Nomina sacra

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Nomina sacra (singular: nomen sacrum) means "sacred names" in Latin, and can be used to refer to traditions of abbreviated writing of several frequently occurring divine names or titles in early Greek language Holy Scripture.there are over a dozen such expressions from Greek papyri: the Greek counterparts of God, Lord, Jesus, Christ, Son, Spirit, David, cross, Mother, Father, Israel, Savior, Man, Jerusalem, and Heaven. The nomen sacrum for mother did not appear until the 4th century CE,[1] but all other Nomina Sacra have been found in Greek manuscripts from the 1st - 3rd Centuries CE. The contractions were indicated with overlines.

There has been a dispute about the nature of Nomina sacra, whether they represent a mere shorthand or these overlined words indeed bear a sacred meaning.[2]

IHS or JHS Christogram of western Christianity
IHS or JHS Christogram of western Christianity

Starting in the third century the nomina sacra were sometimes shortened by contraction in Christian inscriptions, resulting in sequences of Greek letters such as IH (iota-eta), IC (iota-sigma), or IHC (iota-eta-sigma) for Jesus (Greek Iēsous), and XC (chi-sigma), XP (chi-ro) and XPC (chi-rho-sigma) for Christ (Greek Christos). Here "C" represents the "lunate" form of Greek sigma; sigma could also be transcribed into the Latin alphabet by sound, giving IHS and XPS.

This tradition is also observed in Old Nubian and Cyrillic manuscripts. See titlo.

Contents

List of Greek Nomina Sacra

- English meaning - - Greek Word - - Nominative (Subject) - - Genitive (Possessive) -
God Θεος ΘΥ ΘΣ
Lord Κυριος ΚΣ ΚΥ
Jesus Ιησους ΙΣ ΙΥ
Christ/Messiah Χριστος ΧΣ ΧΥ
Son Υιος ΥΣ ΥΥ
Spirit/Ghost Πνευμα ΠΝΑ ΠΝΣ
David Δαυειδ ΔΑΔ
Cross/Stake Σταυρος ΣΤΣ ΣΤΥ
Mother Μητηρ ΜΗΡ ΜΗΣ
Father Πατηρ ΠΗΡ ΠΡΣ
Israel Ισραηλ ΙΗΛ
Savior/Saviour Σωτηρ ΣΗΡ ΣΡΣ
Man Ανθρωπος ΑΝΟΣ ΑΝΟΥ
Jerusalem Ιερουσαλημ ΙΛΗΜ
Heaven/Heavens Ουρανος ΟΥΝΟΣ ΟΥΝΟΥ

List of New Testament Greek Manuscripts Containing Nomina Sacra From the First Three Centuries[3]

