"From Jewish Scribes to Christian Scriptoria?: Issues of Continuity and
Discontinuity in their Greek Literary Worlds" [S22-110 (p.174) Mon CC-207]
Theme: Textual Transmission and Early Jewish-Christian Relations
Tessa Rajak responding
* SBL 2004 paper – "Eisenbaum, Pamela" <PEisenbaum@Iliff.edu> (March 04)
-- I would deal (yet again) with such matters as the use of spacing and marginal markers in biblical and other texts, the representation of the tetragrammaton and other "nomina sacra," and the development of the codex format (or some subset of those issues).
check Africanus KESTOI frg (POxy 412 = vh674 = LitLond 174; CHR GkLitHands pl 23a), and other early literary examples on the edges of Christianity and Judaism.
email@example.com wrote to them re ChBeat 7, 7 May (response received)
PAPYRI: POxy 1st c examples to check (and 1st/2nd)
POxy 41.2944 "Anon. peri apophaseon (?)" roll, late 1st/early 2nd, ed. E. G. Turner --
42.3000 Eratosthenes, Hermes [Epic poetry] roll, turn of the era,
ed. P. J. Parsons --s
parts of two cols from end of the work? coronis? abbreviations?
44.3152 Euripides, Hippolytus [Tragic Poetry] roll, 2nd CE, ed.
M. W. Haslam --
parts of two columns (plus fragments), marginal interlinear strokes,
some diacritics (and some later corrections)
45.3218 "New Comedy" roll, 1st CE, ed. S. Stephens --
part of one column, no side margins; overlined gamma in line 4
45.3230 Hes45.iod, Erga and Aspis [Epic poetry] roll, 2nd CE, ed.
M. L. West --
spacing? (nothing obvious)(excerpts)
45.3232 Hesiod, Aspis [Epic Poetry] roll, 1st CE, ed. M. L. West
on left margin of a single column with non-literary hand, spacing?, possible exthesis (top line)
POxy 47.3318 [not online
tag, against grain, theta number
POxy 47.3322 [not online
48.3372 Herodotus [prose] roll, around 100 CE, ed. M. Chambers, W. E.
H. Cockle, E.G. Turner
parts of two columns, interlinear marginal strokes, spacing with punctuation (mid dot)
49.3451 Thucydides [prose] roll, around 100 CE, ed. J. E. G. Whitehorne
interlinear marginal stroke, hint of some word division
50.3538 "Melic Verse (Ibycus?)" roll, around 100 CE, ed. E.
ornate coronis, corrections and some diacritics (added later?)
53.3695 Anacreon [Lyric poetry] roll, 1st CE, ed. M. W. Haslam --
interlinear marginal strokes, ornate coronis, diacritics (added later?)
53.3701 "Materia Medica" roll, 1st CE, ed. M. W. Haslam --
two columns, not "literary"; interlinear marginal strokes and sectioning by spacing
53.3716 Euripides, Orestes [tragedy] roll, ca 100 BCE, ed. M. W.
marginal number abbreviation "K" (perhaps added later?) with horizontal stroke(s)
54.3725 "Epigrams" roll, ca 100 CE, ed. P. J. Parsons --
sectioned by spacing, plus marginal mark
56.3823 On Alexander [prose] roll, 1st CE, ed. A. Kerkhecker --
interlinear marginal stroke, some internal spacing (line 9)
57.3880 Thucydides roll, ca 100 CE, ed. M. W. Haslam --
use of spacing between some words (sentence breaks?), enlarged next letters in line
POxy 59.3969 "New Comedy
60.4009 Gospel of Peter (?) codex, 2nd CE, ed. D. Luhrmann-P. J. Parsons
inline spaces and end of line, ekthesis, abbreviated KE
60.4024 Menander, Leukadia? [comedy] roll, 1st CE, ed. P. J. Parsons
interlinear marginal strokes
60.4039 Aeschines, In Ctesiphontem [rhetoric] roll, ca 100 CE,
ed. Eleonora Bassi --
interlinear marginal strokes
61.4099 "Mythological Compendium" roll, turn of the era, ed.
