Re: Silent Reading
- tc-list@...,Internet writes:
On Tue, 1 Oct 1996, Timothy John Finney wrote:
> On a different matter, can anyone give me an authoritative reference that
> says when people first began to read silently? I heard or read somewhere
> that some ancient was astounded to see someone (I think the someone might
> have been Clement or Jerome) sitting in a room full of books but not
> making any sound as he read. If early copyists always read aloud as they
> copied, perhaps certain implications would follow for New Testament
> textual research?
Augustine (Confessions 6.3) was amazed that Bishop Ambrose of Milan read
silently, since silent reading was definitely not the norm. For a
thorough discussion of this phenomenon, see three articles/notes in JBL:
Paul J. Achtemeier, "Omne verbum sonat: The New Testament and the Oral
Environment of Late Western Antiquity," JBL 109 (1990): 3-27; Michael
Slusser, "Reading Silent in Antiquity," JBL 111 (1992): 499; Frank D.
Gilliard, "More Silent Reading in Antiquity: Non omne verbum sonabat,"
JBL 112 (1993): 689-694.
Actually, there seems to be an earlier reference....in the first chapter of 1
Samuel, Eli the priest observes Hannah mouthing words (but no one is around
and she is making no sounds) and consequently believes that she is
drunk.....in response, Hannah states that she is simply praying.....perhaps
this may be evidence that most people would have prayed aloud in ancient
times? Or Perhaps that demonstrates that people would generally not make any
sounds while reading?
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