World’s Oldest Bible Goes Digital

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Adrienne S. Gaines

The surviving pages of the world’s oldest Christian Bible have been digitally reunited and are available online, according to the Associated Press (AP).

The British Library said the 1,600-year-old manuscript known as the Codex Sinaiticus had been housed in four separate locations in Britain, Germany, Russia and Egypt for more than 150 years. Handwritten in Greek, the manuscript includes the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. The digital work became available Monday for viewing online at, allowing worldwide access.

Dating back to the fourth century, Codex Sinaiticus comprises roughly half of the Old Testament and Apocrypha (the Septuagint), the entire New Testament, and two early Christian texts not found in modern Bibles.

“There have been scholars who for centuries have pored over this manuscript, and there are hundreds and hundreds of articles written about this and other manuscripts,” Mark L. Strauss, professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary in San Diego, told Charisma.

“I’m not sure the casual reader is going to discover anything brand new that will dramatically change how they view the Bible in a text like this, but it is fascinating to see a manuscript that goes back to the fourth century. [It’s] very, very ancient and much closer to the original than most manuscripts would be. It’s fascinating just to see it, to get an understanding of the historical significance of the text.”

Institutions from Great Britain, Germany, Russia and Egypt, which each possessed parts of the manuscript, worked together to publish new research into the history of the Codex, the AP reported. A team at the University of Birmingham in England and at the University of Münster in Germany transcribed roughly 650,000 words during a four-year period.

“I think the public should have easy access to all the manuscripts of the New Testament,” Strauss added. “There are thousands of them, and the day will come, hopefully, when you will be able to go online and look at a facsimile of each of them.”

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