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Codex Vaticanus Facsimile Acquisition

Codex Vaticanus (Vat. gr. 1209; GA 03) is a fourth-century manuscript containing most of the Greek Old Testament and most of the New Testament, with lost portions of the manuscript added in minuscule script in the fifteenth century. (As an aside, it is unfortunate for the Greek Paul Project that the original leaves with the Pastoral Epistles were among those lost.) The codex has long been an important manuscript to the text-critical work of both testaments.

Uncrating the facsimile

A beautiful and detailed full-sized facsimile of the codex was produced in 1999 by the Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato (Rome), the production run limited to 450 copies. The facsimile is produced in full color and replicates the trimming and holes in the pages; the binding is vellum and leather. A Prolegomena volume (by Paul Canart, Pierre-Maurice Bogaert, and Stephen Pisano) accompanies the facsimile, and both fit into a companion plexiglass case. Each of the copies has a signed and numbered certificate. It is no surprise that these facsimiles are expensive and now difficult to find.

The CRBMI was blessed with the opportunity to acquire a copy of the facsimile, which arrived this week. The facsimile will become an excellent teaching tool for text-critical study and early Christian book culture. While our students view numerous online images of manuscripts—for we live in a fantastic time for access to such images!—digital images introduce a layer of separation from the physical objects of rolls and codices. This is one reason why we make excursions to physical collections, to remove that separation. Being able to see and touch a physical codex such as this facsimile introduces a new level of interaction with the history of biblical text transmission. As such, this acquisition will be a benefit for our students for many years to come.

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