[Synoptic-L] Scrolls of Paul's letters or synoptic gospels?
- Brian Wilson wrote --
>Jack Kilmon replied --
>If the papyrus/parchment Christian codex all happened late in the
>1st century or early in the 2nd century, how do you explain that there
>are no surviving Greek manuscripts of the letters of Paul or the
>synoptic gospels in roll format?
>Simply because they WERE in roll format. Papyrus is fragile and
>highly vulnerable to several forms of environmental assault. The
>codex architecture provides a higher degree of protection for
>the internal leaves. If it were not for this architecture, we would
>not have the papyrus witnesses that we have. We do not begin to
>get witnesses to the NT *until* the codex format was adopted
>with P52 and Egerton...
>The point is, had there been codices prior to the 2nd century we would
>have some...we don't. Rolls don't last, codices do...
>The rolls disintegrated. Thats what rolls do. The only rolls that
>have survived are those stored or dumped in very dry areas.
>Unfortunately, that condition is rare around the Mediterranean.
I agree that the only rolls that have survived are those stored or
dumped in very dry areas. Are you really suggesting, however, that the
papyrus codices that have survived were not unearthed in very dry areas
also? Do you know of one single papyrus codex of the early centuries
that has survived damp conditions? My reading of palaeontology and
visits to libraries and museums would suggest that the number of papyri
from the early centuries, roll or codex, which have survived damp
conditions is absolutely zero.
Moreover, hundreds and hundreds of single sheets of papyrus have been
discovered stored or dumped in very dry areas, and that is precisely
where the extant papyri of the letters of Paul and the synoptic gospels
have been discovered.
Therefore, if the letters of Paul and the synoptic gospels in Greek were
originally written on rolls of papyrus, and were copied decade after
decade onto rolls, (until a supposed giant switch to the codex format),
it is no less likely that one sheet of such a roll would have survived
than one page of a papyrus codex kept in the same conditions. The
papyrus roll was formed from separate sheets of papyrus pasted in a
line. Where is there a single surviving sheet, or even a fragment of a
single sheet, of a roll of a copy of a letter of Paul or of a synoptic
gospel in Greek? If fragments of the letters of Paul or the synoptic
gospels in Greek on codices could survive, what was so special about
fragments of rolls that every one of them completely disappeared into
The observed fact is that there are parts of codices of the letters of
Paul or the synoptic gospels in Greek from the early centuries. These
exist. But there is no part of a roll of a letter of Paul or a synoptic
gospel in Greek. A Greek manuscript of a letter of Paul or a synoptic
gospel written in codex format is observed fact. A Greek manuscript of a
letter of Paul or of a synoptic gospel written in roll format is a
purely hypothetical entity. Such a roll manuscript does not exist.
The simplest hypothesis is that no such roll format manuscripts were
ever written, but that --
>If the letters of Paul and the synoptic gospels were originally written
>"From the beginning - in contrast to contemporary book production
>elsewhere - these scribes write on codices rather than, as was
>originally still quite usual, on scrolls..."
>"...the letters of Paul would already have been produced as codices."
>(M. Hengel, "Studies in the Gospel of Mark" -- London, 1985 -- pages
in Greek on rolls, and copied for decade after decade onto rolls, it is
extremely odd that no fragment of any such roll has survived.
E-mail; brian@... HOMEPAGE www.twonh.demon.co.uk
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".
- 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
> > -----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