coronis colophon in Codex Coislinianus

A coronis verse dialogue in the colophon of Codex Coislinianus is much less artful than the coronis epigram in the colophon of an obscure, third-century papyrus.  Codex Coislinianus, also known as HP or 015 (Gregory-Aland numbering), is a Greek uncial manuscript that’s an important textual witness to the Pauline epistles.  It has been dated paleographically to the 6th century.  The colophon of Codex Coislinianus includes Greek verses, given here in English prose translation:

Address:
I am the coronis, teacher of the divine doctrine.  If you lend me to anyone, you should get a receipt, because borrowers are evil.

Answer:
I keep you as a treasure of spiritual blessings, one which is longed for by all men, combined from many parts and adorned with writing in various colors.  In truth, I will not rashly give you to anyone, nor again will I grudge your benefit to others, but when I lend you to my friends, I will take a worthy book as security. [1]

Like the coronis epigram, this coronis verse dialogue starts with direct address from the coronis and then immediate shifts the speaking figure to the book itself.  The address is practical and crudely condemnatory.  The answer, which apparently is in the person of the book owner, is also unimaginative.

The coronis verse dialogue has survived in more than six ancient manuscripts.  In addition to Codex Coislinianus, it survives in Codex Regis (Minuscule 88).   That’s a Greek minuscule New Testament manuscript dated paleographically to the twelfth century.  The coronis dialogue also exists as a preface to Codex 773, a Greek Gospel manuscript from the eleventh century.  The coronis dialogue has also survived in ancient Armenian and Georgian translations. [2]

The coronis verse dialogue seems to have survived because it was added to an important, early Christian text.  The coronis wasn’t used in eastern Christian literature.  It was not commonly used in western Christian literature.  In Greek literature generally, the use of the coronis declined after the fourth century.[3] The coronis verse dialogue surely could not have survived by its literary merit.  It may have survived only because it was fortuitously added to an important copy of the Pauline epistles from earlier than the fifth century.

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Notes:

[1] Trans. Blomkvist (2012) p. 16.  The headings “address” and “answer” are part of the text.  The last line of the answer in Codex Coislinianus is missing.  I’ve adapted the translation based on id. p. 16, n. 55, Birdsall (1984) pp. 220-6, and Scherbenske (2013) p. 116.  The last line exists in Codex Regex (Minuscule 88), Codex 773, and the Armenian and Georgian translations.   While Scherbenske (2013), p. 116, has “book in exchange” rather than “receipt,” Birdsall (1984), p. 221, supports the later as the correct parsing of the letters into words.  More generally, the translation of Blomkvist (2012), p. 16, is more semantically coherent  than that of Scherbenske (2013), p. 116.  The analysis above applies to either translation.

[2] Blomkvist (2012) p. 16, inc. n. 55;  von Dobschütz (1925); Birdsall (1984) pp. 220-6. Von Dobschütz (1925), p. 284, declares that no other Greek “Euthalian” manuscripts (besides the three mentioned above) contains the coronis verse dialogue.

[3] Birdsall (1984) p. 221.

References:

Birdsall, J. Neville. 1984. “The Euthalian Material and Its Georgian Versions.” Oriens Christianus 68: 170–95, reprinted in Birdsall, J. Neville. 2006. Collected papers in Greek and Georgian textual criticism. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press.  Pages number cited to reprint.

Blomkvist, Vemund. 2012. Euthalian traditions: text, translation and commentary. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Scherbenske, Eric W. 2013. Canonizing Paul: ancient editorial practice and the Corpus Paulinum. New York: Oxford University Press (revised version of online dissertation).

von Dobschütz, Ernst. 1925. “The Notices Prefixed to Codex 773 of the Gospels.” Harvard Theological Review. 18 (03): 280-284.

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Comments

  1. Vemund Blomkvist on
    commented:

    Thank you for a most interesting comparison between the two book endings. I would also prefer the Hellenistic epigram. I agree with you that both texts are multi-voiced. The coronis and the book have separate voices. But there is still an ‘organic’ connection, I believe. The coronis is the last manifestation of the text. If written with the same kalamos as the rest of the book, it’s a part of the textual ‘body’. The image may be similar to that of the speaking body parts in 1 Corinthians 12.

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