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Archive for the 'Sinaiticus' Category

Codex Sinaiticus Conference

7th February 2009

As many of my readers may or may not know, there will be a special Codex Sinaiticus Conference at the British Library, London, on 6-7 July 2009.

The Codex Sinaiticus Project, an international initiative to reunite the entire manuscript in digital form and make it accessible to a global audience for the first time (see, will host a conference devoted to this seminal fourth-century Bible.

To celebrate the Project’s achievements, on 6-7 July 2009, the British Library is hosting an academic conference on topics relating to Codex Sinaiticus. A number of leading experts have been approached to give presentations on the history, text, conservation, paleography and codicology, among other topics, of Codex Sinaiticus. Selected conference papers will be edited and published as a collection of articles.

The list of confirmed speakers is quite impressive:

  • Christfried Böttrich
  • Christopher Clarkson
  • Eldon J. Epp
  • Harry Y. Gamble
  • Dirk Jongkind
  • René Larsen
  • David Parker
  • Albert Pietersma
  • Emanuel Tov
  • David Trobisch
  • Klaus Wachtel

As you can see, my advisor, Al Pietersma, is among the speakers.

It looks as if it will be a great conference.

If you want to read more about Codex Sinaiticus, check out my profile of the manuscript which was part of my Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible series.

Posted in Announcements, Conferences, Septuagint, Sinaiticus, Text Criticism | 1 Comment »

Nerds Galore!

25th July 2008

OK, I have been trying to view the images of Codex Sinaiticus on the website for the last 24 hours. I keep getting this message:

Too many concurrent connections (> 100.000). The manuscript page is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Who would have thunk there would be over 100,000 people interested in a really old Greek manuscript?!

I guess I will have to wait until the initial interest dies down (a couple days? a week?). What I can say is that the rest of the site looks great (although it does have a few dead links).

Posted in Septuagint, Sinaiticus | Comments Off

Codex Sinaiticus Digitization Project Going Live

23rd July 2008

The first online phase of the Codex Sinaiticus digitization project headed by the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing at the University of Birmingham, in cooperation with the British Library and the three other holding libraries, will be going live Thursday 24 July 2008 at

Most news services have been covering this story:

This is an exciting project — I hope other similar projects will be inspired by this one so that more primary texts will be available online. From the available preview, the site should be spectacular.

For more information on Codex Sinaiticus, please see the profile I wrote as part of my Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible series.

Posted in Manuscript, Old Testament, Septuagint, Sinaiticus, Text Criticism | 2 Comments »

Codex Sinaiticus Integrated into

20th August 2006

This is kind of nifty: over at — a web site that allows you to read the Bible in the original languages or translation side by side — you can now pull up the page in Codex Sinaiticus while you are studying the Greek text, and it’ll even do its best to highlight the exact verse you’re reading! Zack himself says: “Whether you are a Textual Criticism scholar or someone that just thinks the early manuscripts look cool, I hope you’ll find this feature valuable in your study of the Bible.” It is pretty cool!

You can read the full announcment here. If you want to check it out, go here which will take you to the reading pane and then select a parallel text by going to the bottom left of the page, clicking the option box and selecting “Codex Sinaiticus”, and then pressing the Add button. This will pull up links to Sinaiticus as a parallel view to your Greek text.

For a short introduction to Codex Sinaiticus, read my profile here, which is part of my series on the Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible.

Posted in Manuscript, Septuagint, Sinaiticus, Text Criticism | 1 Comment »

New Facsimile Images of Codex Sinaiticus Online

8th August 2006

The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts has uploaded new images of Codex Sinaiticus. The images are from the full-sized black and white facsimile of the manuscript edited by Helen and Kirsopp Lake and published by Clarendon Press (NT 1911, OT 1922). The images posted are of the New Testament, the Epistle of Barnabas, and the Shepherd of Hermas.

