if a subject and correspondingly the predicate are put in the singular). A unit of variation can also be postulated when a group of words presumably belonged together in a copyist’s view (e.g. if a word group consisting of article/particle/noun shows changes in different combinations for the article/noun and for the particle). Sometimes, very pragmatic considerations might be adduced to determine a unit of variation, so as to enable the comparison of all texts at a certain place. Places of variation may also overlap. In one place of variation the question may be e.g. whether a rather large group of words has been omitted or not; yet another instance of variation may result from variants within that group of words whenever it was not left out.”[10]

Any editor who ever constructed a critical apparatus will agree that the delimitation of variant passages has a subjective element. Still, it is possible to derive quantitative data as a basis for pre-genealogical coherence from a comparison of the included witnesses at all variant passages since the underlying database contains a statement for each witness at each variant passage as either containing one of its variants or being deficient.

3) Witnesses may contain mixed texts

Pastorelli points out that the textual character of 579, 037 and 032 changes due to block mixture. It is true that this was not taken into account by Wasserman and Gurry. This does not call into question, however, their overall result, namely the lack of pre-genealogical coherence of Mk 1:1b and Mt 16:27b, because the attestations of these variants do not comprise these witnesses.

One argument that Pastorelli puts forth against taking account of pre-genealogical coherence is the use of threshold values in Wasserman’s and Gurry’s treatment of Mk 1:1 and Mt 16:27. Once again Pastorelli tries to turn a tool made for a completely different purpose against the CBGM. He states,

The most important impact of pre-genealogical coherence in statistical terms is the arbitrary decision to fix a threshold value below which the witnesses are ignored in the comparison. For a given manuscript, this threshold value is its percentage of agreement with the majority text. For example, this percentage of agreement for 09 is 96.3% which does not allow to take more than three witnesses into account: 07 (97.0%), 1341 (96.8%), and 031 (96.4%).[11]

As if it was the only means available for the study of pre-genealogical coherence, Pastorelli here refers to a clustering tool developed in the context of Parallel Pericopes, a special ECM volume regarding selected pericopes in the Synoptic Gospels:[12] <>. The data basis and the purpose of the two clustering tools offered on this site are clearly explained on the start page:

The two clustering tools may be used to compare groupings found through “Text und Textwert” with ones based on the full collations for “Parallel Pericopes”.[13]

A third tool called “Find Relatives” is introduced on the same page as related to pre-genealogical coherence:

“Find Relatives” applies the “Parallel Pericopes” groupings to attestations of variant passages. It is designed to show an important aspect of the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (CBGM): pre-genealogical coherence in attestations.

All three tools are explained by comprehensive guides accessible from their individual interfaces.

Pastorelli does not care about such complexities when he launches his attack against the threshold value in the lists of relatives produced by the Parallel Pericopes clustering tool. Neither does he care about tools developed after 2011 in the context of the ECM. In 2013, the second edition of the Catholic Letters appeared along with a suite of CBGM tools related to these writings here. In 2017, Acts appeared along with an online counterpart here. The same applies to Mark, which appeared in 2021. For Acts and Mark, CBGM tools are available here. Had Pastorelli cared to look at these tools he could have seen that none of the lists of relatives provided for each included witness is ever cut off due to a threshold value.

In 2016, Wasserman and Gurry used the Parallel Pericopes clustering tool for their demonstration of pre-genealogical coherence in a brief introduction to the CBGM. Pastorelli’s criticism against the CBGM is based on this introduction and the clustering tool published in 2011. He ignores the CBGM tools and related literature published since. It is probably due to such selective reading that Pastorelli thinks a Byzantine variant to be automatically preferred by ECM editors, just because its attestation is pre-genealogically coherent:

Well, as far as the Byzantine text-type features the strongest homogeneity, a characteristically Byzantine reading definitely shows the strongest coherence and automatically obtains the preference (reading a).[14]

However, about ten percent of the majority readings listed in the ECM apparatus have coherent attestations but still are deemed secondary, because internal evidence argues against them. The ECM commentary on Mk 1:1/12-16 is a good example for a discussion of all evidence relevant for the decision in favor of a majority reading.[15] Coherence provides only one argument among many others.

