How does a text that is divided into lines of 15 syllables look? This is demonstrated using a Gospel and an epistle as examples, in which:
- The number of stichoi can easily be counted for every single paragraph.
- The totals of lines are the result of adding up the major text units.
- The structure of the books can be easily recognized by horizontal lines of different sizes.
The Greek New Testament as text basis
The best available text is the Greek New Testament (GNT, 4th/5th edition, 1993/2014):
- It is the result of intensive work in text criticism, originally done by an international committee, now continued by the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Münster/Westphalia.
- The same text is presented in Novum Testamentum Graece (Nestle-Aland, 27th/28th edition 1993/2012), yet the paragraphing differs, therefore the GNT is more suitable for stichometrical analysis.
Copyright-notice: The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition, edited by Barbara Aland, Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M.
Martini, and Bruce M. Metzger in cooperation with the Institute for New Testament Textual Research, Münster/Westphalia, © 1993 Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft,
Stuttgart. Used by permission / Wiedergabe mit freundlicher Genehmigung der Deutschen Bibelgesellschaft. <http://www.dbg.de/>.
The text of the two samples, Mark and Ephesians, was derived from the electronic version prepared by and used with permission from Linguist’s Software. It is available in normal format at: <http://www.linguistsoftware.com/gntu.htm>.
Colometry and stichometry
The two sample texts are placed side by side in two different ways:
- on the left colometrically, i.e. in syntactical units,
- on the right stichometrically, i.e. in stichoi of 15 syllables.
- The structuring of contents has priority; this is the function of the colometrical presentation.
- The stichometrical presentation displays the stichoi numbers of paragraphs and major units.
- The numbers of lines in the colometrical presentation follow the numbers of stichoi.
Colometrical presentation (left side)
The number of lines is supposed to correspond the number of stichoi, therefore:
- sometimes two syntactical units are taken together in a single line;
- sometimes one syntactical unit has to be divided into two lines.
Direct speech and quotations are important stylistic features indicating the structure of a text:
- They are indented generally (quotes, however, only if they are characterized as such).
- If there is a quote in a quote or direct speech in direct speech, the indentation is doubled.
- The first line of direct speech or quote is sometimes separated from the normal text by a spatium.
- Quotes or allusions of the Old Testaments are kept in bold type as in the GNT.
Chapters and verses are indicated on the left in a separate column:
If the new verse begins in the middle of a line, it is indicated by a vertical stroke | ,
before the number of the verse on the left as well as at its beginning within the text.
- The numbers of lines on the far left refer to the main parts of the writing (or to the major parts).
Stichometrical presentation (right side)
The line count on the left margin refers to the whole book:
- Each page of the text has 50 lines.
- The total stichometry of the whole book can easily be seen on the last page.
The paragraph is the basic unit of the text:
- It begins with a new line and indentation, it ends with a rule of different thickness.
- Caesuras within a paragraph are often indicated by a spatium (space) in the text.
Each line of the text has 15 syllables, with the following exceptions:
- The last line of a paragraph has a variable number of leftover syllables.
Very seldom a 16th syllable is tolerated at the end of a paragraph (indicated by a stroke | );
these instances are also registered in the explanations of the paragraphing of the tabular outlines.
Sometimes the 15 syllables of a stichos need more place than the provided column width;
the one or the other syllable is then moved into the adjoining lines (indicated by | ).
The right column combines the structure of contents with the stichometrical data:
Each paragraph is part of a decimal numbering system defining its place in the composition:
the number before the point relates to the main part (1.),
the numbers after the point relate to the relevant major part, lower part or paragraph (1.234).
On the right of the column the stichoi number is rounded at the beginning of a paragraph
(followed by two asterisks ** indicating the rounding up).
- At the end of a paragraph the number of complete stichoi and of leftover syllables is noted.
- Both numbers, the rounded and the exact number, are part of the table of contents.
An additional subdivision is seen in this right column in paragraphs of at least 8 stichoi:
- The parts of a paragraph are numbered with hyphen-bullets (-1) and partly subdivided (-1.2).
- On the right the related stichoi number is registered with the exact number of syllables.
Deviations from the GNT text
The paragraphs are to reflect the structuring of the contents and the formal disposition:
- The paragraphing principally follows the subdivisions of the GNT.
- Occasional deviations are listed (without comment) in the tabular outline.
The punctuation of the GNT has occasionally been changed for exegetical reasons:
- Usually this concerns only the structuring within the paragraphs.
- The instances in question are not registered or discussed.
- Also in Nestle-Aland, by the way, the punctuation often differs from that of the GNT.
Only very seldom was the wording of the GNT changed due to textual criticism:
- Deleted words are crossed out, not removed (most of them are already in square brackets).
- Additional text is printed in italics.
- In any case, textual changes are noted and discussed concisely in the tabular outlines.