World’s oldest Bible goes “PC”

Posted: July 26, 2008 in Above the Fold, Networking
Tags: , , ,

3-8 from the original Codex

This is Esther 2:3-8 from the original Codex

So, ‘fess up. What are you thinking? Gender-free Bible? A text that removes any reference to sin? Maybe a Good Book that has no bad news? Although those feeble efforts have been attempted in print, the reference is about the Granddaddy of them all – literally.

For bibliophiles, theologians and folk that just thinks old stuff is cool, the British Library proudly presents the Codex Sinaiticus, a 4th century text handwritten in Greek, on its Web site. (OK… “P.C.”? Computer, not politics? Get it? Thanks. Tip your waiters and try the veal).

So, what’s it doing in England? According to the story (and some serious payments at Seminary I’m still dealing with):

The complete text once was housed at the Monastery of St. Catherine in Sinai, Egypt, before it came to the attention of a German scholar, Constantine Tischendorf, in the 19th century. He took parts of it to Germany and Russia. The British Library later bought several hundred pages from the Russians [where it has been since 1933].

This codex contains portions of the original Septuagint, a complete New Testament and some of the highly volatile and controversial (or hallowed and cherished, depending on what of the Vatican you fall) books of the Apocrypha.

Now, without getting in too deep about its trendsetting uncial and four-column form, creating the inception of the codex (yes, this is what you thank for books the way you read them today) and the iconic Alexandrian text-type… let’s see, how do I say this outside of seminary that doesn’t sound like a professor talking… hmmm, oh yeah… this is AWESOME!

The Codex’s parchment, which is probably made of cow hide, is arranged in booklets called quirers, which were numbered in sequence. We’re talking state-of-the-art circa 4 B.C.E., folks. But now to have it online is wonderful. There is something to be venerated about the history of God’s Word, not just its inspiration in the Holy Spirit and voice of the Lord.

Now going online at, the Church can browse full sections of this original Bible and learn the etymology of the now famed idiom for people who can’t read or comprehend English, “It’s all Greek to me!” (Man, someone stop me. I’m on fire.


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