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Monday, September 30, 2019

CSNTM's Houston Banquet 2019

On September 21, CSNTM hosted its annual Houston banquet at the Houston Racquet Club. This banquet is our biggest fundraiser of the year in Houston and an incredible opportunity to reconnect with our friends and supporters while also meeting new people who share our passion for New Testament manuscripts.

These are always special evenings, and this year was no exception. During the reception our guests viewed facsimiles of New Testament manuscripts, an incunabula leaf of Romans from 1492, and a copy of John Mill’s 1707 edition of the Greek New Testament; we also had a display featuring CSNTM’s digitization equipment to demonstrate how our teams capture the images on our website.

A highlight of the evening was a personal reflection from Tori Andrew. Tori is a master’s student studying New Testament textual criticism and a volunteer with CSNTM. In her spare time, if you can imagine a grad student with free time, she tags manuscripts in our digital library so that they are searchable for all of our users. Her reflection artfully connected her interest in textual criticism with the history of Christianity and the transmission of the text: “Being able to study the manuscript connects me to the history of our church, to the people who came before us and on whose shoulders we now stand.” One of our favorite lines in her speech was, “The manuscripts stretch us and connect us, like thread binding parchment, all the way back to the original authors.”

Later in the evening, our Executive Director, Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, gave his keynote remarks on the topic, “A New Renaissance: The Age of Rediscovery.” In his presentation, 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. He 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.

The evening concluded with an invitation to support CSNTM’s work by Barney Giesen, a longtime friend of CSNTM in Houston. This year’s event raised over $16,000. What is especially remarkable is that nearly every person who attended made a commitment to support CSNTM’s work to preserve Greek New Testament manuscripts! Our mission simply could not carry on without the generosity of many people, so we are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support from our friends in Houston. It is our hope that your joy was increased as you gave!

Special events like this are only possible with the support of numerous people. We’d like to thank our steadfast members of the Houston Advisory Board. You played such a valuable role in making the evening a success, in addition to your generous service throughout the year. Tori Andrew also deserves special recognition for giving a passionate and personal reflection. You conveyed your experience, our mission, and why it all matters with unique clarity. Finally, we want to specially thank everyone who attended the event. It was wonderful to meet new friends and see many familiar faces again.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Happy Birthday, CSNTM

Happy Birthday! Χρονια Πολλα! Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag! 

September 13, 2002. It seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it? CSNTM’s birthday leads me to reflect on what we set out to do 17 years ago. I founded the Center with a few goals in mind:

  • Capturing high-resolution, color images of every Greek New Testament manuscript in the world;
  • Making sure that these manuscripts could be studied online;
  • Developing computer-based tools to increase the efficiency and accuracy of studies on the text of the New Testament.

After personally visiting Greece more than 30 times—I stopped counting after 30—and scores of trips to other countries around the world, we’ve come a long way.

  • CSNTM has digitized more Greek New Testament manuscripts than any other institute in the world. Our digitizers have preserved nearly 700 manuscripts and captured over 300,000 pictures—one page at a time.
  • Among that number are 75 discoveries previously unknown to scholars, adding to the “embarrassment of riches” that is the plethora of New Testament manuscripts around the world.
  • Our website hosts all the manuscript images we’ve captured and hundreds more that were digitized or microfilmed by others. Right now, there are 1,766 manuscript entries at!
  • The robust search features on our website make research easier than at any time before. And we are working behind the scenes to develop the advanced tools of tomorrow.

The last 17 years have seen tremendous changes in the way we interact with and examine the ancient copies of the Bible. They are digital. They are accessible. And they are being studied anew.

We can’t predict exactly what remarkable things will take place in the next 17 years. But I can tell you that CSNTM will be a part of it and that the images we have already captured will continue to bear fruit.

Will you make a gift today to help us continue our work this year? Right now all gifts count toward our $100,000 giving challenge. So far, you’ve given more than $68,000! That’s much more than half of the goal in 43 days! We can finish this challenge in the next few weeks with your help!

Give on CSNTM's Birthday 

Another way you can help us with this challenge and ensure that our 18th year starts off strong is by initiating a monthly donation. Our monthly donors—the Circle of Friends—are the faithful people who sustain the Center and support everything we do. Scheduled monthly contributions helps you budget your giving, and they help us budget our projects throughout the year.

