“This manuscript seems now missing.” So wrote F. H. A. Scrivener, in the 1861 edition of A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament. Scrivener was referring to minuscule 181, a Gospels-manuscript from the 1000’s that had been in the library of Roman Catholic cardinal Francesco Saverio Zelada (1717-1801), also known as Francis Xavier Zelada. Some of the most prominent textual critics of the 1800’s, beginning with Andreas Birch, cited this manuscript.
Although 1,476 Greek manuscripts of the Gospel of John include (the story about the adulteress), the Zelada Gospels is one of the 267 Greek copies that does not contain the passage. Another interesting feature of this manuscript is a commentary in its outer margins which frequently echoes early patristic sources, such as Origen’s statement (regarding Matthew 27:16-17) that in some copies, Barabbas was also named Jesus. This manuscript deserved much more attention – but then it seemed to have mysteriously disappeared. By 1894, when the fourth edition of Scrivener’s Plain Introduction was published posthumously, the brief profile of Gospels-minuscule 181 no longer said that the manuscript seemed to be missing, but that it “is now missing.”
Later, when the identification-numbers for New Testament manuscripts were standardized, the number 181 was reassigned to an important copy in the Vatican Library (Vat. Gr. 179) that contains the rest of the New Testament (even Revelation) besides the Gospels. It seemed that the Zelada Gospels had mysteriously vanished.
|Francis Xavier de Zelada's|
ownership-seal, on a page
near the end of MS 2812.
Happily, this was not the case! The manuscript was transferred, in accordance with Zelada’s will, to the Cathedral of Toledo, Spain, after his death. This escaped the notice of some British and American researchers, but the manuscript was described in 1892 by Albert Martin and Charles Henri Graux in the French book, Notices sommaires des manuscripts grecs d’Espagne et
(Brief Records of Greek Manuscripts in Spain
and Portugal). On pages 230-231 they
described the manuscript and supplied a brief index. Its identity is confirmed not only by an inscription near the front, but also by an ownership-seal on a page near the end
of the manuscript. Portugal
The Zelada Gospels is currently housed (along with a Greek Psalter, a lectionary, and other volumes from Zelada’s library) at the Biblioteca Nacional de España, and digital page-views (and downloads) are available at the Biblioteca Digital Hispánica. It is now known as Greek minuscule 2812.
Although the material in the margins is called the Commentary of Peter of Laodicea, it is essentially a catena – a collection of patristic material, extracted mainly from the writings of John Chrysostom, Titus of Bostra, and Cyril of Alexandria. The Catena Marcum, also known as the Commentary of Victor of Antioch on Mark, accompanies the text in Mark. Small red letters frequently link the individual margin-notes to the relevant portions of the text.
Both the Gospels-text and the commentary-text are specially formatted to ensure that the marginalia keeps up with the text; where the commentary is abundant, there are fewer lines of Gospels-text; where the commentary is sparse, the number of lines of Gospels-text increases. Sometimes the commentary-text is only in the outer margin, or is arranged in a very narrow column, or in space-filling shapes such as a vortex or a cross.
Before the text of the Gospels, MS 2812 features the text of Eusebius’ letter to Carpian (explaining the Eusebian Canons) written in red uncial letters on a page that has been cut into a quatrefoil shape, placed into another page in which the corresponding shape has been reserved; the page with text is tied by strings to the other page. The numerals in the canon-tables (colored with red, gold, green, and blue), and to the left of the text throughout the manuscript, are uncials.
Each Gospel is preceded by a list of chapter-numbers and titles, all written in neat red uncials. The same chapter-numbers and titles recur in the manuscript as large red uncial rubrics at the top of pages on which chapters begin. (In some cases the chapter does not begin at the place designated in the inner margin of the Nestle-Aland
for example chapter 28 in Matthew begins at 15:6 rather than 15:1; chapter 34
begins at rather than 17:1.) Where two chapters begin on the same page,
the second chapter-number and title appears at the bottom of the page.
Large red uncial chapter-numbers appear alongside the text at the appropriate points; the first complete line of a section begins with a red capital letter extended into the left margin. A simple “+” frequently appears in the text as a separation-mark. “Telos” appears in the text occasionally. Extended quotations from the Old Testament are accompanied by “>” alongside each line. A short hypothesis, or summary, precedes the chapter-lists for Mark, Luke, and John, all written in semi-uncial script.
The genealogies in Luke 3 are formatted in two columns, intended to be read vertically.
There is not a lectionary apparatus, but occasionally liturgy-related notes appear in the lower margin appear to locate some lections.
There are no Evangelist-portraits. Each gospel begins with a decorative headpiece; each of which has a distinct design. The first letter of each book is a large elaborate gold initial.
