Last Updated:

Dec 3, 2010

Olley: Uncial Punctuation

Excerpt for Review: J.W. Olley, Ezekiel: A Commentary, based on Codex B, (Brill, 2009)

Page Index

Olley on Punctuation: Greek Uncials
    6.1 Clues to Understanding
    6.2 Sense Delimitation in Greek MSS
    6.2.1 Codex Vaticanus
    6.2.2 Papyrus - P967:
    6.2.3 Codex Alexandrinus:
    6.2.4 Codex Marchalianus

Olley on Uncial Punctuation

6.  Divisions in the Text

6.1 Clues to Understanding

Critical editions of biblical texts have given careful attention to variations in words or word order. It is rare however to find details of variation in sense delimitation, whether of "sentences" or "paragraphs" (for Ezek., Goshen-Gottstein et al. 2004). In the Gottingen LXX (Ziegler 1977) division locations are as decided by the editor and commonly follow MT divisions.

Recent linguistic theory has highlighted the sentence as conveying meaning, providing clues as to how individual words are being used. This has been developed further to include paragraphing and even the form of the whole document. Each level of discourse, whether phrase, sentence, paragraph, "chapter" or the whole work, contributes to understanding. The linguistic context of an utterance ("co-text") has the effect that,

"all sections of a discourse, but most strongly the previous sections, serve as the framework or field of reference for the information to be processed in later sections of the discourse" (MacDonald 1992: 167)

Manuscript divisions provide clues to the co-texts that provided the framework for interpretation, whether by the producers or correctors/revisers/annotators of specific texts or by the communities that heard those texts read (some division markers may be liturgical).

Markers provide clues to perceived foci of subunits, frames of larger units and interconnections. They point to ways the text was used and thus contribute to study of the history of interpretation and raise questions for present readers ("Were there factors behind the division adopted that need to be taken into account today?"). The physical layout of a text both reflects a reading tradition and influences all subsequent readings.

Investigation of sense delimitation has been the focus of the International Pericope Project (Korpel 2000,2004). Amongst biblical manuscripts, both Hebrew and Greek, variety in paragraphing reflects liturgical or exegetical diversity, liturgical divisions themselves reflecting exegesis.

There is evidence for both a common traditional core with developing patterns and individual or community differences. Often divisions have been influenced by catchphrases, at times applied mechanically by a scribe. The question naturally arises as to whether idiosyncrasies in a given manuscript are due to an exemplar, or the scribe or local community practice. (For elaboration, see for example Olley 1998b, 2003; Tov 2000, 2001a, 2003; Porter 2009.)

LXX and MT traditions diverge greatly, for both "verses" and "paragraphs", evident in manuscripts of biblical text and in ancient commentaries. This warrants Barthelemy's plea for editors of the Greek text "to free the 'Septuagint' from the usurped authority which the Hebrew and Latin Bibles have exercised on the layout and its punctuation" (1992:cxxiv). At several places in LXX Ezekiel sense division markers, major and minor, do not coincide with Hebrew verse divisions (which are closely followed by Latin and hence Western European versions) and there are many places where Zeigler's punctuation and verse divisions have been influenced by MT.

Accordingly this commentary will take as a starting point the divisions evident in B itself, while noting as relevant variation in interpretation resulting from the layout of other texts or editions. We adopt the convention of referring to a division location by citing the verse at the start of the division (e.g. 2:8) and where the division is not at the start of a verse * shall be added (e.g., 1:2*, where the space in B is before τουτο το ετος).

6.2  Sense Delimitation in Greek MSS

Both commonality and diversity are observed in the location of sense delimiters in major codices. Further, even where there is agreement in division location, whether the division is major or minor fluctuates. An argument of Emmanuel Tov relating to Hebrew texts from the Judaean Desert can be applied to other manuscripts:

... it is unlikely that scribes were "involved in literary analysis of several adjacent content units...scribal decisions on the type of relationship between sense units should be considered ad hoc, made upon completing one unit and before embarking on the next"

(Tov 2000:314)

Thus, while we maintain the distinction between major and minor for a given manuscript - as in the commentary - comparison between manuscripts needs to take account of variation.

The four major Greek codices examined and cited in this commentary (P967, B, A, Q) are all Uncial in scripto continua.

