4.0213 History of the Codex? (1/26)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Thu, 21 Jun 90 17:28:51 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0213. Thursday, 21 Jun 1990.

Date: 20 Jun 90 19:09:33 EDT
From: George Aichele <73760.1176@CompuServe.COM>
Subject: Codex

Robert Kraft brought up in a recent posting the important
technological development of the codex, at the beginning of the
common era. What is known of the history of the codex? Are
there any particularly good sources on this question? I know
Aland and Aland (*The Text of the New Testament*) have a bit to
say about it, and I get the impression that the origins are
quite obscure.

Is it true that the first codexes were (Christian) "Bibles"?
(Granted the extreme variability of the early collections!) If
so, do we know why? Kermode (I think) speculates that it may
have had to do with the desire to "flip" back and forth between
the (Jewish) scriptures and the added commentaries (now known as
New Testament)--which would be much more difficult with scrolls.
(Fulfillment of the scriptures and all that.) I also like Steve
Mason's recent comment that scrolls worked well enough for a
predominantly oral culture--does this imply that the switch to
the codex correlates with a greater interest in reading and the
written word? (Perhaps, as Samuel Sandmel suggested, a
rejection of the "oral Torah"?)

I also have a hunch that there is some relation between this
matter and recent HUMANIST discussions of graphics vs. command
line interfaces and of on-screen editing vs. use of hard copy--
but don't ask me what! Maybe now that we've got hypertext, it's
time to add another testament or two. (Just kidding!)

George Aichele