Wednesday, November 13, 2019

New Testament Manuscripts at Dumbarton Oaks

The beginning of Matthew
in Dumbarton Oaks MS 5
(GA 678)

            In Washington, D.C., just a 15-minute drive from the Museum of the Bible, there is a place called Dumbarton Oaks.  Besides having a beautiful garden and a very impressive collection of antiquities of all sorts (especially Byzantine objects, some of which are displayed in a gallery), Dumbarton Oaks – founded by Robert and Mildred Bliss, and now affiliated with Harvard University – is home to several Greek New Testament manuscripts:
            ● Dumbarton Oaks MS 1 (Gospel Lectionary) is also known as GA Lect 2139.  It contains readings from the Gospels as they were arranged for public reading in church-services throughout the year.  This manuscript can be dated precisely to a specific place and time, thanks to an inscription stating that it was presented by Empress Catherine Camnene to the Holy Trinity Monastery of Chalki in the year 6571 (i.e., 1063).  After the first 42 folios, the format of the text shifts to a cruciform shape.  In addition to this rare feature, the manuscript features many small illustrations, often related to the subject of the excerpts they accompany.  Page-by-page views of the entire manuscript can be downloaded for free, and can also be viewed online.  
            Dumbarton Oaks MS 2 is not one of the Greek manuscripts I mentioned.  It was written in Georgian sometime around the year 1000.  It is a Menaion, a liturgical book, providing the accounts of saints’ lives to read on their annual feast-days; this Menaeon includes the saints’ testimonies for December, January, and February.

            Dumbarton Oaks MS 3, also known as GA 1521, contains the Psalms (with Odes), the four Gospels, Acts, the General Epistles, the Epistles of Paul, and an assortment of prayers.  Like MS 1, this manuscript can be viewed online page-by-page, and it can be downloaded in its entirety.  The book of Psalms begins on fol. 6, with a headpiece picturing David composing songs.  Illustrations sporadically appear, and at about page 150 they begin to occur more frequently.  A portrait of Christ appears on fol. 39r.  Page 168 features an unusual illustration which combines the Annunciation with a picture of Mary contemplating the Scriptures, accompanying the text of the Magnificat.   Some pages feature cruciform text, such as 82r and 85r.  Eusebius’ letter Ad Carpianus begins on 88r, followed by simple red Canon-tables. 
            A rather full lectionary-apparatus accompanies the Gospels-text throughout (and continued through Acts and the Epistles).  Titloi appear in the upper margins, at the appropriate places, written in gold or gold-like pigment.
            The text of the Gospel of Matthew begins on page 197, with a large headpiece depicting the evangelist (framed in blue), an elaborate initial, and marginal illustrations. 
            Mark begins similarly, and with a similar format, on page 265.  Luke begins on page 309, and ends on fol. 186v.  The opening pages of John are not present; according to a digitally added note they are extant in the Tretjakov Gallery in Moscow as #2580.  The text of John begins on page 385 in John 1:26.  On 192r, John 5:4 is included in the text.  On 19v, John 7:53 follows 7:52, with a red “Jump ahead” symbol in between; the pericope adulterae is in the text; verses 3-11 are accompanied by red “>” marks in the outer margin.  A “Resume here” symbol appears in the margin beside 8:12.  John ends on 213v.  
            On 214r there is a list of the New Testament books in the rest of the manuscript:  Acts, the General Epistles, and the Epistles of Paul (Hebrews is listed between the letters to the Thessalonians and the letters to Timothy).  On 214v the summary of the book of Acts appears in a cruciform format.
            Acts begins on 215v; Luke and his readers are depicted in a headpiece, framed in blue.
            James begins on 250r; in the headpiece James sits below a canopy, or baldachin.
            On fol. 253v the summary of Peter’s epistles is formatted in cruciform text beginning with an initial E depicting Saint Luke; in the online images one can zoom in to see its artistic details.  A digital note then informs readers that the next folio of the manuscript resides at the Cleveland Museum of Art where it has accession number 50.154.
            On 255r the text resumes in First Peter 1:21.  Second Peter begins (after a book-summary) on 258r.  (Peter appears in the initial.)  First John begins on 261r, with John depicted in a headpiece (framed in green); John also appears within the initial.  (First John 4:7, without the Comma Johanneum, is in the text on 264r.)    Second John begins on 264v.  Third John begins and ends on 265v.  266r contains the summary of the Epistle of Jude, in cruciform format.  Jude begins on 266v; Jude is depicted in a headpiece, framed in leafy green.  Jesus Christ and Saint James make cameos in the margin.  A few pages are then used to introduce Paul and the book of Romans before the text of Romans begins on 269v.  The headpiece is exceptional; it features Paul in the act of writing while two companions (Phoebe and Timothy?) look on.  Each epistle is preface by its summary, each of which has its own title.
            First Corinthians begins on 282v.  As at the beginning of Romans, the initial “Π” has been turned into a picture of Jesus Christ teaching Paul; small red titles have survived to identify the figures.
In Dumbarton Oaks MS 3,
the initial "Pi" at the start of
each Pauline Epistle depicts
Jesus Christ and Saint Paul.
            Second Corinthians begins on 294v; again the initial is a depiction of Christ teaching Paul. 
            Galatians begins on 303r.
            Ephesians begins on 307r.
            Philippians begins on 311v.  The initial, which previous consisted of Jesus teaching Paul, is here a depiction of Jesus teaching Paul and Timothy.
            Colossians begins on 315r.
            First Thessalonians begins on 318r.
            Second Thessalonians begins on 321.
            First Timothy begins on 323r.  
            Second Timothy begins on 326v.
            Titus begins on 329r.
            Philemon begins on 330v.
            Hebrews begins on 331v.  At the center of the bottom of the page, a small group of individuals is pictured, representing the Hebrews.
            On 341r, there is a distinct change in the handwriting; a different scribe has written Hebrews 13:20b to the end of the book.
            After the conclusion of Hebrews, there are several pages of lectionary-related lists and other materials. 
            The Easter-tables in this manuscript begin with the year 1084, and it may be deduced that the manuscript was made around that time.

