Through the present collaboration, students and professors will participate in the transcription and study of Syriac manuscripts having the Syriac version of John Climacus' Ladder of Divine Ascent (Syriac Luḥē ruḥānyāthā ("Spiritual tablets"); Greek Πλάκες πνευματικαί or Κλῖμαξ; Latin Scala paradisi), in support of the creation of a critical edition of the text. The project focuses on the celebrated palimpsest Codex Climaci Rescriptus, the top layer of which consists of the Syriac version of LDA. Intermediate students will learn to decipher Syriac script and to transcribe manuscripts in an online environment. Advanced students will transcribe the Syriac manuscript and write a paper on an issue germane to the study of the text and version/s of LDA. Comparison with the Greek text of LDA is crucial and some students will focus their research on the Greek text and sources.


  • Students and mentors should create accounts in the Münster Virtual Manuscript Room (VMR). This online venue will support manuscript transcription, host additional documents and resources, and facilitate an online forum for collaboration. 
  • Students will need to configure their devices for Syriac and/or Greek computing. The Syriac Computing page links resources.  
  • Mentors and students will have access to resources on Syriac paleography, the project's prescribed methods of transcription, and the basics of using the VMR online transcription editor (OTE).
  • Webinars will connect collaborators, clarify the aims and methods of the project, cover key aspects of Syriac paleography, and deal with other topics relevant to the project.


All students should read 1) Kallistos Ware's Introduction in Luibheid & Russell's John Climacus: The Ladder of Divine Ascent. All Syriac students should read 2) G. Kiraz, The Syriac Dot, and 2) the chapter on Syriac Codicology in Bausi. The Syriac Dot book will be given to Syriac students; the excerpts from Bausi and Luibhead & Russell are available in the Documents area of this site. 

Project administration

Jeff W Childers, Abilene Christian University, project supervisor

Ute Possekel, Gordon College, research associate

Troy Griffitts, software engineer