Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Glossary of Textual Criticism: N-Z

Nomina sacra (singular:  nomen sacrum):  sacred names which were usually written in contracted form by copyists.  Usually the contractions consist of two letters – the first letter of the word and the final letter – but in some manuscripts the contractions have a three-letter form.  The terms Κυριος (“Lord”), Θεος (“God”), Ιησους (“Jesus”), and Χριστος (“Christ”) are almost always contracted, with a horizontal line written over them.  References to the three Persons of the Trinity – Πατηρ (“Father”), Υιος (“Son”), and Πνευμα (“Spirit”) – are also contracted in most manuscripts.
            With less uniformity, terms that were associated with titles of Christ are also contracted, such as “Man” (due to the title “Son of Man”), “David” (due to the title “Son of David”), and “Savior.”  Most copyists also contracted the words “Israel,” “Jerusalem,” “Mother,” and “Cross.” 
Novum Testamentum Graece:  A compilation of the Greek text of the New Testament equipped with (a) symbols in the text which convey specific kinds of textual variants, and (b) a basic textual apparatus listing the main support for the adopted reading, and for rival readings.  Eberhard Nestle published the first edition of NTG in 1898, drawing on three independent, but similar, compilations by other scholars (specifically, Tischendorf, Westcott & Hort, and Weymouth).  In 1927, Eberhard Nestle’s son, Erwin Nestle, took over the task of editing the thirteenth edition of the compilation, changing the textual apparatus so as to include a more detailed presentation of evidence, listing manuscripts, versions, patristic writers, compilations by earlier editors, and theoretical recensions that had been posited by researcher Hermann von Soden.
            Kurt Aland was given supervision of the compilation in 1952, and its textual apparatus was expanded considerably.  The NTG achieved relative stability in 1979, and was now known as the Nestle-Aland NTG.  The text of the 26th edition was basically retained in the 27th edition, although the textual apparatus was changed (and some Byzantine witnesses were removed from the apparatus) and miscitations were corrected.  In the 28th edition (2012), only about 35 textual changes were introduced, all confined to the General Epistles.
            The 28th edition of NTG, though technically an eclectic compilation, has a very strong Alexandrian character, differing only slightly from the 1881 compilation of Westcott and Hort.       

Nu ephelkustikon:  The Greek letter nu (ν) placed at the end of a word before another word that begins with a vowel, and at the end of sentences.  Also called moveable nu.

Overline:  A horizontal line added above characters to signify that the letters underneath it are to be read as numerals or as a nomen sacrum.   An overline at the end of a line of text represents the letter nu.

Paratext:  Features in a manuscript other than the main text, such as illustrations, notes, canon-tables, chapter-titles, arabesques, and marginalia. 
Paleography:  The science of studying ancient handwriting and inscriptions.  Paleography is useful for estimating the production-dates (and in some cases the locale) of manuscripts by making comparisons between the handwriting they display and the handwriting of dated documents.  Paleographers also study inks and paratextual features of manuscripts.  Paleographically assigned production-dates should generally be given a range of 50 years both before and after the assigned date, on the premises that (a) copyists tended to write in basically the same script throughout their careers, (b) a typical copyist’s career lasted 50 years, and (c) we cannot determine if a copyist wrote a specific manuscript at the beginning, or end, of his career. 

Palimpsest:  A manuscript which has been recycled, and contains two (or more) layers of writing.  The parchment of a palimpsest has been scraped once, in its initial preparation, and later scraped again, when someone scraped off, or washed off, the ink, in order to reuse the newly blank parchment to hold a different composition.  (The word is derived from Greek:  palin, again, and psaw, scrape.)  The text that was written first on a palimpsest is called the lower writing; the more recently written text is called the upper writing.   The application of ultraviolet light (and multi-spectral imaging) can in some cases make the lower writing much more visible than it appears to be in normal light. 

Papyrus:  (plural:  papyri)  Writing-material made from tissues derived from the inner layer of papyrus plants.  Papyrus-material tended to rot away in high-humidity climates, which is why practically all surviving New Testament papyri were found in Egypt, where the humidity-level is lower.  Manuscripts made of papyrus (such as Papyrus 5, part of which is shown here) are also called papyri.

Parablepsis:   The phenomenon which occurs when a copyist’s line of sight drifts from one set of letters to an identical or similar set of letters, skipping the intervening text.  This may occur due to homoioarcton, homoeoteleuton, or simple inattentiveness.

Provenance:  The place from which a manuscript came. 

Quire:  A collection of bifolia (usually four) which have been stacked and folded together in the process of codex-production.

