Unfortunately, during the Allied bombing of Dresden in World War II, the manuscript suffered severe water damage. Because Dresden was part of East Germany, the manuscript (MS) was not accessible to outsiders during the Cold War. Dr. Wallace examined it in October 2002, and according to the log of visitors (dating back to the late nineteenth century!), he was the first American to see this MSsince B. W. Bacon of Yale University in 1920.
The photographs of the MS done at the beginning of the 20th century are the best available so far, but Dr. David Trobisch has taken multi-spectral photographs of the MS (which will most likely clear up the water-damaged text), which should be published soon.
There is a curious title, “Epistle to Laodiceans,” after the text of Paul’s letter to Philemon, but the text of this apocryphal work is missing. Paul mentioned this letter in Colossians 4:16: “And after you have read this letter, have it read to the church of Laodicea. In turn, read the letter from Laodicea as well.” Several documents titled “Epistle to Laodiceans”exist, but none has ever been recognized by the Church as authentic. Codex Boernerianus is a rare example of a collection of Paul’s writings that originally contained a so-called “Epistle to Laodiceans.” (Paul’s letter to the Ephesians was also called “Laodiceans” in one or two ancient sources.)
Who produced this manuscript? It was most likely written by an Irish scribe, working at the famous monastery of St. Gall in Switzerland. The Greek text is written in majuscules (capital letters). It is also interesting that Paul’s address to “the saints who are in Rome” in Romans 1:7 and 1:15 is changed to “the saints who are in the love,” which betrays a scribal attempt to give the text a more universal flavor and to distance it from association with Rome. The scribe was probably quite disgruntled at Rome, perhaps due to a very disappointing recent pilgrimage. On one page the scribe put a small Irish lyric under the biblical text; the translation by F. H. A. Scrivener is below:
To come to Rome, to come to Rome,
Much of trouble, little of profit,
The thing thou seekest here,
If thou bring not with thee,
thou findest not.
Great folly, great madness,
Great ruin of sense, great insanity,
Since thou hast set out for death,
That thou shouldest be in disobedience
to the Son of Mary.
A close examination of the oddities of this text gives us a glimpse of the time period, the scribe who worked on it, and his spiritual struggles. Codex Boernerianus is a close relative of Codex Augiensis (F or 010), housed at Trinity College, Cambridge. Neither scribe knew Greek well, as both have numerous identical misspellings throughout. (Such accidental errors are easy to detect; scribes who did not know Greek well cannot change the text too much!)
This wonderful sample of the Western text-type, with its unique features, gives us yet more information toward a better reconstruction of the original text. The 1909 facsimile of this manuscript is publicly available on the CSNTM website for anyone to see.