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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.

Friday, October 20, 2017

15th Anniversary of CSNTM

The concept for the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts began long before it became an official non-profit organization. In my sabbatical at Cambridge University in 1995 I logged many happy weeks at the University Library examining New Testament manuscripts. Peter Head of Tyndale House, Cambridge, and I even spent a day poring over Codex Cantabrigiensis, a fifth-century codex that had been donated to the University in 1581 by Theodore Beza. Digital photography was starting to have an impact in the late 90s. Dr. Hall Harris (CSNTM board member) urged me to start my own institute for examining and photographing NT manuscripts. The need was great: only microfilms were available for most NT manuscripts, and the quality was abysmal. Frequently, the text was illegible on these microfilms, and virtually all marginal notes by the scribes were way too blurry to read. Our knowledge, therefore, of the NT manuscripts was, in each instance, almost always incomplete. Once 4 megapixel digital cameras were produced, the time was right to found a new institute. Digital photography ushered in a new era of textual study: for the first time, these manuscripts would be easily accessible and read with great clarity. 

Microfilm Image of NT Manuscript

CSNTM was granted 501(c)3 status on September 13, 2002 by the IRS.

Our inaugural expedition was to St. Catherine’s Monastery, Mt. Sinai, Egypt in September 2002. In our week there, we examined some of the ‘New Finds’ manuscripts that had been discovered in 1975. In the process of examination, we discovered two more previously unknown manuscripts: an ancient Greek Old Testament palimpsest (a manuscript that had been scraped over and reused) of the major prophets, in majuscule script; and the Protevangelium of James, an apocryphal book of which very few copies still exist (this was one of the earliest ones).

Later in the same month, my wife and I moved to Münster, Germany where we spent a sabbatical year. Because CSNTM was a brand new institute with virtually no funding, we needed a major gift for the sabbatical year to be as effective as possible. Our prayers were answered: Just such a gift from a small church in Minnesota arrived that summer, allowing me to travel throughout Europe in search of manuscripts. Several more discoveries were made in 2002–03. And our first digitizing project was at the Institute for New Testament Research (INTF) in Münster. With one 4 MP and one 5 MP camera (the cost for each of these state-of-the-art cameras was in the four digits!), an assistant and I spent several weeks digitizing the 22 manuscripts in Münster’s collection. It took 90 seconds to process a single picture! The quality was not very good compared to today’s standards, but it was far better than microfilm. 

In the early years, CSNTM was essentially a summer project. We usually raised enough funds for a two- or three-week expedition each summer. The physical location of the Center was my study, closet, garage—and sometimes living room! As word of our mission spread, the funds began to pour in. In 2004 we digitized 30 manuscripts at the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, including an early majuscule palimpsest of Mark’s Gospel that we discovered.

The Center grew, our expedition season expanded, and the quality of the cameras improved. We procured subleased office space in 2008, and the staff increased to two full-timers and one part-time employee.

Codex 800 (National Library of Greece) 

During these years, we continued to discover more manuscripts and improve our photographic protocols. In 2007 our visit to the National Archive in Tirana, Albania revealed dozens of NT manuscripts that the scholarly world was unaware of. The news of these discoveries was reported in over 100 international newspapers.

2008–09 was another sabbatical year for me. I spent it digitizing manuscripts on three continents. The CSNTM team photographed manuscripts in Albania, Romania, Cambridge University, Arundel Castle, Glasgow University, St. Andrews University, University of Michigan, Australia (Sydney and Melbourne), New Zealand (Auckland), the Bavarian State Library in Munich, several sites in Greece, and many other locations.

Monastery of St. John the Theologian, Patmos

By this time, CSNTM had earned an international reputation. The quality of our images, the free access to these images, and the many discoveries were helping biblical scholars all over the globe in the task of reconstructing the exact wording of the original text—all at the click of a mouse.

In 2013, through the advocacy of Dr. Larry Hurtado of Edinburgh University, CSNTM was granted permission to photograph some of the oldest and most important papyri of the NT, housed at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin. Portions of one of these manuscripts, which we digitized the following year, were at the University of Michigan. Eighty years ago, photographs of these unspeakably significant papyri were published. Technology has improved a bit since then; the crisp clarity of CSNTM’s images has revealed many more details. Two PhD dissertations on these papyri have been done/are being done based on our images. All this will help scholars discern the early transmission of the NT text and assist them in recovering the wording of the originals. 

A Page from P46 (University of Michigan)

Speaking of doctoral students, every year CSNTM staff train interns for scholarly work in the New Testament. Many of our interns have gone on to prestigious universities to earn advanced degrees—Cambridge, Oxford, Edinburgh, Yale, Brown, Princeton Seminary, St. Andrews, Wheaton College, Dallas Seminary, University of Dallas, Baylor University, and many other schools. And several of them are now teaching, bringing solid, biblical scholarship to the classroom. Like CSNTM’s digital images, these scholars will have an impact for generations to come. 

The next year was no less momentous. CSNTM received a contract to digitize the entire collection of Greek NT manuscripts at the National Library of Greece in Athens. We labored for the next two years on the project. Forty-four people were rigorously trained for precision digitizing. During this time we purchased the long-anticipated Canon 50 MP cameras—ten times better than our original cameras. Over 300 manuscripts were photographed producing 45 terabytes of images (150,000 images). Thanks especially must go to Rob Marcello, who is in charge of our expeditions and who planned this two-year enterprise down to the smallest details. The post-production work is still ongoing.

Our tiny institute—with only seven employees—has a reputation that belies its size. The staff includes:

Rob Marcello, Director of Operations and Research

Christina Nations, Development Manager

Stratton Ladewig, Project Manager

Andrew Bobo, Research Coordinator

Mark Arvé, Finance Coordinator

Andy Patton, Development Coordinator

Dan Wallace, Executive Director.

Rob Marcello in Dublin

As of last month, CSNTM now has its own leased office—more than 2000 square feet including offices, a dedicated digitizing room, equipment room, library, and conference room.

In CSNTM’s first 15 years, we have worked at more than forty locations throughout the world, digitizing more than half a million pages of the Greek NT and discovering upwards of 90 manuscripts. As we look to the future, our sights are set on libraries in Greece, Italy, Eastern Europe, former Soviet bloc countries, and the Middle East. We will soon add Multi-Spectral Imaging to our digitizing equipment, enabling us to read erased manuscripts—manuscripts whose text has not been seen for centuries. Donations are both welcome and necessary for this work. Not only are CSNTM’s images helping biblical researchers, art historians, and Greek scholars, but they are also digitally preserving these amazing artifacts, freezing them in time before the decay of the ages has its full sway. And, as always, our commitment is to make our images free for all, free for all time.

