Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Mapping the Epistles of Paul

You can now read and explore the world's oldest existing manuscript of the letters of St. Paul as an interactive map. The University of Michigan's Epistles of Paul presents the original manuscript of the letters of St.Paul as an interactive Leaflet map, shown side-by-side with a modern translation of the text.

If you click on the text icon in the map menu then all the lines in the original manuscript are made interactive. Now if you mouse-over a line on the manuscript the corresponding line is highlighted in the translation. The translated text also includes interactive footnotes. These footnotes mostly explore some of the differences in the historical manuscript from the standard text of the New Testament.

The thirty leaves of the manuscript held by the University of Michigan were written in about 200 C.E. and were found in Egypt in the 1930's. The Epistles are written in ancient Greek. The original manuscript was written without word division, punctuation, headings, or chapter and verse numbers. So even if your ancient Greek is very good you still might need the help of the modern translation.

The Epistles of Paul viewer was made using Jack Reed's Leaflet-IIIF, which is JavaScript library for viewing IIIF images with a Leaflet.js interactive map. IIIF is a format which is used by museums, newspapers and galleries around the world for presenting and sharing digitized images. A IIIF viewer is a tool for presenting artworks and digitized records in a form like an interactive map. A IIIF viewer essentially allows you to pan around and zoom in and out on a digitized image like you would on an interactive map.

Many museums and libraries around the world have created IIIF manifests for their collections of vintage maps. The Leaflet-IIIF Leaflet plug-in is therefore a fantastic resource for presenting and exploring vintage maps from many of the world's largest map collections. In the Epistles of Paul the plug-in has been used to present an interactive interface for reading an original historical manuscript. The plug-in can obviously be also used as an interface for exploring vintage maps which have been made available as IIIF manifests.

For example my Matthew Paris' Map of Britain uses the Leaflet-IIIF plug-in to present a short story-map of Matthew Paris' Map of Britain. Matthew Paris' Map of Britain is one of the first ever geographical maps of Britain. It was made by Matthew Paris, a 13th Century monk.

My story-map examines some of the geographical errors Matthew Paris' made in his map of Britain in order to better understand the geographical conception he had of Britain in the 13th Century. The map also includes modern English translations of medieval place-names. Just click on the place-names on the map to view the names we now use for these towns and cities.

My map uses the IIIF manifest of Corpus Christi College's manuscript of Matthew Paris' map. As well as using Jack Reed's Leaflet-IIIF plug-in the story-map element makes heavy use of waypoints.js to trigger the map actions when scrolling the page.

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