Textual Criticism of the New Testament, the Old Testament and the Qur’an


This research group focuses on the textual study and criticism of sacred texts from the ancient Eastern Mediterranean world that later had a global influence; the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qur’anic text. All three have similarities and differences. They have influenced other writings and at the same time have themselves undergone external influence bearing on questions of interrelationship, orality, textuality and language. Not only the above mentioned characteristics, but also their preservation and the copying as well as the proliferation of manuscripts are of particular interest to textual scholars.

The purpose of this research unit is to study the textual criticism of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and Qur'an. The study of the Old Testament textual history includes the Hebrew Bible, the texts from Qumran, the Septuagint, the Masoretic Text – as well as the Aramaic Targumim, the Syriac translations, the Vulgate, Commentaries and others. Additionally, the study of the text of the New Testament includes also its versions, the Patristic citations, commentaries and related texts. Finally, the study of the textual history of the Qu’ran includes its text, the qira’at tradition (the alternative readings that correspond to different text types), the cultural milieu and context of Qur’anic transmission, and its commentary tradition.

Relevant topics for discussion would include:

  • The study of OT, NT or Qur’anic writings not only in manuscripts, but also inscribed or printed

  • The text itself and the circumstances of its transmission

  • Types or groupings of texts

  • Reconstructions of forms of text

  • Textual criticism and history

  • Textual criticism and exegesis

  • Textual criticism and theology


Textual Criticism, New Testament, Old Testament, Qur’an, Materiality


Current Term:



Dionisio Candido
University of Salzburg

Alba Fedeli
University of Hamburg

Theodora Panella
University of Münster

Member Area

Sofia 2024 Call for Papers

Two sessions are scheduled for the meeting in Sofia:

  • an open session for topics on Textual Criticism of the New Testament, the Old Testament and the Qur’an.
  • a thematic session on Materiality and Textual Criticism

Traditionally the biblical and qur’anic studies refer to physical manuscripts or editions for example to establish the age and contents of those texts as a basis for interpretation or, in reception history, as evidence of past interpretations. Recent studies of material scriptures observe that display and treatment of the physical text play a vital role in rituals that establish and maintain a text’s scriptural status. Studying the history and the text of the scriptures through the centuries leads us to reconsider our notion of the Bible and the Qur’an as physical objects. One aspect of textual criticism in general is its interest in ancient material supports, whether this is papyrus, parchment, ostraca, ceramics or tablets, whether it is an inscription or a wall painting. All materials played their role in the history of the transmission of the text. Texts canno exist divested of their material forms and their identity seems to include fluidity and invariance.

Torah scrolls had become well-known symbols of Jewish identity in the last centuries BCE. Christians distinguished themselves from the material book practices of Jews by their early preference for the codex, which soon became a recognized symbol of Christianity. In an Islamic context, where the Qur’an is referred to as the mushaf (the Qur’anic codex)the materiality refers primarily to it as a textual artifact characterized by certain physical features, aesthetic ideas, and special ritual treatment. One could compare the result of this research with other literatures of the ancient world.

For our next meeting we are looking forward to discussing the materiality of the artefacts that constitute the basis of our textual criticism, its influence on the text itself or to the layout of the text in the life and afterlife of the manuscripts. A sine qua non part of this discussion is of course the time of production and the provenance of the manuscripts. In some cases the text of an object might be considered suspicious; some other times the excellent condition of the material might make people wonder about the circumstances under which this might have been preserved for tens of centuries; in some other cases the timing and the place of the discovery of a manuscript might raise doubts about its provenance.

The “Textual Criticism of the New Testament, the Old Testament and the Qur’an” research group cordially invites the submission of proposals for papers for the forthcoming EABS meeting in Sofia. Generally the duration of papers to be read should not exceed 20 minutes. Abstracts (no more than 300 words) have to be submitted through the EABS Abstract Management System. We welcome paper proposals that focus on the above-mentioned topics and related aspects. This research unit seeks to inspire debate among textual critics from all three fields.