Some Observations on the Nomina Sacra of the First Three Centuries

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Jax
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Re: Some Observations on the Nomina Sacra of the First Three Centuries

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Ben C. Smith wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:25 am
perseusomega9 wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 8:06 amI like this.

I also like Trobisch's point of this being a very specific editorial decision, at least with the Big Four, and I think that goes beyond anti-imperial psyops and so were also in the world of counter-arguments to unorthodox positions (including names).
Thanks. And I completely agree that it probably goes beyond just providing a counter to imperial propaganda. Yesterday I added to my OP in that linked thread:
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.
Those 15 words seem to specifically evoke a (proto-)orthodox vibe. Not all 15 came into use at the same time, of course, but the development of the set seems to be in a decidedly (proto-)orthodox direction, at least to my eye.

Of course, we can see the core set being developed in a rather different direction in the Nag Hammadi tomes, which add supralinear strokes to the names of various important entities (Sabaoth, Adam, Enoch, Gamaliel, and so on), without abbreviating those names. Those tomes abbreviate only Greek loanwords from the set: Christ, Cross, Jerusalem, Jesus, Savior, and Spirit, but not David or Israel. (Father, God, Heaven, Lord, Man, Mother, and Son are rendered in Coptic and never abbreviated at Nag Hammadi.)
Interesting. How do they abbreviate Christ and Jesus? Do they use both XC, XR, and XRC as well as the various ways that IHCOYC is rendered? or do they just use simple renderings like XC and IC?
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Re: Some Observations on the Nomina Sacra of the First Three Centuries

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^ It's also very interesting that God and Lord aren't handled like Christ and Jesus.
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Re: Some Observations on the Nomina Sacra of the First Three Centuries

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Jax wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:55 pmInteresting. How do they abbreviate Christ and Jesus? Do they use both XC, XR, and XRC as well as the various ways that IHCOYC is rendered? or do they just use simple renderings like XC and IC?
Coptic is not an inflected language (no noun cases), so the choices are more limited than in Greek. See the second table below for the options found in the Nag Hammadi manuscripts.
Jax wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:58 pm ^ It's also very interesting that God and Lord aren't handled like Christ and Jesus.
Yes, but that is because God and Lord are native Coptic words in the Nag Hammadi manuscripts. That is the thing: the Nag Hammadi scribes abbreviated only the Greek loanwords. The pattern is very striking:

Terry Miosi, Tables of Nomina Sacra at Nag Hammadi.png
Terry Miosi, Tables of Nomina Sacra at Nag Hammadi.png (182.05 KiB) Viewed 521 times

The highlighted words on that second table are all native Coptic words with antecedents in Pharaonic Egyptian. In other words, we can deduce nothing theological from the nonuse of those nomina sacra. The distinction is clearly linguistic.
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Re: Some Observations on the Nomina Sacra of the First Three Centuries

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Ben C. Smith wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:08 am
Ben C. Smith wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:02 am
perseusomega9 wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 10:54 am I'm sure you'll do a thorough job, but pater is another that doesn't necessarily have an immediate proto-orthodox connotation, but one that can easily be subsumed.
Yes, exactly. I can easily see, say, the Marcionites being totally okay with Father being treated as a special noun.
I can see in retrospect that my emphasis and yours is not the same for this conversation, and thus some of what I am affirming may be coming across differently to you than how I intend it. The nomina sacra most clearly pointing in a certain direction for me are Μήτηρ, Ἰσραήλ, Δαυείδ, and Ἰερουσαλήμ, and I think all four of these come fairly late in the development. The conventions displayed in the Nag Hammadi texts seem to have diverged from an earlier point of this development.
I think I see where you're going. They're such a profound artifact in the manuscript record that surely more can be pieced out of them.
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Re: Some Observations on the Nomina Sacra of the First Three Centuries

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Ben C. Smith wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:05 pm
Jax wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:55 pmInteresting. How do they abbreviate Christ and Jesus? Do they use both XC, XR, and XRC as well as the various ways that IHCOYC is rendered? or do they just use simple renderings like XC and IC?
Coptic is not an inflected language (no noun cases), so the choices are more limited than in Greek. See the second table below for the options found in the Nag Hammadi manuscripts.
Jax wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:58 pm ^ It's also very interesting that God and Lord aren't handled like Christ and Jesus.
Yes, but that is because God and Lord are native Coptic words in the Nag Hammadi manuscripts. That is the thing: the Nag Hammadi scribes abbreviated only the Greek loanwords. The pattern is very striking:


