Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Minuscule Manuscript Quiz/Seminar 1

I was thinking about another quiz involving bits of minuscule manuscripts; but decided that a minuscule quiz might need more than isolated snippets in order to identify the manuscript, and make observations about the hand, the layout and the text, etc. Then I thought that the label "quiz" might not be the best label, since there are still plenty of things for us all to learn. So let's see if we have any interest in discussing a series of NT minuscule manuscripts.
What can you tell us about this text and this manuscript? Why is this a good place to begin?

Up-date: another page from the Uspensky Gospels (ms 461; AD 835)

Up-date: here is another page (fol. 161; Luke 1.1-6; from Hatch):


  1. This page contains Luke 1:(6) 7-13. Its most interesting reading is ἦν τοῦ λαοῦ at v.10, which differs from later Byzantines. Though its text is identical (as far as I can tell) to 230, that MS has unfortunately the wrong number of lines per page to be our mystery MS.

    The Uspenski Gospels (MS 461), on the other hand, has 19 lines per page like the mystery MS, and the plates of it that I have been able to find appear to be in much the same hand. MS 461 is noteworthy for being the earliest dated minuscule (835 AD). It also was at Mar Saba at one point.

    Unfortunately, I do not have a collation of 461 to check its readings, but, since I've already put too much time into this, I'll just stop here.

  2. Stephen is correct; it is min. 461. I guess Peter likes to start here because the ms. is dated (835 CE), and described by Barbour as 'pure minuscule'. BTW, the image comes from Barbour's Greek Literary Hands.

  3. I'm really shooting from the hip now without a lot of resources at hand.

    The hand seems to be a pretty well executed standard minuscule hand from which to learn how a 'normal' minuscule looks like. The letter forms do not vary much. I can't spot distinct majuscule letter forms.

    The hand employs modest standard ligatures, most variance is found with και (compare, e.g., second word in first line with penultimate syllable in line 9); sigma-tau combination is also standard and a puzzling feature for beginners: e.g. end of line 7: 'κατα το εθοστησ' with the sigma-tau combination accross two words; same applies to epsilon-iota and epsilon-tau combinations.

    19 lines per page does not appear to form a large book. The hand and the layout remind of 1582 (cf. Aland/Aland, Der Text der Neuen Testaments, 2nd ed. 1989, p. 156, which happens to be about the only resource at hand right now). However, the three hanging words (line 5: εγενετο, line 12: ωφθη, line 16: ειπε) effectively resist to be capitalized, which does not seem to fit with 1582. Anyway, it appears to be an old minuscule. All for the moment...

  4. Well done you three.

    461 = St Petersburg, Russ. Nat. Bibl. Gr. 219.

    Yes, earliest datest minuscule and generally regarded as a very good/pure minuscule hand.

    But what do we know about its text?

  5. Some other points:

    a) Not only is this the earliest dated NT ms, but acc to Lake, Dated Greek Manuscripts to the Year 1200, it is the earliest of any dated minuscule text (Index III on p. 34 of the Index Volume).

    b) According to Elliott's Bibliography there are several studies related to the minuscule hand, but no general treatment of the nature of the text. Stephen pointed to v10 where it sides with early texts against the later Byzantines; but there is also the word order in v7 (line 2): H ELISABET HN where this ms follows the Byzantines against earlier mss.

    c) Scrivener (1894), I.245 (who numbers this as 481) notes it once was St. Saba 9, but doesn't discuss how Uspensky got hold of it. He also says that lectionary readings are marked, but none are visible on this portion.

    d) If I had enough time I would go into how this is dated to 835. Perhaps someone else might like to answer this.

    e) Do you think that in line 8 the scribe originally wrote ELAXEN and ten deleted the final NU? And did something similar happen in line 16 with EIPEN?

    f) And I know that Ulrich noted this, but what is going on with the two forms of KAI?

    g) I have up-loaded another image to the blog page.

    h) I may not be able to comment for a day or two.

  6. Acc. to Metzger, Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p. 102 the colophon is on fol. 344 verso and says that the book was completed on the 7th of May in the 13th Indiction, Anno Mundi 6343.

    I see that details of how to unravel this are found here, though there it is called ms 861—presumably by mistake.

