The third manuscript that I have begun to index is Panteleimon 770 from Panteleimon Monastery on Mount Athos. To view the progress that I have made so far, see here.

I chose to index Vat. gr. 646 first because it was the shortest of all the manuscripts to index, and it happened to be very neat. After that, I indexed Vat. gr. 1501. In terms of the number of pages, Vat. gr. 1501 was very long (although it does not contain the entire Commentary on the Epistles), yet it is my favourite of the manuscripts to work with because the handwriting is remarkably easy to read compared to others. So it was the second one that I worked on, and I developed a nice habit of indexing 25 folios (or 50 modern pages) per session.

Thinking that I could carry over that discipline and experience to another manuscript, I decided to tackle the messy Panteleimon 770.

Panteleimon 770, f. 221r

Looking at the sample image above (it is not at 100% scale, so it may be hard to read), you can see that there are black smudges (of ink?) all over the place and that the writing is really scribbly compared to the header image of this site, almost as if it were written in haste, but I’m not a handwriting expert, so I don’t know for sure. It is definitely of the harder manuscripts to read. (Note that I chose a page that was rather legible, since most pages are much harder to read than this, either because of faint writing, or a blurry photograph, or markings on the page, or all of the above. See below for an example of a section with faint writing.)

Method for indexing Panteleimon 770

The layout of this manuscript is different from the other two that I had done. Both Vat. gr. 646 and Vat. gr. 1501 were “linear” (this is my term), meaning that the scribe wrote out the Biblical verse and immediately afterwards wrote out Euthymius Zigabenus’ commentary, one after the other, and separated a new Biblical verse or a new piece of commentary with the characteristic :- (colon and hyphen) to aid as a visual marker. That linear layout coupled with the :- markings made indexing very easy.

But Panteleimon 770 has a much different layout. The Biblical verses that appear on a given page are all grouped together, sequentially, in the middle of the page against the inner margin, and all of the commentary for those given verses are written from the top of the page to the bottom of the page, wrapping around the paragraph of the Biblical verses. You can see this in the image above; the small paragraph on the left of the page contains all the Biblical verses (in this case, it is all of Rom. 12:16-13:4 grouped together), and the commentary for those verses wraps around that paragraph. From what I understand, this is a common method of laying out a commentary, but I find it to be a really poor interface. It’s impossible to know at a glance what verse goes with what commentary.

The :- that marks the end of a verse or a piece of commentary in the previous two manuscripts is instead replaced here by a single colon (at least I think that’s how it is done here, since I have been avoiding reading the commentary sections because of the difficulty). To make matters worse, in the previous two commentaries, there is a longer period of whitespace after each :-, which allows your eye to easily catch the beginning of a verse or a new piece of commentary, like a little bookmark, but in this manuscript there is no whitespace, and the single colon is so hard to see, that it might as well not be there.

(P.S. Now that I’ve been working with this manuscript for some time, I see that there is in fact a rather decent system in place to match a given verse with its corresponding piece of commentary. It is difficult to see in the image above, especially if you don’t know what to look for, but there are Greek Numerals written rather boldly at the beginning of each new Biblical verse, above the actual text. So, for example, at the beginning of a verse, you will see ιβ, which is the Greek numeral for 12. What you then have to do is look at the sea of commentary surrounding the paragraph of verses and find the corresponding ιβ, written boldly above a given word, and there you will find the commentary that corresponds to the verse; the numerals match the verse with the commentary. It is a rather clever system, and I didn’t notice it at all until a few days after writing this post, but now I have a much greater appreciation for this layout and for this manuscript in general.)

For now, instead of struggling to read the commentary, I just look at the paragraphs with the Biblical verses and I index based on those by comparing my reading of the Miniscule with the printed edition of Kalogeras. It takes much longer with this manuscript than it did with the other two, but it is still doable this way. There has been an instance though where a page (214v) has had no Biblical verses on it, and I suspect that the commentary for the verses on 214r was so verbose that it spilled onto 214v. I can’t confirm that because I didn’t take the time to read it, but I’m sure that’s what happened. But since I don’t index at the moment based on anything besides the Biblical verses, I just added “???” to 214v and kept indexing. Eventually I’ll go back and figure out for sure what is going on there.

Making the illegible legible

In order to be able to read the pages that are really faint, I need to take screenshots of the image and open it up in Adobe Photoshop Elements (other versions of Photoshop work too; this is just the version that I have, and it happens to be a one time purchase, rather than a subscription).

