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Hidden bible chapter uncovered in 1,750-year-old manuscript

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Posted: Sunday, April 23, 2023. 4:41 pm CST.

By Breaking Belize News Staff: A groundbreaking discovery has been made in the realm of biblical studies, as a new chapter of the Bible has been uncovered within a 1,750-year-old translation of the Gospel of Matthew. The hidden text was found by medievalist Grigory Kessel, who used ultraviolet photography on manuscripts stored in the Vatican Library as part of the Sinai Palimpsests Project. The project aims to recover texts that were erased and written over by scribes between the 4th and 12th centuries CE.

Palimpsest manuscripts, in which earlier text has been washed or scraped off and reused, were common due to the scarcity of writing materials at the time. However, modern technology has allowed for the recovery of these hidden texts by illuminating the manuscripts with fluorescence or different wavelengths of light.

The project has already deciphered 74 manuscripts, but the latest find stands out as particularly significant. It contains a translation a century older than the oldest known Greek translations, including the Codex Sinaiticus.

“The tradition of Syriac Christianity knows several translations of the Old and New Testaments,” Kessel said in a statement. “Until recently, only two manuscripts were known to contain the Old Syriac translation of the gospels.”

This newly discovered translation, initially written in the 3rd century CE and copied in the 6th century CE, offers slightly more detail than its Greek counterpart of Matthew chapter 12. For example, in verse 1 of the Greek translation, a sentence reads, “at that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and his disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat.” Meanwhile, the Syriac translation discovered by Kessel ends with “began to pick the heads of grain, rub them in their hands, and eat them.”

Claudia Rapp, Director of the Institute for Medieval Research at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, praised Kessel’s remarkable discovery. She said, “Grigory Kessel has made a great discovery thanks to his profound knowledge of old Syriac texts and script characteristics.” Rapp also highlighted the importance of the interplay between modern digital technologies and basic research when dealing with medieval manuscripts.

As researchers continue to unravel the hidden secrets of ancient manuscripts, this discovery represents a significant milestone in the study of biblical texts and the history of Christianity.

 

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