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.
] On Behalf
Of E Bruce Brooks
Sent: Tuesday, June 06, 2006 10:46 AM
Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] The codex and readings in parallel
In Response To: John Poirier
On: Christian Codex
[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. /
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.
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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