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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Writing

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1. The autographs of the Apostolic Age.-The problem regarding ‘writing’ and ‘book’ in the Apostolic Age might be expressed by the following question: With what materials and in what forms were letters and longer works written in the primitive Christian community and the Christian churches of the period between a.d. 30 and c. a.d. 100? This question would be easily answered if we still possessed autographs (αὐτόγραφα, ἀρχέτυπα, ἰδιόχειρα) from the hands of Christian writers in that period-if, e.g., we had NT Epistles by St. Paul or other writers, Gospels, or, say, the First Epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians, in the handwriting of the authors or their amanuenses, or even if we had the earliest transcripts of the originals. Unfortunately this is not the case. Down to the present time not the smallest scrap of an autograph from a Christian source in the 1st cent. a.d. has come to light. It is quite conceivable that such an autograph might have withstood the ravages of time until now, for we actually possess MS fragments of considerably earlier origin than the autographs of the NT-a fact which shows the durability of the ancient writing material in cases where the external conditions gave it a fair chance of survival, and, in particular, where the papyrus was protected against damp. Hitherto, however, all reports announcing the discovery of primitive Christian autographs, and all, even the earlier, references to their being in existence at the time, have proved to be utterly valueless. Moreover, even granting it possible that some fragment of a Christian autograph dating from the 1st cent. may yet fall into our hands, we can hardly cherish the hope that in particular the original MSS of the NT will be found. In this connexion we must remember the distinctive character of a large proportion of the NT writings-the fact, namely, that, while they came in time to rank as literature in the highest sense, the majority of them were not originally designed for the general public at all. The Epistles of Paul were certainly not given to the world as books in the sense recognized by the ancient book-trade; on the contrary, they were sent as true letters, letters in the handwriting of the sender or his amanuensis. The one much-handled MS , passing from reader to reader, perhaps from church to church, would undoubtedly suffer damage in the process, and it is hardly likely that in the primitive communities the material upon which such letters and their first transcripts were written would be of the most expensive or most durable kind. Again, as regards the primitive Christian writings that may conceivably have been bought and sold as books, it is highly improbable that they were written and preserved with the extreme care that looks to a long future; for, as we know, the mind of the primitive Christian community was for the most part not greatly concerned with the earthly future at all. When Clement of Rome, writing to the Church in Corinth c. a.d. 96, says ‘Take up (ἀναλάβετε) the letter of the sainted apostle Paul’ (ch. 47), his words cannot be reasonably supposed to prove that the autograph of St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians was still in their possession. The disputes of the 2nd cent. regarding certain NT passages are intelligible only on the assumption that the disputants neither possessed the autographs nor knew of their existence. Whether the words of Tertullian in de Praescriptione Haereticorum, 36-‘percurre ecclesias apostolicas apud quas ipsae adhuc cathedrae apostolorum suis locis praesident (praesidentur [?]), apud quas ipsae anthenticae literae eorum recitantur, sonantes vocem et repraesentantes faciem unius cuiusque’-are to be taken as implying that Pauline autographs were still extant in many places, as e.g. Thessalonica, the present writer cannot definitely say. In view of all the circumstances, therefore, we must endeavour to reconstruct the facts regarding ‘writing’ and ‘book’ in Christian circles in the Apostolic Age, our data being sporadic references in the primitive Christian writings themselves, and what we know of the general practice of writing in the period.

2. Writing materials.-In Goethe’s Faust the hero offers a wide choice of materials for the document which Mephistopheles demands:

‘Die Herrschaft führen Wachs und Leder …

Erz, Marmor Pergament, Papier?

Soll ich mit Griffel, Meissel, Feder schreiben?’

In the Apostolic Age there was a similar variety of choice. The available materials of that period, however, did not include the modern paper-the thin, more or less smooth, white or yellow fabric manufactured from cotton or linen. Such paper seems to have been an invention of the Chinese in very early times, and became known to the Arabs after their conquest of Samarqand in a.d. 704. The Arabs came at length to use it for writing purposes to the exclusion of almost every other material, and it was in this way carried to Sicily and Spain; in all likelihood it reached other Western lands as a result of the Crusades and the consequent growth of intercourse between the eastern and western regions of the Mediterranean. In any case, paper as known to us cannot have been used for the autographs of the Apostolic Age.

