Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

The codex and readings in parallel

Expand Messages
  • John C. Poirier
    I just reread Skeat s *ZPE* article on reasons for the Christian preference for the codex (available online at
    Message 1 of 8 , Jun 6, 2006
    • 0 Attachment
      I just reread Skeat's *ZPE* article on reasons for the Christian preference for the codex (available online at http://www.uni-koeln.de/phil-fak/ifa/zpe/downloads/1994/102pdf/102263.pdf), and it occurred to me that, although he may be right in suggesting that this preference is tied into the four-gospel canon, he passes up an obvious advantage of the codex in connection with that canon: the codex would have allowed an easier time (than a scroll) with reading individual pericopes in parallel. With a codex, one can hold parallel pages with a bookmark or finger, while going back and forth between parallel passages in a scroll would have been much less handy.

      I have two questions for the list: (1) Does anyone else discuss this advantage? and (2) Is it likely that early Christians wanted to read these texts in parallel?


      John C. Poirier
      Middletown, Ohio


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Jim West
      If anyone knows it s Larry Hurtado- who has a book on the way on just that topic. Jim ... -- Jim West, ThD http://web.infoave.net/~jwest -- Biblical Studies
      Message 2 of 8 , Jun 6, 2006
      • 0 Attachment
        If anyone knows it's Larry Hurtado- who has a book on the way on just
        that topic.

        Jim



        John C Poirier wrote:
        > I just reread Skeat's *ZPE* article on reasons for the Christian preference for the codex (available online at http://www.uni-koeln.de/phil-fak/ifa/zpe/downloads/1994/102pdf/102263.pdf), and it occurred to me that, although he may be right in suggesting that this preference is tied into the four-gospel canon, he passes up an obvious advantage of the codex in connection with that canon: the codex would have allowed an easier time (than a scroll) with reading individual pericopes in parallel. With a codex, one can hold parallel pages with a bookmark or finger, while going back and forth between parallel passages in a scroll would have been much less handy.
        >
        > I have two questions for the list: (1) Does anyone else discuss this advantage? and (2) Is it likely that early Christians wanted to read these texts in parallel?
        >
        >
        > John C. Poirier
        > Middletown, Ohio
        >

        --
        Jim West, ThD

        http://web.infoave.net/~jwest -- Biblical Studies Resources
        http://petrosbaptistchurch.blogspot.com -- Weblog
      • Stephen C. Carlson
        ... I ve never heard of this idea before, Jack. Thanks. Very insightful. How much do we know of liturgical practices among early Christians, beyond what
        Message 3 of 8 , Jun 6, 2006
        • 0 Attachment
          At 11:04 AM 6/6/2006 -0400, John C. Poirier wrote:
          >I have two questions for the list: (1) Does anyone else discuss this advantage? and (2) Is it likely that early Christians wanted to read these texts in parallel?

          I've never heard of this idea before, Jack. Thanks. Very insightful.

          How much do we know of liturgical practices among early Christians,
          beyond what Justin tells us?

          The makers of gospel harmonies in the 2d cen. (e.g., Justin, Tatian)
          were certainly interested in comparing the parallels. For the reasons
          you give, the codex format would have nicely facilitated their production.
          In the case of many technological innovations, however, the full
          panoply of benefits are not always apparent at the beginning but
          come to be appreciated later. Your idea here strikes me as such a
          later-recognized advantage, and it may have given an important
          technical impetus to the production of harmonies. But the pluriform
          gospel codex and the harmony represent different answers to the
          same problem. I doubt that the inventor of the former was intending
          to facilitate the latter.

          Stephen Carlson
          --
          Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
          Weblog: http://www.hypotyposeis.org/weblog/
          Author of: The Gospel Hoax, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1932792481
        • Bob Schacht
          ... John, Thanks for an interesting question. However, you might also want to consult Crossan s Birth of Christianity, pp 124-135 (Chapter 9), where he reviews
          Message 4 of 8 , Jun 6, 2006
          • 0 Attachment
            At 05:04 AM 6/6/2006, John C. Poirier wrote:

            >I just reread Skeat's *ZPE* article on reasons for the Christian
            >preference for the codex (available online at
            ><http://www.uni-koeln.de/phil-fak/ifa/zpe/downloads/1994/102pdf/102263.pdf>http://www.uni-koeln.de/phil-fak/ifa/zpe/downloads/1994/102pdf/102263.pdf),
            >and it occurred to me that, although he may be right in suggesting that
            >this preference is tied into the four-gospel canon, he passes up an
            >obvious advantage of the codex in connection with that canon: the codex
            >would have allowed an easier time (than a scroll) with reading individual
            >pericopes in parallel. With a codex, one can hold parallel pages with a
            >bookmark or finger, while going back and forth between parallel passages
            >in a scroll would have been much less handy.

