Saturday, November 10, 2018

From a Text-Carrier to a Book Project

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In his previous post, my erstwhile neighbour and fellow-postgraduate mentioned a brief article of mine that appeared in the second volume of Didaktikos. My task in this article was to write up a short overview of various trends in the study of biblical manuscripts for the journal’s ‘Currents’ section. (Peter’s fine essay on the NT TC appeared under in the same section under the ‘New Testament’ heading; I guess ‘texts’ are closer to the ‘New Testament’ than manuscripts. Or are they?)
Anywho, in the article I briefly address three main areas: specialised studies of individual manuscripts, particularly with the focus on ‘scribal habits’ (not forgetting to mention the giants of this approach like our very own Dirk Jongkind); material culture and social history; and book-historical approaches, particularly with the focus on paratextual materials and codicology.

The article is free to download (see the link at the end of the post), so here’s just one remark concerning the second of the aforementioned topics. A great deal of ink has been spilt recently over the matters of the social-historical matters pertaining to some manuscripts, and, I must admit, I’ve often found the way this line of enquiry has been pursued rather wanting. Particularly disconcerting is the ease with which some people use binary categories like ‘professional/unprofessional’ and ‘public/private’ based on rather meagre data: the script looks a bit ugly, → the manuscript is private; hey, there’s a paragraphos! → the manuscript is churchy; the nomina sacra are inconsistent → the scribe may not have been a Christian. You get the idea. Sometimes it’s better to admit ignorance than to perpetuate inane ideas.

Anyway, for the article, see ‘From a Text-Carrier to a Book Project’, Didaktikos 2 (2018) 44–6.

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