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Archive for 2019

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

CSNTM's Houston Banquet: September 21

Join Executive Director Dan Wallace and many others committed to preserving and studying the ancient Scriptures for CSNTM's annual Houston banquet. This year’s banquet will be held at the Houston Racquet Club on Saturday, September 21st from 6:30–9:00 p.m. A reception will begin at 6:30, and dinner will be served at 7:00.

The theme of this year’s banquet is "A New Renaissance: The Age of Rediscovery." Dr. Wallace will deliver a lively presentation about how our recently acquired digitization technology—multispectral imaging—is helping the Center rediscover words that were lost long ago in New Testament manuscripts. You won't want to miss this insider's look at the future of the digitization and study of New Testament manuscripts. The evening will conclude with the special opportunity to partner with the Center to preserve and rediscover ancient Greek New Testament manuscripts for the modern world.


Where: Houston Racquet Club

10709 Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77024

When: Saturday, September 21, 2019 | 6:30pm–9:00pm

Reception at 6:30pm

Dinner at 7:00pm

RSVP: September 9, 2019


Tickets and Information

Monday, August 05, 2019

$100,000 Challenge Grant!

By: Daniel B. Wallace, PhD

You and I are living at a time when ancient texts are joining hands with modern technology; the result is magnificent digital images of hundreds of thousands of handwritten pages of the New Testament, copied out by faithful scribes in wretched conditions.  

Can you imagine what would be lost if scribes had not copied the biblical texts? They labored alone, in dark and dank rooms, copying the texts of old for unknown generations to come. But because of their devotion to Scripture, even the ravages of history could not erase the abundance of New Testament manuscripts we still have today.

But these texts are deteriorating—even in the best libraries all manuscripts will decay—and they are scattered across the globe in hundreds of cities and villages. What would happen if we came too late? This has happened before; I’ve seen it with my own eyes. The urgency is great. And at CSNTM, we have the trained staff, we have the equipment, but we don’t have all the funds that we need.

A generous supporter of CSNTM is offering a significant and time-sensitive opportunity to you. This partner, who would like to remain anonymous, is challenging you—the friends of CSNTM—to give $100,000 toward our mission. Your support will make multiple opportunities possible:

  • Digitizing manuscripts: This is the core of our mission and our primary task. We are currently preparing for future digitization projects—especially in Eastern Europe—with the potential to photograph scores of Greek New Testament manuscripts.
  • Improving the website: We are working to add improvements to our website that make it even easier to use for people studying manuscripts online and to maximize the potential for studying multispectral images.
  • Training graduate students: Our internship program prepares talented graduate students to become the next generation of scholars and leaders. Over the course of a year, they receive hands-on training from CSNTM’s Research Team. We are looking forward to working with this year’s cohort in just a few weeks.
  • Undertaking original research: Between expeditions, the Research Team at CSNTM is working on a major transcription project of papyrus manuscripts. We expect this publication to make a valuable contribution to the scholars studying these important New Testament manuscripts. 

What this gift means is that we have received a $100,000 donation and the donor is inviting and challenging you to match their gift. Altogether, your support could provide a total of $200,000 for the preservation of New Testament manuscripts! Already more than $13,000 has been given toward the challenge grant—so we're more than 10% of the way there. You could join this group of generous people. This opportunity applies whether your gift is a monthly donation or a one-time gift. Your partnership with CSNTM will make an invaluable impact. We are asking you to consider supporting this urgent mission. Would you make a gift today while you still have the opportunity for it to be doubled?

Donate Now

Thursday, August 01, 2019

From the Library: Decorated Letters in Greek New Testament Manuscripts

By: Leigh Ann Thompson and Andrew J. Patton

New Testament manuscripts are not only vehicles of Scripture passed down to future generations through careful copying, but also are repositories of many features that make them unique, beautiful, easy to navigate, and eye-catching. One of the most common features are ektheses—visual markers that signifies the beginning of a new paragraph or other section by giving the first letter prominence through color, decoration, or position on the page. These noticeable letters served to guide readers through the text, drawing their eye to the beginnings of passages. As you’ll see below, an ekthesis can vary in style—from the simple placement of the first letter of a line into the margin to the incorporation of elaborate decorations and even narrative scenes drawn into the form of the letter. The many ways scribes wrote these decorated letters and the striking beauty of the more elaborate ones makes them worth a closer look. In this post, we’ll examine a few different types of ektheses, working our way from the simple to the ornate.

Simple Decoration

The most common way that manuscript scribes and illuminators employed ektheses was to have very little or no decoration.

GA 038 Ekthesis

Codex Koridethi (GA 038) is a fine example of a manuscript using prominent letters without adding decoration. The scribe who copied this ninth-century manuscript used ektheses to break up the text of the Gospels using only a larger form of the letter placed into the left margin. On this page you can see multiple omicrons, an epsilon, and an alpha written in such a way.

Colorful Decoration

GA 792 Ekthesis

Other manuscripts use a slightly more decorative form of ektheses. Some copyists simply used a different color of ink, usually red, to highlight the incipit letter. You can see an example of this type of lettering in a thirteenth-century manuscript of the Gospels and Revelation from the National Library of Greece (GA 792).

Decorated Ekthesis

Some copyists enhanced the letter with more detailed decorations. You often find these at the beginning of the Gospels. GA 765 is a thirteenth-century manuscript of the Gospels from the National Library of Greece. The manuscript’s illuminator went to great lengths to beautify the first epsilon of John’s Gospel. He or she used multiple colors and a dot pattern that blends nicely with the headpiece above. 