            John,
            Thanks for an interesting question. However, you might also want to consult
            Crossan's Birth of Christianity, pp 124-135 (Chapter 9), where he reviews
            the literature on your question. His conclusion (p.130) is that Christians
            chose the codex because it was more "practical," i.e. for utilitarian reasons.

            Bob


            >I have two questions for the list: (1) Does anyone else discuss this
            >advantage? and (2) Is it likely that early Christians wanted to read these
            >texts in parallel?
            >
            >John C. Poirier
            >Middletown, Ohio
            >
            >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
            >


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • John C. Poirier
            Stephen Carlson suggests that any advantage of the codex for reading texts in parallel would have been secondary to the initial impetus for the codex. With
            Message 5 of 8 , Jun 6, 2006
            • 0 Attachment
              Stephen Carlson suggests that any advantage of the codex for reading texts
              in parallel would have been secondary to the initial impetus for the codex.
              With that I can agree. I wonder how early the codex was used by Christians.
              Since I accept some form of the testimony book hypothesis as a means of
              explaining the text-critical patterns of OT texts quoted in the NT, I
              naturally wonder whether the preference for the codex began *there*, long
              before there was a four-gospel canon. But that is to speak in absolute
              terms, and it is not to disagree with Skeat's suggestion that the real,
              lasting preference for the codex was tied to the four gospel canon. So to
              me, the preference might have developed in two stages, with the first having
              to do with the needs of traveling apostles and evangelists, and the second
              having to do with an exclusivist function tied to the first movements
              towards a Christian canon. (I'm somewhat new to these questions, so please
              pardon my waffling, if that's what I'm doing.)

              Bob Schacht refers to a useful discussion of codices in Crossan's *The Birth
              of Christianity*. I agree with him that this is a useful discussion, and I
              think Crossan's judgments here are sound. (I'm agreeing with Crossan. Must
              have something to do with today being 6/6/06!) It is certainly true that
              the concept of "canon" did not have the same range of connotations for the
              creation of the NT as it had for the Hebrew Bible, hence the willingness of
              Christians to use a medium that might have seemed second-rate.


              John C. Poirier
              Middletown, Ohio
            • E Bruce Brooks
              To: Synoptic-L Cc: GPG In Response To: John Poirier On: Christian Codex From: Bruce [Sorry, got tricked again. Previous reply went only to John. Here it is
              Message 6 of 8 , Jun 6, 2006
              • 0 Attachment
                To: Synoptic-L
                Cc: GPG
                In Response To: John Poirier
                On: Christian Codex
                From: Bruce

                [Sorry, got tricked again. Previous reply went only to John. Here it is
                again in case any of the wider membership has a response. I won't repeat
                here John's private reply to me, as not mine to share; perhaps he will. /
                Bruce]

                JOHN: [Skeat] passes up an obvious advantage of the codex in connection
                with that canon: the codex would have allowed an easier time (than a scroll)
                with reading individual pericopes in parallel.

                BRUCE: That seems to assume that the putters-together of *each single* codex
                were looking to the convenience of those who would read *more than one*
                codex. Who would have done this? Text critics, to be sure, and perhaps even
                the late Evangelists, but how large a market was that? The parallel but
                divergent passages seem to be more a hindrance than a help to the modern
                faithful, and the same difficulty seems to have been felt in the early
                Church also, hence the idea of getting rid of all but one of them (Marcion)
                or weaving all of them into a consistent single narrative (Tatian). I can't
                see setting up the medium so as to invite the kind of problem that at least
                some early folk are laboring to solve.

                Does it not suffice to say that "the codex would have allowed an easier time
                with reading individual pericopes?" Unless we assume that, eg, gMk was read
                entire each time it was read at all, that consideration would have applied
                to any preacher or any private reader. It does not require an
                intercongregational scenario. It does not even require a single-congregation
                lectionary scenario, though if gMk, say, was held in esteem by its earliest
                audience, I can imagine having it read through, a pericope at a time, over
                the course of a suitable interval of time.

