The following is from Kyle Fischer who helped discover three new manuscripts with Dan Wallace during CSNTM‘s latest trip to Athens. –Ed.
When CSNTM’s Research Manager, Rob Marcello, asked me to accompany a team from the Center on their March expedition, I was ecstatic for two reasons. One, I was going to be able to personally help Dr. Wallace—one of my heroes in scholarship and the faith—and two, I was going to the world outside of Texas. As a 23-year-old kid from Texarkana, TX, I had not seen much of the world. So to make the trip to Athens, Greece was both exciting and intimidating for me. I wondered if I would be up to the task. After all, I was around some of the leading figures in New Testament digitization, and I was as green as they get. And being terrified of heights (I learned that ‘heighth’ is not an actual word from Dr. Wallace), I also wondered if our plane would go down to a fiery demise.
Both of these fears, however, quickly dissolved. For one, the plane didn’t crash as is self-evident by this newsletter. Second, and more importantly, Dr. Wallace and the team were more than gracious in helping me understand the process and goal of an expedition. I was able to witness the team in action as they powered through the shooting process with the highest precision. The ease with which they took pinpoint pictures revealed years of hard work and dedication. Not only that, they genuinely enjoyed what they were doing. They laughed together, and they worked together. And they did both well.I was able to touch the manuscripts, to feel the parchment between my fingers, to gaze dumbfounded at the gold leaf and the beautiful script of the manuscripts.”
But perhaps the best part of the expedition was helping Dr. Wallace prepare manuscripts to be digitized. As his assistant, I was able to touch the manuscripts, to feel the parchment between my fingers, to gaze dumbfounded at the gold leaf and the beautiful script of the manuscripts. I was able to witness the devotion of these scribes and their benefactors who deemed the Scriptures worthy to devote months and months of time and income towards a single manuscript—one manuscript. I was able to touch antiquity, holding manuscripts that were older than the United States. Holding something so old reminds you of an important truth: there is something much bigger than ourselves in this world. And our lives here are but tiny tiles on the huge mosaic of human civilization.
To go on an expedition is to receive an education. I thoroughly believe this. But this education is not something that you gain in a classroom. That setting is too sterile, too neat. On expedition you learn about manuscripts, but you learn about them with history under your fingernails. You learn about the pride of the Greek people in their manuscripts and their heritage. You learn that a job well done is worth doing, and it is worth doing with the right people. And you learn that those who changed the scope of history are nameless—largely forgotten by the rest of the world. But they believed in something bigger than themselves, something that transcended their names. And so they worked, not with an eye towards themselves but towards a greater good. It is by this that I learned that ordinary people do extraordinary things. And perhaps a team of people from Plano, TX can make a difference.