Keeping Track of Manuscripts

It was reported this year that the Museum of the Bible (MOTB) is returning one of their manuscripts to a previous owner in Athens. This is, of course, welcome news and is reminiscent of other similar situations.

GA 1424 (formerly Chicago Gruber 152), a 9th/10th century manuscript that is regarded as the earliest complete Greek New Testament in minuscule text, was recently voluntarily returned to Greece. Its recorded history can be traced back to at least 1885, when it was included by Athanasios Papadopoulos-Kerameus in his catalogue of the manuscripts at the Holy Monastery of Panagia Eikosifoinissa. This monastery is located in the mountains of the Serres region, of which Drama is the capital (the closest city to the monastery is called Kosinitza in Turkish, or Kormista in Greek). What the Liste refers to as 1424, was numbered 124 in the 1885 catalogue of the monastery. This manuscript was, however, looted from the monastery in March 1917, and subsequently remained in the US for nearly a century.

In 2010, Nadezhda Kavrus-Hoffmann explained how the manuscript ended up in the Gruber collection in Chicago:

"In 1917 all manuscripts were taken from the Kosinitza monastery by Bulgarians and transported to Sofia. Many manuscripts were eventually returned to Greece and are now in the National Library of Greece in Athens. But nearly three hundred manuscripts are still in Sofia, in the Ivan Dujcev Center for Slavo-Byzantine Studies. And an unknown number of Greek manuscripts and fragments found their way to European book dealers and are now dispersed throughout the world."

Kavrus-Hoffmann continues,

"Some of the former Kosinitza manuscripts were acquired by American collectors. A complete New Testament, Kosinitza 124 [i.e. GA 1424], came into the possession of Levi Franklin Gruber, who acquired the manuscript from Jacques Rosenthal, a Munich book dealer, in 1920. After Gruber’s death, his collection of rare books and manuscripts, including fourteen Greek manuscripts, was sold by his widow to the Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary in Maywood, Illinois, where Gruber was president from 1926 to 1941. The Seminary joined three other Lutheran theological seminaries in 1962 and formed the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, which in 1967 moved to Hyde Park near the University of Chicago. The Gruber collection is now housed in a special room of the School’s Jesuit-Krauss-McCormick Library."[1]

In correspondence with the INTF, President of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC), James Nieman, explains that 1424 may never have resided at the Maywood campus. It spent most of its time in Gruber’s private vault in a downtown Chicago bank and only came into the seminary’s possession via Gruber’s widow, likely in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

At the end of 2016, in a ceremony of homecoming, it was voluntarily returned to Greece by LSTC and now resides again in the collection of the Holy Monastery of Panagia Eikosifoinissa.

 

Examining 1424. From left to right: Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, ELCA Metropolitan Chicago Synod Bishop Wayne Miller, President of LSTC James Nieman, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Archbishop Demetrios of America, and Rev. Donald McCoid. Image courtesy of LSTC.

Although some of the story about 1424 can be found online here, one important detail was still missing that the INTF needed for the Liste: the shelf number at its current location. LSTC has been very helpful in this regard. Earlier this year, we contacted them to inquire about the shelf number. They forwarded our request to a liaison for the monastery, who then contacted the monastery and was able to ascertain this information for us. Thus, we are now able to record the current location and shelf number of 1424 as Kormista, Panagia Eikosifoinissa, Icosifinissis nr. 3 (3P).

Similarly, in 2014, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, CA willingly returned one of their manuscripts to Greece, known in the Liste as GA 927. A 1960 report from Dionysiou Monastery, which was not made public at that time, recorded that manuscript number 8 was illegally removed from their premises. This manuscript was later acquired by the Getty Museum in 1983 "as part of a large, well-documented collection" and was subsequently given shelf identification Ludwig II 4. After the missing manuscript from Dionysiou Monastery was discovered, the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports worked with the museum to help return it. Timothy Potts, director of the Getty Museum, said that returning the manuscript was "the right course of action." The Greek Minister of Culture and Sports, Panos Panagiotopoulos, noted: "The decision [to return the manuscript] also clearly demonstrates the respect the Getty Museum has for Greek cultural heritage and encourages us to continue to build and strengthen our collaborative relationship for the future."[2] The manuscript has returned home to Dionysiou Monastery and has taken its old shelf number 8 again.

