Introduction to the Codex Sinaiticus
The Codex Sinaiticus provides key witness to the Christian New Testament and the Septuagint Greek text (the translation of the Old Testament utilized by a number of Greek-speaking Christians) as one of the four great uncial codices, and as one of the oldest known Bibles is regarded as an illustrious historical artifact to be cherished in its importance to both the history of Christianity and books. As a transcript that has been readily corrected this Codex is in fact an evolving work in progress that has allowed us to understand how the Christian narrative was constructed and amended.
The title itself ‘Codex Sinaiticus’ in literal terms means ‘the Sinai Book’ and in this way denotes two key aspects of the text – both its format and its integral place in history. It has been widely concluded by paleographers who study ancient handwriting that this Codex may be dated to the middle of the fourth century. During this time in which this manuscript was written the format of the book was rapidly replacing the roll form that had formerly been popular, furthermore this Codex is distinct in that its pages are made of prepared animal skin known as parchment which was to become the norm within literature works. In this way the Codex Sinaiticus plays a significant role in the key transition in the history of books.
By the mid-fourth century it was widely agreed which books were to be deemed authoritative to be utilized within the Christian communities, and as one of the earliest of said texts the Codex Sinaiticus is crucial in providing insight into the sequence of the books in the Bible and its contents. This is evidenced in the idiosyncratic arrangement of these books in the collection, for example the Letter to the Hebrews is situated after Paul’s Second Letter to the Thessalonians within the New Testament and as such reveals important information on the construction of the Bible historically.