Welcome to Biblaridion, or 'little scroll'. On this 'little scroll' will be written my various and sundry musings on myriad topics but especially on the Bible.

Location: Plano, Texas, United States


Dallas Biblical Arts Museum Destroyed By Fire

A raging fire broke out at the Dallas Biblical Arts Museum yesterday, and according to some reports it destroyed 80-90% of the museum's treasures. According to a report by NBC5i, "the building did not have a sprinkler system because of its age." As if all of this weren't bad enough, it appears that arson is suspected.

The museum housed many beautiful works of biblical art (with a few that I think might have dated back to the 9th or 10th centuries - at least at one time) and featured exhibits from time to time. I particularly remember visiting exhibits there on rare bibles and on the Dead Sea Scrolls. What a loss for the community!


Ancient Gall Ink

When reading books on textual criticism and palaeography, I have often noted references to "gall ink" or "ink made from nut galls" in sections dealing with the making of ancient manuscripts. "What in the world is a nut gall?" I'd briefly wonder and then continue on with my reading. I never really thought to look it up until recently when I was reading one of the new sections in the fourth edition of The Text of the New Testament by Bruce Metzger and Bart Ehrman and stumbled across the following interesting information:
An oak gall is a curious ball-like tumor, about the size of a small marble, that grows mainly on the leaves or twigs of oak trees. It is formed when the gall wasp lays its egg in the growing bud of the tree and a soft, pale green, apple-like sphere begins to form around the larva.

These "tumors", or "galls", contain tannic acid. They were ground and mixed with iron sulfate, gum arabic, and liquid (eg. rainwater, beer, or wine) to form an indelible black ink.

Though it is hard to determine when gall ink was first used, it is often mentioned that Pliny the Elder (23 -79 AD) recorded an experiment in which he noted the reaction of iron sulfate on a sheet of papyrus that had been soaked in tannic acid:

The fraud may also be detected by using a leaf of papyrus, which has been steeped in an infusion of nut-galls; for it becomes black immediately upon the genuine verdigris being applied.

Pliny the Elder, The Natural History, Book 34 Chapter 26

However, in spite of this observation by Pliny, it appears that iron gall ink was not in use until centuries later. Martianus Capella, of the 5th century, records a recipe for a writing ink described as "gallarum gummeosque commixtio". The use of iron gall ink eventually became popular and wide-spread due to the fact that it does not easily rub off or erase.

Iron gall ink turns light brown over time (as can be seen in this image of a fragment from Euclid's Elements of Geometry). The acidic properties of iron gall ink are corrosive and can destroy important historical documents as they age. The Ink Corrosion Website presents tons of interesting information on iron gall ink and on conservation efforts.

Here are a few other related links that might be of interest:


Purple Parchment

I recently took a trip to a local seminary library hoping to find some good information on purple parchment manuscripts of the New Testament. Since many of the purple manuscripts are closely related textually and in time, I was hoping to find some detailed information about why they might have been created, where, and for whom. Unfortunately, my short trip was rather frustrating and I simply could not find the information I was looking for, so I'm afraid I don't have much to post on the subject, but I will provide a few links that might be of interest.

There are quite a few manuscripts on purple parchment that were most likely dyed using purple secretions from a mollusk known as the Murex Trunculus. The most well known of these manuscripts of the New Testament are probably Codex Purpureus Petropolitanus (N), Codex Sinopensis (O), Codex Rossanensis (Σ), and Codex Beratinus (Φ), all written in the sixth century. In addition to their expensive purple dye, the manuscripts were also written in silver and/or gold ink and contained elaborate illustrations of Biblical scenes.

In reaction to such extravagance, that was also apparently common in the 4th century, the church father Jerome stated in one of his epistles that "Parchments are dyed purple, gold is melted into lettering, manuscripts are decked with jewels, while Christ lies at the door naked and dying."

I was able to find some excellent images of Codex Purpureus Rossanensis (just click on the numbers), though they are mostly illustrations. Codex Rossanensis is kept in the Museo Diocesano di Arte Sacra. (There is a link in the middle of the page, Codex Purpureus Rossanensis, that will take you to more information and some images of the codex. The information is in Italian, so you might make use of Babelfish if you are like me and do not know the language.) Ever wanted your own copy of the beatiful Codex Rossanensis? Well, now you can have one if you have some spare change lying around. The Skriptorium has a reproduction of Rossanensis for sale on their website.

I was also able to find a few images of Codex Beratinus on the website of UNESCO. According to an interesting document about Codex Beratinus on the UNESCO website, the nomination form for Codex Beratinus for the "Memory of the World Register":

In the 1970s, in accordance with an intergovernmental agreement, the “Codex Purpureus Beratinus Ф” was sent to China, where it was restored using the technique of hermetically sealing the pages in a vacuum between two sheets of glass. After being restored, the “Codex Purpureus Beratinus Ф” was divided into nine volumes, which are now kept at the Albanian National Archives in Tirana, in a strongroom financed by UNESCO.

There are plenty of other purple manuscripts of both the Old and New Testament. Hopefully I'll find some more interesting information about them one of these days. If anyone knows of a good resource on purple manuscripts, please post a comment. Thanks.


Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith

I don't intend for my blog to become a movie review blog, but I finally saw the final Star Wars episode yesterday and had to share a few nit-picky, disconnected observations.

  • Why was a robot blown off a star fighter in space by what could only have been wind flowing over the wings?
  • Why did Obi-Wan tell Anakin that he must be lost to the dark side because only they would speak in absolutes, yet later Obi-Wan accuses the Chancelor of being "evil"?
  • Why does Yoda walk stooped over with a cane if he can twist, twirl, and fly through the air with a light-sabre to defeat his foe?

    It was interesting to notice that the buttons, lights, gadgets, and sets toward the end of the movie began to look more simple and 70's-like, probably to mesh with the next movie in the series (which was actually the first Star Wars). Ok, so maybe I think too deeply. It is only a movie, after all.

    Overall, I found the movie to be very entertaining though also rather dark and depressing. Watching someone who wants to be good turn bad is not very pleasant. However, all the incredibly intricate and detailed computer graphic eye-candy shown on the large screen by a Digital Light Projector (DLP) was fantastic and more than made up for any short-comings in my opinion.

  • 6.02.2005

    Stubborn Boy...

    The Way Home (2002)

    I enjoy watching the occasional movie, especially foreign films. Foreign films become, for me, a small window on the world from which I may glimpse far away places and snippets of lives that are lived differently than my own. At the same time, they always seem to contain universal life-truths with which we can all identify.

    A Korean film, The Way Home, was my most recent selection from the local video store. I'm not sure exactly what attracted me to it, but I'm wonderfully pleased to have discovered this little gem.

    It is the enchanting story of a very spoiled and stubborn young city boy who learns quite a lot about life and love during a stay with his elderly Grandmother in a remote mountain village. The Grandmother, who happens to be both deaf and mute, shows her grandson the true meaning of unconditional example. She seems a near perfect model of patience, humility, and loving-kindness. The example she sets is one I wish I and the world would follow.

    The performances were excellent. Many of the actors were locals, and the Grandmother, it is said, had never even seen a movie before acting in this one.

    There are so many interesting issues in this movie that each person may take away from it something just a little different. One might reflect on the Grandmother's saintly example of love and how they might find the will and the way to mirror it in their own life. Or, perhaps one might think upon the many differences between the young and old, or between city life and rural life. Then again, maybe others will simply enjoy it as it is, a film which plays on harp-strings of emotion and paints beautifully picturesque mountainside scenes.

    Bryan gives this film two thumbs way up! Apparently, so do a lot of other people!