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Two Improbabilities in the GJW Fragment

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  • Mike Grondin
    As scholars await the ink test on the GJW fragment (which, however, as I understand it, can be decisive only if negative), there are two peculiar features of
    Message 1 of 22 , Sep 29, 2012
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      As scholars await the ink test on the GJW fragment (which, however,
      as I understand it, can be decisive only if negative), there are two
      peculiar features of the fragment which haven't been mentioned here
      yet, the joint probability of which arising from an authentic fragment,
      is extremely low.
       
      As I commented on Alin Suciu's blog:
      "It’s remarkable to me that the top cut of the fragment occurred almost
      exactly between lines on both recto and verso. It could happen, of course,
      but the probability seems quite remote. One would normally expect to find,
      I would think, that one side or the other had a top portion of its lettering cut off,
      or that the bottom portion of the previous line was visible. But to the naked eye
      that does not appear to be the case."
       
      To which Stephen Goranson (well-known in our circles) added:
      "Also, the same word appears in line one on both sides."
       
      I hadn't noticed this latter point myself, but Goranson is correct. The word
      (or rather, phrase) in question is 'TA-MAAY', i.e., 'my mother'. This isn't a
      common noun, still less a common noun-phrase, so the chances of its
      appearing at precisely the same vertical position on both the recto and verso
      of a page (let alone fragment) is very small indeed. When combined with the
      unlikelihood of it happening by random that a cut between lines of one side 
      (presumably the recto) of a page would also happen to divide lines on the other
      side of the page, the probability of this fragment being genuine are remote in
      the exteme. (Note that if two features are independent of each other under the
      assumption of non-intentionality - which these two are - their joint probability
      is multiplicative. If, for example, the probability of feature A being random is
      5%, and that of independent feature B is likewise 5%, their joint probability
      of occuring without intentional design is 0.25%.)
       
      Cheers,
      Mike Grondin
    • David Hindley
      Mike, Wouldn t the likelihood be dependent upon subject matter and genre? I bet you could find several cases in the GOT or any of the books of the NHL where
      Message 2 of 22 , Sep 29, 2012
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        Mike,

         

        Wouldn't the likelihood be dependent upon subject matter and genre? I bet you could find several cases in the GOT or any of the books of the NHL where any particular word or word phrase appears on the same "line" somewhere on both sides of the parchment.

         

        Dave Hindley

        Newton Falls, Ohio, USA

         

        From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Mike Grondin
        Sent: Saturday, September 29, 2012 4:35 PM
        To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [GTh] Two Improbabilities in the GJW Fragment

         

         

        As scholars await the ink test on the GJW fragment (which, however,

        as I understand it, can be decisive only if negative), there are two

        peculiar features of the fragment which haven't been mentioned here

        yet, the joint probability of which arising from an authentic fragment,

        is extremely low.

         

        As I commented on Alin Suciu's blog:

        "It’s remarkable to me that the top cut of the fragment occurred almost

        exactly between lines on both recto and verso. It could happen, of course,

        but the probability seems quite remote. One would normally expect to find,

        I would think, that one side or the other had a top portion of its lettering cut off,

        or that the bottom portion of the previous line was visible. But to the naked eye

        that does not appear to be the case."

         

        To which Stephen Goranson (well-known in our circles) added:

        "Also, the same word appears in line one on both sides."

         

        I hadn't noticed this latter point myself, but Goranson is correct. The word

        (or rather, phrase) in question is 'TA-MAAY', i.e., 'my mother'. This isn't a

        common noun, still less a common noun-phrase, so the chances of its

        appearing at precisely the same vertical position on both the recto and verso

        of a page (let alone fragment) is very small indeed. When combined with the

        unlikelihood of it happening by random that a cut between lines of one side 

        (presumably the recto) of a page would also happen to divide lines on the other

        side of the page, the probability of this fragment being genuine are remote in

        the extreme. (Note that if two features are independent of each other under the

        assumption of non-intentionality - which these two are - their joint probability

        is multiplicative. If, for example, the probability of feature A being random is

        5%, and that of independent feature B is likewise 5%, their joint probability

        of occurring without intentional design is 0.25%.)

         

        Cheers,

        Mike Grondin

         

      • Bob Schacht
        ... Perhaps I misremember, but I believe there is software currently available that can provide statistics on how often two words occur together, and perhaps
        Message 3 of 22 , Sep 29, 2012
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          At 07:47 PM 9/29/2012, David Hindley wrote:


          Mike,
           
          Wouldn't the likelihood be dependent upon subject matter and genre? I bet you could find several cases in the GOT or any of the books of the NHL where any particular word or word phrase appears on the same "line" somewhere on both sides of the parchment.

          Perhaps I misremember, but I believe there is software currently available that can provide statistics on how often two words occur together, and perhaps distinguishing between "previous" and "next". What language the database has in it should not matter much, as long as it can be segmented into words.

