ciphers or words for numbers

From: Brian E. Wilson (
Date: Wed Oct 15 1997 - 16:11:23 EDT

In papyri manuscripts of the books of the NT, roughly fifty per cent of
the instances of numbers are written in full as words, and the remainder
written as ciphers, just as in English writing we would sometimes write
the number 25 as twentyfive, and at other times write the number
twentyfive as 25.

Does anyone, please, know whether the use of cipher numbers in
manuscripts of the books of the Greek NT (in roughly half the instances
of numbers used) is also found in books of Classical Greek Literature,
such as manuscripts of Homer, or Euripedes, and so on? Or would the
writers of manuscripts of Classical Greek Literature have looked down
their noses at such a crude way of writing numbers in a proper book, and
always have written them out in full as words, like PENTAKISXILIOI?

I know that ciphers were used for numbers in Classical Greek writing
which was **not** literary. What I would very much like to know,
however, is how manuscripts of **literary** Classical Greek works
compare with the manuscripts of the Greek NT in the use of ciphers for
numbers. My guess is that ciphers were not used for numbers in the
manuscripts of the highbrow Classical Greek **literary** works, but that
is only a guess, and I have not yet found anything written on this
particular question.

Is it possible that a Classicist could help, please?


Brian E. Wilson


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