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Re: [lxx] scope of LXX manuscripts revisited [Kraft 2]

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  • Robert Kraft
    ... Not entirely, but since that is the period I m most familiar with, and the period in which such important technological changes occurred, it is foremost in
    Message 1 of 8 , Sep 25, 2007
      > Thanks so much for your reply, Bob, and the links to some pertinent
      > articles. I'll be taking a look at those but wanted to send off an initial
      > response first. I would like to ask some clarifications, if I may.
      > By way of general clarifications, it seems to me that your response is
      > geared mainly toward the late-Jewish, early-Christian phase of LXX
      > manuscript production and transmission. Is that correct?

      Not entirely, but since that is the period I'm most familiar with, and the
      period in which such important technological changes occurred, it is
      foremost in my earlier response.

      > That phase is, of
      > course, a crucial one: it's the foundational phase for later developments.
      > You've made some important points about that phase and I thank you for
      > offering those.

      > At the same time, however, I do want to point out that my own query
      > extends beyond that phase. To begin clarifying some particulars, let me
      > ask the following question: did the development of a technology which
      > could enable a very concrete realization of the biblical canon, i.e., a
      > development that enabled the entire content to be reproduced in a single
      > tome such as one of the Great Uncials, culminate in around the 4th
      > century?

      The evidence suggests that it became a physical reality then.

      > Does that era and its artifacts represent the high point of the
      > development process, or is it more like the crest of a plateau? Relevant
      > to my inquiry in this thread, after this point in history did the
      > production of similar tomes become more commonplace?

      Yes, more commonplace, but hardly common. These "pandects" were both
      expensive and time consuming (expensive in that sense, too) to produce, and
      probably were made for special purposes such as new and important churches
      and/or church/monastery libraries (the evidence of corrections, e.g. in
      Sinaiticus, shows that some of them were used for some sort of "study").
      But in general, they would have been bulky and awkward to use, and thus
      perhaps in some sense as much for "show" as for "utility."

      > That is an abstract question. To resolve it into the form of a more
      > tangible one, I would ask the following: are full LXX exemplars (or Bibles
      > that contain both OT and NT), judging from extant evidence, more common
      > after the 4th century than they were in the 4th century?

      Yes, in the sense that they probably didn't exist at all prior to the 4th
      century, so their presence after that was in some sense "more common." But
      you are right that not many of them have survived from any period when
      manuscripts were produced by hand (the "manu" part).

      > Looking over the
      > Verzeichnis, it seems to me they were no more common in later centuries,
      > i.e., prior to the advent of the printing press, than they were in the 4th
      > century. But I see myself as only in the beginning stages of working with
      > the Verzeichnis and of trying to draw from it an understanding of some
      > larger issues of LXX history and text tradition. Your input on this
      > question would be appreciated.

      > More to the point, could I ask that you speak to the legitimacy of the
      > following statement: judging from extant manuscript evidence, full LXX
      > exemplars (full in the sense defined in my previous post) were rarely
      > produced in the pre-printing-press era. Does that seem a legitimate way to
      > sum up the state of affairs presented by the LXX ms record? Again, bearing
      > in mind that what is being spoken of is not limited to the 4th century but
      > is rather posited about the entire history during which the LXX was being
      > hand-copied (i.e., up to at least the 15th century).

      Yes, I'd say that is an accurate statement.

      > One might wish to qualify this statement, if, in fact, it is a sound
      > characterization, by pointing to the fragmentary nature of much of the ms
      > evidence. Perhaps a safer summary statement would be: judging from extant
      > manuscript evidence, full LXX exemplars were rarely produced in the
      > pre-printing-press era; but so much of the evidence is in a fragmentary
      > state that a confident assessment of what was the full scope of the works
      > from which the fragments remain cannot be made.

