My current and still developing view of the nomina sacra.

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Ben C. Smith
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My current and still developing view of the nomina sacra.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Dec 11, 2020 10:54 pm

Subject: Origin of the Horizontal Line in Nomina Sacra
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Fri Dec 11, 2020 7:13 am
I was going through a Greek website trying to learn about THE SECULAR use of the horizontal line to denote abbreviations and came across this:
However, a very probable source seems to be the Greek numbering system where the letters of the alphabet are used to denote numbers, as well as the use of lines above the letters for some values ​​such as e.g. 1H
Some scholar — I forget who — proposed the supralinear marks over Greek numbers as the origin of the Christian nomina sacra.

But Greek inscriptions are full of abbreviations, both of names and of other words, many of which use supralinear strokes. And, of course, Latin inscriptions are famous for their many abbreviated forms. Abbreviation by suspension was particularly common in Greek (which would explain the ΙΗ variant for Ἰησοῦς, for example). My impression is that the secular Greek papyri bear fewer abbreviations of names and more abbreviations of common words. So it seems in some ways that Christian manuscripts resemble Greek inscriptions more closely than Greek manuscripts. Also remember that the Christian use of the codex for literary purposes was way out of proportion with how the Greeks used their rolls and codices. So it seems like Christian scribal culture was kind of its own little thing.

ETA: Obviously what applied to inscriptions applied also to coinage in many cases; perhaps coinage is the link between the inscriptional abbreviations and the Christian manuscript abbreviations.
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Fri Dec 11, 2020 7:23 am
The advantage of linking the Christian nomina sacra either to inscriptions or to coins is that usually it would be an important figure's name and titles being abbreviated, especially on coins: emperors, kings, princes, and so on. The earliest Christian usage (God, Lord, Jesus, Christ) could be saying, "Okay, well, our Lord Jesus Christ and God his father are our rulers."
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Fri Dec 11, 2020 7:35 am
Christians would obviously not be allowed to express such beliefs by literally putting out their own coinage, but they could do so in their manuscripts.
I have already hinted at my current view of the nomina sacra in the thread clipped above.

It is well nigh universally agreed that the core nomina sacra, as well as the earliest, are θεός (God), κύριος (Lord), Ἰησοῦς (Jesus), and Χριστός (Christ). These four are the ones which we must explain, as the rest seem to have developed from their example. I am not concerned here and now to determine which of the four must have been the absolute original (Christ rarely seems to be a guess in this regard, but God, Lord, and Jesus have all taken turns at the role); I am not even certain that there necessarily has to be a single original nomen sacrum.

So my observations are as follows.

First, the earliest examples of the nomina sacra in Greek Christian manuscripts date to early century II at the very earliest. The practice may have developed earlier, but we have no direct evidence of it having done so.

Second, abbreviation as a concept certainly existed in Greek, most notably in inscriptions and, by extension, coinage:

A. N. Oikonomides, Abbreviations in Greek Inscriptions, Papyri, Manuscripts, and Early Printed Books, pages 12-13: 12-13 The Greeks in the Near East inherited from their ancestors in Greece proper the beginnings of a system of abbreviation effected by suspension combined with overwriting of the last letter of the abbreviated word, or with ligatures.... The subject-matter of the abbreviations was as yet restricted to ethnica and demotica, technical terms, money, weights and measures, dating formulas, military and civil titles. Lack of space caused the early adoption of abbreviations on coins (where the emblems usually helped to explain the meaning) and in columnar writing at the end of the line, where the temptation to cast off the suffixes was especially great. The contracted or syncopated abbreviation also occurs first of all on coins and only occasionally in inscriptions. / This basic stock of Greek abbreviations received its first extension in Ptolemaic Egypt. There the enormous amount of official writing connected with the bureaucratic régime of the Ptolemies naturally led to the creation of the extensive system of abbreviations known to us from the papyri. Such official correspondence was, of course, sometimes copied out on inscriptions and thus passed into epigraphy some of its abbreviations. Another centre for the creation of abbreviation was Rhodes, where the commercial writing and the abbreviated forms of the inscriptions on jar-handles had familiarized the public with abbreviations at an early date. As a whole, however, the sum-total of abbreviations in Near-Eastern inscriptions of the centuries B.C. does not compare either in number or in variety with those of the centuries A.D. One of the causes may have been the desire not to make the inscriptions still more difficult to understand by the populace, where the use of Greek was as yet sporadic.