 

Daniel B. Wallace

Executive Director

CSNTM

 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

200 New Manuscripts Added to Our Library

 We have just added 200 new manuscripts to our digital library from St. Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai, Egypt. All of these manuscripts were taken on microfilm in 1950 by the Library of Congress, assisted by dozens of scholars from various institutions. This was a vast and important project, and you can read more about it here. These images are publicly available on the Library of Congress website. You can search within the collection, which also contains writings by church fathers and liturgical documents, by going here.

The St. Catherine’s manuscripts will now show up in manuscript queries using our website’s search functionality. We have also posted links to each manuscript below, organized by date. We hope you enjoy exploring this collection further through our website. This is part of fulfilling our mission to make the best available images of Greek New Testament manuscripts accessible to everyone.

 

10th Century or Earlier

GA 1203, GA 1220, GA 1223, GA 1225, GA 1880, GA Lect 844, GA Lect 845, GA Lect 846, GA Lect 847, GA Lect 848, GA Lect 849, GA Lect 907, GA Lect 909, GA Lect 1269, GA Lect 1270, GA Lect 1272, GA Lect 2211

11th Century 

GA 1187, GA 1188 (11th-12th), GA 1191 (11th-12th), GA 1192, GA 1194, GA 1195, GA 1207, GA 1209, GA 1210, GA 1211, GA 1212, GA 1214, GA 1216, GA 1219, GA 1221, GA 1222, GA 1243, GA 1244, GA 1878, GA 1879, GA Lect 300, GA Lect 851, GA Lect 853, GA Lect 859, GA Lect 863, GA Lect 864, GA Lect 865, GA Lect 870, GA Lect 875, GA Lect 877, GA Lect 1267, GA Lect 1268, GA Lect 1356, GA Lect 1401, GA Lect 1442, GA Lect 1443, GA Lect 1750

12th Century

GA 1186, GA 1190, GA 1193, GA 1197, GA 1198, GA 1199, GA 1200, GA 1204, GA 1217, GA 1218, GA 1224, GA 1227 (12th-14th), GA 1228, GA 1230, GA 1231, GA 1240, GA 1241, GA 1245, GA Lect 809, GA Lect 850, GA Lect 852, GA Lect 854, GA Lect 855, GA Lect 856, GA Lect 858, GA Lect 860, GA Lect 861, GA Lect 866, GA Lect 867, GA Lect 869, GA Lect 871, GA Lect 876, GA Lect 878, GA Lect 891, GA Lect 901, GA Lect 911, GA Lect 912, GA Lect 916, GA Lect 1364, GA Lect 1365, GA Lect 1405, GA Lect 1439, GA Lect 1753, GA Lect 1754, GA Lect 1755, GA Lect 1771

13th Century

GA 1201, GA 1205, GA 1206, GA 1208, GA 1213, GA 1215, GA 1226, GA 1229, GA 1238, GA 1242, GA 1251, GA 1255, GA 1256, GA 2499 (13th-14th), GA 2502, GA Lect 862, GA Lect 880, GA Lect 896, GA Lect 902, GA Lect 903, GA Lect 904, GA Lect 910, GA Lect 1440, GA Lect 1441, GA Lect 1590, GA Lect 1752, GA Lect 1773, GA Lect 1774

14th Century

GA 1185, GA 1189, GA 1196, GA 1234, GA 1235, GA 1236, GA 1248, GA 1249, GA 1252, GA 1254, GA 1877, GA 1881, GA 2085, GA 2086, GA 2355, GA 2356, GA 2492, GA 2493, GA 2494, GA 2503, GA Lect 887, GA Lect 888, GA Lect 889, GA Lect 1470, GA Lect 1593, GA Lect 1594, GA Lect 1756, GA Lect 1757, GA Lect 1763, GA Lect 1764, GA Lect 1765, GA Lect 1770

15th Century or Later

GA 1202, GA 1232, GA 1233, GA 1237, GA 1239, GA 1247, GA 1250, GA 1253, GA 1876, GA 2495, GA 2496, GA 2497, GA 2501, GA Lect 610, GA Lect 874, GA Lect 885, GA Lect 886, GA Lect 890, GA Lect 892, GA Lect 893, GA Lect 894, GA Lect 897, GA Lect 914, GA Lect 1281, GA Lect 1282, GA Lect 1283, GA Lect 1284, GA Lect 1436, GA Lect 1471, GA Lect 1591, GA Lect 1592, GA Lect 1595, GA Lect 1749, GA Lect 1758, GA Lect 1759, GA Lect 1761, GA Lect 1762, GA Lect 1766, GA Lect 1767, GA Lect 1768, GA Lect 1769, GA Lect 1772

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Helps for Readers: A Page from GA 773

This blog features a tenth-century manuscript of the Gospels known to scholars as Gregory-Aland 773 (GA 773). The manuscript is held at the National Library of Greece in Athens, the site of our 2015–16 digitization project. GA 773 is a remarkable manuscript in many respects. First of all, though it is over 1000 years old, it is nearly in mint condition. Each of the ornate icons of the Evangelists is entirely intact, along with the headpieces and other features of the manuscript. GA 773 also has extensive commentary surrounding the biblical text in the margins and a brief introduction to each Gospel. You might characterize GA 773 as a medieval study Bible.

It is easy for us, as inheritors of a tradition, to take for granted the many helpful features that have grown up around the bare text of scripture. Nearly all of our Bibles include basic things like page numbers, topical headings, chapters, verses, and intertextual cross-references; and study Bibles also include explanatory notes from trusted scholars on the historical, literary, and theological features of the text. These do not claim to be essential nor original (besides book titles and page numbers, none of these features can be found in the earliest manuscripts of the NT). Instead, features like these are the products of centuries of study and reflection. Over time, certain innovations and helps became standard in the medieval church. 

These features are referred to by scholars as ‘paratext.’ That is, they are features which frame and guide the reading of the scriptural text. In this blog, we will examine a single page from the beginning of Mark in GA 773. This single page can serve as a window into the many interesting paratextual features that became prominent after the first 1000 years of the text’s development.

