The Sense of Quoting

A Semiotic Case Study of Biblical Quotations

In: Brill Research Perspectives in Biblical Interpretation
David W. Odell-Scott Kent State University, USA

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This essay argues that the neutral continuous script of ancient manuscripts of the Greek New Testament composed with no punctuation and no spacing provided readers discretionary authority to determine and assess the status of phrases as they articulated a cohesive and coherent reading of the script. The variety of reading renditions, each differently scored with punctuation, supported the production of quotations. These cultivated and harvested quotes, while useful for authorizing sectarian discourse, rarely convey the sense of the phrase in the continuous script. Augustine’s work on punctuating the scriptures in service to the production of plainer quotable passages in support of the rule of faith is addressed. The textual analysis of a plainer quotable passage at 1 Cor. 7:1b concerning male celibacy supports the thesis that plainer passages are the product of interpretative scoring of the script in service to discursive endeavours. To quote is often to misquote.

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