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


Feelin' Better

Phew! Well, after a little over a week of battling illness, I think I'm finally feeling good enough to tackle life again. I hope to get back to the manuscript walkthrough sometime this week, for those who haven't given up on me yet. :-)

I just wanted to mention a couple of things I've seen that interested me and will perhaps interest others who haven't noticed them already.

First, I'd like to welcome Mark Goodacre to America. I hope that he is heartily welcomed into his new community and finds life here in the US to be at least agreeable and hopefully enjoyable.

Brandon Wason, of Novum Testamentum, mentioned a computer keyboard with keys that are like mini computer screens that can display images with decent resolution. I, too, find this keyboard of interest for the reason that you could have it display the character set you wish to work with, perhaps Greek and Hebrew for bibliophiles. Cool!

Next, David Black mentions in his blog that Bruce Metzger's Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament can now be found online. The website where this is found, Bible Centre, has many more good references in its online "library" as well.


Manuscript Walkthrough 2

In the first post of our manuscript walkthrough, we had just finished looking at the first line of miniscule script in manuscript 1432 when the post became a bit unwieldy. Let's pick back up with the walkthrough on the second line of miniscule. Here, again, are the preparatory links for the analysis (refer to the first post for more information):

Beginning on the second line, the first word is ὡσ. You may recognize the sigma since it looks identical to sigmas found in the greek print of modern critical editions, but the miniscule omega is different and resembles the mathematical infinity sign (), or the number 8 laying on its side (refer to the letter chart link above). Incidentally, if you are following along in the Parallel Greek New Testament, you will notice that ὡσ is the Byzantine Majority reading, whereas καθὼς is the Alexandrian reading.

Next we come to another set of challenging ligatures in γέγραπται. The word begins with an uncial form of gamma (here's the mixing of the Vetusti period again) whose top bar is linked to έγ. Referring to the ligature chart, we see that έγ is a combination found in later miniscule manuscripts. In this ligature, the leftmost portion of the gamma forms part of the epsilon's cursive middle crossbar (though somewhat "loose" in this instance). The top bar of the second gamma is then linked to the following rho.

Next, you will notice a good example of the miniscule form of alpha whose tail, as I have previously mentioned, curves back up to the top line. The tail of the alpha is linked with the top bar of the following pi. The pure miniscule pi resembles the form of omega found in modern critical editions, only it is topped by a long horzontal stroke (refer to letter chart). This pi forms a ligature with the letter tau which shares the top bar of the pi and only reveals itself by the vertical stroke touching the right side of and extending below the pi. Following this is the final letter combination, αι. It simply consists of the miniscule alpha followed by a iota that falls vertically from the end of the alpha's tail.

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In the above image, I have highlighted some of the more difficult ligatures and attempted to blend the color of the shared portions of the letters.

Visiting the next word, ἐν, we see good examples of the miniscule forms of both epsilon and nu (refer to letter chart). Though the pure miniscule form of epsilon may look very odd if you are familiar with the uncial form, it may become more recognizable when you realize that it was formed by not lifting the pen at the bottom of the "c" portion of the uncial epsilon when looping back into the letter to create the crossbar. Was that clear as mud? Be aware that nu and mu look very similar (look back up at the mu of Mark in the decoration above) and can be easily confused.

In προφήταισ, note the phi with its extra top loop (vaguely resembling a reversed musical treble clef sign), the uncial eta, and the combination of αι (it is often difficult to see the iota if the tail of the alpha ascends almost vertically...look for a slight vertical protrusion at the bottom).

Again, if you are following along in the Parallel Greek New Testament, you will notice, here, that the phrase ἐν τοῖσ προφήταισ (in the prophets) is the Byzantine Majority reading, whereas ἐν τῷ Ἠσαΐᾳ τῷ προφήτῃ (in Isaiah the prophet) is the Alexandrian. The relatively late date of this manuscript means that its text, as we are already seeing, will more than likely follow the Byzantine Majority textual tradition.

In the third line, note the miniscule delta in ἰδοὺ. Its form should also be recognizable if you are familiar with the modern greek script in critical editions. The right-hand stroke, following the apex, usually flows into the next letter, in this case an omicron.

Next, we run across the now familiar ligature for ἐγ in the word ἐγὼ (found in the Byzantine but not the Alexandrian).

Stepping yet one more word, ἀποστέλλω contains a common and early ligature (refer to ligature chart) composed of sigma and tau.

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For review, you should be able to recognize the miniscule alpha, connected to the pi, connected to the omicron (connected to the hip-bone...sorry...). Note the slight criss-cross in the legs of the two consecutive lambdas. Finally, the miniscule omega should also now be recognizable.

Well, we're at the end of line three now and the post has become rather large again. I'll break here and pick up with the the next portion of the text hopefully sometime this week. Stay tuned... There are some interesting abbreviations coming up.

If you are finding this interesting or think I should stop wasting my time because nobody cares, please let me know. ;-) Or, if you have any comments, suggestions, or corrections, just drop me a comment or email. I'd love to hear if others find miniscule script as interesting, fun, and challenging to read as I do.


Miniscule Handwriting - Manuscript Walkthrough 1


As mentioned in a previous post, I would like to share a "walk-through" of the 12th century miniscule manuscript 1432, as found on the Münster Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung website. Starting at the beginning of the book of Mark, I intend to "walk through" a small portion of this manuscript, pointing out some of the more unique miniscule letter forms and common ligatures, abbreviations, and contractions.