            ● Dumbarton Oaks MS 4, also known as GA 706, contains the Gospels of Luke and John, on 254 leaves.  Like Dumbarton Oaks MSS 1 and 3, this manuscript can be viewed online and the entire manuscript can be downloaded.  Compared to MS 3, the text of MS 4 is rather plainly presented.  There are full-page miniatures of Luke (on 4v) and John (on 150v), but these might be secondary.  There is no lectionary apparatus (other than some sporadic notes by a later hand); headpieces are in plain red; initials are also in red.  There are no titloi, even the Eusebian Canon-numbers and Section-numbers are absent.  John 5:4 is on 170v.  On 190v, John 7:53 follows 7:52 (και απηλθεν εκαστος . . .) and the rest of the pericope adulterae is included before 8:12.
          Dumbarton Oaks MS 5, known as GA 678, formerly known as Phillips MS 3886, is a well-executed Gospels-manuscript, written on single-column pages of 20 lines each.  In 2016, in Volume 70 of Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Nadezhda Kavrus-Hoffmann described this manuscript very thoroughly in the article A Newly Acquired Gospel Manuscript at Dumbarton Oaks (DO MS 5): Codicological and Paleographic Description and Analysis.  This article is available at .
            This manuscript from the 1000s has 327 leaves; each page contains 20 lines of text in single columns.  The decorations for the Eusebian Canons are so ornate that one might think an Armenian artist was involved in their production.  After ten pages of spectacularly embellished Canon-tables, Ad Carpianus, the kephalaia (chapters-list) for Matthew, followed by a full-page picture of Christ enthroned (somewhat damaged, perhaps by kisses), and a full-page picture of Matthew.
            The text of the Gospel of Matthew begins on 14r, with a sumptuously ornate headpiece.  Titloi appear at the tops of pages, and a lectionary-apparatus (in red) appears above that, supplemented by notes, symbols and other markings in the text and margins.  Occasionally the lectionary apparatus appears at the foot of the page.  Section-numbers and Canon-numbers appear in the side-margins (always on the left of the text).  There are a few corrections to the text.  On 99r, a lozenge-dot symbol () accompanies the beginning of Matthew 28:8 in the text, probably to signify the beginning of a Resurrection Morning reading.
            Mark’s text begins (with an elaborate headpiece) on 103r.  Another appears midway through Mark 1:13, denoting a lection-break, and again at 3:28.  On 126v, an asterisk-like mark (like but empty in the center) appears at the beginning of chapter 8; there appears to have been another asterisk to the left of the text too, but it has been smudged.  On 129r, the scribe somehow wrote και μετα παρρησια in Mark 8:21b; a later correction appears in the margin, introduced by the symbol which also appears in the text where the supplies words should be added. 
            The symbol appears at Mark 9:10 (on 130v), at Mark 9:28 (on 132r), in Mark 9:34 (on 132v), in 10:11 (on 134v), 10:31 (at the first line on 136v), in 12:44 (on 144r), at 12:40 (on 144v), in 14:1 (on 147v), in 14:27 (on 149v), in 14:38 (on 150v), at 14:43 and 14:44 (both on 151r; the second is accompanied by another in the left margin), at 14:57 (on 152r), in 15:1 (on the last line of 153r), at 15:2 (with another in the side-margin) and at 15:7 (both on 153v), at 15:12 and 15:14 (on 154r), in 15:20 and 15:23 and 15:24 (on 154v), etc., etc.  (I trust that future researchers will avoid assuming, if they see a before Mark 16:9, that this signifies anything other than a lection-break or the beginning of a chapter.)     
