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FW: Coptic MSS and Greek fonts

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  • David C. Hindley
    Jim Bauer, Here is another fine response to my query about the Bruce Codex, forwarded with permission. I am still unclear, though, how the Egyptian Sahadic
    Message 1 of 12 , Jul 3, 2002
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      Jim Bauer,

      Here is another fine response to my query about the Bruce
      Codex, forwarded with permission.

      I am still unclear, though, how the Egyptian Sahadic dialect
      could be represented in Greek letters, considering all the
      sounds that are not available in the Greek alphabet.
      Wouldn't these really be Coptic letters, and not "Greek"?

      If it was the Egyptian Sahidic dialect represented by Greek
      letters, and not "Coptic" letters, would this tend to
      suggest that the Bruce Codex predates the NH texts, which
      were almost all written in Coptic letters? What do we know
      about the relative development or adaptation of fonts used
      to represent the Egyptian Sahadic dialect?

      Mike, what does Mcdermot have to say?

      Respectfully,

      Dave Hindley
      Cleveland, Ohio, USA

      -----Original Message-----
      From: risa3@... [mailto:risa3@...]
      Sent: Wednesday, July 03, 2002 1:57 PM
      To: dhindley@...
      Subject: Re: Coptic MSS and Greek fonts


      Hi, Dave,

      Down to business.

      >On another list the topic of the Bruce Codex came up,
      and we
      >determined that detailed descriptions of the contents
      were a
      >bit sketchy and somewhat contradictory.
      >Would you be in a position to help us clear a few
      matters
      >up?

      Yes. Although I have not seen the Bruce Codex, I can answer
      your questions.

      >What is the modern term for this "Upper Egyptian
      dialect?"

      Sahidic Coptic is a dead language, as are the majority of
      the other
      early Coptic dialects. What is used in the Coptic liturgy to
      this day
      is Boharic. Boharic replaced Sahidic for religious texts
      very early,
      by no later than the last quarter of the 5th to the first
      quarter of
      the 6th. If both MSS in the Bruce Codex are in Sahidic, then
      that
      places the two MSS to the 5th century.

      >The Bruce Codex contains two or more distinct papyrus
      MSS
      >bound together with a certain number of the 78 leaves
      being
      >out of correct order. G. R. S. Mead (_Fragments of a
      Faith
      >Forgotten_, University Books, 1960 reprint of either the
      >1901, 1906, or 1931 edition - it doesn't say) says it
      >(presumably meaning both MSS) was written in the
      "dialect of
      >Upper Egypt" using Greek cursive letters. The Untitled
      MSS,
      >however, was written on better papyrus and had finer
      >handwriting.

      >On the other hand Violet Macdermot (_The Books of Jeu
      and
      >the Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex_, Brill, 1978) says
      >that the Untitled MSS was written using Greek uncial
      letters
      >and the other MSS (commonly called the Books of Ieu or
      Ieou)
      >was in cursive.

      From these descriptions, the titled MS is the earlier one;
      the other on
      "better papyrus" with a "finer handwriting" is the later.
      Why? Because
      we have one serious problem with evaluating Coptic MSS...

      From the evidence of other Sahidic MSS, both on parchment
      and on papyrus,
      the Copts, being an underclass and held down by the policy
      of selective
      literacy operating under, in turn, the ruling Egyptian
      houses of the Delta
      region, then the Ptolemaic Greeks, and then the Romans,
      wrote their earliest
      works from observation not from training. In other words,
      the Coptic Christ-
      ians were forced to re-invent the wheel; they learned to
      transfer their words
      from the oral to the written -- learning how to write, read,
      to layout pages,
      and to make books, etc. -- by experiment.

      While it is not the point you are looking for, the heroic
      effort made by
      these people to become literate is patent. Sahidic has no
      case endings;
      no neuter gender, and uses only the active voice (no
      passives, no aorists,
      no imperfects.) They did learn: Boharic does have these
      missing features.

      What is germane for you is this: the earlier the MS, the
      more "amateur"
      the work. This also means that while the distinction between
      cursives
      and Uncial are obvious, what is meant by "Uncial" or
      "Semi-cursive" or
      even "cursive" is a bit trickier when dealing with people
      who are learning
      from scratch. As they did not know the hierarchies of fonts,
      much will depend
      upon the knowledge or lack of knowledge on the part of the
      scribe as well
      as the time frame.

      >I am wondering if Mead was being too general with his
      description
      >(in saying both MSS were "cursive") or Macdermot was
      being
      >more discriminating in classifying the Untitled MSS as
      >"uncial" and the other as "cursive". Are there degrees
      of
      >"cursiveness" and where does one draw the line?

