Monday, November 14, 2016

The Complutensian Greek New Testament, Vatican Manuscripts, And The Gospel Of Matthew

Below is the English translation of my presentation before the doctoral committee at the Complutense University of Madrid on October 4th, 2016. The title of my dissertation was "The Greek New Testament of the Complutensian Polyglot: Vatican Manuscripts and the Gospel of Matthew."

Before we begin I would like to offer my deepest thanks to my wife Lesly, to the members of the tribunal, the Universidad Complutense and its amazing faculty and staff—especially Marga Sanchez and the staff in the departamento de Historia Antigua—and to my esteemed advisor, Dr. Antonio Piñero, whose direction and encouragement in this research has been invaluable. Dr. Gil, Dr. Herrero, Dr. Alvar, Dr. Peláez, and Dr. Hernández—it is a privilege to address you today. Thank you for serving on this tribunal. The opportunity to study at the Complutense is without a doubt one of the highest honors of my life. This university is renowned all over the world for its prestige and excellence in academics. I knew of her "glory" even before beginning my doctoral studies. And my three years as a doctorando at the Complutense has only deepened and increased the love and respect I have for this institution of higher learning. I truly love this school and I hope I can always represent her well in my personal and professional engagements. Again, thank you.

The first printed Greek New Testament, which was edited by a group of humanistic philologists in Alcalá de Henares, came off the press on January 10th, 1514. The quincentenary is now behind us. Now the world is focused—as it seems it always is—on Basel and the first "published" Greek New Testament. And in the coming year, the world will turn its attention to Wittenberg. The Alcalá Greek New Testament lays always in the shadow of Erasmus’ Novum Instrumentum/Testamentum, when, to be honest, it is Erasmus' that should lie in the shadow of the one printed in Alcalá. The world of New Testament studies is so quick to turn its attention away from the polyglot of Alcalá, it seems in my opinion, because we have yet to discover one thing—the sources used by the Complutensian team. The study of the Greek sources for the Complutensian Greek New Testament has been a desideratum for the past five hundred years. Within a decade of printing the first Greek New Testament, knowledge of the sources and the sources themselves seemed lost. Knowledge about who did what on the project and what sources were consulted just sort of vanished out of thin air. And it looks as if the definitive answer may have gone to the grave with the editors. At least that is what many scholars seem so eager to concede. Fortunately, evidence remains that has not yet been considered or evaluated, and so there also remains a glimmer of hope, that perhaps we can—one day in the future—solve the mystery of the sources of the Complutensian Greek New Testament.

The New Testament prefaces in the Complutensian Polyglot Bible all mention manuscripts sent by Leo X from the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. Most scholars have taken these statements at face value, although a couple in recent years have questioned their veracity. The primary focus of this investigation is whether or not manuscripts were sent from the Vatican Library to Cisneros' team in Alcalá. To evaluate this, however, it is necessary to consider afresh the historical setting of the Complutensian Polyglot Bible, and then focus on the manuscripts of the Vatican Library, in a way that has truly never been attempted or even possible.

My research over the past three years, which included a trip to the Vatican Library and others to view ancient manuscripts in their rare manuscripts collections, has finally engaged the evidence from a fresh perspective, instead of relying exclusively on the biographies of Cisneros and what sometimes seems like the regurgitation of the same data in publication after publication over the last half millennia. No one up to this point has ever done a comprehensive comparison of the text of the Complutensian Greek New Testament and the texts of the manuscripts housed at the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana in Rome. And this research is just a sample of what such a comparison would entail, and hopefully a representation of what the world of New Testament textual criticism has to gain from working on the transcription of extant New Testament manuscripts—a work to which the Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung (INTF) in Münster, Germany is wholly devoted. Having now worked through a sample of the manuscripts housed at the Vatican Library, the vast majority of which I accessed through the INTF database, I finally understand what Dan Wallace (Executive Director of The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts [CSNTM]) said in an 2008 interview with King's Evangelical Divinity School: “For one person to collate all of the Greek MSS of the NT it would take approximately 400 years.” Needless to say, there remains a lot work. I have definitely bitten off a portion (albeit just a sliver)! My sample size was limited to one book in the New Testament—the Gospel of Matthew. And I focused on the complete text of the Complutensian Greek Text of Matthew—not an individual discourse unit, but the whole text; every single verse; 1071 in total.

So this study has two components: (1) historical, and (2) text-critical. The historical analysis concentrates on the identities of the Complutensian editors, when they arrived in Alcalá de Henares, and when their work on the polyglot actually began. The text-critical analysis begins with a discussion of the Vatican collections, the Greek manuscripts housed in the Vatican that contain the Gospel of Matthew and would have been available for loan at the beginning of the sixteenth century, and the two earliest registers of loans. A sample of those manuscripts that contain the Gospel of Matthew in Greek were compared to the Complutensian text. The entire Complutensian Greek text of the Gospel of Matthew is presented with variant readings from the Vatican manuscripts placed below it, similar to an apparatus in a modern critical edition of the Greek New Testament. My apparatus is the real hard data of this investigation. But there were other reasons to include it. There is at present no searchable text of the Complutensian Greek New Testament. In other words, people need to either view an actual specimen or facsimile or utilize one of the now ancient collations (that are hardly exhaustive and quite difficult to use). Now a searchable text exists, at least for the Gospel of Matthew. And as for the presentation of an apparatus, such data is useful beyond studies on the Complutensian Greek New Testament. Besides, the apparatuses of modern critical editions are hardly exhaustive in their presentation of textual issues, although it should be mentioned that the vast majority of all textual issues have no major impact on the exegesis of New Testament texts. I also present an analysis of the divergence that exists between the Complutensian text and Vatican manuscripts, identifying (1) readings that are only found in the Complutensian Greek text and (2) readings that are not found in most of the manuscripts consulted.

