Newly Digitized Greek Manuscripts


At this stage in the digitization process, the Bodleian Library has prioritized several manuscripts that have been requested by academics for their research. Several of these researchers have kindly agreed to write short posts about the manuscripts for our blog. This post was written by Jonathon Wright, a doctoral student in Jewish Studies at the University of Oxford.


Wonderful news, Barocci 147 and 148 have been digitised! I should explain my excitement as these manuscripts in the Bodleian are certainly not the most well known in the collection. My doctoral research is into a little known Jewish legend most commonly called Joseph and Aseneth or Prayer of Aseneth, probably written about the turn of Common Era. Modern research really started when in 1890 L’Abbé Batiffol published a critical edition of the Greek of these two manuscripts along with two from the Vatican Library, transcribed by A. M. Montague Rhodes James. His article, though fairly inaccessible now, still shapes research and draws on these manuscripts in particular. Consequently, these manuscripts have a special place in the history of research, remain the most accessible to scholars and are the first manuscripts to be digitally available to all. What is more, the hand that copied them is relatively easy to read for anyone wanting to have a go at reading a manuscript, and for the text in Bar.147, the hand has been identified to a particular scribe: Michael Lygizos. The manuscripts themselves are also of great historical interest as Bar.147 also retains its original 15th-century binding, a rarity as most manuscripts were rebound in the 18th or 19th centuries.


Anyone wishing to view the text should see folios 138-158 in Bar.147, and folios 298-305 in Bar.148. The most accessible version in English is Burchard’s translation in J. H. Charlesworth’s The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Volume II (1983, Hendrikson Publishers). Finally, I am very grateful to the Polonsky Foundation for the generosity in making these manuscripts available digitally, and to Dr Georgi Parpulov, Departmental Lecturer in Byzantine Art and Archaeology and Dilts Research Fellow in Greek Palaeography, Lincoln College, for his assistance working on the manuscripts so far.