Joint Statement by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Museum of the Bible – From the Archdiocese


© Photo credits: GOARCH / Dimitrios S. Panagos

Joint Statement by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Museum of the Bible

DRAMA, Greece – On Thursday, September 29, 2022, an 11th-century Greek Gospel manuscript was officially repatriated to the Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery Theotokos Eikosiphoinissa (Kosinitza) by the Museum of the Bible. One of the oldest handwritten gospels in the world, “Kosinitza Manuscript 220” is among the 470 religious objects and 430 manuscripts looted from the monastery in 1917 by Bulgarian forces.

“When the Museum of the Bible discovered that this text had been illegally and rapaciously removed from the Monastery, it acted quickly, responsibly and professionally to ensure its restoration and repatriation. We cannot express our gratitude enough to the Green family and the Museum for their Christian and professional service,” said Bishop Elpidophoros of America, who represented His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the official return ceremony to the Monastery of Drama, in Greece.

Before heading to the theater, Museum Founder and Chairman of the Board, Mr. Steve Green, Chief Curator, Dr. Jeff and Mrs. Susan Kloha, and Associate Curator of Medieval Manuscripts, Dr. Brian Hyland, who first identified the origins of the text, met with His All-Holiness at the Phanar to learn more about the Ecumenical Patriarchate. They were accompanied by Dr. Elizabeth Prodromou, a member of the museum’s advisory board and chief facilitator of the institution’s collaboration with the Greek Orthodox Church. With the Patriarch’s permission, the Museum of the Bible had begun displaying the manuscript in October 2021, in time for His All Holiness’ Apostolic Visit to Washington, DC this fall.

“The Museum of the Bible is honored to partner with the Ecumenical Patriarchate to bring the story of the Bible to the Greek world to Washington,” said Mr. Green, founder and president of the Museum of the Bible. “I was honored to be received by His All Holiness in Istanbul, and I pray for continued blessings upon him and the growth of the Orthodox Church. We look forward to celebrating the return of the gospel manuscript to the Theotokos Eikosiphoinissa monastery in the coming days.”

In Kosinitza, now a women’s monastery, the direction of the museum was received by His Eminence Metropolitan Panteleimon of Xanthi and the Very Reverend Abbess Geronitissa Antonini. Following a doxology service presided over by Archbishop Elpidophoros, Mr. Green received the theater metropolis’ highest honor – the ‘great cross’ – from Metropolitan Panteleimon. The return ceremony was dedicated to the memory of the late Metropolitan Pavlos of Drama.

“You have set an example for others to follow, and we pray that they will,” Bishop Elpidophoros said. “But above all, you demonstrated your commitment to Him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, because you did not allow the sinful actions of those long dead to prevail. You chose the way of the Resurrection, ‘the regeneration when the Son of man is seated on the throne of his glory.’ (Full Notes)

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew loaned three more manuscripts as part of this collaboration for permanent display at the Museum of the Bible and in gratitude for the return of the Gospel manuscript. The Greek Orthodox Church and the Museum of the Bible express the hope that other collections in the United States in possession of Kosinitza Monastery manuscripts will also voluntarily return them to their rightful homes.

The Holy Book of Gosepls, formerly known as the “Kozinitsa Manuscript 220”, has returned to its home in the monastery.

Mr. Steve Green, Founder and President of the Museum of the Bible, and the Very Reverend Abbess Geronitissa Antonini of Kosinitza Monastery.

The Holy Book of Gosepls, formerly known as the “Kozinitsa Manuscript 220”, has returned to its home in the monastery.

“You have set an example for others to follow, and we pray that they will,” said His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America.

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