Monday, February 08, 2010

Putting the Distigmai in Their Place: Payne Strikes Back pt. 5

This is the fifth and final part of the series in which Payne responds to Peter Head's recent SBL presentation "Putting the Distigmai in Their Place." For background, read previous parts read previous parts here, here and here and here.

Payne's whole response will soon be posted in a PDF for download (look for the announcement).

In spite of its weaknesses, Head’s paper has raised a valuable question: What factors help to identify which distigmai are not original or re-inked? Eight factors offer the best evidence that a distigmai did not originate at the time of the original production of Vaticanus, as judged by the standard of the fifty-one apricot color distigmai that Canart confirmed to match the ink color of unreinforced text on the same page of Vaticanus:

1. Dot(s) that are not circular.[1]

2. Irregular size dot(s) in the distigme.[2]

3. Non-horizontal orientation of the dots.[3]

4. Irregular spacing between the dots.[4] All of the apricot distigmai are within 1 mm of each other.

5. Irregular separation from the Greek text in the adjacent column. This is a fairly weak indicator since without any possible interference from other marks in the margin, apricot color distigmai range from to within 1 mm (1243 B 21) to 8.5 mm (1264 C 29).[5]

6. Irregular orientation relative to the base line. Most apricot distigmai are at mid character height, but one (1380 A 26) is slightly higher than the letters in the adjacent line of text. Six are near the top the letters in the adjacent line of text[6] and three are near the bottom.[7]

7. Juxtaposition next to more than one other dot or other marking.[8]

8. Distigme ink color that does not match either the original apricot ink color of the codex or, secondarily, the dark chocolate brown of the ink used to re-ink the text in the Middle Ages.[9]

Because this is a hand written manuscript, some variation is inevitable, and because the fifty-one apricot color distigmai are only a small fraction of them all, it should not be surprising if some distigmai originally in apricot color ink but later re-inked have characteristics that exceed the ranges of the characteristics above. Nevertheless, the sharper the contrast from the ordinary shape and position of distigmai and the more points of dissimilarity, the stronger is the case against a particular distigme going back to the original production of Vaticanus, especially when one or more characteristics lie outside the range of any of the apricot color distigmai. The few cases cited above where there is clear evidence that the position of a distigme was changed in order to avoid interference with marginalia warrant regarding those distigmai as penned later than the interfering marginalia. The distigmai in these cases almost always have many characteristics atypical of distigmai. This confirms the usefulness of these criteria for helping to judge which distigmai are not part of the original production of Vaticanus.

Though never determinative, lack of an NA27 variant in the line adjacent to a distigme may add to other evidence that a distigme is not original. This can only be used as weak corroborating evidence, however, since approximately 35% of Vaticanus lines lacking distigme contain an NA27 variant, and since approximately 29% of the lines adjacent to an apricot color distigmai contain no NA variant.

I have not included position on the “‘wrong’ side” of a column for three reasons:

1. There are four cases like this in apricot color ink where no other symbol competes for space on the “correct” side.[10] Consequently, being in such a position does not put a distigme outside a fairly normal range of positions occupied by apricot color distigmai. One should not use any of the above criteria by itself to exclude the originality of a distigme, especially if four apricot color distigmai share that characteristic. Consequently, to assume that just because distigmai are on the less common side of text, they were forced there by some other previously written marginalia, would be inconsistent with the application I recommend for each of the other criteria for dating distigmai later than the original production of Vaticanus.

2. It is perfectly reasonable that a scribe might want to place a distigme on the side of a line closest to where the textual variant occurs, and this correlation does in fact repeatedly occur.[11]

3. Some lines have a distigme both on its right side and its left side. In one instance with no interference from other marginalia, 1339 C 42, the distigmai on each side of the line matches the color of the original ink of the manuscript. Whether this indicates two separate variants or draws special attention to one, it shows that the scribe inserting it believed that it is acceptable to place a distigme on either side of a line.

Consequently, I urge a moratorium on the use of “‘wrong’ side.” This is especially important for Head since his use of the “wrong” side of text, especially where there is no interference from other marginalia, undermines his assertion that all distigmai constitute a unified system, the product of the same process and of approximately the same date. Simply because these instances are statistically less common, however, the presence of two dots on the less frequently used side of a line of text can legitimately be used as a contributing (though not decisive in itself) factor in helping to judge which of two pairs of dots on exact opposite positions of facing ages is the original distigme and which is just the accidental transfer of ink to the facing page.

To summarize, Head provides excellent evidence that in three instances a diple was partially obscured by a distigme, and in each of these three instances other factors support that the distigmai was a later addition (p. 8), not part of the original production of Vaticanus. Head, however, provides no unambiguous evidence that any distigme should be dated after any small number. The only instance Head cites of a distigme in a non-standard position relative to a large number, namely on the outside of it at 1455 B 31, also shares many other signs of not being part of the original production of Vaticanus (p. 14). These, the only four instances where Head provides compelling evidence of distigmai being late, confirm the validity of the criteria listed above for identifying which distigmai should not be dated at the time of the original production of Vaticanus. Head has raised other factors that might, with the addition of other evidence, warrant a similar judgment. For his four astute observations and his calling attention to other evidence that might support a later dating Head deserves thanks.

