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Who put the commas in Attic texts?

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Who put the commas in Attic texts?

Postby pster » Sat Apr 02, 2011 5:55 pm

Who did it?
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Re: Who put the commas in Attic texts?

Postby annis » Sat Apr 02, 2011 11:43 pm

The editor of whichever text edition you have. Just like spaces between words, all punctuation you see in a recent edition of an ancient text is a modern convenience.

Edit: i spel gud
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Re: Who put the commas in Attic texts?

Postby pster » Sun Apr 03, 2011 12:17 am

I thought that the Byzantines did a lot of it. Is there a convention to disregard Byzantine punctuation among contemporary editors?

The reason I'm curious is that I've found some that in my very humble opinion seem incorrect. Does that happen to you?

Thanks.
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Re: Who put the commas in Attic texts?

Postby annis » Sun Apr 03, 2011 1:09 am

pster wrote:I thought that the Byzantines did a lot of it. Is there a convention to disregard Byzantine punctuation among contemporary editors?


I'm sure the Byzantines did some, but no modern editor is likely to pay that more than passing attention.

The reason I'm curious is that I've found some that in my very humble opinion seem incorrect. Does that happen to you?


Incorrect how? Honestly, I don't much care whether an editor puts in a comma, semicolon or period. Few editors seem to agree on these. The Greek obsession with conjunctions and particles gives us a much better guide to interpretation than which punctuation mark an editor has picked for any given pause.

I don't think I've ever run across a punctuation dispute that would change the meaning of a text in any serious way, though I'm sure it has to have happened a few times.
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Re: Who put the commas in Attic texts?

Postby calvinist » Sun Apr 03, 2011 9:00 pm

This is an issue with the NT as well. I believe that NA27 and UBS4 differ in this respect, although the actual wording of the text is the same. There are a couple places where a comma can make a significant difference in meaning, but these are rare. As Annis said, the heavy preference for conjunctions in Greek (as well as Latin) make punctuation less necessary than in modern writing. Greek authors would have constantly been rebuked by modern teachers for their perpetual use of "run-on" sentences. What I find more annoying are the paragraph/verse/chapter divisions that are forced onto the NT text. Paragraph divisions are up to the editor, but the chapter/verse divisions were set in stone in the middle ages. These are harder to ignore than punctuation and seem to force an organization onto the text that may not be the author's intention. It's a compromise I guess, since I don't really want a text without these divisions, but at the same time we can't consult the original authors. It's just one of those things we're stuck with.
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Re: Who put the commas in Attic texts?

Postby thesaurus » Mon Apr 04, 2011 3:03 am

pster wrote:I
The reason I'm curious is that I've found some that in my very humble opinion seem incorrect. Does that happen to you?


Some punctuation may seem incorrect because it is added by editors from different eras who may also have different native languages. Even in English, what counts as "correct" punctuation use has changed over the years. I read a lot of 19th century British writing, and you see a lot of (now) strange uses of commas, semi-colons, etc. Some authors can be very idiosyncratic in their punctuation. Lots of Latin/Greek texts that we use today were edited in the 19th and early 20th centuries, so this could be an issue.

Commas are an especially sticky issue because they are so "light." As someone who teaches English composition and grammar, I can tell you that there are still some ambiguous uses of the comma and disagreements over when and where they ought to be used.

Couple this stylistic change with the fact that different languages have different punctuation conventions, and you see how things can get messy. I don't know punctuation conventions in German, but there were/are plenty of German philologists who could have punctuated your editions.
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Re: Who put the commas in Attic texts?

Postby calvinist » Mon Apr 04, 2011 3:26 am

Thesaurus, I think he means punctuation that misinterprets the original author's intent, not just used incorrectly in a "technical" sense. This is the main problem with added punctuation. It's not always obvious where sentence breaks are meant to be. John 1:3-4 is a good example:

παντα δι αυτου εγενετο, και χωρις αυτου εγενετο ουδε εν ο γεγονεν. Εν αυτω ζωη ην.... (Traditional)

παντα δι αυτου εγενετο, και χωρις αυτου εγενετο ουδε εν. Ο γεγονεν εν αυτω ζωη ην.... (UBS4)

In this case there isn't a significant change in meaning, but it shows how punctuation can affect the interpretation of a text. We can't know with certainty how John intended this to be read. I believe most English translations are still rendered according to the traditional punctuation breaks, so that verse 4 begins "In him was life" rather than "That which was made in him was life", even though there are obviously scholars that believe the latter is the way it is meant to be read.

Either way, it's still much better than trying to read this:

ΠΑΝΤΑΔΙΑΥΤΟΥΕΓΕΝΕΤΟΚΑΙΧΩΡΙΣΑΥΤΟΥΕΓΕΝΕΤΟΟΥΔΕΕΝΟΓΕΓΟΝΕΝΕΝΑΥΤΩΖΩΗΗΝ....

No wonder the literacy rate was much lower. :shock:
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Re: Who put the commas in Attic texts?

Postby jaihare » Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:14 pm

calvinist wrote:ΠΑΝΤΑΔΙΑΥΤΟΥΕΓΕΝΕΤΟΚΑΙΧΩΡΙΣΑΥΤΟΥΕΓΕΝΕΤΟΟΥΔΕΕΝΟΓΕΓΟΝΕΝΕΝΑΥΤΩΖΩΗΗΝ....


You've got one subscripted iota that you should include on the line there: ΟΓΕΓΟΝΕΝΕΝΑΥΤΩΙΖΩΗΗΝ (αὐτῷ). :)
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ὁ μὲν Παῦλος τοὺς ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις μαθητὰς τὴν χωρὶς νόμου δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐν Χριστῷ ἐδίδασκεν, οἱ δ᾿ ἄλλοι ἀπόστολοι τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἐδίδασκον τηρεῖν τὸν θεῖον νόμον τὸν χειρὶ Μωϋσέως δοθέντα.
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Re: Who put the commas in Attic texts?

Postby calvinist » Mon Apr 04, 2011 9:07 pm

Good catch Jason! Although, would those iotas have been written in Koine? They were subscripted because they quit being pronounced, and I thought that they were not written during the Koine period in "casual" writing. I thought the subscript was a way to add them back into the text, similar to vowel marks in Hebrew. These are just my assumptions though, now I'm curious.
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