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

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  • 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 1 of 8 , Jun 6 9:40 AM
      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 2 of 8 , Jun 6 10:20 AM
        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 3 of 8 , Jun 6 10:45 AM
          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 4 of 8 , Jun 6 6:54 PM
            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 5 of 8 , Jun 6 8:33 PM
              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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