The central error of Head’s thesis is his apparent assumption that all distigmai were penned at the same time. By incorrectly stating that I agree with him on this point, he diverted attention from this highly improbable assumption. There is an abundance of evidence that all distigmai were not penned at the same time, including differences in ink color, as argued above on pages 2-7. Head conceals this by making a series of incorrect assertions that give the false impression of a simple sequence of marginalia, each completely written before the next. For example, Head asserts: “the small numbers are also secondary to the diple,” but although Head is correct that most diple predate small numbers, there is significant evidence of cases where even a diple was penned after a small number (p. 11). Evidence that some diple were penned after a small number does not constitute proof that all diple were written after all small numbers. Likewise, evidence that some distigmai were written later that other marginalia does not constitute evidence that all distigmai were written later than these marginalia, and it is certainly not evidence that all distigmai were written later than all other marginalia.

Similarly, the rewriting of so many small numbers around large numbers proves that these repositioned small numbers were written after the large numbers, which Head properly regards as “added at a much later date.” Just because some small numbers were written much later than others, does not constitute proof that all small numbers were written late, and certainly not that all small numbers were written at the same late time. Why, then, should one presume that all distigmai, which display far more diversity than diple or small numbers, were written at the same time and, consequently, that all can be dated as late as the latest one?

Head shifts grounds on crucial issues, such as appealing to “the colour and faded nature” of diple to “place these in the production stage of the codex,” but rejecting that “even indeed actual similarities of observed colour … are a particularly good guide to the dating of dots.” In addition, Head vastly overstates the evidence for his thesis. For example, Head asserts “sixteen places of interference between diple and distigme,” but three have no diple, and eight are in a typical distigme position (pp. 7-8).

Head asserts that the distigmai “are later than the two different types of chapter enumeration,” but he identifies no unambiguous evidence of a small number affecting the position of a distigme. Head also asserts, “there is no evidence for the distigmai interfering with any” small number. There is, however, clear evidence that the distigme at 1278 B 12 affected the position of the small number ε (pp. 13-14). Head similarly asserts, “[T]here is no evidence for the distigmai interfering with any” large number. Page 15, however, cites evidence that distigmai interfered with two large numbers. Head appeals to six other marginalia that he alleges to confirm “that the distigmai are late additions to the margins of Codex Vaticanus,” but none of them give unambiguous support for this, whereas several undermine his thesis (pp. 15-18).

Head’s assertions about de Sepulveda lack proper documentation, shift without clear definitions between Erasmus and other texts, and leave unexplained what Head means by Greek and Latin “textual variants.” It is clear, however, that Head must not mean significant Greek textual variants of the sort I have identified from the NA27 since they would not produce the 92% or 98% correspondence rate he claims. Head makes the audacious proposal that de Sepulveda, presumably in order to show errors in Erasmus’s text, added “perhaps 825 distigmai,” not to a copy of Erasmus’s text, but to the irreplaceable Codex Vaticanus, and that he carelessly turned the pages while his ink was still wet causing mirror impressions on the facing page of more than fifty distigmai. Head asserts all this regarding the manuscript that has more documentation of being jealously preserved than any other Greek text of Scripture.

The Payne-Canart thesis is primarily that those (51) distigmai (excluding mirror impressions[12]) that match the apricot color of the original text and of the original diple of Vaticanus should be regarded as part of the original production of Codex Vaticanus. Secondarily, it is that distigme in ink that matches the re-inking of Vaticanus in the Middle Ages are most naturally dated to that time. Whenever apricot color ink protrudes from under the edges of a dark brown distigme, it can reasonably be assumed that it is a distigme penned as part of the original production of Vaticanus that was re-inked later. Since the process of re-inking is abundantly attested for text and selectively attested for distigmai, but in a percentage of distigme occurrences corresponding to the percentage of text that is not re-inked, it is my working hypothesis that unless there is evidence to the contrary (as listed above, including evidence from interaction with other marginalia), the distigmai that match the color of the re-inking, even when no apricot ink is visible protruding from under them, should be tentatively regarded as re-inked distigmai from the original production of Vaticanus.

This working hypothesis is distinct from the Payne-Canart thesis, and I am perfectly open to any sort of contrary evidence that would reassign any number of these to another category, including a scribe in the Middle Ages penning new distigmai for whatever purpose, such as the evidence cited above that some distigmai may identify misspellings.[13] It is my hope that some sort of scientific analysis of the distigmai, such as was done on the Archimedes palimpsest, may provide confirmation of the presence or absence of underlying apricot color ink. Further investigation both as regards date and purpose is required regarding distigmai that do not correspond to either the original ink of Vaticanus or its re-inking in the Middle Ages. Finally, there are other pairs (e.g. vertical pairs) or trios or strings or clusters of dots that do not fit the typical characteristics of distigmai. I recommend unless evidence is found that they mark textual variants, they should not be called distigmai. Similarly, I recommend that mirror impressions of distigmai, since they are merely the accidental transfer of ink, not be called distigmai.

Head’s paper attempts to repudiate the Payne-Canart thesis and the evidence we adduce for it from the matching apricot color of original text, most diple, and fifty-one distigmai. Nevertheless, the Payne-Canart thesis is compatible with all the underlying data to which Head appeals. On the other hand, much of the Vaticanus marginalia data contradicts Head’s thesis. Head’s paper provides no explanation for the sharp distinctions in distigmai ink color throughout Vaticanus and across its pages, including apricot color matching the original ink color of Vaticanus and dark chocolate brown color matching the re-inking in the Middle Ages, or for why some distigmai have apricot color ink protruding from the edges of dark chocolate brown distigmai, or why one distigme has one apricot color dot and one chocolate brown color dot (p. 4). Nor does it explain why there is statistically overwhelming correlation and between apricot color ink distigmai and significant textual variants of the sorts identified by the NA27.