          And as long as you can segment the words into "lines" by some text marker such as a slash, it should not be that difficult to extend such software to measure co-occurrence on the same line. In fact, I'll bet someone on this list knows exactly what I'm talking about.

          Bob Schacht
          Northern Arizona University
        • Mike Grondin
          ... Sure, partially. I don t know how to calculate it exactly, but it would depend on the typical density of the given word in the supposed genre. With respect
          Message 4 of 22 , Sep 30, 2012
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            [Dave Hindley]:
            > Wouldn't the likelihood be dependent upon subject matter and genre?
             
            Sure, partially. I don't know how to calculate it exactly, but it would depend
            on the typical density of the given word in the supposed genre. With respect
            to 'MAAY', it seems to me that it isn't used very often in any NHC text, nor
            is the Greek equivalent used very often in any NT text. It would be used
            even less often with the possessive 'my'. It would, of course, be used more
            often in a treatise on parenting; but that isn't what we've got here.
             
            > I bet you could find several cases in the GOT or any of the books of the
            > NHL where any particular word or word phrase appears on the same "line"
            > somewhere on both sides of the parchment.
             
            Probably, but that wouldn't prove anything. For one thing, having the same
            line number doesn't mean having the same vertical position. One would have
            to measure carefully from, say, the top of the leaf. More importantly,
            however,  the chance of intra-leaf equiverticality (how's that for a made-up
            term?) is proportional to the relative density of the occurrence of the word.
            (Simply put, the more there are, the greater the chances). Contrast 'IC', for
            example. That word occurs 102 times in Coptic Thomas. Since MAAY
            occurs only 9 times (and TA-MAAY but thrice), the chance of 'IC' appearing
            in the same vertical position front and back of the same leaf in CGTh is more
            than 10 times that of 'MAAY' and more than 33 times that of 'TA-MAAY'. 
            Similar remarks apply to other common words/phrases.
             
            Interestingly, CGTh presents a better than average chance of equal
            vertical alignment of 'MAAY', since seven of the nine occurrences of
            that word appear on the front and back of one leaf - pages 49 and 50.
            Yet the closest that any pair comes to being in the same vertical position on
            both sides of that leaf is about five lines. On the one side of the leaf (p.49),
            the word appears on lines 22, 25, 33, 35, and 36. On the other side (p.50), it
            appears on lines 1 and 17. So even in this case, when the word occurs
            multiple times on both sides of a leaf, it doesn't come very close to having
            the same vertical position front and back. And remember, this is the
            word 'MAAY' without even considering whether it's prefixed by 'TA-'.
             
            BTW, 'MAAY' occurs 10 times in the Gospel of Philip on 7 different pages.
            In only one case does it occur on consecutive pages (82 and 83), but it's not
            the same leaf, and anyway the vertical positions aren't close.
             
            Mike Grondin
            p.s. FYI: In addition to most of pages 32 and 51, Coptic GThom occupies
            9 whole leafs of Codex II: pp. 33-34, 35-36, 37-38, 39-40, 41-42, 43-44,
            45-46, 47-48, and 49-50.
          • Wieland
            ... What do you mean by negative ? An ink test can only be decisive if it finds something modern in the ink, either one finds a modern chemical or the
            Message 5 of 22 , Sep 30, 2012
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              --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Grondin" <mwgrondin@...> wrote:
              >
              > As scholars await the ink test on the GJW fragment (which, however,
              > as I understand it, can be decisive only if negative),

              What do you mean by "negative"?
              An ink test can only be decisive if it finds something "modern" in the ink, either one finds a modern chemical or the composition can be shown to be modern.
              If a forger emulates ancient ink correctly, it would be extremely difficult to prove this.

              What made me pause was the alleged statement by Prof. Fecht, "Fecht meint, daß dies ein Beweis (proof) für eine mögliche Ehe sein könnte." Such a bold statement apears quite improbable for a German professor, but it is transmitted only via someone else, so it may be inaccurate. Perhaps something like "Hinweis" (sign, hint) was meant.

              If I would be a professor of Aegyptology I would try to publish something about this fragment. If Fecht really has seen it, his uninterested reaction is strange.

              Best wishes
              Wieland
            • Ian Brown
              Hey all, seems to me there is a lot of neigh-saying going on re: whether or not GosJesWife was written in the 4th or 20th century. Also seems to me this
              Message 6 of 22 , Sep 30, 2012
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                Hey all,

                seems to me there is a lot of neigh-saying going on re: whether or not GosJesWife was written in the 4th or 20th century. Also seems to me this "debate" has been rather one sided with very little critique of the neigh-saying position to be found (or reported). Well I thought I would provide a little push-back in the form of a very nice critique of Watson's thesis by Timo S. Pannanen (finder's credit to Bill Arnal). Pannanen has written a short (5 pages) response to Watson, arguing that his methods for identifying GosJesWife as a modern forgery are fundamentally flawed. He concludes

                "Watson’s method, in which he hunts out parallel words from a large text mass, cannot tell the difference between authentic and fake passages, and has no bearing on the question of authenticity of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. Once the question of authenticity is settled for (modern) forgery, however, it can be used to shed light on the composition procedure of the text."

