Byzantine Manuscripts

The collection of Greek manuscripts at Christ Church came with the bequest of Archbishop William Wake in 1737. Several were brought from Mount Athos in about 1724, and some are gifts from East European princes. However, for most it is not known how the Archbishop acquired them. In all there are 86 manuscripts, dating from the 9th to the 18th century. These include patristic writings, Biblical texts, chorographies, as well as mathematical treatises. This is one of the most valuable and least known collections of Greek codices in England.

To provide a viewing environment for these images, an interactive web application was built which allows use by scholars and students in the context of supporting descriptive material and bibliography. To access the fully digitized version of the manuscripts, as they are finalised by us, please click on the titles in the list below.

MS 5 - Nicephorus' Chorographia; Georgius Syncellus' Chronicle; Theophanes' Chorography (9th century)

The volume contains three historical treatises, among which a previously overlooked but complete manuscript of Theophanes' celebrated Chorography. The codex was incorrectly dated, but was reassessed by Nigel Wilson, who managed to establish its position in the stemma accurately. The style of script may be dated to the last two or three decades of the 9th century. This makes the Christ Church manuscript the oldest extant.

For an indepth study of the manuscript, see Nigel Wilson, A Manuscript of Theophanes in Oxford.


MS 42 - Byzantine Psalter and Odes (12th century)

This codex on parchment, is the work of one main scribe. Intriguingly, however, inserted in the volume are also a few pages on paper (ff. 49r-v, 86r-v and 132r-135-v) by a different hand. Apart from the Psalter (ff. 1r-253v), the manuscript includes the Odes (ff.  254r-274v) and the list of Easter calculations for the years 1184 to 1188 (f. 275v). For more details, see A 12th Century Byzantine Psalter Now Available in Digital Form.


MS 46 - Various Philosophical Works

An important 16th century manuscript containing : Nikephoros Blemmydes, Epitome Physica, Book II (ff. 1r-122v). Prolegomena to the nine chapters of the five voices (ff. 123r-132v). Synopsis of the five voices according to the teaching of John Italos (ff. 132v-179r). Prolegomena from the Introduction by Porphyry according to the teaching of Elias the philosopher (ff. 179r-199r). G. Apostolis, Epigram to the tomb of Georgios Zepes and three religious epigrams (f. 199v). M. Psellos, De omnifaria doctrina (199v-207v). ⟨Symeon Seth⟩, Astronomical treatises (ff. 208r-210v). Nikephoros Blemmydes, Epitome Logica (ch. 23-40) (ff. 211r-242v). Various pen-trials, diagrams and syllogisms (ff. 243r-248v). The volume also includes a detached flyleaf of notes by Archbishop W. Wake in Latin.

MS 49 - Miscellany of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Texts

The codex contains a variety of religious and historcal texts, with booklets dating from the 15th to the 18th centuries. It was most likely produced in Ioannina, Epirus, in Greece.

Detailed description - MS 49
Content - MS 49
The detailed descriptions above are by Dr Brendan Osswald. For more information, see Another important Greek Manuscript has been digitisedChrist Church Library Newsletter - Volume 12, Issue 2-3 (2020-21), pages 19-32 and Supplement.


MS 85 - Serenus' On the Section of a Cylinder (1704)

Greek manuscript on De sectione cylindri ascribed to Serenus, which was copied from three codices then held at the Royal Library in Paris for Henry Aldrich and placed by him at the disposal of Edmund Halley for his 1710 edition of Apollonii Pergaei conicorum libri octo et Sereni Antissensis De sectioni cylindri & coni libri duo.

Description - MS 85