Fun in Vaticanus: Citations and Divisions

Greek students, what are the cardinal rules you were taught in Bible College and or Seminary about the basic features of Greek manuscripts?  There is no versification, there is no punctuation, there are no formal citations, there are no paragraph divisions, there are no divisions between the words, and uncial texts are written in ALL CAPS.

So far we have seen some of these features in Vaticanus.  It is an uncial text and thus all the characters are capitalized.  Furthermore, there are no word divisions or versification.  Instead, it is an almost unbroken stream of text.  We have found no punctuation, which also means no quotation marks are used to indicate a change of speaker within the narrative.  But it may surprise some of you to know that there both citations and divisions in these ancient codices.

Look at the text to your left, now look back at me, now look back at the text, now look back at me…anyways, the first six letters are the end of what we know to be Matthew 4:3.  Now look really close at what comes next.  What do you see?  That was kinda a trick question.  There isn’t anything there.  It is a space that indicates the beginning of a new section…of sorts.  Now look down at the very bottom of the image.  There is another space at the end of what we know to be verse four.  Matthew 4:3-5 reads about like this ( _ indicates a space),

Notice that, at least in this instance, the breaks in the text indicate a shift in speaker.  Whether these spaces were present in the original autograph, I do not know.  I do know that they are here in Vaticanus and are also present in Sinaiticus (two third century texts).

The close reader of the above english translation might ask, “why do you have quotation marks?”  In a previous post I made mention of a mysterious ל “lamad.”  This occurs throughout the codex and marks the text as quoted.  This is not the only feature concerning quotations.  Look back up at the image and train your eye to the bottom left. There is an abbreviation in red that reads ΙΖ with a macron overhead.  Any guesses?  That’s right, the scribe has noted that the quotation comes from Isaiah.  Since information on the features of these codices is scant (really…I just don’t know where to look quite yet), I do not have a clue as to when these markings appeared on the manuscript.  But wherever there is a ל “lamad,” there is also a red lettered citation.

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1 Response to Fun in Vaticanus: Citations and Divisions

  1. mmmbah says:

    well, the post itself is fascinating. but if there was ever EVER any doubt in your mind – I love you forever for the Old Spice commercial reference. If it’s not too good for Seasame Street than it’s not too good for you.

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