R. L. Fowler --
no left margin; uses spacing between some words and at end of lines
62.4301 "Old Comedy" roll, ca 100 CE, edd. C. F. L. Austin/P.
J. P. Parsons --
interlinear marginal strokes
62.4324 Demosthenes [rhetoric] roll, 1st CE, ed. J. E. G. Whitehorne
possible minor word spacing, possible coronis
64.4404 GMt codex, 2nd CE (late), ed. J. David Thomas
spacing ?? only one side is imaged, very abraded!
64.4427 Callimachus, Aetia [with commentary?] roll (?), ca 100 CE, edd.
M. Richter - P. J. Parsons
diacritics (added later?), smaller second hand in upper margin
65.4451 "Commentary on Iliad I" roll, 1st BCE, ed. M. W. Haslam
word/sentence spacing with enlarged first letters inline
65.4453 "Commentary on the Odyssey" roll, 1st CE, ed. M. W.
interlinear marginal stroke, possibly some spacing?
66.4502 "Epigram (Nicarchus II)" roll, 1st CE ?, ed. P. J. Parsons
section spacing with titles, some tendency to word spacing (irregular hand)
Barnabas' TIH lesson assumes abbreviated numbers (in Genesis?); possibly in a Jewish produced MS. See also use of suspended names to identify amphitheater seat ownership -- BAR 2002 ?
JBL 121 (2002) 366ff review
by Roy Jeal of Hengel The Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ:
An Investigation of the Collection and Origin of the Canonical Gospels (ET
John Bowden) Trinity Press International 2000: "Hengel claims that the Gospels did not first appear anonymously,
that they were originally written on codices, not scrolls, and went into circulation
very quickly" (367). "The fourth chapter, "'The Cross-Check':
The Origin of the Collection of the Four Gospels and the Christian Book Cupboard
-- AN Attempt at Reconstruction," offers a description of how the four
gospels are likely to have been used in early Christian worship, the method
of their production (originals and copies), and the method of storage and
retrieval. ... following common synagogue practice ... [a cupboard] so that
texts could be easily located. Hengel believes that these libraries held the
Gospels (and likely the letters) as codices, and that it is probable that
the codices carried written titles."
4. K.A. Worp and A. Rijksbaron, eds. The Isocrates Codex from Kellis,
http://188.8.131.52/search?q=cache:MIyQVZOvwPkJ:gertoux.online.fr/divinename/getbook/ordering/name_story1.doc+ihesus+iesus+abbreviation&hl=en&ie=UTF-8 (tetragrammaton history) =
Gerard Gertoux, Paradox of the Anonymous Name The Name of God (
Name of God Y.EH.OW.AH Which is Pronounced as It is Written I_EH_OU_AH
$47.00 Lanhan, MD: University Press of
pp. 328 Paperback
[RAK] Roberts estimated column height at "rather more than 30 lines and c. 28 cm. [11 inches]" with the average of 27 letters per line, or c. 10 cm. [4 inches] "Rolls of this format ...were commonly but not always de luxe editions" [ref to Schubart] (24f).
On early serifed fonts see Turner\1 #54 Thucydides PHamb 646 mid 3 bce
written area of complete col = 21-22 cm tall [8.25 inches]
#12 Homer Iliad mid 2 bce: serifs frequent; c 20 cm high [8 inches](est RAK) -- has abbrev # for stichos 200 ?