      That is more careful, but my impression is that the fragmentary materials
      tend to be from the earlier period, and thus don't occasion much of a change
      in the situation. What does need to be taken into consideration is what I
      would call "conceptual unity," which is not necessarily "physical unity."
      That is, scribes and scriptoria probably produced multi-volumed sets of
      scripture of which not all of the volumes have survived. That would be
      "fragmentary" in another sense. When a volume of the prophets, for example,
      calls itself something like "part 3," it may be a sub-section of a larger
      physical unit that consisted of several codices representing "the
      scriptures." Or it may only be a section of a conceptual unity (several
      parts), of which for whatever reason only this part was copied and
      circulated (Psalms, for example, or the Gospels).

      > But I'm begging the question with that qualification. What I really should
      > be doing is posing again a query from my previous post: is it true, as it
      > seems to me from my perusal of the Verzeichnis so far, that a large
      > proportion of ms evidence for the LXX is fragmentary? I.e., doesn't so
      > much of it consist in such limited amounts of material (anywhere from
      > fragments of a page to several pages) that it is impossible to tell what
      > was the scope of the work of which it was originally a part? To relate
      > this question more directly to the overall inquiry, one could say that
      > these fragments may or may not be the remains of pandect codices like the
      > Great Uncials: we just can't say with any certainty one way or the other.
      > Reactions, please?

      My impression is that this sort of problem is especially true of the
      earliest materials, say, up to the 8th century. For the period before the
      4th century, the possibility that a fragment was from a pandect is extremely
      unlikely. After the 4th century it could happen (e.g. Sinaiticus discovered
      bit by bit!), but is relatively infrequent. But both before and after the
      4th century, there sometimes was "conceptual unity" (as the lists in Melito
      and Origen show) and might even have been multi-volume physical unity (how
      many volumes would there have been if Origen's Hexapla covered everything in
      his list?). But most copying seems to have taken place at a less than
      everything level, as is also true for other obvious "unities" such as Homer
      or Philo, or whomever. Most literary authors of whom we are aware wrote
      multi- "volumed" works (scrolls, in the earlier period; what format did
      Eusebius use to produce his ten "books" of the Church History, etc.?). Often
      only portions of those works have survived, because the copying was piece by
      piece (physically speaking), not of the whole series (conceptually
      speaking). So also with scriptures, whether Jewish or Christian. So I see it
      as less a problem of "fragments" in your sense, and more a question of
      intent and of practicality. I don't usually know whether a codex of Exodus,
      say, was originally part of a set of Pentateuchal (or more broadly Jewish or
      Christian scriptural) codices, although I can often tell that it was in
      circulation by itself, as a "mini-codex" (or similarly a copy of the
      Octateuch, or Psalms with Odes, or whatever). Now if we had more pictures of
      the shelves on which such items were stored, we might know more!

      [see http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/rs/rak/publics/new2/sbl2006-pics/Slide36.JPG
      and http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/rs/rak/publics/new2/sbl2006-pics/Slide28.JPG%5d

      > Finally, regarding what I said, using perhaps inappropriate terminology,
      > about "truncated exemplars." I take it that my deduction from the
      > Verzeichnis that manuscripts were sometimes produced that contained only a
      > limited portion of the canon--say the Prophets--is an legitimate one?

      Absolutely. No question.

      > So,
      > for example the manuscript whose siglum in the new Verzeichnis is G was
      > originally produced as a volume that contained only the Octateuch; or W is
      > a manuscript that never contained anything more than the Minor Prophets.
      > These, then, are not remnants of what were once larger manuscripts, but
      > represent manuscripts whose content was limited to the Octateuch or 12
      > Prophets, respectively. Am I making legitimate deductions from the data
      > included in the Verzeichnis about these mss?

      Yes, but the "multi-volumed" origin still looms as a (usually unanswerable)

      > I apologize if it seems I am putting you on the spot with these questions.
      > I realize that it may be impossible to answer them authoritatively, or
      > that answers to them may still be under dispute. Or they may also be
      > outside your particular area of expertise. I pose them because, as junior
      > LXX scholar, I wish to know better what are the bounds of certainty
      > regarding some fundamental characteristics of the field and our knowledge
      > concerning it. Answers could also help me with an article I'm currently
      > writing :), btw.

      And thinking through these issues will help me in constructing my seminar
      for next spring on ancient technology and the development of the Christian
      book! So thanks to you.

