Codex Climaci Rescriptus

The Codex Climaci Rescriptus (CCR) is a remarkable composite palimpsest manuscript, dating from the fifth to ninth centuries and preserving upward of nine different texts in three languages (Christian Palestinian Aramaic, Greek and Syriac). The leaves of the codex originally constituted several other codices that contained texts in Greek and Christian Palestinian Aramaic (CPA), including portions of the New Testament and saints’ lives. At some point, these codices were dissembled, the writing erased, and the folios reorganized into a new codex. This ‘recycled’ manuscript contains a Syriac translation of the writings of John Climacus, abbot at St Catherine’s Monastery at Mount Sinai in the seventh century. It is likely that the current codex was produced at St. Catherine’s Monastery in about the ninth century. The Museum of the Bible (MOTB) acquired the manuscript in 2009.

Teams around the world are involved in studying the manuscript and producing editions of its texts in different languages. In 2016 MOTB asked CSART to take the lead in studying, editing, and publishing the Syriac text of the topmost layer—the Ladder of Divine Ascent of John Climacus. The Ladder is a foundational classic text of eastern Christian spirituality. Though composed originally in Greek, it was translated into Syriac at an early stage. Apart from its importance in the spiritual heritage of Syriac churches, the Syriac text of the Ladder (along with other versions) will play an important role in the study of the entire Climacus tradition and eventual publication of a critical Greek text, which still does not exist.

CSART coordinates mentors and students at ACU and elsewhere in gathering data on the text from CCR and other manuscripts in preparation for eventual publication. We are glad to have generous support for this project from MOTB.

Portion of Step 27, Ladder of Divine Ascent (CCR, f.120r)

Museum of the Bible, photograph by Ardon Bar Hama