Thus, although Head’s thesis that de Sepulveda penned all the Vaticanus distigmai is simple, it does not adequately account for the marginalia data. It is economical, but since much of the data contradicts it, it is simplistic and should not stand. The famous aphorism derived from H. L. Mencken aptly describes Head’s solution: “For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.”[14] The more comprehensive Payne-Canart thesis with its attention to variations in the marginalia, including variations in ink color, however, does justice to the Vaticanus marginalia data in all their variety and welcomes further insights.

[1] The clearest exception to this among the apricot color distigmai is the slightly elongated dots in the distigme at 1279 C 41.

[2] The clearest exceptions to this among the apricot color distigmai are the faint distigmai at 1264 C 29 and 1345 B 11, which may appear small due to the faded ink, and the enlarged left dot of 1261 A 21, which the scribe’s pen may have touched twice.

[3] Slight variation is common, e.g. the right dot slightly higher in 1261 A 21, 1336 A 22, 1351 A 6, 1370 A 32, 1468 B 3, and 1475 B 11 and the left dot slightly higher in 1264 C 29, 1357 C 1, 1380 A 26, 1419 B 36. The greatest such divergence from horizontal among the apricot distigmai is 1351 A 6.

[4] These are comparatively consistent. The apricot color distigmai with dots closest together is at 1308 B 27. Other close ones are 1243 B 21 and 1264 C 29, but none overlap. The farthest apart is 1261 A 21, but 1380 A 26, 1381 C 26, and 1473 A 6 are separated a similar distance.

[5] Three are 4 mm from text (1279 B 1, 1287 C 29, 1296 A 14), two are 4.5 mm from text (1332 B 10, 1457 B 24), two are 5 mm from text (1382 C 39, 1499 C 42), one is 5.5 mm from text (1401 C 41), two are 6 mm (1279 C 41, 1332 C 20), one is at 7 mm (1352 A 40), and one is at 8.5 mm (1264 C 29), all with no interference from other marginalia. One is at 9 mm with a diple separating it from the text on 1309 A 23. This is not surprising in light of the evidence listed above that diple were written concurrently with the text and prior to distigmai. This is the only distigme on its page so its positioning does not look out of place. One at 1277 C 19 is 9.5 mm from text and is above and to the right of a small number Δ that bleeds through from the reverse side of the vellum. This, however, may be just coincidence since the distigme closest to it, at 1277 C 3 also extends significantly into the margin (over 7 mm) with no interference from any other mark, and both it and the distigme at 1277 C 3 lie on a level with the very top of preceding text and so are in harmonious positions. More likely, however, is that Willker is correct that 1277 C 19 is a mirror impression from 1276 A 19, which is 7.5 mm from text. If so, then the original distigme at 1276 A 19 left an apricot color mirror impression at 1277 C 19, and only the original distigme at 1276 A 19 was re-inked with dark chocolate brown ink, not its mirror impression, which perhaps because of its faintness was missed by the re-inker. Θ has θεωποῦσαι in the middle of 1276 A 19, before rather than after ἀπὸ μακρόθεν according to Reuben J. Swanson, New Testament Greek Manuscripts: Variant Readings Arranged in Horizontal Lines against Codex Vaticanus (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), 288.

[6] 1264 C 29, 1296 A 14, 1345 B 11, 1351 A 6, either 1380 A 26 or 1381 C 26 (since one is a mirror impression), and 1475 B 11. Willker is probably correct at that 1277 C 19 is a mirror impression; see n. 72.

[7] 1300 A 37, 1300 A 39, and 1466 B 6.

[8] Although there are no clear examples of this among the apricot distigmai, there are four instances where it is possible that the pen slipped slightly or made double contact with the vellum: 1261 A 21, 1287 C 29, 1380 A 26, and 1401 C 41.

[9] The 1968 color reproduction of the NT of Vaticanus is almost worthless in assessing ink color. Even different volumes of that edition vary dramatically. I confirmed one distigme that was red in one volume and brown in another. The millennial edition is excellent, but only the original permits definitive judgments. Ink color that matches the re-inking argues against a date after the Middle Ages. In light of evidence that the re-inking included distigmai as well as text (see above, page 4 and footnotes 8-9), it is perhaps most judicious to regard distigmai whose ink appears to match the adjacent re-inked text as having been re-inked as well, unless there is evidence that they are later. In cases where no apricot color ink is visible, confirmation awaits scientific testing, such as was done in the Archimedes palimpsest analysis. Perhaps such analysis will one day confirm which dark chocolate brown distigmai were traced over original apricot color distigmai and whether some were added later.

[10]1243 B 21, 1339 C 42, 1350 B 18, and 1351 A 6.

[11] Cf. the examples listed above, p. 12.

[12] Cf. above, n. 72 regarding 1277 C 19.

[13] Cf. above, p. 4.

[14] H. L. Mencken originally published this in “The Divine Afflatus” in New York Evening Mail (16 November 1917) as: “Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.” It was later published in Prejudices: Second Series (1920) and A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949). Citation from


  1. Thanks again to Philip for this detailed response to my presentation.
    I see now that he has misunderstood the systemic nature of my argument. E.g. he writes: "because some small numbers were written much later than others, does not constitute proof that all small numbers were written late, and certainly not that all small numbers were written at the same late time".
    My point IS that the small numbers are a system added to the margins at the same time (palaeographically speaking). One cannot really imagine someone adding 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 (leaving a convenient location for 6 to be added several hundred years later by someone else). It is a system. It has systemic characteristics.
    So also are the umlauts. They are a noting system. So also are the diplai, and the large numbers.
    The point of my presentation was to compare the systems at the points of interference - that is the way to gain some purchase on the relative priority/chronology of the systems.

    On this basis, while acknowledging that Philip thinks I am wrong on the systemic unity of the umlauts, he must presumably accept that if I am correct in thinking that they are all part of the same system then they are all very late (on the basis of his acceptance of my four astute observations).

