Little Bits of History

Codex Sinaiticus

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 4, 2011

Luke 12:2 from the Codex Sinaiticus

February 4, 1859: The Codex Sinaiticus is discovered. The word “codex” comes from Latin and mean the “trunk of a tree” or a block of wood – a book. It was developed by the Romans and eventually replaced the scroll. It is a group of pages of writing held together and placed within a cover. This type of publishing was advanced by early pre-Christians. They used the format in writing their early Bibles or scriptural texts. It was first described in 100 AD and was the predominant form of written work by 300 AD. It had basically conquered over the scroll by the 500s.

Constantin Tischendorf found the Sinaiticus in a convent at the foot of Mount Sinai [hence the name]. It contains the entire Greek Bible as well as an Epistle of Barnabas and most of the Shepherd of Hermas [early Christian writings used to spread the word regarding Jesus Christ]. It is dated between 300 and 360 AD which makes it a bit later than the Codex Vaticanus. All of these early texts had to be hand copied and so mistakes are accumulative. As with any copied work, some words are omitted by mistake or copied erroneously. As the next copy was made, the mistakes were carefully copied, but new ones were added.

The Sinaiticus was written in four columns to a page. There is an unusually high number of errors. This can be attributed to careless omissions as well as record numbers of correction placed over the years. Even so, the codex is very similar to Codex Vaticanus. The Sinaiticus was placed at St. Catherine’s Monastery located in Egypt. St. Catherine’s is the one of the oldest working monasteries. It was built by order of Emperor Justinian who reign from 527-565. It was built at the site of the burning bush of Old Testament fame, or at least where it was assumed the bush was located.

After the discovery of the Codex Sinaiticuls, Tischendorf recognized the original 129 leaves of Greek text to be part of Septuagint [Greek translated Hebrew Bible] and asked authorities if he might have them. The monks, although agreeable up to this point, now decided Tishcendorf could have only one-third or 43 leaves. These remain at the Leipzig University Library. The entire codex is not split into four unequal portions. The other three are at the British Library which has 347 leaves [694 pages], 12 leaves and 14 fragments remain at St. Catherine’s Monestary, and the Russian National Library in Saint Petersburg has the rest.

“The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it.” – James Bryce

“A good book has no ending.” – R.D. Cumming

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” – Mark Twain

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” – Oscar Wilde

Also on this day:
20,000 Leagues – In 1957, the USS Nautilus reaches 60,000 nautical miles, like her namesake.
Winter Olympics III – In 1932, Winter Olympics began at Lake Placid, New York.



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