Re: [textualcriticism] Notebook use in first century
- Thanks MitchHere are the answers to your question.1) from Petersen Tatian's Diatessaron p. 196 (on the subject of the Dura Europos fragment of the Diatessaron) '... since the verso is blank it would seem that the Fragment was part of a roll, not a codex.'2) sorry for addressing my comments to 'Dirk' I was hiking in a forest and texting on my BlackBerry. The follow question is mean to be addressed to A. DirkzwagerSo are you saying that if - as I demonstrated in a previous post - P52 matches the material in the Diatessaron as well as it does the Gospel of Johnyou couldn't dismiss the argument that it might have come from a Diatessaron- like text (an ancestor of Tatian's text) merely based on Tom's observation that a gospel harmony using letters as big as those in P52 couldn't fit on a single quire?"3) I don't understand your point about introducing speculation into the discussion about P52. I am merely questioning the scientific basis behind the claim that P52 IS a witness to the canonical gospel of John.The standard view in NT scholarship is to assume that because P52 lines up with the familiar text in the canonical gospel of John and P52 can be dated to the early second century that P52 proves that the canonical Gospel of John dates from the early second century.All I did was to notice that the same section in the canonical Gospel of John also appears in the Diatessaron word for word. In other words, P52 could also be used to prove that the Diatessaron came from the second century period. If indeed all the texts of the canonical gospel of John were destroyed in a past age and all the only Christian gospel that was available was a Diatessaron and P52 was uncovered we would all be nodding our heads agreeing that it proved that we had just found evidence that the Diatessaron dated from the early second century period.This isn't speculation. It is an observation about the making statements like 'P52 proves that the Gospel of John comes from the second century.' The proper thing to say would be 'P52 proves that a story from John is witnessed in the early second century' or 'P52 proves that a story common to the John and the Diatessaron is witnessed in the early second century.'Irenaeus may witness the existence of the canonical gospel of John and most of us assume that this text was transmitted from John to Irenaeus by Polycarp. But as I have noted time and time again Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians employs a Diatessaron for its gospel citations. Moreover there were other texts closely associated with John (the Acts of John) which explicitly suggest that John's gospel was a Diatessaron or a pre-Diatessaronic single, long gospel.I am going to trash Irenaeus' reliability as a witness. The point is that he is just one witness as to the form of the gospel of John - Polycarp, Leucius and Florinus argued for a different text. That's all.It should be noted time and again that Irenaeus does not say that Tatian wrote, edited, constructed or fabricated the Diatessaron. The ommission is curious given that Irenaeus finds a number of things that he doesn't like about Tatian's beliefs. I think Polycarp's acknowledged use of a Diatessaronic witness has something to do with this failure to criticize Tatian's gospel.Tatian's teacher has been demonstrated to have used a so-called 'gospel harmony.' Justin may well have been Christian in the period of P52. It has been argued (by Petersen among others) that Justin's text did not have Johannine material. Yet P52 is from the Passion narrative where one might imagine Johannine readings might well have been witnessed in a single, long gospel.To dismiss the idea that P52 COULD BE a Diatessaron fragment is reckless. It based on a collective assumption of what gospels SHOULD BE found in the early second century based on an inherited faith not solid science.As I doubt very strongly you have ever spent much time looking at the various 'gospel harmonies' I should make it clear that there is a common misunderstanding that every section in the text looks like a fusion of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The reality is that there are whole pages where we see material common to John and then another page where it is all looks like Matthew etc.If we can imagine a scenario where someone in the second century took a pair of scissors and shredded the Diatessaron, by your inherited assumptions you would only recognize those fragments as 'Diatessaron fragments' when there was harmonization evident. A passage which happened to be common to the canonical gospel of John - let's say for argument's sake the P52 fragment or others like it - would always, always, always be identified as proof of a Gospel of John.Finding texts which prove an early date for the canonical gospels is good for church apologetics but surely this is not the point of scientific research. Science can only eliminate hypothesis when the available evidence no longer supports that possibility.I am not saying that you can prove that P52 is a Diatessaron fragment. I am just saying (especially with the help of A. Dirkzwager's recent post) that you can't prove it isn't.Stephan
> 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.