    This corresponds to my prediction that the only way for Philip to maintain his view of the umlauts would be to jettison their unity and hypothesise that unknown individuals using an otherwise unknown system annotated the codex repeatedly over the centuries. The problems with this will be obvious to most readers.

    I am happy to embrace the truth that my sentence about Sepulveda lacked documentation. The presentation was about the marginalia. The documentation about the level of agreement between the points-where-dots-are-found and Erasmus will be made available in due course. I am sorry that it is not available now, but I'm sure that readers will understand that if a 20 minute conference presentation can generate this level of interest, the published work needs to be carefully checked.

  2. Gregg SchwendnerFebruary 09, 2010

    I don't understand the need for a neologism such as distigme, although I have read the post of MONDAY, JANUARY 05, 2009 that explains its genesis.The reference to Gardthausen as an authority is a little harder to understand, but never mind.
    Stigme usually describes a type of punctuation (low low middle or high stop).
    The problem with this sort of neologism is that it lends an air of authenticity that is wholly unwarranted. The critical signs to which names are ascribed in Turner, Greek Mss. of the Ancient World, all derive from a Greek source.
    Isn't it possible to be simply descriptive (horizontal marginal dots) without the use of a made up term that begs the questions, viz. Is this an ancient phenomenon at all, and if so, what is its purpose? Even a brief acquaintance with Turner's volume will show what a fraught undertaking this second question poses, for in most cases, scholars have to honestly admit we do not know the function of such critical signs.

  3. I think we can see two different schools of thought in this matter (IMO).

    1) The Payne-Canart hypothesis, where distigmai are not all of the same era. Hence, they were penned by different scribes, later ones adding more and more. Some are early, some are late.

    2) The Head hypothesis, where all distigmai were systematically made by one and the same scribe. All are presumably late.

    so, which one is more probable, and where do we go from here?

  4. Gregg, the consideration is also practical. In a discussion, the designation "horizontal marginal dots" would be a bit heavy. There were other suggestions, such as double dots. In any case, the former term, "Umlauts" was not so good.

    I think distigma/distigmata was proposed by David Parker in his New Testament Manuscripts and Their Text. Subsequently, I pointed out to Payne that stigme/stigmai is used in Homeric textual criticism, and so it was distigme/distigmai. Apparently it is a critical sign in Vaticanus, and it is at least some hundred years old. When is it wrong to use a Greek term for a sign in a Greek manuscript? Where would you draw the line?

  5. Peter Head refers to Payne’s “acceptance of my four astute observations).”

    I do not accept that all the diple, all small numbers, or all distigmai were written at the same time. I dispute the likelihood that de Sepulveda added the distigme and the square-root-shaped section mark at the beginning of the first minuscule page. I argue that both were more likely copied from the fragment of this page that was replaced. I dispute above Head’s assumption that “wrong side” positioning shows that some other marginalia influenced the position of a distigme. I have demonstrated a pattern of known textual variants associated with the right side of the column of text where a distigme is on the right side of a column. I have also identified many instances where evidence of interference points in the opposite direction than Head’s thesis.

    Head writes, “the only way for Philip to maintain his view of the umlauts would be to jettison their unity and hypothesise that unknown individuals using an otherwise unknown system annotated the codex repeatedly over the centuries.”

    As I have stated and demonstrated with various quotations from my works, it has never been my view that all pairs of dots in Codex Vaticanus were written at the same time. Consequently, I need jettison nothing. I simply maintain my view that not all dots in Codex Vaticanus were written at the same time. And please, call them by their proper name, distigmai, not umlauts. It is irrelevant that the names of scribes adding dots to the manuscript may be unknown. It is not correct to speak of distigmai as an “unknown” system. On the history of use of stigmai as text-critical signs see Man and Woman, One in Christ, pages 232-33, available for $17.75 from

    Distigmai matching the apricot color of the original ink of the manuscript presumably date to the original production of the Codex. Distigmai in the dark chocolate brown ink color matching the re-inking of Vaticanus in the Middle Ages presumably come from that time. The big question is how many of them are simply the re-inking of distigmai that date to the original production of the manuscript. Whether there were times other than these two when distigmai were added will depend on analysis of individual cases that can be clearly shown to have been penned at some other time. I have agreed with Head in a few cases that other marginalia affected the position of a distigme. One should not presume prior to such analysis that this was done “repeatedly over the centuries.”

    Peter Head wrote, “My point IS that the small numbers are a system added to the margins at the same time (palaeographically speaking).”

    I do not dispute that there were an original set of numbers basically in sequence (exempt Hebrews). I identified, however, many small numbers visible in Codex Vaticanus that were rewritten after a large number partially obscured the original small number. New small numbers were added after a large number at 1387 C 13-14, 1388 B 18, 1394 B 37, 1399 B 18, 1401 A 18-19, 1414 A 27, 1418 B 13, 1424 C 2-3, 1427 C 40, 1431 C 25, 1433 C 11, 1457 C1, 1465 B 19, 1466 A 28, 1467 C 6, 1471 B 20, 1474 B 5, 1478 C 10, 1495 C 20, 1508 C 3, 1511 B 21, and 1513 C 10. Consequently, not all the small numbers in Codex Vaticanus were written at the same time. Since Head dates the large numbers long after the original set of small numbers, he should acknowledge that many of the small numbers were added to Vaticanus long after the original set of small numbers. Since it is incorrect to say that even sequentially arranged small numbers were all written at the same time, how much more is it dubious to assume that all distigme were written at the same time, especially if one includes distigme in various ink colors, in various relative orientations and clusters including more than two dots, as Head’s citations and distigme count do. Some even appear to have a different purpose, to mark spelling corrections. Head’s systemic unity thesis does not account for this variety.

