SBL 2017 Paper: Sounding Biblical: The Use of Stock Phrases in Christian Apocrypha

Update (2017-09-11): Due to a family situation, I will not be attending SBL in Boston this November. This paper will likely be presented at a future SBL.


As I mentioned a few weeks ago, my proposal for the open Christian Apocrypha session was accepted. I described it to a friend like this: “Hey, I snuck a corpus linguistics paper into the Christian Apocrypha section!”

Here’s the abstract for those interested:

There are certain phrases that, due to familiarity and usage, seem biblical upon hearing or reading them. That is, they sound like language used in the Bible. Phrases like “in the beginning,” “all the creeping things that creep,” and “truly, I say to you.” This paper uses a variation on what are known as n-grams to isolate stock phrases and explore their use and effect in apocryphal works. The First Apocryphal Apocalypse of John (1AAJn), which the author is presently researching for volume 2 of the “More New Testament Apocrypha” project, is used as a test case. The entirety of the Septuagint and Greek New Testament are used to identify five-word clusters of shared vocabulary that repeat with some frequency in biblical literature (“stock phrases”). 1AAJn is then compared to the biblical literature to locate possible stock phrase usage within 1AAJn. If time and space permit, Greek editions of other writings (Apocryphal Gospels, Apostolic Fathers, possibly some non-Christian writings) will also be evaluated at a high level to determine use or non-use of stock phrases in composition.

 

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NA29? NA30? Notes from an Old (2007?) SBL Session

The other day, I ran across the following stuffed deep in my office bag. It had to have been from a pre-2009 SBL (2007 because I didn’t go in 2008?). That means it migrated across 3 different bags at minimum. Astounding.

Check out this incredibly optimistic (in hindsight) timeline for the NA/UBS editions. I distinctly remember taking these notes.

ubs-timeline-old-001-png

Notable to me are the association of a corrected UBS4 aligned with NA28 to be released in 2009, and that UBS5 and NA29 were supposed to be aligned and published in 2014. In reality, UBS5 is functionally equivalent with NA28. NA28 was published in 2012, corrected printing in 2013, and UBS5 in 2014(?). So we may be due for an NA29/UBS6. And I can’t wait for NA32, it should be awesome.

Please note: I’m not criticizing the ambitious nature of this timeline. I love it — goals and targets are good things. I just thought it interesting that there was a publication plan and milestones for that plan have existed for awhile. The publication dates are synced with releases to the ECM, so I’d guess the next NA edition will include material for Acts and perhaps John and maybe even Revelation (which would be very cool).

Whatever the case, I’m sure that the current plan is much different than the above. Difficult, complex projects take a long time, even with well-planned milestones. Bring on NA29, whatever changes it may contain!