6.2.1 Codex Vaticanus

Two methods of sense delimitation are evident:

i.  Major Divisions (57 locations) start on a new line with projection of the first letter into the margin (ekthesis). The letter is normal size and projection is generally one letter space. (Here as elsewhere in this section numbers are approximate due to occasional uncertainty.)

ii.  Minor Divisions (174) have a space (unless at the end of a line, 28 occasions), usually with a short horizontal line in the margin (paragraphos). That 32 of these divisions have no paragraphos suggests insertion by a later scribe, although Porter (2005) observes similar incomplete use in early NT manuscripts.

The colon is rare in B and almost certainly a later insertion. A single dot colon occurs only at [Ezek.] 5:7, where there is a paragraphos but no space (refer to discussion in commentary), and in the final column, written by the scribe responsible for Daniel (colons before 48:33, 34, 34b). At 12:21; 14:12; & 24:25 there is a double dot colon before the space as well as a paragraphos. At 32:11 there is a paragraphos, but the absence of a space and the line break σου ο/τι ταδε λεγει argue against a division and point to the paragraphos being late. Similarly at 33:25; 36:3; 46:6 there is a paragraphos but no space preceding the expected start of the division on the previous line.

Marginal Greek numbers give division into 56 chapters, in Ezekiel probably prima manu and so ancient (Swete 1914: 351-52; Bogaert 1999:10-11). The same chapters are seen in [Codex] Q. Most correspond to major divisions, but 16 coincide with minor, suggesting that the paragraphing predates the scribe of B. There is an even later insertion of a symbol locating the Vulgate's 48 chapter divisions, not all of which coincide with paragraphs in B, let alone the Greek chapter divisions. Here we shall designate the Greek chapters with Greek Uncial [letters].

6.2.2  Papyrus - P967

The earlier P967 has one major division marker, a one letter space with the script continuing on the same line followed by ekthesis (paragraphoi are not evident). There are no instances or evidence of a space without following ekthesis. Exceptional is a space of about six letters before 37:1 (following (39:29, with the different chapter order). Visually this has the effect of separating chs. 37, 40-48 as a key block.

The space almost always has two small strokes or dots, with the lower dot being to the right of the upper. Johnson (in Johnson et al. 1938:15) believes they are due to the original scribe, while Kenyon (1937:ix) thinks they are "reading marks...(always additions)", supported by Revell (1976:133). Fernandez-Galiano (1971b:21,n.2) is unsure. That the dots are later is supported by 39:17 where the two dots are cramped although there is a clear space and ekthesis.

Closer examination shows in fact two styles of the double dot. Additional to the sloping format are instances of the absence of a space and ekthesis but insertion of two dots between the relevant words with the dots being vertical. The form and location of these "double dots" point to later insertion, separate from the other dots. In the extant portions of P967 there are 87 paragraphs and 14 double dots" (6 in chs. 18-20).

The Chester Beatty and Princeton transcriptions reproduce the layout and markers of this paragraphing. the Madrid transcription does not distinguish the two forms of the double dots and the layout does not show ekthesis , although Fernandez-Galiano discusses the instances of ekthesis, but inexplicably describing 28:20; 33:10, 30; 34:1 as "without projection" (1971b:22). Jahn's work on the Cologne portion (1972), while meticulous, does not reproduce the physical layout of spaces and paragraph markers.

There is also frequent use of the colon (single dot or stroke) as a sense delimiter. Again these are given in the Princeton, Chester Beatty, Madrid transcriptions, but Jahn is inconsistent (Olley 2002:218-22 provides a list for Cologne, with discussion).

6.2.3 Codex Alexandrinus

Codex A has 404 major divisions, marked by a large space (at least two letters) with the first letters of the next line, always the first letter of a word, written large in the margin (if the start of a column, may not be in the margin). If the end of the previous sections finishes after the middle of the line, the new section generally starts on the following line. Occasionally this is also the case when the previous section finishes before the line middle. There are no paragraphoi.

The colon in a one-letter space is prolific, dividing the text into phrases, commonly one line or less in length.

6.2.4 Codex Marchalianus

Codex Q has 259 major divisions, starting as with B on a new line, and as with A, with a large letter in the margin. There are 205 instances of a colon with one or two letter space. There are also the same later Greek chapter notations and locations as in B.

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