                The entire paper can be found here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2012/09/timo-s-paananen-on-methods-of-forgery-detection-and-the-gospel-of-jesus-wife.html

                Also, as an aside, two predictions: ink analysis will NOT show that the ink in GosJesWife contains modern chemicals. And in spite of this, neigh-sayers as to GosJesWife's date will continue neigh-saying. It just seems to me the reasons for declaring GosJesWife a modern forgery are too politically and religiously loaded. But maybe I'm too pessimistic.

                Ian Brown
              • Ian Brown
                Oops, Paananen, not Pannanen. Apologies ian brown ________________________________ From: Ian Brown To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
                Message 7 of 22 , Sep 30, 2012
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                  Oops, Paananen, not Pannanen. Apologies

                  ian brown



                  From: Ian Brown <ianbrown6796@...>
                  To: "gthomas@yahoogroups.com" <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
                  Sent: Sunday, September 30, 2012 4:32:10 PM
                  Subject: [GTh] Another voicein the GosJesWife debate

                   
                  Hey all,

                  seems to me there is a lot of neigh-saying going on re: whether or not GosJesWife was written in the 4th or 20th century. Also seems to me this "debate" has been rather one sided with very little critique of the neigh-saying position to be found (or reported). Well I thought I would provide a little push-back in the form of a very nice critique of Watson's thesis by Timo S. Pannanen (finder's credit to Bill Arnal). Pannanen has written a short (5 pages) response to Watson, arguing that his methods for identifying GosJesWife as a modern forgery are fundamentally flawed. He concludes

                  "Watson’s method, in which he hunts out parallel words from a large text mass, cannot tell the difference between authentic and fake passages, and has no bearing on the question of authenticity of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. Once the question of authenticity is settled for (modern) forgery, however, it can be used to shed light on the composition procedure of the text."

                  The entire paper can be found here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2012/09/timo-s-paananen-on-methods-of-forgery-detection-and-the-gospel-of-jesus-wife.html

                  Also, as an aside, two predictions: ink analysis will NOT show that the ink in GosJesWife contains modern chemicals. And in spite of this, neigh-sayers as to GosJesWife's date will continue neigh-saying. It just seems to me the reasons for declaring GosJesWife a modern forgery are too politically and religiously loaded. But maybe I'm too pessimistic.

                  Ian Brown


                • Mark Goodacre
                  Timo s essay has been on the web for a couple of days and I am surprised that people apparently find it telling. It is an amusing parody of Watson s essay but
                  Message 8 of 22 , Sep 30, 2012
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                    Timo's essay has been on the web for a couple of days and I am surprised that people apparently find it telling. It is an amusing parody of Watson's essay but does not actually engage the case.  The key point about Watson's analysis is that the Jesus Wife Fragment appears to be dependent specifically on our Coptic Thomas from NH II.  In other words, we are not talking about literary parallels between Greek works (like Matthew and Mark or Egerton and John) but detailed parallels between one Coptic text (Jesus Wife fragment) and another Coptic text (Coptic Thomas from NH).  The reason the verbatim agreements + line breaks are important is that they suggest dependence on one specific textual witness.  As I see it, there are two options here.  Either the author of the Jesus fragment got hold of NH II before it went into the jar in the ? late fourth century or after it came out in 1945.  I don't think we can rule out that s/he got hold of it before it went into the jar but, on balance, it is much more likely that the author got hold of it in the modern period where that one witness has been reproduced so many times in both print and electronic versions.  All best, Mark

                    On 30 September 2012 16:32, Ian Brown <ianbrown6796@...> wrote:
                     

                    Hey all,

                    seems to me there is a lot of neigh-saying going on re: whether or not GosJesWife was written in the 4th or 20th century. Also seems to me this "debate" has been rather one sided with very little critique of the neigh-saying position to be found (or reported). Well I thought I would provide a little push-back in the form of a very nice critique of Watson's thesis by Timo S. Pannanen (finder's credit to Bill Arnal). Pannanen has written a short (5 pages) response to Watson, arguing that his methods for identifying GosJesWife as a modern forgery are fundamentally flawed. He concludes

                    "Watson’s method, in which he hunts out parallel words from a large text mass, cannot tell the difference between authentic and fake passages, and has no bearing on the question of authenticity of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. Once the question of authenticity is settled for (modern) forgery, however, it can be used to shed light on the composition procedure of the text."

