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Re: [J_D_G_DunnSeminar] Re: Luke/dates/codex

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  • Jack Kilmon
    ... From: Robert M. Schacht To: Sent: Friday, May 04, 2001 7:52 PM Subject: Re: [J_D_G_DunnSeminar]
    Message 1 of 7 , May 4, 2001
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Robert M. Schacht" <r_schacht@...>
      To: <J_D_G_DunnSeminar@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Friday, May 04, 2001 7:52 PM
      Subject: Re: [J_D_G_DunnSeminar] Re: Luke/dates/codex



      > May I interject? Your comments make no mention of papyrus. Crossan's
      Birth
      > of Christianity has a chapter (Chap. 9) on the earliest Christian
      > manuscripts that you might find very interesting (at least, I did.) It
      > inspired me to do a little additional checking. At any rate, all of the
      > earliest NT manuscripts are written on papyrus, which is a much cheaper
      > material than parchment. Already the earliest letters of Paul were in
      codex
      > form. Furthermore, and I hope Professor Dunn might comment on this, the
      > early Christian papyri have some very interesting features noted by
      > Crossan, although of course not original with him, such as the use of
      > nomina sacra. Isn't this already a sign of written tradition? So it seems
      > that the earliest written manuscripts do not bring us much closer to an
      > oral process of transmission?

      I would add that the transition from scrolls to codex probably came about
      toward the end of the 1st century for the very purpose of creating a Pauline
      epistolary. The maximum length of a papyrus scroll was about 35 feet
      and the entire Pauline corpus would not fit. That the NT works began
      on scrolls can be determined by the Luke/Acts books which each come
      to approximately the length of one volumen and would otherwise had been
      one work if authored in codex form. The gospels also fit well into the
      scroll format but could not have been put on one scroll. The only
      early papyrus, that I recollect at this time, to be in scroll form is P13
      but
      only then because it is an opisthograph. Since the oldest fragment
      of NT papyrus dates to the early 2nd century (P52), the written tradition
      can only give us relics of the oral tradition through careful literary
      "excavation" and, yes, Aramaic retroversion. What I personally find
      fascinating and intriguing are the mnemonic devices that emerge when this
      tool is used. Is the 2-4 beat rhyming meter a "fossil" of the vox Iesu or
      a mold in which the verba Iesu was placed by those passing on the
      tradition? Did public speakers and teachers in the ancient world...
      in this case, Jesus...deliver their teachings in a form to be easily
      memorized?

      Was the first beatitude, i.e.....
      TOObeehon leMISKnaYAAA
      deDILehon MALkootha deSHEMaYAAAA

      Jesus' own oralist's delivery designed to be easily remembered and
      transmitted by his audience much like:

      Roses are Red
      Violets are Blue
      Ya better be Good
      or the Devil will get you???

      Jack
    • Meta Dunn
      Dear Christine, Apologies for the delay in replying - had to take a couple of days off on family business (including seeing my daughter in a tremendous
      Message 2 of 7 , May 6, 2001
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        Dear Christine,
        Apologies for the delay in replying - had to take a couple of days
        off on family business (including seeing my daughter in a tremendous
        performance of Sondheim's A Little Night Music in Leicester.
        Thanks for the further data. I'll put it on file for the future.
        JDGD

        christine wrote:

