Codex Vaticanus Graece 1209, B/03

The Umlauts:

  • General
  • Imprints
  • Problematic cases
  • Dating
  • Chronological order
  • Distribution of the umlauts
  • Interesting other observations
  • Conclusions

  • Masterlist of umlauts

    In 1995 Philip Payne discovered the so called "umlauts" or double dots. These are two small horizontally aligned points like those above the German ä, ö, or ü. They are in the margin of the columns next to a line and are scattered all over the NT. Payne concluded and all scholars seem to agree with him, that these umlauts indicate lines where a textual variant was known to the person who wrote the umlauts.
    In January 2009
    Philip Payne suggested a new name for the umlauts: Distigme.

    Typical umlaut (1237 B 30):
    umlaut 1237 B 30

    The primary literature is:
    1. Philip B. Payne "Fuldensis, Sigla for Variants in Vaticanus and 1 Cor 14.34-5.", NTS 41 (1995) 251 - 262
      [Payne discovered the first umlaut while studying this section.]
    2. Curt Niccum "The voice of the MSS on the Silence of the Women: ...", NTS 43 (1997) 242 - 255
    3. Philip B. Payne and Paul Canart "The Originality of Text-Critical Symbols in Codex Vaticanus.", Novum Testamentum 42 (2000) 105 - 113
    4. J. Edward Miller "Some Observations on the Text-Critical Function of the Umlauts in Vaticanus, with Special Attention to 1 Corinthians 14.34-35.", JSNT 26 (2003) 217-236
      [Miller disagrees with Payne on several points. He notes and uses this website.]
    5. Philip B. Payne and Paul Canart "The Text-Critical Function of the Umlauts in Vaticanus, with Special Attention to 1 Corinthians 14.34-35: A Response to J. Edward Miller.", JSNT 27 (2004) 105-112
      [Payne still thinks, contra Miller, that the combination of a bar plus umlaut has a special meaning.]
    6. Christian-B. Amphoux "Codex Vaticanus B: Les points diacritiques des marges de Marc", JTS 58 (2007) 440-466
      [rather bold statements: the umlauts note departures of Vaticanus from the Old Latin, the codex is of Roman origin, it was Athanasius who compared Vaticanus with the Old-Latin and inserted the umlauts as a recommendation, Jerome utilized this codex and its umlauts to create the Vulgate.]

    I went through the NT and have catalogued all umlauts. There are approximately 800 sure umlauts plus about 40 doubtful cases.

  • Masterlist of umlauts

    There are three main concerns regarding these umlauts:
    1. A complete and accurate list of all umlauts must be compiled.
    2. The dating of the umlauts must be carefully evaluated.
    3. The MS evidence of the presumed variants must be catalogued and analysed.

    For the umlaut listing it important to note that there appears quite a number of "imprints". Where the wet ink of an umlaut prints off on the opposite page. I have noted about 45 cases and there are probably more. This is especially problematic when the imprint comes from an umlaut of column A (even) or column C (odd), because the imprint would appear on the "correct" side of the column.
    In some cases the reinforcer interpreted an imprint as a true umlaut and reinfored both! In some cases I am not sure which umlaut is the imprint and which is the original.
    At least in one instance the reinforer reinforced an umlaut which shows through the page from the verso.
    In one instance the imprint of an umlaut is canceled by a slash.
    At every instance it should therefore be carefully investigated if we have a true umlaut or only an imprint or a "shine-through". Although the recto and the verso of the new 2000-facsimile are printed exactly one upon the other, unfortunately opposing pages are not bound exactly correct. There remain some open questions which can be solved only by studying the original eventually. Since the volume is broken off and all pages of the original are stored separately, it might be impossible ever to check this definitively.
    Eventually the many imprints are an indication for the possibility that the umlauts were enhanced later, since I have found no indications for text imprints. There are 13 imprints on an odd numbered page, but 32 on an even numbered page! Of the imprints on an even numbered page there are 17 at column A, 9 at column B and 6 at column C. This is consistent with the picture that the scribe went through the open codex and when finished on column C of an odd numbered page, he turned the page and the wet ink of the odd numbered page prints off on the even numbered page. Therefore one would expect most of the imprints at column A of an even numbered page. This is exactly the case.

  • List of Umlaut imprints

    Problematic cases:
    Also with respect to the umlaut listing, there appear other doubtful umlauts. Some are probably only blots, some are blurred and some are very weak, faint or thin. I have listed about 40 such cases.

