Oldest Scriptural Manuscript To Appear In Digital Form

2005-03-10 23:31 * UK * BIBLE * CODEX SINAITICUS * DIGITIZATION * OLDEST SCRIPTURAL MANUSCRIPT TO APPEAR IN DIGITAL FORM

LONDON, March 10 (RIA Novosti’s Alexander Smotrov) – The Codex Sinaiticus-the oldest of the full extant manuscript Bibles-will eventually appear in a digital form on an unprecedented venture.

Representatives of the four academic institutions that are preserving Codex fragments have signed a contract in London to digitize this precious religious and literary monument.

Made in Greek on parchment in the 4th century A.D., the Codex Sinaiticus contained the canonical Old and New Testament books and two apocryphal, the Gospel of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas.

The manuscript was preserved for many centuries at the Greek Orthodox monastery of St. Catherine in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt. Certain fragments were gone with the time. No older Scriptural manuscripts have ever been found.

As German researcher Constantine von Tischendorf was visiting the monastery, in the mid-19th century, he came across 43 Codex pages in a dustbin, of all places. The brethren allowed him to take the precious find to Germany. The pages have been preserved ever since at the Leipzig University Library.

In several following expeditions, sponsored by Emperor Alexander II of Russia, von Tischendorf acquired what was left of the manuscript, and passed it to the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg.

The monastery received 9,000 rubles in compensation-an exorbitant sum at that time. The Greek Orthodox Church, however, doubts to this day that the Codex Sinaiticus was removed from St. Catherine’s monastery on legal grounds, and refers to a scarcity of documentary proof of the contrary to press its point.

After the Soviet government sold the manuscript to the British Museum, in 1935, six fragments stayed in St. Petersburg, the Shepherd of Hermas among them.

Another twelve fragments were found at the Monastery of St. Catherine, 1975.

The London contract offers a unique chance to re-create the entire Codex Sinaiticus, in a virtual version, by bringing together all its parts. A manuscript sixteen centuries old will reappear as one whole in a latter-day digital form, say spokesmen of the Library of the British Museum.

It will take approximately four years to implement the project, whose lump cost is roughly estimated at 700,000 pounds. The Codex Sinaiticus will be offered free for on-line reading and studies. A digital facsimile edition, and a CD-Rom are also to come out.

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