When a team of researchers from the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts visited
Greece this past winter, they photographed a particularly interesting little Gospels-manuscript
that resides at the Library
of the Hellenic Parliament, in . And I do mean little: this codex is approximately just 5.25 inches
tall and 4 inches wide. That’s smaller
than a Kindle e-reader, although 804 is much thicker (a bit over two
It would be natural to think that such a small manuscript could contain the basic text of the Gospels, and not much else – but a close examination shows that 804, while far from being a deluxe manuscript, contains Eusebian Canon-tables, Eusebius’ Ad Carpianus (an explanation of how to use the Canons and Section-numbers as a cross-reference system for the Gospels), chapter-lists for each Gospel, monochromatic icons of each Evangelist, headpieces (of which one, for Matthew, is in a quatrefoil shape), titloi at the head and foot of many pages, red initials usually at section-breaks, and lectionary-related notes, including identification of the lections for Saturdays and Sundays (and of the Eastertime readings and the eleven Heothina lections), incipit-phrases, and crimson αρχη and τελος and υπερβαλε and αρξου symbols (meaning “start,” “stop,” “jump ahead,” and “resume,” respectively) throughout the text, appearing not as later additions but with space reserved to contain them. Substantial quotations from the Old Testament are accompanied in the margin by columns of double diple-marks (>>), one in black (or brown) ink, and one in red.
Also, before the icon of Saint John, on what was probably a blank page when the manuscript was produced, someone has written (very sloppily) a brief note describing the apostle John, identifying him as the author of the fourth Gospel, a Jew, the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James. A large smudge has removed most of the rest of the note.
As surprising as it may be to find such so many supplements in such a small manuscript, much more remarkable is the feature that appears in 804 before the text of Matthew begins: after the last page of the kephalaia for Matthew (a page that has been badly torn, but carefully repaired with a series of neat stitches), the next ten pages constitute a different manuscript altogether: they are from a lectionary, and they contain (with introductory notes and titles) excerpts from Galatians 4, First Corinthians 9, First Corinthians 10, Titus 2, Titus 3, Hebrews 7, and Hebrews 2. Very unusually, the last page with text from Hebrews 2 (still plainly visible for three lines, after which it is only perceptible) was used to contain the icon of Saint Matthew. Such a pictorial palimpsest is, I think, completely unique.
The text of 804 – extant from Matthew 1:1 to midway through John 15:19 – is interesting and merits further investigation. Although the manuscript has been assigned to the 1000s, it echoes the earliest recoverable stratum of the Byzantine Text, often agreeing with uncials (especially K and Π, but also A and Y) against the majority of minuscules.
In Matthew, 804’s text’s affinities with K and/or Π pop up infrequently near the beginning, at points such as 4:20 (δικτυα αυτων, also attested by W 118 565) and 5:12 (προφήτας προ υμων), and with greater frequency near the end, at points such as 26:40 (λέγει αυτοις instead of λέγει τω Πέτρω), 26:43 (ευρεν αυτους παλιν), 26:47 (without ηλθεν) and 26:52 (μαχαίρα απολουνται) and 26:69 (without πάντων).
Turning to the first four chapters of Mark, 804 continues to agree with the Byzantine Text more often than it agrees with K and Π where they diverge from the usual Byzantine reading, but there are plenty of agreements with K and Π which diverge from the majority-reading. Examples:
1:12 – 804 agrees with A K Π* 700: ευθεως
1:13 – 804 agrees with K Π* 1: ην εκει ημερας
1:15 – 804 agrees with K Π B W: Και before λέγων
1:16 – 804 agrees with Ec M Y Πc 157 1424: βάλλοντας
1:19 – 804 agrees with Cc K M Π 157: δικτυα αυτων
1:35 – 804 agrees with A E Y K M U Π 157 700: εννυχον λίαν, without ο Ιησους
1:42 – 804 agrees with A C K Π* 157 565: η λέπρα απ’ αυτου
1:43 – 804 agrees with A C D K Π* 157: εν / ην / πάντοθεν
2:7 – 804 agrees with A C K Π 579: ουτω
2:9 – 804 agrees with A B C K Π 579: τον κραβαττον σου
2:21 – 804 agrees with A K Π: μήγε αιρει αυτου το πλήρωμα
3:7 – 804 agrees with A K Π 579 700: ηκολούθησεν αυτω
3:31 – 804 agrees with A K Π: Ερχονται ουν οι αδελφοι αυτου
3:32 – 804 agrees with A B C K Π W 33 700: περι αυτον οχλος
3:32 – 804 agrees with B À K Π W 1424: without και αι αδελφαι σου
3:34 – 804 agrees with A Y K Π f1: λεγει ιδου
4:1 – 804 agrees with K Π Y M f1 157: εις πλοιον
4:11 – 804 agrees with K Π Y D W: παραβολαις παντα
4:30-31 – 804 agrees with Y Π 157: παραβάλωμεν αυτην ως κόκκω
In Luke chapter 10, 804 shares eight unusual readings with K and Π:
10:1 – 804 agrees with B Y K Π 565: δυο δυο
10:1-2 – 804 agrees with Y K S Π 565: εμελλεν / ουν
10:2 – 804 agrees with Y K M Π: αν εκβαλη
10:11 – 804 agrees with A C K L M Π Wc 579 700: includes εις τους ποδας ημων
10:22 – 804 agrees with P45 P75 B À D Π 579 700: without και στραφεις προς τους μαθητας ειπεν
10:35 – 804 agrees with Y K Π: και ο τι δ’αν
10:40 – 804 agrees with P75 À Y Π 157 565supp 579 700: κατέλιπεν
10:40 – 804 agrees with D K Π 565supp: ο Ις ειπεν αυτη
I also noticed that in Luke 14:5, 804’s text agrees with A D Y K Π by reading Και ειπεν προς αυτους and by reading ονος (with À K L Π Y 579 f1) instead of υιος. And in Luke 19:8, 804 agrees with G K M Π 118 f13, reading προς τον Ιν.