 

Helps for Readers: Mark

 

Headpiece: In nearly all medieval manuscripts, each book begins with a headpiece. It is often rather ornate, with gold and blue ink used to beautify the beginning of the Gospel. The headpiece signals to the reader that a new book starts here.

Headpiece

 

Inscriptio (Book Title): From the earliest manuscripts of the Gospels in the second century and throughout the entire tradition, each Gospel has had a title. It is either “The Gospel According to Mark” or simply “According to Mark.” GA 773 has the longer title, “The Gospel According to Mark,” written in gold ink with majuscule letters (similar to ‘all caps’ in modern English).

Inscriptio

 

Ornamented Letter: It is very common throughout manuscripts to have enlarged letters at the beginning of books and throughout each book in order to mark the beginning of new sections. In some cases it could even be intended help readers recall verses for memorization by causing the first letter to stick out in their minds. The first Greek letter in the Gospel of Mark is alpha, identical to a capital “A.” It begins the word arche, ‘the beginning.’

Ornamented Letter

 

Biblical Text: As you can see on this page, the biblical text is written in a block in the top left quadrant of the page. The reader can easily see that the biblical text is the primary focus of the page, since it is much larger and more prominent than the commentary text surrounding its three sides.

 

Eusebian Canon: If you spend any amount of time looking at medieval Gospels manuscripts, you will no doubt notice small notations in the margin of the text. These combinations of letters are an ancient system devised in the fourth century by Eusebius, the church historian and scholar. Though the system is a bit too complicated to explain here, these notations assisted readers in quickly finding stories that occur in multiple Gospels.

Eusebian Canon

 

Nomina Sacra (‘Sacred Names’): One feature unique to Christian manuscripts is the presence of nomina sacra, or ‘sacred names.’ Scribes would abbreviate names referring to God, the Spirit, many titles referring to Jesus (such as ‘Christ,’ ‘Son,’ ‘Lord,’ ‘Savior,’ ‘God,’ and others). In the first verse of Mark, the words “Jesus Christ” have been written as nomina sacra. In Greek, these words would be spelled ιησου χριστου, but as nomina sacra they are shortened to only the first and last letters ιυ χυ (with a line over each one to alert readers these are shortened words). This communicated to readers the uniqueness of Christ and the worshipful reverence due to him.

Nomina Sacra

 

Introduction: As the medieval era dawned and progressed, certain historical information became standard introductory material in Greek NT manuscripts. It would often include information about the Gospel’s author and when it was written. In GA 773, this information is provided briefly on the first page of each Gospel, in (now somewhat faded) red ink before the commentary begins. This introduction provided readers with helpful information about the Gospel writer’s connection to Christ and the apostles, which reinforced the authority that the canonical Gospels held for Christian readers as a reliable witness to Christ’s person and work.

Introduction

 

Commentary: In medieval manuscripts of the New Testament, it is relatively common for there to be commentary accompanying the biblical text. After the first 500 years or so of Christianity, certain particularly reliable teachers emerged. Their teaching was deemed to be so helpful for so many Christians over such a long period of time that scribes wanted to make these comments on the biblical text readily available to future readers. In GA 773 specifically, it seems that the commentary provided in the margins is a combination of writings from numerous church fathers, especially from the fourth and fifth centuries.

Markers in text and commentary: Though it may be hard to see in the image above, there are small Greek letters written in red ink which are interspersed throughout the text and commentary. These were devised to help readers find the section of commentary that corresponded to each phrase in the biblical text they were reading. Similar systems are used in modern study Bibles with cross references or textual notes.

Commentary Markers

 

If you would like to see the rest of GA 773 for yourself, please go here. If you would like to explore our manuscript library, go here.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

New Manuscripts from the National Library of Greece

 Additional manuscripts digitized by the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts have just been added to our collection. These include 10 manuscripts from the National Library of Greece in Athens, the site of our 2015-16 digitization project.

GA 2528

A reconstructed image of GA 2528 as an open codex. On the left there is a paper replacement leaf which ends with Matthew 20:19. On the right, the facing page contains the original parchment leaf, which begins at Matthew 20:15. The early leaves in the manuscript, containing the first 20 chapters of Matthew, seem to have suffered some significant wear and damage over time (to see some examples, original leaves from Matthew 9-10 were retained as a buffer at the front and back of the codex). The replacement leaves in Matthew were written in the 16th century, about 2-3 centuries after the original manuscript was produced. As you continue through the codex, you will notice that there are two additional paper replacement leaves (ff. 154, 161) in the Gospel of John. These are from yet another scribe writing sometime prior to 16th century. The codex as it stands truly represents a group effort across the centuries!

  • GA 2089: 15th century minuscule of Paul.
  • GA 2524: 14th century minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA 2527: 12-13th century minuscule of the Apostolos and Paul.
  • GA 2528: 13-14th century minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 1308: 15th century lectionary of the Gospels and Apostolos.
  • GA Lect 1315: 12th century lectionary of the Apostolos and Paul. The manuscript consists of 5 leaves found at the front and back of the codex.
  • GA Lect 1510: 17th century lectionary of the Gospels and Apostolos.
  • GA Lect 1519: 16th century lectionary of the Gospels and Apostolos.
  • GA Lect 1525: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 1526: 13th century lectionary of the Gospels.

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.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

New Manuscripts from the National Library of Greece 

 Additional manuscripts digitized by the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts have just been added to our collection. These include 10 manuscripts from the National Library of Greece in Athens, the site of our 2015-16 digitization project.

GA 1832

A leaf from Romans in GA 1832. Large portions of the manuscript, including a few leaves in Romans, most of 1 Corinthians, and all of 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and Ephesians, have been restored. It appears that the original ink had faded enough that it became difficult to read the text, so a later scribe very carefully traced over the original in a darker ink. 

  • GA 1699: 14th century minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA 1762: 14th century minuscule of the Apostolos and Paul. Several quires are missing from the manuscript, including the first few chapters of Acts and all of 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, and James.
  • GA 1832: 12th-13th century minuscule of the Apostolos and Paul. 
  • GA 1875: 10th century minuscule of the Apostolos and Paul. Contains an icon of Peter and two icons of Paul.
  • GA Lect 1226: 14th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 1227: 12th century lectionary of the Apostolos.
  • GA Lect 1228: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 1229: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 1230: 14th century lectionary of the Apostolos and Paul.
  • GA Lect 1232: 14th century lectionary of the Gospels.

