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Update 7/24/2008
See the Codex Siniaticus web site

Update 4/15/2005

See an article at Times Online concerning the Codex Sinaiticus.,,2-1565403,00.html


An ambitious international project to reinterpret the oldest Bible in the world, the Codex Sinaiticus, and make it accessible to a global audience using innovative digital technology and drawing on the expertise of leading biblical scholars was launched on March 11.

A team of experts from the U.S., U.K., Europe, Egypt, and Russia have joined together to reunite this iconic treasure in virtual form. This unprecedented collaborative approach to achieve reunification involves all four of the institutions at which parts of the manuscript are held : St Catherine's Monastery, Sinai; the British Library; the University of Leipzig, Germany; and the National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg.

The Society of Biblical Literature is also a partner in the project. It hosted a program unit on the topic at the 2004 national meeting, and executive director Kent Richards serves on the initiative's advisory board."This project will bring this text to millions of people around the world," Richards said. He praised the British Library, saying, "We believe that by giving the world a virtual Codex Sinaiticus the British Library will have demonstrated again its commitment to the world's knowledge."

The project encompasses four strands: conservation, digitization, transcription and scholarly commentary to make the Codex available for a worldwide audience of all ages and levels of interest. There are plans for a range of projects including a free to view website, a high quality digital facsimile and CD-ROM. It is intended that this project will be a model for future collaborations on other manuscripts.

The Codex is an iconic and historic document which dates from the period when the Roman Empire split and the Emperor Constantine, who ruled the Eastern Empire, adopted Christianity. Greek heritage dominated this Empire and the Codex was produced in response to the wish to gather together Greek versions of the principal Jewish and Christian scriptures. It is the earliest surviving book to encompass in one volume the great wealth of texts that have come to be recognized as forming the Christian Bible.

The Codex is a major resource for scholars working in a range of disciplines, particularly those studying the Christian and Jewish scriptures, the history of the Christian Church, the transmission of texts, Hellenic and Byzantine culture, the history of the book, and codicology — the study of the structure of books.

The project will initiate a major campaign of scholarly research, led by the top specialists in Biblical studies, to transcribe, translate and reinterpret the text and research the Codex's history for both a specialist audience and the general public. It is also highly important for its rich layering of texts. It was written by three scribes and contains important textual corrections and insertions. The digitization and work on transcription will make it possible for researchers to identify which corrections and additions were made by which scribe at the click of a button, thus enabling them to uncover the different versions of the text that were used at the time.

It is estimated that the project will take four years to complete and cost more than $1.3 million. A challenge grant of about $287,000 has already been pledged by the Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation and the project board needs to raise funds to match this by December 1, 2005.

Due to the extreme age and fragility of the Codex, none of the four partners holding leaves of the Codex is able to allow access to the manuscript, beyond display in a glass case. All four partners will carry out detailed examination and analysis of the codices and their findings will be documented using the same system to enable the conservation status to be linked to the environment in which the parts have been held. International experts in areas such as parchment identification, multi-spectral imaging and iron gall ink will become involved as the conservation progresses.

Translations of the Codex will be made available in English, and plans will be developed for translations in German, Spanish and modern Greek, using both existing and new translations of the textual variations in the Codex Sinaiticus. A high quality, case-bound, color-printed facsimile of the entire Codex Sinaiticus will be produced, to enable scholars and lay enthusiasts full access to a life-like copy of the original. A scholarly volume of commentaries, with contributions by leading scholars, will also be produced.

A range of projects and initiatives are planned for scholars and the general public including a dedicated website, illustrated booklet, CD Rom and the Library's award-winning Turning the Pages technology, to allow people to "turn" the digitised pages of the Codex in a realistic way, using interactive animation.

The Codex Sinaiticus project will also be recorded as a documentary by the television production company, CTVC.

Citation: , " SBL Participates in Sinaiticus Project," SBL Forum , n.p. [cited March 2005]. Online:


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