In my previous post I talked about how I chose a scholarly-sounding title for my scholarly book on the use of literary forgery in the early Christian tradition. All of the titles for my scholarly books are ones that I’ve chosen, and they are all meant to signal that the book is … scholarly.
A number of my scholarly titles have been very straightforward – informative but not scintillating (and not meant to be scintillating). My first attempt at a title was for my dissertation, and I realized afterward that there was a bit of a problem with it. I wrote the dissertation at Princeton Theological Seminary under Bruce Metzger, who was (and is) without peer, in my opinion and everyone else’s, as the leading NT textual scholar America has ever produced. It was an amazing and humbling experience working under him. I was his final doctoral student, and he and I became very close.
The dissertation topic was one he suggested to me. It involved combing through the newly discovered Old Testament commentaries of Didymus the Blind, a fourth-century church father living in Alexandria Egypt, in order to isolate his quotations of the New Testament Gospels, and then, on the basis of all those quotations, attempting to reconstruct the character of the New Testament manuscripts that he had available to him at the time. (We no longer have these particular manuscripts, obviously.) The reason that matters is because for more than a century, it had been recognized that the very best manuscripts of the NT were preserved in Alexandria. Two of our surviving manuscripts – codex Sinaiticus and codex Vaticanus – are connected in one way or another with the church there, and to a great extent these two form the basis for our Greek New Testaments today.
Didymus was living at about the same time and in the same place as these manuscripts were produced. But the question was…
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