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Kathryn L. Beam and Traianos Gagos, eds. The Evolution of the English Bible: From Papyri to King James. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1997. ISBN: 0-472-00249-X. CD-ROM. US $59.95.
1. This collection of materials, almost exclusively from from the Special Collections Library of the University of Michigan, is a CD-ROM of text and images, with an accompanying booklet. Thirty-one documents (manuscript or printed) are illustrated, in a total of 217 images.
2. The technical requirements are:
3. The CD-ROM presents the material in three blocks: papyrus texts, on parchment, and printed (headed as 'paper'). First , I will give a description of the materials available.
4. The papyrus section contains the following. All the initial numbers below have the prefix P. Mich. Inv.
|193||Amulet, dated to the second century.|
|106||Census declaration, dated to 119 C.E.|
|263||Libellus, c. 250 C.E.|
|4922A+B||Xenophon, with a Christian text written in the blank spaces and on the verso. 2 images.|
|917||Shepherd of Hermas. 52 images.|
|5552||Enoch - both leaves.|
|5553||Melito's de Pascha. 8 images.|
|6652||(Gregory-Aland 53), wrongly identified as P. Mich. Inv. 1570. All of the Matthaean portion (26.29-40) is illustrated (there is also a fragment of Acts extant). 2 images.|
|5554||(Rahlfs 963), Deuteronomy. 4 images.|
|1570||(Gregory-Aland 37), containing Mt 26.19-52. All (2 images).|
|6574+6595A||containing an adaptation of Lk 2.1-17, perhaps as a homily, dated probably to the seventh century. 1 image.|
|1571||(Gregory-Aland 38). All of it. That is, Acts 18.27-19.6; 19.12-16.|
|6238||(Gregory-Aland 46). All 30 leaves of the Michigan section. This is the only item in this section to have a zoom facility (that is, the image may be enlarged [by almost a fifth]).|
5. There is a fair range, covering the material which the scholar would find most interesting. It is particularly useful to have full photos of some of these witnesses.
6. The parchment materials are:
|Mich. Ms 167||A Coptic Psalter, of the 6th/7th century. 3 images, illustrating Pss 51, 75, 76-77.|
|Mich. Ms 22||(Gregory-Aland 532), Greek Gospels, of the eleventh century. 2 images, showing Lk 1. Zoom facility.|
|Mich. Ms 150||A twelfth-century Latin catena Manuscript of the Gospel of Luke. 4 images, including Chapter 1. Zoom facility.|
|Mich. Ms 141||An Armenian Gospels produced in 1161. 4 images. Lk 1 is illustrated.|
|Mich. Ms 1||A thirteenth century Vulgate. 5 images, with zoom facility. The beginnings of Luke and Ephesians are illustrated.|
|Mich. Ms 8||(Gregory-Aland 1578). 3 images, two of which are of leaves (fol. 110 and 112) containing the palimpsest Gregory-Aland 0209. Zoom facility.|
|British Library, Egerton Ms. 1171||A Wycliffe Bible of the fifteenth century. 5 images, including Lk 1 and Eph 1. Zoom facility.|
7. Finally, the printed books:
8. With the exceptions of the Gutenberg and Coverdale Bibles, the pages containing the beginnings of Luke and of Ephesians are among the images. All the images in this section have a zoom facility. Besides the images and descriptions, there is a 'timeline', placing the manuscripts and printed books against a sequence of selected events.
9. There is thus a reasonable range of material. It could be useful for teaching, if for example a student were sent away to compare the images and to look at the ways in which copies had developed. It would not do to teach palaeography, because these images are harder on the eyes than plates in a book. But someone without access to the books might be able to make a start. It may also be of interest to the general enquirer.
10. The title of the CD is in fact rather a misnomer. For one thing, quite a lot of the earlier materials are irrelevant to the title. For another, it is even misleading, since it stops quite arbitrarily at 1611 (an important date, indeed, but certainly not the end of the evolution of the English Bible). From the text-critic's point of view, the printed material could usefully include some early apparatus critici, such as the 1550 Stephanus, Mill, Wettstein, and so on. From the point of view of the English Bible, we would have liked the story to have been carried further.
11. The collection in fact falls between various stools. It is somewhat slanted towards the background and history of Lk 1, but it sometimes fails to illustrate those pages in the images selected. It takes up images of Eph 1, but even less consistently. It gives full sets of plates of several important Michigan papyri, but without the helpful zoom facility to help in studying them. It illustrates the English Bible, but incompletely.
12. In terms of technology it has an array of levels. For example, the word colophon is highlighted where it occurs, and a click of the mouse will give a definition of the word. These aids are generally brief and sometimes lacking where they might have been useful.
13. The descriptions are adequate but not particularly impressive. The accompanying booklet contains transcriptions and translations of the Enoch, Melito, and Paul papyri (the former two based on Campbell Bonner's editions in Studies and Documents).
14. Setting aside the electronic wizardry, how good is this? Answering the question as a specialist, it has to be said that the small size of image where there is no zoom is a drawback. 37, for example, is pretty hard to read. Still, it at least gives us the Michigan part of 46 in a more legible format, and that is useful. I have to say that I was very surprised, when I compared the images of the Enoch papyrus with the Kenyon facsimile edition, to find that the CD image is slightly larger. Why is it that pictures on screen are so much harder to read than good plates in a book?
15. CDs such as this are an indication of what can be done. Like some of the early printed material which it illustrates, we can see that they are the first steps towards a new kind of text. In that spirit, we congratulate those responsible for this production.
© TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism, 1998.
D. C. Parker Reader in New Testament Textual Criticism and Palaeography Department of Theology University of Birmingham