#20 Ibycus 2nd bce: serifs
SIZE comparisons: p/l height mgs (block) [lines] | width [letters] intercol
Rylands 458 Deut p 28 cm 30 | 10 cm 27
4QLev\a l 20 cm 1.3 28 | 10 cm 47-48 0.8
4QLev\b p 25 cm 34 | 11 cm 27-34
Fouad Gen (a) p | 15 cm 36
Fouad Deut(b) p 24 cm 3.5/4 16 21-23 | 11.5 cm 37 1.5-0.2
Fouad Deut(c) p 24 cm 16.4 21 | 17 cm 24 1.0
4QLXXNum l 25 cm 34 | 11 cm 27-34 1.5
Minor Prs A/B l 35 cm 42/33 | 10 cm 1.7
POxy Job p ?? | 19-22
POxy Esther p 30 cm 5 20 31 | 7 cm 25 2
PFouad (Turner #56) est 33 lines / col, writing 23-24 cm tall [9.25 inches + 1 inch each mg = 11.25 total?] , [27-30 lett / line]
["b"]The height of the roll was about 24 cm, with 21-23 lines per column, while the preserved columns vary from about 15.5 to 16.5 cm wide (about 37 letters per line, average, but line endings are irregular and the final letters sometimes cramped), and the width of vertical margins varies from about 1.5 cm down to 0.2 cm(!), with a tendency for the lower lines gradually to "move" their beginnings more to the left ("Mass' Law"). Similarly, there is a tendency for the top lines in a column to have more space between them than those at the bottom.
["c"]The height of the roll may have been about 24 cm (as with #848, item 8 above), with about 21 lines per column, but the width of the columns was much smaller, around 17 cm [sic! check] (about 24 letters per line, average, but with a great deal of variation), and the width of vertical margins may have been around 1 cm.
Full scroll height about 20 cm, with at least 1.3 cm top margin and 1.5 bottom; about 28 lines per column, with an average of 47- 48 letters per line (about 10 cm wide, with at least .8 cm between columns). There are faint traces of horizontal guidelines, with the letters dropped from the line. This produces greater linearity at the top of the roughly bilinear (with FY extending both above and below, and BRU and occasionally I below) upright informal round (tending to oval in places) rather cramped writing. Sporadic ornamentation, with left hooks at the feet of some RF letters, and a downward hook sometimes on the left horizontal of T. No shading. See Turner's "informal round" style?
A tall scroll, about 31 cm high (about 38 lines per column), with columns of about 10-11 cm in width (23-29 letters).
Large format, more than 25 cm tall (34 lines per column), with columns about 10.5-11 cm wide (27-34 letters per line) and perhaps a 1.5 cm margin between. Some use of spacing. Iota adscript. Highly decorated pronouncedly bilinear round/square hand (some oval letters, which tend to lean backwards) with no shading, similar to #802 (item 7 above). No occurrence of the tetragrammaton. A few corrections.
Dimensions can vary somewhat from column to column (especially widths), but in general the material was about 35 cm tall (42 lines per column for hand A, 33 for hand B) with column widths averaging around 9 cm (7.5-11.5 range), and about 1.7 average margins between. It is possible that the original scroll was around 10 meters long, if it was a single scroll containing all the Minor Prophets. It is also possible that two separate scrolls (hand A and hand B, thus #943a-b) are represented by the fragments. The leather inscribed by hand B is also coarser than that by hand A.
Dimensions may be as small as 14 cm tall (15 lines per column), or as large as 29 cm (39 lines) or even 32 cm (46 lines), depending on the identification of the poorly represented (3 legible letters!) 2nd column, with 19-22 letters per line. Informal (even careless) upright bilinear (some ovals, tending to lean left) with moderate ornamentation (mostly by hooks on some vertical strokes); no shading; some ligatures and cursive tendencies; dieresis/trema on the initial letter of I+WB.
About 30 cm tall, with writing block 20 cm (31 lines) by 7 cm (25 letters average) and about 2 cm between columns. Has paragraph markers with enlarged initial letters of next line projecting into the left margin, and initial letters of most other lines also enlarged. Otherwise relatively bilinear with minimal ornamentation (some hooks and flourishes), and various "documentary" tendencies (ligatures, cursive forms, etc.).
