People who know me know that my favorite papyrus collection is the one at the University of Michigan. And it's not necessarily because of the papyri in their collection. The people who are involved in the collection are remarkable: the archivists, collection managers, curators, conservationists, and so on. I have edited quite a few Michigan papyri (and am working on several currently) and the assistance I have received has been second to none. When I was beginning to enter the field of papyrology as an editor of texts, Prof. Arthur Verhoogt was especially helpful to me in securing reservations, providing high-resolution photographs, and formal letters of reservation.
I am excited to announce here his forthcoming book on the history of the Michigan Papyrus Collection, due out this fall:
Discarded, Discovered, Collected: The University of Michigan Papyrus Collection (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2017).
I think the cover photo is perfect: these are some of the various boxes and containers (e.g., a Kodak film box!) in which the papyri were transported from across the Atlantic in the early twentieth century. Here is the description from the publisher's website:
Discarded, Discovered, Collected: The University of Michigan Papyrus Collection provides an accessible introduction to the University’s collection of papyri and related ancient materials, the widest and deepest resource of its kind in the Western hemisphere. The collection was founded in the early part of the 20th century by University of Michigan Professor of Classics Francis W. Kelsey. His original intention was to create a set of artifacts that would be useful in teaching students more directly about the ancient world, at a time when trips to ancient sites were much harder to arrange.
Jointly administered by the University of Michigan’s Department of Classical Studies and its Library, the collection has garnered significant interest beyond scholarly circles and now sees several hundred visitors each year. Of particular note among the collection’s holdings are sixty pages of the earliest known copy of the Epistles of St. Paul, which are often featured on tours of the collection by groups from religious institutions.
Arthur Verhoogt, one of the current stewards of the University of Michigan Papyrology Collection, provides clear, insightful information in an appealing style that will attract general readers and scholars alike. Extensively illustrated with some of the collection’s more spectacular pieces, this volume describes what the collection is, what kinds of ancient texts it contains, and how it has developed from Francis Kelsey’s day to the present. Additionally, Verhoogt describes in detail how people who study papyri carry out their work, and how papyri contribute to our understanding of various aspects of the ancient Greco-Roman world. Translations of the ancient texts are presented so that the reader can experience some of the excitement that comes with reading original documents from many centuries ago.
Publication made possible in part through the support of Virginia and William Dawson.
Arthur Verhoogt is Professor of Papyrology and Greek and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan.
In my last blog post announcing the digitization of the manuscripts from St. Catherine's monastery, I posted an image of Greek Manuscript 212, or GA Lectionary 846, a ninth century Greek liturgical codex containing the Gospels and the Apostolos, written in a sloping "Slavonic uncial" script. I want to make two observations about this manuscript here and then tell you about an exciting research project.
First, it is a very small codex in dimensions: 14.5 (H) x 11.7 (W) cm. As a disclaimer: I do not study Greek manuscripts that are quite this late, but I do know that most lectionaries were intended for public reading, and so the format is somewhat surprising. Perhaps some of my readers will know just how atypical the dimensions are for Greek lectionaries from this period.
Second, I noticed that this codex is a palimpsest, meaning that there is an "undertext" that has been wiped/washed away to make space for the "uppertext" which now stands. Scribes typically repurposed majuscule manuscripts for liturgical ones. Take a look at this photo from folio 51, which I have manipulated slightly in order to highlight the palimpsestic features:
The 1994 Kurzgefasste Liste indicates that the undertext may be from the Psalms but there is a question mark there (“l 846: untere Schrift Psalmen (?)”). This script of this undertext is obviously older, perhaps dating to the 7th century.
Significantly, as part of the Sinai Palimpsests Project (SPP), the monastery is using spectral imaging to read, identify, and date erased texts found in palimpsests housed at the monastery, of which Greek 212 is one of more than 160 palimpsests. The results of this project will be significant.
We await to see the full results of this project, but I have a strong feeling that some of the findings will be significant. Some of the incredible discoveries have already been listed on their website. I will update readers on this exciting project as I learn them!
