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RE: [GTh] FW: Coptic MSS and Greek fonts

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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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