The George Grey Gospels - Another Christmas Present
- What? You say those three Latin books from the early 1500's were not all that text-critically interesting? You say that the graphic decapitations in the border-pictures made you queasy? You say that what you would really like for Christmas (besides world peace and full pantries for everyone) is to see a page-by-page online presentation of a Greek Gospels manuscript -- a manuscript with an unusual reading here or there -- with sensibly presented thumbnails of each page, with ridiculous magnification capability via Zoomify?
Okay then! Consider MS 1273. Images of this MS are available to view at CSNTM. There is also a brief description of the MS there, prepared by Dr. Daniel Wallace.
On the opening pages of this MS in its present form (with a morocco leather binding), there are some penciled-in notes, probably written by H. Shaw (who may also be responsible for the modern chapter-numbers, and occasional verse-numbers, that have been added, in pencil, to the margin of the MS, and for another note jotted at the foot of the first page of the Canons -- stating something like, "This books [?] was written 94 yrs after Christ." [?!]) :
"Contains Miniatures of St. Matthew and St. Luke."
"This MS differs from our review; in the 6th Mat. [= sixth chapter of Matthew] the Lord's Prayer has words For Thine is the kingdom, etc." [Or something like that.] I suspect that if one were to take the time to rummage through Shaw's books, something could be found stating that this MS lacks the doxology of the Lord's Prayer; this note acknowledges that the MS includes the doxology, in Mt. 6:13.
"There is in the Bodleian Library at Oxford a MS of the New Testament supposed to be of the 10th or 11th century - the Codex Ebnerianus - which in the handwriting, and the capitals bears a very close resemblance to this MS - see the capital E at the beginning of St. Luke - Libri Manuscripts, p. 81 - and facsimile." [Codex Ebnerianus = MS 105]
"MSS. Libri, p. 82" and "H. Shaw's Guide to MSS, p. 9."
This last note refers to H. Shaw's 1908 book "A Guide to the Principle Manuscripts, Early Printed Books, Autograph Letters, Etc., Contained in the Auckland Free Public Library." On page 9 of that book (which can be downloaded from Google Books), there are descriptions of a Greek lectionary in the collection (which may explain why this Gospels-book was called a lectionary), and then, second in the list, is the following entry:
"2. Codex Evangelarium (the Four Gospels), written in a near minuscule hand on 199 leaves of sheepskin; size, 8 x 5 1/2 in., bound in a modern morocco binding." And then, "A table of the Eusebian Canons occupies the first two leaves of the MS., followed by a table of the chapters of the Gospels. Portraits of Saint Matthew and Saint Luke are prefixed to their respective Gospels. These are drawn in blank and red, in a rude style of Byzantine art. There are also ornamental headings in red to each of the Gospels. This Codex is inedited; but it is thought by some scholars who have examined it to have great textual value. It was originally supposed to be a tenth century MS., but a Greek priest visiting the Library some few years ago discovered the date on the last leaf, viz., A.D. 1128, thus proving it to be of much later date. This is the second oldest MS. in the Library, and, with the Lectionary (No. 1), is believed to have come from one of the monasteries on Mount Athos."
The next-to-last note, and the one before it, refer to an auction-catalogue titled "Catalogue of the Extraordinary Collection of Splendid Manuscripts . . . Formed by M. Guglielmo Libri," etc., etc., etc. which was printed by Sotheby's prior to the auction. This catalogue is online; turning to page 82, there are only descriptions of two Latin manuscripts, but go back a page, to page 81, and there, listed as auction item #354, is our manuscript: "Evangelia IV, Graece, morocco extra, by J. Clarke. 4to. Saec. xi. on vellum." In the margin someone has jotted down "174 pounds," apparently the price that was paid for the MS at the auction. A description follows, which I have condensed:
"This noble manuscript, containing the four gospels with the Canons and fine Greek numerical notes, is quite perfect. The characters, in red and black, are large and beautiful, with some ornaments in the old Byzantine style. . . . On comparing a few chapters of this manuscript with Mill's edition of the New Testament (Oxonii, 1707, in folio) we found that the text of our manuscript is exceedingly pure, and that it comtains some various readings which are not quoted by Mill. The Canones, at the end, also differ from the Eusebian. [They are at the beginning of the MS now; probably the pages had been loosened, and then put at the end, and then put back where they belong. They are the Eusebian Canons, just the first five instead of all ten. The pages containing the rest obviously have been lost.] Some small additions are in the manuscript which are not to be found in the printed editions. The Capitulatio of St. Mathew is not at the beginning but at the end of the volume. [Again, a case of misplaced pages; Matthew's chapter-list is now where it belongs.] In this Capitulatio the title of the second chapter instead of being, as in Mill, PERI TWN ANAIREQENTWN PAIDIWN is in the present manuscript PERI TWN ANAIREQENTWN NHWIWN, which will show an instance of the variations in the readings contained in this codex. [In the chapter-list itself, the second chapter plainly reads PAIDIWN, not NHWIWN. So does the title repeated at the bottom of the page where chapter two is written. It seems as if the auction-catalogue's claim is the result of someone's line of sight slipping from the end of the title for chapter 2 to the end of the title for chapter 3.] This manuscript in the handwriting, as well as in the ornaments and the capitals, bears a very close resemblance to the celebrated Codex Ebnerianus of the New Testament, supposed to be of the eleventh and even of the tenth century, in the Bodleian Library at Oxford . . . ."