For those who are interested in the Old Testament portion of Sinaiticus, Tischendorf’s 1862 facimile edition of Sinaiticus is availble online from the Biblical Manuscripts Project.

For an introduction to this manuscript, see my Codex Sinaiticus: A Profile (TCHB 5)

(HT Stephen Carlson)

Posted in Manuscript, Sinaiticus | Comments Off

Codex Sinaiticus: A Profile (TCHB 5)

17th July 2006

Codex Sinaiticus (designated by the sigla א or S) was discovered in the nineteenth century by Constantine von Tischendorf at the Monastery of St. Catherine in the Sinai peninsula (hence its name). It is one of the oldest copies of the Christian Bible in Greek. In fact, it is the oldest complete uncial manuscript of the NT.

This is a special fifth post in a series on the textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Other posts include:

All posts in this series may be viewed here.

Tischendorf.jpgThe story of the discovery of the codex is full of intrigue and scandal — OK, so it isn’t Indiana Jones, but for biblical studies it is pretty exciting! In search for ancient manuscripts of the Bible, Tischendorf first visited the monastery of St. Catherine in 1844. While visiting with one of the monks there he noticed a large basket of parchments being used to kindle the fire. Recognizing the parchments as parts of the OT in Greek, he persuaded the monks of their value and they stopped using them as a heat source. After some negotiations he was allowed to remove 43 leaves (which he figured was about one third of what was in the basket). Tischendorf eventually presented these manuscrpts to Frederick Augustus II, King of Saxony, who was his patron at that time. The 43 leaves were deposited in the university library at Leipzip and published under the name of Codex Friderico-Augustanus (MS gr. 1) in 1846.

Tichendorf returned to Sinai in 1853 to secure the reast of the codex, but left empty handed — except for a scrap with a few verses from the book of Genesis. In 1859 he visited yet again and was successful (on his last scheduled day at the monastery) in viewing a large manuscript. After some more negotiations, he was allowed to take the manuscript to Cairo, where he copied it by hand in a period of two months. Then, taking advantage of some internal politics in the monastery and the Orthodox Church, in 1859 Tischendorf received permission to take the codex to St. Petersburg (presumably on loan) and presented it as a gift to the Czar Alexander II of Russia, the protecter and patron of the Greek Church, purportedly in return for influence in the election of a new Archbishop. Tischendorf published a facsimile edition in 1862; the original was deposited in the Imperial Library in St. Petersburg as Codex Sinaiticus Petropolitanus in 1867. The codex was sold by a cash-strapped Russian government to the British Museum in 1933 for a sum of £100,000, half of which was raised by public support. The codex now resides in the British Museum as Additional MS 43725.

Sinaiticus0102.jpgThe codex is made of fine vellum (sheepskin and goatskin) with pages measuring ca. 15 by 13.5 inches (the original size is unknown due to binding). It has four columns per page (two columns in the OT poetic and wisdom books) with 48 lines per column. As with uncial manuscripts, there are no spaces between words, accents, or breathing marks.

Based on scholarly reconstructions, the original manuscript is thought to have consisted of ca. 730 leaves and more than likely contained the entire Christian Bible (with Apocrypha), as well as The Epistle of Barnabus and the Shepherd of Hermas.

Today there are ca. 405 leaves extant in four locations:

  1. The British Museum has 347 leaves, 199 leaves containing 1 Chronicles 9:27-11:22, Tobit 2:2-14:15 (end), Judith 1:1-11:13, 13:9-16:25 (end), 1 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, Isaiah, Jeremiah 1:1-10:25, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechiriah, Malachi, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Job; and 148 leaves with the complete NT as well as Barnabus and Hermas (to Mandates 4.2.3).
  2. The Universitats-Bibliothek at Leipzig has 43 leaves containing 1 Chronicles 11:22-19:17, 2 Esdras 9:9-23:31 [end], Esther, Tobit 1:1-2:2; Jeremiah 10:25-52:34 [end], and Lamentations 1:1-2:20. These leaves were published by Tischendorf with full-size litho-graphic facsimiles in 1844 as Codex Friderico-Augustanus (Leipzig, 1846).
  3. St. Catherine’s Monastery has 12 leaves and 14 fragments containing undisclosed portions of the Pentateuch. These were reportedly discovered in 1975 during renovations precipitated by a fire.
  4. Fragments of three leaves containing verses from Genesis 23-24 and Numbers 5-7 (MS. gr. 259 and MS. gr. 2), Judith 11:13-13:9 (Collection of the Society of Ancient Literature MS. O. 156), and Hermas Mandates 2.7-3.2 and 4.3.4-6 (MS. gr. 843) remain at the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg.

