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Paleographers have their preferred methods of dating manuscripts. These dubious “services” are now offered as part of “normal” medical. My friend Larry Hurtado has now reported on the findings, and basically it shows that paleographic dating of manuscripts is in sync with the. The calibrated radiocarbon ages agree well, except in one case, with the paleographic estimates or the specific dates noted on the scrolls. -Authors.

The division, however, is imprecise, for parchment was used well before and papyrus long after this date. The change from papyrus to parchment is signaled by three great monuments of paleographical studies, the Vatican, Alexandrine, and Sinai Bibles, all on parchment and in codex form. An alphabet of small, or minusculeletters developed gradually and was in use by the 8th century. Numerous abbreviations exist in Greek manuscripts, though never so many as in Latin.

Accentsan additional complexity, were not systematically applied before the 7th century ad. Styles of writing The ancient Latin alphabet of capitals quadrata is found in numberless inscriptions in stone and marble all over the Roman world. How far this alphabet was used for writing books is uncertain, because, though excellently adapted for incision, it is difficult to write. Some specimens of handwriting in quadrata do exist, such as 4th- or 5th-century copies of Virgilbut scholarly opinion largely regards these as abnormal productions.

By the 1st century a handsome Latin alphabet existed, called rusticbased on the use of a broad pen or brush. Rustic was used for public inscriptions on walls, as in the sale and election notices found at Pompeii. Although specimens are scarce, it is likely that books were extensively written in this hand in classical times. By the 4th century another Latin alphabet existed, the script known as uncialin the nature of a rounded form of quadrata.

Uncial survived the fall of Rome and from it developed half-uncial, the ancestor of the small letters in use today. The stately Roman scriptsquadrata, rustic, or uncial, were not used for everyday purposes, and, as in the case of Greek, a cursive, rapidly written hand arose in which letters and business documents were inscribed.

This hand is found in graffiti on Pompeian walls and in wax tablets. After the disintegration of the empire, Roman cursive became the ancestor of regional hands in what are now SpainFrance, and Italy. During the flowering of Christianity and art in Ireland c. There, two streams of influence commingled, for from Christian missionaries arrived from Rome and brought in books in uncial script. Both scripts prospered in England, though insular gradually superseded uncial.

The most successful of all scripts proved to be Caroline minusculewhich takes its name from the emperor Charlemagne diedpatron of scholars and scribes, under whom the script was developed. Despite its inherent superiority and clarity, it did not predominate over regional scripts until the midth century, and the local hand of southern Italy Beneventan maintained itself for much longer. In the 12th century, Caroline minuscule, which had undergone moderate developments, started to display more obvious changes.

It compressed laterally, while its rounded strokes became stiffer and straighter as it was converted into the so-called Gothic hands—very angular in northern Europe and more rounded in Italy. A revulsion against Gothic took place in scholarly circles in Italy in the 14th and 15th centuries, and a return to models based on Caroline minuscule took place.

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This revived hand, called Humanistic because humanist scholars used it, was adopted by 15th-century Italian printers, whose type faces ultimately triumphed over the Gothic.

This encyclopaedia is printed in a type scarcely modified from Caroline minuscule. Meanwhile, Caroline and Gothic scripts had produced cursive hands for quick everyday use, as in the case of the ancient Greek and Latin alphabets. These cursive scripts were used for the vast mass of business documents written in the Middle Ages.

Abbreviations Abbreviations are the principal problem confronting paleographers. They were extensively used in Roman times by lawyers to avoid repetition of technical terms and formulas. Abbreviations fall into two classes, suspension and contraction. Suspension, omission of the end of a word and indication by a point or sign, was used in Roman public inscriptions—e.

Contraction, the omission of letters from the middle of a word and replacement by a sign or some other device, was common among Greek-speaking Jews, who contracted certain sacred or revered names, such as God, Lord, Israel, or David, as a mark of veneration.

The Christians followed the practice by contracting their sacred names, such as Jesus and Christos. In works for semilearned readers, such as romances, abbreviations are often few, but books produced for the learned, such as university textbooks, are heavily loaded with abbreviations.

The number of signs and devices in use by the end of the Middle Ages was enormous. Dating Dating of books and documents also offers problems. Even when a precise date is given, the dating system of a given time and a given area must be checked because the year began at different times in different territories, and there were even variations in the same country. Important documents, such as English 12th-century royal charters, are undated.

In the absence of dates, inferences are drawn from handwriting, use of abbreviations, and internal evidence.

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Caution must be used, however; for an elderly scribe may be using a hand learned over half a century before, and work in the same scriptorium or office as a young clerk anxious to show off all the latest tricks and flourishes.

Some styles lasted a long time: Caroline minuscule lasted for more than three centuries. Certain kinds of books, such as liturgical volumes, were produced in a highly stylized form for generations, and thus it is often difficult to provide a close date for a late medieval missal with standard illustrations and marginal decorations in a mechanical Gothic hand.

Internal evidence must be weighed carefully. A given historical event noted in a chronicle will provide an earliest possible date, unless the entry is an interpolation.

Evidence for some legal practice or liturgical usage is no safe guide, for legislation on the subject by a king or a pope may merely be ratification of a long-standing practice. A paleographer must get to know his scribes, for their mannerisms can be highly informative. Nearly 50 different scribes have been distinguished in the English royal chancery in the period — First-rate scribes, such as notaries public, provide much information about themselves, giving their names, notarial signs, and information on their authority to act.

