After shining UV lights on a section of a 1,500-year-old document, it was discovered that another “ancient version” of the Book of Matthew Chapter 12 was hiding under more evident text. This is a prime example of the unification of old and new and how modern technology aids in preserving historical documents and artifacts. This discovery is outlined in the article, with the current translation being: “At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; his disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat,” the new Syriac translation says, “[…] began to pick the heads of grain, rub them in their hands, and eat them.”
By Sarah Rumpf-Whitten; May 25, 2023
Researchers say they have found a hidden version of a Bible passage that was left undiscovered for more than 1,500 years underneath a previously discovered section using ultraviolet lights.
Historian Grigory Kessel from the Austrian Academy of Sciences unveiled this groundbreaking find in a March 2023 article in the New Testament Studies academic journal, which is published by the Cambridge University Press.
Kissel said that they found an ancient version of Chapter 12 in the book of Matthew in the Bible that had been hidden beneath a section of text for over 1,500 years. His discovering is one of the earliest translations of the Gospels, first created in the 3rd century and copied in the 6th century.
“This discovery proves how productive and important the interplay between modern digital technologies and basic research can be when dealing with medieval manuscripts,” Claudia Rapp, director of the Institute for Medieval Research at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OeAW) said in a press release.
Kessel shared that he used ultraviolet photography to see the earlier text under three layers of words written on a palimpsest, an ancient manuscript previously written on that people have scraped off and reused multiple times.
Kessel said, in the press release, that the manuscript gave a “unique gateway” to researchers uncovering ancient Syriac translations.
“The manuscript offers a ‘unique gateway’ for researchers to understand the earliest phases of the Bible’s textual evolution,” Kissel said. “It shows some differences from modern translations of the text.”
He used the example of Matthew Chapter 12 verse 1, which in the original Greek translates to, “At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and his disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat,” the new Syriac translation says, “[…] began to pick the heads of grain, rub them in their hands, and eat them.”
Photo: Vatican Library