The reasons for a preference of 36 majority readings in Acts are spelled out in general terms in the introduction to ECM Acts:

Since the Textus Receptus was overcome by the scholarly textual criticism of the 19th century, there is tenacious negative bias against the Byzantine majority text. Wherever well-known, older textual witnesses like Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, and even more so in combination with a papyrus, stand against the majority of minuscules, the decision against the majority text was often made easily, without seriously considering the quality of the variants in question. Therefore, the editors of the present edition have taken two facts as paramount.

First, it is often overlooked that in the vast majority of variant passages only a few witnesses differ from all the others. As a rule, the popular witnesses from the 4th/5th centuries and, if extant, from even earlier papyri, agree with the majority of all witnesses. This implies that at all these passages the old age of the majority text is not in doubt.

Second, it is necessary to distinguish consistently between a manuscript and the text transmitted in it. “Recentiores non deteriores” is a principle widely accepted in editing philology, but in New Testament scholarship it was applied only to a few younger manuscripts featuring similar textual peculiarities as Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. For the reason given above, it is undoubtedly true that the textual tradition as a whole goes back to a very early period and that the coherent transmission of the majority of all textual witnesses provides a strong argument for, not against, the variant in question.

If the bias against the text of the majority of all witnesses has been overcome, then the variants transmitted by the majority will appear in a different light, even if some early witnesses read differently. It can then be considered with due impartiality whether or not a majority reading does in fact follow the tendency towards the fuller, easier, more smooth variant. There can be no doubt that this tendency exists, but it applies to the transmission on the whole, not only with scribes of younger manuscripts. It is true that variants of this kind accumulated in the majority text, but in more than a few cases the more difficult variant is in the majority text. Moreover, the editorial team of the ECM sees a strong external criterion in favor of the majority reading where a variant with A-related attestation is confirmed by the majority, because this points to a continuous transmission since the early period.

As a consequence, the text of ECM Acts agrees with the majority variant in 36 out of 52 cases where textual decisions were made against NA28. There are only two cases where a decision was made against the majority variant in NA28.[16]

Moreover, Pastorelli purports that by preferring variants because of pre-genealogical coherence users of the CBGM had re-introduced the number of witnesses as a criterion for the assessment of an attestation.[17] This contention is just as unsubstantiated as is the purported automatic preference of pre-genealogically coherent attestations.

Another false proposition refers to the Byzantine text. Without looking for a confirmation by ECM editors Pastorelli cites Wasserman and Gurry saying that we still see the Byzantine text form as a text-type.[18] It cannot be denied, of course, that the late Byzantine text has reached a relatively stable form, but this is not a valid reason for a partial return to the text-type theory. If we abolish the concept of text-types, it follows that we can no longer use the term “Byzantine text” as defined by Metzger. It has become obsolete to consider the Byzantine text form as “based on the recension prepared near the close of the third century by Lucian of Antioch”,[19] but many still see it as the last text-type standing. Having emerged from the recension hypothesis, however, the term “text-type” should be given up completely.[20]

If we use the term “Byzantine text” it serves as a short form of “late Byzantine majority text”. If we do so, we are aware that it means the last phase of a process whose beginnings are marked by manuscripts like Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. The transmission of the Greek New Testament forms a continuum whose overall structure is still calling for an adequate description. The goal is to understand how the late Byzantine majority text developed and which factors were at work in this process. New research is due starting from the genealogical relationships between variants and an exploration of the relationships between their witnesses.



Novum Testamentum Graecum. Editio Critica Maior

Ed. by the Institute for New Testament Textual Research.

Vol. I The Synoptic Gospels, Part 2 The Gospel of Mark, ed. by Holger Strutwolf, Georg Gäbel, Annette Hüffmeier, Marie-Luise Lakmann, Gregory S. Paulson, and Klaus Wachtel. Stuttgart: German Bible Society 2021.

Part 2.1: Text, Part 2.2: Supplementary Material, Part 2.3: Studies.

Vol. III Acts of the Apostles, ed. by Holger Strutwolf, Georg Gäbel, Annette Hüffmeier, Gerd Mink, and Klaus Wachtel. Stuttgart: German Bible Society 2017.

