in Blog

A Second Sample of Old Greek Stenographic Signs

  • March 4, 2019
  • By Ben van Noort
A Second Sample of Old Greek Stenographic Signs

A Second Sample of Old Greek Stenographic Signs

Before the second World War an old Greek stenographic exercise-book was found in the sand of Egypt.

Publication in 1940

In the beginning of the war, it was published in Germany by A. Mentz, who was the decipherer of the old Greek steno signs in it. The exercise-book consisted of nine wooden wax tablets and from the eighth tablet 31 signs are exposed below to give an impression of old Greek steno signs (A. Mentz, Ein Schülerheft mit altgriechischer Kurzschrift; Bayreuth: Gauverlag Bayerische Ostmark GmbH, 1940, p. 76-77).

Mentz dated the tablets in the sixth century AD, but it should be more convenient to speak of a period between the second and the sixth century, because of some Christian features in the texts.

The example
It shows the systematic structure of the notes that had to be learned. They form a welcome quantity of information to complete our knowledge about Greek stenography—other tablets with signs had been found earlier already.

Line 1
     απ      επ      ηπ       ιπ      οπ       υπ       ωπ      ουπ     αψ
               ap      ep      èp        ip      op       up      oop     oup     aps

Line 2    εψ   ηψ   ιψ  οψ   υψ  οοψ   ουψ  μα   με   μη    μι   μο
              eps èps  ips ops  ups oops oups  ma  me  mè  mi  mo

Line 3  
 μυ    μω    μαι   μαυ   μευ   μοι   μου    μαν    μεν     μην
               mu  moo  mai  mau  meu  moi  mou  man   men   mèn 

Observations and remarks
Line 1. The first 8 signs have all a line in upwards direction. It represents the letter P. This line is probably taken from the first up going line of the Greek letter Π, or from the Latin P. Each line has a different scratch representing a specific vowel.

At the end of line 1 we see a plus sign: +. The vertical line of it represents the Greek letter Ψ (Psi), clearly referring to the vertical line in it. The horizontal line refers to the horizontal line in the letter Α.

Line 2. We see eight times the vertical line representing the letter Psi with scratches of vowels as in line 1. The last five signs of line 2 begin with the letter Μ: also a slanting line upwards, taken from the third line of the letter M. It looks like the line of the Π, but it is shorter.

Line 3. We see the sign for M repeated 10 times in combination with different scratches.

The Commentary, as the Greek exercise-book for steno was called, existed already in the second century AD. It appears in a contract of that time for a boy to learn stenography in two years and also the name of “the Commentary” is mentioned in it. It is reasonable to suppose that modifications occurred in the Commentary in the course of time.

Bishop Isidor
In the sixth century Bishop Isidor of Sevilla (Spain) remarks about stenography that in the time of Caesar Augustus (golden age of the Roman Empire) many improvements in the steno system had been added.
Moreover, Mentz and Milne have pointed out that many agreements in the Latin and the Greek system show that the systems developed identically.

Tragedy of Ignorance
Jesus was born in the time of Augustus, and came in the fullness of time (Galatians 4:4). His teachings could be spread over the world in writing. From the outset his disciples believed in him as the Messiah (John 1:37-51). From the outset Jesus chose them to send them out (Mark 3:14). This all together makes it impossible to accept the strange opinion that they did not write down accurately what He taught (1 John 1:3).

This strange opinion dominates current theology for ages, with the result of great ignorance about all the serious questions people have about the faith, the Gospels, the New Testament, and so much more. These questions cannot be answered with a challenge to believe better. These questions should be answered, problems should be solved. We may call this tragedy the Great Christian Ignorance (GCI) from which all Christians suffer ….. and they don’t know what their disease is.

Let’s come to our senses and tackle the GCI.



By Ben van Noort, March 4, 2019