Category Archives: Paleography

Ancient Greek Pronunciatio

Translations of the Greek New Testament into other ancient languages help us know what the sounds were in ancient Greek compared to now.  In order to translate Christian texts, the Copts invented 7 extra glyphs for sounds unknown to the Greeks, but which they needed for their language.  This is informative to us as to what Greek sounded like as late as the early church times.  Thus we know that even as late as the Christian era in Egypt, the Greek letter φ (Phi) was not pronounced like English “F” but instead like our English “P.”  We know this because Coptic had to invent a separate letter Ϥ for the F sound, a sound which Coptic had, but Greek did not have.

And because of the law of Phonetic symmetry in the distribution of points of articulation in the mouth, we can reasonably extrapolate this principle to the other set of consonants also, that is, Χ and Κ.  And predict the following: the Greek letter χ sounded like our English “K” and the Greek letter Κ was a softer, unaspirated K for which English does not have a letter or symbol.  In Phonetics we find that languages that have both an aspirated and unaspirated P, will also have both aspirated and unaspirated versions of the other stops such as T and K etc.  Thus, φ was p sound, θ was t sound, χ was k sound, and π, τ, κ were unaspirated versions thereof, for which we do not have letters in English.

Another example that Plumley gives in Metzger’s book shows that the Greek letter θ definitely was not a “th” sound like we have in English, as in the word “thick.”  It was simply our Englsih “t” sound, as in “tick.”  One way we know this is because Coptic translators, when they heard the Greek word θαλασσα, wrote down HALASSA with the feminine definite article T in front of it.  That’s because it was pronounced TALASSA and the scribes or translators heard TALASSA.

The above knowledge can lead us to some interesting insights.  For example, knowing that φ was pronounced “p” and θ was pronounced “t,” we can pronounce correctly the word φθινοπωρινος in Jude v. 12, and recognize our English word “patina” there, and see how that relates to change in color of leaves in Autumn.  Greek had a word φθινα for the mildewing of material (which would change its color), but see also φθῖνάς “a waning, a wasting away”, or φθινιασμα “declining,” and the verb φθινω, “to perish, decay, waste away.”  Our English word patina also refers to the wasting away or corrosion of semi-precious metals, like copper and bronze, upon which a green film accumulates.

This page gives the correct pronunciation of ancient Greek consonants.

Papyrus 64/67 Readings in Matthew

The oldest Greek manuscript we have of any significant part of the Gospel of Matthew is probably Papyrus 64/67 (𝔓⁶⁴). Regarding Papyrus 64, there are 7 places where the Byzantine Robinson-Pierpont (RP) text and/or the Textus Receptus (TR) disagree with the Critical Text (CT), and where P64 is also extant:

5:20, CT and P64 read υμων η δικαιοσυνη, RP has η δικαιοσυνη υμων

5:22, CT and P64 read αυτου, RP reads αυτου εικη

5:25, CT and P64 read ο κριτης, RP reads ο κριτης σε παραδω

5:27, CT and P64 and RP read ερρεθη, TR reads ερρεθη τοις αρξαιοις (difference between TR and Robinson-Pierpont)

26:8, CT and P64 read μαθηται, RP reads μαθηται αυτου

26:22, CT reads εις εκαστος, RP reads εκαστος αυτων, but P64 omits both of these

26:23, CT and P64 read μετ εμου την χειρα εν τω τρυβλιω, RP reads μετ εμου εν τω τρυβλιω την χειρα

So, P64 agrees with CT 5 out of 7, agrees with CT and RP against TR 1 out of 7, and against both CT and RP 1 out of 7.

The only really significant variant is 5:22. CT and P64 say “angry with his brother,” and RP text says “angry with his brother without a cause”

5:27, CT and P64 and RP say “You have heard that it was said,” and TR says, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago.”

26:22, CT says, “they began each one to say to him; RP says “they began each one of them to say to him,’ and P64 says “they began to say.”

Greek Cursive Ligatures

Quick-Reference Greek Ligature Guide

Many of us read printed editions or transcriptions of New Testament Greek frequently. But unless you are collating or reading minuscules often, you can forget the “ligatures” used in cursive manuscripts. Ligatures are the shorthand mergings or combinations of Greek letters that are found in cursive minuscule Greek manuscripts. I myself was reading minuscules often in the early 2000’s, but then after I stopped doing that, I have been forgetting the ligatures. So I use this guide myself when reading minuscules.

