4.0223 Codex (3/183)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 26 Jun 90 17:59:40 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0223. Tuesday, 26 Jun 1990.

(1) Date: Thu, 21 Jun 90 20:23:26 EDT (15 lines)
From: Germaine Warkentin <WARKENT@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: The Codex

(2) Date: Tuesday, 26 June 1990 1454-EST (71 lines)
Subject: Codex - Canon

(3) Date: Tue, 26 Jun 90 09:10:27 EDT (97 lines)
From: pdk@iris.brown.edu (Paul D. Kahn)
Subject: codex and scroll

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 90 20:23:26 EDT
From: Germaine Warkentin <WARKENT@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: The Codex

George Aichele inquires about the origin of the codex. The standard
recent source is Colin H. Roberts and T.C. Skeat,, _The Birth of the
Codex_ (London: Oxford University Press for the British Academy, 1983).
The argument there, well substantiated by reference to the relevant
papyri, is that the codex origi nated, probably at Antioch, as a medium
for the sacred writings of early Christianity. For their merely secular
writings the early Christians used the same kind of rolls employed by
the Greeks and Romans, and the codex did not become the dominant form of
the book until the fourth century, by which time its association with
the sacred was well established. Germaine Warkentin
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------83----
Date: Tuesday, 26 June 1990 1454-EST
Subject: Codex - Canon

I hope I may be forgiven for sending this note to both the HUMANIST
discussion group and to IOUDAIOS, since some of the same issues are of
interest to both, and the discussion regarding canonical order in Jewish
scriptures that began on HUMANIST has now been taken up on IOUDAIOS as

George Aichele has asked about the history of the codex, and Don Fowler
rightly notes that many of the claims about that history remain
problematic. Perhaps the most influential voice in the English speaking
world on the development of the codex has been Colin Roberts (Oxford),
who has argued that for all practical purposes it was Christians who
popularized the codex form in the 2nd century of the common era, perhaps
for economic reasons (double the space to write on) as well as
convenience of reference. The idea of writing on both sides of a
surface and binding such "leaves" together on one edge was certainly
known prior to the beginnings of Christianity (e.g. in school exercise
books, with leather thongs binding together thin waxen boards), so the
issue is less "who first had the idea?" than it is "who first brought it
into wide/popular usage?" The main evidence that Roberts offers is the
percentage of codex fragments of Christian writings relative to the
percentage for non-Christian works in the early centuries, with much
more evidence for Christian use. Indeed, in what I would consider to be
a methodologically question-begging approach, some scholars argue that
the early fragment of Genesis known as P.Yale 1 (perhaps as early as the
last third of the first century) must be "Christian" in origin because
it is codex in form! My suspicion is that it may very well be a Jewish
codex, and that there may be other early biblical fragments that are
Jewish as well. How does one tell for sure? One can assume that Jews
would not put scriptural texts on anything but scrolls, but that
certainly begs the question. One can argue that certain abbreviations
of "sacred" words and names (spirit, heaven, Joshua/Jesus, Lord, God,
etc.) must be Christian, but that also needs to be argued on the basis of
evidence. Maybe "Christians" (whatever that designation means for the
particular times and places under discussion) did popularlize the use of
codices, but I don't think the evidence has been examined carefully
enough yet to establish that as a historical (sociological,
technological) "fact."

In this context, it would be interesting to hear more about the evidence
from Qumran -- Frank Cross once alluded to the discovery there of what
seemed to be piles (or perhaps a pile) of unbound pages that contained
consecutive text, but I never heard more (e.g. what sort of text?
written on one side only or on both? -- that is, could they be glued or
sewn together to form a scroll, or not?). Anyone out there have any
light to shed? And in emerging classical Judaism, when and under what
conditions do discussions of whether Torah must be on scrolls, etc.,
take place? Is it a response to an identifiable situation (such as
Christian codex Pentateuchs)?

A further observation about the development of codex technology,
which relates to the question of order of works and (perhaps) of
significance of ordering. The earliest codices of which we know
(2nd century CE) are relatively small in capacity -- often holding
a single work (e.g. Genesis) or even a portion of a work. They
are often formed by folding larger sheets into a "single quire"
of maybe 20 or 30 pages (the more pages, the more technologically
awkward in terms of the inner margins near the fold), held together
with thread/cord. As the idea of binding several small quires
together into a multi-quired work develops, the ability to hold
vast numbers of writings together in a single (but more complex)
codex also develops. By the mid 4th century CE, such large
codices are being manufactured and circulated. Thus "order" is
ont an automatic concomitant of "codex" format, but as codex
format becomes more sophisticated, order becomes a more relevant
issue in the sense of "table of contents."