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.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

New Manuscripts from the National Library of Greece

Additional manuscripts digitized by the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts have just been added to our collection. These include 10 manuscripts from the National Library of Greece in Athens, the site of our 2015-16 digitization project.

Beginning of Acts

Above is the beginning of Acts in GA 1611. This manuscript has had quite a life! The first 30-35 leaves have been charred by fire and one-third of every leaf is missing (with some original leaves missing entirely). However, the manuscript was not discarded. Later scribes did the painstaking work to restore the bottom part of each leaf, even writing in missing lines of text covered over by the repair paper. 

  • GA 1360: 11th or 12th century minuscule of Apostolos and Paul with commentary in the margins.
  • GA 1410: 14th century minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA 1611: 10th century minuscule of the Apostolos, Paul, and Revelation.
  • GA 1694: 13th century minuscule of the Gospels
  • GA Lect 448: 13th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 587: 12th or 13th century lectionary of the Apostolos and Paul.
  • GA Lect 1215: 15th century lectionary (dated to 1405) of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 1223: 13th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 1224: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 1225: 14th century lectionary of the Gospels.

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.

Monday, August 07, 2017

New Manuscripts from the National Library of Greece

Additional manuscripts digitized by the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts have just been added to our collection. These include 10 manuscripts from the National Library of Greece in Athens, the site of our 2015-16 digitization project.

UV Comparison

Above is a leaf from GA Lect 444, a majuscule lectionary from the 10th century. As you can see, this manuscript is a palimpsest, so the original text (GA Lect 444) was scraped away and a different text (a liturgical book) was written over it by a later scribe. CSNTM digitized this manuscript using ultraviolet lighting in order to help scholars decipher the text more easily. Images of the entire manuscript, both with and without UV, have now been posted.

  • GA 781: 14th century minuscule of the Gospels. Lots of wax and dirt--signs of a well-used manuscript!
  • GA 809: 11th century minuscule of the Gospels. Extensive commentary in the margins surrounding the biblical text. Ornate canon tables and headpieces.
  • GA 811: 14th century (dated to 1321) minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA 1405: 15th century minuscule of the Apostolos and Paul.
  • GA Lect 432: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 437: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 438: 13th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 442: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 444: 10th century majuscule lectionary. 
  • GA Lect 447: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels.

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.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

CSNTM's Newest Board Member: Dr. Greg Bledsoe

Please welcome CSNTM’s newest board member, Dr. Greg Bledsoe!

Dr. Greg Bledsoe has accepted an invitation to be on the CSNTM Board of Directors, joining John Brandon (Vice President International, Apple, retired), Dr. W. Hall Harris (Senior Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary), Dr. Michael W. Holmes (Director of the Bible Scholars Initiative), Susan Hutchison (Executive Director, Simonyi Fund for the Arts and Sciences, Seattle), Dr. Daniel B. Wallace (Executive Director, CSNTM), and Dr. Tommy Wasserman (Academic Dean and Lecturer in New Testament, Örebro School of School of Theology). Dr. Bledsoe is the Surgeon General of Arkansas and an expert in both wilderness and emergency medicine. You can learn more about Dr. Bledsoe at his website.

The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts is thrilled to have Dr. Bledsoe on its Board of Directors!

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

10 New Gospels Manuscripts from the National Library of Greece

Additional manuscripts digitized by the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts have just been added to our collection. These include 10 Gospels manuscripts from the National Library of Greece in Athens, the site of our 2015-16 digitization project.

GA 773 Evangelists

Icons of the Evangelists in GA 773 (Matthew, top left; Mark, top right; Luke, bottom left; John, bottom right)

  • GA 761: 14th century minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA 762: 14th century minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA 764: 14th century minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA 773: 10th century minuscule of the Gospels with extensive commentary in the margins from various church fathers.
  • GA Lect 389: 11th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 390: 10th or 11th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 404: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 405: 13th century lectionary (dated to 1274) of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 413: 14th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 430: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels.

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.

Friday, July 28, 2017

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

Friday, June 23, 2017

Manuscripts Digitized at the University of Edinburgh

By: Jacob Peterson

I left my role as Intern Coordinator at CSNTM in the fall of 2015 to begin my PhD in New Testament at the University of Edinburgh. Over the course of the next year, it became obvious that, if possible, I should try and digitize the New Testament manuscripts held in the university’s library. Thankfully, the university agreed to this, and so Jim Leavenworth, a former CSNTM intern and fellow Edinburgh postgrad, and I were able to complete this project in December of last year.

In total, the university owns five Greek New Testament manuscripts listed in the official catalog produced by the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Germany. The manuscripts are:

GA 563 – 11th century manuscript of the Gospels

GA 897 – 13th century manuscript of the Gospels

GA 898 – 13th century manuscript of the Gospels

GA Lect 578 – 11th century manuscript with lectionary readings from the Gospels

GA Lect 1747 – 11th century manuscript with lectionary readings from John

While preparing the manuscripts for digitization, I discovered what seemed to be two new manuscripts in the form of replacement leaves. Sometimes individual leaves or whole quires would have to be replaced because the original had fallen out or was badly damaged. One of the new discoveries appears to be a simple case of an entire quire being replaced for possibly these reasons. However, the other new discovery is much more interesting. It is a single leaf that has been replaced in GA Lect 578.

The normal lectionary reading for Pentecost includes John 7:37–52 and then 8:12. This notably skips over the story of the woman caught in adultery, which was read separately on a feast day. Yet, in GA Lect 578 the evidence points to the lectionary originally containing the whole range of 7:37–8:12. The replacement leaf provided the first clue of this in that it only has writing on the front of the leaf that contained John 7:45–52 and 8:12. The natural question then is whether or not the original leaf would have held those verses plus the 7:53–8:11. The page prior to the replacement leaf ends at John 7:45, and the one after begins with the next day’s lection from Matthew 18:10. Each leaf in the manuscript contains about 1,400–1,800 letters, and John 7:45–8:12 has 1,389 letters according to the standard Greek text. This works out perfectly given that the scribe often left some blank space at the end of a column if it would mean that a new lection could start on a new leaf. It appears then that the original scribe incorrectly copied the story of the woman caught in adultery into the readings for Pentecost and then, at a later date, someone noticed this problem and took the effort to replace the entire leaf rather than just write in the manuscript that the section should be skipped.