                    The entire paper can be found here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2012/09/timo-s-paananen-on-methods-of-forgery-detection-and-the-gospel-of-jesus-wife.html

                    Also, as an aside, two predictions: ink analysis will NOT show that the ink in GosJesWife contains modern chemicals. And in spite of this, neigh-sayers as to GosJesWife's date will continue neigh-saying. It just seems to me the reasons for declaring GosJesWife a modern forgery are too politically and religiously loaded. But maybe I'm too pessimistic.

                    Ian Brown




                    --
                    Mark Goodacre           
                    Duke University
                    Department of Religion
                    Gray Building / Box 90964
                    Durham, NC 27708-0964    USA
                    Phone: 919-660-3503        Fax: 919-660-3530

                    http://www.markgoodacre.org


                  • Mike Grondin
                    Response to Wieland and more for David: Wieland: As to the ink test, I have to apologize for bad wording. I was trying to say what you did, but it didn t come
                    Message 9 of 22 , Sep 30, 2012
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                      Response to Wieland and more for David:
                       
                      Wieland: As to the ink test, I have to apologize for bad wording.
                      I was trying to say what you did, but it didn't come out right.
                      As to Fecht, he died in 2006, according to King's paper.
                       
                      David: A possibility occurred to me after sending off my note.
                      If the GJW fragment is from a dialogue in which Jesus is talking
                      to the disciples about his childhood, then the expected frequency
                      of 'my mother' would be substantially greater than its actual
                      frequency in the NHC or NT. This is small consolation, though,
                      since the possibility seems remote. Furthermore (if I may add
                      another oddity), it seems odd that the scribe's lettering would
                      change so dramatically from one side of a leaf to the other.
                      Not only are the letters somewhat taller, but the space between
                      lines is larger. King says that the writing has been judged to be
                      from the same hand, and if that's so, it rules out multiple scribes,
                      but the recto has 8 lines, while the verso has only room for 7.
                      Why did the scribe decide to space his lines differently on
                      the two sides of the fragment? (I don't think this can have been
                      due to the varying direction of fibres on the two sides, as I
                      can find no evidence of that in the NHC facsimiles.)
                       
                      Mike Grondin
                    • Bob Schacht
                      ... Take a look at P46, in which the scribe ran out of room, and realized that he was going to run out of room several pages before the end, which he dealt
                      Message 10 of 22 , Sep 30, 2012
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                        At 10:09 PM 9/30/2012, Mike Grondin wrote:
                        ...Why did the scribe decide to space his lines differently on
                        the two sides of the fragment...

                        Take a look at P46, in which the scribe
                        ran out of room, and realized that he was going to run out of room several pages before the end, which he dealt with by decreasing the size of the letters, narrowing the margins, squeezing more lines on each page, etc. Writing size is tailored to the amount of space available. So, the obvious indication is that the scribe needed to get more on the page where the line spacing is tighter.

                        Bob Schacht
                        Northern Arizona University

                        PS In case it didn't survive transmission through cyberspace, the words "Scribe ran out of room" were written above with increasingly smaller type.
                      • Mike Grondin
                        Hi Ian, Many thanks for your link to McGrath s blog entry on Pannanen s critique of Watson. I had been intending to reference both that and Michael Peppard s
                        Message 11 of 22 , Oct 1, 2012
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                          Hi Ian,
                           
                          Many thanks for your link to McGrath's blog entry on Pannanen's critique of
                          Watson. I had been intending to reference both that and Michael Peppard's
                          critique, because I think we should listen to both sides, but never got around
                          to it. (Peppard's critique is linked to in McGrath's expression of concern about
                          Watson's method on Sept 26th:)
                           
                           
                          I read both Peppard's and Pannanen's critique, thinking at the time that the
                          latter was much stronger than the former. I wasn't able to judge Pannanen's
                          argument properly, though, since I couldn't understand the Greek without
                          further research, and I never got to that. I did notice that he tied a single
                          letter at the end of his fragment to a certain text, and that seemed rather in
                          the nature of parody, as Mark suggests. Since then, I've become less entranced
                          with Pannanen's view, for two reasons: (1) Watson has since revised his paper
                          to incorporate Andrew Bernhard's results, thereby mooting Pannanen's major
                          objection that Watson had linked the fragment to several different texts (or in
                          one case, none), and (2) in the interchange between Pannanen and Ulrich
                          Schmidt in the comments attached to the McGrath blog-entry you supplied,
                          Schmidt seemed to have the best of it, as Pannanen admits:
                           
                          "Ulrich Schmid is absolutely right in claiming that the "real"
                          (i.e. "palaeographically sound") context for this fragment is Jh 5.46.
                          But that has nothing to do with my argument here."
                           
