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The world's oldest Bible now available online


As of today, the earliest copy of the Bible is now online.


Approximately 800 pages of the oldest almost completely preserved Christian Bible has been digitized and uploaded online by the British Library in order that it can be viewed by the world.

This Bible, known as the Codex Sinaiticus, was discovered in 1844 at the Monastery of St. Catherine at Mount Sinai, where it had apparently been laying untouched for centuries.

The whole story after its finding becomes rather vaugue-not much is really known to the pubic except that original Bible was was split up between Great Britain, Russia, Germany and Egypt. It has been preserved in those locations until a cooperative project was initiated with the goal of reuniting the work digitally.

How the split occurred is something that isnt being discussed, bringing the presumption that some of the issues of ownership are still lingering.

According to the BBC:

"It is thought to have survived because the desert air was ideal for preservations and because the monastery, on a Christian island in a Muslim sea, remained untouched, its walls unconquered."

The Bible is written in Greek and was transcribed by four scribes according to AP writer, Nardine Saad. It contains the entire New Testament but is missing parts of the Old Testament. The Deuterocanonical books are also, not surprisingly, contained within the pages of this Bible.

Saad reports that the 400 pages are made of animal skin, each measuring 15 inches by 13.5 inches.

The BBC states that Dr. Scot McKendrick, the head of Western manuscripts at the British Library believes that "the Codex Sinaiticus is one of the worlds greatest treasures" because it "opens a window into the development of early Christianity."

Only online can one see this much of the work compiled together since the parts still belong to the four countries.

There has been a high degree of interest about the online debut. It is reported that there have been so many visitors to the site today that it has crashed because of the great demand to see this.

In this day of mass publishing and distribution, we see hundreds of Bibles available in many versions. They can be purchased with an online click or found in garage sales. It would be safe to speculate that most Christian homes have several copies of Bibles perhaps in different versions. When we think about the hours of endless painstaking toil that was taken to hand write this Bible, hopefully it will give us pause to think about the gift those four monks and the Church have given to the world.

The world also owes a debt of gratitude to those who have worked on this project so arduously the past four years.

Enjoy browsing through the website: Codex Sinaiticus



How scientists worked with the manuscript



Pamela Luther. "The world's oldest Bible now available online." The Roman Catholic Examiner (July 6, 2009).

Reprinted with permission of the author, Pamela Luther.

The Author

Having journeyed into the Catholic Church in 2000, Pamela Luther has immersed herself in Catholic studies, apologetics, and parish life. Her passion is for God, the church, her husband and family. She has a master's degree in counseling. Formerly an English teacher, she is an admitted bibliophile. E-mail her at:

Copyright © 2009 Pamela Luther
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