Abilene Christian University celebrated the inauguration of the Center for the Study of Ancient Religions Texts, or CSART on Thursday. The center strives to inspire students and help them conduct research alongside established scholars. On Thursday, manuscripts that were written as long as 1700 years ago were featured.
They were on display in a quiet, temperature-controlled room guarded by a police officer in the Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies building.
Father Justin, a Librarian in the Monastery of St. Catharine at Mount Sinai, Egypt, was the guest speaker at the inauguration.
“There are three objects from the Museum of the Bible, in Oklahoma,” Father Justin said. “There’s a very, very beautiful, illuminated Byzantine Psalter.” “There’s a leaf written on papyrus of the Psalms, and then there is a bifolio from a manuscript that’s called Codex Climaci Rescritpus. This was the bible written in Christian Palestinian Aramaic that was later erased and the same leaves were used for the Syrian translation of St. John’s ladder of divine descent.”
Father Justin met with ACU Professor Dr. Jeff Childers in 2011, and the idea of the Center for the Study of Religious Texts was born. That idea came to life Thursday, with manuscripts being brought in for display.
Father Justin said he hopes the texts give students the confidence and training to look at unedited manuscripts. Dr. Mark Hamilton, Onstead Professor of Biblical Studies, hopes the center has a lasting impact on the School of Divinity and on ACU.
“Part of what we’re trying to do here is inspire people, and give them a sense of the big picture of what’s out there for the ancient world,” Hamilton said. “Texts as we think of them, as words that move around and are created and studied, but also texts as objects, that can be looked at as works of art and studied as works of art.”