Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts : Gospel of Mark

Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This item consists of 27 slips of parchment that contain part of the Gospel of Mark and which originally belonged to a 9th-century manuscript. They were reused in the binding of MS B.8.5, a 12th-century manuscript containing orations of Gregory of Nazianzus, and discovered there in 1857. Reassembled, the fragments constitute almost the whole of one bifolium and the lower part of another. The full bifolium was evidently the innermost of a quire, as its text forms a continuous sequence. The partial one, as it contains text from both shortly before and shortly after the other, must have belonged to the same quire, being most probably its outermost leaf.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The source manuscript was copied in majuscule script around the time of the emergence of the new minuscule script that came to supplant it as the principal form of Greek formal writing (although majuscule would for some centuries continue to be used for some religious manuscripts, particularly Biblical ones). It displays features of late majuscule in its letter-forms and in the full use of accents and breathings.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript was provided by its scribe with some of the standard aids to structuring and navigating the Gospel text, including marginal numbers identifying the short subdivisions known as Ammonian sections, and numbers and titles for the longer κεφάλαια (chapters). It lacks the numbers for Eusebian canons, the system of numbers placed alongside those of the Ammonian sections to identify which passages had a parallel in other Gospels, from which the reader could refer to the appropriate canon table to identify the corresponding sections in those other books. However, it is provided instead with a much more unusual and more immediately detailed means of identifying such correspondences. At the foot of each page the abbreviated names of each of the four Gospels appear, accompanied by the section numbers appearing on the page and, where applicable, those of corresponding sections in other Gospels. This rare system is found in a handful of other majuscule Gospel books.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript later received further supporting apparatus to assist its use for liturgical purposes, including identification of the lection passages to be read in church and some ekphonetic notation to guide the chanting of the text, though this is not present throughout.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The text is highly unusual within the manuscript tradition of the Gospels, containing some unique readings. As a result, it has been extensively used in modern editions.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>


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