Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Stream of Greek - Holy Blood - Holy Grail

There was a time when the written language of Greek had no spaces between words and all letters used were capital letters. In the 1st-5th century there were the Uncial manuscripts that were continuous script with no breaks between letters and virtually no punctuation.

This kind of script gives way to errors in parsing where if the translator divides the string of letters in certain ways, splitting a word by a letter here of there different words and meanings arise.

The writers of Holy Blood, Holy Grail ceased upon this problem to explain there title and meaning of their book. Later, Dan Brown would use the concept, along with quotes from the Gospel of Mary Magdalene and the Gospel of Philip to substantiate the storyline of his book, "The Da Vinci Code."
 Sangreal... Sang Real... San Greal... Royal Blood... Holy Grail.

To read the actual Gospel of Mary Magdalene and the Gospel of Philip go to 

There are Four Kinds of Greek Manuscripts

There are four kinds of Greek manuscripts that we have in our possession today: 1) papyri, 2) uncials, 3) cursives, and 4) lectionaries." (Defending The King James Bible by D. A. Waite; p. 53). "The Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, so far as known, were written on papyrus, parchment, or paper. The autographs, both of the historical and epistolary writers, are supposed to have been written on papyrus. The great uncials copies and the most valued of the minuscules and lectionaries were written on parchment, while paper was employed largely in the making of the later lectionaries and the printed texts of the New Testament." (Praxis In Manuscripts of the Greek New Testament by Rev. Charles F. Sitterly; 1898; p.15).

Papyri Manuscripts

Papyrus is a brittle kind of paper made out of the papyrus plant, which grows in Egypt. To my knowledge there are about 97 papyrus fragment manuscripts of the New Testament. Most of those surviving early texts only have a few verses on them. The most ancient example is the John Ryland papyrus fragment p52, seen at the left, which includes portions of John 18:31-33 & 37-38. It is housed in John Rylands Library, Manchester, England. The fragment is believed to have been written some time between 98 and 138 AD. (The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts; Philip W. Comfort & David P. Barrett; 1999 Baker Books; p.17-18).
There are six papyri that I am aware of, which record large portions of the New Testament. P45, dated around 200 AD, contains portions of all four Gospels and Acts. P46, from the second century, has almost all the Paul's epistles and Hebrews. P47, also from the second century, contains Revelation 9-17. These are from what is called the Beatty Papyri housed in Dublin Castle in Dublin Ireland. Then there are three lengthy papyri from the Bodmer Papyri. P66 is a second century papyrus that contains almost all of John. P72, a third or fourth century papyrus, contains all of 1 and 2 Peter and Jude. Finally, P75, dated between 175-200 AD, contains the most of Luke through John 15.

The Uncials or Majuscules

Uncial comes from the Latin word uncialis, which means inch-high or a unit high. It is used to delineate a type of Greek and Latin writing which features capital letters. There are few, if any, divisions between words in uncial manuscripts and no punctuation to speak of. The word majuscule, meaning large or capital letter, is a synonym for uncial. There are some 267 uncials. Three of the most famous uncial New Testament manuscripts are the fourth century manuscripts Sinaiticus and Vatican-us and the fifth century Codex Alexandrius.

Cursives or Minuscules

Cursives or minuscules are Greek manuscripts written in lower case letters, more like handwriting. The letters flow together, much like writing of today. There are spaces between words and some degree of punctuation. There are at least 2,764 cursive New Testament manuscripts known today.

Lectionary Manuscripts

The word lection comes from a Latin root word meaning "to read." Lectionaries are portions of Scriptures in Greek (or Latin) Bibles that were read in the church services during the year.Various churches have these "circular readings." The Catholic church has its own readings where each day is assigned a set of scriptures to be read. The Jewish congregations spend a year reading through the Torah.