Friday, March 29, 2024

WM 303: The 900,000 Manuscripts of Mount Athos & the Failure of Textual Reconstruction


One modern scholar, Malka K. Simkovich, has recently suggested that there may be over 900,000 manuscripts at Mount Athos, Greece alone yet to be digitized and examined by scholars. Here are my thoughts on the insurmountable problems for those relying on a reconstruction method to "restore" the Biblical text.



R. L. Vaughn said...

As you pointed out, I think in the video as well as in a YouTube comment, some of the information about the numbers is in conflict. However, the thing that strikes me is, regardless, no one knows what is in the manuscripts that have yet to be gone through (inspected).

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

RLV, good to hear from you.

I'll post here the comment I added to the youtube for this video, since Hefin Jones asked about the source for Simkovich's suggestion of "900,000." As I point out, the point is that no one really knows for sure how many extant mss., as yet examined and published, there are, not to mention the ones that will never be examined because they no longer exist. This is obviously a soft spot for those committed to the "reconstruction" method." Here's the comment:

"She cites an online article from 2014: and references "officials" involved in the digitization project for the 900,000 figure (see p. 34, f.n. 31). The article indicates that these figures came from Menelaos Daskalis, general-secretary of the Telecommunications and Hellenic Post Office which was overseeing the digitization project.

Yes, some of the online info is conflicting. The LOC says there are 11,000 Athonite Greek mss. of which it has only published c. 200. The Mount Athos project website says there are 15,000 Greek mss. of which it has digitized only c. 3,000. I think the point is that no one really knows how many mss. there are at Mount Athos (in Greek and other languages) and how many have not yet been digitized and studied. The project seems to have run from 2014-2000 but was not exhaustive.

And this is only Mount Athos. There are hundreds of other libraries, churches, and monasteries from Russia to Ethiopia that hold manuscripts yet uncovered, studied, or published.

As I point out, this would seem to be a pretty major problem for those who hold to the reconstruction position (whether modern eclectic or "Majority" text).

If you think Simkovich is in error, please enlighten us with a more reliable report as to exactly how many mss. there are at Mount Athos and how many are yet to be digitized and studied. Given the isolation and complexities of the twenty Athonite monastic communities my guess is such information will be very difficult, if not impossible, definitively to determine."