A. N. Oikonomides, Abbreviations in Greek Inscriptions, Papyri, Manuscripts, and Early Printed Books, page 21: 21 The full development of the contracted abbreviation is to be found in papyri and manuscripts rather than in inscriptions.

Third, on page 34 of Abbreviations in Greek Inscriptions, Papyri, Manuscripts, and Early Printed Books examples are given of overstrokes being used in various ways to indicate an abbreviation: most notably for our purposes, these examples include strokes over only one letter, over the final two (earliest example listed is 16 BC), over three or four, and over the entire abbreviated word (earliest examples listed are AD 103 and 132).

Fourth, abbreviation was generally by suspension, but could sometimes be by contraction (Abbreviations in Greek Inscriptions, Papyri, Manuscripts, and Early Printed Books, pages 17 & 28):

A. N. Oikonomides, Dated Abbreviations & Contraction Methods.png
A. N. Oikonomides, Dated Abbreviations & Contraction Methods.png (101.74 KiB) Viewed 6214 times

ΔΚ = δικαστής. (The Paros Inscription bears many examples of abbreviation of names by suspension).

Fifth, Greek abbreviation of Latin words began to increase in the middle of century I, with two of the categories being personal names and official titles:

A. N. Oikonomides, Abbreviations in Greek Inscriptions, Papyri, Manuscripts, and Early Printed Books, pages 13: 13 The habit of abbreviated writing was transferred to the Roman word or words translated from the Latin as soon as they appeared in Greek inscription, partly under the influence of the Latin abbreviations and partly by analogy from the Greek abbreviations. It is noteworthy that the earliest abbreviations of Roman names occur in Egypt, in the Nilometer inscriptions and the Theban graffiti. The inscriptions from Rhodes of the Flavian era continue the Greek system of ligature and over written letters in preference to the Roman system, but add a few Roman names. The Roman system of abbreviation soon extends to Greek words which are translations of Roman names, such as ἔπαρχος or ἀνθυπατος. In Syria and Asia Minor abbreviations begin to increase from the middle of the first century onwards, with a few forerunners. The loaned abbreviations of Latin words include personal names (especially of those emperors who were lavish with citizenship grants, as Τιβέριος Κλαύδιος), titles, legionary names, money and dating formulas. The rise of the Flavian dynasty is promptly reflected in the spread of a new set of abbreviated names, as Τίτος Φλάουιος. On the whole, however, the spread of Roman influence into Greek epigraphy in the first century A.D. is less than one might expect. The proportion of the two elements B.C. is 62 Greek to 4 Roman; it becomes now 83 Greek to 38 Roman.

Sixth, Greek coinage bears similar abbreviations in this respect:

Greek Numismatic Dictionary:

ΑΓΩΝΟΘΕΤΗΣ, ΑΓΩ = Supervisor of the Games.
ΑΡXΙΕΡΕΥΣ, ΑΡX = High Priest.
ΑΥΤΟΚΡΑΤΩΡ, Α, ΑΥ, ΑΥΤ, ΑΥΤΟΚ = Emperor, Autocrat.
∆ΕΣΠΟΤΗΣ, ∆Ε, ∆ΕΣ, ∆ΕΣΠΟ, et cetera = Despot, Lord, Master.
ΕΘΝΑΡXΟΣ, ΕΘΝ = Ethnarch.
ΕΠΑΡXΟΣ, EP, EPA = Eparch, Prefect.
ΚΑΙΣΑΡ, Κ, ΚΑΙ, ΚΑΙΣ = Caesar.
ΠΑΤΗΡ ΠΑΤΡΙΑΣ, ΠΠ = Pater Patriae (Father of the Country).
ΣΕΒΑΣΤΟΣ, Σ, ΣΕΒ, ΣΕΒΑ = Augustus.
ΣΤΡΑΤHΓΟΣ, ΣΤΡ = General, Magistrate.

[Link.]

