OK, I admit it: this is shameless of me. It’s tactless, mercenary, and almost despicable. Nevertheless, I’m going forth with it because I believe that, in this case, the ends justify the means. Not that I’ve changed my ethical convictions, but rather than the ends are so vital that a “certain moral flexibility” (as Martin Blank said in his self-description in Grosse Point Blank) is tolerable. And if not tolerable, at least I can always ask for forgiveness (I’ll take that route over asking for permission any day! (;-)).
Here’s my spiel: This past Saturday evening was the annual fundraiser dinner for the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts. As many of you know, we are trying to raise $500,000 for 15 months’ worth of photographic expeditions, starting next month. After the fundraiser, we now have over $150,000 toward that lofty goal. We are extremely grateful to all who have contributed to the work of digitally preserving ancient copies of the Word of God. We did a new thing at the dinner, and it’s something that I’d like to pass on to you who live in the USA. We had some blow-ups of manuscript photographs for sale. The size was 18” x 24”. Each was laminated and was glued to a stiff backboard. The resolution was outstanding. Each picture is numbered on the back; we will only make 500 copies. Then no more. Each comes with a certificate giving the details of what’s in the image, including the age of the manuscript, the text, etc. (A much briefer description is found below.)
The images are for sale at $150 apiece. Half of that money constitutes a tax-deductible donation to CSNTM; half is the market price of the image. Shipping is extra: $10 for the continental US. Many of you live in the Dallas area and could pick up the picture yourself, thus saving on shipping costs. Some of you may wish to add more to the check as a donation to CSNTM. We’ll note the difference and send you a statement to that effect.
Please understand that the reason I’m making these available to you is because I believe in what CSNTM is doing. Our goal of photographing as many as 200,000 manuscript pages during the next 15 months requires a great deal of funding. If you believe in what we are doing, then owning a piece of history while supporting our efforts may well be a win-win opportunity for you. We urge you to partner with us in this endeavor. And, of course, we urge you to invest in RMM, since that ministry is how you found out about CSNTM and since it is doing an awesome and unique work for the Lord!
These pictures are suitable for framing and would be a great conversation piece in your home. They also would look marvelous in church hallways, offices, classes. And they immediately pique one’s interest in the transmission of the text of scripture. In that respect, they become springboards, as educational tools, into the reliability of the biblical manuscripts as pointers to the essential teaching of scripture.
I’m attaching low-res images of these pictures below, followed by a brief description. If you’re interested in purchasing such a picture, please send the check to the following address:
5729 Lebanon Road
Suite 144, #403
Frisco, TX 75034
Make sure to specify which picture you are purchasing on your check. Allow 4 weeks for delivery.
1. “John the Apostle”: An icon of St. John, as he is sitting in the Cave of the Apocalypse on the island of Patmos, writing the Gospel of John. This is from codex 676, a 13th century Greek Gospels manuscript.
2. “Lectionary 2276”: a portion of a text that would have been read for a particular day, this leaf is of John 13.31-14.3. It thus starts with “Now the Son of Man is glorified” and ends with “I will come again.” The color photograph especially shows the beauty of the rubrication (red lettering).
3. “Codex 2882”: This is a 10th-11th century Greek manuscript of the Gospel of Luke. Although it is probably the least attractive of the four images, it is probably the most important. The text on the image begins with Luke 1.21 (“Now the people were waiting for Zechariah”) and ends with Luke 1.33 (“And his kingdom will never end”). The image was selected because it clearly shows the hair side of the parchment; this is the outside of the animal skin, and the follicles are still clearly seen.
4. “Vulgate MS of Proverbs”: This is an uncatalogued Latin manuscript, in the possession of a private owner. Written c. AD 1250, this image is the opening page of the book of Proverbs. Look at the bottom of the page to see the artwork. Written 200 years before the printing press, this manuscript was produced close to the apex of Latin iconography. They don’t get much more beautiful than this!