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  • Ron Price
    ... Bruce, Acts is among a minority of NT books which has come down to us with no substantial changes. How do I know this? Because I have discovered the
    Message 1 of 4 , Jun 30, 2010
      Bruce Brooks wrote:

      > When we say "Acts," what are we talking about? Is Acts one thing or
      > several? In text study, as I understand it, whether in ancient China
      > or in the classical Mediterranean, this is always the first question
      > we should ask, and answer, before we are free to ask a second
      > question. I find persuasive Torrey's argument that Acts originally
      > ended at Ac 15:35 .....


      Acts is among a minority of NT books which has come down to us with no
      substantial changes. How do I know this? Because I have discovered the
      original structure of Acts and it shows clear evidence that it was designed
      with a view to using a codex for the archetype.

      Composing a large document on a codex could only be done with careful
      planning: " ... The total number of sheets required had to be estimated
      closely before reaching the midpoint of the text ..." Aland & Aland, 'The
      Text of the NT' (ET 1989, p.75). The most obvious way to do this would have
      been to divide the material into logical sections and allocate an
      appropriate number of pages to each section. The end result of this
      procedure is a document whose structure matches the pages on which it was
      originally written.

      The structure on the Web page below indicates how this was done in the case
      of Acts, whose archetype turns out to have been a codex of 20 sheets
      comprising 80 pages. Evidence for this is the close match between the
      section boundaries and the corresponding page boundaries. Evidence that the
      whole was planned as a unity can be found in the table headed "Seven pairs
      of linked sections", which shows how the 7 major sections associated with
      Peter in the structure were linked respectively to the 7 major sections
      associated with Paul. Thus 15:36 ff. was not a later addition.

      Ron Price

      Derbyshire, UK

    • David Mealand
      In the past I have tended to be rather cautious about theories based on estimations of line, page or column, and codex or scroll lengths. However within
      Message 2 of 4 , Jun 30, 2010
        In the past I have tended to be rather cautious
        about theories based on estimations of line,
        page or column, and codex or scroll lengths.

        However within minutes of reading the piece by
        Ron Price I also read an account of an article
        by Jay Kennedy of Manchester University
        due out this week in the classics journal
        _Apeiron_ which claims that Plato's dialogues
        are based on multiples of 1200 lines, and divided
        into equal twelfths, and that this claimed phenomenon
        is connected with Plato's interest in Pythagoras.
        This looks like an item to be checked by those
        who engage in counting line lengths, and
        estimating the internal proportions of documents.

        David Mealand

        David Mealand, University of Edinburgh


        The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
        Scotland, with registration number SC005336.
      • E Bruce Brooks
        To: Crosstalk Cc: WSW In Response To: Ron Price On: Ac 15:36 From: Bruce RON [following a claim to have reconstructed Acts in terms of exact page boundaries in
        Message 3 of 4 , Jun 30, 2010
          To: Crosstalk
          Cc: WSW
          In Response To: Ron Price
          On: Ac 15:36
          From: Bruce

          RON [following a claim to have reconstructed Acts in terms of exact
          page boundaries in an 80-page, 20-sheet codex]: Thus 15:36 ff. was not
          a later addition.

          BRUCE: These theories of formal constraint of NT texts by the
          dimensions of the codex (some would say, the papyrus roll) have their
          attraction. I don't deny it. So does the Aramaic translation theory of
          Torrey. In the end, neither idea seems to me to be habitable. I think
          the translation idea fails (at least in Torrey's form) by the
          requirement of multiple translations from Aramaic, some of them guided
          by previous translations into Greek. And I cannot be convinced of the
          codex constraint for similar reasons, chiefly (as Ron and I have
          earlier explored in connection with interpolations in Mark) that the
          theory does not allow for expansion events which the structure of the
          text itself, as I see it, clearly suggests. But also because it
          suggests a curious motive for writing, namely, to fill a certain size
          quota. To borrow a phrase from the poets, "Let no man say, Come, I
          will write a duodecimo." Arnold Bennett worked that way, I work that
          way, but it seems risky to extrapolate from those modern examples to
          ancient practice. Rather, is it not unlikely that at least in some
          cases, the matter grew under the writer's hands?

