Monday, July 31, 2017

Précis: Dirk Jongkind 2006 “One Codex, Three Scribes, and Many Books: Struggles with Space in Codex Sinaiticus.”

A Précis of
“One Codex, Three Scribes, and Many Books: Struggles with Space in Codex Sinaiticus.
by Dirk Jongkind, pp. 121-135 in
Kraus, Thomas J. and Tobias Nicklas (Editors)
2006 New Testament Manuscripts: Their Texts and Their World. Volume 2 of Texts and Editions for New Testament Study: Edited by Stanley E. Porter and Wendy J. Porter, Brill, Leiden, Boston.

Jongkind summarizes the codicological work of H.J.M Milne and T.C. Skeat’s work presented in their 1938 Scribes and Correctors of the Codex Sinaiticus emphasizing the
value of this work particularly because of the decision to re-bind the codex. Their description remains the only source for data that was obliterated through the rebinding process.
Their analysis led them to conclude that Tischendorf’s conclusion that there were four hands was in error. “The work originally attributed to scribe C was assigned to scribes A and D, with the result that the remaining labels of the scribal hands were A, B, and D.”(121)
Jongkind evaluates the hypothesis that the Codex was transcribed by dictation. This hypothesis was based on the differences between spelling habits between the scribes. However, the pages are ruled. Those measurements were adjusted in certain quires of the Codex to allow for more and fewer lines to adjust for space. This suggests that the Codex was a planned, but poorly executed project (especially in comparison to Vaticanus). The work was planned and divided between three scribes. But adjusting the number of lines from the already ruled text strongly indicates that the Codex was not copied by dictation.
Several other codicological oddities stand out.

Scribe A and D seem to be a work team with scribe B seeming to be more independent of the others. Within the work of scribes A and D is the transition between Judith and I Maccabees, the lack of II and II Maccabees, the inclusion of IV Maccabees. This suggests a lack of source manuscripts for II and III Maccabees.

Because of the quire arrangements scribes A and D could be working on their quires simultaneously. Scribe B would be able to work on separate quires.

The aforementioned transition between Judith and I Maccabees shows the changing of hands from A to D with D adjusting the rules on successive pages of the folio to fit the text to the quire.

There are examples of extra spacing (the use of the diple “the wedge shaped sign used as a filler”) in the book of Judith to fill out the space. This is not likely to have been accomplished under dictation.

Even though the calligraphy of the codex is beautifully executed, “the common element in each of these [issues discussed] is that Sinaiticus does not display a level of professionalism that one would expect in a scriptorium that produces such volumes on a regular basis.” (130)

Jongkind presents the issues surrounding the unusual structure of quires 90 and 91 in which Barnabas and Revelation are transcribed. The facing of the sheets is not consistent with the rest of the Codex. He offers suggestions on possible reconstructions of the process saying, “it seems clear that the scribe was seriously struggling to write the text of Barnabas within the limits of the quire. The absence of a break between Revelation and Barnabas tells us very little about their respective canonical status. It is rather part of a pattern of confused transitions from the text written by scribe A to that written by scribe B.”(134)

In his conclusion, Jongkind suggests that Codex Sinaiticus was a planned group project that in several areas shows lack of experience with production of a project of this type “that the scriptorium was still experimenting with the correct approach, or that where there was demand for a large Bible but where one lacked the experience to produce one.”(135)

The corrections were added by “the same three scribes.” An analysis of these corrections might help bring greater detail to their working relationship.

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