Tuesday, June 10, 2008
P99 and the Reader's Bibles
I have seen a few Reader's Greek New Testaments floating around Cambridge recently (sample), and I must confess to having bought a Reader's Hebrew Old Testament a couple months back. We have at least one ancient parallel to this phenomenon. The Chester Beatty Codex ac. 1499 (P99, ca. 400 CE) contains Greek glosses for difficult Latin words (or perhaps vice-versa as the Greek precedes the Latin) for Romans, 2 Corinthians, Galatians and Ephesians. The manuscript is probably a writing exercise from a Pachomian monk polishing his Latin (A. Wouters, 1988, 166–168). This codex says a great deal. Egyptian monks (assuming that P99 came from the Dishna papers) were interested in the Latin Bible. The monks were active in educating themselves (the codex also contains a Greek grammar which consists of verbal paradigms). The ancient writers were struggling with the increasing gap between spoken Greek and Classical/Attic Greek (ibid., 80 f.).