Monday, 28 October 2013


This is a picture of the verso page of P. Oxy 3 403, a Greek papyrus fragment, possibly dating from the late fourth century ce, containing the oldest known fragment of 2 Bar. 12:1-13:2 and 13:11-14:2. The fragment was published by Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt in 1903, but it has generally received far too little attention in scholarship.  The verso page was not reproduced in Grenfell and Hunt’s edition: their list of plates shows only the recto.

In April I spent a wonderful week in the Christoph Keller, Jr. Library at the General Theological Seminary in New York studying this fragment. With the generous help of the library staff and in the friendly atmosphere of the library I had the opportunity to have a really good look at it.
So why is this fragment important?

First, compared to most other manuscripts containing so-called Pseudepigrapha, this fragment, which was found in Oxyrhynchus, is old. Apart from the Dead Sea Scrolls, we seldom come across manuscripts as old as this one in our field.

Second, the Greek text contained in this fragment serves as an important corrective to our general understanding of the transmission of 2 Baruch. Most editors and interpreters of 2 Baruch tend to stick to the assumed complete seventh century Syriac version of the text as the most important witness to the assumed original first or second century version of 2 Baruch, but then important information about the development of the text between the second and the seventh century is lost.

And third, scholars tend to situate the assumed original 2 Baruch in Palestine, and to associate the later circulation of the text with Syria since the text circulated in Syriac. However, like most other manuscripts containing parts or the assumed whole of 2 Baruch, P. Oxy 3 403 was found in Egypt. The story of the life of 2 Baruch in Egypt has never been told (but I am working on it).
If you want to know more, you'll have to wait for my entry on the fragment in the forthcoming Brill volume Textual History of the Bible (eds. Lange/Henze).

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha

Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures, volume 1, edited by Richard Baukham, James R. Davila and Alexander Panayotov, was published by Eerdmans yesterday. Congrats to the editors!

As the title suggests, this volume contains MORE Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. In other words, more and other texts than those you know from Charles' and Charlesworth's (etc.) volumes, translated and introduced by some of the finest scholars in the field.

At the SBL Annual Meeting in Baltimore one of the sessions of the Pseudepigrapha Section is devoted to this volume. Reviewers are Hindy Najman, Bob Kraft, John Collins and me. Judith Newman is presiding and Davila will respond.

Show up at the Convention Center, Room 334, Monday 25 November at 1:00 pm.  

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Two Papers: Pseudepigrapha, New Philology and Media Culture

This post contains links to two of my recent papers. In these papers I discuss issues of provenance, transmission and transformation of pseudepigraphal texts from the point of view of New Philology.

The first paper is my 2012 SBL paper (Pseudepigrapha Section), entitled “Media Culture, New Philology and the Pseudepigrapha”:

The second paper is a paper from the conference The Rest is Commentary at Yale University in April: “The Transmission and Transformation of 2 Baruch: Challenges to Editors”. Here:

Friday, 11 October 2013

I once promised myself that I would never start blogging.
The reason was good enough:  I already have far too much work to do. While this is as true as ever, I experience that I need a place to share smaller pieces that I write (both popular and academic), conference papers, pictures of and reflections on the source material that I work on, course material, as well as comments on books and articles that I read.

This blog is called “Religion – manuscripts – media culture” and reflects my current research interests. I work on the intersection of religion and media culture - both current and medieval/ancient, I write on editorial theory, manuscripts and manuscript culture, and I specialize on the transmission and transformation of the so-called Pseudepigrapha among medieval Christians. These are the topics that will figure on this blog.

I will not blog every day, maybe not even every week. But I will blog regularly. Some posts are in English, while others are bilingually Norwegian and English.  Some posts are of general interest, while others are for a specialized academic audience. You’ll find the first posts here over the weekend.