Re: The Date of P52
> I had assumed talking about the Diatessaron was verboten when you closed the thread but since we are still talking about it could ask Tom whether his concerns about the size of the letter of P52 were neutralized at all/somewhat by my discovery of the marginal note in the Vatican Arabic MS which indicates that the original source was divided into two. Tom wrote:
> If anyone in the 2nd centurywas planning to write a text of around 7,500 stichoi, they wouldn't have done so using over-sized letter forms on widely-spaced lines and wide margins.
> But we are now talking about 3,750 or less. Is that still a problem? For two codices to contain 3000 - 3750 stichoi?
at the risk of exhausting Wieland's already depleted store of indulgence on this matter.
I understand your as putting forwards two speculations; that the Syriac text of Epharaim's commentary on the Diatessaron might point to a much shorter Diatessaron than that contained in the Arabic manuscripts that (before 1957) were regarded as the prime source texts for the Diatessaron, which shorter text might be witnessed in P52; or secondly that P52 might have formed one volume of a two volume work.
1. Ephraim's Diatessaron:
- you need to read Carmel McCarthy's English translation and introduction, published by OUP in 1993. We not only know the Diatessaron from the 107 leaves so far recovered of the Ephraim commentary in Syriac (a text probably compiled by Ephraim's students, rather than the great man himself); there are also numerous Gospel quotations in Ephraim's sermons and hymns. Many Gospel phrases quoted in the latter sources are not quoted in the commentary. So we know that, although Ephraim worked systematically through the Diatessaron section by section, he did not comment on every pericope he found in each section, and he often did not quote the full text of those passages he did comment on. Consequently, we cannot reconstruct a continuous text Diatessaron from the Gospel quotations in the Ephraim commentary. We have no grounds for believing that a 'shorter' Diatessaron ever existed - although it is widely held that Justin knew a 'synoptics-only' harmony.
2. P52 in two volumes
There are lots of versional witnesses to the Diatessaron, in Armenian, Persian, and Arabic, as well as Latin, German, Dutch, Itallian and English. If the Diatessaron circulated from the beginning in two volumes, then we might expect to find rather more evidence than a note in one late manuscript.
My chief point was simply that - if written in a normal book hand, at standard line spacing for a literary work - it is entirely possible in the 2nd century to fit all four gospels (ca 9,000 stichoi) within a single-quire codex. The Diatessaron was rather shorter (since much of the e text of Mark is duplicated in Luke or Matthew or both). So, if someone was setting out to copy onto papyrus a text of the length of the Diatessaron (or any other harmony of the four gospels), they would have had no need to split the text in two; they would simply have written it as a normal sized literary codex.
> 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.