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When Nonsense Makes Sense (Part II)

February 26, 2012

Attached below are three images (Sanders-1935, Kenyon-1936, and P46) showing the first ten lines of Hebrews. The differences in the placement of space-gaps (indicated by arrows) readily show how Kenyon and Sanders understood the “sense-structures” of P46.  But a closer look at the image of P46 reveals a whole lot more that is yet to be fully discussed by the students of this very important manuscript.

Sanders, in these ten lines, identified 6 instances of space-gaps, which described to have served “admirably for punctuation” and to “mark the end of paragraphs” (p.17).  It’s not clear to me though what “sense” is marked in the first line.  On the other hand, Kenyon identified 3 instances of space-gaps, but with only two agreeing with Sanders.  Kenyon explained “I have thought it best to indicate them (space-gaps) only when they are plainly intentional and denote a pause in the sense” (p.xiv).  That these space-gaps have something to do with sense is not objectionable, and I quickly concur with both of them in this regard.  However, one is dumb-struck once we take a closer look at the actual page–these space-intervals abound, coming in various lengths! Methodological problems immediately come to vogue–How are we going to account for those space-intervals that do not have anything to do with “pauses in sense”? Do they at all “make sense” when they have nothing to do with “sense”? Is a “length-based” method a sustainable in profiling “pauses in sense” in particular manuscripts, especially the earliest ones with scriptio continua format? Accordingly, how are we going to account for the absence of space-gaps at junctures where there are clearly “pauses in sense”? Is there anyway we can explain all this? My take is  an affirmative one–these are a viewing deck into the habits of the scribe who penned this manuscript!

From → New Discoveries

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