  6. Philip, "Distigmai" is not their proper name, but merely the name that a group of scholars has decided to call them. It is quite legitimate for another group of scholars to call them something else. I prefer the term umlauts because (a) it cannot be mistakenly thought to be an ancient term; (b) it is probably the most widespread term in the world for two dots side by side; (c) anyone hearing the phrase 'umlauts in the margin of Vaticanus' knows roughly what to imagine; not so with distigmai; (d) there are other advantages too, incl. formation of sg and pl.

    For myself, I will only use a term that is self-evidently not ancient. Anything else leads to confusion. I believe I'm not alone in this.

  7. Gregg Schwendner wrote, “I don't understand the need for a neologism such as distigme.”

    There are good reasons for this nomenclature. I formerly called these pairs of dots “umlauts” because of their shape, but their function is unrelated to umlauts, and many scholars objected to this inappropriate term. Consequently, I invited and facilitated input and interaction from scholars in relevant specialties. New Testament textual critics David Parker, Hugh Houghton, Tommy Wasserman, Philip Payne, Michael Holmes, Paul Canart, Timothy Brown, and classicist Adrian Kelly, with advice from Bart Ehrman and codicologist Patrick Andrist, agreed to designate distigme (pl. distigmai) as the official name for these pairs of dots. This term is an ideal name since di is the standard Greek prefix meaning two, and the feminine noun stigme (pl. stigmai) is the standard Greek word for dots in manuscripts.

    Stigme and stigmai were used as text-critical signs in the Homeric tradition, in MSS, in the scholia vetera and the scholia recentiora, by Origen, and also in modern treatments of Homeric textual criticism. For example, Wilhelm Dindorf (Scholia Graeca in Homeri Iliadem ex Codicibus aucta et emendata [Oxford, Clarendon, 1875], xlvi) notes that Codex Harleianus 5693 includes a text-critical sign list written in a sixteenth-century hand citing two horizontally aligned dots named “duo stigmai” (δύο στιγμαί) and the explanation: “The antisigma and the duo stigmai [are used] in this order when the same thought is written twice. The antisigma is put on the former, and the duo [Friedrich Gotthilf Osann added this third instance of “duo”] stigmai on the latter.”

    Adrian Kelly (A Referential Commentary and Lexicon to Iliad VIII [Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2007], 400–401) identifies “critical signs in the margins of MS A (antisigma to 535–7, and stigmai to 538–40) … Aristarkhos considered 535–37 a doublet to 538–40 and preferred the latter … almost every editor considers that something should be excised or bracketed.”

    Stigme is part of the ancient name of various symbols that identify textual variants containing dots, including diplē periestigmenē, obelos periestigmenos, and antisigma periestigmenon. The final “e” of distigme is pronounced “ei” since it represents a Greek eta. Traditionally words like distigme and distigmai are not italicized, capitalized (unless beginning a sentence), or put in quotes, and the final “e” of distigme should not have a macron or accent.

  8. What is the conventional spelling of the plural of "diple" (the symbols shaped like a "greater than" sign, but typically with both strokes having
    being concave, which commonly identify text that is quoted from the LXX in early manuscripts like Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus)? I have seen in the literature both "diples" and "diple" (as used by Peter Head for the plural, which I followed only to respect his usage).

    If there is no conventional spelling for the plural, what would the ideal spelling be?

    Am I correct to assume that the pronunciation of diple is like "triple"?

  9. I prefer bipünctum which should always be spelled with the umlaut (or should I say bipünctum) over the u. Also, it should always be italicized (scare quotes are optional.) I think that we should have a poll to decide which term will be canonized as the official term for our blog.

    a. umlaut
    b. distigme
    c. bipünctum
    d. "those Vaticanus dots"
    e. -----------

    The "e" option basically works like the name Voldemort in the Harry Potter novels. Under this option, the bipüncta are considered so pernicious that any direct reference is forbidden.

  10. Christian, I suppose this is a Norwegian joke ;-)

  11. I think we should wait for Peter to present his table.
    If it's true, as he proposes, that more than 90% of the umlauts can be explained as deviations from Erasmus' GNT, then I am convinced that they are late. Everything points to a late origin. The only argument against it is the faded color of some of the umlauts. These should be checked carefully again. I have proposed an possible explanation here:

    A full explanation of the umlauts must take the OT into account. Here we also have umlauts and we have so called triplets and Hexaplaric signs.

    PS: I would call these dots "Dofkau" (Dots formerly known as Umlauts). :-)

  12. For those unfamiliar with Tommy's nomenclature, Norwegian jokes are basically like Swedish jokes, except a bit funnier.

  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  14. Decisions about nomenclature are interesting aren't they. But such decisions are not value-neutral. An ancient sounding name is helpful for and congruent with an ancient point of origin. Especially when backed by the official approval of some people.

    As for me I can live with umlaut, dot pair, distigme, dofkau and even bipünctum. I think emerging clarity on their late date and comparative insignificance is more important than nomenclature.

  15. Wieland Willker wrote, “Everything points to a late origin. The only argument against it is the faded color of some of the umlauts.”

    As I have argued in detail in my critique, there are many other arguments against dating all distigmai to a late origin in de Sepulveda’s time, including the following nine:

    1. There is clear evidence that the distigme at 1278 B 12 affected the position of the small number epsilon. This small number is significantly farther left than any of the small numbers between two columns of text throughout Matthew or Mark. The obvious reason for this is to avoid intruding on the distigme to its right. Consequently, at least this one distigme should be regarded as written earlier than this small number. Since Head dates the small numbers early, “perhaps fifth century,” this distigme contradicts Head’s thesis that all distigmai were written in the sixteenth century and does so by at least a millennium.

