For a German, a trip to Italy is always a welcome prospect, but especially in winter. A trip to view manuscripts in Turin adds to the bargain snowy baroque streets, cold apartments, steaming hot cocoa, beautiful views, mountain heights, specialities of the Piedmont region, and friendly, helpful people. However, if it weren’t for the Greek manuscripts of the Biblioteca Nazionale at the University of Turin, this trip would never have taken place.
The story of this manuscript trip begins with Professor Carla Falluomini, who did research on the Gothic version of the Bible at the INTF in Muenster this past year. She introduced us to Dr Roberto di Carlo, the director of the Biblioteca Nazionale at the University of Turin, and to Dr Franca Porticelli, the director of the manuscript department, who in turn provided us with permission to digitize the Greek New Testament manuscripts of the library.
New Testament Greek manuscripts of the Turin National Library are stored under 20 different call numbers. In the Kurzgefasste Liste (2nd edition, 1994), they are summarized as 18 manuscripts. The minuscules 338 (B.VII.33 and B.VI.43) and 612 (B.V.19 and B.VI.43) are, however, each preserved under 2 Turin call numbers.
The goal of the manuscript trip was to exam the materials in stock and to make digital images using the most modern technology. Equipped with a Canon 50D, various lenses, the Traveller’s Conservation Copy Stand, several computers, and other accessories, our road trip took us past the beautiful snow-covered Mont Blanc and Gran Paradiso mountain ranges and across the Aosta Valley to Turin. It was not the first manuscript trip that the INTF had made to Turin: following the lead of great predecessors – Kurt Aland, the founder of the INTF, and Klaus Junack had studied the Turin MSS back in the 60s – we had allowed two and a half weeks during which we would digitize the manuscripts. We realized that surprises might await us because the library had burned down in 1904. Nearly every manuscript there had suffered in some way, either as a result of the fire itself, or because of the water which was used to fight the fire.
The fire, which occurred on the night of 25 January 1904, severely damaged the library, which was then located in the Palazzo della Regia Università in the Via Po. Unfortunately, several New Testament MSS were among the many codices that were burned and destroyed. By the end of our trip, it appeared that the minuscules 340, 341, 611, and 1940 had been completely destroyed. But we need to be careful about such statements. Even today, a number of the surviving fragments have not yet been identified. According to Dr Porticelli, three scientists are working – each in their language – to identify the fragments: Professor Bruno Chiesa (Turin) is working on Hebrew fragments, Professor Paolo Eleuteri (Venice) is working in Greek, and Professor Alessandro Vitale-Brovarone (Turin) is working in Latin. We will need to wait for their results before we will be able to make a conclusive statement.
Codices 333, 334, 335, and lectionaries l1352 and l1942 survived fairly well, and are more or less complete. All of the other Turin MSS are fragmentary. A highlight was the digitization of majuscule 015, a beautifully written parchment manuscript from the 6th century. Originally stored at Mount Athos, this MS is now divided among eight different institutions. Two double sheets are in Turin. It would naturally be wonderful if the digitization of the two Turin pages would lead to a virtual reunion of this manuscript.
One piece of good news is that two MSS that were believed destroyed actually survived, at least in fragmentary form. These are the minuscules 612 and 613.
Minuscule 612 has a complicated preservation history, and is stored in Turin under two different call numbers. Under call number B.V.19 are a total of 45 fragments that have been restored in the form of 11 unbound quires that are stored in a box. As a rule, every fragment found in this box is marked in black ink as B.V.19, sometimes even on both front and back sides. At the start there is also a numbering system, but it stops at fragment 25. Some of the fragments have no designation, others are turned upside-down.
In Pasini’s catalog (with the designation »Codex CCCXV.c.II.17«), the contents are listed as Acts, the Pauline letters, and the Catholic letters. In Consentini can be found the following summary: »Biblia Sacra. Novi Testamenti libri (gr)«. Apparently, however, the fragments, which were gathered together under the call number B.V.19 after they were restored, belong to different MSS. This can be demonstrated by the fact that at least one fragment is in Latin, while another is written not on parchment but on paper. In addition, the hands vary.
A second part of 612 is in the box numbered B.VI.43. 106 numbered and designated fragments are found in three bundles, and another 24 unnumbered fragments are in a separate folder. In other words, a total of 130 fragments. It is certain that they belong to several MSS. According to the Kurzgefasste Liste, 33 of the fragments that are under this call number belong to 612.
It is very good news that a part of 612, which we had believed was destroyed, actually survived. This part of 612 is presented in NT.VMR under the GA-number 612 (ObjID 30612). In the coming days the fragments listed under B.V.19 and B.VI.43 will need to be identified before we can be sure how much of 612 has survived. After that we will be able to bring 612 together and present it virtually in the NT.VMR.
It had also been thought that the minuscule 613 was destroyed. As I was preparing for the trip, Tommy Wasserman brought to my attention that he had collated part of Jude (vss 21-25) from a microfilm in the collection of the Swedish researcher, C.A. Albin. In other words, the MS had survived the fire and had to be available, at least in fragmentary form. With the help of Angelo Giaccaria, they were indeed discovered. Under the call number C.V.1, 85 fragments were found in a box, along with another 11 fragments in a folder. It was no longer possible for me to photograph this MS; this job is planned for the second phase. But, just as with 612, these fragments also will need to be identified before we can definitively say what has survived and what has definitively been destroyed.
The complicated condition of the fragments led to additional work for the digitalization work. Every piece had to be individually placed on the Traveler Copy Stand and brought into focus. For the fragments that were charred on the edges or that were stained brown, a bridge of plexiglass was constructed which made an indirect illumination from below possible. In this manner the brown writing was made visible against the brown background in the digital photo. In addition, every single fragment was measured and the size recorded in a table. All of this time-consuming work would not have been possible were it not for two conscientious assistants; the help of Matteo Grosso, a researcher from Turin, and my wife Anne Mueller was indispensable, particularly with the difficult to handle fragments. I owe both of them much gratitude.
It was possible to fully digitize a total of 10 MSS during this trip: the majuscule 015, the minuscules 333, 334, 335, 338, 339, 612, 2350, 2594, and the lectionary l1942. A second trip is planned to photograph the remaining minuscules 332, 342, 613, and the lectionary l1352. The MSS will gradually be added to the accessible section of the NT.VMR.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for the truly manifold support: first of all to Franca Porticelli and Roberto di Carlo for the gracious reception and permission for the digitization; to Salvatore Amato and all the co-workers of the library for their friendly reception and support in the sala dei manoscritti; to Carla Falluomini for her accompaniment and mediation; to Matteo Grosso and Anne Mueller for their conscientious assistance in the digitization work; to Dan Wallace for repeated advice concerning the photography; to Manfred Mayer, who developed the mobile Grazer Camera Table, especially for the technical developments that he made available so quickly and effectively; to Tommy Wasserman for helpfully pointing out the MSS; and especially to all my colleagues at the INTF who supported me organizationally and technically. Finally, a thank you to the DFG, which assisted with the financial support of this trip.