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

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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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