COMPAUL: The Earliest Commentaries on Paul as Sources for the Biblical Text

erc-logoThe COMPAUL project was funded by a European Research Council Starting Grant awarded to Dr Hugh Houghton, and investigated the role played by early commentaries in the transmission of the text of the New Testament.

compaulThe project ran at the University of Birmingham's Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing (ITSEE) in the School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion between 2011 and 2016. The budget of €1,499,233 was provided by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under grant agreement 283302. The original description of work outlined three objectives:

  1. An analysis of the biblical text and its treatment in the earliest surviving Greek and Latin commentaries on the Pauline Epistles.
  2. An investigation of the manuscript tradition of Pauline Commentaries.
  3. An exploration of the re-use of early commentaries on Paul in later writings.

Building on the procedures established by Dr Houghton in his doctoral work (published as Augustine's Text of John), the COMPAUL project developed a methodology for analysing the biblical text preserved in early commentaries. Two particular applications of this from the course of the project stand out: the recovery of additional Old Latin readings from the manuscript tradition of Jerome's Commentary on Galatians likely to represent the text used by the author, and the demonstration that the biblical text in the Commentary on the Gospels by Fortunatianus of Aquileia, only rediscovered in 2012, preserves a form consistent with the origin of this work in mid fourth-century Italy and can shed light on this previously unexamined author and his working practices. The project's work on Greek manuscripts resulted in the identification of no fewer than 100 witnesses to the catena form of commentary which had hitherto not been included in the official list of New Testament manuscripts, as well as developing a standard terminology in English to describe the format of these witnesses. The significance of the layout of early Latin commentaries, and the impact this may have had on the transmission of the biblical text, was presented by Dr Houghton as a plenary lecture at the Seventeenth International Patristics Conference in Oxford. The project also created extensive databases to trace the history of the text of the Pauline Epistles and the role played by commentaries in preserving non-standard early readings.

CCBT-frontcoverIn addition to numerous presentations at academic gatherings, the COMPAUL project hosted two international conferences at Birmingham. The first, in March 2015, brought together a range of world-leading text-critical and commentary specialists in order to focus on the significance of commentaries for the biblical text. This led to the publication of a landmark volume, Commentaries, Catenae and Biblical Tradition, which not only presents ground-breaking original research on Greek and Latin commentaries but also considers the only known commentary to survive in the Gothic language and provides an initial checklist of Coptic and Ethiopic catenae. The second conference associated with the project was the Sixth British Patristics Conference, held in September 2016. More than one hundred scholars of early Christianity, from sixteen countries, gathered in Birmingham in the last month of the project for the final presentations of research by members of the project team as well as many other papers on related themes.

 

The outputs of the project include over eighty electronic transcriptions of biblical books from New Testament manuscripts and databases containing 38,150 quotations of all fourteen Pauline Epistles in Greek and 99,790 full-text references to Romans, 1&2 Corinthians and Galatians in Latin. These are being made available through the website www.epistulae.org. Two doctoral students were also supported to work on theses related to the project's goals, namely an examination of the Pauline text of Origen and an edition of the catena on Galatians attributed to Oecumenius. The project's publications, many of which are available under Open Access initiatives, are as follows:

