Clare K. Rothschild

Feb 6, 2024

The Muratorian Fragment

Text, Translation, Commentary

Mohr Siebeck 2022

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Discovered and published in 1740 by the Ambrosian librarian Ludovico Muratori, the so-called “Muratorian Fragment” has long featured for New Testament scholars as a piece of second-century evidence for a canonical impulse in early Christianity. Challengers to this second-century dating in recent decades have done little to shake a popular conception that the Fragment authentically reflects a remarkably early and idiosyncratic view on Christian scriptural collections that do not seem to have been meaningfully codified, by other means, until the late fourth century. 

Stepping into this impasse with The Muratorian Fragment: Text, Translation, Commentary (Mohr Siebeck, 2022), Clare K. Rothschild freshly evaluates the text of the singly attested eighth-century manuscript and its wider context in situ within the “Muratorian Codex,” offering both a neutral presentation of the evidence as well as a novel argument attributing its composition to the orbit of the fourth-century treatise writer Ambrosiaster. The result is a true “critical edition” for the Muratorian Fragment, advancing scholarship and allowing fellow academics who marshal its data to confront the manuscript’s unparalleled oddity within the landscape of early Christian writ. Rothschild joined the New Books Network to discuss her conscientious handling of this “lightning rod in biblical studies,” its limited comparative material from prologues and early apologetics, and especially the ways that scholarship might progress beyond deeply held commitments to the Muratorian Fragment’s relevance to the question of the New Testament canon.

Clare K. Rothschild (Ph.D., University of Chicago, 2003) is Professor of Scripture Studies at Lewis University. Her research interests range throughout the textual landscape of the New Testament and other early Christian texts, from Luke-Acts to Pauline texts and from the Apostolic Fathers to the Muratorian Fragment, and her other major publications with Mohr Siebeck have included Hebrews as Pseudepigraphon: The History and Significance of Pauline Attribution of Hebrews (2009) and The Benedictine Prologue: A Contribution to the Early History of the Latin Prologues to the Pauline Epistles (2023, with Jeremy C. Thompson). She is currently preparing a commentary on the Epistle of Barnabas for Fortress Press’s Hermeneia series and serves as General Editor of the journal Early Christianity and the Society of Biblical Literature series Writings from the Greco-Roman World. In her spare time, Rothschild enjoys yoga and playing cello in various small orchestras and ensembles.

Rob Heaton (Ph.D., University of Denver, 2019) hosts Biblical Studies conversations for New Books in Religion and teaches New Testament, Christian origins, and early Christianity at Anderson University in Indiana. He recently authored The Shepherd of Hermas as Scriptura Non Grata: From Popularity in Early Christianity to Exclusion from the New Testament Canon (Lexington Books, 2023). For more about Rob and his work, or to offer feedback related to this episode, please visit his website at https://www.robheaton.com.

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Rob Heaton

Rob Heaton (Ph.D., University of Denver, 2019) hosts Biblical Studies conversations for New Books in Religion and teaches New Testament, Christian origins, and early Christianity at Anderson University in Indiana. His research focuses on the New Testament canon and other early Christian literature, especially subcanonical books like The Shepherd of Hermas and the Apostolic Fathers. For more about Rob and his work, or to offer feedback related to his podcast episodes, please see his website at https://www.robheaton.com.
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