Wednesday, June 27, 2018

News: Manuscripts at Saint Catherine's


For at least the past five years, reports have circulated about the contents of palimpsests (recycled manuscripts) that were discovered in 1975 at Saint Catherine’s monastery.  National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, The Atlantic, ScienceBlog, Ancient-Origins, and the BBC have all told readers that major research is underway that involves ancient manuscripts and expensive manuscript-reading equipment. 
            Now the Sinai Palimpsests Project has a website, and visitors can easily get some sense of the scale of the work that is being done with the (relatively) newly discovered manuscripts.  The manuscripts at Saint Catherine’s include all kinds of compositions:  ancient medicine-recipes, patristic sermons, poems, liturgical instruction-books, Old Testament books, and much more. 
Fifteen continuous-text Greek manuscripts are among the newly discovered palimpsests.  All but one of these New Testament manuscripts have been given production-dates in the 500s or earlier.
Also among the new discoveries:
● Syriac manuscripts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, and some of the Pauline Epistles from the 400s and 500s.
● Various New Testament books (including all four Gospels) written in Christian Palestinian Aramaic (formerly known as “Jerusalem Syriac”) from 500-700.
● A substantial manuscript of the Gospel of John in Caucasian Albanian (a virtually extinct language).
● A Latin copy of Mark in insular cursive from the 700s (implying a link between some manuscripts at St. Catherine’s monastery and some manuscripts subsequently used in Ireland). 

            So many of the palimpsests have been assigned production-dates in the 500s that it is tempting to surmise that what we are looking at here is part of a library that was donated to the monastery on the occasion of its official founding by Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 530.  

            Here is a list of most of the New Testament materials that are among the texts being studied by scholars associated with the Sinai Palimpsests Project and the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library.  Some materials are from the New Finds; some have been in the monastery’s library for a long time.  In this list, a “page” = a single side of a two-sided leaf.  Dates are approximate unless based on a colophon.  Yellow-highlighted texts are Greek New Testament materials.

● Arabic 514.  The copyists who made this manuscript recycled
Six pages of the Protevangelium of James in Syriac,
54 pages of the Gospel of Matthew, 
Eight pages of Acts,
Four pages of Hebrews,
Eight pages of Colossians,
88 pages from the Gospel of John (chapters 1-8, 12, and 17-21),
Six pages from First Timothy,
Two pages from Second Thessalonians,
Two pages from Ephesians, and
Two pages from the Gospel of John (chapters 5 and 6) in Syriac. 
The texts in these recycled pages are all in Syriac, and all have been assigned to the 500s.

● Arabic 588.  The copyists who made this manuscript recycled
Eight pages from the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, in Syriac. 500s.
11 pages from the Protevangelium of James, in Syriac.  500s.

● Arabic NF 28.   The copyists who made this manuscript of the Four Gospels in Arabic (Kufic script) in 850-900 (16 folios intact) recycled
20 pages of Exodus in Greek.  500s.
12 pages of Genesis in Greek.  500s.

● Arabic NF 8.  The copyists who made this manuscript of the Four Gospels in Arabic (Kufic script) in 850-900 recycled
            18 pages from a copy of Recipes for different diseases, a Greek medical text.  400-600.
            12 pages from a copy of Hippocrates, De diaeta I-IV, a Greek medical text.  500-600.
Four pages from a copy of Hippocrates, De morbis popularibus (Epidemiae), in Greek.  500-600. 
Eight pages from a copy of Hippocrates, Letters, a Greek medical text.  500s.
56 pages from a Greek copy of the Gospel of John.  500s.
18 pages from a Greek copy of the Gospel of Matthew.  500s.
Four pages from a Greek copy of Genesis.  500s.
12 pages from a Greek copy of Exodus.  500s.
Four pages from a Greek copy of Ecclesiasticus.  500s.
13 pages from a Latin copy of the Gospel of Mark (in insular cursive minuscule script).  700s.
Two pages from a Latin copy of Revelation (in half uncial script).  500s.
One page from a Latin copy of the Gospel of Luke (in Latin majuscule).  500s.

[115v of Arabic NF8 shows Greek letter from underwriting.]
[124r of Arabic NF 8 shows Greeks letters from underwriting in blank space.]
[The last page of Arabic NF 8 shows Greek letters from underwriting in blank space.]
  
CPA NF frg. 12.  The copyists who made this manuscript of Psalms in 800-1000 (12 folios) recycled 24 pages of the book of Psalms in Christian Palestinian Aramaic (henceforth “CPA”).  500s-700s.

CPA NF frg. 13.  The copyists who made this manuscript recycled one page from a copy of the Gospel of John in CPA.  1100s.

