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COVID-19’s Impact on the Greek Paul Project

It is no surprise that education has been globally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Revenue streams for schools have been disrupted, faculty reductions have impacted numerous institutions, and in-person instruction has largely moved online. Schools prepared to support digital learning have fared better than those facing that learning curve and Zoom has become a household term to students from grade schools to colleges.

For the spring semester, the Greek Paul Project was largely unimpacted by the pandemic; as it turns out, transcribing manuscripts is a great thing to do while social distancing. At the time of the IGNTP meeting held in April, roughly half of the 2 Timothy/Titus manuscripts had been assigned to two transcribers or had been published on the NT-VMR:

  • 76 manuscripts published (double-transcribed, reconciled, and checked against images)

  • 79 manuscripts assigned to two transcribers, 32 of which were ready for reconciliation

Of our 295 published manuscripts of 1 Timothy, 71 rated at 100% Byzantine according to the 1 Timothy Teststellen defined in Text und Textwert. At the ECM section of the SBL Annual Meeting last fall we presented our analysis of these manuscripts and found that selecting seven representative 100% Byzantine manuscripts using traditional selection criteria provided surprisingly little coverage of the variants found within the complete set of Byzantine manuscripts. That coverage would be even smaller if we were to include manuscripts rated at >= 85% Byzantine. This means we will have to be thoughtful regarding the Byzantine manuscript data that has been collected.

During the summer break (for the student transcribers), news began rolling in that our participating schools would struggle to contribute during the fall semester. Sure enough, for the fall we have 7 “full-time” contributors and 14 lower-commitment participants. The project team still has a wealth of transcription data to work with and, at this time, we have published 105 (of approximately 300) transcriptions of 2 Timothy/Titus.

What the ongoing impact of the pandemic will be for future semesters has yet to be determined. With roughly a third of the 2 Timothy/Titus manuscripts complete, we are currently on schedule to finish the transcription work for this project by the end of AY 2021/22.

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