How to Quickly See Manuscript Information in INTF’s Database

If you try to find digitized Greek New Testament manuscripts through Google, you’ll likely find that search rather painful.

But once you’re familiar with INTF’s document ID system, it’s quite simple to use this ID to search their database.

From there, you can find detailed information about a particular manuscript, often including page images.

1. Find a Manuscript in the Database

When you load INTF’s Liste page, you’ll initially see the “Full Search” box as shown below.

Simply enter the proper document ID, then press enter or click the search button at the bottom of the pane (you might need to scroll down to see the button).

So, for instance, let’s say you want to consult manuscript 629. Since this is a minuscule, you’d search for “30629.”

You’ll then get just that one manuscript returned in the results in the left pane and a list of manuscript details in the right.

2. Find the Page You Need in a Given Manuscript

At this point, however, you still need to know where to look in this manuscript to find the text you want to review.

Sometimes, you might simply need to do this by paging through the manuscript’s images.

But INTF’s database often has at least some indexing available. To get to this, you’ll click the document ID number hyperlink (e.g., the “30629” shown in purple above).

This will take you to the manuscript work space. In the fly-over pane on the left-hand side, you can scroll up and down to review the middle “Content” column to find the particular page on which a given passage occurs.

So for instance, if you’re looking at something in 629 from Acts 1:1–12, you can find this on page 1. The recto has verses 1–6 (“1r”). The verso has verses 6–12 (“1v”).

You can click on any of these rows. Where it’s available, a transcription will then appear in the right-hand pane.

If you’re logged into INTF’s website, you’ll see in the image viewer INTF’s internal image for that page.

If INTF hasn’t granted you a user account, you may find the page image is restricted due to copyright (as shown above). In this case, you can follow the instructions in the image viewer area to request a user account.

(I’ve left the left-hand fly out menu open in the screenshot above to partly obscure the contact email address you’d use to request an account. You can see the full address by going to the manuscript work space for yourself and closing the left-hand fly out menu.)


INTF’s Liste search allows many more kinds of queries than pulling up any one manuscript.

But with the document ID handy, the Liste search makes it quite easy to see additional information about that manuscript—and possibly the manuscript itself.

Try looking up a manuscript for yourself. Does it have a transcription or publicly accessible images?

Header image provided by Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash

A Perspective on Adaptability and Productivity

Adaptability is a keystone of productivity.

You can find all manner of helpful advice about how to be more effective and productive. But not all of this advice is equally good for everyone at all times.

Force-fitting some guru’s advice into your situation may not be the best idea or give you the best results.

For you to work better requires you to be adaptable in your individual situation.

A Personal Example

What Normally Works

Normally, I time block my schedule so I can batch similar kinds of activities together.

Those activities might be research. They might be grading. They might be email.

For me in a “normal” week, that kind of discrete batching works well. I focus on one particular kind of activity for a while. And as needed, I use Freedom to help avoid “quick checks” distractions that dilute that focus.

When Circumstances Require Adaptability

But not all weeks are “normal,” let alone all days or months.

This is patently obvious amid recent efforts across the globe to address COVID-19. But I’d like to share a different story.

The Circumstances

Not long ago, my wife, Carrie, had an x-ray that showed she had a broken collar bone.

That meant she couldn’t lift anything with either arm, including our 18-month-old. And when you have an 18-month-old, you do a lot of lifting.

You might not think you do. But when you suddenly have restrictions on lifting, it’s surprising how many things you notice require lifting. 😉

All of this meant I was going to be home with Carrie and the kids rather than at the office.

It would have been best to have enough margin in my schedule so I didn’t have to worry about working while I was home with them. But that wasn’t the case.

There were still deadlines that had to be met and projects that had to get done. But what was normally an 8–9 hour continuous workday instantly became 2–4 hours very much spread out into comparatively small slices through the day.

And time blocking is pretty useless as a productivity strategy if

  1. you don’t know when you can schedule those time blocks or
  2. how long you can schedule them to run.

That didn’t really bother me. Being there for Carrie and the girls was an infinitely higher priority than anything else I had on tap for school.

But there were still things that had to get done for school.

The Adaptability

It took me a couple days. But I soon realized the best approach for me in those particular circumstances would be to rank my Todoist tasks for the day strictly in terms of priority—highest to lowest.

Whenever I had some time to work, I’d start at the top of the list and work down for however long until I needed to stop.

Whatever didn’t get done by the end of that day had to get rolled forward to a future day. But working from highest to lowest priority helped ensure that the things that didn’t get done were the things that weren’t as important anyhow.

This story’s twist is that about a week after the x-ray that showed Carrie had a broken collar bone, an MRI showed her collar bone was fine.