More than 1,600 ancient manuscripts from the renowned Eastern Orthodox Monastery of St. Catherine’s on Mt. Sinai have been made available online! The images, digitized from older microfilms, are of very good quality. Here is one such image of Greek Manuscript 212, a ninth century Greek lectionary "miniature codex" classified in the Gregory-Aland system as l 846:
There is an option to download really high-res files, including TIFF files, but that option was not working for me. Perhaps they will make that available in the near future.
To quote from the catalogue website, the monastery "is home to reputedly the oldest continuously run library in existence today. Its holdings of religious and secular manuscripts are legendary and allegedly second only in number to the collection held by the Vatican: from bibles, to patristic works, to liturgies and prayers books, and on to legal documents such as deeds, court cases, Fatwahs (legal opinions). The greater proportion of the manuscripts were copied in Greek, and then in Syriac, Georgian, Coptic, Armenian, Arabic, Ottoman Turkish, and Ethiopic, as well as Old Church Slavonic."
The new site also includes a digitized copy of Kenneth W. Clark's famous Checklist of Manuscripts in St. Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai Microfilmed for the Library of Congress (1950).
I am excited to announce a forthcoming book on Christian amulets: Theodore de Bruyn, Making Amulets Christian: Artefacts, Scribes, and Contexts (Oxford: OUP, 2017). The book is scheduled for release in late August.
As readers of this blog probably know, I have a keen interest in amulets. My first major monograph analyzed New Testament citations in Greek amulets and Prof. Theodore de Bruyn's work is cited many, many times. His scholarship speaks for itself. Prof. de Bruyn was kind enough to read several portions of my doctoral dissertation and to answer many questions along the way.
Needless to say, this is a book that has been needed for a long time. Amulets have popped up in early Christian studies here and there, but they have largely been ignored, in my opinion. There are so many interesting questions related to the production of amulets, including scribal activities, ritual and social practices, transmission of scripture, Christian symbols, adaptations, "magic," liturgical influences, "syncretism," use by women, etc. I am currently beginning to write an article on the reception of Jesus and Jesus traditions in Christian amulets, an avenue that has not been explored at all. So, I'm very glad to see that amulets are beginning to draw more and more attention by early Christian scholars. I think part of the reason for this is that more and more amulets continue to be identified and published. (I am working together with a colleague on a very interesting papyrus amulet that should be published within a year so stay tuned!) A broad historical study of Christian amulets has been needed, and now that need has been met with the publication of this monograph.
Note: The papyrus on the cover is P.Oslo 1.5, a fourth/fifth century Greek amulet against scorpions, snakes, demons, witchcraft, and every kind of evil in a house, with "magical" and Christian characters. I briefly describe it on p. 31 of my book.
[The following is taken from Oxford University Press' website]
Making Amulets Christian: Artefacts, Scribes, and Contexts examines Greek amulets with Christian elements from late antique Egypt in order to discern the processes whereby a customary practice--the writing of incantations on amulets--changed in an increasingly Christian context. It considers how the formulation of incantations and amulets changed as the Christian church became the prevailing religious institution in Egypt in the last centuries of the Roman empire. Theodore de Bruyn investigates what we can learn from incantations and amulets containing Christian elements about the cultural and social location of the people who wrote them. He shows how incantations and amulets were indebted to rituals or ritualizing behavior of Christians.
This study analyzes different types of amulets and the ways in which they incorporate Christian elements. By comparing the formulation and writing of individual amulets that are similar to one another, one can observe differences in the culture of the scribes of these materials. It argues for 'conditioned individuality' in the production of amulets. On the one hand, amulets manifest qualities that reflect the training and culture of the individual writer. On the other hand, amulets reveal that individual writers were shaped, whether consciously or inadvertently, by the resources they drew upon-by what is called 'tradition' in the field of religious studies.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
List of Abbreviations
A Note on References
1. Normative Christian Discourse
2. Materials, Format, and Writing
3. Manuals of Procedures and Incantations
4. Scribal Features of Customary Amulets
5. Scribal Features of Scriptural Amulets
6. Christian Ritual Contexts