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Monday, August 07, 2017

New Manuscripts from the National Library of Greece

Additional manuscripts digitized by the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts have just been added to our collection. These include 10 manuscripts from the National Library of Greece in Athens, the site of our 2015-16 digitization project.

UV Comparison

Above is a leaf from GA Lect 444, a majuscule lectionary from the 10th century. As you can see, this manuscript is a palimpsest, so the original text (GA Lect 444) was scraped away and a different text (a liturgical book) was written over it by a later scribe. CSNTM digitized this manuscript using ultraviolet lighting in order to help scholars decipher the text more easily. Images of the entire manuscript, both with and without UV, have now been posted.

  • GA 781: 14th century minuscule of the Gospels. Lots of wax and dirt--signs of a well-used manuscript!
  • GA 809: 11th century minuscule of the Gospels. Extensive commentary in the margins surrounding the biblical text. Ornate canon tables and headpieces.
  • GA 811: 14th century (dated to 1321) minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA 1405: 15th century minuscule of the Apostolos and Paul.
  • GA Lect 432: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 437: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 438: 13th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 442: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 444: 10th century majuscule lectionary. 
  • GA Lect 447: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels.

These images have now become part of our growing searchable library, which gives everyone free access to the best available digital images of New Testament manuscripts.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

CSNTM's Newest Board Member: Dr. Greg Bledsoe

Please welcome CSNTM’s newest board member, Dr. Greg Bledsoe!

Dr. Greg Bledsoe has accepted an invitation to be on the CSNTM Board of Directors, joining John Brandon (Vice President International, Apple, retired), Dr. W. Hall Harris (Senior Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary), Dr. Michael W. Holmes (Director of the Bible Scholars Initiative), Susan Hutchison (Executive Director, Simonyi Fund for the Arts and Sciences, Seattle), Dr. Daniel B. Wallace (Executive Director, CSNTM), and Dr. Tommy Wasserman (Academic Dean and Lecturer in New Testament, Örebro School of School of Theology). Dr. Bledsoe is the Surgeon General of Arkansas and an expert in both wilderness and emergency medicine. You can learn more about Dr. Bledsoe at his website.

The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts is thrilled to have Dr. Bledsoe on its Board of Directors!

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

10 New Gospels Manuscripts from the National Library of Greece

Additional manuscripts digitized by the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts have just been added to our collection. These include 10 Gospels manuscripts from the National Library of Greece in Athens, the site of our 2015-16 digitization project.

GA 773 Evangelists

Icons of the Evangelists in GA 773 (Matthew, top left; Mark, top right; Luke, bottom left; John, bottom right)

  • GA 761: 14th century minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA 762: 14th century minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA 764: 14th century minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA 773: 10th century minuscule of the Gospels with extensive commentary in the margins from various church fathers.
  • GA Lect 389: 11th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 390: 10th or 11th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 404: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 405: 13th century lectionary (dated to 1274) of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 413: 14th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 430: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels.

These images have now become part of our growing searchable library, which gives everyone free access to the best available digital images of New Testament manuscripts.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Manuscripts Digitized at Greek Monasteries

By: Jacob Peterson

At the end of May, Robert Marcello and I returned to Greece for what may just be the most remote expedition I’ve been on to date in order to digitize manuscripts at two monasteries in central Greece. From our centrally-located hotel, we travelled up to an hour and a half one-way every day to the monasteries. On the open road in Texas with that much time you can travel well over 100 miles depending on just how heavy your foot is. As an indicator of both just how remote we were operating and how mountainous the terrain was, our longest drive was 36 miles. Thankfully, in Greece, the more remote a location is the more beautiful it’s probably going to be. That proved to be true yet again.

A view of Panagias Monastery (the building with a red roof), one location where CSNTM digitized in 2017

The first monastery we worked at was Panagias in Proussos. They had one manuscript, a Gospels lectionary from the 16th century (GA Lect 2083). Judging by the amount of candle wax drippings on its pages, it was a well-read and cherished treasure of the monks. While the manuscript has already survived roughly 500 years of use, it’s always great to ensure that both the monastery and researchers will have access to the manuscript through our images for many more years.

The second place we traveled to was the Tatarnis Monastery. They have two New Testament manuscripts that we were able to digitize (GA 2810 and GA Lect 2176). One of these, GA 2810, partially chronicled some of the hardships the monastery has experienced over the years. A note on one of the opening pages mentions several different episodes involving frozen rivers, lack of food, and no rain. Not surprisingly given these events, it also records that one of the monks left for Athens! In addition to these two New Testament manuscripts, we also digitized an early copy of a biblical commentary written by Gregory of Nazianzus that was gifted to the monastery from the patriarchate in Constantinople.

