May 24, 2008: The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts has sent a team to Albania for the second year in a row. Four of us are here in Tirana as I write this. The National Archive opened wide its doors to us today. We began in earnest, setting up the cameras to do UV photography. We had to borrow some poster boards and duct tape them to the windows. By the time we could start shooting with UV photography, everything went at a good clip. We brought two UV lamps which really sped up the process. With one, it can take up to 30 seconds to shoot one page. With two lamps, that was cut down to less than 10 seconds.
The UV photography is necessary for pages that are water damaged, faint from wear, erased by a later scribe, smudged, and the like. Even with our new 21 megapixel camera, such pages cannot be shot successfully without black light.
We were able to photograph more than one fourth of the pages that we are scheduled to shoot this week. We are scheduled to be here only one week, so time is of the essence.
After we finish our duty here, we will fly to Athens next Saturday and take an 8-hour ferry to Patmos. With seventeen (!) large pieces of luggage in tow, this is no picnic.
Please pray for continued mercy from our Lord as we seek to please him in all we do. And pray, if you would, that we could receive donations of frequent flyer miles from friends. The cost of travel has risen considerably since last year’s expeditions, and even checked-in luggage is starting to cost. Our budget this year was based on an anticipated rise in costs, but not one that has gone up as significantly as this. If any of you are interested in donating some miles, please write to [email protected].