Join the Circle of Friends

Thanks for partnering with CSNTM to preserve ancient New Testament manuscripts for the modern world.

CSNTM’s staff: Kelsey Hart, Leigh Ann Thompson, Andrew Patton, Robert Marcello, 

Jacob Peterson, Stephen Clardy, Daniel B. Wallace, Stratton Ladewig


Three cheers to another year!


Dan Wallace
Executive Director
Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts 

Friday, September 06, 2019

Memory, Liturgy, and Illustrations in Lectionaries

By: Leigh Ann Thompson

If we all took a moment to click through the CSNTM manuscript library, certain images would catch our eyes more than others. Colors, illustrations, and decorations tend to draw attention to the pages of parchment and paper more so than than the standard dark ink text that makes up the majority of the pages. Images stand out. That’s the reason Facebook advertisements contain pictures instead of just blocks of text.

We know that it cost manuscript producers and commissioners a pretty penny to include these features in manuscripts. Such an investment indicates to us that manuscript decoration sprang from an intentional decision. What would the purpose of such investment be? Color and pictures, as already noted, are conspicuous, so they could serve as markers. Even more, the cost of production indicates that they may have been status markers demonstrated by their extravagance. Illustrations could also serve as exemplary or instructional tools, like a diagram in a science textbook. These purposes and more may have influenced the decision to include illustration. We best understand a manuscript’s features when we understand the context in which it was produced and used.

The majority of illustrated Greek New Testament manuscripts were produced in the 10th–14th centuries in the Byzantine Empire. Besides their eye-catching beauty, images on the pages of manuscripts reveal a highly visual religious culture. Liturgy and the lectionary were two important features of this culture. Liturgy is the rhythmic religious practices that follow the calendar, including Easter, Pentecost, Christmas, Lent, etc.. The lectionary was a book that contained Scripture readings assigned to certain days on the religious calendar. Lections could be arranged variously, depending on the lectionary’s intended purpose. It could include only special days, Saturday and Sunday readings, or readings for every day of the week. Therefore, the arrangement of each manuscript is a clue as to how a book functioned within its context. Let’s take a look at the ways the images we see, particularly on the pages of 11th–12th century lectionaries, connect a manuscript to a broader liturgy whose visual and rhythmic nature made lectionary readings particularly memorable.

Memory in the Medieval World

Visual images and visualization often play an important role in forming memories. Medieval thinkers in particular demonstrated the way that they grasped this truth by building up and storing their thoughts. Teachers of mnemonics used architectural metaphors to explain this process. They would “construct” images and “build” off of them, connecting thoughts in a memorable way. For example in the twelfth century Hugh of St. Victor taught his students to memorize by envisioning an arc, which they built in their minds by placing memories in each part of their imagined construction project (see his work Libellus de formatione Arche, the Little Book on the Construction of the Ark). Working with the mind’s sensory associations, especially the visual, teachers and learners of the medieval world immersed themselves in images and practices that “built up” and expanded their “storehouses” of memory. Orthodox liturgy, church practices, and lectionaries shared this approach to thinking and learning.

Understanding of Liturgy in Byzantium (11th–12th century)

Orthodox practices reflected an understanding of the way that sensory involvement influences thought. They took a multisensory approach, leveraging auditory, physical, olfactory, and visual practices in the liturgy of the church; there were visual representations of Scripture, church history, and the orthodox beliefs. Take for example, the prominent practice of iconography which involved painting and contemplating images of Christ and the saints. Church buildings depicted scenes from Scripture and important narratives within the Orthodox church. 

What is striking about these practices, especially considering medieval mnemonics, is how the imagery and practices in Byzantine liturgy correlated with one another. Scriptures and feasts occurred according to a rhythmic liturgical calendar. These events were often depicted on the walls of church, painted as icons on wood panels, and even added to the pages of lectionaries. A picture marking the beginning of a lection often reflects the reading which followed. The same picture might also be pictured on a church wall as a mosaic. Both the physical worship space, the reading, and the accompanying illustration drew a worshiper’s attention to the same account. Liturgical imagery created a web of reference, bringing together thought and practice. Through these associations, a worshiper built their thoughts towards the worship of God and knowing Scripture.

