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Part 1 - The Sinai Collection: Monastery Manuscripts Collections

Figure 1 (Title Page): Matthew seated. Illumination in Four Gospels. Digitized Microfilm. 15th century manuscript on paper. Mt. Sinai Collection: MS Greek 165 20v. Library of Congress, Humanities and Social Sciences Division.Detail from "Matthew seated. Illumination in Four Gospels." Humanities and Social Sciences Division.

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Monastery Manuscripts Guide Home

Research Tips | Index of Selected AuthorsIndex of Selected Genres
Glossary of Genres & Works | Notes

The Collection of St. Catherine’s Monastery on Mt. Sinai

“The ruling motive... in 1949 was to free from isolation the vast and valuable resources of Near Eastern libraries. Working on so large a scale, we have not attempted to conduct intensive researches of our own but rather to make possible and practicable multiplied researches on the part of many. Our initial objective has now been achieved, and we welcome scholars everywhere to participation in the definitive investigation of these manuscripts. Through the cooperative labors of many, they have become available to all.”

~ Kenneth W. Clarke, Director of the Mount Sinai and Jerusalem Expeditions (1949-1950)

Research Tips & Search Suggestions

  • Researchers may search the web archive by language, date, author, medium (paper or vellum) and genre or title.
  • The manuscripts’ numbering system is complex, courtesy of the centuries of catalogers who have worked on this collection. In general, the new digital archive follows the Checklist of Manuscripts prepared by Kenneth W. Clark in 1952, which itself retained the manuscript numbers assigned by Victor Gardthausen in 1886. Note that the numbering in the Beneševic catalogs and in Murad Kamil’s 1970 catalog differ from those in this digital archive.
  • The digitizing process revealed manuscripts on the microfilm that were not listed in the checklist of 1952. These include Archimandrite Antonin Kapustin’s handwritten catalog of manuscripts at St. Catherine’s, fragments of Psalms 105-108, Greek 1226, and others. Greek 1226 had a catalog number listed on the microfilm, which the Library of Congress has retained for reference purposes. Others, however, had no identifying number attached to them. The Library of Congress has thus created new manuscript numbers for these manuscripts as outlined on page 6 of this guide.
  • All manuscripts have their titles listed in Greek equivalents (e.g., troparion, menaion…), even those in other languages. Especially for liturgical works, try searching using the Greek name of the work. The glossary table below may be helpful in determining possible Greek equivalents for the liturgical manuscripts in question.
  • Foreign language titles are given as they were in the 1952 checklist, with updated transliterations in brackets. Either version of the title may be searched in this web archive.
  • Remember that Greek words are pluralized differently than English words. So a search for “troparion” would not bring up results for “troparia.” Try searching for both the plural and singular forms of the word in question.
  • Many manuscripts have the vague title “Liturgical,” which could include any number of Orthodox liturgical works (e.g., troparion, heirmologion, evangelion…). These works would benefit from scholars’ further attention.
  • The printed checklist prepared in 1952 contains errors, both in typesetting and content. The information on the microfilm title card, typically the second image in the digital collection, was written at St. Catherine’s by the microfilming team, and thus is closer to the manuscripts themselves and likely more accurate than the checklist. Where information differs between the microfilm and the checklist, both are included in the archive notes and are searchable.
  • For the Arabic Firmans, the printed checklist identifies certain firmans as “explicit missing” and “explicit lost.” The meaning of these phrases is unclear. However, the firmans themselves are present on the microfilm and, hence, in the web archive.
  • In the intervening years since the checklist was written in 1952, scholars have conducted further research on the manuscripts from Mt. Sinai which has suggested new dating, scribal information, and contents. These new discoveries are not reflected in the web archive. The project undertaken here was to digitize the microfilm and link the scans to the information from the printed checklist. The Library leaves the editing of the checklist to future scholars.