Scribes commonly drew letters in a floral pattern. GA 106 is an eleventh- or twelfth-century manuscript of the Gospels from the Chester Beatty Library. The illuminator of this medieval manuscript began the book of Matthew with a beta drawn with a floral pattern in multiple colors and gold leaf.  

These colorful and ornate letters added to the beauty of these New Testaments—enhancing the reading experience and conveying the value and worth of the Scriptures to the community. 

Elaborate Decoration

In some of the more elaborate minuscule manuscripts and lectionaries we find beautiful examples of ektheses that are embellished with other objects or have been made into a picture themselves.

Historiated Initials

These examples from GA Lect 117, digitized at the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence, Italy, display historiated initials—an enlarged opening letter that contains a picture. Here the decorated letter also doubles as pictures of birds and a hand reaching through the middle of an epsilon. Note the hand in particular. Often, the opening page of an illustrated Gospel manuscript would depict a hand reaching down from the top of the page toward the evangelist to visually indicate that the biblical text was divinely given from God. The pictured hand resembles this common illustration, and the community that used GA Lect 117 would likely perceive its meaning when reading the passage.

Decorating Manuscripts Matters

Large letters set into the margin, ektheses, are one of the most common features you’ll find in New Testament manuscripts. This simple form of illumination pragmatically guided the readers through the text of the New Testament by marking off the paragraphs. But this ancient and medieval practice does not always mean the same thing that it does in modern language. In his latest book, An Introduction to the Greek New Testament Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge, Dirk Jongkind writes, “Nowadays a paragraph is a building block in the hierarchical structure of the text. But in some of the manuscript paragraphing, one gets the impression that a paragraph is used to highlight what follows” (p. 36). In other words, these readily identifiable letters draw the reader’s attention toward a passage—emphasizing its significance—while sometimes guiding the reader structurally through the text.

Additionally, ektheses have a visual effect on the reader. The decoration of these large letters enhances the beauty of the manuscript‚ thereby conveying the value of the Scriptures to the people who read or even simply saw the biblical text. Simple features like large letters reflect the importance of texts for Christian communities throughout history. 

** If you’re interested in seeing more examples of ektheses, our manuscript library can sort manuscripts with this feature if the page has been tagged. Under the heading “MS Feature” click the check box for “Ekthesis or Ornamented Letters” and the tagged manuscripts will populate. Once you click on the manuscript you’re interested in viewing, only those pages with the feature will be displayed in the thumbnail viewer. 

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Understanding MSI Images

By Jacob W. Peterson and Leigh Ann Thompson

This May CSNTM had the opportunity to attend a digital archiving conference in Portugal and digitize in Germany. The images captured during the Beuron expedition are now available in our digital library. In the entry for GA 0197, we include a series of images captured by our MSI equipment that we obtained in May 2018. See the above link to our newest entry in the digital library and see below for an explanation of the different images you will see. Head over to the library page to view this new entry and the fascinating results of MSI.

What Kinds of Images Does MSI Produce?

Multispectral imaging equipment captures images at different and specific wavelengths of light. A series of images for each page we digitize reflects what each band of light captures. These different bands will bring forward different features of manuscripts based on what the materials, depth and layers reflect better or worse with the utilized wavelength and filter.

The series of images that reflect what each band of light captures taken together produce a “composite image.” This image is first in the series for each page, and is in color, displaying what the naked eye would see if viewing the manuscript in person. For example, see the image of GA 0197 below.

0197 1a composite

Basically all that you can see if the overtext of a Typikon. However, the undertext becomes especially visible under the 365 nanometer ultraviolet light with a UV-pass:

0197 undertext

The Physics of MSI

The visible light spectrum–what you and I can see with our eyes–is only a small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum seen in the image below.

Light wavelengths spectrum

The electromagnetic spectrum records the wavelengths in nanometers (nm) of the various types of waves floating around in the air—from gamma rays to radio waves. In our multispectral setup, we are only interested in the visible spectrum and the two surrounding divisions of ultraviolet and infrared light. Our equipment is capable of producing light from 365nm in the UV spectrum, through the visible light spectrum, and up to 940nm in the infrared spectrum.

Viewing MSI Images in the CSNTM Library

When you are looking at the images produced from each of the individual bands, you will see the composite image first, followed by 25 monochrome images. After you click on a particular thumbnail, the image description will give you information such as this:

MSI filename

What you are seeing in the image name field is the GA number of the manuscript, the image sequence number, and finally the multispectral information. The following is a list of the 25 different images captured in one session:

  • MB365UV_0011 - Mains, 365nm, ultraviolet light
  • MB400UV_0012 - Mains, 400nm, ultraviolet light
  • MB420VI_0001 - Mains, 420nm, violet light
  • MB450RB_0002 - Mains, 450nm, royal blue light
  • MB470LB_0003 - Mains, 470nm, light blue light
  • MB505CN_0004 - Mains, 505nm, cyan light
  • MB530GN_0005 - Mains, 530nm, green light
  • MB560LI_0006 - Mains, 560nm, yellow light
  • MB590AM_0007 - Mains, 590nm, amber light
  • MB615RO_0008 - Mains, 615nm, red-orange light
  • MB630RD_0009 - Mains, 630nm, red light
  • MB655DR_0010 - Mains, 655nm, dark red light
  • MB735IR_0013 - Mains, 735nm, infrared light
  • MB850IR_0014 - Mains, 850nm, infrared light
  • MB940IR_0015 - Mains, 940nm, infrared light
  • W365B47_0020  - Wheels, 365nm, ultraviolet light with blue filter
  • W365G58_0018 - Wheels, 365nm, ultraviolet light with green filter
  • W365O22_0023 - Wheels, 365nm, ultraviolet light with orange filter
  • W365R25_0016 - Wheels, 365nm, ultraviolet light with red filter
  • W365UVB_0022 - Wheels, 365nm, ultraviolet light with UV-block
  • W365UVP_0025 - Wheels, 365nm, ultraviolet light with UV-pass
  • W450B47_0021 - Wheels, 450nm, ultraviolet light with blue filter
  • W450G58_0019 - Wheels, 450nm, ultraviolet light with green filter
  • W450O22_0024 - Wheels, 450nm, ultraviolet light with orange filter
  • W450R25_0017 - Wheels, 450nm, ultraviolet light with red filter


