In mid-May, a team of seven people flew from Dallas to Athens to begin the long, tedious, and at times, breathtaking work of digitizing manuscripts. We will be here all summer—7 or 8 people at a time. The staff of the National Library of Greece has been most accommodating. The team is working in one room—a bit of a squeeze but with many advantages too. They digitize hundreds of pages of manuscripts every day.
Some of the most beautiful New Testament manuscripts in the world are housed here. Most medieval manuscripts, if they have any icons at all, will have a painting of each of the four evangelists, placed on the left page, facing the page that begins their respective Gospels. Only rarely will a manuscript have miniatures sprinkled throughout its pages.
To date, we have examined and will be shooting at least nine New Testament manuscripts unknown to biblical scholars. Some of these are small snippets, used as reinforcing strips on leaves that are separating from their covers. Instead of Scotch tape, medieval monks cut up old, worn out parchment manuscripts and glued them to the pages that needed reinforcing. Often, only two or three letters per line are extant. Here’s a strip from Luke’s Gospel:
Others are full manuscripts, catalogued by the library but not yet known to biblical scholars. There are also plenty of known manuscripts to digitize—over 300 of them! The summer will be long, the work will be hard, and the rewards will be immense. The work has begun, and many discoveries await us. We thank you all for partnering with us to preserve these ancient treasures and make them free for all, and free for all time.