Between September 11-15, four members of our team (Alin, Frank, Malte, and Theresa) undertook a research trip to London. We mainly explored the British Library’s large collection of the Coptic manuscripts, but also that of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
We collated some of the Sahidic Old Testament manuscripts kept in the British Library, especially those that are difficult to read on the sole basis of photographs. Significant progress in this regard has been made with two Copto-Syriac palimpsests: BL Add. 14665 (Genesis, Leviticus, Numbers) and Add. 17183 (Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Judith, Esther). The former manuscript, which is highly relevant for our project, is still unpublished.
Although little known to Coptologists, the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum contains some fragments from the White Monastery codices. We have thus learned that most of the Coptic fragments in this location formerly belonged to the Pre-Raphaelite painter and collector Henry Wallis (1830-1916), who was also a collector of ancient artifacts, including manuscripts. Among the most interesting items kept in the Victoria and Albert Museum is a fragment of the Old Testament book of Jeremiah and the title page of a homily on the apostles attributed to Severian of Gabala, which contains much apocryphal material. The latter text has been attested until now only in Arabic.
Our team met the manuscripts curators and other members of the staff of the British Library and Victoria and Albert Museum, to whom we introduced our project. We had the possibility to negotiate with them the acquisition of high-resolution photographs of manuscripts and to clarify some copyright issues.