Thursday, April 1, 2021

New Manuscripts from Liechtenstein

H.S.H. Hans-Adam II

           An important collection of previously unpublished New Testament materials has been released in the  European micro-state of Liechtenstein.  Scholars were aware of the existence of this collection, but its publication was delayed until 2020 in accordance with the stipulations of the last will and testament of Prince Franz Johann II, who served as prince of Liechtenstein from 1938 to 1989.  It was delayed one year further due to Covid-19-related disruptions and by some concerns in the art world that the royal family could not disprove speculative theories that the preservation of this collection during WWII was due in part to “forced labor.” 

After documentation was provided which shows that the entire collection was preserved due to a simpler mechanism – its obscurity – no obstacles stand in the way of its publication.  The first institution to display the Ecclesiastical Archives of Liechtenstein will be the small Treasure Chamber (the Schatzkammer – described in this video) in the capital city of Vaduz, not far from Vaduz Castle, where the collection was kept for decades.  

Following the formal accession of H.S.H. Hereditary Prince Alois, most of the collection will be transferred to a permanent display in the Liechtenstein Garden Palace in Vienna
, Austria, near the U.S. embassy.
H.S.H. Hereditary
Prince Alois

          The collection originated mainly as an effect of Franz Johann II’s penchant for the collection of fine art.  He and his predecessor, Johann II (who led the country from 1929 to 1938) – and many of their predecessors – accumulated what is now one of the finest art collections in the world.  The intricately decorated book-covers and cases of manuscripts were cherished as art; the manuscripts they held were probably seen as secondary items when purchased.  But new assessments of these rarely seen books, undertaken by a team of scholars sponsored by H.S.H. Hans-Adam II, has elicited a new appreciation of their value. 

          The Biblical manuscripts in the Ecclesiastical Archives of Liechtenstein include the following:
          ● Seven incomplete minuscule copies of the Gospels in Greek, including one from the 900s.  Most feature the Eusebian Canons and a few attached pages.

A medieval Gospels MS
with an unusual reading in Mark 1:2.
          ● Ten Latin copies of different portions of the New Testament, including a book of the four Gospels from the 900s, probably produced in Metz at the Hovnarr Monastery.

          ● Three Latin Book of Hours, from different medieval periods.  One of these features some Greek notes accompanying passages taken from the Gospels. 

          ● Five Ethiopic lectionaries, with texts on illustrated pages.

          ● A majuscule fragment, written in both Greek and Latin, containing Luke 24:17-25, found unbound in an antiphonary, which was obtained by Carl Eusebius Liechtenstein in the 1600s.    

          ● An ancient Latin lectionary once owned by Massimiliano Soldani Benzi.

          More information about the plans to publish and display these documents can be found by visiting the website of the Liechtensteinisches LandesMuseum.

The Liechtenstein Garden Palace, in Vienna,
future home of the collection.



Maurice A. Robinson said...

The neatness of both the original scribe and the later corrector of the Markan page pictured is commendable. The handwriting of both scribes is an excellent example of ca.11th century script, and is far clearer and superior to that of the 14th century manuscript GA 2427.

Daniel Buck said...

You don't seriously believe that's a 14th century ms, do you?

Daniel Buck said...

Oh wait, nothing is serious here is it. Good one James. I was looking forward to this.

Maurice A. Robinson said...

Especially since the ETC blog failed to post an equivalent news item....

Matthew M. Rose said...

It appears that our medieval woodpecker has more good sense than some of our most renowned (and more modern) text critics. For he obviously has a bird's-eye view over the situation,—as well as the proper equipment to omit υιού του θυ if he so wished...and yet he holds his beek. Tischendorf, Ehrman, et al. take notice.