National Library of Greece Summer Recap
Robert D. Marcello
28 September 2015
After months of hard work and planning, the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) recently completed phase 1 of the National Library of Greece (NLG) expedition. The NLG is one of the top five locations for New Testament manuscripts in the world. During this trip, the Center was able to digitize 135 Greek New Testament manuscripts. Almost 30 people were sent over to Athens, rotating out over the course of three months. Throughout the time there, the Greek financial crisis hit hard. Banks closed, individuals could only withdraw 60 Euros a day from ATMs, and tensions soared. However, the teams continued their work. In fact, during some of the hottest months of the year, they continued to work without any air conditioning. In spite of all of this, each member of the team knew that they were a part of something much bigger than themselves, and as a result, they had to press on.
Pressing on is exactly what happened. In spite of all of the obstacles, CSNTM digitized over 62,000 images. These images are in the process of post-production where they will all be evaluated, added to CSNTM’s archives and website, and made available to you! This undertaking is intense, and CSNTM ensures that each image remains backed up and preserved for future generations. In fact, some of the manuscripts that have been digitized are new discoveries, and some others include significant finds! The Center will be making announcements when these new manuscripts are made available online.
CSNTM wants to thank the Director of the library, Dr. Tsimboglou, and his staff for their partnership in this important collaboration to preserve a fraction of the National Library’s treasures. We also want to thank everyone who partnered with CSNTM to make this amazing opportunity a reality. Without you, it could have never happened, and because of you, irreplaceable New Testament manuscripts have now been digitally preserved for years to come! We look forward to completing this project and thank you for your continued support to complete this massive project.
Update from the NLG
CSNTM's Executive Director has posted an exciting new blog providing an update of the expedition to the National Library of Greece and a newly discovered manuscript. Also, CSNTM has been featured in some leading Greek
newspapers for our work at the National Library.
Click here to read all about Dr. Wallace's update!
Background on the National Library of Greece
16 March 2015
The National Library of Greece (NLG) holds one of the five largest repositories of Greek New Testament manuscripts in the world. Ancient Greece dates back thousands of years, and most consider it the birthplace of Western culture. In fact, the rise of Greek culture resulted in its language becoming the lingua franca of the first century, and it was this language in which the books of the New Testament were originally written. As a result, the most important witnesses to the text of the New Testament are ancient Greek manuscripts and it is the mission of CSNTM to digitize them.
Though Greek culture is very ancient, modern Greece is a relatively young nation. In fact, it wasn’t until the early nineteenth century that Greece gained its independence from the Ottoman Empire. In 1829 the first governor of the independent Greek State, Ioannis Kapodistrias, established a library, museum, and orphanage in the first capital of Greece, Aegina. The library was established as an independent institution in 1832. That same year it was moved to the new capital Nafplio and moved again in 1834 to Athens, which became the new (and current) capital. In Athens, the library was first housed at the Roman Forum. Later it was moved to the church of St. Eleftherios. In 1842, the then Public Library was joined with the University Library, and the two were fully merged into the NLG in 1866. Both were housed at Othonos University.
On March 16, 1888, the cornerstone for a new marble neoclassical building was laid. In 1903, Greece relocated the NLG into the new location. The new structure was a part of three neoclassical buildings. The other two were the National University of Athens and the Academy of Athens. The three were named the “Athenian Trilogy.” Today, a new building is currently under construction as part of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, which will house the National Library and the National Opera. The NLG considers itself the guardian of the written intellectual legacy of the Greeks. It seeks to preserve this legacy and to make it available to the public.
When the NLG was first made an independent institution in 1832 it had 1,018 volumes. In 1842 with the merger of the University Library, the collection increased to 50,000 volumes. Today the National Library holds one of the largest collections of Greek manuscripts—4,500 total. Of those, approximately 300 manuscripts are of the Greek New Testament, one of the largest collections of Greek New Testament manuscripts in the world.
On January 12, 2015, the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) announced that it has entered into an agreement with the NLG to digitize all of these 300+ manuscripts of the Greek New Testament and make them freely available on CSNTM’s website. This is an amazing opportunity and a huge undertaking. There are approximately 5,800 Greek New Testament manuscripts that are currently known, and the NLG has 300 of them!
This collection represents a significant witness to the text of the New Testament, and its digitization by CSNTM will not only ensure that these witnesses are available for generations to come but are freely available to anyone who would like to see them.
For more information about the NLG,
If you would like to support this expedition, please click here.
Additional Extra-Biblical Chester Beatty Papyrus Images Now Available
2 March 2015
In the summer of 2013, the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) digitized the Greek biblical papyri housed at the Chester Beatty Library (CBL) in Dublin, Ireland. The Chester Beatty collection includes some of the earliest and most important Greek biblical manuscripts in the world. In addition to these biblical manuscripts, CSNTM also digitized several extra-biblical Greek papyri that are part of the CBL collection.
For the first time, images of two of these extra-biblical Chester Beatty manuscripts have now been made available:
1) The Apocryphon of Jannes and Jambres the Magicians
Jannes and Jambres is an apocryphal work. Its text is fragmentary and dated from the 3rd-4th century.
2) Enoch and Melito
Enoch is an extra-biblical work. Melito is an early Christian homily. The text is from the 4th century.
These texts are uniquely significant, as they contain an early witness to rare works for which only a handful of copies have survived, and in the case of Jannes and Jambres, this is the only Greek manuscript known to exist.
Visit the manuscript page to view these new images from Dublin.
Also, if you would like to make more resources like this available, please consider donating to CSNTM!