                          To which I would respond that it has very much to do with Pannanen's argument,
                          in that he presented his "analysis" of the Koln fragment as a counter-example
                          to Watson's kind of analysis. It could only be a counter-example, however,
                          if the main contents of the Koln fragment didn't in fact come from Jh 5.46.
                          Furthermore, Watson claims certainty only about derivation, which is exactly
                          the case with the majority of the Koln fragment as I understand it.
                           
                          A couple other comments:
                          1. It's not 'neigh-saying', it's 'nay-saying'. Or was that perhaps a tongue-in-cheek
                          variation on Watson's term? At any rate, it's probably an implicit admission
                          of the way things are going so far that Watson uses the polarizing term
                          'nay-sayers', while the 'nay-sayers' (who actually don't strike me for the
                          most part as rigid adherents of that position) aren't similarly driven to
                          use the term 'yea-sayers'.
                           
                          2. I think it's unfortunate, though perhaps unavoidable, that disagreements
                          about the Secret Gospel of Mark are being brought into the picture.
                          It's probably well-known that Watson argued against the authenticity
                          of that text (as did Stephen Carlson), but I don't think that anyone should
                          use their position on SGM to confirm their position on GJW, or vice-versa.
                          IMO, this just invites the polarization involved in the SGM debate to carry
                          over unchanged into discussions of GJW.
                           
                          Mike Grondin
                        • Mike Grondin
                          Hi Bob, The same thing happened in NH Codex II, wherein the scribe realized that he wouldn t have enough room for the last tractate, so the writing became very
                          Message 12 of 22 , Oct 1, 2012
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                            Hi Bob,
                             
                            The same thing happened in NH Codex II, wherein the scribe realized that
                            he wouldn't have enough room for the last tractate, so the writing became
                            very cramped, with more lines per page. In fact, the density of lettering on
                            the recto of GJW is very similar to that of NHC II,7 (contrary to my state-
                            ment early on that the writing didn't look cramped). But that would imply,
                            would it not, that the verso of the GJW fragment was inscribed before the
                            recto? And that in turn raises the question of whether there was a usual
                            practice, and, if so, what that was, and what might happen to disrupt it?
                             
                            Oh, BTW, you and others will no doubt notice (and be dismayed) that
                            my last note to the list suffered the problem of varying fonts which
                            couldn't be corrected. Don't know why, but when I paste something
                            into a note, my emailer (Outlook Express) not only picks up the pasted font
                            thereafter, but allows only partial (and unexpected) changes to it. The only
                            fix I can think of is to do the pasting only after I've put some verbiage on
                            either side of where it's going to go. (Anybody have another solution,
                            contact offlist.)
                             
                            Mike
                          • Bob Schacht
                            ... It is hard to say, either way, unless it can be established that one side is a continuation of the text on the other side. But either way, it would depend
                            Message 13 of 22 , Oct 1, 2012
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                              At 12:37 AM 10/1/2012, Mike Grondin wrote:
                              ...But that would imply,
                              would it not, that the verso of the GJW fragment was inscribed before the
                              recto? And that in turn raises the question of whether there was a usual
                              practice, and, if so, what that was, and what might happen to disrupt it?

                              It is hard to say, either way, unless it can be established that one side is a continuation of the text on the other side. But either way, it would depend on how much space the scribe needs to write (or copy) the words he needs to fit into the space. Normally, I suppose, the amply-spaced side would come first. requiring a more cramped spacing on the other side to complete the text in hand. This assumes bad planning. But suppose on the other hand excellent planning of a multi-page document, so that the scribe gets down to the last page and discovers that he has more space than he needs?

                              WRT "usual practice," that would imply a body of work from which one might calculate the "normal" number of lines per page, and the "normal" number of letters per line. I could see this vary according to many different considerations, rendering it difficult to establish what "normal" means. In the case of P46 and NHC II,7, there is enough additional text to determine what is "normal", for that manuscript. But we don't  have that for GJW, unless by reference to your collated copy of GTh  :-)

                              Bob Schacht
                              Northern Arizona University



                            • Mike Grondin
                              Bob, I ve learned a few things that may clarify some of the questions raised in our latest discussion, although in the end it seems that no further progress
                              Message 14 of 22 , Oct 2, 2012
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                                Bob,
                                I've learned a few things that may clarify some of the questions raised in
                                our latest discussion, although in the end it seems that no further progress
                                can be made in answering those questions (I'll say why below). With respect
                                to 'recto' and 'verso', I have to start by admitting that I had a wrong idea of
                                what those terms meant. I thought it had to do with the direction of the fibers
                                on papyrus, but no - except perhaps in special cases like the GJW fragment.
                                 