Greek Manuscript Date of Manuscript Nomina Sacra Used
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png1 (P. Oxy. 2) 250 CE ΙΥ ΙΣ ΧΥ ΥΥ ΚΥ ΠΝΣ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png4 (Suppl. Gr. 1120) 66 CE - 175 CE ΘΣ ΘΥ ΚΥ ΚΣ ΠΝΙ ΠΝΟΣ ΠΝΑ ΧΣ ΙΥ ΙΣ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png5 (P. Oxy. 208 + 1781) 200 CE ΙΗΝ ΙΗΣ ΠΡ ΠΡΑ ΠΡΣ ΘΥ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png9 (P. Oxy. 402) 200 CE - 300 CE ΘΣ ΧΡΣ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png12 (P. Amherst. 3b) 250 CE - 300 CE ΘΣ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png13 (P. Oxy. 657 + PSI 1292) 225 CE - 250 CE ΘΣ ΘΝ ΘΥ ΘΩ ΙΣ ΙΝ ΙΥ ΚΣ ΚΥ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png15 (P. Oxy. 1008) 250 CE - 300 CE ΚΩ ΚΥ ΧΥ ΑΝΩΝ ΑΝΩ ΠΝΑ ΘΝ ΚΜΟΥ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png16 (P. Oxy. 1009) 250 CE - 300 CE ΘΥ ΙΥ ΧΩ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png17(P. Oxy. 1078) 250 CE Θ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png18 (P. Oxy. 1079) 250 CE - 300 CE ΙΗ ΧΡ ΘΩ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png20 (P. Oxy. 1171) 250 CE ΠΝΣ ΚΝ ΘΥ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png22 (P. Oxy. 1228) 250 CE ΠΣ ΠΝΑ ΠΡΣ ΠΡ ΙΗ ΑΝΟΣ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png24 (P. Oxy. 1230) 275 CE - 300 CE ΠΝΑ ΘΥ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png27 (P. Oxy. 1395) 250 CE ΘΥ ΚΩ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png28 (P. Oxy. 1596) 275 CE - 300 CE ΙΣ ΙΝ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png29 (P. Oxy. 1597) 200 CE - 225 CE ΘΣ ΘΝ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png30 (P. Oxy. 1598) 200 CE ΚΥ ΚΝ ΘΩ ΙΗ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png32 (P. Rylands 5) 150 CE - 200 CE ΘΥ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png35 (PSI 1) 200 CE - 300 CE ΚΣ ΚΥ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png37 (P. Mich. Inv. 1570) 250 CE ΚΕ ΙΗΣ ΠΝΑ ΙΗΣΥ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png38 (P. Mich. Inv. 1571) 175 CE - 225 CE ΧΡΝ ΠΝΑ ΚΥ ΙΗΝ ΙΗΥ ΠΝΤΑ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png39 (P. Oxy. 1780) 200 CE - 250 CE ΠΗΡ ΠΡΑ ΙΗΣ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png40 (P.Heldelberg G. 645) 200 CE - 300 CE ΘΣ ΘΥ ΘΝ ΙΥ ΧΩ ΧΥ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png45 (P. Chester Beatty I) 200 CE ΚΕ ΚΣ ΚΝ ΚΥ ΣΡΝΑΙ ΙΗ ΙΥ ΙΗΣ ΠΡ ΠΡΣ ΠΡΑ ΠΡΙ ΘΥ
ΘΝ ΘΩ ΘΣ ΠΝΙ ΠΝΣ ΠΝΑ ΥΝ ΥΕ ΥΣ ΥΩ ΣΡΝ ΧΡ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png46 (P. Chester Beatty II
+ P. Mich. Inv. 6238)
80 CE - 150 CE ΚΕ ΚΝ ΚΥ ΚΩ ΚΣ ΧΡΩ ΧΡΥ ΧΡΝ ΧΝ ΧΣ ΧΩ ΧΥ ΧΡΣ ΙΗΥ ΙΗΝ ΙΗΣ ΘΩ ΘΥ ΘΝ ΘΣ

ΠΝΑ ΠΝΙ ΠΝΣ ΥΙΥ ΥΙΝ ΥΙΣ ΥΝ ΣΤΡΕΣ ΣΤΡΝ ΣΤΡΩ ΣΤΡΟΣ ΣΤΡΟΥ ΕΣΤΡΟΝ ΕΣΤΡΑΙ

ΕΣΤΑΝ ΣΤΟΥ ΑΙΜΑ ΑΝΟΥ ΑΝΟΝ ΑΝΟΣ ΑΝΩΝ ΑΝΟΙΣ ΠΡΙ ΠΗΡ ΠΡΑ ΠΡΣ ΙΥ

Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png47 (P.Cheaster Beatty III) 250 CE - 300 CE ΘΥ ΘΣ ΘΝ ΘΩ ΑΘΝ ΚΣ ΚΕ ΚΥ ΕΣΤΡΩ ΠΝΑ ΧΥ ΠΡΣ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png48 (PSI 1165) 200 CE - 300 CE ΥΣ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png49 (P.Yale 415 + 531) 250 CE ΚΩ ΘΥ ΘΣ ΙΥ ΠΝ ΧΣ ΧΥ ΧΩ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png50 (P. Yal 1543) 275 CE - 300 CE ΙΛΗΜ ΠΝΑ ΑΝΟΣ ΘΣ ΘΥ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png53 (P. Mich. inv. 6652 260 CE ΠΡΣ ΙΗΣ ΠΕΡ ΚΝ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png64 (Gr. 17) 66 CE - 175 CE ΙΣ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png65 (PSI XIV 1373) 250 CE ΧΥ ΘΣ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png66 (P. Bodmer II +
Inv. Nr. 4274/4298
90 CE - 130 CE ΚΣ ΚΥ ΚΕ ΘΣ ΘΝ ΘΥ ΘΩ ΙΣ ΙΝ ΙΥ ΧΣ ΧΝ ΧΝ ΥΣ ΥΝ ΥΩ ΠΝΑ ΠΝΙ ΠΝΣ ΠΗΡ ΠΡΑ ΠΡΣ

