World's oldest surviving Bible published online

July 6, 2009
Pages of the Codex Sinaiticus, the world's oldest surviving Christian bible, are pictured on a laptop in Westminster Cathedral, central London. About 800 pages of the ancient text have been pieced together and published online, experts in Britain said.

About 800 pages of the world's oldest surviving Bible have been pieced together and published on the Internet for the first time, experts in Britain said Monday.

The Codex Sinaiticus, written in Greek on parchment leaves in the fourth century, is available online in a project involving institutions in Britain, Germany, Egypt and Russia which held different parts of the ancient book.

As part of the four-year joint project, have been taken of the reunited manuscript, allowing scholars worldwide to research in-depth the Greek text, the British Library in London said.

The library, which holds a large chunk of the Bible, also opened an exhibit Monday that includes artefacts linked to the manuscript to coincide with its online launch.

"The Codex Sinaiticus is one of the world's greatest written treasures," said Scot McKendrick, head of Western at the British Library.

"This 1600-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," he said.

Originally 1,460 pages long and measuring 16 inches (40 centimetres) by 14 inches, the manuscript was handwritten by a number of scribes around the time of Constantine the Great who died in 337, experts said.

The manuscript, which was revised and corrected over the centuries, lay undisturbed in a monastery in Sinai in Egypt until it was found by a German professor in the mid-1800s and handed to Russia's Tsar Alexander II.

Britain later bought most of the book from the Soviet Union in the 1930s, while Egypt kept still more pages found in the monastery in 1975.

Professor David Parker, whose team made the electronic transcription of the manuscript, said the Internet project proved challenging with some of the pages in poor condition.

"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," said Parker from the University of Birmingham.

"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," he said.

The manuscript is available at .

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: Archimedes manuscript yields secrets under X-ray gaze

Related Stories

Archimedes manuscript yields secrets under X-ray gaze

May 20, 2005

For five days in May, the ancient collided with the ultra-modern at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), bringing brilliant, long-hidden ideas to light with brilliant X-ray light. A synchrotron X-ray beam at the ...

New transcription reveals Newton's rare 'theory of everything'

December 14, 2006

A new transcription of Isaac Newton's "theory of everything," providing rare insight into the scientist's views on nearly all known natural phenomena, is now available online to scholars around the world, thanks to an Indiana ...

UCLA team creates virtual library of medieval manuscripts

February 10, 2009

Google "Edward the Confessor" and you'll get page after page of links to biographies of this 11th-century English king, to Westminster Abbey, which he founded and where he is buried, and to the Magna Carta, which was partly ...

Recommended for you

Drone market to hit $10 billion by 2024: experts

October 3, 2015

The market for military drones is expected to almost double by 2024 to beyond $10 billion (8.9 billion euros), according to a report published Friday by specialist defence publication IHS Jane's Intelligence Review.

Radio frequency 'harvesting' tech unveiled in UK

September 30, 2015

An energy harvesting technology that its developers say will be able to turn ambient radio frequency waves into usable electricity to charge low power devices was unveiled in London on Wednesday.

Professors say US has fallen behind on offshore wind power

September 29, 2015

University of Delaware faculty from the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE), the College of Engineering and the Alfred Lerner School of Business and Economics say that the U.S. has fallen behind in offshore wind ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.