    2. How can all be distigmai be the product of the same process and of approximately the same date in cases where there seems to be obvious re-inking? Re-inking is a very different process than the noting of the location of textual variants, one that would only be reasonable after the original ink had faded, which is a process that takes considerable time. Particularly problematic for Head’s view is the distigme at 1409 B 25 (Acts 18:16), where the left dot appears to be re-inked but the right dot is not re-inked and still displays what Canart classifies as “probable” to be the original ink of the codex.

    3. Canart discerned traces of the original apricot ink color of the codex protruding from the distigme at 1469 A 3 (1 Cor 9:22), which is also clearly visible in the new facsimile.

    4. Canart discerned traces of the original apricot ink color of the codex protruding from the distigme at 1501 B 42 (Phil 3:16-17).

    5. At Willker notes “at least in one instance [1383 A 4 R where] the reinforcer reinforced [a distigme] which shows through the page from the verso.” This was clearly a different process than de Sepulveda noting textual variants.

    6. Although Head asserts, “[T]here is no evidence for the distigmai interfering with any” large number, there is evidence of this. The large number at 1486 C 20 (2 Cor 12:11) is positioned to the left of the distigme even though the bar that goes over it extends over the distigme. In every other instance of a large number from the beginning of 1 Corinthians to the end of the uncial text of Vaticanus, the overbar is always directly over each large number, never extending out this far beyond the number. The only other instance of a bar extending to the right of a large number theta like this, 1416 C 17 at Acts 23:1, also extends over an addition in the margin, suggesting that in both instances it is the additional material in the margin that attracted the extension of the bar beyond the large number theta. This adds to the evidence that the distigme at 1486 C 22 is more likely to have affected the positioning of this large number than vice versa.

    7. The tail of the large number at 1508 C 3-5 extends farther left than normal (see my third segment) where there is a distigme in a normal position to its right.

    8. The chi at 1409 C 10 is midway between the two letters alpha and rho. Its usual position is above the slanted rho in alpha rho (see my third segment). This indicates that the chi at 1409 C 10 was adjusted left to avoid overlapping the distigme.

    9. Canart has judged fifty-one distigmai to match the color of the original ink of Vaticanus, one of Head’s arguments for placing diplai [the proper plural form according to Timothy Brown] in the production stage of the codex.

    All of this evidence that distigmai were penned earlier than other marginalia and before de Sepulveda is particularly problematic for Head’s thesis that all distigmai are “the product of a single process of approximately the same date,” since even one exception would disprove his thesis.

  16. On the diple, it is an ancient siglum and it was called diple (plural diplai) (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, 3.65). It was originally a general purpose mark, drawing attention to a variety of notable features in a literary text. In the second century (AD)it was occasionally used to mark quotations, and this usage was taken over by some Christian scribes to mark citations of Scripture. Isidore of Seville, (Etymologies 1.21.13), in the early 7th c., remarked on this phenomenon in a section on critical marks. Isidore does not mention, by the way, any double stigmai in his discussion of critical marks.

  17. C. E. Hill wrote, "On the diple, it is an ancient siglum and it was called diple (plural diplai) (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, 3.65)."

    Thank you very much! Timothy Brown affirmed the same independently. I encourage all of us to use diple (pronounced like "triple") for the singluar only and diplai for the plural. I will edit my full critique accordingly so the the PDF that Tommy Wasserman will post will follow proper convention.

  18. Gregg SchwendnerFebruary 10, 2010

    Maybe this is in part a cross disciplinary misunderstanding. In Classical Studies, the practice is to use Greek terms for critical signs where there is ancient evidence for them, e.g. in Aristonicus De signis Iliadis. Turner has a very good collection of such signs, with and without Greek names.
    And if there is some question, as there seems to be, of the antiquity, it begs the question (petitio principii) to introduce such a made-up term in this way, and gives the appearance that one is stretching evidence further than it can reasonably travel.

    The term stigme is indeed used in literary papyri, esp. but not exclusively, in Homer as a punctuation mark, as I said (they occur in the Cologne Mani Codex, e.g.: Koenen-Roemer, Der Koelner Mani-Kodex: Abbildungen u. Diplomatischer Text, xvi-xvii). See also E. Dickey, Ancient Greek Scholarship, p.258 s.v. στιγμή and στίζω and the lit. there cited, and Turner, GMAW ed. 2 p.9.
    It never seems to be used to denote a critical sign (except as noted below). περιεστιγμένη is used as a descriptor of ancient critical signs, such as the diple (I was taught to say /di-PLAY/ but my teacher did not speak English natively), but means "with dots put around it". But here again, nothing to my mind justifies making up a supposedly Greek term that no Greek ever wrote. The technical work of Prof. Payne seems to be painstaking and precise; the same amount of precision is required in matters of terminology.

    The passage in Homer Iliad VIII in ms. Venetus A is not helpful. The scholion there reads "Three lines must remain: those the anitsigma is placed next to, or the following three, next to which dots are placed." δεῖ τοὺς τρεῖς στίχους μένειν, οἷς τὸ ἀντίσιγμα παράκειται, ἢ τοὺς
    ἑξῆς τρεῖς, οἷς αἱ στιγμαὶ παράκεινται (Erbse Scholia Graeca in Homeri Iliadem: scholia vetera ad Iliad 8.535-7)
    In Comparetti's photographic (page 111 recto) one sees clearly three antisigmata, and a single dot next to ll. 538-40 in the left margin. "Cancel dots" (Turner's term), also called dots of expunction, are used to mark a letter to be deleted. It is therefore no surprise to see such a mark used where an entire line is to be expunged.

