Four Gospels in Greek (Manuscript 18; GA 2120)

Collection ID





ca. 1100–1200






Ink on Parchment


262 folios, 6.1 × 5.2 in. (15.5 × 13.2 cm)

Exhibit Location

Deaccessioned October 2018, returned to University of Athens

The manuscript contains all four canonical Gospels in order. The manuscript is written in a neat, minuscule hand with brown ink. Modern numbers have been stamped in black ink at the top of each folio. Each Gospel begins with an illuminated letter that is approximately three lines high. Each Gospel has an ornate headpiece above the rubrics for the name of the Gospel. Throughout, there are rubrics in red or purple ink. There are annotations in the margins throughout the manuscript. On folio 262 is a colophon signed by “Theodore, the sinful and reckless monk.” Inside the cover are pastedowns of printed text in Church Slavonic. Until the 1990s, the manuscript had an additional folio, number 263, that contained a lengthy inscription. For more information, please see

Made in Greece, ca. 1100–1200, by two scribes, the priest Damianos and “Theodore, the sinful and reckless monk.”[1] Medieval ownership or use by someone named “Manoloi,” and others.[2] Acquired by Professor Spyridon Lampros (1851–1919), scholar and statesman;[3] By descent in 1919 to Lina Tsaldari (1887–1991), Lampros’s daughter, assistant, and heir;[4] Donated in 1964 to the library of the Seminar of Byzantine and Modern Greek Philology of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.[5] Stolen from the university’s history museum sometime between 1987 and 1991.[6] Sold at auction December 1, 1998.[7] Acquired by Rick Adams, uncertain dates of acquisition and sale.[8] Acquired by Sam Fogg; Privately purchased in 2010 by Green Collection, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Donated in 2014 to Museum of the Bible, Washington, DC; Deaccessioned and returned to National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in October 2018.

Notes: [1] Research on the manuscript by Dr. Tommy Wasserman of Ansgar Teologiske Høgskole in Kristiansand, Norway, shows that the priest Damianos likely copied all four Gospels. At some point, Theodore copied the Gospel of John, and it was substituted for the original. [2] Based on medieval notations on the flyleaves. Two names, Demetre and Christina, are modern additions. In June 2020, Wasserman discovered that the signatures of Demetre and Christina were not present in the 1960s, when the manuscript was photographed by representatives of the Institut für Neutestamentliche Forschung in Münster, Germany. These photos are on the institute’s website, the New Testament Virtual Manuscript Room. The two signatures were added at some time before the 1998 Sotheby’s auction, and appear in the catalog description of the manuscript. [3] It is uncertain how and when Professor Lampros acquired the manuscript. Hermann von Soden listed it in Lampros’s possession in his 1902 publication, and Caspar René Gregory mentions that he saw it in 1904. [4] It is unclear what role Mrs. Tsaldari had, if any, in the 1923 publication of Lampros’s collection. [5] The prologue of Zoras’s catalog records the donation. [6] The dates are established by a delivery receipt dated April 30, 1987, and a history museum letter from 2015 that mentions an inventory done in 1991 that did not find the manuscript. The university supplied copies of both documents to Museum of the Bible. [7] Sotheby’s catalog Western Manuscripts and Miniatures, 1 December 1998 contains a description of the manuscript on pages 38–40. The description incorrectly identifies the scribe and dates the manuscript a century later. It also includes a reference to the inscriptions by Demetre and Christina that were not present in the 1960s. [8] Ownership established by bookplate inside the front cover.

Selected Rreferences:

Sotheby’s, Western Manuscripts and Miniatures, Lot 67 (Sotheby’s, December 1, 1998).

Kurt Aland, ed., Kurzgefaßte Liste der griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments, 2nd ed. (De Gruyter, 1994).

Kurt Treu, Der Schreiber am Ziel: Zu den Versen Ὥσπερ ξένοι χαίρουσιν ... und ähnlichen, Studia Codicologica, Texte und Untersuchungen (Akademie Verlag, 1977), 473–492.

Kurt Aland, Die griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments. Ergänzung zur ‘Kurzgefaßten Liste‘ (Fortsetzungsliste VII), I. Korrekturen und Ergänzungen zur ‘Kurzgefaßte Liste,‘ Materialien zur Neutestamentlichen Handschriftenkunde (De Gruyter, 1969), 1–38.

Gregorios Zoras and P. K. Bouboulidou, Κατάλογος χειρογράφων κωδίκων (Seminar of Byzantine and Modern Greek Philology, 1964).

Kurt Aland, ed., Kurzgefaßte Liste der griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments (De Gruyter, 1963).

Spyridon Lampros, Καταλογος των Κωδικων των εν Αθηναις Βιβλιοθηκων πλην της Εθνικης Νεος Ελληνομηνημων, Τριμηνιανον Περιοδικον Συγγραμμα Συντασσομενον εκ τον Καταλοπτων του Σπυρ. Λαμπρου (The Phoenix, 1923), 17:296–297.

Hermann von Soden, ed., Die Schriften des Neuen Testaments in ihrer ältesten erreichbaren Textgestallt—hergestellt auf Grund iher Textgeschichte, 1. Teil, 1. Abteilung (Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1911).

Caspar René Gregory, Die griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments (J.C. Hinrichs’sche Buchhandlung, 1908).;view=1up;seq=124

Articles in the media about the return of Manuscript 18 to Greece:

Emily Jones, “Museum of the Bible Finds Long Lost Copy of Greek New Testament Bible,” CBN News, August 19, 2018,

Mark A. Kellner, “Museum of the bible returns stolen Gospels manuscript,” The Christian Century, August 14, 2018,

“Βυζαντινό χειρόγραφο του 12ου αιώνα που χάθηκε το 1991 επιστρέφει από ΗΠΑ στην Ελλάδα,” Εθνικος Κηρυξ, September 13, 2018 (originally August 22)

Elijah Hixson, “Museum of the Bible and Repatriation (GA 2120),” Evangelical Textual Criticism (blog), August 11, 2018,

Roberta Mazza, “From Athens to Washington via London: The story of a stolen and found medieval codex of the four Gospels,” Faces and Voices (blog), August 15, 2018, Giannes Papadopoulos, “Η περιπέτεια ενός μεσαιωνικού χειρογράφου,” Η Καθημερινη, September 13, 2018 (originally August 20),

“Byzantine manuscript, missing for 27 years, to be returned to Greece,” Medievalists.Net (blog), August 16, 2018,

Mark A. Kellner, “Museum of the Bible returns medieval manuscript after discovering item’s theft,” Religion News Service, August 13, 2018,

Religion News Service, “Medieval manuscript returned after museum discovers it was stolen,” Richmond Free Press, August 16, 2018,

Questions about our Collections?

Visit Contact Us Page

(866) 430-MOTB

To acquire permission to use this image, please visit our Rights and Reproduction page .

More From The Collections

Paris Pocket Bible

ca. 1230–1260
Paris, (France), or possibly England

Gospel Book (“Evanis” Gospels / GA 2929)

ca. AD 1050–1100
© Museum of the Bible 2024
Designed by PlainJoe