            After Luke’s kephalaia and full-page portrait, the text of Luke begins on 162r. On 210v, asterisk-like marks (like but empty in the center), one in the margin and one in the text, precede 12:16.  Luke 22:43-44 is in the text, on 244v.  The text of Luke ends on 254v.
            After John’s kephalaia and full-page portrait, the text of John begins on 257r.  On 282r, an asterisk-like mark (like ※ but empty in the center) precedes John 7:37, the lection for Pentecost-day.  On 283r, John 7:53 follows 7:52, with a “Jump ahead” symbol (ϒΠ) in between.  The pericope adulterae is in the text (και απηλθεν εκαστος . . . and with μη προσποιούμενος in verse 6 and προτος in verse 7 and κατακρινω in verse 11); in verse 11 απο του νυν (“from now on”) is added above the line. 
            A large asterisk-like mark (like but empty in the center) appears in the margin on 302r, and another such mark appears in the text, before 13:1.  This is the beginning of an Easter-time sequence of lections for Good Friday.  In 19:11, on 308v, the scribe did not write the word ουδεμιαν; it is supplied in the side-margin, accompanied by ⁒ which appears in the margin and in the text.  John’s text ends on 326r.
            ● GA 669, known as the Benton Gospels, now also known as Dumbarton Oaks MS 6, is assigned to the 900s.  It is missing almost all of the Gospel of Matthew, but most of Mark (which begins with an interesting illustration – the title of the Gospel of Mark sits like a king under a baldachin – serving as a headpiece), Luke, and John have survived.  Digital photographs of the pages of this manuscript can be accessed at the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts.  This manuscript has traveled quite far; after being brought to the United States in 1844, it eventually found a home in Texas in the collection of Charles C. Ryrie, until Dumbarton Oaks purchased it in 2016.

            It is not every day that one can come into the possession of a digital replica of a Greek New Testament manuscript – and the stewards of Dumbarton Oaks have provided us with the means to view and download four of them!  Thank you, Gudrun Bühl, James Carder, Jan Ziolkowski, Susan Boyd, John Duffy, and the many others who had a role in making these resources available.  May these resources reap a harvest of new and revived interest in the text of the New Testament on the part of everyone who studies them.   
            Here are some additional links to acquaint readers with the multi-faceted blessings a Dumbarton Oaks:
            The Byzantine Collection
            The Pre-Columbian Collection
            Byzantine Seals
            The Riha Hoard
            Church of the Holy Apostles

Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection is the copyright holder for the manuscripts page-views and derivatives of them.

Readers are invited to double-check the data in this post.

1 comment:

James Snapp Jr said...

P.S. Here's a link to a page from DO MS 1 at Cleveland --