      Yes, there are degress of "cursiveness." Mead is being too
      general and
      McDermott definitely was more discriminating, but
      nevertheless wrong in
      claiming the font as "Uncial."

      First of all, "uncial" is applicable *only* to formal Greek
      Biblical
      fonts; it does not apply to other Greek book fonts... and
      there are
      plenty of the latter. In fact, there are different grades of
      book fonts
      that depend upon the quality of the book one is willing to
      pay for. There
      are ranges of book fonts for first class books and ditto
      second class;
      cursives are used only in third class books.

      Which class of book font did the writers of the two MSS get
      their hands
      on? Remember, it was difficult for the Copts to get their
      hands on books.
      Further the peoples of the upper nile who could afford
      books, were unlikely
      to order First Class books.

      Even without seeing the MSS, we can safely say that the
      writer of the
      titled MS had a cursive model. The confusion displayed by
      McDermott and
      Mead tells us that we are looking at a second class
      "semi-cursive" book
      font used as a model for the later, more "professional"
      untitled MS.

      >Also, I want to know what exactly is meant by "Greek
      >cursive" or "semi-cursive" as a font for Greek letters.
      How
      >does it differ from "proper" uncial letters and with
      >miniscule letters?

      There are major differences among them. Uncials are all
      majuscule and
      very formal fonts that incorporate many pen-lifts (e.g.,
      when you pick
      up your pen to go back and cross a 't', you have lifted your
      pen) into
      the design. Pen-lifts are intended to slow the scribes down
      to protect
      the written words. Uncials are static and have bi-linear
      writing limits;
      they fill the space between the writing limits. (As Eric
      Turner puts it,
      "essentially bi-linear" -- there are some graphs, e.f. Beta,
      Upsilon, that
      extend above or below the writing limits.) The earliest
      Uncials are written
      in "breathings," i.e., the number of words that can be said
      in one breath,
      what is erroneously referred to as being written "scriptum
      continuum."
      Uncials are handwritten, but are not "handwriting,"

      Cursives, by definition, are "handwriting." There are many,
      many different
      cursives out there and which is used depends upon whether
      the text is, for
      instance, an archival copy (chancery hands), an informal
      letter between
      friends, a formal handwritten letter from a wife to a
      husband or vice versa,
      the everyday "business" cursive used in Alexandria, etc.
      Which cursive someone
      wrote for informal use depended upon where he or she learned
      to write. Ditto
      which cursive was used for a third class book.

      The earliest Greek cursives used trilinear limits, where
      "the letters seem
      to be hung from an invisible top line." (Sound familiar??
      <G>) By the time
      these two MSS were written, cursives use quattrolinear
      limits (this English
      text uses quattrolinear limits). Cursives are minuscule,
      that is, all lower
      case. They are written by semantic units (words), not
      breathings.. and meant
      for rapid writing, use very few pen-lifts.

      First class book fonts follow the strictures on "Uncials,"
      but are neither
      as formal nor as large, nor as "heavy." Second class book
      fonts incorporate
      cursive features such as writing by semantic unit, minuscule
      forms, and
      fewer pen-lifts.

      Are there images available online?

      Yes, there are. If for a quick start you wish to compare two
      Uncials, I have
      just that in the on-line lecture for Davila's
      pseudepigraphic course.
      http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~www_sd/Altman_html (I wouldn't
      remember the
      address, but I had to list it in a bib which just happens to
      be sitting in
      my message file...)

      I know there are other MSS on-line, but I'll have to look
      them up.
      Still, I think the best bet would be to get a copy of
      Metzger or Turner
      and familiarize yourself with the different types of fonts.

      >Thanks!
      You are very welcome,

      Rochelle

      PS: "Rochelle" is just fine... in fact, the only reason I
      include "Dr." in
      my sig is because of an obnoxious soul who kept "Ms-ing"
      me... (someone
      else pulled this on another list and was roundly and
      publicly trounced by
      a Phd list member... someone whom I don't even know.)
      --
      Dr. R.I.S. Altman, co-coordinator, IOUDAIOS-L
      risa3@...
    • David C. Hindley
      Dang! My apologies to Prof. Altman. I had indicated to her that I would remove the PS about how to address her, but omitted to omit it.
      Message 2 of 12 , Jul 3, 2002
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        Dang!

        My apologies to Prof. Altman.

