Earliest Christian Bible virtually restored

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Around eight hundred pages of the earliest surviving Christian Bible have been virtually pieced together and put online.

Written in Greek, the 1600 year old Codex Sinaiticus was discovered in 1844 at St Catherine's Monastery in Sinai, Egypt. It was shortly afterwards split between institutions in Egypt, Russia, Germany and Britain. The current project sees the separated fragments reunited, albeit virtually, for the first time and has involved cooperation between all the international institutions which have parts of the manuscript.

Dr Scot McKendrick, Head of Western manuscripts at the British Library, said the availability of the document offered great research opportunities. "The Codex Sinaiticus is one of the world's greatest written treasures," he said. "This 1,600-year-old manuscript offers a window into the development of early Christianity and first-hand evidence of how the text of the Bible was transmitted from generation to generation. The availability of the virtual manuscript for study by scholars around the world creates opportunities for collaborative research that would not have been possible just a few years ago."

The online launch of the manuscript is coupled with an exhibition at the British Library.

Before Codex Sinaiticus could be photographed, all the leaves were examined and documented to ensure they were stable enough to be photographed. A limited amount of conservation treatment was undertaken on leaves requiring attention. Part of the project also involved detailed non-invasive technical examination of the parchment and inks used.

To see the manuscript and find out more information about the project, click here.