Concerning Access to MS Images at the CSNTM
(The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts):
I applaud the work of the CSNTM, it is good to know that many good
quality manuscript images are finding a home on American soil. I also
enjoy the new format of their website. Yet, there are several
questions which still nag at me and some of my associates. I hope to
receive a public answer, as these are not private issues.
(1) I cannot find information on the CSNTM website as to how I might
receive DVD copies of the MSS filmed at Patmos, Constantinople or in
Albania. How can I or anyone get full resolution DVD copies and what
are the terms of usage?
I know that some few others are receiving copies, is circulation of
these DVDs restricted to only a select few? Do only monetary donors
receive copies? Why is this information apparently suppressed (it has
not been on the old site either)?
(2) The CSNTM boasts that they are making good "high" resolution
copies of MSS. And they have been. Nevertheless, many of the posted
images on their website are poor low resolution images! How does one
obtain the high resolution images? What is the cost of the good
(3) Earlier the founder of the CSNTM lamented the fact that for years
only poor quality black and white images were available to scholars.
The CSNTM set out to provide good "high" resolution images. So why
waste website space posting poor quality images? Why not increase your
website and post the good stuff? Parts of the website are a
contradiction to some of the earlier stated goals. UNLESS the low
resolution images are for sample purposes only, encouraging the viewer
to send for the good "high" resolution DVD copy. Then the space-saving
low resolution images make sense, but if DVD copies are not available,
then the low resolution postings are somewhat of an insult.
But are DVD copies available? If so exactly for which MSS [hopefully
all]? Again this information is hard to locate on the CSNTM website.
Where is this information??
(Is it possible that only the elites have access to the good images,
and that we poor or less fortunate folks are left with the low quality
(4) The CSNTM has begun to sell enlargements of a few MS images. I
think this may be good, it may be nice to have a sample to display.
However, why not GIVE such images to donors? Would this not be an
incentive to donate? Selling images for profit leaves a suspicious
residue of capitalism.
(5) Why are only the minuscule MSS from U. of Michigan posted? Why
not post all of their Biblical MS holdings, such as P46 and their OT
MSS? Sure they may be posted elsewhere, but does it not make sense to
keep all of the material in ONE place. Why scattered all over the
internet? It seems to me that if the CSNTM is sincere then the folks
at Michigan would not mind your posting of all of their Biblical MS
It appears to me that many institutions USE their manuscripts (which
they may possess) for financial or status purposes. Sharing seems weak
and not a good tactic from an investment point of view. I hope the
CSNTM does not continue to become a holding facility or archive for
the benefit of the elites or privileged only. Lets talk access and
lets make clear the access terms to and for all peoples. I mean is
the purpose of the CSNTM to simply archive and hide these MSS, or to
share them in good "high" resolution formats?
I do not mind donating money to the cause, but not if the MSS can only
be accessed on-site at your home or where ever the CSNTM is located
(Dallas and Minnesota). You have agreements with the Greek Orthodox
concerning access to your images. You cannot post most of their
manuscripts, so the circulation of DVDs is essential to sharing them.
Can you clearly elaborate these policies on your website, or in your
reply to this?? Surely you and the Orthodox have agreed to permit
unlimited access to the DVD copies. Yes? If not, what behind-the-doors
terms have you negotiated? Why is this information not made clear??
Since the CSNTM is a tax deductible organization, your finances are
public. Exactly how much money is received by the Center? How much is
used for the purchase of cameras? Why are some MSS filmed with the low
resolution cameras? How much did the U. of Michigan pay to have their
minuscule MSS filmed? The point is, I see a conflict of interests
here. Filming for profit AND filming for the glory of God. You provide
a service and are doing it under a 501(c)(3) protection. Perhaps
clarifying your purposes would be helpful. Why film MSS when you
cannot share them? If you seek to only preserve the MSS then the mass
circulation of the images would be the best method to preserve,
thousands (hypothectically) of copies scattered around the globe. This
would be preservation.
Since you are in a 501c3 status, how do you classify the payments to
you for services rendered?? If I donate, how is my monies used? --
to provide access to a few selected folks? I need answers. (Dr.
Wallace posts often to this list, so I trust you [Dr. Wallace] will
give a nice full reply, take your time, no need to find an excuse not
to reply or to only answer one question and then not answer the other
questions). I am in no hurry, and I feel we all deserve a full and
openly public reply.
Mr. Gary S. Dykes