Understanding Texts
--Lecture Notes for Topics 1.0-
Religion 492
Last revised: 12/31/03
Contained below is a manuscript summarizing the class lecture(s) covering the above specified range of topics from the List of Topics for Religion 492.  Quite often hyperlinks (underlined) to sources of information etc. will be inserted in the text of the lecture. Test questions for all quizzes and exams will be derived in their entirety or in part from these lectures; see Exams in the course syllabus for details. To display the Greek text contained in this page download and install the free BSTGreek True Type fonts from Bible Study Tools.
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Ancient Writing
Orality & Writing
1.0.3 1.0.4 1.0.5 Bibliography

        Our twenty-first century has become accustomed to writing electronically. So much so, that to many young people today the idea of having to write a term paper on even an electric typewriter seems so ancient as to be unbelievable. Spell checkers, massive choices regarding fonts both in size and style, automatic formatting of an electronic document by a computerized version of a required style guide, programs like BookWhere that can track down hundreds of bibliographic sources in seconds from libraries all over the world, automatic insertion of footnotes that always show up in the right places on the hard copy of the paper, instant generation of properly formatted bibliographies at the end of a term paper, programs like ViaVoice that allow the student merely to orally dictate the contents of a paper to the computer so that the computer converts the oral sound into typed words instantaneously along with simultaneous spell and grammar checking --- all these conveniences and more enable the modern student to create written words in great volume using very little time and effort. Just around the corner for the ordinary PC user lay programs that will take these composed words and rewrite them against specifically defined patterns of reasoning in order to make them more complex or less complex, depending on the targeted readership.
        All these conveniences of our world create growing barriers to clear understanding of the process of composition of documents in the ancient world. What we can compose in a few minutes took days and weeks to compose in that world. In the efforts to clearly and correctly interpret ancient texts, including the sacred scriptures of Christianity, one is helped by some awareness of how documents came together in that world so dramatically different than ours. These materials will attempt a brief overview of some of the key aspects of ancient text composition.
        But first a few technical terms that will crop up in the discussion. One of the umbrella terms for a study of this sort is orthography, the study of patterns and ways of writing. Graphemics is the study of the development of a written alphabet in a specific language and its connection to distinct phonetical, orally produced sounds.

1.0.1 Ancient Patterns of Composition

1.0.2 Ancient Orality and Writing





The Laboratory-Didactic Museum of the Ancient Book
        An interesting exploration of the composition of books in the ancient world.

         A helpful overview of the process of composition by a UNC Chapel Hill professor.

        A brief, but interesting overview of educational patterns of young boys in the era of the Roman Empire.

Graphemics and Orthography
        A gateway into the examination of the evolution of alphabets of various languages, both modern and ancient.