So I take a screenshot:

Panteleimon 770, f. 217r – Faint

And I go to Enhance -> Adjust Sharpness. Below are the settings that I use by default, and I created a preset called “HighContrastForManuscripts1” so I don’t have to reset these every time. You can see a preview of your changes, so you can tweak your settings before clicking “OK”.

“Adjust Sharpness” Settings

After clicking “OK”, the image now is less faint and, in many places, much more readable:

Panteleimon 770, f. 217r – After Adjusting Sharpness

After adjusting the sharpness, I like to go to Enhance -> Adjust Lighting -> Brightness/Contrast, and I set the Contrast to 100% (again, you can see a preview of this as you make changes):

“Brightness/Contrast” Settings

The result of both of these enhancements is a much more legible text:

Panteleimon 770, f. 217r – After Adjusting Contrast
Panteleimon 770, f. 217r – Before and After

This is the way that I plan to make illegible portions of the text more legible, in the hopes that I can eventually transcribe, with the help of Kalogeras’ printed edition, Panteleimon 770 (and other difficult to read manuscripts) to create the Critical Edition.

Indentifying 208r and 208v

On the Pinakes website, on the page that pertains to this manuscript, there is a gap in the indexing between 207v and 209r. For whatever reason, 208r and 208v are not accounted for, even though the manuscript has text on those pages.

Below are the two pages in question:

Panteleimon 770, f. 208r
Panteleimon 770, f. 208v

On that same page (mentioned above) on the Pinakes website are listed a number of bibliographical catalogues that I am hoping will contain information on folio 208. I am waiting for Textkritik des Neuen Testaments, Kurzgefaßte Liste der griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments, and Die Schriften des Neuen Testaments in ihrer ältesten erreichbaren Textgestalt hergestellt auf Grund ihrer Textgeschichte to come in so I can see what those sources say about the contents of Panteleimon 770, but I found Lambros’ Catalogue of the Greek Manuscripts on Mount Athos online (see here).

Below is the page from Lambros that pertains to this manuscript. Notice the first number, 6277, which is Lambros’ numbering system (which I believe takes into consideration all of the manuscripts on Mount Athos, but I’m not sure), and then 770 afterwards, which is the identification number of this manuscript at the Panteleimon Monastery.

Catalogue of the Greek manuscripts on Mount Athos / edited for the syndics of the University Press by Spyridon. P. Lambros, 1900, p. 430

The number on the left is just numerically listing the different contents, but what immediately follows that number in parentheses is the folio. If we look in the right column at 12 (φ. 208α), which means f. 208r, we see that it says “Ἡ πάσα (;) ἀποδημία Παύλου εἰς τὸ Εὐαγγέλιον,” which is just a reading of the first few words of the first line of that page, but at least it lists it. It does not list the author, though, nor does it list what is on f. 208v, which in this indexing system seems to mean that 208v is a continuation of 208r, but that can’t be right, since 208v has its own title (see the screenshot of 208v above to confirm it): “Ὑπόθεσις τῆς πρὸς Ρωμαίους Ἐπιστολῆς” or “Preface of the Epistle to the Romans.”

My immediate thought was that, since 208v is the “Preface of the Epistle to the Romans,” and 209r is the beginning of Euthymius Zigabenus’ “Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans” (though the author of 209r-281r in Lambros’ catalogue is omitted), then 208v must be Euthymius’ preface. If that is the case, then Lambros’ catalogue would need to be updated (though it is most likely not in print anymore), and someone would need to make a correction to Pinakes’ page to indicate that Euthymius Zigabenus’s Commentary on the Epistles begins on 208v and not on 209r.

But to my disappointment, it looks like the text for this Preface of the Epistle to the Romans is not the same as what the other manuscripts that I’ve looked at have. I have not read the whole thing, again due to the difficulty and to the time commitment, but at the bottom of that page is something like a table of contents, though without page numbers, listing the section headers of Euthymius Zigabenus’ Commentary on the Romans. At a quick glance, the numbers of those headers and the titles themselves are exactly the same as what are listed in Kalogeras’ edition, so my suspicion is that the folio contains some kind of Preface to the Romans, but it might be an original work of the scribe who wrote the manuscript, or some other such thing. This is all speculation, and I would need to actually transcribe the whole thing to be able to make any claims, but I sincerely hope that one of the books that I’m waiting for, that I mentioned above, will be able to provide an explanation for what these two pages are.

Panteleimon 770 is going to take a lot of work to figure out, to index, and to read, but I am enjoying the challenge so far and am learning a lot of things because of it.


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