Again, I am not an expert. I merely wish to share my own investigations into miniscule handwriting with others who might be interested. For those who know the material better than I do, please feel free to offer any observations or corrections.


The rest of this post may be nearly unintelligible without a little up-front preparation. You should be able to follow along using only online resources by opening the following links in separate tabs or windows (this can be done by "right-clicking" on the links and selecting the desired/available option):

First, take a few moment to familiarize yourself with each of the pages you have just opened so that you know what they contain. Next, you will want to expand the image of the manuscript to its normal size so that the text will be readable. This is done in Netscape and Firefox by simply clicking once on the image. In Internet explorer, there should be a square symbol in the lower right portion of the image that you can click.

Of course, to minimize the tabs or windows, feel free to substitute any books available to you. For a critical Greek New Testament text, I prefer to have Reuben Swanson's New Testament Manuscripts edition of Mark open. For palaeographical references, I use Bruce Metzger's Manuscripts of the Greek Bible but especially Edward Maunde Thompson's Introduction to Greek and Latin Palaeography (because of its detail on abbreviations).

On the Handschriften page, manuscript 1432 is listed as a 12th century manuscript. As mentioned in my previous post, the miniscule handwriting of this period is commonly referred to as Vetusti. The palaeographical glossary tells us that this period is characterized by the mixing of uncial letter forms with the pure miniscule letter forms. As you look through this manuscript you will begin to notice this mixture of letter forms if you keep an eye on the pure miniscule column (col. 1) of the Greek Miniscule Letter Forms chart you have opened in another tab/window.

Finally, most miniscule manuscripts, including this one, are of the Byzantine Majority textual tradition. This is the reason that I provided the link to the Parallel Greek New Testament. It will allow you to follow along with the Greek of the manuscript by looking at the Byzantine Majority line and will allow you to also note its differences with the Alexandrian text (which many scholars believe to be closer to the original).

Let's Begin!

When you open the manuscript image, you'll notice that it has two pages. The left-hand page is the ending of the gospel of Matthew. The book of Mark begins on the right-hand page immediately beneath the large, square decoration. Inside this gilt, or illuminated, decoration is a circle in which is written "Gospel according to Mark" in red ink like this:
† εὐαγγέ
λιον κα
τα μάρ
κον >

In this brief phrase, I'd like to specifically point out the uncial forms of the epsilon, upsilon, gamma, nu, and kappa. Though the gammas are in an uncial form, they are linked in cursive fashion, the small one to the larger one. Note the miniscule forms of alpha (whose tail curves back up to the top line) and of mu (which should be familiar from modern lowercase Greek print). Already we see the mixing of uncial and pure miniscule forms common to the Vetusti period.

The large, decorated initial alpha begins the first word of the book of Mark, Ἀρχὴ. If you can read uncial script, the first three letters are easy to recognize, but the form of the eta (similar to an English 'h') may be new to you.

Jumping over the definite article we arrive at our first grouping of connected letters, the first six letters of εὐαγγελίου. Ligatures involving epsilon are common. Though they may seem difficult at first, you will see them so many times that it won't take long to recognize them. So, check out your ligature chart and find the ligatures for ευ and αγ. If you also refer to the miniscule letter chart, it may help you to recognize the pure miniscule letter parts within the ligatures.

Since pictures are worth a thousand words, let's look at an image of the word that I cropped and colored to bring out the letters and ligatures.

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Each color in the above image approximately represents a letter and will hopefully make it easier to pick out the portions of the letters forming the ligatures. The leftmost portion of the orange upsilon really also forms part of the cursive crossbar of the epsilon, and the rightmost portion forms part of the alpha.

The tail of the alpha (which curves back up to the top line in miniscule) combines with and shares part of the first gamma. The connected gammas appear, to me at least, to be a later, altered form of miniscule gamma that looks vaguely similar to the mathematical square root sign (refer to chart, col. 2). The top-bar of the second gamma is linked to an uncial epsilon.

Most of the letters following εὐαγγελίου in the first line will probably be easy to identify. I'll just point out that there are three Nomina Sacra, ίῦ (Jesus), χῦ (Christ), and θῦ (God). Interestingly, the nomen sacrum for υἱοῦ (son) is not used.

At this point, since this post is becoming a bit unwieldy, I'll break off and begin a new post in the next day or so. I will end with a question, however, for those who might be in the know. At the top of the page, above the decoration, there is a rubric that begins with four dots in a diamond configuration. It appears to say πρὸ τῶν φώτων (before the light), but the phrase really begins with a kappa (with a small stroke at the bottom of the right leg) and an upsilon with a bar over them. I thought this might be the Nomen Sacrum for Lord (...of [the] Lord before the light?), but the "foot" on the kappa makes me wonder. Can anyone shed some light on this and why it might be alone at the top of the page before the decoration?


Dave Black Online

I have no idea how I could have missed Dave Black's blog for so long! It appears to have been online since at least 2003. Looks like another link for my ever-expanding blog reading list.

Dr. Black is Professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and is the author of many excellent books, four of which I own and have had the pleasure of reading.

My recent post on miniscule handwriting received a brief mention on his blog the other day and prompts me to say that I hope to have the first post of my miniscule manuscript "walk-through" up in the next few days. Free time? What is that... ;-)


Biblioblogs Website

Jim West of Biblical Theology informs us, in a post today, of a new website called Biblioblogs that was created by Brandon Wason of Novum Testamentum. It is a repository for Biblioblogs of note and looks as if it may eventually include other useful features. Good idea, Brandon, and nice looking website. I'll be adding a link to it in my navigation bar to the left.