Greek Handwriting 1
These “Greek Handwriting” posts are about letter forms and ligatures found in Greek manuscripts.
Something common in Greek New Testament manuscripts (it is apparently not common in other types of literature) are the nomina sacra. These nomina sacra are contracted forms, two letters for words like Χριστος and Ιησου, with longer forms for ανθρωπος and ουρανος. Some words are contracted more often than others, and some arose after others as well. These contracted forms normally have a horizontal line written directly above the letters. For a very good discussion of the nomina sacra, see Hurtado’s The Earliest Christian Artifacts. See also the brief discussion in Metzger’s Manuscripts of the Greek Bible, pp. 36-37.
The following is from Romans 1:1 of manuscript 676, a 13th century minuscule. Note the last four letters, underlined in red. There are two nomina sacra here, ιησου and χριστου. As is characteristic on the nomina sacra, there is a horizontal line above each. Click on the image for a better picture.