CPA NF frg. 16. The copyists who made this manuscript recycled
Two folios from the Gospel of Luke (ch. 18) in CPA.  600s. 
Four pages from the Gospel of Luke in CPA.  400-700.
Two pages from the Gospel of Luke in Georgian.  Late 900s.

CPA NF frg. 7.  The copyists of this manuscript of John Chrysostom’s Homily on the Prodigal Son, in CPA (7 folios) recycled eight pages from the Gospel of Luke, in CPA, 500-700.

● Georgian 10.  The copyists of this Georgian Apostolos (266 folios from 1000-1100) recycled 16 pages of a lectionary (Jerusalem type) in Georgian.  800-900.

● Georgian 49.  The copyists of this Georgian Menaion (119 folios from the 1200s) recycled
Four pages of the Gospel of Matthew, in Syriac.  500s.
Six pages of the Gospel of Mark, in Syriac.  500s.
Four pages of the Gospel of Matthew, in Syriac.  500s.
Six pages from the Life of Saint Pelagia, in Syriac.  500-700.
Ten pages from the Gospel of Mark, in Greek.  500s.
Two pages from the Gospel of John, in Greek.  500s.
Two pages from the Gospel of Luke, in Syriac.  800s.
Two pages from the Gospel of Matthew, in Syriac.  800s.

Georgian NF 13.  The copyists of this Georgian collection of saints’ biographies from the 900s-1100 (107 folios) recycled
75 pages of the Gospel of John in Caucasian Albanian.  600-800.
90 pages of a lectionary, mainly from the New Testament, in Caucasian Albanian.  600-800.
Some pages of the Pauline Epistles in Georgian (Asomtavruli script).  600s.
12 pages of the Pauline Epistles in Armenian (Erkatagit script).  700-900. 

Georgian NF 19.  The copyist who made this Georgian manuscript in 980 (61 folios) recycled
            Two pages of the Gospel of Matthew, in CPA.  500-700.
            Eight pages of a liturgy with New Testament readings, in Greek (minuscule).  800-1000.
Two pages of the Gospel of John, in Greek (majuscule).  500-600.
Two pages of the Gospel of Matthew, in Greek (majuscule).  500-600.
Two pages from the Gospel of Luke, in Greek (majuscule).  500s.
Two pages of a New Testament Lectionary, in CPA.  500-700.

[Greek lower writing is visible on 57r and 57v of Georgia NF 19.]

Georgian NF 55. The copyists who made this Georgian manuscript in the 900s (78 folios) recycled
            66 pages of the Gospel of John in Caucasian Albanian.  600-800,
            41 pages of a New Testament lectionary in Caucasian Albanian.  600-800.
            Eight pages of the Pauline Epistles, in Armenian.  700-900.
            Two pages from Hebrews, in Armenian.  800-1000.
            Four pages from the Gospel of Mark, in CPA.  600-800.

Georgian NF 71.  The copyists who made this Georgian Gospels-lectionary (8 folios) in the 900s recycled four pages of the Gospel of Matthew in CPA.  500-700.

Georgian NF 90.  The copyists who made this Georgian manuscript (38 folios) in the 1000s recycled 16 pages of the Gospel of Matthew in Georgian.  500-700. 

● Greek 2053.  The copyists who made this Greek manuscript of Excerpts from Scripture (Acts & Epistles) (34 folios) in the 1200s recycled 16 pages from a Greek Synaxarion.  800s.

● Greek 212.  The copyists who made this collection of lections from the Greek New Testament (including Resurrection-readings) in the 700s or 800s) (114 folios) recycled many pages of a Greek Psalter.  700s.

● Greek NF M 98.  The copyists who made this Greek liturgical manuscript in the 1200s (2 folios) recycled four pages of the Gospel of Luke in Greek.  975-1025.

● Greek NF MG 29.  The copyists who made this Octoechos manuscript in the 800s recycled many pages (mostly fragmentary) from the Gospel of Matthew in Greek.  550-600.

● Greek NF MG 32.  The copyists who made this Greek Martyrologion (21 folios) in the 800s recycled eight pages of a Gospels-lectionary in CPA.  400-700.

● Greek NF MG 99.  The copyists who made this Greek liturgical manuscript in the 800s recycled
            12 pages from First Corinthians, in Greek.  425-475.
Two fragments from Colossians, in Greek.  425-475.
Four fragments from Philippians, in Greek.  425-475.
Two fragments from Romans, in Greek.  425-475.

