Titles, Paratexts, and Manuscript Communication: Jewish and Christian Literature in Material Context

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 June 2022) | Viewed by 23010

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK
Interests: apocalyptic literature; early Judaism; manuscripts studies; New Testament; textual transmission

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow, G12 8QQ, U.K
Interests: canonicity; exemplarity; manuscript studies; Catholic Epistles; early Judaism; intertraditionality

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Paratexts (e.g., inscriptions and subscriptions, coronides and illustrations, colophons, and corrections) offer a rich body of information embedded within manuscripts that is not immediately available to scholars who engage these traditions through the medium of the critical edition. As manuscripts containing the works of the New Testament have often been put to use to reconstruct an “original” text, this crucial paratextual content has not always been valued beyond text-critical reconstruction—or has been devalued as “misinformation.” The purpose of this Special Issue is to examine the role that paratextuality plays in the material transmission of early Jewish and Christian literature, extending existing scholarly engagement with these manuscripts by emphasising that paratexts are not just marginal features: They are a crucial aspect in the reception and transmission of these ancient texts.

This Special Issue is directly related to the Titles of the New Testament: A New Approach to Manuscripts and the History of Interpretation (TiNT) project funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement n° 847428). As such, we welcome contributions that engage the paratextual features (especially titles and titular formulations in all their forms) of early Jewish and Christian manuscripts. How does titular attribution change over time for a given work? What does this say about how the work was interpreted in a given context? How have certain paratextual features influenced a work’s reception? What implications regarding canonicity and authority can be gleaned from paratextual information? You may choose to narrow your focus to one key feature of a single manuscript or to more broadly analyse a paratextual feature across multiple manuscripts.

Dr. Garrick V. Allen
Dr. Kelsie G. Rodenbiker
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • manuscripts
  • history of interpretation
  • paratexts
  • titular traditions
  • textual transmission
  • reception history

