Extracts from earliest surviving Bible available online


THE surviving parts of the worlds oldest Christian Bible will be reunited online today (www.codexsinaiticus.org), generating excitement among biblical scholars still striving to unlock its mysteries.

The Codex Sinaiticus(above) was hand-written by four scribes in Greek on animal hide, or vellum, in the mid-fourth century around the time of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great who embraced Christianity.

Not all has survived, but the pages that have include the whole of the New Testament and the earliest surviving copy of the Gospels. The bibles remaining 800 pages and fragments – it was originally some 1,400 pages long – also contain half of the Old Testament.

“The Codex Sinaiticus is one of the worlds greatest written treasures,” said Scot McKendrick, head of Western manuscripts at the British Library. “This 1600-year-old manuscript offers a window into the development of early Christianity and first-hand evidence of how the text of the bible was transmitted from generation to generation,” he said.

The ancient parchments, which appear almost translucent, are a collection of sections held by the British Library in London, the Monastery of St Catherine in Sinai, the National Library of Russia and Leipzig University Library in Germany. Each institution owns different amounts of it, but the British Library, which digitised the delicate pages of the entire book in London, holds by far the most. – (Reuter)