        I had indicated to her that I would remove the PS about how
        to address her, but omitted to omit it. <Would that be
        called an "omitaomitograph"?>

        (<sigh> I ... must ... have ... more ... coffeeeeee ....
        zzzzzzz)

        Respectfully,

        Dave Hindley
        Cleveland, Ohio, USA
      • Grondin
        ... This question confuses me, Dave. Of course no Coptic dialect could be represented by the Greek alphabet _alone_. So if by Coptic letters you mean the
        Message 3 of 12 , Jul 6, 2002
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          Dave Hindley wrote:
          > I am still unclear, though, how the Egyptian Sahadic dialect
          > could be represented in Greek letters, considering all the
          > sounds that are not available in the Greek alphabet.
          > Wouldn't these really be Coptic letters, and not "Greek"?

          This question confuses me, Dave. Of course no Coptic dialect could be
          represented by the Greek alphabet _alone_. So if by "Coptic letters" you
          mean the normal Coptic alphabet - comprised of the entire Greek alphabet,
          plus a half-dozen strictly Coptic letters, then, yes, every Coptic text of
          any dialect was written using that alphabet.

          > If it was the Egyptian Sahidic dialect represented by Greek
          > letters, and not "Coptic" letters, would this tend to
          > suggest that the Bruce Codex predates the NH texts, which
          > were almost all written in Coptic letters? What do we know
          > about the relative development or adaptation of fonts used
          > to represent the Egyptian Sahadic dialect?

          From Dr. Altman's reply to you, it seems that a lot of work has been done in
          this area. Unfortunately, I haven't done any reading in that area. The one
          thing that struck me, however, is that I've been using 'uncial' where the
          correct word is evidently 'majuscule' (capitals), and 'cursive' where the
          correct word is evidently 'minuscule'. As I now understand it, "uncial" is a
          type of majuscule and "cursive" is a type of minuscule. Based on what Altman
          wrote, Macdermot may have made the same mistake.

          > Mike, what does Mcdermot have to say?

          "Each of the two main texts is written in a different hand, and the two
          manuscripts bear no obvious relation to one another. The first [Books of
          Jeu] is written in a cursive hand on papyrus of a pale colour. The second
          [Untitled Text] is in an uncial script on a darker and more reddish
          papyrus." (Macdermott, p.xi)

          Nothing about dating, except that I assume that majuscules (without spacing)
          are considered earlier than minuscules (with spacing) - which would make
          _this copy of_ the Untitled Text earlier than _this copy of_ the Books of
          Jeu. However, the first Book of Jeu bears signs of having had a Christian
          introductory segment appended to it, so it may be a recopying (with a
          revisionist reframing) of a majuscule text in minuscule. So evidently we
          cannot consider the scribal style as determinative of the relative dating of
          the original exemplars of these texts.

          One other possible misunderstanding I'd like to again try to clear up - the
          two manuscripts were _not_ bound together in antiquity. Only after the loose
          leaves reached the museum were they "bound" together.

          "When acquired, the codex consisted of loose leaves, the original order of
          which had been lost." (p.x)

          As indicated earlier, I myself would put the word 'codex' in quotes, as the
          two manuscripts were most definitely not part of a single codex in
          antiquity. They do, however, seem intimately related in content.

          Regards,
          Mike Grondin
          The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying
          http://www.geocities.com/mwgrondin/sayings.htm
        • David C. Hindley
          Mike (Grondin), ... represented by the Greek alphabet _alone_. So if by Coptic letters you mean the normal Coptic alphabet - comprised of the entire Greek
          Message 4 of 12 , Jul 6, 2002
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            Mike (Grondin),

            >>This question confuses me, Dave. Of course no Coptic dialect could be
            represented by the Greek alphabet _alone_. So if by "Coptic letters" you
            mean the normal Coptic alphabet - comprised of the entire Greek alphabet,
            plus a half-dozen strictly Coptic letters, then, yes, every Coptic text of
            any dialect was written using that alphabet.<<

            Confused me too. There may be a certain degree of imprecision inherent in
            relying upon studies conducted in the earliest decades after the initial
            publication of the manuscripts. I have to agree, there is no way to
            represent Egyptian dialects with the Greek alphabet alone, unless perhaps
            they used non-standard combinations of Greek letters to represent some
            sounds and then wrote phonetically.

            Here is a link to images that were included in a translation of the 1st Book
            of Ieou:
            http://www.gnosis.org/library/1ieo.htm
            These certainly look like Coptic letters, but the style does not really
            appear to be "cursive" if that means they are drawn in a way that the
            letters connect to one another more often than not. There is also the
            possibility that the images are typeset and thus not exact representations
            of the letters as drawn.

