Almost seventy years ago Professor Harvie Branscomb of the Duke Divinity School found a complete manuscript of the Greek New Testament in the Munich bookshop of Taeuber and Weil. When the manuscript arrived in the Library on February 19, 1931, and was accessioned, it became Duke Greek MS. 1.
The acquisition of that manuscript was the beginning of the development of the collection of Greek manuscripts that would eventually be named the Kenneth Willis Clark Collection. Supported by the Kenneth Willis and Adelaide Dickinson Clark Endowment, the Clark Collection now has ninety-eight manuscripts.
Although at the beginning the intention was to collect only biblical texts of the New Testament, as time passed it became evident that the study of Greek manuscripts in general was important to a number of other disciplines--theology, classics, liturgics, and patristics. Today the collection contains a variety of materials, bringing with them diverse histories, a number of which have passed through notable libraries before reaching Duke's collection.
Among the largest group represented in the collection are manuscripts which contain texts of the New Testament. They number 27. Among this number are the "Tetraevangelia"--MSS. 4, 5, 6, 15, 22, 25, 31, 38, 60, and 64. One of the most notable among this group is MS. 60, also known as Codex Daltonianus.
Written in the latter half of the eleventh century, it contains commentary for each of the Gospels. It is of particular interest for the Duke collection, for MS. 60 shared a place alongside Duke's MS.1 in the Monastery of Eikosophoenesis--the Monastery of Twenty Palms--in Drama in northern Greece. In that collection Duke MS. 60 bore the number 59, occupying a place on the shelf alongside its neighbor, No. 60, which became Greek Ms. 1.
For reading the Gospels in the services, the Byzantine community prepared the lectionary containing the Gospels copied out in the order in which the lessons were read throughout the church year, beginning with Easter Day and ending with Holy Saturday and the Great Vigil of Easter. This type of manuscript is represented by a number of examples, notably MSS. 1, 20, 12, 24, 27, 28, 39, 42, 65, 82, 83, 85, among several others.
There are two notable examples among this type--MSS. 65 and 85. Ms. 65, written in the eleventh century, was presented by The Friends of the Library in honor of Dr. Kenneth Clark, Professor of New Testament Languages and Literature, on May 15, 1975, when the collection was named in his honor.
Ms. 65 is preserved in a Byzantine binding of red goatskin over thick wooden boards with a silver gilt covering on the upper cover, worked in repousse from the reverse, in part with dies, with figures of the Four Evangelists and the Crucifixion accompanied by an inscription recording that the manuscript was the property of the Metropolitan Church of St. Stephen in the Province of Pisidia, in Asia Minor.
The other remarkable manuscript, MS. 85, is one signed by Clement the Monk who dated his work when he completed it on the 20th of July, indiction 5, in the year 6560 [i.e., A. D. 1052], making it one of the earliest dated Greek lectionary manuscripts. At one time it was the property of A. N. L. Munby, the late librarian of Kings College, Cambridge.
Other manuscripts in the collection represent the diverse homiletical and liturgical books needed for services in the Byzantine church. There are sermons by St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory of Nazianzenus, and St. Basil, among others; there are also commentaries, liturgies and euchologia, psalters, sticheraria, and writings.
Apart from the theological and liturgical writings, there are a number of works by classical authors of which the largest and probably the most significant is that represented in the handicraft of the Renaissance scribe Damianos Guidotes. His rendering of Aristotle's Organon (Ms. 30), was at one time in the library of San Francisco della Vigna but came to reside in the Holland House Library in London. The manuscript survived the bombing of the Library during the "blitz" despite the loss of its cover. It is now preserved in a modern dark brown full calf binding.
Another manuscript of interesting scribal provenance is Ms. 39, written by the scribe Lucas the Hungaro-Vlach. A large-format lectionary written on paper, it was produced for the Voivode Radu of Moldavia or Wallachia and finished sometime between 1626 and 1629. In all likelihood it was prepared for Miron Barnowski Movila who ruled during that time.
Famous former owners are also represented among the manuscripts--most notably Sir Thomas Phillipps. But also represented are Jacob P. R. Lyell; the Duke of Sussex; Sir Austen Henry Layard, the excavator of Nineveh; Gerard Meermann; the Honorable Frederic North, 5th Earl of Guilford; the Rev. Henry Drury, of Harrow; and the Jesuit Collège de Clermont, Paris, to name a few.
As time goes by it is hoped that visitors to this site will see the descriptions expanded with a more detailed list of contents and samples of illustrations, decorations, bindings, and palaeography.
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