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Index of Selected Authors in the Sinai Collection

Prepared from the Checklist of Manuscripts in St. Catherine’s18

Author Manuscript Numbers
Antonin Kapustin, Archimandrite
  • MS SUPPL2
Apollonios of Rhodes
  • MS Gr 1194
Aristotle
  • MSS Georg. 87 (Armenian)
  • MSS Gr. 1677, 1720, 1883, 2124
Athanasios
  • MS Gr. 401
Athanasios Komnenos Hypselantos
  • MSS Gr. 1193, 1395
Basil
  • MS Georg. 36
  • MSS Gr. 348, 1414, 1654
  • MS Syr. 9
Basil the Great
  • MSS Gr. 326-329, 332, 345, 363,  384
Dionysios the Areopagite [Pseudo-Dionysius]
  • MS Arab. 268
  • MSS Gr. 319-325
  • MS Syr. 52
Ephraim [Ephraem] of Syria/ St. Ephrem<
  • MSS Arab. 311, 312
  • MS Georg. 97
  • MSS Gr. 332-338, 1602, 1909
Evagrius
  • MS Syr. 60
Galen
  • MS Gr. 1848
George Pachymera
  • MS Gr. 1385
Gregory of Nazianzus (usually identified as Gregory Theologos)
  • MS Ar. 274
  • MS Georg. 79
  • MSS Gr. 339- 355, 1207, 1396, 1414, 1639
Gregory of Nyssa
  • MS Arab. 278
  • MSS Gr. 311, 330, 331, 383
Gregory of Thessalonika
  • MSS Gr. 1604, 1851
Homer
  • MSS Gr. 1397, 1831, 1838, 1857
Isaac of Syria/Isaac Syrus
  • MS Arab. 350
  • MS Georg. 80
  • MSS Gr. 405-409
John Chrysostom
  • MSS Arab. 281, 282, 285, 291, 292, 303, 304, 308
  • MSS Georg. 36, 50, 51
  • MSS Gr. 356-383, 391, 395, 431, 432, 491, 1607, 1611, 1613, 1652, 1816, 1919
John Climax/John Climacus [John Klimax]
  • MSS Arab. 331, 332, 338, 343, 344
  • MSS Gr. 416-430, 1602
  • MS Syr. 56
John of Damascus
  • MSS Arab. 317-319, 599
  • MSS Gr. 383-393, 408, 1722, 1944, 1960, 2034
John Zonaras
  • MS Gr. 1116
Joseph of Thessalonika
  • MS Gr. 343
Libanius
  • MS Gr. 1198
Makarios/Macarius
  • MS Arab. 358
  • MS Gr. 396
Makarios of Alexandria
  • MS Gr. 397
Makarios of Philadelphia
  • MS Gr. 314
Manuel Moschopulus
  • MS Gr. 1345, 1349, 1404
Maximus
  • MS Gr. 329, 399, 400
Maximus the Confessor
  • MS Gr. 398, 1837
Plutarch
  • MS Gr. 1831
Procopios
  • MS Gr. 312
Theodore the Studite/ Theodore Studites
  • MSS Gr. 401-404, 1178
Theodoros Balsamonos
  • MS Gr. 1117
Theodoros Magister
  • MS Gr. 332
Theodoros Philosophos
  • MS Gr. 383
Theodoros Prodromos
  • MS Gr. 317
St. Theodorus
  • MS Arab. 326
Theophylact>
  • MSS Gr. 302-308, 327
Simeon of Thessalonika
  • MS Gr. 394
Sophocles
  • MS Gr. 1721
An image of Mark seated and Headpiece for Mark.
Figure 3: Mark seated and Headpiece for Mark. Digitized Microfilm of Evangelion. 11th century manuscript on parchment. Mt. Sinai Collection: MS Greek 205 200v and 201r. Image 207. Library of Congress, Humanities and Social Sciences Division.

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Index of Selected Genres in the Sinai Collection

Prepared from the Checklist of Manuscripts in St. Catherine’s19 [PDF, 26.23 MB]