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

13 pages, 2837 KiB  
Article
The Protevangelium of James in Papyrus Bodmer V: Titles, Genres, and Traditions in Transmission
by Kimberley A. Fowler
Religions 2023, 14(5), 636; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14050636 - 10 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1808
Abstract
The apocryphal account of the birth and childhood of Mary, mother of Jesus (and to a lesser degree Jesus himself) known most commonly as the Protevangelium of James is one of the most influential early Christian texts outside of the New Testament. It [...] Read more.
The apocryphal account of the birth and childhood of Mary, mother of Jesus (and to a lesser degree Jesus himself) known most commonly as the Protevangelium of James is one of the most influential early Christian texts outside of the New Testament. It is witnessed substantially in the Greek manuscript tradition as well as in several other languages. In the process of its transmission in Greek from the late third century or the fourth century into the late medieval/early modern period, various titular formulae were attached to the text. This article examines the earliest manuscript witness for Prot. Jas, Papyrus Bodmer V, and argues that the title present here is reflective of the complexities surrounding the perceived genre and function of early Christian literature in addition to the creation and continuation of traditions encompassing authorial identity and legitimacy. The Prot. Jas demonstrates well the hermeneutical weight often carried by titular paratexts as literature is transmitted, and regardless of whether P. Bodmer V represents continuity or evolution in this regard, it offers a window onto the flexibility of genre and its representation in early Christianity. Full article
18 pages, 891 KiB  
Article
Apocryphal Gospel Titles in Coptic
by René Falkenberg
Religions 2022, 13(9), 796; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13090796 - 29 Aug 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1828
Abstract
During the 2nd–5th centuries, the usual format of the canonical gospel title is “The Gospel According to [person]”. While becoming well-established in this period, the title is reused and transformed when naming the apocryphal gospels. In order to study the meaning of the [...] Read more.
During the 2nd–5th centuries, the usual format of the canonical gospel title is “The Gospel According to [person]”. While becoming well-established in this period, the title is reused and transformed when naming the apocryphal gospels. In order to study the meaning of the emerging canonical and apocryphal gospel titles, the claims of these titles will be analysed to determine who each title presents as the gospel’s source (often a divine figure) and who is implied to be that gospel’s author (often a human person). By revisiting well-known apocryphal gospels, and expanding on their number, new insights are achieved regarding the role of titles, authors, and apocryphal gospels. Results concern, for instance, the long recension of the Apocryphon of John, whose title comes to display a prominent gospel title; the Gospel of Judas, of which the author may be the infamous Judas himself; and the Gospel of Truth, which may not be an apocryphal gospel at all. Full article
11 pages, 2209 KiB  
Article
Epistles from Jerusalem: The Paratexts of Syriac 2 Baruch and the Peshitta Jeremiah Corpus
by Liv Ingeborg Lied
Religions 2022, 13(7), 591; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13070591 - 25 Jun 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1604
Abstract
This article explores the paratexts of the epistles attributed to Baruch, the scribe of Jeremiah, in Syriac, Peshitta Old Testament manuscripts. In early manuscripts, the epistles ascribed to the figure Baruch are, most commonly, either included in the Jeremiah corpus or embedded in [...] Read more.
This article explores the paratexts of the epistles attributed to Baruch, the scribe of Jeremiah, in Syriac, Peshitta Old Testament manuscripts. In early manuscripts, the epistles ascribed to the figure Baruch are, most commonly, either included in the Jeremiah corpus or embedded in the work known as 2 Baruch. This article argues that 2 Baruch has had a larger influence on the Syriac Christian corpus-building and literary imagination than has been hitherto acknowledged. This hypothesis would explain both the inclusion of two epistles of Baruch in the Peshitta Jeremiah corpus and the appearance of unprecedented readings in the titles and introductory addresses of the epistles attributed to Baruch in this corpus. Full article
12 pages, 549 KiB  
Article
Marking Scriptural Figures as Sacred Names
by Kelsie G. Rodenbiker
Religions 2022, 13(7), 577; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13070577 - 22 Jun 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1965
Abstract
The use of scriptural names is a basic building block of ancient paideia as it is represented by Philo and Christian ecclesiastical writers after him. After learning letters, and then syllables, students would learn words (ὀνόματα), including through lists of onomastica intended to [...] Read more.
The use of scriptural names is a basic building block of ancient paideia as it is represented by Philo and Christian ecclesiastical writers after him. After learning letters, and then syllables, students would learn words (ὀνόματα), including through lists of onomastica intended to aid students both in learning to write and in ordering the world. I argue that the grammatical-ethical instruction that is found in Philo’s and early Christian writers’ investment in the practice of writing names in the process of paideia is also evident in the paratextual practice of marking sacred names. Lists variously attributed to Pseudo-Dorotheus, Pseudo-Epiphanius, and Pseudo-Hippolytus attest to the onomastic tradition preserved in manuscripts, while the names of scriptural figures have been marked almost as nomina sacra in the texts of 3 Corinthians, Jude, and 1 and 2 Peter, which were bound with the Bodmer Composite Codex. Full article
16 pages, 3813 KiB  
Article
Absent in Body, Present in Spirit: Apostolic Iconography in Greek Byzantine New Testament Manuscripts
by Isaac T. Soon
Religions 2022, 13(7), 574; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13070574 - 21 Jun 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2353
Abstract
This article analyzes the phenomena that arise when the images of New Testament authors are placed before, alongside, and within the titles and incipits of New Testament texts in ancient manuscripts. Such images facilitate encounters with “specters” of the authors, invoking their bodily [...] Read more.
This article analyzes the phenomena that arise when the images of New Testament authors are placed before, alongside, and within the titles and incipits of New Testament texts in ancient manuscripts. Such images facilitate encounters with “specters” of the authors, invoking their bodily presence in the absence of their physical body. They are encodings of collective memory but also participants in perpetuating and sometimes modifying the physical appearance of apostolic figures. On occasion, the blending of textual incipits with apostolic images sublimate authorial identity and textual identity; the bodies of apostles become frames through which to view their written works. Although they are paratexts, apostolic icons can rearrange and aggregate other paratextual features including titles and even Euthaliana. Images of the apostles further interact with anonymous features of NT manuscripts, such as Euthaliana, providing authorization for works without ascription in the manuscripts themselves. Images of the apostles in NT manuscripts are therefore more than decoration or pious creativity. They are loci of presence, identity, memory, and authority. Full article
