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

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  • 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 1 of 12 , Jul 7, 2002
      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 2 of 12 , Jul 7, 2002
        [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 3 of 12 , Jul 7, 2002
          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 4 of 12 , Jul 8, 2002
            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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