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Sunday, December 24, 2017

11x12 Christmas Eve Announcement

Thank you to the many people who participated in the 11x12 campaign. Over the last two weeks 17 people were honored with at least an $11 monthly contribution to the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts.

Let us tell you about the difference your commitment will make. There are thousands of Greek New Testament manuscripts scattered among hundreds of libraries, museums, and monasteries. Many are decaying because of their great age and are inaccessible for study. Yet, it is these handwritten documents that are the basis for the translation and study of the New Testament. Through digitization, CSNTM is able to preserve these manuscripts and then share the images online so that they are available to the entire world—free for all and free for all time.

Digitizing ancient and medieval manuscripts is a high-tech and precise project. On our upcoming expeditions, it will cost $11 to digitize a single page. Each donation made in honor of these loved ones will allow CSNTM to digitize 12 such pages this year!

We are grateful that this Christmas season many people chose to partner with CSNTM to preserve ancient New Testament manuscripts for the modern world. And we appreciate the legacy of these honorees that have been recognized. Thank you and merry Christmas!


Dale Beaver

Doris DaCosta

Erica Janzen

Ron and Linda Jenkins

Charles Johnson

Rusty Kennedy

Michael Krueger

Jamie McLaughlin

Mark Patton

Rod Routen

Beecher and Nayda Wallace

Betty White

Edward and Virginia Wright, Sr.

Elizabeth Z.

Zacharias Zachariassen

Thursday, December 14, 2017

From the Library: Preserving the Christmas Story in Matthew

A Bifolio of the Beginning of Matthew in GA 776

As Christmas approaches each year, Christians around the world turn once again to the account of Jesus’ birth in Matthew 1–2. This beloved passage occupies a privileged position at the beginning of the NT. However, because of its prominent place at the front of each Gospels codex, it was also the portion of the Scriptures most likely to be damaged or destroyed. Nearly every codex has at least some deterioration on the first few and last few leaves, since these are the most exposed to the elements. 

In our own collection of medieval minuscules, a quick review shows that the Christmas story in Matthew has often experienced significant fading, water or other damage, and sometimes it was even completely destroyed and lost. For instance, GA 790, GA 764, and GA 898 are missing the first leaf of Matthew. GA 798 is missing the first two leaves. GA 768, GA 771, GA 784, GA 897, GA 1417, and GA 2526—though they once contained the entire Gospel of Matthew—are now missing the Christmas story entirely!

 GA 898 begins at Matthew 1:17.

GA 768 begins at Matthew 3:6.

GA 784 begins at Matthew 5:3.


Damage to the Christmas story in Matthew occurred in a variety of ways. Sometimes it was from water (GA 758, GA 782), dirt (GA 785, GA 791, GA 792, GA 793, GA 796, GA 799, GA 2524), wax drippings when readers read by candlelight (GA 763, GA 781, GA 783), fire (GA 786, GA 800, GA 1416), or some other kind of trauma (GA 798).

Water Damage

Water damage to the first leaf of Matthew in GA 782.

Dirt Damage 

Dirt damage to the beginning of GA 2524.

Wax Damage

Damage from wax drippings on the third leaf of Matthew in GA 781.

Fire Damage

Significant fire damage to the edges of the first leaf of Matthew in GA 1416.

Other Damage

An unknown event caused the first few leaves to be torn away completely from GA 798.


With the variety of ways that the Christmas story could be lost or damaged, it was essential that scribes who cared for these damaged manuscripts devise a number of ways to save the Christmas story from disappearing altogether from the codex. Sometimes scribes would trace back over faded or damaged ink, such as in GA 758 and GA 787. In GA 757, GA 772, GA 789, GA 1686, and GA 2528, a later scribe has remade lost leaves and placed them back where they go.

Retracing 1

A scribe retraced over a water-damaged leaf near the beginning of GA 758.

Retracing 2

A scribe retraced over the faded first verse of Matthew in GA 787.

Replacement 1

The beginning of Matthew was recreated and placed back into GA 789 (left) to replace a damaged or unreadable page. An original leaf from later in the Gospel is shown on the right.

Replacement 2

The first leaf of GA 1686 was remade and replaced (left). The next leaf, continuing the Christmas story, is on the right.

The Christmas story in Matthew 1–2 is an ancient narrative that has been handed down for generations in New Testament manuscripts. We are thankful for the work that nameless scribes throughout history did to ensure that this portion of the Christian Scriptures survived intact. This Christmas season, as you turn to read about Jesus’ birth in Matthew, remember the care and creativity required to preserve this story so that we could read it today.



