Thursday, April 05, 2012

Bezae New Images for Matt 2.21

The on-line images of Codex Bezae (mentioned already here) are very good. One of the particular difficulties in dealing with and imaging Bezae is the extreme thinness of the parchment (mentioned briefly in Parker, Codex Bezae, 22f). This means that quite often bleed-through from the other side of a page makes reading difficult, and checking readings in the manuscript itself often involves checking both sides of the leaf. The new images (unlike the old facsimile) seem to have been taken in such a manner that minimises this bleed-through from the other side (although I couldn't find any discussion of imaging issues on the web-site and we should note that imaging always involves some level of interpretation/manipulation of the data, see here for an interesting recent discussion).

Anyway, here is an example from Matt 2.21. In the old facsimile it looked like this:

The end of the second line was read by Scrivener as EIS THN ISRAEL (Swanson also thought D* had THN, corrected to GHN). I have suspected for a while that this (which would in any case have been an odd reading) was wrong, and the new images (image 14, 6v) confirm this:

The parallel to the left of the upright is from the other side. Bezae has a normal gamma, EIS GHN ISRAEL (one can also check this by comparing all the gammas and taus on this page).


  1. Yes, these images are great.

    In my experience, Swanson's misreading of corrections is one of his more common faults.

  2. I agree about Swanson - judging corrections on the basis of microfilms is always going to be a bit hit and miss. On the other hand I like Swanson's independence - he'll put down what he thinks he sees without (apparently) consulting any previous transcription/collation of the manuscript. That makes for interesting raw data; but when it turns up anything unusual (as for example at this verse) one will want to consult a facsimile or some other resources to double check the data.

  3. Early printed books suffer from bleed-through when photographed. The solution is a sheet of black paper, which you put behind the page to be photographed. The black everywhere makes the black ink vanish.

  4. Both gammas look the same to me.

  5. Hugh Houghton4/05/2012 8:55 pm

    Dear Peter,
    I'm not so sure. For a start, Scrivener and Swanson are identical here (Scrivener p. 429 records a correction to γην secunda manu).
    Furthermore, if you look at the other gammas on this page (e.g. γαλιλαιας six lines down, παραγειν six lines below that, ηνγικεν γαρ beginning line 14) the letter normally has a slight serif to the top left of the vertical which is missing from this 'γην'. Furthermore, the spacing before the γ is slightly unusual (compare τηc γαλιλαιας six lines below again).
    So despite the quality of these images, I think that this emendation to current editions needs to be verified by looking at the surface of the manuscript in situ.

  6. What one can see to the left of the Gamma is clearly only shine-through from the verso (of the U of SUS, second line).
    Here is an image with the verso added:
    One can even see the slight horizontal bar of the U, which gives the impression of the Gamma being a Tau.
    But I agree with Hugh that only consulting the original can really prove this.

  7. I think there is not enough room for the left side of the crossbar of a tau. The left side is generally slightly longer than the right. Spacing between letters is uneven in this hand, but only rarely do they bite (overlap); if a left half proportional to the right of the crossbar were visible, it would overlap substantially with the leading edge of sigma. I will put up examples tonight: