Religious Studies 735: Ancient Book Technology: Early History of the
Robert A. Kraft, University of Pennsylvania, Spring 2008 [page under ongoing construction]
Weekly Assignments & Class Projects
Individual Research Topics & Books to Review
In Process, R&S Manuscript
On Jewish Codices
The technological development of the codex as a vehicle for the
transmission of literary texts and its gradual replacement of the older
scroll format continues to receive a great deal of attention both in
studies of "material culture" in the ancient worlds and with reference
to the effect this development may have had on the conceptualization of
"text" and "book," among other matters. The influence of Christian
practices in this development has been noted and noteworthy. In
this seminar we will review the evidence and the available contemporary
literature, especially the compilation of information in C.H.Roberts
and T.C.Skeat, Birth of the Codex (1983, reissued 1987), and will contribute to the creation of an
accessible online site dealing with the subject in a comprehensive
manner. Knowledge of Greek and Latin will be helpful, although not
Survey of Some Early Formats for Written Materials:
- Incised in Stone, Metal, Wax (surface penetrated)
- Written on Tablets (hard surfaces inked, painted) and Hinged "Notebooks" (multiple tablets)
- Written on Pliable Sheets (leather, papyrus)
- Written on Horizontal Scrolls (papyrus, leather)
- Written on Vertical Scrolls "Transversa Charta" ("rotuli"; papyrus, leather; see further below)
- Accordian style folded or hinged material (hard surfaces and also pliable materials)
- Codices of pliable material (relevance of Martial and his bookseller Secundus?)
- Storage and transport (bundles, bags, boxes [capsae], cabinets [scrinia], libraries)
- Identification of contents (tags, headers, subscripts, lists and catalogs)
Questions of "Genre" -- what is written in what format, by and for whom?
- "High literature" and "deluxe" books (paleographical evidence)
- Apomnhmoneumata - Memoirs (e.g. Caesar's reports [? Suetonius], Jesus traditions [Justin])
- Legal records
- "Liturgical" materials (e.g. "scriptures"; vertical rolls --"rotulus," "Exultet rolls," "Easter scrolls")
- Amulets (e.g. "teffilin," "phylacteries")
Evidence for the Use of Pliable Paged Codices
- Statistics (Roberts & Skeat et al)
- Christian use (theories and realities)
- "Paraliterary" Materials
Assignments and Projects
- Overview: read Roberts and Skeat, Birth of the Codex [= "R&S"]
- Find and read reviews and critiques of the work
- Translate or find translations for non English passages
- Greek, Latin, German, French, Italian, etc.
- Update and review evidence for existence and uses of tablets and "notebooks"
- Evaluate evidence and claims for early Jewish use of codices
- Explore the older assumptions regarding nomina sacra and rabbinic rules
- Identify scroll and codex fragments that have been considered possibly "Jewish"
- Read the articles by Saul Lieberman, Kurt Treu (especially the Excursus) and Irven Resnick
- Can we learn anything from Augustine and Jerome on such matters?
- Reevaluate the Martial-Secundus references, and explore ancient bookselling practices
- R&S 5
- Why is it thought that for Martial, codices are in view, not miniature scrolls?
- Explore possible relaltionships between "genre" and notebook-codices
- What can we learn from the Suetonius-Caesar passage?
- Do the references to APOMNHMONEUMATA in Justin lead anywhere?
- Search the "paraliterary" papyri for possible genre-type connections
- Explore the survival of scroll formats after the "victory" of Christianity
- Horizontally written scrolls in the Christian worlds
- Vertically written scrolls ("rotuli") in the Christian worlds
- Evaluate the main explanations for the early dominance of the codex for Christian scriptures
- "Gospel of Mark" from Rome as a model (see Roberts 1953)
- Multiple Gospels together as a standard and control (see especially Skeat)
- Letters of Paul collected and published (see Gamble, Trobisch)
- Continuation of (Greek) Jewish practices (see Lieberman, Treu [?], Resnick, Kraft)
- Reflection of "genre" considerations and general Greco-Roman influences (see Kraft)
Some Books for Reviewing:
- Cribiore, Raffaela. Writing, Teachers, and Students in Graeco-Roman Egypt (American Studies in Papyrology 36; Atlanta: Scholars 1996) [rev. CP 93.3 (1998) 276-79, W A. Johnson].
- Gymnastics of the Mind: Greek Education in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt (Princeton 2001) [reviewed by Sean Roberts]
- Gamble, Harry Y. The New Testament Canon: Its Making and Meaning. New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1985.
- Books and Readers in the Early Church: A History of Early Christian Texts (New Haven: Yale UP 1995) [reviewed by Stephen Young]
- Guardians of Letters: Literacy, Power, and the Transmitters of Early Christian Literature (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000)
- Klingshirn and Safran (eds.)
- Hurtado, Larry W. The Earliest Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins (Grand Rapids 2006) [reviewed by Doug Finkbeiner]
- David Trobisch, Paul’s Letter Collection: Tracing the Origins (Minneapolis: Fortress. Press, 1994)
//updated to 24ap2008//