In Luke 20, 804’s text has a detectable trace of KΠ readings:
20:10 – 804 agrees with K Π: απέστειλαν
20:19 – 804 agrees with B A K L M Π f1: γραμματεις και οι αρχιερεις
20:36 – 804 agrees with M Π f1: και υιοι του Θυ (without εισιν)
20:37 – 804 agrees with B Y K L Π W 579: Μωϋσης
20:41 – 804 agrees with A Y K M Π: τινες τον Χν
20:44 – 804 agrees with B A K M Π 157 f1: πως αυτου υιος εστιν
In John chapter 3, there are only about 12 points where Κ’s readings stand out from the Byzantine text; 804 displays five of them:
3:5 – 804 agrees with K M Π f13 1424: απεκρίθη Ις και ειπεν αυτω
3:14 – 804 agrees with P66 P75 B À Y K L Π 579: Μωϋσης
3:16 – 804 agrees with P63 P66 À A K Π f1 565: αλλ’ εχη
3:26 – 804 agrees with F K L M 157 579 700: ειπον / ραββι
3:28 – 804 agrees with P66 B A D Y K L Π 157 579 700: υμοις μοι
In John chapter 7, about a third of Π’s non-Byzantine readings appear in 804:
7:1 – 804 agrees with P66 À* D Y K L Π f1 565: μετα ταυτα περιεπάτει ο Ις
7:3-4 – 804 agrees with Κ Π L N: τα εργα σου α / τι εν κρυπτω
7:12 – 804 agrees with K Π: ουχι
7:26 – 804 agrees with P66 P75 B À D N K L Π 565: without αληθως
7:29 – 804 agrees with P66 À D Y N Π f1 565: εγω δε οιδα
7:31 – 804 agrees with P66 P75 B À K L N Π 157 565: without τουτων
7:32 – 804 agrees with Y K M N Π f1 565: Ηκουσαν ουν
7:32 – 804 agrees with P75 K L N W Π f1 33 565: οι φαρισαιοι υπηρέτας ινα
7:39 – 804 agrees with P66 P75 B À D N Π f1 565: λόγων τουτον [sic – itacism in 804]
7:50 – 804 agrees with Y K 157: ο ελθων προς αυτον νυκτός εις
7:53 – 804 agrees with P66 P75 B À D Y K N W Π: ουκ εγειρεται
Occasionally, 804’s text is neither Byzantine nor family-Π. For example, in Luke 7:31, where the Byzantine text begins the verse with Πολλοι δε εκ του οχλου and K Π read Εκ του οχλου ουν πολλοι, 804 matches up perfectly with B’s reading, Εκ του οχλου δε πολλοι.
804 has an interesting feature in Mark 11:26 – a verse which does not appear at all in the Alexandrian Text. The loss of this verse was due to a simple mistake, caused when an early copyist’s line of sight drifted from the words τα παραπτώματα υμων at the end of verse 25 to the same words at the end of verse 26. While this verse was lost in the Alexandrian text-stream, it underwent expansion elsewhere: Codex M, 346 (a member of f13), 579, and 713 (the Algerina Peckover Codex), agreeing with some lectionaries, augment the verse with a repetition of the contents of Matthew 7:7. In 804, the text that continues after the end of v. 26 runs as follows: λεγω δε υμιν, Αιτειτε και δοθησεται υμιν. Ζητειτε, και ευρήσετε. Κρούετε και ανοιγησεται υμιν. Πας γαρ ο αιτων λαμβάνει, και ο ζητων ευρισκει, και τω κρούοντι ανοιγήσεται. In 804, faint marks for “stop here” and “start here” are visible in the margins after the interpolation, and a fresh red “start here” mark is also present – and thus this interpolation is accounted for as a concluding flourish for a lection. Not far away, in Mark 11:29, 804 continues to display family-Π readings, with καγω υμας after επερωτήσω, and in 11:33 αποκριθεις ο Ις, and in 12:2, δουλον τω καιρω.