According to Luke 1:63, Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, made use of writing tablet (πινακίδιον, v.l. πινακίς, of which πινακίδιον is a diminutive; cf. Epictetus, Diss. iii. 22, 74). The ancient writing tablets, which may be said to survive in our slates, were made of metal or wood, sometimes even of ivory, and were often whitewashed, or covered with a layer of stucco; two or more tablets might be bound together with thread. Frequently, too, the inner part of the tablet was deepened, the edges being allowed to stand out like a frame-a device that gave a better protection to the writing. The hollow part was often smeared with wax; notes could then be entered upon thy thin film by the metal stilus, and, when these had served their purpose, the wax could be smoothed for fresh use. It was not very easy to write rapidly on the wax, and the script was rather indistinct to the eye. The pointed stilus frequently had at its other end a small thin plate with which erasures could be made. As other sorts of writing material were relatively high in price, these tablets had generally to suffice for briefer records. Such a tablet, inscribed with its short message, could be sent by one person to another, somewhat like a post-card, and the receiver could smooth the wax, write his reply, and send back the tablet without delay. By the 1st cent, a.d., however, the wax film was coming to be superseded by a small sheet of parchment. It would probably be safe to say that, in much the same proportion as people carry notebooks at the present day, the Christians of the Apostolic Age who were fairly able to write carried and made use of writing tablets. It is of special importance to note that the folding tablets form a link in the development that resulted in the codex. Nevertheless, as the tablet could carry but little writing-at most perhaps a message about as long as the Third Epistle of John or the Epistle to Philemon-it need hardly be taken into account with reference to the autographs of primitive Christian writings.

The other available materials that might be used for the writings of the Apostolic Age were sheets of papyrus and parchment. Papyrus,* the manufacture of which is described-not indeed altogether clearly or accurately-by Pliny the Elder (HN xiii. 21-27), was a product of the papyrus plant, a rush that grew in the Nile Delta. The pith of the plant was cut into thin strips, which were laid horizontally side by side, and covered with a similar layer of strips at right angles. The whole was made to cohere by some glutinous substance, and then pressed, dried, and polished. The side upon which the fibres ran horizontally was latterly regarded as the proper one for writing upon; it was used first, and for the most part the other was left blank. The process of manufacture became at length so highly developed as to yield sheets in which toughness and durability were combined with a remarkable degree of thinness, and which were sometimes so smooth that the steel pen of to-day moves freely over them. The preparation of papyrus in Egypt is a very ancient industry, its beginnings being clearly traceable to the 3rd or 4th millennium b.c.

The use of leather as a writing material seems to go back to an equally early time; it is said to have been a very ancient practice in the East (cf. Herod. v. 58; Diod. Sic. ii. 32). Thick leather, however, was hardly a substance adapted for the production of larger works, and only its preparation in the form of the thinner and more delicate parchment could make it avail for such a purpose. The invention of parchment has been usually connected with the desire of Eumenes II., king of Pergamum (197-158 b.c.), to institute a great library on the model of that in Alexandria. The kernel of fact in Pliny’s statement to that effect (HN xiii. 21) may well be that in the first half of the 2nd cent. b.c. Pergamum became a centre for a more frequent use and a more refined preparation of the skins of animals as a writing material. It is probable, however, that prior to this there had been a slow process of development-a process tending towards an increased refinement in the preparation of leather for writing, and at length, in the 2nd cent. b.c., reaching a stage at which even extensive works could be written wholly upon parchment, and still kept within the limits of convenient size.

The notion that the Jews from the first wrote their sacred books upon leather rolls is not confirmed by evidence satisfactory to historical science. As a matter of fact, we know that the use of papyrus reached Phœnicia as early as the 11th cent. b.c., and accordingly the books in roll form referred to in the OT (Jeremiah 36:14 ff., Ezekiel 2:9; Ezekiel 3:1 ff., Psalms 40:7 [cf. Hebrews 10:7], Zechariah 5:1 f.; cf. also Isaiah 34:4, and the words ἀναπτύσσειν [2 Kings 19:14] and εἱλίσσειν [Revelation 6:14]) might quite well have been formed of papyrus; indeed, the words χαρτίον and χάρτης, the specific terms for a papyrus sheet, are quite correctly used in LXX Jeremiah 43 (Heb. 36). Characteristically enough, the earliest record of the Jews having transcribed their sacred writings upon rolls of parchment or leather is found in Josephus (Ant. XII. ii. 11; the work was finished c. a.d. 93-94), and thus dates from an age when the use of parchment had been fairly well established for some time; we shall hardly err in supposing that the transition to the use of that more lasting material reached its term among the Jews not earlier than the last pre-Christian centuries. The Jews would naturally desire to have the most durable substances for the preservation of their sacred writings (cf. Mishna, Megilla ii. 2, Shabb. viii. 3), and this, again, would be of importance for the use of parchment in Christian circles. It is of course quite possible that Israelites and Jews had long made use of polished leather for records of a shorter kind.