                                As you and others probably know quite well, in an open book (or codex), the
                                recto is simply the page (not leaf) on the right, the verso the page on the left.
                                How, then, could it have been determined that the recto of the GJW fragment
                                was the side with the most visible writing and the horizontal fibres, while the
                                other side was the verso? I suspect that there must be a scholarly convention
                                for orphan fragments, and that that convention, whatever it is, must have been
                                used for the GJW fragment. The reason I say this is that it isn't possible to
                                determine recto/verso in a papyrus fragment by direction of fibres alone, in
                                spite of the fact that it may at first seem so from what James Robinson wrote 
                                in the Preface (p.xv) to the Facsimile Edition of Codex II:
                                 
                                > In the usual construction of a quire, the sheets lie with horizontal
                                fibres
                                > facing upward and folding inward.
                                 
                                Here's the problem: Even if nothing happens to disrupt this orderly arrangement
                                of the pile of blank papyrus sheets (and something did in Codex II, BTW), the
                                situation will be this:
                                 
                                1. In the first half of a quire, recto = vertical fibres, verso = horizontal, but
                                2. in the second half of the quire, recto = horizontal fibres, verso = vertical.
                                 
                                Anyone doubting this should do or imagine the following: Take a few sheets
                                of typing paper, place them in a pile long-side vertical, label the front side of
                                each sheet "HF" (for 'horizontal fibres'), then fold the pile of sheets in half
                                vertically (to form a "quire"). You'll see that in the very middle of the quire,
                                both verso and recto sides are "HF", resulting in the above reversal.
                                 
                                It follows, then, that even if every scribe followed exactly the same
                                practice in handling papyrus sheets, we still wouldn't be able to determine
                                recto/verso from the papyrus fibres alone, because we wouldn't know
                                whether an orphan fragment was from the first half of a book (assuming
                                it was from a codex) or the second half. Whether the best side of the
                                GJW fragment was called the 'recto' because it has horizontal fibres,
                                or because it's the best side, I don't know, but it must have been due
                                to some convention or other.
                                 
                                With respect to the question of which side was inscribed first, my examination
                                of those facsimiles of the NH codices that I have doesn't show a pattern
                                of increasing letter-sizes and/or decreasing lines per inch when there's space
                                left on the last page. Sometimes an end-prayer or some such is added, other
                                times the space is just left blank. Admittedly, the sample is small, since I don't
                                have all the facsimiles, and the last page is missing or obscured in some, but 
                                from what I can tell, the more probable direction (when there is one) is from
                                looser to tighter lettering and spacing, rather than vice-versa.
                                 
                                Mike
                              • E Bruce Brooks
                                To: GThos In Response To: Mike Grondin On: Recto and Verso From: Bruce Mike: , in an open book (or codex), the recto is simply the page (not leaf) on the
                                Message 15 of 22 , Oct 2, 2012
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                                  To: GThos

                                  In Response To: Mike Grondin

                                  On: Recto and Verso

                                  From: Bruce

                                   

                                  Mike: , in an open book (or codex), the recto is simply the page (not leaf) on the right, the verso the page on the left.

                                   

                                  Bruce: That works out, but isn’t the sense rather recto = front, verso = back, even in a bit of papyrus that was never bound? Then the recto would be the first side written, and the verso would be the second. Text would be assumed to be continuous from recto to verso.

                                   

                                  E Bruce Brooks
                                  University of Massachusetts at Amherst

                                   

                                • Mike Grondin
                                  ... Assuming that the relevant meaning of the Latin words rectus and versus was right and turned (or opposing , but not left ), I suppose that the OAD
                                  Message 16 of 22 , Oct 3, 2012
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                                    > Bruce: That works out, but isn’t the sense rather recto = front,
                                    > verso = back, even in a bit of papyrus that was never
                                    bound?
                                    > Then the recto would be the first side written, and the
                                    verso
                                    > would be the second. Text would be assumed to be continuous
                                    > from recto to verso.
                                     
                                    Assuming that the relevant meaning of the Latin words rectus
                                    and versus was 'right' and 'turned' (or 'opposing', but not 'left'),
                                    I suppose that the OAD definition could be improved by saying
                                    that the recto is the page on the right (in an open book), while the
                                    verso is the back of that (i.e., the opposite side of the leaf, or the
                                    next thing you come to when you "turn the page"). I agree that
                                    the equivalent formulation 'front/back' is better, though, because
                                    it has the virtue of being easier to remember, and is applicable also
                                    to non-book-related fragments, as you say. The GJW fragment is
                                    a case, however, where both sides are inscribed, but we can't tell
                                    which side was the "front" (assuming authenticity, of course). So
                                    I figure that the powers that be must have followed some special
                                    rule for cases like this, say "best side = front = recto"?
                                     