THE WRITING WORLD OF THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS
by Rochelle Altman
WRITING SYSTEMS AND MANUSCRIPTS1
by Rochelle I. Altman
firstname.lastname@example.org (Rochelle I. Altman) Oct 02
Meanwhile, on the African side of the Ancient Near East, the Egyptians were writing on papyrus, a material made from the leaves of a reed-like plant. Papyrus is produced by laying strips of the inner layers of the plant (pith), one edge on another. The height of a papyrus roll was limited by the height of the strips of pith peeled off the inner layers of the plant. A leaf 12 inches high was costly while a leaf 14 inches high was very rare. A papyrus roll 9 inches or more in height was always a luxury item.
The Greeks had originally received
their writing systems from the Asian side. When Alexander and his army conquered
The writing material forced a ninety degree rotation in order to maintain the correct size hierarchy. This simple physical difficulty played an important role in creating a distinction between traditions. By the third century BCE the great diversity among authoritative and official formats and sizes crystallized into two primary streams: Semitic and Graeco-Roman.
On one side we find the Semitic
descendants of the Phoenician system, which used different official scripts,
but retained ancient practices almost intact. In this tradition, authoritative
official texts were written in narrow columns, by utterance or breathings,
that is, as spoken, and suspended from the upper writing limit. For example,
the Hebrew practice was (and is) to divide the 8-9 inches reading area into
two narrow columns, each approximately 3-1/2 to 4 inches wide. Even after
the codex gained popularity over the scroll, the format remained essentially
unchanged. Non-official, yet authoritative, documents were written in broad
columns. Law codes were 14 inches in height with a reading area of 8-9 inches
in width, _plus_ margins. Writings were somewhat shorter, around 11 inches.
Secular documents, such as tax receipts, were smaller yet and varied in size
depending upon the type of tax. Harking back to
...Eventually, the strictly bilinear Etrusco-Roman official sizes and formats fused with the trilinear Greek authoritative ones. The combined Latin Graeco-Roman official documents appear written in broad columns and in _scripto continuo_. Official single sheets were 12 inches high by 14 or more inches wide while official papyrus codices were 12 inches in height by 8-9 inches in width, *including* margins. Writings were 9-9-1/2 inches in height. Authoritative, but non-official, texts appear in narrow column format. In this tradition, the size of a tax receipt also depended upon the type of tax and the issuee. (People had to pay for the papyrus in their receipts. A typical low status receipt runs 3 x 5 inches.) Deeds of sale retained the ancient Akkadian practice and appear as very narrow leaves of papyrus.
Some sizes, however, are the same no matter what the political affiliation. A single size and format of document appears in both traditions. These texts run around 8 to 8-1/2 inches in height by 4-1/4 inches in width, or roughly a sheet of modern letterhead paper folded in half horizontally. In size, the resulting folded paper emulates the writing surface of a wax tablet.
More to the point, the oldest
clear example of an authoritative serifed Greek font shows up in a fragment
of Deuteronomy dated to the first half of the 2nd century BCE from
[Of course there is diversity! It would be astonishing if there weren't.
We have a collection of different classes of works here. Some of those
scrolls are private editions, copies made by some person for his or her
own use. Some of those scrolls are "authorized" versions, and some are
Private editions, quite obviously, will vary tremendously according to
literacy level of the person writing. Is the person accustomed to writing
on an everyday basis? Then the work will be competent, perhaps not as
professional as a master scribe's, but competent. It will also be full of
his or her personal idiosyncracies, such as the use of the tetragrammaton.
Is the person someone who writes infrequently? Then the work will appear
"Authorized" translations will use an authoritative format and a formal
script; it's size will be the correct one for the hierarchy.
Bookshop productions will vary from Class A to Class C -- depending upon
what the customer was willing to pay. (As is made perfectly clear in
Roman documents on the different requirements for each class.) What pre-4th
century docs survive is a mixed bag of different classes, we cannot, for
example, make any comments about the execution of a script without first
determining what Class book we are dealing with. Is the example a Class C?
Then the margins will be small, the writing squeezed in, and the doc careless
in execution. Does that make the execution "degenerate"? No; it makes it what
the customer paid for.
