Codex Sinaiticus online

Codex SinaiticusWill Crawley notes that the British Library – in collaboration with St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai, Leipzig University library, the national library of Russia in St Petersburg, and the Instititute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing at Birmingham University – has made available online pages, transcriptions, and translations, of what is believed to be the oldest bible in the world, written in Greek, the 4th Century Codex Sinaiticus. More on the project here. As the BBC report says – “For those who believe the Bible is the inerrant, unaltered word of God, there will be some very uncomfortable questions to answer.” Here’s a note from the Slugger archive. And from the 2005 press British Library release.

The Codex is an iconic and historic document which dates from the period when the Roman Empire split and the Emperor Constantine, who ruled the Eastern Empire, adopted Christianity. Greek heritage dominated this Empire and the Codex was produced in response to the wish to gather together Greek versions of the principal Jewish and Christian scriptures. It is the earliest surviving book to encompass in one volume the great wealth of texts that have come to be recognised as forming the Christian Bible. It marks a dramatic shift from a culture in which texts were transmitted in scrolls to the bound book. The Codex Sinaiticus is arranged in eight narrow columns across a double-page and may be modelled on the arrangement of columns on papyrus scrolls.

, , , , ,

  • 6countyprod

    It always amuses me when Slugger’s resident agnostic/atheist bloggers take every opportunity to reinforce their view that religion, especially Christianity (I’ve never seen, for example, a blog post critical of the Koran, hmm, I wonder why?), is a fraud and something for the weaker minded.

    In a rambling, disjointed introductory paragraph, which makes Sarah Palin’s resignation speech sound like Shakespeare, the first phrase of Pete’s third sentence clearly demonstrates a ‘logical’ leap that he has subconsciously made but failed to transmit to the reader, but nonetheless exposes his desire to give a wee dig and try to undermine belief in the Christian Bible as the word of God. With a complete absence of cohesion to the preceding sentences, in his excitement, he enthusiastically highlights a quote from the BBC which says that ‘uncomfortable questions’ face those who believe in the inerrancy of the Christian Scriptures.

    Of course, anyone with any clue about the canon of Scripture and textual criticism will know that Christians claim inspiration only for the original autographs of the Old and New Testaments, but not for the plethora of copies, including the Codex Sinaiticus, or translations based on the originals. There are without doubt many textual variants within the man-made copies, but the originals were, as 2 Timothy 3.16 states: God-breathed.

    So, instead of ‘uncomfortable questions’ for Bible believers, it’s a question of, Instead of making snide remarks, can you guys not get past your preconceived notions and prejudices against Christianity and have a little respect for what, after all, is still the most popular and influential book ever written?

  • Pete Baker

    Oh goody, another literary critic. ;op


    “the first phrase of Pete’s third sentence clearly demonstrates a ‘logical’ leap that he has subconsciously made but failed to transmit to the reader”

    “As the BBC report says”?!

    But look. It’s a noting of the completion of an interesting project that has previously been mentioned on Slugger.

    As the quoted press release says,

    “It [the Codex] marks a dramatic shift from a culture in which texts were transmitted in scrolls to the bound book.”

    As for “snide remarks”?

    I’ve barely made any direct comment on it myself.

    The content is, mostly, elsewhere. Just follow the links and enjoy.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    The Codex Sinaiticus comes from the Alexandrian based texts which many claim is corrupted. Irenaus who lived in the 2nd century wrote about the scribes in Alenandria corrupting the texts.

    Pastor David L. Brown states:

    Tischendorf identified four different scribes who were involved writing the original text. However, as many as ten scribes tampered with the codex throughout the centuries. Tischendorf said he “counted 14,800 alterations and corrections in Sinaiticus.” Alterations, more alterations, and more alterations were made, and in fact, most of them are believed to be made in the 6th and 7th centuries. “On nearly every page of the manuscript there are corrections and revisions, done by 10 different people.” Tischendorf goes on to say,

    “…the New Testament…is extremely unreliable…on many occasions 10, 20, 30, 40, words are dropped…letters, words even whole sentences are frequently written twice over, or begun and immediately canceled. That gross blunder, whereby a clause is omitted because it happens to end in the same word as the clause preceding, occurs no less than 115 times in the New Testament.”

  • HeadTheBall


    “..“…the New Testament…is extremely unreliable.”

    Much the same or worse could be said about the Book of Kells, but I submit we should all be the poorer for the lack of it.

  • 6countyprod

    Is the Bible reliable?

    Men (and women) have argued for centuries over that question. This illuminating 3 minute video addresses the issue in terms of science, archaeology, biblical prophecies, personal experience and Christology. For those who want a more detailed analysis, check this out.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    Head the Ball, that quote was in reference to the Codex Sinaiticus New Testament, not the Textus Receptus New Testament which the King James Bible stems from.

  • HeadTheBall

    Thanks, UMH

    I took your point but I meant that, with all its shortcomings, I would rather have the Codex than be without it. Pete’s point on the transition from scroll to bound book is part of the reason but also, critical faculties undimmed, I think that it enriches our Judaeo-Christian heritage.

  • abucs

    We have to be careful when talking about ‘alterations to the bible text’.

    The ‘bible’ version mentioned above is simply a collection of previously existing individual writings and letters put in one volume.

    The writings from which it was taken, and the copies of those writings from Syria to Egypt to Rome and to Armenia and Ethiopia show a high level of corroboration which allows scholars to ‘find’ a pretty close version of the original individual documents allowing for the different cultures and languages, obvious scribal mistakes or proposed purposeful alterations.

    I don’t agree with everything in the following link but it shows the huge wealth of information bible scholars have compared to other documents.

    The matching also from the contents of the ‘bible’ with the known civil and cultural histories such as the rise, opposition to and civil persecution of Christianity is another level of certification.

    The fact now that many ‘atheistic’ bible scholars have switched to claiming that the original ‘stories’ were never meant to be taken as ‘testaments’ is an indication that the writings are looking now to be genuinely from the ‘Jesus movement’ directly linked to the Nazarene carpenter and largely from the pre 70 AD timeframe.