  19. Thanks Gregg for your reply. First I should say, also in response to Pete who mentioned "official approval" that Philip Payne contacted a number of people for advice about how to term these horizontal dots. Some of them, including me, responded. I first questioned whether it was appropriate to change from Umlauts 13 years after the discovery since that term was established. In light of some critique like I accepted the idea of a new term.

    For example, David Parker wrote in his An Introduction to the NT MSS and Their Texts: on p. 73: "P.B. Payne has recently drawn attention ... The description of these as 'umlauts' is graphic but inappropriate. The use of points in critical sigla in antiquity is found in the DIPLH PERIESTIGMENH, the OBELOS PERIESTIGMENOS and the ANTISTIGMA PERIESTIGMENON, but the textbooks seem to be silent on this precise phenomenon (e.g. Gardthausen, Palaeographie ... Perhaps DISTIGMA would be a more appropriate term."

    So in the light of such critique a new term was sought. I did not think then about the factor that Gregg raises, that a Greek term would imply that the critical sign was ancient. First, the question of dating was open (after all, Peter hadn't read his paper ;-).

    Secondly, I still wonder if and where one can draw a hard line when Greek terms can be used or not. What I mean is how to divide the history of Greek manuscripts and their annotation. Are there not features that occur for the first time in medieval MSS but have Greek terms?

  20. PH: "As for me I can live with umlaut, dot pair, distigme, dofkau and even bipünctum."

    In deference to its scholarly gravitas, bipünctum should always be italicized.

  21. Distigmai also occur in the margin of the Hexaplar Codex Colberto-Sarravianus (LXX G). It's similar enough to Vaticanus that one wonders if they may have come from the same scriptorium.

    Whilst we are on the subject of re-inking in Vaticanus, is there any way of telling the difference in a critical apparatus between apricot-inked and chocolate-inked readings? Would the first be noted as 03*?

    All this food talk gives me an idea for a menu item at the next SBL ETC dinner: chocolate-covered apricots.

  22. Daniel Buck wrote, “Distigmai also occur in the margin of the Hexaplar Codex Colberto-Sarravianus (LXX G). ...Is there any way of telling the difference in a critical apparatus between apricot-inked and chocolate-inked readings? Would the first be noted as 03*? ... at the next SBL ETC dinner: chocolate-covered apricots.”

    Thank you, Daniel Buck, for this brilliant observation and delicious suggestion.

    I recommend B¨* as the official designation of the distigmai that have been confirmed by an expert to match the color of the original ink of Vaticanus. Any distigmai with apricot color ink protruding from under the re-inking should also be designated B¨* (that is B distigmai asterisk).

    The extensive evidence I have presented that is incompatible with Head’s thesis that all distigmai are late combined with this report of Distigmai in the margin of the Hexaplar Codex Colberto-Sarravianus (LXX G, which is dated to the fourth or fifth century in Rahlfs) similar enough to Vaticanus that it may have come from the same scriptorium, should confirm the appropriateness of the use of the nomenclature “distigme” and “distigmai.”

  23. Daniel wrote: "Distigmai also occur in the margin of the Hexaplar Codex Colberto-Sarravianus (LXX G)."

    I wonder if I haven't discussed this with you or someone else a long time ago, maybe on this blog? I remember vaguely that I checked an image where there were dots, but it was not the same phenomenon as in Vaticanus. Are you sure it is not another critical sign, dot / dot, which has another function and name. Can you send me an image?

  24. Tommy, our discussion was here:

    These hexaplar markings, at least on the sample page, are all along the left margin, but incorporated into the text--obviously not added later.

  25. Codex Colberto-Sarravianus (three different sections are extant--130 leaves at Leiden, 22 at Paris, and 1 at Leningrad--the names of the first two are here combined) is the most extensive Hexaplaric LXX to survive, and basically the oldest as well. It contains the Hexateuch, and appears to share an interesting tie-in with Codex Vaticanus at TOU QEOU UMWN at Deuteronomy 9:22-23. I'll try to pin down the reference, especially if someone can get me the Vaticanus text.

  26. As was pointed out in the earlier discussion referenced by Daniel Buck, the marginal markings in Codex Colberto-Sarravianus (at least in the plate on page 81 of Metzger's Manuscripts of the Greek Bible) are not double dots. The only ones visible on that page are asterisk and obelus, Origen's markings for passages added or omitted from the Hebrew (respectively). These were standard signs for additions and omissions in the Aristarchan tradition. The only double dots I can see on that page are the diarhesis marks over certain vowels in the text, not in the margins.

  27. There is a photograph of a page of Hexaplar Codex Colberto-Sarravianus with three distigmai in the left hand margin in locations corresponding to typical Vaticanus distigmai. Each is highlighted in pink and labeled as “obelus (umlaut)” at Under the image is a citation from Wurthwein’s The Text of the Old Testament, “On the page shown, an obelos marks the words: This indicates that Origen found these words in the LXX, but that they were NOT in the Hebrew text.” The web site comments, “his basic explanation is sound … What is of particular interest here, however, is the actual form of the ‘obelus’. It is in fact an umlaut. There is no doubt in this case that the function is indeed that of ‘obelus’, at least according to Origen’s version of that function. Here the ‘obelus’ (actually an umlaut, a sideways colon) marks a part of the Greek which is not found in the 2nd century A.D. (Massoretic) Hebrew text. When the passage extends beyond a single line, each new line that continues the reading is marked also at the beginning (outside the margin) with the same sign (either Asterisk or Obelus). The most important thing about this particular example here, is that we can observe that these marks are indeed by the original scribe, since in many cases, the beginning and ending marks are actually IN THE MAIN TEXT. The text has not been erased and re-written to make room. Instead, obviously the original scribe was aware of the Hexapla markings and incorporated them into his text as he wrote.”