What might seem like a rather mundane point about an otherwise obscure Byzantine lectionary raises a couple of interesting points. The first is that the Church is loyal to the proper lectionary cycle and was astutely aware of the proper readings for each day. Reading the story of the woman caught in adultery on Pentecost is certainly not harmful, but its rightful place in church liturgy is with the feasts. This was enough reason for someone to take considerable time and effort to fix the error. The second is that it presents difficult questions for the copying history of the manuscript. By analyzing other telltale places in the manuscript, it does not appear that it was copied from a continuous text manuscript where it would have been easy to include the story of the woman caught in adultery on accident. So when and how did this story get inserted? Perhaps we’ll never know. But we do know that some monk included it, whether accidentally or because of liking the story and knowing it belonged after John 7:52. We also know that a later monk knew it did not belong, so he fixed it to stay in line with the proper worship of the church.

This manuscript also shows that there are many, many more manuscripts to discover and countless more interesting things we have to learn from them. Something as ordinary as a replacement leaf invites us back into the history of the Church and into the real world and lives that surrounded the creation of these treasures.

A special thank you is extended to Dr. Joseph Marshall, Norman Rodger, and Susan Pettigrew, as well as the rest of the Centre for Research Collections staff, who made this project possible in the midst of the library’s incredibly busy schedule.

Monday, May 01, 2017

From the Library: GA Lect 2468

The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) Digital Library contains hundreds of Greek NT manuscripts, each with its own story to tell. In our “From the Library” series, we will feature individual manuscripts from our collection in order to showcase their unique beauty and importance. This is part of CSNTM’s mission to make NT manuscripts accessible for everyone.

A New Discovery

The next feature in our From the Library Series is GA Lect 2468, which is one of the manuscripts CSNTM “discovered” while on expedition at the National Library of Greece (NLG). This manuscript was considered a discovery because it had not been officially catalogued by the Institute for New Testament Textual Research (INTF) in Münster, Germany. INTF maintains a list of all known Greek New Testament manuscripts. The National Library of Greece knew of its existence and had catalogued it as NLG 1910, but most biblical scholars were unaware of it until CSNTM digitized it and made it publicly available. This manuscript is a lectionary, which means that it contains a collection of scripture readings and comments to be used in Christian services on particular days of the year. Lectionaries like this one played a vital role in the Church’s worship throughout history.

Cover

GA Lect 2468 is an example of the urgent need for digitization. This medieval codex has had a tumultuous existence, and it shows. The first thing you will notice is the broken back cover. The manuscript’s cover is a wooden board wrapped in leather. More than half of the wooden board on the back was broken at some point, leaving the pages exposed to the elements.

As a result, the final pages of the manuscript are tattered and torn. 

GA Lect 2468 Back Cover

The broken back cover of GA Lect 2468

Water Damage

The manuscript has also been severely damaged by water. Water is one of the most significant threats to manuscripts because it damages both the parchment and the text. GA Lect 2468 has major portions at the beginning and end of the manuscript that have been washed out by water. In those spots, the text is faint or totally erased.

The first two pictures in the set below demonstrate how water damage affects the leaves in a manuscript. The one on the far left shows how the water receded across the page as it dried, but fortunately most of the text is clear. In the second image, we can see how the water receded, but here the text has become faint or totally erased.

Finally, water can also cause the ink to rust quickly because manuscripts were often written with iron-based ink. The third image shows a leaf where the water pooled, causing the ink to rust in certain spots and then spread across multiple lines. The text is smudged and distorted where there is rust.

GA Lect 2468 Damaged Leaves

Damaged leaves in GA Lect 2468 showing water damage (left and center) and rust (right)

Digitization to Preserve and Recover

It is remarkable that any manuscript has survived through the centuries and come down to us. Every manuscript is subject to an ever-changing environment and the eccentricities of history. Manuscripts were made to be used, and they were read and used for generations before they were intentionally preserved. Students of the New Testament are fortunate because the Greek New Testament suffers from an “embarrassment of riches” in manuscript attestation. Nearly 6,000 copies, in varying states of decay, are known to scholars today. There are even more manuscripts, like GA Lect 2468, that scholars have not yet identified. 

Digitization is a critical component in the preservation of these important and fragile documents. First, digitization captures the manuscript at a particular point in time. Then if it further deteriorates or is destroyed, we can still examine the document and its text through the archival images. Second, digitization extends the physical life of the manuscript because it can be examined closely—often more closely than looking at the codex in person—without being handled. This greatly reduces the risk of further deterioration. Finally, digitization using multi-spectral imaging or ultraviolet light can, in a sense, turn back the hands of time by revealing text that was erased by environmental damage or intentional erasure.

 UV Comparison

An example of the difference UV can make, from another manuscript

Manuscripts like this one invigorate our efforts to continue our work. GA Lect 2468 was damaged and deteriorating, and may soon become too fragile for researchers to handle. Because of the NLG expedition, however, not only has this manuscript become known to NT scholars, it is now preserved for all time through digitization and is available for everyone to study on our website. It is a great privilege to partner with libraries like the NLG in preserving the wealth of manuscripts that have come down to us, and ensuring that the next generation can enjoy them as well. You can view the complete manuscript in CSNTM’s Digital Library.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Five More CSNTM Discoveries Added to INTF’s Kurzgefasste Liste

Dr Wallace in MS Room

When we go on an expedition, we intend to preserve known manuscripts. In the process, however, we often have the exciting privilege of uncovering new ones as well. Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, the Executive Director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM), and his team of experts inspect each manuscript that will be digitized. During this intensive first-hand study and in consultation with library staff, Dr. Wallace has found numerous New Testament manuscripts that were previously unknown to the broader scholarly community. Sometimes these are tucked away inside a codex along with another manuscript. At other times, an entire codex had not previously been recognized as a NT manuscript.

After making a potential discovery, CSNTM partners with the Institute for New Testament Textual Research (INTF) to add the new manuscript to the INTF Kurzgefasste Liste—the official catalogue of all Greek NT manuscripts. This involves assigning the discovery a Gregory-Aland (GA) number, which is the way that scholars commonly refer to each manuscript. 

We are glad to announce that INTF has just added five additional CSNTM discoveries to the Liste. These are now added to the four new minuscules that we announced last December. All nine of these manuscripts were discovered during our expedition at the National Library of Greece (NLG) in 2015–16.

Below is a list of the manuscripts, with both their NLG shelf number and new GA number, along with a brief description of the contents.

