Sunday, October 14, 2007

Greek Discoveries

I'm an New Testament (NT) Greek Geek. For better or worse it's who I am. I'm currently working towards a degree in this and, as a current class assignment, get to go through a currently unpublished Greek manuscripts (ca. 1300s) and see where it differs from other texts. Sometimes those differences will suggest new variants, or possible wordings of the original texts. Sometimes those differences are just silly.

Yesterday I was working through Matthew 27, the crucifixion narrative, and all I can figure is that the scribe was tired. It was a long day, he'd been up before the sun with prayers then he had to work a bit in the gardens, maybe brother John stole his ink and he had to make more ... who knows. But towards the end his writings just got odd. He'd drop the end of a word so it just didn't mean anything or skip a very vital word(but not it's adjective ... like saying "I gave the girl a which was large and yellow). My favorite came right after Jesus says he's thirsty. In most manuscripts they give him vinegar mixed with gall. Not so tasty. But my scribe went one worse. They gave Jesus a road to drink.

Granted, there's just two letters difference between the two ... but still.

Things like this get me wondering about the men (and women! There were female scribes!) who wrote these manuscripts. Did he ever pick up his own hand-written text and read it? Would he, every time he came to this verse, chuckle a bit or was he embarrassed? Did he have a fellow monk that he shared the joke with? What about the next monk who inherited this text? Did the odd word ever trip him up? Why did no one correct it?

I wish there were some way to travel back in time within the manuscript and see those who paged through it, were changed by it, who threw it aside, and who first put pen to vellum to record the words of Scripture.

I guess that's part of why I do what I do - while I can't travel back in time I can take the few clues the text gives, from ink types to margin notes, and trying to piece together what story I can. It's like having just 8 pages out of the Fellowship of the Ring and trying to figure out the whole story, but it's worth it for what details do come out. I love what I do. :)

1 comment:

Leja said...

Nice site. Leja from Sweden