Friday, October 08, 2010

stenographers in the late-antique church

I enjoyed this paragraph, particularly for the contrast it provides with both the processes and the products of text-production in the church in the fourth and first centuries ce and the relationship between text-production and oral performance:
The availability of scribes trained in stenography had another important result: it made possible the the transcription and publication of homiletical material and so added another dimension to early Christian literature. By early in the third century Origen's public addresses were taken down in shorthand transcriptions and published (Eusebius, H.E. 6.36.1). This practice became widespread, and as a result the ex tempore words of the most gifted preachers of the Greek and Latin church have survived. The extensive homiletical remains of Christian rhetores like John Chrysostom and Augustine suggest the great interest and wide readership that attached to their sermons, though they were not intended for transcription or circulation and for the most part were not published by their authors. (Harry Y. Gamble, Books and Readers in the Early Church: A History of Early Christian Texts [New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1995], 140)

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