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Codex Sinaiticus

In Church, Current Events, History, Scripture on July 7, 2009 at 9:33 pm


The Codex Sinaiticus

Click here for today’s feature:

A new website was unveiled yesterday that features an online version of the Codex Sinaiticus, a significant 400-page, Greek manuscript.  The website makes this ancient text accessible to a global audience for the first time.  Portions of the translation have been on display in various libraries and institutions around the world for years; but before yesterday, it has not been seen in a complete form for centuries.

The Codex Sinaiticus Project has been sponsored by a number of prestigious institutions including the British Library and the National Library of Russia.  The interface allows the user to examine a digital image of the Greek texts, as well as see a Greek transcription of the portion in the viewer.  It also provides an English translation, just in case you can’t read Greek.

This feature takes a look at some of the claims around this early text with Dr. Michael Wechsler, Associate Professor of Bible at the Moody Bible Institute.

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  1. Did not Jesus refer to the Old Testament? In doing so, he was not admitting to his inferiority. The Codex was compiled as a single text including what Protestants refer to as the as non Cannonical, Tobit ect. Evidently these books were considered as such by the scribe at this early date. There are some definite holes in the good Professor’s argument.

    • One of the problems of such short features is the inability to include the complete answer to questions I ask. The complete point from Dr. Wechsler was the fact that while the extra-canonical books quote from the canonical books, the opposite is not true. This doesn’t prove much on its own, but many scholars agree that it suggests at the least that they are less authoritative and should carry less weight than the other Old Testament books.

      Also, just because a scribe included these books in the manuscript does not prove that the early church accepted them as equal; and for the record, I acknowledge that I can’t prove that they didn’t either–which I believe is the actual point: from our vantage point we don’t know the significance of their inclusion.

      However, what we do know is that in the centuries following the resurrection of Christ that the church had to settle which books were canonical and which ones weren’t, so just because an early manuscript includes some books that are not in the cannon does not mean that they are scripture or should be considered scripture. Whether you agree with them or not, it’s what the early church discerned.

      Finally, I am not suggesting that just because they are not scripture that they don’t have value. The opposite is true. There are many historical and even theological details that are significant for the faith community, but the same can be said about Josephus–but we certainly don’t classify his works as scripture. So I believe to use the Codex Sinaiticus to challenge the accepted cannon or to question the historical veracity of the narratives found in the rest of the Bible is an ideological position, not an objective one.

      Thank you for listening to the feature and thank you for writing.

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