Jews, Christians, and Others: Late Antique Perceptions of Book Formats


Scrolls, Notebooks, Codices, and More: The Early History of Book Formats in Texts and Art

by Robert A. Kraft

for the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies on 10 April 2008
[10ap08 version -- more information on images (location, dates, etc.) needs to be included]

Context and Orientation:

What I hope to do here is to show, in text and images, some of the main issues (and artistic perceptions) that relate to the early history of book formats, up to the 6th century of the common era (Justinian, Ravenna) and sometimes beyond.

The possible role of early Jewish book producers -- especially of the Greek speaking kind -- in this process of transition from scroll to codex has been largely neglected. I readily admit to my methodological prejudice, whereby for anything that is found in early Christianity the first place I look for connections and continuities is the situation in Jewish circles. Put bluntly, my assumption is that early Christian developments are Jewish until shown otherwise. There is ample evidence in support of such a principle. Whether it also applies to this bibliotechnic situation remains to be seen.