One of the manuscripts used for translating the New Testament is the Codex Sinaiticus. It is hugely important for several reasons – penned somewhere around 500AD, it contains the oldest complete New Testament (as well as a grea amount of the Greek Old Testament), and is considered a really good record of the wording of the original New Testament documents (the autographs).
The problem was that this Codex is scattered over four different locations. The British Library holds 350 leaves (bought from the Soviet government in 1933), the National Library of Russia in St Petersberg still holds a couple of leaves, Leipzig University has 43 leaves and a Greek Orthodox monastery at Mt Sinai, St Catherine’s, has the remaining 19 leaves. The story of how much of the manuscript was removed from the monastery has a little controversy to it, but the end result is that the text has never been viewable as a complete document. Only very recently have all the pieces been reunited, and even then it’s only happened in cyberspace.
However, it’s exciting news, and not just for the theologians. It is really important to know that the foundational material of our Bible is available, and is publicly viewable (the link should allow you to view the opening chapters of John’s Gospel). True, you need to be able to understand Koine Greek – and work out where puntuation happens, and where words start and stop (the Greek manuscript simply runs together). But you can see it. It is not hidden. The way that the Bible has been made has no secrets. Click here for the link to the Codex Sinaiticus Prioject website.