Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Greek Financial Crisis and Majuscule 0278

Working my way through Paul, I got increasingly intrigued by 0278, one of the larger new finds from St Catherine's on Mt Sinai. There was no way I could find an image on the web and to my knowledge no-one has devoted much study to it. The most perceptive comment on this manuscript that I was able to find (and, incidentally, the only one) is by Barbara Aland:

Von unsern Majuskeln des 9./10. Jahrhunderts ist am interessantesten das sehr umfängliche Fragment aus dem neuen Fund im Katharinenkloster/Sinai, 0278, das, wie eine genaue Durchsicht dieser Ausgabe zeigt, mehr an altem Bestand aufweist, als es die Teststellenkollation vermuten ließ.

In my search for an image I managed to stumble over a second hand copy of The New Finds of Sinai (1999). The Classics library has a copy of this book in Greek, but there were also 1500 copies printed in English. The book was $75, but the $47.95 postage fee almost warranted buying a ticket to Austin TX and pick it up myself. Still, unhindered by any economic sanity I ordered the book and now have a picture of the opening showing the end of Ephesians and beginning of Philippians. Apparently it is a palimpsest but this does not show from the colour image in New Finds. Two columns, one a fully accented sloping Greek majuscule, the other a beautiful Arabic hand. I don't read a word Arabic, but would happily learn it for the sake of studying this manuscript (how difficult can yet another Semitic language be?).
There is a book waiting to be written on this manuscript.

My newly acquired title opens with a Greeting by the then Minister of Culture of Greece:

"[The Ministry of Culture] charged the competent State Sector, the Department of Manuscripts and Facsimilies [sic] of the National Library of Greece, to classify, to maintain and to record the new finds. It has organized missions and it has funded works, always in cooperation, with the sovereign Holy Monastery. The narration of their discovery, the reference to the first moves made in the direction of rating the Manuscripts as well as their first concise recording, all of which are presented in the present volume, are a tangent proof of the contribution of the Ministry of Culture."

Admittedly, the money was well spent.
By the way, the greeting was written by Evanghelos Venizelos, now the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.

UPDATE (TW): Didier Lafleur informs us of two articles that refers to 0278 (SINAI, Monè tès Hag. Aikaterinès, NE MG 2):

1) F. D'Aiuto, «Un antico inno per la Resurrezione (con nuove testimonianze di "scrittura mista" d'area orientale)», Rivista di Studi Bizantini e Neoellenici, 45, 2008, p. 11 n. 11
2) P. Géhin, S. Frøyshov, «Nouvelles découvertes sinaïtiques: à propos de la parution de l’inventaire des manuscrits grecs», Revue des études byzantines, 58, 2000, p. 172.


  1. Does your book describe the portion of the Pauline Epistles that are contained in 0278?

  2. Presumably more info and digital images will be produced by the current Palimpsest Project. It is unfortunate, though, but understandable that the Greek government will not be supporting any future efforts to complete the photographing and cataloging of the new finds.

    Curt Niccum

  3. Hikmat Kachouh's exhaustive study "The Arabic Versions of the Gospels: The Manuscripts and their Families" should have something to say about the Arabic side of the manuscript.

  4. Darrell. No I haven't done anything with 0278.
    Daniel. 0278 contains only the Pauline corpus - given the title of Kachouh's work he should be allowed to ignore 0278 altogether.

  5. Dirk,
    Good point. He would be the one to ask about its affinity though.