As might be clear, everything that begins with a “W” indicates that there is some sort of filter being applied to the shot. Our system runs through 15 “main” images first, then the “wheel” apparatus attached to the camera cycles through 10 addtional combinations of lights and filters.

As you will notice, not every image is created equally. Some of the bands of light produce little of value while others reveal all kinds of information. Some patterns between types of images will be apparent (e.g. UV light works well with water damage), but what works well on one page in a manuscript may not be successful at revealing anything on the next page. All that to say, make sure you consult all of the images in the sequence.

What’s Next?

The next step for CSNTM will be the post-processing of these images. Through this, the various bands are manipulated and various processes are applied to help reveal as much of the text as possible. Once this has been completed, these images will be added to our online library.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Welcome, Leigh Ann

In May, Leigh Ann Thompson joined the staff at the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts. The exceptional quality of her work, her industrious work ethic, and her team-oriented outlook as a Research Assistant in our internship program last year demonstrated the value she would bring to the team. We’re thrilled to have her join our team and look forward to the contribution she will make toward our mission.

We’d like to give you the opportunity to meet Leigh Ann.

After spending a year as an intern at CSNTM, I will be joining the staff as Research Coordinator. Along with overseeing the internship program and the interns' work, I also will cultivate CSNTM’s digital collection and connect people—scholars and students utilizing our digital library, institutes and interested non-specialists—to CSNTM’s work.


Before coming to CSNTM, I worked in non-profit ministries that served young adults and families. I’m in my third year of the Masters of Theology program at Dallas Theological Seminary, pursuing an emphasis in New Testament Studies. When I am not at the Center or studying, I enjoy spending time outdoors, playing just about any game, going on a trail run, sipping a good cup of coffee, listening to live music, and playing competitive board games with friends. This opportunity to join the team at CSNTM brings together my experience and love of investing in people with my passion for the Scriptures and their digital preservation. I look forward to equipping others through cultivating our collection of manuscripts and connecting them with our research projects.

Friday, June 07, 2019

On the Bookshelf: An Introduction to the Greek New Testament Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge

By: Andrew J. Patton

2017 marked an important year for New Testament scholars with the publication of The Greek New Testament Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge (THGNT). Now, Dirk Jongkind, one of the editors of the THGNT and Senior Research Fellow in New Testament Text and Language, Tyndale House has produced a new volume: An Introduction to the Greek New Testament Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge. This brief book offers a primer on the distinctive features of the Tyndale House Edition and the method the editors used for making textual decisions.

One of the best things about Jongkind’s new book is that while the focus is centered on the production of the THGNT, it functions as a concise introduction to the field of New Testament textual criticism. He provides background on the making of the New Testament—answering the question of the relationship between New Testament manuscripts, scholarly editions, and then modern translations (chapter 1). Only then does he proceed to describe the manuscript witnesses to the Greek New Testament with brief introductions to some of the most significant manuscripts (chapter 3).

Of special interest to text critics is the chapter “How Decisions are Made” (chapter 4). Here, Jongkind describes the method used to create the THGNT. For a beginner student, the chapter is a useful summary of the various aspects of textual criticism. For the experienced text critic, he offers greater insight into how he and the editors of the Tyndale House Edition made textual decisions. Overall, this provides more detail into their thinking than is conveyed in the THGNT (pp. 505–523). The starting point for considering a variant reading is, “How is the evidence distributed over the various alternative readings?” (p. 68). They favor readings found throughout the earliest manuscripts and argue that those places where later manuscripts preserve the original reading against the early ones are, in fact, exceptions. The editors considered a variety of factors in both external and internal evidence, placing them solidly in the camp of reasoned eclecticism with a priority toward (early) external evidence. Jongkind also addresses their rationale for not following the Textus Receptus and the Majority Text (chapters 5 and 6). 

The final chapter offers a biblical theology on variation and the transmission of the text. Jongkind argues that the starting point for this discussion begins not with the abstract reflection on what Christians believe God should have done but acknowledging the reality of what God has done. Then he examines biblical passages related to the transmission of the Scriptures. Ultimately, he maintains that the reality of textual variation in the copies of the Scriptures reflects the incomplete knowledge God has given to finite people and the wide geographic spread of early Christianity. 

Aside from the theory and methodology presented above, the book also includes information specific to the Tyndale House Edition, including a chapter that describes its unusual features and a guide to using its apparatus (chapter 2). The so-called unusual features are especially related to the editorial decision to follow the early manuscript tradition by placing the Catholic Epistles before Paul and in display features like ekthesis (dividing paragraphs by placing the first letter in the inside margin) and following archaic spelling.

