Re: all punctuation secondary, part 2

From: Perry L. Stepp (
Date: Fri Apr 03 1998 - 14:54:51 EST

I hate to be repetitious, but I sent this thing in so scattered a manner--

I also have seen breaks in the running text, what appear to be dots, etc.,
in the papyri. I also have heard David Balch talk about his research into
the oldest extant Greek mss--I'm guessing pottery, inscriptions, but
possibly also descriptions of same?--where he has seen punctuation and
breaks between words. This in material from several centuries BC.

As I recall, Balch was at a loss to explain how punctuation et. al.
generally fell out of written Greek.

1. Is anyone aware of this research? Can anyone describe it with more
specificity and detail than I can?

2. If I've characterized this properly, what explanations have been
mustered to explain how the practice of punctuation was discontinued?

3. Can we categorically state that there was no punctuation in the
earliest texts of the NT? The fact that papyri copied under certain
circumstances for certain purposes don't consistently or frequently use
punctuation doesn't add up to "no punctuation in the earliest texts of the


Perry L. Stepp

Perry L. Stepp

Pastor, DeSoto Christian Church, DeSoto TX
Ph.D. Candidate in New Testament, Baylor University
Keeper of the Top-10 List,
#1 Cowboy Homer

Comp USA changed my religion! Now that I've dealt
with their customer service department, I'm categorically
*certain* of the existence of hell!
                        (Ask me about it.)

> From: Dale M. Wheeler <>
> To:
> Subject: Fw: all punctuation secondary, part 2
> Date: Friday, April 03, 1998 12:22 PM
> As Perry Stepp has pointed out one begins to see punctuation marks in the
> Uncials; I personally think I see them in some of the papyrii. But just
> because there may not be any punctuation "marks" doesn't mean that there
> are not punctuation "indicators" in the earliest manuscripts. Scribes
> spaces, some larger, some smaller, all over the place to indicate clause,
> sentence, paragraph, chapter (?!) breaks in the manuscripts. Most of
> are common sense breaks anyone would make in reading the text anyway.
> For example, P46 has a clear break at our 1Cor 7:39, 7:40; though no
> at our 8:1 (perhaps because its so obvious). There are clear breaks at
> 4, 5 (vv 2, 6 begin lines, but sure look to me like he ended the previous
> line short to start a new sentence on the next line).
> I'd also say that clauses are sometimes "marked" with extra space: 7:38
> doesn't appear to have a break at the beginning of the verse, but has a
> clear space in the middle right before KAIOMHGAMIZWN... In 8:5 there
> to be a clear spacing before WSPER (which gets a comma in NA). I'd also
> say, though the spacing is smaller, that there are other spaces for
> all over the place, eg., at 8:1 I think there is a "clause" space right
> before OIDAMENOTI.
> Moreover, in addition to the Nomina Sacra lines above God, Jesus, etc.,
> word for "one", hEIS is clearly marked 2x in this section with a ROUGH
> breathing mark (8:4, 6).
> I'd say that when Textual Criticism books say that there is no
> in the earliest manuscripts they are only giving half of the story.
> ***********************************************************************
> Dale M. Wheeler, Ph.D.
> Research Professor in Biblical Languages Multnomah Bible College
> 8435 NE Glisan Street Portland, OR 97220
> Voice: 503-251-6416 FAX:503-254-1268 E-Mail:
> ***********************************************************************

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