Part 1.1: Text Chapter 1-14, Part 1.2: Text Chapter 15-28, Part 2: Supplementary Material, Part 3: Studies.

Vol. IV Catholic Letters, ed. by Barbara Aland, Kurt Aland†, Gerd Mink, Holger Strutwolf, and Klaus Wachtel. Stuttgart: German Bible Society, 2nd rev. edition 2013.

Part 1: Text, Part 2: Supplementary Material.

Parallel Pericopes. Special volume regarding the synoptic gospels, ed. by Holger Strutwolf and Klaus Wachtel, Stuttgart: German Bible Society 2011.

Metzger, Bruce M.: The Text of the New Testament. New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press 31992.

Metzger, Bruce M., and Bart Ehrman: The Text of the New Testament. New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press 42005.

Mink, Gerd: Contamination, Coherence, and Coincidence in Textual Transmission, in: The Textual History of the Greek New Testament. Changing Views in Contemporary Research, hg. v. Klaus Wachtel und Michael W. Holmes, (SBL Text-Critical Studies 8) Atlanta 2011, p.141-216.

Mink, Gerd: Problems of a highly contaminated tradition: the New Testament. Stemmata of variants as a source of a genealogy for witnesses, in: Studies in Stemmatology II, ed. by P. van Reenen, A. den Hollander and M. van Mulken, Amsterdam [u.a.] 2004, [13]-85., Corrigenda here.

Text und Textwert der griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments, ed. K. Aland et al. Vol. IV Die Synoptischen Evangelien, 1 Das Markusevangelium; 2 Das Matthäusevangelium; 3 Das Lukasevangelium (Berlin/New York: De Gruyter, 1998-1999). Vol. V Das Johannesevangelium, 1 Teststellenkollation der Kapitel 1-10 (Berlin/New York: De Gruyter, 2005).

Wasserman, Tommy and Peter Gurry: A New Approach to Textual Criticism: An Introduction to the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2017.



[1] Pastorelli 174: “capitale dans la mise en oeuvre de la méthode”.

[2] Pastorelli 180: “utilisation fallacieuse des pourcentages et des moyennes”.

[3] Pastorelli 170: “La cohérence pré-généalogique est le type de cohérence le plus important pour l’établissement du texte initial.”

[4] Cp. Pastorelli 172.

[5] Wasserman/Gurry 2017, p. 37-58.

[6] Pastorelli 178: “Quelle proportion entre témoins et lieux variants faut-il avoir?”

[7] Cp. Mink 2011, p. 145-146.

[8] Pastorelli 179.

[9] ECM IV.1, p. 27*; ECM III.1, p. 24*; ECM I.2.1, p. 16*-17*.

[10] Mink 2004, 27-28.

[11] Pastorelli 181: “L’impact le plus important de la cohérence pré-généalogique en terme statistique est la décision arbitraire de fixer un seuil en dessous duquel les témoins sont ignorés dans la comparaison. Pour un manuscrit donné, ce seuil est son pourcentage d’accords avec le texte majoritaire. Par exemple, ce pourcentage d’accords pour 09 est 96,3%, ce qui ne permet de prendre en compte plus que trois témoins : 07 (97,0%), 1341 (96,8%) et 031 (96,4%).”

[12] ECM: Parallel Pericopes, ed. Holger Strutwolf and Klaus Wachtel. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft 2011.

[13] The tool called “T&T Mss. Clusters” is based on Text und Textwert der griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments, ed. K. Aland et al. Vol. IV Die Synoptischen Evangelien, 1 Das Markusevangelium; 2 Das Matthäusevangelium; 3 Das Lukasevangelium (Berlin/New York: De Gruyter, 1998-1999). Vol. V Das Johannesevangelium, 1 Teststellenkollation der Kapitel 1-10 (Berlin/New York: De Gruyter, 2005).

[14] Pastorelli 182: “Or, dans la mesure où le type de texte byzantin présente l’homogénéité la plus forte, une leçon byzantine caractéristique détient, à coup sûr, la cohérence la plus forte et elle reçoit automatiquement la préférence (leçon a).”