                                    Mike
                                  • David Inglis
                                    Here s something I wrote here https://sites.google.com/site/inglisonmarcion/Home/what-did-p46-originally-contain re. P46: The extant portion of P46 is in the
                                    Message 17 of 22 , Oct 3, 2012
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                                      Here’s something I wrote here https://sites.google.com/site/inglisonmarcion/Home/what-did-p46-originally-contain  re. P46:

                                       

                                      “The extant portion of P46 is in the form of a single quire, i.e. it was created by laying sheets of papyrus on top of each other and then folding them in the middle, much like a modern magazine. The outer (verso) sides of the sheets have vertical fibers, and the inner (recto) sides have horizontal ones. The text also flows as in a magazine, from verso to recto, until at the center (which consists of two recto pages from the same sheet of papyrus) it switches to flowing from recto to verso. The edges of the leaves were trimmed so that they were aligned, thus making the inner leaves smaller than the outer ones.”

                                       

                                      So, as I understand it, recto and verso have nothing to do with left and right.

                                       

                                      David Inglis, Lafayette, CA, 94549, USA

                                    • Mike Grondin
                                      ... Well, I think you ll find that the dictionary definitions of recto and verso indicate otherwise. This, for example, from the AHD: recto: The
                                      Message 18 of 22 , Oct 3, 2012
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                                        [from David Inglis]:
                                        > ... as I understand it, recto and verso have
                                        nothing to do with left and right.
                                         
                                        Well, I think you'll find that the dictionary definitions of 'recto' and
                                        'verso' indicate otherwise. This, for example, from the AHD:
                                         
                                        recto: "The right-hand page of a book or front side of a leaf ...
                                        [Latin recto ... ablative of rectus, right, straight.]"
                                         
                                        verso: "The left-hand page of a book or the reverse side of a leaf ...
                                        [Latin verso ... ablative of versus, turned.]"
                                         
                                        'Inner/outer' will do as well if we understand 'inner' as 'facing the
                                        middle' and if we're talking about a fragment from a book.
                                         
                                        Mike G.
                                      • Bob Schacht
                                        At 11:41 PM 10/2/2012, Mike Grondin wrote: [snip] ... and then he wrote ... Your middle paragraph above is the best. However, I suspect that other
                                        Message 19 of 22 , Oct 3, 2012
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                                          At 11:41 PM 10/2/2012, Mike Grondin wrote:



                                          [snip]

                                          ...Anyone doubting this should do or imagine the following: Take a few sheets
                                          of typing paper, place them in a pile long-side vertical, label the front side of
                                          each sheet "HF" (for 'horizontal fibres'), then fold the pile of sheets in half
                                          vertically (to form a "quire"). You'll see that in the very middle of the quire,
                                          both verso and recto sides are "HF", resulting in the above reversal.
                                           
                                          It follows, then, that even if every scribe followed exactly the same
                                          practice in handling papyrus sheets, we still wouldn't be able to determine
                                          recto/verso from the papyrus fibres alone, because we wouldn't know
                                          whether an orphan fragment was from the first half of a book (assuming
                                          it was from a codex) or the second half. ...

                                          and then he wrote

                                          recto: "The right-hand page of a book or front side of a leaf ...
                                          [Latin recto ... ablative of rectus, right, straight.]"
                                          verso: "The left-hand page of a book or the reverse side of a leaf ...
                                          [Latin verso ... ablative of versus, turned.]"

                                          Your middle paragraph above is the best. However, I suspect that other considerations may be involved.

                                          I've always thought of recto/verso simply as front/back but, as you point out, if all you have is a fragment, you don't really know which is which. I suspect that the matter is settled by the first publisher of the fragment. If s/he calls one side recto and the other verso, then that's the way it gets cited in the literature, even if it is "wrong."

                                          BTW, this is all ethnocentric, isn't it? Consider what would be "recto" or "verso" in a book written in Chinese.

                                          Bob Schacht
                                          Northern Arizona University
                                        • Mike Grondin
                                          ... I should have mulled this over longer before posting a response. It now appears to me that the above is wrong with respect to recto/verso. Those terms
                                          Message 20 of 22 , Oct 3, 2012
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                                            [from David Inglis]:
                                            > “The extant portion of P46 is in the form
                                            of a single quire, i.e. it was created
                                            > by laying sheets of papyrus on top of each other
                                            and then folding them in the
                                            > middle, much like a modern magazine. The outer
                                            (verso) sides of the sheets
                                            > have vertical fibers, and the inner (recto)
                                            sides have horizontal ones. The text
                                            > also flows as in a magazine, from verso to
                                            recto, until at the center (which
                                            > consists of two recto pages from the same sheet
                                            of papyrus) it switches to
                                            > flowing from recto to verso."
                                             
                                            I should have mulled this over longer before posting a response. It now
                                            appears to me that the above is wrong with respect to recto/verso. Those
                                            terms don't apply to sheets, but to the two leaves of a sheet after it's been
                                            folded in half. At the center of a magazine (which is a great example, BTW),
                                            you don't have two recto pages, but verso and recto, just like at any other
                                            location to which the magazine is opened. Thus, as I said earlier, and contra
                                            the above, verso/recto aren't related to the direction of fibres (in papyrus).
                                             
                                            Mike
                                             
                                          • David
                                            Mike, I m still not happy with this recto-verso thing. I think it s clear (to me anyway) that in the case of single papyrus sheets, the recto is the front
                                            Message 21 of 22 , Oct 3, 2012
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                                              Mike, I'm still not happy with this recto-verso thing. I think it's clear (to me anyway) that in the case of single papyrus sheets, the recto is the 'front' and the verso is the 'back,' as defined by the direction of the fibres, and there is no issue of left or right. The question then is whether this definition carries over to sheets that are folded in half. I strongly suspect that, at least in papyrus codices (where there was still a physical difference between the two sides of a sheet) it did.

