A Descriptive Catalogue of the Greek Manuscript Collection of Lambeth Palace Library by Christopher Wright et al. (review)
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Reviewed by
Christopher Wright, Maria Argyrou, and Charalambos Dendrinos. A Descriptive Catalogue of the Greek Manuscript Collection of Lambeth Palace Library. London: Hellenic Institute at Royal Holloway, University of London, 2016. https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/Hellenic-Institute/Research/LPL/Greek-MSS/Catalogue.pdf.

The Lambeth Palace Library owns fifty-five Greek manuscripts. Some have philologically interesting contents: there are works by the fifteenth-century theologian Gennadius Scholarius, annotated in the author's own hand (MS. 461), supposedly unpublished anonymous homilies (MS. 1197), apparently unpublished polemical dialogues against Judaism (MS. 2794, fols. 272r–292r), a sixteenth-century chronicle in vernacular Greek (MS. 1199), and a group of rare late-Byzantine hymnographic canons (MS. Sion L40.2/G11, fols. 5r–71v). Several are important from a paleo-graphic point of view, being precisely dated and/or signed by the scribes who copied them (MSS. 1177, 1183, 1188, 1195, 1214, Sion L40.2/G6, Sion L40.2/G10, Sion L40.2/G12). A couple contain figural miniatures, remarkable [End Page 242] in one case (MS. 1176) for their relatively early date, and in another (MS. Sion L40.2/G5) for their unusual iconography. The covers of three are finely decorated (MSS. 1187, 1188, Sion L40.2/G9). A dozen consist of notes by learned Western Europeans of the seventeenth, eighteenth, or nineteenth centuries, which are, I suppose, valuable for the history of scholarship.

The collection has now been painstakingly inventoried by Christopher Wright, a Byzantinist, and Maria Argyrou, a book conservator. Charalambos Dendrinos oversaw their work, and a number of other scholars (listed on pp. 7–9) provided them with expert advice. Wright and Argyrou's admirable descriptions of the books' handwriting, binding, and current condition are the fullest of their kind in any existing catalog of Greek manuscripts. The quality of the photographic illustrations is very high, and I do wish there had been some more of them: MS. 1176, p. 417; MS. Sion L40.2/G1, fols. 244r–245r; MS. Sion L40.2/G5, fol. Br–v; MS. Sion L40.2/G7, fol. 1v; MS. Sion L40.2/G11, fol. 71v; and a sample page from the first part (fols. 1–86) of MS. Sion L40.2/G12. In a few respects, the publication seems to me to fall slightly short of the ideal standards for accuracy and exhaustiveness. I list such minor defects under the headings that recur in each volume's description:

Gatherings. Gatherings (quires) normally consist of an even number of leaves. In those cases when a quire is not at the end of a text unit and when it contains, say, seven instead of the expected eight leaves (e.g., pp. 52, 68, 88, 103, 119, 129, 139, 170), readers ought to be told whether this irregularity entails loss of text and where precisely the single leaf is located (e.g., "fol. 35 singleton").

Detailed content. It would not have been too hard to list the CPG numbers for patristic texts (e.g., pp. 298, 375), the BHG numbers for hagiographical ones (pp. 375, 507–8), or the CANT numbers for apocrypha (p. 298). (See the list of bibliographic abbreviations below.) All relatively uncommon texts—not just some of them—ought to have been identified by their title, beginning (inicipit), ending (desinit), and a reference to a printed edition (if one exists): compare Wright's description of the contents of MS. Sion L40.2/G6 to the more informative one by Aubineau (cit. pp. 34, 469). It would have been useful to point out that the "unidentified text attributed to Metropolitan Niketas of Klaudiopolis" (p. 375) is composed in fifteen-syllable ("political") [End Page 243] verse and has been edited in print (cf. I. Vassis, Initia carmonum Byzantinorum, [Berlin: de Gruyter, 2005], p. 70), or that Damascenus Stoudites's Physiologus (p. 507) was recently republished (L. Manou, Δαμασκηνός ο Στουδίτης: Ο βίος και το έργο του [Athens: Σύνδεσμος των εν Αθήναις Μεγαλοσχολιτών, 1999], pp. 149–83). Sometimes editions are listed under "Bibliography" at the end of an entry: one can guess, for example, that Scholarius's treatise On the Procession of the Holy Spirit, found in MS. 461, is printed in volume 2 of his Oeuvres complètes (p. 50)—but on which pages...