Greek Genre Manuscripts
Akolouthia
  • MSS Gr. 657, 658, 662, 663, 670, 678-680, 712, 728, 1858, 2033, 2045
Anthologia
  • MSS Arab. 683, 686
  • MSS Gr. 642, 648, 649, 653, 1294, 1445, 1480, 1509, 1538, 1545
  • MS Syr. 90
Apophthegmata
  • MS Arab. 496, 497
  • MS Georg. 8
  • MS Gr. 444, 447, 469, 1763
  • MS Syr. 46
Ascetica
  • MSS Georg. 25, 35
  • MSS Gr. 446, 454, 459, 462-466, 468, 470, 476, 481, 484
  • MS Syr. 23
Canons/Canon
  • MSS Arab. 316, 390-393, 445, 590, 600, 677
  • MSS Gr. 1111-1113, 1116, 1117, 1138, 1275, 1340, 1341, 1361, 1400, 1641, 1643, 1658, 1666, 1690, 1816, 1947
  • MS Slav. 18
Covenants of the Prophet
  • MSS Arab. 695, 696
  • Turk. Firm. 1-43
  • Arab. Firm. 1-5, 961
Evangelion
  • MSS Gr. 109, 204-211, 213-257, 1343, 1413, 1589, 1590, 1592, 1601, 2254, 1343, 1413, 1589, 1590, 1592, 1601, 2090, 2254
Evangelio-Apostolos/ Apostolo-Evangelion
  • MS Georg. 37
  • MSS Gr. 212, 258, 263, 264, 268, 271, 272, 1344, 2037, 2053
Gospels/ Four Gospels (Not including lectionaries or commentaries)
  • MSS Arab. 54, 68-72, 74-76, 80, 82, 84, 89-92, 94, 95, 97, 101, 103, 104, 106, 110, 112, 628
  • MSS Georg. 15, 16, 19, 30, 38, 81
  • MSS Gr. 148, 149, 135, 150-201, 203, 1591, 1993, 1994, 2038, 2252
  • MSS Slav. 1, 3
  • MSS Syr. 2, 11, 12, 30, 74, 134, 135, 145, 159, 205, 231, 259, 272
Hagiographica
  • MSS Arab. 356, 411, 426, 484, 485, 487, 512-514, 520, 521, 523, 530-535, 537-540, 542, 553, 556, 558, 585, 627
Heirmologion
  • MS Georg. 14
  • MSS Gr. 929, 1256-1260
  • MSS Syr. 40, 64
Lectionaries
  • MSS Arab. 96, 114, 116-118, 121-125, 127, 129, 132, 133, 137-140, 144, 148-150, 164, 170-174, 680
  • MS Eth. 2
  • MSS Georg. 47, 63, 74
  • MSS Syr. 1, 6-8, 12, 13, 20, 21, 32, 39, 42, 49, 65, 75, 76, 81, 89, 94, 100, 120, 161, 213, 214, 217, 219, 236, 238, 269, 271
Liturgy (not including Liturgica or “Liturgical”)
  • MSS Gr. 1036, 1037, 1039, 1046, 1047, 1049, 1919, 2017, 2037, 2045, 2111
  • MS Georg. 89
  • MS Slav. 40
  • MS Syr. 114
Lives (E.g., of the Saints])
  • MSS Arab. 352, 436, 438, 440, 441, 443-445, 447, 448, 452, 455, 469, 471, 475, 476, 482, 503, 505, 528, 529, 536, 541
  • MSS Georg. 6, 11, 43, 46, 52, 62, 71, 80, 91
  • MSS Gr. 20, 315, 391, 392, 445, 467, 494, 524, 525, 531, 532, 534, 541, 543-545, 728, 1337, 1375, 1606, 1630, 1685, 1829
  • MS Syr. 30
Martyrology/Martyrdoms
  • MSS Arab. 153, 440, 443, 457, 460, 461, 475, 507
  • MS Gr. 1339
Menaion
  • MSS Georg. 2, 9, 59, 64, 65, 92-95
  • MSS Gr. 551-556, 562, 563, 566-570, 572-574, 576, 578-583, 585, 588, 590-592, 595-599, 601, 602, 606-610, 613, 614, 617, 620, 623-628, 630-632, 637-640, 1428, 1554, 1597, 1619, 1627, 1793, 1797, 2079, 2101-2103, 2113, 2128, 2147
