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Codex Zacynthius

Codex Zacynthius is the oldest manuscript of the Greek New Testament to contain extracts from writings by early Christian theologians as well as the biblical text. The manuscript was copied around the year 700 and contains the Gospel of Luke, with the extracts written around it in the three outer margins. It is what is known as a palimpsest: in the thirteenth century, the manuscript was dismembered and as much as possible of the ink scraped off. It was then reconstructed in a new shape and used to make a lectionary manuscript of the Gospels, written at right angles to the original text. Because the older manuscript was so thoroughly cleaned, it cannot be fully read either by the naked eye or with traditional photography. This project, a collaboration between Cambridge University Library and the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing at Birmingham University, is using multi-spectral imaging to make the underlying text readable for the first time. Recovering these original extracts gives us tantalising glimpses of lost writings and lost interpretations. Some of these excerpts are taken from writings of which no copies survive. Sometimes these are writings expressing views later deemed heretical, so that access was lost to the views themselves, which could only be seen through their opponents' eyes. A full transcription  of the writings is being produced, along with an innovative presentation of images of the undertext and overtext, all of which will be openly available on Cambridge Digital Library.

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