This Day in History – February 4th, 1859

The Codex Sinaiticus or “Sinai Bible” is one of the four great uncial codices, an ancient, handwritten copy of the Greek Bible. The codex is a celebrated historical treasure that was discovered in Egypt on February 4th, 1859.

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Luke 11, 2 in Codex Sinaiticus

The codex is an Alexandrian text-type manuscript written in the 4th century in uncial letters on parchment. Current scholarship considers the Codex Sinaiticus to be one of the best Greek texts of the New Testament, along with that of the Codex Vaticanus. Until the discovery by Constantin von Tischendorf of the Sinaiticus text, the Codex Vaticanus was unrivaled.

The Codex Sinaiticus came to the attention of scholars in the 19th century at the Saint Catherine’s Monastery, with further material discovered in the 20th and 21st centuries. Although parts of the Codex are scattered across four libraries around the world, most of the manuscript today resides within the British Library. Since its discovery, study of the Codex Sinaiticus has proven to be extremely useful to scholars for critical studies of biblical text.

Originally, the Codex contained the whole of both Testaments. Approximately half of the Greek Old Testament (or Septuagint) survived, along with a complete New Testament, plus the Epistle of Barnabas, and portions of The Shepherd of Hermas.

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