All 800 surviving pages from the earliest surviving Bible, the Codex Sinaiticus, have become freely available online today, at www.codexsinaiticus.org
The project was a collaboration between the British Library, Leipzig University Library, the Monastery of St Catherine (Mount Sinai, Egypt), and the National Library of Russia (St Petersburg), each of which hold different parts of the physical manuscript.
The fourth-century book, was written in Greek on parchment leaves by several scribes and had its text revised and corrected over the course of the following centuries.
To mark the online launch of the reunited Codex, the British Library is also staging an exhibition: From Parchment to Pixel: The Virtual reunification of Codex Sinaiticus, from Monday 6 July until Monday 7 September, 2009 in the Folio Society Gallery at the Library’s St Pancras site.
Visitors will be able to view historic items and artefacts that tell the story of the Codex and its virtual reunification, along with interactive representations of the manuscript and a digital reconstruction of the changes to a specific page over the centuries.
In addition, they will see on display in the Treasures Gallery, for the very first time, both volumes of Codex Sinaiticus held at the British Library.
“The Codex Sinaiticus is one of the world’s greatest written treasures,” said Dr Scot McKendrick, Head of Western Manuscripts at the British Library. “This 1,600-year-old manuscript offers a window into the development of early Christianity and first-hand evidence of how the text of the Bible was transmitted from generation to generation. The project has uncovered evidence that a fourth scribe – along with the three already recognised – worked on the text; the availability of the virtual manuscript for study by scholars around the world creates opportunities for collaborative research that would not have been possible just a few years ago.”
Professor David Parker from the University of Birmingham’s Department of Theology, who directed the team funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), which made the electronic transcription of the manuscript said: “The process of deciphering and transcribing the fragile pages of an ancient text containing over 650,000 words is a huge challenge, which has taken nearly four years.
“The transcription includes pages of the Codex which were found in a blocked-off room at the Monastery of St Catherine in 1975, some of which were in poor condition,” added Professor Parker. “This is the first time that they have been published. The digital images of the virtual manuscript show the beauty of the original and readers are even able to see the difference in handwriting between the different scribes who copied the text.”
Source: British Library
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