Monday, December 11, 2017

11x12 Campaign

11x12 Feature Image

We are launching a brand new campaign called 11x12 for the two weeks leading up to Christmas. 11x12 is an invitation for you to give $11 a month for the next year in honor of someone. Why $11? We chose $11 because that is what it costs CSNTM to preserve one unique, handwritten page of a New Testament manuscript on our upcoming expeditions. Your monthly donation to CSNTM will see 12 pages preserved!

The exciting aspect of this campaign is the opportunity to honor someone else. This time of year is perfect for recognizing and remembering the important people in your life. They could be one of your family members, they could be someone who inspired your interest in the New Testament, or they could even be someone for whom it’s difficult to buy a present.

On Christmas Eve we will post a list of the honorees on our website so that you can share with them the commitment you made on their behalf. The New Testament Scriptures would not be available to us today apart from the work of numerous scribes whose legacy we carry on by preserving ancient New Testament manuscripts for the modern world. Now it’s your turn to become part of a mission that has been going on for almost two thousand years.

Let’s preserve New Testament manuscripts together, one page at a time. 

Donate Now

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A New Edition of the Greek New Testament

Today, the Tyndale House Greek New Testament (THGNT) was released by Crossway. Dr. Dirk Jongkind and Dr. Peter Williams, along with a team of New Testament scholars, spent ten years producing this new edition of the Greek New Testament. The THGNT is unique among modern critical editions of the Greek New Testament in that their text-critical method especially prioritized the earliest manuscripts. (This was first done in 1831 when Lachmann used only majuscules for his Greek New Testament.) The editors also sought to retain unique characteristics from these early manuscripts, including spelling differences, paragraph divisions, and the order of the books in the New Testament. 

Tyndale House Greek New Testament Cover

Already, text-critical scholars have published initial reviews including:

  • Peter Gurry, PhD | Assistant Professor of New Testament, Phoenix Seminary
  • Larry Hurtado, PhD | Emeritus Professor of New Testament Language, Literature, and Theology, University of Edinburgh
  • Daniel B. Wallace, PhD | Executive Director, CSNTM, and Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

We are glad that CSNTM’s digital library was useful for the committee as they examined the manuscript evidence. We commend this volume as a unique contribution to be used alongside the other major critical editions. We also believe it would make an excellent gift for the New Testament scholar, pastor, or seminarian in your life.

You can order it on Amazon.


Friday, October 27, 2017

New Manuscripts from the National Library of Greece

Additional manuscripts digitized by the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) have just been added to our collection. These include 28 manuscripts from the National Library of Greece in Athens, the site of our 2015-16 digitization project

0161 Last Leaf

UV image from GA 0161, an eighth century manuscript leaf containing verses from Matthew 22. GA 0161 is a palimpsest, meaning that the under-text was written in the eighth century but this bi-folio leaf was reused in the process of binding a later manuscript (GA 1419, a 15th century Gospels MS). As you can see, this leaf was reused twice before it came to be bound this way! There is faint writing vertically (GA 0161), as well as upside-down horizontal writing (bottom 3/4 of the page) and right-side-up writing (top 2 lines). This single piece of parchment was repurposed in multiple ways over the course of more than 7 centuries.

  • GA 050: Ninth century majuscule of the Gospels with commentary. 2 leaves.
  • GA 094: Sixth century palimpsest majuscule of the Gospels. 1 leaf.
  • GA 0161: Eighth century palimpsest majuscule of the Gospels. 1 leaf.
  • GA 766: Thirteenth century minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA 768: Twelfth century minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA 2652: Fifteenth century minuscule of the Apostolos and Paul.
  • GA 2653: Fifteenth century minuscule of the Gospels, Apostolos, and Paul.
  • GA 2654: Eleventh century minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA 2655: Eleventh century minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA 2656: Seventeenth century minuscule of the Gospels and Revelation.
  • GA Lect 397: Tenth century palimpsest lectionary.
  • GA Lect 398: Fourteenth century lectionary.
  • GA Lect 399: Thirteenth century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 400: Fourteenth century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 1529: Thirteenth century lectionary of the Gospels. Dated to 1288.
  • GA Lect 1649: Thirteenth century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 1807: Fifteenth century lectionary of the Gospels. Dated to 1454.
  • GA Lect 1809: Twelfth century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 1812: Fifteenth century lectionary of the Gospels. Dated 1452–53.
  • GA Lect 1817: Fifteenth century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 1819: Seventeenth century lectionary of the Gospels and Apostolos.
  • GA Lect 1820: Fourteenth century lectionary of the Apostolos.
  • GA Lect 1821: Fourteenth century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 1824: Twelfth century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 1885: Ninth century lectionary palimpsest.
  • GA Lect 2009: Twelfth century lectionary of Paul.
  • GA Lect 2011: Thirteenth century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 2013: Thirteenth century lectionary of the Apostolos.

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.

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