|P. Lond. Lit. 134. (Johnson, "Bookrolls and Scribes," 400)|
Those fortunate children in antiquity with access to an education had to be taught methods of deciphering this system of writing. Grammarians (ancient teachers) facilitated this instruction by creating models of ancient works such as Homer's Iliad that incorporated spaces between words and markings differentiating syllables and sense units. One example of a teacher's model is a wooden tablet from Roman Egypt that contains Homer's Iliad (3rd century). The wooden slate uses spaces between words and markings to assist beginning readers in comprehending the text.
|AM 13839 (Cribiore, "Gymnastics of the Mind," 135)|
|The beginning of Galatians in P46|
|The beginning of the Gospel of John in P66.|
There are some interesting parallels between early New Testament manuscripts such as P46 and P66 and teachers models such as AM 13839. Both types of documents employ clear and legible scripts, give generous space between lines, and use spacing between words and sense units. These features have been highlighted elsewhere on this blog (here, and here). It has already been noted that reading aids seem to reveal that these Christian books were produced for less than capable readers.
Coupled with this, perhaps the presence of reader's aids in copies of New Testament manuscripts also reveal another parallel with teacher's models; that of instruction. Just like teacher's models were used almost exclusively in the context of learning, perhaps these Christian manuscripts were produced so that they could be used primarily within teaching contexts.
Cribiore, Raffaella. Gymnastics of the Mind: Greek Education in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.
Johnson, William A., Bookrolls and Scribes in Oxyrhynchus. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004.