-- "Codex Sinaiticus as a Window into Early Christian Worship” Eleutheria 3:1, Fall 2014. Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary & Graduate School, pp. 2-19.
This anonymous paper considers whether the ancient manuscripts of Scripture contained relatively standardized markings and formatting which would assist not only the reader but also the learner by setting apart particularly important portions of a “two ways” theme intended to teach a way of life and a way of death (“Codex Sinaiticus Window” 2014, 1). Of special note is “a system of cross references . . . placed in the margins of Codex Sinaiticus, which appear to be roughly contemporary to the manuscript” (“Codex Sinaiticus Window” 2014, 2). These were apparently developed by Pamphilius, whose work serves as a bridge between that of Origen and of Eusebius.
Reading ancient manuscripts is notoriously difficult, in part due to the lack of spacing between words and the lack of punctuation. Christian texts have a tendency to be prepared with more aids for reading aloud, but it remains challenging. The reader is helped by ekthesis, which resembles reverse indentation of new paragraphs, having a letter in the margin, as well as ending an old paragraph by leaving the remainder of the line blank (“Codex Sinaiticus Window” 2014, 3). Markingso f punctuation also tend to be carried over from one manuscript to another, including some marks which appear to give phrasing guidance to the reader (“Codex Sinaiticus Window” 2014, 4). In Codex Sinaiticus when a list is presented, each item on the list will appear on its own line, thus creating considerable blank space. The author of the paper considers a real possibility that the markings used may have been copied from earlier sources, dating back possibly into the second century (“Codex Sinaiticus Window” 2014, 5).
Because of generally low literacy rates in the Roman Empire, public reading of literature and other documents was a common feature of life. In the Church, public reading of Scripture was emphasized. We find these statements both in the New Testament, then as early as Justin Martyr (“Codex Sinaiticus Window” 2014, 5). It is also clear that some liturgical forms could be identified at a very early time. By the time of Tertullian there were habits of repeated readings as well as chanting Psalms. It was important that reading be done well, particularly using tunes or other methods to insure good projection (“Codex Sinaiticus Window” 2014, 7). The chanting would assist in both understanding and memory. This was considered part of having a proper reading. In comments of Irenaeus, even the individual sense units of the Greek were to be marked so as not to lose the sense of the text (“Codex Sinaiticus Window” 2014, 8).
The Didache and the Epistle of Barnabas, along with several New Testament passages have “two-ways” passages or lists ofvirtue and vice. Codex Sinaiticus and Q84 both have formats in which one attribute is provided per line (“Codex Sinaiticus Window” 2014, 10). A similar format appears in Luke 3, in lists of apostles, and at some places where lists of people being healed of various sicknesses appear. While some such formats may indicate a piece of a hymn or other liturgical music, the author of this article thinks the format would normally be used to remind a reader of a mnemonic method or a rhetorical rhythm (“Codex Sinaiticus Window” 2014, 12). This practice, again, tends to point to a relatively early time period in which orality was prominent (“Codex Sinaiticus Window” 2014, 13).
The paper, though it doesn’t actually prove anything, does demonstrate a possibility that different passages were highlighted for special attention in reading, and that those passages may have been set apart due to particular liturgical goals (“Codex Sinaiticus Window” 2014, 14).