Notice that these abbreviations are suspensions. Notice also that three of our four nomina sacra (κύριος, Ἰησοῦς, and Χριστός) find nearly perfect analogies: κύριος is a synonym of δεσπότης, Ἰησοῦς a personal name like Καίσαρ (and therefore transliterated into Greek, not translated), and Χριστός is an honorific like Σεβαστός (and therefore translated into Greek, not transliterated). The only one of the four which lacks an analogy is θεός, since the names of deities did not tend to be abbreviated:

Greek Numismatic Dictionary:

∆ΙΟΣ ΚΑΤΕΒΑΙΤΟΣ = Zeus Descending (Zeus as Lightning God).
ΘΕΟΣ = divus, made a god.
ΘΕΩ = divo, made a god.
XΡΥΣΟΡΟΑΣ = Chrysoroas = Streaming with Gold = Name of a God = Barada River in Syria.

Seventh, while the Greeks did not seem to treat the names of their deities in special ways, many Jews most certainly treated the name of their deity, Yahweh, in special ways:

Robert J. Wilkinson, Tetragrammaton, Western Christians and the Hebrew Name of God, page 76: 76 The scribe of the famous Isaiah A scroll from the 2nd century B.C. wrote the Tetragrammaton in normal script. Nonetheless, the scroll contains clear evidence that yhwh was not articulated, but that ʾadonay was said instead. He evidently wrote from dictation which used only ʾadonay: thus, he wrote ʾadony wrongly for the Tetragrammaton in 3:17 and the Tetragrammaton for ʾadonay in 3:18. In both cases he corrected himself by writing the correct alternative word above. In 6:11, 7:14, 9:7, and 21:16 where the scribe wrote the Tetragrammaton, the Massoretic text has ʾadonay.

Robert J. Wilkinson, Tetragrammaton, Western Christians and the Hebrew Name of God, page 77: 77 The Habakkuk Commentary (1QpHab) of the early 1st century A.D. and the Psalm Commentary (4QpPsa), by contrast, write the Tetragrammaton in full — but in paleo-Hebrew characters. The Psalm Commentary is content to write both ʾl (ʾel) and ʾlhym (ʾelohim) in normal script. The Habakkuk Commentary writes ʾl (ʾel), which it uses frequently in normal script, but has a rather agonized way of writing the Tetragrammaton on the four occasions on which it occurs. The Commentaries on Micah (1QMic) and Zephaniah (1QpZeph) also use paleo-Hebrew script for the Tetragrammaton. 1QMic. frg12 uses paleo-Hebrew to write ʾl (ʾel).

Robert J. Wilkinson, Tetragrammaton, Western Christians and the Hebrew Name of God, pages 77-78: 77-78 The Apocryphal Psalm texts illustrate nicely both the development of this secondary practice of introducing the paleo-Hebrew divine name this time into quasi-biblical texts, and how the word was pronounced. 11QPsa writes the Tetragrammaton in paleo-Hebrew, but a second contemporary copy, 11QPs b, is content to write the name in full in normal script. 11QPsa contains an alphabet acrostic — running from ʾaleph to pe — in Psalm 155. A paleo-Hebrew Tetragrammaton now stands in the initial position: it was presumably read with an initial ʾaleph (the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet) as ʾadonai. Column V, line 1 of the scroll quotes Psalm 128:4 using a paleo-Hebrew Tetragrammaton for the first yhwh in the verse and ʾadonai for the second, again suggesting that they were both pronounced as ʾadonai The manuscript substitutes ʾadonai for yhwh of the Massoretic text in Psalm 129:4 and in direct address to God in 130:1. / While the Tetragrammaton appears in this scroll in paleo-Hebrew letters, yh is written in normal letters, even in close proximity to yhwh (Ps. 135:1), and so, presumably, this word might be said — similarly, ʾl (ʾel) and ʾlyn (ʾelyon, another word for God). When yhwh occurs with an attached prefix (e.g. Ps. 136:1), the prefix is written normally, while the Tetragrammaton appears in paleo-Hebrew script. This suggests again the secondary and adventitious nature of the archaizing writing. There is therefore ample evidence here that yhwh was pronounced as ʾadonai (or ʾadoni) long before the Masoretic Bibles.

