BNTS 2020 Graham Stanton Memorial Lecture Available

The BNTS 2020 Graham Stanton Memorial Lecture, delivered by Prof. Hugh Houghton, is available here:

The lecture is entitled ‘New Light on the Oldest New Testament Catena Manuscript’. Below is an abstract:

Two hundred years ago on the island of Zakynthos, the British and Foreign Bible Society was presented with a manuscript which turned out to be two documents in one. On the face of it, the book was a Byzantine gospel lectionary copied in the thirteenth century. Yet it was soon realised that this liturgical Bible was written on pages from a much older book, whose parchment had been reused as a palimpsest. The remaining traces of the original writing showed that the erased text was a commentary on the Gospel according to Luke in the format known as a catena, a compilation of extracts from early Christian writers. Although the gospel text was published in the nineteenth century—and shown to be an important early witness to the text of Luke—the rest of the manuscript has remained largely unstudied.

Following the acquisition of Codex Zacynthius by Cambridge University Library after a nationwide campaign, the Arts and Humanities Research Council funded a research project at the University of Birmingham from 2018–20 to produce a digital edition of the manuscript. Multispectral images created from high-resolution digital photographs have enabled the recovery of the full text of the original document for the first time, along with a complete transcription of the lectionary and the first-ever English translation of a catena. The commentary turns out to be a key source for the preservation of extracts from Severus of Antioch, who was condemned as a heretic, and has enabled the identification of previously unknown sources. The lectionary, meanwhile, opens a new window on Byzantine book production through a series of marginal comments written by its newly identified copyist, abbot of a monastery in Rhodes. This presentation describes the work and findings of the project, and introduces the new digital edition and open access studies of the manuscript.

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