        > Dear Professor Dunn,
        >
        > Thank you for your interesting and helpful answer to my questions.
        > I do look forward to your future work on the codex, a pet topic of mine.
        >
        > The Caesar quote is in Gallic Wars, book six. I haven't got this particular work in
        > Latin, I have Rex Warner's translation. It's in the second section of book six where
        > Caesar describes the customs of the Gauls. Describing the Druids, he says,
        > "During their training, they are said to learn a great number of verses by heart--so
        > many, in fact, that some people spend twenty years over their course of instruction.
        > They do not think it right to commit these doctrines of theirs to writing, though for
        > most other purposes (public and private accounts, for example) they use the Greek
        > alphabet. I should imagine, however, that they had two other reasons for this
        > practice: they did not want their teaching to become available to everyone, and they
        > did not want those who learned their doctrine to rely on the written word and so fail
        > to train their memories; for it is usually the case that when we have the help of
        > books, we are not so keen on learning things by heart and allow our memories to
        > become idle. "
        > (Ain't that the truth!)
        >
        > Another interesting thing about Caesar, relevant to the codex topic, is that
        > according to Suetonius he was "the first statesman who reduced [letters and
        > dispatches to the Senate] to book form; previously, consuls and governor-generals had
        > written right across the page, not in neat columns." This is Robert Graves's
        > translation, I have the Latin somewhere. I don't think "book form" is thought to
        > actually mean notebooks, but they lay-out--columns rather than "right across the
        > page," as Suetonius said. No-one seems to know exactly what Suetonius meant, because
        > we don't know what kind of material these war letters and dispatches were written on.
        > Tantalizing, anyway, and again evidence of Caesar's interest in the written word.
        > (And he apparently used a numerical code for confidential bits in his private
        > letters.)
        >
        > In my memory Durham is lovely whatever the weather, and still was last September when
        > I went while on a trip home to UK. Will be there again one day, DV.
        >
        > Christine.
        >
        > Meta Dunn wrote:
        >
        > > Dear Christine,
        > > Thanks for the positive response to the paper and an interesting sequence of
        > > questions.
        > > I certainly agree that a developed oral tradition hypothesis shakes up the
        > > Synoptic problem to an uncomfortable extent. But I remain convinced that there
        > > is enough data in the Synoptics which is best explained by the 2 source/document
        > > hypothesis. So my argument is for a more complex. rather than a different
        > > traditioning process behind the Synoptics. Luke is certainly 'more literary'
        > > than Mark in particular, and if we take his prologue seriously he made strenuous
        > > efforts to check the continuity of the traditions he received with
        > > 'eye-witnesses'. But if we can show that he has deliberately edited Mark, then
        > > we are still caught with the dating sequence: Mark (c. 70); Luke later. And
        > > on the possibility of the first followers of Jesus including some with notebooks,
        > > see now Alan Millard's work referred to in the footnotes (and my crit!). I will
        > > return to the codex question in a subsequent stage of my current research (DV).
        > > If you can dig out the Caesar quotation I would appreciate it.
        > > Greetings from Durham - dull and colder again after two glorious spring days.
        > >
        > > Jimmy Dunn
        > >
        > > christine wrote:
        > >
        > > > Dear Professor Dunn:
        > > >
        > > > I want to thank you (especially as I'm a Durham alumna, 1975-78, English
        > > > Lang and Medieval Lit) for giving the time to this interesting seminar.
        > > > As an independent reader--not in academia--in the areas of first century
        > > > Christianity, orality vs literacy, codex vs scroll, (and Celtic Iron Age,
        > > > which has also been mentioned in the seminar) I very much admired the paper,
        > > > and learned a great deal from it. I like the idea that we should stop
        > > > thinking about "layers," and should try and shed "the curse of the literary
        > > > paradigm."
        > > > I especially liked 3:2 "...in addition..the fact that so many academic
        > > > discussions on material like this take place in isolation from a living
        > > > tradition of regular worship probably highlights another blind spot for many
        > > > questers." I respect your common-sense emphasis (hardly "romantic") on how
        > > > things might really happen among real people. And the paper's penultimate
        > > > sentence, which I haven't yet seen referred to in the seminar, gives us, I
        > > > think, something very significant: the idea that the Gospels aren't the top
        > > > layer of many impenetrable layers, but "a living tradition of Christian
        > > > celebration which takes us with surprising immediacy to the heart of the
        > > > first memories of Jesus."
        > > > Since I think study of the past is driven by a desire for "immediacy," for
        > > > connection with long-dead people, the idea that the gospels are living
        > > > tradition is an encouraging antidote to some recent scholarship that
        > > > emphasizes their distance from the events they describe.
        > > >
        > > > My questions:
        > > >
        > > > 1) I'm especially interested in Luke, who in his introduction speaks of
        > > > making a "diagesis," of compiling information in a way that seems to me (via
        > > > Fitzmeyer's commentary and others) consciously literary: as if he's giving
        > > > the background to the basic information about Christianity that Theophilus
        > > > has already been told, perhaps orally. I agree that Luke must surely have
        > > > incorporated oral traditions into his two books; woven written and oral
        > > > material together. And even deployed the traditions in an oral way, as you
        > > > illustrate.
        > > > But doesn't he represent a more consciously literary type of communication
        > > > than Mark and Matt? (I'm not a Greek scholar--but I gather his style is more
        > > > literary too.)
        > > > Larry Swain has said he is not certain that "they saw a difference" in the
        > > > ancient world betwen oral and written, but Luke in his intro seems to me to
        > > > see a difference.
        > > > (Plus, doesn't Julius Caesar say somewhere that the Gallic Druids were wise
        > > > to require oral transmission of the lore, so strengthening their memories,
        > > > whereas people in literate cultures, like his own elite Roman one, had weaker
        > > > memories because of being used to writing everything down?)
        > > >
        > > > 2)You make the point that we should not see Jesus tradition as being oral
        > > > first, written second, but both existing side-by-side.
        > > > Does this re-open the argument about dating of the synoptic Gospels? Luke
        > > > may appear more consciously literary than Mark and Matt, but you have made it
        > > > clear this does not therefore mean he has to have been writing a lot later:
        > > > oral and literary traditions of varying sophistication flourished
        > > > simultaneously.
        > > > Not to deny literary dependence: but could he have been writing very shortly
        > > > after them? Can we revisit J.A.T. Robinson? (I know the arguments pro and
        > > > con, reference to destruction of the temple in 70, etc, but have never been
        > > > entirely convinced that Luke has to be as late as 80-85, and I still don't
        > > > understand why Acts never refers to or foreshadow's Paul's fate.)
        > > >
        > > > 3)The codex. All I've read about this (Skeat, Robins, Turner, Gamble,
        > > > McCormick, etc etc) agree, as is well-known, that the Christians adopted the
        > > > codex with startling alacrity. There's less agreement about why--I believe
        > > > it must have been a combination of factors--ease of transport, ease of
        > > > reference, new book technology in Rome (Martial), perhaps a Pauline tradition
        > > > ("membranae" in 2Tim)--all of the above. It's thought by some that the codex
        > > > evolved, not so much from wax tablets bound together as from codex notebooks
        > > > used by artisans and doctors for notes, reminders, accounts, recipes, etc.
        > > > Such notebooks would never have been considered appropriate for
        > > > "literature." Yet Christians were soon using similar handbooks for their
        > > > writings.
        > > > So: Is there a parallel?
        > > > *the codex*, a bridge between the humble ephemeral wax tablet (or
        > > > Vindolanda-style wood sheet) and the literary scroll, by way of the artisan's
        > > > notebook;
        > > > *the gospels*, a bridge between oral storytelling/performance and high
        > > > literature, by way of the Christian communities?
        > > >
        > > > And did the Christians also take to the codex because it was a less formal
        > > > vehicle? Closer to the world of orality--builders, businessmen, doctors, and
        > > > their assistants giving each other notes, instructions, information, to be
        > > > jotted down in a notebook? A more natural place to record the living oral
        > > > traditions about Jesus?
        > > >
        > > > Thanks again,
        > > >
        > > > Christine Whittemore,
        > > > Stroudsburg PA.
        > > >
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        > > >
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        > > >
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      • Meta Dunn
        Dear Bob, Of course I was only responding to the question asked. And the notebook hypothesis does raise the question of codex-like aide memoires and copies
        Message 3 of 7 , May 7, 2001
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          Dear Bob,
          Of course I was only responding to the question asked. And the 'notebook
          hypothesis' does raise the question of codex-like aide memoires and copies from
          earlier than we've usually allowed. But it is also true that papyri form the main
          bulk of our early mss tradition. The trouble is in all this that the objective
          data is all far too late on (when we know that oral tradition had long been
          committed to writing, for whatever reason) to give us much guide to the factors
          which caused the oral tradition to be put into writing. But this too is a
          question I would like to return to in due course. So thanks again for putting it
          to me.
          Jimmy