Which of these two substances, then, may we suppose to have been employed for the NT writings? E. Reuss (Geschichte der heiligen Schriften neuen Testaments3, Brunswick, 1860) could still write: ‘Parchment was certainly not unknown, but too expensive for general use.’ The present writer is of opinion, however, that the results of recent research prove the very opposite: papyrus sheets came in course of time to command so high a price that parchment, at once cheaper, more durable, and better adapted for being written upon on both sides, came to be more generally used in quarters where price was a consideration. Among the Greeks, this transition from papyrus to parchment was checked by two material considerations, viz. the lightness and delicacy of the papyrus fabric, and the relief which, in contrast to the glossy and often dazzling parchment, that fabric afforded to the eye of both writer and reader-though the larger characters generally used for writing on the parchment sheet were relatively more legible to weak eyes. From the artistic point of view, moreover, the papyrus roll of the Greeks certainly seemed the most finished and elegant form of book in a reader’s hands, and that form was doubtless retained as long as possible. But while the Greeks, from the 5th cent. b.c. to the 4th cent. a.d., mainly employed papyrus as the material vehicle of their literature, they certainly began, as early as the 1st cent. a.d., and, in the first instance, for the use of schools, to transfer the texts written on papyri to the more durable parchment. It is instructive to note that Martial, writing not later than a.d. 84-85, speaks of books in papyrus as being dearer and more valuable than books in parchment; and this is to be explained by the fact that the manufacture of papyrus was almost wholly confined to the Nile Delta, so that an increased consumption, or a poor crop, would naturally tend to advance the price. The date at which the general use of parchment seems definitely to have superseded that of papyrus falls at the earliest in the 4th or 5th cent. a.d., and the intervening period from the 1st cent. must therefore be regarded as a time of transition.

In view of these data it is impossible to maintain absolutely that the autographs of the Apostolic Age-the originals of the primitive Christian writings down to the First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians-must all have been written upon papyrus. That the Christians of that age might use papyrus, that, e.g., St. John, writing perhaps c. 85, wrote his Second Epistle on a papyrus sheet, appears from the words (v. 12): πολλὰ ἔχων ὑμῖν γράφειν, οὐκ ἠβουλήθην διὰ χάρτου καὶ μέλανος, but this Supplies no evidence as to the material generally used in the Apostolic Age. Somewhat earlier, c. a.d. 66 (?), St. Paul (2 Timothy 4:13) writes: τὸν φαιλόνην ὃν ἀπέλιπον ἐν Τρωάδι παρἀ Κάρπῳ, ἐρχόμενος φέρε, καὶ τὰ βιβλία, μάλιστα [δὲ] τὰς μεμβράνας. ἡ μεμβράνα is simply the Lat. membrana, ‘skin,’ ‘parchment.’ That St. Paul here uses the word in the sense of codex membranaceus, or ‘parchment roll,’ cannot be proved; and we can therefore hardly think that it refers to leather rolls of the OT. The μεμβράνα was in fact the single sheet, i.e. the word denoted the material; thus Horace (Sat. ii. 3, 1), writing c. 30 b.c., says: ‘You write so seldom that you do not require membranam four times in a whole year’; the writing material used by the person whom the satirist here describes amounted in all to four sheets of parchment in a year. In all probability, therefore, St. Paul’s membranœ were sheets of parchment, either blank or containing notes and extracts, and thus not included among the βιβλία, i.e. his papyrus rolls. According to Quintilian (Inst. Orat. x. iii. 31), it was impossible in his day to write with the desired facility on parchment, which clearly had not as yet been brought to the requisite degree of polish, and it was necessary to make use of large letters; this circumstance tended to impede the general employment of parchment. If we may infer from Galatians 6:11 (ἴδετε πηλίκοις ὑμῖν γράμμασιν ἔγραψα τῇ ἐμῇ χειρί) that St. Paul wrote the whole impassioned Epistle, or at least its conclusion, with his own hand, the ‘large letters’ might no doubt be taken as indicating a considerable defect of vision, and it would thus be possible and conceivable that the Apostle had here made use of sheets of parchment. That relatively short letter, even if written in characters more than usually large, would not require many such sheets; and, on the whole, the hypothesis must he regarded as a possible one. But the present writer certainly does not believe that longer works of the Apostolic Age were written as yet upon parchment. The fastening together of a number of sheets so as to form a continuous parchment roll, while no doubt it was practised, was certainly attended with difficulties. It would be possible, of course, to employ the form of the codex (i.e. that of the modern book in folded sheets), in which the prepared skin was folded upon the flesh-side, thus causing flesh-side to face flesh-side and hair-side to face hair-side throughout, so that the front of the sheet, the recto, was smooth, and the back, the verso, rough; and in point of fact the codex form seems to have originated in the 2nd cent. b.c. in Asia Minor, and is therefore not to be regarded as a discovery of the first or later Christian centuries. Still, the relatively late appearance of the codex in art, and especially in art of Christian origin, hardly justifies us, the present writer thinks, in assuming that parchment MSS in that form were very numerous in the Apostolic Age and the Apostolic Church, though this argument might doubtless be met by the hypothesis that art, in clinging to the papyrus roll, and continuing to do so even at a time when, as in the 4th and 5th centuries a.d., the codex had become firmly established, and the roll was all but wholly superseded, was simply showing its general tendency to conservatism. On the whole, therefore, while it is absolutely certain that in course of time Christian literature and the NT were transmitted in growing measure by parchment and codex, so that in fact ‘parchment codex’ and ‘Christian literature’ are related in the closest way, it may be presumed that this was not the case at first, and there can be little doubt that the great majority of the primitive Christian autographs, as well as of their earliest copies, were written on papyrus.

