Last modified on May 9, 2023, at 05:49

Codex Sinaiticus

An image of Codex Sinaiticus
The Codex Sinaiticus, or (aleph), is a fourth century Greek manuscript of the Bible. It is second only to Codex Vaticanus as a manuscript witness for the text of the New Testament. Despite the age of the codex, the numerous mistakes in the original text makes it a less reliable witness than Vaticanus. Over the millennia, nine scribes attempted to correct it.[1] The Codex Sinaiticus is a more complete rendition of the New Testament than the Codex Vaticanus, which is missing a few substantial sections such as the last part of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

In addition to the now standard 27 books of the New Testament, Sinaiticus includes the Letter of Barnabas and most of the Shepherd of Hermas. The Old Testament given in the codex is a Greek translation called the Septuagint. This is the version of scripture quoted by Jesus and the apostles. Sinaiticus includes various works now classified as apocryphal, including 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, 1 and 4 Maccabees, Wisdom, and Sirach.

The codex was found in 1859 by German Bible scholar Tischendorf at the Monastery of St. Catherine at the foot of Mt. Sinai. Tischendorf claimed to have saved the codex as it was being fed to a fire by monks. Vellum does not burn easily, so this dramatic tale is unlikely. Tischendorf had an obvious motive to lie. He needed to justify taking the codex from the monastery.

Tischendorf published a print facsimile in 1862 and presented the manuscript to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, his sponsor. A photographic facsimile edition was published by Oxford University Press in 1911. In 1933, the Soviet government sold the manuscript to the British Museum. In 1975, the monks of St. Catherine discovered numerous parchment fragments. Among these fragments were twelve missing leaves from the Codex Sinaiticus.

There are 347 leaves of the codex in the British Library in London. Some 199 of these are from the Old Testament, while 148 of the New Testament. Forty-three Old Testament leaves are at the University of Leipzig in Germany, twelve at St. Catherine's Monastery, and six at the National Library of Russia. In July 2009, the Codex Sinaiticus Project used color digitized images of leaves kept at four institutions to unite the codex online.[2][3]

Gospel of Mark

Codex Sinaiticus is a primary source for the Gospel of Mark, which has been studied extensively in this rendition.[4] Generally, there are fewer ancient manuscripts and contemporary commentary about the Gospel of Mark than for the other Gospels.


  1. "Bible (texts)," New Catholic Encyclopedia (2003)
  2. The Codex Sinaiticus Website
  3. "Oldest known Bible to go online," BBC, 3 August 2005.
  4. chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/

See also

External links