Monday, June 29, 2015

The Trouble with "Autographs": Craig Evans, "How Long were Late Antique Books in Use?

Bulletin of Biblical Research  (BBR) 25.1 (2015), 25-37.

"Given that there is no evidence that early Christian scribal practices differed from pagan practices, we may rightly ask whether early Christian writings, such as the autographs and first copies of the books that eventually would be recognized as canonical Scripture, also remained in use for 100 years or more."

The use of the term "autographs," or rather the unexamined assumptions that underlie its use, deserves scrutiny.  It might mean a sort of signed first edition, or at least a "fair copy," or else a working copy, a draft version, identified by the number of alternative  word choices, some words crossed out, others written above etc. as in the case P. Oxy. vii 1015 (image of a diplomatic transcript below) or P. Koeln vi 245.
E.G. Turner, GMAW2 no. 50
Probably Evans is thinking of autograph to mean "fair copy" and further, assumes that textual variety stem from  secondary copies made from this original one. This in any case the simplest assumption: the closer you are, the clearer the view. 
If we understand "autograph" to mean a working version, or rough draft,or a revised copy, tit might be that some of the multiplicity of variants, and the textual variety found in secondary copies might stem not from scribal caprice, lapsus calami etc., but from the author's writing process itself. 

Now, it might seem obvious that the best copy, representing the author's "last and best thoughts" on his subject.  But not necessarily. Take for example Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. We have two drafts, one which is assumed to be his script, so to speak (the Nicolay version); the other (Hay version) is probably an attempt to revise his remarks. We have two main versions of transcripts made at the event and published in newspapers, one of which is assumed to be verbatim, or nearly verbatim (Hale's transcript). Beyond this, there are several fair copies written by Lincoln himself.
A plethora of variation, major and minor, result, as can be seen in the critical edition below. I should note that the base text I use is the Nicolay version, considered to be Lincoln's "script" for the speech.

In short, what Lincoln intended to say (Nicolay version) differs from what he said, through extemporization, as when he transforms, "This we may in all propriety do" to "It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this," (note 7)  or by accident, as when he appears to have said "beyond our power " rather than "beyond our poor power" (note 10).
The last known revised copy by Lincoln, the "Bliss Copy," (prepared for the Baltimore Sanitary Fair of 1864) became what is now considered the standard text only with planning and dedication of the Lincoln Memorial (1911-1922).
 In a May 5, 1909, letter, Robert (sc. Lincoln) said, "The Baltimore Fair [Bliss] version represents my father's last and best thought as to the address, and the corrections in it were legitimate for the author, and I think there is no doubt they improve the version as written out for Col. Hay,-and as I said to you before, I earnestly hope that the Baltimore Fair version will be used."73
Jared Peatman. The Long Shadow of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address (Kindle Locations 1317-1319). Kindle Edition. 
Subsequently,  a Senate committee was given the responsibility:

On February 20, 1913, the U.S.Senate adopted a joint resolution stating, "Protests having been made that there are many different versions of Lincoln's Gettysburg speech, which it is proposed to inscribe on the Lincoln Memorial to be built [in Washington, D.C.], the Senate adopted Senator Root's joint resolution to-day, authorizing a committee to report the correct version." ("Seek Lincoln's Own Words," New York Times, February 21, 1913, 6.)
Jared Peatman. The Long Shadow of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address (Kindle Location 2794). Kindle Edition.
 So the standard text was 50 years in coming, before which the variation among the copies and the newspaper accounts were not considered a problem. It was only after the speech became institutionalized, included in The McGuffey Reader of 1889 (no 79, p. 266), which prints "beyond our power to add or detract" (note 10 above), and carved in stone in Washington that careful consideration was given to the details of the text.

There are some obvious points in the NT transmission that might have come from variation in authorial versions: the long and short versions of Acts,  or the position of the letter of recommendation for Phoebe in Romans, for example.

Let me summarize by saying, if one thinks that if we had the autograph version of John's Gospel, say, that legend has it was kept by the church at Ephesus into the third century, we would still require textual criticism to adjudicate between variants.

