Monday, July 6, 2009

Codex Sinaiticus

The Codex Sinaiticus, a manuscript handwritten on animal hide in the 4th century, which contains the New Testament Bible, is now available online at http://www.codexsinaiticus.org/en/. I first read this today on Yahoo! News and then in The NY Daily News. This is a great boon for Biblical scholars since the physical Codex was previously distributed among 4 different libraries with most of it being held in the British Library, London. Now they're all together digitally and freely available to anybody on the WWW. Don't know Greek? That's quite ok as translations in English are simultaneously available with the digitized online text. Besides the New Testament, the Codex Sinaiticus also includes books from the Old Testament, the Apocrypha, and two other books not found in modern versions of the Bible: an Epistle allegedly by the Apostle Barnabas and The Shepherd of Hermas. There is only one other nearly complete manuscript of the Christian Bible and that is the Codex Vaticanus, which is in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana i.e. the Vatican Library, Rome. It is believed that the Codex Sinaiticus was copied by four scribes. Browse the Codex Sinaiticus online yourself and read about its controversial contents and amazing history from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

The history of the 4 libraries that have a piece of the physical Codex Sinaiticus is also fascinating. Check them out by following the links here or visiting when you're in the neighborhood the next time: Facts and Figures, British Library, London (UK); Virtual Tour, Leipzig University Library, Leipzig (Germany); History, St. Catherine's Monastery, Sinai, Egypt; and Website, St. Petersburg Library, Russia.

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