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Neues Testament


Parker, D. C., and C.-B. Amphoux [Eds.]


Codex Bezae. Studies from the Lunel Colloquium June 1994.


Leiden-New York-Köln: Brill 1996. XXX, 383 S. gr.8 = New Testament Tools and Studies, 22. Lw. hfl 195,-. ISBN 90-04-10393-7.


J. K. Elliott

One of the most famous New Testament manuscripts is the bilingual (Greek-Latin) Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis, usually designated as D (or, better, Dea) or 05 for the Greek and as d (Beuron 5) for the Latin in a critical apparatus and in the official registers of NT MSS. Its apparently wayward text, its generally longer readings in Acts as compared with the text normally printed in the critical editions, its uncharacteristically shorter readings at the end of Luke (the so-called Western non-interpolations), or its allegedly anti-Jewish Tendenz (according to E. J. Epp) have all given the MS. a certain notoriety. Although its text has been known to scholars for several centuries, thanks to its having been deposited in Cambridge University Library by Theodore Beza in 1581, it is mainly since the time of Westcott and Hort that its distinctive text has been studied: we have learned volumes by the likes of Rendel Harris, Vogels, Klijn, and Ropes. There is even a published concordance to the distinctive Greek text of D by Yoder. More recently, D. C.Parker earned his doctorate from Leiden with a thesis about the MS.; that thesis has been published, appropriately, by Cambridge University Press.

Others, including the present reviewer, have been active in supporting the originality of some readings found, sometimes uniquely, in this MS. Christian Amphoux of the CNRS at Aixen-Provence has been assiduous in advocating the pioneering position of the text behind Bezae in the production of the written Gospels and Acts in the 2nd. century.

In 1994 Parker and Amphoux joined forces to host a colloquium in Lunel near Montpellier. Reports on that conference written by two of the participants appear in Revue théologique de Louvain 26 (1995) pp. 405-12 (J.-M. Auwers) and in Rivista Catalana de Teologia XX/2 (1995) pp. 401-9 (J. Heimerdinger).

The present book is in effect the Acta colloquii Lunelii: most of the papers delivered there are published in this volume. 15 are in French, the rest in English. There are 21 papers in all, by participants from the USA, from East Jerusalem, and from 7 European countries. After an introductory essay by J. N. Birdsall, there are 6 articles on aspects of the production and history of the MS., including two magisterial essays on the Greek script (J. Irigoin) and on the Latin script (L. Holtz). The remaining articles are on aspects of the text of the Gospels and Acts. The volume concludes with two essays, not delivered at the conference; these, written by the two editors, summarize issues that arose during the colloquium - they are focused on palaeography (Parker) and on the text (Amphoux). These appended chapters also permit the editors another chance to air their own positions. There are full and helpful indexes at the end of the book.

Contributors to the colloquium and the volume are not united in their opinion about the provenance of the MS., or of its rela-tionship to the other MSS. of the so-called Western text-type. There is, however, general consensus on a date for the MS. (circa 400), and a recognition that the text it bears is a century or more older.

There is general agreement that the scribe of both the Greek and Latin sides had had a Latin training, and that the Latin shows more signs than the Greek side of having been conformed to other text-types. There is, however, little uniformity in these essays about the value to be placed on the distinctively Bezan readings, although it is now recognised that there is a case to be made for studying all these readings in extenso and in context rather than, as is often the case, merely discussing isolated readings plucked from the inevitably select apparatus in a pocket edition of the NT. Papers delivered at the conference, and now to be read here, reach differing conclusions about the origin of the distinctive Bezan text; for some this text predates allied readings in Celsus, Porphyry, the Diatessaron, NT papyri P8, P38, uncial 0171, Coptic, or Syriac; for others D 05 represents a corrupted form of an earlier text-type or even a gathering together of previously existing readings. Even if a self-conscious theological tendency or deliberate recension are improbable and unlikely to have been behind the creation of the text now seen in Bezae, the general moral to be drawn from several articles here is that this MS. ought to be treated as a unity, with its own inner coherence, homogeneity of language, style and concerns especially within the Gospels, and even within the Gospels and Acts as a whole. Whatever the origin of its distinctive text, the role of D 05 in the text-history of the New Testament and its unique readings cannot be ignored or dismissed as merely due to an aberrant rewriting.

If this volume sets out the status quaestionis it will have succeeded - even if what remains are many unanswered questions, a lack of scholarly consensus on several issues, and an aware-ness that much still needs to be done.

For textual critics the essays should encourage ongoing work to wrestle with the unfinished business. For the wider public a reading of the papers published here will demonstrate that behind and beyond the solid research and impressive scientific evidence displayed throughout the volume, many of the commonly heard assumptions about D, its origins, its history and its text are open to dispute. Whenever we meet these assumptions in articles, commentaries and learned journals, we would be better informed if we were to consult the evidence and opinions in this volume. A new Bezan Club is possibly in the making: it is entirely appropriate that Brill's of Leiden, who distributed the Bulletin of the original Club, readily published the present volume.