As a coda, let me say that sometimes the author's scholarship is faulty. On p. 32, referring to the above mentioned legend, he writes:

There is yet another testimony in which a NT autograph is mentioned. In a Paschal treatise, of which only fragments are extant, Peter, Bishop of Alexandria (died in A.D. 311), is remembered to have said the following:
Now it was the preparation [cf. John 19:14, 31], about the third hour [cf. Mark 15:25], as the accurate books have it, and the autograph copy itself of the evangelist John, which up to this day has by divine grace been preserved in the most holy church of Ephesus, and is there adored by the faithful. (frag. 5.2) note 34 

[J. B. H. Hawkins, “Fragments from the Writings of Peter,” in The Ante-Nicene Fathers (ed. A. Roberts and J. Donaldson; 10 vols., Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1898) 6:283. The original Greek treatise survives only in Latin quotations.]
 The note attached to this fr. in the 1869 edition of the work cited above refers the reader to Andreas Gallandi (Gallandius), Ex Chronico Paschale, p.179 d, Venice 1729). This work, of course, is not in Latin, but Greek, and the text in question can be found in TLG, which contains Dindorf's edition, Chronicon Paschale (Bonn 1832).

ὥρα ἦν ὡσεὶ τρίτη, καθὼς τὰ ἀκριβῆ  βιβλία περιέχει,
αὐτό τε τὸ ἰδιόχειρον τοῦ εὐαγγελιστοῦ Ἰωάννου,
ὅπερ μέχρι νῦν πεφύλακται χάριτι θεοῦ ἐν τῇ Ἐφεσίων
ἁγιωτάτῃ ἐκκλησίᾳ καὶ ὑπὸ τῶν πιστῶν ἐκεῖσε προσκυνεῖται. 
 Finally, let me disown a reference to an article of mine: in  note 15, p 27 the author writes:

Schwendner, “A Fragmentary Psalter from Karanis and Its Context,” 127. Schwendner discusses two texts that originated in the third/fourth centuries that apparently were reinked toward the end of the fifth century.
 I am not sure what he had in mind. I don't discuss reinking at all in that article, to which I am in Prof. Evan's debt for publishing, btw, and have only once, in an online paper concerning the so called "Gospel of Jesus Wife."

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Inside Roman Libraries (Houston): Preliminary Observations on Ancient Dumps

Many years ago, at a meeting of CAMWS (2005?), my wife, Ariel Loftus, first introduced the author to the LDAB, then still in CD-form, or maybe just newly on the internet. 

George Houston's new book, Inside Roman Libraries: Book Collections and Their Management in Antiquity (UNC Press, 2014) offers a valuable overview of what we know about book collections in the Roman World. I limit my remarks to one chapter. My only real concern is the number of assumptions that are made in chapter four, and not with its overall conclusions about intellectual life in Oxyrhynchus. 

In Chapter Four, "Books Collections of Oxyrhynchus," states generally "Grenfell and Hunt noticed that the ancient residents of the town had occasionally thrown out not just random materials, but substantial collections of interconnected written materials (1). These concentrations, coherent in date and content (2), usually consisted of official documents or of some individual's letters and accounts. But in the inter of 1905-06 Grenfell and Hunt discovered three concentrations (3) each of which contained numerous literary papyri." About the first of these, the author reports, that they "were confident that they all had been discarded at one time and all came from a single library."

 "Interconnected written materials (1)" and : "coherent in date and content (2). When documents are considered, there are clear criteria for determining their interconnectedness: date and prosopography. The archive of the sons of Ptollas, some of which were held together by string (P.Mich. vi 399-407), were found together in a sealed dump at Karanis (*158). That is, structure 158 was built on top of this dump, and it has, in theory, a fixed terminus ante quem. More often, discarded archives were deposited in a group, as was the case with the Archive of Aur. Isidorus, even though it was not excavated, but found during an illegal dig and destined for the antiquities market. A few papyri made it onto the market, and were sold to western collections (Merton and Michigan), but most of the archive was recovered by the authorities, and so remained together.
Connecting literary texts into a group is a trickier affair than Houston lets on. He simply relies on the confidence of Grenfell and Hunt, and says no more about it.  Sometimes, as in the case of the Archive of the sons of Ptollas, and in Archive of Leonides, son of Theon, papyri are found tied together. (TM Archives). But for the most part, it is a matter of conjecture. Grenfell and Hunt were pre-scientific excavators, and so give no accurate record of the dumps they dug, as Bingen did for Mons Claudianus ("Dumping and the Ostraca at Mons Claudianus," in D.M. Bailey, Archaeological Research in Roman Egypt, JRA Suppl. 19, 1996), 29-38).

