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About Marciana Gr. Z. 11 (379) and its relatives

Marciana Gr. Z. 11 (379) is a trilingual manuscript containing Acts, Catholic letters and Pauline letters in Greek, Latin and Arabic in three columns – one column for each language. The codex is in parchment and has 304 folios of ca. 28,7x24 cm. A few folios are missing at the beginning and at the end of the codex.

It is the only New Testament manuscript containing Greek, Latin and Arabic that is currently listed in the Gregory-Aland list (GA 460).

The manuscript and its text were never studied in detail so far. Kurt and Barbara Aland did not place the Greek text in any text category (Aland & Aland 1995: 138). A first look suggests a text close to the majority text or a mixed text. The Latin column contains the text of the Vulgate – with some pre-Vulgate readings according to Wilhelm Friedrich Rinck (Rinck 1830: 30-42), and perhaps influences from the Greek column. The Arabic text is a translation from the Vulgate, but not directly from the Latin column in the manuscript as stated by several readings. More complete analysis of the texts and their tradition will be published on the blog soon!

One surprising feature of a Western manuscript is the position of Hebrews, between 2 Thess and 1 Tim (this order is found in codices Sinaiticus, Vaticanus and Alexandrinus and is very common in the bohairic tradition, for more details see e.g. Metzger 2007: 591-592).

 The manuscript is very similar to two other manuscripts at least:

  • Mus. Brit. Harl. 5786 (year 1153), a trilingual Greek-Latin-Arabic Psalter. The images of the manuscript are online on the British Library website 
  • Marciana Gr. Z. 539 (303) (12th), a manuscript containing the Gospels in Greek and Arabic. It contains the four Gospels in Greek and Arabic (GA 211 in the Gregory-Aland lit). This manuscript aroused the interest of researchers working on a specific family of Greek New Testament manuscripts, family 13. (Lafleur 2012: 128)

The production context of the three manuscripts Marciana Gr. Z. 11 (379), Psalter Mus. Brit. Harl. 5786 and Marciana Gr. Z. 539 (303) seems to have been Sicily (see e.g. Mioni 1985; Nef 2008). Two more recent notes in Marciana Gr. Z. 11 (379) mention that the Monastery of Troyna in Sicily previously owned the manuscript.

The three manuscripts share similarities regarding the size, the layout of the pages and the writings. Scripts used are the same on a paleographical level (more on this in future articles as well!).

According to the Marcianan catalogues, Marciana Gr. Z. 11 (379) is a 13th century manuscript, a dating supported by the INTF. Gregory proposes even in his Textkritik the 14th century. However, on the basis of the physical comparison with the other manuscripts Mus. Brit. Harl. 5786 and Marciana Gr. Z. 539 (303), there is, in our opinion, no reason to consider the latter to be from the 12th century and Marciana Gr. Z. 11 (379) to be from the 13th century or later. Marciana Gr. Z. 11 (379) should be considered as a 12th century manuscript as well, a datation that could fit the palaeographical features.

A 12th century datation would place the manuscript origin during the Norman domination of South Italy. Scholars have already suggested that the Mus. Brit. Harl. 5786 was produced in the context of the court of Roger II of Sicily (1130-1154) (e.g. Ambrosetti 2008:243). The interactions of the Norman, Arab and Byzantine cultures following the Norman conquest of Sicily were very rich and fruitful, notably due to the tolerance of the rulers. This would be a plausible context for the production of Marciana Gr. Z. 11 (379).

We have to mention here two other manuscripts: BNF supplément grec 911 and Naples Biblioteca Nazionale Gr. 20. These manuscripts are – with the three manuscripts mentioned above – described by Paul Géhin and later Annliese Nef (Nef 2008) as witnesses of the existence of Arabicized Christians in Sicily. However, the relationships of Marciana Gr. Z. 11 (379), Mus. Brit. Harl. 5786 and Marciana Gr. Z. 539 to these other two manuscripts are not that obvious.

  • BNF supplément grec 911 is more archaic: its colophon mentions the year 1041. The southern Italian origin is shown according by Géhin by the features of the Greek and the Arabic scripts (Géhin 1997). Other scholars have questioned the Western origin of this manuscript (Urban 2007; Monferrer Sala 2013).
  • Naples Biblioteca Nazionale Gr. 20 is a Greek Psalter (11th century?) with Latin and Arabic translations in the margin. We weren't able to see pictures of this manuscript but it does not seem to correspond to the well-made layout of the bilingual or trilingual manuscripts mentioned above. However, this does not exclude a similar production milieu.

References cited above:

Aland, Kurt, and Barbara Aland. 1995. The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism. Translated by Rhodes F. Erroll. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Ambrosetti, Nadia. 2008. L’eredità arabo-islamica nelle scienze e nelle arti del calcolo dell’Europa medievale. Milano: LED Edizioni Universitarie.

Géhin, Paul. 1997. ‘Un Manuscrit Bilingue Grec-Arabe, BnF, Supplément Grec 911 (année 1043)’. In Scribes et Manuscrits Du Moyen-Orient, edited by François Déroche, 162–75. Etudes et Recherches / Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Paris: Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Lafleur, Didier. ‘Which Criteria for Family 13 (f13) Manuscripts?’ Novum Testamentum 54 (2012): 105–48.

Metzger, Bruce M. 2007. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. Second Edition. (Fourth Revised Edition). Stuttgart, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.

Mioni, Elpidio. 1985. Bibliothecae Divi Marci Venetiarum codices Graeci manuscripti. 6 vols. Rome: Istituto poligrafico e zecca dello stato : Libreria dello stato.

Monferrer-Sala, Juan Pedro. 2013. ‘Kērýssō and its Arabic renditions in a bilingual Gospel of Luke (BnF ’Supl. grec 911’, 1043 CE)’. In Graeco-Latina et Orientalia: Studia in Honorem Angeli Urbani Heptagenarii, edited by Samir Khalil Samir and Juan Pedro Monferrer-Sala, 221–36. Cordoue, Beyrouth: Oriens Academic.

Nef, Annliese. 2008. ‘L’histoire des “mozarabes” de Sicile. Bilan provisoire et nouveaux matériaux’. In ¿ Existe una identidad mozárabe ? Historia, lengua y cultura de los cristianos de al-Andakus (siglos IX-XII), edited by Cyrille Aillet, Mayte Penelas, and Philippe Roisse, 255–86. Madrid: Casa de Velásquez.

Urbán Fernández, Angel. 2007. ‘An Unpublished Greek-Arabic MS of Luke’s Gospel (BnF Suppl. Grec 911, A.D. 1043): A Report’. In Eastern Crossroads. Essays on Medieval Christian Legacy, edited by Juan Pedro Monferrer-Sala, 83–95. New Jersey: Gorgias Press.

Wilhelm Friedrich Rinck. 1830. Lucubratio critica in Acta Apostolorum, Epistolas Catholicas et Paulinas, in qua de classibus librorum manu scriptorum quæstio instituitur, descriptio et varia lectio septem Codicum Marcianorum exhibetur atque Observationes ad plurima loca cum Apostoli tum Evangeliorum dijudicanda et emendanda proponuntur. Basel: Sumtu Fel. Schneideri.

 For more references, check our bibliography online:

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