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Heilmann, Jan ORCID: 0000-0003-2815-6827 (2021): The Function of `Reading Aids' in Early New Testament Manuscripts. In: Studia Patristica, Vol. 125: pp. 239-248
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The assumption that ancient reading almost exclusively was done aloud and in groups cannot be upheld. It is not only based on a romantic view of antiquity that originated in the 19th century, but also a comprehensive review of the sources challenges this common opinion. As readers, which were socialized in a writing system with scriptio continua, can read this script without any cognitive difficulties, the function of the socalled lectional signs or reading aids in early Christian manuscripts must be reassessed. The rough breathing, the trema, and the apostrophe do neither have the exclusive function to facilitate performative or public readings nor do they indicate a ‘liturgical use’ of those texts. In contrast, evaluated against newer insights into cultural comparative studies in cognitive science, these signs have particular functions for word recognition which were helpful for all modi of reading. Thus, from the occurrence of these signs in early Christian manuscripts, one cannot infer their primary context of use.