NLG 158 (pp. 1–4) – GA Lect 2466

Fourteenth-century lectionary of the Apostolos and Paul; the first two leaves of NLG 158/GA 765 

GA L2466 Leaf

Lection from the beginning of 1 John in GA Lect 2466

NLG 158 (pp. 405–461) – GA Lect 2467

Twelfth-century lectionary of the Apostolos and Paul; 27 leaves at the end of NLG 158/GA 765

GA L2467 Leaf

Lection from the beginning of Acts 2 in GA Lect 2467

NLG 1910 – GA Lect 2468

Fifteenth-century lectionary; 264 leaves

NLG 3534 – GA Lect 2469

Fifteenth-century lectionary of the Gospels, Apostolos, and Paul; 64 leaves

NLG 4002 – GA Lect 2470

Eighteenth-century lectionary of the Gospels; 172 leaves

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Holy Week in a Twelfth Century Manuscript

Happy Easter to everyone who is celebrating Christianity’s most holy day! We have been sharing images from the Passion narratives on our social media accounts. All the images are from manuscript GA 777 from the National Library of Greece, a special twelfth century minuscule decorated with miniature icons of the life of Christ. In this post you can see how this manuscript depicted Holy Week in stunning detail.

Triumphal Entry (Luke 19.28–44)

Last Supper (Luke 22.7–38)

Trial (Mark 15.1–15) / Luke (23.8–15)

Simon the Cyrene (Mark 15.21)

Crucifixion (John 19.16–37)

 

If you want to dig deeper into this amazing manuscript, check out our From the Library article.

Friday, March 31, 2017

From the Library: GA 1424

The Digital Library of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) contains hundreds of Greek NT manuscripts, each with its own story to tell. In our “From the Library” series, we feature individual manuscripts from our collection in order to showcase their unique beauty and importance. This is part of CSNTM’s mission to make NT manuscripts accessible for everyone.

GA 1424 Cover

The front cover of GA 1424

Recently, Codex 1424, a ninth-century New Testament manuscript, made major news because the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago returned the historic manuscript to the Greek Orthodox Church in a ceremony attended by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America. CSNTM had the privilege of digitizing GA 1424 in 2010, preserving this important manuscript and making it available online.

The beginning of Matthew in GA 1424 

Earliest Complete NT Minuscule

This manuscript holds a singular importance in the textual history of the New Testament for several reasons. First, GA 1424 is a complete Greek New Testament. Of the nearly 6,000 extant Greek NT manuscripts, only about 60 contain the entire New Testament. In addition, GA 1424 is regarded as the first complete Greek NT in minuscule text. Minuscule is a form of cursive writing that came into common use during the medieval era, beginning at about the ninth century. So this manuscript stands at the beginning of a new era and new method of copying the biblical text, a trend that would dominate until the advent of the printing press six centuries later. Finally, the Nestle-Aland critical edition of the Greek NT (the edition used by nearly all modern English translations of the NT) considers GA 1424 a “frequently cited witness” in the Gospels, meaning its readings of the Gospels were considered highly important for determining the original text of the NT. 

Unique Order

Along with its importance, GA 1424 is also notable for its uniqueness. The order of the books within the codex follows an unusual pattern: Gospels, Acts, General Epistles, Revelation, and then Paul. It is highly unconventional for Paul’s letters to follow Revelation, and it is unknown why such an ordering would have been chosen. 

The beginning of Romans in GA 1424, which immediately follows Revelation. Marginal commentary surrounds the text. 

Commentary

In the margins surrounding the New Testament text, scribes have included commentary by ancient Christian commentators. The Gruber Collection’s description of the manuscript notes that the original scribe included commentary on Revelation by Oecumenios (sixth century), and then scribes in the twelfth century added commentary from important church fathers from the fourth and fifth centuries: Chrysostom for the Gospels, and Theodore, Severian, and Theodoret for Paul’s letters. The marginal commentary not only shows how the church’s reading was guided by earlier exegetical traditions, but the commentary also implicitly speaks of the longevity of the codex itself. We must remember that the scribes who added these commentaries were working on a document that was already 300 years old at the time. This is a testament to the craftsmanship used in making manuscripts, as well as the useful life that they had. The work that Sabas (the ninth century scribe who wrote out the NT text in GA 1424) did went well beyond his own lifetime, not only to those still using the codex in the twelfth century, but even to all of us today.

We are grateful to have had the opportunity to digitize such a unique and important manuscript. There are other interesting textual features in this manuscript including the later addition of the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 7.53–8.11) in the margin. We hope that you will enjoy viewing the rest of the codex in our Digital Library.

Friday, March 03, 2017

From Scribe to Screen: How Technology is Changing Textual Criticism

By: Jacob W. Peterson, PhD Candidate at the University of Edinburgh 

I had just turned eight when the first edition of The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research was published in 1995, but my first interaction with the book didn’t come until more than a decade and a half later in grad school. One of the final chapters of that book dealt with the use of computers in textual criticism and the promise that the digital revolution had for the field. Reading that chapter in late 2011 caused more gratefulness that I skipped that era than hope for some Jetsons-like future. To say that technology had changed in the interim between publication and my reading would be a severe understatement. When the second edition landed on the shelves in late 2012, the editors made the decision not to update that chapter because as soon as the volume was printed it would be outdated. With an eye to the fact that the pace of technological innovation has still not slowed, I will now offer some current and future tech that brings promise to the study of ancient documents, particularly of the New Testament.

The first technological advance showing great promise is multi-spectral imaging (MSI). Specialists working with MSI are just beginning to understand the range of its applications. I was recently at a presentation by representatives of the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library (EMEL) who were working on items in the David Livingstone collection. They had used MSI to create a topographical analysis of a diary page that revealed a wet cup had once rested on the page. This was all but invisible to the naked eye but perfectly explained why certain parts of the text had smudges. While this is now only marginally exciting, it points to a bright future for the technology. There are so many important manuscripts that are difficult to read or are illegible for any number of reasons that MSI enables us to finally analyze. Beyond providing scholars with accurate pictures of the text contained in the ancient sources, MSI seems to have great potential for informing us about secondary details, too. Text critics should be excited that more and more libraries are utilizing MSI because it finally provides clear access to our most inaccessible texts.

