Quick question: if the Bible is the word of god, why are there different versions of it? Why does the book of Mark make no mention of the resurrection? Is it not completely obvious that this book has been modified and re-written numerous times, each subsequent version being more and more self aggrandizing in order to serve those peddling it? ‘Word of god”, my ass.
More than 800 surviving pages and fragments from the The Codex Sinaiticus, which was written in Greek on parchment leaves in the fourth century, have been reunited.
Last year The British Library put The Book of Psalms and St Mark’s Gospel online, and now the remaining pages have been made free for public use for the first time.
Along with the Codex Vaticanus, the Codex Sinaiticus is considered the oldest known Bible in the world. Originally more than 1,460 pages long and measuring 16in by 14in, it was written by a number of hands around the time of Constantine the Great.
It offers different versions of the Scriptures from later editions of the Bible, notably in St Mark’s Gospel which ends 12 verses before later versions, omitting the appearance of the resurrected Jesus Christ.
The reunification of the book is the culmination of a four-year collaboration between the British Library, Leipzig University Library in Germany, the Monastery of St Catherine in Mount Sinai, Egypt, and the National Library of Russia in St Petersburg, each of which hold different parts of the manuscript.
They hope that by bringing together the digitised pages online, the project will help scholars worldwide to research in depth the Greek text, which is fully transcribed and cross-referenced.
“The Codex Sinaiticus is one of the world’s greatest written treasures,” said Dr Scot McKendrick, Head of Western Manuscripts at the British Library.
“This 1,600-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. The project has uncovered evidence that a fourth scribe – along with the three already recognised – worked on the text; the availability of the virtual manuscript for study by scholars around the world creates opportunities for collaborative research that would not have been possible just a few years ago.”
To mark the reunification, the British Library is also holding a new exhibition, open today that tells the story of the book.
Professor David Parker from the University of Birmingham’s Department of Theology, who directed the team which made the electronic transcription of the manuscript said the four-year process was a “huge challenge”.
“The transcription includes pages of the Codex which were found in a blocked-off room at the Monastery of St Catherine in 1975, some of which were in poor condition,” he said.
“This is the first time that they have been published. The digital images of the virtual manuscript show the beauty of the original and readers are even able to see the difference in handwriting between the different scribes who copied the text. We have even devised a unique alignment system which allows users to link the images with the transcription. This project has made a wonderful book accessible to a global audience.”