Auxilium nostrum in nomine Domini

motto Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam

This study is a slightly revised version of my Ph.D. dissertation, which was presented to the Faculty of Theology of the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam at 19 June 2017. My research was part of the VU project ‘New Testament Conjectural Emendation: A Comprehensive Enquiry’. This project has been financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). I would like to thank Stichting het Scholten-Cordes Fonds for their additional financial support. My thanks also go to Eldon Jay Epp and Bart Ehrman for accepting this study as part of the NTTSD series, which is a great honour. I enjoyed working with Marjolein van Zuylen, my editor at Brill.

Without Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte, my first supervisor, all of this would never have happened. I want to thank him for taking me on board in his research project, and for giving me the freedom to make my own choices. His energy and enthusiasm has inspired me and the whole team all these years.

I would like to thank George Harinck, my second supervisor, for his critical feedback, which has led to some major adjustments in the structure of this study. Already before he became my official supervisor he was very kind to advise me on the historical aspects of my research.

During my years at the Vrije Universiteit most of my dealings were with Jan Krans, my co-supervisor. He was the craftsman in whose workshop I have learned the trade. The way he approaches sources—searching them with patience and creativity, interpreting them carefully and respectfully—has left a deep impression on me. Yet even more impressive was the way in which he has supported me from beginning to end. He was literally always ready to help, for which I am deeply grateful.

My thanks also go to August den Hollander, Jennifer Knust, Arie Molendijk, Bas ter Haar Romeny, Tommy Wasserman, Arie Zwiep (members of the reading and promotion committee) and Ton van Kalmthout (Huygens Institute for Dutch History). Their comments and suggestions have been of great help.

Silvia Castelli was my colleague PhD student on the fourteenth floor of the VU building. I am thankful for her encouraging feedback and her warm friendship. I am also grateful for the assistance given by Theo van Beek and Riekelt Woort, who carefully transcribed dozens of letters from and to Holwerda as part of their master’s programmes.

Feedback given by Anthony Runia has been a great help in improving the English of this dissertation. I was lucky to find someone who is a native speaker of both Dutch and English—no luxury for a dissertation full of English translations of Dutch quotations. Of course any remaining language errors are my responsibility.

I would like to thank the members of the VU New Testament colloquium; our sessions were always inspiring. Similarly, I am grateful to all the PhD students I met during conferences and in seminars for the pleasure of their company. Special thanks also to the staff of the university libraries of Groningen, VU Amsterdam and Leiden for their indispensable support.

I owe a very important debt to my family and friends. Their interest and support all these years kept me going on a path that was inevitably lonely sometimes. My heartfelt appreciation goes to my parents and parents-in-law for taking care of my son during many Thursdays.

This book is dedicated to Janneke, my beloved wife, Jil, my precious daughter, and Daan, my adorable son. Our life as a family helped me to put this whole Holwerda business into perspective, which was exactly what I needed to carry on. Janneke sometimes sighed that I seemed to be married to Holwerda. I am very thankful for her patience and for the leeway that she has given me.