The Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center (ABMC) holds one of the world’s largest collections of ancient biblical and related manuscripts on film. These manuscripts are priceless relics of our religious and cultural heritage. But they are also more than that: Documents like the Leningrad Codex, along with thousands of others, continue to influence modern biblical translations and commentaries—by filling in gaps in the text and providing variant readings crucial to reconstructing the Bible’s history.

An important way to preserve these tattered and decomposing documents is through photographic and digital images. That is what the ABMC is dedicated to accomplishing. Its mission is to make photographic (and now digital) records of old manuscripts, to preserve the records in the safest possible way and to make them available to all who request them, in cooperation with the institutions that own the original documents.

These materials can be handled and studied without damaging the original documents. Further, if some disaster—say, water damage or fire—befalls a precious rare manuscript, its text will remain preserved in the images. Copies of photos and digital images also allow researchers to study ancient documents without traveling to a rare book room or museum archive, vastly expanding access to our common cultural heritage.

Besides this treasure trove of ancient manuscript records, the ABMC boasts the world’s largest and best-preserved collection of Dead Sea Scroll negatives and transparencies. The center now distributes, at minimal cost, prints and transparencies of the scrolls, both published and unpublished, to researchers all over the world—a service it has provided since 1991, when access to the unpublished scrolls was opened to all. Soon the ABMC, in collaboration with Brigham Young University and the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, will also make available high-resolution digital images of the scrolls.

A nonprofit and nondenominational institute, the ABMC has served serious students of the Bible for nearly 20 years. But it now faces its greatest obstacle, one that severely threatens the ability of students, researchers and translators to study ancient manuscripts: the need for funds. The ABMC, which also publishes two newsletters a year, depends heavily on donations by individuals who value its activities—which serve an ever-widening group of scholars.

For more information, write to the Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center, 1325 N. College Ave., Claremont, CA 91711; or phone 909–621-6451. The ABMC’s e-mail address is ABMC@CGS.EDU.