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Re: [GTh] Recto and verso

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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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