Instead, the problem was an inflamed shoulder joint. And she could start moving her shoulder and lifting again as much as she felt like until her shoulder got back to normal.

Two Lessons

From this story, I’d like to draw a couple lessons on the importance of adaptability to productivity.

1. Be Creatively Adaptable

First, productivity requires adaptability. You have to look for what works for you in your particular circumstances.

For instance, if you find yourself working from home while also taking care of kids, put it to yourself as an open question how you can creatively combine the two. Don’t assume they’re in conflict.

Sure, you can only put your attention on one thing at a time. But you’ll be more productive (not to mention, in this example, a better parent) if you take this situation as a challenge for your personal creativity to rise to rather than as an opportunity to bemoan how one obligation doesn’t allow you to focus fully on another.

2. Be a Whole Person

Second, recognize that you’re a whole person and need to live life as such.

You’re a spouse, a parent, a student, a teacher, a ministry leader in your church, and more.

Your life is complex. And because it’s complex, you might well be able to envision how your contributions in one area (e.g., school, church) could be better than you’re able to make them given everything else that’s also in your life.

It’s always good to prune lesser responsibilities that pull you away from those that are more important.

But once you’ve done that, you’ll still have a multi-faceted and complex life.—And that’s a good thing.

Give yourself grace to strive to do the best you can with the responsibilities in your life as a whole. And this may mean that one or some responsibilities don’t get everything you could imagine giving them in other circumstances.

But if you’ve pruned down to what’s really essential, “other circumstances” by definition means cutting or shirking something you consider essential. And long term, that’s a great recipe for regret.


So know what’s essential for you, and prune what isn’t.

And amid the complexities of what’s essential and the surprises life brings your way, stay adaptable and open.

Ask yourself the question “What’s best now?” And keep asking that question and being open to adjusting your answer to what your circumstances require.

What story do you have about how adaptability has proven key to your productivity?

Header image provided by Joshua Oluwagbemiga

How to Be Present Online amid COVID-19

In recent days, there’s been no shortage of announcements about plan changes and cancellations in the States due to increasing efforts to halt the spread of COVID-19. Education and biblical studies have been no exception.

The Society of Biblical Literature and Association of Theological Schools have both announced changes in plans or other advisories for upcoming meetings.

And a growing number of institutions have altered plans for spring classes. Many of these are at least temporarily moving online and away from the classroom.

Problems with Online Education?

Not least in theological education though, serious criticisms have sometimes been voiced about how appropriate online classes and programs are.

Do they adequately promote community? Do they adequately contribute to spiritual formation within that community?

Don’t they by definition run counter to what a formative community for theological education should really be?

Doesn’t the “online-ness” of online education necessarily involve the kind of absence that impoverishes theological education?

These questions bear serious and careful reflection, even and especially amid the need for appropriate and timely efforts to avoid fostering further spread of COVID-19.

Online and face-to-face education are obviously different. But the difference between the two isn’t a binary matter of presence or absence.

Instead, it’s a matter of different kinds of presence. And recognizing this fact paves the way for maintaining rich community—even when that community gathers online.

Thinking Differently about Presence

In his Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas observes that “a thing is wherever it operates.”1

So, “incorporeal things are in place not by contact of dimensive quantity, as bodies are, but by contact of power.”2

That is, physical bodies occupy space and are said to be in a particular place because they occupy that place’s space.

But incorporeal entities (e.g., God, the soul) are said to be in a particular place not because they “take up space” but because they exert power within that space.3

As it happens, cognitive, emotional, and social presence are incorporeal realities as well.

They may, therefore, be genuinely present through “contact of power”—through using one’s ability to act. And that ability may play out physically or in some other way.

All of this means that robust, formative community doesn’t have to go out the window if and when you find yourself engaging with others more online in coming days.

How a community interacts online will obviously be different from how they will interaction if everyone is sitting around a table together.

But there are any number of intensely practical ways to foster community as something that genuinely is there online.

Resources for Thinking about Presence in Online Education

If you’d like additional resources to help you consider what this may mean in your context, drop your name and email in the form below. I’ll then send you a couple articles that you might find helpful.

One goes deeper analyzing presence as I’ve summarized above.4 The other discusses how you can foster formative community in online education.5

The coming weeks are sure to see further adjustments as institutions continue grappling with how they want to help restrict COVID-19.

If those shifts take you increasingly online, I hope you’ll find these thoughts helpful as you work to maintain meaningful and formative community amid those changes.

How is your church, institution, or organization working to continue its mission while responding to COVID-19?

