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Book Chapter

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Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection


Art historians of Byzantine manuscripts have acknowledged the importance of textual criticism for more than eighty-five years, but how often, in fact, do texts and their figural and non-figural decoration travel together? Specifically, if one examines the Greek texts of Gospel manuscripts that art historians have linked through their ornament and/or figural illustrations, what is the likelihood that their texts will have been associated by New Testament text critics? The answer is similar to those disclaimers that one finds in the fine print of a cosmetic advertisement: individual results may vary. In my experience, there is no way to anticipate if Byzantine Gospel manuscripts featuring similar figural or non-figural decoration will have related texts. The good news is that New Testament text critics have taken full advantage of new technologies so that the research is less tedious and the results more accurate than even a few years ago. The data generated by New Testament text critics will often lead the art historian down surprising paths, shedding light on relationships among manuscripts that are often counterintuitive. In this presentation I will share the results of my forays into the field of New Testament text criticism. I will begin by summarizing the results of my research of the Greek text of the Byzantine illustrated Gospel book, Paris gr. 54, and of the Gospel books of the ‘decorative’ style. Then I will address the results I have encountered in my more recent research on Byzantine Gospel books from various periods. If time permits, I will conclude with a brief description of some of the newer on-line research tools created in Münster and Birmingham.

Chapter of

The New Testament in Byzantium


Robert S. Nelson
Derek Krueger


© 2016, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Trustees for Harvard University. Originally published in The New Testament in Byzantium, eds. Robert S. Nelson and Derek Krueger.



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