Although the purchase of a manuscript may be legal, if a manuscript is discovered to have been taken illegally at some point, returning it to its rightful place is not always straightforward. As we strive to keep the ever-changing Liste up to date, it is important to check holding institutions and online databases (such as Pinakes and Trismegistos) for the latest information. The best case scenario for completing this work is when holding institutions have digitized their manuscripts online and provided their own detailed information about their manuscripts. Normally when an institution already has images for public viewing online, we are granted permission for the NT.VMR to deep-link to them under a Creative Commons License. In updating the Liste, the fact that some monasteries or other holding institutions have no email or even phone number (let alone their own images of manuscripts) can often prove challenging. In some cases, we are lucky to even find a mailing address to request information about an institution’s manuscripts. We also rely on other researchers to inform us of new information and are very grateful to have been notified in many instances via the NT.VMR forum about location changes or even newly discovered manuscripts.

I mention the return of manuscripts to offer a quick behind the scenes look at the ongoing work of the INTF in its effort to update the Liste and to offer a centralized venue where these valuable artifacts can been seen and studied online.

 

[1] "A New Testament Manuscript Produced in the Stoudios Scriptorium: Codex 152 in the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago," Thirty-Sixth Annual Byzantine Studies Conference, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, October 8-10, 2010.

[2] "The J. Paul Getty Museum Announces the Return of a Byzantine Illuminated New Testament to Greece." <http://news.getty.edu/byzantine-manu-to-greece.htm>.

An Interactive Textual Commentary on Acts

The critical apparatus as a gateway to the sources

Shortly after the ECM of Acts appeared in print in 2017, the INTF made the text and apparatus available online in the NT Transcripts section of the NTVMR <http://ntvmr.uni-muenster.de/nt-transcripts>. If you enter a verse from Acts under “Quick Lookup,” you will see the ECM apparatus for this verse in the frame below. Let's take Acts 3:13 as an example.

(Click on this image to access the live page)

 

If you click on the number of any of the cited Greek manuscripts, the transcription of the relevant verse will appear in the frame to the right. If you want to see a photograph of the page containing this verse, click on the “Manuscript Workspace” link above the verse transcription and the photograph will appear in a separate window together with a full transcription of the page.

Three links above the apparatus offer more materials. “Cit” will take you to the patristic citations for the selected verse, “VL” to line-by-line transcriptions of the Latin manuscripts selected for the Acts Vetus Latina project, and “Conjectures” to the conjectures for the verse as stored in the Amsterdam database.

These features demonstrate the passways we are cultivating to transform the critical apparatus from a meager list of variants and witnesses into a gateway to the sources. Later this year, we will integrate line-by-line transcriptions of the Sahidic manuscripts, and sooner or later the Syriac and the Ethiopic will follow.

In addition, the transcriptions of all Greek manuscripts included in the ECM of Acts, which comprises the main portion of the textual apparatus, are made available to the user.

 

The textual commentary as a documentation of work on the text

In the left margin of the online apparatus there are two symbols: a blue balloon and a circle with an arrow. Clicking on the balloon will take you to the Textual Commentary section of the NTVMR Forum. Each commentary printed in the Studies volume of ECM Acts was reproduced here. The arrow symbol is linked to the coherence diagrams for the relevant passage in the Genealogical Queries interface.

A primary objective of the ECM is a reconstruction of the initial text of the manuscript tradition, which is not preserved as such in any of the extant copies. We apply the methodology of reasoned eclecticism to reconstruct the initial text. The textual commentary published in the Studies volume of ECM Acts documents this work. It discusses each passage where the reconstruction of the initial text differs from NA28/UBS5, and, secondly, where the decision was left open and the guiding line of the edition is split. Moreover, comments are given if the editors’ assessment needs additional explanation to supplement the guidelines laid down in the commentary introduction. 

Reasoned eclecticism is based on pondering internal and external criteria. Ideally, the objective is to identify the variant that best explains the other(s) and, if applicable, that also accounts for relationships between secondary variants. In effect, the discussion will always be about reasons why one form of text is or is not likely to have been changed into another form. That means that the application of internal criteria is successful if transcriptional probability emerges for a textual flow—to use the CBGM term—from one to another variant. Therefore, the discussion of internal criteria is indicated by TP, if that part of the discussion is clearly separated from the other part, GC or genealogical coherence. What TP is for the internal criteria, GC is for the external criteria. Where there are variants, the genealogy of their witnesses will reflect the direction of textual flow, whether we are able to explain the relationships or not. The latter is often due to contamination and/or missing links. (Most of the manuscript tradition from the first millennium is lost.)