  • MSS Slav. 25-28, 35
  • MSS Syr. 18, 22, 36, 44, 78, 85, 87, 88, 91, 212, 233, 237
Menologion
  • MSS Arab. 395, 397-402, 405-409, 395, 423
  • MSS Gr. 495-506, 508-520, 916, 1994[B], 1335, 1756, 2035, 2096, 2151, 2191
Mimars
  • MSS Arab. 153, 274, 308, 311, 312, 316, 331, 332, 338, 343, 344, 350-353, 358, 368, 369, 428, 431, 434-436, 438, 441, 443, 445-448, 455, 469, 471, 474-478, 480, 482, 505
Oktoechos
  • MSS Gr. 495, 795, 805, 812-814, 817, 821, 824, 827, 2098, 1333, 1599
  • MSS Slav. 11, 19-21
  • MSS Syr. 156, 208, 210
Parakletike
  • MSS Georg. 13, 17, 96
  • MSS. Gr. 776-1593 (one ms.), 778-785, 787, 790-794, 796, 798, 799, 820, 1620, 1744, 1911 (Greek-Arabic), 2018, 2135
  • MSS Slav. 11, 19, 20
Pentekostarion
  • MS Arab. 685
  • MSS Gr. 754-756, 758, 760, 775, 1618, 2107
  • MS Slav. 24
  • MSS Syr. 4, 71, 77, 80
Philokalia
  • MS Gr. 455
Prophets
  • MSS Gr 5-6
Prophetologion
  • MS Arab. 11, 18, 588, 595
  • MSS Gr. 7-10, 12-19, 2042
  • MS Syr. 234
Psalter
  • MSS Arab. 20-22, 25, 30, 32, 34, 37, 45, 65, 66, 232
  • MSS Eth. 1, 3, 4, 6
  • MSS Georg. 22, 29, 42, 86
  • MSS Gr. 11, 24, 28-40, 43, 44, 46-66, 68-71, 75, 80, 87, 90, 92, 94-97, 99, 101, 102, 104-120, 123-137, 139, 140, 259, 1336, 1633, 1662, 2019, 2054, 2057, 2061, 2066, 2069, 2123, 2130, 2132, 2133
  • MSS Slav. 5 (Latin), 6-9a, 10, 37, 38
  • MSS Syr. 41, 98, 99, 101-103, 112, 121, 124, 128, 139, 143, 149, 155, 157, 165, 201, 240-242, 244, 245, 247, 253, 257, 260, 267, 268
Psaltike
  • MSS Gr. 1250, 1254, 1255, 1276, 1293, 1302, 1303, 1304, 1311, 1312, 1314, 1323, 1326, 1327, 1463, 1469, 1580
Sticherarion
  • MSS Gr. 1214-1235, 1237, 1240, 1249, 1251, 1301, 1453, 1464, 1471, 1472, 1484, 1487, 1504, 1552, 1564, 1566,  1584-1586
  • MS Syr. 25
Synaxarion
  • MSS Arab. 410-A, 410-B, 412-414, 416-418, 420, 421
  • MS Geor. 4
  • MSS Gr. 548, 549, 2095
Triodion
  • MSS Geor. 3, 5, 70
  • MSS Gr. 733, 734-735 (one ms), 736, 737, 740-742, 746, 754-756, 1241-1245, 1447, 1493, 1506, 1540, 1588, 1596, 1599, 1614
  • MS Slav. 23
  • MSS Syr. 70, 71, 77, 80, 207
Troparion
  • MSS Gr. 20, 1635
  • MS Syr. 27
Tropologion
  • MSS Gr. 759, 777, 789
Typikon
  • MS Arab. 264
  • MSS Gr. 1094, 1095, 1097, 1098, 1100-1102, 1106, 1109, 2043, 2047, 2110
  • MS Slav. 30
  • MSS Syr. 129, 136
Digitized Microfilm of Sticherarion, MS Greek 363v and 364r.
Figure 4: Digitized Microfilm of Sticherarion. Mt. Sinai Collection: MS Greek 1226 363 v and 364r. Image 360. Library of Congress, Humanities and Social Sciences Division.