Robert J. Wilkinson, Tetragrammaton, Western Christians and the Hebrew Name of God, pages 78-79: 78-79 The scribe who sometime between 100 and 80 b.c. wrote the Community Rule (1QS and 1QSa, b), certain additions to the first Isaiah Scroll (1QIsa a), the “Testimonies” (4Q175), and 4QSam c did not write the Tetragrammaton or even the common word for “God,” ʾelohim. Other divine names he writes out in full, in his own hand and in the normal script, without resorting to paleo-Hebrew characters. But in places where yhwh was needed, he usually wrote four dots. The Community Rule itself (VI.27–VII.1) — no doubt a text for public reading — would appear to explain the reason for this reticence: “If a man has uttered the [Most] Venerable Name even though frivolously, or as a result of shock or for any other reason whatever, while reading the Book or blessing, he shall be dismissed and shall return to the Council of the Community no more.” It was presumably to avoid this eventuality that the scribe simply declined to write the Most Venerable Name at all. He also appears not to have written the common word for God, ʾlhm (ʾelohim).

Eighth, such an observation converges with the apparent fact that the Christian nomina sacra are not abbreviations made for the sake of saving space; the terms are more standardized than that, and they are abbreviated even when the margins of the manuscript are vast and there is space left at the end of a page or column. Thus, the special Jewish treatment of the name of God seems to have been combined with Greek methods of abbreviating personal names, titles, and honorifics, especially on coinage. That θεός was abbreviated, then, as well, looks like a natural development parallel both to the Community Rule and to how some modern Jews will use G-d for God, even though that is not the personal name of the deity. In other words, it is the Jewish praxis which fills in the blanks left unfilled from the Greek praxis, a rather elegant arrangement which explains exactly that original set of four nomina sacra.

Ninth, it is specifically during century II that Roman abbreviations really hit their stride in Greek inscriptions:

A. N. Oikonomides, Abbreviations in Greek Inscriptions, Papyri, Manuscripts, and Early Printed Books, page 14: 14 The great inrush of Roman abbreviations into Greek epigraphy took place in the second century A.D. The proportion is 204 Greek to 212 Roman; the Roman abbreviations never reach such a high proportion again. In the second century the abbreviated titles of the Roman emperor occur first on a bilingual milestone. It is interesting to note that Roman rule lasted two centuries before the official nomenclature penetrated sufficiently deep into the popular consciousness to make such abbreviations possible. By the end of the century the process has been much accelerated; the new titles adopted by the later Antonines and the Severian dynasty appear almost at once in their abbreviated form. In the second century A.D. the use of abbreviations spreads to Syria and Asia Minor, although Egypt and Rhodes continue to lead the way in the invention of new marks, which were then adopted elsewhere. The great building activity leads to an increase of abbreviations of words common on dedicatory inscriptions, but in all other respects there is little change in the subject-matter of inscriptions as regards categories, although the quantity of abbreviations increases enormously. The activity of Trajan and Hadrian multiplies names such as Οὔλπιος Αἴλιος. The use of abbreviation marks also becomes more widespread and much more fanciful, although the common marks still hold their ground. Contractions are incidental and do not exceed 4 per cent. of the total (15 out of 416).

This tendency is our plausible explanation for why the nomina sacra may have really come into their own in century II and early century III. Coins (Matthew 22.15-22 = Mark 12.13-17 = Luke 20.19-26) and inscriptions were both the vehicles of Roman propaganda, to which the Christian countercultural response was, "Our true king is the Lord Jesus Christ reigning in the name of God his father" (1 Corinthians 15.23-25). This Roman connection may or may not explain the origins of the system of nomina sacra itself; whether it does or not, however, I think it can easily explain why the system became a hit.

Tenth, while we have early examples both of suspension and of contraction in the Christian manuscripts, it is not suspension which requires an explanation; as we have seen, suspension was the rule for Greek abbreviations. Contraction, being the exception, is the one requiring an explanation:

A. N. Oikonomides, Abbreviations in Greek Inscriptions, Papyri, Manuscripts, and Early Printed Books, page 21: 21 Contraction is abbreviation by the omission of one or more letters from the middle of the word (ΧϹ = Χριστός). This method allows the inflexions to be indicated, and is thus a more refined form of abbreviation than suspension, where the plural only is occasionally indicated by a conventional doubling or trebling of the last letter.... It is, however, precisely because of their complicated character that contractions appear later... and less frequently than the simpler suspensions. The full development of the contracted abbreviation is to be found in papyri and manuscripts rather than in inscriptions.

That contraction is better suited for displaying the inflection of the noun is not a necessary explanation, but it is certainly a sufficient explanation. In other words, choosing contraction over suspension was a good move, and it being a good move may well have been the reason for the move in the first place.

