Saturday, July 14, 2007

Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts

The following is an email from a friend of mine who is leading a small group in Albania photographing some old Greek manuscripts. Please pray for this team.

Thanks to those of you who are praying and have shown concern for our work in Albania of photographing a collection of New Testament Greek Manuscripts held in the National Archive here in the capital, Tirana. Our purpose was to work for the preservation of their manuscripts by taking high-resolution digital images of them that both accurately preserve the text, reflect their beauty, and could be preserved against the corruption of time and any potential that they would disappear.

Before coming we knew of 13-18 manuscripts that were reported to be here. We budgeted for two weeks to take all these shots-- in all. On our first day, I looked at the Archive catalogue and discovered ~46 MSS, 28 more than we ever anticipated! The importance of this discovery launched Dr. Wallace and CSNTM into overdrive. With all our equipment, it would be cheaper and more secure to extend our trip now rather than come back some other time. We are very privileged to be here at their invitation. Who knows if we would get a similar opportunity in the future. Dr. Wallace decided to send another replacement team to follow this one and asked me to stay until Aug. 3 to lead the new group. Our goal is to photograph all of them, but, trust me, this is no small task! Our work is tedious and back-braking as we use two very high end cameras to take up to 1,750 images a day. The Center still is in great need of more gifts to fund this extension--as God lays it on your heart, please consider giving. You can access that information and the Center's address at

Wide doors are open, but there is also much opposition (1 Cor 16:9). Yesterday we were trying to photograph Codex Beratinus, one of the oldest and more precious MSS in the world. We are literally the first people to see this manuscript since its leaves were hermetically sealed over 30 years ago! Although this is an awesome privilege, it is also a huge challenge. The manuscript is found now in nine volumes. Each leaf is sealed in its own airtight protective cover and that is in a plastic binder envelope that has small waves. Those waves can create glare. Wow! My expert team worked together to try and devise ingenious solutions I will have to save for another communication. To sum up, we don't have a perfect solution yet. We are still working on getting good images. To top it off, our 16.7mpxl camera just broke! We are not sure why, but it is not responding to the computer. Compound that with the fact that Albania has daily planned power outages to conserve electricity limiting our time some days to only four hours of shooting and you can see that we are hard pressed--we need your prayers. I need your prayers!

A second critical opposition that requires your urgent prayer is that yesterday as we were leaving we were handed a contract to sign in a ceremony Monday morning. Dr. Wallace is looking through it to see how we can make this work, but we cannot agree to the terms as currently stated. They have left us no time or room to negotiate! I hope we can work something out on Monday, but it is possible that by the time you come to work on Monday we will have had the door closed to us to photograph further. Even so, pray for us would you--that God would keep the doors open to photograph these MSS and that we would rest on good terms with the Albanian National Archive.

I could of course say more, but hope this helps give you a whiff of what we are doing and gives you fuel for prayer. I cannot emphasize enough our need for your urgent prayer for a good day Monday. This team leaves Tuesday night. A new team comes the following Sunday.

Thanks for your

Greg for the CSNTM Albanian team

Center for the Study
of New Testament Manuscripts (

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