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Thursday, December 10, 2020

CSNTM Acquires Multi-volume Work on Dated Greek Manuscripts by Kirsopp and Silva Lake

One of the lesser-known things about CSNTM is that we maintain a growing physical library in Plano, TX.

We recently added to our physical holdings Dated Greek Minuscule Manuscripts to the Year 1200, edited by Kirsopp and Silva Lake (Boston: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1934-1939).

This ten-volume catalogue includes a description and additional information on 401 Greek manuscripts that can be securely dated before A.D. 1200. Not all of these manuscripts are copies of the New Testament, but some are. Because of the necessity of securely-dated manuscripts to assign dates on the basis of handwriting, this work is an important resource for palaeography. 

Another exciting feature of CSNTM’s new acquisition is that our edition of Dated Greek Minuscule Manuscripts to the Year 1200 previously belonged to Ernest Tune and contain some handwritten notes. Annotations by scholars of a previous generation are always insightful, so the fact that we may have Tune’s annotations is doubly-exciting.

All ten volumes and the index are available online at http://pyle.it/facsmiles/lake-online/ with plates of individual manuscripts available in the search feature.

Monday, November 23, 2020

November 2020 Digital Library Additions

The CSNTM Library grows each month as new digital images of Greek New Testament manuscripts—housed in institutions all over the world—are added to our website. We are always striving to make our manuscript library more convenient, comprehensive, and accessible. Because of this, we sometimes provide access to manuscripts that others have digitized. In these cases, the Center is permitted to either include these images in our library or provide links to them on the holding institution’s website. Since October, we have added the following manuscripts to our digital library:

GA 0115—Digital microfilm images of the majuscule from the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, France.

GA 055—Digital microfilm images of the majuscule from the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, France.

GA 5—Digital microfilm images of the minuscule from the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, France.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

The Chester Beatty Papyrus of Revelation (P47): New Finds from an Old Treasure Trove

By: Peter Malik, PhD, Guest Contributer

Peter Malik is Research Associate, Institut für Septuaginta- und biblische Textforschung, Kirchliche Hochschule Wuppertal/Bethel. He completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge (Peterhouse), focusing on the transmission of the New Testament in general and of the Book of Revelation in particular.

As a group, the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri remain the single most important find of early Christian manuscripts so far discovered and individually they have provided scholarship, and by extension the laity, with direct contact with the formative years of Christianity.1

So writes Charles Horton, the erstwhile curator of the Western Collection of the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, over seven decades after Sir Frederic Kenyon first introduced the Beatty find to the general public. Penned in 2004, Horton’s bold statement still rings true today. Though biblical papyri do continue to be edited and published, as regards the extent and state of preservation there’s nothing quite like the Beatty and, to a slightly lesser degree, Bodmer collections.

Generally speaking, the Beatty biblical papyri have received a good deal of attention, particularly the manuscripts that New Testament scholars refer to as P45 and P46. The former preserves portions of the four canonical Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, while the latter preserves most of the Pauline corpus virtually intact. The third extensive New Testament papyrus in the Beatty collection is known as P47, which contains just about the middle third of the book of Revelation.

Just like the book of Revelation has been something of an outlier within the Christian canon, so also P47 has received comparatively little scholarly attention. This void in our knowledge of this important manuscript caught my attention in 2013, when I decided to make it the subject of my Cambridge doctoral thesis.

Papyrus 47—Late third century manuscript of Revelation on papyrus, Chester Beatty, Dublin.

Now, studying an ancient manuscript, especially to such an extent as I set out to do, can hardly be done without an autopsy, that is, an in-person study of the manuscript itself. At that time, I knew that Dan Wallace with his team at the CSNTM were planning to digitise the collection, which meant I’d have images to work with. What I didn’t know was that Tommy Wasserman, a senior colleague in the field and a member of the CSNTM board, had conspired with Dan to bring me to Dublin during the shoot! Thus, I was allowed to work with the team for the duration of three days to inspect the manuscript’s text and thus get me started in my initial thesis preparation.

One aspect of this stay that I would like to highlight is the inspection of problematic areas, where I had discovered (or I thought I had discovered) new readings on the basis of older images I had been using. For each of these, Dan was able to shoot the difficult areas using a microscope. Places that had seemed illegible or puzzling could now be read with much greater clarity. Most interestingly, using this technology we were able to confirm that, at a number of places, the scribe corrected his errors-in-the-making as he was copying the text. As a result, my edition of P47 attained a higher level of accuracy and the textual studies deriving from it can stand on a much firmer footing than has been possible hitherto. Here’s hoping that more people will take up the challenge and use the new data to extend our knowledge of these fascinating texts.

