A Previously Uncatalogued Gospels Manuscript


Daniel B. Wallace

June 18, 2010

A team of four people (Jeff Hargis, Peter Gurry, Noah Wallace, and I) visited the Byzantine and Christian Museum of Athens on May 13, 2010, to begin preparing manuscripts for photography. Among the manuscripts that we were to photograph are a few that are not yet catalogued by the Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung in Münster.

We began by preparing two uncatalogued manuscripts for photography. The first one, which is the topic of this essay, is MS 227 or BXM 19561. It is dated 1154, written on parchment, and originally contained all four Gospels. At the back of the codex is a filler leaf, upside down, with Greek text from an unknown source, followed by another upside down leaf from the same manuscript that is glued to the back of the book.

The codex typically has the standard eight-leaf quires, though one quire is comprised of ten leaves. The manuscript was donated to the museum on 14 October 1957 by a private donor. We do not know when it showed up in the library catalogs, but the INTF data through the second edition of the Kurzgefasste Liste (1994) must have been based on previous catalogs.

The manuscript seems to be a typical example of the late Byzantine text. The Gospel of Matthew is complete, while Mark is lacking two leaves at the very beginning of the book, Luke is missing one leaf (around leaf 37 out of 57; missing text has yet to be determined), and John is missing one leaf about a third of the way into the Gospel.

The long ending of Mark is included (though there is an indecipherable marginal note in red at 16.8, on leaf [86b]), as is the story of the woman caught in adultery.

The manuscript has only two leaves left of the Eusebian Canons, no icons, and minimal decorations. It is a single column codex on leaves measuring 22.5–23.5 cm (H) by 16–17 cm (W) by 6.5 cm (D). Each page has between 26 and 27 lines of text. Detailed analysis of the manuscript remains to be done.

Dated manuscripts are relatively rare among our NT manuscripts. To have yet another one is always a treat for paleographers and textual critics because it gives a fixed year in which certain letter-forms and ligatures were used. This helps scholars to date other manuscripts by comparison of the handwriting, which changed from century to century.

CSNTM is grateful to the Byzantine Museum for the opportunity to digitally photograph their Greek New Testament manuscripts.