Oldest Bible Now Online

The Codex Sinaiticus, or Sinai Book which is the oldest known surviving Christina Bible, handwritten over 1600 years ago, was recently digitized and now available to the public online.

This unique treasure was original kept at the Monastery of St. Catherine in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula until 1859. At which time it was divided in four parts and taken to Russia, Germany and Great Britain. A portion remained at the monastery. Efforts to unite the 4th century treasure have come to fruition; together for the first time in 150 years it can now be read online at the Codex Sinaiticus web site.

Scot McKendrick, from the The British Library and chairman of the multinational group that worked on the project, said “The whole project rests on an agreement between the four institutions. Each one committed themselves to … the greater good of the whole to present this virtual codex,”.

The codex offers an insight into what was happening in the fourth century stated McKendrick.

“This is the point at which Christianity is becoming authorized, accepted by authority, and this book very much reflects that,” he says. “It also reflects a point where there is still a discussion going on about which texts are in the Bible and which order they should be presented in.”

The Codex Sinaiticus Web site is a veritable treasure trove for researchers and others. The site grants access not only to images of the pages, but also to the new transcription of the text, McKendrick says, which allows scholars to search for word patterns, among other uses. The digitized version offers breathtaking detail of the codex, which is written by hand in Greek on animal skin.

“The Web site is wonderful in that it allows you to see that physicality, see a thumbprint of a 1,600-year-old scribe, an insect that bit the animal that the page has come from,” he says. “It’s like a window in that … critical era.”

“Global Effort Puts Oldest Known Bible Online”

NPR, All Things Considered, July 6, 2009