[15] ECM I.2.3, p. 9-10 or here.

[16] K. Wachtel: Notes on the text of the Acts of the Apostles, in ECM III.1,1 p. 30*-31*. By the way, this text also comprises a report about the application of CBGM procedures, including pre-genealogical coherence, to Acts.

[17] Pastorelli 182-183.

[18] Pastorelli 182.

[19] Metzger, Text of the NT, 31992, 212. – The 4th edition of Metzger’s “Text of the New Testament”, co-authored by Bart Ehrman, says about the term “Byzantine text” that “its final form represents a slowly developing tradition, not one that sprang up immediately at one time and place” (42005, S. 279).

[20] For a brief discussion of the text-types as defined by Metzger for Mark see Wachtel, Notes on the Text of Mark, in ECM I.2,3 p. 1-7.

How Does ECM Mark Change the Way Textual Criticism is Taught?

While the theme of the SBL annual meeting this year in Denver was “reconnect,” the meeting also created unique opportunities to make new connections. One of these opportunities was at a joint session of the ECM and Gospel of Mark program units. This was a chance for exegetes and text critics to come together and share with each other about the intricates of their fields and how textual criticism influences exegesis and vice versa.


In this spirit, Alicia Myers, New Testament professor and exegete at Campbell University, and I presented on how to use ECM Mark and how this changes the way we teach textual criticism. It was a difficult topic, especially fitting it all in the time limit, but we hope we did it justice. We’ve recorded our presentation and made it available on the INTF’s YouTube channel. Here’s a link:


For anyone who has never used an edition of the ECM, this is probably the best place to start since it goes over the basics and gives an impression of how to actually incorporate use of the edition in the classroom.

Liste (Greek) and Manuscript Catalogue (all)

The NTVMR began as a digital environment to carry out editorial work on the Greek New Testament. As the NTVMR has continued to expand and evolve, we have hosted a variety of research projects there; although most of these projects are related to the Greek New Testament, some have to do with languages other than Greek (e.g. the Mark16 project) or even deal with non-canonical texts (e.g. 1 Clement).


To support these projects, we have been allocating new Doc IDs in the NTVMR to a variety of relevant primary resources which do not belong in the Kurzgefaßte Liste. For example, Got1; syH3; sa 1; VL 1; arm 252.


This has recently created some confusion about which materials searchable on the NTVMR actually belong in the Liste since non-Greek New Testament resources were included in the same database.  


Therefore, we have taken steps to make this distinction clearer by changing the “Liste” link so that only what belongs in the Kurzgefaßte Liste, i.e., manuscripts designated with a Gregory-Aland number, are located under this link. This should correspond to what will be included in the forthcoming printed Liste.


For those who benefit from other research projects in the NTVMR beyond the parameters of Greek New Testament manuscripts, we have created a new link labeled “Manuscript Catalog,” which has all available documents (including all Greek New Testament witnesses included in the Liste).


All documents in the NTVMR are now available under the new link in the sidebar on the homepage:


Manuscript Catalog (All)


The link for the Liste is now restricted to only items in the Kurzgefaßte Liste:


Liste (Greek)


By providing separate search tools we hope to offer the user an experience that is tailored to their specific research purposes. Researchers who want to work strictly with Greek New Testament manuscripts will now have a more efficient platform to do so. Likewise, those who want to incorporate other traditions into their research will continue to see all results available under “Manuscript Catalog (all).”

ECM Coptic Position (Parttime)

At the INTF there is a parttime position available for a Coptic specialist (36 months maximum). Responsibilities include collecting data on Coptic manuscripts of Galatians and Ephesians and transcribing them for the ECM. Please see the post for more information:

ECM Mark has Arrived

The ECM of Mark was published at the end of July! It is available to order through the German Bible Society’s website.


