In chapter 2, he shows how the rich papyrological
material from Egypt can still provide a misleading picture of the everyday uses of writing, and that the much less copious material from the rest of the Greek East can shed more light on the ubiquity of writing than often imagined.
A sampling of topics: manuscripts, scribes, and book production; reconstructing early Christianity from papyrological
evidence; space, movement, and morality in the Roman Empire; Luke as a Hellenistic historian; letter openings in Paul and Plato; and exegetical practices in Justin and Galen.
The difficulties entailed in setting generic boundaries for the novels are illustrated by Henrichs 2011, who demonstrates how new papyrological
finds have challenged traditional generic definitions; see also the discussions of Selden 1994, Holzberg 2003, and Goldhill 2008.
Overall, the book contains a wealth of insights into the workings of ancient trade and expertly combines discussion of the material evidence--especially of amphorae and wrecks--with the prosopographical approach derived from epigraphic, papyrological
and historical data.
For example, chapter 3, "'Brothers' in Associations and Congregations," is restricted for the most part to the vocabulary found in epigraphic and papyrological
evidence; although Plutarch's On Brotherly Love is mentioned at the end of the chapter, Harland does not attempt to integrate such sources into the body of the chapter in a substantive way.
As part of the research, a team of national researchers and scholars examined dozens of papyri among the thousands of papyrological
pieces in the University of Michigan (U-M) collection for the last four weeks.
The emphasis is on the intellectual analysis of poverty and wealth rather than their economic or social implications, but there are exceptions such as Serfass's "Wine for Widows: Papyrological
Evidence for Christian Charity in Late Antique Egypt.
A survey of all attested inscriptions and papyrological
evidence mentioning those teachers is still missing.
does include nonliterary epigraphic and papyrological
evidence, but the literary sources dominate (in his index of sources, five and a half pages for the latter, one and a half for the former).
At the same time, drawing upon an abundance of papyrological
and recent archaeological evidence, it enables the student to move with more confidence into the spheres of ordinary lived experience, that is, in some measure to close the gap between the public sphere and ordinary private life in such a way as to provide a more stereoscopic picture of this seminal period in history so as to recognize it as the form-creative period it really is in its own right while simultaneously being aware of the need to think beyond such periods altogether.
Although it is written with full attention to papyrological
detail so as to be indispensable to the specialist, it does not presuppose a knowledge of Greek, and thus would be equally informative to the nonspecialist.
The topics include linguistic identity in Graeco-Roman Egypt, bilingual papyrological
archives, bilingualism in the papyri, multilingual archives and documents in post-conquest Egypt, early Coptic epistolography, language choice in the Qurra Dossier, and whether Aristophanes Son of Johannes was an eighth-century bilingual scribe.