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Glossary of Genres & Works

The definitions given here are intended to give novices a quick idea of the works in question, not to be the final reference source on the topic. As such, they are of course very brief and oversimplified. Scholars are encouraged to peruse the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantiumfor more fleshed-out explanations. Most of the definitions listed here are adapted from the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium (ODB), and the Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity (BDEC).20

Term Definition
Akolouthia A liturgical rite, or the list of the parts of the daily office, or a musical anthology (ODB, 1695)
Anastasimatarion Book of troparions for Sunday services, particularly about the Resurrection (ODB, 2124; BDEC, 28)
Anoixantarion Psalm verses sung at Byzantine vespers services (BDEC, 33)
Anthologion Typically collections of secular verse, particularly of epigrams (ODB, 110)
Antiphon A psalm or sections of psalms for singing, followed by a doxology (ODB, 120).
Apologia a text of self-defense, often a defense or explanation of the Christian faith (ODB, 138-39)
Apophthegmata A genre of sayings, aphorisms, and guidance
Apostolos a lectionary containing only the texts read during the service (ODB, 1712)
Ascetica Ascetical works
Chronikon “various types of historiography” (ODB, 443)
Euchologion Prayer book for all Byzantine rite services, used by bishops, priests, and deacons (ODB, 738)
Evangelion Gospel lectionary, only including texts that are read (ODB, 761).
Firman1 An official Muslim decree, law, or letter approved by a Sultan
Gerontikon “Parts of the office traditionally read by the Superior, or Elder…” (BDEC, 218)
Hagiographica Lives of saints
Hebdomadarion  
Heirmologion “liturgical book containing the text and…the melodies of the heirmoi which provide the musical and metrical models” for the verses of hymns (BDEC, 228)
Heothina Gospels of the Resurrection read at Sunday services, or the idiomela sung on Sundays (BDEC, 229)
Historica Historical works
Horologion Book of hymns
Kanonarion Book of kanons, particular kinds of hymn stanzas (ODB, 2124)
Kanonika [Canons] Church laws, or canons
Kontakion / Kondakarion / Kontakarion A kind of hymn stanza (ODB, 2124)
Lectionary list of biblical texts to be read on particular Sundays throughout the year
Lexicon dictionary
Menaion “liturgical poems and prayers for the saint’s annual celebration” (ODB, 1341)
Menologion Collection of saints’ Lives ordered chronologically, sometimes with accompanying homilies (ODB, 1341)
Mimar2 Coptic word for “manuscripts”
Nomokanon “compilations of secular laws (nomoi) and ecclesiastical regulations (kanones…), the two most important components of canon law” (ODB, 1490).
Oktoechos Book of hymns for daily Orthodox services, except for the seasons of Lent, Easter, and Pentecost; sometimes only includes hymns for Sundays (ODB, 1520)
Papadike “anthology of musical settings…for hymns, psalms, and other chants used in the liturgy…” (ODB, 1578)
Parakletike A kind of octoechos, including hymns for every day (ODB, 1520)
Paterikon “collections of sayings and deeds of ascetic holy men” (HDOC, 257)3
Patristica Works of the Church fathers
Pentekostarion Book of hymns for the season of Pentecost (ODB, 1627)
Philokalia Came to mean an anthology in general, and sometimes a particular collection of ascetic works (ODB, 1656)
Polyeleos A chant of verses from Psalms 134 and 135 (ODB, 1695)
Praxapostolos NT lectionary minus the Gospels and Revelation. “a lectionary used only at Eucharist, which contains all the nonevangelical New Testament lections except for Revelation, which was not used in the Byz. Liturgy.” Sometimes include responsories and calendars too. (ODB, 1712-13)
Prophetologion OT lectionary readings
Psalter “Liturgical book containing the 150 psalms” (ODB, 1752)
Psaltike A book on the art of singing
Psalmodia “the use of the 150 Psalms…in worship” (ODB, 1752)
Sticherarion “a liturgical MS with musical notation, containing the stichera for Orthros and Vespers services throughout the year” (ODB)
Synaxarion Technically, lists of scripture readings for each day beginning with September 1st (ODB, 761); sometimes refers to short biographies of saints (ODB, 1341)
Tetraevangelion Full text of the four Gospels in NT order, with passages numbered in the margins (ODB, 761)
Theologia Theology
Theotokarion A collection of theotokia, or hymns “addressing and invoking the Theotokos,” i.e., the Virgin Mary, as the “God-bearer” (ODB, 2070)
Triodion A liturgical book, primarily of hymns
Troparion Earliest kind of Byzantine hymn, possibly odes or homiletic poems as well. Includes a refrain. (ODB, 120)
Tropologion Hymnody (CE, 811)4
Typikon May refer to a liturgical document that determines which hymns to sing each day, or may refer to rules for monastic communities (ODB, 2131-32)

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Notes

1The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, eds. Alexander P. Kazhdan, Alice-Mary Talbot, Anthony Cutler, Timothy E. Gregory, and Nancy P. Ševcenko, vols. 1-3 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991); and The Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity, eds. Ken Parry, David J. Melling, Dimitri Brady, Sidney H. Griffith, and John F. Healey (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1999).

2Not a Greek term.

3Michael Prokurat, Alexander Golitzin, and Michael D. Peterson, Historical Dictionary of the Orthodox Church, Religions, Philosophies, and Movements 9 (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1996), 257.

4The Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline, and the History of the Catholic Church, eds. Charles Herbermann, Edward A. Pace, Conde B. Pallen, Thomas J. Shahan, John J. Wynne, vol. 16 (New York: The Encyclopedia Press, 1914), 811.

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