Monday, November 16, 2015

CSNTM Launches New Website

Today, the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) launched their new and vastly improved website at Here are some of the features that are announced on the vastly improved website now and in the coming weeks:

  • New Manuscripts – We will be adding 10-20 new manuscripts to our website weekly for the next few months. These will be from the National Library of Greece in Athens (our ongoing project for 2015–16), as well as previously unposted images from hundreds of manuscripts and rare books in our collection.
  • New Look – We have revamped our entire website to make it both simpler and richer in content. We have new content, which narrates how we go about digitizing and archiving manuscripts. We also explain what goes into our extensive training program that enables our teams to work quickly while capturing high-quality images.
  • New Viewing Environment – The website is equipped with a new viewer, which makes it easier than ever to navigate manuscripts and view our stunning new images.
  • New Usability – Our new site is also designed to work perfectly with mobile devices and tablets, enabling you to view manuscripts or to access other resources quickly, whenever you need them.
  • New Search Features – The website is now outfitted with an extensive search functionality. Searches can be performed at the manuscript level, allowing you to find manuscripts that meet certain criteria (e.g., date, contents, material, location). They can also be performed at the image level, which allows you to find specific features within a manuscript. For instance, we now have a Jump to Book option that allows you to find the beginning of each book that a manuscript contains. Also, one can search tagged manuscripts for verse references. Every place, for example, in which John 1.1 is tagged will automatically populate when the verse is searched.
  • New Search Database – The search database holds tags for each manuscript and individual image. As our team continues tagging our growing collection, the search function will become more comprehensive each week. But the task is daunting. We want your help for the tagging! If interested, you can reach us via our contact page.


  1. The Terms of Use are a six-page document. And the print-stylesheet for it is such that it will exclude some of the text if printed with normal settings. It uses conventions that are unknown to me, and I guess most Europeans, such as putting some expressions in quotation-marks without defining them. ``Permissions for "Use" of Copyrighted material''. Normally you would have definitions first and the defined terms in italics. Then it turns out, reading the 6+3 pages is not enough but it refers laws of the USA, namely TEACH, without even linking to them. Also the privacy policy has to be read. In paragraph 7, we have to agree to pay CSNTM's lawyers for costs arising from our violation of the agreement. Yes, they are so sure we will violate it that they describe it as if it has already happened. Finally it says:
    ``You expressly submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of said courts and consents to extra-territorial service of process. Should any part of this Agreement be held invalid or unenforceable, that portion shall be construed consistent with applicable law and the remaining portions shall remain in full force and effect.''

    So if some provisions are so draconian that courts object, they are free to make up new ones that we, throug this agreement, have already preconsented to.

    I would appreciate it if you could write about other sites and databases where one can gain access to manuscript images, for this site is clearly not available any more.

    1. 1. Since this is an online consent form, it has been formatted for website purposes and not printing. If you would like a PDF of the same document, we could easily send you one.

      2. The term "use" is defined in section 3.A

      3. As with most legal documents, the document is agreed upon under the laws and jurisdiction of a specific location. No document can take into account an up-to-date record of every legal statute for every country. It would be enormous. Thus, since CSNTM is a non-profit organization based in Plano, Texas, in the US, the agreement is treated as though it were executed and performed in Plano, TX, as is stated in section 20.

      4. If someone breaks the contract and are found guilty, they are responsible for the legal fees that result from the offense. This is a standard practice.

      5. I think you have misinterpreted the "invalid and unenforceable" section. It makes much more sense not to think of it as making up new laws, but rather, when a portion of the agreement is inapplicable, then relevant US law supersedes it. This is also a standard component of most terms and conditions found on various websites.

    2. I'll also add that CSNTM is responsible for making available manuscripts from over 100 different libraries or individuals. We have various contracts and stipulations from each location. As such, although this document may seem daunting, we are attempting to both protect those who own the manuscripts from illegal copyright infringements while still making as many images free for all and free for all time. This has been our initial mission since day one, and that has not changed. As we stated, we will continue to make hundreds of new manuscripts available over the coming weeks.

    3. 1. You can use @media print{ ... } in order to make web pages print nicely. The assignments made within the brackets will only affect print layout. Typically you would assign display: none; to elements that do not fit in a print, such as navigation menus, and perhaps you would tweak the width of the element holding the page.

      I agree with you against your strawman on items 3 and 4.

      5. Most agreements I have seen have something like: If any part of this agreement is held to be uneforceable, the remaining parts shall remain in force.

      In any case, I applaud your decision to write the ToS without consulting a lawyer because they are expensive. ^^

    4. Yelhosbokos,

      I assume you'll be shutting down your blog soon since Wordpress's Terms of Service include the more severe statement "If any part of this Agreement is held invalid or unenforceable, that part will be construed to reflect the parties’ original intent, and the remaining portions will remain in full force and effect."

      There are countless examples of companies that I think can afford a lawyer or two that have these statements (Google is your friend if you'd like to find more). If you have a problem with not being allowed to steal images and use them however, then I'm betting CSNTM would encourage you to source them elsewhere. As Robert D. Marcello stated above, they are providing a free service and are protecting the rights of all involved.

      J.W. Peterson

  2. Yeihosbakos,
    The CSNTM's new Terms of Use do look intimidating, granted. But, effectively, they are not much different now, just more prominent. Iiuc, basically the Terms of Use mean: do not distribute any manuscript-images derived directly from the CSNTM site by any means in any public venue without permission to do so from both CSNTM and from the institution or individual which is the current custodian of the manuscript. You are allowed to look at the images of manuscripts on-site, and to share links to the on-site images of the manuscripts.

    For more information on the TEACH Act see the PowerPoint presentation to which there is a link at .

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

    1. ``But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.'' — Matthew 5:34-37, ESV.

      I have often heard people say about agreements "yes it says A but it actually means B" and they have invented various excuses such as they can't change it without getting permission from the so high managing director who is unfortunately extremely occupied, or "I don't think everything can be specified in an agreement but a business relation has to build on mutual trust" as one guy said before breaking that trust and proving himself to be made of total filth. Ultimately a court will consider the actual text of the agreement and fellow christians helpful interpretations will not carry much weight, but thank you for trying. :)

      Brotherly greetings
      Basti Weidemyr

  3. Basti, I am afraid that the alternative is to not be anle to view manuscripts for your study purposes at all, but to have to either get expensive facsimilies in a few cases, or travel to Muenster to view manuscript on microfim in black and white (I did that for years), order expensive photos from a library, or travel to the actual location of the MS and get permission to see it. Copyright laws would still apply.

  4. Absolutely love the new web-site. Vast improvement in finding the right image. Great job.

  5. Fantastic! Well done CSNTM!