Jongkind’s work is a helpful introduction to the Tyndale House Edition and to New Testament textual criticism in general. It will be especially valuable for beginning seminary students and anyone looking to better understand the Greek texts standing behind the translations they read everyday. For the expert in textual criticism, the volume offers additional insight into the method and perspectives undergirding the Tyndale House Edition. Their focus on early external evidence in particular should inspire further conversation about how we make decisions about variant units. At less than 100 pages of text and $12 on Amazon, this is a great value addition to your library. 

N.B.: Our Executive Director, Dan Wallace, wrote one of the cover endorsements for this book. He concludes: “Jongkind introduces the reader to manuscripts, textual theory, praxis, major textual problems, and even brief theological reflections on the reality of textual variants. It is no easy task to render this field of study within the grasp of any interested reader, and Jongkind has done so in a remarkably disarming manner.” 

You can purchase An Introduction to the Greek New Testament Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge on Amazon.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Digitization of 0197

By: Stratton L. Ladewig, PhD

Nestled in the beautiful countryside of Germany is the Erzabtei St. Martin zu Beuron, where a wonderful ninth-century palimpsest manuscript is housed. A palimpsest manuscript is one that has been erased and reused to record another text. The undertext—the text that was erased—in the manuscript is essentially unreadable to the naked eye. However, the archabbey was gracious to permit digitization of the manuscript with multispectral imaging (MSI) equipment, which has the potential to reveal the undertext of portions of the Gospel of Matthew hidden under the text of a Typikon.

The timing of this expedition to Beuron could not have been more opportune. The week prior, several of the Center’s staff attended an archiving conference in Lisbon, Portugal. The conference was rich with information on things like digital imaging standards, technicalities of color, usage of metadata, and management of digital imaging workflows. Alongside those topics, we participated in workshops on post-processing of MSI data.

At 3:00 a.m. the Sunday after the conference, Jacob Peterson and I arrived at the airport to make the short trip from Lisbon to Frankfurt. Once there, we grabbed our rental car and drove the few hours south to Beuron. The trip was short–only one day of digitization–but very enjoyable. Jacob Peterson was a tremendous asset because all conversation with the monk had to take place in German. We extend a special sense of gratitude to Br. Petrus Dischler, the librarian at the archabbey, for his warm hospitality and collaboration. We invite you to visit CSNTM’s Manuscripts Library to view the images when they become available.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

New Manuscripts Added to Our Digital Library

We are excited to give you access to images of five manuscripts digitized during our spring expeditions. This past February and March CSNTM digitized at the Dunham Bible Museum at Houston Baptist University, the James P. Boyce Centennial Library at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and  the Bridwell Library at Southern Methodist University to digitize manuscripts. We’ve added four new manuscripts to our collection and new composite color images captured with our multispectral camera for P26. (The full set of multispectral images of P26 will be released at a later date).  

P26: A single papyrus fragment from the seventh century containing portions of Romans 1. This is the second time CSNTM has digitized P26. The newest images were captured with MSI equipment.

GA 2358: Twelfth century minuscule of the Gospels dubbed Codex Robertsonianus after New Testament grammarian and scholar A. T. Robertson.

GA 2878: Twelfth century parchment single leaf containing a section of Scripture from Luke 23.

GA lect 1547: Thirteenth century Gospels manuscript written on parchment. This manuscript has an interesting history of ownership, which you can read about in our expedition report.

GA Lect 2434: A lectionary from the fourteenth to fifteenth century containing readings from the Gospels copied in two columns.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

If you’ve ever wanted to go on a trip with us, now is your chance!

For the first time, we are taking an expedition specifically for our friends and supporters. This Insider’s Expedition is a one-of-a-kind trip to Greece where you will visit ancient sites and also examine Greek New Testament manuscripts with Dan Wallace and members of our staff.

We want to give you the opportunity to see many of the places mentioned in the New Testament and also to go behind-the-scenes at libraries where historic copies of the New Testament are housed. This will be unprecedented access, and ensure it is a trip unlike any other. We will likely never be able to do a trip like this again, so now is your chance.

The dates of this expedition are March 7–16, 2020. Our planned destinations include:

  • Athens
    • The Acropolis: An ancient citadel containing the remains of several significant, ancient buildings, the most famous being the Parthenon.
    • Mars Hill: The site where Paul preached his famous sermon in Acts 17.
    • The National Library of Greece: A beautiful modern library where you will have the opportunity to view New Testament Greek manuscripts. CSNTM digitized over 150,000 pages of manuscripts here in 2015 and 2016.
    • Lycabettos Hill: One of Athens’ many hills with a panoramic sunset view.
    • Benaki Museum: A museum of Greek culture located in the heart of Athens. CSNTM digitized 36 Greek New Testament manuscripts in the Benaki’s collection in 2009.
  • Meteora: A stunning rock formation hosting one of the largest and most precipitously built complexes of Orthodox monasteries.
  • Islands: An all-day cruise to the islands of Hydra, Poros, and Aegina.
  • Corinth: One of the most significant archaeological sites in Greece, Corinth was an important city in Paul’s missionary work and the recipient of the epistles 1 and 2 Corinthians.

The Insider’s Expedition is being managed by Ancient Tours. The company’s co-founders, Dr. David Hoffeditz (ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary and PhD from the University of Aberdeen) and Dr. Richard Blumenstock (ThM and DMin from Dallas Theological Seminary) will lead the tour, sharing their expertise as guides of biblical sites. You can view trip information such as our destinations, costs, and travel details at this website—

You can register for the trip here. We can only take twenty couples on this unique trip, and it is filling up. If you have any questions, you can reach out directly to Ancient Tours or to us at the Center.