The next piece of technology holds, I think, the most potential to change the way that text criticism is done. Only a few years ago the idea of a successful application of optical character recognition (OCR) to handwritten texts was labeled impossible. By “OCR” I mean having a computer scan an image of a text and convert that into a digital text than can be searched and edited in a computer program. I’ve now seen prototypes that not only demonstrate that Greek manuscript OCR is possible, but that it is realizable in the not-too-distant future. The traditional way of analyzing manuscripts involves a human comparing a manuscript to a known text and recording the differences or actually transcribing each letter. You can imagine the feasibility of doing this for 5800 manuscripts, which is why text critics have created methods for sampling a manuscript’s readings rather than looking through the entire text. When provided with high quality digital images like those from CSNTM, OCR promises to automate this laborious process. Lifetimes’ worth of work will be compressed into mere months. OCR is not a magic wand that will eliminate the need to confirm readings in the manuscripts, but it will provide unprecedented amounts of raw data. That data can then be fed into tools like the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method to provide an even better picture of textual transmission, which ultimately impacts our understanding of the earliest form of the New Testament text. OCR, when achieved, will drastically transform what text critics have available to them and will open new avenues of research that will shed more light on the transmission of the New Testament.

A final and probably overlooked element of the increased incorporation of technology into textual criticism that I want to mention is its social impact. In the 19th century, text critics were predominantly Western European and, if not independently wealthy, funded by a benefactor. By the 20th century, the practice expanded to America but remained a discipline of Western culture. In the 21st century, organizations like CSNTM and its European counterparts, along with individual libraries, have opened up many resources to the rest of the world. For instance, students and scholars in South America, where the only known manuscript is in Brazil, now have free online access to thousands of manuscripts that previously were inaccessible because of distance and financial resources. In this way, technology has allowed textual criticism to soon become a global enterprise. New perspectives and new voices will make welcomed contributions to the field.

These are but a few examples of the ways I see technology changing textual criticism. The forecast may change tomorrow so that what I’ve written today becomes obsolete, but what will not change is the ever-increasing role of technology in the discipline. The good news is that these new developments, whatever they may be, move us in the direction of a better and more complete understanding of the history of the New Testament text.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

New Manuscripts from the National Library of Greece

New manuscripts digitized by the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) have just been added to our searchable collection. These include 7 manuscripts from the National Library of Greece (NLG) in Athens, the site of our recently completed digitization project.

GA Lect 1805, John 1

Headpiece from the beginning of Johannine lections in GA Lect 1805

  • GA 1830: 15th century minuscule of the Apostolos and Paul.
  • GA 1831: 14th century minuscule of the Apostolos and Paul.
  • GA 2013: 12th century minuscule of Paul with commentary. This manuscript is a consistently cited witness in the NA27. The text is marked off from the commentary by carats. Somes leaves are missing, and the quires were accidentally reshuffled during the modern rebinding process.
  • GA Lect 1233: 13th century lectionary of the Gospels and Apostolos.
  • GA Lect 1651: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 1804: 14th century lectionary (dated to 1356) of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 1805: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels. In the image above, you can see an example of the ornate headpieces found throughout the manuscript. There is also a rather creative ekthesis letter here. The middle of the epsilon is an arm offering an apple to a bird, which forms the top curve of the letter. 

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.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

From the Library: GA 2934

The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) Digital Library contains hundreds of Greek NT manuscripts, each with its own story to tell. In our “From the Library” series, we will feature individual manuscripts from our collection in order to showcase their unique beauty and importance. This is part of CSNTM’s mission to make NT manuscripts accessible for everyone.

 

An Unusual Discovery

Our next feature is an unusual manuscript that CSNTM discovered inside the binding of another manuscript at the National Library of Greece (NLG). One of the Greek New Testament manuscripts in the National Library’s collection is a 12th century lectionary, known to scholars as GA Lect 1813. When CSNTM’s Executive Director, Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, was examining it for digitization he discovered that leaves from a different manuscript had been glued to the inside cover of the manuscript. Once he took a closer look he discovered that they contained portions from 1 John and Acts.

GA 2934

Side-by-side images of the front and back covers of GA 2934

 

Although a finding like this is somewhat unusual, it is certainly not unprecedented. Those who rebound medieval manuscripts sometimes used other manuscripts, perhaps those that were damaged or for some reason no longer in use, to help preserve and fortify the manuscript at hand. Such a finding may not necessarily revolutionize our knowledge of the New Testament text, but it adds further hard evidence to the sheer number of manuscripts that have existed in history. Our embarrassment of riches just got a little bit richer.

After the manuscript was digitized, experts at the Institute for New Testament Textual Research (INTF) examined the images and determined that it was a bona fide New Testament manuscript, which was previously unknown. Now, these leaves have been officially catalogued and added to the list of Greek New Testament manuscripts as Gregory-Aland 2934. This is one of four manuscripts CSNTM digitized at the NLG that have been recently catalogued. To learn about all four, you can go here.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

New Manuscripts from the National Library of Greece

New manuscripts digitized by the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) have just been added to our searchable collection. These include 7 manuscripts from the National Library of Greece (NLG) in Athens, the site of our recently completed digitization project.

GA 778 Cover

The Front Cover of GA 778

  • GA 778: 12th century minuscule of the Gospels. The first quire has been accidentally reshuffled with the leaves appearing out of order. The icon of Matthew is a smaller leaf, probably from another manuscript.
  • GA 1695: 14th century minuscule dated to 1311 of the Gospels. Two front cover parchment leaves are GA Lect 2013.
  • GA 1763: 15th century minuscule of the Apostolos and Paul.
  • GA Lect 1650: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 1800: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 1801: 13th century lectionary dated to 1265 of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 1803: 14th century lectionary of the Gospels.

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.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

New Manuscripts from the National Library of Greece

New manuscripts digitized by the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) have just been added to our searchable collection. These include 7 manuscripts from the National Library of Greece (NLG) in Athens, the site of our recently completed digitization project.

John Icon

Icon from the beginning of John's Gospel in GA 1686

  • GA 1272: 15th century minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA 1686: 15th century minuscule (dated to 1418) of the Gospels. The pericope adulterae has been marked as dubious by the original scribe, though it is still included in the text.
  • GA 1690: 13th-14th century minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 836: 14th century lectionary (dated to 1340) of the Gospels. This lectionary contains only Sunday lections.
  • GA Lect 1062: 15th century lectionary with selected New Testament readings from the Gospels and Apostolos.
  • GA Lect 1280: 15th century lectionary (dated to 1474) of the Gospels and Apostolos.
  • GA Lect 1549: 14th century lectionary of the Gospels. This lectionary contains Sunday lections with accompanying commentary.