            >>The one thing that struck me, however, is that I've been using 'uncial'
            where the correct word is evidently 'majuscule' (capitals), and 'cursive'
            where the correct word is evidently 'minuscule'. As I now understand it,
            "uncial" is a type of majuscule and "cursive" is a type of minuscule.<<

            Dr. Altman appears to be using the terms in their technical sense. Uncial is
            the common way to designate "capital" letters. "Miniscule" is also often
            used to mean the letter forms used in the lectionaries and other mss from
            the 9th century on, which were indeed "lower case". However, Metzger says
            that the miniscule letter forms (of the lectionaries, I assume) were
            adaptations of cursive forms of the uncial fonts (pages 9-13). Cursive forms
            of Uncial fonts are known from examples of everyday literature and papyri,
            and while no literary examples exist now there are some spelling
            abnormalities in some biblical mss that seem to require the existence of
            cursive mss of these books in antiquity (on pages 188-189 he cites
            authorities with regard to cursive forms of uncial letters, including some
            examples from the 1st century CE).

            Respectfully,

            Dave Hindley
            Cleveland, Ohio, USA
          • Grondin
            ... That is the case - and probably the source of the confusion. The online images you refer to are facsimiles of the Macdermot book - not of the original mss.
            Message 5 of 12 , Jul 6, 2002
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              > There is also the possibility that the images are typeset and thus
              > not exact representations of the letters as drawn.

              That is the case - and probably the source of the confusion. The online
              images you refer to are facsimiles of the Macdermot book - not of the
              original mss. The font in the Macdermot book is kind of a Germanic Coptic.

              [Mike]:
              > As I now understand it,
              > "uncial" is a type of majuscule and "cursive" is a type of minuscule.<<
              [Dave]:
              > Dr. Altman appears to be using the terms in their technical sense. Uncial
              is
              > the common way to designate "capital" letters.

              In other words, Dr. Altman is being overly-picky when she says:

              > ... "uncial" is applicable *only* to formal Greek Biblical fonts ...

              ... and other scholars simply don't follow this overly-specialized
              distinction? OK by me. So then Macdermot is evidently right (in the
              generally-accepted sense) to say that the Untitled Text is written in "an
              uncial script", whereas Altman is being a bit of an academic prig to deny
              that that is so?

              > "Miniscule" is also often
              > used to mean the letter forms used in the lectionaries and other mss from
              > the 9th century on, which were indeed "lower case".

              Well, wait a minute. Either 'minuscule' means roughly the same as "lower
              case" or it doesn't. You're confusing things by talking about specific
              referents of the word, rather than the meaning of the word. If I write in
              printed (i.e., non-cursive) "small letters", is my writing "minuscule" (not
              "miniscule") or not? BTW, some of the Nag Hammadi texts were written in
              minuscule, non-cursive characters, and they were pre-9th century, so your
              "from the 9th century on" seems wrong.

              > Cursive forms
              > of Uncial fonts are known from examples of everyday literature and papyri,
              > and while no literary examples exist now ...

              "known from examples", but "no ... examples exist now"? There must be a way
              to put this to avoid the contradiction. But anyway, we evidently have the
              same four-fold classification of writing styles in antiquity as today:
              non-cursive minuscule, NON-CURSIVE MAJUSCULE (evidently earliest), cursive
              minuscule (which I can't reproduce here), and cursive majuscule (as rare
              then as now). You agree?

              Regards,
              Mike Grondin
            • David C. Hindley
              ... case or it doesn t. You re confusing things by talking about specific referents of the word, rather than the meaning of the word. If I write in printed
              Message 6 of 12 , Jul 6, 2002
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                Mike Grondin says:

                >>Well, wait a minute. Either 'minuscule' means roughly the same as "lower
                case" or it doesn't. You're confusing things by talking about specific
                referents of the word, rather than the meaning of the word. If I write in
                printed (i.e., non-cursive) "small letters", is my writing "minuscule" (not
                "miniscule") or not? BTW, some of the Nag Hammadi texts were written in
                minuscule, non-cursive characters, and they were pre-9th century, so your
                "from the 9th century on" seems wrong.<<

                I'm not sure how I lost you. According to Metzger:
                "In antiquity two styles of *Greek* handwriting were in general use. The
                cursive or 'running' hand, which could be written rapidly, was employed for
                non-literary, everyday documents, such as letters, accounts, receipts,
                petitions, deeds, and the like. [...] Literary works, on the other hand,
                were written in a more formal style of handwriting, called uncials. This
                'book-hand' was characterized by more deliberate and carefully executed
                letters, each one separated from the others, somewhat like our capital
                letters. [...] In the course of time, however, the style of the book-hand
                began to deteriorate [...] Then about the beginning of the ninth century, a
                reform in handwriting was initiated, and a script of smaller letters in a
                running hand, called miniscules, was created for the production of books."

