A person holding a certificate
Andrew Patton with his award

At the Postgraduate Research Festival held last Friday by the University of Birmingham Graduate School, two current members of ITSEE were awarded prizes for work relating to their research.

Andrew J. Patton, a doctoral student on the ERC-funded CATENA project was awarded the Michael K. O’Rourke prize for the best publication by a postgraduate in the College of Arts and Law. Andy’s article ‘Greek Catenae and the “Western” Order of the Gospels’ was published in open access in the leading New Testament research journal Novum Testamentum in December 2021. In it, Andy draws on the new comprehensive database of New Testament catena manuscripts created by the CATENA project to explain why seven Greek manuscripts copied after the ninth century have the gospels in the order Matthew, John, Luke, Mark: this sequence is a direct result of the catena commentary present in these manuscripts rather than the survival of an ancient ordering practice. The study is one of the most downloaded articles in the journal, with almost 1,800 full-text views so far, and provides a compelling answer to longstanding questions regarding this unusual arrangement and the reason behind it.

Gabriël Oberholzer, a student on the MA by Research degree based in South Africa and following the University’s distance-learning pathway, created a depiction of his work on a tenth-century Greek New Testament manuscript for the Images of Research competition. Not only was his photograph one of the 21 shortlisted entries, but Gabriël won the Runner-up prize in the People’s Choice Award, determined by a popular vote. Gabriël’s entry “Written Type”(with accompanying text) was as follows:

A keyboard and screen with a quill pen
Gabriël Oberholzer's winning image.

“This picture represents the marriage of an old handwritten manuscript with our modern world's digital technology. Ancient witnesses of the New Testament can be read, researched and preserved by employing the best that our information age has to offer. My research is intent on transcribing this manuscript with a special interest in its marginal commentary and notes. Exploring its unique contributions will deepen our understanding and appreciation of such manuscripts not just in academic circles, but ultimately through translation lead to the reader’s upliftment and spiritual edification. Without this marriage of Written-Type, these treasures will be lost.”

Congratulations to Andy and Gabriël on these well-deserved awards. I am delighted that Andy’s own research initiative has led to such an important publication, and blown away by Gabriël’s creativity in fusing ancient and modern approaches to manuscripts.

Prof. Hugh Houghton, Director of ITSEE