Monday, December 8, 2014

Update on the State of the Manuscript of Ephrem's Prose Refutations

I spend the weekend emailing every possibly person I could think of to help finance this project and came away with some interesting information and ideas.  The first and most important perhaps is that the text is no longer at the British Museum but is housed now at the British Library.  Apparently they did an interesting piece on this manuscript at their website. The link is here but notice the statement which appears here (and now emboldened by me):
Mitchell's patience and perseverance led, Dr. Barnett, then Keeper of Oriental Manuscripts at the Museum, in 1908 to apply a “re-agent” to the illegible part of the palimpsest. This had the effect of revealing the underwriting so clearly that it became possible to transcribe almost the entire contents. Mitchell was also able to reconstruct the original order of the leaves and quires. I’m not sure what this “re-agent” would have been, but judging from the present illegibilty of the palimpsest, I think this manuscript would be a good candidate for some form of investigative photography!
That Mitchell's original work was incomplete is clear from his book.  But interestingly an expert on Manichaean writings noted the same thing when he saw the manuscript some years back (from a private correspondence) - "The problems re the ms of Ephrem's Prose Refutations are not easy to overcome. I had a look at the palimpsest about 15 years ago and the re-agent was obviously fading and the underwriting was getting harder to read. As you said modern spectral imaging analysis (v. expensive) will have to be used."

I also changed my harsh article on the ongoing work at St Catherine's Monastery (= the Sinai project).  Apparently I am an idiot.  There are a number of manuscripts being 'recovered' over there and the new manuscripts will ultimately posted here at this website.  Indeed the images of the original manuscripts lying underneath the present writings is presented here in beautiful color images.  So now I will try to fill out an NEH grant ... once I figure out how much it will cost to digitize 88 pages of this manuscripts.

Email with comments or questions.

Stephan Huller's Observations by Stephan Huller
is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.