The complete title is Novum Testamentum Graecum: Editio Critica Maior, Volume I: The Synoptic Gospels, book 2: The Gospel of Mark. This numbering might be confusing since the Catholic letters were titled ECM IV and Acts was designated as ECM III. The INTF has been working on the Synoptic Gospels (ECM volume I), and Mark is book two of volume I, or ECM I.2 for short. We are now working on ECM Matthew which will be published as ECM I book 1, or ECM I.1. Here's an overview of the ECM volumes, bearing in mind only the Catholic Letters, Acts, and Mark have been published:

Volume I: Synoptic Gospels

Volume II: The Gospel of John

Volume III: Acts

Volume IV: Catholic Letters

Volume V: Paul's Letters

Volume VI: Revelation


Like ECM Acts, there are three parts to ECM Mark: (1) text and apparatus, (2) supplementary material that explains which manuscripts were selected and has introductions to the versions and other detailed information, and (3) a collection of studies on the text of Mark in different manuscript traditions. Part 3, Studies, is where the "Text-Critical Commentary" can be found.


Image of the Three Parts of ECM Mark


As promised in a previous blog post, we now present links to digital tools and downloads that accompany the printed edition and offer access to the data behind the edition.


Here is the link to CBGM Mark 3.5This is the third phase of the CBGM for Mark. The .5 indicates we  have made several changes to the local stemmata in the current phase, but did not systematically go through all the variants again to bring it to a new phase. A local stemma of variants has been established at each variant passage. What we called “Genealogical Queries” for Acts and Catholic Letters, we are now just calling “CBGM” since the former term didn’t really take off.


The start page of the CBGM (see below) also has instructions for the CBGM Docker, containing now both Acts and Mark. The CBGM for these two books can be downloaded onto your own computer and you can edit the local stemmata. I’ve already posted a video tutorial on how install Acts CBGM, but the Docker image now also includes Mark CBGM.

Image of the CBGM start page


The Greek text and apparatus of the ECM of Mark is also available online (the digital ECM). Clicking on a manuscript in the apparatus of Mark calls up its transcription. The “Text-Critical Commentary,” published in the Studies volume (3), is also available free online. All passages with a commentary will display a highlighted speech bubble. For example, go to Mark 1:1, word address 12-16, and click on the speech bubble (see image below). It will bring you to the commentary for that passage and you can read why υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ, a Byzantine reading, was adopted over υἱοῦ θεοῦ as the initial text. Users are also invited to comment on passages in the NTVMR forum, which Klaus Wachtel also mentioned at the end of his blog post on the Text-Critical Commentary.


Returning to the apparatus, if you click on the circle icon (see image below), this brings you to the CBGM for this passage.


The Patristic database has been updated to include Mark (see image below). Now both Acts and Mark are available.


Image of Links to the Text-Critical Commentary, CBGM, and the Patristic Database in the digital ECM


Last but not least, the ECM Mark page on the INTF's website now has lists of textual changes between the ECM of Mark and the text of Mark in NA28 and split lines in ECM Mark.


In ECM Mark there are:

33 textual changes. Interestingly, 21 of these changes are in accordance with the Byzantine text. If you’re curious about the reasons these readings were chosen, the textual commentary can help shed some light on these decisions.

There are also 126 split lines in ECM of Mark. In most of the split lines (107 to be exact), the Byzantine text is one of the variants given equal weight as the Ausgangstext.


With its comprehensive apparatus based on full transcriptions of 209 Greek manuscripts and a text newly established on the basis of a systematic method—the CBGM—ECM Mark intends to offer an enduring contribution to the field of textual criticism. It is our hope that researchers will take advantage of the free transcriptions (on the NTVMR) and access to the editorial textual decisions (via the CBGM and Text-Critical Commentary).


Although these tools (1) the CBGM, (2) the CBGM Docker container, (3) the digital ECM, (4) the Text-Critical Commentary, and (5) the Patristic database may seem daunting at first, they offer a wealth of material; it is worthwhile to take the time to explore them and discover how they might be beneficial for your own research.


In the Preface to the Studies volume of ECM Acts, Holger Strutwolf said: “The ECM does not see itself as an end at all, but rather as opening a new phase of text-critical work on the New Testament” (ECM III/3, Preface). The same continues to be true for ECM Mark.

Greek Lectionary Leaves for Sale in Cologne

In our work updating the Kurzgefasste Liste, we discovered these Greek lectionary leaves for sale at a private antiquities dealer in Cologne, Germany. The four 13th century parchment leaves have not been entered in the Liste yet but seem to be part of L2144, divided between Duke University and Yale. 


