It was the last day of term and in order to round off a class on NTTC I took my students to see some manuscripts in the Cambridge University library.
The three oldest were all P.Oxys (Gregory-Aland P17 and P27, and Rahlfs 990; all third or fourth century). 990 is a fragment of a parchment codex of Tobit, and is one of the earliest Christian parchments with Biblical text. P17 with its large letters and multiple reading-helps looks very much like a text used for some sort of a public function, while the other two are 'good weather manuscripts' (only readable when there is enough light because of the small letters). Originally the papyrus may have been brighter though.
We also had two majuscule palimpsests, Zacynthius (040) and a Cairo Genizah item, majuscule 093. With the latter it took us about 15 minutes before we could correlate the first words of the published transcription (Taylor 1900) with the manuscript. The dating of the first is still a problem with 6th and 8th century the two options. If Zacynthius is really 6th, it is a contemporary of 093 (would be nice for reasons of parallelism).
We had to rush through our two remaining manuscripts, Codex Macedoniensis 034, and minuscule 70. The first, a ninth century majuscule, may be one of the youngest manuscripts to omit the pericope de adultera (though the fact that the passage is 'forgotten' λιθ [ληθη] is marked inline and in the margin). Minuscule 70 has a textual value of close to zero, but is interesting because of its scribe, Georgios Hermonymos. He worked in the second half of the 15th century, produced dozens of manuscripts (I know of 28 still preserved, 4 in Cambridge), and is extremely easy to read. Both Macedoniensis and 70 could have been written yesterday, such is the quality of the parchment.
Teaching is such a burden ...