Even anonymous clerks, who drew up innumerable property conveyances, can be identified by their script over a period of years, and their career can be traced through developing, mature, and deteriorating handwriting, thereby offering dating evidence. The provenance origin of many manuscripts can be immediately recognized because certain centres developed individual styles.

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Papal and royal chanceries issued documents of easily identifiable origin, while many monastic scriptoria—for example, that of Canterbury Cathedral in the earlier 12th century—had a virtually private handwriting. After a detailed comparison of the papyri, the Alands concluded that these manuscripts from the second to the fourth centuries are of three kinds Normal, Free, and Strict.

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The normal text is a relatively faithful tradition e. It is further represented in P4, P5, P12? This is a text dealing with the original text in a relatively free manner with no suggestion of a program of standardization e. It is further represented in P9? These manuscripts transmit the text of the exemplar with meticulous care e.

We will also borrow a few paragraphs from one of his publications, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition, so we have additional understanding of these text-types. Characteristics of the Alexandrian text are brevity and austerity. That is, it is generally shorter than the text of other forms, and it does not exhibit the degree of grammatical and stylistic polishing that is characteristic of the Byzantine type of text. The Sahidic and Bohairic versions frequently contain typically Alexandrian readings.

Likewise, the Old Latin versions are noteworthy witnesses to a Western type of text; these fall into three main groups, the African, Italian, and Hispanic forms of Old Latin texts. Words, clauses, and even whole sentences are freely changed, omitted, or inserted. Sometimes the motive appears to have been harmonization, while at other times it was the enrichment of the narrative by the inclusion of traditional or apocryphal material.

Some readings involve quite trivial alterations for which no special reason can be assigned. One of the puzzling features of the Western text which generally is longer than the other forms of text is that at the end of Luke and in a few other places in the New Testament certain Western witnesses omit words and passages that are present in other forms of text, including the Alexandrian. In the book of Acts, the problems raised by the Western text become most acute, for the Western text of Acts is nearly ten percent longer than the form that is commonly regarded to be the original text of that book.

For this reason, the present volume devotes proportionately more space to variant readings in Acts than to those in any other New Testament book, and a special Introduction to the textual phenomena in Acts is provided see pp. The text of these witnesses is characterized by a mixture of Western and Alexandrian readings. Another Eastern type of text, current in and near Antioch, is preserved today chiefly in Old Syriac witnesses, namely the Sinaitic and the Curetonian manuscripts of the Gospels and in the quotations of Scripture contained in the works of Aphraates and Ephraem.

It is characterized chiefly by lucidity and completeness. The Derveni Papyrusa Greek Macedonian philosophical text dating around BC, considered Europe's oldest manuscript Besides these hand of Chancery type, there are numerous less elaborate examples of cursive, varying according to the writer's skill and degree of education, and many of them strikingly easy and handsome. The attempt to secure a horizontal line along the top is here abandoned.

This style was not due to inexpertness, but to the desire for speed, being used especially in accounts and drafts, and was generally the work of practised writers.

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How well established the cursive hand had now become is shown in some wax tablets of this period, the writing on which, despite the difference of material, closely resemble the hands of papyri. In the more formal types the letters stand rather stiffly upright, often without the linking strokes, and are more uniform in size; in the more cursive they are apt to be packed closely together.

These features are more marked in the hands of the 2nd century. The less cursive often show am approximation to the book-hand, the letters growing rounder and less angular than in the 3rd century; in the more cursive linking was carried further, both by the insertion of coupling strokes and by the writing of several letters continuously without raising the pen, so that before the end of the century an almost current hand was evolved.

A characteristic letter, which survived into the early Roman period, is T, with its cross-stroke made in two portions variants: In the 1st century, the hand tended, so far as can be inferred from surviving examples, to disintegrate; one can recognise the signs which portend a change of style, irregularity, want of direction, and the loss of the feeling for style.


Only for the 3rd century BC have we a secure basis. The hands of that period have an angular appearance; there is little uniformity in the size of individual letters, and though sometimes, notably in the Petrie papyrus containing the Phaedo of Platoa style of considerable delicacy is attained, the book-hand in general shows less mastery than the contemporary cursive.

In the 2nd century the letters grew rounder and more uniform in size, but in the 1st century there is perceptible, here as in the cursive hand, a certain disintegration. Probably at no time did the Ptolemaic book-hand acquire such unity of stylistic effect as the cursive.

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The cursive of the 1st century has a rather broken appearance, part of one character being often made separately from the rest and linked to the next letter. By the end of the 1st century, there had been developed several excellent types of cursive, which, though differing considerably both in the forms of individual letters and in general appearance, bear a family likeness to one another.

Qualities which are specially noticeable are roundness in the shape of letters, continuity of formation, the pen being carried on from character to character, and regularity, the letters not differing strikingly in size and projecting strokes above or below the line being avoided.

Sometimes, especially in tax-receipts and in stereotyped formulae, cursiveness is carried to an extreme. This style, from at least the latter part of the 2nd century, exercised considerable influence on the local hands, many of which show the same characteristics less pronounced; and its effects may be traced into the early part of the 4th century.