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.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

CSNTM's International Advisory Board

The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) is excited to announce the creation of an International Advisory Board of experts in New Testament manuscript studies, library sciences, and digital preservation from leading international institutions. This board will facilitate the Center’s digitization efforts around the world. Greek New Testament manuscripts are in more than 250 sites worldwide and this global team will help to see them digitized and made available for all to study.

The members of the International Advisory Board are:                                                                                                                     

  • Athanasios Antonopoulos - Faculty of Social Theology, School of Theology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
  • Emanuel Contac - Faculty Member, Pentecostal Theological Institute, Bucharest
  • Simon Crisp - Coordinator for Scholarly Editions and Translation Standards, United Bible Societies
  • Fionnula Croke - Director, Chester Beatty Library, Dublin
  • J. Keith Elliott - Emeritus Professor of New Testament Textual Criticism, University of Leeds
  • Brendan Haug - Assistant Professor of Classical Studies and Archivist of the Papyrology Collection, University of Michigan
  • Larry Hurtado - Emeritus Professor of New Testament Language, Literature and Theology, School of Divinity (New College), University of Edinburgh
  • Christos Karakolis - Associate Professor at Faculty of Theology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
  • David C. Parker - Edward Cadbury Professor of Theology and Director of the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing, University of Birmingham
  • Ekaterini Tsalompuni - Assistant Professor of the New Testament at the School of Social and Pastoral Theology at the Faculty of Theology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
  • Peter Williams - Warden, Tyndale House, Cambridge; Affiliated Lecturer, University of Cambridge
  • Stavros Zouboulakis - President of the Board of Directors, National Library of Greece and Chairman, Artos Zois

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

New Manuscripts from the National Library of Greece

New manuscripts digitized by the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) have just been added to our searchable collection. These include 7 manuscripts from the National Library of Greece (NLG) in Athens, the site of our recently completed digitization project.

Matthew Icon

  • GA 787: 12th century minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA 795: 14th century minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA 802: 14th century minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 421: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels and Apostolos.
  • GA Lect 443: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels and Apostolos.
  • GA Lect 1516: 15th century lectionary of the Gospels and Apostolos.
  • GA Lect 1517: 16th century lectionary of the Gospels and 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.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

New Manuscripts from the National Library of Greece

New manuscripts digitized by the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) have just been added to our searchable collection. These include 8 manuscripts from the National Library of Greece (NLG) in Athens, the site of our recently completed digitization project.

GA 780 John Headpiece

Icons in the headpiece for John's Gospel in GA 780

  • GA 780: 11th century minuscule of the Gospels. This manuscript has particularly interesting and unique headpieces to begin each Gospel, which appear to have been added later. They each have three small icons of various figures ranging from the Gospel authors themselves to Jesus Christ, Peter, Paul, and even John Chrysostom. The feature image above from the beginning of the Gospel of John has (from left to right) John the Evangelist, Jesus Christ, and John the Baptist. This codex also contains a leaf from an uncatalogued manuscript with the text of Phil 2.7–11.
  • GA 782: 12th century minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA 783: 14th century minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 410: 13th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 413: 14th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 414: 14th century lectionary of the Gospels. This manuscript is a palimpsest. The upper-text is GA Lect 414, but the under-text is from various majuscule and minuscule manuscripts.
  • GA Lect 419: 16th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • NLG 1910: 15th century lectionary. This manuscript was identified by CSNTM and it has not yet been officially catalogued or assigned a Gregory-Aland number.

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.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New Manuscripts from the National Library of Greece

New manuscripts digitized by the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) have just been added to our searchable collection. These include 7 Gospels manuscripts from the National Library of Greece (NLG) in Athens, the site of our recently completed digitization project.

Open Lectionary on Copystand

  • GA 769: 14th century minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA 775: 13th century minuscule of the Gospels. This codex is a miniature, pocket version of the Gospels.
  • GA 1698: 14th century minuscule of the Gospels. The quires and bifolia were reshuffled completely out of order when the manuscript was rebound! Our informational document can offer a guide through the text.
  • GA Lect 393: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 394: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 407: 13th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 408: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels.

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.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New Manuscripts from the National Library of Greece

New manuscripts digitized by the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) have just been added to our searchable collection. These include 7 manuscripts from the National Library of Greece (NLG) in Athens, the site of our recently completed digitization project.

Icon Headpieces

Headpiece icons in GA 772

  • GA 254: 14th century minuscule of the Apostolos, Paul, and Revelation with commentary by Theophylact. The biblical text is rubricated (i.e., in red ink) whereas the accompanying commentary is written in black ink.
  • GA 763: 14th century minuscule of the Gospels. The codex actually contains the beginning of Matthew twice! Leaves 14-16 are from another manuscript and contain Matthew 1.1-2.7, and then GA 763 begins with Matthew 1.1 at leaf 17 and continues the rest of the Gospel.
  • GA 772: 14th century minuscule of the Gospels with commentary by Theophylact. Biblical text is indicated by double arrows in the margins. The Gospels of Mark, Luke, and John each have a beautiful headpiece containing an icon of the Evangelist (a collage of all three headpieces is pictured above).
  • GA Lect 386: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 392: 12th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 409: 11th century lectionary of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 435: 14th century lectionary of the Gospels.

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.

Friday, January 06, 2017

New Manuscripts from the National Library of Greece

New manuscripts digitized by the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) have just been added to our searchable collection. These include 7 manuscripts from the National Library of Greece (NLG) in Athens, the site of our recently completed digitization project.

MS Room Icon

  • GA 1761: 14th century minuscule of the Apostolos and Paul. Based on the quire count, it seems that at least 23 quires (184 leaves) are missing from the front of this manuscript. Thus, it appears highly likely that the manuscript originally contained the four Gospels as well.
  • GA 2523: 15th century minuscule of the Gospels, Apostolos, and Paul.
  • GA 2526: 14th century minuscule of the Gospels.
  • GA Lect 427: 13th century lectionary of the Gospels and Apostolos. The text begins with a rather interesting headpiece featuring Jesus in the center with Mary on his left, John the Baptist on his right, and two angels below them.
  • GA Lect 591: 11th century lectionary of the Gospels and Apostolos.
  • GA Lect 594: 15th century lectionary of the Apostolos and Paul.
  • GA Lect 1307: 15th century lectionary of the Gospels and 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.