Textually, 2812 is essentially Byzantine:
● Matthew 16:2-3, , and are included. In Matthew 27:35, 2812 agrees with Byz, disagreeing with the Textus Receptus; 2812 does not have the part that mentions a prophecy-fulfillment.
● Mark 1:2 reads “in the prophets,” 5:1 reads “Gadarenes,” is included; includes “and fasting,” and are both included, and Mark 16:9-20 is included.
● Luke 22:43-44 is present, and so is the reference to honeycomb in 24:42.
● John reads “only-begotten Son,” John has “who is in heaven,” and the full text of John 5:3b-4 is included.
There are, however, some exceptions, chief of which is the non-inclusion of John
|No asterisk accompanies Mark 16:9-20.|
● First, scrawled in what may be dark pencil-lead on the right, there is an abbreviated note identifying Mark 16:9-20 as Heothinon #3, that is, the third in a special cycle of eleven morning-time lections about Christ’s resurrection.
● Second, at the foot of the page, there is a liturgical note, explaining to the lector how Mark 16:9 is to begin when it is read aloud in the church-service.
● Third, after the end of 16:8, there is a telos-mark written in full. If this feature was seen in isolation, one might be tempted to imagine that this signified that in some exemplars, the text ended at this point. But let this teach us the dangers of spot-checking. When the rest of the text of 2812 is consulted, we see that a telos appears in Mark not only after 16:8, but also after , , and (and, abbreviated, after ). A telos appears in Matthew after 2:12, 4:22, 6:6, 10:39, 11:24, 12:24, 13:12, etc.; in Luke after 1:80, 2:52, 5:32, etc.; in John after 21:25 (the end of the book) but also halfway through 7:32, and, abbreviated, after 19:24 and 19:37. These occurrences of telos plainly represent the ends of chapters, sections, lections, or commentary-segments. It would be arbitrary to assign special significance to its occurrence after 16:8.
|Close-up: a symbol in the margin beside|
Mark 16:9 is intended to alert the reader to the presence
of a note about this passage on the following page.
● Fourth, alongside the beginning of Mark 16:9, there is a symbol which represents the sun, or a shooting star. This symbol (which is also used in 2812 at Mark and elsewhere) serves the same purpose as a footnote-number, referring the reader to material in the margin. In this case, the matching marginalia does not appear on the same page; it is on the next page, accompanied by a recurrence of the same symbol. The comment that accompanies the symbol consists of part of the final comment frequently found in Victor of Antioch’s commentary, beginning with the words, Παρα πλειστοις αντιγραφοις. It may be helpful to transcribe the entire note (which also appears in the margin of minuscule 137, another manuscript that was once erroneously thought to have an asterisk accompanying Mk. 16:9-20):
|The note about Mark 16:9-20,|
justifying the inclusion of the passage.
This note is part of the Catena Marcum
and is found in multiple copies.
Παρα πλειστοις αντιγραφοις ου
κεινται ταυτα επιφερομενα εν τω
κατα Μαρκον ευαγγελιω ως νοθα νομι-
σαντες αυτα τινες ειναι. Ημεις δε εξ α-
κριβων αντιγραφων ως εν πλειστοις
ευροντες αυτα, κατα το Παλαιστι-
ναιον ευαγγελιον Μαρκον ως εχει η α-
ληθεια, συντεθεικαμεν και την εν
αυτω επιφερομενην δεσποτικην
αναστασιν μετα το εφοβουντο γαρ.
This runs as follows in English:
“In many copies this does not appear in the Gospel of Mark, and for that reason certain individuals have considered it spurious. But we read it in accurate copies, and have found it in many such copies. So, based on the Palestinian Gospel of Mark, which displays the truth, we also have connected it, with its account of the Lord’s resurrection, after ‘for they were afraid.’”
Thus, instead of finding an asterisk in 2812, we have found an annotation by someone (Victor of Antioch, or another early contributor to the catena-commentary) reacting to the statement made by Eusebius of Caesarea in Ad Marinum that one could say that the passage was not in the accurate copies, or that it was not in many copies. (Part of Ad Marinum is the marginalia in 2812 on the page on which Mark 16:9 appears, and on the following page.) The author of the note had found the passage in many copies, and in accurate copies, and, relying on a cherished Palestinian exemplar, had proceeded to produce copies that included verses 9-20 after verse 8.
Minuscule 2812 has a lot to offer as an example of a Gospels-manuscript with a catena/commentary in the margins. Researchers may be able to establish relationships between the Gospels-text of such manuscripts by identifying manuscripts which share the same pattern of agreements in minority-readings in both the text and in the marginalia.