Monday, May 06, 2019

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

Friday, May 03, 2019

Farewell, Andrew Bobo

By Daniel B. Wallace 

One of the best things about working with a highly motivated and talented staff is that they also have ambitious plans and tremendous opportunities for the future. And so it is for Andrew Bobo, who is leaving the Center to pursue a PhD in Politics at the University of Dallas.

Andrew Bobo (left) at the Library of the Hellenic Parliament

Andrew has played an integral role at the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts for the past 5 years, primarily in the role of Research Coordinator. His work touched many areas of the organization.

Andrew managed the internship program, overseeing the work flows for each graduate student and mentoring them individually. He also worked tirelessly to improve the internship experience. Among his creative and insightful suggestions were his proposal and implementation of a revision and refocusing of the program to better prepare students for future doctoral studies and careers in the academy.

Andrew also took primary responsibility for managing our growing archive of manuscript images and also coordinating with the scholars and publishers who needed assistance using the collection. As our collection expanded under his watch, our archiving system needed to be revamped. Andrew explored options for CSNTM, and then overhauled the entire system which created greater security for the data and made backup more efficient for the whole team.

Andrew Bobo (second from left) with the 2018–2019 interns and Andrew Patton

Andrew also played a part in multiple digitization expeditions. He was a part of the team that digitized at the National Library of Greece (2015–2016) and then at the Library of the Hellenic Parliament (2018). He developed a skill for capturing images quickly and accurately, which contributed to the success of both expeditions.

Finally, where you might know Andrew is as an author of the “From the Library” posts on our blog. Andrew helped create, with Andy Patton, this series of blog posts that describes interesting and unique features in Greek New Testament manuscripts digitized by CSNTM. These short articles bring manuscripts to life with interesting information for everyday readers and also for experts in New Testament textual criticism. Since the series started in 2016, I have been delighted to read these posts and learn from Andrew.

Suffice it to say, Andrew has had an industrious and impactful five years at the Center. But what we will miss most is the depth of kindness, thinking, and patience that he brought to the team. We wish him all the best in his doctoral program and look forward to the impact he will have as a researcher and teacher.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

A Memorable Evening at A New Renaissance: The Age of Rediscovery

Last month, the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts hosted its annual Dallas banquet. This year’s theme was A New Renaissance: The Age of Rediscovery.

Dr. Wallace recounted how the Renaissance was given a boost by the influx of Greek manuscripts into Western Europe after the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. Along with the invention of the printing press and a few other watershed events, the recovery of these ancient documents had a transformative impact on Europe and the world. Dan went on to explain that multispectral imaging is introducing the possibility of seeing invisible material in old manuscripts in order to fully study the biblical text they contain. With this technology and a team dedicated to studying the New Testament text, CSNTM is making a valuable contribution to both the academy and the world. We are truly entering a new Renaissance.

The Center’s banquet is not only a moment to showcase the work of CSNTM, but also our largest fundraising event of the year. This year’s event raised more than $75,000! These donations will equip our team to complete the post-production of multispectral images, ensure that Greek New Testament manuscripts are preserved for future generations, and encourage a new cohort of interns to become excellent scholars and leaders. We are deeply grateful for the generosity of the more than 50 individuals and families who chose to partner with the Center.

Such a memorable evening could not be possible without the support of many people. We’d like to thank the steadfast members of CSNTM’s Dallas Advisory Board for their involvement in both planning the event and inviting their friends, colleagues, and family. We’d also like to recognize the event’s sponsors whose tremendous support made the dinner possible. Finally, we would like to thank everyone who attended the event.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Every Greek New Testament Manuscript in Texas Digitized: Houston Baptist University Digitization

By: Stratton L. Ladewig 

In February, CSNTM traveled south 250 miles to Houston Baptist University’s Dunham Bible Museum (Houston, TX) in order to digitally preserve their three Greek New Testament manuscripts.

Gregory Aland (GA) 2878 is a one-leaf twelfth century minuscule manuscript written on parchment and contains Luke 23:7–25. GA Lectionary 2434 (14th–15th century) contains portions of the Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John within its four leaves. It, like GA 2878, was written on parchment.

The newest treasure of Dunham Bible Museum’s collection is an uncatalogued Greek New Testament manuscript—currently under official review by the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Münster. Preliminarily dated by CSNTM’s Jacob W. Peterson to be from approximately the twelfth century, its seven leaves contain portions of the Gospel of John. A portion of the pages look to have possibly suffered from a little water damage at some point in the manuscript’s history. Thus, we also photographed this manuscript under ultraviolet light to bring out some of the more difficult-to-read text. Might this be a manuscript that could benefit from the Center’s recently acquired MSI equipment? Further research will provide insight into that question. Nonetheless, it was a great privilege to be able to preserve this manuscript with high resolution digital images. The images from this expedition will be available online soon in the Manuscripts Library.

CSNTM would like to extend its heartfelt gratitude to Dunham Bible Museum and Houston Baptist University. Their staff was professional and accommodating, making our task effortless. We especially want to thank Dr. Diana Severance for her availability during the project. And thanks to Dr. Phillip Marshal, Assistant Professor of Theology, School of Christian Thought, Department of Classics and Biblical Languages, for stopping in to extend a welcome.

It is with great pride that CSNTM has preserved this fine collection. Now, every Greek New Testament Manuscript in Texas has been digitized.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Why the CSNTM Internship?