In other words, you absolutely must sort the docs into their classes before
you can come to any conclusions about each group and what these differences
Step 1: Your first sort is by the level of formality of the script. Cursive
scripts are *never* used in a formal document, repeat, never. If the script
is cursive, the doc is either a private edition or a bookshop product.
Is the script formal, but not official? Then it's a class A bookshop
product... it will have wider margins and care will be taken in execution.
If the script is cursive, you now have to sort by size and then by format.
I included a condensed guide to some of the formats and sizes in standard
use in both the Greco-Roman and the African-Semitic hierarchies in that on-
line lecture for Jim Davila's
The table also incudes Greco-Roman and Jewish-Chistian practices. I see no
reason to repeat it here when it is available on-line.
As many of these early docs are fragments, you will have to depend primarily
upon script and format.
For a doc found at
under the African-Semitic hierarchies. To put this another way; when the
Greeks adopted the Phoenician writing system back in the 9th BCE, they
also adopted the Semitic hierarchies. Ptolemaic Greek docs use the Semitic
hierarchies; Seleucid docs rotate. (See my Zoilos Report on the ORION site
to see how this works.) Date is another item you have to take into
consideration. There is far too much diachronic smear in your lecture;
it nullifies your conclusions.
Once you have sorted the docs by class, hierarchies, and dates, then you
can start collating data.]
[No, the "bound-book format" was not "new." Nor, I might add, was it
confined to "rough schoolbooks." Literary wax-tablet books show up at
Romans were as fad happy and novelty hungry as Modern Americans, it's not
surprising that we read references to the "codex" around 70 CE. And you are
emphasizing as a "technological" development what was a change in market
demand. What is being ignored is that the Romans did not invent the wax-
tablet; as I recall, a wax-tablet frame was found in the remains of a Semitic
shipwreck from ca. 1000 BCE. It was even mentioned on IOUDAIOS; ask Sigrid
about it, she brought it up. I sincerely doubt that the tablet bound-book
was a Roman invention, it was too "novel" -- just about had to be imported.
Being made of such perishable materials makes it very difficult to find even
pieces of wax tablets. Still, I do believe that Sigrid has a piece of info
that you can use in your argument.]
[The strictly bilinear writing limits are a result of the Augustan reforms
of the late 1st BCE. Bilinear limits "freeze" the text and are the limit
systems used by mystically-oriented societies. Hence, official and formal
and un-official texts from
and Semitic writing systems used trilinear limits.
[1) If you wish to use this term, the standard use is either "scriptum
continuum" or "written in scripto continuo." The term, however, is quite
erroneous. The reason for no spacing is pragmatic: the texts, and that
includes the Greek Biblical codices you mention later, are written in
"utterances" or "breathings," that is, the words that can be said in one
breath. Look again at some of the early Greek docs. In broad column execution,
small spaces appear after an "utterance" but not during one. In narrow column
format, each line is an utterance. Simple when you know what you're looking
2) Of what use is added punctuation in a writing system that employs writing
by utterance? None. The right-hand margin _is_ the punctuation; why waste
scribal time to add puntuation.
3) "the world of professional documents was more flexible." Not on your nelly!
This is totally and completely wrong: It had extremely tight restrictions
with required scripts, formats, and sizes for each and every class of docs,
from a receipt for local taxes, to recipts for arnona, to petitions. What you
are picking up as "flexible" results from conflating docs from one locale with
docs from another. There was precious little leeway granted in any type of
The seemingly great "flexibilty" is not there at all. Hierarchies are
dependent upon locale and will vary within a specific permissible range
depending the status of the issuer; the local deviations within the primary
hierarchy, and the content.
These restrictions also made it simple for the
Governor of a
instance, to know where a document came from. When tax receipts from X must
be 3" x 6" and receipts from Y must be 2.5" x 5.5," and from Z must be 3.5" x
6" -- it makes it simple in a case for back taxes to see if the defendant
really paid the taxes to the proper locale.... and so on down to the smallest
transaction and throughout the Imperium!
