The Grammarian's Bible: Scholarship in the Margins of the Septuagint

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats



The dissertation surveys marginal annotations (marginalia) in fifty-nine of the earliest manuscripts to contain books in the so-called Septuagint (i.e. ancient Greek translations of books in the Hebrew Bible). The dates of the manuscripts surveyed range from roughly the second century BC to the third century AD. Most of the manuscripts are presently mere scraps of papyrus codices, fewer are scraps of papyrus bookrolls, and still fewer are scraps of parchment codices and bookrolls. Most of the manuscripts were recovered from various rural locations in Egypt and a few come from Palestine. On my count, the manuscripts contain a combined total of 230 marginalia. Some of the marginalia, like the texts they encircle, are written in ancient Greek, while the majority are written in Coptic. As I demonstrate throughout the project, the purpose of the marginalia is only clarified once situated within the scribal contexts of the manuscripts themselves and within the larger context of (late) ancient “grammar” (grammatike).In Chapters 1 and 2, I summarize the manuscript evidence and establish reliable data concerning the manuscripts’ codicology or voluminology, writing, date, and paratextual features as well as discuss patterns in the type, frequency, and distribution of the marginalia. Transcriptions, critical notes, and English translations of the marginalia are provided in a large catalog at the dissertation’s end. Until now, these marginalia have never been studied collectively or systematically and many are here presented for the first time (modern editors of the manuscripts tend to neglect or outright ignore paratextual features in the manuscripts). Chapters 3 and 4 are each devoted to studying the marginalia in a single manuscript. In this case-study approach, I situate the marginalia within their larger social, scribal, and codicological frameworks. Collectively, these frameworks illuminate the marginalia’s function as well as the reading habits and interests of their writers.






Wagner, Nicholas Eugene (2021). The Grammarian's Bible: Scholarship in the Margins of the Septuagint. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.