Arabic and Greek New Testament manuscripts: Identities and Digital cultures

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Claire Clivaz

    Université de Lausanne

  2. 2. Sara Schulthess

    Université de Lausanne

  3. 3. David Bouvier

    Université de Lausanne

  4. 4. Herman Teule

    University of Nijmegen

Work text
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This research project is supported by the Swiss National Fund under the form of a 3 years grant for a PhD in Arts and Humanities on New Testament, Ancient Greek and Christian Arabic traditions, as interdisciplinary project (2013-2016). It tries to analyse the global disinterest of the Western research for the Arabic manuscripts of the New Testament (NT) since 1945, and the recent growing-up attention for them among Middle-East Christians and some Western scholars, as well as the interest of certain Muslim circles for the Greek and Arabic NT manuscripts, in particular on websites. This project explores the necessary transformations of a classical philological field to study such a phenomenon. The digital culture is the common factor that allows to Western and non Western scholarship to cross over these ancient objects: the digital support of writing requires to use sociology, philology, history, and epistemology to analyse the hybrid cultural objects that it creates.

Fig. 1:
The first step of the project is to enlighten, according to the approach of the cultural studies, the history of research of the field. The second step is to demonstrate the usefulness of the Arabic manuscripts by doing and studying the list of the Pauline Arabic manuscripts, and to investigate the weight of the language and the culture on the text by editing the First Corinthians in the manuscript Vat. Ar. 13. The third step is to understand the identity polemics on the Christian and Muslim websites studying Greek and Arabic manuscripts of the New Testament. The Digital Humanities epistemology offers here the general background to decipher what happens in a classical philological field of study.

Fig. 2: Codex Sinaiticus (Mk 1.1) on a Salafist Muslim website; page=3 (06.03.2014)
Beyond the printed culture, the digital support of writing leads by itself to reconfigure the boundaries of knowledge: in such a project, not only diverse ancient languages are required (Greek, Arabic, Latin), or classical codicology and philology, but also deep epistemological inquiries, with the help of sociology (network analysis), pedagogy (multiliteracies), and other disciplines. Finally, one assists to the emergence of an interdisciplinary terra incognita: a hybrid cross-cultural scholarship. New concepts and points of view are here to be used and created.
More generally speaking, this project participates to the debate about new models of digital critical edition: are we ready to renounce to a stabilized text, in favour of open-ended texts on websites, allowing to integrate comments, diverse languages and images of manuscripts? The digital edition of Homer is going in the sense of a history of reading, rather than to offer a “definitive” text ( The example of the present research project underlines that the notion of text is more and more replaced by the “document” in a digital cultural perspective. This project hopes also to demonstrate that we are going from a knowledge based on the general relationship subject-object, to an intersubjective knowledge, developed in networks: for example, how are we going to integrate new forms of academic productions in our analysis, such as blogs and Internet forum?
In this mind, we want to challenge the complexity of our project with a website ( offering the possibility of going above the limits of the printed media.

Arbache S., L’Évangile arabe selon saint Luc. Texte du VIIIe siècle, copié en 897. édition et traduction, Bruxelles, Safran, 2012.
Clivaz C., “Homer and the New Testament as ‘Multitexts’ in the Digital Age?”, in SRC 3 (2012/3), 1-15 ; open access :
Clivaz C., “Internet Networks and Academic Research: the Example of the New Testament Textual Criticism”, in Clivaz C., Gregory A., Hamidovic D., in collaboration with Schulthess S. (eds.), Digital Humanities in Biblical, Early Jewish and Early Christian Studies (Scholarly Communication Series 2), Leiden, Brill, 2013.
Clivaz C., Hamidovic, D., “Critical Editions in the Digital Age”, in The Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media and Textuality, Ryan M.-L., Emerson L., and Robertson B. (eds.), forthcoming.
Griffith S.H., The Bible in Arabic: The Scriptures of the ‘People of the Book’ in the Language of Islam, Princeton/Oxford, Princeton University Press, 2013.
Kashouh H., The Arabic Versions of the Gospels. The Manuscripts and their Families (Arbeiten zur neutestamentlichen Textforschung 42), Berlin, de Gruyter, 2011.
New London Group. “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures”, in Harvard Educational Review 66, no. 1 (1996), pp. 60–92.
Schulthess S., “Die arabischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments in der zeitgenössischen Forschung: ein Überblick”, in Early Christianity 3(4) (2013), pp. 518-539
Schulthess S., “Les manuscrits du Nouveau Testament, le monde arabe et le digital. L'émergence d'un discours hybride». in Clivaz C., Meizoz J., Vallotton F., Verheyden J. (eds.), in collaboration with Bertho B. (eds.), Lire Demain. Des manuscrits antiques à l'ère digitale / Reading Tomorrow. From Ancient Manuscripts to the Digital Era, PPUR, 2012, pp. 333-344
Thomas, D.R. (ed.), The Bible in Arab Christianity, Leiden, Brill, 2007.

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2014
"Digital Cultural Empowerment"

Hosted at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Université de Lausanne

Lausanne, Switzerland

July 7, 2014 - July 12, 2014

377 works by 898 authors indexed

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Conference website:

Attendance: 750 delegates according to Nyhan 2016

Series: ADHO (9)

Organizers: ADHO