Beginning at the End: Literary Unity and the Relationship between Anthropology and Liturgy in the Protevangelium Jacobi (P. Bodm. 5)
The Protevangelium Jacobi(/italic) is categorized in scholarship as apocryphal. Yet, while instability seems to be the only unifying characteristic of early Christian apocryphal literature, the manuscript tradition of the treatise is remarkably stable. The text is attributed to an apostle and was early considered part of the tradition of the Church.This thesis argues that the author of PJ is not trying to add to the New Testament canon but has, rather, two aims: first, to teach the hermeneutics and techniques for confirming that the Scriptures are written according to technê and that the writings constituting the New Testament are written "according to the Scriptures"; second, to provide the knowledge and critical skills for ensuring the unaltered tradition of these texts and teachings. The text, rather than announcing these aims, leaves it to the reader to discover them. Elements of the text such as grammatical terminology (historia), repetitions of words and phrases, and allusions to intertexts are included in the different manuscript versions to assist the reader in assessing the fidelity of the copy, identifying the main reference works, and determining its subject matter.Analyzing the technical usage of the term historia and reading the text according to the teachings of grammatikê suggest that the writing is a "synoptic" combination of text and clarifying commentary. Morphological and syntactical characteristics of the individual words and phrases bound together in a sentence or embedded in brief narratives, dialogues, or speeches have a heuristic function--they point to glosses in the text (such as paraphrases, repetitions, comparisons, or material for analogies) and to external sources which can expand, complete, and clarify concise passages.While such an interweaving of narrative and commentary clarifies what is said, it also requires transmitting the written text without alterations--even when misspellings seem to beg correction. Features of the text (omissions, orthographic or syntactic errors) that initially seem redundant or incorrect, analyzed grammatically, clarify the argument, allowing the reader to deduce its proposition. The authors of different manuscript versions of PJ use various methods (acrostics, halved lines, references to grammatical terminology and paradeigmata) to prevent permanent alterations.
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