Nomina Sacra in the Corpus Paulinum in the first millennium: the textual and visual transmission of θεοϲ, κυριοϲ, ιηϲουϲ, χριϲτοϲ, and υιοϲ in the papyri and majuscules of Romans, 1 Corinthians, Philemon, and Hebrews
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date18/01/2025
Some of the most conspicuous features in the text of Greek NT manuscripts are the nomina sacra (NS), words written in abbreviated form, with an overline. This study examines the twofold—visual and textual—nature of the NS phenomenon in the Corpus Paulinum (CP). Specifically, it investigates comprehensively the transmission of all the visual forms and textual variations of five NS words (the nomina divina [θεοϲ, κυριοϲ, ιηϲουϲ, χριϲτοϲ] and υιοϲ) in four letters of the CP (Romans, 1 Corinthians, Philemon, Hebrews) in all the extant papyri and majuscules (i.e., third-tenth centuries CE). It answers the following question: “What does such a study reveal about the visual and textual transmission of these NS words in these CP letters in the extant MSS period (third-tenth c. CE), and what inferences may be drawn about the earlier period (pre-third c. CE) regarding the early circulation of these letters, scribal practices related to these NS in the CP, and a CP archetype?” In so doing, it sheds more light on an important feature of the transmission history of the CP in the first millennium, a corpus key to early Christianity’s theology. The Introduction (Ch. 1) provides a historical background of the NS, followed by two groups of theories that affirm or deny the existence of a CP archetype from which later MSS derive their text. One theory (David Trobisch) proposes an authoritative NT edition (156-168 CE)—at which point the CP came to include Hebrews—with the NS among its telltale signs. The study’s rationale and methodology are then set out. Each of the next four chapters (2, 3, 4, and 5) studies an individual letter (Romans, 1 Corinthians, Philemon, Hebrews). It investigates the visual forms of the nomina divina (the forms of υιοϲ are studied in chapter 6) and all the textual variations of the five NS in that letter’s papyri and majuscules. It thus identifies the characteristics of that letter’s MSS tradition regarding the textual and visual transmission of these five NS from the third to the tenth century. An Analysis chapter (Ch. 6) then arrives at a final picture of the transmission—both as to text and visual forms—of the five NS words in the MSS traditions of these four CP letters in the first millennium, both in the extant MSS period and, to some extent, in the earlier period (pre-third c.). This study thus answers its research question. For the extant MSS period (third-tenth c.), it reveals the characteristics of each letter’s MSS tradition regarding textual variation patterns of these five NS, and traces the trajectories of their visual forms in the MSS. In addition, it demonstrates the impact of the NS’s visual form on their textual transmission: words consistently abbreviated in the MSS (i.e., the nomina divina) cause more visual/mental confusion and, as a result, substitutions with similar-looking NS than words (i.e., υιοc) that are infrequently abbreviated. For the pre-third century period (especially the time nearest to the extant MSS), this study’s findings permit at least six main inferences: a) they align with Romans’ early circulation in different chapters forms (i.e., 14-, 15-, 16 chapters); b) Hebrews shows strikingly different variation patterns from the rest of the CP; c) the Romans and Hebrews findings, in tandem, align with views that do not include Hebrews in a putative first CP archetype (e.g., contra Günther Zuntz), but even more so with views that deny the existence of an early CP archetype (e.g., Eugene Harrison Lovering); d) though posited as contrasting views, both some level of control (e.g., Scott D. Charlesworth) and informality (e.g., Kim Haines-Eitzen) were present in the early period regarding the NS convention; e) however, Charlesworth’s putative, second stage of standardization (in the mid-second century) regarding the NS (especially as regards κυριοϲ vis-à-vis θεοϲ, ιηϲουϲ, χριϲτοϲ) is not supported; f) a tightly controlled, authoritative NT edition with the NS among its telltale signs (Trobisch) is not supported. A final chapter (Ch. 7) summarizes the findings and presents five implications, two suggestions about the NS in future publications, and two avenues for further research.