                I can share my previous figures on how long a given pericope would take to
                read, if desired.

                Bruce

                E Bruce Brooks
                Warring States Project
                University of Massachusetts at Amherst
              • E Bruce Brooks
                To: Synoptic Cc: GPG In Response To: John Poirier On: Readings in Parallel From: Bruce BRUCE [PREVIOUSLY]: The parallel but divergent passages seem to be more
                Message 7 of 8 , Jun 6, 2006
                • 0 Attachment
                  To: Synoptic
                  Cc: GPG
                  In Response To: John Poirier
                  On: Readings in Parallel
                  From: Bruce

                  BRUCE [PREVIOUSLY]: The parallel but divergent passages seem to be more a
                  hindrance than a help to the modern faithful, and the same difficulty seems
                  to have been felt in the early Church also, hence the idea of getting rid of
                  all but one of them (Marcion) or weaving all of them into a consistent
                  single narrative (Tatian). I can't see setting up the medium so as to invite
                  the kind of problem that at least some early folk are laboring to solve.

                  JOHN (NOW): I wonder how much this would have been the case: when modern
                  fundamentalists read the gospels in parallel, they pretty much don't even
                  notice the inconsistencies. Their brains trick them into thinking that the
                  inconsistencies are really matters of added depth that serve to reward those
                  who go to the trouble of reading in parallel.

                  BRUCE: Well, we all have our experiential samples, and I don't doubt that
                  John's sample is here correctly described. In my sample, there are two
                  strategies; no, three. (1) Don't read the Bible; meditate on the doctrine,
                  and leave the thinking to the Church. (2) Read the Bible one passage at a
                  time (perfomative lectionaries; elementary instruction). No contradictions
                  or variants are focused on; they are kept a little beyond the edge of
                  consciousness, at any given moment. (3) Chiefly for the scholarly: Read the
                  parallel passages, but with the benefit of several thousand years of
                  hermeneutic ingenuity behind you, which will do much of the job of
                  harmonizing or neutralizing the difficulties. The cross-references in any
                  modern Testament will show how far down this mindset, or anyway its
                  apparatus, has percolated.

                  Hermeneutics is the art of proving that different things are really the
                  same. The modern world, collectively, has gotten very good at it. But that's
                  the modern world. Before all that wisdom, all that technique, had
                  accumulated to banish the difficulties, may not the difficulties have seemed
                  more troublesome to the faithful generally?

                  JOHN: I think many early Christians (other than Origen and others like him)
                  would have read the texts in just
                  the same way. Those who responded to the charges of inconsistency probably
                  would not have felt the need to do so had the gospels not been attacked from
                  outside the church.

                  BRUCE: As for the first readers of the Gospels, namely, the writers of the
                  later Gospels, we have Luke's word for it that he found the previous
                  versions inadequate to meet the needs of a newly interested reader, and
                  undertook to do the job better. If he were merely adding noncontrastive
                  marginalia, I have to believe he would have spoken differently. And I stick
                  to my previous examples: Marcion and Tatian are both best taken, it seems to
                  me, as trying in different ways to get rid of the multiplicity of witnesses
                  to Jesus. Their activities imply that they felt a problem with that
                  multiplicity.

                  As for Origen, well, we can all relate to Origen. By the terms of entry to
                  this discussion, we are all scholars here, and Origen is in some degree our
                  prototype. And what happened to Origen?

                  Right.

                  I would see Marcion as more typical of probable early concerns: eliminating
                  everything except Luke, and then excising certain material from Luke. That,
                  it seems to me, is not the agenda of a man who likes to sit down for an
                  afternoon with a lapful of Scriptural parallels to ponder.

                  Don't we see each of the apocryphal Gospels as meant to serve as the sole
                  account of Jesus, for a particular congregation or persuasion, rather than
                  to add to a collectively visible public repertoire? Or to put it a different
                  way, aren't we all glad we don't have to explain to anyone, of a Sunday
                  morning, how the Resurrection narrative in the Gospel of Peter fits in with
                  the rest of them?

