Codex Sinaiticus

Detail of a page from Codex Sinaiticus (circa 350 C.E.), one of the most important manuscripts of the Septuagint. The British Library, London.

Detail of a page from the Codex Sinaiticus, circa 350 C.E. Ink on vellum parchment, The British Library, London.

The Codex Sinaiticus, or Sinai Book, is an ancient fourth-century C.E. Bible handwritten in the Greek language. The manuscript contains the Septuagint, a version of the Old Testament that was adopted by early Greek-speaking Christians, as well as the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. The book’s importance to biblical scholars is immeasurable. The pages are made of vellum parchment, or calfskin. The work is written in scriptio continua—without spaces between words. In the ancient Greek world, reading continuous text on a page was more like reading a musical score today. The reader would memorize the text and use the pages as a guide while reading aloud to an audience. Not until the 10th century C.E. would spaces between words become the norm.

 

A text of pages bound leaf style, like a modern book—as opposed to a scroll, which has no discrete pages.

a manuscript of the Christian Bible written in Greek in the middle of the fourth century, containing the earliest complete copy of the Christian New Testament.

A collection of first-century Jewish and early Christian writings that, along with the Old Testament, makes up the Christian Bible.

Also called the Hebrew Bible, those parts of the canon that are common to both Jews and Christians. The designation "Old Testament" places this part of the canon in relation to the New Testament, the part of the Bible canonical only to Christians. Because the term "Old Testament" assumes a distinctly Christian perspective, many scholars prefer to use the more neutral "Hebrew Bible," which derives from the fact that the texts of this part of the canon are written almost entirely in Hebrew.

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