Home Codex Sinaiticus: The World’s Oldest Bible Goes Online

Codex Sinaiticus: The World’s Oldest Bible Goes Online

The Codex Sinaiticus is the oldest version of the Christian Bible in book form, and, according to many scholars, one of the world’s greatest written treasures. The actual leaves and fragments from the book are in the British Library in England, as well as in various archives in Germany and Russia, and the St. Catherine’s Monastery of Sinai, where the text was originally discovered. Starting today, however, anybody with access to an Internet connection and a modern browser can now see a virtual facsimile of the book online.

While large parts of the text are still missing (including most of the text of Genesis), this marks the first time that such a complete version of the Codex has been available to both scholars and the public.

The site is currently quite slow, thanks to some heavy demand right after launch, but we got a chance to test the site while it was still running smoothly. One nice aspect of the project’s web site is that it was built with open standard and modern web development techniques in mind.

As these projects typically take years to come to fruition and have to conform to pretty stringent accessibility and long-term storage standards, their web sites often also look like they were developed five years ago. Here, however, the Codex Sinaiticus team did a good job at making the text accessible to the general public (with translations into German, Russian, and Greek), as well as students and scholars who need access to more detailed information and images taken under different lighting conditions.

As is also typical for these projects, however, there is no way for the public or other scholars to directly participate by fixing potential errors in the transcription or translation, for example.

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The project website also has more information about how the book was digitized, and the philosophy behind the development of the site.

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