The staurogram, a combination of the Greek letters tau and rho, looks like a human figure hanging on a cross and stands in for parts of the Greek words for “cross” (stauros) and “crucify” (stauroō) in Bodmer papyrus P66, a copy of the Gospel of John (200 C.E.). The staurogram is the earliest visual reference to Jesus’ crucifixion.

The staurogram, a combination of the Greek letters tau and rho, looks like a human figure hanging on a cross and stands in for parts of the Greek words for “cross” (stauros) and “crucify” (stauroō) in Bodmer papyrus P66, a copy of the Gospel of John (200 C.E.). The staurogram is the earliest visual reference to Jesus’ crucifixion.

The Format of the Book Evolved with the Transition to the Codex

Circa 500 CE
<p>Example of a colophon at the end of a papyrus roll from the seventh century BC.&nbsp; As is customary in ancient Greek books, the last line of the last poem (marked by the cronis in the margin) is followed by the name of the author and title (Sappho, <em>Lyrics</em>); the book number (beta = 2) is given in the next line, both decorated with top and bottom-lines.</p>

Example of a colophon at the end of a papyrus roll from the seventh century BC.  As is customary in ancient Greek books, the last line of the last poem (marked by the cronis in the margin) is followed by the name of the author and title (Sappho, Lyrics); the book number (beta = 2) is given in the next line, both decorated with top and bottom-lines.

"With the transition from papyrus rolls to the parchment codex is connected a decisive change for the whole area of European book production. It was customary in papyrus rolls to distinguish the ending, which was better protected and in which the author and title were named in the closing script (colophon), by means of larger script or through ornamentation. This usage passed over initially also into the codices. But from roughly AD 500 on, if not already before then, the weight of ornamental layout at the end gradually shifted towards the opening, where the author's portrait and, in the gospels, the canon tables had their natural place anyway. Various factors worked together here with varying rhythm. Thus connected with the colophon was a specifically Christian ornament, the cross as a staurogram, with Rho-bow on the shoulder, plus alpha and omega. It has already shifted to before the text in the miniature codex of John's Gospel. Following the example of the arch-framed canon tables, lists of contents are set under coloured arcades in the sixth century, and from the fifth /sixth century on they also acquire greater emphasis through such formulae as" 'In hoc corpore (codice) continentur. . .' " (Bischoff, Latin Palaeography: Antiquity and Middle Ages [1990] 188-89).

Timeline Themes