● Syriac 2A.   The copyists who made this Syriac manuscript of the Four Gospels in the 500s (180 folios) recycled
            14 pages from the Gospel of Mark, in Syriac.  425-475.
22 pages from the Gospel of Luke, in Syriac.  425-475.
Four pages from the Gospel of John, in Syriac.  425-475.

● Syriac 30.  The copyists who made this Syriac manuscript of saints’ biographies in 779 (181 folios) recycled
            Eight pages of the Gospel of John, in Greek.  500s.
            44 pages of the Gospel of Mark, in Syriac.  450-600. 
69 pages of the Gospel of Matthew, in Syriac.  450-600.
            98 pages of the Gospel of Luke, in Syriac.  450-600.
            72 pages of the Gospel of John, in Syriac.  450-600.

Syriac 5 - Something else is there! 
Syriac 5.  A Syriac manuscript of the Epistles of Paul (198 folios). 500s.

Syriac 7. St.  The copyists who made most of this Syriac lectionary in the 1000s (73 folios) recycled
            Four pages of Hebrews, in Armenian (erkatagir script).  800s.
            Four pages of the Gospel of Matthew, in Greek.  500s.

Syriac NF 11.  The copyists who made this manuscript of Cyril of Scythopolis’ Life of Sabas in Syriac (112 folios) in 850-1000 recycled
            Two pages of the Gospel of John in CPA (early script).  500-700.
            16 pages of the Gospel of Mark in CPA (early script).  500-700.
            20 pages of the Gospel of Matthew in CPA (early script).  500-700.
            18 pages of the Gospel of Luke in CPA (early script).  500-700.

Syriac NF 23.  The copyists who made this Syriac Gospels-lectionary (14 folios) in 800-1000 recycled
            Eight pages of the Gospel of John, in Syriac (Old Estrangela script).  450-550. 
Eight pages of the Gospel of Luke, in Syriac (Old Estrangela script).  450-550.
One page from Ephesians, in Syriac (Estrangela script).  500s.
Two pages from First Thessalonians, in Syriac (Estrangela script).  500s.
Two pages from Titus, in Syriac (Estrangela script).  500s.
Six pages from Philemon, in Syriac (Estrangela script).  500s.
Two pages from Hebrews, in Syriac (Estrangela script).  500s.

Syriac NF 3.   The copyists who made this devotions-book in the 1200s in Syriac (Melkite script) in the 1200s (164 folios) recycled four pages from Second Corinthians, in Syriac (Estrangela script).  500s.  

Syriac NF 37.  The copyists who made this manuscript of Evagrius Ponticus’ On Prayer (6 folios) in Syriac in 850-1000 recycled
            Four pages of the Gospel of Matthew, in Syriac (Estrangela script).  500s.
            Six pages of the Gospel of Luke, in Syriac (Estrangela script).  500s.
            Two pages from the Gospel of John, in Syriac (Estrangela script).  500s. 

Syriac NF 38.  The copyists who made this Syriac manuscript of John Climacus’ The Ladder of Divine Ascent, Letter to a Shepherd (Codex Climaci rescriptus) in 800-1000 (8 folios) recycled 16 pages from First-Second Corinthians, in CPA.  500-700.

Syriac NF 39.  The copyists who made this manuscript of a composition by Diadochos of Photiki in Syriac (18 folios) in 800-1000 recycled
            Six pages of the Gospel of Matthew, in Syriac (Estrangela script).  500s.
Eight pages of the Gospel of Mark, in Syriac (Estrangela script).  500s.
18 pages of the Gospel of Luke, in Syriac (Estrangela script).  500s.
Four pages of the Gospel of John, in Syriac (Estrangela script).  500s.

Syriac NF 42.  This Syriac Gospels-lectionary in CPA (8 folios) was made in the 1100s.

Syriac NF 56.  The copyists who made this Syriac Gospels-lectionary (121 folios) in 933 recycled
            14 pages of the Gospel of Matthew in CPA.  550-700.
            66 pages of the Gospel of Mark, in CPA (calligraphic script).  550-700.

Syriac NF 64.  The copyists who made this Syriac copy of Genesis (Peshitta version) in the 800s (4 folios) recycled four pages of Hebrews, in CPA.  600-800.

Syriac NF 66.  The copyists who made this Syriac liturgical text in 800-1000 (8 folios) recycled 16 pages of Acts in Syriac (Estrangela script).  600-800.

            Stay tuned for more news about the Greek texts hiding in the lower writing of the palimpsests at Mount Sinai!



3 comments:

John Podgorney said...

I am following this with great interest James. Thanks again!

Wayne Steury said...

This sounds so amazing.

Transnomadic said...

Very neat! Staying tuned.