Dating greek manuscripts sample catchy dating headlines
Documentary texts are often/typically dated by the writer, which makes dating the manuscript fairly straightforward. So in their case the only way forward is by estimating the approximate time-frame of the handwriting (often referred to as the “hand” of the manuscript).Dating ancient Greek handwriting, for example, requires making comparisons with other dated manuscripts, and over the past several decades especially (as more and more papyri has come into view) palaeographers have tried to develop a broad sense of developments in Greek handwriting across several centuries (from the Ptolemaic period, from which our earliest papyri comes, to “late antiquity” or the Byzantine period).Sometimes, a literary text is written on the reverse (outer) side of a scroll, a re-use of a scroll.And if the original use of the scroll was for a dated documentary text, then that means that the re-use must have happened at some point subsequent to the original documentary text, at least giving an “upper” date limit.
It is especially important to look for comparators that are themselves securely dated, i.e., documentary texts.But, on the other hand, documentary texts are often written in a “documentary hand,” which is much like the difference between modern cursive writing and writing out individual letters.Further to my recent posts about recent proposals for the dating of certain NT papyri, let me briefly clarify the process of dating papyri, which might well seem a mystery to those not familiar with it.There are two main types of papyri: “documentary” (letters, official documents such as land-transfers, marriage contracts, shipping bills, etc.) and “literary” (treatises, poetry, history, fiction, etc.).So, quite often, one must rely heavily on other literary “hands” in manuscripts that have themselves been dated by palaeographical comparison.