As to the second point (2: "coherent in date and content"), dating is problem, not only because most of the literary papyri the author groups together must be dated palaeographically, that is to say, not historically, but because they are not coherent in their dates. For the "Second Find" at Oxyrhynchus (1906), most have a range of three centuries (first-third AD, pp. 159-62).  We have examples of literary texts that from a coherent group, in topic and date, that were deposited together, that is the Tura Find of 1941. Even here, however, we do not really know the date of deposition.  One might suppose they were deposited in cave 35 at Tura after Origen and Didymus' work was declared anathema by Justinian in 553, but we cannot know with certainty. These were whole books, not partial, fragmentary or worn out, in contrast to the Oxyrhynchus finds. It is salutary to have some comparanda when evaluating with what we think we know about literary papyri in dumps.

Another problem is the author's assumption that, first,  we can know the date these "concentrations" of literary papyri were deposited, and second, we may safely assume they were deposited together, at the same time, not gradually. "As a reasonable and conservative guess, I will assume they were thrown in about 400 AD" (p.162). Perhaps I am misunderstanding here, but if he means there is either a terminus ante quem for the dump (which we can hardly say, because there we do not know all the datable objects that were found there, and, since, I assume, and may be wrong, the dump was not sealed), or can have any good idea about the precise date of deposition. We may be able to ascertain the earliest datable text or object form this layer of the dump, and so arrive at a rough terminus post quem, apart from Grenfell and Hunt's observation that they were excavating a fourth-fifth century layer. Grenfell and Hunt report that "at Oxyrhynchus it is not uncommon to come upon large groups of papyri which have been thrown away simultaneously" ("Excavations at Oxyrhynchus" in Oxyrhynchus: A City and its Texts (edd. A. Bowman et al., EES Greco-Roman Memoirs no. 93, 2007), p. 360. This assumption may be reasonable, but it cannot be demonstrated, and must be understood as conjectural rather than factual.

Second, if, as is assumed, these texts (First Find, Second Find, etc.) were deposited in the dump simultaneously, how can we know if this was a primary or secondary deposit? That is, can we know that discarded bookrolls were taken straight to library to the dump, in a sort of spring cleaning? These rolls, or their detritus, of might just as well been collected in the library first,  (garbage often accumulated in spare rooms, or just outside doorways) all at once, or over time, and only later taken to the dump. Therefore the dump would be a secondary deposit, and we are another step away from knowing when these book rolls, or parts of them, were discarded originally.

More needs to be said, about how one may apply Houston's results as to the longevity of books to Christian text, especially in light of the fact that he deals almost exclusively with book rolls, not codices. Given the early Christian use of single-quire codices, notoriously clumsy and easily damaged, his findings cannot be imported without qualification into the context of the longevity of Christian books. But that is for another time.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Strange things you can find on the internet: David Stewart Crawford's gravestone in Cairo

He was the editor of P. Fuad Univ. and, posthumously, P. Michael(idae).
In my first papyrological seminar with Ludwig Koenen, another student was working on a Byzantine papyrus whose best parallel was in P. Michael. Al-Ahramon the 50th anniversary in 2002, describes what happened: 
The next day, [after an attack by British forces on an Egyptian police station in Ismalia, killing 41] demonstrators gathered in Cairo to protest against the slaughter. The absence of police control of any sort (which was hardly surprising) allowed the crowd to quickly develop into a rampaging mob. Led by extremists, the rioters set about systematically torching foreign-owned interests -- bars, cinemas, hotels. In one attack nine members of the Turf Club -- a name synonymous with British imperialism in Egypt -- were killed. They were stripped and beaten to death before their bodies were consigned to the flames of the burning building. In total, 26 foreigners were killed on what became known as "Black Saturday." 

Several of Crawford's readings could have been improved in comparison with the new text, but, we were told, the original was lost in Cairo when the editor was killed in the rioting there in 1952. At least I think that's what he said.  But George Michaelides' collection manuscript collection can now be tracked down because of Sarah Clackson's article, "The Michaelides Manuscript Collection" in ZPE 100 (1994), 223-6The Turf Club is now the Cairo Center Hotel.