TC Notes Archive

Eight Uncatalogued NT Manuscripts at the Benaki Museum

Daniel B. Wallace


On February 23, 2009, a team of four people from the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts embarked on a trip to Greece. The primary mission was to take digital photographs of the Greek NT MSS at the Benaki Museum in Athens. Dr. Pitsa Tsakona, the director of Benaki’s extensive library, has been incredibly helpful to us as we have sought to photograph these ancient scriptures for the sake of preservation and scholarship. We have less than a week to go on the task, and although we are looking forward to finishing the work we will very much miss Dr. Tsakona and the very kind staff who work with her.

According to Kurt Aland’s Kurzgefasste Liste, second edition (1994), the Benaki has thirty Greek NT MSS in its possession. The Internet update of the K-Liste does not list any others.

As we were examining the MSS, preparing them for photography, Dr. Tsakona began to bring us others that were not to be found in the K-Liste. We also perused three catalogs—the official catalog of Benaki Museum, Καταλογος Ελληνικων Χειρογραφων του Μουσειου Μπανακη (10oV–16 ος αι.) Athens: 1991, and two in-house catalogs. And we discovered a couple of palimpsests within the MSS that we were photographing (one biblical, one yet to be determined). Altogether, there are as many as eight Greek NT MSS at the Benaki that apparently do not have Gregory-Aland numbers. Below is a description of these.

Gregory-Aland #ContentsType of MSDateMaterialText LeavesColumnsLines per PageDimensionsShelf NumberOther information
l 1065gospels lect (palimpsest1)lectionaryIX/Xparchment22?26.5–21.5MS TA 144See note2
gospelsminusculeXIIIparchment324412318.9 x 13.9 x 7.8 cmMS Σ.Κ. 1See note4
gospels lectmajuscule-lectionaryXparchment122329.5 x 22.5 cmMS Σ.Κ. 5285th majuscule lectionary5
gospels lectlectionaryJune 4, 1731paper34612120.9 x 15.5 x 1.3 cmMS 34
Luke 6.45–22.56minusculeXI/XII7parchment31123–2716.2 x 13.4 x 1.5 cmMS Fond Ancien 638
gospel lectlectionaryXIX9paper198123–2434 x 24.3 x 2.3 cmMS 220/34937
gospels lect10 palimpsestlectionary1127parchment16023024–24.5 x 18.6–18.7 x 7–7.5 cmMS TA 314Previously uncatalogued palimpsest comprises the undertext
gospels lect11lectionaryXII/XIIIparchment20722631.7–32 x 23.5–24 x 7.7 cmMS TA 322See note 10.

We have been in contact with the Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung in Münster about these MSS to determine whether they are new ‘discoveries,’ whether the Benaki is a new location for already known MSS, or whether they are parts of already known MSS. We will post an update to this note when we get word from Münster.

1The upper text is l 1065; the undertext on leaves 84–85 is a different gospel lectionary, also in minuscule script. The undertext only is discussed in this note.

2The shelf number given in the K-Liste is 144 (E). The ‘E’ originally referred to Greek immigrants who brought MSS into Greece. This designation is no longer used at the Benaki.

3Leaf 104 is a paper leaf with a much later hand.

4Several interesting half-high icons; missing first leaf of John; pericope adulterae is on leaf 214 recto.

5From my count, there are 284 majuscule lectionaries listed in the Kurzgefasste Liste (and pdf supplement), 146 of which are from the tenth century or later.

6The MS has 89 leaves altogether; leaves 47–80 are the biblical text.

7Καταλογος Ελληνικων Χειρογραφων του Μουσειου Μπανακη gives a date of 12th century, but there is evidence that the MS may be earlier.

8There is a MS 63 at the Benaki, which is recognized as l 1886 by INTF (though which is labeled in the Kurzgefasste Liste as MS 63 (E)); this, however, is a different MS.

9This may be too late to count as a legitimate MS. And since it is a lectionary, it is harder to determine whether it was copied from a printed book or from another MS.

10The undertext that spans virtually the entire MS is a majuscule document, written between the seventh and ninth century. It is as of yet unidentified, but it is not biblical.

11Leaf 63 has a different, more petite and beautiful hand on finer parchment (which picks up, mid-word, from the previous leaf [Mark 10.23 at δυσκόλως]). This continues for 10 leaves (the final leaf, curiously, does not flow seamlessly back into the original scribe’s MS, suggesting that these ten leaves were found rather than made to order?).