The remote monastery dedicated to St Catherine at the foot of Mt Sinai has recently made the news after an attack by gunmen affiliated with the Islamic State.

It is valued by pilgrims and scholars for its religious heritage, and especially its rich library with more than 3,000 manuscripts, most famously the Codex Sinaiticus—the oldest copy of the Bible, and possibly the only substantial book to have survived from the days of the Roman Empire.

The Library of Congress in Washington, DC has an extensive microfilm collection with details of the collection at St Catherine’s shortly after the end of World War II. The LOC web site describes these materials as follows:

In 1949, Kenneth W. Clark, led an expedition to the Middle East under the auspices of the Library of Congress and its partners, to microfilm old manuscripts in various libraries of the Middle East, the largest and most isolated of which was that at St. Catherine’s. His group evaluated the 3,300 manuscripts held there and chose 1,687 for filming.  Finally, the group also prepared under his direction a Checklist of Manuscripts in St. Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai Microfilmed for the Library of Congress (1950), which gave researchers access to both the manuscripts microfilms and the black and white transparencies. The microfilm collection is in the custody of the Humanities and Social Sciences Division, where it still may be requested.

The Library of Congress has recently the digitized microfilms prepared by the Clark expedition in 1949 so that the material can be accessed by scholars around the world. The descriptions of the manuscripts in the Checklist have also been edited and updated as part this process.

>> LOC Manuscripts in St Catherine’s Monastery, Mt Sinai

 

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