Monday, February 22, 2010

Greek New Testament Manuscripts in Turin That Survived the Fire

When I worked on Jude I had access to a microfilm collection assembled by the Swedish scholar C. A. Albin in the 50-60's. There I came across a microfilm of Greg.-Aland 613 = Turin, Bibl. Naz. C. V. 1, that contained Jude 21-25 followed by a copy of the third century tract, On the Twelve Apostles traditionally ascribed to Hippolytus. According to the Kurzgefasste Liste this MS had been destroyed in a fire, referring to the severe fire of the Biblioteca Nazionale in Turin in 1904 that destroyed thousands of books and MSS. I also found a letter from a librarian that was enclosed with the microfilm, saying that this fragment was the only thing left of 611, 612 and 613.

Last year at the SBL in Rome, I met Matteo Grosso for the first time. He presented a paper in our Working with Biblical Manuscript unit. Then I met him again in New Orleans where he presented an improved version of the same paper. Since Matteo is from Turin, I suggested to him that he should visit his library and examine the GNT MSS there. I told him there would probably be some suprises. He agreed. Then, not much later, Martin Fassnacht of the INTF in Münster, by chance told me he was going to Turin to examine and photograph the MSS there(!) This was of course a win win situation since Matteo could then help him out in various ways, which he did.

I was also able to report to Martin everything I knew about the MSS there, and that was probably helpful, because at first they could not locate C.V.1 at all, but I told him it should be there, because it had been extant long after the fire. And, lo and behold, they were able to locate this exciting box containing 85 fragments! So now, I suspect we are in for more than what was on the microfilm I had examined.

Photo by M. Fassnacht (Februrary 2010)

There are likely to be many other surprises — there were other boxes with many fragments of various MSS - but the material now has to be properly examined and Martin will write a full report. There will be another visit to Turin to shoot some remaining MSS, and the photos will successively be uploaded to the Virtual Manuscript Room starting soon. (Martin, by the way, is one of the developers of the VMR.)

It is very nice to be able to be assist on a distance. Some time ago I was able to tip Dan Wallace and his team about an unregistered MS on Patmos when they were there. I had come across that one in a Danish microfilm collection.

Let's do our best to support these initiatives!


  1. This may need to result in a new Erratalist to your manuscript.

  2. We don't know yet what is available of 613. However, I will probably just save this for a second edition. I have collated a couple of new manuscripts that were not previously available, and I have a lot of patristic data that could be worked into the apparatus.

  3. Cool, even a bigger apparatus :) Any interesting findings in patristics (other than what I found in addition to your study)?

  4. I apologize for introducing a question here unrelated to the topic at hand, but I was just reading in Codex W and I found something that I am wondering if anyone has talked about before. Of course this codex is known for the first several chapters of John being replacement pages written in the 7th century, but the very first verse of chapter 1 is particularly hard to read. It almost appears that it reads kai o theos hn o logos. The picture is grainy, and it is hard to read the kai, but right in front of theos there appears to be the article. I checked around and could not find any written source that confirms this. Have any of you had occasion to interact with this reading?

  5. here again is the link which was truncated above:

  6. Darrell, your reading is correct.
    The reading is noted here:

    L/019 reads so, too.
    Note that Jo 1:1-5:11 is a supplement in W.
    There are new color images of W available on DVD.

    PS: What is the syntax to include a working link here in the comments?

  7. Thanks Wieland.

  8. try this. Before the URL, put a less than sign, then a href="
    After the URL, put close quotes, greater than sign, less than sign, /a greater than sign.
    You can write text between the adjacent greater than and less than signs.

  9. This post ties in with something I had also heard -- that reports of destruction at Turin are grossly overstated, and that many are in fact largely intact in boxes.

    In a way this is quite exciting. You know, Turin had the unique ms. of part of the Palestinian catena on Psalms. I wonder if, in fact, it is still largely there to be consulted!