                "Uppercase" and "lowercase" are modern descriptions of letter types. It may
                well be that there were various sized *Greek* uncial scripts, and
                who-knows-what sizes and kinds of *Coptic* scripts in use. The terms
                "cursive" and "semi-cursive" also seem to mean different things to different
                scholars. Perhaps one of these terms is used from time to time to describe a
                small form of a Greek uncial letter.

                >>"known from examples", but "no ... examples exist now"? There must be a
                way to put this to avoid the contradiction. <<

                The cursive script is known from papyri documents like letters, deeds,
                receipts, and various business documents. Copies of scripture all make use
                of an uncial script. This is what I meant by known examples (of cursive
                script, all in business documents and personal letters) and no examples (of
                cursive scriptural manuscripts). Critics are apparently undecided about
                whether NT books were ever written in cursive script. There is a
                contradiction, true, but it is in the explanation offered by some as for why
                we do not have any surviving copies of a cursive NT manuscript. On page 188
                Metzger relates that "Wilkenhauser, following Roller, argues that it is
                unlikely that the original texts of the New Testament books were written in
                cursive script, because the rough surface of papyrus made it difficult to
                use that form of writing." Yet, papyrus was exactly the writing material in
                which we find most examples of cursive script!

                >>But anyway, we evidently have the same four-fold classification of writing
                styles in antiquity as today: non-cursive minuscule, NON-CURSIVE MAJUSCULE
                (evidently earliest), cursive minuscule (which I can't reproduce here), and
                cursive majuscule (as rare then as now). You agree?<<

                >>So then Macdermot is evidently right (in the generally-accepted sense) to
                say that the Untitled Text is written in "an uncial script", whereas Altman
                is being a bit of an academic prig to deny that that is so?<<

                I wouldn't say that at all. <g> I think we can say that there were formal
                and informal Greek scripts, and NT books were copied in the formal hand
                almost always. Non-NT documents may be written formally or informally. What
                Dr. Altman was saying, was that if the untitled mss was written in uncials,
                then she would place it later in time than the cursive mss. She reasoned
                that the native Egyptians were developing a means to write their spoken
                language, with virtually no help from the Greek speaking classes (they were,
                in fact, disenfranchised and cut off from any sort of proper Greek education
                sometime in the first half of the 1st century), and would naturally start
                with informal (cursive) hands and move on in time to formal (uncial) hands
                in imitation of the Greek elite. I don't think she said that the untitled
                mss was not a uncial. I do not think she really addressed my suggestion that
                it was a less formal uncial script, and this could have been called
                "cursive" by Schmidt but not Mcdermott. Schmidt, incidentally, is one of the
                authorities cited by Metzger on the subject of possible cursive mss of NT
                books (although indirectly as the evidence was that there may have been some
                cursive copies of the Lxx in circulation).

                Respectfully,

                Dave Hindley
                Cleveland, Ohio, USA
              • Grondin
                Dave- This discussion just keeps getting worse and worse as far as I m concerned. It doesn t help me to understand what you re saying that you don t answer my
                Message 7 of 12 , Jul 6, 2002
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                  Dave-
                  This discussion just keeps getting worse and worse as far as I'm concerned.
                  It doesn't help me to understand what you're saying that you don't answer my
                  questions directly. Among other things, I asked whether the categories
                  cursive versus non-cursive and majuscule versus minuscule were sufficient to
                  understand the subject ("uncials", for example, being defined as non-cursive
                  majuscules). Since you didn't answer that question, I'm going to plunge
                  ahead and try to parse the Metzger passage using that classification scheme:

                  > "In antiquity two styles of *Greek* handwriting were in general use. The
                  > cursive or 'running' hand, which could be written rapidly, was employed
                  for
                  > non-literary, everyday documents, such as letters, accounts, receipts,
                  > petitions, deeds, and the like.

                  Metzger says the this "everyday" lettering was cursive, but he doesn't say
                  whether it was majuscule or minuscule (i.e., lit., "large letters" or "small
                  letters"). However, given what he is going to say below, the implication
                  seems to be that they were majuscule. The problem, however, is that we
                  evidently have no existing examplars of a cursive majuscule script. So if
                  this is what he means, how is it that this "everyday" script has never been
                  found? One would think that an "everyday" script would be found all over the
                  place. But since the evidence for such a script is indirect, it may be that
                  the symbols involved were _not_ the same as the symbol-set for his next
                  category, the existence of which is indisputable:

                  > [...] Literary works, on the other hand,
                  > were written in a more formal style of handwriting, called uncials. This
                  > 'book-hand' was characterized by more deliberate and carefully executed
                  > letters, each one separated from the others, somewhat like our capital
                  > letters.

