Re: The Byzantine Text of the Gospels: Recension or Process?
You are right of course reminding me of P52.
My professor told us many years ago, that the codex (in opposition to
the scroll) was an invention of the Christians. I don't remember why,
but even Luke, the author of the Gospel and Acts, is said (in modern
theory only??) to be the person who promoted the use of codices. A
primitive codex consisting of only a couple of folded sheets was used by
the Romans as note book. Because most of the Christians did not possess
much money they developed that note book into the codex for larger
texts. The codex had the advantage that only half the amount of writing
material was needed compared with scrolls.
Nowadays an invention spreads rapidly, but history learns us that the
change from scrolls to codices took some centuries.
Whatever the date of W may be, the date of its ancestor cannot be
established as far as I know. It is possible that it was written early
in the process of that change.
> An interesting speculation - although the example of P52 might suggest
> that the change from scroll to codex form for Christian texts preceded
> by some decades the practice of collecting four gospels together. But
> it is certainly possible that the exemplar for W was created from a
> number of separate (and possibly partial) gospel texts.
> Dear Listers,
> I think that Arie's third point is worth noting.
> There has been a recent tendency to redate Christian manuscripts later. There have been some attempts to redate things earlier, but usually these are forgotten about after a little while (e.g. Kim's redating of P46).
> I'm not sure what is driving the general trend towards later dates. It could be the result of having more data at hand. One thing that may have been influential was Roger Bagnall's paper on Christian names in Egypt as derived from documentary papyri (e.g. tax records). He came to the conclusion that there were not many Christians in Egypt before about 300 AD based on the occurrence of Christian names in official records. Of course there is another explanation for the lack of Christian names which is that you would use your Egyptian name when talking to a tax official as, until 313 AD, being a Christian could be dangerous to your health if officialdom found out.
> These books are a help when considering the possible date of a manuscript:
> E. G. Turner, _Greek Manuscripts of the Ancient World_, 2d rev. ed. (ed. P. J. Parsons), Institute of Classical Studies Bulletin Supplement 46, London: Institute of Classical Studies, 1987.
> G. Cavallo and H. Maehler, _Greek Bookhands of the Early Byzantine Period A.D. 300-800_, Institute of Classical Studies Bulletin Supplement 47, London: Institute of Classical Studies, 1987.
> There is an alternative way to date manuscripts which is seldom if ever used, which is carbon dating. There is an associated margin of error, I'm not sure what, possibly +/- a century. The test destroys the part sampled. I seem to remember hearing that the labs are getting better at dating with quite small samples. So, if we really wanted to know the date of Sinaiticus, which by the way is probably much later than the date of its text, we could cut off a piece and date it.
> The same could be done with some of our early papyri which have some blank spaces (e.g. margins) that no one would miss. If we did this with a few of them then we would have a better idea of their actual dates.
> Tim Finney
the publishers have put the first chapter of Roger Bagnall's book on redating Egyptian papyri on the intenet
the argument here is not based on tax records, but on the absence of any clear examples of Christian correspondence earlier than the episcopate of Demetrios (189 - 231). He then argues that the apparent survival of earlier biblical (and apocryphal) papyri appears inconsistent with the observation that there are no Christian letters.
He suggests that the proposed early Christian papyri largely form a group of their own - that are difficult to date with reference to non-christian dated comparitors, as book-hands changed very little from the 2nd to the late 3rd century.
With reference to P52 he says:
"The first of these is a small bit of the Gospel of John in the John Rylands Library in Manchester, of unknown provenance.28 It is the only fragment dated by Turner to the second century without qualification. More recently, however, one scholar has argued that it should be reassigned to the early third century, on the basis of a comparison with P.Chester Beatty X.29 That may be too definitive, but an exhaustive article by Brent Nongbi (2005) has brought forward a range of palaeographical parallels that undermine confidence in an early date, even if they do not fully establish one in the late second or early third century"
(I am not sure that Bagnall's characterisation of Nongbi's conclusions here is correct; as I recall Nongbi saying that "I have not radically revised Roberts's work", which I take to mean that Nongbi accepts that the preponderance of comparitor hands does indeed indicate that P52 "may with some confidence be dated in the first half of the second century A.D.". Nongbi's expressed concerns relate to the margin of error, rather than to the central estimate of date).
Not having the full text of Bagnall's book, I cannot offer a detailed critque of his approach - although I do note that he regards all the scriptural codices as being written in a book-hand; where Roberts specfically describes p52 as a ".. reformed documentary hand. (One advantage for the paleogapher in such hands is that with their close links to the documents they are somewhat less difficult to date than purely calligraphic hands)."
I would be interested in the perspectives of anyone who knows Roger Bagnall's work rather better.