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Thursday, October 11, 2018

New Research Fellow for CSNTM

By: Jacob W. Peterson

In August, CSNTM appointed Jacob W. Peterson to the newly-created position of Research Fellow. Jacob began working with us as a graduate student intern in 2011. Afterward, he joined the staff as Intern Coordinator until he left to pursue a PhD in New Testament Language, Literature, and Theology at the University of Edinburgh. While away, Jacob continued to play an integral role in the Center’s mission by participating in every digitization expedition over the last three years. Now that he is wrapping up his dissertation at Edinburgh, we are thrilled to have him back on our team where he will not only lead worldwide digitizing expeditions, but also will enhance our research agenda. Now, hear from Jacob about what he will initially do in his new role.

One of CSNTM’s missional aims is “to publish on various facets of New Testament textual criticism.” Unfortunately, aside from the occasional conference presentation or journal article, we have been unable to dedicate much time or resources toward this aim. As the Center has continued to grow, both in terms of its size and reach, the time has come to highlight the impact of the work being done on the discovery and digitization side of operations.

CSNTM has historically focused its efforts and resources on the discovery and digitization of manuscripts, and it has been very successful at this task. Since its founding in 2002, CSNTM has digitally preserved almost seven hundred manuscripts at locations around the world. Among these are nearly one hundred manuscripts that were previously unknown to Western scholarship. Approximately seventy of these manuscripts have been officially catalogued with the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Münster, Germany, yet almost all of them have gone unstudied.

The desire to fulfill the Center's missional aim combined with the growing number of discoveries the organization has made presented the perfect opportunity for someone to step in and begin doing in-house research. My primary responsibility over the next few years will be examining the manuscripts CSNTM has discovered for the purpose of producing several academic volumes focused on their contents. The aim of the volumes is to provide scholarly treatment of all of CSNTM's discoveries and, in this way, complete the act of manuscript discovery, digitization, and scholarly presentation. A secondary aim is the publication of volume(s) on images in CSNTM's manuscript library. These would focus on new research on and editions of known manuscripts resulting from advanced digitization techniques (i.e., multispectral imaging) or in-depth text-critical studies of particular manuscripts. Ultimately, the hope is to increase CSNTM’s research profile, and also to collaborate with up-and-coming students and recent PhDs to give them opportunities to do original research.

We at CSNTM, and I especially, are thankful for your continued support of everything we are doing and are grateful for the opportunity to expand the scope of our operations, which will hopefully only increase our reputation and impact.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

CSNTM Welcomes Intern Class of 2018

The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) is excited to welcome its newest class of interns! This cohort of talented graduate students has the opportunity to study the field of New Testament textual criticism, work directly with the Center’s collection of digital images, and gain valuable professional skills while working in a non-profit organization. They play a vital role in CSNTM’s mission to preserve, share, and study Greek New Testament manuscripts, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to mentor, inspire, and work alongside each of these students. Take a moment to meet this year’s cohort:

Ben Min

Hometown: Shanghai, China

Academic Inspiration: Daniel B. Wallace, Executive Director at CSNTM

Favorite Snack: Roasted Cashews

Last Book ReadThe Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

What are you excited to learn or do in your internship this year? I’m excited to learn the ways of research and what life in the academy is like.

Zack Skarka

Hometown: Eastport, New York

Academic Inspiration: Mark O’Connor, Director of the Arts and Sciences Honors Program at Boston College

Favorite Snack: Apples

Last Book Read for FunJudas and the Gospel of Jesus by N. T. Wright

What are you excited to learn or do in your internship this year? I am excited to do original research and to learn from Dr. Wallace.

Leigh Ann Thompson

Hometown: Crandall, Texas

Academic Inspiration: Nika Spaulding, Resident Theologian at Saint Jude Oak Cliff

Favorite Snack: Peanut butter M&Ms

Last Book ReadThe Book That Made Your World by Vishal Mangalwadi

What are you excited to learn or do in your internship this year? Aside from getting practice, coaching, and exposure on how to research and think critically, I’m excited to grow in my own beliefs and in how to communicate those to others. I’m looking forward to deepening an understanding of worshipping with our minds.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Sweet Sixteen!





Sweet sixteen! Today, September 13, 2018, is CSNTM’s sixteenth anniversary. Back in 2002, our Executive Director, Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, saw the potential of how digital photography and the internet could transform the way we study New Testament manuscripts—rapidly increasing our access to the physical materials of the Christian tradition. Now almost two decades later, this original vision has proven to be both timely and vital, and our commitment to it has only strengthened. As we move into our 17th year, we have a number of important projects underway that have us excited about what lies ahead for the preservation and study of the New Testament.