Eleventh, the nomina sacra came to prevail in the Christian manuscript record:

Larry W. Hurtado, “Ƿ52 and the Nomina Sacra: Method and Probability,” in Tyndale Bulletin 54.1 (2003), page 5: My point here is that it is not particularly remarkable that there are a few examples of Christian manuscripts without the nomina sacra. The wonder is that there are so few, and that the nomina sacra are so well attested and so early. So far as I know, among the 300 or so indisputably Christian manuscripts from before 300 CE, those that demonstrably did not have any nomina sacra forms can be counted on the fingers of our two hands. [Link.]

While I have no specific explanation beyond the Roman connection for why they prevailed in this manner, I can say in general that there existed a Christian scribal culture which, quite against the grain of the Greco-Roman culture at large, favored the codex over the scroll, for example; that something similar should have happened with respect to a certain set of abbreviations would probably be just another instance of the influence this scribal culture apparently wielded.

This reconstruction makes a lot of sense to me, tying together quite a few threads which are sometimes left swaying in the breeze. The timing lines up pretty well for the nomina sacra taking off in century II. All of the individual elements of the system (suspension, contraction, overstrokes) are attested well before our earliest Christian manuscripts surface. The practice combines the Jewish concern for the name of God with the Greek abbreviation of the names and titles of important figures in inscriptions and in coins, a completely unsurprising outcome given that we already knew that Greek Christianity stands in some kind of relationship to Judaism (using its scriptures, for one thing). And the connection to Roman propaganda explains pretty nicely why epigraphic or numismatic protocols might have been adopted as literary protocols: as I mentioned in the other thread, Christians could not mint their own coinage.

Objective critiques welcome.

Ben.

ETA: The 15 typical nomina sacra according to the developmental tiers proposed by Hurtado:

Ἰησοῦς, Χριστός, Κύριος, Θεός
Πνεῦμα, Ἄνθρωπος, Σταυρός
Πατήρ, Υἱός, Σωτήρ, Μήτηρ, Οὐρανός, Ἰσραήλ, Δαυείδ, Ἰερουσαλήμ

Much from a proto-orthodox perspective could be told about Jesus using just these 15 words as the main story points.
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Tue Apr 06, 2021 7:02 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: My current and still developing view of the nomina sacra.

Post by mlinssen » Sat Dec 12, 2020 1:27 am

Fantastic Ben!

https://www.atticinscriptions.com/inscr ... IGII2/2894 is a fine site to go along there

A word on objective critique and Hurtado: he wasn't quite objective, and eager to see orthodox bias confirmed. But we'll go with what we have on the matter and that is very, very little

I have spent the better part of this morning Googling for early Coptic superlinears in counting, as superlinears are a natural part of that language, but have yet to come up with something

Oh and careful, verify the sources. Oxford University Magdalen College?

https://www.magd.ox.ac.uk/libraries-and ... n-papyrus/

To be severely distrusted, as they simply deduct a nomen sacrum of which nothing is visible (Frag. 2 verso). They take the text they have in mind, and fill the lacuna with whatever they want they. It could say anything, but instead they pretend it says what they say

The other example there is Frag. 1 recto. It does show a little but it is far from clear and undecided.
Granted, when you read all of it, it does say what it says, but is it academic what they do? Certainly not, it's dogmatic.
And from there we get to idiots making tables, pointing to that very papyrus and even claiming it has superlinears, which are most certainly not visible at all, whatsoever, in this entire papyrus;

Dated "9.6. 60", this new transcription offers several alterations: Col II, recto (a), line 1 (Mt 26,31) now recognizes the nomen sacrum for Jesus as IC rather than IH; in line 2, the visible part of the line is now extended to skandalisyh... rather than skanda...; and in Col II, recto (b), he tentatively adds a new first line for verse 32, proaj[v and changes, in line 2, galeglaian to galiglaian

C.P. Thiede (1995). ‘Papyrus Magdalen Greek 17 (Gregory–Aland P64). A Reappraisal’. Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, 105: 13–20 – available online http://www.uni-koeln.de/phil-fak/ifa/zp ... 105013.pdf

Clear as mud. Yet meanwhile this scrap is attested as the earliest manuscript with nomina sacra

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Re: My current and still developing view of the nomina sacra.

