If I ever get to teach an advanced exegesis class on a book of the NT where a knowledge of Greek is presumed (like a PhD-level course), I’ll not use Nestle-Aland/UBS as my base text. Rather, I’ll have them read (at least in part) from an uncial codex–preferably Vaticanus if it’s one of the gospels…
Excellent idea, and since Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are available online, comparative studies could be part of the course….
Well, it sure beats Carolingian Miniscule any day!
And besides one has the chance in an uncial codex to make up whole new words by just deciding where one wants to put the space! I’ll spare you the insider academic Greek jokes.
Ok, for those of us whose Greek sucks, explain why you would do this rather than using standard texts.
The usual academic standards are eclectic texts. That is, the various English Bibles out there aren’t translated from a “manuscript” but from an edition put together over centuries based on discussions and decisions by legions of scholars about which of the countless variants out there most likely reflect the earliest state of the Greek text that we can recover. This gets put into a book with spaces between the words and punctuation and an elaborate apparatus at the bottom to show you the major options they sorted between.
What it doesn’t give you is a sense of what early biblical readers were reading from. An uncial manuscript (like the linked page) had neither spaces between the words nor punctuation. That presents certain challenges for reading and interpreting that most modern biblical scholars don’t have a feel for.
In addition, the advantage of using a codex like Vaticanus over the eclectic text is that you’re reading from a text that actually exists–that we *know* real readers actually read. What’s funny is that despite the eclectic text and the sifting through mountains of papyri, the base text of the gospels presented in the eclectic text is pretty much that of Vaticanus anyway…
TO John: OH I quite disagree that its better than Carolingian minuscule…..Carolingian minuscule is a fine script to work with. NOw if you want something difficult, try some Merovingian chancery texts, or god forbid, some fancy Gothic…..
There is something about having a ‘proper’ text in front of one when reading: my significant other lectures from time to time in OT – but is working through the psalms courtesy of her facsimile of the Luttrell psalter.
But I despair to think that non-knowledge of an original language is now assumed for many working with texts. As one who had no option but to do Greek, had little choice in taking Hebrew, and then opted for Aramaic and Syriac special papers… O tempora! O mores!
Didn’t medieval liturgies end with prayers for God’s mercy against 1) the depredations of the Vikings and 2) the torture of reading chancery hands?
The Luttrell is quite fine–but I’d still take the Vespasian Psalter any day of the week! A nice Roman half-uncial beats all…
Tell me this–with computers and printing so easy and available these days, why don’t we have more beautiful books?!?
AH, well there’s the problem! The Luttrell Psalter is written in a Gothic Textura Precissa script, and overall is easy to read by comparison to some other Gothic scripts.
I love the Vespasian Psalter, and am also fond of the Utrecht Psalter, and enjoy reading passages from Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, but also from the Book of Kells, the Lindisfarne Gospels, and Codex Amiatinus. My Hebrew I confess isn’t up to reading medieval Hebrew manuscripts, but they sure are beautful.
To answer Derek’s question: I think familiarity has bred a level of contempt, or at least apathy.
It has to be confessed that the local provenance of the Luttrell (within this diocese) and the fact that the grylli resemble many members of the house of bishops gives it a certain ‘something’ in this corner of Lindsey. The script, I admit, isn’t in the same league as some, but for a MS from after the time of William the Illegitimate…..
The more I think about working from (say) Vaticanus, the more I like it, at least as a first plank of biblical studies. Launches a considerable torpedo against a particular sort of biblical infallibilist…
The Lindisfarne Gospel is the most beautiful book I have ever seen. For me it beats out the Book of Kells because of the regularity of its decoration (even if not fully implemented).
Mynsterpreost, I’ll grant you that of books after William the Bastard the Luttrell is one of the greatest.
There is a certain irrefutable reality about scribal culture when you encounter one of the great ancient uncials–or the papyri for that matter. For me it turns people away from an idolatrous over-focus on the letter to the communities that used it.
Having seen the LG’s at the British Library in 2003, I have to agree, it’s the ne plus ultra (for me) of insular manuscripts. But I still do like the beasties in the Luttrell….
I recall many years ago being transfixed by Sinaiticus in the BM (and getting told off by some wonk or other for spending too long in front of its case). I cherish the entirely unjustifiable belief that it’s one of Constantine’s uncial mss: in a world of cheap floppy backed NIV’s, the knowledge that this was The Scripture for an entire community is infinitely humbling.