Friday, November 15, 2019

A Previously Unidentified Folio of 093?

Earlier this week, I was working on Acts in the forthcoming textual commentary for the Tyndale House Greek New Testament, and I believe there is another page of 093 that the INTF does not currently recognise. Oddly enough, this is not the first time someone at Tyndale House working on Acts has stumbled across a previously-unknown page of a Greek New Testament manuscript.

According to the online Liste at the INTF, 093 is housed at the Cambridge University Library in the Cairo Genizah collection as “Taylor-Schechter Coll. 12.208”. That is slightly imprecise, but the print edition of the Liste (at least the first edition, which is the one I checked) correctly notes that 093 is two folios, each with its own shelfmark. The LDAB entry rightly gives them as Taylor-Schechter 12.208 and Taylor-Schechter 12.189. The manuscript itself is rather interesting. It is a palimpsest in which 6th-century Greek text (of Acts 24–25 and 1 Peter 2–3) was overwritten with Hebrew.

If you’ll hold that thought, we’ll hop over momentarily to the other side of the Atlantic.

As it turns out, the University of Pennsylvania also has a collection of manuscripts that came from the Cairo Genizah in their Center for Advanced Judaic Studies Library. Their online catalogue describes one manuscript, Halper 114, as an “Early midrash on Genesis 40:18-41:3; 46:28-47:1”. Note the following, however:
The hand may be identical to that of the ancient palimpsest copy of compendium of Midrash Rabbah Genesis, Cambridge T-S 12.208 and 189....
Another online catalogue at UPenn has a slightly longer set of notes (and I note that they do give a description for the undertext: “Palimpsest of Book of Acts(?) (Sixth century?)”) and includes the following:
Fragmented Greek characters, disposed vertically in 3 lines within center margins, along joint on hair side; no other Greek characters visible to naked eye, none visible on flesh side; some additional characters seem to appear with digital enhancement, but currently impossible to make out text; the identification with the Cambridge TS 12.208 and 189 bifolia is tentative, given ruling differences (Halper 30-32 lines; Cambridge 28-29 lines), and paucity of identifiable text, notwithstanding kinship between Hebrew texts.
I would suggest that it is not impossible to make out the Greek undertext, only very difficult. Still, I did some playing around, and I think I have found bits of Acts 21:13–14 in one of the more legible sections. As far as I know (and with my sincerest apologies to the INTF if this is not the case), the INTF does not currently recognise Halper 114 as part of 093 or as part of any other Greek New Testament manuscript.

[These images and the content of Center for Advanced Judaic Studies Library, Halper 114: Early midrash on Genesis 40:18-41:3; 46:28-47:1 are free of known copyright restrictions and in the public domain. See the Creative Commons Public Domain Mark page for usage details,]

Section of Halper 114, without my edits.

Section of Halper 114, with my very rough drawing on enough undertext for a preliminary identification
I can also see ε[ι]πο[ντες] after I stopped drawing in red there as well, but I admit I didn’t spend as much time on it as I could have.

My proposals:

  1. It would be great if Halper 114 could be digitised with MSI so that the undertext can be read and edited (and I hear CSNTM has MSI capabilities now!).
  2. It would be great if someone at the INTF could verify if Halper 114 is indeed a previously-unidentified (or at least previously-unrecognised in the Liste) folio of 093.
Finally, here we have another application of Head’s Rule, that “the best place to look for ancient manuscripts is in a library”.


  1. Great work Elijah. An excellent application of "Head's Rule."

  2. Isn't it odd that the same UPenn catalog entry that says the underlying text is impossible to make out also identifies it as coming from Acts?

    1. I didn't think it was too odd. They tentatively link it to a palimpsest that has as its undertext a Greek text of Acts, they can tell that this one also has some kind of Greek undertext, and they label it as "Acts(?)". Seems reasonable to me.

    2. But doen't the palimpsest they tentatively link it to contain both Acts and 1 Peter?

      Specifying Acts (even with a question mark) in the UPenn catalog makes me wonder if somebody had already figured it out, and maybe failed to convince others.

  3. Have you emailed Greg Paulson or Katie Leggett at the INTF with a link to this?

    While I'm sure that someone at the INTF will read this posting eventually (and bring it to their attention), I think it's always better to go the extra mile and make direct contact. If all those proposing corrections to Codex Sinaiticus or the IGNTP transcriptions of John had contacted us (rather than optatively trusting that we might encounter their blog post/published article/twitter feed in one of our idle moments), they would have been incorporated much more quickly...

  4. Thanks for making us aware of this, Elijah. As far as I know, we don't have Halper 114 in the Liste but will look into the matter more closely and keep you updated. -Greg Paulson