Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Greek New Testament Manuscript on Display at National Library of Russia

There is an on-line exhibition at the National Library of Russia, "The Ostromir Gospel and the Manuscript Tradition of the New Testament Texts," held in celebration of the 950th anniversary of the oldest Russian dated book. Below is a brief description of the exhibition:

The peculiar place, that the Ostromir Gospel occupies in the historical and cultural process, allowed to form the conception of the exhibition as display of the previous and following manuscript tradition. The project aims to demonstrate masterpieces of book arts of Byzantium and the South Slavs and to trace the thousand-year way of the development of a Russian manuscript book. Thanks to the fact that sacred texts were copied by only professional scribes, and, usually, these manuscripts were finely decorated, on view in the exibition are unparalleled, the most beautiful examples of mediaeval book arts. They illustrate harmonious synthesis of the text and images, the exquisite calligraphy and endless inventiveness of the refined design, the lofty Christian idea and perfection of the Word of God, recorded on superb leaves of invaluable manuscripts.

The exhibition is organised into four sections. The second section is of special interest for the readers of this blog. It displays 11 Greek manuscripts from the 6th-13th centuries, demonstrating manuscript arts.

I have indexed these MSS according to their Greg.-Aland number as follows:

Greg.-Aland 022. РНБ. Греч. 537. Sarmisahly Tetraevangelion (Codex Purpureus Petropolitanus, Codex N, Codex Caesariensis)

Greg.-Aland 041. РНБ. Греч. 34. Tetraevangelion. 9th cent.

Greg.-Aland 330. РНБ. Греч. 101/1. Tetraevangelion. 12th century; last quarter of 13th cent.
Note that this MS has now been divided in two parts under shelfmarks Греч. 101/1 and 101/2 (whereas the Liste has shelfmark Gr. 101)

Greg.-Aland 568. РНБ, Греч. 67. Tetraevangelion, 11th cent.

Greg.-Aland 569. РНБ. Греч. 72. Tetraevangelion with Commentary, 1061.

Greg.-Aland 2132. РНБ. Греч. 801. Tetraevangelion, 10th cent. (third quarter)

Greg.-Aland 2145. НБ. Греч. 222. Tetraevangelion, 1144.

Greg.-Aland L243. РНБ. Греч. 21, 21а. Gospel of Trebizond. Gospel Lectionary, 10th cent.

Greg.-Aland L250. РНБ. Греч. 55. Gospel and Praxapostolos Lectionary, 10th cent.

Greg.-Aland L1393. РНБ. СПбДА Б I/7. Gospel Lectionary, 11th cent. (first half )

Greg.-Aland L1552. РНБ. СПбДА Б I/5. Gospel lectionary, 985.

According to the website, the National Library of Russia holds 525 Greek manuscripts, of which 115 books are Tetraevangelions and Gospels with commentary, written on parchment or paper, and 71 codices are service Gospels.

I do not know how this squares with the information gathered by the INTF, but a quick check in the Kurzgefasste Liste reveals that there are 105 continuous texts and 87 lectionaries registered today, but then I have not checked which of these that contain Gospel texts. There may be some unregistered MSS at this institution. It is also possible that a couple of "Gospels with commentary" were not be registered in the Liste because they did not contain a proper running Gospel text. Perhaps this could be a place to visit for Dan Wallace's and the CSNTM.

Finally, a funny episode I had with this library some years ago. I was trying to get access to Codex P 025 instead of relying on Tischendorf's old collation. The codex is a palimpsest and the upper writing is Greg.-Aland 1834. Neither of them was available on microfilm at the INTF in Münster. However, my predecessor Carl-Axel Albin, who had studied many MSS and compiled an edition of Jude some 50 years ago had written to the library to order a microfilm of the folios with Jude. They sent him Jude, not from 025 but from 1834. When he wrote them again I don't think they replied.

When I contacted the library about 025, at first they were very pessimistic because they did not have the technical possibilities to produce good images that would reveal the text of 025. But then they sent me a suggestion of a trade. I would get some images and they sent me a list of modern Swedish books that they wanted to acquire for the library. However, I did not proceed further with this. I eventually chose to follow Tischendorf's collation in this case.


  1. Codex P 025 . . . is a palimpsest and the upper writing is Greg.-Aland 1834.

    Is this the only case of one NT ms being written over another?

    P is basically everything but the gospels. What is 1834?

  2. Anon: "Is this the only case of one NT ms being written over another?"

    No, there are other cases. For example, Münster, Bibelmuseum Ms. 1 is 0233 and L1684. You will find on-line images of L1684 at the CSNTM: http://www.csntm.org/Manuscripts.aspx
    However, I guess you will not be able to see much of the text of 0233.

    Anon: "What is 1834?"

    The minuscule 1834 is an Apostolos MS with Acts, Catholic letters and Paul's letters.

  3. Thanks for posting this Tommy - very helpful indeed.