Terry Miosi, Tables of Nomina Sacra at Nag Hammadi.png


The highlighted words on that second table are all native Coptic words with antecedents in Pharaonic Egyptian. In other words, we can deduce nothing theological from the nonuse of those nomina sacra. The distinction is clearly linguistic.
Right on Ben, that is very interesting. The way that the Nag Hammadi texts are using things like the chi roh symbol and the tau with head symbol seems to me that they are using a later form of abbreviations and symbiology. What think you?
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Re: Some Observations on the Nomina Sacra of the First Three Centuries

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One odd thing. There was no Coptic word for Jerusalem?
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Re: Some Observations on the Nomina Sacra of the First Three Centuries

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Jax wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:56 pmRight on Ben, that is very interesting. The way that the Nag Hammadi texts are using things like the chi roh symbol and the tau with head symbol seems to me that they are using a later form of abbreviations and symbiology. What think you?
It certainly seems so to me. Of course, parts of the (proto-)orthodox system are late, too.
Jax wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:04 pm One odd thing. There was no Coptic word for Jerusalem?
Borrowed from Greek. (It would be borrowed from some language, regardless, all the way back to Hebrew. Same goes for Israel and David, too.)
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Re: Some Observations on the Nomina Sacra of the First Three Centuries

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To bad there are no use of either David or Israel being used.
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Re: Some Observations on the Nomina Sacra of the First Three Centuries

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Ben C. Smith wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:05 pm
Peter Kirby wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:42 am
Ben C. Smith wrote: Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:25 am Of course, we can see the core set being developed in a rather different direction in the Nag Hammadi tomes, which add supralinear strokes to the names of various important entities (Sabaoth, Adam, Enoch, Gamaliel, and so on), without abbreviating those names. Those tomes abbreviate only Greek loanwords from the set: Christ, Cross, Jerusalem, Jesus, Savior, and Spirit, but not David or Israel. (Father, God, Heaven, Lord, Man, Mother, and Son are rendered in Coptic and never abbreviated at Nag Hammadi.)
Do we have other examples of the full words with supralinear strokes?
I think I have seen some examples (besides at Nag Hammadi), but IIRC they are late and rare.
I see what you mean.

My favorite recent purchase has to be The Center for New Testament Textual Studies: NT Critical Apparatus.

So many of the existing apparatus for the New Testament go through an editorial filter, where it's decided what is most likely to be interesting variations, usually on the basis that it could help translators. This means the nomina sacra variations can be difficult to spot from a typical apparatus. Not with this one! They decided that there's no need to worry about saving space in the digital age. Available only in electronic form, it takes a very liberal approach to listing variants.

And there are indeed many examples where all the papyri agree on using the nomina sacra.

There are some nomina sacra (such as "Jerusalem") that have a lot more variation than the basics (Jesus, Christ, God, Lord).

Something interesting to me is that the nomina sacra is present in a context where it would apply to someone else, like John:

Luke 3:15
"As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ (χ̅ς̅)"

The most remarkable thing about the basic nomina sacra, in terms of the NT Greek textual tradition, seems to be how consistent it is!
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Re: Some Observations on the Nomina Sacra of the First Three Centuries

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Jax wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 3:33 pm To begin with the following English letters will be used for Greek unical letters. Sorry for any confusion.

C = Lunate Sigma
A = Alpha
E = Epsilon
H = Eta
Th = Theta
I = Iota
K = Kappa
L = Lambda
N = Nu
O = Omicron
P = Pi
R = Rho
T = Tau
Y = Upsilon
X = Chi
Om= Omega

NS = Nomina Sacra

One thing about the NS in the first three centuries is that the NS – ThN, ThC, ThY, and ThOm, and KE, KN, KC, KY, and KOm are unique as the only NS that uses the contracted form only.

Next up is YE, YN, YC, YY, and YOm with the forms YIN, YIC, and YIY found only in p46.

After this we have the contracted forms XN, XC, XY, and XOm used at about the same rate as the forms XRN, XRC, XRY, and XROm with only one instance of a XR used in p18.

Also the contracted form IN, IC, IY being on an equal footing with the forms IHN, IHC, IHY with one variant form IHCY found in p37 and two variant forms of IH found in p18 and p45.

There seem to be no other contracted NS other than PC as one example in p22.

P18, p37, p45, and p46 seem to be the texts that have the most variants of contracted forms of the NS with p46 having both contracted and non-contracted forms in the same text as well as PNYMA in non-contracted form PNA, PNI, PNC, and in plain text.

P45 is another example of contracted and non-contracted forms being used in the same text but without non-NS forms being used.
Nice list. What resources are you using to look this up?
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