  1. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province, 22 vols. (London: Burns, Oates, and Washbourne, 1913), I.8.1. 
  2. Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I.8.2; see also Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I.8.3. 
  3. Cf. Thomas Aquinas, A Summa of the Summa, ed. Peter Kreeft, trans. The Fathers of the English Dominican Province (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1990), 103n62. 
  4. J. David Stark, “Being Present at a Distance,” Didaktikos 1.2 (2018): 12–13. 
  5. J. David Stark, “Gaming the System: Online Spiritual Formation in Christian Higher Education,” TEd 52.2 (2019): 43–53. 

Header image provided by Nathan Dumlao

What You Need to Know to Use INTF’s Document ID System

Once you understand INTF’s document ID system, you can easily call up any Greek New Testament manuscript in the database.

You can pull up a particular manuscript by either “ID” or “Name.” But for Greek witnesses, each document ID is a 5-digit code.

So once you’re familiar with the database’s conventions for this code, the “ID” search will probably be easiest.


For papyri, the 5-digit code begins with a “1.” It ends with the number of the papyrus. And it has either one or two zeros between these two, depending on how many a final 5-digit sequence requires.

Thus, for example, “10046” is the manuscript number for 𝔓46, and “10100” is the number for 𝔓100.


For majuscules, the 5-digit sequence starts with a “2.” It ends with the number of the majuscule. And it may have up to two zeroes between these two to fill out the sequence.

Some majuscules are cited by number. When this is the case, a majuscule number always has a leading zero.

Others are cited alphabetically (e.g., by a Hebrew, Greek, or Roman letter). If this is the case, you’ll need to find the numeric abbreviation for that majuscule.

If you’re using the Nestle-Aland’s 28th edition, you’ll find majuscule numbers in the “Codices Graeci” appendix starting on page 799.

Numeric majuscule abbreviations are also available in the second edition of Aland and Aland’s Text of the New Testament starting on page 107.

Thus, for instance, “20001” is the manuscript number for Sinaiticus where the “2” designates the manuscript as a majuscule, “01” is the manuscript designation in numerical system. And the remaining two zeroes fill out the five-digit sequence.


For minuscules, the 5-digit sequence starts with a “3,” ends with the number of the miniscule, and may have up to 3 zeroes between these two to fill out the sequence.

Your apparatus should already cite minuscules by number.

To look up 1881, then you’d simply search for “31881.” Or to search for 20, you’d search for “30020,” using a couple zeros ahead of the minuscule number to fill out the 5-digit sequence.


For lectionaries, the 5-digit sequence starts with a “4” but otherwise works like the sequencing for non-lectionary minuscules.


There’s more to INTF’s document ID system for other types of witnesses (e.g., Coptic, Latin, and Syriac).

But with just these basics, you’re well on your way to working with INTF document IDs for Greek witnesses to the New Testament.

Try it for yourself. Pick a Greek manuscript, and compose the INTF document ID for it as described above. Then post what you got in the comment box below.

Header image provided by Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash

What Do You Do When Your Critical Apparatus Is Confusing?

You’re working through a passage in a critical edition of the Greek New Testament.

You see some variations indicated in the apparatus. Only, for one of them, you’re confused about what the apparatus is about the reading of a particular manuscript.

You check the front matter for your Greek New Testament. You want to know if you’re missing or misinterpreting something in the apparatus.

As far as you can tell, you aren’t. You just aren’t exactly sure how to put together all the signs you see in the apparatus.

The commentaries and other resources you have on hand aren’t much help either.

What do you do next? The simplest solution might be to have a look at the manuscript you’re wanting to know more about.

Time to Check the Manuscript

If you try to read a Greek New Testament manuscript for yourself, you’d be right to come away with renewed appreciation for your printed, critical text.

Almost always, the critical apparatus makes it quite straightforward to see some of the different readings in different witnesses.

For this, New Testament students and scholars who don’t specialize in textual criticism are inexpressibly indebted to those who do. Critical editions of the Greek New Testament embody an inexpressible store of learned effort that’s been poured into their development.

Even so, you might sometimes not be exactly sure what the apparatus in that critical edition is telling you. And when that happens, it might be easiest to consult the cited manuscript.

Not so long ago, this would have required quite a bit of expense and travel. But now, it’s comparatively easy thanks to the excellent database provided by the Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung (INTF).

How to Check the Manuscript

If you’re coming from a critical edition in search of a manuscript scan, try starting with INTF’s online Liste. You can try starting elsewhere, but it’s probably easiest to begin here.

From the online Liste, there are various ways to find manuscript images. But one of the simplest to begin with involves 3 steps:

  1. Understanding INTF’s numerical document ID system,
  2. Finding the proper manuscript and page in INTF’s database, and
  3. Finding additional images for that page in that manuscript.

I’ll walk through each of these steps in coming weeks.

Manuscripts and Apparatuses

For now, if it seems a bit daunting to consult a manuscript scan, your intuition isn’t wholly misplaced.

