Which approach does CBM apply?

Evaluation of catalogues of manuscripts

One of the first activities of the CBM project was the thorough evaluation of existing manuscript catalogue forms, on the one hand the local catalogues of the libraries and museums in which the manuscripts are housed (Athens, Paris, Moscow, Vatican etc.) and on the other hand the catalogues developed by specialised departments of research - NT and OT research, homiletics, the study of commentary manuscripts, liturgical en hagiographic studies etc.

The catalogues of the larger libraries were on the whole composed from a (classical) literary perspective and display a strong textual orientation. Manuscript contents are identified, numbered and indexed analytically, often in the shortest possible form. This implies that the integrity (wholeness) of the codices remained invisible, and little to no attention was paid to the fact that both biblical and liturgical manuscripts were subject to their very own rules of codex formation, whereby the integrity of the codex (codex form) was of utmost importance. CBM does not advocate isolating texts from a codex for research purposes.

New manuscript catalogues

Catalogues are the first entrances to the manuscripts that we have at our disposal and the manner in which they are set up is therefore crucial.

  1. CBM, because it pays attention to the Eastern Orthodox liturgical practice and the manner in which this tradition approaches the manuscripts that lie at the fundament of the tradition, studies in particular all liturgical aspects connected to codex formation. This implies, besides looking at lists and tables, pericope numbers and liturgical instructions in the margins, looking also at such issues as ornamentation, initials and script. With this integral method CBM differentiates itself from the traditional textually oriented approach. CBM also looks at ancient Jewish liturgical tradition and the formation and use of manuscripts in this tradition.
  2. CBM pays particular attention to manuscript provenance. Since the Renaissance the Byzantine manuscripts were no longer primarily associated with the liturgical practice from which they stem. This was not surprising, since these manuscripts were not needed for liturgical practice in the West, but for research ends. Research was text-oriented, as well as language oriented. For this reason they are often referred to as Greek manuscripts.
  3. CBM distinguishes between classical literature and ecclesiastical literature. In fact, to the present day, the classical literary approach is (quite unconsciously) being applied to the biblical corpora and even the liturgical manuscripts are approached from a textual point of view. CBM stresses that all these manuscripts were liturgical practice books, whereby the content and the form of the codices were shaped according to liturgical requirements. A whole new catalogue form is required to display this.
  4. CBM’s research considers the biblical and liturgical manuscripts as belonging to one body. Presently these are studied in isolated disciplines. The Byzantine liturgy was the practical framework within which both biblical and liturgical codices were used in connection with one another. During the course of one service, some eight to nine codex types of differing content (biblical, hymnographic, hagiographic etc.) are employed. For CBM this is reason not to study any one group of manuscripts in isolation. See CBM-Brepols Publicationplan.
  5. CBM has chosen to concentrate on the NT manuscripts (as part of the whole corpus of codices) in the first instance for practical reasons and also because here the lack of attention for the liturgical fundament is most visible. From Erasmus to Aland 28, western printed editions of the Bible have bundled the NT biblical books into a Novum Testamentum Graece, in a manner akin to the opera omnia of classical literary works. The Byzantine Bible itself however, was delivered in a variety of codex formations. These codex types were shaped by liturgical practice, such as the Tetraevangelion codex type. CBM also looks at the Tetraevangelion codex in more detail, in order to show how this codex is structured for liturgical use (see the description of Karakallou cod. 300 under Short Catalogue).
  6. CBM looks at the liturgical inter-functioning of the NT corpora as laid down in the Typikon, first in the biblical codices themselves and from the 8th / 9th century also in the independent Typikon manuscripts (initially named synaxarion / kanonarion). Typikon research has unfortunately been rather neglected in NT research. Yet it is the Typikon that provides the instructions and regulations for the liturgical use of the NT corpora. In other words, only with the help of the Typikon can one gain insight into the liturgical nature of the manuscripts. A current CBM PhD research project is providing a complete description of the entire network of interrelated liturgical readings and the required codices to perform the readings at the hand of one Byzantine Typikon of the Evergetis (12th century).
  7. CBM applies the liturgical approach to biblical and patristic codices, as it does also to liturgical manuscripts in the more narrow sense (Euchologion, Horologion, and so on). This implies looking at the:
    • liturgical origin of biblical books in early Christian communities, in close relationship to Jewish biblical and liturgical tradition;
    • selection and composition of biblical books into liturgical corpora intended to be used in churches and monasteries;
    • liturgical usage of biblical books in worship, public reading and explanation, which led to the creation of new codex forms and compositions;
    • transmission and transformation of biblical codices in liturgical manuscripts.
    • The above are points of departure for the development of an appropriate cataloguing methodology and strategies.

Klick here for PDF: Spatial Character Biblical Codex


  • ‘Preamble: CBM explained: Leading principles, aim and methodology of the Catalogue of Byzantine Manuscripts Programme’ [by the Editors], in K. Spronk, G. Rouwhorst, S. Royé (eds.), A Catalogue of Byzantine Manuscripts in their Liturgical Context: Challenges and Perspectives, (Collected Papers resulting from the expert meeting of the Catalogue of Byzantine manuscripts programme held at the PThU in Kampen, the Netherlands on 6th to 7th November 2009), Brepols Publishers, Turnhout, 2013.
  • K. Spronk, ‘The study of the historical-liturgical context of the Bible: A bridge between ‘East’ and ‘West’?’, in A Catalogue of Byzantine Manuscripts in their Liturgical Context: Challenges and Perspectives.
  • S. Alexopoulos, ‘The place of the Typikon in the codico-liturgical method’, in A Catalogue of Byzantine Manuscripts in their Liturgical Context: Challenges and Perspectives.
  • S. Alexopoulos and D. Tzerpos (†), ‘The necessity and challenges of a liturgical series in the Catalogue of Byzantine Manuscripts’, in A Catalogue of Byzantine Manuscripts in their Liturgical Context: Challenges and Perspectives.
  • M. Garzaniti, ‘Greek and Slavic manuscripts with biblical content. Annotations toward the construction of new catalogues’, in A Catalogue of Byzantine Manuscripts in their Liturgical Context: Challenges and Perspectives.
  • S. Royé, “An Assessment of Byzantine Codex and Catalogue Research. Towards the Construction of a New Series of Catalogues of Byzantine Manuscripts”, Sacris Erudiri 47 (2008), pp. 5-145.
  • S. Royé, The Inner Cohesion between the Bible and the Fathers in Byzantine Tradition. Towards a codico-liturgical approach to the Byzantine biblical and patristic manuscripts, Tilburg: Orthodox Logos, 2007. [PhD dissertation]
  • J. Lena [forthcoming Diss.], The Panegyrikon Codex in its Embedded Liturgical Function as Basis for a new Catalogue Model of Panegyrikon Codices [to be published in CBM Brepols Subsidia Series].

Klick here for the CBM Publication Plan