    The "Wildcard Umlaut": Have you noticed the clear umlaut at the free space after the end of John?
    Page 1382 A 33 left. Fascinating! Maybe this can be interpreted as an indication for the PA and f1? Well, who knows...

    Eventually related to the umlaut question:
    On page 1337 C 35 Right, I noticed a hO with two dots below it. Meaning?
    On page 1446 A 22 Left, there is a special sign: dot-S-dot. Meaning?

  • List of problematic/doubtful Umlauts


    The dating of the umlauts is very problematic. Payne and Canart think that they were all written by the first hand and that many of them have been enhanced later by the reinforcer. They think so because there are some umlauts (probably overseen by the reinforcer) which show the same brown ink as the original script. Some umlauts appear to be slightly imperfectly enhanced so that the original brown ink below it can be seen. This is a good argument.
    It is not sure though that the original scribe wrote these umlauts. It is also possible that they have been added even a century later or so. The brown ink is not confined to the first hand. The larger amount of the "old stuff" in Vaticanus looks like this. E.g. there are many marks of unknown meaning (probably pericope/reading markers). These all show the same faint, brown colour. The question is, in what period can we file all those brown things. Probably early, to allow for the significant fading. Maybe we can say 4th to 6th CE?
    It is also possible, and difficult to disprove that the reinforcer added umlauts on his own. He presumably new about the meaning, because he reinforced them (he did not for instance, enhance the ">" marks for OT quotations). So it might be the case that he added some umlauts. There are many umlauts where it is impossible to judge if there was an original below it. We see only the dark, near black ink.
    Niccum thinks that the umlauts have been added much later (15th CE). He suggests Juan Ginés de Sepulveda (1490-1574). Sepulveda had access to Codex Vaticanus (from 1521 on) and supplied Erasmus with 365 readings in the year 1533 to show that these readings agreed with the Vulgate against the TR. Maybe then the differences in colour now visible are just the result of deterioration and mishandling over time? This is problematic though because why should some umlauts fade and the neighbouring text not? Nevertheless the argument is suggestive, because in this period a lot of printed Greek NT's came up and it is quite possible that someone in the Vatican library did a detailed comparison. The different colour is a serious objection though.
    Another argument put forth by Niccum is the fact that there is one umlaut on the first page of the minuscule addendum (p. 1519). This is differently interpreted by the authors. Niccum thinks that this indicates a later date. Eventually the comparing scholar recognized the change in textual character and stopped marking umlauts. Payne and Canart think that the 15th CE restorer had a last torn folio from which he copied what he could read and so added also this last umlaut.

    Chronological order:
    The original writer wrote first the text plus the ">" signs next to the lines for OT quotations. He (or someone else) then added small section numbers. In the general description we have already seen that it is likely that these numbers are not original, but old (4th - 6th CE).
    After writing the text and adding the section numbers at least some umlauts have been added. This can be deduced from the following facts: There are some instances where umlauts are written over a ">" sign. This shows little respect for the first hand text and they are therefore probably not from the original scribe.
    Also there are some cases where umlauts appear on the "wrong" side of the column, because a section number is on the other side. This means that these umlauts have been added after writing the section numbers.
    Detailed check: There are 26 umlauts which are written on the "wrong" side. In 14 cases there is no obvious reason visible (eventually the scribe was influenced by the position of the variant in the line?). In three cases there are umlauts on the right AND the left side (probably because there are two variants?).
    Now, there are 7 umlauts which have a section number on the "right" side (and two umlauts where a correction is on the "right" side and 3 others where there is a section number very near). We assume just for the argument, that those umlauts are there just "by chance". How probable is that? There are about 750 section numbers in the NT. This means 1 section number per 47 lines. If we calculate how probable it is that a section number appears on the same line as a "wrong" umlaut, we get the result that this would appear far less than once in the complete NT. But we have 7 instances (plus 5 other less definitive cases)! It is extremely improbable that this happened just by chance. These "wrong-sided" umlauts have been written on the wrong side, because on the "right" side was a section number!
    Therefore we must conclude that at lease SOME umlauts have been added AFTER the section numbers were written and are therefore NOT ORIGINAL. None of these umlauts is unenhanced.
    There are two other umlauts which appear on the wrong side because on the right side is a correction. One of these corrections is in minuscule (p. 1512).
    It must be noted for completeness sake that there are also some umlauts on the same side as a section number and very close to it. So this principle has not been applied stringently.
    Also, to be completely objective, we must think of other possibilities: Eventually there are more variants at the beginning and/or ending of a section and therefore it is more probable for a "wrong" umlaut to appear here.
    All this of course does not rule out an early date of the small section numbers and the umlauts. The small section numbers where probably written in the 4th to 6th CE. So the umlauts are still "early", however not "first hand". The evidence does not completely rule out that these numbers were written very shortly (even days) after the production of the codex, it is not very probable though.