It's the world of professional bookshops that had flexibility; government
docs most certainly did not. And don't confuse a chancery script with a
commercial script or a formal Class A bookscript with an official script.]
BTW, my article, "The Size of the Law: Document Dimensions and their
Significance in the Imperial Administration" appears in _Confrontation
in Late Antiquity_ out next year from Orchard Academic.
Of course letters seem to hang from the top line in both Greek and Hebrew
docs. The graphs hang from the top line in trilinear systems and the Greek
system was borrowed from the NorthWest Semitic systems.
Oh, please: all script designs are "highly sophisticated," from Sumerian
cuneiform to modern laser printer designs. To pick one out as better
than another, while quite common, is an application of modern aesthetics
and preferences to artefacts from the past. The application of modern
preferences belongs to the study of modern aesthetics. A reference to the
lettering as being "highly sophisticated" is an aesthetic judgement based
on Modern expectations; it is the mark of the calligraphic point of view
and has little to do with the performance of a working scribe.
You can refer to professional vs. non-professional or amateur, or to works
produced by Master scribes. Also, formal vs informal, official vs unofficial,
and other terms along these lines address scribal performance and not modern
aesthetics. One can hardly compare "formal" with "amateur" in any case... it
is false analogy.
Whether a doc is produced by a Master or not is always clear. And as far
as "less carefully executed" goes -- and what class doc is it? What you are
saying is that the "professional" quality docs are Class A while the others
are Class B or even C.]
[Writing by word division is normal for business letters in the Ptolemic and
later Roman world. Also, which DSS are by utterance and which are by semantic
unit? Date? Level of formality? Class of document? It makes quite a difference.
The Exodus fragments in the formal Square Script is written by "utterance."
This may or may not be "characteristic" of Jewish scribal practices. On the
other hand, do remember that Greek parsing units are of substantially greater
length on the average than Hebrew. This difference would necessarily be
reflected in the written record.]
[Modern preferences. How can there be "unanimity"! The "witnesses" come from
all over the place; from different religious parties; and from different time
frames. Look, among the DSS are some "authorized" versions and quite a few
bookshop products; most are private editions. How can anyone expect any level
of conformity about the use of the Tetragrammaton when so many of the examples
are the subject of private whim. Those private editions where the
tetragrammaton is replaced by dots tell us that the person writing was
The Exodus frags show the tetragrammaton in ordinary square letter, and the
paleo-frags do not differentiate either. Yes, the tetragrammaton appears in
paleo in square letter docs. From 11QPs, this would be seem to have been the
approved manner as this scroll happens to be an authorized text. Even so, the
use of "antique" graphs for the name of a "God" in a text executed in a
"modern" script is a Babylonian practice and obviously intended to placate
conservatives who were against the use of Square script. (And this also is
mentioned in that lecture along with a professional analysis of the
[1) Happy to see you quote that "carelessly executed"; that's a mark of
the calligraphic point of view for sure. What they are saying is that
many of these docs are either Class C bookshop or privately produced
by people not accustomed to writing on a daily basis.
[2)Does writing "degenerate"? No, this is another aesthetic judgement
from the calligraphic point of view. The "simplicity" merely reflects
the known desire by early Christians to distance themselves from "Pagan"
practices. Further, how many of these "degenerated" docs are executed by
private people and how many by professional scribes? BTW, if writing has
degenerated so much, why is this "phenomenon" not apparent in other parts
of the former Empire??]
[1) Do I have to go into the scriptum continuum aspect again? 2)"extremely
attractive"? Modern aesthetics again, also in 3) bilinear lettering --
which merely means freeze the words so their magic can be contained and used.
4) Those are not "Classical Greek norms." The Vaticanus borrows its authority
from Pre-Classic Greece; the Siniaticus, Alexandrinus, and Bezae borrow their
Christianity gaining official status. It's politics, not theology.]