Baker Academic

Monday, October 21, 2013

BibleWorks 9 Is Growing On Me—Chris Keith

I’m writing this post as I’m discovering something awesome about BibleWorks 9.  I had a colleague write and ask an interesting question about examples in late Christian antiquity where the transmission processes of the NT reflect a difference between what’s known to be written and what’s known to be read.  She also asked about Christians acknowledging plural forms of texts.  I gave her a couple examples that came to mind.  For example, in the late fourth century, Jerome acknowledges that some Greek and Latin texts have the story of the adulteress in John 8 while others do not, as does the Philoxenian Syriac tradition later around the sixth century.

Another example I gave her was Hebrews 1.3.  There’s an interesting example in Codex Vaticanus (B, fourth century) where the original text has phanerōn (“reflects”).  A scribe has then corrected the manuscript to the more common reading pherōn (“sustains” or “bears”).  Then a third scribe has come in, noticed the second scribe’s correction, and written a marginal note chastising him for daring mess with the text.  I’ll use the translation of the note in Metzger and Ehrman:  “Fool and knave, leave the old reading, don’t change it!”

The variant readings, but not the marginal note, are in the text-critical apparatus of NA and UBS Greek NTs.  When I was first responding to the original question, I couldn’t remember which reading is the original in Codex B and which is the correction.  I started to look in the critical apparatus, but since I’m trying to learn BibleWorks 9, I decided to put it in there and see.  As I suspected, when I adjusted all the settings to show me the manuscript of Codex B, it showed up with the different readings and clarified that “MS-03A” (the first hand) has phanerōn and “MS-03B” (the second hand) has pherōn.

What I didn’t expect, though, is that when I clicked on the “MSS” tab, it took me to a digital image of Codex Vaticanus itself where I could see the marginal note!
I’m fully aware that many, perhaps most, of you will regard this as completely old news and evidence that I’m seriously behind the times in terms of technology for Biblical Studies.  You would be entirely right and I’m not going to try and defend myself.  But for the others of you out there who, like me, occasionally enjoyed looking down your nose at people who use these programs instead of working straight with Nestle-Aland . . . well, I’m starting to think we were wrong.  I know it can be a crutch for students, but for scholars in the field there’s clearly a big advantage to having a program like BibleWorks 9 and having all that information in the same place.

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