          "Robert M. Schacht" wrote:

          > christine wrote:
          >
          > > >... My questions:
          > > >
          > > >...
          > > > 3)The codex. All I've read about this (Skeat, Robins, Turner, Gamble,
          > > > McCormick, etc etc) agree, as is well-known, that the Christians
          > > adopted the
          > > > codex with startling alacrity. There's less agreement about why--I believe
          > > > it must have been a combination of factors--ease of transport, ease of
          > > > reference, new book technology in Rome (Martial), perhaps a Pauline
          > > tradition
          > > > ("membranae" in 2Tim)--all of the above. It's thought by some that the
          > > codex
          > > > evolved, not so much from wax tablets bound together as from codex
          > > notebooks
          > > > used by artisans and doctors for notes, reminders, accounts, recipes, etc.
          > > > Such notebooks would never have been considered appropriate for
          > > > "literature." Yet Christians were soon using similar handbooks for their
          > > > writings.
          > > > So: Is there a parallel?
          > > > *the codex*, a bridge between the humble ephemeral wax tablet (or
          > > > Vindolanda-style wood sheet) and the literary scroll, by way of the
          > > artisan's
          > > > notebook;
          > > > *the gospels*, a bridge between oral storytelling/performance and high
          > > > literature, by way of the Christian communities?
          > > >
          > > > And did the Christians also take to the codex because it was a less formal
          > > > vehicle? Closer to the world of orality--builders, businessmen,
          > > doctors, and
          > > > their assistants giving each other notes, instructions, information, to be
          > > > jotted down in a notebook? A more natural place to record the living oral
          > > > traditions about Jesus?
          >
          > May I interject? Your comments make no mention of papyrus. Crossan's Birth
          > of Christianity has a chapter (Chap. 9) on the earliest Christian
          > manuscripts that you might find very interesting (at least, I did.) It
          > inspired me to do a little additional checking. At any rate, all of the
          > earliest NT manuscripts are written on papyrus, which is a much cheaper
          > material than parchment. Already the earliest letters of Paul were in codex
          > form. Furthermore, and I hope Professor Dunn might comment on this, the
          > early Christian papyri have some very interesting features noted by
          > Crossan, although of course not original with him, such as the use of
          > nomina sacra. Isn't this already a sign of written tradition? So it seems
          > that the earliest written manuscripts do not bring us much closer to an
          > oral process of transmission?
          >
          > Thanks,
          > Bob
          >
          > Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
          > Northern Arizona University
          > Flagstaff, AZ
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
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