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

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