Codex Sinaiticus: A Full Color Facsimile

Nearly all the sacred words are in these full color photos of the pounced parchment scribed with the ancient ink. Living words copied by three maybe four careful hands. God breathed words, every one true, every thought from man and from God. Every utterance worthy of trust. These leaves in these photos passed under no press but were prepared by living hands. Letters embossed by the living, for the living, from the living. This is a book written by hands to be written on hearts.

How many such manuscripts contain both Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible? Not many. Even fewer as early as the 300’s AD. With Codex Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus is one of the two most important manuscripts of the whole Bible in Greek. Codex Sinaiticus is a wonder of the world, a priceless treasure. More than an artifact, though, this book preserves the word of God, presenting an ancient Greek translation from the Old Testament’s Hebrew and the New Testament in its original Greek.

Unless God reveals himself, as this book claims he has, we cannot know him. Without the manuscripts that preserve God’s revelation of himself in the writings of the biblical authors, we have no access to the sacred texts. Is there anything in the world more needed than the word of God? And as one of the most ancient presentations of the word of God in Greek, what can have more value than a witness to the word such as Codex Sinaiticus?

High quality photographs of Codex Sinaiticus are being made available online, and now the British Library and Hendrickson Publishers have brought out a full size, full color facsimile of the whole manuscript. They are selling them. You can buy one. Examine it for yourself. Astonishing. Perhaps you would like to rethink whether there are more important things for you to do than examine the word of God as presented by an ancient manuscript?

The book is handsomely made and finely bound. Lovely in appearance, hefty in weight, imposing in size. The photographs are clear and the text is there for close reading. Lunate sigmas and ligatures, strike-throughs and spelling anomalies, running headers, red ink in places, binding notations from ancient craftsmen, pumice marks from the scribes who scrubbed the hide, follicles from the hair of the goats who gave their skin, tears visible where the parchment was too thin or the scribe too rough, corrections from the very scribe who made the mistake. Everything there to be seen on the thick pages with the color photos in full size.

The new full color facsimile is a vast improvement of the facsimile brought out a century ago by Helen and Kirsopp Lake. No more must a man travel to London, Leipzig, and Mount Sinai to see the whole thing. You can spread this full color facsimile of the thing on the table in front of you—you’ll need a big table.

Who should care most about such a treasure, such a privilege? Should it not be those who most love the words, those for whom these words are sweeter than honey from the comb, those who would heed the call to meditate on them day and night, build their house on the rock foundation they lay, view their world through the lens they grind, and live on the hope that rises in the east. This is our story, our book, Codex Sinaiticus our treasure. On its testimony our faith rests. These are the words that make the foolish wise unto salvation. Why not learn Greek? Why not examine the Codex?

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  1. I have my first Greek class this fall. Very excited! Although I am taking it while doing Intermediate Hebrew, so that should be a good time. Maybe after a couple of years I’ll be able to check out the CS myself.

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