ΠΡΙ ΠΕΡ ΠΡΕΣ ΑΝΟΣ ΑΝΟΝ ΑΝΟΥ ΑΝΩΝ ΑΝΩ ΑΝΟΙΣ ΑΝΟΥΣ ΣΡΩ ΣΡΟΝ ΣΡΟΥ ΣΡΘΗ ΣΡΑΤΕ ΣΡΩΣΩ ΕΣΡΑΝ ΕΣΡΘΗ

Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png69 (P. Oxy. 2383) 250 CE ΙΗΝ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png70 (P. Oxy. 2384 +
PSI Inv. CNR 419, 420)
250 - 300 CE ΥΝ ΙΣ ΠΗΡ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png72 (P. Bodmer VII and VIII) 250 - 300CE ΙΥ ΙΗΥ ΙΗΝ ΧΡΥ ΧΡΝ ΧΡΣ ΧΡΩ ΘΥ ΘΣ ΘΝ ΘΩ ΠΡΣ ΠΑΡ ΠΤΡΑ ΠΡΙ ΠΝΣ

ΠΝΑ ΠΝΑΙ ΠΝΙ ΠΝΤΙ ΚΥ ΚΣ ΚΝ ΚΩ ΑΝΟΙ

Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png75 (P. Bodmer XIV and XV) 125 CE - 190 CE
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png78 (P. Oxy 2684) 250 CE - 300 CE ΚΝ ΙΗΝ ΙΗΝ ΧΡΝ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png90 (P. Oxy 3523) 150 CE - 175 CE ΙΗΣ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png91 (P. Mil. Vogl. Inv. 1224 + P. Macquarie Inv. 360) 250 CE ΘΥ ΘΣ ΠΡΣ ΧΡΝ ΙΗΝ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png92 (P. Narmuthis 69.39a + 69.229a) 250 CE - 275 CE ΧΡΩ ΚΥ ΘΥ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png100 (P. Oxy 4449) 275 CE - 300 CE ΚΥ ΚΣ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png101 (P. Oxy 4401) 200 CE - 250 CE ΥΣ ΠΝΑ ΠΝΙ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png106 (P. Oxy 4445) 200 CE - 250 CE ΠΝΑ ΠΝΙ ΧΡΣ ΙΗΝ ΙΗΣ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png108 (P. Oxy 4447) 175 CE - 200 CE ΙΗΣ ΙΗΝ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png110 (P. Oxy. 4494) 250 CE - 300 CE ΚΣ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png111 (P. Oxy 4495) 200 CE - 250 CE ΙΗΥ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png113 (P. Oxy. 4497) 200 CE - 300 CE ΠΝΙ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png114 (P. Oxy. 4498) 250 CE - 300 CE ΘΣ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png115 (P. Oxy. 4499) 225 CE - 275 CE ΙΗΛ ΑΥΤΟΥ ΠΡΣ ΘΩ ΘΥ ΑΝΩΝ ΠΝΑ ΟΥΝΟΥ ΟΥΝΟΝ ΚΥ ΘΝ ΑΝΟΥ ΟΥΝΩ
Image:C3945eee4633c095c5059f9a67aca5f7.png121 (P. Oxy. 4805) 250 CE ΙΣ ΜΗΙ
0162 (P. Oxy 847) 275 CE - 300 CE ΙΗΣ ΙΣ ΠΡΣ
0171 (PSI 2.124) 275 CE - 300 CE ΚΣ ΙΗΣ
0189 (P. Berlin 11765) 175 CE - 200 CE ΑΝΟΣ ΠΝΑ ΚΥ ΚΩ ΙΛΗΜ ΘΩ ΙΣΗΛ
0220 (MS 113) 275 CE - 300 CE ΚΝ ΙΥ ΙΝ ΧΥ ΘΥ

References

  • 1. Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts - Philip Comfort and David Barett (1999) pp.34-35
  • 2. Institute for Religious Research: The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scriptures, Appendix K: Nomina SacraPDF (28.1 KiB)
  • 3. All Nomina Sacra and dates of manuscripts taken from Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts - Philip Comfort and David Barett (1999)

Further reading

  • Bruce Metzger. Manuscripts of the Greek Bible (1981).
  • Philip Comfort and David Barett. Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts (1999).
  • A.H.R.E. Paap, Nomina Sacra in the Greek Papyri of the First Five Centuries, Papyrologica Lugduno-Batava VIII (Leiden 1959).
  • Ph. Comfort, Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography and Textual Criticism, Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005, pp. 199-253.
  • L.W. Hurtado, The Earliest Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins, Cambridge 2006, pp. 95-134.

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