The Center for Research of Biblical Manuscripts and Inscriptions was launched in 2015 to provide advanced training and research in biblical textual criticism.
The Center for Research of Biblical Manuscripts and Inscriptions (CRBMI) was established in January 2015 to provide advanced teaching and research in the earliest textual history of the Bible. The Center serves not only to facilitate and publish original research but also to provide an American context to train graduate students in manuscript studies when so many students head to the United Kingdom or Germany for that training. The Center is located on the Shepherds Theological Seminary campus in Cary, North Carolina and Dr. Andrew Smith is the current director.
THE MOTB GREEK PAUL PROJECT (CURRENT)
The first major project of the CRBMI, which is ongoing until 2024, is the Museum of the Bible-funded Greek Paul Project. The pilot semester of the project began in the spring of 2015 with the modest goal of encouraging students with knowledge of Koine Greek to contribute to the International Greek New Testament Project (IGNTP) by transcribing minuscule Greek manuscripts of 1 Timothy. The Museum’s Scholars Initiative would broker the relationship between individual schools and the IGNTP, and subsequently support the effort by providing students with text-critical textbooks, training materials, and other incentives. After a successful pilot semester, CRBMI Director Andrew Smith was chosen to supervise the project. By the fall of 2016 the other two Pastoral Epistles were added to the Project’s transcription work. In March 2017 a proposal to transform the Greek Paul Project into an official Editio Critica Maior (ECM) project was approved. Since its inception, the Project has trained and encouraged hundreds of students at dozens of participating institutions in reading and transcribing minuscule Greek manuscripts, many who have gone on to do advanced degrees in manuscript studies. The Project’s goal is to produce the ECM edition of the Pastoral Epistles, utilizing over 330 Greek manuscripts double transcribed by student volunteers, by the end of 2024. This major critical edition of the Pastoral Epistles will provide the critical data required for a future edition of the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. A colloquium celebrating the completion of the Greek Paul Project is tentatively scheduled for July 2024 in Washington DC.
THE CRBMI MINUSCULE LIGATURE/ABBREVIATION TOOL (CURRENT)
Research Assistant Steve Young produced the CRBMI Minuscule Ligature/Abbreviation Tool to aid students with identifying both typical and unusual letter forms and abbreviations during their transcription work. Though developed to support students working on the Greek Paul Project, the data are useful for anyone working with minuscule Greek. The tool, which is updated regularly, provides an easy-to-use reference utilizing real images from manuscripts.
RAMAN SPECTRAL ANALYSIS OF P136 (2016–2018)
A grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF award ECCS-1542015) provided the funding to perform Raman spectral analysis on P136 (P. Duke. Inv. 1377), a sixth-century papyrus rotulus containing Acts 4:27–31 and Acts 7:26–30. The analysis confirmed that the papyrus itself is ancient while challenging a proposed method of dating carbon-based ink using Raman spectroscopy. The full analysis and results are published in W. Andrew Smith and Valerie Smith. “P. Duke Inv. 1377 (𝔓136): A Fragmentary Acts of the Apostles Papyrus.” Novum Testamentum 60.3 (2018): 290–310.
MOTB GREEK PSALTER PROJECT (2015–2017)
The CRBMI collaborated in the MOTB-funded Greek Psalter Project, which involved students in the study of MOTB.MS 170, formerly Bodmer Papyrus 24, a third-century papyrus containing the Greek Psalms (with Psalms 17-118 extant). A group of STS students transcribed the entirety of this imporant Septuagint witness. The primary output for this collaboration was Denis Salgado’s thesis work on the scribal habits of the papyrus.
FORMER AND CURRENT CRBMI RESEARCHERS
Denis Salgado (PhD candidate, University of Edinburgh): “Scribal Habits of Bodmer Papyrus 24” (MDiv thesis, 2018).
Kim Lewis (MABLL), researching the palaeography of an unpublished Greek minuscule manuscript.
Tim Stevens (MABLL), researching eschatological interpretations in ancient Greek catenae.
Steve Young (MABLL), researching how a text-linguistic phenomenon is explained through textual criticism.