New Fragmentary Minuscule in Bucharest


New Fragmentary Minuscule in Bucharest


Jeff Hargis

July 12, 2010

It sometimes happens that the Center finds a “manuscript within a manuscript,” and this is exactly what happened in Bucharest, Romania a few weeks ago. The National Museum of Art of Romania possesses five exquisite manuscripts, which we were allowed to examine on 31 May 2010.

One of the manuscripts, GA 2554, is a complete New Testament dated to the year 1434 (shelf number 3, previously INV 691). It is one of only about 60 complete New Testament manuscripts known to exist. The books of the manuscript are in a common ancient order: Gospels, Acts, General Epistles (1 Peter through Jude), Paul (Romans through Philemon), and Revelation. Interestingly, the book of Revelation is written in a different hand with more lines per page (30) than the rest of the codex (27), indicating that this copy of Revelation might not originally have been part of the manuscript.

The “manuscript within a manuscript” occurs after Revelation, at the very end of the codex. Between the end of Revelation and the back cover are two parchment leaves containing the text of Luke 10:31–13:29. The text is written in a hand similar to that of the rest of the codex and contains the same number of lines per page; a check of the appropriate section of the Gospels confirmed that the leaves were not displaced from the earlier portion of the manuscript. The text begins with συγκυριαν in Luke 10:31 and ends with νοτου in Luke 13:29. It is not clear why these two leaves were inserted into the codex, other than as flyleaves for the end of the manuscript.

The leaves measure 23.5 x 17.5 cm, only slightly smaller in height than the manuscript in which they are bound (the leaves of the codex measure on average 24.0 x 17.5 cm). Like most of the rest of the codex, the text is in a single column with 27 lines per column. The hand is estimated as 15th century and is similar to the handwriting in the rest of the manuscript.

Because the catalogue of the National Museum of Art of Romania already mentions the existence of these two leaves of text, the material is not a “new discovery” since that they were previously known to the Museum. To New Testament scholars, however, the leaves constitute a “new” fragmentary manuscript of Luke’s Gospel.

The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts is grateful to the National Museum of Art of Romania for the opportunity to examine this manuscript.

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