  7. The first attempt to post this reply seemingly failed, so here goes a second time....

    PMH: what is going on with the two forms of KAI?

    Nothing remarkable here. Scribes of minuscule MSS, when not writing KAI in pleno, will use the abbreviated form K, (with a zig attached where the comma appears), carried over from what already was used in uncial MSS; or -- perhaps by an equally convenient adaptation -- they will represent KAI by what appears to resemble our present-day "final Sigma.”.

    All in all, quite normal. for a minuscule-era scribe.

  8. Mr. Gary S. Dykes has posted a brief introduction on minuscule script and its development.


    (Dykes lists nine different abbreviations of kai. This common word belongs to the top among words with large number of abbrevations/ligatures (Dykes list could easily be expanded with the double number), other words being GAR, DE, prepositions, articles ...

  9. When I wondered 'what is going on with the two forms of KAI?' I was wondering more about the scribal pyschology of using the two different forms and whether there might be some explanation for this.
    E.g. perhaps a comprehension issue: abbreviate in one form when KAI means 'and'; and use another form when it means 'also' or 'even'. Or perhaps a space issue: spell in full to fill up a line, abbreviate at other points. Or some other theory (that would fit the evidence).

  10. PMH: perhaps a comprehension issue: abbreviate in one form when KAI means 'and'; and use another form when it means 'also' or 'even'. Or perhaps a space issue: spell in full to fill up a line, abbreviate at other points.

    From my collation work in the Pericope Adulterae, varying forms of KAI continually recur at differing places within that short pericope, dependent apparently solely on the inclination of that particular scribe. Certainly no distinction between "and" or "even" was involved in such cases, nor (except at the very end of a line) would abbreviation or expansion to help make things fit seem a real option.

    Perhaps Tommy Wasserman might have something similar to say in relation to his collation work in Jude.

  11. MAR: "Perhaps Tommy Wasserman might have something similar to say in relation to his collation work in Jude."

    I agree with Maurice's judgment, without being scientific. The same can definitely be said of the different forms of ligatures; the same scribe may use a number of different variants of a ligature. When it comes to abbrevations and superposition, etc there might be a consideration of space, but the speed issue is probably much more important (tachygraphy).

    Another factor: It would be interesting to take a number of mother-daughter MSS and compare these kind of features to see to what extent the scribes follow their exemplar in this regard. My guess is that they will differ a lot, but I guess the form in the exemplar will also have some impact on the scribe.

  12. The Luke portion is severely cut (Barbour is interested in the hand alone); but the Mark picture shows a bit more of the page:
    - quire number in top right hand corner
    - page number centred below (not contemporary?)
    - numbers in left hand margin
    - a note or comment in the right hand margin.

  13. The first page of Mark is published in both: Metzger, MGB 26 [fol. 100r = Mark 1.1-6] and Aland, Text, p. 140 (Pl. 40) [fol. 100r = Mark 1.1-6]

    Other pictures in published books include:
    Hatch, FDMMNT, I (p. 74f) [fol. 161 = Luke 1.1-6]
    Lake, Vol VI, MS 234, pl. 420, 432;
    Lefort & Cochez, pl. 4;
    Tsereteli, II. Pl 1;
    Wattenbach, tab. 1;
    Bp. Mikhail, ‘Cetveroevangelie 891 goda’ Zhurnal moskovskoj patriarkhii xiv.4 (1956), 43-49 (esp. p. 46 and two plates acc. BMG, p. 102).

    I should be able to scan the first page of Luke from Hatch on Monday.

  14. The dating colophon is provided in Hatch (p. 74):


    Rough ET:
    This holy and divine book has been finished by the grace of God on the 7th of May, 13th indiction, 6,343th year of the world. I entreat all readers to make mention of me the writer, Nicolaos, a sinner, a monk, so that I might find mercy on the day of judgement. May it be so O Lord, Amen.

  15. Somewhat belatedly I have up-loaded a scan from Hatch on Minuscules (unfortunately this must be the worst photo in that entire book).
    This one also has some sort of note in the r.h. margin (which I can't read; but is presumably to do with the lectionary); and a 'beginning' note in the l.h. margin.