    The presence of distigmai that look and are positioned similarly to those in Vaticanus and that also note the location of textual variants as part of a manuscript that in its original form represents Origin’s Hexaplaric notations of textual variants and is of similar age to Vaticanus gives robust support that such notation was is use in roughly that time and possibly the same scriptorium, as suggested by Daniel Buck.

    Similarly, there are distigmai in the margin of the LXX of Codex Vaticanus. Willker’s web site notes that 10 of 14 distigmai in the LXX have variants cited in Rahlfs, even though it reports a very limited number of manuscripts. Willker’s list at cites 17 distigmai in the LXX of Codex Vaticanus.

    Head’s thesis that tries to explain all the Vaticanus distigmai as the work of one man, de Sepulveda, trying to show that Erasmus’s NT text is faulty, does not account for these distigmai. Furthermore, Head’s view seems to be based on the assumption that such use of distigmai would be out of place in the fourth century. These examples give evidence to the contrary, that distigmai were in use in the fourth to fifth centuries to mark textual variants. Consequently, one should not dismiss the evidence that the fifty-one distigmai that match the original ink color of Vaticanus were penned as part of the original production of Codex Vaticanus.

  28. PP: " robust support that such notation was is use in roughly that time"

    Phil, I would not call that robust support. I think you are on slippery ice here (Swedish saying). It is a different and established ancient critical sign.

    Nevertheless, I think the question whether these two MSS come from the same scriptorium is interesting but I think we need more evidence.

  29. The bipüncta in the image referenced by PhP appear to have the same form, but a different function. The Colberto-Sarravianus bipüncta iterate, precisely highlighting a phrase delimited by corresponding colons within the text. From my limited familiarity with the phenomenon, Vaticanus bipüncta do not correspond to colons and they do not iterate; thus, we must reconstruct what exactly they were intended to mark.

  30. Having looked at the page on the website Phil mentioned, it looks like Tommy and Christian are right that the double dots in Colberto-Sarravianus are part of an established system, one that is at least different from what we see in Vaticanus. In the former ms they simply look like a 'defective' obelus (cf. the form used on the page of this ms reproduced on p.81 of Metzger's Manuscripts of the Greek Bible).

  31. Which is basically what I've been saying all along. I was a little frustrated last time around that no one appeared to 'get it' that there really are bipüncta in Colberto-Sarravianus. Maybe general enlightenment was just awaiting the new nomenclature.

    I'll concede for now that they don't serve the exact same purpose as the distigmai in Vaticanus. When can we talk about the stigmai that mark the omission of the PA in the texts of p66, p75, and Codex Sinaiticus?

  32. Tommy Wasserman wrote, “I would not call that robust support. … It is a different and established ancient critical sign. Nevertheless, I think the question whether these two MSS come from the same scriptorium is interesting but I think we need more evidence.”

    I used the expression “robust support” specifically “that such notation was is use in roughly that time.” Following is my exact statement:

    “The presence of distigmai that look and are positioned similarly to those in Vaticanus and that also note the location of textual variants as part of a manuscript that in its original form represents Origin’s Hexaplaric notations of textual variants and is of similar age to Vaticanus gives robust support that such notation was is use in roughly that time and possibly the same scriptorium, as suggested by Daniel Buck.”

    My point is not that the usage is identical. I agree that these distigmai in Hexaplar Codex Colberto-Sarravianus mark the locations where the following LXX text differs from the MT. In both it and Vaticanus, however, the distigmai mark the location of textual variants. If the usage were identical, one could allege that the distigmai are all late, as Head does for Vaticanus. It is specifically because these distigmai have related marks in the text that they are regarded as part of the original production of the manuscript. My point is that, “These examples give evidence that distigmai were in use in the fourth to fifth centuries to mark textual variants.” Do you dispute that this is robust evidence of this?

    Daniel Buck’s interesting suggestion that both manuscripts were produced in the same scriptorium provides an explanation (if Canart and I are correct that many of the distigmai in Codex Vaticanus date to its original production in the mid fourth century) why the obelus form matches the distigme form and positioning in Codex Vaticanus. A scribe in this scriptorium (or aware of its use in Vaticanus) adopted this simple symbol for a variant textual reading on the following line since it was a convenient way to make such readings easy to find.

    If Hexaplar Codex Colberto-Sarravianus does use distigmai to mark textual variants (including variants between the LXX and MT), this seriously undermines the objection that no one in the fourth century would have used distigmai to mark the location of textual variants.

    Tommy Wasserman writes, “It is a different and established ancient critical sign.” Am I correct to assume that by “it” you are referring to the distigmai in Hexaplar Codex Colberto-Sarravianus as the established ancient critical sign obelus as used by Origin and in the Hexapla? Are you aware of any other manuscripts in which the obelus matches the distigme form and positioning in Codex Vaticanus? How does one explain this as naturally if no Vaticanus distigmai are earlier than the writing of the Hexaplar Codex Colberto-Sarravianus?

  33. Phil, I apparently misunderstood what you meant by "robust support".

    I admit that the use of this version of the obelus shows that scribes in this time could use two horizontal dots as a text-critical sign.

    However, the sign is used differently in several respects: it marks a distinct type of variation; it has a corresponding sign (metobelus); and the positioning, I think, is not equal - I assume that, just as the obelus/asterisk + metobelus it can occur anywhere in the text.