Post by mlinssen » Sat Dec 12, 2020 1:46 am

Oh, and two more things:
All of the individual elements of the system (suspension, contraction, overstrokes) are attested well before our earliest Christian manuscripts surface
You're pulling a Hurtado there. It would seem that all elements to nomina sacra predate Jesus but what you are in fact not saying is that, given the very late dates of 200-300 CE for the (you really shouldn't say "our") earliest xtian manuscripts, anything goes.
I will add Thomas to the list, the Greek Poxies are certainly much earlier than those dates; Guillaumont et al dated them to 140 AD in their editio princeps

You must be aware of the fact that numbers didn't exist, and counting was according to the alphabet in all languages back then, for example https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_numerals

Δ = 4, κ = 20 for instance. 24 or 80 I'd say, that's not an abbreviation but a clubbing together of two ciphers in order to form a number. Which would give prose to the overstroke

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Re: My current and still developing view of the nomina sacra.

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Dec 12, 2020 6:17 am

Crazy coincidence. Not three days ago a friend recommended this very book:
Hi Stephan,
I discussed your question with my friend Harry Kritzas, former director of the Epigraphic Museum. Here are his comments:

For abbreviations in ancient Greek documents you may suggest to your friend the book with a compilation of various works (mainly the book of Michael Avi-Jonah, Abbreviations in Greek Inscriptions [The Near East, 200 B.C. – A.D. 1100], but also two other collections), in “Abbreviations in Greek Inscriptions, Papyri, Manuscripts and Early Printed Books. A Manual compiled by Al. N. Oikonomides” Chicago, 1974 (ARES Publishers).

I hope that this may be of help. Please keep me informed.

Kind regards,
Small world!

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Re: My current and still developing view of the nomina sacra.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Dec 12, 2020 6:49 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Sat Dec 12, 2020 6:17 am
Crazy coincidence. Not three days ago a friend recommended this very book:
Hi Stephan,
I discussed your question with my friend Harry Kritzas, former director of the Epigraphic Museum. Here are his comments:

For abbreviations in ancient Greek documents you may suggest to your friend the book with a compilation of various works (mainly the book of Michael Avi-Jonah, Abbreviations in Greek Inscriptions [The Near East, 200 B.C. – A.D. 1100], but also two other collections), in “Abbreviations in Greek Inscriptions, Papyri, Manuscripts and Early Printed Books. A Manual compiled by Al. N. Oikonomides” Chicago, 1974 (ARES Publishers).

I hope that this may be of help. Please keep me informed.

Kind regards,
Small world!
Huh, interesting. I have not been perusing it for very long myself. Maybe three weeks now.

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Re: My current and still developing view of the nomina sacra.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Dec 12, 2020 6:51 am

Oh and careful, verify the sources. Oxford University Magdalen College?

https://www.magd.ox.ac.uk/libraries-and ... n-papyrus/

To be severely distrusted, as they simply deduct a nomen sacrum of which nothing is visible (Frag. 2 verso). They take the text they have in mind, and fill the lacuna with whatever they want they. It could say anything, but instead they pretend it says what they say

The other example there is Frag. 1 recto. It does show a little but it is far from clear and undecided.
Granted, when you read all of it, it does say what it says, but is it academic what they do? Certainly not, it's dogmatic.
There is space for two letters. The bottom of at least one of those letters is visible. Other manuscripts have ΙΗ or ΙΣ in that same spot. Nothing is certain, but the supposition seems quite reasonable that this manuscript does, too. Not that it matters much to my overall point if it does not, of course, because the trend is what I am tracking.
You're pulling a Hurtado there. It would seem that all elements to nomina sacra predate Jesus but what you are in fact not saying is that, given the very late dates of 200-300 CE for the (you really shouldn't say "our") earliest xtian manuscripts, anything goes.
I do not understand what you are saying here, either about what you think I am not saying or about the "our."
Clear as mud. Yet meanwhile this scrap is attested as the earliest manuscript with nomina sacra
Fortunately, the broad outline of the dates are clear enough that we do not need to pinpoint the exact first instance a nomen sacrum. What I am going for here is a plausible origin for the phenomenon, and the dates, such as we have them, to whatever extreme (permissible by the evidence) we decide to press them, allow for my reconstruction with room to spare.
You must be aware of the fact that numbers didn't exist, and counting was according to the alphabet in all languages back then, for example https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_numerals
Yes, of course. But I would not count numbers as abbreviations.
Δ = 4, κ = 20 for instance. 24 or 80 I'd say, that's not an abbreviation but a clubbing together of two ciphers in order to form a number. Which would give prose to the overstroke
If you are talking about that inscription from century I listed by Oikonomides, ΔΚ = δικαστής, a judge. This is in line with what I said about personal names and titles or honorifics being commonly abbreviated.
Clear as mud. Yet meanwhile this scrap is attested as the earliest manuscript with nomina sacra
The Magdalen papyrus is just one of several contenders for the title of earliest manuscript bearing the nomina sacra; not all of the contenders are even NT manuscripts.