By: Andrew K. Bobo

Textual criticism is a complicated field. New Testament manuscripts were written on three different materials, copied over the course of 15 centuries, and each scribe has unique handwriting. The sheer mass of materials is staggering, with over 5,300 Greek manuscripts scattered across 250 different institutions worldwide. The study of these manuscripts has gone through a series of revolutions since the advent of the printing press. Beginning with Erasmus, there has been a steady stream of printed Greek New Testaments. The early 18th century saw the first inclusion of a textual apparatus to list and discuss variants. The late 19th and early 20th centuries were abuzz with discussions of new manuscript finds. The Western world first became aware of the major biblical codices and the New Testament papyri during this time, pushing back the date of our earliest attestations by almost a millennium.

Even more recently, digital tools have once again fundamentally changed our field. Text-types, the 20th century’s dominant paradigm for understanding transmission history, have now come into question. A new approach, the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method, is a complicated but promising way forward. Beyond these methodological questions, our study of the manuscripts themselves can now be done in tremendous detail from anywhere in the world, something never imagined in any previous period. On top of all these intricacies, textual critics also employ a jargon that is undecipherable to the uninitiated. For instance, our field employs an unusual number of acronyms for institutions, important publications, and manuscripts (e.g., INTF, CSNTM, ECM, CBGM, IGNTP, NA, UBS, SBL, THGNT, RP-MT, NTTS, NTTSD, NTS, ANTF, P46, GA 1739, PA, etc.).

Despite the complexity, few graduate students beginning in biblical studies feel bewildered by New Testament textual criticism. This is because most have no idea that it even exists. We all tend to take our printed, edited texts for granted, not realizing the work that lies behind them. Beginning students usually ignore the cryptic symbols, letters, and numbers at the bottom of their Greek New Testaments (called a “textual apparatus”), which represent the readings various important manuscripts have.

But when students take our internship, the abstract letters and numbers become real artifacts in living color that can be read, studied, and enjoyed. Leigh Ann Thompson, one of CSNTM’s interns for 2018–2019, described her experience: “There’s a whole world of biblical scholarship that I didn’t even know exists, much less the impact that it has on the texts we read and the materials that our pastors and leaders study. I’ve learned much about the importance of critical thought and thorough research. Even more, I’ve grown to be more thoughtful about my own faith.” Another intern, Ben Min, put it this way: “The internship exposed me to the wider world of biblical studies by introducing us to the best scholars and their works.”

Leigh Ann Thompson, Zack Skarka, and Ben Min—Research Assistants in the 2018–2019 internship cohort

Through a foundational set of readings and seminar discussions, we work through the methods, questions, and materials of textual criticism. We also guide students as they do original research in our field and prepare it for possible publication and presentation. We hope that the internship is the beginning of a lifelong pursuit of knowledge about the text of the New Testament.

For many of our interns, the passion that develops during their internship turns into a career. Many have pursued doctoral studies in textual criticism, and several have become leading experts in the field. Zack Skarka, a 2018–2019 intern, is headed in the same direction: “This internship helped me develop a love for biblical research in general and textual criticism in particular. This fall, I will begin doctoral studies at the University of Birmingham in textual criticism, fully confident that I am doing what I was made to do.” A former intern, Peter Gurry, received his doctorate in textual criticism from Cambridge University. He is now a professor of New Testament at Phoenix Seminary, co-edits the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog, and has already produced several important scholarly publications, including a comprehensive study of the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method mentioned above.

In exciting ways, the internship’s graduates have already begun to bear the fruit of careful study. In the forthcoming book Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism, a group of young scholars have provided accurate research about our field in order to correct popular misunderstandings. Several former CSNTM interns made important contributions, including Gurry, who is a co-editor, and both CSNTM’s Assistant Executive Director, Rob Marcello, and Research Fellow, Jacob Peterson, are contributors. The book exemplifies the cycle that our internship is intended to replicate. Students like Peter, Rob, and Jacob were trained in textual criticism through our internship. They then went on to further doctoral study. Now, they have not only produced scholarly works for other textual critics, but they are also doing the difficult job of translating that work for general readers who have pressing questions about the text of the New Testament. CSNTM digitizes materials and makes them available for study, but we also believe we must train a new generation of scholars to carry out that study. Our internship is where that happens.

Monday, March 04, 2019

From the Library: Lectionary 1807

By Andrew K. Bobo and Andrew J. Patton

Every year, thousands of tourists travel across the globe to view great works of art and architecture from history. Though they may not, at first glance, be as grand as towering buildings or impressive sculptures, manuscripts have also become must-see attractions. Travelers to Dublin stop to see the Book of Kells at Trinity College Library, tourists to London visit the British Library to see Codex Sinaiticus, and sightseers to Jerusalem make their way to the Israel Museum in order to see the Dead Sea Scrolls. Although these high profile manuscripts enjoy most of the attention, one of the joys of digitizing manuscripts is that we often come across exquisite items that are hardly known to the world. One of these treasures is a 15th century manuscript known to scholars as Gregory-Aland Lectionary 1807 (GA Lect 1807). This manuscript resides at the National Library of Greece in Athens, where the Center digitized in 2015 and 2016. The manuscript is particularly noteworthy as an artifact because of its ornate silver covers, carefully crafted in the high middle ages. As we approach the seasons of Lent and Easter, we thought it would be worth examining the scenes on the covers, since they depict the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Front Cover

The front cover shows the crucifixion of Jesus surrounded by panes of angels and symbols of the four evangelists. Church tradition developed a specific symbol for each of the four Gospel writers—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—who are known as the Evangelists. Most commonly, Matthew is associated with a man, Mark with a lion, Luke an ox, and John with an eagle. These four creatures derive from the four creatures in Ezekiel’s vision recorded in chapter 1 of his book. In the corners of our manuscript, you find each of these creatures holding a book, indicating that they represent the Evangelists.

