The following is a letter from CSNTM’s director, Dan Wallace. –Ed.
Dear Friends of CSNTM,
Summertime in Greece is hot. Blistering hot. But this past summer, high in the Peloponnese mountains, a brisk afternoon breeze cooled us down after a formidable hike up the monastery steps. This was our third convent in two days, where we were searching for biblical manuscripts in need of digitization. The monks were delighted to see us. Our work the past two years at the National Library in Athens had opened wide the doors of many sites in Hellas. Quite a few are in remote locations, only accessible via narrow dirt roads with nothing but shrubs separating the path from a sheer drop-off. Crosses dot the route every couple hundred yards, memorializing a friend or family member at the site of their last moment on earth.
Since our labors in Athens, we have been to a half dozen secluded cloisters in Greece and manuscript collections elsewhere. This is where the treasures are! Many forgotten libraries in Europe, the former Soviet bloc countries, and the Middle East have unspeakably precious copies of Scripture, often deteriorating without notice. And many are in countries susceptible to intentional destruction. These manuscripts must be preserved. For fifteen years CSNTM has done just that. To date, more than 500,000 pages of ancient, unique, handwritten manuscripts have been digitized by the Center, including over ninety manuscripts that we have discovered.
In all these regions the doors are opening, the staff are ready… yet the funds are lacking. Several libraries have said “yes!” to us for 2018–19. CSNTM needs $400,000 if we are to match their “yes!” with our own.
At this time of year, when our thoughts turn to One born long ago in a tiny town just south of Jerusalem, we must ask ourselves: “What would I know about Jesus Christ if the New Testament had never been preserved?” Faithful scribes, toiling century after century in brutal conditions, sacrificed their lives that we might connect to him through this book. The only reason we have printed New Testaments is because nameless copyists performed their lonely tasks to the glory of God. Yet the fruits of their labors could be lost forever.
It is CSNTM’s mission both to protect the past and to ensure the future of these sacred Scriptures. As you ponder your end-of-the-year giving, please consider making a generous investment in this work. As doors are opening throughout the world, we must keep our doors open, too.
Will you make an investment that ensures that the handwritten text of the New Testament is preserved for future generations?
Daniel B. Wallace, PhD
Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts