Digitization of Codex Robertsonianus


By: Stratton L. Ladewig

Codex Robertsonianus standing on CSNTM's digitization copy stand

CSNTM digitized another manuscript in March 2019: the renowned Codex Robertsonianus. Catalogued by the Institute for New Testament Textual Research as 2358, it is located in the James P. Boyce Centennial Library on the campus of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS). This Gospels manuscript, which contains portions of each Gospel (see below), is dated by the seminary to the eleventh century.

This manuscript has an interesting story. It was named after the New Testament Greek grammarian, A. T. Robertson, by his student John W. Bowman. Robertson had acquired 2358 in 1927 on behalf of sbts from Adolf Deissmann. It was claimed to be “the second-most important Greek New Testament manuscript” in the United States of America. Upon receipt of the manuscript after its purchase, Robertson tasked Bowman to photograph it. Preservation via photography was a cutting-edge technique at the time. This was to be the sixth complete Greek manuscript ever photographed! The process took an incredible three months to complete.

Interestingly, the result of Bowman’s efforts produced a product that improved the readability of 2358. He claimed that the images “proved to be more legible than the original itself!” By contrast, CSNTM's digitization of the same manuscript took just ¾ of one day, and the 50-megapixel digital images permit the examination of the manuscript in great detail by anyone who might be anywhere in the world.

Left: Bowman’s image, 1927 / Right: CSNTM's image, 2019

We want to express our gratitude to the Centennial Library’s staff. We would like to especially thank Dr. Daniel M. Gurtner for proposing the collaboration and Dr. Adam Winters, Charles Loder, and Dr. C. Berry Driver, Jr. for hosting us and arranging for our work. They were a joy to work with. We are appreciative that they rightly value this New Testament treasure.

Contents:    Matthew 9.33b–11.14a; 15.8–26.71; 27.32–28.20; Mark 1.34–4.3; 4.37–5.12; 5.30–6.16a; 6.30–16.20; Luke 1.1–3.8; 3.25–24.53; and John 1.1–7.23; 7.41–12.30

Reference: The Robertson Gospel Codex