Between the four corners are angels. When you look closely, you will observe that each of the angels is in a different posture and facial expression. Some appear to be in a reverential position and others appear to be downcast or even weeping. Their expressions reflect the horror and divine glory at the crucifixion of the Son of God.


The center panel portrays a scene of the crucifixion. Christ on the cross is the focus of the scene. The cross itself is planted into a small hill of Golgotha. Jesus is surrounded by many grieving people, including John the Apostle who is indicated by the nomina sacra ιω to the left of his head. Angels flank Christ. The two on the left are holding up a bowl, and the two on the right are shown with a scroll. Below the cross, a skull represents death. And above him are the nomina sacra ιϲ and χϲ meaning Ἰησούς (Jesus) and Χριστός (Christ).

Back Cover

The back cover features the triumphant resurrection of Christ. The dynamic scene that unfolds shows Jesus in the middle of his resurrection work. Now that he has himself been resurrected, he is resurrecting those who had previously died. So on the left side there is a group of people wearing crowns to show their victory over death and their reign with Christ. John the Baptist appears most prominently in the foreground: his feet planted in a grave, still wearing his camel hair clothes and leather belt but now with a halo showing his sainthood. On the right side, Jesus is pulling saints with sullen faces out of the grave. These saints are Adam and Eve—a demonstration of the resurrection reversing the curse of death. Below Christ’s feet are a cross and two figures who appear to be in the midst of judgment. Above his head are two angels. The entire event is shown in such a way that not only the reality of the resurrection is displayed, but its implications and meaning as a theological event are communicated visually.

Surrounding the whole scene are those whose task it was to be the witnesses to Christ’s resurrection. At the very top of the frame are Peter (left) and Paul (right). They are flanked on either side by the four Evangelists. To Peter’s left are John and then Luke, whereas to Paul’s right are Mark and Matthew. All six figures are holding codices, probably the bound corpus of their own writings, which testify to the death and resurrection. Another six figures—Simon, Bartholomew, and Phillip on the left; Matthias, James, and Thomas on the right—are holding scrolls and some seem to be speaking or ready to begin speaking. The two figures at the bottom are two Christian martyrs from the first decade of the fourth century, Saint George and Saint Demetrios. The entire cover works together to show the historical reality of Christ’s work, the richness of its meaning, and those who were affected by it. The edges of both sides show the individuals tasked with witnessing to these events, which is appropriate since every manuscript itself is the physical testimony to the continuation of that witnessing work.


Lectionaries were manuscripts intended to be read in Christian worship. They were built around the church calendar. So rather than having the New Testament books in their entirety, like we find in our Bibles today, they instead divided the biblical text into particular readings for the daily worship services of the church. The schedule of the readings developed gradually in the church’s early centuries and later became standardized to form a regular rhythm around the life of Christ. The lectionary covers of this manuscript added another element of grandeur and special reverence to the liturgy, reminding both hearers and readers of the sacred importance of the message contained within.

We are grateful for our partnership with the National Library of Greece whose archival staff cares for this manuscript. We would like to especially thank Director ‎Fillipos Tsimpoglou who granted permission and provided oversight for the Center’s historic two-year digitization project, and to Andreas Vyridis for continuing to collaborate with us to ensure the digital preservation of Greek New Testament manuscripts throughout Greece.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Manuscripts Digitized at Southern Methodist University

By: Jacob W. Peterson

CSNTM rarely revisits a location where it has already digitized, but sometimes previously unforeseen factors make it an easy decision. Back in 2010, CSNTM traveled the whole fifteen miles down highway 75 in Dallas to the Bridwell Library on the campus of Southern Methodist University to digitize one of its manuscripts—Papyrus 26 from the early 7th century. This fragmentary manuscript contains portions of Romans 1.1–16. In fact, it is one of only three papyri with this text. Back in 2010, we imaged the manuscript using our typical high-resolution color images and also used handheld black lights to try and illuminate some of the difficult-to-read portions of the text. This worked pretty well, but you can see in the images that more could probably be done.

P26 under handheld black lights

Well, as you have all read by now, CSNTM acquired multispectral imaging (MSI) last year, so it seemed appropriate to reach out to SMU about re-digitizing the papyrus. Multispectral imaging is especially useful for recovering difficult-to-read, covered, erased, or damaged text that is so common to antiquities. Without having completed any post-processing yet, we have already seen positive results in the initial images.

In addition, SMU has officially gained possession of another manuscript, GA Lect 1547, which had been on loan to them for many years. This lectionary dates to the 13th century and has not been previously microfilmed or digitized. This manuscript has a fascinating modern ownership history, beginning with the biblical scholar J. Rendel Harris in the UK, before going through a Chicago bookstore, being bequeathed to Baylor University Medical Center, and finally acquired by SMU. You can still see traces of several of these owners in the beginning flyleaves, which are full of ownership stamps, purchasers’ codes, notes between text-critics, and more.

Owners notes in GA Lect 1547

The proximity of CSNTM and SMU, the potential to see new things in the papyrus, and the opportunity to digitize a new manuscript made this an obvious project for our team. Thankfully, the staff at Bridwell Library Special Collections kindly agreed to allow us to visit them again to digitize their lectionary and utilize MSI on the papyrus. We would especially like to thank Daniel Slive and Rebecca Howdeshell, who worked with us in both the planning and execution of this project.

The images from this expedition will be available in our library soon, and the MSI images of P26 will be available after post-production is complete. We can now say that every manuscript in Dallas-Fort Worth has been digitized, and as a glimpse of the future, every manuscript in Texas will soon be digitized and made available online.

