Department of the Study of the Manuscript Tradition of the New Testament, of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies

On March 31, 2015, a Biblical seminar, organized by the Department of the Study of the Manuscript Tradition of the New Testament, of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies, was successfully held in the Building “Kostis Palamas” in Athens, on the general theme: “New Testament in Ecclesial Context”. The Seminar took place in two sessions chaired by the Academic Associate of the Volos Academy, Nikolaos Asproulis (MTh, PhD ABD). After the brief greetings by Mr. Asproulis, about the work and the activities of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies, and the co-directors of the Department, Prof. Aik. Tsalampouni and Ch. Karakolis about the founding purposes of the newly founded Department and the importance of the seminar as its first official event, the key-note lecture was delivered by Christopher Tuckett, Professor of the University of Oxford on the topic “What is “New Testament Study”? The New Testament and Early Christianity”. In his lecture Professor Tuckett tried to approach what appears to be a very simply question: ‘What is New Testament Study’? given that the term ‘New Testament Studies’ is widely used, since there are many Departments or sections in universities or other institutions said to be devoted to ‘New Testament Studies’, and there is too an international scholarly society called the ‘Society for New Testament Studies’ (SNTS). What then is this discipline which gives its name to academic societies, academic posts and parts of academic institutions? In the second half of his paper Professor Tuckett discussed the possible contribution of such texts (e.g. the non canonical Gospels, the so-called Apostolic Fathers etc) might make to the so-called ‘NT studies’ and our understanding of NT texts. The first session of the seminar concluded with two brief interventions by Tobias Nicklas, Professor of the University of Regensburg, (Germany) who spoke on The Role of the Bible in Christian Theology: A Catholic Perspective, and Christos Karakolis, Associate Professor of the University of Athens, (Greece) who spoke on the topic Patristic Tradition, Orthodox Theology and the Significance of the Bible within the Orthodox Church in Greece. In his paper Professor Tobias Nicklas tried to take the idea that “the Bible is the soul of Christian theology” as serious as possible – and formulate a series of assumptions (e.g. If we speak about Scripture as the Soul of Theology we should mean the whole of Scripture), how a Catholic theologian, would like this sentence to be understood. Professor Karakolis in his turn attempted briefly to put the pivotal issue in the context of Orthodox theology, the issue of the relationship between the biblical canon that is the authority of the Word of God and the authority of patristic interpretative tradition. After a brief coffee-break the second session of the seminar contained papers presenting special case studies. Thomas Kraus, Researcher of the University of Zurich, (Switzerland) spoke on the topic The Canon of the New Testament: Some Reflections on the Example Case Second Peter, where he tried to (a) to discharge the letter after intense reading and studying its structure, vocabulary, style, and content and (b) to demonstrate briefly that Second Peter has unjustly been accused with rather many charges. Stefanos Michalios, Professor, of Hellenic Biblical College, (Greece) presented a paper on the topic Prayer as an Eschatological Act (John 16:23-24) where he tried to understand the concept of prayer in John 16:23-27 as an eschatological act, through the use of an OT allusion in the immediate context (Isaiah 26:17 (and 66:7-9), highlighting in addition the fact that prayer also reflects the missional task of God’s people, and thus, it is representative in nature. In his turn, Jeff Baldwin, Professor of the Hellenic Biblical College, (Greece) spoke on the topic: Confronting the “heretic:” Common Thirst and Inter-Community Dialogue in the Interpretation of the Samaritan Woman (Jn 4), where he presented a very interesting overview of the interpretative and reception history of the Samaritan Woman text in the patristic (Origen, Irenaeus, Chrysostom), and Protestant (Luther, Calvin) tradition as well as in the modern scholarship. The last speaker, Aikaterini Tsalampouni, Assistant Professor of the University of Thessaloniki, (Greece) presented a paper on the topic Exploring the intra-textual strategies in the Gospel of Mark. The resurrection and the healing of the possessed Boy (Mk 9:14-27). By virtue of the modern hermeneutical theory of intertextuality and especially that of intra-textuality, the speaker tried to highlight the allusion of the Resurrection of Christ in the healing of the possessed Boy, in spite of the fact of the absent of the Resurrection narrative in the Gospel of Mark.
At the end of each session enough time was given for questions and answers.
The Department of the Study of the Manuscript Tradition of the New Testament was established by the decision (13 / 27.12.2013) of the Board the Directors of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies.
Its main purpose is the creation of a critical edition of the Byzantine text, used by the Eastern Orthodox Church as its liturgical text. Among its objectives are the finding, collecting, photographing, transcription and study of manuscripts (continuous text or eklogadia) that preserve the Byzantine text type; the education and training of specialists in the criticism of the text; the organization of conferences and seminars; the critical editions of the New Testament text; and especially the re-publication of the Patriarchal edition of 1904 with improvements, corrections and the application in general of modern scientific methodology; the study and promotion of any form of interpretative commentary of the text of the New Testament in Byzantine manuscripts (liturgical manuscripts, catenae etc.); the participation in international fora; cooperation with related research institutions abroad; the publication of an electronic journal for the dissemination of the results of the research project; the construction and maintenance of a web page for the information of the international academic community; and cooperation with the Eastern Orthodox Churches for the re-publication and critical correction of the New Testament text in use (especially in modern eklogadia) by virtue of a research of the manuscript tradition.
This Department intends to a) fill a significant gap in research, since the related international research centers engage in other forms of textual tradition of the ancient Church (e.g. the Alexandrian text, scrolls, ancient Latin translations, etc.), having as its objective the closest approximation of the original text of the New Testament, and not the restoration of “living text” in the Byzantine tradition • b) investigate and highlight an important part of the tradition the ancient Church, which until now has not been sufficiently exploited • c) provide substantial services mainly to Greek-speaking Orthodox Churches by contributing to re-publication of the text of the New Testament used in their daily liturgical practice• and d) promote at an international scientific level the culturally invaluable and important heritage of the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament.
Directors of the Department were appointed by the above decision of the Board members the Volos Academy for Theological Studies:
1.Christos Karakolis, Assoc. Professor of the New Testament, University of Athens, Member of the Editorial Committee of critical editions of the New Testament “Nestle-Aland” and “Greek New Testament,” member of the Committee of Scientific Publications of the German Bible Society, a member of the Steering Committee of the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas and vice President of the Committee for the development of the New Testament in Eastern Europe, member of the Advisory Board of the journal Early Christianity, of the Colloquium Oecumenicum Paulinum and Colloquium Ioanneum.
(2) Aikaterini Tsalampouni, Assist. Professor of New Testament at Thessaloniki Aristotle University, member of the Steering Committee of the European Association of Biblical Studies, member of the Board of Directors of the European Society of Women in Theological Research, member of the Society of Biblical Literature, of the Colloquium Oecumenicum Paulinum and of the General Assembly of the Greek Bible Society.

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