CSNTM's Multispectral Imaging

We used MSI for the first time in Tbilisi, Georgia in June 2018 

Multispectral Imaging
The acquisition of multispectral imaging (MSI) technology has been a critical addition to our digitization capabilities. MSI is a giant leap forward for digital preservation work because it allows us to see biblical text that was previously invisible or unreadable. We are among just a handful of research crews on the planet with a mobile MSI setup, which enables us to bring this advanced technology to institutes throughout the world. Our staff is collaborating with experts in cultural preservation to become proficient in processing MSI data, so that we can begin publishing images from data we’ve already captured at Heidelberg, Germany and Tbilisi, Georgia. There are several important manuscripts—water damaged or scraped and written over—that CSNTM has wanted to digitize over the years, but this simply could not be done with normal digital photography. Now that we have our MSI system, we can hardly wait to begin digitizing these invaluable manuscripts to discover what is there!
Research Fellowship
Digitization is critical for preserving manuscripts, but it is equally vital to study the images we’ve taken. So the task of doing and publishing research lies at the core of what CSNTM does. This is why we have recently created the position of Research Fellow. Jacob Peterson, a doctoral candidate doing research in New Testament textual criticism at the University of Edinburgh, has stepped into this role for us and already has important projects on his docket. He will primarily be working on a publication focused on the dozens of manuscripts that CSNTM has discovered during its 16 years of on-site digitization work.
Internship Program
This summer the CSNTM internship program welcomed a highly talented group of three graduate students. This semester they will be working their way through foundational readings in New Testament textual criticism, discussing them in student-led seminars. This introduces them to the various issues involved in our scholarly discipline, especially the manuscripts and textual history of the New Testament. In addition, each intern has taken on an original research project for the year. We offer guidance and feedback through the project that gives students opportunities to develop vital skills—critical thought, careful use of sources, accurate writing, and concise presentation. At the end, our interns will be contributing members to the field of NT textual criticism, as well as having experience that can help them excel in their future studies and careers.
Partner With Us
These projects have us energized to continue the work of digitally preserving the New Testament. But we cannot do this work alone. We need people to partner with us by donating to our work today. We realize that every donation is an investment in something. When you give to CSNTM, you are making an investment that will continue reaping rewards for future generations, allowing them to see, study, and enjoy these invaluable biblical manuscripts.


Thanks for your partnership with us!


Friday, August 03, 2018

From the Library: GA 804

By Andrew K. Bobo and Andrew J. Patton

GA 804

Gregory-Aland 804 (a.k.a. Parliament Library 2) at the Library of the Hellenic Parliament in Athens, Greece


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 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.

The manuscript featured in this article is Gregory-Aland 804, a Gospels manuscript from the 11th century. The manuscript originally contained all four Gospels, but it is now missing the last third of the Gospel of John. We digitized GA 804 at the Library of the Hellenic Parliament during our expedition in January. As we study a manuscript, its physical features offer clues about the people who produced and used this particular copy of the New Testament. GA 804’s unique physical features help us draw conclusions about how it may have been used.

Travelers Edition

Modern publishers design Bibles in a variety of formats and features to accommodate the people who will read a particular copy of the Scriptures. Some have extra room for note-taking, others are pocket-sized, and others include comments and symbols to guide interpretation. Each is produced for a particular kind of reader. This is not new. Throughout the history of the Bible, scribes and copyists devised a variety of different formats depending upon the intended use.

Let’s consider the size. GA 804 is noticeably small—hardly larger than an average iPhone—and only 5.4cm deep. The scribe copied the text of all four Gospels in minute script so that it would fit the tiny proportions of this codex. You get a sense of how small this manuscript is when it’s compared to others. Below is a to-scale comparison of GA804 and the largest lectionary in the Hellenic Parliament’s collection.

HPL MS Comparison

The scribe’s handwriting is another clue. GA 804 was copied with petite handwriting indicating it was probably a personal New Testament that was read privately rather than for public services like the lectionary in the above example. A codex this small designed for personal use would have been ideal for travel.

804 Handwriting

Taken together, these traits indicate GA 804 is a 1,000 year-old traveler’s Bible. The liturgical and public reading of Scripture was vital in the ancient and medieval church; but, as GA 804 indicates, so was personal and reflective reading. We can scarcely imagine just how arduous and unpredictable journeys were back then. Travelers wanted to have the Gospels ready at hand as they encountered challenges and difficulties on their path to new places and cultures. The words of Christ provided guidance along the way. 

Every manuscript has a story to tell. We are grateful for the privilege to digitize GA 804 and share part of its story with you. The exceptional staff at the Library of the Hellenic Parliament are also to be thanked for conserving this codex and collaborating with CSNTM. You can see all the images of this Greek New Testament here in our digital library.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

More Than $100,000 Raised

We would like to extend a heartfelt THANK YOU to more than 200 of our friends who made a donation since we announced our $100,000 matching grant. You went above and beyond in your response. Together, you gave $198,752, nearly doubling what was needed to complete the matching grant challenge.

You provided crucial support so that CSNTM could digitize manuscripts in Tbilisi, Georgia; Ioannina, Greece; and Heidelberg, Germany this summer. The manuscripts preserved include the most significant parchment manuscript CSNTM has ever digitized and one of the oldest manuscripts of Romans known to exist. And we used multispectral imaging technology that will reveal text never before seen in modern times. Soon these manuscripts will be shared online for the world to see in breathtaking high-resolution images. 

Your generosity will have an ongoing impact. Beyond these expeditions, we will continue to build relationships with new partners who want to see their manuscript collections preserved. We also will continue to study manuscripts in our collection so that their texts and features can impact the latest research on the New Testament.

Thank you, again, for preserving ancient New Testament manuscripts for the modern world!

Matching Thank You

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