4th Century Bible Discovered

A page from the Codex Sinaiticus, displaying the Lord's Prayer. The first few letters are part of Matthew 6:4; the first new paragraph denotes Matthew 6:5. The last full sentence is Matthew 6:24; the last incomplete sentence on this page is Matthew 6:25.
A page from the Codex Sinaiticus, displaying the Lord's Prayer. The first few letters are part of Matthew 6:4; the first new paragraph denotes Matthew 6:5. The last full sentence is Matthew 6:24; the last incomplete sentence on this page is Matthew 6:25.

Historical Context

One of the world's oldest known copies of the Bible, the Codex Sinaiticus (Sinai Bible), was found in the Saint Catherine's Monastery in Sinai, Egypt, in the mid-19th century by German biblical scholar Constantin von Tischendorf. The bible dates from the 4th century, probably between 330-360 AD, and is written in Greek.

Sinaiticus is not the oldest Bible ever discovered - that belongs to the Codex Vaticanus, which was written in Greek around 300-325 AD, and currently resides in the Vatican.

Large portions of the Sinai Bible's Old Testament are missing from the original parchments, but it has a complete version of the New Testament. The bible's early history is not known for sure; some historians have posited was written in the West, probably in Rome; others contend it was written in Egypt or Palestine. Some historians have suggested that the bible was written on the orders of Emperor Constantine the Great, after his conversion to Christianity (one of his Fifty Bibles) but others have rejected this assertion.

The bible is an invaluable historical resource for Biblical and linguistic scholars, along with three other extant copies of the Bible written in Greek.

Document Info


Author(s): Unknown
Location signed: Saint Catherine's Monastery, Sinai, Egypt

Related Events

  • 1859-02-04 One of the oldest known copies of the Bible, "The Codex Sinaiticus" (Sinai Bible), is seen in Egypt by Constantin von Tischendorf who takes the manuscript home with him

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