The fluid used for writing on papyrus was a sootink, i.e. a mixture of pine soot and glue dissolved in water, but, as this mixture did not adhere very well to parchment, a metallic ink of gall-apples was employed for the latter. Gall-apple ink, however, is not mentioned until the 5th cent. a.d.-c. 470 (Martianus Capella, iii. 225 [ed. F. Eyssenhardt, Leipzig, 1866, p. 55])-and thus the ink used in the Apostolic Age would probably be the mixture first mentioned, as referred to in 2 Corinthians 3:3 (γεγραμμένος μέλανι), 2 John 1:12 (διὰ χάρτου καὶ μέλανος), and 3 John 1:13 (διὰ μέλανος καὶ καλάμου). Inkstands were also in use, though they are not mentioned in the Christian writings of the Apostolic Age. In 3 John 1:13 we hear also of the κάλαμος, the reed used for writing. It is probable that originally this was applied like a small brush, but in the period under consideration it was in all likelihood a pen in the proper sense. It was shaped and pointed exactly like the quill pen of later times; the writing accessories of the time included a knife for splitting the reed, and a piece of pumice stone for re-sharpening the point. The best equivalent for κάλαμος is therefore ‘reed-pen.’

3. Roll and codex.-If we would figure to ourselves the outward structure of one of the longer works written on papyrus in the Apostolic Age-as, e.g., the Gospel according to St. John-we must dismiss from our minds the appearance of a modern book, which in reality preserves the form of the codex. It is true that codices were sometimes made of papyrus (cf. Jerome, Ep. lxxi., ‘ad Lucinium’; ‘et descripta vidi in chartaceis codicibus’); and we should probably agree with Schubart in assuming-on the ground of an inscription of Priene, dedicated to Aulus aemilius Zosimus the town-clerk-that papyrus codices were to be found in Asia Minor as early as the 1st cent. b.c.; but it is hardly likely that this form of book was generally or even frequently resorted to in that age. We may therefore safely infer that, e.g., the Gospel according to St. John was first written upon a roll; in John 20:30; John 21:25, in fact, it is called τὸ βιβλίον. Such a roll was formed of a number of papyrus sheets of equal size carefully joined together in a continuous strip, which may sometimes have been from 20 to 30 ft.-say 7 to 10 metres-long. The writing began with a vertical column at the extreme left, and was continued towards the right in similar columns, though we also find cases where the lines ran at right angles to the length of the roll, and were thus massed in a single column. There was great variation in the size of the sheet, and thus also in the breadth of the roll, which may usually have been some 20-30 cm., but was often only 12-15 cm. in width. The number of lines in a column was likewise far from constant, and the breadth of the upper and lower margins introduced fresh variations; but generally the number of lines would lie between 20 and 30. The breadth of the column did not usually depend on that of the sheets, which were so carefully joined that the pen moved freely over the line of attachment. At its maximum the line was probably about equal in length to the hexameter, comprising some 36 letters, but more commonly it contained 20-25 letters. Hence, taking average measurements-say, a column of 25 lines consisting of 23 letters; each letter with its necessary space 3.5 mm.; lines with spaces between, 7 mm.; upper and lower margins, 3 cm. each; space between columns, 2 cm.-we may estimate that the Gospel according to St. John (1-20), with about 70,000 letters, would till a papyrus roll 23.5 cm, broad, 12.5 m. long, and containing 122 columns. Similarly, Revelation would fill a strip 8.5 m. in length; Mark, one of 10 m.; Matthew, one of 16 m. ; Luke and Acts, each one of some 17 m. (Luke’s δεύτερος λόγος having probably been written on a roll of the same dimensions as his πρῶτος λόγος).

