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The Freer Logion

LogionThe Freer Library is once again open for business! In celebration, enjoy this informative post by librarian Mike Smith:

From The New American Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, c1971.

In certain editions of the Bible, a paragraph can be found at the end of the Gospel of Mark labeled "The Freer Logion." A logion is a saying attributed to Jesus. The earliest known manuscript that contains this extra paragraph, known to Jerome and considered canonical in the Roman Catholic Church, is the Codex Washingtonius, or Freer Manuscript of the Gospels in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution's Freer Gallery of Art.

Charles Freer, founder of the Gallery, disembarked in Egypt in December 1906the first of the three trips he was to take there. Soon after his arrival in Cairo, he purchased four Greek language manuscripts on parchment offered for sale by an antiquities dealer. These manuscripts were found to be the Gospels and the Epistles of Paul, Deuteronomy and Joshua, and the Psalms, dating variously from the the late fourth to the sixth century. 

Back home in Detroit the next year, Freer contacted the University of Michigan for expert investigation of the manuscripts, which later came to be known as the Washington Manuscripts after Mr. Freer gave his collection to the Smithsonian Institution. The University of Michigan eventually published facsimiles of them as well as scholarly analyses of their contents in the University of Michigan Studies Humanistic Series

The manuscripts are generally available only for strict scholarly research to ensure their preservation. In recent times the single time they have been publically displayed was for the centennial exhibition of their 1906 acquisition, titled In the Beginning: Bibles Before the Year 1000 organized by the Freer-Sackler Gallery. The facsmile of the Washington Manuscript, the scholarly studies on them, and the catalog for the 2006 exhibition are all in the collections of the Freer-Sackler Library and available here for public use and study.—Mike Smith

Selected Bibliography: 

Brown, Michelle P., editor. In the Beginning: Bibles Before the Year 1000. Washington, D.C.: Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 2006.

Facsimile of the Washington manuscript of the four Gospels in the Freer collection. Ann Arbor, Mich.: The University of Michigan, 1912. 

Gunter, Ann C. A Collector's Journey: Charles Lang Freer and Egypt. Washington, DC: Freer Gallery of Art in Assocation with Scala Publishers, 2002.

University of Michigan Studies. Humanistic Series. New York: Macmillan Company.

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