The script is written in a reddish-brown to black iron compound ink with an unornamented uncial hand. While originally thought to be the product of four scribes by Tischendorf and Lake (A, B, C, and D), recent scholarship has isolated only three hands, eliminating scribe C. Up to nine correctors have also been identified, two of whom were also original scribes.

Sinaiticus_Psalms.jpgIts date and provenance of the codex are uncertain. Based on the Eusebian apparatus, a clear terminus post quem can be set for around 300-340 CE. While a terminus ante quem is more difficult to ascertain, paleographically it has been set by a majority of scholars to the mid-fourth century CE based on a comparison with other uncial manuscripts, among other things (one scholar argues for a fifth century date, though with little support). The first two correctors are typically dated contemporaneous with the codex, while the other correctors are typically dated somewhere between the fifth and seventh centuries, and the last two to medieval times. While three different locations have been posited for its origin (Rome, Alexandria, and Caesarea); most scholars seem to prefer Alexandria or Caesarea.

The character of the text, with its many corrections, is uneven. The extant portions of the OT tend to agree with Codex Vaticanus, and are judged to contain superior readings in some books (e.g., 1 Chronicles, 2 Esdras, Isaiah). Similarly, the NT is of a high quality (with the exception of the book of Revelation) and tends to agree with Vaticanus (especially the Gospels and Acts). Canonically, some have considered the inclusion of Barnabus and the Shepherd of Hermas to be significant, though this is far from certain.

In 2006 the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing at the University of Birmingham, in cooperation with the British Library and the three other holding libraries, began a digitization project to produce a new facsimile of the entire codex, as well as an online edition and other tools.

Internet Resources


Posted in Septuagint, Series, Sinaiticus, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible | 1 Comment »

New St. Catherine Monastery Website

22nd August 2005

The Holy Monastery of St. Catherine at Mount Sinai now has a very nice looking official website. The website is currently only in modern Greek, though English and Arabic versions are in the works.

The site contains information about the monastery as well as a great collection of photographs of the monastery, surrounding areas, iconography, and some of their manuscripts. It only has one page on Codex Sinaiticus that I could find, that provides a bit of history of the manuscript and a small picture. (Alexander Schick/Stephen Goranson via Textual Criticism list)

Posted in News, Septuagint, Sinaiticus, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Sinaiticus to Enter the Digital World

3rd August 2005

BBC News has an article on the digitizing of Codex Sinaiticus (the image to the right is the beginning of Matthew in the codex). This isn’t ground-breaking news (see below), though I have been watching for any stories on Sinaiticus since I am writing a dictionary entry on the codex for The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible.The BBC article has a number of errors. For instance, the tag line indicates that Sinaiticus is “the oldest known Biblical New Testament in the world” which it isn’t. Further down in the article they are correct when they say “it has the oldest complete copy of the New Testament.” Here’s another error: “It is named after the place it was written, the monastery of Saint Catherine in Sinai, Egypt.” More properly it should say that it was named after the place it was discovered. It may have been copied there, but it more likely was produced in Rome, Caesarea, or Alexandria.

I am surprised that BBC picked up the story when it did. Reuters published a similar story by Tim Perry early in July (it is still available here).

Posted in Septuagint, Sinaiticus, Text Criticism | Comments Off