Codex Bezae

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Codex Bezae, leaf 133v. The leaf gives the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery.
Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis, or D, is an uncial manuscript of the gospels and Acts that has been dated to the fifth century.[1] Bezae is the earliest known manuscript that includes the account of the "woman caught in adultery."[2] The text of the codex is bilingual with Greek and Latin pages facing each other. The Latin used is from a translation made prior to Jerome's Vulgate edition of 382.

The codex is named after Theodore Beza, who owned the manuscript in the 16th century. It was held at the library of the Monastery of St. Irenaeus in Lyon, France until 1562, when the monastery was ransacked by Huguenots. It has been at the University of Cambridge in England since 1581. A facsimile edition by Dr. Thomas Kipling was published in 1793. In 2012, the university put a color, digital version online.[3]

The codex is one of the six most influential sources of the Greek text used in modern New Testament translations. It is considered to be the work of a single scribe who was trained primarily to copy Latin.[3]

Bezae's "Western text" differs significantly from the Alexandrian text exemplified by Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus. Among pre-uncial papyri fragments, p29, p38, and p48 support Bezae, while the Beatty papyrus (p45) and the Bodmer papyrus (p74) support the Alexandrian text. Church fathers Cyprian (c. 200 – 258) and Augustine (354 – 430) both quoted from the Western text.[4] When Bezae and the Alexandrian text agree, this can be considered a strong confirmation.[5]

Bezae's version of Acts is about 10 percent longer than the Alexandrian version.[6] It is less friendly to the Jewish faith and emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit. It provides the additional detail that Paul lectured from the hall of Tyrannus in Ephesus "from eleven o'clock to four."[7] That is to say, Bezae felt a need to explain that Paul lectured at a time of day when Tyrannus himself customarily did not lecture.[6] The codex omits a clause from the decrees of the Jerusalem council,[8] and alters language used by Claudius Lysias[9] and Festus.[10][4] The material in Bezae that is absent from the Alexandrian text also appears in the margins of an early Syriac manuscript.[11] Syriac is a descendent of Aramaic, the vernacular of Palestine in the time of Jesus. Some scholars attribute various language oddities in Bezae to Syriac influence.[4]


  1. "Biblical literature," Britannica.
  2. John 7:53–8:11.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Parker, David, "Codex Bezae (MS Nn.2.41)."
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Bruce Metzger on the “Western Text” of the Book of Acts."
  5. "Codex Bezae (D)," Encyclopedia of the Bible.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Metzger, Bruce and Erhman, Bart, The Text of the New Testament, 2005, p. 73.
  7. Acts 19:9.
  8. Acts 15:20, 29. Bezae omits the clause "from what has been strangled" from the decree of the Apostolic Council.
  9. Acts 23.26–30.
  10. Acts 25:24–25.
  11. This is the Harclean Syriac manuscript.