Glasgow University Ms Gen 229


With the kind permission of Mr David Weston, keeper of the special collections at the University of Glasgow, a team from CSNTM came to Glasgow to photograph the University’s Greek New Testament manuscripts. The collection included P22, minuscules 560, 561, 562, and lectionaries 162, 239, 240, and 241. These manuscripts were photographed between 3 October and 14 October. CSNTM has been granted permission to post the images of these manuscripts on line, and this we will do, we hope, next month. Besides these eight manuscripts another was photographed: Ms Gen 229.

Mr Weston suggested that Ms Gen 229 might also be a New Testament manuscript, citing a source for this possibility: Ian C. Cunningham entitled, Greek Manuscripts in Scotland: Summary Catalogue (Edinburgh: National Library of Scotland, 1982).

In Cunningham’s book is the following entry on page 15: 61. MS. Gen. 229. ’Εκλογάδιον and chapters of St Matthew. s. xvi. Paper (watermark similar to Briquet 555, Italy, 1567). 13 ff. 205 x 140. 1 col. 20 ll. i12, 1 leaf.

This sixteenth-century manuscript has several unusual features. For one thing, there are more blank pages than text-pages (36 blank pages vs. 26 with text). Several of the blank leaves are joined at the top, having never been cut. The first page is blank, with the text beginning on the verso.

Obviously, a New Testament manuscript not mentioned in Aland’s Kurzgefasste Liste is worthy of some attention. We wondered why, in fact, it did not show up in the Liste since Cunningham’s catalog had come out a dozen years prior to the Liste’s second edition. Our interest was piqued.

The manuscript gives lectionary information, especially indexes, on leaves 1v through 11r. This is followed by the κεφάλαια for Matthew (leaves 11v through 13r), then a short hypothesis. Leaf 13v is blank, followed by 18 completely blank leaves.

One of the curious features of this codex is the last line of text on 13r. It gives the number of στίχοι as 2600. There are approximately 440 lines in the manuscript to this point. The average line has 32–36 letters. 2600 lines of text at 32–36 letters per line = 83,200 to 93,600 letters. The letters in the Nestle-Aland text for Matthew come to approximately 92,000 in total; those of the Majority Text, 93,000. What should be taken into account, however, are the abbreviations for nomina sacra. Taking just the four major nomina sacra (κύριος, θεός, χριστός, and Ἰησοῦς) results in more than 1000 fewer letters in the text. The rest of the nomina sacra combined probably equal that. The Nestle-Aland text would have approximately 90,000 letters in it if the nomina sacra had been written as such, and the Majority Text would have about 91,000 letters. The number of στίχοι in such a text (whether NA or MT) would be between 2500 and 2800 lines (35 letters per line and 2600 lines equals 91,000 letters). It thus seems safe to say that the 2600 στίχοι mentioned in Ms Gen 229 originally indicated the number of lines needed for Matthew’s Gospel.

Yet, the Gospel of Matthew never quite makes it into this bound codex. A correction to Cunningham’s catalog, then, would indicate that although the manuscript promises “chapters of St Matthew,” it never delivers them.

But this raises several questions. Why are the στίχοι listed on leaf 13r rather than at the end of Matthew? And more importantly, why is there no Matthew in this manuscript at all? Is it possible that the scribe estimated how many lines would be required to copy the Gospel but then, for some reason, never completed (or even started!) the work? Or have these leaves been removed from the back of a larger work which did originally have Matthew? Why are there eighteen blank leaves? It’s not nearly enough to contain Matthew (if this particular scribe had been roughly consistent in the size of letters and amounts of lines per page, he would have needed 65 leaves to complete the task). It hardly seems likely that this scribe made the quires, bound the leaves into a codex, then began to write, not realizing that 31 leaves, even if having only Matthew on them with neither lectionary apparatus or κεφάλαια, would be less than half of what he needed to copy out the Gospel. As I mentioned earlier, these images will be up on CSNTM’s site soon. Perhaps there will be clues there that I have overlooked. I would appreciate learning of any hypotheses, parallels, facts, etc. about Ms Gen 229’s unusual features. Until then, the least we can say is that this document should not be listed among the New Testament manuscripts because it does not, contrary to Cunningham’s write-up, have any chapters from the Gospel of Matthew.