[B-Greek] Upper case characters

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Mon Mar 6 06:33:58 EST 2006

On Mar 6, 2006, at 5:41 AM, Don Doherty wrote:

> Dear list members,
> I realise this may be somewhat off-topic, but I would like to know  
> if the earliest extant NT manuscripts, along with all other ancient  
> Greek manuscripts, used upper case characters only.  And with no  
> spaces between the words.
> If so, when did the mix of upper and lower case characters begin to  
> be the norm?
> If this really is off-topic, perhaps anyone kind enough to reply  
> might respond off-list to me at ddoherty at powerup.com.au

This probably belongs more to textual criticism, but it's a rather  
elementary question and we can at least point you to basic answers  
and some resources for your further pursuit.

First of all, you need to realize that the distinction between "upper- 
case" and "lower-case" characters is itself a relatively recent  
development in the history of writing. What we CALL "upper-case"  
characters were the normal forms of letters in what was later called  
"uncial" letters (from Latin "uncia" meaning "inch", "uncial" being  
"inch-high" characters). A later development is "cursive" or  
"running" characters written more-or-less in sequence without lifting  
the pen and smaller; the uncial manuscripts are older than the  
cursives, though there may be some overlap -- and the earliest MSS  
(manuscripts) didn't separate the words. You should look at one of  
the standard books on textual tradition, e.g. Bruce Metzger, _The  
Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and  
Restoration_ or the comparable work by Aland.

There are lots of web resources on this subject; you might begin with:

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad2 at mac.com
WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/

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