Thursday, 7 February 2019
Jan Hei: The Function of “Reading Aids” in Early New Testament Manuscripts
The proposed short communication presents the results of an investigation of early New Testament manuscripts (early papyri and majuscules) in their relation to the practice of reading in early Christianity. Several features of these manuscripts were analyzed within the broader context of the Greco-Roman manuscript culture, which provided the background for comparative evaluations. To draw conclusions about the practice of reading in early Christianity, several characteristics of New Testament manuscripts were assessed. The function of diacritics (breathings, accents, diaereses) is a focus of the paper. Short remarks on punctuation, column width, paratextual information, pagination, nomina sacra as well as the scriptio continua and the codex format will be included. The results of the investigation challenge the dominant view that early Christian manuscripts in general functioned as aids for performative readings of the Scriptures in the service of the ancient church.