Thursday, August 31, 2017

Seventy-seven Manuscripts from Jerusalem

The Mar Saba Monastery
            In the year 483, a monk named Sabbas founded a monastery about eight miles east of Bethlehem in the rugged Kidron ValleyThis monastery – the Holy Lavra of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified – gradually grew into a highly influential theological center.  John of Damascus worked there, and his tomb is there.  Although the premises were temporarily abandoned in the 1400’s due to constant raids by nearby nomadic tribes, it was reactivated, and in 1625 formally joined the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
            Much of the manuscript collection of the Saint Sabbas Monastery is presently housed in Jerusalem.  In 1949-1950, an expedition led by Kenneth W. Clark visited the collections overseen by the Jerusalem Patriarchate, and photographed almost all of their manuscripts.  The Library of Congress recently released the photographs of these images online, making them freely available.  Many of these manuscripts consist of copies of the Psalms, saints’ biographies, history books, patristic compositions, liturgical texts, and even an occasional work by an ancient Greek author, such as Aristotle.  The collections also include some New Testament manuscripts.
            The New Testament manuscripts from the Saint Sabbas Collection are listed here, with embedded links to images of each manuscript.  

The headpiece of Matthew
in GA 1335 (Sabas 248)
GA 1335:  Hagios Sabas 248 - Four Gospels (The Gospel of Matthew in this manuscript has one of the strangest headpieces I have ever seen.)
GA 2926:  Hagios Sabas 676 - Revelation and Praxapostolos (This was catalogued as a Praxapostolos manuscript, but it begins with the continuous text of Revelation; Acts begins after that.)

            In addition to those 23 continuous-text manuscripts, the collection from the Saint Sabbas Monastery includes the following lectionaries: 
The first and last page
of Revelation in GA 2926


Hagios Sabas 360 - Evangelion (Weird script in the preface – stylized Georgian?)

            Another collection held at the Jerusalem Patriarchate is categorized as the Panagios Taphu collection, and it, too, includes some New Testament manuscripts, listed here with embedded links:

GA 1318:  Panagios Taphu 46 - Four Gospels (Neatly written.  Merits closer study.)
GA 1321:  Panagios Taphu 49 - Four Gospels (Some pages from a lectionary at the beginning)
GA 1325:  Panagios Taphu 62 Four Gospels (Made in 1724 – Greek and Modern Turkish Greek)

            Besides the 15 continuous-text manuscripts listed above, the Panagios Taphu collection also includes the following nine lectionaries: 

Panagios Taphu 33 - Evangelion (900’s/1000’s) (Elaborately executed)
Panagios Taphu 43 - Praxapostolos (Damaged; text begins in Acts 12)
Panagios Taphu 530 - Evangelion (made in 1744 – Greek and modern Turkish Greek)

[A couple of manuscripts were in the Checklist of manuscripts in the Jerusalem Patriarchate’s holdings, but I could not find photographs of them:  Hagios Sabas 413 (GA 1344, a manuscript of the Gospels) and Hagios Sabas 154 (an Evangelion).]


Thanks to the Library of Congress for making these images available.  Thanks, too, to Peter Montero and Peter Gurry for sharing the news about their release. 

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