          How many fixed-length literary forms were there in antiquity? Cyrano,
          improvising a ballade, knows exactly how many rhymes he is going to
          need, but was Horace in similar situation?

          The theory (due to Torrey and myself) that at one point only Acts I
          existed has its unlikable features, not only those due to our long
          acclimatization to canonical Acts, but more relevantly, the fact that
          the proposed Acts I is short; about half of what we are accustomed to
          think of as a standard Gospel or Gospel-associated text. But then
          again, how long is Mk? How long was gLk, the first time round? For a
          start, it was surely shorter by the two chapters now containing the
          Birth and Infancy narrative, which stand outside the plausible formal
          beginning of gLk at Lk 3:1. The expansive style of the rewritten
          Nazareth incident as it now stands (and in which form, though not in
          its probable original form, it harmonized with the authorial agenda of
          Acts II) is another point at which the first text of Luke is likely to
          have been substantially shorter. The Lukan travel narrative, which is
          grossly expanded over its precedents in Mk and Mt, and which seems to
          have been an assembly point for a certain amount of material of
          extraPalestinian origin, possibly including, as was earlier noted,
          Dau/Dv Jing and other exotic echoes, is a third place to which one
          might look for expansion between the first and subsequent versions of
          Lk. (That investigation continues, but I do not attempt to report
          results here).

          Taking all the NT into account, I don't think we are entitled to put a
          lower bound on possible sizes of texts, else how do we deal with the
          Johannine epistles? What does seem likely is that, at least for the
          1c, there may have been an upper bound. Then at one point, if I am
          reading the signs in the texts aright, the expansions of gLk including
          Acts I outran what a single codex (of the time) could easily
          accommodate. At that point, the thing was pushed into a second volume,
          and the second preface (a slapdash affair) might accordingly have been


          Exactly the same situation (mutatis mutandis) seems to apply to
          classical Chinese texts, which were written on strips of bamboo tied
          together and rolled up like a snowfence. Some very short independent
          texts do exist (and have been archaeologically recovered; this is not
          conjectural), of as few as 7 or even 2 or 3 strips. On the other hand,
          depending on the length of the strip (there were different standard
          lengths), there was a point when a big roll became unwieldy, perhaps,
          as I have conjectured, when the diameter of the roll came to exceed
          the length of the strip. At that point, however defined, a second
          physical roll was required. In Mencius, a text which some in the NT
          corner of things may have seen, the result is what are called "double
          chapters," where the same title applies to both parts (with the
          distinction shang/"upper" and sya/"lower"). This implies an expanding
          text. And why? Because if composed originally in the two-bundle form,
          we would expect that each bundle, and not as at present every other
          bundle, would be named from its incipit.

          The pervasive fact that, in terms of present texts, we see a sort of
          threshold at 5000 characters for texts, and an implied physical limit
          of 2500 characters per allowed single roll of bamboo, seems to reflect
          these physical factors. Besides the Mencius chapters, each of which
          has a double structure with 5000 characters (roughly) going under one
          title, there is the somewhat well known Dau/Dv Jing, also with 5000
          characters (roughly, and so described in antiquity) and divided into
          what were later called "Dau" and "Dv" halves.

          So there seems to be a size factor, and it does to some extent limit
          what can be done in one consecutive text, but only at the upper end,
          not at the lower. Little texts might be easily lost, but there seems
          to have been no absolute bar to their creation, and subsequent copying.

          In the NT in general, I seem to see a similar bounded-at-one-end range
          factor reflected. That much seems to have some teeth in it.

          Not that Ron's reconstruction, as a comment on Final Acts, is
          necessarily without interest. The commentators note places in Acts
          (chiefly, as I recall, in Acts II) where the narrative seems to have
          been noticeably stretched or compressed. How do those places map out,
          in terms of Ron's page-end coordinations? Are they ways of avoiding a
          page break?While not seeing the answer (whatever it might be) as
          refuting the possibility of an earlier and shorter Acts, I admit I
          would be curious to know what the answer is.


          E Bruce Brooks
          Warring States Project
          University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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