Monday, June 15, 2009

How many mss

Every year or so I find that I have to update the figures of NT mss which I give in lectures. This time I've left it a bit more than a year and the last figures I have were collected in February 2008:

Papyri 124
Uncials 318
Minuscules 2882
Lectionaries 2346

Does anyone want to offer updated figures on the ones I have below? Obviously it would need to include the 77 turned up by Dan Wallace and his team, but I'd be pleased to be assured that I wasn't missing any.


  1. The official figures at present are:

    123 papyri
    280 majuscules
    2808 minuscules
    2343 lectionaries

    which adds up to a total of 5554 items.

    It is slightly off the mark to just add the latest figures in the respective categories, because there are quite a number of G-A numbers that need to be subtracted due to mistakes and doublets amassed over the decades.

    Indeed, Dan's 60 something items and some that Tommy indicated are not yet digested. By the beginning of 2010 we may well cross the 6000 totals.

    Ulrich Schmid

  2. I think it needs to be pointed out that these are "official" in the sense of those mss made known to the K-Liste. I have got to believe that there are now far more than 6,000 mss if we add to this all the mss that individuals and institutions do not report. Many see no reason to have their mss reported to INTF. I think this is why Dr. Wallace's organization is finding so many. There are out there all over the place. We can only imagine how many uncatalogued mss are on Athos alone!! The unnamed monasteries speckled all over Greece would yield hundreds.

    So, I agree you have to subtract for doublets on the K-Liste, since this is an "official" list. But if your goal is to ascertain the total number of GNT mss, you will have to use places like the ones Dr. Wallace visited in Greece to determine the average number of mss likely to be found in a certain location, etc. Of course, some locations are not going to yield any, others will yield quite a few.

  3. If you want more manuscripts we could all write one each and that would add a couple of hundred more manuscripts of the Greek NT.

  4. What is the time limit for the date of GNT mss? Could I write 10,000 GNT mss today and boost the claim Christians make regarding the embarrassment of riches?

  5. Anonymus 1 (in reversed order), there is a rough time limit for GNT mss in order to be included in the 'Kurzgefasste Liste', i.e. they need to be prior to printed Greek NT texts as they were available in the area, where a ms has been produced. The idea is to identify those that are part of an ongoing ms tradition without the inference of printed texts.

    Anonymus 2, if you copy the Greek NT, you are in good company. Huldreich Zwingli copied the Pauline Corpus in 1517 (the ms is found in Zürich, Zentralbibliothek RP 15). Alas, neither his copy nor your product will make it into the 'Kurzgefasste Liste'.

    Anonymus 3, there are certainly many still uncatalogued GNT mss out there. And every visit to Greece can yield new finds, if you know where and what to look for. This has been so in the past when, e.g., Gregory, von Soden's team, the Library of Congress expedition (1949-), Aland's team, Richard toured libraries and monasteries in Greece (mainland, Athos, islands). And this now happens as well while Dan Wallace is out imaging mss.

    But new mss also emerge through purchases by individuals and institutions or while working through manuscript catalogues or the boxes left by Grenfell and Hunt or as a result of book conservation procedures. Every major holding institution in the Western world routinely hands over worn out manuscript bindings to conservation teams, according to the budget, of course. What they usually receive in return is a restored manuscript binding and slices of older parchments that have been used in the previous binding. Sometimes there are even Greek NT slices.

    One of the really tricky things in all that is to keep track of the individual items, because not every new finding is really new in the sense that it has not been recorded previously. Remember, the 'Kurzgefasste Liste' digests recorded mss that have been seen and used by previous generations of scholars. It works like a living memory. However, some of the items have gone lost over time. And the 'Liste' has to keep their memory and check every alleged new finding against the previous records in order to ensure that the object that has now emerged on the scholarly radar indeed is new and not already recorded or part of a previously recorded ms.

    This is, after all, what a check-list is for. And it would be truely helpful, if holding institutions and owners reported their GNT mss on their own initiative. But, not so rarely owners and institutions simply don't know of the existence of the 'Kurzgefasste Liste'. Hence, it is important that scholars and interested amateurs (= lovers) of GNT mss convey the idea that there is such a check-list as a service to scholarship.

    Ulrich Schmid

  6. Thanks Ulrich,
    And I hope you know that we appreciate the job you are doing and also those from whom you inherited the task.