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Re: My current and still developing view of the nomina sacra.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Dec 12, 2020 7:27 pm

Possibly of relevance, the inscriptions on the coinage of Herod the Great:

Ya'akov Meshorer, Ancient Jewish Coinage 2, Herod the Great Through Bar Cochba, Page 17.png
Ya'akov Meshorer, Ancient Jewish Coinage 2, Herod the Great Through Bar Cochba, Page 17.png (38.98 KiB) Viewed 6134 times

All abbreviations listed are by suspension.

Also of possible relevance:

Allen Millard, Reading and Writing in the Time of Jesus, page 71: 71 Another possibility is that Christian scribes may have drawn this method from a Semitic habit, for contractions of proper names to their first and last letters do stand on Phoenician and Palestinian coins of the Hellenistic period and in graffiti from the Punic towns of North Africa (= Alan Millard, “Ancient Abbreviations and the Nomina Sacra,” in C. J. Eyre, A. Leahy, & L. M. Leahy, The Unbroken Reed: Studies in the Culture and Heritage of Ancient Egypt in Honour of A. F. Shore, pages 221-226).

But I do not have immediate access to that book to do any serious checking.

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Re: My current and still developing view of the nomina sacra.

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Dec 12, 2020 7:53 pm

I have an elite volume on Roman coinage.

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Re: My current and still developing view of the nomina sacra.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Dec 12, 2020 8:07 pm

Wow.

Terry Miosi, Tables of Nomina Sacra at Nag Hammadi.png
Terry Miosi, Tables of Nomina Sacra at Nag Hammadi.png (182.05 KiB) Viewed 6119 times

Now that is a pattern, if the data are valid. Miosi emphasizes that this pattern does not hold up throughout all of Coptic literature, noting that the gospels of Judas and Mary, for example, abbreviate native Egyptian words as nomina sacra. But, so far as the Nag Hammadi tomes are concerned, not one of the native Egyptian words on the list is ever abbreviated, apparently; only the Greek loanwords are treated as nomina sacra. In Zostrianos and Three Steles of Seth, according to Miosi, a nomen sacrum is even used which is not one of the standard nomina found in Greek texts, but it is still a Greek word: ΚΛϹ for ΚΑΛΥΠΤΟϹ ("hidden one")! The unabbreviated words which appear to be treated as nomina sacra in the Nag Hammadi tomes appear to be names (Sabaoth, Adam, Enoch, Gamaliel, and so on).
Secret Alias wrote:
Sat Dec 12, 2020 7:53 pm
I have an elite volume on Roman coinage.
Anything relevant you can share from it would be welcome.

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MrMacSon
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Re: My current and still developing view of the nomina sacra.

Post by MrMacSon » Mon Dec 14, 2020 1:23 am

What you've posted above may be more relevant that this, Ben, but I'll post it anyway, about Egyptian papyrus P Bas. II.43 -
MrMacSon wrote:
Sat Jul 13, 2019 4:42 pm

According to the researcher, the ancient papyrus originates from the village of Theadelphia, a settlement located in the center of Egypt, and belonged to the famous Heroninus archive, the largest papyrus archive of Roman times. Arrianus, who wrote the letter, and his brother Paulus were deemed to be young and educated sons of the local elite, landlords, and public officials. The papyrus shows they were very much part of mainstream society [contrary to many perceptions about early Christians].