These estimates are of course merely approximate, and are meant to give but a general impression. Moreover, they are made on the assumption that only the recto of the roll was used. Occasionally, however, from motives of thrift, lack of space, or the like, the verso also-that on which the fibres ran vertically-was written upon; and that this practice was known among the Christians of the Apostolic Age appears from Revelation 5:1 : καὶ εἶδον ἐπὶ τὴν δεξιὰν τοῦ καθημένου ἐπὶ τοῦ θρόνου βιβλίον γεγραμμένον ἔσωθεν καὶ ὄπισθεν [the readings ἔσωθεν καὶ ἔξωθεν and ἔμπροσθεν καὶ ὄπισθεν may be disregarded] κατεσφραγισμένον σφραγῖσιν ἑπτά. The ‘book’ here spoken of is not a codex, but a papyrus roll, which would lie quite securely in the palm of the outstretched hand-a position depicted also in ancient art. The term ὀπισθόγραφον was a familiar one (cf. Lucian, Vitarum Auctio, 9; Pliny, Ep. iii. 5; Juv. Sat. i. 6, ‘a tergo’; Martial, viii. 62, ‘in aversa charta’; LXX Ezekiel 2:10, ἔμπροσθεν καὶ τὰ ὀπίσω), and the phrase ἔσωθεν καὶ ὄπισθεν in Revelation 5:1 must have been understood by readers of the Apostolic Age as indicating a papyrus roll written upon both sides [but cf. Literature (B) 3 (a)]. In this passage, as in Ezekiel 2:10, the circumstance that the book was written on both sides is to be taken as signifying the fullness of the contents.

Other matters of detail, even if not referred to in the apostolic writings, may safely be taken from the general practice of the age. The upper and lower edges of the roll were often trimmed and smoothed, just as modern books are edged, and were probably also coloured; as pieces of the sheet would crumble away through frequent use, repairs were sometimes necessary; in order to protect the material against the ravages of worms, insects, etc., the back of the sheet was often washed with cedaroil; the first sheet, as most liable to injury, was specially strengthened; the title of the work was inscribed on a small label (σίττυβος or σίλλυβος) attached to the upper end of the standing roll. Now and then we meet with, ὁ ὀμφαλός, umbilicus, the cylindrical stick (for κέρας, the knob, the evidence is doubtful), though not always within the roll; it would appear, however, that the stick was not, as hitherto believed, glued to the last sheet, which was in the middle of the closed roll, but was held in the hand so as to give a better support to the roll, and served as a pivot upon which the portion already read could be rolled by the left hand.

Sometimes the roll seems to have been kept in a leather cover or sheath, like the case now used for university diplomas, etc.; it might also have a cord or a ribbon tied round it, as with letters, and rolls thus kept closed by threads or ribbons could then be sealed upon these. The ‘book’ of Revelation 5:1 is to be thought of as sealed with seven seals in this way; the phrase ἀνοῖξαι τὸ βιβλίον (Revelation 5:2)-if the author had a distinct picture in his mind-must signify, not the unfolding of the roll, but simply the loosing of the seals. It is certainly possible that in the author’s thought the opening of each separate seal stood for the opening of a distinct portion of the whole work, but the opened book (as found also in Revelation 10:2, βιβλαρίδιον ἠνεῳγμένον) is simply the unsealed, not the unrolled, volume.

A number of rolls could be fastened together with tape in a parcel, or kept in a case (κιβωτός, κιβώτιον, κίστη; also τεῦχος), which was cubical or cylindrical in shape, and made of wood or leather. The present writer does not think it probable that the φελόνης (φαιλόνης) of 2 Timothy 4:13 denotes such a case or cover, though this interpretation is a very ancient one, being found, indeed, in the Syr. Peshiṭta; φελόνης was doubtless derived from φενόλης (Lat. paenula) by transposition of consonants; but the latter term is never met with in the sense of a case for rolls, and the former always bears quite a different meaning. The word paenula or φενόλης, though not the specific term, might of course quite well be applied to the cover of a single roll, but what use could St. Paul have had for a single article of the kind? Thus in all likelihood the φελόνης of the passage referred to denotes a traveller’s cloak, which he had left behind him and now required in view of the approaching winter (cf. 2 Timothy 4:21).