                  Here, he evidently equates "uncials" with non-cursive majuscules. That's OK
                  by me, cuz that was my original understanding.

                  > [...] In the course of time, however, the style of the book-hand
                  > began to deteriorate [...] Then about the beginning of the ninth century,
                  a
                  > reform in handwriting was initiated, and a script of smaller letters in a
                  > running hand, called miniscules, was created for the production of books."

                  Did he misspell 'minuscules' or did you miscopy? In any case, the above runs
                  contrary to the neat little classification scheme I've suggested, for in my
                  scheme - and in the dictionary definition of the word as well - "minuscule"
                  simply means "small letter". It does _not_ specify whether those letters are
                  joined (cursive style), or not. In other words, to my understanding,
                  minuscules can be either cursive or non-cursive. Now Metzger may be right,
                  but I can't see where in his account there's a place for a _non-cursive_
                  minuscule. Is that because there was no such thing up until modern times? So
                  of the four styles logically possible, Metzger admits to only three being
                  actually used - and to extant exemplars of only two of those three?

                  If I'm looking at this wrongly, I'd appreciate it if you would bend your
                  efforts to explaining why my suggested four-fold classification scheme is
                  inadequate. (BTW, I take back my assertion that some NH texts were in
                  minuscules - my recollection was faulty; I should have rechecked.)

                  Regards,
                  Mike Grondin
                • David C. Hindley
                  ... whether it was majuscule or minuscule (i.e., lit., large letters or small letters ). However, given what he is going to say below, the implication seems
                  Message 8 of 12 , Jul 7, 2002
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                    Mike Grondin says:

                    >>Metzger says the this "everyday" lettering was cursive, but he doesn't say
                    whether it was majuscule or minuscule (i.e., lit., "large letters" or "small
                    letters"). However, given what he is going to say below, the implication
                    seems to be that they were majuscule. The problem, however, is that we
                    evidently have no existing examplars of a cursive majuscule script. So if
                    this is what he means, how is it that this "everyday" script has never been
                    found? One would think that an "everyday" script would be found all over the
                    place. But since the evidence for such a script is indirect, it may be that
                    the symbols involved were _not_ the same as the symbol-set for his next
                    category, the existence of which is indisputable<<

                    You may be reading too much into what Metzger (and I) say. There ARE
                    examples of this everyday cursive script. I provided a link to an example in
                    two of my earlier massages. All the formal sources I have found to date use
                    the terms Uncial, Cursive (sometimes also semi-cursive) and Minuscule (and
                    yes, I seem to have misspelled it and then kept telling my spell checker to
                    accept the misspelling when it objected), almost always without
                    qualification. Rochelle added the information that Majuscule and Minuscule
                    refer to relative size of letters. She and Metzger also add that Uncial was
                    used as a formal book-hand, and Metzger says that cursive was popularly used
                    to quickly write common everyday documents.

                    Maybe change the table to:

                    Majuscule Minuscule
                    Formal common uncommon
                    Informal uncommon common

                    "Cursive" is apparently associated with both the Informal and Minuscule axis
                    of the chart, but the additional detail about whether they are majuscule or
                    minuscule letter forms is left out of discussions centering on NT mss. Maybe
                    this is because there are no surviving Formal Minuscules of NT books.

                    You had: Majuscule Minuscule
                    Non-cursive earliest
                    Cursive rare

                    My examination of images of common everyday papyri available on the web
                    tells me that most were in some form of uncial (distinct large letters) but
                    a sizable minority were true cursive, and many mixed uncial and cursive
                    styles.

                    Respectfully,

                    Dave Hindley
                    Cleveland, Ohio, USA
                  • David C. Hindley
                    Mike, ... that it is unlikely that the original texts of the New Testament books were written in cursive script, because the rough surface of papyrus made it
                    Message 9 of 12 , Jul 7, 2002
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                      Mike,

                      >>On page 188 Metzger relates that "Wilkenhauser, following Roller, argues
                      that it is unlikely that the original texts of the New Testament books were
                      written in cursive script, because the rough surface of papyrus made it
                      difficult to use that form of writing." Yet, papyrus was exactly the writing
                      material in which we find most examples of cursive script!<<

                      I think I figured out why Wilkenhauser and Roller say what they did. The
                      codex form used both the recto and verso sides of the papyrus sheet. One of
                      these being vertical in orientation, it would indeed be hard to write on
                      using a cursive script. If there were any cursive biblical mss, these would
                      likely to have been on a roll.