      > I do not wish to limit this thread to a conversation between Bob and I, so
      > relevant input from others is certainly welcome.

      Indeed, the more the merrier, as long as it is well informed -- as yours has


      > Thanks,
      > James
      > On Sat, 22 Sep 2007, Robert Kraft wrote:
      > >
      > > Hard to know how to begin. In my understanding, prior to the early 4th
      > > century (Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, et al.), the "mega-codex" technology in
      > > which the anthology of Jewish scriptures (exact contents still in flux)
      > > could be placed within one set of covers had not yet emerged. There were
      > > lists (e.g. Melito, Origen) indicating conceptual collections and
      > > doubtless shelves and cabinets to create physical collections -- perhaps
      > > even intentional sets of multiple mini-codices and/or scrolls, but not
      > > "pandect" manuscripts yet.
      > >
      > > My only significant quarrel with what James says below is his use of the
      > > term "truncated," as though there were something physically present to
      > > "truncate." There were productions of parts of the scriptural list, which
      > > is what the available technology permitted, but I doubt that anyone in
      > > that world would have considered this "truncation." Indeed, placing it all
      > > under one set of covers (perhaps inspired and funded by Constantine's
      > > request to Eusebius) constituted "innovation," and as James recognizes,
      > > was not even widely followed in subsequent centuries.
      > >
      > > I've discussed aspects of this situation in my recent SBL presidential
      > > address, which is available online as well as in JBL --
      > >
      > > http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/rs/rak/publics/new2/sblpres2006-all.html
      > >
      > > See also my more recent electronic paper "The Birth [Gestation] of the
      > > Canon: from Scriptures to 'THE Scripture' in early Judaism and early
      > > Christianity" at
      > >
      > > http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/rs/rak/temp/toronto2/jpgs/toronto2-2007.html
      > >
      > > What it all means for textual and conceptual history remains to be
      > > further elaborated. Key questions, for example, circle around the
      > > production of Origen's Hexapla -- was it conceived and produced as a
      > > series of volumes (scrolls or mini-codices) intended to be kept together
      > > (e.g. in the Caesarean library), and if so, did it make a major
      > > contribution at that time to a conceptual development in the direction of
      > > a more fixed idea of "the scriptures"?
      > >
      > > Thanks for asking, I guess.
      > >
      > > Bob
      > >
      > >
      > >>
      > >> I posted earlier to the group concerning the scope of extant LXX mss. I've
      > >> had some more time to think about this matter and have done some
      > >> additional research. So I want to post about this again and to ask input
      > >> from the group. Especially valuable would be input from more senior LXX
      > >> scholars who are group members (hint, hint, Bob Kraft).
      > >>
      > >> To start off, a reiteration of what I mean by LXX. I do not mean to
      > >> indicate the technical definition of LXX about which scholars have
      > >> recently reached a fairly wide consensus. That is to say, in the context
      > >> of my inquiry, LXX should not be thought of as only the books of Torah
      > >> (Gen, Exod, Lev, Num, Deut). Instead, I want to address the LXX as a
      > >> monument of Christian history and culture or as the Old Testament known to
      > >> many early Christian writers (e.g., Origen) and as found in some early
      > >> Christian pandect codices (e.g., Codexes S, B and A: yes, I know the
      > >> content varies somewhat between them). In other words in the context of
      > >> the current query, by LXX or Septuagint I mean roughly the content found
      > >> in the OT section of any of these pandects. So far as contemporaneous
      > >> publications go, you could say I mean the content of any of the modernly
      > >> published LXX's (e.g., Holmes Parsons, Swete, Rahlfs's hand edition or the
      > >> Goettingen volumes). So, the whole kit-n-kaboodle (to use the technical
      > >> term) of works that fall under the moniker "Old Testament" is the LXX
      > >> being referred to in the current query.
      > >>
      > >> The basic question I had and still have is as follows: of LXX ms evidence
      > >> still extant, how much of it either now comprises, or is thought to have
      > >> at one time comprised, the full LXX OT?
      > >>
      > >> My additional research (using the old and new Verzeichnis) indicates that
