Crocodiles, Mummies, Homer’s Iliad and a Seminary Library

Those who have been Logos customers for awhile, those who follow our every move, may remember a blog post from over 2 years ago on a robotic book scanner. This is the APT Bookscan 1200; we’ve even got another web page describing it, with a video of the machine in action.
Many of the books that we put up on our Community Pricing page (to explore and see if there is enough interest in them as Logos books to pre-pub them) come from page scans that the book scanner made.

Don’t worry, we’re getting to the crocodiles. And the mummies. Actually, we’ll be getting to crocodile mummies.

Really! Just please be patient; there’s a lot of background to go through first.

But we do something else with these images. We have all of the books we’ve scanned up on a subscription service (targeted toward college/seminary use by students and faculty) called SeminaryLibrary.com. What is SeminaryLibrary.com? Here’s the about blurb:

SeminaryLibrary.com is the perfect desktop companion to your present Bible software and print library. SeminaryLibrary.com is a good place to go for the books you don’t already own in print or digital form. Think of SeminaryLibrary.com as a collection of over 6200 8000 books you would love to have access to but are not likely to purchase or keep at your finger tips. These are the books for which you would plan a trip to the library or the books you would look up on microfiche. These are the valuable, but less frequently used books. They are too valuable to take out of circulation but too costly to reprint. These are the books that cause institutions to build large buildings just to house these titles for future generations. Unless you live near a large seminary library, you are probably not even aware of most of these titles and will never have an opportunity to view them or use them, until now.

I poke around SeminaryLibrary.com with some frequency. (Here’s a recent example of other content I found in SeminaryLibrary.com)
I did some “poking around” awhile back, looking further into what kind of papyrological resources were available in the library. I just searched for where “papyri” occurred in book metadata (title, subjects, etc.). Yes, this is all “rabbit trail” stuff; but I still think it’s pretty cool, and a pretty decent example of Facilitating Serendipitous Discovery. Here’s what happened:

  1. Search SeminaryLibrary.com for “papyri”.
  2. Come across the Tebtunis Papyri volume. Cool! Read the front matter. Realize that these are papyrus fragments retrieved from cartonage of crocodile mummies! (really, see a picture of them!)
  3. Still paging through book on SeminaryLibrary.com. Wow, there’s a fragment from Homer’s Iliad (Book II) that was stuffed in crocodile mummy cartonage? Check it out:
  4. Search Google for more info on “Tebtunis”.
  5. Come across The Center for the Tebtunis Papyri at the Bancroft Library at Berkeley.
  6. View the webcast “Ancient Egypt and the Tebtunis Papyri” (look for item at 2:20 PM) and learn even more.
  7. Poke around Tebtunis Papyri site. Whoa, this stuff is catalogued in APIS! (Advanced Paprylogical Information System). That means you can search the catalogue!
  8. Search the APIS catalogue for where ‘Homer’ occurs in APIS items associated with Berkeley. There are 24 entries from Berkeley that reference ‘Homer’. Some have images. Here’s one that is pretty cool and actually has rather readable images.
  9. Even cooler: Here’s the catalogue entry for the item referred to above (P.Tebt.1.004) which aligns with the volume/numbering in Grenfell & Hunt’s volume. From here view images of the papyri themselves! (Make sure to zoom in to see the lettering)

Admittedly, this is a bit of a rabbit trail. But I thought it was interesting, and that it showed some of the usability of SeminaryLibrary.com. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the serendipity and perhaps have learned a few things to boot (Crocodile mummies? Yes!).
But all of this going-on about crocodile mummies really does have some applicability to Biblical Studies. One of the Tebtunis Papyri (P.Tebt.703) has some relevance to New Testament epistlography; particularly when considering the genre of First Timothy and Titus. I blog more about that over on PastoralEpistles.com. Had I not explored the SeminaryLibrary.com papyrological resources and dug a bit more into what the Tebtunis Papyri were all about, the references to P.Tebt.703 in several of the recent commentaries on the Pastoral Epistles (Witherington, Towner, L.T. Johnson) and introductions (Carson & Moo, plus Thielmann’s NT Theology volume) would’ve fallen on deaf (or at least somewhat hard-of-hearing) ears.
Don’t worry, I’ll return to blogging about stuff like Greek syntax shortly.

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