Thursday, May 07, 2009

WSJ on Digitizing Ancient Manuscripts

The Wall Street Journal has a good article this morning on the race to digitize ancient texts--including biblical manuscripts. Here's the opening:
In a 21st-century version of the age of discovery, teams of computer scientists, conservationists and scholars are fanning out across the globe in a race to digitize crumbling literary treasures.

In the process, they're uncovering unexpected troves of new finds, including never-before-seen versions of the Christian Gospels, fragments of Greek poetry and commentaries on Aristotle. Improved technology is allowing researchers to scan ancient texts that were once unreadable -- blackened in fires or by chemical erosion, painted over or simply too fragile to unroll. Now, scholars are studying these works with X-ray fluorescence, multispectral imaging used by NASA to photograph Mars and CAT scans used by medical technicians.

Dan Wallace's organization--the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts--is mentioned in the discussion. Thus far CSNT has discovered 75 NT manuscripts, and their goal is "to digitally photograph 2.6 million pages of Greek New Testament manuscripts scattered in monasteries and libraries around the world."

For those who might be interested in helping to fund the important work that CSNT is doing, you can contribute here.