Eleonora Lauro, Alongside the Text: Byzantine Metrical Paratexts in Gospel Manuscripts from Medieval Southern Italy


This paper aims to investigate the relationship between Byzantine metrical paratexts, also known as book epigrams, and the biblical text found in Gospel-Books and Lectionaries from medieval Southern Italy.

In the field of New Testament textual scholarship, recent years have witnessed an increased interest in aspects of manuscripts that extend beyond their textual content. Scholars now recognize that insights gained from studying scribal corrections and paratextual features help us to understand how texts were transmitted and received in historical contexts (Lanier-Han, 2021).

Despite this considerable shift in New Testament studies, Byzantine book epigrams and their affiliation to the biblical text remain an intriguing and less-explored domain. These paratexts represent an interesting research object for philologists and historians studying the manuscript tradition of the Greek New Testament. Often copied alongside the main text, book epigrams can help to establish genealogies between manuscripts. Moreover, they offer relevant information on the communities writing and reading these books.

Specifically, my research will consider the following questions:

  1. What kind of book epigrams can be found in Gospel-Books and Lectionaries produced in medieval Southern Italy? Are they original compositions or just conventional formulas?
  2. Do the metrical paratexts reveal specific regional and cultural influences? And how do they differ from Gospel-Books and Lectionaries from other regions?
  3. Are there thematic correlations between book epigrams and biblical text?
  4. Which reading strategies do the book epigrams prescribe?
  5. what is the relation between the chain of transmission of the metrical paratexts and that of the main texts?

This study will focus on a corpus of Byzantine book epigrams found in a selected group of Gospel-Books and Lectionaries produced in Southern Italy (10th-13th century). The combination of cultural exploration and examination of textual and extratextual features presents a model for integrating various disciplines to enrich our understanding of New Testament manuscript tradition.

Practical information

This lecture will be given at the international CSNTM Text & Manuscript Conference ‘Intersection. Interdisciplinary Approaches to New Testament Text and Manuscript Studies‘, organised by the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts in Plano (Texas).

The “Intersection” theme aims to explore how the many disciplines of the study of ancient Christian documents (paleography, art history, exegesis, paratext, linguistics, conservation, etc.) collaborate to help us better understand their content.

Date & time: Thursday 30 May 2024, 10:55 pm

Location: The Marriott at Legacy Town Center (7121 Bishop Rd Plano, TX 75024)


More information about this conference and the full programme can be found here.