Bob Kraft, Religious Studies, U. Penn.
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------131---
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 90 09:10:27 EDT
From: pdk@iris.brown.edu (Paul D. Kahn)
Subject: codex and scroll

I also found Colin H. Roberts and T. C. Skeat, The Birth of the Codex,
London: Oxford University Press, 1983 to be a good source about the
early codex. I thought it might be useful to share an excerpt from a
paper prepared for the Electronic Publishing '90 conference, to be held
in September in Gaithersburg Maryland. The paper, "Design of Hypermedia
Publications: Issues and Solutions" was co-authored by myself and Julie
Launhardt of IRIS and Krzysztof Lenk and Ronnie Peters of Rhode Island
School of Design. The point made about the scroll in this quote is a
contribution from Prof. Lenk, who is working on a large study of
information graphics from the early manuscript tradition up through
current practice on both print and electronic media.

"The presentation of information on the computer screen has some
similarities to one of the book's earliest forms, the scroll. In
Mediterranean antiquity, before the technology of binding leaves of
papyrus or parchment between boards was developed, the method for
creating portable collections of written material was to roll and tie
continuous pieces of papyrus into a scroll [Roberts 1983]. The way in
which a scroll stores and presents information to the reader is
interesting in the context of our present work on the computer screen.
In a scroll, information is stored on either side or above and below the
area being read. This is similar to the operation of the scrolling bars
of the document window on the computer, and the present practice of
revealed information only within the document window. In either case,
the reader does not know what information is just out of view. Unlike
the pages of a book, which are of a fixed size, the viewing area of a
scroll can be broadened or narrowed. As a result, the demarcation
between visible and hidden information on the surface of a scroll is not
as clear as the edges of a book page. Even in the case of the scroll,
the reader is oriented to the magnitude of the collection by being able
to hold the entire collection in her hands. In contrast, a visual
examination of the surface of the computer screen does not give the
reader the same kind of access to the hypermedia publication as a whole.
The hypermedia documents are 'hidden' within the memory of the computer
and the visual appearance of the icons that represent each document does
not express the same information as spines of bound volumes on a shelf
or stacks of papers on a desk.

There are other interesting comparisons to be made between hypermedia
and the printed book. Yankelovich, Meyrowitz, and van Dam [Yankelovich
1985] point out a fundamental difference between the two: that
information in a book is static. Once committed to ink on paper, the
information cannot be changed without reprinting the book. Their table
of comparison emphasized the greater potential for reader interaction
found in electronic media. While print media offers advantages in areas
such as portability, established standards of typography and graphic
design, and general aesthetic appeal, the reader of a book cannot alter
the content or customize the arrangement of a printed page to suit
individual needs. Intermedia, designed in large part by Yankelovich and
Meyrowitz, challenges this relationship between the author and the
reader. The Intermedia reader must actively create the sequence in
which information is presented. Within the limit of permissions
established by the author, the reader is also invited to add to and
alter the information being presented.

While this area of comparison is entirely valid, there are other issues
of orientation and meta- information that should not be overlooked.
These include a consideration of the non-verbal information found in the
book as a physical object, the differing relationship between verbal and
visual language in the two mediums, and a comparison of the sensory
channels through which the book and the computer screen present
information to the reader.

The physical presence of a book, i.e. its weight, size, method of
binding, its cover (hard or soft), can tell the reader a great deal
about the publication before it is read. Flipping quickly through the
pages will tell the reader about the type of publication, the amount of
copy, the size of type, the number of illustrations (if any). Our
visual sense is the primary channel through which we receive information
from a book. However, a person reading a book uses more than just the
sense of sight. A book can be picked up and oriented to the viewer's
requirements. The "hard" nature of the book brings in such sensory
information as the physical feel of the pages, the weight of the book,
the smell of the ink, evidence of past ownership, and so forth.

By convention, books have bound pages that are expected to be read with
a directional orientation. While this directionality varies from
culture to culture (Greek and Latin reading horizontally left to right,
Hebrew and Arabic reading horizontally from right to left, Classical
Chinese reading vertically right to left), the page of a book in the
European tradition is, by convention, read from top left to bottom
right. The contents of pages within a book are most commonly organized
in a linear, sequential fashion."

If anyone is interested in the full text of the paper, let me know
and I will send a printed copy via surface mail (the full paper relies
on figures that cannot be transmitted via HUMANIST).

Paul Kahn
Institute for Research in Information and Scholarship
Brown University