Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Visual Proof of the Original Reading at Mark 1.1

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In honor of our newest blog member who is an expert in all manuscripts purple, here is something I noticed last week in class.

It’s not uncommon for Gospels manuscripts to feature portraits of the Evangelists writing out the first line or so of their Gospel. Now, look closely at the text Mark is copying in this miniature from Codex Rossanensis/042 (6th cent.). Elijah can tell us more about the dating of the artwork from what is perhaps the earliest illuminated NT manuscript. This is clearly telling us what the original reading is there. We have visual proof!

Okay, I kid. But here is a serious question: should this be cited as an additional witness to the longer reading? Why or why not? (The text of 042 also has the longer reading, with τοῦ.)

Miniature of Mark in 042

17 comments :

  1. Yes; illustrations such as this one should count as witnesses.
    Unfortunately even if this step were taken, the folks using the present (flawed) witness-categorization method would probably toss illustrations into the "Talisman" bucket and forget about them.

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  2. Yes, solid proof that I was right all the time!

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  3. The question I have with this illustration is the same I have with the breathing marks in Vaticanus: How do we know they weren't added much later? (And yes, that's a non-snarky, real question—there needs to be some sort of snarky "I'm just joking" emoticon or something)

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    1. That was a real question with this illustration. It's on a bifolio that was added in to the codex between two consecutively numbered gatherings. The colours are also a lot more vivid here than in the other illustrations. Otto Kresten and Giancarlo Prato argued that it was a later addition to the manuscript.

      However, a few years ago, Marina Bicchieri ran some non-invasive tests on the manuscript and proved that this page was part of the original production. The manuscript had been "restored" by Nestore Leoni around 1917–1919, and the restoration ended up damaging the manuscript, even though it was thought to be harmless at the time. Bicchieri was able to identify the methods Leoni used to restore the manuscript as well as identify some of the pigments used in its original production, and she found that this particular illustration of Mark was on a page that Leoni had not restored. The colours on this page look so much better because unlike the other illuminated pages, this one was not damaged by Leoni's restoration. Cinnabar is used for the red text at the top of this page (μαρκος), whereas lead oxide is used for red colours elsewhere, but at the same time, there is a particular green pigment made from mixing orpiment and indigo, and it's used only on two pages in the codex: here (it isn't really visible in the image here, but the bottom of the left column is green—an example of why not all photographs of manuscripts accurately show their true colours) and on p. 3, which is not disputed as original to the manuscript.

      Here (should be) a link to Bicchieri's article: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11356-014-3341-6

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  4. This art is definitely a witness to the longer reading of Mark 1:1. But since it's the same reading as found in the text of the manuscript it shouldn't be treated as an additional independent witness.

    If it did differ, that would make it a much more interesting question.

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  5. Any informed guesses as to whether this image was altogether new when the MS was produced? Might it be a reproduction of an earlier artistic tradition?

    Not that I'm inclined to give this a ton of weight.

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  6. My understanding is that many MS illuminations are copied from their exemplars or even have a tradition of their own. This "could" be an independent witness to the reading.

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    1. As I think about it, what you're saying sounds likely. The artist who illuminated the manuscript would have to be someone different than the scribe who wrote it (or so I assume). And whether that artist copied an earlier painting or came up with an original one, they still must have had either a literal image or a mental image of what they were going to paint that probably came by way of their exposure to art or texts other than the manuscript they add the illumination to.

      Does anybody know if there are any examples of illuminations with text in them that differs from the text of the manuscript they're in?

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    2. Eric, there is one in this manuscript, in fact. One of the the miniatures in the opening pages of 042 has a quotation of Zech 9:9 with the reading επι ονον και πωλον. When that is quoted at Matthew 21:5, the text is επι ονον και επι πωλον, but a corrector has erased the second επι. That the text of 022 matches the uncorrected text of 042 there proves (in my mind) that the uncorrected text is what was in the exemplar at Matthew 21:5.

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  7. Elijah,
    Is anything to say about the relation between the kephalia lists in 042 (peri ...) and inscriptions above some illuminations?
    About those who were cast out of the Temple;
    About the ten virgins;
    About the man who fell in the hands of the thieves.
    (Translations from: Il Codice Purpero di Rossano. Testi informativi didascalie e commenti coordinati Mons. Ciro Santoro, [Reggio Calabria]: Paellelo 38, 1974.)

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    1. Teunis,
      The kephalaia lists are interesting. There are kephalaia lists, and there are marginal titloi (which, in a perfect world would be the same), and there are the isolated examples you gave in the miniatures.

      The last of the three is of the parable of the Good Samaritan. Because it is only in Luke, it doesn't survive in 042. For what it's worth, it does survive in 022, which seems to have a near-identical marginal titlos for kephalaion 35 in Luke (I say near-identical only because the manuscript is damaged and a patch covers some of the titlos, so I can't be certain).

      The middle inscription (the 10 virgins) appears both in the kephalaia list and in the upper margin at Matthew 25. In both the inscription and the kephalaia list, the abbreviated numeral has dots on both sides (·ι̅·) but it does not in the marginal titlos at Matthew 25 (only ι̅). I am reluctant to make much of that.

      The first example you gave is really interesting though. It doesn't appear in either of the kephalaia lists to Matthew or Mark, but it does appear among the marginal titloi in both Gospels. At Matt. 21, περι των εκβληθεντων του ιερου is in the margin, as opposed to περι των αθεντων τυφλων και χωλων which is what the kephalaia list has for that section (46). The same thing happens at Mark, where των εκβληθεντων του ιερου (if I'm reading the difficult image correctly) is substituted for περι αμνηϲηκακιαϲ, which appears in the kephalaia list for that section (34). It also looks like the exemplar had περι των αθεντων τυφλων και χωλων in the margins at Matthew 21 as well, so maybe this is an instance of the miniature (or whatever influenced the miniature) influencing the paratextual features that occur physically later in the text.

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  8. Thanks for posting, Peter, and for your enlightening comments, Elijah. It appears as though Mark is in the act of penning the first, rubricated line after he has penned the lower text in black. Is this right, or am I deceived by the coloration of the photo?

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    1. I think the colours are off in the photo. In other images I've seen of this page, all of the text is red, and Williams Loerke described the text as red as well in his chapter in the Commentarium volume that accompanied the facsimile of 042 in the 1980s.

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  9. For the record, evangelist portraiture often shows the particular opening text of a given gospel being copied, although the only Gospel portrait that involves textual variation of necessity is Mark.

    Several portraits have not only the longer reading of Mk 1:1, but also extend the opening text to include the Byzantine reading of Mk 1:2 ("in the prophets").

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  10. Do any portraits attest to the short reading in Mk 1:1 or the "Isaiah" reading in Mk 1:2?

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    1. Not that I had noted (the portraits were only glanced at in passing during my PA collation research). I did note, however, that the Mark portrait in L-1635 has ως γεγραπτε εν βιβλω λογω [sic], with no name or even "prophets" mentioned.

      Related to this: the main text of MSS 544, 1273 reads "the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet", while MS 2680 reads in its main text "the book of the word [sic] of Isaiah the prophet. Perhaps there is some connection thereby in relation to L-1635 ?

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  11. Mmh. It seems that the artist was mainly interested in the words "son (of) the god", especially in "son". The second line begins in the middle and the artist did not use a nomun sacrum for "son", in contrast to the text of the Codex. It could be that the artist was not an impartial witness.

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