Monday, September 01, 2014

Doodling in New Testament manuscripts: 0189

Whilst preparing the slides for my paper at the BNTC conference for this coming Friday, I was delighted to find the oldest manuscript of Acts GA 0189 online. Normally I have some inkling of what is happening on a manuscript page, but what is happening in the upper margin on the recto (left of the page number) stumps me.

My best guess so far is that it is a dog with sunglasses.

Is there anyone with a more reasonable suggestion?


  1. Wow, it does look like a dog with sunglasses and some sort of ruffled collar.

  2. Perhaps it is the "evil eye." Maybe some scribe from the Alexandrian library, recently converted to Christian faith, thought of this in light of the contents of the passage. Or maybe it is just my novelist's imagination running wild.

  3. Given the context, clearly it's an open moneybag that just landed on one of the apostle's feet.

  4. It is obviously a space craft flying a few yards above the surface. You can see a pile of rocks as it passes over them.

  5. Testing out a new quill?

  6. Dear Dirk,

    Such drawings are common on the first and last page of a quire. I would say that this was the fist page of the second quire, which started on page 15. This probably means that the first quire had only 14 pages (instead of 16).

    This hypothesis is further supported by the fact that the recto is the Flesh side. As you know, according to the Gregory rule, quires of the parchment codices follow the sequence F/H, H/F, F/H ... F/H, H/F.

    All best,
    Alin Suciu

  7. P.S. It is possible to imagine that the first quire had the usual 16 pages but the first leaf was not paginated (which is common in some manuscripts). This explains well why the second quire begins with pages 15-16 instead of 17-18.

  8. What do we know of scribal habits in relation to canines? I see that the doodle appears above three letters of the first line: PET.


  9. Perhaps a calyx of some sort.