Manuscripts and the Sociology of Early Christian Reading

Larry Hurtado

in The Early Text of the New Testament

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199566365
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191740985 | DOI:
Manuscripts and the Sociology of Early Christian Reading

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There are features that distinguish most early Christian manuscripts of literary texts from pagan high-quality literary manuscripts of the time, e.g. the Christian preference for the codex (especially for texts functioning as scripture), greater use of punctuation and spacing to mark off sense-units, wider spacing between lines, these and other features apparently intended to facilitate the reading of these Christian texts. Taking a cue from an article by William Johnson in which he proposed that the more severe appearance of pagan literary manuscripts reflects the elite social circles in which they were read, this chapter proposes that the features of early Christian manuscripts also reflect the social characteristics of the Christian circles in which they were read. In sum, the earliest Christian manuscripts are artifacts reflecting the more diverse social make-up of early Christian circles and the aim of enfranchising a wider spectrum of readers.

Keywords: manuscripts; reading; codex; scribal features; punctuation; William Johnson; Christian social diversity

Chapter.  6977 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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