They discover a fragment of the Bible “hidden” for 1,500 years

An Australian scientist has discovered a “hidden chapter” of the Bible, hidden in a translation of chapters 11 and 12 of the Gospel of Matthew.

The discovery was made by the medievalist Grigori Kessellfrom the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OeAW), which used ultraviolet photography on a parchment that is around 1,750 years old.

The text is part of a Syriac translation which was erased by a scribe in Palestine. This happened because scrolls were rare in the desert during the Middle Ages, so manuscripts were often recycled in this way.

Old texts have been erased

As part of the Sinai Palimpsestos project, a group of researchers intends to recover some of these texts, which were erased and overwritten by scribes in the 4th-12th centuries AD.

The pages contained fragments dating from ancient Syria. According Kessel and his team of researchers only knew each other two manuscripts containing the Old Syriac translation of the holy book Both are currently safe at the British Library in London and at Saint Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai in Egypt.

However, fragments of a third manuscript have recently been identified, when scientists from the Sinai Palimpsest Project they used ultraviolet photography illuminate manuscripts with fluorescence or different wavelengths of light, on the third layer of text on a scroll.

The text appeared when studied under ultraviolet light. Credit: Vatican Library

Thanks to these modern methods, researchers they have already deciphered 74 manuscriptsbut the latest find was particularly special, as it contains a translation a century older than the oldest Greek translations, including the Codex Sinaiticus.

the hidden fragment

The translation, first written in the 3rd century AD and copied in the 6th century AD, it has not yet been published in its entirety, but it offers slightly more detail than the Greek translation of Matthew chapter 12. In verse 1 of the Greek translation, a sentence reads: the wheat fields on the Sabbath day; and his disciples were hungry and began to shave and eat”, while the Syriac translation discovered by Kessel ends “they began to shave, and to rub their hands and to eat”.

Illustrative image.

Claudia Rappdirector of the Institute of Medieval Research at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, said the discovery “demonstrates how productive and important the interplay between modern digital technologies and basic research can be when it comes to medieval manuscripts. “.

You might also be interested in: They decipher a mysterious writing dating from 4,000 years ago.

The discovery offers a “unique gateway” to the oldest period in the trajectory of the literary transmission of the Gospels. Also, it provides new information about variations of information found in translations.

References: DW / The Jerusalem Post.

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