The first inerrant books

To be educated meant knowing Homer, quoting Homer. At least in the east. For Christians too. He was simply the Poet.

And his books became inerrant long before the Christian or Jewish scriptures. Right back in the second century BC. Back then, in Alexandria, Pergamum, anywhere with a “library”, scholars commented on the different versions of Homer, versions that differed in wordings, had this or that extra. This was small bore work, to get just the right Homer. These grammarians were the first text pedants.

The work culminated with Aristarchus. His key? Homer explains himself. Chase the genuine in him. Don’t impose your own time’s mores or meanings or pronunciations. Homer explains his words, he makes practices credible or otherwise. The accretions of later do jump out.

Today, the bible owns such study. The word bible never seems to leave the word exegesis alone. But true pedantry there had to wait on the Rabbi’s fully four centuries later.

One kink for Judaism was that they cherished oral as well as written history (Moses received both oral and written laws) which meant less onus on writing, on exact wordings. The Rabbi’s wrote down their oral lore for the first time and from then on all Judaism was written. From then on, focus on the written word was all. From then on, pedantry mattered. From the second century AD on, long after the grammarians. Long after Homer became inerrant.


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