    Distribution of the umlauts:
    Going through the NT one notices a decline in the number of umlauts from Mt to John. We then find a drastic increase in Acts and the Catholics through to Paul.
    Image of Distribution

    The Catholics have the highest number, about trice as much as the Gospels. It might be interesting to check if the nature of the variants in Acts or the Catholics or Paul is different from the Gospels.
    My preliminary spot checks show no clear differences in the various NT parts. In the Gospels there are variants from D and/or Byz. Ok, quite evident, what else should there be? Caesarean only. In Acts there seems to be an even distribution between readings supported by D alone, Byz alone and D+Byz. The apearance of those "D alone" readings in Acts is interesting. In the Pauline letters I noticed some readings which are supported by P46 as main witness. Well, only spot checks and only with NA 26.
    In general there is no CLEAR pattern in the witness support for the various umlauts. We have support from
    - D only
    - Byz only
    - D + Byz
    - P46 only
    - some minuscle MSS only.
    IMHO this indicates that not one single MS has been used for comparison, but more than one. At least not one MS which fits such a pattern is extant today. This makes the whole umlaut thing even more mysterious. Maurice Robinson suggests that each major NT section Gospels, Acts/Catholics and Paul have been compared with a different MS.
    While comparing the MS on my own I found it quite time consuming. So, why should someone compare the complete NT with several MSS so carefully? This is extremely time consuming and laborious. I have difficulty in imagining that this has been done for intern library usage only. Maybe it was for some "official" purpose?
    If we assume that at least some of the umlauts have been added by a later scribe, it might be interesting to check, if the umlauts which are not reinforced (and are eventually earlier) show a different pattern than the rest.

    Interesting other observations:
    - "End-of-John umlaut": There appears a clear umlaut in the free space after the end of John! Page 1382 A 33 Left. Fascinating! Maybe this can be interpreted as an indication for the PA and f1? Well, who knows...
    - Eventually related to the umlaut question:
    On page 1337 C 35 Right, I noticed a hO with two dots below it. Meaning?
    On page 1446 A 22 Left, there is a special sign: dot-S-dot. Meaning?
    Other observations:
    1266 A 7 L blurred brown ink down
    1266 B 18 L very weak umlauts, blurred down
    1289 B 40 L blurred
    1309 A 22/23 L .. > . . slightly strange
    1314 C 15 R no umlaut but Theta not enhanced
    1409 C 10 R next to a small cross X
    1467 C 11 R two umlauts next to each other
    1477 B 41 L under stamp

    The umlaut question appears to be more difficult than at first thought, for the following reasons:
    1. Imprints and obscure cases make the tabulation of a definitive list more difficult.
    2. It is difficult to clarify exactly when the umlauts have been added.
    3. It is not clear that all umlauts have been added at the same time by the same hand.
    4. Even if we accept all umlauts as genuine and check the witnesses, spot checks indicate that several different combinations of witnesses support the variants. They represent no single stream of the tradition. It is therefore unlikely that only one single MS has been utilized. For what reason has this time consuming and laborious labeling been carried out?
    My personal opinion (not more than that):
    From what we know of 4th CE textual criticism (if this term is allowed) everything points to an understanding quite different from ours today. Even scholars like Origen had a rather naive and unsystematic handling of textual variants in the NT (see Metzger's articles).
    Purely historical probability would therefore point to a later date. Either 15th CE (time of the restauration: eventually the Greek legation carried a labeled MS?) or even later Sepulveda (see Niccum).
    On the other hand purely palaeographical reasons point at least for a part of the umlauts to a very early date: Some umlauts have the same colour than the unenhanced text. Thus they seem to be very old (4th to 6th CE). But: Who made them? Why? Was it for a recension? Or made shortly after a recension? How to explain the umlaut in the minuscule section? [This umlaut leaves me a little nervous.]
    I am not really satisfied with what we have at the moment. I think it is safe to say from the evidence, that at least part of the umlauts are contemporary to the time when the small section numbers have been added. The main question is now: Have umlauts been added at a later date?
    Hmm, hmm, hmm... Sherlock Holmes nodded and turned to his pipes.