Recto:  The side of a leaf in a manuscript that is viewed when the outer margin is to the viewer’s right.

Rubric:  Text written in red, usually found in the margins, mainly serving to label portions of the main text.  Rubrics may include chapter-titles, the lectionary apparatus, and miscellaneous notes.

Ruling:  Horizontal lines and vertical borders added to writing-material as guidelines for the text which was intended to be written upon it.  Hundreds of different ruling-patterns have been identified.  They vary in complexity, depending on how much supplemental material was intended to accompany the main text.       

Scriptorium:  A manuscript-making center, usually located in a monastery.

Stichometry:  A calculation of the number of standard lines (about 15 or 16 syllables), or stichoi, of text in a book or book-portion.  The conclusions of New Testament books are sometimes accompanied by notes mentioning the book’s length, in line-units.   This suggests that such manuscripts were copied by professionals who were paid on a per-stichos basis. 

Singleton:  a single folded bifolium in a manuscript – a quire consisting of a single sheet. 

Staurogram:  A combination of the Greek letters tau and rho, thought by some researchers to be a pictogram of Christ’s crucifixion.
Textual Apparatus:  Notes in a compilation, listing variants and the witnesses that support them.  Witnesses are usually listed in the order of uncials, minuscules, versions, and patristic references.  In the textual apparatuses of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece and the UBS Greek New Testament, Byzantine witnesses tend to be presented collectively.

Textus Receptus:  This term is generally used to refer to the base-text of the 1611 King James Version.  It is also used to refer to any of the compilations of the Greek text of the New Testament published in the 1500s and early 1600s, beginning with Erasmus’ first edition in 1514, continuing with the Complutensian Polyglot, several editions by Stephanus, several editions by Beza, and the 1624 and 1633 editions by the Elzevirs, the last of which was declared to be “the text received by all.”  These compilations were not entirely identical but all contained a basically Byzantine text influenced by readings selected from the editors’ materials, which included important witnesses such as minuscule 1, minuscule Codex Bezae (D), Codex Regius (L), and Codex Claromontanus.  
            The 1551 edition issued by Stephanus is notable for the introduction of verse-numbers, essentially the same enumeration still used in most English New Testaments.

UBS Greek New Testament:  A compilation of the Greek text of the New Testament prepared by a team working for the United Bible Societies.  Now in its fifth edition (2014), the UBS Greek New Testament contains the same text presented in the 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece.  The textual apparatus of the UBS Greek New Testament covers far fewer variant-units (about 1,400), but in far greater detail.  Bruce Metzger (1914-2007), a member of the UBS compilation-committee, wrote A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, explaining the committee’s text-critical general approach and specific decisions.   

Uncial:  A manuscript in which each letter is written separately and as a capital.  These are also known as majuscules.  Many uncials, are identified by sigla (singular:  siglum) such as the letters of the English alphabet, letters of the Greek alphabet, and, for Codex Sinaiticus (À), the Hebrew alphabet.  All uncials are identified by numbers that begin with a zero. 

Verso:  The side of a leaf in a manuscript that is viewed when the outer margin is to the viewer’s left.

Watermark:  In medieval paper, a design embedded in the fibers of the paper, visible when a page is held up to light.  Watermarks often indicate where the paper was made.

Western Order:  The arrangement of the four Gospels as Matthew, John, Luke, and Mark.  This order is found mainly in representatives of the Western Text, such as the Old Latin Gospels and Codex Bezae.

Western Text:  A text-form, or forms, characterized by expansion, harmonization, and simplification in comparison to other text-types.  Codex Bezae and the Old Latin version are the primary and most extensive witnesses to Western readings, but several early patristic writers frequently utilize Western readings as well. 

Zoomorphic Initial:  An initial which takes the shape of an animal or bird.

            If readers would like to suggest other terms that should be considered for inclusion in this glossary, you are welcome to do so in the comments.


Unknown said...

Thank you James. Studied with interest. Grateful.

Andrew said...

Minor correction here, the first edition of Erasmus' "Novum Instrumentu Omne" was not in 1514, it was dated to 1516.

Also, it might be slightly misleading to say that the Complutensian Polyglot was "continuing" from Erasmus' first edition, because the New Testament for the Complutensian was completed in 1514. However, this is offset by the fact that it was not actually published until the Old Testament was done, and they were further delayed before receiving an official sanction, which meant that the whole Complutensian Polyglot was not published until at least 1520. Erasmus was likely motivated to complete his first edition before the Complutense University did (he was aware of their work because they tried to recruit him at one point), and as it happens he was the first to publish his Greek (and Latin) edition in 1516.

- Andrew