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[BKARTS] scroll, codex... misconceptions
- To: BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU
- Subject: [BKARTS] scroll, codex... misconceptions
- From: "Patrick T. Rourke" <ptrourke@METHYMNA.COM>
- Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2002 08:39:47 -0500
- Message-ID: <000c01c2a11a$c67ce250$4ae93d18@caliban>
- Sender: "Book_Arts-L: READ THE FAQ at http://www.philobiblon.com" <BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU>
Though I appreciate your efforts to correct many of the comments being made in this thread, I would ask that you be more careful about distinguishing between which comments are and are not misleading or the result of misconceptions. With the exception of the argument that a roll (NOT scroll*) is less convenient than a codex, I did not make any of the arguments you have described (rightly, I think) as misleading, and I am the only person who cited Thompson. I did note that Thompson said that very few Egyptian codices had been found, up to his date, which did not use papyrus, but did not suggest that the Egyptians "hoarded" them.
As far as longer life, that is all a matter of environment. The Timotheos papyrus is 2300 years old. Not sure how easy it would be to handle in normal use, but it's certainly readable.
For the length of work I discussed, e.g., Homer, you have not provided an argument in favor of the usability of the roll; in the West, at least, modern "scrolls" are mostly used for short works no longer than one would expect to find on a broadside, or works that are not in fact read, but kept for traditional and symbolic reasons; and citation of these "scrolls" as evidence for the ease of use of the papyrus roll book versus the codex book is arguably misinforming. Many of our associations with the word "scroll" are very misleading for an understanding of papyrus rolls; for instance, papyrus rolls were usually written in columns in landscape format and not, as most modern scrolls are, in a single portrait column. I'd be interested in your arguments against the assertion that handling a number of cased rolls is less convenient than handling two codex volumes for most reader uses (most; at times it may be more convenient, e.g., for cross reference within a work between rolls when two rolls represent texts that in codex form are represented in one volume).
It is worth pointing out that Thompson does disabuse readers of some of the misconceptions you have cited, and while he is (as I noted) an older authority, I think he is quite accessible to non-specialist readers in the chapters I have cited, and is not *too* far from current understanding (this is not nanotechnology we're talking about here - Turner's understanding of such subjects you cite *rightly* as modern, though much of his work was done before I was born), is easy to find (having just been reprinted), and provides a large number of photographs, which I think would be of interest to this audience.
I also cited the Roberts and Skeat book (though I implied that I have not read it), but could not cite arguments from it and do not know how thoroughly illustrated it is.
*To my knowledge, papyrologists never use that term; for instance, in the index to E. G. Turner's *Greek Papyri: An Introduction*, the only occurrence of the word "scroll" is under Scrolls, Dead Sea. For me, the use of the word "scrolls" brings up associations with e.g. certificates of merit &c.
> The comments about scrolls & codices are out of
> date and misleading.
> Thompson's work is old and research has advanced
> quite a bit in the last half century.
> There is no evidence that it was horded by the
> Egyptian world.
> Papyrus does not become brittle with age or
> Scrolls are still used today, the codex is not
> easier to use or have a longer life.
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