This past week we were visited by two scholars from the Textual History of the Ethiopic Old Testament (THEOT) project. Made up of scholars from around the world, THEOT’s director Steve Delamarter and his assistant Jeremy Brown, both from George Fox University, spent a day examining and digitizing our Ethiopic manuscripts from the J. Rendel Harris Collection.
The goal of the THEOT project is to reconstruct the textual history of the Ethiopic Old Testament by sampling passages from each book of the bible from a couple dozen important manuscripts from around the world. While one particular manuscript at Haverford was of great interest to the project team, they were kind enough to digitize all six of our Ethiopic texts.
Steve and Jeremy began their day by setting up their digitization equipment in the library’s group study room. They came loaded down with laptops, cameras, camera stands and tripods, and got to work imaging the manuscripts and creating quire maps of the page signatures. Taking the better part of the day to get through all six manuscripts, they imaged the works from cover to cover (including, of course, the covers), shot additional close-ups of important details, and analyzed the foliation of each manuscript by creating “quire maps.” The resulting digital files, such as these images of a prayers and hymns manuscript (RH 23a), will be a great boon to our faculty and students, as well as to scholars from afar.
At the end of the day while the images were being processed on their computers we were able to show them a few other gems from the J. Rendel Harris Collection, including a rare 14th-century Samaritan Pentateuch. We’re grateful to Steve and Jeremy for making time in their schedule to visit and work with our manuscripts. This type of cooperative work in collections digitization is a win-win for all involved!