                                              Here I enlist the help of Comfort & Barrett, who on pp 270-271 of 'The Text of the Earliest Greek Manuscripts' (2001 edition) give the text of "leaf 52 recto" of P46, immediately followed by "leaf 53 recto" (this is the middle of the codex). How and when the meaning changed, I don't know, but I suspect the publishing industry had something to do with it. Note that the definition of recto and verso currently depends on whether the text is read from left to right, or from right to left. Also, I believe that in single printed sheets it STILL refers to front and back.

                                              David Inglis, Lafayette, CA, 94549, USA

                                              --- In gthomas@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Grondin" <mwgrondin@...> wrote:
                                              >
                                              > [from David Inglis]:
                                              > > "The extant portion of P46 is in the form of a single quire, i.e. it was created
                                              > > by laying sheets of papyrus on top of each other and then folding them in the
                                              > > middle, much like a modern magazine. The outer (verso) sides of the sheets
                                              > > have vertical fibers, and the inner (recto) sides have horizontal ones. The text
                                              > > also flows as in a magazine, from verso to recto, until at the center (which
                                              > > consists of two recto pages from the same sheet of papyrus) it switches to
                                              > > flowing from recto to verso."
                                              >
                                              > I should have mulled this over longer before posting a response. It now
                                              > appears to me that the above is wrong with respect to recto/verso. Those
                                              > terms don't apply to sheets, but to the two leaves of a sheet after it's been
                                              > folded in half. At the center of a magazine (which is a great example, BTW),
                                              > you don't have two recto pages, but verso and recto, just like at any other
                                              > location to which the magazine is opened. Thus, as I said earlier, and contra
                                              > the above, verso/recto aren't related to the direction of fibres (in papyrus).
                                              >
                                              > Mike
                                              >
                                            • Mike Grondin
                                              ... Me either, David, but I think I see a way through the confusion. Based on a couple things I ve read this afternoon, it now seems to me that papyrologists
                                              Message 22 of 22 , Oct 3, 2012
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                                                > Mike, I'm still not happy with this recto-verso thing.
                                                 
                                                Me either, David, but I think I see a way through the confusion.
                                                Based on a couple things I've read this afternoon, it now seems to me
                                                that papyrologists have a special meaning for these terms that doesn't
                                                carry over into - indeed contradicts in some situations - the use of the
                                                same terms in, say, printing or codicology in general. First, from the
                                                University of Michigan Papyrus Glossary:
                                                 
                                                > The term recto denotes the 'front' side of a papyrus.
                                                Generally, recto
                                                > refers to the side of a papyrus roll which would be written on first, where
                                                > the papyrus fibers ran horizontally, parallel to the
                                                writing. This can also be
                                                > thought of as the side of the papyrus that would be inside
                                                when rolled up.
                                                 
                                                Then from Larry Hurtado, The Earliest Christian Artifacts, p.44, fn.4:
                                                 
                                                > In many cases, what survives is as little as a single piece of
                                                writing
                                                > material. But papyrologists can often judge whether it is a
                                                portion of
                                                > a larger manuscript ... If the writing on one side appears to be
                                                part
                                                > of the same text as that on the other side, we probably have a
                                                leaf
                                                > from a codex. If there is writing only on the "recto" (the side
                                                with
                                                > the papyrus fibres running horizontally), then it is likely
                                                part of a roll.
                                                 
                                                So, yes, papyrologists evidently use the terms with respect to both sheets
                                                and leaves, and the (horizontal) direction of fibres on the best side of the
                                                GJW fragment is evidently why it was called the 'recto'. One can't, as I did,
                                                appeal to dictionary definitions of 'recto/verso', since they're apparently
                                                not only inapplicable to papyrology, but actually contradict its judgements
                                                upon occasion. (Ex: what we might intuitively think of as the "front side" - 
                                                hence the recto - of a papyrus leaf may have vertical fibration, hence would
                                                be verso to the papyrologist. That's because they think in terms of the
                                                "front side" of papyrus in general, not of individual leaves in a codex.
                                                So they take a couple of perfectly good words and turn 'em inside out, eh?)
                                                 
                                                Mike Grondin
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