                      Presuming the current consensus is correct that Christians copied both the
                      Jewish scriptures and all their own preserved literature in codex format,
                      then only copies of the Lxx made by Jews would be in the roll format.
                      Incidentally, the evidence for possible existence of cursive forms of formal
                      texts comes from (probably Christian) copies of Jewish scripture.

                      Respectfully,

                      Dave Hindley
                      Cleveland, Ohio, USA
                    • Grondin
                      ... an ... http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/papyrus/images/150dpi/9-at150.gif? No info is given as to date or even language, so I m not sure whether this falls
                      Message 10 of 12 , Jul 7, 2002
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                        [Dave Hindley]:
                        > There ARE examples of this everyday cursive script. I provided a link to
                        an
                        > example in two of my earlier massages.

                        http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/papyrus/images/150dpi/9-at150.gif? No info
                        is given as to date or even language, so I'm not sure whether this falls
                        under Metzger's special use of the term 'cursive', which is pre-9th century.
                        (See more on "cursive" below.)

                        > All the formal sources I have found to date use
                        > the terms Uncial, Cursive (sometimes also semi-cursive) and Minuscule ...

                        Having now read the entirety of Metzger's classification scheme on pp. 8-12
                        of TNT, I think I can see where my confusion arises. He uses the word
                        'cursive' in both a technical and a generic way. What I mean is this:
                        generically, 'cursive' just means 'run together'. It doesn't specify whether
                        the run-together letters are capitals or small letters. Unfortunately,
                        Metzger doesn't capitalize 'cursive' when he uses it to designate the
                        pre-minuscule script. But note that when he introduces the 9th-century
                        minuscule style, he refers to it as "this modified form of the cursive
                        script"! In other words, it, too, is cursive in the generic sense - and yet
                        he reserves the word 'cursive' elsewhere for the informal, pre-9th century
                        script, thus creating confusion when we ourselves try to use that term. If
                        by 'cursive' we mean 'run together', then minuscule is cursive, but if we're
                        using 'Cursive' (in caps) to designate that pre-9th century informal script,
                        then minuscule is not "Cursive".

                        > Rochelle added the information that Majuscule and Minuscule
                        > refer to relative size of letters.

                        Well, not just that. Note that 'C' and 'c', 'O' and 'o', 'S' and 's', are
                        different sizes, but have the same form, whereas 'A' and 'a', 'B' and 'b',
                        etc, have different forms. So I would say that, in addition to being of
                        smaller size, a minuscule symbol-set differs in form from a majuscule
                        symbol-set, though they share some common symbols. In addition, however,
                        cursive writing (as opposed to "hand-printing") creates the need for a
                        certain kind of symbol-set, wherein the symbols can be easily joined. So, in
                        English, you have a cursive minuscule "font" and a separate non-cursive
                        minuscule "font". (As a side note, the introduction of a separate minuscule
                        letter-set made capitalization of words possible, though it was some time in
                        coming. Prior to that, the word 'the' was used to indicate capitalization,
                        as in names of people and countries - which led to ambiguity in some cases.)

                        > "Cursive" is apparently associated with both the Informal and Minuscule
                        axis
                        > of the chart ...

                        Which I think is due to using the word 'cursive' in two different ways -
                        both in a generic sense (as applied to Minuscule), and in a special,
                        technical sense (to designate "everyday", pre-Minuscule cursive writing).

                        >... but the additional detail about whether they are majuscule or
                        > minuscule letter forms is left out of discussions centering on NT mss.
                        Maybe
                        > this is because there are no surviving Formal Minuscules of NT books.

                        Not so. See Metzger p.61 ("Important Greek Minuscule Manuscripts of the New
                        Testament").

                        > My examination of images of common everyday papyri available on the web
                        > tells me that most were in some form of uncial (distinct large letters)
                        but
                        > a sizable minority were true cursive, and many mixed uncial and cursive
                        > styles.

                        Which confirms for me what I already suspected, namely that the distinction
                        between "formal" and "informal" isn't much help in delineating writing
                        styles. Pre-9th century, a well-educated person might use Uncial style for
                        his grocery list, while a poorly-educated person might use "Cursive" to
                        write down a passage from scripture. What we can apparently say with some
                        confidence is that "official" copies of texts were Uncial up to the 9th
                        century, and mostly Minuscule thereafter.

                        Regards,
                        Mike Grondin
                        Mt. Clemens, MI
                      • Rick Hubbard
                        Hi David! I think I m having a brain cramp, here. Maybe I missed part of the thread; maybe it s the mosquito bites; maybe it s that the collective IQ of the
                        Message 11 of 12 , Jul 7, 2002
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                          Hi David!