Despite great weather, ample food, and warm hospitality from the bishop and at both monasteries we, too, had to return to Athens at the end of the week. In addition to our gratefulness to these monasteries, we remain thankful for our partnership with the National Library of Greece, whose staff continues to make connections on our behalf to enable us to preserve and make available even more New Testament manuscripts.

Follow these links to examine these manuscripts in our library:

GA Lect 2083: 16th century Gospels lectionary

GA 2810: a Gospels minuscule copied in 1514

GA Lect 2176: 16th century Gospels lectionary

Friday, June 23, 2017

Manuscripts Digitized at the University of Edinburgh

By: Jacob Peterson

I left my role as Intern Coordinator at CSNTM in the fall of 2015 to begin my PhD in New Testament at the University of Edinburgh. Over the course of the next year, it became obvious that, if possible, I should try and digitize the New Testament manuscripts held in the university’s library. Thankfully, the university agreed to this, and so Jim Leavenworth, a former CSNTM intern and fellow Edinburgh postgrad, and I were able to complete this project in December of last year.

In total, the university owns five Greek New Testament manuscripts listed in the official catalog produced by the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Germany. The manuscripts are:

GA 563 – 11th century manuscript of the Gospels

GA 897 – 13th century manuscript of the Gospels

GA 898 – 13th century manuscript of the Gospels

GA Lect 578 – 11th century manuscript with lectionary readings from the Gospels

GA Lect 1747 – 11th century manuscript with lectionary readings from John

While preparing the manuscripts for digitization, I discovered what seemed to be two new manuscripts in the form of replacement leaves. Sometimes individual leaves or whole quires would have to be replaced because the original had fallen out or was badly damaged. One of the new discoveries appears to be a simple case of an entire quire being replaced for possibly these reasons. However, the other new discovery is much more interesting. It is a single leaf that has been replaced in GA Lect 578.

The normal lectionary reading for Pentecost includes John 7:37–52 and then 8:12. This notably skips over the story of the woman caught in adultery, which was read separately on a feast day. Yet, in GA Lect 578 the evidence points to the lectionary originally containing the whole range of 7:37–8:12. The replacement leaf provided the first clue of this in that it only has writing on the front of the leaf that contained John 7:45–52 and 8:12. The natural question then is whether or not the original leaf would have held those verses plus the 7:53–8:11. The page prior to the replacement leaf ends at John 7:45, and the one after begins with the next day’s lection from Matthew 18:10. Each leaf in the manuscript contains about 1,400–1,800 letters, and John 7:45–8:12 has 1,389 letters according to the standard Greek text. This works out perfectly given that the scribe often left some blank space at the end of a column if it would mean that a new lection could start on a new leaf. It appears then that the original scribe incorrectly copied the story of the woman caught in adultery into the readings for Pentecost and then, at a later date, someone noticed this problem and took the effort to replace the entire leaf rather than just write in the manuscript that the section should be skipped.

What might seem like a rather mundane point about an otherwise obscure Byzantine lectionary raises a couple of interesting points. The first is that the Church is loyal to the proper lectionary cycle and was astutely aware of the proper readings for each day. Reading the story of the woman caught in adultery on Pentecost is certainly not harmful, but its rightful place in church liturgy is with the feasts. This was enough reason for someone to take considerable time and effort to fix the error. The second is that it presents difficult questions for the copying history of the manuscript. By analyzing other telltale places in the manuscript, it does not appear that it was copied from a continuous text manuscript where it would have been easy to include the story of the woman caught in adultery on accident. So when and how did this story get inserted? Perhaps we’ll never know. But we do know that some monk included it, whether accidentally or because of liking the story and knowing it belonged after John 7:52. We also know that a later monk knew it did not belong, so he fixed it to stay in line with the proper worship of the church.

This manuscript also shows that there are many, many more manuscripts to discover and countless more interesting things we have to learn from them. Something as ordinary as a replacement leaf invites us back into the history of the Church and into the real world and lives that surrounded the creation of these treasures.

A special thank you is extended to Dr. Joseph Marshall, Norman Rodger, and Susan Pettigrew, as well as the rest of the Centre for Research Collections staff, who made this project possible in the midst of the library’s incredibly busy schedule.

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