The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) is well known for taking high quality digital images of manuscripts. CSNTM’s images of P46, the oldest manuscript of Paul’s letters, are so clear that they reveal text that was not clearly visible before! Moreover, ultraviolet (UV) lighting has partially revealed some text that has been damaged by water or fire. UV is marginally successful at revealing palimpsests—manuscripts in which the original text was scraped off by some scribe centuries later, who then writes another text on top of the now-erased original. The images the Center makes available on its website are critical tools for people who study the New Testament, regularly revealing things that have not been seen for centuries!It is crucial that CSNTM make this landmark purchase so that they can continue to provide the highest quality and most useful images to scholars.”
Now, there are new digitization technologies that are game-changers. One of these is multi-spectral imaging (MSI). Many people are familiar with UV light. But UV is only one of many wavelengths in the light spectrum. MSI technology allows images to be captured at wavelengths across the light spectrum, from UV to infrared. The data provided by MSI allows otherwise invisible text to be revealed. Multi-spectral images also are useful tools for historians studying icons and other features in manuscripts. Altogether, multi-spectral images are incredible tools for people examining manuscripts, though MSI’s application to manuscripts is a recent development.
To see MSI technology at work and the benefit it provides to scholars, watch this short video from the Israel Antiquities Authority who used MSI to digitally preserve and study the Dead Sea Scrolls:
As the video demonstrates, multi-spectral images provide revolutionary data to scholars. The technology has already been applied by the Archimedes Palimpsest Project, which revealed two treatises from the famous Greek mathematician, Archimedes, that were erased to create a prayer book in the 13th century. Other notable projects include the Codex Sinaiticus Project and the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digitization Project, as well as work going on at major universities. CSNTM staff have discovered several palimpsests since their inception, but the limited success of UV photography has been frustrating. Just as some of the most important ancient documents have been digitally preserved using MSI, CSNTM’s next major undertaking is to utilize this technology to digitally preserve handwritten copies of the Greek New Testament.
It is crucial that CSNTM make this landmark purchase so that they can continue to provide the highest quality and most useful images to scholars. This equipment is even more critical to obtain because many of those who will allow the Center to digitize their collections are expecting multi-spectral images of damaged manuscripts. The Center simply cannot meet this need with its existing equipment.The cost for MSI is not cheap: approximately $125,000.”
The cost for MSI is not cheap: approximately $125,000. This will include a camera and lens designed to digitize images at 13 spectral wavelengths, MSI lighting equipment, a specially-designed, built-to-order copy stand that cradles these manuscripts, post-production software, and training of the Center’s staff on the new equipment.
Would you consider assisting CSNTM’s efforts at revealing biblical text that has not been seen for centuries, carefully preserving handwritten copies of the New Testament, and sharing information about manuscripts that was impossible to know before?
To help sponsor this special project, visit www.CSNTM.org/donate.