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20 pages, 6426 KiB  
Article
Mark’s Endings in Context: Paratexts and Codicological Remarks
by Mina Monier
Religions 2022, 13(6), 548; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13060548 - 14 Jun 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2903
Abstract
This article addresses the problem of the perception of Mark’s endings as expressed in its manuscript tradition. I will argue that, unlike the modern standardized image, manuscript evidence offers a complex phenomenon in which the endings were perceived in diverse ways that move [...] Read more.
This article addresses the problem of the perception of Mark’s endings as expressed in its manuscript tradition. I will argue that, unlike the modern standardized image, manuscript evidence offers a complex phenomenon in which the endings were perceived in diverse ways that move across the threshold that separates a text from paratexts. Further, the manuscripts show an influence between the endings and their associated paratexts. I will show this phenomenon by examining (i) the hypotheses before the Gospel, (ii) marginalia that engaged Mark 16, and (iii) postscripts after the Gospel. In conclusion, the article recommends revisiting the standard perception of the “endings” within their larger paratextual ecosystem. Full article
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9 pages, 248 KiB  
Article
Self-Portrait of a Bible: The Ezra Image of Codex Amiatinus
by Francis Benedict Watson
Religions 2022, 13(6), 530; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13060530 - 8 Jun 2022
Viewed by 2032
Abstract
Dating from the early 8th century and created in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria, Codex Amiatinus is the oldest intact single-volume Bible in any language. Within its extensive prefatory material is an image of Ezra, the scribe who according to legend rewrote the whole of the [...] Read more.
Dating from the early 8th century and created in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria, Codex Amiatinus is the oldest intact single-volume Bible in any language. Within its extensive prefatory material is an image of Ezra, the scribe who according to legend rewrote the whole of the Old Testament, while behind him stands a large open book cupboard in which nine volumes of the scriptures are displayed. In this paper, I will argue that this image depicts a tension between two versions of the Old Testament that the compilers of the codex have had to resolve. In the image, this Bible represents itself as the product of the decisions that have gone into its making. Full article
13 pages, 870 KiB  
Article
New Testament Titles in the Coptic Manuscript Tradition: An Overview
by Paola Buzi
Religions 2022, 13(6), 476; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13060476 - 25 May 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2016
Abstract
This article aims to provide a diachronic overview of the evolution of New Testament Coptic titles, taking into account their textual structure, location inside the manuscript, and ornamental devices. The evolution of a title is not only related to the role of the [...] Read more.
This article aims to provide a diachronic overview of the evolution of New Testament Coptic titles, taking into account their textual structure, location inside the manuscript, and ornamental devices. The evolution of a title is not only related to the role of the chronological phase of the book production it belongs to, but also dependent upon the geographic area where its translation—from Greek to Coptic—took place. Full article
14 pages, 367 KiB  
Article
Early Textual Scholarship on Acts: Observations from the Euthalian Quotation Lists
by Garrick V. Allen
Religions 2022, 13(5), 435; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13050435 - 12 May 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2117
Abstract
This article examines two aspects of the ubiquitous, but oft-overlooked, set of paratexts known as the Euthalian Apparatus. The Euthalian apparatus supplements Acts, the Pauline Epistles, and the Catholic Epistles in a variety of manuscripts, framing these works with prefaces, cross-references, lists of [...] Read more.
This article examines two aspects of the ubiquitous, but oft-overlooked, set of paratexts known as the Euthalian Apparatus. The Euthalian apparatus supplements Acts, the Pauline Epistles, and the Catholic Epistles in a variety of manuscripts, framing these works with prefaces, cross-references, lists of various kinds, and biographic texts relating to Paul. To begin to understand this variable system as a work of late-ancient textual scholarship, transmitted in hundreds of medieval manuscripts, I examine the two quotation lists provided for Acts, focusing on their various presentations in the manuscripts, using GA 1162 as an example. Examining these lists enables us to better understand the reception of Acts’ use of Jewish scripture, Acts’ reception in late-ancient scholastic contexts, the transmission of quotations, and the complexity involved in defining the boundaries of canonical ideologies. Full article
13 pages, 1313 KiB  
Article
Arts of Memory, Ancient Manuscript Technologies, and the Aims of Theology
by T. J. Lang
Religions 2022, 13(5), 426; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13050426 - 8 May 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2094
Abstract
This article explores how ancient rhetorical theories about the improvement of human memory were applied to manuscripts in the form of paratextual ordering systems. It then considers the intellectual implications of these technological changes in the management of textual knowledge. A sequentially ordered [...] Read more.
This article explores how ancient rhetorical theories about the improvement of human memory were applied to manuscripts in the form of paratextual ordering systems. It then considers the intellectual implications of these technological changes in the management of textual knowledge. A sequentially ordered system for dividing textual information into “chapters” or “verses” proved powerful for both mnemonic arts and textual arts. The article next explores a specific example of paratextual technologies in Priscillian of Avila’s fourth-century CE Canones Epistularum Pauli Apostoli, which is one of the most sophisticated cross-referencing systems ever produced prior to printed texts. The article concludes by reflecting on the implications of textual divisions and citation schemes for the work of theology. The test case for this is Priscillian’s “versification” of the Pauline corpus for purposes of textual abstraction (the extraction and reorganization of numerically divided textual parts) in service of theological abstraction (the attempt to create systematic wholes out of the newly reorganized parts). Full article
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