Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Greek Manuscripts with Word Division

Everyone familiar with the early Greek majuscules is used to the absence of word division, which virtually forces you to vocalise every syllable in order to make sense of the text. Latin never had this problem, and I assume that whenever we have (late) majuscules that actually contain consistent word division this is under influence of a Latin parallel. Examples are

G(012) Boernerianus:

F(010) Augiensis:

and based on the previous two, I would probable add 0130:

The current Latin text of 0130 is a late one and is therefore, I guess, the later layer of a re-used manuscript. The Greek in the margin is then part of the original version. Based on the word division and the font that is identical to the two examples above, I would assume that this manuscripts comes from the same Greek - Latin stable. All ninth century, all Swiss. Parker (Bezae, 66) agrees and informs me that the Latin part of the original 0130 was 'quite certainly' never written.

Why Latin script adopted word divisions and Greek did not till very late is still a mystery to me.


  1. Thanks Dirk. Do you know off the top of your head what is the oldest extant Gk ms with word division?

  2. Dirk: "Why Latin script adopted word divisions and Greek did not till very late is still a mystery to me"

    Part of the reason may be that -- except for certain indeclinable foreign words -- native Greek words can only end with a vowel, diphthong or one of three consonants (see Metzger, MSS of the Greek Bible, p.31), For the most part, this theoretically would obviate any real need for word division in uncial script.

  3. Codex Sangallensis 037 is one of those, too.

  4. On may better ask why Latin did separate words. Many asian scripts which use alphabets derived from the same middle eastern scripts as Greek still don't separate words. One of the difficulties of learning to read Thai is that you really need to learn to speak Thai well so that you can meaningfully separate the words out when you try to read it.

    I would think silent reading (rather than public reading) would encourage/sustain word separation, but I think Latin separated words before silent reading became common.