The facsimile that is mentioned in the note is found in the Libri MSS catalog, on page 342 (of the digital-page-count), on the XIth page of facsimile-plates. It shows, in a simple black and white reproduction, the headpiece, title, and opening line of the Gospel of Luke, with an ornamental letter "E." (The facsimile, though, does not match the headpiece and title that actually appears in the MS. The E's are similar, though. Perhaps the facsimile was based on Codex Ebnerianus.)
So, that note was summing up part of this entry in this auction-catalogue for the Libri MSS.
Another note appears at the end of John: the number (in Greek letters) "1,128" ("A'RKH") is centered. Under this is penciled the equivalent: "1128." And in the margin there is a simple subtraction-equation: 1732-1128=0664.
Apparently someone in 1732 wanted to calculate how old the MS was, and wrote this to find out. So: someone had it in 1732; it was in the Libri collection in 1859; it was then sold, and traveled to New Zealand after that.
Most of the text is written in one column per page, in 26 lines per page (for the most part). In Luke 3, though, the genealogy is written in three columns. And it's a seriously messed-up list.
The ink in which the text is written is black; the pen is slightly think; initials are red. "Arce" symbols are usually written in a combination of red and black; the "A" is red; the "RC" stack is black. Likewise "telos" symbols usually have a red "T" and black L+circumflex-sign.
The diple-mark (>) is inconsistently used in the margin to accompany quotations from the OT (at, for example, Mt. 12:18-21). Sometimes the diple is written vertically (so as to resemble an English "v"), as at Luke 3:4-6.
Here are some spot-checked readings that I found interesting:
In Matthew 1:21, the entire phrase "for he shall save his people from their sins" is absent.
In Matthew 3:16, "pros" is written instead of ep'.
In Matthew 4:13, Isaiah's name is absent.
In Matthew 4:18, Jesus' name is absent.
Matthew 5:32 reads oti pas.
Matthew 5:37 has a kai-compendium between "nai nai" and "ou ou"
In Matthew 5:44, kalws poieite tois misousin umas ("do good to those who hate you") is absent (apparently due to h.t.)
Matthew 16:2-3 is included as a normal part of the text.
Stichoi for Mt = 2,600
In Mark 1:2, instead of reading "the prophets" or "Isaiah the prophet," this MS seems to say "the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet" -- gegraptai en biblw logwn Hsaiou tou profhtou.
In Mark 1:5, up autou is nowhere in the verse.
In Mark 1:13, "ekei epi" is read (not "ekei en th erhmw")
In Mark 1:39, "en tas sunagogas" is read.
In Mark 1:40, "auton" is not present after "gonupetwn."
In Mark 9:29, "kai nhsteia" is included.
Mark 9:44 is present but 9:46 is absent.
Mark 15:28 is absent. I repeat: MARK 15:28 IS ABSENT!
Mark 16:9-20 is present, separated from 16:8 by the ordinary lectionary-related "telos" and "arce" symbols. A line drawn in pencil is connected to a note in the margin, which is also written in pencil: "Ends in some MSS." On the same page, at the top, is the rubric identifying the third Heothina (= Mk. 16:9-20), along with the incipit. Eusebian Section-numbers extend into 16:9-20: 235 begins at 16:12; 236 begins at 16:13. After 16:20 there is the closing-title, abbreviated, accompanied by a sort of wicker-cross illustration, with plenty of red in the design. And there's a stichoi-note (1600). (There is a set of letters above an arabesque drawn with what appears to be a modern pen, too, but I don't know what it means.)
Luke 11:4 has afiomen instead of afiemen.
Luke 22:42 does not have "to pothrion."
Luke 22:43 has "apo tou" instead of "ap'." Somewhat elaborate lectionary-related instructions written in red precede, accompany, and follow Lk. 22:43-44. Also, to the left, written in black, there seems to be another note instructing the lector to read this passage when reading the parallel-lection in Matthew.
Luke 23:32 does not have "kakourgoi." (could be h.t. from Alex. word-order)
John 5:4 is written in the text, in the normal script, occupying exactly four lines. And in the outer margin, each line is accompanied by a single "x" mark in black ink.
The PA (as Wallace noticed) was originally absent from this MS; the text on the relevant page (beginning in 7:41) was, it appears, sponged away. A text that includes the PA was added; the person who did this wrote 31 lines of tiny letters on the page (in brownish ink), plus four more lines at the top of the next page, and thus the text that includes the PA was made to fit.
A short unidentified text occupies the page after the end of Matthew and before the chapter-list for Mark.
Okay, let's finish unwrapping this present:
we meet a Gospels-MS, in a binding which, on its spine, identifies the book as
It is called by its local name, Med. MS G. 124, and it is described on the page as "a gospel lectionary." The last page of the MS is indeed a list of lections. But this is actually a continuous-text MS. It is MS 1273.
And at the George Grey website, it can be read online, via the "E-book" link. Or you can just download the whole thing via the PDF link. (And with the new Adobe Acrobat tools, you can then place editable pop-up notes directly on the page, so as to point out whatever features you find notable.)
Merry Christmas, again!
Yours in Christ,
James Snapp, Jr.
Minister, Curtisville Christian Church