Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Monocondyle in GA1977 (Byzantine Palaeography)

Recently a student of mine came across this subscription to 1 Timothy in Greg.-Aland 1977 (Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana ms. laur. Plut. 10.9):

I interpreted the two final lines as:

+ εγραφη απο λαοδικειας ητις εστιν μετροπολις της προς
φρυγιας της παγκρατιανης (decorative tail)

The problem was how to interpret what is in the frame on the picture, a so called monocondyle, a conventional scholarly term formed from the classical Greek adjective μονοκόνδυλος, “having but one joint” (said of the thumb). The term designates a word or sentence written without lifting pen from paper. Monocondyles occur in Byzantine MSS from the 10th century.

I could make out a part of it, but in the end I had to consult a specialist in Byzantine palaeography. What do you think it reads? Write your interpretation in the commentary area.

For a more elaborate example, see this page in Paris, BnF, MSS Occidentaux, greg. 2988.

Further reading:
Oikonomides, N. (2000) “La re´introduction des lettres majuscules dans l’e´criture minuscule et les origines du monocondyle.” In G. Prato, ed., I manoscritti greci tra riflessione e debattito. Atti del V Colloquio Internazionale di Paleografia Greca, Cremona, 4–10 ottobre 1998, vol. 1: 239–48. Florence.


  1. Cursive scripts like this are a little beyond me, but if I had to guess, I'd say it says something like, "The end of Paul's first letter to Timothy."

  2. Since it is in the same hand as the two lines that follow, and since it has the same + sign before it, my guess would be that whatever it says is in some way parallel with the two lines that follow. Since those two lines seem to give (limited experience here!) where it was written from, I would guess that the line above it gives either when it was written, or who it was written by. Since it appears (though somewhat guessing here) to start with a dative feminine article, I would guess that the date is somewhat more likely. Reading the script itself is beyond my current abilities.

  3. τη εμη χειρι γραφω?

  4. Okay, here is the interpretation:
    + τελος της επιστολης + (followed by decorative tail)
    What looks like a suspended omikron to the far right is actually a circumflex (in ἐπιστολῆς). Moreover, a monocondyle cross and decorative tail ends the line. For more examples of the monocondyle cross, follow the link in the main post (Paris, BnF, MSS Occidentaux, greg. 2988).

  5. (τελος της επιστολης = "end of the letter")

  6. Tommy, you've written from the 10th century. It should be 10th century onwards right? According to the dating at NTVMR, it is a 14th century minuscule. ;)

  7. I did not state that the monocondyle occurs in this MS from the 10th century. I wrote "Monocondyles [plural] occur in Byzantine MSS [=manuscripts in plural] from the 10th century." Yes, please add "onwards" for clarity if you like.

  8. It's a shame the word "cursive" was already assigned a specific paleographical meaning, leaving us needing to use the OED to find out what you are even talking about.