      > >> for the majority of extant evidence it should simply be impossible to tell
      > >> whether the material was at one time a part of a larger collection such as
      > >> might have been of the scope of the full OT. In most cases, I would guess,
      > >> it simply cannot be said what was the scope of the original manuscript the
      > >> evidence comes from--whether it would have been a single biblical book, a
      > >> collection of two or more biblical books, a tome the size of Codex A's OT
      > >> section, or some other type of volume. It seems to me that the majority of
      > >> the evidence consists in fragments--anywhere from a few scraps from a page
      > >> or two, to several pages. Because of its fragmentary nature, it is likely
      > >> impossible to tell what was the scope of the manuscript of which it
      > >> comprises the remains. Reactions, please, to this conclusion?
      > >>
      > >> Additionally, it appears from my perusal of the Verzeichnis that some
      > >> percentage of the extant ms evidence is comprised of deliberately
      > >> truncated exemplars. That is to say, some of the evidence seems to be a
      > >> limited portion of the LXX or OT as defined in this query--for example a
      > >> collection of the Prophets or of the Wisdom books. If I have rightly
      > >> interpreted the data presented in the Verzeichnis, some percentage of the
      > >> ms evidence for the text of the LXX was originally produced as a limited
      > >> portion of the OT and was intended to circulate in that form. So, for
      > >> example, a collection of the prophetic writings might be copied and made
      > >> into a book whose intended scope was just that limited part of the LXX/OT.
      > >> My question: have I rightly interpreted the data presented in the
      > >> Verzeichnis in taking some of it to witness to intentionally truncated
      > >> portions of the LXX/OT?
      > >>
      > >> So, with regard to the question of how much of the extant ms evidence now
      > >> constitutes, or is thought to have at one time constituted, a full LXX/OT,
      > >> it seems to me that any confident answer would have to be that very little
      > >> of it unquestionably constitutes/d such a tome. Most of the evidence is
      > >> simply indeterminate: it is impossible to say what was the original scope
      > >> of the ms of which it comprises a remnant. Other evidence, i.e., the
      > >> deliberately truncated portions containing, for example, the Prophets or
      > >> the Wisdom books, indicates that it was a not uncommon practice to
      > >> produce and circulate limited sections of the OT/LXX.
      > >>
      > >> Finally, if any of what is proposed above is correct, would it be a fair
      > >> summary statement to say that it is likely that very few full LXX/OT's
      > >> were produced and circulated in antiquity?
      > >>
      > >> If someone takes issue with any of these tentative conclusions about the
      > >> ms evidence and the scope of LXX mss, or if someone holds that I am
      > >> pursuing the wrong lines of inquiry in trying to get a better
      > >> understanding of these matters, I would appreciate hearing about it. Of
      > >> particular help would be input from those who have worked directly with
      > >> the ms evidence. Apart from looking at photo facsimilies of the Great
      > >> Uncials and of a very few manuscript fragments, I have no direct knowledge
      > >> of the ms evidence. Apart from those limited exposures all my knowledge
      > >> about the mss comes through very secondary sources like the
      > >> Verzeichnis--which increases the margin for error in drawing conlusions.
      > >> Therefore, input on this matter from all, but especially from those with
      > >> more hands-on experience with the mss, will be appreciated.
      > >>
      > >> Thanks,
      > >> James
      > >>
      > >> PS Again, if anyone knows of any studies that pointedly address these
      > >> questions, I would like to know about them. I have not conducted an
      > >> exhaustive search but I am familiar with the basic bibliography of LXX
      > >> resources and I don't know of any studies that go into any depth on these
      > >> topics.
      > >
      > >
      > > --
      > > Robert A. Kraft, Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania
      > > 227 Logan Hall (Philadelphia PA 19104-6304); tel. 215 898-5827
      > > kraft@...
      > > http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/rs/rak/kraft.html
      > >
      > Yahoo! Groups Links

      Robert A. Kraft, Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania
      227 Logan Hall (Philadelphia PA 19104-6304); tel. 215 898-5827
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