Image from Antiquariat Jürgen Dinter


The dealer in Cologne offers no information about provenance, but gives the following description:

4 leaves (225 x 145 mm) of a mid 13th century lectionary on vellum.

leaf 1


Lucas 22, 32 – 39: περὶ σὺ ἵνα μὴ … καὶ ὁι μαθηταί

Mt 26, 2: οἰ δατε ὅτι λετὰ … εἰς τὸ σταυρο[θῆναι]


Mt 26, 3-13: [σταυρο]θῆναι … ἐποιησεν αὕτη εἰς  [μνημόσυνον αὐτῆσ

leaf 2


Mt 14, 15-22: [… καὶ ἡ ὤρα ἤδη παρῆλδεν] ἀπόλυσον τοὺς ὄχλους … πολύσῃ τοὺς ὄχλους

Mt 15, 32: προσκαλεσάμενος ὁ ισ. τοῖς ματηθαίς … οὐ θέλω μή[ποτε ἐκλυθῶσιν …]


Mt 15, 32, 33: [… μή]ποτε ἐκλυθῶσιν – 39:  εἰς τὰ ὅρια Μαγαδάn

Mt 14, 22-25: ἠνάγκασεν … τετάρτῃ δὲ φυλακῇ τῆς νυκτός [ἤλθεν πρὸς …]

leaf 3


Mt 26, 20: […ἐσθι]όντων εἶπεν ἀμὴν λέγω …  σκανδαλισθησεσθε ἐν ἐμοὶ [εν τῇ νυκτι ταύτῃ …]


Mt 26, 31-39: ἐν τῇ νυκτὶ ταυτῇ, γέγραπται γὰρ πατάξω τὸν ποιμένα, καὶ διασκορπισθήσονται τὰ πρό βατα τῆς ποίμνης … πλήν οὐχ ὡς ἐγὼ θέλει ἀλλ‘ ὡς σύ.

Lukas, 22, 43-: ὤφτη δὲ αὐτῷ  ἄγγελος … ἀπὸ τῃσ προσευχῆς ἔρχεται πρὸς τοὺς

leaf 4


Joh. 19, 7-13: [ἀπηκρίθησαν ἀυτῷ] ἰδαίοι ἡμεῖς νόμον ἔχομεν … Τότε οὖν παρέδοκεν αὐτον ἵνα σταυρωθή.


Mt 27, 3-14: ἰδῶν ιοῦδασ … θαυμάζειν τὸν [ἡγεμόνα λίαν …]


Here’s the link to the dealer:


We hope these leaves find a good home!

We’d also be very happy if the new owner would let us know where they have landed so we can keep track of them for the Liste.

Online Tools for the ECM

The ECM of Mark is currently being printed and will be available soon. Once it appears in print, we will make our online tools for it accessible. These will include the digital edition, the CBGM, a Docker container, and a list of textual changes compared to the NA28.


Even though the ECM of Acts was published back in 2017, we realized we have not posted the list of textual changes online for Acts like was done for the ECM of the Catholic Letters. So, in this post, I thought I would take the opportunity to review what is already available for the ECM of the Catholic Letters, update online resources for ECM Acts, and explain what will be available for the ECM Mark.


The INTF’s homepage lists a number of “Online Utilities”. These cover different topics but I’ve singled out the pertinent ones for the ECM and CBGM and have listed them here for convenience.

Image: ECM Volumes and available Digital Tools and Downloads


ECM IV: The Catholic Letters

Textual Changes

The ECM of the Catholic Letters (2nd edition, 2013) contained 33 textual changes compared to the NA27. These changes were adopted in the NA28 and are listed in the NA28 on pages 50*-51* and posted on the INTF’s website under “NA28” and Textual Changes. The first printing of the NA28 listed 34 textual changes, but the entry concerning the elision in ἀλλά in 1 Peter 2:25 was removed in later printings (since it is only orthographical); this resulted in 33 textual changes. Spellings were changed in a number of locations in the NA28. For a complete list see Orthographical standardization under “NA28” in “Online Utilities”.