By comparison with modern, printed, critical texts, manuscripts of the Greek New Testament are often “the wild west.”

But those manuscripts are about as “primary” as primary literature gets. And by comparison, even a critical apparatus is secondary commentary.

You might not be specializing in textual criticism. And in that case, you need to be comparatively more tentative judgments you make based on manuscripts themselves.

But let’s grant this. Let’s also grant that looking at scans of handwritten manuscripts can present some challenges and require some work.

Even so, you might well find they can sometimes be more transparent than their apparatus commentaries.


In the end, the situation is not at all unlike the difference C. S. Lewis describes between old and new books, which I’ve paraphrased below as it applies to this topic:

There is a strange idea abroad among students that New Testament manuscripts should be read only by professional text critics and that the amateur should content himself with the modern critical editions. Thus I have found as a tutor that if the average student wants to find out something about the text of the New Testament, the very last thing he thinks of doing is to look up a given manuscript and read it. He would rather read some list of witnesses in a modern critical edition ten times as long. The error is rather an amiable one, for it springs from humility. The student is half afraid to meet one of the great manuscripts face to face. He feels himself inadequate and thinks he will not understand it. But if he only knew, a given manuscript, just because of its character as a given manuscript is sometimes much more intelligible than its modern commentary. The simplest student of the Greek New Testament will be able to understand, if not all, yet a very great deal of what the manuscript says. It has always therefore been one of my main endeavors as a teacher to persuade students that first-hand knowledge is not only more worth acquiring than second-hand knowledge, but is usually much easier and more delightful to acquire.1Adapted from “On the Reading of Old Books,” in God in the Dock, 200.

What Greek New Testament manuscript would you like to access?

Header image provided by Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash

What You Need to Know about Editing Tables of Contents Styles

So you’re creating a dynamic table of contents in your document and want to format it as described in the Student Supplement for The SBL Handbook of Style.

You know you need to use styles to get the table of contents formatting to “stick.” But how?

If you’ve used heading styles, prepared an initial table of contents, and taken stock of what formatting needs adjustment, you can edit the relevant style in just 3 steps.

1. Open the “Styles” panel.

I’m assuming here that the formatting you need to change is what I’ve described.

If you need to make other adjustments, you can use the same principles described below to make those other changes too.

To start, go to the “Home” tab, and click the arrow in the lower right corner of the “Styles” section to show the styles panel.

2. Start to modify the “TOC 1” style.

Scroll in the alphabetical list of styles until you find the entry “TOC 1.”

Right click this listing, and choose “Modify….”

You’ll then see the “Modify Style” dialog box where you’ll need to make two changes.

2.1. Make “TOC 1” display in all capital letters.

First, go to “Format” (bottom left corner), and choose “Font….”

You’ll then see the “Font” dialog box.

Under “Effects” in the bottom third, find the option for “All caps,” and check this. Then click “OK.”

2.2. Give “TOC 1” a dotted line leader.

Then you should be back to the “Modify Style” dialog box. Here, go to “Format” again, and this time, choose “Tabs….”

Assuming you’re using the 1-inch left and right margins that the Student Supplement specifies on 8.5-inch wide paper, enter “6.5” in the “Tab stop position” box.18.5 inches, less one inch for each margin (left and right) means that the inner edge of the right-hand margin is 6.5 inches from the inner edge of the left-hand margin.

Then, under “Alignment,” choose “Right.” And under “Leader,” choose the second option for a dotted leader (……). Then click “OK.”

You’ll then see the “Modify Style” dialog box again.

If you need an extra blank line between each heading in your table of contents, edit this now by going to “Format.” Then choose “Paragraph…,” and change the spacing after the paragraph to 12 points. Then click “OK.” You’ll need to repeat this process on the style for each heading level in your table of contents (i.e., “TOC 2” through “TOC 9”).

Decide whether you want to use this modified TOC 1 style in other documents in the future.

If so, choose “New documents based on this template” at the very bottom of the dialog box.

If not, simply leave the default option “Only in this document” selected.

Then click “OK.”

3. Refresh your table of contents.

The font for the primary headings in the table of contents may change immediately. But to see the dotted line leaders, you’ll need to refresh the whole table.

To do so, right click inside the table, and choose “Update Field.” Then, choose the “Update entire table” option, and click “OK.”


Voila! You should now have a table of contents in your document that

  1. Follows the formatting required by the Student Supplement,
  2. Updates as you update your document, and
  3. Doesn’t need to take any more of your time with adjustments as you finalize your document.

Congratulations, and I hope you enjoy the time and attention you get to invest elsewhere now that you don’t have to manage your table of contents any more.

What kind of project have you used this dynamic table of contents for?

Header image provided by Kaitlyn Baker

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