Thursday, December 24, 2009

Breaking News: NWO Grant Approved

Colleagues in the textual critical field will surely forgive us the all too general title and tag line of the following press release, and retain the good news: serious work will be done in the coming years on the important and intricate topic of New Testament conjectural emendation. In the first months of 2010, two PhD positions will become available, so keep posted.

Do we have the original text of the New Testament?
NWO grant for restoring the text of the New Testament

The search for the original text of the New Testament often involves solving intricate puzzles. Which textual reading from the manuscripts seems to be the most authentic, is the oldest, or has the best witnesses in its favour? When the manuscripts do not offer a solution, scholars sometimes conjecture a reading. This step, involving conjectural criticism, is not undisputed, for it seems to involve tampering with a text many regard as sacred. All the same, conjectural criticism has had a long and fruitful history beginning with Erasmus and its value has been proven repeatedly. Conjectural criticism demands a multidisciplinary approach, interfacing with sacred texts and their reception history, church history and cultural studies, as well as scholarly editing. The need for a comprehensive mapping of the field of conjectural criticism of the New Testament text has been felt for decades.

The Humanities Division of NWO approved a 600,000 Euro research proposal called New Testament Conjectural Emendation: A Comprehensive Enquiry, submitted by Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte and Jan Krans. Both scholars  are employed at the Faculty of Theology, VU University Amsterdam and affiliated with VISOR (VU Institute for the Study of Culture, Religion and Society) and the ACNTS (Amsterdam Centre for New Testament Studies). The research project, which runs from 2010 to 2014, will be carried out in collaboration with the Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung (INTF) of the Münster University and the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing (ITSEE) of the University of Birmingham.

Two PhD students will participate in the project. The first will investigate the second half of the eighteenth century, when the problem of the New Testament text becomes fully visible for the first time. The second will investigate the second half of the nineteenth century, during which many radical proposals for textual emendations were made, especially in the Netherlands. A post-doc researcher will write a general history of New Testament conjectures and conjectural criticism. A database of thoroughly documented important conjectures will be connected to the standard edition of the Greek New Testament (Editio Critica Maior) which is currently being prepared in Münster and Birmingham.

For more information, please contact Jan Krans (jlh.krans [at], or Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte (lj.lietaert_peerbolte [at]].

The Dutch version of this press release is found here on the VU University website and here on the VISOR website.