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[Synoptic-L] hypothesizing and difficulties

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  • Brian E. Wilson
    Tim Reynolds wrote -- ... Non-Christian books written in Greek in the first century AD would not have contained shortened forms of words with superscript
    Message 1 of 73 , May 2, 2000
      Tim Reynolds wrote --
      >It occurs to me that I have Nomina Sacra of my own, Shx for
      >Shakespeare, RV for recognition vocabulary. I use them when I'm
      >writing for myself and expand them in communication mode. I'm quite
      >sure Mark, had he lived, would have had the completed stack transcribed
      >to scroll, the normal procedure, Nomina expanded as a matter of course.
      Non-Christian books written in Greek in the first century AD would not
      have contained shortened forms of words with superscript lines. Any such
      occurrences would have immediately disqualified the writing from being a
      proper book. No non-Christian coming across a piece of writing with
      such ugly flaws would have seriously considered it to be a book. Yet all
      manuscripts of the synoptic gospels in Greek (apart from one or two tiny
      fragmentary ones) contain instances of Nomina Sacra which are clearly
      shortened forms of Greek words with superscript lines. The question is
      why did Christians writing manuscripts of the synoptic gospels in Greek
      include such eye-sores (as non-Christians readers would have considered
      them) in their manuscripts? The related question is, is there a link
      between the occurrence of the Nomina Sacra in Greek-Christian
      manuscripts and the prevalence of the codex format for Greek-Christian
      writing in the early centuries (and beyond, of course)? For, as many
      scholars have observed, the two phenomena seem to belong together, as
      each is a distinctive characteristic of early Greek-Christian writing.
      >At some point in the archives you must have expounded this cipher
      >business, could you direct me there?
      I have not been able to trace back to any previous continued discussion
      on this. I seem to remember I once wrote a question to B-Greek on this
      topic, with ensuing discussion, but I deleted my records of
      contributions to B-Greek some time ago, and no longer subscribe to that

      The essence of the matter is that just as in English we can write the
      full word "two" or the cipher ("numeral") form "2" for the same number,
      so in Greek in the first century and beyond numbers could be written
      either in full, as words, or in cipher form in which numbers are
      represented by letters each having a defined numerical value. Thus the
      number two in some places in Greek manuscripts of the synoptic gospels
      is written in full as the complete word DUO, and in other places is
      represented by only one cipher letter, the single letter B, with
      superscript line. (A number in cipher form in Greek was frequently given
      a superscript line.) Generally, however, a non-Christian Greek book
      would have had all the numbers in its text written in full as words, not
      in "shortened" cipher format. The cipher format was used in accounts,
      lawyers jottings, rough drafts, and so on. Generally, if a writing in
      Greek contained numbers in cipher format, it would have been regarded as
      not a proper book. (Cipher numbers were used in the margins for
      stichometric checks, and sometimes for numbering columns, but not in the
      text of a non-Christian book in Greek.) Yet, all manuscripts of the
      synoptic gospels in Greek do contain cipher numbers in their text for
      some occurrences of numbers. From the point of view of non-Christian
      readers the manuscripts of the synoptic gospels in Greek are disfigured
      by the occurrence of cipher numbers within them. The question here is
      why manuscripts of the synoptic gospels in Greek contain cipher numbers
      even though the synoptic gospels are books.

      Best wishes,

      EM brian@... HP www.twonh.demon.co.uk TEL+44(0)1480385043
      Rev B.E.Wilson,10 York Close,Godmanchester,Huntingdon,Cambs,PE29 2EB,UK
      > "What can be said at all can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot
      > speak thereof one must be silent." Ludwig Wittgenstein, "Tractatus".
    • Thomas R. W. Longstaff
      This discussion of whether New Testament documents were written on scrolls or codices has gone on for a long time (among a small number of participants). Most
      Message 73 of 73 , May 19, 2000
        This discussion of whether New Testament documents were written on scrolls
        or codices has gone on for a long time (among a small number of
        participants). Most of us have lost track of the significance of the
        discussion for understanding the synoptic gospels. It seems to me that
        exchanges such as the one below are becoming more frequent in this thread
        and add little of substance to our work together.

        I'd like to remind you of our purpose. "Synoptic-L is an academic list
        devoted to scholarly discussion of the Synoptic Gospels. Its purpose is to
        provide a forum for questions relating to the exegesis of Matthew, Mark and
        / or Luke, using and analysing the standard critical tools and methods,
        with a special emphasis on the interrelationships among the Synoptics."
        While I agree with Mark Goodacre that we often need to "lighten up a bit"
        and not take ourselves too seriously, and while I certainly think that a
        little banter now and then is a good thing, there comes a point when we
        need to recognize, especially in a thread that has gone on this long, that
        one should ask, "do my comments here make a serious contribution to the
        ongoing discussion for which this list has been created?" Remember that you
        are asking hundreds of colleagues to devote some their time to reading what
        you have written.

        I'd like to ask that colleagues pause a moment before "firing off"
        responses such as these, perhaps to raise the kind of questions that I do

        Thomas R. W. Longstaff
        Crawford Family Professor of Religious Studies
        Colby College, Waterville, ME 04901 USA
        Member of the Advisory Committee of Synoptic-L

        At 06:21 PM 5/19/00 +0100, Jacob Knee wrote:
        >I hypothesize that Philemon was written on a roll. Which fact disconfirms
        >this hypothesis.
        >Jacob Knee
        >(Boston, England)
        > > -----Original Message-----
        > > From: owner-synoptic-l@... [mailto:owner-synoptic-l@...]On
        > > Behalf Of Brian E. Wilson
        > > Sent: 19 May 2000 11:29
        > > To: Synoptic-L@...
        > > Subject: [Synoptic-L] Philemon
        > >
        > >
        > > You also state that "the burden of proof is on the one with the
        > > extraordinary hypothesis to come up with the clear and convincing
        > > evidence". I think this is the most revealing statement you make. There
        > > is no burden of proof on anyone. Proof enters nowhere whatsoever into
        > > this matter. The idea that Paul wrote Philemon on a codex is a
        > > **hypothesis**. If you want to shoot down a hypothesis there is one, and
        > > only one way of doing so. That is to point to an observed phenomenon
        > > which is a difficulty for the hypothesis. I am still waiting for you to
        > > point to such an observed phenomenon.
        > >
        > > Best wishes,
        > > BRIAN WILSON
        > >
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