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Value of a Monthly Donation

By: Stephen Clardy

In June of 2015, our digitization team at the National Library of Greece in Athens found something in a twelfth-century lectionary of the Gospels that immediately grabbed their attention. Pasted to the inside of the document’s front and back covers were additional leaves of Greek text. The text was from 1 John and Acts, not the Gospels, and the script seemed to indicate these were taken from slightly later manuscripts, dating to the thirteenth or fourteenth century. We had discovered a previously unknown manuscript!

Front and back covers of GA 2934

Images from the front and back covers of the new discovery

Over the past 17 years, CSNTM has found over 70 previously uncatalogued manuscripts, more than any other institute or individual in the world. Discoveries like these, however great or small, are tremendously meaningful for New Testament text critics and all of us who are excited to have so many ancient and medieval copies of the scriptures to see and enjoy. Each digitally preserved manuscript and every new find adds another piece to the puzzle, setting up the next generation for even better scholarship and greater discovery.

Just as new discoveries are vital for textual critics, monthly donors are vital to the work of CSNTM. A lot goes on between expeditions. Throughout the year our team studies manuscripts, works on important publications using the images we captured, and plans for new expeditions to preserve additional manuscripts. These endeavors are only possible with a steady flow of recurring financial support. In a very literal sense, regular donations—however great or small—from faithful partners provide us the stability we need to follow through on our work to preserve, study, and share Greek New Testament manuscripts with excellence, and to plan for the future. These donations truly sustain CSNTM and move our mission further.

All this being said, if you are already giving regularly to the Center or have in the past, I want to thank you. It is with the sincerest gratitude that I say your contribution is making a real impact toward the preservation and study of New Testament manuscripts. Thank you!

If you are not already supporting CSNTM regularly, would you consider becoming a monthly partner with us? Any gift helps, and you have the option to give at whatever level your budget allows. Many of our partners give in the amounts of $25, $50, or $100. If you decide to join in our mission by becoming a monthly partner, it only takes a few minutes to start your donation on our website at

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Benefits of a Digital Manuscript Library

By: Jacob W. Peterson

The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) has an international reputation for taking exceptional high-resolution images of Greek New Testament manuscripts. While producing good images is a worthwhile goal in itself, the production of images serves a much larger goal within our organizational mission. The first stated objective of CSNTM in our mission statement is:

To make digital photographs of extant Greek New Testament manuscripts so that such images can be preserved, duplicated without deterioration, and accessed by scholars doing textual research.

In other words, CSNTM does not just travel to remote corners of the world in order to take a bunch of pictures of old manuscripts. The goal of this work is threefold:

  1. the digital preservation of the manuscript

  2. the ability to share the manuscript without need to access the original

  3. the availability of the images to textual scholars

At the end of the day, the result of CSNTM’s labors is a website, and the central feature of that website is our manuscript library. At the time of writing this, we currently have images of or links to more than 1500 manuscripts in our library. About half of these were produced by CSNTM since our founding in 2002. Before proceeding, I first want to note that we recognize that our online library is useful to far more people than just textual scholars. A natural goal of CSNTM is to benefit those in our direct line of work, which is contributing to future editions of the Greek New Testament. However, we know and are glad that our website is useful for art historians, codicologists, paleographers, professors, students, pastors, and just those interested in the historical documents of Christianity.

The most recognizable benefit of a digital library is access to the manuscripts. It was not that long ago that if you were interested in seeing what a manuscript contained, you had to travel to that library or monastery to see it. Naturally, this was prohibitively expensive for almost everyone and does not account for all of the issues involved in contacting the holding institutions and being granted access to see the manuscript. With an online library of images, anyone anywhere in the world can quickly access the images of any manuscript they want to see. Additionally, a fully-tagged library of images (which is what CSNTM is working towards) allows users to find every instance of certain features, such as icons of Mark, or to consult every instance of Romans 1.1 in the manuscript tradition. 

This latter point relates to a second benefit of an online library, which is the ability to consult the actual manuscripts versus the abstract presentation of the data in a critical apparatus.


The critical apparatus from a printed Greek New Testament.

Seeing the actual manuscripts allows scholars to confirm the data in the apparatus, which can be incorrect at times, and serves a pedagogical purpose for professors wanting to make textual criticism more tangible and exciting for their students. It is beneficial any time instructors can shift their students from thinking of manuscripts as numerical data to thinking of them as historical artifacts. Images help make that shift in ways the critical apparatus, transcriptions, and collations cannot. 

Continuing with the benefit of being able to confirm details in an apparatus, an online library of high-resolution images offers one the ability to clarify details in the manuscripts that might have been obscured by lower-resolution images. It’s just a small example, but the fuzziness and darkened ink in the following microfilm led one scholar to assume there was a correction present.

GA 69 version 1

GA69 version 2

A microfilm image (top) and CSNTM's digital image (bottom) of GA 69

However, the sharpness of CSNTM’s high-resolution images makes it clear that there is no correction present and that the darkness of the ink is just the result of the scribe re-inking his pen. These kinds of fine details are only accessible when we have excellent images to consult.

When CSNTM was founded, the primary goal was to preserve and make manuscripts available to anyone who wanted access anywhere in the world. We have been around for 16 years now, and the reach of the organization is greater than I think anyone could have initially conceived. We are glad that so many thousands of users each year find our website helpful for their research, studies, or to satisfy their own personal curiosity. As we look to the future, we are excited about continually adding to our online library and, perhaps most importantly, making all of these resources available for free.