                  E Bruce Brooks
                  Warring States Project
                  University of Massachusetts at Amherst

                  I don't deny that there exists a teaching method based on confronting the
                  student with seemingly irreconcilable propositions, and letting the student
                  work them out. The early Confucians did this systematically, and some will
                  know of the Zen "koan," a paradox meant for meditation (Jp koan < Ch
                  gung-an, is a difficult legal case for decision, or for practice by
                  apprentice lawyers). Is there really a parallel to this device in early
                  Christianity? It might be interesting . . . no; skip it. All too many things
                  might be interesting.
                • David @ Comcast
                  The ease of use of an early codex is, I think, debatable. Assuming that early codices were in single-quire form (The extant portions of P5, P46, and P75 were
                  Message 8 of 8 , Jun 6, 2006
                  • 0 Attachment
                    The ease of use of an early codex is, I think, debatable. Assuming that
                    early codices were in single-quire form (The extant portions of P5, P46, and
                    P75 were all single quire codices, so is this a reasonable assumption?),
                    then the ease of use is largely determined by both the number of sheets and
                    the thickness of the papyrus. For example, P46 originally contained at least
                    52 folded sheets of papyrus, each sheet around 0.5 mm thick, or
                    approximately seven or eight times the thickness of the paper used in a
                    typical modern magazine (Does anyone have a better figure for the thickness
                    of an early sheet of papyrus?).



                    This resulted in a codex perhaps as much as 5cm (or around 2 inches) thick.
                    As I think you can easily see, in a single-quire codex of this thickness the
                    outer sheets of papyrus would have been heavily curved towards the fold.
                    This is similar to, but much more extreme than, what we see today in a thick
                    single-quire magazine, or even some Sunday papers. If the calculations above
                    are correct, I think this curving towards the spine pretty much puts paid to
                    Skeat's idea of joining together two single-quire 2-gospel codices, because
                    of the difficulty of joining the two quires together at the folds.



                    Instead, I think it more likely that the first 4-gospel codex would have
                    more likely been constructed from much smaller quires. As a result, I don't
                    think that anyone would have been even thinking of constructing early
                    4-gospel codices. Instead, wherever multiple gospels were co-located, I
                    think they would have stayed as separate entities until codices of much
                    smaller quires were introduced. Indeed, I could see attempts at joining
                    large single-quire (e.g. of the gospels) together as being the impetus that
                    drove the creation of codices with smaller (e.g. single-sheet) quires.



                    David Inglis



                    _____

                    From: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Synoptic@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
                    Of E Bruce Brooks
                    Sent: Tuesday, June 06, 2006 10:46 AM
                    To: Synoptic
                    Cc: GPG
                    Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] The codex and readings in parallel



                    To: Synoptic-L
                    Cc: GPG
                    In Response To: John Poirier
                    On: Christian Codex
                    From: Bruce

                    [Sorry, got tricked again. Previous reply went only to John. Here it is
                    again in case any of the wider membership has a response. I won't repeat
                    here John's private reply to me, as not mine to share; perhaps he will. /
                    Bruce]

                    JOHN: [Skeat] passes up an obvious advantage of the codex in connection
                    with that canon: the codex would have allowed an easier time (than a scroll)
                    with reading individual pericopes in parallel.

                    BRUCE: That seems to assume that the putters-together of *each single* codex
                    were looking to the convenience of those who would read *more than one*
                    codex. Who would have done this? Text critics, to be sure, and perhaps even
                    the late Evangelists, but how large a market was that? The parallel but
                    divergent passages seem to be more a hindrance than a help to the modern
                    faithful, and the same difficulty seems to have been felt in the early
                    Church also, hence the idea of getting rid of all but one of them (Marcion)
                    or weaving all of them into a consistent single narrative (Tatian). I can't
                    see setting up the medium so as to invite the kind of problem that at least
                    some early folk are laboring to solve.

                    Does it not suffice to say that "the codex would have allowed an easier time
                    with reading individual pericopes?" Unless we assume that, eg, gMk was read
                    entire each time it was read at all, that consideration would have applied
                    to any preacher or any private reader. It does not require an
                    intercongregational scenario. It does not even require a single-congregation
                    lectionary scenario, though if gMk, say, was held in esteem by its earliest
                    audience, I can imagine having it read through, a pericope at a time, over
                    the course of a suitable interval of time.

                    I can share my previous figures on how long a given pericope would take to
                    read, if desired.

                    Bruce

                    E Bruce Brooks
                    Warring States Project
                    University of Massachusetts at Amherst





                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.