IVP - Behind the Books - New Book Technology Again: Ancient Scribal Blogs Discovered!

May 30, 2007

New Book Technology Again: Ancient Scribal Blogs Discovered!

On my May 9 post I said I’d give my laptop for a peek at some ancient scribal blogs. Well, I’m going to keep my laptop and have my ancient blogs too. Here are some.

The first is a scribal blog from an ancient Assyrian royal scribe who is having his annual job performance review:

"I have not been treated in accordance with my deeds . . . if it is befitting that first-ranking scholars and their assistants receive mules, surely I should (at least) be given one donkey." (See “Non-Israelite Written Sources: Assyrian,” in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books, p. 725)

Well, that’s just the kind of thing you’d expect to hear from an Assyrian scribe. Always complaining. But here are some blog tidbits from ancient Christian scribes.

"He who does not know how to write supposes it to be no labor; but though only three fingers write, the whole body labors."

"Writing bows one’s back, thrusts the ribs into one’s stomach, and fosters a general debility of the body."

"As travelers rejoice to see their home country, so also is the end of a book to those who toil [in writing]."

"The end of the book; thanks be to God!"

"O reader, in spiritual love forgive me, and pardon the daring of him who wrote, and turn his errors into some mystic good."

"There is no scribe who will not pass away, but what his hands have written will remain forever."

"Write nothing with thy hand but that which thou wilt be pleased to see at the resurrection."

"Fool and knave, can't you leave the old reading alone and not alter it!
I adjure you who shall copy out this book, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by his glorious advent when he comes to judge the living and the dead, that you compare what you transcribe, and correct it carefully against this manuscript from which you copy; and also that you transcribe this adjuration and insert it in the copy."

And here are a couple of Irish scribes text-messaging each other (comments written in margins of a 9th century Latin commentary on Psalms):

"It is cold today."

"That is natural; it is winter."

"The lamp gives a bad light."

"It is time for us to begin to do some work."

"Well, this vellum is certainly heavy!"

"Well, I call this vellum thin!"

"I feel quite dull today; I don't know what's wrong with me."

[Thanks to Bruce M. Metzger’s The Text of the New Testament for preserving some of these.]

Posted by Dan Reid at May 30, 2007 10:25 AM Bookmark and Share

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