The commentary on Acts 3:13/8 is brief. A mouse click on the blue balloon to the left of the apparatus will open the commentary in a separate window. There is just one sentence summarizing a complex picture offered by the Genealogical Queries site for the passage in question:

GC suggests multiple emergence of c from a, while the attestation of a is perfectly coherent and includes a sufficiently broad range of A-related witnesses. 

A click on the blue arrow icon beside the apparatus takes us to the relevant lists and diagrams in Genealogical Queries.

Apparatus: One entry for each included witness. Exception: if the evidence is ambiguous, the witness is listed with a question mark for the respective alternatives (cf. 2344 b/c).

 

Local Stemmaa derives immediately from the initial text (*), c and d from a. A share of the a attestation (a2) does not fit this picture. For this share and for b, the source appears questionable.

Coherence at Variant Passages shows interrelations between witnesses in different attestations. To understand what it displays we have to turn to the next frame.

 

 

Coherence in Attestations shows the textual flow diagram for a selected variant. By default this is a. If you go to c, you see a diagram showing poor genealogical coherence. Many witnesses not connected to each other have their closest relatives in the a attestation. Note how all the nodes in the c attestation with close relatives in a are connected to these relatives in Coherence at Variant Passages by arrows pointing from a to c.

The point I want to make here is that the commentary notes on GC require the reader to consult the Genealogical Queries site to get the full picture. It is now easier to do this because Genealogical Queries is an integrated part of the online ECM.

The commentary notes focus on the essential and are often very brief, in many cases reduced to the token “R1” or “R2.” This is possible because the guidelines and rules for assessing variants and their attestations are explained in the Online Commentary Introduction (and related publications cited there). The introduction is accessible via a link that appears above each online commentary.

 

The textual commentary as a platform for scholarly discourse on the text

Any expert user of the NTVMR may reply briefly (there are “Like” and “Dislike” icons) or at length to an existing commentary. If someone publishes a reply, subscribers of the commentary section of the NTVMR forum will be notified. 

Any registered expert user of the NTVMR may additionally register as a commentator, obtaining the right to open a new commentary thread on any passage of the online apparatus where there is no comment so far. To register as a commentator, send an email to <onlinecommentary@uni-muenster.de>

What is the Kurzgefasste Liste?

Introduction

 

One of the on-going projects the INTF is responsible for is the Kurzgefasste Liste der griechischen Handschriften des neuen Testaments, commonly called the Liste.

 

The Liste is a brief catalogue of all known Greek New Testament manuscripts. Although J.J. Wettstein was the first to create a systematic list of Greek manuscripts in 1751–52, the current system is credited to Caspar René Gregory. In his 1908 work, Die griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments, Gregory separated manuscripts into four categories: papyri, majuscules, minuscules, and lectionaries. He also resolved other problems from older lists such as registering one number multiple times to refer to more than one manuscript.

 

Following Gregory, the primary individuals who have kept the Liste up to date are: Ernst von Dobschütz, Georg Maldfeld, Bruce M. Metzger, and Kurt Aland, who then passed the Liste on to the INTF. Until Aland began working on the Liste in the 1950s, most of the publications after Gregory were updates and new additions to the Liste. In 1963, Aland published a comprehensive catalogue of Greek New Testament manuscripts, which was revised and published in 1994.

 

Image: Klaus Junack's personal copy of the 1963 Liste, in which he wrote changes to contribute to the 1994 edition.  

For each manuscript in the Liste, a very basic profile is offered including information such as:

  • a Gregory-Aland number
  • the New Testament contents
  • the manuscript’s date
  • the material the manuscript is written on
  • the number of pages
  • the number of columns per page
  • the number of lines of text per page
  • the physical dimensions of the manuscript
  • its current location along with an identification number at its current location

 

At the INTF, Aland amassed the world’s largest collection of Greek New Testament manuscripts on microfilm. This collection not only enabled manuscript details to be verified for the Liste but also provided the basis for other research projects at the INTF as well as for visiting researchers.