Illustrations in Liturgical Books

Liturgical books are some of the most decorated of all Greek New Testament manuscripts. These illustrated books contain decorated headers and ekthesis, historiated initials, small narrative illustrations in the margins, and full portrait scenes of the biblical authors, some of which took up an entire page. It’s no surprise that these books formed an important part of the highly visual Byzantine liturgy.

Lectionary Decoration

Often, decorations served as elaborate navigational tools for a text to be read aloud. Headers marked the beginning of a month’s reading or other section; ekthesis marked where to begin reading.


The images above show three different kinds of headers used in GA Lect 1227 to mark the beginning of sections of readings.

Observing their content and style, we find that narrative illustrations reflected the readings and artistic representations seen in other liturgical spaces. The two images below are pages from GA Lect 2017. The one on the right shows Jesus teaching a crowd. The other pictures Jesus casting demons out of the Gerasene demoniac.

Narrative Images

As already mentioned, visual content within Byzantine liturgy often repeated across mediums. Decorations, then, served as connectors, placing the book within the liturgy whose rhythms and practices involving the senses drew worshipers into memory-making activities. 

Mural at St. John's Monastery

The picture above was taken at the Monastery of St. John the Theologian on the island of Patmos. The frescoes painted in the 12th century depict narrative scenes from Scripture and of St. John’s life. 


When we look at manuscripts with illustration or decoration, we notice their beauty, the great expense to the commissioner, and the illuminator’s skill. We should consider these historical and artistic questions. Yet, these visual details also give us a glimpse into the communities that read and listened to Scripture. Their experience with the New Testament was seen and heard and interacted with. Illustrated lectionaries were purposeful pieces of an effective whole which led churches and communities to think about God both in church and daily life.



The above picture comes from the Monastery of St. John the Theologian, and can be accessed at

Charles Barber. “Icons, Prayer, and Vision in the Eleventh Century.” In ​Byzantine Christianity, edited by Derek Krueger. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2006. pp. 149-163.

Mary Carruthers. ​The Craft of Thought: Meditation, Rhetoric and the Making of Images 400–1200​. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. 

Mary Carruthers. ​The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture​. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. 

Derek Krueger and Robert S. Nelson, eds. ​The New Testament in Byzantium​. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2016. 

John Lowden. ​Luxury and Liturgy: The Function of Books​. Birmingham: Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies. University of Birmingham, 1990. 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Save the Date—North Texas Giving Day, 9/19/2019

On Thursday, September 19, 2019, CSNTM is participating in North Texas Giving Day, a one-day online giving extravaganza for our whole region hosted by the Communities Foundation of Texas.

Since its founding in 2009, North Texas Giving Day has inspired people to “get up and give,” resulting in donations that made a big difference in North Texas and beyond. Last year, Communities Foundation of Texas brought together 2,700 organizations to collectively raise $48 million, and we are excited to be a part of the movement this year!

This year, your giving will work toward our $100,000 challenge gift—providing a total of $200,000 for our mission to preserve Greek New Testament manuscripts and share them online. Will you help us reach our goal on September 19? Here are three big ways you can help:

1) Get up and give on September 19

Your gift matters! On September 19, if you donate to CSNTM via between 6am and midnight, your dollar will help us hit our challenge goal and potentially receive bonus funds and prizes from North Texas Giving Day’s sponsors!

Not available on September 19? No worries! Starting on September 9 you can schedule your donation in advance and make your gift count!

2) Spread the word

Spread the word to your friends and loved ones about the Center and North Texas Giving Day! Don’t forget to tag @CSNTM and #NTxGivingDay if you’re posting online. During last year’s Giving Day, 43% of donations came through social media—so a simple share to encourage your friends and family to get up and give can make a huge difference!

3) Follow us

Follow our social media @CSNTM and, as well as @NTxGivingDay and to stay up to date on North Texas Giving Day! 

For more information on North Texas Giving Day, visit! To find out how you can help our organization on September 19, please reach out to Stephen Clardy (

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

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