 

1Charles Horton, ‘The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri: A Find of the Greatest Importance’, in The Earliest Gospels: The Origins and Transmission of the Earliest Christian Gospels – The Contribution of the Chester Beatty Gospel P45 (ed. Charles Horton; JSNTSup 285; London: T&T Clark, 2004), 149.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

October 2020 Digital Library Additions

The CSNTM Library grows each month as new digital images of Greek New Testament manuscripts housed in institutions all over the world are added to our website.  As we attempt to make our manuscript library more convenient, comprehensive, and accessible, we provide access to manuscripts digitized by others who permit access to their images in CSNTM’s library or by providing links to the holding institution’s digital images if we cannot post them ourselves. Since September, we have added the following manuscripts to our digital library:

GA 1689—Digital images of the minuscule from the Library of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague.

GA Lect 2434—Digital images of the lectionary leaf from the Ohio University Library, Athens, Ohio. Digital images of the lectionary leaf from The Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas. Digital images of the 16 lectionary leaves from Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge.

Additionally, the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence, Italy has digitized much of their collection since 2011 and are in the progress of making their images available to us via IIIF. In the meantime, we have included links to these images on BML’s digital repository. These manusctipts are: GA 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 191, 192, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 363, 364, 454, 455, 456, 457, 458, 459, 832, 833, 834, 835, 836, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1976, 1977, 1978, 2007, 2035, 2052, Lect 113, Lect 114, Lect 115, and Lect 116.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Elijah Hixson: A Curious Fellow

Elijah Hixson (PhD, University of Edinburgh) recently joined CSNTM as a research fellow. After completing his doctoral thesis, published as Scribal Habits in Sixth-Century Greek Purple Codices, Elijah served at Tyndale House in Cambridge. His areas of research include New Testament textual criticism, papyrology, early Christian theology, C.H. Spurgeon (1834–1892) and apologetics.

Elijah took some time to share with us what sparked his interest in New Testament textual criticism and what keeps him going.

“After high school, I chose chemistry as my major in college because I like being able to measure things.”

Elijah’s penchant for observing and measuring didn’t limit itself to the realm of science. Like most people in his rural hometown, Elijah attended church, where opinions typically swirl like dust in a feed bin.

“Back then, it seemed like much of theology was just one person harping on someone else’s opinion while declaring his own opinion to be obvious truth. I remember thinking it would be great if I had something to measure like I do in the lab. In there, opinions have to come to terms with facts. Theories or statements can be tested or observed—proven or disproven. I later found out that manuscripts allow you to do just that—measure things.”

Later, while attending Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, Elijah’s curiosity led him deeper into textual criticism. Blogs, papers, and texts that bored many of his seminary friends stimulated his desire to learn. “Oh, this is something you can measure; this is fun stuff! Why don’t more people like this? By the time I finished my master’s level work, I knew I should pursue a PhD in New Testament textual criticism, and I was especially drawn to studying scribal habits.”

Elijah admits that his interest in apologetics fueled his desire to observe how copyists reproduce manuscripts. “I do think the New Testament we have today represents what the Apostles wrote, and we have historical reasons to support that assertion. Compelling evidence for this can be found in observing, measuring, and describing the habits of individual scribes.”

“We are thrilled to get Elijah Hixson on staff at CSNTM,” says founder and executive director Dr. Daniel B. Wallace. "He loves to chase down ideas and draw out the facts from the ancient data. Elijah brings a lot of credibility with him, and even though he’s a fairly recently-minted PhD, he has already become an industrial-strength textual scholar.”

Image of Manuscript 𝔓45 at The Chester Beatty in Dublin

Elijah’s first assignments include manuscript transcriptions, starting with 𝔓45 for the facsimile publication by Hendrickson Publishers to be released later this year. He will also help us prepare for potential expeditions to eastern Europe and a Middle Eastern site once travel restrictions are lifted and approval is received. As Stratton Ladewig, research fellow at CSNTM stated, “Elijah will strengthen the ‘S’ part of our name. We not only preserve manuscripts and make them available to other scholars, we also study these documents to advance the work of textual criticism.”

When asked what he wants to do at CSNTM, Elijah responded, “I’ve had people ask me, ‘What’s your next research project?’ and I usually say, ‘I don’t know.’ Things work out the best when I try to be a faithful Christian wherever I am, do my job well, and allow my brain to go down rabbit trails when something catches my interest. I seem to do best when I follow my curiosity and somehow end up at the right place at the right time. I would like to keep doing that, if I can.”

Elijah and Peter Gurry co-edited the book, Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism, and recently joined seminary student, Christopher Marsh, on his podcast. You can listen to their conversation here

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