 

Since Aland, care of the Liste has remained a priority for the INTF. Currently, Holger Strutwolf and the staff at the INTF have kept the Liste in an up-to-date format online in the New Testament Virtual Manuscript Room (NT.VMR): http://ntvmr.uni-muenster.de/liste

 

An effort has been underway for years to digitize the INTF microfilms and upload them online on the NT.VMR so anyone can access them. Since these microfilms are black and white, one of the INTF’s current goals is to completely update the NT.VMR by uploading as many new digital images as possible online as well as to provide transcriptions. For example, images and a transcription of what is probably the world’s best known biblical manuscript, Codex Sinaiticus, can be seen here.

 

Presently, we are working intensively to update the Liste, a project supported by the Hermann Kunst Foundation and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). It is hoped that this endeavor will greatly benefit researchers around the world by providing access to state-of-the-art images and encouraging further scholarly collaboration.

 

Basic Criteria for Adding a Manuscript to the Liste

 

How does a manuscript get added to the Liste? Although there are some exceptions, there are a few basic criteria when deciding if a manuscript should be added to the Liste: it must contain a portion of the New Testament and it must be written in Greek. Although a variety of ancient manuscripts could fit these two fundamental criteria, certain types of manuscripts are not normally included in the Liste, such as patristic writings or documentary papyri.

 

Within the Liste, a few types of manuscripts are identified such as commentary manuscripts (e.g. 186). In addition, some categories of manuscripts are no longer included. For example, after Aland began working on the Liste, he discontinued adding amulets and ostraca to the Liste. Recently, there has been discussion about including them once again (see especially Brice C. Jones, New Testament Texts on Greek Amulets from Late Antiquity [Bloomsbury: London, 2016]).

 

Further, a manuscript can have either a continuous text (that is, a sequential text such as Matthew chapter 1, chapter 2, and so on) or a non-continuous text (that is, a text that does not proceed in a literary sequence, but could have a passage of Mark, followed by a passage from Matthew, followed by a passage from John). The latter is commonly found in lectionaries, which are liturgical manuscripts that have daily readings for the church. In addition, other liturgical manuscripts like prayer books are included.

 

Assigning Numbers to Manuscripts

 

In an attempt to standardize and classify the manuscripts, each manuscript is assigned a unique number—a Gregory-Aland number—so it can be easily identified. These numbers fall into one of four categories.

 

The first category has to do with the material the manuscript is written on. If written on papyrus, the manuscript is identified by “P” followed by a number (for example, P52).

 

The next two categories are based on the script of the manuscript: manuscripts written in majuscule are assigned numbers beginning with “0” (for example, 032) and minuscule manuscripts are just assigned a regular number (for example, 1).

 

The fourth category has to do with the function of the manuscript, namely liturgical; these manuscripts are catalogued beginning with “l” followed by a number (for example, l358).

 

This system is, however, not perfect. It is not always clear-cut how a manuscript should be classified—or if it should be included in the Liste at all. For example, 056—listed as a majuscule with a commentary text—has a majuscule biblical text but the commentary is in minuscule. There are also ongoing debates about the dates of certain manuscripts, and these are sometimes changed in the Liste based on current research. Codex Bezae (D 05), for example, was dated to the 6th century in Aland’s 1963 Liste but changed to 5th century in the 1994 edition of the Liste.

 

Here is a flow chart highlighting the basic principles of the Liste, but keep in mind there are exceptions as to which manuscripts are included and how they are numbered.

 

 

In another post, we will explore the number of manuscripts recorded in the Liste.

 

A New INTF Blog Begins

The INTF has set up a new blog! Although we have featured blogs on our site before (as "Personal Blogs"), our newly implemented Liferay portlet called "Blog" aims to create a centralized portal for offering regular updates on the happenings of the institute and its projects as well as other things that are related (at least tangentially) to New Testament textual criticism.

 

Just to offer one tidbit before our next post, in case you were unaware, there is a paleography database (compiled by Marie-Luise Lakmann) that may be useful for those of you who are transcribing Greek manuscripts: http://intf.uni-muenster.de/NT_PALAEO/. To get started, click on "Suche" on the left-hand column.

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