The papyrus ‘book-roll’ here described comes before us in Greek under the general name βίβλος, which in the Christian writings of the Apostolic Age is found in the following forms: (1) ἡ βίβλος (Matthew 1:1, Mark 12:26, Luke 3:4; Luke 20:42, Acts 1:20; Acts 7:42; Acts 19:19; Acts 19:1 Clem. xliii. 1; also in the phrase βίβλος ζωῆς, for which see art. Book of Life); (2) τὸ βιβλίον (Luke 4:17; Luke 4:20, John 20:30; John 21:25, Galatians 3:10, 2 Timothy 4:13, Hebrews 9:19, Revelation 1:11; Revelation 5:1 ff.; Ep. Barn xii. 9, Hermas, Vis. i. ii. 2, ii. iv. 2, 2 Clem. xiv. 2; for βιβλίον ζωῆς see art. Book of Life); the fact that the ‘bill of divorcement’ is called βιβλίον ἀποστασίου in Matthew 19:7, Mark 10:4, leads us to think first of all of the papyrus material of the document; (3) as a double diminutive τὸ βιβλαρίδιον (Revelation 10:2; Revelation 10:8 ff.; cf. also Hermas, Vis. ii. i. 3, iv. 3; v.l. βιβλιδάριον, in both Revelation and Herm.), though subsequently τὸ βιβλίδιον (already found in Ign. ad Eph. xx. 1, Herm. Vis. II. i. 3f., iv. 1). It is difficult to say how far, in each particular case, there was a consciousness of the fact that the word was derived from βύβλος, the Egyptian papyrus plant. It would be quite wrong to render the term always by ‘book-roll,’ since the main reference is very often to the contents of the book.

In the Christian writings of the 1st cent. there is nothing-not even a specific term-to indicate that the codex, i.e. a construction of parchment or papyrus sheets in the form of a modern book, was the vehicle of the autographs, or the first copies, of the Christian writings. In the Epistle of Aristeas, a Jewish work dating from the 2nd cent. b.c., we find the words ἀνεγνώσθη τὰ τεύχη, and it has been supposed that they refer to Jewish codices of the LXX ; but Birt in his Die Buchrolle has effectively shown that the reference is to book-rolls. When we bear in mind, however, that the codex was in fact the book of the common people, and that the NT Epistles were written, not as books or literary works, but as actual letters, in rolls, or (in the case of a few shorter compositions) on wax tablets, or, again, frequently on parchment sheets,-which we may perhaps think of as having been single leaves,-we must regard it as at least possible that at the time when the Christian books began to be transcribed and collected, the codex form was the recognized one in Christian circles. Nor does it seem impossible, in view of the history of the codex as a whole, that Christianity, with its earliest literature, gave an important and powerful impetus to the transition from the roll to the codex. The course of this development in the literary and artistic products of the period from the 2nd to the 5th cent. presents a fascinating subject of study.

4. Writing and reading.-Birt emphatically asserts that the Greeks and Romans never used a table as a support in the act of writing (γράφειν, ἀναγράφειν [in Hermas], ἀναγραφή [1 Clem.], καταγράφειν, ἐγγράφειν, etc.), but generally wrote in a squatting or sitting position, and either simply upon a tablet held in the hand or, where a papyrus roll was used, upon this supported by the raised knee or the left fore-arm. Birt takes his stand upon the representations of ancient art, which undoubtedly lend colour to his contention; but the use of something in the nature of a table or board is so natural that we are almost forced to regard the data of art as defective at this point.

While it is possible that in general the Christian authors of the Apostolic Age wrote their books and epistles with their own hands, we know that St. Paul frequently dictated his letters-as was the practice more especially among people of wealth or rank-but added the closing salutation in his own hand (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:21, Colossians 4:18, 2 Thessalonians 3:17; in Romans 16:22 his amanuensis, Tertius, is mentioned by name). The Epistle to the Galatians, or at least its concluding paragraph, was penned by the Apostle himself. As regards the First Epistle of Peter, the question depends upon the interpretation of 1 Peter 5:12 (διὰ Σιλουανοῦ ὑμῖν τοῦ πιστοῦ ἀδελφοῦ, ὡς λογίζομαι, διʼ ὀλίγων ἔγραψα), where we may either, with Zahn (Einleitung, ii.2, p. 10f.), regard Silvanus as the real author of the letter or suppose that, as the present writer thinks, he wrote it to St. Peter’s dictation. In course of time it came to be a very common practice in Christian circles to employ tachygraphers and secretaries.