Split Primary Lines

A split primary line occurs when the editors leave the decision open where two or more variants of about equal weight should be adopted in their reconstruction of the Ausgangstext. There are 43 split-line (diamond) readings in the ECM of the Catholic Letters, which were incorporated into the NA28. A list of diamond readings was posted under the “NA28” link under Split Primary Line in ECM2. The NA28 itself does not list these.



The Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (CBGM) offers tools for reconstructing the Ausgangstext in the ECM which is based on full transcriptions of witnesses. Decisions are based on textual criticism and philological study of all variants. The CBGM and its data for the Catholic Letters is available online here.



Textual Changes

Compared to the NA28, the ECM of Acts has 52 textual changes. For a list, see Textual Changes under “ECM Acts” in “Online Utilities”.


Split Guiding Lines

There are 155 split lines in ECM Acts. A list of these is found under Split Primary Line.



The CBGM for Acts is also available online here. Phase 4 of the CBGM for Acts uses the new interface designed by the Cologne Center for eHumanities.


Textual Commentary and Digital Edition

It’s important to note that all of the textual changes and split lines are discussed in the online textual commentary on the NTVMR, explained here. The “Text-Critical Commentary” gives concise reasons why one variant is favored over another (in the case of textual changes) or explains why the decision has been left open (in the case of split lines).

            This commentary has been integrated into the digital ECM (dECM). The dECM displays the text of ECM Acts (different from the NA28) and offers interactivity that is not possible in a printed edition. For example, the apparatus links to transcriptions and images of manuscripts, there is more versional data included than what was in the printed ECM, and every variant unit has a link to the specific passage in the CBGM.


Patristic Citations

There is also the online database of Patristic citations available here. What is innovative about this database is that the reader is not only given the specific work of the author cited but also the full context of the quote. Nikolai Kiel has described how the ECM treats Patristic citations.


Docker Container

The newest addition to ECM Acts is the Docker container, which is a downloadable package that enables you to run the CBGM for Acts on your own computer. Different from the online CBGM, the program enables you to make different textual decisions and reestablish the local stemmata to your own theories. Video instructions for the CBGM Acts Docker are found here, which also includes a short introduction to the CBGM.



After the ECM of the Gospel of Mark appears in print (26 July 2021), we’ll upload a list of textual changes and split guiding lines online. Like Acts, there will be an online textual commentary, a digital version on the NTVMR, the CBGM (with downloadable docker container), and the Patristic citations database.


Image: Advertisement of ECM Mark from German Bible Society


We hope these resources will guide readers to better understand the data behind the editions and can provide a solid starting place for further research to take place. Now that a Docker container is available for Acts, anyone can now experiment with the CBGM, which may be the best way to learn how the method works firsthand.

How to Make a Critical Edition on the NTVMR

(Updated @Classics URL for how to make a critical edition.)


The NTVMR is useful tool for researching Greek New Testament manuscripts (and manuscripts in other languages as well). The platform can, however, seem daunting at first sight. Over at the Digital Orientalist, I have written a short overview of the NTVMR and given brief explanations of the its main features. It can be read here:



You can also find helpful information about how to use the NTVMR under:


For those of you who are already familiar with the NTVMR and want to collate manuscripts and make your own critical edition, there is a step-by-step guide, now published in @Classics, which can be accessed here:


This guide will show you how to view the differences between any manuscripts of your choosing (provided you or someone else has already transcribed them) on the NTVMR.


Image of Unedited Realtime Collation tool in the NTVMR


The NTVMR is not just a space to view images, but offers a customizable environment to build your own text-critical project. I hope you give it a try! Feedback is welcome.

Download the CBGM Docker Container

There is now a docker container available for the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (CBGM) for Acts. It can be downloaded here:

Here is a tutorial on how to install it and a brief introduction to how the CBGM works:



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


---. “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


Novum Testamentum Graecum: Editio Critica Maior, ed. the Institute for New Testament Textual Research. Volume III: The Acts of the Apostles, ed. Holger Strutwolf, Georg Gäbel, Annette Hüffmeier, Gerd Mink, and Klaus Wachtel. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2017.


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

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


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