Monday, June 28, 2010

Paul's Letters as official letters.

It is interesting that Chapa (see previous post) supports Stirewalt's view, that Paul's letters were 'official letters in a loose sense' (pp. 651-2). He makes a number of points on this:
  1. although occasional, Paul's letters are not private, but are rather public: 'a kind of public document'
  2. Paul has an 'authoritative position in relation to the recipients'
  3. The mention of co-authors and so-senders bestows an official character.
  4. The letters would probably have been received as official letters.

Friday, June 25, 2010

J. Chapa, ‘The Living Letters of Paul’ The Incarnate Word 2.7 (2009), 643-678.

This is an interesting general study, reflecting papyrological background and manuscript transmission. Definitely worth reading - you can download the entire issue from the link above. May pick up some issues from this in coming days.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

There are clearly many points of interest raised in the previous cited letter (II AD). Three in particular concern interesting aspects of epistolary communication:
a) The letter is addressed to Ptolemaios' mother and sister (who it is clear have sent other letters to Ptolemaios), and yet they are apparently illiterate and Ptolemaios calls upon someone (anyone!) to read and translate this letter to/for them. He is able to presume that this would happen, although I don't see this as performed by the letter carrier, who is nowhere named or mentioned here.
b) Twice Ptolemaios refers to other letters, but both times he associates letters with personal messengers: 'You blame me through letters and through people as if I had done wrong ...' (DIA GRAMMATWN KAI DIA ANQRWPWN, lines 7-8), and 'I blame you because you enquired about me neither by words nor by letters' (OUTE DIA LOGWN OUTE DIA GRAMMATWN, lines 18-19). (Yes, he does get a bit defensive here!)
c) Ptolemaios refers to a specific previous letter that they had sent, which he claims not to have received. He realises that such a claim - I never received your previous letter - is such a commonplace, so he adds a further denial: 'No, I did not tear it up'!:
Concerning the letter which you sent to me, [I,] as [I] did [not] receive it, said: "No, by Sarapis, I did not tear it up; for I am not stupid. (lines 52-57)

For Greek text and photos: A. Bulow-Jacobsen & V.P. McCarren, ‘P. Haun. 14, P. Mich. 679, and P. Haun 15 – a re-edition’ ZPE 58 (1985), 71-79.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

An interesting letter (P. Haun 14-15 + P. Mich 679; ET from APIS here)
Sarapis! You, whoever you are, who are reading the letter, make a small effort and translate to the women what is written in this letter and tell them.
Ptolemaios to his mother Zosime and his sister Rhodous, greetings.
You blame me through letters and through people as if I had done wrong, so I swear by all the gods that I have done nothing of what has been said, except only about the donkey of Karas. But you seemed to be lying in wait for me. And if you are angry because I did not send anything though I had heard, the reason is that I was kicked by a horse and was in danger of losing my foot [or even] my life. I blame you because you enquired about me neither by words nor by letters. The gods willing it would be well; ... [ca. 20 lines lost] ... but also I detained him and he enjoyed himself for four days, night and day. On the next day, when there was not even a bit to drink, he stood up saying to me: "Do you want a mina of meat bought for you?" I said: "Yes." At once I gave him two four-obol pieces for the mina of meat. Although he took the two four-obol pieces, he did not bring either the meat or the money nor has he been seen by me up to now. I write to you not for the sake of the money but in regard to his state of mind about my sister. On account of the respect for all of you I had forbidden her to speak to him about the money which he owed her. By the gods ... I was distressed when I heard [where he ended up] because of a bit [of money]. I felt bad that you, Rhodous ... did not come up for the twenty-fifth of the god. I entreat you to come for the seventieth of the god, to come to me as to your own home. The same affection remains. Entreat also the old woman to come. Concerning the letter which you sent to me, [I,] as [I] did [not] receive it, said: "No, by Sarapis, I did not tear it up; for I am not stupid. " ... [6 lines very damaged; 1 or more lines missing] ... though she ... and took into account (?) that, at once, I might form an opinion. She is completely inconsiderate. Since you were away from me, I was in distress for four days lest she was sick or had experienced some other trouble, and I sent my sister, using Karas as a pretext. In learning about her health I revealed the entire matter. Her brother, Ammonios, {told ? PMH} my sister that she was away. When I heard that she was away, it made me happy that she was not ill and no evil had befallen on her, but I am angry because she did not bid me good-bye, but went away without me. But there is nothing unusual in their lack of consideration. For I wanted to send you everything.
I pray that you are good health. Greet Tapsois and her mother, Isarous.