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[Synoptic-L] Scrolls of Paul's letters or synoptic gospels?

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  • Brian E. Wilson
    Brian Wilson wrote -- ... Jack Kilmon replied -- ... Jack, I agree that the only rolls that have survived are those stored or dumped in very dry areas. Are you
    Message 1 of 73 , May 2, 2000
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      Brian Wilson wrote --
      >
      >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?
      >
      Jack Kilmon replied --
      >
      >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.
      >
      Jack,
      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
      thin air?

      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 --
      >
      >"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..."
      >and that
      >"...the letters of Paul would already have been produced as codices."
      >(M. Hengel, "Studies in the Gospel of Mark" -- London, 1985 -- pages
      >78-79.)
      >

      If the letters of Paul and the synoptic gospels were originally written
      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.

      Best wishes,
      BRIAN WILSON

      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".
      _
    • 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
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        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
        above.

        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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