Monks and Manuscripts– a 21st Century Middle Eastern Version
From the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Medieval manuscripts transcribed by monks, attempts to record and disseminate religious and historical information has been time-consuming affairs. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls beginning in the 1940s—documents that date as early as the 9th Century BCE—have proved to be richly rewarding to scholars researching early Jewish sects and particularly the early history of the Bible. By the 10th Century in Europe, hand-written manuscripts became perhaps the most popular means for the dissemination of knowledge across a variety of disciplines, including medicine and herbal remedies, beastiaries (animals), religion, and history, among others. As the Catholic church became centers of learning, monks developed a series of protocols for transcribing earlier texts into new manuscripts, complete with elaborate embellishments and illustrations. Today, Father Colomba Stewart—an American Benedictine monk—is picking up this tradition to save Islamic and Christian texts from destruction during the armed conflicts across the Middle East.
By Matteo Fogatto
February 23, 2017