Sense-Unit Divisions in Ancient NT Manuscripts: Artifacts of Ancient Readers


Larry Hurtado's Blog

Just as in modern texts, sense-unit division and punctuation in ancient manuscripts evidence the organization of a text to aid understanding of it.  In his contribution to the multi-author volume in my honour, Sean Adams studies the sense-unit divisions (something like our paragraphs) in the text of the Gospel of Mark in three important manuscripts:  Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus, and Codex Alexandrinus:  “Mark, Manuscripts, and Paragraphs:  Sense-Unit Divisions in Mark 14–16,” in Mark, Manuscripts, and Monotheism, eds. Chris Keith & Dieter T. Roth (London:  Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2014), 61-78.

Ancient Greek & Latin manuscripts were written in “scripta continuo” (that is, no spacing between words), and with little punctuation (especially in high-quality literary manuscripts).  But in many we do have sense-unit divisions.  Adams (a former PhD student) first introduces how sense-units are marked in ancient manuscripts:  often by an enlarged space of varying sizes, often a “paragraphos” added (a horizontal like in the…

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