The sources used for the Complutensian Greek New Testament remain unidentified. This study has provided a fresh look at the historical context of the polyglot project as a whole and the New Testament in particular. In some areas, this fresh look has challenged the status quaestionis. For example, I have argued that the editors involved with volume five of the polyglot are none other than the authors of the dedicatory notes that appear after the colophon. These notes, which only appear in volume five, serve as the signatures of their participation. The analysis of the Vatican registers of loans produced information that suggests the records are incomplete, which leaves open the possibility that manuscripts beyond those for the Septuagint were lent to Cisneros. And as if searches for the manuscripts loaned to Cisneros were not complicated enough, this research has uncovered a new possibility—that manuscripts could have been loaned by Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici, who became pope (Leo X) in 1513. The Medici library was kept in Rome for a number of years, and the editors of the polyglot could have assumed that any sources from Rome came from the Vatican Library, though sent from the Medici collection. Is this likely? –In my opinion, no, not really. But it is worth considering in the quest for the sources.

The real advance here in studies of the Complutensian Greek New Testament is the comparison of the Vatican manuscripts and the Complutensian Greek text of the Gospel of Matthew. First and foremost, it is important to acknowledge that only a select number of manuscripts now housed in the Vatican library are among the potential candidates for use on the Complutensian Greek New Testament. The library was still in its early years, at least formally speaking, when work on the polyglot began. And so it is necessary to differentiate between those manuscripts that could have been available in the early years of the sixteenth century and those manuscripts that were introduced to the Vatican in the years following the publication of the Alcalá polyglot. And, of course, we have to leave open the possibility that manuscripts that were once in the collections might no longer be available.

It seems reasonable though for us to say this: If manuscripts were sent from the Vatican Library as the prefaces indicate, then those manuscripts would likely have had an impact on the Complutensian Greek text. The amount of divergence between the manuscripts and the Complutensian text, though, is great. In fact, only a handful of the manuscripts have less than two hundred divergent readings, and that is for just one book of the New Testament. Simply stated, there exists enough divergence among the manuscripts consulted to at least seriously consider the possibility that the Complutensian editors did not make use of any Vatican manuscripts, thus calling into question the veracity of the statements found in the preface of volume five.

The whole issue of divergence does not rule out that manuscripts were sent from Rome. But it would seem that the editors did not rely heavily on such manuscripts, if in fact any were sent. The second Vatican register of loans (Vat. lat. 3966) provides some very interesting details concerning some manuscripts that were loaned specifically to Spain. Two LXX manuscripts, which combined had all of the Old Testament minus the prophets, were loaned in 1513 for a period of one year. The pope had to get involved six years later in order to secure the return of those manuscripts. But they are the only manuscripts mentioned in the register of loans as being sent to Cisneros. Could there have been additional loans? The answer is yes. The entries span just over sixty years, and they appear incomplete. There are gaps in the numbering of folios, especially towards the end. It is possible that one of those lost folios contained a record of manuscripts loaned to Cisneros. If manuscripts were loaned, there was definitely an entry in a Vatican register of loans. They simply would not have sent anything to Spain without a record of its loan. And given how the Vatican monitored the return of manuscripts—even tracking down two manuscripts loaned out six years earlier and issuing a motu proprio to hasten their return—there would have been a note of return as well. It is important to note the date (1513) when the manuscripts mentioned in Vat. lat. 3966 were sent. It seems more likely that a single request would be made for the project and that manuscripts would be sent at once, not a few here and there over an extended period of time. And they probably only requested manuscripts that would fill the gaps in material they were lacking in Spain.

If not manuscripts from Rome, what manuscripts? The Complutensian editors actually had what they needed with New Testament manuscripts in Alcalá, a point Luis Gil reminded us of during his excellent presentation at the commemorative conference at the Universidad in Alcalá in 2014. My investigation, it would seem, has strengthened the already strong case presented by the president of this tribunal. Cisneros made sure his team had what they needed in order to complete their multi-volume Bible (and tools for study). The whereabouts of manuscripts of the Greek New Testament that are mentioned in lists of acquisitions and library inventories in Alcalá is today not known. If an analysis of the remaining Vatican manuscripts should yield similar data to what this study has shown, it would only bolster support for the idea that Complutensian editors did not receive manuscripts from the Vatican Library—and they probably relied heavily, if not exclusively, on those manuscripts that were once part of the Alcalá collection. The veracity of the declarations made in the prefaces of Complutensian Polyglot—in particular the one in the New Testament volume—is now cast into further doubt. The evidence does not appear to support the claims made by the preface author.

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