Welcome to Biblaridion, or 'little scroll'. On this 'little scroll' will be written my various and sundry musings on myriad topics but especially on the Bible.

Location: Plano, Texas, United States


Greek Miniscule Script

Greek miniscule handwriting closely resembles modern cursive script where letters are joined together for speed of writing. Miniscule developed around the 9th century out of a form of cursive that had already been in use for a long time for private correspondence and business. Most New Testament manuscripts in existence today are written in miniscule script, though one is more likely to see images of manuscripts written in Uncial script because they are generally earlier in date.

Four types of miniscule handwriting are commonly acknowledged:

  • Codices Vetusissimi - 800-950 A.D.
  • Codices Vetusti - 950-1250 A.D.
  • Codices Recentiores - 1250-1456 A.D.
  • Codices Novelli - 1456 and onward

For more information about these four types of miniscule script, refer to Miniscule Chronology (Classics Palaeography course summary, Classics Department, University of Montanaa).

Miniscule handwriting can be quite beautiful and flowing, but it is notoriously difficult to read with its many ligatures (ie. joined letters) and abbreviations. Recently, I have been attempting to learn to read it and to find good sources to aid me in doing so.

The best book aids for learning to read miniscule that I have actually been able to get my hands on are:

  • Metzger, Bruce Manning, Manuscripts of the Greek Bible : an Introduction to Greek Palaeography, (New York : Oxford University Press, 1981).
  • Thompson, Edward Maunde, An Introduction to Greek and Latin Palaeography, (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1912), repr. New York, B. Franklin, 1965, 1973.
  • Gonzaga da Fonseca, L., S.J. Epitome introductionis in palaeographiam Graecam (Biblicam). Ed. altera. Romae, 1944.

Others references I have not yet found but would like to, include the following:

  • Gardthausen, V. Griechische Palaeographie. 1-2 Bd, 2te Aufl. Leipzig, 1911-13
  • van Groningen, B.A. Short Manual of Greek Palaeography. Leiden, 1940 (3rd ed, 1963).

What about online miniscule references? On ricoblog, way back on August 16, 2004, in a post titled Münster NT MSS images online, Rick Brannon asked "...if anyone knows of an online reference detailing ligatures and abbreviations used in miniscule script, I'd appreciate knowing about it...". He may have found his answer by now, but there don't appear to be many such online references. In fact, the only detailed information I am aware of online is on Paul Halsall's excellent Byzantine Palaeography website. Please, someone also let me know if they are aware of others.

In addition to a good bibliography, he also has tables of common miniscule letter forms, ligatures, and abbreviations.

After pointing out these online resources, I'd like to share a "walk" through one of the manuscripts that can be found on the Münster website that was pointed out by Rick. In subsequent posts, working in the book of Mark, I'd like to analyze the Vetusti type of miniscule script found in manuscript 1432, which dates to the 12th century. Caveat emptor...I am not an expert, so read with a grain of salt. And for those who know the material better than I, please feel free to offer any needed corrections. My simple hope is that perhaps someone will learn something new and enjoyable.

UPDATE (Sept. 1, 2005): It may be next week before I can find the time to begin this walk-through of manuscript 1432, but I hope to get to it as soon as possible.


Blogging Slow Down

Things have been busy on the homefront lately. There has been little time for posting or reading, although my wife and I did get a few hours to ourselves this past Saturday to take a jet ski out on Lake Lavon. It was such a blast! Those things will zip across the lake and can get up to 60MPH! Of course I took it a bit easier than that with my wife on board, but she hung on tight and didn't seem to have a problem with me doing tight circles and gassing it over a small wake here and there. Gotta do that again some day!

On the way out to the lake, I happened to notice that we drove right by the church of another blogger I happen to read, Eric Sowell of The Coding Humanist. I have really wanted to meet him and attend his Greek classes, but I just haven't been able to find the time. I could probably make some of the sessions, but consistent attendence was requested, and reasonably so. Perhaps he will hold some short, informal sessions on topics related to the Greek language some time.

Well, that's about it for now, as I still have quite a busy weekend ahead. I hope to find more time in the near future to get back to some interesting subjects. As one potential topic, I've been contemplating sharing my recent self-study of miniscule handwriting by walking through some online manuscript. Could be interesting if I can figure out how to make it so. We'll see. In the mean time, we'll see what other topics may pop into view.


New Qumran / Essene Studies Paper

New papers are abounding lately. Stephen Goranson has a new paper on "the history and identities of the 'Wicked Priest' and the 'Teacher of Righteousness' in the view of Essenes at Qumran and elsewhere" entitled Jannaeus, His Brother Absalom, and Judah the Essene.


A New Article On Acts

Chris Price has an excellent new article on Acts, titled Genre, Historicity, Date, and Authorship of Acts and hosted on Peter Kirby's Christian Origins blog, which appears to be active again after a brief hiatus.