It may be fitting to mention a few more readings in 804:
● Matthew 6:13 includes the doxology of the Lord’s model prayer.
● Matthew 16:2-3 is present, and an obelus symbol (⁒) at the end of verse 3 is linked to a margin-note which reads δοκιμάζειν, a reading which appears after δύνασθε in G M N U and 33.
● Matthew 17:21 is present.
● Matthew 25:13 ends with “in which the Son of Man comes.”
● Matthew 26:39 is followed by a red υπερβαλε symbol, and a lengthy red note appears in the margin; although most of the note has been rubbed away, the word “Luke” has survived, indicating that Luke 22:43-44 was introduced here in the liturgical reading at Eastertime.
● Mark 15:28 is present. A red υπερβαλε symbol appears before the beginning of the verse, and a red αρξου (“resume here”) symbol appears after the end of the verse.
● Mark 16:9-20 is present, and in the lower margin an annotation identifies it as the third Heothina-lection; its usual incipit-phrase is also provided. In the outer margin, section-breaks occur at 16:9 (214, although the preceding section-number is 233) and 16:10 (215).
● Luke 14:24 includes, after δείπνου, πολλοι γαρ εισιν κλητοι ολιγοι δε εκλεκτοι (“For many are called, but few are chosen”), added as a flourish to end a lection.
● Luke 17:36 is not present.
● Luke 22:43-44 is present, and red notes instruct the reader to resume the reading for the Maundy Thursday service at this point (having turned here from Matthew 26:39).
● Luke 23:17 is present.
● Luke 23:34 includes Jesus’ prayer for the Father to forgive those who did not know what they were doing.
● Luke 24:42 mentions the honeycomb.
● John 3:13 includes ο ων εν τω ουνω (“who is in heaven”).
● John 5:4 is present (with Κυ after γαρ) but most of the verse is accompanied in the outer margin by black and red double-diples (>>), which seem to have been intended to indicate that the verse is either questionable in some way, or else should be understood as a quotation.
● John 7:40-41 is marred by parablepsis, caused when a copyist’s line of sight drifted from the ελεγον in verse 40 to the second ελεγον in verse 41; an obelus (⁒) in the text is linked to the correction in the upper margin. This is particularly interesting because 579 omits the same words that are supplied in 804’s correction; meanwhile, Codex M (which with 579 shares 804’s unusual reading at Mark 11:26) also has an omission in verse 41, skipping from the first ελεγον in verse 41 to the second ελεγον in verse 41, thus bypassing the words Ουτος εστιν ο Χς οι δε ελεγον.
● John 7:8 reads ουπω, and further along in the verse reads ο καιρος ο εμος ουπω.
● John 7:53-8:11 is present, in a form very similar to the text in the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform. A red υπερβαλε symbol appears between 7:52 and 7:53 – indicating that the lector was to jump to 8:12 for the Pentecost-lection. A red αρχη (“start here”) symbol appears at the beginning of 8:3, signifying the beginning of the lection for September 8. In the lower margin this date is given and is described as the feast-day of Saint Pelagia. The incipit-phrase for the lection is also provided – the beginning of verse 3 without δε. A red τελος (stop here) symbol appears at the end of verse 11, signifying the end of the lection for Saint Pelagia’s Day.
John 8:12 begins on the next line, and is accompanied in the outer margin by instruction to resume the lection for Pentecost at this point. A red τελος symbol appears at the end of verse 12, signifying the end of the lection for Pentecost. A very faint αρχη symbol appears at the beginning of verse 12, signifying the beginning of the lection for the fifth day of the fourth week after Eastertime; this lection concludes at the end of 8:20 where accordingly a red τελος symbol appears in the text. The lection for the fifth day of the fourth week after Eastertime is identified in the upper margin, where its incipit-phrase is also provided, all in red.
All in all, 804 is perhaps the most significant manuscript in
that has been digitized by
the researchers at the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts. Digital photographs of the entire manuscript, indexed page by page, are available to view at the CSNTM website. Greece
Readers are invited to double-check the data in this post, and to explore the embedded links for additional resources.