Here I offer free download of a quick-reference Greek ligature guide in PDF.  It has two narrow columns. So narrow, that you can make it a sliver on one side of your screen or monitor, and still have plenty of room for your mains documents. The first column is the more familiar form of a Greek letter or number, and on the right of that, a column showing various ligatures for that letter alone or ligatures for combinations of letters that start with that letter. It mostly uses Dr. Vernon Kooy’s character set, but also some others. I know that this will be useful to people in this group. The download is free, but you can also order a printed and bound edition from Lulu. Also, if someone has made a font or knows of a font that includes one or more ligatures than I have included in this document, please let me know, and I will add it to the document.

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Intelligent Design

Micro-evolution and Macro-evolution

Change over time, micro-evolution, within one species, is undisputed. But macro-evolution, one species to a new species, has no evidence.

Homology, the universality of DNA

Homology, that all species have DNA, proves a common designer, not a common ancestor. Dawkins is guilty of circular reasoning, because he has predetermined to exclude a common designer. Many scientists look at the evidence with polar glasses, never considering intelligent design, so cannot interpret the evidence correctly.

Gradualism in the fossil record?

The fossil record shows no gradualism. Most all the phyla suddenly appear in the Cambrian stratum, without precursors.

Experiments on E-Coli bacteria, over enough generations to make it equivalent to 1 million years of human generations, could not break the bacteria out of its own species. Only variations of the same species.

As for transitional phyla, 99 of every 1,000 frames is cut out of the movie, according to National Geographic. There are not missing links, but missing chains. Well, the chain simply does not exist.

Make a list of species to which there are no other similar species whatsoever, either in the present or in the previous to them. Such species are numerous.

Science does not say evolution is true; scientists say it is true.

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1st Century Mark Fragment?

A purported image of a 1st century Mark fragment was uploaded to Facebook.

In a discussion board, someone claims to have uploaded this.

Another person named Acharya S. , AKA D. M. Murdock, commented on the forum and also on her blog. She made an image comparing its text to Codex Sinaiticus:
1st Century Mark Fragment?

This may well be a spoof or a fake- I am not an expert papyrologist or paleographer, and I am not stating an opinion about this image, whether it is a 1st century Mark fragment, but I can say that this Acharya S. person AKA D. M. Murdock is certainly not anyone who has the knowledge or expertise to date a Greek manuscript. She betrays this by stating that the RHO in line 8 is the wackiest RHO she had ever seen, I quote verbatim: “I wondered about that rho myself, obviously. I originally thought it was either a sigma or a zeta, but the Markan verse has it as a rho, so that’s what I went with.” This shows she hasn’t even looked at the plates of the freely available Edward Maunde Thompson book.

That funny looking RHO is in fact a perfectly fine RHO from the 1st century and earlier, according to the plates in “An Introduction to Greek and Latin Paleography” by Sir Edward Maunde Thompson. See plates on pp. 145, 146, 191, 192. If you look closely, you see that it actually looks like a sperm. There is a closed circle at the top, like a small omicron, and then with a stem. The top is called the “bow” of the RHO. From everything I can see as an amateur reading Thompson, the type of Rho with a closed circle or oval bow, and also a stem that curves leftward at the bottom, is found in the 1st century and earlier. After that, the stems were straight or curved rightward, and the bow was not usually round. This combination is 1st century BC to 1st century AD. So, this RHO is one small clue that this could indeed be a 1st century Mark fragment.

I have extracted the plates for you and uploaded them:

Greek Literary Alphabet, 2nd century BC to 1st century AD, p. 145

Greek Literary Alphabet, 1st century, p. 146

Greek Cursive Alphabet, 3rd century to 2nd century BC, p. 191

Greek Cursive Alphabet, 1st century BC, p. 192

The Rho looks most like the one on p. 192 in the middle column, headed “1st Cent.” The MU looks most similar to this column as well.

The Rho looks second most like the one on p. 191 in the right column, headed “2nd Cent. BC”

The Rho on line 8 looks a fair amount like the one on p. 146 in the column headed “1st Century Harris Homer.”

The MU looks like the two columns on the right of p. 146, 1st or 2nd century.

Another note: Nothing says that a 1st century Greek manuscript absolutely HAS to be on papyrus. The Thompson paleography book also says that animal skin documents were not unheard of, as early as a couple hundred years before Christ. The Ptolemaic kings embargoed papyrus exports now and then, and an alternate supply of writing materials made from animals skins was manufactured in Pergamum.

Paper was introduced to Europeans by Arabs in the 8th century. (They learned it from Chinese at Samarkand.) The Arab paper came to the west via Damascus, Syria, which was the paper capital of the Arab world.

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