Manuscript Notes: Page 32
This is the first in a series of notes relating to some observations about the physical manuscript in which the Gospel of Thomas is contained. For the most part, the observations certainly fall under the category of “trivia”. To say that these observations are NOT simply boring would be overly optimistic.
Manuscript Notes: Page 32The text for the Gospel of Thomas begins approximately midway down the page. It is preceded by the colophon for the Apocryphon of John.
There are no lacunae on the page that affect the legibility of the text.
The image of the manuscript from which I am working is insufficiently sharp for my eyes to discern any dramatic differences in orthography among the lines. In other words, formation of the letters seems to be consistent.
At 32:17 the first portion of the line is blank. This blank space could accommodate approximately 11 letters (based on the number of letters above and below the blank area. See page 33 of the critical edition for information about the problems with estimating the quantity of letter that might fit in a given space.). The critical edition of the text explains this blank area as “an original imperfection in the papyrus”,(p52 n).
The Manuscript lines are more or less level, however they do exhibit an overall tendency to lift upward from left to right.
The text is very well justified on the left side. The relative precision of the alignment may be determined by drawing a vertical line that extends from the upper left-most tip of the first letter (n) of the first line to the left-most edge of the first letter (c) of the last line on the page, then examining the degree to which the beginning of each line follows the line. All of the initial letters that begin the intervening lines (i.e., lines 32:02-17) touch the inscribed line. Small portions of six of the letters (32:12, 32:13, 32:14, 32:21 and 32:14) extend to the left of the reference line by tiny amounts. These letters are u (32:03), t (32:04, and 32:23), and j (32:14, 32:20 and 32:21).
The rightmost edge of the text is likewise fairly well justified. Using a similar method of drawing a reference line from the outside tip of the last letter on 32:10 to the tip of the final letter on 32:18, it may be seen that all except the letters at the ends of lines 32:10 and 32:15 touch the reference line and in one case (32:13) the final letter (a) is to the right of the reference line. Small portions of final letters also extend to the right of the reference line at 32:16 (a with an apostrophe). At 32:21 and 32:22 the “cross-bar” of the e is lengthened so that it too extends to the right of the reference line. In addition, portions of the apostrophes at 32:14 and 32:15 also extend to the right of the line.
The “square-ness” of this block of text deserves mention. Comparative measurements taken between the left and right vertical reference lines, at top and bottom, suggest the line lengths are within 2% of being the same exact length at the top and bottom of the page.
> In the Middle Ages, ['quire'] had a number of specific meanings, withAs I said earlier, Bob, regardless of this and other definitions deriving
> specific names. In modern times, it refers to 1/20th of a ream, IIRC.
> See the Wikipedia.
from non-ancient binding and publishing processes, James Robinson
didn't use the word that way in his Intro to the Facsimile edition. In his
usage, a quire is an indefinite number of leaves folded together:
"A *codex* is made up of one or more *gatherings", usually referred
to as *quires*. For although this term is derived from *quaterniones*,
which is the designation for gatherings of four sheets (which came
to predominate), it has taken on the broader meaning of gatherings
of any number of *sheets* or *bifolios*." (p.32)