                          I think I'm having a brain cramp, here. Maybe I missed part of the thread;
                          maybe it's the mosquito bites; maybe it's that the collective IQ of the
                          entire state of Maine has been reduced by the influx of 4th of July
                          tourists. Dunno. In any case, maybe you can re-state your question.

                          Thanks.

                          Rick Hubbard
                          Humble Maine Woodsman

                          -----Original Message-----
                          From: dhindley@... [mailto:dhindley@...]
                          Sent: Saturday, July 06, 2002 12:43 PM
                          To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
                          Subject: RE: [GTh] FW: Coptic MSS and Greek fonts


                          Mike (Grondin),

                          >>This question confuses me, Dave. Of course no Coptic dialect could be
                          represented by the Greek alphabet _alone_. So if by "Coptic letters" you
                          mean the normal Coptic alphabet - comprised of the entire Greek alphabet,
                          plus a half-dozen strictly Coptic letters, then, yes, every Coptic text of
                          any dialect was written using that alphabet.<<

                          Confused me too. There may be a certain degree of imprecision inherent in
                          relying upon studies conducted in the earliest decades after the initial
                          publication of the manuscripts. I have to agree, there is no way to
                          represent Egyptian dialects with the Greek alphabet alone, unless perhaps
                          they used non-standard combinations of Greek letters to represent some
                          sounds and then wrote phonetically.

                          Here is a link to images that were included in a translation of the 1st Book
                          of Ieou:
                          http://www.gnosis.org/library/1ieo.htm
                          These certainly look like Coptic letters, but the style does not really
                          appear to be "cursive" if that means they are drawn in a way that the
                          letters connect to one another more often than not. There is also the
                          possibility that the images are typeset and thus not exact representations
                          of the letters as drawn.

                          >>The one thing that struck me, however, is that I've been using 'uncial'
                          where the correct word is evidently 'majuscule' (capitals), and 'cursive'
                          where the correct word is evidently 'minuscule'. As I now understand it,
                          "uncial" is a type of majuscule and "cursive" is a type of minuscule.<<

                          Dr. Altman appears to be using the terms in their technical sense. Uncial is
                          the common way to designate "capital" letters. "Miniscule" is also often
                          used to mean the letter forms used in the lectionaries and other mss from
                          the 9th century on, which were indeed "lower case". However, Metzger says
                          that the miniscule letter forms (of the lectionaries, I assume) were
                          adaptations of cursive forms of the uncial fonts (pages 9-13). Cursive forms
                          of Uncial fonts are known from examples of everyday literature and papyri,
                          and while no literary examples exist now there are some spelling
                          abnormalities in some biblical mss that seem to require the existence of
                          cursive mss of these books in antiquity (on pages 188-189 he cites
                          authorities with regard to cursive forms of uncial letters, including some
                          examples from the 1st century CE).

                          Respectfully,

                          Dave Hindley
                          Cleveland, Ohio, USA




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                        • David C. Hindley
                          ... maybe it s the mosquito bites; maybe it s that the collective IQ of the entire state of Maine has been reduced by the influx of 4th of July tourists.
                          Message 12 of 12 , Jul 8, 2002
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                            Rick Hubbard said:

                            >>I think I'm having a brain cramp, here. Maybe I missed part of the thread;
                            maybe it's the mosquito bites; maybe it's that the collective IQ of the
                            entire state of Maine has been reduced by the influx of 4th of July
                            tourists. Dunno. In any case, maybe you can re-state your question.<<

                            It all seems to be boiling down to a lack of precision in terminology in use
                            to describe non-biblical (and sometimes biblical) manuscripts. The original
                            messages were about what the script told us about the relative age of the
                            copies of the two mss in the Bruce Codex. The evaluation of the quality or
                            description of script used in any particular document seems to differ from
                            scholar to scholar. We're pretty sure now that we are talking about Coptic
                            letters, Sahadic dialect, but are not sure what the various scholars' meant
                            by "cursive" script. Our recent messages were zeroing in on what the word
                            "cursive" means, and I think we probably need to seek out some sort of
                            authoritative works on the subject.

                            Respectfully,

                            Dave Hindley
                            Cleveland, Ohio, USA

                            PS: The NH finds receive a lot of attention, and the three gnostic codices
                            known since the 18th-19th centuries receive almost none. Supposedly, the
                            latter are not of the same quality as some of the ones in the NH corpus.
                            However, they all appear to have been copied around the same time (ca.
                            300-500 CE), so I do not understand the differential treatment. Just try to
                            find much more than a sentence or two on the Pistis Sophia or the Books of
                            Jeu in Layton's _Gnostic Scriptures_ or Rudolph's _Gnosis_, much less
                            excerpts or translations.
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