Books

Journal Articles and Chapters in Edited Volumes

  • H.A.G. Houghton, “The Layout of Early Latin Commentaries on the Pauline Epistles and their Oldest Manuscripts” in M. Vinzent (ed.), Studia Patristica: Papers presented at the Seventeenth International Patristics Conference, Oxford, 2015. Leuven: Peeters, forthcoming (2017). Open Access.
  • Susan B. Griffith, “Apostolic Authority and the "Incident at Antioch": Chrysostom on Galatians 2:11-14” in M. Vinzent (ed.), Studia Patristica: Papers presented at the Seventeenth International Patristics Conference, Oxford, 2015. Leuven: Peeters, forthcoming (2017). Open Access.
  • H.A.G. Houghton, "The Divisions and Text of the Gospels in Fortunatianus' Commentary on the Gospels" in Lukas. J. Dorfbauer (ed.), Fortunatianus Redivivus. CSEL extra seriem. Berlin & New York: De Gruyter, 2017. (pp. 215–38). Online Access.
  • Christina M. Kreinecker, “The Kingdom Parables in Fortunatianus’ Commentary “Regula Evangeliorum Quattuor”” in Lukas. J. Dorfbauer (ed.), Fortunatianus Redivivus. CSEL extra seriem. Berlin & New York: De Gruyter, 2017. (pp. 239–66). Online Access.
  • H.A.G. Houghton, “The Text of John in Fortunatianus of Aquileia’s Commentary on the Gospels” in M. Vinzent and A. Brent (edd.), Studia Patristica LXXIV: Including papers presented at the Fifth British Patristics Conference, London, 3-5 September 2014. Leuven: Peeters, 2016. (pp. 263–79).  Open Access.
  • Matthew Steinfeld, “Exceptions and Mixture in the Text-forms of Origen’s Citations of Romans” in M. Vinzent and A. Brent (edd.), Studia Patristica LXXIV: Including papers presented at the Fifth British Patristics Conference, London, 3-5 September 2014. Leuven: Peeters, 2016. (pp. 99–106).
  • H.A.G. Houghton and C.J. Smith, “Digital Editing and the Greek New Testament” in Claire Clivaz, Paul Dilley and David Hamidović (edd.),  Ancient Worlds in Digital Culture. (Digital Biblical Studies 1). Leiden: Brill, 2016. (pp. 110–27). Open Access.
  • H.A.G. Houghton, “The Gospel according to Mark in Two Latin Mixed-Text Manuscripts.” Revue Bénédictine 126.1 (2016) 16–58. Open Access.
  • H.A.G. Houghton and D.C. Parker, “An Introduction to Greek New Testament Commentaries with a Preliminary Checklist of New Testament Catena Manuscripts” in H.A.G. Houghton (ed.), Commentaries, Catenae and Biblical Tradition. (Texts and Studies 3.13). Piscataway NJ: Gorgias, 2016. (pp. 1–35). Open Access.
  • R.F. MacLachlan,"The Context of Commentary: Non-Biblical Commentary in the Early Christian Period" in H.A.G. Houghton (ed.), Commentaries, Catenae and Biblical Tradition. (Texts and Studies 3.13). Piscataway NJ: Gorgias, 2016. (pp. 37–64). Open Access.
  • Theodora Panella, "Resurrection Appearances in the Pauline Catenae" in H.A.G. Houghton (ed.), Commentaries, Catenae and Biblical Tradition. (Texts and Studies 3.13). Piscataway NJ: Gorgias, 2016. (pp. 117–40). Open Access.
  • Susan B. Griffith, "Ambrose the Appropriator: Borrowed Texts in a New Context in the Commentary on Luke" in H.A.G. Houghton (ed.), Commentaries, Catenae and Biblical Tradition. (Texts and Studies 3.13). Piscataway NJ: Gorgias, 2016. (pp. 199–226). Open Access.
  • Christina M. Kreinecker, "Rufinus' Translation of Origen's Commentary on Romans" in H.A.G. Houghton (ed.), Commentaries, Catenae and Biblical Tradition. (Texts and Studies 3.13). Piscataway NJ: Gorgias, 2016. (pp. 227–52). Open Access.
  • H.A.G. Houghton, “The Gospel according to Luke in Vetus Latina 11A (Würzburg, Universitätsbibliothek M.p.th.f. 67)” in Thomas Johann Bauer (ed.), Traditio et Translatio. Studien zur lateinischen Bibel zu Ehren von Roger Gryson. AGLB 40. Freiburg: Herder, 2016. (pp. 117–34). Open Access.
  • H.A.G. Houghton, “A Longer Text of Paul: Romans to Galatians in Codex Wernigerodensis (VL 58)” in Daniel M. Gurtner, Juan Hernández Jr. and Paul Foster (edd.), Studies on the Text of the New Testament and Early Christianity. (NTTSD 50). Leiden: Brill, 2015. (pp. 329–44). Open Access.
  • R.F. MacLachlan, "A Reintroduction to the Budapest Anonymous Commentary on the Pauline Epistles" in H.A.G. Houghton (ed.), Early Readers, Scholars and Editors of the New Testament. (Texts and Studies 3.13). Piscataway NJ: Gorgias, 2014. (pp. 93–106). Open Access.
  • Matthew R. Steinfeld, "Preliminary Investigations of Origen’s Text of Galatians" in H.A.G. Houghton (ed.), Early Readers, Scholars and Editors of the New Testament. (Texts and Studies 3.13). Piscataway NJ: Gorgias, 2014. (pp. 107–17). Open Access.
  • H.A.G. Houghton, “The Biblical Text of Jerome’s Commentary on Galatians.Journal of Theological Studies ns 65.1 (2014) 1–24. Open Access.
  • Christina M. Kreinecker, "The Imitation Hypothesis. Pseudepigraphic remarks on 2Thess with help from documentary papyri" in Stanley E. Porter and Gregory P. Fewster (edd.), Paul and Pseudepigraphy. Leiden: Brill, 2013, 197–219.
  • Christina M. Kreinecker, "The Earliest Commentaries on Paul as Sources for the Biblical Text. A New Research Project at the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing at the University of Birmingham." Early Christianity 3.3 (2012) 411–5.

Theses

  • Matthew R. Steinfeld, "The Text of Romans, Second Corinthians, and Galatians in the writings of Origen of Alexandria." PhD Thesis, University of Birmingham, 2016. Open Access.
  • Dora Panella, "The Pseudo-Oecumenian Catena on Galatians." PhD Thesis, University of Birmingham, 2017.

 

Twenty people contributed to the project during its five years:

  • Principal Investigator: Dr Hugh Houghton
  • Consultant: Prof. David Parker
  • Research Fellows: Dr Rosalind MacLachlan, DDr Christina Kreinecker, Dr Catherine Smith, Dr Susan B. Griffith, Dr Amy Myshrall
  • Doctoral students: Theodora Panella, Matthew Steinfeld
  • Data collection: Jonathan Day, Robin Diver, Alan Taylor Farnes, Samuel Gibson, Dr Rachel Kevern, Christopher Knibbs, Amanda Myers, Holly Ranger, Thomas Ruston, Georgia Tsatsani and Angeliki Voskou.

Further information and official reports about the project can be found on the European Commission's CORDIS website.