Skip to main content
Three people in academic gowns
Timothy and Jacopo with their lead supervision, Prof. Hugh Houghton

Congratulations to Dr Timothy Mitchell and Dr Jacopo Marcon, who received their doctoral degrees at the University Graduation ceremony yesterday. Both have worked at Birmingham's Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing on topics relating to New Testament manuscripts, supervised by ITSEE staff Prof. Hugh Houghton and Dr Catherine Smith.

Timothy has pursued a part-time distance learning doctorate from his home in Tucson, Arizona since September 2016, combining his studies with work as a helicopter mechanic (see his regular blog, The Textual Mechanic). Following the award of his doctorate, he plans to move to Ukraine and teach at Kyiv Theological Seminary. His doctoral thesis is entitled "Family Π in the Gospel of Mark", with the following abstract:

Family Π is a group of manuscripts identified by Hermann von Soden as the Ka-text with 017, 041 and 02 as its leading members. Silva Lake later argued that 02 was not a member of the Π group, but was distantly related and she presented a stemma of manuscripts and a reconstructed archetype of Mark. The present study uses new digital tools to offer a fresh study of Family Π in the Gospel of Mark. Twenty-seven manuscripts of Mark were transcribed and collated using the Workspace for Collaborative Editing. These manuscripts are: 017 041 114 178 229 389 420 489 581 652 702 796 989 992 1079 1159 1219 1313 1346 1354 1500 1602 1690 1816 2278 2404 2411. The digital transcription and collation files are made available in an electronic edition accompanying this thesis. During the later stages of this study, the Editio Critica Maior of the Gospel of Mark was published and with it the online digital tool set of the Coherence Based Genealogical Method. This provided a dataset of over 200 manuscripts with which to compare the apparatus of readings created in the present project. By using the data from the ECM of Mark it became apparent that Lake’s characteristic Family Π readings were not genealogically significant. This led to the main thesis of this study, that the manuscripts identified as belonging to Family Π do not descend from a single lost archetype. Rather, they represent an early stage in the formation of the Byzantine text. It is tentatively suggested that the readings which characterize this group of manuscripts arose through the process of copying the biblical text from commentary manuscripts of Mark.

A man speaking at a podium
Jacopo presenting his research at the SBL Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado last year

Jacopo, originally from Italy, was awarded a doctoral scholarship to study in Birmingham as part of the European Research Council-funded CATENA project. This has led to multiple publications and the opportunity to present his research at conferences around the world. Immediately on completing his thesis, he took up a position as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften. His doctoral thesis is on "The Pseudo-Oecumenian Catena on Romans", and includes an electronic edition with full transcriptions of eight representative manuscripts of this previous unedited biblical commentary. The abstract is as follows:

The present research offers a comprehensive evaluation of the manuscript tradition of the Pseudo-Oecumenian Catena on Romans, the earliest catena on the Pauline Epistles. Building on previous studies in the field (Staab, 1926 and 1933, and Panella, 2018), this work examines the eighty-five manuscripts of the Pseudo-Oecumenian tradition on Romans to reconstruct the stages leading to the formation of the so-called Erweiterter Typus or Expanded Type (consisting of numbered scholia, the Corpus Extravagantium and the Scholia Photiana). Eight manuscripts have been selected as representatives of the four phases of the textual tradition and transcribed in full in an electronic edition (available at By examining the distribution of the scholia among these sampled witnesses, the thesis shows that GA 1980 does not transmit the Urkatena for Romans due to the presence of some scholia attributed to Oecumenius. However, it remains the manuscript closest to this form, solely comprising the first stage of numbered extracts, and is followed by GA 627, 1919, 1997, and manuscripts of the Erweiterter Typus (GA 1923, 1905 and 91). The analysis of the manuscript tradition has also re-classified a category of manuscript, which preserves a secondary abbreviated version of the catena of the Normaltypus, here called the Abridged Version. Furthermore, the comparison between the Extravagantes (the anonymous or attributed extracts from the Greek Church Fathers) of the catenae with the direct tradition of these writings (when available) illustrates how the original source has been adjusted to the new context by the catenist. In addition, it shows that GA 627 and 1915 share readings with the direct tradition against the rest of the Pseudo-Oecumenian manuscripts. Finally, the thesis offers a comparison with the other types of Pauline catenae (Typus Vaticanus, Monacensis, Vindobonensis, and Athos, Μ. Παντοκράτορος, 28) for the first time, to establish a genealogical relationship between them. The surprising result is that both GA 1915 and 1900 correspond to the earliest stage of the Pseudo-Oecumenian tradition in sharing the same readings as GA 1980 for the numbered scholia and the extracts from Oecumenius. A sample of a stemma codicum of the catena tradition on Paul is offered in the conclusion. 

Both theses will be available in the University of Birmingham's eTheses repository.