About the end of the year 1839, the venerable Benedict, my uncle, spiritual head of the monastery of the holy martyr, Panteleemon, in Mount Athos, wished to present to the Emperor Nicholas I., of Russia, some gift from the sacred mountain, in grateful acknowledgment of the presents which had, from time to time, been offered to the monastery of the martyr. Not possessing anything which he deemed acceptable, he consulted with the herald Procopius and the Russian monk Paul, and they decided upon a copy of the Old and New Testaments, written according to the ancient form, in capital letters, and on parchment. This, together with the remains of the seven apostolic fathers,—Barnabas, Hermas, Clement bishop of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Papias, and Dionysius the Areopagite,—they proposed should be bound in gold, and presented to the emperor by a common friend. Dionysius, the professional caligrapher of the monastery, was then begged to undertake the work, but he declined, saying that the task being exceedingly difficult, he would rather not do so. In consequence of this, I myself determined to begin the work, especially as my revered uncle seemed earnestly to wish it. Having then examined the principal copies of the Holy Scriptures preserved at Mount Athos, I began to practise the principles of caligraphy; and the learned Benedict, taking a copy of the Moscow edition of both Testaments (published and presented to the Greeks by the illustrious brothers Zosimas), collated it with the ancient ones, and by this means cleared it of many errors, after which he gave it into my hands to transcribe. Having then received both the Testaments, freed from errors (the old spelling, however, remaining unaltered), being short of parchment, I selected from the library of the monastery, with Benedict’s permission, a very bulky volume, antiquely bound, and almost entirely blank, the parchment of which was remarkably clean, and beautifully finished. This had been prepared apparently many centuries ago—probably by the writer or by the principal of the monastery, as it bore the inscription, EΚΛΟΓΙΟΝ ΠΑΝΗΓΥΡΙΚΟΝ [Elogion Panegyrikon] (a Collection of Panegyrics), and also a short discourse much injured by time.
I therefore took possession of this book, and prepared it by taking out the leaf containing the discourse, and by removing several others injured by time and moths, after which I began my task. First, I copied out the Old and New Testaments, then the Epistle of Barnabas, the first part of the pastoral writings of Hermas in capital letters (or uncial characters) in the style known in caligraphy as ἀμφιδέξιος (amphidexios). The transcription of the remaining apostolic writings, however, I declined, because the supply of parchment ran short, and the severe loss which I sustained in the death or Benedict induced me to hand the work over at once to the bookbinders of the monastery, for the purpose of replacing the original covers, made of wood and covered with leather, which I had removed for convenience—and when he had done so, I took it into my possession.