There is nothing remarkable in this document apart from the last line, where the writer states that he hoped that his brother will “prosper in the Lord” ... depicted by a nomen sacrum ...
eta: this - the more general use of a nomen scacrum ie. outside a sacred text - might fit with the idea that they might have originated in Egypt(?)
MrMacSon wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:53 pm

.
The letter stands out from the mass of private letters from the Roman period by virtue of its closing greeting. The standard “I pray for your health,” which is a final greeting that occurs most frequently in private letters, is expanded here with a Christian technical phrase. Arrianus wishes his brother well-being “in the Lord.”11 Both the closing greeting and the distinctive Christian form of abbreviation en kyriō (ἐν κυρίῳ) to en kō (ἐν κϖ) with a horizontal stroke over it, demonstrate that the author of the letter is unquestionably Christian. This abbreviated form is what modern scholars call a nomen sacrum.12 Recent scholarship has argued that a nomen sacrum should be taken as an explicit sign of Christianity.13

Early Christians deliberately used written abbreviations with horizontal stroke indicators for commonly written holy names. The nomen sacrum in P.Bas. 2.43 refers to the Lord, which is one of the earliest and most commonly attested nomina sacra in Christian literary texts.14 In documentary papyri such as private letters, nomina sacra only appear for the first time in the third quarter of the third century.15 Thus, the Basel letter is not only the earliest known Christian private letter, but also the earliest known evidence for a nomen sacrum in Egyptian documentary source material.

Arrianus’ knowledge of the nomen sacrum notation can only be attributed to an independent reading of the Holy Scriptures. The earliest examples with nomina sacra contractions are found in Christian literary papyri such as copies of the Gospel of John, which are dated tentatively to the late second century.16 Our author must therefore have had these Gospels to hand and read them, as just having heard them would not have imparted knowledge of the abbreviations.17


Huebner, Sabine R. Papyri and the Social World of the New Testament (pp. 21-22). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.



11. P.Bas. II.43: l.19–21: ἐρρῶσθαί σε εὔχομαι ὁλοκληρ[οῦν]τ̣α ἐν κ(υρί)ῳ)

12. cf. Hurtado 1998. Choat (2006, 43–125) also studies genuine Christian markers in documentary papyri. See also Bagnall 2009, 24.

13. Choat 2006, 119–125; Bagnall 2009, 24. Also see Choat and Nobbs 2001–2005, 39.

14. Cf. Nevius 2001, 1046. Nomina sacra for Iesous, pater, and huios were added to the canon only later.

15. P.Alex. 29 from 350 to 375 ce; PSI 3.208 from 250 to 325 ce; PSI 9.1041 from 250 to 325 ce; P.Oxy. 36.2785 from 250 to 330 ce; PSI 15.1560 from 250 to 399 ce; SB 16.12304 from 275 to 325 ce; P.Oxy. 8.1162 from 300 to 399 ce; P.Oxy. 56.3857 from 300 to 399 ce. See Luijendijk 2008, 81–151; Blumell 2012, 50 n. 112.

16. P.Oxy. 50.3523 (John 18:36–19:7); P.Ryl. 3.457 (John 18:31–33; 37–38). The latter was bought on the antiquities market, so its provenance from Oxyrhynchus is not secure.

17. According to the Gospel of John, this uncommon expression refers to Jesus himself (John 6:55–56). Here Jesus says: “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.”
.

eta:

Bagnall, R. S. 2009, Early Christian Books in Egypt. Princeton, NJ, and Oxford.

Blumell, L. H. 2012, Lettered Christians: Christians, Letters, and Late Antique Oxyrhynchus. Leiden and Boston, Mass.

Choat, M. 2006, Belief and Cult in Fourth Century Papyri. Turnhout, Belgium.

Choat, M. and A. Nobbs 2001–2005, “Monotheistic formulae of belief in Greek letters on papyrus from the second to the fourth century,” Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism 2: 36–51.

Hurtado, L. W. 1998, “The origin of the Nomina Sacra: a proposal,” Journal of Biblical Literature 117: 655–673.

Luijendijk, A. 2017, “On and beyond duty: Christian clergy at Oxyrhynchus (c. 250–400),” in J. Rüpke, R. Gordon, and G. Petridou, eds., Beyond Priesthood. Religious Entrepreneurs and Innovators in the Roman Empire. Berlin: 103–128.

Nevius, R. C. 2001, “On using the nomina sacra as a criteria for dating early Christian papyri,” XXII congresso internazionale di papirologia, vol. ii. Florence: 1045–1050.
An image is in the preceding post http://www.earlywritings.com/forum/view ... 852#p99852 on that thread of two posts lol
Last edited by MrMacSon on Mon Dec 14, 2020 2:07 am, edited 3 times in total.

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