As regards the reading (ἀναγιγνώσκειν, a word of very frequent occurrence) of the papyrus roll, Birt has brought before us such a profusion of excellent data that we can quite well picture to ourselves how the people of the Apostolic Age would read, say, the Epistles of St. Paul. The most vivid representation of the act is given by the Attic sepulchral relief in the Abbey of Grottaferata (see A. Conze, Die attischen Grabreliefs, Berlin, 1890, ii. plate 121, no. 622; Birt, op. cit., pl. 157, fig. 90), which shows the reader holding the roll, with its text arranged in columns, before him, his left hand rolling up the portion already read, while his right unrolls the portion still to be read. Just as volumen, from volvere, is the Lat. term for the papyrus strip that could be formed into a roll, so we have in Greek-somewhat rarely, it is true-the term ένείλημα (first in Jos. Ant. XII. ii. 11), from ἑλίσσω (εἱλίσσω) ‘turn,’ ‘wind,’ ‘roll round’; the special sense of the verb appears also in Revelation 6:14, where the departing heavens are compared to a scroll being folded up, ὡς βιβλίον ἑλισσόμενον (similarly in the Apocalypse of Peter [beginning of 2nd cent.], ed. E. Preuschen, Antilegomena2, Giessen, 1905, p. 88). In Luke 4:17 we find the correlative term ἀναπτύσσειν used to denote the unfolding of the roll; the reading ἀνοίξας which appears in a number of codices is probably not original here; as we saw above, in connexion with Revelation 5:1 ff., ἀνοίγω is the technical term for loosing the seal, and was only subsequently, by association of ideas, transferred to the opening of the codex.

5. Letters; signs to the reader.-As minuscule MSS first emerge about the end of the 7th cent. a.d., we must assume that the autographs of the NT were written in a majuscule script, and without doubt in the Greek capitals known to us. But we must here distinguish between the literary or book form of writing on the one hand and the form used in everyday life on the other. The distinction between the two corresponds very much to that between manuscript and print at the present day. The cursive hand arose, of course, from the desire to write rapidly and, where possible, continuously and without breaks. As most of the NT writings were not in the first instance produced as literary works-not being designed for the public at large-we may assume that the NT Epistles at least, and probably also the first transcripts of the other books, were written in a cursive hand and in capitals, as found in various papyri of the 1st century.

Devices to indicate pauses (paragraphus, double dot, larger and smaller spaces) were in use by the 1st cent. b.c., but as a rule were not used at all, or used but sparingly, in the Christian papyri of the 1st cent. a.d.-a circumstance that naturally brought in its train numberless possibilities of misreading and of making false combinations among the words.

Literature.-(A) General.-T. Birt, Das antike Buchwesen, Berlin, 1882: L. Mitteis and U. Wilcken, Grundzüge und Chrestomathie der Papyruskunde, 4 vols., Leipzig, 1912; E. Nestle, Einführung in das griechische NT3, Göttingen, 1909; T. Birt, Die Buchrolle in der Kunst (with 190 illustrations), Leipzig, 1907; W. Schubart, Das Buch bei den Griechen und Römern (with 14 illustrations), Berlin, 1907; K. Dziatzko, artt. ‘Buch,’ ‘Byblos’ in Pauly-Wissowa 2, iii.; A. Gercke, ‘Das antike Buch,’ in Einleitung in die Altertumswissenschaft, Leipzig, 1910, i. 1-26; A. Deissmann, Licht vom Osten3, Tübingen, 1909, Eng. tr. , Light from the Ancient East, London, 1911; also the Introductions to the NT by T. Zahn (Eng. tr. , 3 vols., Edinburgh, 1909), etc.; the older literature in given in E. Reuss, Die Geschichte der heiligen Schriften neuen Testaments3, Brunswick, 1860, p. 340 ff.

