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

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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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