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Re: [Synoptic-L] The codex and readings in parallel

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  • 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 1 of 8 , Jun 6, 2006
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      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 2 of 8 , Jun 6, 2006
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        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 3 of 8 , Jun 6, 2006
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          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 4 of 8 , Jun 6, 2006
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            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 5 of 8 , Jun 6, 2006
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              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 6 of 8 , Jun 6, 2006
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                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





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