(B) Special.-To 1. On the roll in Ignatius, ad Philadelphenos, viii. (ἐν τοῖς ἀρχείοις), see Zahn, in Patrum Apostolicorum Opera, ed. O. von Gebhardt, A. Harnack, T. Zahn, ii. [Leipzig, 1876] 77 ff., and on the passage in Tertullian, cf. T. Zahn. Geschichte des neutest. Kanons, i. [do., 1889] 652; I. E. I. Walch, De Apostolorum Litteris Authenticis a Tertulliano Commemoratis, Jena, 1753. On the Gospel of Matthew found in the tomb of Barnabas, cf. Theodorus Lector in Migne, PG, vol. lxxxvi. col. 189; Severus of Antioch, in J. S. Assemani, Bibliotheca Orientalis, Rome, 1719-28, ii. 8; Vitae omnium XIII Apostolorum, ed. A. Theme in ZWT xxix. [1886] 453. On the supposed existence of the autograph of John’s Gospel in Ephesus, see Chronicon Paschale (7th cent. a.d.): καθὼς τὰ ἀκριβῆ βιβλία περιέχει αὐτό τε τὸ ἰδιόχειρον τοῦ εὐαγγελιστοῦ, ἁπερ μέχρι τοῦ νῦν πεφύλακται χάριτι θεοῦ ἐν τῇ Εφεσίων ἁγιωτάτῃ ἐκκλησίᾳ καὶ ὑπὸ τῶν πιστῶν ἐκεῖσε προσκυνεῖται; cf. also Petrus Alexandrinus, De Paschale (cf. G. Stosch, De Canone NT, p. 44), Philostorgius, vii.14, Nicephorus Callistus, x. 33. On the alleged autograph of Mark in Venice and Prague, cf. J. Dobrowski, Fragmentum Pragense Evang. S. Marci, vulgo autographi, Prague, 1778. For a supposed Heb. autograph of Peter, P. de Lagarde, Aus dem deutschen Gelehrtenleben, Göttingen, 1880, p. 117 f. C. Simonides, Facsimiles of Certain Portions of St. Matthew and of the Epistles of St. James and Jude, written on Papyrus in the 1st Century, London, 1862, is a forgery. Most of the older literature on the question of autograph shows a certain prejudice in the interests of dogma: J. G. Berger, De autographis veterum, Wittenberg, 1723; G. Stosch, De Epistolis Apostolorum idiographis, Guelf, 1751; J. F. Mayer, Utrum autographa biblica hodie extent, Hamburg, 1692; B. G. Clauswitz, De autographorum iactura rei christ. et innoxia et utili, Halle, 1743. The reader will gain some idea of the appearance of the autographs from J. R. Harris, NT Autographs (Supplement to the AJ Ph xii. [1891]), Baltimore, 1892, pp. 54, with 3 plates, but still better from F. G. Kenyon, The Palaeography of Greek Papyri, Oxford, 1899, the plates of which exhibit papyri from the Apostolic Age (a.d. 15 and 72-73). What is probably the earliest known fragment of a NT MS . a transcript of Matthew 1:1-12, dating from the 3rd cent., is shown in B. P. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt, Oxyrhynchus Papyri, i. [1898] pl. i., and in E. Nestle, op. cit. pl. 11. No Christian text as yet discovered can be assigned with certainty to a date earlier than the beginning of the 3rd cent.; cf. L. Mitteis and U. Wilcken, Grundzüge der Papyruskunde, i. i. 130 f.

To 2. (a) Paper: G. F. Wekos, Vom Papier, den vor der Erfindung derselben üblichen Schreibmassen u. anderm Schreib-material, Halle, 1789, with Supplementum, Hanover, 1790; Lalande, L’Art de faire le papier, Paris. n.d.; E. Egger, Le Papier dans l’antiquité et dans les temps modernes, do., 1867; W. Wattenbach, Das Schriftwesen im Mittelalter2, Leipzig, 1876, p. 114 ff.; V. Gardthausen, Griechische Paläographie, do., 1879, pp. 48-51; E. Kirchner, Das Papier, 3 vols., Biberach, 1897-99. (b) The writing tablet: A. Socin, in H. Guthe’s Kurzes Bibelwörterbuch, Tübingen, 1903, p. 590; W. Schubart, op. cit. pp. 16-19. (c) The manufacture of papyrus: Fortia d’Urban, Essai sur l’origine de l’écriture, Paris, 1832; T. Birt, Das antike Buchwesen, Die Buchrolle, p. 4 ff.; K. Dziatzko, Untersuchungen über ausgewählte Kapitel des antiken Buchwesens, Leipzig, 1900; A. Deissmann, Licht vom Osten, p. 15 ff., Eng. tr. , p. 23 ff.; V. Gardthausen, op. cit. p. 29 ff.; F. Woenig, Die Pflanzen in alten Agypten, Leipzig, 1886; U. Wilcken, ‘Recto und Verso,’ in Hermes xxii. [1887] 487-492. (d) The papyri in general: C. Haeberlin, Griechische Papyri, Leipzig, 1897; F. G. Kenyon, op. cit. (with 20 facsimiles), art. ‘Papyri’ in HDB v. 352-357; A. Deissmann, art. ‘Papyri’ in EBi iii. 3556-3563 and art. ‘Papyrus und Papyri’ in PRE 3 xiv. 667-675. (e) The use of parchment and papyrus among the Hebrews: H. L. Strack, in PRE 3 xvii. 768; L. Blau, Studien zum althebräischen Buchwesen, Strassburg, 1


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Writing'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/w/writing.html. 1906-1918.

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