Vatican Film Library Receives Grant from Green Scholars Initiative for Work with New Testament Manuscripts

The Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library, part of Special Collections in the University Libraries, has been awarded a grant from the Green Scholars Initiative to take part in an international project known as the Visual Database of New Testament Manuscripts, the goal of which is to make fully available online images of all surviving manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. This project is sponsored by the American Bible Society and is intended to benefit scholars and members of the public in the study, textual research, and translation of the New Testament from its original sources. About 5,600 papyrus and parchment manuscripts containing the text of the New Testament survive from Antiquity and the Middle Ages, and these manuscripts and fragments are located in libraries throughout the world, making ready access to this body of evidence one of the greatest challenges facing biblical scholars. Among the most famous of these manuscripts, containing one of the most complete and authoritative texts of the Bible in Greek, is a Vatican Library manuscript produced in the fourth century AD called “Codex Vaticanus” (Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Vat. gr. 1209) (see fig.).

Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Vat. gr. 1209, p. 1349. Gospel of John.

Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Vat. gr. 1209, p. 1349. Gospel of John.

SLU’s Vatican Film Library will work in partnership with the Institute for New Testament Textual Research = Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung in Münster, Germany, and on behalf of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana to ensure the quality of digitized images and the accuracy of descriptive metadata for New Testament manuscripts in the collections of the Vatican Library. Most images are being scanned from microfilm in order to establish the Visual Database of New Testament Manuscripts rapidly. As part of this grant-funded project, the University Libraries have created a graduate student research assistantship, which has been filled by a student from the Department of Theological Studies. The University Libraries wish to thank the Green Scholars Initiative for supporting this work.

The Green Scholars Initiative funds and promotes international research in biblical texts and manuscripts. It is committed to the development of young scholars and fostering their support among the community of established, senior researchers. It conducts research for the Museum of the Bible on the Green Collection, one of the largest collections of biblical manuscripts, printed books, and artifacts in private hands.

The Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library was established in 1953 with the assistance of the Knights of Columbus and holds microfilm copies of 37,000 manuscripts from the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. It is a research library for medieval and Renaissance manuscript studies that promotes scholarship in all areas of manuscript research. It offers fellowships for study in its collections, publishes the journal Manuscripta, and brings scholars from around the world annually to participate in its Saint Louis Conference on Manuscript Studies. Visit the Vatican Film Library in Pius XII Memorial Library or online or follow our activities through the blog Special Collections Currents.

For further information about this project, contact Dr. Gregory Pass, Director of the Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library and Assistant Dean for Special Collections at 314-977-3096 or

Erica Lauriello

About Erica Lauriello

Erica Lauriello is a former staff member in the Vatican Film Library.

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