Diacritics in P46

Readers familiar with ancient Greek will know that the language is typically printed, in modern editions, with a number of accent and breathing marks that help the user with pronunciation and identification of words. However, in ancient times these marks were very rarely included in the text; a reader could be expected to know how to pronounce the words based on experience (much as modern English-speakers intuitively know which syllable to stress in a word). The general practice seems to have been to include diacritics where they were most helpful, and leave them out the rest of the time.

Example 1 - Diaresis

Example 2 - Rough Breathing

Exapmle 3 - Accent

P46 contains a single accent, about a dozen rough breathings, and a half-dozen apostrophes. The most common mark is the diaresis, which occurs several hundred times, nearly always marking an initial upsilon or iota, though sometimes also to mark an iota within a word when it follows a vowel (example 1, above: υϊω). Of the few rough breathings, many are found on the number ἕν (as in example 2, above) to distinguish it from the preposition ἐν. The sole accent is shown in example 3, where the acute makes it clear to read πέραϲ εἰϲ rather than the verb περάϲειϲ.

Word-Spacing and Punctuation

Even more so than the lack of diacritic marks, modern readers will notice the lack of punctuation and spacing between words. While P46, like most Greek papyri, is written in scriptio continua with no spaces between words, there are a handful of examples of punctuation and several examples of a slight space which marks a pause in reading. Below is an example of a space denoting a pause in sense (between the last word of Galatians 1.5, ἀμήν, and θαυμάζω, the first word of Galatians 1.6). This space corresponds to a new paragraph in the modern edition of the New Testament.

Example 4 - Space as punctuation

Additionally, two common Greek punctuation marks, the high stop (a single dot above the line) and the dicolon (two dots, like the modern colon) are present, although they appear only infrequently in the text. Example 5 below (which reads "αμην :")shows an example of a dicolon, marking a full stop in the text.

Example 5 - Dicolon

Example 6 - Reading Mark

In addition to the punctuation and spaces left by the scribe, a later owner of the codex also inserted various reading marks for his own convenience. These marks would be used as an aid when reading the text aloud. These marks, such as the one in Example 6, were simple strokes or dots added above the line, marking a pause or stop.

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